Exploring Space Romance

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This isn’t happily ever after. It’s so much more than that.” 
― Kiera CassThe One

I’d like to say “Good on Ya,” to Aussie Author, D.A. Hill for writing another book that despite being outside of my normal realm of reading genres, I read his publication Cerelia’s Choice engrossed from beginning to end. And I really enjoyed it too, I might add! The turns in the plot came often enough to keep me moving forward wondering what was going to happen next.

So as not to be the spoiler, I’ll refrain from giving you too much information about Hill’s first foray into an interesting genre of writing – space romance. But, I will say, “Oh, how I rooted that the chosen next ruler of the Imperial Throne could defend against the forces in the Galactic Empire so the princess could live happily ever after.”

Cerelias ChoiceYou’d almost have to expect a story about a space pirate from a person who works in the I.T. field. But what remained consistant from his previous publications, is the author’s ability to express very realistic human emotion and dialogue through the character of the lovely Crown Princess and others. Earthly sentiments expressed in an “other world environment” resulted in a fulfilling read.

Check out all of  independent publisher D.A. Hill’s novels including Newton’s Ark and Fuller’s Mine which “explore the impact of technology on human society.”

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling!

The Afterglow of Success

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Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -Francis of Assisi

The last of a three part blog about author/playright Jorge Avila will be featured on All Things Fulfilling today. Before Christmas I interviewed Avila about his newfound sucess as a playright. To read the beginning of the interview, please go to from Local Author to Playright and Advancing the Story.

Sue: So what does it feel like now that you have stepped away from all the excitement of seeing your musical played out on stage?

Jorge: There is a little bit of sadness and a let down because it is easy to get carried  away with all that goes with on in the world of L.A.  But we aren’t done yet. My vision for this musical is even more than that.  I have been offered a huge opportunity at the end of September and the first two weeks in October. The production will return to California as part of at the Hispanic Heritage Festival. For four weeks, in four different districts, I am told that 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 people will attend the festival annually. Do you believe that?

Sue: And I understand you received special recognition during the three day run of the musical. What night was that?

Jorge: On the  middle night of the performance, I and the director and musical composer, Caleb Encampos, were each given certificates of award from the City of Los Angeles for work in advancing the arts. It was very exciting.

Avilas certificate from City of LA

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Sue: What can you attribute to the success that you have had with Maricopa Men in Pink?

Jorge: It was a long five years but I never stopped believing that I had a quality product and it was a matter of getting it into the right venue or environment.

Sue: What’s on the docket for the future? 

Jorge: I have two more musicals I am working on and a book but, I would like to do something more with the local high school here in Steamboat. They did a Powerpoint presentation about my book’s storyline with the English as a Second Language (ESL) students. I’d like to put together some sort of workshop. We will see, I’ll have to put more thought into that. And I’d like to take the musical to Chicago. That’s where I’d  really like to see it.

Sue: You have been in a whirlwind for six months or more. Perhaps with a little time off, your visions will become more clear. Now that you have stepped away into a quieter environment, here in Steamboat, you can ponder it.

Before Jorge and I said our goodbyes  I told him how he is a shining example for other independent publishers to press on and not to give up. Although he mentioned feeling a little let down now that things were over, I saw a huge afterglow of success on his face and in his exuberant voice.

Do return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow when we begin the countdown till the New Year! We will be fulfilling 2016 with new possibilities and opportunity!

Advancing the Story

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We need to look hard at the stories we create, and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them, and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that they give us their wisdom.Marni Gillard

Avila and wife MaribelLast week I sat down with author and playright Jorge Avila, a member of We Write Steamboat, to discuss the gigantic leap of success that he has just experienced. To read a short summary of his musical, please go to the blog from last Thursday.

(Photo left: Jorge Avila and his wife Maribel)

Jorge had just returned a week previously to his hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado from a very busy six months in California. His live theatre musical, adapted from his book Maricopa Men in Pink had a three day run at the Plaza de la Raza, Cultural Center for the Arts & Education on Mission Road in Los Angeles. Avila was ebullient as he answered the questions I had for him to learn more about his experience. Here is part of our discussion about going from local author to playright in a very short few years:

Sue: Jorge, when was Maricopa Men in Pink published? 

Jorge: In 2010 it was published. A short time afterward I sent it off to a friend who is a stage designer in L.A. to get his opinion. He reviewed it and gave me some feedback about adapting it for a play. I decided that my vision for the work was a live theatre musical production. So I rewrote it exactly 2 years, nine months ago in script format along with song lyrics. Caleb Encompos, a resident who helps with the music program at the Christian Center here in Steamboat, composed the music to accompany the lyrics. I approached the Chief Theatre here in town, but it didn’t seem to be the right venue. So,then we sent it off to three production companies in California. 

Sue:  So, what was the response? 

Jorge: I’d like to say that there have been few  Latino or controversial political musicals that I am aware of other than In the Heights and Hamilton and the Book of Mormon. So I was happy to even get a response and it was positive response from two of them. I chose one of the production companies that I felt best understood my vision. I was offered a small sum of money from the production company, but I took half of that because I wanted to be directly involved in the entire process, so that the final product would be what I envisioned.

So, I began over the next six months going to L.A. one week out of every month. For the next six months, Caleb Encompos and I chose vocalists and actors for the live musical production. Once we heard my lyrics put to music and saw it performed by the actors we had chosen, there were some tweeks that were made before the opening.

Sue: So, tell me about the three night run.

Jorge: The turnout was outstanding compared to what I had anticipated. I was told for an unknown author/playright, typical sales would be 60% of the seats. The first and third nights we had 95% of all tickets sold, and the middle evening 75%. Surprising, considering I read in a New York Times article that out of 318 million Americans, 58 million agreed with Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s handling of inmates in Tent City Jail in Arizona. Seventy eight million disagreed, and the whole rest of the population knew nothing about the news story.

Sue: How did that feel? To see your musical come before live audience like that?

Jorge: Surreal! I feel flattered and proud but it was very stressful. I even started up a bad habit – smoking. I hadn’t smoked in six years and I ate too much and gained a little weight.

The musical was even mentioned on National TV on Spanish stations. While we were waiting for the production to begin on opening night, I stepped outside and there were 120 people in line to get a ticket – to my show! I couldn’t believe it and I counted every one of them!

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The rest of this interview on All Things Fulfilling will be posted the week after Christmas. Do return because we will be talking about Avila’s rewards in terms of personal fulfillment which were a result of his determination, persistance and his belief that what he had was fitting for a quality live musical production that still has great potential for future audiences. We will be sharing more about his special award from the City of Los Angeles also!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

 

Local Writer to Playright

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A culture is made –or destroyed –by it’s articulate voices. ~ Ayn Rand

Jorge Avila, a Mexican by birth, moved to the United States in 1995. Since then he has become an author of two books Suriana and the Sulphur Cave and Maricopa Men in Pink. The later is a controversial story about prisoners in Arizona and “Sheriff Joe” known in the media as “the toughest sheriff” around. He sentenced two thousand convicts to serve their sentences in pink underwear and handcuffs for better accountability. The macho men probably could not have been more insulted!

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Christmas came early to Avila, a member of We Write Steamboat our independent publishing network group, when his first publication Maricopa Men in Pink was  adapted as a musical and came to live theatre in Los Angeles. It had an extremely successful run with nearly booked houses each evening.

Stay tuned to All Things Fulfilling on Monday because we will be featuring an interview with him about what it has been like to go from local writer to a playwright within a very short few years. Avila was recently recognized as a person who has helped advance the arts in the LA area.

This blog is brought to you by author Sue Batton Leonard.

The Season of Anticipation

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As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is. ~Eric Sevareid

Did you open the first few doors on your Advent Calendar yet? We are three days into the countdown of when Christians worldwide will celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.

I am very excited because this year my husband and I will be joining our son to experience a different kind of  Christmas – unlike any we have celebrated before. Here is a little of what I am anticipating.

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As you prepare for the holidays, take time out to experience the magic of the season. It’s hard to do that when we are rushing from one activity to another. Have a fulfilling Christmas by spending less. Here is an excellent article if you are looking for a richer holiday season.

Sometime during the next few weeks before I take off to my Christmas destination, I have planned an evening of peace and calm.  I will be bundling up and strolling through our snowy town one evening when all the stores have shut down. I want to take in the window dressing in the darkness of the evening. Perhaps I’ll stop in someplace for a hot toddy.

What do you plan to do this season that is a little different than what you’ve experienced previously?

For me, it’s  going to be a long Advent season, waiting and anticipating a reunion with our son whom I have not seen in ten months. We will be sharing this season of joy with others whom I have yet to meet before!

This blog is brought to you by the author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

Celebrating Non-Traditionally

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We didn’t know we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun!” ~ Unknown

Is there a Thanksgiving from your past that was


more memorable than any of the others?  I have several. They were all spent at the beach with our two first cousins, Joe & Hope, rather than at home in suburban Baltimore. Of course, my mother’s brother Uncle King, who was always the life of the party was in attendance along with our aunt Dot, whose good humor matched her life partner’s. Uncle King is one of several outstanding characters in my memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

These special turkey days were back in the 1960s before Ocean City, Maryland became a year-round beach resort. The place was empty, a good reason to visit during off-season. Friends and neighbors thought we were crazy spending the holiday on a bitter cold beach rather inside sheltered around our huge fireplace in the house.

As soon as we arrived at the beach cottage our Uncle King made us gather. He started itching to play cards and we’d play so many rounds of gin rummy throughout the weekend our eyes became bleary.

Walks on the beach and building sand castles were customary. Touch football on the shore was a challenge because of the strong fall gales, and running quickly is difficult to achieve when the surface beneath your feet is soft. But to young children the ocean breezes slapping at our faces added to the adventure. We’d start a bonfire on the beach, wrap-up in blankets and sleeping bags and anything else we could find to keep us warm and outside playing.

vintage-thanksgiving-turkey-with-pilgrims-family1A few days prior to Thanksgiving Day, we and our cousins planned for the traditional “Landing of the Pilgrims on the Beach.” The live theatre experience was always requested by our parents. The re-enactment involved lots of hilarity. Our lines got mixed up or forgotten and we’d have to ad-lib and try to remember what we said the year before.

Lots of hot cocoa for the children, and more potent libations for the adults along with a bounteous feast of food graced the table all weekend. We were squeezed like sardines into the rented little cottage but that added to the family togetherness.

Today I’d like to say thanks to my parents for insisting that sometimes we do things a little differently than the traditional holiday experience. They are a large part of why being a “Batton” was so much fun!

Sketches of Ancestors

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Last week I was up against the clock. I hadn’t a thing to contribute to the genealogy writers group that I attend at our local library. Our meeting was impending and I felt pressure to be an active participating member by reading my writing.

In the wee hours of the morning, I suddenly awoke with a glimmer of a thought. As I lay in bed tossing and turning, mental images of my maternal grandfather were brought together as I recalled what my mom had told me through her storytelling. Finally at 2:30 in the morning I got up and began to put words to the depiction I had created in my mind of my deceased grandfather.

As I wrote I sipped a cup of chamomile tea, hoping that once I had put my thoughts to rest on a piece of paper, the tea would relax me and help me fall back asleep. No such luck.

I was so content with the picture I had painted with words of my maternal grandfather, the rest of the night I lay awake pondering it.

My maternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother both passed away when I was very young. Their presence is not in my childhood memories of thanksgiving tables my family and I have shared together. However through the tales of my mother, I can bring her parents alive through my writing.

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Writing about the legacy and values of a family is never time wasted. It becomes part of our heritage.

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Somewhere, a Twin Out There

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“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.” ~― José N. Harris, MI VIDA: A Story of Faith, Hope and Love
I’ve been feeling a little sad lately. My twin and I went to college with two other sets of twin sisters. A few weeks ago, I learned through web connections that one of the matched sets suffered the loss of her sister.  I have felt empathetic pain deep in my heart for the remaining sister as well as sorrow for the death of the other half. Life will certainly be different for the survivor and grief is handled differently by each person.  I hope the surviving sister can find solace in all the things that she finds fulfilling in her life.

According to Psychology Today, the loss of a twin is  unique grief because twins hold special love and kinship with one another. If you’ve never thought yourself as a twin, according to Julie Dillon, we all have twins out there in the world. If you share a rare bond with a friend, you know what it is like to have a kindred spirit.

For some people it may take a lifetime to find a companion who you feel an extraordinary connection with. It took three minutes for my double to appear in my life. Although we are not identical, the fraternal connection is very strong and different than the the other relationships in my life. My twin and I have laughed together, cried together, been partners in mischief, learned some hard lessons as a united team and celebrated as siblings who were born on the same day from the same mother.

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I  didn’t mean to end this Friday on a “downer” but sometimes if we put voice to our emotions through writing, it helps us to feel a little better.  Anyone who has lost a very, very special friend will relate to this writing.  We are all human beings, and grief, in many forms, comes to each one of us at one time or another. It is part of the human condition and with each loss we are reminded to “treasure your relationships not your possessions.” ~ Anthony J. DeAngelo

 

See you on Monday with more happiness in my heart! I  have faith that it will be so! I promise~~

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.  For information on her publications Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart and Soul.

 

 

 

Beauty Within All Generations

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The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I recently edited a chapter of a book for an writer who is involved in a collaborative effort of publishing a Christian book. She asked me whether I was working on writing any new publications of my own.

“Yes,” I said, “Actually, I have finished writing my first piece of fiction and am hoping to have it published in the near future. First I need to have it professionally edited (yes, everyone needs editors). I have a deadline for the project but as you know as a person who is involved in an independent publishing project, funds are needed up front. Not quite sure if I can get it all together. I’d put the book in the genre of women’s fiction. It’s about relationships between friends.”

friendship-66v“I like those kinds of stories. Don’t you find that your friendships with women become more important as you age? Many of my friends I have had since I was young have become even more meaningful to me than they ever were.” she asked.

“Yes, definitely,” I said, “but I like being around with people of all ages.” Great wisdom comes from our elders and also from young children. In their naïveté they have candid and truthful things to say.

Interesting how divine life is designed, isn’t it?

This blog is brought to you by the author of the EVVY award-winning book Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

 

Gathering to Spark Memories

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Girl-Scout-Camp-Smores-Pops

 

Guess where I am going? To a Girl Scout Alumni Bonfire! Campfire Songs, skits, s’mores and an evening of remembering days of a being a member of a 100+ year old youth organization is planned in Routt County, Colorado. I immediately sent my RSVP to the affirmative. Yes! I don’t want to miss it! The event will surely spark memories of my youth.

I live in a resort community of people who have moved here from places all over America and from different countries, so the evening will be interesting. We can compare what it was like to be a Girl Scout (there are six levels: a Daisy, a Brownie, a Junior, a Cadette or Senior  or Ambassador Girl Scout) in different hometowns across the globe. The experiences each girl had throughout her years as a member, I am sure, were varied.

The Girl Scouts was started in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low and it’s mission was universal. Here is what the founder said about her vision of the organization “My purpose……to go on with my heart and soul, devoting all my energies to Girl Scouts, and heart and hand with them, we will make our lives and the lives of the future girls happy, healthy and holy.” 

I reminisce about those wonderful days of being a Girl Scout in my memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. Chapter 28 – Paper Roses is one of my favorites.

After the event is over, I’ll let you know how it went.

I am looking for suggestions of campfire songs. If you were a Girl Scout and remember the names of the songs you used to sing around the bonfire or at Girl Scout camp, please post them as a comment on All Things Fulfilling. I look forward to your input!

This blog is brought to you by EVVY award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.