Award winner: Bumbling Bea What’s a girl to do? Plenty.

Standard

To purchase a copy of Bumbling Bea, go to Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Bumbling-Bea-Deborah-Baldwin/dp/1500390356

 

Find my award winning book at Amazon.com

both ebook and paperback

Surprising Bumbling Bea Reviews

Standard
Surprising Bumbling Bea Reviews

Wishing Shelf

When Bumbling Bea was first published, I was very surprised by the reviews. I hoped middle school students would enjoy the story, but I never considered readers of all ages (some as young as seven and one a sixty-five year old grandma) would appreciate it, too.  I’m  flattered.

So, if you are seeking reviews of Bumbling Bea check out Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/lk5db54

There are nearly 50.

If you are wanting to read a few snippets, here are some:

  • Quirky, fun and intensely close capturing of middle school angst.”

******Emily Bassinger

  •  “In Bumbling Bea, author Deborah Baldwin creates an enjoyable look into growing up. Hilarity, missteps, and bungling follow as Bea and Michiko come to terms. The plot line is written skillfully.”

****Verabookreviews

 

  • “Deborah ensures that her story constantly generates mental images and tugs at heartstrings. The choice of words used reflect the effort that she must have put in to make this story both child-friendly and adult-friendly.”

*****Rajalakshmi Prithviraj\

  • “This book is utterly charming, with many fun and surprising twists that equally offer loads of entertainment as well as a variety of opportunities to feel validated!! Thank you, ‘Bumbling Bea’ for teaching me that these awkward moments we experience during our most awkward years are forgivable and not defining, and more importantly, that they are ALWAYS opportunities to LEARN ******Becca Ayers
img_0832
  • “Baldwin reached out to an audience that is often overlooked in writing (the middle school theater crowd) but does it in a fun and humorous way.”****Amy Dawn Kostecki
  • “Bumbling Bea is a wonderful example of what is like to be a middle school student trying to figure just who you really are and how the world really works. Baldwin does an excellent job sharing Bears inner turmoil, thoughts, emotions……. As a theater lover and teacher myself I loved this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who works with children, has children, is a child at heart, or who enjoys the stage!
           *****Blair McCotter 
Wishing Shelf
Bumbling Bea is a finalist in the 2016 Wishing Shelf Book Award Contest

 

 

What No One Tells You About Full Circle Moments

Standard
What No One Tells You About Full Circle Moments

img_0930

I am excited!  This weekend I’m going to enjoy a full circle moment.

Have you ever experienced one?  You know, a “pay it forward” kind  of thing? They’re deeply fulfilling.

As a teacher and director, I’ve had many.  It seems to go with the territory. I would imagine everyone experiences full cicle moments several times in their lifetime. If they are happy moments, we are joyful. If they are sad, I’m not certain we recognize them as full circle moments, but some sort of lesson we still need to learn.

Has anyone advised you how to handle them? Me neither.

No one tells you the brevity of them. That there is magic and surprise.

Full circle moments, in general, are random.

An example:  My Ukrainian pen pal ended up on a  train  in Romania with a professor from my small midwestern hometown who knew my family.  That’s one chance in at least a million of occurring.

Another:  My daughter grows up to perform in a show with one of her babysitters who grew up and became an actress at my encouraging. They perform together in a different city. Ten years later.

You have to admit full circle moments make you take a pause. Sometimes they are baffling. You are afraid to share them with anyone for fear they’ll think you are crazy–that you are fantasizing and dillusional.

We can’t prophesy when full circle moments will occur or even if we’ll have one. That’s what makes them special.

img_0832

This particular full circle moment began very innocently.

Forty years ago next month, in 1977 I  student taught drama at West Junior High School in Columbia, MO. Some of the students were the best students I’ve taught, even if I was still in the learning phase of my career.  I am still friends with many of them today.

A young man, Randall Kenneth Jones, is a student of mine during that semester.  He is smart, witty and clever.

In 1978, we work together in an outdoor community theater.  Randy performs Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress while I serve as the stage properties mistress.  We perform as brother and sister in 110 in the Shade.  He is in the chorus while I portray Mrs. Bumble in Oliver!

Two years later, my former husband and I create a community theater– Columbia Entertainment Company.  Randy performs in several of the shows–Two by Two and Damn Yankees.  I perform with him in Damn Yankees.

Get this: My cooperating teacher, Jackie Petit White, performs in the production as well!

Randy attends the University of Missouri-Columbia in journalism.  Afgter graduating, he moves to Washington, DC. He works in marketing, advertising and public relations with a focus on creative development. He develops a terrific resume which includes PR and marketing for Walgreens, JCPenney, The Washingon Post and more.

I stay in Missouri, divorce, remarry, have children, preside over CEC for several years, run a theatre school, teach drama to middle schoolers and create several youth theatre programs.  I direct several hundreds plays and musicals with adults and children alike. My resume is different from Randy’s, but equally successful.

In essence, we are equally busy.

img_0805

Time passes….

Thirty-nine years later in 2016, we meet again. I read on Facebook Randy has authored a really cool book, Show Me.  Show Me is filled with over one hundred interviews Randy collected with successful people–Pat Benatar, Barbara Cochran, Jent Evanovich, Tyler Mathiesen, Suze Orman, just to name a few.

He’s about to release Show Me.  I write him, congratulating him.  We rekindle our friendship.  We promise to do a better job of keeping up with each other.

It’s fun to know again this great student , now grown man. He’s just as witty, clever and smart.

Now the full circle moment–

Two months go by and Randy contacts me.  He’s traveling to  Columbia to do a fundraiser for CEC which was built twenty-nine years ago. (Isn’t that crazy?) For the fundraiser,  he’ll be doing a stand up routine as well as selling his book and autographying.

His routine includes ememories of the teachers who inspired him, one of which was my cooperating teacher, Jackie Petit White.  He wants to speak about me as well, because I was very instrumental in keeping the community theatre afloat for years.

Would I be interested in participating as well?

Heck, yes!

I’m not taking center stage.  This event isn’t about me, but I will benefit from it.  I’ll be signing and selling Bumbling Bea (2.0) books before and after the show.

A portion of the proceeds go to Columbia Entertainment Company.  Tickets may be reserved in advance at cectheatre.org

Full circle moments are truly special. In some respects, they give us moments of self actualization which state, “I am here on earth.  I matter.  I helped someone to find themselves.”  My inner self and actual self meet in congruence. Wow!

We have amazing lives whether we notice them occurring or not.  I could never have foreseen this upcoming moment. What full circle moments have you experienced?

Randy and I would love to see you and say hello.  You’ll find our books on Amazon.com

See you soon!

img_0930

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or my website at DeborahBaldwin.net

 

 

 

How Fulfilling is Life Without Theatre?

Standard
How Fulfilling is Life Without Theatre?

How fulfilling is life without theater?  It is  the Pièce de Résistance!

My favorite of all the arts. I would be lost without it. Life is better with a dash of theatre now and then.

I know people who dislike theatre, but love movies. They say theatre is boring.  Really? You can’t compare them to each other, but I understand the reasons for their opinions.

It’s easier to access movies than attending a play. It’s all about convenience.  Movies are available to us continuously. The wonders of the internet have given to us 24/7 access to nearly any movie you’d like to view.

The most important difference between the two is theatre is LIVE. You can’t just sit back in your recliner, take off your shoes and fold your laundry while you watch.

When you decide to see a theatrical production, you make a personal commitment to it. Generally, you’ll need to transport yourself to the show.  You must arrive on time, take the seat you reserved (with a good or bad view of the stage), pick up the play program and deal with audience members around you.

If it’s a comedy, it’s most appreciated by the cast if you laugh or at least chuckle.  Musicals require you to applaud at the end of scenes if they are outstanding.  Have you ever applauded when a famous actress enters the stage the first time?   You have a job to do as an audience member.

 As we view the production, we must concentrate, focus.  We can’t rewind a scene or fast forward through the show to intermission just so we can get a snack. We must suspend our disbelief when viewing a play far more than we must while seeing a movie. 

The magic of a live performance makes it all the more poignant.  There is something very special when one observes the dramatization of a particular thought right before our eyes. It is a unique experience.

The actors tell the story as if it is the first time it has been told.  We share the moment with them and others seated around us.  This is human interaction at its best.

Theatre discusses the human condition.  It educates, inspires, broadens our world view, explores self expression, and encourages self empowerment. Besides, it’s a fun way to learn!

As an actor, I’ve experienced what is like to be someone else.  I’ve stepped into their shoes, so to speak.  A well crafted character has flaws and strengths.  I may not have the same strengths and weaknesses. Whenever I perform, it’s a heady experience and one I never forget.  You never view people in real life with the same attitude you had prior to the production. It changes you. 

We could lose more than we bargain for if we lost theatre. 

 Have you considered theatre uses all the arts–visual art, dance of movement and music? It’s a one stop shop.

Art–Through designs of set, costume, and lights we utilize color, texture and silhouette to suggest themes and mood.

Ponder this photo from “Sunday in the Park with George”, a musical by Stephen Sondheim. In an earlier post, I shared  Seurat’s painting,  “La Grande Jatte”.  Notice the levels, colors, textures, silhouettes? Good stuff.

How about dance?  Or movement?

Image result for Newsies Broadway Musical

If you haven’t attended Newsies  you must.  The dancing is fabulous.  I call it “boy dancing”, because it is.  The choreography is outstanding, clever and joyful.  Musicals use dance to convey a particular message–“Look at us!  We’re Newsies and no one is going to bring us down.”

Physical movement in a play is far more effective than words.  Humans are visual thinkers.  For example, we need the actor to show the character’s depression, so he uses a hushed voice, slouches his shoulders, walks with a slow gait and heavy steps.  Blocking, the physical movement around the stage, encourages the audience to view the production like a living photograph.

One doesn’t need to know much more about a play’s story than to merely observe the action.  The above photo is from a production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller.  The Crucible tells the story of the Salem Witch Trials, however it is a metaphor for the Red Scare of the 1950’s.  Isn’t it effective?

How about this one?

I chose this photo at random, because it proves the point.  If you look closely, you’ll see the dancer is behind a scrim.  Yet the actor’s image is reflected in a mirror, but where is the mirror? Look at the positions of  bodies. He is leaning toward her, she is leaning toward him. His right foot touches the floor, as if he’s anchored on earth. She stands on her toes, as if she’s pulled to heaven. It’s so effective. (If you are dying to know the production, it is The Picture of Dorian Grey.)

Music:  When I direct a play, it is my habit to begin my pre-planning by selecting music to be played during the production.  The music inspires me.  It nurtures my creative process while I block the production.

Music does an excellent job of creating mood for an audience.  I will choose period music for a play if it depicts a particular time period in history.

While I directing The Giver, a  play set in a dystopian world, I was stumped on my music choices.  Then I remembered Philip Glass. Several moments in the play call require the falling of snow.  I considered various ideas and finally decided on Glass’ “Music Box”. A  gobo light rotator was hung. It displayed a snow flake-like pattern.  We selected the first 45 seconds of the piece. 

Every time the music played, the audience was encouraged to imagine the falling of snow.

Theatre pulls the arts together.  In the world we live in at present, whenever we can come together and consider a social issue, we stand to win.  It’s very easy to become isolated now. Without theatre, we’d lose more than we’d gain.

How have you been fulfilled by attending a play or musical?  I’d love to hear from you.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or check our my website at DeborahBaldwin.net

How Enriched is Life Without Music?

Standard
How Enriched is Life Without Music?

This is four part series of posts.  Check out the others:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/03/13/life-without-art-is-not-life-to-me/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/03/15/life-without-dance/

Life without Music

Is our life more enriched with music?  I think so. I need it with me all the time.  I have tinnitus and music helps to drown out the ringing in my ears as well as distract me from noticing the ringing.

For me, music is like frosting on a cake.  The cake (life) is good without it, but the frosting (music) makes it all the better.

Studies discovered our brains flourish when we listen to, play or sing music.

From an early age, children respond to music.

I know this is true.  The Phantom of the Opera was all the rage when our oldest daughter was a small child.  Of course, we listened to the songs day and night.  That’s just what we do.  She heard Christine’s aria so often, in time she could imitate the style and sing the range (even the very high notes) with precision and fluidity.  She was four years old. With no prodding from us, our daughter sung on her own.

Glorious…. Yes, her father is naturally musical.  My husband is an instrumental music teacher.  I am naturally gifted in music as well.   I have performed in musicals, playing the lead female roles (South Pacific, Sound of Music, The Music Man, etc.) and sung in choir.  Whenever we have a family dinner, it is not uncommon for us to sing grace in four part harmony.

Her sister is a natural, too. She  picked up a habit of mine, but I’d never realized.  She whistle when she is unable to sing because she’s in a setting where it would be inappropriate to sing.  Gotta get those notes out somehow….

Humans aren’t the only ones to enjoy music.  Have you seen the video of the cows who come to the barn when the farmer plays his trombone?

Or the geese following a bell singer…

What about the elderly?  Our Alzheimer’s patients?  Look at this wonderful gentleman as he comes alive by listening to music:

Putting this post together, I did a little research about the psychological effects of music to a human.

From the United States Library of Medicine website (USLM) I found an interesting paper concerning the psychological assets of listening to music.

 “The Psychological Functions of Music Listening” states, “Another line of theorizing refers to music as a means of social and emotional communication. “

‘….in social creatures like ourselves, whose ancestors lived in arboreal environments where sound was one of the most effective ways to coordinate cohesive group activities, reinforce social bonds, resolve animosities, and to establish stable hierarchies of submission and dominance, there could have been a premium on being able to communicate shades of emotional meaning by the melodic character (prosody) of emitted sounds.’ Panksepp and Bernztsky

Gosh, I never thought of that!  Of course. Most cultures have their own form of music, passed down through generations. I think of the Indigenous people, the Mexicans and European countries whose celebrations are full of music.

Listening to music does much for us–give us energy, calms us down, expresses emotions, and moods and a host of other benefits. Ever seen a movie with no music soundtrack?  Although meaningful, it sets my nerves on edge fairly quickly.

Of course, there is something to said for a quiet atmosphere,  but I can’t handle it much more than an hour.

Life without Music

Could you live without music?  Try it for a day and you’ll see what I mean.  I”d love to hear how your Music Free day goes. No cheating!

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com, or check our my website at DeborahBaldwin.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Meaningful is Life Without Dance?

Standard
How Meaningful is Life Without Dance?

This is a four part series.  Check out the other posts here:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/03/13/life-without-art-is-not-life-to-me/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/03/17/how-enriched-is-life-without-music/

 

This is a fTwyla-Tharp-2_credit-Greg-Gorman[1]

Whenever I awaken in the wee morning hours (and that’s a lot!) and can’t fall asleep again, I visualize ballet dancers dancing.  Sometimes I’m one of them which is pretty funny since I’ve only attended ballet classes for one semester in college.

First, I see a lovely dance hall with large windows facing the south and east.  The walls of the room are a soft pink with white woodwork and of course a golden colored wood floor.  Then I hear music playing in the background.

It’s usually some classical piece of music I know well, such as Strauss’ “The Blue Danube Waltz” or Vivaldi’s  “The Four Seasons”. Maybe it’s something else such as  Beethoven’s “Sonata for Piano No. l”.

  I’ve discovered this method of relaxing works equally well if I’m needing an afternoon nap.  I search my IPad for the piece of music I like, play it, close my eyes and imagine my dancers.

In my mind’s eye, I see a ballerina in a lovely gown chasse’ across the floor diagonally from corner to corner.  Usually, a young man is follow along and catches her ever so often and lifts her into the air.  She floats serenely, landing softly on her precious toes.  Then up again, so forth and so on.

The next thing I know it’s morning.

I can’t imagine the world without dance. I bet many people can’t either.  Dance speaks to us.

Losing the art of  dance would be as terrible as losing your ability to express your emotions.  What if you simply could not express joy, fear, pride or sorrow?

Dance is a tremendous vehicle for expressing emotions.

Pantomime is movement with no words.  I was six years old when my family traveled to Europe.  In Paris, we were lucky enough to see Marcel Marceau perform.  Wow!  My most fond memories are of his mime, The Mask Maker. That was fifty-four years ago, but I remember the performance as if it was yesterday.

If you are thinking I’m some stuffy old lady, I’m not.  There are many current performers who sing marvelously.  In my opinion, one of the best is Bruno Mars.  Some of his lyrics are inappropriate for children, but what a talent.  And what great dancing!

A toddler dancing is one of the best testaments to the  joy of dance.  If you watch closely, you’ll notice they are in their own zone–somewhere else in their mind even with their eyes open. Children will free form it with no concerns about how they appear to others.

Our sweet, perfect granddaughter is always moving.  She adores music, too.  She’s still a baby, but I think she will express herself through dance, too.  I can’t wait!  Maybe we’ll have our own video of her boogying.  If she’s anything like her momma or auntie, our DVD shelves will be lined with her videos.

I don’t know how humans would cope if we didn’t have the dance.  I think I agree with this quote, “Stifling an urge to dance is bad for your health — it rusts your spirit and your hips. ~Terri Guillemets”. 

I must close now.  I feel a dance coming on…

How Exciting is Life without Art? 

Standard

This post is in four sections. Find the others here:

https:/https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/03/17/how-enriched-is-life-without-music//dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/03/15/life-without-dance/


Visual art is the pause that refreshes the soul, don’t you agree?

The world is sometimes unbearable to think about, especially now. It’s harsh, cold, unwelcoming and frightening.

The internet made everything transparent and gives us news in real time. Of course, that’s a good aspect of it, too but there are days when it is difficult to see or take in what is going on in the world.

On those days, I retreat to the arts. Today, I’m going to speak about visual art and how it makes our lives more exciting.

Consider this–you travel to an art museum. It’s quiet. It’s lit dramatically with spot lights on particular pieces and all the displays are arranged well.
As I focus on each art piece, I feel the stress leave me. Sometimes my body rebels.

At first, I am anxious. It is probably because my mind is switching gears, slowing down just as my pace does as I stroll through the museum.
I find one painting I particularly enjoy. Maybe it is one I’ve never viewed before, or it’s one I love such as Seurat’s “La Grande Jatte”

Seurat's Grande Jatte

Pointillism fascinates me–painting a blue dot by a red dot and your eye sees purple. That’s amazing.

Or Monet’s Gardens

Monet's gardens
Bright colors make me happy. I know a teacher who loved Florida and beaches. She was a physical education teacher. She wore bright colors the entire school year even in the dead of winter. I think she had the right idea.

The art in front of you is the REAL deal, you know? The Picasso painting you are enjoying is his REAL canvas not some reprint on a discount store shelf. It almost gives me chills.

Picasso

Maybe I notice an unusual sculpture like this one at the Nelson Atkins Art Gallery in Kansas City. This is Nick Cave’s piece entitled “Property”.

Nelson Atkins

If I don’t readily understand or appreciate an art piece, it is then I know to stop and take the time to seriously consider it.

After a few minutes, I notice my mind clears. I relaxed. At the same time, the art museum invigorates me, it wears me out. The stop and walk, stop and walk cycle isn’t one I am used to following.

If you think about it, you don’t even use the same posture as you do in your normal life. You closely peer at the brush strokes of the masters. You lean forward to see the inside of a bowl from thousands of centuries before us. Shifting left and right on your feet, to see the different perspectives of a photo exhibit your legs become weary.

I sit on a bench provided by the art museum but it isn’t comfortable. Maybe that’s on purpose. Those wooden seats are hard, period. I think the bench is saying, “Enjoy the art, but keep moving. There’s more to see.”

Like a tomb or shrine, the museum is silent. One can’t think if there is too much noise. Much of the world’s sound is merely noise, you must admit.

It’s a hallowed place to me. A space to honor the creativity, imagination and genius of people. It’s a place to inspire you.

Since retiring, I have more time to enjoy art. At present, I’m too busy to visit an art exhibit, so the top of my desk will have to suffice.
On this gloomy day which holds on to winter, I have a Seurat coffee mug to lift my spirits. It will do for the moment.

What are some of your favorite paintings?

img_0581

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or my website DeborahBaldwin.net
I’d love to hear from you!

Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award Contest–Bumbling Bea a Finalist

Standard
Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award Contest–Bumbling Bea a Finalist

Big news:  Today I found out Bumbling Bea is a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award contest! What an honor.

The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award contest is competitive.  Billy Bob Buttons (pen name) sponsors the contest.  Only 100 books are selected each year in five categories.  A group of readers (both adults and children) read the books which are appropriate for their age.  Kids read books for children, adults read books written for adults. The books are scored on quality of writing, grammar, spelling, cover art, book description, etc.  A group of finalists are selected and announced.

I like this contest because not only are the books read by appropriate aged readers, but we receive reviews from them as well.  I can use the reviews to market Bumbling Bea or keep them for my private use.

This finalist announcement is all the more rich for me, because the kids read the original version of Bumbling Bea.  Since then, I made several updates to the story including  new cover art and design.

Please allow me to be a bit proud of myself, folks.   Basically, I wrote Bumbling Bea all on my own.  Several family members edited the story and a Language Arts teacher proof read it for me, but everything else was my doing.

You see, I now realize the sky is the limit for me.  This is an avocation which has no ceiling.

I topped out in teaching and directing several years ago.  Although I continued to be challenged by both, the challenge was easy for me to overcome.  At my age, it isn’t worth it to apply for employment in colleges or professional theaters.

But writing?  It’s all new to me.

Lastly, I want to thank my Indie Writers Cooperative group.  I would never have known about this contest if it wasn’t for them.  I learn through this Facebook group every single day.

Goodreads Giveaway–Win a Copy of the NEWLY UPDATED Bumbling Bea 

Standard

Take a chance, a fun and free one, to win a copy of the newly updated Bumbling Bea.  Enter on Goodreads beginning March 9. The contest runs through April 9.  Enter here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34440612-bumbling-beaimg_0877