Pride & Prejudice @ Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

Image courtesy of Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

Local Cincinnati folks – go see this play! It was my very great privilege (thanks Mom and Dad!!) to see Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s new production of Pride & Prejudice last night. I enjoyed it so much, I knew I had to share.

What I loved

The acting was superb, the costuming and sets were lovely, and the lighting added to the show. There are only six actors in this production, so several of them play multiple parts. I was unsure of this at first, but it really works! The production is funny, playing up the natural humor found in Jane Austen’s classic work. It also highlights Austen’s own satirical observations about the world around her. For more on that, check out the Director’s Note here.

It was a different interpretation of my favorite book of all time, with some artistic license taken. Some plot lines were condensed and some characters were left out, but I was okay with all of it. I mean, the BBC masterpiece from 1995 took six hours to tell the story so fully.

What I didn’t love

Um…I wish the show started at 7:00 instead of 7:30? Seriously, it’s wonderful. Go see it.

YouTube Gems

Prepare to find a new rabbit hole.

I have a secret love: YouTube fan vids. A good fan video can transport you. I have so many favorite videos in various lists now, I realize I needed to share them! I find these videos incredibly inspirational as far as writing goes. They get my creative juices flowing.

So this here post is the first in a series. YouTube Gems that must be shared. First up, Sherlock. If you have not seen Sherlock and want to, please do not view these! Many spoilers are contained within 🙂

This firsts video is by Nyah86Production and is called “The Woman That Counted.” The music is by The Cinematic Orchestra. Enjoy!

The next video is by nolaespoir and is called “A Magic Trick.” Oh my goodness, this one is so very good! The music is “Song for Bob” by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. All. The. Feels.

Okay, now that we’re all feeling pangs in our heart, let’s go write that initial breakup scene. Stay tuned for more YouTube Gems. Next up: Doctor Who.

New Additions

Fred and George

Meet Fred and George, my newest distraction from writing. No, just kidding. I’m sure they’ll be inspirational. Fred is the very bright green budgie in the back, and George is the slightly duller green budgie in the front. George is struggling. We’re feeding him vitamin water and trying to pull him through. He was like this at the pet shop, and my daughter and I did the thing you are not supposed to do and rescued him.

Well, we couldn’t just leave him there.

I think budgies need to feature in a story of mine. They’re from Australia, you know. Perhaps a Hugh Jackman type with budgies. It could work.

Birds are my spirit animal. I used to think it was bunnies, since they are very skittish too. Nope. It’s birds. Birds fly high and free, yet they are constantly aware of the reality of impending attack by predators. They often risk their lives just to nurture they’re young. And some wonderful birds, like the albatross, mate for life.

Photo by Mac Gaither on Unsplash

Over the past year I’ve read some really great books about birds. For those that are interested in a quality non-fiction read:

I highly recommend the audiobook for Life on Earth. It’s read by David Attenborough, so it is brilliantly interesting and soothing at the same time.

The Romance of a Moment

Have you all seen The Decoy Bride? I bet if you have you’re a David Tennant fan, because it’s really not a well known movie. It’s my kind of movie. A bit of comedy, a bit of romance, some silly decisions that are easily rectified to lead us all to…a happy ending!

There is a scene in this movie where a character says, “A wedding is like a sunset: the romance of a moment. Marriage is the sea into which that sun sets.” I just love that. My husband and I recently celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. And by celebrated, I mean we took care of our two kids that had the flu. Classic good times.

After fifteen years, I can say that I agree with the lovely Scottish gentleman who said that marriage is like the sea. It’s beautiful and infinite. Turbulent and calm. As a romance novelist, I could ask for no better inspiration.

I couldn’t find the clip of that exact quote, so I give you a clip of the ending scene. Obviously, SPOILERS.

Music to Write By – The Foll Stones

I’ve been working on The Foll Stones for over 10 years. I started it before my daughter was born, took a long hiatus until after the birth of my son, and finished the first draft during my first attempt at NaNoWriMo. So you can imagine that the playlist for this work is long and varied!

Before I share my favorite pieces from the playlist, here is a bit about The Foll Stones:

When 19-year-old Cleona Willow and her childhood friend Brian are magically pulled from their sleepy Vermont town and thrust into the ancient land of Terratalam, they must join the quest to unite the mythical Foll Stones, or risk being trapped in the strange world forever.

The Music

One of the first scenes that I envisioned is quite dramatic. There’s a swamp, a challenge, and a life-threatening drop. The music that plays is Injection by Hans Zimmer. It’s from Mission Impossible II, of all things. It doesn’t really get good until minute 1:30 (sorry Hans).

The next of many favorites is “Ron Leaves” by Alexandre Desplat. It’s from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, although I’ve forgotten which one. It’s so beautiful and sad and simply perfect for The Foll Stones. There’s a fair amount of bittersweet moments in this novel, and this music is perfection.

Okay more bittersweet coming at you. This piece is called “Remembering Jenny” by Christophe Beck. It’s from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer soundtrack. It’s sooo good. It’s short, but man the feels it evokes. Incidentally, Christophe Beck composed the score for Frozen. Not the songs or anything, but the beautiful music that plays when the parents are lost at sea? Christophe. Also, when the animated Christophe is running across the ice? Christophe. Okay, enough. On to the beauty.

There are many more songs on my list for this novel. As it comes closer to completion, I’ll be sharing more. I hope you enjoyed this peek inside my musical inspiration!

Music to Write By – Fidelity

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For my third installment of Music to Write by I’ll be highlighting a few of the pieces I have listened to while writing my latest work. I’m calling it Fidelity right now.

Let’s set the scene

In order to appreciate the music, here is the blurb for the novel. You know, the back of the book copy that draws you in and makes you buy the book (well, hopefully).

When computer programmer Sora Leroux intercepts secret plans to destroy the upcoming peace accords with an alien nation, she doesn’t know whom to trust. One thing she does know, however, is that she’s in danger. She decides to run, but the Special Ops captain sent to track her down has other plans.

Captain Graham Smith has been sent bring in Sora Leroux, a woman implicated in a terrorist threat. When new information reveals a greater conspiracy, Graham must decide who is telling the truth as he races to save London from a hidden threat.

Piece the first

Okay, I must start with the piece of music that started it all. Biplane by Andrew Lockington. This piece is from the movie The Space Between Us (worth a look, if you’ve never seen it). A pivotal scene of the novel came to me while I was listening to this track. It gets amazing at minute 1:50. Wait for it.

It’s sweeping, it’s adventurous, it’s romantic. I love it. I was sitting in my son’s room, helping him fall asleep by just being there, listening to this piece. And I pictured Sora and Graham. So thanks Andrew Lockington.

Piece the second

The second piece that was super inspiring is “I Feel You” by Alan Silvestri from Avengers: Endgame. If you’ve seen this movie, you might remember this part. I love it. But I love the music even more.

Is that not just wonderful? Okay, I’ll admit it — I love dramatic, sweeping pieces. Throw in some strings and I’m done for. I Feel You is the score behind a very important scene in the novel. There may be explosions. There may be declarations. I love it.

There you have it. My two major pieces for Fidelity. The ones I have listened to on a loop. Other works on my playlist include the soundtrack to The Martian by Harry Gregson-Williams, Man of Steel by Hans Zimmer, and The Host by Antonio Pinto.

If you’re interested in the first two posts of this series, check them out here and here.

Music To Write By – A Musical Soundtrack

Every story has a soundtrack

I’ve worked to music for as long as I can remember. I got my very own boom box (yep, I said boom box) when I graduated from eighth grade. It had a tape deck, a cd player, and a remote control. It was glorious. I used it whenever I was in my room, and often played music all night to help me sleep.

When I went to college I got my first ipod, and was never without my ear buds while studying. Often studying would turn into writing as some piece struck my fancy and imaginative ideas bubbled through my mind.

Now whenever I am working on a story I develop a soundtrack. A score, if you will, to the piece I am trying to create. Inspiration on repeat.

A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods

While working on my first every published novella (!!!), I listened to a combination of soundtrack music and classical pieces that might have been popular in Jane Austen’s day. I thought it might be fun to share a few.

Yes! from Jane Eyre, music by Dario Marianelli

I was taken by this music the first time I heard it. It elevated the scene in the movie to something that pulled at my very heart. When I found out it was composed by Dario Marianelli, my intense reaction made sense. Many pieces in my music library are by Dario Marianelli.

Piano Concerto No. 23 Adagio by Mozart

I almost feel as if anything I say will seem pretentious. It’s Mozart. It’s brilliant. And I love to imagine Georgiana playing this piece!

There are others of course. The entire soundtrack to the 2005 film adaptation of Pride & Prejudice (Dario Marianelli, again). The music from the 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Patrick Doyle is amazing!

As the slightly scary Berlioz said, “So many musical ideas…!” I look forward to sharing more of mine.

Pride and Prejudice and Fairy Tales

Miss Bennet? Could that possibly be you?

Today I share with you an idea that struck me some weeks ago. I have not been able to let it go, and so I believe it will develop into a full-fledged story. I love fairy tales. I love Jane Austen. In fact, my senior thesis paper was about fairy tales in the works of Jane Austen. Ah, college.

Inspiration, ideas, and knights

I shared the idea of somehow turning Pride and Prejudice into a more straightforward Cinderella story. And my idea-man knight said, “You could do all the fairy tales.”

He’s a man of few words. But what fun! All my favorite Jane Austen works and all of my favorite fairy tales? Yes, please. Alas, that is as far as I’ve gotten. Well, that’s not quite true. A lovely scene involving Elizabeth, Jane, Darcy, and Bingley at a ball has been swirling around my head. I hope to put fingers to keys soon and hash it out.

Music To Write By

Sweeping Classical

I always listen to music when I write, unless it is physically impossible. These days I’ve been working my way through a lovely book called Year of Wonder: Classical Music to Enjoy Day by Day by Clemency Burton-Hill. Through it I’ve discovered two new favorites that I find so achingly beautiful I had to share them.

Gustav Mahler

First is the above piece by Mahler. It’s the Adagietto from his Symphony No. 5, and it is just stunningly beautiful. The story goes that Mahler wrote this piece as a love letter of sorts to his wife, Alma. The music alone is enough to move me, but then add that bit about the love letter and I’m imagining all kinds of stories in my head. Oh, and this work was also largely composed while Mahler was visiting his summer cottage. So we have a beautiful piece of music, a love letter, and a summer cottage. The imaginative mind starts to bubble.

Edward Elgar

Another piece I discovered through Burton-Hill’s book, Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85: I. Adagio – Modereto. Don’t ask me what any of that musical notation means, because I do not know. All I know is that this music, composed right after World War I, is achingly beautiful. A bit of interesting history: the piece was not well received when first performed, owing at least in part to a lack of rehearsal time for the soloist. Its popularity stems from this beautiful interpretation of the work by cellist Jacqueline du Pre. You can read more about that here if you are interested.

Credit where it’s due

I have to give a nod to one of my all-time favorite podcasts, That Classical Podcast, for introducing me to both these pieces before I ever came across Burton-Hill’s book. If you’ve not heard of That Classical Podcast, please do go check it out. Two young people talk about their love of classical music while cracking my kind of ridiculous jokes. It doesn’t hurt that they are British, or that they are both artists in their own right. Seriously, check them out.

Not my usual fare

I usually listen to soundtrack music while I write. I actually create whole playlists for each writing project. I’ll be sharing more of my favorite pieces here soon, because I just feel like inspiration should be shared.

My Own Austen Hero

“It is a handsome face…”

Created by Dawn Wells

How does one choose a favorite Jane Austen hero? I certainly cannot say which is my favorite definitively, but on any given day I can name my best-loved. Today it is Mr. Tilney, because today I had a small revelation while sitting for hours in the dentist’s chair.

That’s right. While in the dentists chair, desperately trying to distract myself from the many tools and noises around me, I decided to chose which Jane Austen hero my own husband was most like. At first, I thought of Mr. Darcy. He’s shy, passionate, can be gruff, and is also arrogant. Hmm…that last part didn’t quite fit. Also, he’s reserved beyond measure, much as I adore him.

If not Darcy, then who?

Then I realized, my husband may be shy, like Darcy, but he is forever teasing me and the kids. He loves the outdoors, has no interest in pleasing others at the detriment of himself or our family, and is generally a fun person to be around. He is my very own Henry Tilney. No, he may not have Henry Tilney’s ability to navigate a ballroom, but then, that suits me just fine.

The most handsome man of my acquaintance