Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Good news: Ship of Fools in Best of 10x10

I recently found out that my short play, Ship of Fools, will be part of the Best of 10 by 10 Festival in the Triangle, at the ArtsCenter Stage in Carrboro, North Carolina, from July 22-31.  This "Best of" festival is a special production of audience and staff favorites to help celebrate the ten year anniversary of 10 by 10.  I've had four plays produced in 10 by 10 over the years, and I'm delighted to be included in this "Best of" series, especially since the other writers include Mike Folie, Doug Reed, Babs Lindsay, Matt Casarino, Chris Lockheartd, and Mark Harvey Levine, folks with whom I've shared many a bill and respect very much.

This time, I'll actually be able to attend the festival and will be at the Playwrights Gala performance on July 23rd.  It'll be my first time to see 10 by 10, and I'm excited to finally have a chance to meet the people responsible for putting this event together, year after year.  Ship of Fools is a challenging piece, and I'm excited to see what they do with it.  Though it's been produced in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Colorado, as well as by students across the country, I've never actually seen a production of it live.

You can read a sample of the script here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tornado Siren e-book: progress report (4 months)

I wish I could say that I was writing these reports to brag (but if you look at the numbers, you'll certainly see that's not possible), but it's more to give me a chance to add things up, and to inject a little dose of reality among the tidal swell of hype that gets put out about e-books.  (A story in last Sunday's NYTimes Magainze reported that self-publishing phenom Amanda Hocking sells 9,000 ebooks a day.  Wow. I could go for a day like that.)

Tornado Siren has been an e-book for a little more than four months now.  It's been selling some copies, at a slow but steady rate.  Hard to know what the average amount of sales is for an e-book (mine is self-published, but the print version was not).  Most people are busy talking about the exceptions, but that's true of print books, as well.

So, here are the sales numbers for Tornado Siren so far, by platform/version:

Kindle:  96 copies  (10 so far in June)
Smashwords:  6 copies sold
Nook :  9  (6 through Barnes & Noble, 3 through Smashwords) (this is a little fuzzy to me)
Sony: 1
Apple:  6

Total:  120 ebooks

I broke 100!  And Amazon has actually put real money in my bank account. With print publishers you have to wait forever to get paid, and even then they hold back money for returns, and even then the statements are often incomprehensible.  I can check the ebook total sales on line, any time I want.  Once a month, Amazon has been putting money into my checking account.  Not much, but in my writing life, every bit counts.

It's hard to tell what sort of promo helps or not.  Fellow writer Laura Axelrod ran a very nice, multi-part interview with me on her Gasp! blog, but sales seemed to go nowhere that week, then jumped a bit the following week.  Is there a lag?

May ended up being a good month, with Tornado Siren selling about one copy a day, a mere 1/9000th of what Ms. Hocking sells.  Joe Konrath sells about 700-800 copies of day.  Though, do note, they each have many more titles for sale.  I just have the one little novel.

Smashwords has dropped off a lot in sales for me, over the past month or two.  I have no idea why, though people are still downloading the sample (also a a slower rate).

I have some plans for a bit more promo (a constant refrain, I know), and we'll see if that makes a difference.  No matter what happens, I'm certainly glad to have picked up more than 100 new readers so far this year.  Here's hoping that number continues to grow.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

good news: Escape to Wonderland will be in Estrogenius

I got some good news last week:  my short play, Escape to Wonderland, will be part of Manhattan Theatre Source's EstroGenius festival in New York, October 5-8.  This is a festival that celebrates work by women, but they also accept plays by men that feature strong roles for women, with interesting voices.  I've been submitting scripts to this festival for years and am honored to finally be a part of it.  I'll definitely be heading down to NYC to see the show.

Here's are some photos from the Boston Theater Marathon production of Escape to Wonderland, which featured some terrific performances.  (Directed by Jeffrey Mosser)

(Meredith Stypinski and Allison Vanouse, finding some expired condoms)

(Some time old friends have trouble re-connecting)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

early return from Idaho

My wife Tracy's father, Roger, died early this morning in Boston, unexpectedly, after a brief illness.  I'm in the midst of working my way back home from Idaho to be with our family.

I want to express my sincere thanks to the Seven Devils' staff and members, especially Jeni, Paula, Sheila, Martin, and Larry, for their sympathy and assistance this morning, and to our intern/actor James, who drove me all the way down to Boise this morning, without a second thought (and kept me thoroughly engaged with lively conversation the whole way).   Though I'm disappointed to leave the conference early, the groundwork laid there with the play will continue to help the script evolve, and I am grateful for the relationships I formed there in the time I had.  Thanks also to all the friendly folks of McCall, who hosted me and made me feel welcome in their lovely town.

Roger Blauvelt was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend.  He was a golfer, geocacher, Air Force veteran, baseball fan, and all around good guy.  He will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

report from Idaho--days 3 and 4

Still working hard in Idaho.  Yesterday was a busy day--I had a three-hour meeting with Larry Leobell (a man with uncommon energy and storytelling skills, and I'm not just buttering up) about Flight, out in the sun by the Fogglifter Cafe.  Getting to talk in depth about the ins and outs, strengths and weaknesses, of the play is just what I needed and have been looking forward to.  I left with a head full of ideas (that I'm still trying to sort out).  I've got the full conference to work on them, but I'm trying to put in a major push to get some changes made before the end of Wednesday, when I need to turn in the first draft that will go to my cast.

After that meeting, I was on to a meeting with the high school student that I'm helping mentor.  She has a staged reading of her play on Thursday, so the director and I were meeting with her to give her some feedback and guidance on the play.  I'm sure we left her head spinning just as mine was spinning after my meeting with Larry.

Then it was off to a company meeting, which makes me continue to be so impressed by the group that runs Seven Devils.  They're completely dedicated to developing plays and playwrights.  They emphasize that this is a conference rather than a festival.  It's really about the process of creating the work, more than trying to focus on the presentational aspects. 

Especially interesting to me is how they've managed to be so fully embraced by the McCall community (it helps that the founders have strong local connections).  The people of this town donate an incredible amount of space, housing, money, food, and all other sorts of support.  Working with a company that so completely embraces the essential human and communal nature of theatre is completely exciting to me.

There are a lot of reasons not to write plays, but being part of Seven Devils seems like a good reason to be a playwright--the chance to work intensely with good people, in a beautiful place, on complex projects, in a nurturing community.

In the afternoon, while hiding out from a crazy hail storm in the Seven Devils office, I started making changes to the script.  Drawing first blood is an important first step in the revision process.

The day ended with a three-hour rehearsal of the student play, which featured some really terrific high school student actors from McCall (as well as our imported professional.)

Today, the morning was all about writing, struggling bit by bit through small changes that might make big results.  Then it was off to a field trip trying to drive to Bergdorf, but the road was closed due to snow, and the end of the Ponderosa Park (where the road was also closed).  So Larry Loebell and fellow intensive playwright Bob Bartlett and I basically hung out in the mist, watched birds and the swamp, and told stories.  Because what else do three playwrights do in the Idaho rocky mountains.  Pretty fantastic.

Here are some photos from Lily Marsh of Bob and Larry:

Next, more rehearsals and more readings and more writing.  Tomorrow will be about writing all day. 

 Here are Larry and me in the same spot.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Report from Idaho-- days and 2

I'm enjoying my second day in McCall, Idaho--I'm sitting on patio of Bistro 45 in sun, steps from Lake Payette, listening to a piano player play movie tunes, hanging out with Larry Loebell (my dramaturg for Flight and fascinating guy and experienced writer), after he's given me the tour of the Alpine Playhouse and a look around this lovely mountain town.  Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.

Yesterday, I had a nice three-hour layover in Denver International Airport, which is the perfect place for me to read and work on making changes to my play about a woman who take refuge from life at the airport (in her case, Logan). 

My lodgings for the Conference are in a rustic cabin, five miles out of town.  The quiet compared to my normal home life in Brookline is startling.  It's going to be the perfect spot for rewrites to the play over the next few weeks.

Here's the view on my way into town:

So far, it's been a fairly steady of stream of good food and interesting conversations with theatre people.  And we haven't really even started yet.  The past participants clearly thoroughly love this conference and make a point of trying to be here year after year.  There's a strong sense of community and friendship apparent from the minute you walk in the door.

Tonight we have a company meeting/bbq.  Tomorrow, Larry and I will meet to go over my play and talk about ideas and concerns and possible rewrite plans for the Conference.  I'll also meet a high school student who's working on a ten-minute play that will be read on Thursday, and whom I'll be helping mentor.