Monday, February 20, 2012

Grandma and Quilting and Owls - Oh My!

I am sure your grandma is cool - but mine is the coolest!

She is 90 years old, sharp as a tack, full of sass, and addicted to sewing. She quilts, makes pajamas, book bags, diapers, and countless other tidbits that catch her fancy.  All of which she donates to help those in need. It is in no exaggeration to say that she has touched hundreds of thousands of lives across the globe. She's that good.

And loves it every minute of it saying that it keeps her heart and head happy. She may sewing keepss her sane, but she is cleary nuts about fabric, the brighter and wilder the print the better. Her basement overflows with bolts, squares, and scraps in every color imaginable. All waiting to be turned into something practical and fabulous!

The early part of her winter is dedicated to flannel pjs that she makes for a mission in Kentucky.  When the pjs are finished, she cuts squares from the scraps to make quilts. Some are kid-sized and some are bigger, because as Grandma says, "I don't care how old you are, everyone needs a good blanket."

During my latest visit she mentioned how she imagines the blankets leading to bedtime stories, each square an inspiration for a new tale. Now quilts and storytelling have long gone hand in hand, but something about my grandma's words at that specific moment rang a bell inside of me louder than anything I have heard in ages.  Loud enough that I had to remind myself to breathe. My ears are still ringing.

Now I am no quilter, but I have always been a storyteller. Be it on the page, on the stage, or with a with wineglass in hand, I know how to tell a story.  So it's pretty clear where this is all headed generally, if not specifically.  Right now I have as many ideas as grandma has fabric, I trust they will sort themselves out.

While I don't know where it may end up, I do know exactly where to get started.  It begins quilting style with a square--this square.

Who you lookin' at?

Why I am so sure?

Because Grandma pointed at this square and said, "This guy, write a story about this little guy." 

And a wise woman listens to her grandmother.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happier Holiday!

Frostabella and Her Celebrity Friends!

Having a fantastic December, working as Frostabella the Snow Princess at the airport.  A strange little gig made even stranger by the fact that I start to work at 6 am.  While this may be the norm for some, I can assure you tis not the regular hour for theatre folk. Nothing like going through security at the crack of dawn with false lashes, covered in glitter, bumpit in place, and hot rolled curls a bouncing.  If you have never entered the airport sporting this look, you don't know what you are missing!

My pal Frosty and I walk up and down the halls of the airport as people shout hello, wave, and come running over for hugs and pictures.  Little kids gasp and jump for joy when they see us--except for the ones who burst into tear and run the other direction.  I've had more high fives and photos taken this week than I have my whole life.  People say things like "best airport trip ever" and "thank you for brightening my morning" on a regular basis.  Addicting.  Not to mention that girl could get used to people shouting "Hello, Princess!"  and telling her she looks beautiful every few steps.

I think my favorite is to see a sleepy adults eyes widen in disbelief as the look up from their airport stupor, not sure if they are really seeing a princess and a 7 ft tall snowman or if they have succumbed to travel madness. There have only been a handful of crankwads - but they are easily forgotten in the smiles and goodwill.  It has truly been a gift to have a part in spreading a little snowshine!

The downside (other than the 4:30 am alarm) is my face hurts from smiling and I can't stop waving and making eye contact with people; here's hoping no one knocks my block off in Target. 

Wishing you and yours a delightful winter and new year, filled with new stories, unexpected snowman, and all the glitter you can stand!  Cheers!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Am A NaNoWriMo--NoWi.

That right--I am a National Novel Writing Month Non-Winner.  And I am okay with that.

I have won many things in my time, including a bubble blowing contest and a minnow bucket. I have lost many things in my time, like every 5K I ever have or will enter and my marbles.

Such is the life of a participant

You win.
You lose.
You always learn.
And, if you're lucky, there are snacks!

What Did I Learn? 
Do I Look Like I Care About Numbers?
My official NaNo word count was 38,036. Better than a kick in the head! And no, I am not sure why I didn't just plunk down "but that wasn't all" for a nice round 38,040.  Anywhoo that is 11, 964 short of the goal.

I learned how many words I average per session, without brain bleed. I also learned how far I can push myself to up the word count.

Since it is never natural for me to think in terms of numbers--this is quite valuable. Now, with the aid of a calcumachine, I can better estimate how long it will take to get this first draft out.

With these same new skeeelz I can see that, if I hadn't taken a week off from writing to open a show, I would have easily "won." Cool.  I enjoy knowledge.

What Were The Snacks?

I whipped out a goodly chunk of NaNo words and the cute little wine bar near my house. Popcorn with Truffle Oil and a glass of Chardonnay, nerd power foods to be sure.   Yum.

There you have it.  My NaNo Nutshell.  I totally plan to do it again next year.  It was a great jump start and it was fun. 

How was your NaNo? I wish I had attended at least one Write-In, this year.  Did any of you attend such an event?  Was it worth it?

Friday, November 4, 2011


Let the triumphant kazoos sound!  
I am officially Done Done with the first book!

At loooooooooooong last my queries are sent and my brain is moving on. Looking forward to seeing how different the process for book number two will be.  It seems like it should be easier. Gulp. We shall see!

Oh and look who is helping me pound out Book Two for NaNoWriMo. 

 My Self-Prize! 

Pink, shiny, and way too big - but we can fix that!

What a good helper!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Who's That Lady?

Wanna Hear a Story?
My photog friend and I are having a (weather pending) photo shoot.  The goal is to create an authorial headshot to replace this one, which is dandy for my theatrical life, but perhaps for the literary world it would be wise to show less of my - erm - talents. To make matters worse, in thumbnails the top of my head often gets cut off and I needs those brainses!

We plan to gallivant around and see what photo-ops jump out at us.  Could be we get nothing and you are stuck with Ms. "I Know a Secret" over there for a while longer, but we will have fun trying.

I would love a picture involving a wishing well, since it is an image central to my current novel and the nerdiness would be divine. Other than that we are open to suggestions - what do you think, Birdies?

PS:  My Day 2 - NaNoWriMo Count = 3431

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I decided to join the NaNoWriMo Madness this year!  Nerd Power!

Some selected blurb bits from their website...

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.
Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.
Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To give yourself permission to write without obsessing over quality.

In 2010, we had over 200,000 participants. More than 30,000 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever.

My plan is to jumpstart book two in the Children of Utrøst series.  I was tempted to start an unrelated book that has been knocking around in my brain, but I've determined that getting a rough draft of the second book out in the air is the best plan.

Here's what (I think) it's about...

Chase Johnson lost her twin brother in the battle to save Utrøst from the last rat of Hamelin.  The good guys may have won, but Chase is finding it impossible to embrace life without Charlie.  Even Henning, the bear whose voice once made her heart do weird fluttery things, can't reach her.  When Henning needs to return to his mysterious clan, Chase joins him against the wishes of her sister the queen. A road trip across a magical island is certain to be distracting and the secrets that Henning has been keeping may prove to be deadly.

We'll see if it turns out to be anything like this. It's the first time I've had any sort of plan so - who knows!

Any of my Write Campaign Buddies also doing NaNoWriMo? (How do the cool kids say it?  NaNo?  WriMo? Mo? Mary?) I would love to hear your plans and progress!

PS: For those of you who are thinking, "Seems like you may be distracting yourself from original unmet goals related to your first book. Hmmmmm? Haven't you been honking about that for the last 2 million years and now nothing? Hmmmmm? What's up with that? What about your pink sparklie self-prize?"

What's up: My query letter is written and being picked over by some helpful birdies.  My book has been fully reviewed and revised to my satisfaction.  I plan to have the query in the mail on Nov 1 one month after the goal and on the very day that NaNo starts! Hope I can still type with my new sparklie on my wrist!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Skeery Stuff

It's Halloween, I am working in a Haunted Forest, and the villains of my novel are the guilty parties holding up Operation Settle4NovemberFirst. I have evil on the brain. Imagine what my (already notoriously crazy) dreams are like!

Upon the advice of my beloved Crit Group, I have been trying to scary up my bad guys. But there is a distracting inner whisper and I am starting to question how far I really want to push in this direction. 

It is a fantasy novel, but there is a fine line between evil scary and EEEEV-ILL funny. 

Which got me thinking...

What are the necessary elements in a villain cocktail? 

Classic Evil-Tini Recipe
1 Part Bitters to the Core
1 Part Anger Management Issues
Muddle Reality with Twisted Past
Squeeze of Lemon (Directly Into Wound)
 Shake Violently

And just how much can you tinker with the basic recipe before you go from refreshing variation to cough medicine?

Utrøst's Evil-Tini Recipe
1 Part Bitters to the Core
1 Part Positive Thinking
Muddle Fear with Splash of Guilt
Squeeze of Lemon (Directly Into Wound)
Stir Slowly

Something is not working. But what if it's like getting a gin (shudder) martini when you prefer vodka? I will need to do more sampling.

As I poked around for outside inspiration,I found some good lists of classic literary villains. A few of them made me shudder with remembered horror, but mostly I didn't react with fear or disgust. I giggled away, nodding in approval and occasionally applauding as I recognized each name. Mrs. Coulter!  The White Witch! Bill Sykes! Iago! What fun!

And then it dawned on me. The problem is not that I cannot write a scary villain--the problem is that I may be a villain! 

As an actor I always covet the bad guy role. I can't say Voldemort without smiling. The Grinch is my favorite holiday cartoon. If there was a white hat and a black hat and I had to pick one.....well you get the idea.

These are my people. I like them. But maybe I like them too much.
What are the essential ingredients for your Evil-Tini? What will ruin the whole batch?
I'm All Ears!