Sale Away: HYSTERICAL LOVE @ 99¢ Through 10.14
From Amazon’s “From the Author”:
Your debut novel, After the Sucker Punch, also dealt with family secrets and estranged parent-child relationships. What is it about these themes that intrigues you? They’re relatable, almost always a mix of humor and drama (great fun to write!), and probably the most universal themes in existence. We all have a family of some kind, so there’s always something within the politics of that group that will resonate with most readers.
How did growing up in a big family influence your work? It gave me an insider’s seat in the dramatic and evolving culture that is a big family, allowing me to observe and explore those dynamics in as natural and experiential a way as possible.
Dan is a male protagonist with a strong, quirky perspective. Was it a challenge to craft such a well-rounded male character? I have five brothers, a son, a husband, many male friends, and I spent years on the road in rock bands… I got my male bona fides! 🙂
What do you think is the most important part of Dan’s personal odyssey? Finding truth. Within his romantic relationships, his work, his family, and, most importantly, himself. Truth is always the grand prize.
What inspired you to write Hysterical Love? An anecdote was shared with me by a guy who briefly fixated on his father’s old girlfriend, sparking a compelling, “what if he actually made it a quest?” Folding in the notions of lost love, enduring heartbreak, and defining the validity of soul mates, a story emerged that ultimately became Hysterical Love.
You’re an author, a former rock-and-roller, a photographer, a singer-songwriter, and you’ve worked in theater and film. How do you feel these diverse experiences have influenced your writing? Each element of my creative life has given me unique perspective, amazing stories, and always compelling characters. I’ve dipped and double-dipped into each to flesh out and enrich my books. It’s like living your own research!
What (or who) were some of the biggest influences on your literary career? An early childhood without TV led to voracious reading, which inspired a passion for words, narrative, good stories, and great writers. So I guess you could say that not being able to watch Mickey Mouse inspired my writing! 🙂
Which types of characters do you enjoy writing the most? The more human, flawed, heartfelt, real, irreverent, funny, and seeking, the better!
What drives you to write? A desire to tell a story, express my thoughts, make a point.
Do you have an overall goal as an artist in general, or specifically? To create meaningful, authentic work that inspires, entertains, and provokes thought… and to reach the biggest audience I possibly can in accomplishing that.
What is the number one thing you hope readers take away from your book? Emotion. Feeling something. Being moved. I know… that’s three things! ☺
Thank you for choosing Hysterical Love. It’s a story I thoroughly enjoyed writing, exploring characters, ideas, and plot twists that dug deep yet still found the humor in it all. I hope you enjoy the read!
For independent authors like myself, the support of readers is essential. In that spirit, I invite you to leave a short review of Hysterical Love at the Amazon purchase page once you’ve finished reading. Positive feedback goes a long way toward advancing the cause of writers and indie publishing in general, and I thank you in advance for your contribution!
Yep… all that. And thanks!
October 12, 2017
Photo by Dillon Wilke
HYSTERICAL LOVE Wins Solo ‘General Fiction’ Medal in New Apple Awards 2017 Contest
While I’ve been busy polishing, tweaking, and parsing notes from editors and readers on my third novel, as yet uncertain as to how and when it will be published, I was delighted to learn that my last novel, Hysterical Love, was chosen as the solo medallist in the 2017 New Apple Awards Summer Ebook Contest.
This is particularly gratifying when one considers the sheer number of indie books submitted for such honors, in a marketplace where acknowledgement for the self-published book can make all the difference.
New Apple brands itself as a company “dedicated to helping independent authors find their way into the world of publishing.” I applaud their mission and hope this honor, for which I’m deeply grateful, will introduce Hysterical Love to a wider audience of appreciative readers, opening doors for me to publishers and others in the industry intrigued to see what’s next… stay tuned!
August 18, 2017
Book cover design by Grace Amandes
Singing with Sixth & Third
It’s been an interesting summer since The Geeze and Me closed.
After four months of intense involvement, a month of back and forth to San Diego to complete recordings and tidy up post-production bits, I was back home to my writing space, with a summer wrapped around family trips and events, and a calendar alarmingly bereft of scheduled activity. Lovely, and though I appreciated the overall ease of each day, I couldn’t help but feel a bit adrift.
But as life is wont to do, over time I found my LA feet again. Knowing a transition needed to be made, I got back to shopping my latest novel to literary agents (there’s a Sisyphean task!), attempted a few journalistic pieces that weren’t about Donald Trump (uninspired at the moment… no one seems to be reading anything but); leapt into rebuilding my LA actor’s platform, which meant reactivating my SAG-AFTRA card, finally getting my Equity card, and getting out on auditions. I remember now how much fun that is, auditions…
But, seriously, it is fun to be approaching that beast of a medium from a very different age and time of my life. We’ll see what I’m able to make of it.
But the most joyful turn on the “what do I do next?” agenda involves the poster above. The tall, stately man behind me is my brother, Tom Amandes, who is an actor extraordinaire; director, brilliant editor (he edited two of my novels), and a wonderful, passionate pianist. He approached me with the idea of “putting together a set of tunes”—in the right keys, with some semblance of arrangement, and players who’d help flesh out the sound, something we’d never managed to pull off prior—and not only was I touched that he wanted to collaborate on such a project, I was thrilled.
Because there is nothing—I mean nothing—more creatively, emotionally, and viscerally exhilarating to me as an artist than singing. I love writing (love it); acting can be loads of fun; dancing (as long as the bar is low) is always a hoot, and photography is a personal passion, but singing…
From the moment I discovered musical sounds came out of my mouth in some kind of pleasing fashion, singing has been my singlemost cherished gift as a creative person, something to experience whether alone in my car, performing for a houseful of guests, or bounding across stage in a big concert hall. It is pure, channeled, emotive expression, and to once again, starting with The Geeze and Me, have opportunity to pull it into the sphere of my life is this year’s greatest gift.
So… Tom’s and my project: we’ve named it Sixth & Third (birth order… you can figure it out); we’ve got my dear old bandmate, Jeff Brown (from my original band, DEVON… yes, the one from the 80s!), on guitar, as well as Tom’s son, Ben (a talented, intuitive musician), on cello and guitar… for the time he has before heading back to the University of Chicago. I’m trying to convince him school is far less exciting than playing in a band with his aunt and father, but so far, though he smiles, he remains unconvinced. Either way, I’m delighted to have him for the time we do and what happens afterwards will be the next adventure.
For now, we’ve put together a select list of originals (mostly mine, but one of my hubby’s), and a few handpicked covers we love. We’re playing a private show at Tom’s house, a fabulous performing space, soon, and once we sort out where we might want to take it after that, we’ll explore other ideas.
All I know is this: singing is back in my life; I won’t let it go again. I may not have reached the rowdy pinnacles of fame and fabulousness I planned while lying on my floor listening to Janis Joplin—I had planned to be the next Janis Joplin!— but what I do have—the joyful collaboration of people I love, songs that mean something to me, and the opportunity to share both with welcoming audiences—is true elation.
More as we go.
August 31, 2017
Photo by Nancy Everhard-Amandes
The Party’s (Almost) Over… But the Beat Will Go On
You know that very first moment of a cherished experience—a vacation, a trip, an adventure—when you gleefully acknowledge that you’ve finally arrived, you’re there, it’s starting, and you’ve got the whooooooole event in front of you just waiting to unfold?
That’s always been a favorite moment of mine; the beginning of something; something anticipated, looked forward to. The moment when you recognize the bounty of your circumstances, flush with the sheer breadth of time you’ve got in your grasp before the days and weeks tick by and you start looking at the calendar, counting down…
That’s how I felt January 3rd when I arrived in San Diego to start my four-month stint as a performer in the new musical, The Geeze and Me. I’d been sent off with enthusiastic support from my guys at home, arrived in SD to find my procured quarters a delightful abode, and my first official show meeting with B.J. Robinson, the musical director of the show, who could not have been a warmer, more joyful introduction to this anticipated chapter.
From there the months stretched ahead, long and leisurely; weeks to explore a new city, spend time with new friends (and old); day after day to revel in a creative reality that was both sharply reminiscent and refreshingly new in this new period of my life. As I traveled back and forth from San Diego to Los Angeles at the end of each week’s rehearsal schedule, I marveled at how quickly I assimilated into my two-city reality: happy to see my family for the time I had each week, excited to get back to the show Monday night. Even as the days rolled by, I remained blissfully aware that there were still so many of them ahead, months ahead, plenty of time for singing, dancing, scene work, collaboration, the creative process, laughing (so much laughing!)… and it was all so good. Even the not-so-good moments, which every show has at some point, were intriguing because they, too, were part of the process I was rediscovering (and were luckily outweighed by the so good!).
But clocks tick and calendars flip, and there’s that inevitable next moment when you acknowledge time: The moment when what’s ahead is less than what’s behind. You begin parceling out activities to make sure you get them all in; you make comments like, “let’s be sure to get together before I head back for good,” and the sheer exhilaration of the work, the performing, the audience interaction; the cast members you’ve grown to love, all become more precious for your realizing that “abundant time” has whittled down to weeks… then days… until the final countdown begins.
That’s where we are as I write this piece: counting down the last days of this journey, feeling the bittersweet tang of knowing it will soon be over: The Geeze and Me has its final three performances this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. As far ahead as that denouement seemed when I arrived on January 3rd, it is now upon me and I’m… well, not to be too dramatic, but I’m bereft.
Not because I’m going home—I look forward to wrapping myself in the warmth of my family again, my house, my neighborhood; my view of the ocean each morning. Being home. But I’d be lying if I said I was ready to leap back into my life as it was, my life without the kind of creative collaboration the last four months have afforded me.
You see, it has been a very long time since I’ve had this intense of a creative experience over this long a period of time—since I did plays, made movies, worked in theater companies, sang in bands—and the resultant effect has served to waken the sleeping diva in me (and I mean diva in the purest sense of the word—the lead singer, the creative adventurer, the artiste—not the high-maintenance harridan demanding special treatment, I promise!). And that awakening leaves me now, at the end of this transformative experience, not only bereft, as mentioned, but a little befuddled.
What do I do with her when I get home, home to my “writer’s life,” a place of solitude and introspection, where I think and compose, spend quiet time with family, and enjoy the peacefulness of walks by the ocean? My Awakened Diva will not necessarily embrace that solitary life as being… enough. It no longer feels enough. It feels like a wonderful addendum to what is enough, but the part of me that spent the last four months remembering that I sang, I acted, I expressed ideas out loud; I regularly engaged with exciting, creative, hilarious people who seemed to think I was all those things too—well, that part of me now has to service the Awakened Diva… and I don’t know how. Yet.
But I gotta figure it out. Because I now recognize, I’ve been reminded, that she is an intrinsic part of who I am, the soul of my creative being, the essence of the person who not only does what I was doing before the last four months, but who rediscovered the self that brought me, breathless and anticipatory, to my city by the sea as a young girl, driven by dreams designed by my Diva, dreams that, in recent years, got buried for reasons many artists encounter: artistic obsolescence, opportunity deficits, ageism; ground-shifting life events that demanded life-changing plans. I have no idea how to transcend all that in this new, awakened period of my life, but I’m inspired to find out.
Until then, I still have three more nights of this glorious show. Three more opportunities to sing, dance, laugh, act; feel the excitement of creating art, of touching audiences, of reveling in the talent and expression of the many wonderful people with whom I’m working. Yes, I am counting the remaining nights, days, hours left, but I’m not neglecting the joy factor of what’s still to experience. I’m going to pay attention to every remaining moment so that when it does finally end, I won’t have left out a one.
Then I’ll pack up my car, head north to Los Angeles, tuck back into the love and warmth of my family, and ponder all that’s happened. Where me and Awakened Diva go from here…. cuz the beat does go on, doesn’t it?
All I can say is: keep walking to your own and I’ll let you know where mine leads next!
If you’re in the San Diego area and would like to partake of whatever tickets are left for this week’s shows, April 27-29, go HERE for ticket information.
April 24, 2017
THE GEEZE & ME OPENING FRIDAY, MARCH 31ST… Enjoy the First Production Shots!
… BACK ON THE BOARDS WITH NEW MUSICAL, THE GEEZE & ME
“The Geeze & Me” is a funny, irreverent, and poignant original musical. This timely show features a comedic troupe of eccentric players who team up to wrangle aspects of aging from an expert. An eclectic blend of songs ranging from pop to blues to corner street doo-wop, accompanied by innovative choreography. The perils and benefits of growing older are reflected in the concerns of this diverse group of people.
Think “Hair,” after it’s gone.
YEP. That’s me… one of those “eccentric players.” Back on the boards again after a decade or so off; singing, acting, dancing like the theater maven I used to be, inspiring the question: “Is it like getting back on the bike?”
It is. And isn’t. It’s better than that. It’s like getting back on the bike and discovering the bike became more precious in the interim.
I was always a dramatic child. From the moment my mouth opened and started expressing itself, my mother called me “Sarah Bernhardt,” her passive-aggressive way of telling me I was pushing the limits of emotive enthusiasm.
But when you’re one of eleven children, and every one of those is loud and unfettered, you have no choice but to be assertive getting your points across. And I was assertive, whether doing basement plays, church folk songs, college theater majoring, or kicking ass as a rock & roller.
There’s just something about singing and acting that’s always been exhilarating to me. I know you other performers know exactly what I mean. That sense of channeling thought and feeling through your limbs and legs and vocal cords in ways that are physical and purging and yet can still convey fragility or love or anger. I remember moments of feeling so high (and with no enhancements involved) just standing in front of band or orchestra, singing my lungs out with soul-cleansing abandon. It’s a stunningly visceral experience and when I stopped doing it a while back, for reasons to do with lack of opportunity or heightened selectivity, it felt as if I had to adjust my breathing just to get enough air. Strange how that works.
Writing has been a lifetime Muse as well, as many of you are aware… a joyful one, a deeply satisfying one, but one of quieter comportment. More solitary and less collaborative. And I missed that collaboration, that madness particular to creating within a group. So as I’ve joyfully written, I’ve kept an eye out for opportunities. And one finally came my way… in the form of The Geeze and Me.
My pal, Nancy Locke Capers, my very first girlfriend made when I moved to Los Angeles as a toddler (okay… a young-twenty), has been living in La Jolla (near San Diego) for decades now, and, unbeknownst to me, was years into creating a musical with her very musical husband, Hedges Capers. Hedges, whose pedigree as a singer/songwriter is long and impressive (you can catch up with both their careers by clicking HERE and HERE), had an astonishing repertoire of songs—witty, clever, soulful, kickass, heartfelt songs—that literally oozed with narrative, and with those bones, he and Nancy created a witty, clever, soulful, kickass, heartfelt show analyzing, defining, debunking, and celebrating the “vicissitudes of aging.” They titled it, The Geeze and Me.
We were sitting together at a friend’s wedding when I first heard about the show. Over, I believe, arugula salad with rosemary croutons, they asked if I’d be interested in getting involved. Interested? I felt old muscles perk up, dusty lights blink on; vocal cords vibrate with hopeful anticipation. Involved? OF COURSE! But it was reading the script, and, particularly, hearing Hedge’s songs, 20+ songs, that sealed the deal. The singer in me was tantalized, the storyteller impressed; the emoter wanted nothing more than to get out on whatever stage these two put together to sing those songs. I was in.
Now, Nancy and I have done many a production together, from collaborating on a feature screenplay (which was quite good, mind you), to working within the theater company at The Alliance Repertory in Burbank, to the premiere of an odd and hilarious play called Buried Together at Theater at the Improv in Hollywood (which Nancy directed). So our history as collaborators is long and storied. I trust her sensibilities, both artistically and personally, and know how great she is to work with. I also knew her years as a therapist would imbue her writing and directorial vision with deep understanding and wisdom. In fact, I love what she personally had to say on that topic:
As a writer, I was hoping to bring energy to the musical landscape with something fresh and new: a story with a post-modern structure, exploring the territory of intimate relationships as we age, personal loss, and the crossroads of adaptation and holding on. We plumb the ground of friendship, illness, sexuality, loneliness, personal dreams and anxieties. Oh…and make it funny!
I’ve tried to balance reality with a surreal quality of personal transformation, which I’ve witnessed during my many years as a psychotherapist. Working with a dream cast and the many collaborators who bring abundant creativity to the table is a thrill.
As for Hedges… well, he’s all heart and soul: on his sleeve, in his words, woven throughout his music. A consummate artist, he’s put everything he’s got into this production, from creating the projections, to supervising set builds, to collaborating on the script, to designing the production, but, damn… it’s those songs! He seems to have a well of inspiration unlimited both in depth and breadth, the show’s repertoire evidence of that astonishing creative spectrum. Being able to perform songs that are everything from absurd, to funny, to provocative, to rip-your-heart-out tender is a gift for any performer. So I feel gifted to be there, to be working with them, with the incredible staff they’ve assembled, and certainly the amazing cast of actors and singers who impress and delight me daily.
Of course, I’d love for all of you to find a way to San Diego during the run: March 31st—April 29th. You can check the website for details, get connected to the show’s Facebook or Twitter pages for updates, and certainly you can contact me. Believe it or not, there are several nights that are already sold out, so if you’re planning to get there (and San Diego is a great place for a weekend field trip!) click HERE for available dates and ticket information.
So there you go… that’s my latest. Getting on with the act of creating during this strange and trying time in our country, and so grateful for the opportunity. Thanks for catching up, rehearsal’s in an hour; gotta go warm up the cords (damn, this is louder than writing books! 🙂 )
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