Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's Blog Award Time!

What is the Liebster Blog Award you might ask…I wondered the same thing when my friend Lori Stephens from On Writing and (sometimes) Publishing included me in her list of bloggers to bestow this award. (Thank you, Lori!)

Liebster means dear or favorite or apparently a “googol” of other positive things in German (so says the other ‘google’), and the official rules are as follows:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks [blogs with fewer than 200 followers] and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4.  Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!

Here are my picks: (along with Lori’s blog that I always read)
1. A Case of the Awesomes
is a blog by two women that I do not know – but they crack me the hell up. Give ‘em a try and see what I mean.   
2. 
 Derek Flynn makes the world a little smaller by giving me music and occasional rants from Ireland. (And a really nice person to follow.)

3. 
 Scott Morgan supplies some great writing tips and useful information at his blog. And he has a book full of character development writing tips coming out this fall!
4. Author Laura B. Grossman gives insight into not only her writing world – but all that entails with promotion after the ‘pen has been put down.’ Check her out!  
5.  I like to get my weekly forecast from Kathy Biehl which is great for people who follow astrology or even those who dabble in it. Her Texas background as well as being an actress also gives me another connection to her.

Congrats to the bloggers that I've passed this Blog Award! Pass the love around and I hope the award brings more readers to your blog and that you have an amazing year ahead!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tornadoes, Earthquakes & Hurricanes

When I was ten years old, I was in one of the worst tornadoes that part of Texas had seen in decades. I went to the movies with a friend and his father and midway through Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, I heard a freight train going overhead. It was one of the strangest and yet frightening things I can recall. Once it was over, we walked out into the mall to all sorts of devastation and it took over two hours for us to drive the ten miles back to our small town. Since then, storms of any kind have always bothered me. I don't do well with mother nature. For years after that - a tornado siren could cause me to break out in hives. Luckily those times have changed, but this past week of sitting at my desk and feeling the earth move around me and then a few days later waiting for Irene to hit New Jersey...those feelings towards all things weather/earth shifts have come up again. I suppose it doesn't really matter what part of the country we live in any more. We've learned that no matter where you are, nature can pull whatever she wants on us. I've always thought that nature would dictate where I would want to eventually retire and settle down...but I guess we can't really run from it. Instead...I'll just think in terms of a place that has a decent climate where I'm not too hot or too cold. I hope everyone is surviving the aftermath of Irene in the Northeast...and for those in other places - surviving what ever the "Great Mother" may be throwing towards you.    

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Perspective


Have you noticed that people ask "where were you when X?" Elvis died. The Royal Wedding occurred. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. And when we start to tell a story, we give what we were doing at the moment. It happened today when the earthquake hit in Virginia and much of the East coast felt the shock from it. We all needed to turn and share our own story of what we were doing/feeling at that exact moment. Even though many people are experiencing it - we only know how it affected us at that time. Stop and think about 9/11 and while you'll envision images we've seen of that horrible day, you'll also think about what exactly you were doing at that precise time. (I was on a train heading towards Hoboken, NJ.)

The idea of our perspectives came crashing into my mind from how flooded twitter and facebook became today after the earthquake. And the next thing I thought about was how writers have to do this with their characters all the time. Perspective is so important to the thrust of a story...which person we are choosing to tell a particular point of the story arc. What does that character see in the situation? How does it make them feel? Are their feelings different from the other characters or society in general? These are important aspects to think about because just like life - the way a character feels about a situation or perceives it tells us so much about that person. 

That's my writing "ah-ha" moment for today...now back to reading my twitter feed to see how those I follow are giving their unique spin on the earthquake aftermath.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Like Buttah!

I cannot put my finger on why Ms. Streisand has always meant so much to me. The cliche of being gay is just to easy...and while gay men have flocked to the gawky woman who found a way to fit into the world for decades, there is so much more to her. Tuesday she has a new CD coming out which if sales take off could mean she enters her 6th decade of having a number one album/CD on the charts (he types on the weekend as his other half just downloaded a Streisand song from iTunes). 
For me - she has been the soundtrack for my life. From the moment my mother had me sit and watch Funny Girl through being a kid in the 70s listening to Streisand (and Manilow) on my FM portable radio, through her powerful songs of the 80s and 90s...she has always spoken to me through her voice and lyrics she chooses to sing. So many of those songs have been the words of Alan & Marilyn Bergman who know how to to cut to the emotion of what they are speaking of - and Barbra can deliver that emotion like no one else. (It is actually their songs on her new CD he says with a giddy excitement.) 
She also knows what she wants and goes after that - and this control freak LOVES that aspect. People have called her all sorts of things while working with her or interviewing or, but being a person who likes to have her hand in all aspects of her art isn't such a bad thing. It means she cares and she only wants what is best for her fans. Years ago when I ran into her in Central Park and got up the nerve to actually speak to her - I kept telling myself that it was possible she could have swatted me down quickly and yelled at me for intruding on her pleasant day out in the park. But she was as nice to a young fan as she could be...and that truly is a person who understands how to maintain that 'star' for many decades. I was lucky to have seen her in Madison Square Garden years after that and so glad she is still going strong now. 
Welcome back to my iPod, Babs!           

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Simple Choice Can Change it All


I just returned from a very relaxing vacation in beautiful Boothbay Harbor, Maine. There is a reason that place is known as ‘vacationland’ – because you can feel your body relax and let go. I was there 22 summers ago – but not for vacation. I worked there doing summer stock theater back when I was a performer. Sometimes vacation gives us time to take stock of our lives. The last 22 years flashed in front of me and I noticed all those choices made that would send me down a different path. I can pinpoint the moment I made a decision to turn down an international tour of a show and I often wondered if that one choice was what eventually led me to leaving that business or would my life had been different. Not that I’m not completely happy with where my life has gone in those years. I took more twists and turns on my road through corporate America to other creative endeavors, wonderful friendships and relationships I’ve made along the way to where I am now having just celebrated 11 years with my other-half last week. 
Those are the big choices we look at in life. But there are small ones we make daily as well. Ever hear of someone who does the exact same thing every morning, but one day decides to make a change and it averts them from an accident they would have been involved in? Or a person who doesn’t get on a plane and then reads of its crash in the paper? What daily choices are you making that are affecting you or are you simply going through life? I hope to think I’m making the right ones. I realize there is room for stumbling and sometimes failure – but I think I have to make the choice to give it a try. As my favorite Lincoln quote says: “In the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Blog!


I can't believe its been a year on 8.10 that I took to the blogosphere. My first blog was about a poem of mine being published in an anthology and a year later, I'm happy to be blogging about other publishing accomplishments as well as a slew of other topics. Everything from Broadway show reviews, to things that get me riled up in the news, to equality - blogging has changed me as a writer. A friend of mine (who has read every single thing I've ever written) said to me she thought I found 'my voice' when I started blogging. I think in a way it has helped to hone that voice and create a better author in the long run. Not to mention the great people I've met from across the country (and in other countries) who have visited my blog, shared comments, and used the internet as a way to connect. It really is an amazing tool to reach beyond our insular worlds and not only share views with others; but hear different points of views as well.

So thank you to all that have come out and read and told me when you do (and don't) enjoy my topics! You made my first year a success and I hope I can continue to share more thoughts as they pop into my head.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tilting Right & Left

I wonder if I’ll ever see the day that our political landscape in the US is not divided by parties. Watching how our government fights across the aisle only encourages the rest of the country to follow their lead. (And I type this knowing I’m just as guilty of it.) It seems we are more divided than ever in so many different areas. Perhaps I notice it more because of my own life and like many…where we ‘sit’ can dictate how we feel on a situation. It bothers me when one side feels they have full ownership over a particular religion. Like those of us who share certain beliefs of faith must be wrong if other areas of our lives do not line up with exactly what others believe to be ‘right’. If you draw a long line from conservative to liberal – each will quote “pursuit of happiness” – but who gets to define happiness? Both sides feel their happiness must deny the other side their own. Right wings believe the left has a hidden agenda that is pushing everything from gay marriage to bestiality. Liberals feel the right is trying to flood the country with propaganda about the country’s history and starve the poor so they will just die off. Both views seem so extreme and yet in some ways we are forced to take a side because of a few glimmers of commonality we feel with a particular group.

I find it exhausting.    

Will there ever be a person that will be able to bring these sides together? To show that diversity in our country goes beyond color of skin, who and how we worship, and the amount of zeros you may see on your paycheck?

I’m not sure of the answer. I want us to be able to have different beliefs and not live in a Stepford Village-type country; but I also want the noise of blame, the pissing contests, and the intolerance to cease. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Connecting with Readers

          The moment I found goodreads.com, it was as if I had stumbled upon some giant book club and suddenly I was a card-carrying-member - like Costco for readers or Oprah's book club blown up on internet steroids. Finding like minds (or unlike in some cases) of which you can share reviews, recommend a book, or discuss your thoughts on a particular author or story can be such a rarity in the vast world of the internet. But here is a place different from other social media sites because we all share a common love of the written word. 
          Authors can directly connect with their readers and even host discussions or book giveaways or a variety of other events. Readers can give honest opinions on something they read and link to people who enjoy those same unique stories where the heroine is a cross-stitching, bungee-jumping, collector of antique teacups and civil war memorabilia (or whatever type of protagonist you enjoy reading about). 
          Seeing as how much I love to read, I'm so glad I found this place - almost a year ago (my goodreads anniversary is in September). As I was getting ready for work this morning, I looked at the bookshelf of all the books I've read that I never entered onto goodreads. I know I need to spend some time and update my "read" virtual shelf with those that hold a place on the real shelf in my home. 
           That way, my new online-reading buddies can share their thoughts on my eclectic mix of escapism. And I really love that disappearing act into an author's made-up world.