This "cause" is quite personal to me.
***This post is dedicated to ways my local library has shaped me as a writer and an individual. But, I would be remiss if I didn't point out the clever way this library has developed to generate additional money for special services and book purchases. And how one writer/librarian's creative idea has endured to help fund library services. I urge you to join your local Friends of the Public Library and do what you can to help. Get creative. Get involved.
In 1994, I was a busy divorced mother of a very young child, and co-owner of a thriving corporate business. Having long ago left behind my writing/publishing aspirations, along with my shortened college career, my feet were firmly planted in the ground of responsibility. Yet, every other weekend, as I packed my youngster off to his father's, I faced free time for which I was ill prepared. It was a time of great transition for me, personally. On a whim, I picked up a two week old newspaper and re-read the small "call for actors" ad and reached for the phone. What was I thinking? My acting experience was limited to cool restraint when dealing with the occasional irate client. Oh, and the theatrical prowess required of motherhood, of course.
I nervously made the call, fully prepared to be laughed at for my incredulity. What I learned was that playwright/librarian Barbara Vance, had a slew of mystery night theater productions under her belt and the Friends of the Library were thrilled to produce the fundraiser annually. For this play, Barbara had already cast every part. Except one. That first phone call went something like this;
"You wouldn't happen to be in your twenties, are you?" she said.
"I am...for another few months," I responded.
"You wouldn't happen to have long blonde hair, do you?"
"Um...yes," I said. "To my waist."
Suddenly, I was an actress. Yikes!
My debut in Mystery Night was in the character of Lotta, a rather sleezy and slinky young woman who wins the lottery but loses her life to her greedy, estranged husband. In all, I was strangled about thirteen times. We couldn't have known, on opening night that as I fell to the ground just the right breeze would turn my dress into a flapping flag, revealing my ahem...secrets. Fortunately, my gentlemanly foe quickly rescued my dignity. Even that little act of chivalry didn't warn me that I would one day marry my murderer. Next month, we celebrate our 14th anniversary. You see, for me, falling in love really was murder.
|Winning Lottery ticket in hand|
|As the victim in my first Mystery Night.|
The years that followed, found me in different characters for Mystery Night. I've played bimbos, goody two-shoes, a very old woman, a "twin," an Elvis backup singer, and more. I've been secondary characters, murderers, and victims. Each one has been a joy. Surprisingly, each one reintroduced me to plot, character, props/setting, reactions, voice. Story. Every moment got me closer to the words I began writing again in private. I didn't realize at the time, just how much this new acting hobby and it's connection to the library were becoming a catalyst of change for me.
|Careful what you ask for. I needed a "Bimbo" break.|
|Of course, we were lip-syncing to Elvis.|
|Yes, I shot him. (Rehearsal on left. Performance on right, this time benefiting the Literacy Council.|
|On the set of True Women with friend, Dalonna Hunt|
|One of my casts in full regalia. I think I swiped my hat from hubby.|
And a return to journalism as a freelance writer for my local newspaper, which led me to write articles for some of the best children's magazines in the country. I was reminded how much I love the scavenger hunt that is research. It all begins at the library.
By the time I announced my second pregnancy on stage, during Mystery Night rehearsal in 2000, I knew the direction I wanted my writing to take - children's literature. Today, I'm deep in the journey and can finally see the light ahead. I'm confident that my books for young readers will be picked up in the near future. I most look forward to walking into this special library and seeing my own name on the shelves.
As of this posting, we are in the final week of rehearsals for the 20th annual interactive Mystery Night production, benefiting The Round Rock Public library. This year, my character is an 89 year old firecracker named Ms. Sissy-A far cry from my first role sixteen years ago. What a hoot! I can't reveal any details about the play of course. Because if I told you, I'd have to...well, you know.
So thank you Round Rock Public Library, Friends of the Round Rock Public Library, my precious library family, Barbara Vance, Chip Hadley, Gretchen Pruett (now Library director for New Braunfels Public Library), Janette Johnston, and the numerous cast members who return as volunteer actors for Mystery Night. You've made me who I am today.
|1994-95 cast photo. Today, I wish I was still THAT size and still had THAT hair.|
Then again, I didn't have THIS experience at the time.