Friday, April 30, 2010

Off to Muse & Marketplace

 Tomorrow, I'm off to Grub Street's Muse & the Marketplace writer's conference.  It'll be two days of workshops, panels, networking, and a whole bunch of people trying to put their best feet forward.  (Hopefully not too forcefully.)  I start off with a one-on-one session with an agent from NYC to talk about the first few pages of my middle-grade novel (fingers crossed, hoping that she liked it).  After that, the pressure will be off (sort of), and I can just focus on learning as much as I can and meeting new people.

Last year I had a great time, and I love that I can just hop on the T and get to a conference with 500 other writers.  Lately, my head's been pretty deep into theatre (though I did just go on a research trip for my newest novel), so this will be a good jolt back to fiction for a few days. 

(Though I'll be right back into theatre-mode for my reading next Thursday.)  (You're going, right?)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekly Update (#3)

Okay, so I'm a little late on the update, but we were on vacation and it took a while to get caught up:

What I've been writing:

Well, I was out of town, so I haven't done much actual writing, but I did get in some on-the-ground research in Charleston and Beaufort, SC, for my Robert Smalls project(s).  Very helpful to get to see it all in person, including Fort Sumter.  Took pages of notes and lots of photos.  I carried my video camera all the way to SC, but didn't have a tape and didn't have time to get one.  Oh, well.

Today, instead of working on Robert Smalls, I was working on my history of the English Bible play.  I'm juggling a lot of projects right now, but sometimes that's a good thing.

The business side:

No real business news this week.   We've finished casting the upcoming reading of Constant State of Panic, which is a very good thing.  (As a reminder, the reading will be at Boston Playwrights Theatre, May 6, 7pm.)

Last night I was hanging out with Huntington Theatre Company friends and donors are their big gala.  Quite a party. 

My play, Confirmed Sighting did not win its night at the NYC 15-Minute Play Festival, which was too bad, but appreciate all the hard work on the part of the actors and Deb Linehan, the director.  Wish I could have seen the show, but it was too close to our return from vacation.  I did get to see Lies, Lies, Lies in Boston's Chinatown by the Actors Refuge Repertory Theatre this weekend, and they did a fine job.

This upcoming weekend, I'll be attending Grub Street's Muse and Marketplace conference, taking in lots of workshops and a meeting with an agent.  I had a great time at the event last year and am looking forward to it again (with requisite high hopes for something good to happen).  (Please send good vibes, mojo, whatever, towards Boston for me.)

Now I have to go cook dinner before heading off to my Rhombus playwrights' meeting tonight.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weekly Update

Back for another weekly update (see, two weeks in a row, I'm on a roll).

What I've been writing:

This week, I kept working hard on rewrites/overhaul of my play about the history of the English Bible.  I got useful feedback from both my Rhombus and Huntington playwright groups and keep trying to figure it all out.  I've got most of the first act, at least in the proper shape (I think), and am anxious to get on to writing/re-writing Act II (though I already know how it ends).

In addition, I'm working on a new novel about Civil War hero Robert Smalls--I did a bunch of research on it years ago, but it got pushed aside, but now I'm getting started again.  Tomorrow, as part of our family spring break trip, Tracy and I are getting two days on our own in Charleston (thanks, Mom!), where I can do some serious research for the book.  That's one of the cool things about being a writer--booking my tickets for a ferry ride to Fort Sumter actually counts as work.  And this week, it turned out that a brand new traveling exhibit on Robert Smalls opened at the Museum of Afro-American history here in Boston--I got to attend the opening reception and listened to an informative and entertaining talk by Professor Jeffrey Bolster (who wrote Black Jacks, a hugely useful and important book about the history of black American seafarers).  I'll be returning to the museum a lot as I jump back into the Robert Smalls research (especially since they have models of the ships, The Planter and the Keokuk).

The business side:

Just got some good news yesterday that my short play, Confirmed Sighting, will be part of the Boston Theatre Marathon on May 23rd, at the Calderwood Pavillion Theatre in Boston's South End.  This is one of my favorite theatre events of the year--producing 50 plays, by 50 writers, by 50 different theatre companies (and it benefits the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund).  I should find out in the next week or so which company will be producing my play. 

I also got myself to sit down and e-mail my list in New York and Boston about upcoming shows--Confirmed Sighting will be part of the NYC-15-Minute Play Festival next Saturday, April 24.  Lies, Lies, Lies, will be produced in Boston by the Actors Refuge Repertory Theatre on April 23 and 24th.  (And about the reading on May 6th.)

We've cast most of the upcoming reading of Constant State of Panic--with any luck we'll be done in the next few days.  (As a reminder, the reading will be at Boston Playwrights Theatre, May 6, 7pm.)

The rest of life:

This week, I had a few meetings for the Brookline Special Education Parent Advisory Council (I'm co-chair), and spent time on our various gardens (the lettuce is up, beet seeds and onions went in this week, and we repotted a couple hundred plants this morning at the 200 Foot Garden). 

Now it's time to go back for South Caroline/Florida.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Weekly Update

I've been doing a pretty crummy job of posting regularly on this blog.  Mostly just because I've been too busy.  But I'm going to resolve to try to post at least a weekly update, every week, for a while, letting folks know what's up.

So, my writing life, lately:

What I've been writing: 
I spent quite a few hours last week and this week, writing some cell phone plays that are part of a project that the Huntington Theatre is working on with the Huntington Playwriting Fellows.  These will be a tiny part of a big new works festival sponsored by the Huntington, ART, and ICA, here in Boston this summer.   We were writing short, 3-5 minutes plays, that people can access via cell phone, based on an interactive map (or something like that).  In this case, the writers also needed to be performers, so I went in and recorded my play earlier this week.   I'm curious to see how it turns out and if anyone actually listens.  I wrote eight different short little plays/monologues, experimenting with different ideas and voices (only one will be actually used).  It was a fun exercise.  I'll definitely post more information when I have it.  In some ways it was like some of the radio theatre that I've done in the past, but there's also a different, slightly more intimate relationship between listener and performer when using a cell phone.

My other big project is completely tearing apart my historical play about the creation of the English Bible.  It used to be called God's Voice, then was Four Words for a little bit, now it's called Fire on Earth (which I like a lot better).  It also used to have William Tyndale as the main character, required 6 actors, and had about a dozen characters.  None of those things are true anymore.   It's probably the most radical rewrite of a play that I've attempted yet, but I think it's the right direction.  We'll see.  It's rough as hell at the moment, so hopefully my writers' groups will be patient with me as I figure out the new direction/framework.

The business side:
Well, I got through Playwright Submission Binge #16, where we try to send out a play every day for 30 days.  And I did actually make a submission every day for the whole period.  Now it's back to waiting.

Production-wise, I've got a play, Confirmed Sighting, in the NYC-15 Minute Play Festival on April 24, at the American Globe Theatre, 145 W. 46th Street.  Deb Linehan, who has directed some of my work in Gloucester before, and is now in NYC, will direct.  If it makes it through to the finals, it'll get two more performances.

Brooklyn Publishers just published my 30-minute one-act comedy for high school students, The Next Big Thing, which is immensely fun.  I hope that, for me, it really does end up being the next big thing and that scores and scores of students and teachers decide to produce it.  We'll see.

Oh, this is a biggie.  I'll be having a reading of my play, Constant State of Panic, at the Boston Playwrights Theatre, on Thursday, May 6.  Bevin O'Gara will direct.  This will be very fun.  If you're in Boston, I demand/beg that you come check it out.

On the down side, my novel, Tornado Siren, is now officially out of print.  Though you can still buy them from Amazon for a while.  Or from me (even better, and they come signed).

The rest of life:
Involves of a lot of gardening--I have three gardens: a community garden plot in Roxbury, a shared backyard garden we're starting this year with some friends, and the 200 Foot Garden, a cool public garden project that continues to grow (with its ups and downs--our greenhouse lost part of its roof earlier this week).  Various meetings and events seem to be conspiring to make my life feel especially full these days.  (Shall we say over full?)

Okay--that's the update.  I'll try to have more good news to share next week. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

fun new half-hour comedy for high school students: The Next Big Thing

My new half-hour comedy for high school students, The Next Big Thing, has just been published by Brooklyn Publishers.  Here's the blurb:
Together with their assistant Kelsey, venture capitalists Beckman and Mortimer search for a device to be the heart of their next business, and the result is a parade of oddball inventors, each certain they've discovered the next big thing.

It's a super fun play, with a flexible cast of 6-15.  Each of the roles can be played by either a boy or a girl, which should give schools a lot of flexibility, and there's a variety of roles, which will accommodate students with different skill/experience levels.  But the most important thing is that it's a script where the kids can really play and have a good time (and so will the audience).

You can read a script preview on the site, which will give you a taste of it.  If you know any high school drama teachers or drama students, please pass the word.  I've had some very nice success with scripts published by Brooklyn, and  I hope to see this play performed a lot in the future.