Rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong

So, yes, we are talking about live musicals now! Because of course we are! Now that I’ve watched the three most recent, I feel supremely qualified to tell you exactly what to think about the format, and the strengths and weaknesses of each.

First things first, let’s g’head and disqualify Peter Pan immediatement. I didn’t watch very much of it, I believe I ended right after Captain Hook and his merry band of pirates did their big number, and while some may say that means I shouldn’t judge it…they would be wrong. For you see, DNF (did not finish) means you already failed me. And I say that as an author whose book will debut in September of this year. If it fails you, you can still review it. That’s how that works.

I recall the set being much as I remember from previous such events, stagey – which isn’t a bad thing. (Until you see Grease. But wait! We’re not there yet.) The big problem with Peter Pan? It was charmless. Allison Williams’ Peter was charmless. There’s…. really no coming back from that. So. Done. Simple.

Right! On to the good stuff.

Yes, I was hyped for this. So were we all. Packed with stars, debuting a new talent, and new music? YES, THANK YOU. So how did it rate?

A solid 4.5/5 stars. Better than solid. I’ve watched it half a dozen times already with my son. It can easily be bumped up to 5 stars when you consider how necessary it was and still is. BUT. Where it faltered:

(1) Technical Difficulties.

Of course live performances have their share of missteps, particularly with random occurrences of dead space or unintended pauses. It happened enough times to be obvious. Moments that come to mind: Addapearle’s entrance and exit – which really bummed me out because she was LIT. Like, ON. FIYAH. GLORY! The Poppy/Lion dance – which felt like perhaps the music took too long to come up so it was like, should someone be speaking right now? Do we all know our blocking? The Wiz’s grand gestures – which were meant to be synced with special effects.

(2) Length.

It went by so quickly!! Not to mention that there was no ending/Kansas resolution, which was surprising! We seriously could’ve used an additional half hour AT. LEAST. And the real desire for back-on-the-farm resolution is tied to something I will note in the “Where it WON” part of this discussion.

Which starts now.

(1) SANG.

I mean. Can we just. Did they not. Like, f’real. Starting with Aunt Em’s beautiful rendition of “The Feeling We Once Had.” Then Addapearle? Then Scarecrow? Then Tinman’s “What Would I Do?”

I can’t express it to you fully in words, but I feel like she gets it.

Nothing. Will touch. The music. I loved the new song, and I was so pleasantly surprised that having been raised on Michael Jackson’s “You Can’t Win,” Elijah Kelley rocked.my.socks.

*I will confess that I wasn’t a fan of Dorothy’s sharpness whenever they sang “Ease On Down The Road.”

(2) Casting!

Seriously, just amazing choices, including Queen Latifah as the Wiz. YES. Elijah Kelley’s Scarecrow was just. I was in love. Until Ne’yo’s Tinman. Which brings me to the whole WE ALL HAVE ALWAYS WANTED DOROTHY AND TINMAN TOGETHER, RIGHT?! That’s a thing, yes?! Because the fact that we don’t go back to the farm and have Dorothy realize they’re all there – which yes, is more Wizard of Oz than the Wiz but wasn’t the Wiz on stage more blended, story-wise?! – that is what really hurt the length and ending for me. Give me closure on my shipping please!

dorothyandtinmanforever ::ahem::

(3) Costuming!

You already be knowing. So yes. Cannot choose favorites, but I *will* say…. this is another reason we needed a longer production. Can you imagine something more akin to the Emerald City scene in The Wiz, the film?! I would have died.

*Special mention: Cirque du Soleil! The whimsy. Seriously, this was such a beautiful addition, and really bridged the film and stage versions beautifully.

Which brings us to the most recent production: Grease.

Here’s the thing. Production-wise? It was dang near perfect. For real. It was the reason you wanna be the last person to present. Because you maybe didn’t even think to do it until you saw someone else do it, and then you were like, pretty sure I can do that better, plus I’ve seen all the ways you misfired, so. Yeah. It was baller, production-wise. And strangely, I can’t give it above a 4. Here’s why:

(1) Casting

Super torn here. Loved the ladies, I think Sandra Dee was perfectly cast, was surprised and in love with Rizzo – her performance wasn’t amazing in light of her father’s passing, it was amazing – and truth be told, I really like Kenickie. Buuuut…

It seemed like everyone was performing the film. As in, they were mimicking the people who played the part before them, instead of playing the part? It worked for Rizzo and Kenickie…everyone else felt like a caricature, to be honest, even my beloved Keke.

And EXCUSE ME but Danny is 47 years old. Stop.

Stop it.

(2) I don’t like Grease!

Yeah, I’m having to just admit it, after having my entire senior year seem to revolve around my class’s love of Grease and all things Grease and wait, also Footloose – it’s just not me. I was always the least in love, though I liked it well enough but. THIS IS A HORRIBLE STORY. Like, for real. The guys are completely unacceptable, period, Danny is just gross full-stop. I can’t.

Rizzo’s song saves the day. Well, that and Beauty School Drop-out.

The transformation at the end is just.

Which, yes, isn’t a function of the live performance, it’s a problem with the story itself.

(3) Singing

This was a little hit or miss for me. Even Boys II Men was a little warbly, which was just sad and made me feel like the world I grewed up in is dead. BUT the opening number? By someone the kids know? That was great. As I said, Rizzo’s number was great, the ensemble stuff – though sometimes you couldn’t hear the lead – and Marty’s song was nice. I’d say Danny and Sandy’s singing were my least favorite, though it wasn’t painful or anything.

So…..amazing production. Wish it’d been a different show?

*Special mentions: Doody’s “Those Magic Changes”, Frenchy, and Blanche.

Is there anyway we could get a longer, Grease! style do-again (not do-over!) of The Wiz?!

Spotting Sweet 16s!

The year of debut is finally here, not just for me, but also for all my Sweet 16 siblings! One thing I didn’t realize was how exciting it would be to go into Barnes and Noble and spot their books in the wild! So fun!

I met up with Margot Harrison, author of the forthcoming THE KILLER IN ME, in Burlington, VT, and scoped out the debuters already on the shelves!

Sweet 16s January

I know onlookers must’ve thought we were holding our own books, haha! But it was so exciting! So cool to have something to send them, like checking in on your friend’s kid away at uni or something. :D They’re doing fine and thriving and they love you, Laurie and Marieke!

Just in case you haven’t heard of Laurie’s FIRSTS and Marieke’s THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS – somehow, some way – you’ll find their titles linked to Goodreads, so go have a look!

Holy goodness. Someday this will be my book, spotted places I didn’t put her, exciting fellow Sweet 16ers. ::head explodes:: Cannot imagine!

 

A Relative To Truth

When I was writing Keepsake and imagining its title, I was reading a lot of quotes about memory, a key theme of the story. Well. Everything about the story, really. But the point is, I have a fixation with memories. I’m just realizing that now as I catalog the themes of my novels…

Huh.

I guess anyone who journals rabidly and blogs and writes and documents could probably have guessed this. I never said I was sharp.

Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.  ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels:  it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.  ~Salvador Dali

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders. ~William Faulkner

Yeah, most of them are about how our memories are worthless, for being changeable. I’m paraphrasing. I haven’t decided how I feel about that, so I’ll probably keep writing about it, even though I think Keepsake helped me parse some of it.

ANYWAY. The point is, my brain is a wonderland. I was sitting, minding my own business, melting into a puddle of “I’ve just finished writing”/“The rabid squirrels have been released!” when by some unknown wizardry, BAM:

::ahem::

So.

Smelled this. Nostrils. Invaded. I mean, obviously not because I haven’t fed this to my son in ten full and thorough years, aside from which I haven’t lived in the UK in said stretch of time so that it is impossible that I should have smelled this baby food. But my brain decided to pretend. The thing is, and I don’t even know how this is possible – I smelled it in the freezing cold that was our kitchen in Bangor. You’re not getting it. YES, cold has a smell (it does) but I was smelling the feeling.

Whatever.

I know what I smelled.

Okay, but that wasn’t even the last weird time-leap-memory-smell thing. Before I went to bed, BAM:

Childhood. California. Walking with my mom and siblings. Eating off of trees. I don’t even know if these are the plums we had because I am pretty sure God discontinued them and it has been one of the great treasure hunts of my life, about which I will someday pen an epically tragic memoir in the vein of Lisa Simpsons’ “My Own Mother Gave My Last Cupcake Away.”

I will never have that texture and taste and smell back, except randomly, when I’m awake at 3am and delirious from writing.

Thanks for comin’ out.

Postscript: Upon reviewing this post, I suspect I should schedule an MRI, just to be safe.

You Are Hearing Me Talk

There are things over which an author has no control. This is never more easily understood then when you are the author. Lately, there’s been at least one dust-up over something the author of a very popular series could not really be expected to change. Because, the “not in control” thing. But I guess some people think we’re just kidding.

Expectation:

Reality:

(But she looks comfy, tho.)

And so anyway, the point of all this is who knows what will be, but IF I were to see an audio rendition of The Last Life of Avrilis (guess where that links to… guess!), I have but one request. That the narrator be one of the following:

Pictures

To be fair, I think everything should be narrated by one or both of them. No. Not both. We would not survive it.

While, on deeper meditation, it seems strange to have a grown man narrate a novel with a young female protagonist written by a woman… I don’t know how to finish that sentence. Have you heard them speak?! Was your soul not awakened?! (Apparently I have no convictions and stand for nothing. Because I think this could still work.)

But on the off chance that either selection would be off-putting, I will also benevolently accept another superstar narrator, in the form of Meagan Good.

 

And Start Again At Your Beginnings

New book, new process. That is the apparent fact of my life as a writer. So despite that I’m writing a “sequel” – and you’re all, Bethany, why would you put that in quotations, and I’m all, Friend, I can’t really go into that – writing Avrilis 2.0 is another exercise in learning to write the book. And that’s not a bad or hard thing.

It’s exciting to me to figure out what I need and what I need to know to really start a project. Once I had my grid process for Avrilis 1.0 (whose Goodreads page I SHAN’T neglect to foist upon you from here on in, get used to it!), I thought that would be the key to all future projects.

Shuttup.

Anyway.

So I still have the chapter grid, altho the column functions are different now because I graduated from needing all of them (YAY improvement!) and also identified which ones I don’t really rely on (like “dialogue” became “highlights”), but I have disabused myself of “pantser” or even “plotter” in the sense that I often see it used.

Hello-My-Name-Is-Label-LB-1992

I have accepted how very much happens on the page. I imagine the writer who can completely plot out a novel and know down which rabbit holes her mind will go, and I think, how nice for her. Or something less committal and equally uninvested. The thing is, go, her. Do you, everybody. But I am very aware that anything I plot will end up sounding super boring or will be so far-fetched that I’d never get there organically once pen goes to paper. Or I’ll summarize a conflict in one sentence and be like, this is gonna bloom once I’m actually writing it! And either, nope, that was it, wasn’t as deep as you thought, or yep, there’s no logic to that. Too intentional.

SO! What worked/is working with this one: I wrote down the major things I knew would happen and estimated where in the book they would occur. (That’s something I’ve never done, btw, tho it feels closely related to word-count segmenting, which I did for This Is Not Heaven.) And then I worked my way back from the first such thing (I mean, the first chapter inciting incident notwithstanding), and voila. First five chapter outline, give or take.

But to be honest, this time the thing that made everything pop-pop! (isn’t it cuuuute how Magnitude went on to be Sid in Galavant, d’awwwwwwwwww)

– wait, where were we?

YES! So the thing that ended up being the MEAT? Totes not the list of big things or whatever the devil I was talking about here. It’s what happened off-camera (Bethany, you’re talking about a book. I know, shuttup.) and how people feel about it. Seems so DUH once it’s decided. But something was missing and trying to just plot out a book and think about the things that would happen and even KNOWING the things that would happen didn’t make it WORK.

All of which is to say, that column I didn’t need on a grid anymore… is basically what I just circuitously defined as being the thing I needed to know.

Look Alive! Have A Lively Look About You!

I AM HERE.

What is life, guise. What is it.

What’s this life for.

It’s like…. life.

It’s bigger.

It’s bigger than you, and you are not me.

I’m….sorry, those are various song lyrics and assorted foolishments. I can’t rightly remember how to do this, but I feel like I’m nailing it.

So anyway, I am no longer an expatriate, for one thing, as my family has moved five minutes inside the US border. There’s that. So many changes, all at once, this summer was a whirlwind. And now it’s quiet. Like, country quiet. Like, city folk sitting in corners holding lanterns and holy water quiet. Which brings me to we got a new dog! (Read: a bigger, younger, much more vocal dog.)

Walker

Meet Walker. He is convinced he’s a cat, a human child, and whatever fights apple trees. I will love him more when he’s not teething anymore. (Spoiler: that bed – that bed that geriatric Phineas loved? – is no more.)

Other news: I am a Goodreads author with a book page for Avrilis and that just hasn’t lost its luster yet! LLoA is in copy edits, I’m anxiously and excitedly waiting to see what her cover will look like (insert SPDJFPOSKAGPKSDFG or some reasonable facsimile), and I’m writing the second book (more on that later)!

I’ve made friends with the local library (well, one town over), mostly because they are housed in this ridiculously awesome brick colonial and YAS. Oh and they gave me books so… I mean, friends for life.

So yes, we love the house, Ezzie loves his new school (1st time in an American school, he feels like he’s arrived!), we’re happily still in our church family, and life is moving right along!

Hopefully I’ll have more news to share soon! ;)

OHANDIT’SALMOSTCHRIS–

How I Be

I managed to solve a little problem today. And to celebrate? I’m going to tilt my chair.

Yep. I’m just speaking in Homer Simpsons quotes now. It is the perfectest herald of joy, so they say. (They don’t say that.)

During this whole move back to the United States but not a state we’ve ever lived in situation, there is UH LOT to do. Trust. And I’ve gotten some good-great revising done and am somewhat staying productive? Somewhat.

BUT!

I’ve been musing on Avrilis Book 2 – hold for glitter cannon festivities – and today the elements and recent story bit additions feel like they slipped into place so that it feels like this is a book! The world wraps around that, the characters themselves fuse it all together – with their whys and needs and motivations – and I know you’re thinking, why would you be this pleased over something that’s admittedly early stage? Because that’s how you get to the next one.

Sing wid me now…

That’s Where You’ll Fiiiiiiind Meeeee

I’m not saying I’m bidding this blog adieu – SWEAR! – but so much things, guys. Everyday life is getting real for the moment, SO:

If you’re looking for me, you are most likely to find entertainment on my FB author page! (Click it up!)

If you’re looking to read some of my work, you must away to tNY Press’ Electronic Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature and read an excerpt of my novel! So happy to have a piece of my non-traditional, cross-genre novel out in the ether. Can’t wait to share the whole thing! And also, highkey loving the artwork they paired with my story!

I shall blog gloriously someday/eventually. Until then, take it one day at a time. And know that I love you.

My 1st Twitter Chat: #WO2016 Edition

Oh. Things.

Life post-book deal (PBD) has definitely been exciting and interesting, friends. I often wondered how I was going to fill my time after I signed with an agent, when I didn’t need to keep up with agent research and requests and forums on which one commiserates with other writers in the query trench. Alongside subbing my short stories and revising and writing new projects, it made up quite a large part of my job. So what could possibly fill that?

Everything. Everything else. Since announcing LLoA’s sale, I’ve joined a couple of communities – which.are.awesome – and recently took part in my first PBD twitter chat. (Despite having that morning suffered a major screen tragedy.)

#WO2016 had our first Twitter party and it was so much fun! And also, for those of you on FB who only saw one side of the conversation, possibly really annoying! My apologies! So today, I wanted to put it in context for you so you can see what the heck I was talking about. And fingers crossed, you’ll come to the next one.

So! First things first, bien sur – Q1: We introduced ourselves and our books.

Intro. - Mozilla Firefox 822015 62434 PM.bmp

LLoA.bmp

This was so awesome because despite being on forums and groups with these authors, I felt like I got *such* a clearer impression not just of their stories but of their worlds. Love.

This was also interesting because on this journey, I’ve done a number of elevator pitches, loglines, twitter contests, pitch workshops, etc – and still I just wing it. (Winged? Wung?) And when you’re talking to other authors, bloggers, readers, etc, the constant wonder: am I telling the most interesting aspects or have I forgotten? Of course, there’s not a lot of time to ponder this since the timeline is racing by!

The second question (Q2) was: What book have you stayed up way past your bedtime reading?

I may have gotten very excited at my tweep’s response to this answer. A little.

What is better than sharing our love of a book? Sharing our love of a character.

Q3: If you could spend a day with any character from a book, who would it be and why? 

A3Yes, I failed to answer the second half that question but. I feel like it’s self-evident. Come on. I may have zoned out, just ruminating on Ender and Valentine for a moment or seven.

The time slot was racing by – amidst a lot of other side-convos and fun exchanges – but we did squeeze in one more question.

Q4: Why do you write?

A4.co8ho6gdb22w - Mozilla Firefox 822015 45420 PM.bmpA4.2.bmpFirst of all, how much do we love typos that get retweeted and favorited? Not at all. Of course I meant “a” not “an” but LET’S NOT OBSESS OVER THAT. Or “have written” but that’s more Twitter’s fault blah blah blah LET’S TALK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, BWAM = Black woman, Asian male. There are criminally few romantic Asian male leads in entertainment, period, and no, it’s not cool. So. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Relatedly, though, an interesting little factoid came up during the chat when authors were talking about characters taking on a life of their own and forcing changes to the plot:

Minor Characters.bmpAnd finally, a snippet of the conversation that was very, very important to me. Part of discussing why we write, I think, and though it wasn’t related to LLoA, it is near and dear to me.

Therapy. =This refers to my novel, THIS IS NOT HEAVEN, which is written in a nontraditional format and for which I am looking for the perfect home. It’s sci-fi, academic, short and intense and the most cathartic thing I’ve written to date. Because this past few years have been difficult in a way that otherwise defies translation. And if you want to know what social commentary and race and trauma have to do with aliens and immortality… well, I hope to one day soon be able to tell you.

And of course, “the” should be “this” – as it is on-going – but again LET’S NOT OBSESS OVER THAT, BETHANY.

And that, my friends, is a glimpse at the first #WO2016 twitter chat! So much fun! I’ll be hosting one toward the end of the year but you can find me taking part in them about twice a month. Hope to see you at the next one!

 

Introducing: Triton (LLoA)

I’m a Sweet 16er, a member of the 2016 YA/MG Debut group. True fact: I have been loving these groups (and their names) since the Apocalypsies of 2012. So cool to be in one – and come on. The Sweet 16s? Awesome.

In July, the #SixteensBlogAbout character so I want to introduce one of my favorites from The Last Life of Avrilis: Triton, of the silver planet.

Triton

First things first: I found this picture (and edited the eyes, of course) ALL of the years ago. Which sadly means I don’t recall from whence it came or how to give proper credit. If you see this and are the photographer or model, please let me know!

So, TRITON! I adore him, I truly do, from his black eyes (he lost the whites to his work underground) to his dreadlocks to his zeppelin to his staggering height to his reverent custom of salutation. He’s originally from Infinitas, the silver planet across the sky from sweet (much more Victorian) Aetas. Infinitas has a haze around it – the first indication of the difference between the twin worlds and a result of their constant progress and mechanization, and Triton fits in as the prophet’s engineer.

In lifetimes past, he’s loved Nestra – more on her in a later post? – but this time they’ve both taken the oath: not to follow the script until the prophet’s plan to end it once and for all has come to pass and the new age begins. His loyalties and the pride he’s held in his position will be tested when Avrilis suddenly appears and with her, revelations about the prophet, the script, the oath and what the so-called new age will cost.

Never defy the planets. Never change the script.

The Last Life of Avrilis will be published in September 2016! Find out more of the story at Bethany C. Morrow and follow along with my author page on Facebook!