Zaha Hadid, Floral Park & Berkeley: Nook Real Estate This Week

Every week I write 3 regular blogs for Nook Real Estate, an innovative company who addresses a lot of the issues I personally had with the home buying process.

The week of August 27, I wrote about the architect Zaha Hadid, the Nook Neighborhood Floral Park and some Fast Facts about UC Berkeley.

For Architect Zaha Hadid, The World is Not a Rectangle 

Zaha Hadid knew her place in the architectural community, in that she had no place. Hadid was her own force, creatively and as a leader of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA). She understood that she “dangled,” in her own words, on the edges of the accepted, of the establishment. “Irrepressible, a force of nature,” is how Patrik Shumacher, senior partner at ZHA, describes her. Hadid was a living force of the very landscapes and shapes she incorporated into her work, completing 55 projects across the globe at the time of her 2016 death of a heart attack. Zaha Hadid Architects had no reason to believe their muse and leader would not be with them many more years, and now have the daunting task of 45 more projects to complete in her name, to ultimately honor her legacy.

Read more at Nook’s blog.

Floral Park Packs a Lot of Architectural History into this Santa Ana Neighborhood

We have a number of Nook Neighborhoods whose architectural cultures were formed because of World War II: Haight-AshburyCoral Gables in Miami, as well as most Eichler Modern Mid Century homes, to name a few.

It is the First World War, however that made Floral Park into the incredibly picture perfect neighborhood we know and love today. Watch out if you take the Floral Park Neighborhood Association tour, though; home sales go up after visitors fall in love while walking around the homes and gardens, according to the home tour director. Take a look at these beautiful photos to see why. Are you touring homes, museums, or art pieces? It’s hard to tell.

Read more at Nook’s blog.

The Big C, Student Protests and Escape Routes: The Legends of UC Berkeley

In 1868, the private College of California merged with the public Agricultural, Mining, and Mechanical Arts College in Oakland, and the University of California, Berkeley was born. It began with a mere 40 students and 10 teachers, growing to over 1,500 full time faculty serving 27,000 undergraduates. Who knew the sort of legends that would grow out of the first of the University of California system, now the top public university in the United States?

As with many stories told through many years, this leading research institute carries in its campus many mythologies and trivia. We dug into its history to deliver the fast facts that you never knew about UC Berkeley! It’s up to you to decide if they’re true or not.

  • A Chancellor escaped from Vietnam War protesters through a series of elaborately interconnected underground steam tunnels.

    Read more on the Nook blog

Work-at-Home-Realities: You Can’t Stay at Home

I only work at home about half the time and some weeks for much less. I never needed encouragement to get my baby out of the house in general, although every single time is still a struggle. I have learned, through two babies, that we are always much happier on the days we have a nice morning outing of some sort. And although I love the one day a week that we’ve arranged for me not to drive anywhere or anyone, this Work-at-home-Mom thing wouldn’t work at all without some of the following places.

  • Public libraries. They have storytimes with music at least once a week, if not more. I’m lucky that our local library has such robust programs, including pre-preschool programs that prepared my toddler for a classroom. Find the right library branch and they’ll have games and learning toys to occupy your child while you take advantage of the free WiFi after Storytime.
  • Read more at The Mom Forum

Work-at-Home-Mom Realities The List

I’ve been a work-at-home-Mom since 2014. I loved being a freelancer, I loved being a Mom and appreciated the privilege of not needing to rush back to work for financial reasons. But by the time my Lil’ Pirate Dude was three months old, I craved the work. I desperately needed to feel a sense of accomplishment beyond getting all the diapers in the hamper which is still a challenge. I refreshed my email hourly in the hopes that a quick gig might appear. More than anything, I wanted conversations with adults that went beyond breastfeeding and formula and sleep patterns.

I knew it would be hard, but I had no idea how hard.

Read more at The Mom Forum

TVY Rising: Peeking Inside Theater for the Very Young

If you don’t spend time around babies regularly, bringing them to the theater — say, for a performance of Theater for the Very Young, or TVY — may be a strange concept. As primary caretaker to a 3-year-old and a 10-month-old, I’m often astonished by how very simple parts of our world can entertain them for extended periods of time. As I type this introduction, my own baby is completely consumed with trying to open my water bottle. He also stayed enthralled through 45 minutes of the clown antics of Beau and Aero at the Orlando Fringe Festival (suggested age: 7 and up).

For overviews of TVY, as distinct from Theater for Young Audiences (TYA), read these good articles in American Theatre and The New Yorker. I want to help artists understand how to create better, smarter theater for all ages, so I interviewed playwright Madhuri Shekar, who worked with the Alliance Theatre in Georgia to adapt the picture book A Bucket of Blessings into TVY.

Read more on The Clyde FItch Report.

Beefing up my Wikipedia Editing Game

Did you know that under 10% of Wikipedia editors identify as female? Last spring, I

bitmoji

My Bitmoji for fun.

trained to be a Wikipedia editor through Art+Feminism, but didn’t pull an event together.

I will be working to amplify female-ID voices, specifically writers to start. In order to do this right, I will need time.

Please review Wikipedia’s General Notability Guidelines to see if you or someone you knows applies. (If I am biased towards you in any way, then I will not be able to add your entry.)

If you’re interested, contact me to submit your information. Please note that I will prioritize those who identify as female.

Thanks!

CMJ

Why TYA Should Join the Dark Side (of Fairy Tales): my extended interview with Gypsy Thornton part 1

I had the pleasure to interview Gypsy Thornton of Once Upon a Blog recently. Segments of our interview appeared in the article “Why TYA Should Join the Dark Side (of Fairy Tales)”, but she had such great insight that I gained permission to publish our extended interview. 

CINDY MARIE JENKINS: Sometimes people are surprised to hear how dark the origins of their favorite fairy tales are. Why do you think that is?

GYPSY THORNTON: I think this comes from generations where people have been exposed to Disney and ‘softened’ retellings more than the traditional fairy tale collections kids grew up with before. Before video, you couldn’t just ‘pop on a show’ to entertain the kids so story collections were very popular. Collections of fairy tales before the 80’s often included one or two lesser known ones and although the language was always kid-friendly, there were usually hints in the text and illustrations that both initial conditions and, eventually, punishments for the evil-doers were quite severe.

Enter Disney marketing the new ‘princess culture’ of the 80’s that began with their hit animated musical

Marissa Meyer’s sci-fi adaptation of The Little Mermaid follows the original much more closely than Disney. -CMJ

The Little Mermaid, and the era of PC tale telling of the 90’s. Absolutes tended to disappear. Evil wasn’t so much ‘evil’ as misunderstood, and everything and everyone could be rehabilitated. Ironically one of the things I’ve found helps kids feel safe is when things are more extreme: black and white, good and evil, rules are rules and punishment is given when they’re broken. When villains are vanquished, despite that there is often death involved, kids are greatly comforted by the fact that death is final, meaning that evil- or evil person – cannot return. The hero and heroine are now safe to truly live happily ever after, and the kids feel they personally are too.

One of the effects of ‘soft’ fairy tales is that you end up with watered down versions of the tale, which makes them easier to dismiss. They’re less relevant to life as they no longer have as much resonance and kids don’t learn many valuable things from them anymore. Fairy tales weren’t a variety of stories with elements of wonder anymore – they became distillations of dreams, magic and the incredibly fantastical. Magic had flourishes and sparkles, a thrilling soundtrack and cheering at the end of every story. Unlike the stories of real people with an element of the fantastic that gave them choices, all the new protagonists were already special and magical things happened because of it.

The big take-away is that fairy tales are for ‘little kids’ and people who can’t deal with reality. I don’t think it’s a coincidence we’ve ended up with generations that are taking longer to leave home, to get married and start their own families. Being able to deal with ambiguity, having tools to battle challenges and fears and encouraging creative thinking – these are all things embedded in the ‘less sparkly’ fairy tales. When you read and hear these ‘less fantastical’ tales as children, with their black and white boundaries, their clear-cut rules and rewards, it’s a safe forum to learn these things from and to expand your understanding into as your knowledge of the world grows. When you read them for the first time as an adult, the full weight of all the implications can crash in at once, making them seem a little frightening. Despite being obviously fantasy, they can feel ‘too real’. It’s an interesting irony.

One of the things almost guaranteed to make fairy tale students and scholars groan is an article that pronounces ‘you’ll never believe the dark origins of your favorite fairy tales!’. Every second headline seems to be using this ‘clickbait’ these days, but talk to anyone who found an ‘old fairy tale’ in a difficult childhood and you’ll hear they were, and remain useful tools – for hope. [CMJ note: see my article about the musical Into the Woods]

Photo credit unknown.

The quote that ‘fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us that dragons exist, but that we can defeat them’ (GK Chesterton) is well worn but remains so relevant. In the ‘sensational’ discovery of ‘horrors’ in older versions of fairy tales, people can’t help but see they can’t be dismissed as easily. They speak on many harsh things, and, as such, can be related to the harshness of real life. A surface glance will indeed make people shy away if they’re unfamiliar, but fairy tales have staying power, not (just) because they dwell in the dark places (and recognize life is sometimes awful), but particularly because they show people the possibility of coming out the other side.

Hope is a powerful thing and fairy tales have that in spades. Nice fairy tales are ‘nice’ and are great for dreaming. There is nothing wrong with that – at all. But fairy tales that encourage you to get up on your remaining limbs and keep going? They’re the ones that tell you life is worth living, no matter how tough it gets. Unlike dreams that have a tendency to vanish in disillusionment, these are the stuff of hope. Unfortunately, in our contemporary era, the trade off of (relative) stability is that we have a tendency to try and shield our children from disillusionment, instead of seeing it as inevitable and preparing them to cope.

Read the series “Talking TYA on The Clyde Fitch Report, including “Why TYA Should Join the Dark Side (of Fairy Tales)”, (part 2).

Read more from Gypsy Thornton on Once Upon a Blog

Honoring the Tony Winners That CBS Didn’t Show

The Tony Awards broadcast continued a long-standing protocol this year. Namely that numerous awards were given prior to the CBS broadcast, with clips shown after breaks — you know, when everyone in your viewing party is rushing back from the bathroom or filling their libations. Many people on Twitter, for instance, were surprised and unhappy that James Earl Jones’ acceptance speech for a Lifetime Achievement Award was not aired.

Among these honorees are the designers, people without whom the worlds of each production, we can all agree, would not exist.

Read more at The Clyde Fitch Report. 

 

We Watch, Too: A Parents’ Roundtable on Theater for Kids

In my first entry of this Theater for Young Audiences (TYA) series, I said I didn’t want to make assumptions on what people think or want from children’s theater. I know most of my desires for pushing the conventions of TYA come from my own childhood and from my new experiences of introducing a small human to the theater. But I was left wondering: How do other parents feel? I interviewed four mothers to see how, and if, their experiences aligned with mine.

I spoke with a mother of three who chose to remain anonymous. I’ll refer to her as Jane in this article. Her children are two, five and eight. Aubrie Canfield has a three-year-old and 10-month-old. Shellie Gauthier has a three-year-old, 13-year-old twins and a 15-year-old. Enci Box has a two-year-old and five-year-old.

Read more at The Clyde Fitch Report. 

 

#FastFactsFriday: Frank Lloyd Wright

What can we add to the overwhelming love being shared for Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday? There’s no need to pile onto the think pieces of Fallingwater’s significance or the public’s first impressions of The Guggenheim. At Nook, we value our role as specialists, poised to find the gems of houses perfect for every one of our clients. We’ll take the same route today for the anniversary of arguably our most prolific architect of the twentieth century.

So here it is. A list of facts about Frank Lloyd Wright that not only doesn’t mention Fallingwater (that’s the last time, I promise) but will deliver at least one new piece of trivia for you to wow clients at dinner tonight.

Read more on the Nook blog.

Woman of Color in Wide Open Spaces

“I can’t block out the white noise. I’ll always be restricted by race. Theirs, not mine.”

Wow. What a meaningful read.

Longreads

Minda Honey | Longreads | March 2017 | 12 minutes (2,986 words)

“And sometimes you meet yourself back where you started, but stronger.”
—Yrsa Daley-Ward

I sat alone at a picnic table sipping a hot can of beer in Sequoia National Park under the stingy shade of a nearby tree. I was surrounded by families. White families. Sequoia was the first of four national parks I had planned to visit on my summer road trip from Southern California to a writer’s retreat in Lake Tahoe, and from Lake Tahoe to my hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. I needed to get out and away. I’d just completed two years as a POC in an MFA program. Two years in classrooms at long tables surrounded by faces as white as the paper we printed our work on. I felt like the black text on that paper, forcefully marching across the landscape of my…

View original post 2,927 more words

It Wasn’t Diversity That Killed Comic Sales, It Was These Archaic Publishing Methods

I want to read more comic books. I want to be a regular reader of a series and follow a character through a larger arc, then be intrigued by another character and go down the rabbit hole of their story. But the way that comics are released just doesn’t work for me anymore.

I’ve tried. I’ll wait months for a title to be available in trade if it means I can read it when I want to read it—on my schedule and terms. Asher Elbein’s new piece in The Atlantic explains why many of my favorites are canceled or in peril by the time I buy their trades, and that just drives me more and more to the indie presses, or even away from comics at all. It is no coincidence that the more so-called “diverse,” i.e. not default white male, titles are the ones that interest me (Alex Brown says a lot of how I feel whenever “diversity” is blamed for poor sales.). If you haven’t kept up with the billionth Spiderman or which Robin is actually Robin since before you were born, it seems like there’s no place for you.

Read more at The Mary Sue. 

Fast Facts about Famous Mid-Century Modern Architect, Joseph Eichler

Eichler lived in a Frank Lloyd Wright home, the story goes, and thus his lifelong journey to mid-century modernism began. Combining the feeling of indoor and outdoor spaces into his design, Eichlers brought a more airy option to the growing suburban middle class. It is estimated that around 11,000 homes in the Los Angeles and San Francisco region are true Eichlers. Built with materials readily available to everyone post-war, buying an Eichler home could really be seen as an embodiment of the American Dream. With the exposed posts and beams, floor to ceiling windows and skylights, an Eichler means open areas, not boxy rooms, and the spirit of letting the outside into your home.

The architectural style of an Eichler home must have felt like a dream compared to the cookie cutter houses that defined the suburbs. Parents Magazine even once awarded Eichlers as the best house in the U.S. for raising children.

Read more on Nook Real Estate’s blog. 

Content Marketing: Nook Real Estate

I work with Nook Real Estate to create posts about their new listings and why the neighborhood would appeal to buyers.

Sold in Just 4 Days: Beautiful Multi-Family Home in Northwood Pointe

You may remember how excited we were to introduce 67 New Dawn, a multi-family home for sale in the prestigious Irvine neighborhood of Northwood Pointe.

You may remember it well, in fact, because it sold just four days after going live.

Even with multiple offers on day three, after a broker preview and open house, realtor Todd Bousman knew when the right family walked through the door because the “parents were staring at the soaring two story cathedral ceilings and their kids were already fighting over which room was theirs…”. Todd didn’t want to rush them through the beautiful home, even though he had a hard time choosing his favorite parts, since the Irvine home boasts such intimate spaces and large entertaining areas.

Besides the many conveniences within walking distance, Todd can’t wait for the new home buyers to experience Northwood Pointe’s gorgeous trails and parks. It’s hard to imagine the area without the 22-mile Mountains to Sea Trail, which was designated a “National Recreation Trail” in 2006.

Read more on Nook Real Estate’s blog. 

A Modern “Poe Man” at Orlando Fringe

I love fringe festivals. They’re such a great way to take chances on new art and artists, and I devote time every year to coverage of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I didn’t get to attend as much as I wanted to at Orlando Fringe this year, but here are my thoughts on what I did see.  

You choose a one-man Poe show at a Fringe Festival, your odds are 50/50 at best.

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Devennie has a series of images for his show, and this is my second favorite.

I’m glad I caught Poe Man by Joe Devennie: I admittedly entered the show a bit snobbish and left with a firm appreciation of Poe’s lasting effect on the American psyche.

 

I think of Poe, I think early America: rough, young yet still slightly tinged with a British sound. That’s why I’m glad Devennie begins with “The Telltale Heart”. His no-frills approach to the language eases you into his way of telling this story, his Poe — closer to the cool High School English teacher than a muggy idea of Poe drowning in its own importance and expectations.

Devennie draws his “Telltale Heart” narrator straight from the headlines of “He was such a nice, normal boy. I had no idea he could do this sort of thing” [19th century spoilers: he murders a housemate because the old man’s eye puts him off.] We are at least five minutes into his telling before Devennie even raises his voice or shows any signs beyond normalcy. You could be asking him where the nearest bathroom is before he slips into the first sign that something is not quite right.

It’s a great way to present this story, and one that feels all too real in the American of today.

Hop-Frog

I don’t recall ever reading this one. A dwarf, forced into slavery as a court jester (and often the subject of ridicule as well), takes a well planned, maniacal revenge on the King who causes his and his only friend pain.

Devennie uses his well-honed storytelling chops to great effect. I found myself wishing we were actually around a campfire, hearing his words illuminated by chance with fire. Also, love this story! Any show that makes me want to crack open that thick hardcover of The Collected Works of Poe I’ve had for two years has earned its ticket price.

Poe’s description of the slow toll that abuse and bullying takes on a person’s psyche also feels too relevant and real in today’s world.

The Raven

Devennie started The Raven strong, with an old Southern “let me tell you a story on my front porch but I’ve had a few too many” vibe. It was well done and Devennie certainly more than did it justice. The character, however, didn’t reveal anything new about the story. I almost wish he had never left his “porch chair,” and told the whole tale from there. Even though it didn’t add up, ending a Poe adventure on “Nevermore” is never a poor choice.

His last show is an hour after I am publishing this, but he is an Orlando Fringe regular, so keep him on your radar for next year. 

 

PoeManSuperman

This is my favorite image for his show. 

 

Cover Reveal: Vanity in Dust by Cheryl Low

Tea, pastries infected with (fairy?) dust.

An Evil Queen, dangerous fairies (a favorite twist of mine), a Prince who starts to see through the spell…

These are the reasons why I want to read Vanity in Dust by Cheryl Low.

I am in the process of reading excerpts and will have an interview with Ms. Low soon, who just seems incredibly charming.

In the meantime, here is the cover!

Forever young, endlessly indulged. What could go wrong?

By Cheryl Low
Fantasy
Release Date: August 8, 2017 (pre-order)

Trade Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0998702216
Novel, approx. 305 pages
Also available as an ebook

Find it Online:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
Goodreads
iTunes/Apple iBooks
Independent Bookstores
Kobo

Other books in the series: Detox in Letters (forthcoming in 2018)

DESCRIPTION

In the Realm there are whispers. Whispers that the city used to be a different place. That before the Queen ruled there was a sky beyond the clouds and a world beyond their streets.

Vaun Dray Fen never knew that world. Born a prince without a purpose in a Realm ruled by lavish indulgence, unrelenting greed, and vicious hierarchy, he never knew a time before the Queen’s dust drugged the city. From the tea to the pastries, everything is poisoned to distract and dull the senses.  And yet, after more than a century, his own magic is beginning to wake. The beautiful veneer of the Realm is cracking. Those who would defy the Queen turn their eyes to Vaun, and the dust saturating the Realm.

From the carnivorous pixies in the shadows to the wolves in the streets, Vaun thought he knew all the dangers of his city. But when whispers of treason bring down the fury of the Queen, he’ll have to race to save the lives and souls of those he loves.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cheryl Low might be an Evil Queen, sipping tea and peeping on everyone from high up in her posh tower—a job she got only after being fired from her gig as Wicked Witch for eating half the gingerbread house.

…Or she might be a relatively mundane human with a love for all things sugary and soap opera slaps.

Find out by following her on social media @cherylwlow or check her webpage, cheryllow.com. The answer might surprise you! But it probably won’t.

Master Your Marketing with Christina Farley: Social Media

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki


Since I work in social media as well as writing, many people ask why I still take social media courses. The answer is because no matter how much I think I know, there is always someone who knows more. There are also always ideas that I forget in the daily drill of content marketing. I learn so much from simply listening to other experiences. For instance, when I tune in to 
Stark Social’s podcast, I am reminded of core strategies and learn about important social updates. (Deanna and Nathan are also incredibly charming and fun.)

In the case of Christina Farley’s “Master Your Marketing” class, I wanted to focus on master your marketing with Christina Farleybranding and social media myself as a writer and not a hyphenate. Recently I moved towards my freelance income being half writing and half social media consulting. The deeper I delved, the clearer it became that the social media jobs will come: I have a reputation there and when I finish a job for one client, another seems to arrive to replace it.

Most of what I love about social media is the creativity and strategic writing that it requires. My goal is to make most of my living as a writer. So how to be sure that when someone finds me online, they see a writer? After taking Farley’s course on branding and researching other writer’s sites (Melissa Hung has a great overview), I understood that my website needed a strong overhaul. Farley calls it the “central station of all your social media,” and mine had basically become a mess in recent months. I need to keep my past blog posts because companies still link to them, but turn that section into more of a writing portfolio. Encouraged by the worksheets I used in Farley’s course, I found the right theme to use and it all fell into place. I spent a whole weekend updating categories and tags that are relevant to my current work. I only have published articles at the moment, not novels, so it’s a little different than Farley’s website. Streamlining the categories also helped me focus on the topics that typically interest me enough to write.

 

ChristinaFarleyFacebookCover

Farley’s cover photo on Facebook. I love when authors have visuals of their books at a glance. 

 

Now, to turn to social media. Her second course in the series focuses on that aspect of marketing and I used her expertise and careful focus on writers to understand how I can build up my @FairyFolkMyth personality. After revamping my categories on my blog, I realized that the categories are the hashtags I need to use as well. For instance, #WAHMRealities is a common instagram tag for me that encompasses both writing, working and parenting. I have a lot of ideas for writing about parenting, but don’t want that to be my focus. With this hashtag, I can give a hat tip to that important part of my life but still focus on the fact that I am doing the work.

Then there is the #fairyfolkmyth brand, the main topics of writing for which I want to be known. Those often overlap with #bookreviews and #artreviews, so there are my 1-2 hashtags per twitter post that Farley suggests. More often than not recently, I also find that fairy tales relate to parenting, and my TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) column specifically.

She had some great confirmation on my ideas about tumblr and snapchat. Hearing Farley’s advice for using Pinterest reminded me that I need to clean my Pinterest pages up or hire Brit McGinnis to do it for me.

I completely agree with Farley that if you are on YouTube towards a marketing end goal, you need “to have an experience with people.” She certainly delivers on that idea. I’ve spent years experimenting with YouTube to deliver new audiences to artists, and have very high standards on that front. It may be time to re-evaluate how I use it, but I’m going to let that idea simmer and return to it down the road. mascot-blue-cartoon-bird-website-animal-twitter                       

Farley gave some excellent recommendations for keywords to use on each platform. I personally use twitter differently on my main account but am now re-thinking the @FairyFolkMyth account. It has more of a clear purpose, a niche purpose, and I need to be more deliberate with that twitter personality. I’ve been motivated enough to create a spreadsheet towards that goal; now to populate it.

Farley’s third course was focused on attending events as a writer. She has a great philosophy and I’ll delve into those ideas in a later post!

Why TYA Should Join the Dark Side (of Fairy Tales)

Let’s delve into a pretty common denominator in the world of theater for young audiences (TYA): fairy tales. There is no end to internet lists “revealing” or “discovering” the dark origins of fairy tales, yet it is so surprising that, once upon a time, we actually told children scary stories? Shocking!

Many of the original versions of fairy tales were told to help children and adults confront the very real dangers of their times. Hansel and Gretel is an excellent example and very likely the most well known: it’s famine and hunger that motivate the mother or stepmother (depending on the version) to convince her husband to abandon his children in the woods. Most stage productions hide that part of the tale. It is fear of the darkness inherent in the stories that can cause playwrights to move too far in the other, more saccharine direction, leading to meaningless takes on fairy tales that now feel like the norm. When we remove fear from a fairy tale — or any story — we remove its connection to our lives, and that dumbing down affects theater audiences for a lifetime. Without true connections to our own feelings, fears and joys, why bother attending?

Read more at The Clyde Fitch Report

Read Part 1: Why do Theaters Dumb Down TYA (Theater for Young Audiences)?

Caleb Foote and Angela Giarratana in “Hansel & Gretel Bluegrass” (Photo: Cooper Bates)

I Made Better Life Choices Because of “Into the Woods”

My father introduced me to Into the Woods around nine years-old. Some of my most vibrant memories include singing Agony with him in our living room. It was my first experience understanding that stories are told differently depending on the teller, and opened my imagination to interpretations of fairy tales outside of Disney.

I’ve been thinking of how Into the Woods gave me a healthy and challenging outlook on life: song by song, story by story, character by character. Some of these outlooks are revelations the characters have and some are what the audience understands through their journey. Some were lessons I put immediately into practice and some had to wait until I grew older than my nine years.

 

Prologue: Into the Woods

 

itwtonys

Phylicia Rashad as The Witch (replacement on Broadway for Bernadette Peters, Chip Zien as The Baker and Joanna Gleason as The Baker’s Wife. Photo Credit: Martha Swope/NYPL

Photo Credit: Martha Swope/NYPL

Photo Credit: Martha Swope/NYPL

 

We are all one. All of our stories, our lives, involve one another. No person lives solo in this world, and everyone’s choices affect the lives around us.

 

Go after what you want, even if the road is scary and untread.

Something I didn’t realize was true until it happened to me: Pregnancy can really cause you to crave “greens, greens and nothing but greens!” At least until you crave fruit the next day.

Don’t steal from your neighbor. Seriously.

Only female cows milk (This was definitely a 9 year old me’s revelation. Seems common sense once you know, but I was quite the city mouse.)

Hello, Little Girl

Kids: It’s better to ask your Mother why the woods are scary than just take her word for it. Otherwise, one charming wolf is all it takes for you to step off the path.

Moms: Just talk to your kids about wolves. If all we know is that it’s scary, curiosity will win.

 

I Guess This is Goodbye

Take your moment to say goodbye.  

It’s also interesting to me that this is the only song in the show that doesn’t rhyme, which I learned after attending the Into the Woods Reunion. (Yes, of course I got all fangirl. Bernadette Peters live!)

 

Maybe They’re Magic

You can talk yourself into justifying anything to get what you want, even magic beans. I didn’t always heed this advice, even if I privately acknowledged it to myself.

Little white lies will bite you in the ass one day.

 

I Know Things Now

wolfandredeidinghood

Robert Westenberg and Danielle Ferland in original production, 1987.

 

Oof. Where to start? This song is the most influential on my younger self, particularly with dating. Namely:

Bad/weird experiences are just that, experiences. They do not define you. They do change you. Learn from them and move on with your life. Don’t beat yourself up over a mistake, just don’t make the same one again.

Oh, and if some kindly person saves your life, do offer a gift of gratitude. Especially if you stole their bread earlier.

 

A Very Nice Prince

Everyone will always want what they can’t have.

It’s okay to feel iffy about something or someone you thought you wanted.

If the reality of your dream isn’t what you thought it would be, BAIL. That is what I wanted Cinderella to do, anyway. But I have strong feelings about Cinderella.

 

First Midnight

I‘d probably just have to copy and paste the whole song to explain this one. There’s one line that made an impression on me and pays off later:

“The slotted spoon can’t hold much soup.”

 

Giants in the Sky

You have to understand that I wanted to BE Jack when I was young. Not just play him onstage, but be him.

In many ways, I valued traveling the world because of this verse (bold mine):

The roof, the house, and your Mother at the door.

The roof, the house and the world you never thought to explore.

And you think of all of the things you’ve seen,

And you wish that you could live in between,

And you’re back again,

Only different than before,

After the sky.

Yes, go and explore the world. Travel to new places, meet new people. But make sure you also know where you came from and what it offers as well.

 

Agony

There’s always more to a story than what we think we know. Prince Charmings were so often just set dressing until Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin (with a nod to Prince Phillip in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty for at least having some spunk), and here we discover that sibling competition and bravado has something to do with their choice of a bride. Oh yes, and the need for what they can’t get.The fact that the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince are the same actor deepened the lessons learned in I Know Things Now. *

 

It Takes Two

I thought I understood this song at nine, fourteen, twenty years-old, but only since my husband came into my life do I get to live it.

 

Second Midnight

Wanting a ball is not wanting a Prince. I once learned a friend of mine had been married before we met and I found it hard to believe. Her sister explained that She wanted a wedding, not a marriage. That concept had never really occurred to me, and it’s possible that is because of this song.

 

Stay With Me

Moms are people too. They may overreact sometimes but it comes from a deep love and fear of being alone – though it may seem borderline obsessive to the daughter.

I’m not sure how this may be affecting my own early motherhood, but more time will tell.

 

On the Steps of the Palace

If you’re unsure how somebody feels about you or how you feel about somebody, leave a clue. The interesting ones will follow through. My husband did!

 

Act One Finale

Enjoy your success. That was only Act 1.  

 

Did “Into the Woods” affect you in some way? Share below.

*Obviously this is not how they did it in the movie. That was the first change I heard from live to the movie, and I think it helped me reserve judgment on the other changes. It reminded me that in a different medium, different ways to approach the storytelling are needed. Besides, I like Chris Pine just fine and am not sure Johnny Depp could have nailed a film Prince Charming (the teenage me could have accepted Depp Charming, no question).

 

Shadows of Sherwood – YA review

Buy this book for a teenager near you. Seriously, go get it. Order it and ship it directly to their house.*

Robyn Hoodlum is a cool pre-teen who spends her nights getting into trouble for rebellious adventures. One of those nights while she’s away, her parents are killed or kidnapped, and she’s left with a few clues.

Read more at Dwarf+Giant

.

 

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

I just finished Winter, the fourth and final installment of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (plus a villain back story and other intertwined short stories).

Usually I don’t want a series that I love so much to end, but Meyer wrung as much story out of these science fiction fantasy fairy tales as I think she could possibly find. All of her related short stories are pretty great, though, and I certainly wouldn’t complain if we pick up on some of these characters a few years from the end of Winter. As far as their lives within the limits of their original fairy tales, however, Meyer is done.

Goodreads is responsible for me finding this series, buying Cinder, then binging on it during an airplane ride cross country while my infant son lovingly complied with his Mama the Bookworm and slept the whole way home.

 

lunarcinder

Cinder

The first in the series, and an excellent example of doling out a story drip by drip, beginning with compelling characters (seriously, where’s the Iko spin off?*). By the time Meyer reveals the real plot point that drives the rest of the series, you don’t know whether to root more for her triumph in that regard (Spoilers!) or for Cinder and Prince Kai to kiss already. Throughout the whole series, whether or not she can have both is constantly brought into question.

This book really had me at Cinder being a cyborg mechanic, and it never lost that excitement with such a retelling. Meyer makes each separate iconic element of the Cinderella stories her own, but so beautifully weaves them into a futuristic fantasy world that the symbols of Cinderella often snuck up on me, making their reveals even more pleasurable. In contrast, something like Gregory Maguire’s Wicked had me looking for his personal touch instead of them all flowing naturally from the story.

One of my favorite changes by Meter is Prince Kai: he turns the damsel in distress cliché on its head. Kai often feels like his hands are tied and all he can do is wait in his castle for others – namely, Cinder – to take action. Although his role in the plot is key as the series develops, Kai can often only take so many steps towards helping the cause before someone has to save him. He is one of the best incarnations of Cinderella’s Prince, who is often given no character development, but at his best has to learn to overcome deep prejudices before he can accept the woman he loves. (Sapsorrow in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller series is actually one of the best examples of Cinderella’s Prince having a real and painful character arc.)

I wish this next point didn’t matter so much, but considering how many Cinderellas are blond, it does. Meyer set Cinder in the Eastern Commonwealth, specifically our China, asan homage to what is thought to be one of the first Cinderellas (where magical fish bones are the original fairy godmother, but that’s another story).

 

lunarscarlet

Scarlet

The second book was harder for me to get into at first but worth the wait. I think my struggle is partly to do with how much I adored Cinder, and Scarlet starts in a different place (The European Commonwealth, in France to us) and centers around a human. I didn’t realize how intriguing I found Cinder right away by virtue of the fact that she’s a cyborg until I found it hard to connect with Scarlet.

Once I got over that, Scarlet opened up an entire new dimension of the Lunar Chronicles world, giving more clues to Cinder’s story and introducing Wolf! Scarlet and Wolf’s relationship proves to be very complicated, and once again, much more balanced than the fairy tale romances you know. Add to that an incredible backstory for a kickass Grandmother, and Meyer proves once more that she is no lazy storyteller.

By the time we meet up with Cinder and the charismatic convict Captain Thorne (more on him later), I was hooked, ready for all the adventure and trouble in which our characters find themselves. As opposed to a lot of novels where the ensemble sometimes seems to get into fights just for the sake of having conflict, the internal struggles of our team are well motivated, complex and difficult.

Did I mention Captain Thorne? Ok, good, because next up is Cress.

 

lunarcress

Cress

This one was probably my favorite to read. I thrilled in all the storylines converging, getting separated then merging again. Plus the reimagining of Rapunzel tickled me in the same way as Cinderella: her tower is a small satellite, and she’s a hacker for Queen Levana, the nemesis of our heroines and heroes.

It’s hard to get into this story without offering spoilers, but suffice to say that Meyer pulls no punches in her interpretation. Cress’s relationship to her captors is complicated; her hair and ‘tower,’ though symbols of her imprisonment, are hard to leave; she must find her way through a desert, and her “Prince” loses his eyesight (the source stories blind him when he falls on a bush of thorns, so then we understand where Captain Thorne falls into the picture).

Thorne and his relationship with Cress (not even moving beyond potential in this novel) brought me right back to school-girl crushes. As great as Prince Kai and Wolf are for Cinder and Scarlet, respectively, Thorne takes the fairy tale romance to a new level. How Meyer creates a deep friendship out of a trope that Cress herself acknowledges is testament to her maturity and concern for her characters – and by extension, her teenage readers.

 

lunarfairest

 

 

In between Cress and Winter, Meyer published Fairest, the backstory to our villainess Queen Levana. I haven’t read it yet, possibly to keep something for when I get the itch to return to the world of The Lunar Chronicles.

 

 

 

lunarwinter

Winter

In Cress, we are introduced to Jacin, a Lunar Guard with unclear intentions but seemingly trustworthy, until he isn’t. It turns out that he is the childhood friend and desired love of Winter, our Lunar Snow White. She doesn’t use the mind control gift enjoyed by Lunars because she feels it is immoral, and that has her going mad.

Again, to go into too much detail basically gives the whole series away, but we are treated this time to an entire novel set on Lunar (with a few people en route). All of our ensemble play integral roles and hold their own even as their relationships and characters must fight internal and external forces in order to remove Levana from the throne and stop her from conquering Earth.

WIth Winter and Jacin, we are once again reminded that Meyer can write a damn good love story, a unique story with mutual respect and proving that both females and males can be vulnerable, strong, stubborn, gracious, right, wrong, and above all, equals.

Yet, the love stories are not even the main events in these books. Loyalties are tested and crossed, politics mingle with mind control, and an incredibly devoted team fight through so many dangers that I wonder if Meyer herself knew how to get them out of the traps she herself set.

It was a great ride. I always approach YA asking if it would have impacted me as their target audience, a pre teen or teenager.

I would have read the hell out of this series as a teenager, and made sure all my younger cousins read it too.

Male or female, you should introduce the young adults in your life to The Lunar Chronicles. They are equal parts Firefly, Star Wars and fairy tales.

 

lunarstars

*Silly me. Iko has her own graphic novel!

 

Have not read the other supplemental to the series, Stars Above,which is a collection of short prequels and explorations of the Lunar Chronicles world, including a Little Mermaid story and a preview of a Queen of Hearts novel. 

 

 

 

 

The Trouble with Nonprofits and Software Pt 1

The year is 2010. I sit in the Antaeus office, likely working through academy auditions or casting for an upcoming reading. Downstairs in the library, sounds of hope and peer encouragement mingle with the Salesforce training. I can hear a tangible optimism, a desire for all those development, general manager, box office folks to jump right into a new software and finally organize those years of Excel lists or poorly photocopied box office reports.

I sit in numerous staff meetings and hear our development associate and office manager essentially plead for someone, anyone, to use this new system. I hear them. I respect them. I understand their point.

I look at my calendar and simply wonder, “When?”

Read more at Better Lemons.

Why Do Theaters Dumb Down TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences)?

“We want to do children’s theater that doesn’t suck.”

That was Debbie Devine and Jay McAdam’s answer when I asked how 24th ST Theatre’s shows were different from their local competition. I laughed and understood. I was just starting as their marketing director and not a parent myself, but I certainly knew the horror stories of wide-eyed “children’s theater” talking down to their audiences.

And so I set about convincing progressive Los Angeles parents that a show about death, or one with a scene about getting your period, or a one-woman King Lear, were exactly the shows they should bring their kids to see.

Read more on The Clyde Fitch Report.

This is the first column in a year-long series investigating Theatre for Young Audiences. Click the Talking TYA tag for more.

In Orlando, Your Tickets for the Streetmosphere Awaits!

[This was a sponsored post written for The Clyde FItch Report.]

Where can you combine your favorite childhood stories with quality Equity actors — more than any US city except NYC or Chicago? Would you believe the answer is Orlando?

Actually, Orlando makes sense, especially when you consider how many union performers Walt Disney World alone hires (around 250 of the 500 performers who reside there). Orlando may be one of the only places where an actor can make a living doing what they love and ensure that their work will be seen by up to 60 million visitors a year, never mind all the locals partaking of Epcot’s adult beverage selection.

Read more at The Clyde Fitch Report.

The Cat in the Hat and Consent

One of the reasons I love being a parent is getting to revisit children’s literature and discover the newest stories. Although I knew about Dr Seuss, I realized that I hadn’t actually read many of his books.

A good friend gave our son a Horton doll, so Horton Hears a Who was a natural starting place. What a wonderful message for children: a person’s a person no matter how small. Then The Lorax, quite a progressive environmental novel for the sixties. We were thrilled at how Dr. Seuss could affect our young son’s thinking about the world. For instance, when LPD [Little Pirate Dude – not his real name, unfortunately – editor] helps me put recycling in its bin, I tie it to The Lorax and our responsibility to the environment. Some of it sinks into his developing brain; more will click later. His young age doesn’t stop us from planting the seeds.

One day, I figured we should begin at the beginning and bought The Cat in the Hat. How exciting! I knew the character but nothing about his origin.

Well, I got quite a shock. The whole story raises serious red flags, in terms of consent, and reads like a manual for child molesters.

Read more at Dwarf+Giant

Graphic by @heatherwhooo

 

MINI MYTHS BOARD BOOKS FOR YOU(r Kids)

If you’re going to read the same book to your toddler fifty times in a row, make sure you don’t want to gouge your own eyes out in the process.

I’ve found quite a few books that my husband and I adore reading to our sons, many in thanks to my comic convention attending friends. The Mini Myths Board Books came to us, as so many wonderful enrichment does lately, through our local library.

Read more on Dwarf+Giant

Graphic by @heatherwhooo

 

Margaret Atwood Beyond The Handmaid’s Tale

There is an incredibly not fun game to be played called “The GOP Platform or The Handmaid’s Tale”? In fact, search for “the handmaid’s tale too relevant” in Google and you’ll find over 15 pages of think-pieces, lists and interviews where that Big R Word “Relevant” is used. The producers of the new series certainly never expected it to feel as real as it currently does, turning a cautionary dystopia into actual legislature to fiercely resist.

So if you caught the Atwood bug again but just can’t bring yourself to watch Offred’s story yet, here are Margaret Atwood’s other offerings. I can’t guarantee they’ll make you feel better on our slow march towards dystopia, but her characters will keep you great company on the journey.

Read more on Dwarf+Giant

Graphic by @Heatherwhooo

 

Luxury Resort Living With Clear Views of The Queen Mary

“The secret is out,” Nook Realtor David Hernandez says. “Downtown Long Beach is expected to be the next market to see a huge transformation.”

David should know; he’s been leading the Long Beach real estate market for years, keeping his eyes on the bubbling renaissance. West Ocean high rises are quickly becoming the ultimate in modern urban luxury, with the relaxing feel of a resort.

That’s why we are so excited to share this new listing at West Ocean Towers with you. Don’t let the location fool you; a commuter can get to Los Angeles in under an hour. With this high rise, working professionals don’t have to sacrifice the peace of mind that living near the ocean brings for proximity to their office.

Read more at Nook Real Estate.

queen mary

Master Your Marketing w/ Christina Farley: Branding

I was pretty psyched to start Christina Farley’s Master Your Marketing course, hosted by Writer’s Atelier. Even though I consult on branding efforts myself, it’s always hard to be objective. I like to walk through someone else’s process and suggestions to identify where I don’t effectively see my brand.

Since I narrowed my focus to writing and outreach, it’s been difficult to express that in a way that also captures buzzwords people (and search engines) need to hear. So I call myself a Storyteller and Outreach Nerd, changing buzzwords depending on my audience.

Content and copywriting has always been part of the Outreach Nerd work, and recently I’ve separated them in efforts to write more and spend less time on social media. I still love that work and will continue, but I find freelance writing a better fit with my new-ish role as primary caretaker of two young boys, and also need to learn more about building a platform for writing fiction. I’ll soon start to query for my novel series The Blue Dragon Scribe Shoppe, and need all efforts at the ready.

Christina sent us a worksheet to prepare; just for ourselves. I worked on it and vowed to keep an open mind regarding my brand(s). I can’t go into great detail on what was involved – after all, teaching is part of Farley’s livelihood – but as someone who divides her personality into twitter accounts, the graphic representation of my interests juxtaposed with my brand truly helped focus my many ideas within each current opportunity.

Farley and Writer’s Atelier also offered incredibly easy viewing of the video course. I could wait until I had the time and focus to watch as well as return to segments that I wanted to review. She just uses an unlisted YouTube video with corresponding visual aids.

As someone with only a few hours a week devoted to her work plus any stolen time during my boys’ naps, knowing the topics to prioritize and how to use my strengths is one of the most valuable time management tools to master. Much of what I got from Farley’s first course has already helped me understand where to put my focus and what I want my brand to be.

Next up: Social Media!

Part of the Branding course was about our logo and tagline. Farley also curated examples from other authors.

Part of the Branding course was about our logo and tagline. Farley also curated examples from other authors.

Hard Fantasy vs Soft Fantasy for Children

Patrick Rothfuss profile

Patrick Rothfuss image was taken from this interview.

In Talks at Google with Patrick Rothfuss, he answers a question dear to my heart. I usually discuss it in relation to children’s theatre, but it holds. They’re smarter than you think.

Audience Question: How hard is it to make hard fantasy versus soft fantasy for children?

Rothfuss: There’s an unfortunate tendency among people in general to say, oh, I’ll just write a fantasy novel because you can just make stuff up. And that’s wrong, because that’s not – you can just do a bunch of stuff and magic will make it make sense. You can, but that’s not good writing, it’s not good storytelling, it’s not good craft.

In my opinion, similarly, people, sometimes, in the genre, are like, well, boy, I wish I could write YA because then kids don’t know what a plot hole is, they don’t care about consistent characterization, they’re not gonna call me on the million dragons ecology problem that I’ve created, this is not a sustainable eco-structure. But that, in my opinion, is a really egregious cop-out. Because in the same way that food that we feed our children should be actually held to a higher standard than the food you give to an adult, because an adult can say, blech, this is awful, or they can read the label and go, oh, this has terrible things in it and it’s going to make me sick and give me cancer. A kid can’t. 

And so you owe it to kids to actually put more work into this because it’s harder to write short. It’s harder to write simply [sic]. It’s harder to do a lot of these things, and it’s harder to write cohesive, coherent, internally coherent fantasy. And you shouldn’t go to YA thinking, oh, my, this will be way easier. I can just bang out 30,000 words and then go play World of Warcraft.

No.

I do not approve.

I know that it’s hard, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try for it. That’s my philosophy.”

Event: Master Your Marketing w/ Christina Farley

I discovered the Writer’s Atelier through NanOrlando, when they hosted a series of NaNoWriMo prep sessions. (I didn’t use NaNo for its strict purpose of writing this year, but as a motivator to continue with my Horatio edits.) I was struck with how useful and supportive their community is. Without knowing me, they welcomed my then 2 month-old into a write-in, and everyone there truly enjoyed his presence and helped me feel comfortable.

So of course I looked at their other activities, and the online class Master Your Marketing with Christina Farley caught my eye. Last fall, three of my editing/social media clients asked my advice on building a platform for their nonfiction works, and that raised new questions for me. Farley looks to address a lot of these questions along with some basics of social media.

I asked Farley the questions that my clients asked me, to see what I might learn from her course. Below are her master your marketing with Christina Farleyanswers.

CMJ: What does a writer’s brand mean to you?

CF: I like to think that a writer’s brand symbolizes who you are as a writer. It not only ties in with your books and writing style, but it draws from who you are as a person. Also a well-developed author brand is more than just the cover of the book or a Twitter header. It delves deeper into all the aspects of the persona of you as a writer. A true test of this is a reader/editor/agent/ should be able to in one glance at any aspect of your writer’s persona grasp a clear concept of who you are as a writer.

CMJ: What does “platform” mean to you? As in, when a publisher says they’ll read a proposal or manuscript if a writer builds their platform?

CF: An author’s platform is essentially like the ‘auditorium’ (if you will) where your voice as an author is heard. Imagine you standing on the stage (scary for some of us introverted writers!) and those sitting in the audience are all of the people excited and eager to hear what you have to say. What you are displaying on the stage and how many people sitting in your audience is what the publishers are interested. An author’s platform is a key component for the nonfiction writer, and though not as important for the fiction writer, it can still be a valuable resource if utilized effectively.

CMJ: How do you divide writing and marketing time?

CF: Writing must always come first. Every time. But there are hours in your day that your brain needs a creative reprieve. That’s when you can spend time on your marketing. The key is to prioritize what is most important and essential to your marketing needs. From there, you can break down a plan and schedule yourself so you aren’t overwhelmed and your writing doesn’t goes by the wayside.

C FarleyCHRISTINA FARLEY is the author of the bestselling Gilded series, a YA contemporary fantasy series set in Korea and upcoming middle grade, THE PRINCESS & THE PAGE, set in France. GILDED was nominated for Korea’s Morning Calm, Ohio’s Buckeye award, and the Tome’s It List. It also was hailed in Epic Read’s anticipated reads, PriceStyle’s recommended summer reads, Book Riot’s favorite myth inspired reads, and BuzzFeed’s 21 amazing series they’ll miss. She is a certified teacher holding a master’s degree in education and has taught writing workshops worldwide.

 

Christina’s Books:

Gilded-FarleyChristinaFarley-Silvern-high-resBRAZEN-coverpp-farley


I will always jump on learning a new way of social marketing, and will report back here on each of her courses*. You can register for the entire series or a’la carte, and also include one-on-one mentoring.

*DISCLOSURE: I arranged a discount to the courses in exchange for reporting on each one.

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