Magic to Do
I've loved the musical Pippin for a long time. Somehow, I acquired the video version with William Katt and Ben Vereen. There's this fabulous scene where Ben (like I'm on a first name basis with him...) does the old stuff-the-scarf-into-your-hand-and-it-disappears trick. He then spots the scarf up center stage, crosses to it in order to pick it up, and when he does, he pulls up the entire backdrop behind it. Breathtaking!
I knew this new production would be amazing. After seeing the short feature on the Tony Awards, I fell in love. Terrence Mann and circus performers? The colors were gorgeous, and of course, the story and songs are brilliant. It was sure to be a hit!
I guess I didn't realize how much I would love it. Last night, I saw the tour production. I experienced a range of emotions throughout the play. It was fabulous!
I love the idea of the Leading Player being female. Ben, you could do no wrong, but this woman in this role last night was phenomenal! Pippin himself was great, too. The way the directors wove in the circus tricks and magic was perfect. I couldn't imagine a better version.
This particular cast featured Lucie Arnez as Berthe. Her song is so silly and sweet, I couldn't help but tear up throughout it. The set was gorgeous. And the dancing...so much Fosse! Great, great show!
As I watched, I tried to think of an application to writing. What was so intriguing about this story? There's no true villain. The hero is terribly flawed. And (spoilers!) it has a rather anti-climactic ending. What could I possibly learn from this?
There doesn't need to be a villain. The conflict itself lies in Pippin. His antagonist is his dissatisfaction with life. He is constantly sabotaging himself, looking for the next big thing that will fulfill him. And in this, his flaws make him likeable. We can all relate to that feeling of dissatisfaction. We all feel like there's something out there, bigger than us, that will make everything click. (There is, but that's an entirely different post. All I will say is Soli Deo Gloria!) As we walk with Pippin along his journey, we relate to him in a very personal way. Even when he gets whiney and deserves a good kick in the pants, we still connect.
As for the anti-climax, it's just how it needs to be. It's simple, cyclical, and perfect. Without saying too much, we do get to experience that moment where the tension finally breaks, but the final moments leave you shifting in your seat, just a bit uncomfortable. At least until the curtain call (my favorite past of any show), when you get to applaud the brilliant performers.
I am so glad I got to see this production. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment--visually, audibly, and emotionally. If you have the opportunity to see it, I recommend it. Just remember, it's not appropriate for kids. (There were a few there last night, and while I think it's great to expose kids to the theatre, this one isn't a good starting place.)
Thank you, cast and crew of Pippin. And thank you, Stephen Schwartz and team, for creating such a beautiful story told in such a beautiful way!
The first video is the clip from the 2013 Tony Awards. The second includes that moment I mentioned above with Ben Vereen. Enjoy!
My Philosophy of Writing
Well, my first writing class launched today. And yes, indeed, I was quite nervous. I know my presentation was far from flawless, but I really did have a great time chatting with this group of wonderful people. I'm most thankful for this opportunity.
I started by sharing my writing journey and expressing my philosophy on writing. I titled it "The Philosophy of Writing," so perhaps that was a little overarching, but as we eased into the discussion, we all seemed to agree. In my last post, I promised to turn my "class" into a blog post, so here goes:
I write for an audience of One. I want my writing to have a message. To have meaning. To relate truths that better the world. And in my life, that means I write to glorify God. I am blessed to have dedicated readers, but ultimately, my responsibility is to my Creator. With that in mind, I write for Him.
Now, I do try to avoid preaching in my writing. I want to reach people, not make them feel judged or condemned. Beyond my words, I've been there. I know what that feels like, and I don't care for it. I want my readers to understand the depths of God's love and to want to explore that on a deeper, more personal level. That's where I feel my calling lies.
Over the years, I've developed a love for science-fiction. I'm not into everything out there, but I do have quite a few things in the genre that I love. It's a natural fit for me to write sci-fi. And as I've written in previous posts, I feel like sci-fi and God go hand-in-hand--limitless possibilities! The general market has taken sci-fi in a much different way, but I know a handful of folks out there who love a good space adventure without the explicit content. Folks like me. And so I started writing.
If one decides to publish in Christian marketplace, genres are pretty limited. I've learned to accept that, of course. If one decides to publish in the mainstream marketplace, much of the Christian content might be removed. I've actually had ABA publishers tell me they didn't know what to do with a religious sci-fi book and that was the basis of their rejection.
With that in mind, though, this is a great time to be a writer! So many options out there! I've experienced vanity, small press, and self-publishing. Let me say this, I never paid to be published, and I never will. Vanity presses do offer some great services to people who can afford them. I've also seen people hurt by these kinds of companies. The best way I've heard it put is that the author is the customer. They will make money through the various publishing packages and services they offer.
Small press is a totally different ball of wax. There are some great ones out there who publish professional quality products. There are others consisting of authors who got tired of being rejected, decided to self-publish, and then thought they could offer these same services to other authors as a traditional small press. You really have to do your homework and research when you encounter these groups. And if you can't find anything about them, ask the authors (or former authors) in the press's library. You'll be able to get a solid feel from them.
And I never thought I'd say this, but more and more, I am becoming a proponent for self-publishing. It's easy, fast, and offers you ultimate control. With that said, you are still responsible for putting out a quality product. Every book is a promise to your readers, and if you don't fulfill it in the best way possible, you'll lose your audience. Hire a professional editor. Secure a decent cover. (Believe it or not, people certainly do judge books by them...) Do what it takes to put a polished book on the market. Also, don't expect these books to show up on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. It just won't happen. But you can do book signings and other events to sell your book.
When it comes to writing, learn all you can. Be teachable. There are rules for writing. And when done correctly, those rules can be broken. Also realize, at some point, you have to step up and apply what you've taken in. While you are learning, don't take everything everyone says as law. Figure out what works for you. Do your research. A "teacher" may not offer correct information. After all, a lot of conferences and workshops operate on reputation, not the education or actual credentials of the speaker. Because this is such a subjective industry, you have to personalize it and go from there.
That was most of my advice that I shared today. We had a good discussion about agents and the industry in general. The next class will be on point of view and tense. A bit more technical. Always exciting!
Into the Fire
Tomorrow, I embark on a journey I never thought possible. I will be teaching a writing class! I'm very excited about it, but I'm also a little nervous. I've never considered myself a teacher. I've taught children's Sunday school and church, not adults, though. It's a new world for me!
My students will be people I work with. Perhaps not directly, but we all support the mission of the incredible ministry we work for. I've had nine sign up, which is nine more than I thought I'd have. I'm really blessed to have this supportive atmosphere for my first teaching experience.
I'm kicking off the class with the philosophy of writing. We'll discuss why we write and some other general thoughts about the craft. I'll share this concept in blog form in an upcoming post.
And while I know I'm not off to fight in the French Revolution, the gentlemen in the cast of the Broadway version of The Scarlet Pimpernel seem to know a bit of what I'm feeling. Trepidation eased by the confidence of the call. Courage through something bigger than me. (Plus, it's a great song!)
A Thing of Beauty
It has arrived! The new and improved edition of Heralds of the Crown: Poison is now available!
The best place to get the eBook right now is through Smashwords. They have every format available for instant download and great instructions on finding the exact file you need.
The trade paperback edition is available in two spots right now--the CreateSpace store and Amazon. More links will come, and as they do, I will add them to the Buy page on this website.
Thank you to all who made this possible! I would be remiss if I didn't mention Lizzie Campbell and Rising Press. They are fabulous at what they do!
I hope you enjoy Poison!
The Benefit of Perspective
Last night, I attended a casual critique group. This particular group has its regulars, to be sure, but it also is pretty fluid, allowing any writer of any genre to walk in and get feedback on their pages. It's a great set-up. I've gone a few times, but it's been a while. I am so glad I went last evening, though!
Of course, one of the biggest perks is getting to see some of my writer pals!
We silently read pages of the various writers around the table before giving our feedback. The main rule is to stay positive, which I also love. The criticism is offered in a constructive way and is most insightful. I enjoyed reading the different genres, voices, and styles.
Then came my turn.
I felt like I was in the waiting room of the dentist's office before a root canal! Okay, it wasn't that bad. But I am surrounded by talented writers who are tearing apart my work. These are folks I admire. Look up to. They've been writing all their lives...and I feel like a fraud. I mean, yes, I've been writing for nearly 10 years now, but there's that little internal voice that screams, "You're not a writer! You're just you!"
If you're a writer, I'm sure you know that voice. And boy, does it come across loud and clear when you're waiting while others are reading your heart and soul.
Then came the feedback. Good, solid stuff I can build on. Suggestions on better word choices. Questions I need to answer for the reader who might be new to my world. Encouraging words that tell that little voice to stick it. I walked out of that room, confident in my work and my skill. No longer a fraud. I am a writer.
I hope everyone who attended last night got the same thing out of the group I did. There's nothing like the support of other writers. The knowledge base and familiarity with the craft they can provide strengthens any work. Perspective is crucial!
Do you attend critique groups on a regular basis? How have they benefitted you?
Well, here it is! A (sort of) new cover for the new edition of Heralds of the Crown: Poison! I love the updated look. Gives it a hint of creepiness, which the story has, too. So excited for Friday (Re-release Day)!!
Back cover description:
As part of a sect called the Strages, Marcella is ordered to execute fierce assaults on the Logia—gifted believers in the triune deity known as the Crown. After receiving a vision, she begins to question her allegiance and finds herself seeking counsel from a leader in the Logia faith, whom she was sent to annihilate. When her mentor, Thaed, uncovers her betrayal, he orders her to do the unthinkable—kill the Logia leader who has become her friend. Her choice will result in either the destruction of the Logia or her own death. The series of Strages attacks call the Logia to prepare for a major battle. In doing so, Gaultier Lassiter is enlisted. When he discovers an unconscious young woman buried in a snowdrift, his world is turned upside down. She has no memory and no ability to speak—only a strange symbol carved into her chest. The question of her identity leads to a journey of legendary proportions. Between his own personal struggles with his estranged brother, his unmet potential, and the murder of a close friend, Gaultier fights to cling to his faith. And once the mystery is solved, will Gaultier be prepared to face the truth?
Go with the Flow
Language is fluid. Changing all the time. In some ways, that's a good thing. But if you're not one for change, you'll have a tough time.
Back in grade school, I learned how to spell an exclamation of excitement as "Yea!" That also indicated a positive vote in a formal setting. Perhaps I was taught incorrectly, but I employed that spelling for a long time. A few years back, though, I noticed more and more people spelling it, "Yay!"
I have to say, it still irks me.
But I use it. I've caved. If I continued using the old spelling, I'd look ridiculous. The culture has dictated this change, so I'm going with it.
There are "newer" words in our language I still refuse to use--bling and selfie to name a few. I've said it before and I'll say it again...I'm old-fashioned. It's just one of those things.
What words have you seen change? Or what words can you not stand?
Oooh, we have a busy week ahead!
We're re-launching Heralds of the Crown: Poison on Friday. Aren't you excited?! I have a brand new publisher behind the series--Rising Press. You can follow them on Twitter: RisingPress
Poison will have a slightly different cover design, which I will reveal some time in the next couple of days. I am most excited about the print version. It's beautiful! I can't wait to share it with the world!
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3