Friday, July 20, 2018

When Your Worlds Converge: Moulin Rouge!

You know how sometimes you're interested in or are a fan of various seemingly unrelated things? And then somehow, those things converge and it's awesome but kinda weird, too?

1) The movie Moulin Rouge! This bizarre, colorful, dramatic musical with famous pop songs, telling the story of a poor English poet named Christian and his love story with the star of Montmarte's Moulin Rouge club, Satine, came out in 2001. I don't remember when I first saw it, but it was probably in college. I loved it. I was all about the garret-living consumptive Parisian writing lifestyle when I was 18.

2) I like theater. I went to a college with a large theater program. I came out of college and back home to New York City... where Broadway is. Meaning that I've been lucky enough to be in close proximity to some truly amazing shows with amazing performers.

3) An amazing Broadway performer I've not been lucky enough to see in a Broadway show, ironically enough, is Aaron Tveit. The first time I saw him was in the 2013 film version of Les Miserables.

He then got added to my roster of Men I Google-Stalked. My friend Jess and I saw him perform live as part of the one Elsie Fest we've been to. (Jess has seen Aaron on Broadway, several years ago). We also saw him perform in a solo concert on Long Island. To which I reacted, "When is he coming back to Broadway?!"

4) Back to the Moulin Rouge thing: In February, during the Winter Olympic Games, my mom and I were watching figure skating when I heard the distinct notes of what I recognized as the Moulin Rouge version of "Roxanne." It was Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.

"Roxanne" went into "Come What May" and Virtue and Moir skated the hell out of the routine and I was hooked. I was sooo happy when they won the team gold medal for figure skating and then a gold medal of their own for ice dancing. 

I then re-watched Moulin Rouge for the first time in forever. 

And then I've spent a lot of time shipping Virtue and Moir, but that's another story. 

5) Then I heard that Moulin Rouge was being made into a stage musical and it was being workshopped with Aaron Tveit as Christian. Whatreallywowcool. And just as I'd rewatched the movie for the first time in years and was watching Virtue and Moir's Moulin Rouge routine on YouTube and the soundtrack was fresh again! Funny how that works.

6) Oh, that theater workshop production of Moulin Rouge is going to be staged? Cool. In Boston. Nice. At the Emerson Colonial Theatre? Wait, the theater that was in the middle of that city block that my college existed on? And Aaron Tveit is still attached to the project? Wow, small world. And it's coming to Broadway next season? Yay! 

7) My friend Jess: "I really want to go up to Boston to see Aaron Tveit in Moulin Rouge."

8) So my two besties and I are doing just that this weekend.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Obligatory Downton Abbey movie post

Four days ago, the Downton Abbey Twitter posted this:

You may have seen me squealing about it somewhere on the social media.

Anyway, I didn't think they'd get to a Downton Abbey movie this soon--the show hasn't been off the air that long.

I expect the production to be pretty tight-lipped about plot and whatnot, but:

-The series finale ended on New Year's Day, 1926. So is it picking up from there? Is it skipping time? 
-How many of the cast will be back? It's a huge cast. 
-Seriously, the Dowager Countess is still alive? Isn't she like 140 years old by now?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

On Pseudonyms

I've started writing a creative nonfiction project which I hope can be self-published by the autumn. But I've decided already that I'll be publishing it under a completely different pseudonym, for reasons.

As many of you know, the name I write under--Michelle Athy--isn't my legal name. Michelle is my middle name. Athy is my real last name. I write under that name for a few reasons. I don't like my real first name, it's too distinctive. The name is part of my real name but different enough that it wouldn't cause issues in Real Life.

I know a lot of romance authors use pseudonyms: Courtney Milan, for instance. And some authors use different pen names for different genres.

I'm hardly an established author by any means, but I have written stories in different genres already and they all used my author name--and most of the things I'm working will be published under Author Name, whenever that may be.

But not this particular memoir/creative nonfiction thing. I haven't decided what the name will be, but it is an interesting thing--like, do I have to have an email under that name? What about social media? How do I promote the thing without linking Michelle Athy me--which admittedly is pretty easily connected to Real Me if you know where to look--to the thing?

Frankly, the idea of having yet another email and twitter for a pen name I'll probably only use the once sounds exhausting.

Do you use a pen name? How did you come up with it?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

IWSG July 3rd!

It's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group post, one day earlier than usual because the first Wednesday this month is the day us Americans eat too much and shoot explode-y things off in the air. 

Getting on to the July IWSG question: 

What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time?

Well. How haven't my writing goals changed over time? I've referred to myself as a "recovering writing major" a few times because at least at my college, the Writing program was very focused on literary fiction. And while I knew I didn't fit in to that whole thing--there was no way in hell I was MFA-bound--I did still have that weird fog of wanting to write the Great American Novel. 

That's gone now. 

I always wanted to write novels and I was always a bit frustrated in workshop classes because we only ever wrote short stories. Well, I still want to write novels, but I seem to be writing short stories these days and I'm totally cool with that. Short stories come easier to me. Now, I'm a little frustrated that I can't seem to sustain a plot long enough for a full-length book.

Knowing that, I'm taking my time writing a first draft/outline for a full-length book. It's not the Great American Novel--it's a contemporary romance--but I know my weak spots in writing. I know they always have to do with plot and structure.

So my primary goal with this first draft/outline has been to nail the structure and the plot. I want to make sure that the conflicts are strong enough, the stakes feel appropriate, and that the story isn't repetitive. The ultimate goal is to have a book that doesn't fall apart at some point in the middle.

My ultimate writing goals: a book-length plot, novels that entertain and inform, novels that show diversity as natural and a strength no matter the time period they take place in.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Books To Read When the World is a Dumpster Fire

Hey y'all.

It's hot as hell here in New York today. New York has this particularly humid quality during the summer that makes everything sticky.

I keep hearing rumors that in some regions of the country, there's this thing called a dry heat. What does that feel like? I've never experienced a summer with dry heat.

Anyway. The world feels like an increasingly dumpster fire-like place. When the world feels fairly doom-laden, I find it hard to be creative. Also, with limited time at the moment to be creative, the doom-laden parts of current events weigh a bit more because writing is not only a deep hobby and a continual puzzle and pursuit of mine, it's also my major mental, emotional, and creative outlet. So even if I want to unload issues in writing, sometimes I find that I can't because the world sucks or I'm just really tired or really, I only want to watch YouTube and not do anything else.

And that's when reading comes in.

I'm 5 books ahead of where I should be in my Goodreads reading goal.

For me, of course, my solace reading is usually something romance. I've read a lot of contemporary romance this year because a) I'm trying to write a contemporary romance and b) I've been wanting to read more diverse stories and many of the diverse authors and stories I want are contemporary set.

My other solace reading is fanfiction, which is truly when I want to read something but my brain is like, "I want words but I want to shut off."

But I always like to try to explore other genres as part of my annual reading challenge, too. This year, I've read a couple of books I missed reading as a kid because I was never a big fantasy reader as a child: A Wrinkle In Time and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. They were wonderful.

I've read a couple of travel memoirs. They were different in style and in where the authors traveled, but I loved reading about different cultures, languages, ambiences, and food.

My friend Krystal released a supernatural and fantasy novel earlier in this year--fantasy is a really good escape when the world feels like it's falling apart. I mean, think about The Lord of the Rings, which I was obsessed with in high school and college. Middle-Earth is in peril. Everyone fights to save it from certain destruction.

My favorite book this year is a steampunk novel set in China during the Opium Wars, called Gunpowder Alchemy.

I try to read enough nonfiction in the course of a year because I like learning things. You never know what'll prove useful or inspiring for fiction, for one thing. I tend to read history and generally, when someone takes the time and research to write about something historical, it's because that subject or time period was a true dumpster fire of a time.

So in a way, that's consoling?

What do you do when the world is tilted on the wrong axis? Do you read? What do you read?