What with her brother being whacked just a short while ago, and things bein' so tense between the McCorkles and the Bolostreres and the di Mayos, Tomboy is naturally a little twitchy about this upcoming public appearance on January 23rd. That's why it's gonna be in a public place in the middle of the day. All out in the open like. Weapons checked at the door, everybody havin' to pay to get in. No riff raff. She'll say what's she got to say in front of everybody and that'll be that. We hope there won't be no one gets hurt, but we ain't makin' no promises. You get me? Bobby got whacked, and Paddy ain't no where to be found. Things could get ugly dependin' on what happens at this here public meetin'. Bring your own drinks and snacks. They'll be sellin' em right downstairs in the lobby. Get in cheaper if you buy one of them Festival buttons for three bucks, or free altogether if you buy a Festival pass that gets you in free to about everything for 10 days -- like a big shot. go to http://www.fertilegroundpdx.org/Passes_%26_Buttons.html and check it out. If you go to the calendar page, you can buy tix for this here event only. That's in case you're a mug who's only interest is the "family" related stuff like this one.
Okay, I've commited to a staged reading of my new play. The Godmother will have appear in public for the first time at Fertile Ground New Works Festival at Portland Center Stage as part of their Down and Dirty lunchtime series. I've snagged the choice spot at 12:30pm on Saturday January 23rd. We'll likely get only 45 minutes, so be prepared to be left wanting more ... that's only about half a play, but it's a good half. This is a play about the Kansas City mob in the 1920's during Prohibition. Tomboy is running the McCorkle family. She's a young butch lesbian in deep conflict inside and outside the family.
Summer is ending and writing time is picking up. I'm at work on a new full-length play, using the methods described in "Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder (he died recently and suddenly from a pulmonary embolism -- the same thing I had in May, but I survived). "Save the Cat" is a book for screenwriters, but I'm convinced one can use those excellent methods for any piece of writing -- stage play, screenplay, memoir, novel or short story. Maybe for poetry although I'm no poet so can't say. I've rejoined Writer Island, an online group of writers who commit to turning in 15 pages per week or get kicked off the Island (for a week). I stayed with the group for months while I "finished" my memoir. Now that I've spent 18 weeks reading it aloud on the radio, I can see it isn't finished at all, but instead needs tightening, rewriting -- a tune-up! So in addition to working on the new play, I'm also working to ACTUALLY finish the memoir. What did you do on YOUR summer vacation?
I had a giant health scare two weeks ago, when I developed a pulmonary embolism after a long plane ride. Am still recovering, so have put the whole radio business on hiatus. Meanwhile, I'm invited for another even longer plane ride, in order to present my play "Copperheads and Common Women" in Mumbai, India at the Women Playwrights International conference in November. Anyone else going?
Finished off the memoir last Tuesday night. Tomorrow night I will begin reading my mystery novel The Hounding. Please join me at www.PIVTR.com at 7 to 7:30pm Pacific Time every Tuesday, and come back here to give feedback, comment, or just say hi.
Dear Peeps, after next week's final episode of Poor Little Thing: A Memoir of Growing Up Too Fast in Rural Missouri, we will begin the adventure of my mystery novel: The Hounding. As always, I'd love to hear your feedback, comments, criticism on the memoir, and it's not too late. I'm revising as we speak. Here is a synopsis of the mystery novel The Hounding by Sandra de Helen. (Available in Kindle form at amazon.com)
Tall, thin, androgynous Shirley Combs considers herself the world’s greatest living detective because she uses the methods and casebook of Sherlock Holmes to solve crimes of the gentry of the American city most closely resembling London, England -- in terms of the weather, at least. Sidekick/narrator Dr. Mary Watson both delights in and is frustrated by her partner’s behavioral resemblance to Sherlock. Combs is unemotional, analytical, and given to pacing through the night in the streets of the almost perfectly livable city of Portland, Oregon. Her ability to observe details and understand their relationship to a case is unmatched; her demands on Watson’s time are too. Shirley Combs bills herself as the world’s greatest living detective, and why not? Taunted and teased as a child because her name sounded so much like Sherlock Holmes's, she developed an early obsession with the adventures and methods of Sherlock himself. She considered her fate sealed when she met up with Dr. Mary Watson. Shirley adds the technology of today to Holmes’s 100-year-old casebook and solves the mysteries of her much-beloved hometown. Mary Watson assists, and - of course - chronicles their exciting exploits. The planned series of novels incorporates and explores current events, types of people, social/economic situations that occur in Portland and the Pacific Northwest. In their first documented adventure, Shirley is hired by 19-year-old Goldenhawk Vandeleur to investigate her wealthy mother’s untimely death. Timber heiress Priscilla Vandeleur Leoni, direct descendant of Sir Charles Baskerville, decides to spend the family fortune saving the old-growth forests of Oregon. She is a product of the 1960’s ¬¬- former hippie and free-love advocate who gave birth out-of-wedlock, experimented with lesbian separatism, and married late. When faced with midlife, she tries to outrun her fears and give away her huge fortune.
Well kiddos, we're nearing the end of the book! Two more Tuesday nights and the end of the memoir will be here. I hope you're enjoying it as much as I am enjoying reading it to you, and that you'll come back to hear me read my mystery novel, The Hounding. Also, coming up the first week of June, Lillian and I will be conducting a workshop in writing for radio theatre. I've done some of this myself and will be leading the workshop. The number of participants will be limited to ten however, in order for everyone to receive individual feedback on her or his writing. We'll be doing this over the internet, conference room style, webcam, in 90 minute sessions for 6 weeks. So if this is something you've wanted to try, this is the place to come because you'll be workshopping in an actual (well virtual) radio station. All best to all of you. Hope to see you on the webcam soon! sdh
I've now become dead certain that agents and publishers don't like the name "Poor Little Thing", that they hear it and think: victim. Mind you, no one has told me that, I've just imagined it. Still, I also imagine that something sassier, sexier, cuter, hipper would catch everyone's eye better. Catch the imagination. I want to create a visual that makes readers smile, not go "oh, poor dear." Or feel a tinge of guilt the way I did the first time I heard "Bastard out of Carolina." I couldn't wait to ask for it at my bookstore, my library, anywhere I might make people go "what?" So, come on! What do you think? "Little Bitch, Just Like Your Mother" or "Four's A Whore" or "Barefoot and Pregnant at Fifteen" or "Growing up on the Wrong Side of the Tracks" or "Hillbilly Kids Don't Amount to Nothing" ... No victims there, right? ha. If you're reading this, you are not too close. Just make a comment and tell me what you think.
Spring is here, people. It may be hailing, or raining, or windy, or muddy, or freezing, but the equinox has come and gone. Trees are budding, birds are singing, and things are punching their way up out of the ground. I've given up moping around and I'm writing again. I'm also looking for a new snappy title for this memoir I'm reading to you every Tuesday night, so if you have a great, good, or mediocre idea -- I'm open to it! Something sexy. But not dirty. Remember Tobacco Road? Good, no one remembers that, it was 1,000 years ago. But Erskine Caldwell wrote things that made people pretty sure that some steamy happenings were taking place among the young people populating his backwoods areas. Places like Newburg, Missouri. People that were a lot like the folks back home. Help me think of a title that conjures up young teens drinking orange vodka out of coffee mugs and dancing to rock and roll in a basement. Anything?
How many weeks have I been reading now? I'm near the end of Chapter Nine. I have one faithful listener that I know of for sure, and there's evidence of others but I haven't read or heard your feedback, so I don't know if you keep coming back or shut me off after a few minutes. Hard to say. I thought writing was lonely sometimes! Ha! Nothing compared to reading aloud alone in my room to my phone and wondering whether who is tuning in. When I finish the memoir, I will read my mystery novel "The Hounding." On June 3, the station owner Lillian Cauldwell and I will produce a radio writing workshop. I will lead a writing for radio seminar, a 101 type of thing. One on one feedback, 90 minute sessions, a limited number of participants. We want to produce radio theatre, like the old days, but with today's writers. This will be fun, and it will be affordable too. Watch for it!
Talk about a poor little thing, but look at me, I was happy. I had both parents, I had my doll Susie, and I had relative freedom. I ran around the farm, mostly unsupervised, because either my Mom trusted me to be "good" and not fall in the pond or into the cistern or pick up a copperhead snake, or else she didn't care, and I chose to believe the former. I was about 3 years old in this picture, no siblings in sight, my dad usually gone somewhere working, just me and my mom alone for weeks at a time. No electricity, no running water, no near neighbors, no near family. Kerosene stove, kerosene lamps, hot summer days and nights. Mom trying to scratch out a vegetable garden and praying for rain. A few chickens to lay eggs, no real farm or farm animals. One exciting day was when Tom the cat found a nest of baby mice in the barn. I got to see them before they were dispatched to heaven. By Mom. Or maybe they weren't. She didn't like to kill things. I'll have to ask the next time we talk. I liked to sit at the edge of the pond and watch Tom try to catch frogs. He wasn't very good at it because he didn't like to get wet. This took up a lot of both Tom's and my time. I spent time with the 3 musketeers again yesterday, but they let me tell the stories this time, so I don't have any new ones to share with you. They were very interested to hear about the practicing for sex that I did with Sharon ... I told them they should be listening to my radio broadcasts. YOU have, right? If not, now's a good time to check out the archives at www.PIVTR.com, because I know you don't want to miss the good sex stories that are in the archives. And be sure to tune in tomorrow night! For Women's History Month, I'll be on KBOO.FM's Stage and Studio tomorrow at 11AM Pacific Time. If you miss it, you can pick it up online after tomorrow. Dmae Roberts is an excellent host. Tomorrow she's having 5 different women reading their work. Check us out. You won't be sorry.
Stop! Don't move along, there's plenty to see here! Check it out. Tonight we are already in chapter seven ... we are going to end the summer of 1956, and begin 8th grade with the dreaded Mr. Sadler. We'll come back to the beginning and pass it. If you don't know, we started the book with an attempted rape of the 12-year-old Poor Little Thing, then her own decision to give up her virginity to 15 year old Ronnie. Now she's trying to live as though nothing has happened, but life isn't that simple. Rumors are flying and she has to face up to reality -- tonight! Come join me at 7pm Pacific Time at www.PIVTR.com ... log in about 5 minutes early so you are all set, because Lillian the station owner will put me on the air as soon as I call in, and I may start a couple minutes before 7. She does this to allow me to finish at a good stopping place. It's going to be a fine evening for curling up beside your computer and listening to me read to you for 30 minutes. Let me take you back to the 50's to the life of a precocious adolescent who is foundering without boundaries in her life, but still finds joy and optimism at every turn.
Have you been reading other bloggers? I have. There are some terrific bloggers out there, lots of fun to read.[Stephen Fry, Fin Kennedy are two] I realize I've been writing as if no one is reading, no one is listening, and surely that isn't the case. No indeed, I have followers! So, just because you're lurking rather than commenting, don't think I don't know you're there ... how's that for double speak? In the midwestern US, we tend to speak with lots of double negatives, until we often don't know what we've just said. I'm pretty sure I just said I know you're there. I'm imagining you lurking around the corner of Blog Street, getting ready to come up to my window just about dusk, find yourself a comfy spot under the lilac bush and listen to me tell my innermost secrets into the telephone. Who am I talking to? Why it's another lurker! Actually, tonight I do have a very specific someone I'm talking to as I do my broadcast of the rest of Chapter Six and probably part of Chapter Seven ... she's a faithful listener and always has been, ever since she was born. Ever since my Mom held her up to the window at the hospital in Waynesville, Missouri in late November when I was not quite six years old, she's had to listen to my stories, and now she does it entirely of her own volition. Saturday night I had some friends over for wine and chocolates. All three of them are terrific story tellers, so for once I was the listener. Should I tell you about the time Athos went on a blind date? Athos was dressed to the nines in a fabulous blue gabardine suit, gold watch chain and all, out on a double date with a friend and friend's date, and the blind date we'll call Diva. Well, Athos was still up and coming, this was a while back in the big city and Athos was still climbing the career ladder, so most of Athos' money went on the wardrobe. So when Diva ordered a split of champagne as her drink, Athos felt a flat wallet and choked out an order for a ginger ale. Surely Diva wouldn't order a second drink! When she did, poor Athos had to go to the bartender and run a tab (horrors!) and then went back to the table and very politely wished all the "friends" goodnight (and goodbye!). No more blind dates for my friend Athos. Fortunately, Athos met Porthos soon after, and they've been together ever since. Theresa Rhebeck wrote a play called "Bad Dates." Have you seen or read it? It's fun to see, with about 400 pair of Mahnolo Blaniks or Jimmy Choos to be tried on during the course of the evening. What fun! Tonight's stories will be about my Mom's fabulous evening wear, my adventures in sewing and bike-riding, a literal bug in my ear, John F. Kennedy and a real bad sunburn.
I received great news yesterday: my creative nonfiction piece "Scent of Forgiveness" will be published in the next issue (May 2009) of Perception, a literary magazine. I'm thrilled, as this piece will also make its appearance in the new, longer version of my solo play "Copperheads and Common Women" when it gets a reading -- unscheduled as yet. AND, it is one of my favorite things I've ever written. I did not use my time on the radio last night to shamelessly self-promote this bit of news, so I'm doing it here. The price for downloading mp3 versions of my broadcast sessions has gone up to $2.99, so if you're listening, your best deal is always to tune in for the live broadcast. I'm on every Tuesday evening 7 to 7:30pm Pacific Time. Last night Lillian put me on five minutes early because last week I ran five minutes late ... so, please tune in early so you don't miss anything.
Ran a bit long last night, what with having to stop and cough, have a drink of water, and maybe I was reading slower? I don't know, but I wouldn't stop until I finished the chapter. I wanted to get through the end, didn't want to leave you hanging: does she get punished? What happens to the poor little thing? On a personal note, in case you're interested, I got word this morning that my play Blue Roses will be part of the Great Plains Conference Play Lab. They received over 400 plays this year, so to have mine chosen is an honor indeed. A panel of playwrights will give me feedback after the reading of the play, which of course means that I have to be in attendance. Have to ... ha, I'll be there with bells on. Honored playwrights this year include Theresa Rebeck, Constance Congdon and Mac Wellman. Also Martha Boesing who was a founder of At the Foot of the Mountain back in the day. ATFOTM performed a play I co-wrote with Kate Kasten called The Clue in the Old Birdbath. Twice. 1978 and ten years later in 1988. We'll have to catch up. If you're listening to Poor Little Thing, I'd love to hear from you. Sandra
Last Tuesday night, those of you who listened could not hear me. Or if you leaned really really close to your computers you could hear a tiny little voice akin to that of a mosquito with my accent, but could not make out my words. After the broadcast, two listeners alerted me to the problem, I was able to alert Lillian Cauldwell, PIVTR owner and she made the recording available for free -- BUT google wouldn't allow me to post to my blog until today! So, I wasn't able to tell you unless you emailed me or called me ...
My apologies, most sincerely.
Tonight is Chapter Three, and although I warn you most sternly that the material is rated for mature audiences, in fact Chapter Three is sex and violence free. You can relax and just enjoy it, even share it with your kids if you want to.
My reading of "Copperheads and Common Women" at Portland Center Stage on Sunday went very well to a nice-sized appreciative audience. The two adolescents in the audience liked the story about the copperhead the best. Maybe when I finish the memoir, I'll read this piece for the radio.
I made it through the first Chapter, live on air. I read so fast that I finished 16 pages in about 24 minutes. If you were listening, please give me some feedback. Was I reading so fast that you lost words or meaning? Did you wish I had rated the show before I started? Should I have warned you that this was for mature audiences with sexual content and language? I actually intended to, but forgot. I also forgot to mention at the top of the show that all of the names in the memoir have been changed except those of my immediate family. I did mention these things at the end of the show. I will try to remember to mention them at the TOP of the show in future broadcasts.
Tonight's the night I begin my own show on PIVTR. I've decided to name the show Copperheads and Common Women, after the one-woman show I've just written for the stage. I'll be reading it live in person in Portland, Oregon as part of Fertile Ground: New Works Festival on January 25th. Women from my life appear both in the play and in my memoir, which I'll be reading on the radio, so it seems fitting. I'm looking forward to getting comments from a listening audience. I'll be reading to you.
Blue Roses and Copperheads and Common Women are now available on Amazon.com in book form.
In Kindle-compatible format at Amazon.com are my short story Summer's Over and my mystery novel The Hounding, which is an homage to Sherlock Holmes and has received great reviews. You can also find either of these on my website in pdf format at www.SandradeHelen.com.
A myriad of plays: full length, one act, solo, ten-minute, and monologues. Please hie yourself to my website for excerpts, even some mp3 versions. www.SandradeHelen.com