Hat Trick on Best Seller List (Again) … and RainbowCon … and Sequel News

best sellerThe journey Hat Trick is taking keeps amazing me.

The JMS Books/Queerteen Press best seller list for the first quarter of 2014 came out this morning. After being #1 in the fourth quarter of 2013 on both lists, the book took a small dip to #2 on Queerteen Press and #5 on the broader JMS Books list. It’s cool that the book continued to sell into it’s second quarter of publication at such a good rate.

I’m also happy that the book keeps sending funds to You Can Play. From the beginning I’ve donated one dollar for each copy sold to YCP and I just made a contribution this morning to represent this recent sales cycle.

Another great thing in Q1 was getting reviewed (and getting 5 sweet peas) over at Mrs. Condit and Friends Read Books. With that, I was nominated as Author of the Month for March and it was an honor to be alongside some of my own favorite authors.

RainbowCon2014RainbowCon is just a few days away. I’m excited, and a bit nervous. RC is going to be awesome. There are so many excellent panels to attend and cool people to catch up with or meet. I am nervous about reading. I’ve been practicing what I’ll read, which is a segment of Hat Trick‘s first scene. I think it sounds pretty good. We’ll see how the attendees react. I’m less nervous about the panels I’m on. I expect those to be pure fun (I’m on both with Geoff Knight, how can they not be!).

By the way, you can still check out the RainbowCon blog tour stop I did at Joyfully Jay’s site. The giveaway is over, but you can still check out the post. (And thanks again to Jay for hosting me!)

RainbowCon will also mark the first appearance of Hat Trick Overtime: A Classic Winter’s Night in print! All RC attendees will get a free copy of the short story in their welcome bags, which will also have a way to access the full scene that I’m reading from Hat Trick as well as a sneak peek of the first chapter from Hat Trick 2: Playing the Rebound (it’s still a work in progress, but it’s time to let some of it out into the world). Stay tuned to the website, I’ll release that chapter here once I’m home from RC… which will be after Will and I hit Disney World and Universal.

For the Overtime booklets I have to give a huge shout out to one of my best friends, David LaBounty. Dave and I co-founded The First Line back in 1999. He continues to do great things with that magazine as well as with Blue Cubicle Press, which grew out of TFL. He was a ginormous help in creating a good-looking and low cost booklet that I could feel good about giving to RC attendees.

Meanwhile, speaking of HT2, as I’ve taken to calling it, the book is moving along nicely. Feedback from my beta readers is positive and I’m integrating some of their feedback into the manuscript. My goal is to have all their comments by end of April and get it submitted in May. There’s also work going on with HT3, including figuring out this week what should be a kick-ass final chapter. As HT2 finishes, HT3 will shift into being primary focus. I’d say the first draft is about half way done.

Thanks to everyone who continues to support Hat Trick! 

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    After Midnight

    After Midnight PlaybillIt’s pure coincidence that we saw two club-style shows in two weeks. After Midnight has been on our radar since it opened in November, but it’s guest star Vanessa Williams that made us step up and buy a ticket. This musical revue goes back to the era of The Cotton Club and the big band songs of Duke Ellington to make a high energy 90 minutes of our fun.

    Across those minutes you get 28 numbers that combine excellent singing and dancing. Dulé Hill, best known for his TV work in Psych and The West Wing, comes back to his musical roots as the host for the evening. Hill got his start as Savion Glover’s understudy in The Tap Dance Kid and later played in Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk. He’s still got moves and he shows them a few times during the performance, especially in the show’s finale “Freeze and Melt”

    Vanessa Williams, who headlines four songs and also appears in the finale, was wonderful. Her take on “Stormy Weather” was perfection. She then showed off a super fun side on “Zaz Zuh Zaz.” As you can see in the picture below, she also kick up her heels a bit in the “Freeze and Melt” sequence. It was a delight to see her on stage again (we haven’t seen her since 2010′s Sondheim on Sondheim revue).

    Vanessa Williams, Dule Hill and the cast of After Midnight

    While all of After Midnight is excellent, there were some performers and songs that stood out. Julius “iGlide” Chisolm and Virgil “Lil’ O” Gadson have two amazing dances together that essentially amounted to a dance-off. Gadson also works to woo a woman, and his methods of wooing involved some very humorous choreography. Jared Grimes did some amazing tap work in Tap Mathematician and “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” Adriane Lenox delivered two outstanding comedic songs. I don’t know the name of the song, or who performed it, but there was a number around the half way point that was just music and a singer, but no words. It was sublime and I wish I could credit it better.

    Speaking of music, the orchestra was incredible. The Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars, under artistic director Wynton Marsalis, rocked the house!

    Here’s the show’s video reel. In the video, the role of the guest star is played by Fantasia, who originated the role (and returns to it once Vanessa ends her run on May 11). You’ll get just a small taste of who wonderful the show is.

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      ‘Dinah East’ is the Citizen Kane of Transvestite Melodramas

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      The headline above isn’t just hyperbole, at the beginning of Dinah East the title character inexplicable drops dead and the rest of the film is an exploration of her life (told in flashback) by the people who knew her best. This odd little flick from 1970 is hard to describe. Try to imagine a glamorous Douglas Sirk drama from the 1950′s (but on a shoestring budget) and mix it with the relaxed 1969 “free love” attitude towards sex and nudity and you’ve got Dinah East. The thing I love most about the movie is that its tone is completely serious and there’s no winking at the audience. Every performer is completely earnest and utterly sincere in their portrayals, which in turn makes Dinah East a must-see camp masterpiece!

      NSFW warning. There is some very brief nudity in the featured trailer, but it’s not particularly salacious.

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        Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill

        Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and GrillIt was a pleasant surprise when it was announced that Audra McDonald was coming back to Broadway this spring. It’s been two years since she was last on stage here for The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess. This time out she’s in a play with music as she portrays Billie Holliday near the end of her life in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.

        Holliday played at Emerson’s in March 1959, just four months before she died on July 17, 1959 of cirrhosis and hear failure. The play unfolds during a late night performance where she not only sings, but reflects on her life and how she ended up where she was.

        McDonald is incredible channeling Lady Day. It reminds me of the stellar performance Tracie Bennett gave as Judy Garland in End of the RainbowMcDonald alters her own beautiful voice so she sounds like Holliday and it works magnificently well. There are fifteen songs in the show, including classics like “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” and “T’ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do.”

        Audra-McDonald_credit-Warwick-SaintI don’t think there is a better spot on Broadway for this show than Circle in the Square either. With the thrust stage and horseshoe arrangement for most of the seats, the designers have recreated Emerson’s by arranging twenty tables on stage so that up to eighty people become part of the performance (these seats cost around $300 and we did not spring for those). McDonald interacts with some of these people as she comes out into the audience to talk, and to get more drinks from the onstage bar. It’s a great atmospheric element to have the setting be a realistic looking club.

        While I am familiar with Holliday’s music, my only exposure to her life is Diana Ross’ turn in the 1972 movie Lady Sings the Blues. That certainly told the story of her tragic life, but this show tells the story on a more intimate scale as Holliday discuss her prison time, her exile from the New York City cabaret scene, the loss of her mother and her tumultuous love life. It’s amazing how much is covered in ninety minutes, but the story and the songs mix together perfectly.

        Lady-Day-photoI suspect when the Tony Award nominations are announced in early May, McDonald will find herself nominated for this outstanding performance. Having seen her take on a number of roles, this one is quite an achievement as she takes on someone as iconic as Bille Holliday.

        The show officially opens April 13 and continues its limited engagement until June 1. If you’re a fan of McDonald’s or Holliday’s you should catch this show.

        Unfortunately, there’s no performance video currently available. Keep an eye on the show’s official website as the opening draws closer as they will likely post video.

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