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1. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: July 18

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include authors, book lists, the Cybils, common core, aging, ebooks, apps, growing bookworms, kidlitcon, reading, writing, play, schools, libraries, and summer reading.

Books and Authors

Stories from authors about school visits "gone terribly wrong" at Wild Things blog http://ow.ly/zcwJO  @SevenImp @FuseEight

75 Years Old, Still Showing off her Scar, fun details about Madeline from @SevenImp + @FuseEight at Wild Things blog http://ow.ly/z94Jk 

Book Lists and Awards

Amazon-backed Booktrust Best Book Awards‘ Lifetime Achievement Award turned down by Allan Ahlberg | @TheBookseller http://ow.ly/z3OLT 

The Wildest (bold + unique) Children’s Books of 2014 as picked by @100scopenotes http://ow.ly/zcxat  #kidlit

Teen blogger Summer from @miss_fictional looks back on Favorite Books from her Childhood http://ow.ly/z5flg  #kidlit

Who knew that there could be a list of Top 5 Picture Books about Ninjas? @rosemondcates could! http://ow.ly/z3KJl  #kidlit

Thanks! RT @145lewis: #CYBILS are an amazing resource Looking for summer reading ideas? http://dadtalk.typepad.com/cybils/finalists/ … #kidlit #edchat #elemed

Common Core and STEM

#CommonCore Becomes Touchy Subject for Governors Group, reports @WSJ, as both parties are internally split on CC http://ow.ly/z5fA0 

Tap the STEM Resources in Your Community! | ALSC Blog post for librarians by @amyeileenk http://ow.ly/z3KzZ 

Diversity

RT @tashrow 5 Stereotypes Positive Aging Picture Books Avoid | Lindsey McDivitt http://buff.ly/1zmZLk9  #kidlit

eBooks and Apps

RT @TWhitford: Great Apps To Introduce Coding to Young Kids http://goo.gl/uUdGX0  via @mattBgomez

Malorie Blackman: ‘I love gadgets, but e-reading has to be carefully handled’ | @GuardianBooks http://ow.ly/z3P8z  via @PWKidsBookshelf

Growing Bookworms

What Do Phonics, Phonemic Awareness and Decoding Mean? @CoffeeandCrayon has the scoop http://ow.ly/zeLEb  #literacy

How #Comics Create Life-Long Readers -- @MaryAnnScheuer interview with @jenniholm http://ow.ly/zeLPW  #kidlit #literacy

Teaching My Daughters to Read -- Part III, Phonics from @ReadingShahahan http://ow.ly/zcvyn  #literacy

RT @LiteracySpeaks: 5 Simple Ways to Improve Reading Comprehension from This Reading Mama! http://fb.me/6BtWnEOln 

Fun times @everead | How I Stopped My Children's Whining with Story Club http://ow.ly/z5eUD  #literacy

KidLitCon

KidlitCon2014_cubeBOOM: And we are LIVE! Why you should attend this year's KidLitCon, from co-organizer Tanita Davis, FindingWonderland http://ow.ly/zcvbM 

The registration form for #KidLitCon14 Oct. 10-11 in Sacramento is now live: http://ow.ly/zc0lr  A great way to see friends + talk books

October will be here soon, soon, soon — @bkshelvesofdoom is coming to #KidLitCon14 Are you? http://ow.ly/z3GYs 

RT @CBethM: The 8th Annual @KidLitCon - Spending Time Face-to-Face with Kindred Spirits by @JensBookPage #nerdybookclub http://wp.me/p21t9O-1zS 

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

On having (and integrating) multiple Reading Lives by Kristin McIlhagga @TeachChildLit @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/z94kV 

Cultivating Curiosity, on love of stories vs. love of words at So Obsessed With blog http://ow.ly/z94SO  via @catagator

Food for thought at Stacked: Growing Up, Leaving Some Books (Narnia) Behind by @kimberlymarief http://ow.ly/zi3Ac  #kidlit

Why Book Reviewers Would Make Awesome Authors, by @Miss_Fictional http://ow.ly/zcvDd 

A proposal from @100scopenotes | All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions. Thoughts? http://ow.ly/zcvYJ 

Here's what @medinger thinks about @100scopenotes idea for Putting a Stop to Middle Grade Novel’s Increasing Girth http://ow.ly/zcwej 

Confessions Of A Binge Reader (Or, How I Read So Much) | Ryan Holiday at Thought Catalog http://ow.ly/z3LKY  via @tashrow

Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With @EliteDaily http://ow.ly/z3NZQ  via @librareanne

On Kids

How Much Activity Do Our Students Need? asks @katsok How do you help kids who can't sit still, in era of less recess? http://ow.ly/z92pA 

Did What You Played as a Kid Influence Who You Became as an Adult? asks @FreeRangeKids http://ow.ly/z933H 

Powerful post @KirbyLarson by Michelle Houts on adults looking back and regretting childhood acts of bullying http://ow.ly/z3K36 

Schools and Libraries

Bridging the Gap: Making #Libraries More Accessible for a Diverse Autistic Population | @sljournal http://ow.ly/z3Omk 

Corporal Punishment in Schools: Can it be Justified? @TrevorHCairney thinks it's not the right approach http://ow.ly/zi3el 

Top 10 Ways to Turn Classroom into a Hotbed of Enthusiastic Readers by @megangreads + @muellerholly @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/z5eFi 

Summer Reading

This could keep us busy for the rest of the summer! 50 Fabulous Movies based on Children's Books from @rosemondcates http://ow.ly/zcvGP 

#SummerReading Tip20 @aliposner Set up your vacation accommodations in ways that make literacy more likely to occur http://ow.ly/z3LbF 

#SummerReading Tip21 @aliposner Encourage your kids to author “vacation books” when you are traveling this summer http://ow.ly/z5eOF 

#SummerReading Tip25 @aliposner | Read the SAME BOOK that your child is reading independently + discuss it together http://ow.ly/zeM9u 

#SummerReading Tip26 @aliposner | Try to connect reading to your kids’ summer activities http://ow.ly/zi3mT #literacy

Reading Is Fundamental Study Says Summer Reading Is Not Priority | reports Lauren Barack @sljournal http://ow.ly/z3OeW  @RIFWEB

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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2. Arks to Go II: the Flood - The Plan

SCENE: LIVING ROOM OF AN APARTMENT. LATE EVENING
 
Angie and her male friend, Joe, evening together is interrupted by a knock on the door. Angie attempts to ignore the interruption but it continues, growing in intensity
 
 
JOE
Aren't you going to answer the door
 
ANGIE
Knock? I don't hear a knock. Now where were we...
 
JOE
You're such a joker, Angie. It sounds urgent
 
ANGIE
Probably the neighbor upstairs, complaining again. She is such a pain. Bangs on the ceiling even when I sneeze. 'Get a life, Mrs. Plotnik!'
 
JOE
If you don't answer the door - I will!
 
ANGIE
O-kay...if you insist but I know I'm gonna regret this
 
(Angie opens the door to an elderly man (NOAH) with a very long white beard and hair down to the floor, dressed in army fatigues. He rushes by her)
 
NOAH
Hel-lo! Noah's my name and arks are my fame! A little frivolity always helps to break the ice in a social situation, don't you think? Angie - introduce me to your friend, here
 
ANGIE
Noah - remember I told you my carpets don't need cleaning? Call me in a few years - preferably longer. Now if you'll excuse me...
 
(she tries to lead Noah to the door, unsuccessfully)
 
NOAH
You're just joking, aren't you! We're old friends, remember?
 
ANGIE
How can I forget?
 
                                                                                                         SOUND: ELEPHANTS
 
JOE
What's that? Sounds like elephants
 
ANGIE
He comes with his own sound effects. Um - didn't I mention that Noah here, does sound engineering for movies?
 
NOAH
No I don't! Aw - you're just teasing, right? 'I'll be back soon, guys!' They don't like to be left alone. Elephants are such babies. They're afraid of the jackals and the monkeys love to tease them. You know - when the boss is away... So...Joe - whad'ya think of all the rain we've been having?
 
JOE
Haven't given it a lot of thought, to be honest
 
NOAH
Maybe you should. Could be the beginning of ...
 
ANGIE
...Noah here runs a zoo. Perhaps you should be getting back to your animals, Noah! Nice of you to visit...
 
(Angie attempts to move Noah towards the door but he resists)
 
JOE
You two seem like old friends. How did you meet?
 
NOAH
Well...Angie phoned me about six months ago and asked me about building an ark...
 
ANGIE
...as a gift for my nephew. He's into arks and I wanted to give him something unique
 
NOAH
...and we've been friends on-and-off
 
ANGIE
Good to see you again. Call me sometime
 
NOAH
Somehow we lost touch with each other and I came across her number while cleaning out the parrot cages the other day and here I am! So Joe - do you like to sail boats, perchance, or maybe you build boats?
 
ANGIE
Stop with the questions, already, Noah! See you around....
 
JOE
As a matter of fact, I'm handy with a hammer and nails
 
NOAH
No! What a coincidence. I'm looking for someone to help me with a project I'm working on that involves someone who knows how to put two pieces of wood together
 
JOE
Seriously? Maybe I could help you
 
NOAH
You don't have to be an expert. I have a set of plans laid out by Someone who makes building an ark as easy as 1-2-3
 
ANGIE
Hello? Joe? I'm here. I think I hear the elephants calling you, Noah.
 
JOE
Why don't I give you my cell number? We can discuss this further over lunch
 
NOAH
No need for that. I'll get in touch. Isn't this exciting, Angie? You, Joe...building a new ark together...think of the possibilities
 
ANGIE
My heart beats with eager anticipation at the aspect of spending time with wild animals. Why do I think my life is not my own, anymore...
 
NOAH
I know what you mean. It's going to be such fun. Now Joe - do you get sea sick?
 
TO BE CONTINUED...
 
 




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3. To be Indigenous or not to be that isn’t a good question even!

A quite lively discussion has blown in from space on a friends Face-postcard about something I forgot because it went a completely different way in short order and is now a history lesson on indigenous peoples.

It was said the “Native “”American”” people” were here first and that they claim to be “Indigenous” and that they have their traditional stories to back up their claim to properties etc.

That got me to thinking (usually leads to minor disasters) that just because someone in your past lived some place and told creation stories doesn’t always mean you have any more rights than the guy who was born there after you lost the battle, in my case way after.

I know, growing up, my mother used to tell me, when I asked how I got here that I came from heaven and perhaps, if I’m a good boy, God will give me land there again though I think he may balk at the casino I want to build even if it is to take all the sinner’s money or credits or what ever the currency of his realm is.

And further more if in the past there was only one super continent, Pangaea or what ever they really called it, then we all have a claim to everywhere cause we are all descendants of the original inhabitants and I’ll bet a dollar to a doughnut there aint anywho who can tell me where they thought they came from even after the break up.

I thought perhaps we are all from Mars via the Pleiades star system but had to leave cause the Marshonians wanted the place back so we moved on as they had come from the Hercules system to Mars first.

To send every one back to where they came from is stupid, you can’t fit that many people on Ellis Island let alone grow enough hemp there to have a trade economy with New York.

I don’t know the answer other than if we don’t start being natives from “EARTH” the little grey men will boot us out and wipe out the myths of our origins from then to eternity.

HareBrained_II_smJPGIt’s a race none us may win …


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4. Life imitates art

On occasion during our run of the mill existence here on planet earth, life imitates art. This was the case during a recent visit from a plumber to unblock a bathroom drain. The visit was routine but there came a point during a conversation that seemed straight out of my play, “Gin: an Allegory for Playing the Game of Life.” You know how it is – that Twilight Zone/déjà vu feeling we’ve all experienced at some point where a conversation seems familiar and you’re not sure if you’ve heard it before.  

Here is the scene from the play where Lyle, the super, arrives to address the blocked sink of Becky, the main character and the cynic. SARAH, another character is one of those people who always sees the good in everyone and everything. I cut and pasted parts so the formatting isn't ideal. This is one of my favorite plays but then that's what I say about all of them.


                         BECKY opens the door to LYLE, the super, who is leaning on
                         the side of the door, engrossed in music coming out of earphones.
                         His dress is grunge with long stringy hair and grimy
                         clothes

BECKY

Well, well. Look who the wind blew in. Hello up there? Anybody home?

                         BECKY taps him on the shoulder and he jumps in response

Forgive me but you do remember why you're here? To unblock my pipes? Lyle super - me tenant?

LYLE
I know that

BECKY
Of course you do and I'm Madonna

LYLE
Hey – and they tol’ me your name was Becky Bitch. Oh… I see. Becky Bitch Madonna!

                         LYLE pushes Becky aside

Okay…what and where's the problem?

BECKY
You for a start but I gotta take what I can get. My sink has been blocked since last week

LYLE
Okay… hold it a sec…this is a good part

                         Lyle starts gyrating and playing an invisible guitar

BECKY
My God – the kid has overdosed on drugs right here in my apartment. Call 911

LYLE
(stops abruptly)
That was the best part of the CD. Bet'chu wash your hair in this sink, don't you

BECKY
And your point is? Most normal people wash their hair, Lyle, but there are exceptions, like you for example

LYLE
Ladies your age never wanna admit it but we supers know better. If I had a dollar for every time I've unblocked a sink and removed a big blob of the stuff, I’d be a gazillionaire. Wait a sec’…

                         LYLE begins gyrating

BECKY
I hope I'm not disturbing your musical interludes or anything. Listen, there's no way, my hair, blocked that drain. Maybe you don't clean the pipes often enough, did that occur to you? So? Fix it. Hello? Lyle!

LYLE

This band is like… fab-u-lo-so… We'll try chemicals first and if that don't work, we'll use the snake

BECKY
You're gonna use strong chemicals in my sink? Come to think of it, you're probably no stranger to chemical mixes

SARAH
OhmyGod! They use poor defenseless snakes to clean out drains, now? But I'm sure you use the non-poisonous type, right? Do the animal welfare people know about this?

BECKY

Sarah dear, count your cards or something. Just do what you have to do and unblock it?

LYLE
Got some news you won't wanna hear, lady

BECKY
If it means you're quitting your job after unblocking my sink, it's good

LYLE
I'm wrong about the blockage

BECKY
Told you it wasn't hair. I'm not a plumber and even I knew as much

LYLE
It's deep down in the main pipe system, under the sink

BECKY
And this means that…

LYLE
…it's gonna cost. Might hav'ta call in a plumber

BECKY
Can't youfix it? What are they paying you for?

LYLE
I'll try but I ain't making no promises. I'm gonna go look for my tools, downstairs. Whoever you get to do the job will take a half a day, at least. Maybe more

BECKY

This is really good. A handyman with no tools


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5. Another tasty morsal of "Neighbors"

Another snippet from "Neighbors."

Following yet another verbal confrontation, Portman has invited Taylor for a friendly drink at the neighborhood bar. Enter Joseph Martini, a customer, who after listening to the pair discuss their views on life and the garden, makes them an offer they decide to accept.

The place is Patty's Place, the bar co-owned by Patty and Portman.



MARTINI

I think I got the big picture. Don't know how'd you feel about this, but would you consider using the services of a mediator?

 
PORTMAN

Ain't that a person who makes street dividers – what's that gonna do for us?
 

TAYLOR

You'll have to forgive my good friend here, since his vocabulary is somewhat limited. A mediator, dear neighbor, is a person who's not familiar with the parties involved, who listens to two sides of a story and then presents an unbiased opinion. Do you happen to know anyone who could do that for us? I’ve already contacted somebody who knows somebody at City Hall but if you you’ve got someone you could recommend… Of course she or he would have to have some experience with property disputes…
 

MARTINI

Believe it or not, it so happens that I'm a semi-retired land surveyor by trade, and I've listened to hundreds, maybe thousands, of stories involving issues like yours. I'd be willing to investigate in the way of thanks for your warm welcome here

 
PORTMAN

Go on! Now you tell me that this ain't fate, Taylor! Here we are in the middle of tryin' to find an answer to our problem and Martini here just happens to drop by for a drink. I mean – what are the odds of that happening, huh?

 
TAYLOR

Indeed. A little too convenient if you ask me

 
PORTMAN

Chalk it up to fate, is all
 

TAYLOR

I dunno - a supposed stranger shows up out of the blue and…

 
MARTINI

I can assure you, sir, that this is the first time I've visited this bar. If you'd rather pass on this opportunity…

 
PORTMAN

Of course he wants to get your legal opinion. Listen Taylor, if Martini here says he made a living settling arguments like ours, then he's the man for the job

 
MARTINI

I'll need to examine the house plans first…


TAYLOR

It's just too convenient for my liking. Do you have anything that says you’re a surveyor?

 

PORTMAN

Do you ask your trash collector for identification or the local delivery guy? Why should our new friend here, have to prove to you that he is who he says he is? Don't pay no attention to him. The man’s got no manners whatsoever


MARTINI

I understand your suspicions and need to know more about me professionally but I have to tell you that I'm very busy doing contract work. So if you're not interested…


PORTMAN

Hang on a minute – I'm willing to let Martini here study the situation - and I'll even go along with his findings. How's that for blind faith, huh?

 
TAYLOR

The only thing I'll agree to is that he can listen to both sides and offer an opinion, period. Let’s see what he comes up with

 

PORTMAN

You were the one who threatened to call a land surveyor just this very morning. Well – here he is! Any land surveyor you call in is gonna be a stranger. D'ya want this man to medicate our dispute, or not?  We're here to fix fences, not build new ones


TAYLOR

You mean mediateour dispute…

 
PORTMAN

See what I mean? There he goes again. Medicate…mediate…what's a 'c' between friends?


TAYLOR

I didn't mean to insult your professional integrity, Mr. Martini

 
PORTMAN

Well, Ihappen to believe that friends take each other at their word, so I say - let's get on with it! Why don't we drink to…Mr. Martini's -

 
MARTINI

- Joey -

 
PORTMAN

- Joey's findings. Line 'em up Miss Patty and lemonade again for you Joey boy? And whatever my neighbor wants here

 
MARTINI

That's it for me or I'm gonna have to swim outta here. So, how we gonna do this?

 
PORTMAN

Listen – here's a plan. Why don't we wait 'til early evening, once the sun goes down, when it'll be cooler for you to measure our land.  We could hang 'round here for a while and catch the bodacious babes playing volleyball on TV
 

TAYLOR

I haven't agreed to Mr. Martini becoming involved yet

 
PORTMAN

Of course you have! You wanted a meditator and now you got one! What more could a person ask for?
 

MARTINI

Sounds good to me. It'll certainly make my job easier waiting until things cool down a bit


PATTY

In more ways than one

 
PORTMAN

So, it's agreed? We might as well stay here. Patty here will take good care of us

 
TAYLOR

I suppose it can't hurt. As much as I would love to hang here with you guys, my green peppers need staking and my tomato patch needs de-weeding. How 'bout we meet later, say about…seven?


PORTMAN

We won't have to worry about workin' in the dark since my neighbor installed flood lights near his garden, to scare away veggie thieves


TAYLOR

It's to discourage a family of groundhogs that steal at night. I don't spend all those hours to have all my stuff eaten by animal

 
PORTMAN

You do know that you're insultin' me again, Taylor. We're supposed to be getting' to know each other and I'm being ditched for some peppers and tomatoes? 


TAYLOR

It's not that I don't appreciate your invitation, but I've got a lot to do around the house. Like I said, we'll meet in my back yard if that's okay with you, Mr. Martini?

 
MARTINI

Sounds like a plan to me

PORTMAN

Perfect-o-mundo!. Me and Joey...I mean, Mr. Martini will get to know each other better, right guy?


PORTMAN

Then it's settled. We meet at seven on your territory. By the way, I'm out of salad. If 'ya happen to have an extra head or two lyin' around…

 
TAYLOR

Nice meeting you Mr. Martini

 
PORTMAN

You into beach volleyball, Joey boy? Wait 'til you get a look at those players. Mama mia!


MARTINI

Do they carry volleyball on basic cable?

 

After switching on the television, PATTY brings over two drinks. TAYLOR lingers for an instant and then leaves

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6. Flipping all year long

Today is Pancake Day! Also called Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday if you take part in Lent. It’s traditionally a day to eat up all sorts of yummy things in your house that you are promising not to eat during Lent, like chocolate. It’s a long month if you’re giving up your junkiest habit so first of all you need to eat a shed-load of pancakes.

It’s strange people MAKE and EAT pancakes only one day a year.

HOW ODD?! Why only eat such a great food one day out of 365? We must change this silliness once and for all.

But how? …Time for a Seed Agent Mission.

WHAT IF?! We rename pancakes Flippers! Every time we make a pancake we call it a Flipper. Everytime we eat a pancake we call it Flipper. Everytime we see a pancake we call it a Flipper. Soon the world will call pancakes – Flippers!! And then we can eat Flippers ALL year round, and not just on Fat Tuesday.

There’s nothing that can’t be used to fill a flipper, sweet or savoury, hot or cold, the choice is yours Seed Agents! Try some veg-flippers! “Move along old-school lemon and sugar”, “Bye-bye gooey joys of chocolate”, “Hello pongy cheese, spinach and mushrooms!”

Have a go at making your own flippers here and experiment eating them with different fillings. Discover which one you like best!

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7. Who's Your Mummy?


Peanut shell sacrcopha-guys. 
Yes, I know. 
We're nuts.
I like to think of research as
permission to plunge overboard,
to get lost in your story world
in order to find it.
 
Some people tape maps to the walls
and wear fuzzy Russian hats.
Others swear by magazine clippings.
Hungarian folk music.
Books on fly fishing.
French chocolate.

We wear pipe cleaner headdresses. 

 

What's your research quirk? 


Can you tell what we're into these days?
It helps that King Tut's treasure is only a ferry ride away.

We said our howdies to the Pharaohs

and hopped home, hot about Egypt.

I buried old pottery shards for a "Dig."


Kids + Dirt = Heaven!

When I was sixteen, my parents took us to Egypt.

Valley of the Kings, pyramids and the Sphinx
all did their dazzling best. 


And then there was this old dump,
littered with broken scraps. 
At the time, mum and dad seemed so very un-cool
sifting through that Egyptian dump,
selecting a few shards to bring home.
 
But who's my mummy now?
Oh yeah!
There has never been such excitement in our backyard.

My fake gold necklace
came in handy
as the crowning discovery.

Treasure!
 

  
Hieroglyphs + Clay  = Name cartouches!
 

Sarcophagi:
Our wee coffins
are nothing more than
peanut shells, paint, 
and gold pens for a little extra pizazz.


That's it in a nutshell.



So many great books to share with you!

The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle - Claudia Logan, Melissa Sweet
Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile - Tomie dePaola
The Egyptian Cinderella - Shirley Climo, Ruth Heller
The Secret Room - Uri Shulevitz
Zekmet, the Stone Carver - Mary Stoltz, Deborah Nourse Lattimore
How the Sphinx Got to the Museum - Jessie Hartland
The Three Princes - Eric A. Kimmel, Leonard Everett Fisher
One City, Two Brothers - Chris Smith, Aurelia Fronty
Exodus - Brian Wildsmith
I, Crocodile - Frank Marcellino
The Shipwrecked Sailor - Tamara Bower
The Jewel Fish of Karnak - Graeme Base

 

Product Details

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8. Dinos Do Dress-up (and groceries)


Well, it just so happens I have illustrated a Dinosaur Book for Red Robin Books, Don't Invite Dinosaurs to Dinner, written by Neil Griffiths. It came out in Jan 2012.

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9. Old Soldiers are calling me again...and again...

A few months ago - seems like longer - I vowed to finish my "Old Soldiers" play, with the intention of entering it (again) in the BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition. The play, based on a short story written a while back, has a magical effect on my psyche and although procrastination has set in, the "gang" is there, calling me.

"So when are you finally going to give us some type of resolution?" one of the characters asks me regularly, just before falling asleep at night."We've been in limbo for years now."

Don't I know it!

The dilemma is deciding upon a plethora of endings and possibilities, and which one would be best suitable for dramatic impact. The characters themselves are well defined and no tinkering is necessary in this area. Then there is the issue of writing for radio.

Radio requires sound effects to propel the story along and although my dialogue is strong (IMHO), not sure whether there is sufficient sound or action. When writing the dialogue, I hear the characters speak and envision their movements but the challenge is how to translate this into audible action.

In any case and for no other reason than to force myself to make a decision, I've decided to choose the ending, good or bad. Since the next deadline would be next April (2013), there is time to work out the details.

The angst of indecision!

Will provide regular updates as to my progress. Where have you read that before?

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10.

An  illustration for Illustration Friday’s word prompt, “Stretch”. These guys are playing some sort snowman’s version of Badminton, me thinks.

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11. Joe McKenna has run into a problem and the playwright is angsting

I'm in angst - again.

In spite of a concerted effort to finish my "Old Soldiers" play in the hope of entering it in the BBC International Playwriting Radio Competition, I've encountered a new and unexpected problem. Content is fine.

"Now what, Eleanor?" Joe is asking me. "How much longer are you going to keep us waiting?"

I know, Joe! I know!

Today for whatever reason, I decided to check the rules in as far as the number of pages and characters allowed.

"All scripts submitted must be a minimum of 45 pages of A4 paper (or equivalent) and a maximum of 65 pages (note, a rough guide is a minute per page; please read and time your play before you send it). The play should have a maximum of six central characters (there may be up to 3 small "doubling" characters too, who don’t have more than a few lines each). Your script must be accompanied by a short synopsis which outlines the complete story of the play. This must be no more than 400 words."

The way that I view it, there could be and then again, maybe not, more than six main characters. It's all in one's definition of "main characters." Do main characters re-occur throughout the play? How does one define a "minor character?" There are give or take a character, nine characters in total. The play opens with the four old army buddies, who definitely are main characters. Then there are other lesser characters who come-and-go but contribute to the over-all plot of the play, that add up to more than the three doubling characters. Eliminating one or two in my mind, would ruin the flow of the play. Everyone has a part to play - excuse the pun.

I've reached the 45 page mark, which is in itself an accomplishment. Really in a quandry as to how to proceed. Maybe the best thing to do is to finish the play, submit it and put it in the hands of fate. Do I have a choice?

0 Comments on Joe McKenna has run into a problem and the playwright is angsting as of 1/15/2013 9:46:00 AM
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12. Got Mail?

 
Because everyone needs a reason to hide secret notes...


I made a mail kit.

It's our Narnian Lamppost.
Our Portal.
Our place where the real world transforms into the magical one.
 
See, Pip and Winnie haven't exactly been excited
about writing time.
They moan and whinge when it's time
to pull out notebook and pen.

But now they have a reason to write.

All manner of small letters, notices and lists
have been appearing in the mailbox, begging for a reader. 
 
Secret message makers, word lovers in the making, I hope.
And if we're not so concerned with punctuation just yet,
still Something is being kindled,
and that Something is what we're going for - 

getting so lost in play so that the unseen world
shines brighter within us,
and the ordinary world shines brighter on our return...

This is what I want for myself, too.
To take more time to play
with my words, with art, with the kids
without focusing on how much I get done.

I have a choice every day -
wear myself out trying to blast through my goals,
or find the sweet spots and savor.

Relish the revision. 
   (thank you Gail Carson Levine and
     Molly Blaisell for your great advice.)
and

if you need a reason to play with your words,
or an incentive for young heel-dragging-writers,
may I suggest a mail box?

Our kit is compiled of:

A domed box (thrift store find)
Denim.
Felt.
Mod podge.
Ribbon.
A cardboard swing arm fastened with a nut and bolt.
 
I added a mail sack, felt envelopes and flannel stamps
plus a thick stack of paper
for good measure.


My dad's old mail carrier hat tops the cake.

Any mail today?


Books of Note:

 

The Dove's Letter by Keith Baker


The Jolly Postman, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small
Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie
Letters from Father Christmas - J.R.R. Tolkien
Love, Mouserella by David Ezra Stein
 Writing Magic
Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly - Gail Carson Levine

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
The Enchanted Chocolate Pot - Patricia C. Wrede, Caroline Stevermer

And an experiment. 
I've been trying to set up some freebies for my small writer friends, so here is my first attempt to provide a download. 


You are welcome to use this art as long as you credit the artist (Hey, that's me - Faith Pray!) and as long as you don't try to pass it off as your own work, or sell it (That would be illegal). If you are going to pin or webshare this, please credit me as the artist, and link back to this original post.
Thank you for the respect.




7 Comments on Got Mail?, last added: 1/22/2013
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13. Re-thinking and re-writing. "The Lemon" could be sweet

Go figure. Here I was under the impression that the BBC International Playwriting Competition was on hold or cancelled altogether. Much to my surprise, read on Facebook to stand by since they are about to announce the details of this year's competition.

While this is great news and under the assumption that the competition was cancelled, I've been re-thinking entering "Old Soldiers" as my entry.

"After all that waiting - you're going to abandon us?" Joe would probably ask. The issue is whether or not 'soldiers would be radio-friendly due to the necessity of sound effects.

A while back, I wrote a short play entitled, "The Lemon" focusing on the trials and tribulatiion of a female owning and trying to unload her car, which as the title infers, is a "lemon." A comedy, it's a fun story line and the characters would lend themselves to radio. At present it would run about 20-30 minutes but it wouldn't be difficult to add to the story.

This week I'm going to re-examine The Lemon with a critical eye to see if and how the story can be expanded. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the announcement of the new deadline. Progress reports to come.



0 Comments on Re-thinking and re-writing. "The Lemon" could be sweet as of 3/30/2013 12:53:00 PM
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14. Turn off screens and turn on your (writerly) life.

I’ve become a little too connected in recent years. I became an e-mail addict freshman year of college. I got a cell phone right after September 11th. An iTouch came into my life… Read More

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15. Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves

WordPressers, day in and day out, you entertain us, you make us think, you make us laugh, and you make us grateful to be exposed to so many voices all over the world. It’s a pleasure to read what you’re writing. Like everyone in the community, we value that feeling of connection that comes from reading something that speaks to you, that resonates, that makes you feel not so alone.

For this edition of Freshly Pressed Faves, we’re looking at three posts that do just that, all around the idea of “busy-ness.” Modern society seems to embrace the idea that unless you’re “swamped” or “super busy,” you just aren’t being productive enough. Free time? Fill it up, preferably with something that pays! This attitude permeates children’s lives, too, with scheduled after-school dance classes and soccer practices and violin lessons and foreign language tutors. The idle hours that once allowed kids to daydream seem to be no more. When’s enough enough, though?

Doing more only to do less — do we glorify busy?

Author Tim Kreider believes ‘Our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness.’ We feel we are nothing, not worthy, unimportant or left out if we have nothing to do.

But there is another aspect to it. Perfectionism – that shadow from our childhoods. We want to be excellent – because if we are, we will be worthy of love. So we take on anything and everything that is thrown us. Even when we are aware we are overwhelmed, we find it hard to say ‘NO’. Because we fear that if we do – people will think less of us. So we end up doing more than our fair share.

Sofagirl at Campari & Sofa writes eloquently about her own fight with the “busy” beast and the scary personal episode that drove her to question it all. Weaving in others’ research on the topic, she presents a compelling argument for taking a step back — and a deep breath — and for refusing to participate in the tyranny of “busy” any longer. Bet you’ll find it difficult to disagree.

The Quiet Contemplation of Inactivity

As kids we could come up with 16 ways to put our lives on the line using the jungle gym in ways no designer ever intended. They were days when we simply looked at clouds and imagined animals (or teachers or, for the juvenile delinquents, body parts) hiding in the puffy expanse of the heavens. … We were bored, but no one was ever bored enough to learn something.

Except it appears, according to recent research, that boredom is good for the brain. Evidently, boredom switches our brain’s little buttons and the synapses and neurons start firing on more cylinders, pushing us to creativity and intellectual growth.

John Wegner of Consistently Contradictory harkens back to a time when “boredom” and free time were acceptable and even encouraged, when we didn’t rely on technology and scheduling quite so much, and when we allowed our brains to wander. Are we losing the benefits of this today? Should we re-introduce some “slack” into schools? Read John’s convincing and thought-provoking post and you’ll probably be answering “yes.”

The Kid Stays in the Picture

When I was a kid, Dad made it clear that ‘mere play’ was being idle—something lazy people did. And boy, you couldn’t get lazier than me.

Michael Maupin from Completely in the Dark takes us back to his childhood and the lasting effects of not being encouraged to “play.” He explains, “As a shadow, it darkened the room, filling me with anxiety and self-doubt: ‘What am I doing now? Is it practical? Is it useful? Shouldn’t I be ashamed?’ … For years that sound, that shadow, was all around. It blocked up my writing, my artwork, my self-esteem — everything. I was psychologically held at gunpoint by an ethic that carries little currency in my world.”

Not one to be bullied, however, Michael has found ways to protect and embrace his natural tendencies towards “play and reverie.” Read his post, and you’ll be inspired to do the same.

Did you read something in the Reader that you think is Freshly Pressed material? Feel free to leave us a link, or tweet us @freshly_pressed.

For more inspiration, check out our writing challenges, photo challenges, and other blogging tips at The Daily Post; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the Reader. For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.


7 Comments on Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves, last added: 4/20/2013
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16. Turn off screens and LIVE life.

Screen-Free Week goes from 4/29-5/5. While it might seem drastic and unfeasible to completely unplug, think about what steps you can take to be less connected next week.

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17. Time To Imagine

Each day is filled with work. My work is fun, but there are still decisions to make and a path to stay on. There are meetings to schedule and deadlines to meet. It can be a constant process of thought and movement.
I have stopped for the day. I stopped to look over my idea book and enjoy the summer breeze. The are ideas everywhere and sometimes you cannot find the ones that are in the calm of the day if you don’t stop to look and listen.
My doggie stands guard to protect me from squirrels, my other doggie wanted the cool of the air in the house. I listen to the wind kicking up. I hear cars from a nearby street. I feel sure that the birds are discussing what’s for dinner. My feel are hot in my sneakers that are still on since my morning walk. My daisies look like they are reaching for the sky. The weeds are tall on the north side of my house. My thoughts travel to what to make for dinner. (I resist that thought for now). My daughter turned 35 today! That makes me smile as I remember her entrance into this world and her loud voice!

All of these are but fleeting thoughts. Sometimes a fleeting thought will make into a story, but you must take the time to stop, look and listen.

Now I dive into my idea book!

20130710-165558.jpg


Filed under: All Things Artsy, change, dream, Inspiring, Kicking Around Thoughts, Work is Play....?

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18. Just thinking

I would like to think that I could come up with some Geo-Terra-forming-hyper-thoughts but can only come up with the belief that I am correct to feel immortal and know that even after I go to the next eternity, that itself will end, and “I” become some horrific to these “Now ” eyes, some specimen of thing unknowable to this consciousness, yet another “thing” that feels correct to it’s nature and has no thought of being not correct, that after an eternity of these formations and resurrections and deaths I will sink into the opposite sludge of nonexistence but after a time, that is not time, will again float to the surface *POP* out and start all over again.

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19. Boys and Girls Playing Together + Book Giveaways

I recently read Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture (2011) by Peggy Orenstein.  While hospitals don’t hand out manuals to parents who leave with a… Read More

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20. Toys in the Library #ala12

Having toys and play at the library is certainly a timely topic: the revised Every Child Ready to Read includes play as one of the five practices to promote early literacy. ALSC sponsored a program at ALA on this topic entitled “You Want Me to Circ WHAT?! or How to Best Utilize Toys as a Literacy Tool in Programs and as a Fun Part of Your Lending Collection.” Toys are a great, child-approved way to integrate play into the library, and this session had quite a few ideas for making that happen:

  • No space is too small for incorporating toys into the library. Whether you have a room, a playhouse, a closet, a table, or just a bit of space under some shelves, you can add toys successfully. Wall panels work really well, too.
  • Adding toys is not a “go big or go home” scenario: a small selection of toys is just as beneficial as a huge variety. A child engages with one toy at a time, so a few puzzles are just as satisfying to a child as a roomful of different items.
  • Need to justify spending some of your budget on toys? Offer programs that highlight play and give plenty of opportunities for kids to play with the library’s toys. Start off with a short book and a song, then spend the rest of the program letting kids and caregivers go to play stations. Ideas for stations include playdoh, blocks, letters, etc., all with brief instructions for grown-ups to encourage interacting with the toys.
  • Adapt activities for older children, too; they also benefit cognitively from play, and making play a family affair does more to ensure the practice will continue outside of the library.

I was so energized by this session that as soon as I returned from Anaheim I ordered magnetic drawing boards to have out in my children’s area. More play initiatives are in the works.

How do you bring toys and play into the library?

*******

I am the Children’s Librarian at the Corporate Parkway Branch of the St. Charles City-County Library District in Missouri. I am active in ALSC, and I blog as the Show Me Librarian at http://showmelibrarian.blogspot.com/.

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21.

My "Old Soldiers" are getting antsy and so am I. A few weeks to go to finish up their story and I'm experiencing a slight case - not full...yet - of panic.

I've been adding dialogue regularly and am satisfied with the progression of the story line. My concern, however - it's always the 'howevers' in life that will get you - is the lack of sound effects. Normally, my focus would be on the dialogue but given the nature of the medium, obviously sound plays an important part. The dialogue itself (IMHO) is good, I'm satisfied with the character development and the scenes are logical. But...

"So explain the problem(s) and/or concerns for us, Eleanor."

The first scene takes place in a pub and sound effects include the buzz of people chatting, glasses clinking, a juke-box producing music. That's it, folks! Suggestions here would be appreciated!

Subsequent scenes focus on the "gang of three" i.e. Joe's friends, studying Joe from afar from their vantage point in a small sports car, Joe's conversation while travelling on the bus and talking to friends at a park.

Haven't decided yet which scenario to follow leading to the finale. There are three possibilities and I can't make up my mind which one to pursue. Another concern is that for whatever reason, didn't note that the play has a 55 page limit and I was working on a 70-odd page limitation. The play as I write it, is taking on a life of its own and I'm not sure it can be completed as a radio play in the alloted time.

"So what's the probability of it being adaptable for a radio play?"

It could go either way depending on which route so to speak, it goes. Meanwhile, there are choices to be made and decision to be taken. Will share more thoughts as they occur.

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22.

Playwright is depressed. At this point in time with less than a week to go, my "Old Soldiers" may get a year older. In spite of an intensive thrust or effort to finish the BBC Radio International Playwriting competition entry, there is still some i.e. about 12 pages, work to be done.

"For heaven's sake, Eleanor...this is not the first time you've delayed entering the competition!" my inner playwright/muse is telling me.

Unfortunately very true. One of my main problems is having to add sound effects. It means, at least in my mind, that there has to be a lot going on and Old Soldiers is dialogue-heavy. When re-reading newly added dialogue, there doesn't seem to be a reason or place for a sound.

In any case, let's say...the play was completed at this point. It would not be edited yet and to enter a competition for the sake of entering is not a good idea. All that work and believe me there was a lot of work and focus on writing the play, would be for nothing.

So once again, I'm farklempt, at least at this point, having not reached my goal of entering a play. Perhaps taking a story and converting it into a radio play wasn't a realistic option. Really - I don't know. Unless there is an extension, I'm out of it for this year. Again.

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23. Lilly and Bunny go to the Fair!

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24. Dragons and Kindling


 
How do you fuel your creative kindling?
With dragons, of course!
Janet Lee Carey, author of Dragonswood
is working shop with thirsty writers this Sunday, September 15
at the Poulsbo library.
I'm going!
How's that to fuel my story sparks?

I've gushed over Dragonswood and Dragon's Keep before.
They are among my top fantasy novels.
Janet writes compelling, wholly satisfying tales
so skillfully woven that I want to re-read them
as soon as I finish. 
Northwest writers: if you're in the area, come join me
at this Field's End event!


 

Who doesn't need such a creative boost?
After a whirlwind of crazed schoolishness,
I know I do!

Last night was writing night.
I finally sat alone with my manuscript, pen in hand,
distractions tucked away,
ready to blow through with a masterful fury.

But instead of mastery,
I just sat staring into the trees,
letting the wind rush past me
and all my pieces.
No story mastery. 

But the space, the air!
The silence!
It was exactly what I needed.
To get me right first.


Do you ever de-fuzz?

It's the kind of work that doesn't count on your timecard,
but still matters!

Apart from our writing, our desires,
our hankerings to be published, 
our accomplishments, our parenting,
our quirks and our failings,
we are all the same.


We are all people who need Love and Shelter
and Bread and Breath.

If you are ever busy, frantic, worried, overloaded,
or just stuck in your story,
try taking it down a notch.

Find a quiet place and de-fuzz.


Do something that doesn't "count" on your timecard.

Twirl. Stomp. Laugh.

Take off your socks and shoes. Wiggle your toes.
Paint with water.


Stretch out on the grass.
Watch clouds. Watch stars. Watch people.
 
Start a sketch notebook, a Favorite Words List, a Myths List,
a Sayings List, a Thankfulness List.

Breathe.

Play with dragons!

Treasure awaits.


A few fiery tales:
 
 
The Deliverers of Their Country - E. Nesbit, Lisbeth Zwerger
The Knight and the Dragon - Tomie dePaola
The Reluctant Dragon - Kenneth Grahame, Inga Moore
Saint George and the Dragon - Margaret Hodges, Trina Schart Hyman
My Father's Dragon - Ruth Stiles Gannet
Talking To Dragons - Patricia Wrede (ill. Trina Schart Hyman)
Dealing With Dragons - Patricia Wrede (ill. Trina Schart Hyman)


5 Comments on Dragons and Kindling, last added: 10/4/2012
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25.

DEAD WRITES
(NEW REVISION: 9-13-2012)
 
Scanning over my files, came accross a newer version of this play. For the record, I've always believed this has potential but for whatever reason (laziness springs to mind), never pursued it. Did some updating and tweaking with the end result posted here. As always, critiques both pro and con always appreciated. If not - enjoy.

 
"DEAD WRITES"
by Eleanor Tylbor

SCENE I

SETTING: A funeral parlor - Early afternoon

AT RISE: A funeral chapel. A group of people chat between themselves while waiting for the service to begin. A coffin is situated on an elevated stand in the middle of the room

FELICIA PEMBROOK, wearing a diaphanous dress, sits on the floor next to a coffin examining her surroundings. Slowly, she examines her body, touching her dress

LIGHTING: Dim lighting, except for a coffin in the middle of the room, which is spot-lit with a white light.

SOUND: somber organ music.


 
 
FELICIA
(cont’d) 'Scuse me…hello'?'

Man continues to ignore her, focusing and fixing the inside of the
coffin

(cont’d) Is this a… for real funeral parlor? Shoot! What’s the matter with me? Duh! This is another of Phil’s dumb jokes. Wait ‘til I get him…

Man continues to ignore her
Don’t bother answering me or anything… Fine – suit yourself. I'll find out on my own!


A male (JOSIAH) enters and stands directly behind FELICIA.
He has white hair, is dressed in a white shirt and matching
white pants that glitter


JOSIAH
Perhaps I could be of assistance?

FELICIA
Whoa! What do we have here? A human Christmas tree ornament

SFX: THUNDER CLAP


JOSIAH
I beg your pardon?

FELICIA
Do you come with sound effects, too?

JOSIAH
A suggestion here and take it for what it’s worth but your choice of words could prove to be problematic

FELICIA
You an agent for the grammar police? Do we know each other?

JOSIAH
Excuse me?

FELICIA
A little nervous are we, when I mention “po-lice”? Perhaps you’ve dealt with them on occasion?

JOSIAH
In my business we deal with all types and police officers are very common in my milieu

FELICIA
Not surprising. You earn your living dressed like… that?

JOSIAH
Sorry?

FELICIA
Wigs? Makeup? Do I have to draw you a picture?

JOSIAH
I’m not sure of what you’re getting at…

FELICIA
You don’t have to be shy with me. I’m very liberal minded when it comes to life style choices. Different strokes for different folks I always say

JOSIAH
You mean what I'm wearing. We all wear white where I come from and this glitter sort-of attached itself to me. Don’t quite know why

FELICIA
Is your family okay with all of this?

JOSIAH
They’re very much aware of my work. In fact they rely almost entirely on my input. I’m an important source of information.

FELICIA
You’re not one of those people who – you know - like to get up close and personal with dead bodies.

JOSIAH
If you’re asking me if I mind being present among those that have passed…

FELICIA
Damn! Do I have to spell it out for you
SFX: THUNDER CLAP
JOSIAH
(staring upward)
'Yes – of course!'

(Cont’d. JOSIAH) Please watch the manner in which you speak. Where I reside that’s one of the words considered an offensive term of reference

FELICIA
(glancing upward)
Something with the ceiling? What is it with you and the way I speak? Hell - it’s none of your damned business

SFX: THUNDER CLAP

JOSIAH
That would be another no-no - a real no-no

FELICIA
Pullleeze! God damn hell…

SFX: THUNDER CLAP
JOSIAH
You must stop! Is it really necessary to use those words?

FELICIA
It’s my mouth and I can choose what comes out of it. Hell, there have been more than words rolling out but I’ll spare you the details…

SFX: THUNDER CLAP

JOSIAH
(staring up)
‘excuse me Sir – I was just explaining the rules…’

(TO FELICIA)… That “H” word is never mentioned out loud, ever

FELICIA
For your information, words are my bread and butter, so don’t try telling me which one’s I can and can’t use. Hell! Hell! Hell! There! I said and I’m proud to have said it

JOSIAH
(staring upwards)
‘I’m trying Sir – I’m really trying! Yes I know but she’s new at this’
(TO FELICIA) At least consider my cautionary advice?

FELICIA
This is some kind of weird funeral parlor. So many damn rules!

SFX: THUNDER CLAP

FELICIA (cont'd) Can’t do this, can’t do that. Can’t swear - I mean, really, and with all due respect, my words fall on deaf ears in the true sense of the word. Strikes me that you’re familiar with the routine so maybe you can explain. I've been trying to get an angle on how and why I’m here but that that funeral guy over there won’t give me the time of day

JOSIAH
Mr. Postner, the funeral arranger? I can say with absolute certainty that he isn’t even aware of your presence

FELICIA
That’s obvious. It has’ta be this tacky outfit. I don't even own anything like this, so why and how I ended up wearing this rag is beyond me

JOSIAH
I wouldn’t worry too much about these things. In your case it doesn’t make a difference

FELICIA
I don’t want people to think I don’t have anything better. Maybe I should go home and change. Do I have time before the funeral starts?

JOSIAH
Trust me when I tell you that the last thing you should worry about is your clothing choice and as for Mr. Postner here, he’s just doing the job he has to do

FELICIA
Considering it’s his business dealing with dead bodies, the least he could do is be polite and answer me. I’m gonna make sure to tell people not to use this funeral parlor. I bet they charge big bucks, too. Maybe I’ll even write this place up in the paper

JOSIAH
Sad that many people hear the words flow out of my mouth but don't want to listen. Very sad indeed…

FELICIA
Y’know – just an observation but it’s no wonder nobody pays attention to you dressed the way you are. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence especially in this kind of business. I’m getting the impression that you’re connected to this place, am I right? Don't get insulted, mister Josiah person and I'm no fashionista, but have you considered maybe your sparkly outfit is a little over the top for this type of job? Perhaps a dark suit would be a better choice

JOSIAH
Rich and poor, they all end up in the same place…

FELICIA
You're just one happy-crappy guy, aren't you?

JOSIAH
That… person who passed on, she never bothered to reach out to anyone. Lived her entire life satisfying her corporeal needs and her ego

FELICIA
So you do know the corpse. I figured as much. Now how ‘bout sharing that with me so at least it’ll answer why I’m here

JOSIAH
In due time, in due time. So now, have you led an honorable life?

FELICIA
You sound like one of those TV preachers. What’s it your business, anyway, what kind of life I lead?

JOSIAH
I thought being that we’re getting to know each other you wouldn’t mind answering a few of my questions. I’m a very curious person by nature

FELICIA
Some would say nosey. Listen buddy boy – I don’t want to get to know you, got that? I’m here for the funeral and it would be nice to know who in the hell – heck – died. So bug off! Go stand under a Christmas tree or something!

JOSIAH
It wasn’t my intention to offend and if I did, I’m truly sorry. I just wanted to get some sort of idea what type of person you were… I mean, are.

FELICIA
I’m a little up tight with this here situation. So you wanna know about Felicia, huh. I’m not ashamed to say I’m a “been there, done that” kind of female. Isn’t that why we were put on this earth? To experience everything life has to offer?

JOSIAH
To a degree I suppose, but there’s more to it than that. You’re supposed to help your fellow human. If only people would realize when they have the chance that life is not about accumulating riches or… things. What’s important is what a person gives of themselves to make the lives of others happy

FELICIA
A philosophical funeral organizer, too – I am indeed blessed. Shoot! Lemme make this as easy as possible. You gots your users and use-ees. It’s either use or be used and I don’t take no crap from anyone. Ask anyone I work with. They’ll tell you Felicia’s no pushover

JOSIAH
We are all accountable for our actions

FELICIA
I know that I'm gonna be a better person receiving that helpful advice from Mr. Sparkle. Places like this used to give me the creeps whenever I went to a funeral. This one, though, kind of…makes me feel warm. Now don’t get the wrong impression ‘bout me – I’m not one of those funeral groupies or anything that check out the obits for kicks. You know what I mean? People that use funerals as a social occasion? I’m rambling. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m gonna join that corpse soon

JOSIAH
Could be sooner than you think

Female wanders in, stopping every so often to check out the surroundings.
She stares at JOSIAH and smiles at FELICIA


FEMALE
Hi! Nice to see another body here and I mean that in the best sense of course.

FELICIA
It’s about time somebody noticed I’m here!

FEMALE
Know where you’re coming from. Just wish I knew how I ended up here

JOSIAH
But…you shouldn’t be here, my dear. I’m guessing that you’re a friend of Michael?

Man (MICHAEL) dressed entirely in blue with glittering pants rushes in and
places his arm around female’s shoulder

MICHAEL
So there you are! You shouldn’t wander off like that. Come along now…

JOSIAH
You must take better care of your charges, Michael! You’ve been warned about losing your souls. You’ve still got two missing souls unaccounted for wandering the earth. This is not good, Michael!

MICHAEL
I’ve got a search party out looking for them. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with them? After all – they are…

JOSIAH
…better get along now

FEMALE
Nice meeting you. Why can’t I stay and chat with her….

MICHAEL leads female away

FELICIA
Another member of your group, I suppose? So, is this funeral gonna start any time soon? Gotta get back to The Sentinal before those b - bad people steal one of my leads. You seem to know how things are run, here. Can’t you move things along? I mean, those people must have jobs to go back to

JOSIAH
Do any of the mourners look familiar?

FELICIA

FELICIA studies group of mourners

Perhaps… a few strike a familiar chord… Hang on a sec - they're reporters for our newspaper. That must mean I know the stiff in the coffin. Or perhaps you do? Is it… Jack McGrath or Pete Winston? Shoot- tell me it’s not! Don't know how many times I warned them both to slow down, but did they listen? Of course not! What does an old broad like me know

JOSIAH
It's neither one of them

FELICIA
That's a relief 'cause we're the last three old farts left at the paper. We seen 'em come and we seen 'em leave. Some moved on to bigger and better papers and some left in a wooden box. Just like that poor corpse in there

JOSIAH
Don’t worry. You'll know who's in there shortly

FELICIA
This is getting ridiculous! It’s an open coffin for shit’s sake and for some weird reason, I can’t tell whose inside. Take a look at those mourners. A bunch of green kids out of J-school. What do they know about getting a story? People can't write about life without experiencing it and how much could they know at their age? No work ethic. They sit and wait for the phone to ring and take the facts over the phone. Only go after the high profile stories so they can get the byline. Things sure aren’t what they used to be

JOSIAH
The young have to learn the ropes the same way as you did but then they have a lot of time. You certainly experienced life to the fullest, didn't you?

FELICIA
Hey - I didn't need no journalism school to teach me. I had the best teacher - good old trial and error. Made mistakes and paid for them all along the way, but I learned – shit how I learned –

SFX: THUNDER CLAP

JOSIAH
- perhaps another word would be better …

FELICIA
(laughing)
You mean the word, 'shit!' Hey – I shit, you shit, we all shit – that’s nature at work!

JOSIAH
Your sense of humor eludes me

FELICIA
Well ex-cu-sez-moi! They all respect me at The Sentinal, you know. They know better than to cross this old broad. See them newbie reporters using them – whad’ya call them – knee computer crap. Gimme a good, old solid typewriter any day

JOSIAH
You never shared your accumulated knowledge with any of them, Felicia. How come?

FELICIA
You gotta be kidding. Hey – I hadda fight every step of the way to get where I am. Nobody was around to lead me by the hand and that goes for them too. They'll learn the heard way

JOSIAH
There comes a point in one's life when those who go before must pass on their wisdom to others. You obviously never learned that

FELICIA
The only thing I share is bad breath. Just tell me already so I can go home and change out of this outfit

JOSIAH
Somebody you know intimately

FELICIA
That would cover a very long list of guys. Could you gimme a hint, maybe?

JOSIAH
You'll know in due course

FELICIA
All this hush-hush top-secret stuff. If you’re one of those - what do they call them now - grief councilors , I don't need your services. Death doesn't scare me none. No siree. I’m ready to go – not yet of course

JOSIAH
Part of my duties entails helping people through a difficult period of transition. In fact I've never missed a funeral

FELICIA
What does your wife say 'bout you hanging round a funeral parlor day and night…assuming you're married…are you? Married, I mean

JOSIAH
(laughing out loud)
Not quite!

FELICIA
You don't have to kill yourself laughing. It's not such a dumb question. If I was hooked up to someone like you, I'd be wondering about your attraction to a place like this

JOSIAH
I'm sorry. It's not your question that tickles my funny bone. Once all is revealed…well – you'll understand the reason for my amusement soon enough

FELICIA
Is it necessary for you to keep talking in riddles? You keep hinting at…like there's something I should know but don't. I'm getting these flashes…a feeling that our paths have crossed …somewhere. It's like… just out of reach of my consciousness

JOSIAH
We've had a few close encounters in the past, Felicia, but this is the first time we've met one-on-one so to speak

FELICIA
Strikes me that this corpse wasn't too popular in life judging by the few people who showed up to say goodbye. Then again, real friends are hard to come by

JOSIAH
It's actually quite sad. That person believed she –

FELICIA
- so it's a woman -

JOSIAH
As I was saying she assumed she never needed people and in the end, seems that they weren't there for her when she needed them most

Mourner moves to front of room, and stands in front of coffin

FELICIA
'Janice? Hey girl, we were supposed to meet for lunch yesterday! I showed up but where were you?' Janice is my closest friend at the paper

JANICE

JANICE talks to "person" in the coffin
You miserable, lying bitch! At last you made a useful contribution to the world and left it! Good riddance to bad rubbish

FELICIA
‘Is that a way to talk about the dearly departed? Even dead people deserve respect from the living.’ No class but that’s part of who she is and I accept her ‘cause we’re best friends

JANICE touches the coffin and returns to her seat

She's probably pissed 'cause the corpse stole a lead away from her. 'Ya gotta move quickly if 'ya want a byline in our biz. You snooze – you lose. We better take a seat with the rest of them. Looks like everyone from the paper is here so who’s the corpse

FELICIA takes a seat next to JANICE.

ASIDE TO JANICE: You never did have any class, girl.

Turns to the man sitting on the other side of her
Hey Pete-ee! So, how's it goin' with you?

(PETE) ignores FELICIA, talks to the female on his other side
(Cont’d.) Hey - I'm speaking to you. What's with them all, today?

JOSIAH
He can't hear you

FELICIA
Oh please! He hears me all right but he's busy chatting up the new reporter, Chloe Starshine. That guy can't keep his zipper closed around the opposite sex, if you get my drift

JOSIAH
Has it dawned on you, yet, why you're here?

FELICIA
To pay my respects to someone in the print 'biz. What else? You know…I've covered practically every kind of story but I can't ever remember spending the night in a funeral parlor. This is a new one for me and it's about this outfit I'm wearing. I'm assuming I didn't have time to change 'cause I wouldn't be caught dead in this

JOSIAH
(bursts out laughing)
In your state clothes are the last things you should worry about…

FELICIA
I'm happy you find me so amusing. Ssh! I wanna hear the name of the corpse, I mean dearly departed

MINISTER steps behind podium

MINISTER
Friends…


Voice calls out:
'She didn't have any!'

MINISTER
…we are here to bid goodbye to one…

Another voice:

'Good riddance to bad rubbish!'

MINISTER
…a…good reporter and… a good friend and colleague…

FELICIA
At last I'm gonna find out who this mystery person is. Strikes me she sure wasn't liked, but even dead people deserve respect

FELICIA stands up and addresses everyone

'That's no way to speak about the dead, you bunch of parasites. Show some remorse!'

MINISTER
Is there anyone here who has something positive to say, about the departed? A few words would suffice. Surely there must be one person in this entire room that could say a few nice words about the late Felicia Pembrook? Anybody?

FELICIA
I can speak for myself, thank you very much…What's with this "late" crap? What am I late for? A meeting…an interview… I’m sure I checked my agenda…

MINISTER
No one? Then we'll have a quick service for Ms Pembroke and you can all go back to work

FELICIA
Is this guy for real? Let me make this very clear: 'I'm among you, in the flesh! Look at me! I'm sitting right here.'

JOSIAH
I've been trying to tell you…

FELICIA
I know what's going on here. They've all staged this to teach me a lesson. 'Well, it won't work people! I'm on to you all!'
FELICIA stands up on chair, waves and screams
FELICIA
Felicia is here among you! The old witch is alive and kicking. You can't ignore me forever

JOSIAH walks to the front of the room, and stands behind the coffin
JOSIAH
I'm the only person who can see – and hear you

FELICIA
You keep saying that and you expect me to believe it? A guy dressed like a Christmas tree ornament?

JOSIAH
Believe it or not – it's the truth. Haven't you wondered why no one has acknowledged your existence? You know as a reporter you have to deal with the facts and the facts here are undeniable. This will probably be a shocker to you but you-are-dead, my dear!

FELICIA
You're one crazy weirdo! This is just another nightmare - it has to be a nightmare. Must'a eaten a bad rack of ribs. All right… I'm willing myself to wake up now…wake-up…wake-up…c'mon body – get up!

JOSIAH
Come over here and take a peak inside

FELICIA looks hesitatingly inside and jumps back

FELICIA
If this is a bad joke, I don't have a good sense of humor, today. Enough is enough, already. I don't know how you did this, making a person look just like me. It's been a blast but I got things to do, places to go…

Aside to mourners
'Okay you guys. You pulled off the ultimate practical joke. Got me fair and square. I give in…'

JOSIAH
It's you in there for real

FELICIA
(laughing lightly)
Who hired you, huh, and how much did they pay to help pull off this prank? Whatever they gave you – I'll double it to get even

JOSIAH
Money is of no significance and it's the real thing - or you're the real thing

FELICIA
Is this one of those dinner theatre productions and I'm playing myself? That's it, right? Please say it is!

JOSIAH
Trust me when I tell you that you are here in spirit only

FELICIA
Oh I got spirit, all right and it comes straight out'ta a bottle of vodka. You don't happen to have a flask on you? I could really use a shot right now

JOSIAH
Go on - check your body out…

FELICIA runs her hand over her body

FELICIA
It's like I'm touching…nothing

JOSIAH
There is no more Felicia Pembroke as you knew her. In fact you don't really have a body at all. It's a transitory illusion so you can accomplish your job

FELICIA

She paces back and forth in a panic

This isn't real - it can't be - I don't want this to be real! Shoot! Shoot! Shoot! See – I don’t always swear. When…how did this happen?

JOSIAH
Your passing occurred two days ago. A massive heart attack while eating a Big Mickey Trio. Died with a french-fry stuck in your throat

FELICIA
Didn't somebody try and give me CPR or something?

JOSIAH
The restaurant staff worked on you but it was your time to go, so nothing helped

FELICIA
If I'm - I can't even say the word, never mind accept it - dead like you say, then what am I doing here? Shouldn't I be…you know…in a heavenly place or something? This sure ain't heaven and I don't hear harps playing anywhere

JOSIAH
(laughing)
Only in films, my dear

FELICIA
Why am I still here? I see people…

JOSIAH
…but they can’t see you. Perhaps an introduction is in order now. Officially, my title is Josiah, Spiritual Adviser – Disembodied Souls Division – we call ourselves the SADD people – a little inside joke

FELICIA
Just…Josiah?

JOSIAH
Just…Josiah. No last names

FELICIA
Okay tell me… Josiah, what I'm supposed to do next? Hang around here and haunt this place?

JOSIAH
It's not quite as simple as that. In most cases a person dies and the soul moves on to wherever it's supposed to go. However, we've run into – how do you say down here – a snag in processing your case to its finality

FELICIA
What kind of snag are we talking about? Not major I’m hoping. I still got things to do

JOSIAH
Actually, this is a little embarrassing. The Judgment Assembly - of which I'm a member – is in charge of processing the paper work and can't decide on the fate of your
soul. There’s a split among a few of us as to whether you really belong with the people of light or…the other side

FELICIA
You're on the good side, right? That means the odds are in my favor

JOSIAH
I'm but one person. Some are of the opinion that your choice of lifestyle doesn't warrant
moving on to the next level

Grabbing a sheet of paper floating down

'Thank you!' Let me see here … At their last meeting, it still appears there’s a split amongst the celestial gatekeepers. The score is five for and five against. A veritable tie

FELICIA
I'm being punished for living a full life? Isn't that what humans are supposed to do?

JOSIAH
There is living…and then there is living. Your time here is supposed to be a learning experience but some do go overboard. That's when we encounter problems, like yours

FELICIA
How was I supposed to know what to do with my life? I just did what I figured was good at the time. If I'd known that it would be held against me down the line, I would've…I would've… Know what? I wouldn't have changed one damn thing…

SOUND: thunderclap

JOSIAH
Please! If you value your future, don't ever use that word. Never speak it out loud. In your precarious situation, it's even more essential that you remember

FELICIA
Being that I've never been dead before…

JOSIAH
Actually, you have but this isn't the time or place to discuss these ethereal issues

FELICIA
…and I'm not a by-the-book person at the best of times, so you know I'm gonna make mistakes, especially being a newbie at this and everything

JOSIAH
Please try holding your tongue when choosing your words - what a peculiar expression that is. Does it help to actually hold a tongue physically, to stop from saying certain things?

FELICIA
I mean, I didn't kill anyone. Well…nobody important. So I accidentally ran over a squirrel or two. Okay, it wasn't that accidental…but there are a lot more of them…

JOSIAH
Not an ideal frame of reference

FELICIA
I did get out of the car and move it to the side of the road. That I didn’t leave it there to rot as road kill for passing crows. should count for something.

JOSIAH
That and the others also came up for review by the way. There are some who need convincing that you can be redeemed

FELICIA
I’m begging, give me another chance to make up for all the things I didn't do and all the things I should have done, and all the bad stuff I did. Look – I can change! Let me prove it to all of you and you'll see that I'm worthy of rehabilitation

JOSIAH
Your time here is over as you experienced it

FELICIA
But you said…

JOSIAH
You assumed that life would be the same as before but that's not possible. A temporary soul-free zone has been negotiated on your behalf in the hope that you can improve yourself and your soul. You’ll be a free agent for six months from this day – no more, no less

FELICIA

Drops to her knees and kisses
JOSIAH’s hand

I'm your humble servant! Your willing slave

JOSIAH
No need for that. I hope you mean what you say because you're probably not going to like what I'm about to tell you

FELICIA
(glancing around)
Will you look at that. They've all gone. Two faced sons of a…

JOSIAH
There is one person who remained

FELICIA
It's just that Chloe Starshine, the air head. She doesn't count. Started working for us - I mean The Sentinal last week. Straight out'ta J-school she is. Believes everything anyone tells her

JOSIAH
Do you think she's got potential as a reporter?

FELICIA
Not unless she toughens up. They step all over her and she doesn't even realize it

JOSIAH
What if…somebody took her under her wing and showed her the ropes?

FELICIA
That person would have her work cut out for her, let me tell you! Hang on – you don't mean… Forgetaboutit! No way! Uh-uh!

JOSIAH
If that's your final decision then I better get in touch with the group…

FELICIA
Do they allow blackmail where you come from?

JOSIAH
I'm merely the messenger. I believe I made a joke

FELICIA
So you're not giving me a choice here, are you?

JOSIAH
You still have free will. I'm just explaining how things work

FELICIA
It would take a lot of time and even then, I don't know if she's got what it takes to succeed in this biz

JOSIAH
Then you'll have your work cut out for you. Just keep in mind how you felt when you first started at the paper. How scared you were…how much easier it would have been if somebody had been there to take you by the hand and lead the way

FELICIA
Cheesh – the kid is crying, for heaven's sake. 'Get a grip, girl!'

CHLOE moves to the front of the room. She touches the coffin,
caressing the sides and runs out exiting

JOSIAH
See? There was a person who genuinely cared for you

FELICIA
Go figure and she only knew me for a month. So what comes next?

JOSIAH
She's meeting your co-workers at a bar you frequent. "Down Time" I believe it's called…

FELICIA
…I wish I had a cent for all the bucks in tips I slipped across the counter at that place. I would have been a millionaire for sure. A scotch rocks would suit me fine right now…at least I think I’d like it…I'm not sure anymore

JOSIAH
There's no more need for - how shall I put it - earthly indulgences

FELICIA
But say if I really felt like a drink…

JOSIAH
You'll find your taste buds non-existent

FELICIA
I could indulge, right? And I won't get drunk or hung over?

JOSIAH
Hangovers are a thing of the past as are earthly desires

FELICIA
Listen, do I get to choose a younger body, maybe? That would be a big boost to my ego

JOSIAH
Don't push things

FELICIA
Are we leaving?

JOSIAH
If you'll follow me…

FELICIA
How would I do that, now?

JOSIAH
I keep forgetting that newcomers are earth-bound. Close your eyes …

JOSIAH snaps his fingers and they fade into nothingness

 

 
 

 
 


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