Introducing REUTS Publications

I’m very excited to announce that I have joined the Editorial Staff at REUTS Publications. And I felt it was only right to celebrate with a shameless plug for my new employer. 😉

REUTS Publications is an independent Publishing Agency created by authors for authors. Our goal is to redefine the author/publisher relationship by shifting the balance of power to the author. In essence, when you join our family, we work for you, helping to realize the vision you see for your work. Which is why we offer higher than industry-standard royalty rates, and why we only get paid when you do. We’re not a vanity press; you never pay up front for our services. Rather, we’re like your support staff, people who are equally invested in the success of your project and can help shoulder the burden of publishing.

Our staff is experienced in a wide range of services, from editorial, to design and marketing, and most importantly, publishing. All of our staff members are authors themselves, and are well acquainted with what it takes to succeed in this ever-changing world of publishing. We’ve been through the agonizing process of querying, waiting and waiting for responses that never came, or letters that only contained rejection. We’ve experienced the joy and frustration of finally landing a book contract, only to realize we’d no longer have control over our work if we signed it. And we think there should be a better way. We believe that authors should direct the show. It’s your work; you slaved for hours and hours, months and years over it. You should reap the benefits.

We offer one-on-one feedback from one of our editors, (like me!), author-driven design elements, including cover design, interior layout and an author website hosted on, and marketing assistance to authors who don’t want to travel the daunting road to publication alone. Whether you’re tired of trying to catch the attention of a traditional publisher, or are interested in self-publishing but have limited funds, we can help.

For more information on who we are and what we do, including our submission guidelines, (we can’t accept everything unfortunately), check out our website, our Facebook page, or our Pinboard on Pinterest. And in honor of our launch, we’re giving away a Vintage Book Safe to one lucky recipient on Dec. 10, 2012. Click here for details.

This is an exciting time in publishing with many avenues to success. Help us redefine what it means to be an author.


The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Louis...

This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the States. It’s a holiday devoted to stuffing ourselves with as much food as humanly possible, passing out in a drooling pile on whatever surface is still available, followed by trying not to die in a stampede at the local Target when the doors open at midnight, heralding the official start of the Christmas shopping season. Basically, it’s every woman’s dream holiday. A license to eat as much as we want without worrying about being judged, followed by the insanity of a massive shopping spree! What’s not to love?

But Thanksgiving isn’t just about pigging out and then spending every dime you have. It’s actually about being thankful. So in the true spirit of the holiday, I’d like to say a big “Thanks!” to everyone who’s been reading my blog. I honestly didn’t think anyone would, (although I strongly hoped someone would), when I carved out my tiny portion of the internet, staking claim to it like the settlers did to the shores of the east coast.  But turns out, I’m not doomed to anonymity and I want you to know that really means a lot to me. I appreciate each and every page view I’ve received and treat every comment as if it were the corn that saved the starving settlers’ butts, precious and rare. So thank you. I really mean that.

Next week, I’ll be back with more opinions on writing, publishing, demo teams or whatever. But for now, what are you thankful for? Even if you don’t celebrate Turkey Day, you can still celebrate the real meaning behind it by sharing in the comments below. It’s never a bad thing to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Revising Previously Published Work

Every author has that cringe-worthy first piece. That manuscript that, when looked upon years later, makes them scratch their heads in consternation and think, “Dear God! How did this ever get published?!” And usually, there’s nothing they can do about it. It marks their first victory in publishing with a pseudo-embarrassing reminder. But what if there was a chance to go back and fix those previously published works? A moment when, maybe, they aren’t printed in stone, and you can erase the flaws that haunt you? A publishing loop-hole, as it were.

I tried Googling this topic, and literally found one article, which wasn’t really so much an article as a discussion thread arguing over the merits of changing previously published novels. It was distinctly unhelpful, so I didn’t bother to save it. For every person that had a reason to do it, there were about six that disagreed, claiming it was akin to sacrilege.  So I moved on, looking for anything resembling helpful advice. I ended up posting my own thread on one of the literature sites I frequent, and finally got some interesting insight.

The general consensus is that no, you should never revise previously published work. Once it’s been published, leave it alone, because what can you really do with it at that point? Any attempt to republish would have to go up against the fact that it had been previously published, and most publishers aren’t looking for sloppy seconds. (Unless, of course, you’re self-publishing the second time around, in which case it returns to a philosophical debate rather than a practical one.)

But there was one exception to that rule: Re-branding.

I spoke about Author Branding previously, so I won’t go into detail about it here. Essentially, re-branding involves creating a new perception around your work, your name, and your Author Persona. But why would anyone ever want to do that? Creating an Author Brand is hard enough the first time! Why would you want to throw that all away and start over?

In my case, and probably a lot of other women out there, re-branding happens because of a name change. I was fortunate enough to accrue three publishing credits under my maiden name, and I will be forever grateful to Sam’s Dot Publishing for seeing potential in my work. But then I got married. Which pretty much negated those publishing credits and put me back at square one, trying to build a new brand under my new identity, and presenting me with a interesting conundrum. How could I tie my new brand to those previous works and save what little evidence of my awesomeness I had?

Eventually, I realized I had been given a rare opportunity to re-brand my previous works, which was instantly pounced on by my perfectionist side. If I was re-releasing them, what would be the harm in fixing them first?

Those first three stories aren’t horrific; they did, after all, pass the experienced eye of an editor. But they’re also not true representations of my ability now. Looking at that first story in particular, I can see all the places it comes up short. Which begged the question, why put this back out into the world if it doesn’t put my best foot forward? I could just let it fade away into obscurity, collecting dust in a drawer somewhere while the 5 people that read it completely forget about it.

But I don’t really want to do that. For one, self-publishing relies on being prolific and ignoring those three stories cripples my already bordering-on-pathetic offering of available products. Second, all three are precursors to larger bodies of work. And everyone loves extra content, right? That’s basically the whole reason Director’s Cut DVD’s exist and why they cost four times as much for the same movie. And three, they still represent my style and genre of choice, which makes them completely relevant additions to my backlist of available works.

Except that the quality isn’t up to par.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; there are lots of reasons why revising is a bad idea. And you’re right. Here are a few of the major negatives I came up with and how I justified my way out of them. 😉

Doesn’t revising previously released work ruin the integrity of the piece? You’re basically declaring that your first version was crap and everyone who read it wasted their time.

It does feel kind of wrong to essentially negate everything I’ve done before. But I don’t think it really ruins the integrity of the story. I’m not planning on doing a complete overhaul, just another layer of polish to bring the quality up to the level I am now. So if the story structure is the same, is it really that different?

Now, if I was planning on rewriting the entire thing from scratch, changing everything from character names to sequence of events, sure, this argument would definitely apply. At that point, it’s not so much a revision as a completely new piece based on a previous one.

What’s the point? If you’re spending time working on old stuff, then you aren’t creating anything new.

It’s true, if you’re working on old stuff, chances are, you aren’t working on anything new. There are only so many productive hours in a day, after all. But writers have a tendency to chase perfection like dogs chasing their tails. And it’s about as futile.

The hardest thing to learn as an author is when to let go. When to declare something done, finished, and untouchable. Revising published work goes against that. It says that it’s OK to linger in the past, tweaking and perfecting into eternity. And that’s a dangerous line to walk. Nothing will ever be perfect. You’ll continue to grow as an author, and with every progression, all your previous work will suck in comparison. But I still think it can be done if you put restrictions on it. For instance, I know this is my only chance to do this. Once I re-release them, that’s it. I’m not allowed to touch them again. If it weren’t for the fact I was in the process of re-branding myself, I wouldn’t have succumbed to the temptation at all. But for the sake of presenting my best work, I’m choosing to play with fire. I may get burned, but as Walter on The Finder would say, “I’mma risk it.”

They’re short stories, why even bother? The reader market for short stories is small, and you’ve already said they’re part of larger projects. Why not just write the full versions and forget about the shorties?

Honestly, the reason I’m not willing to just set them aside is simply because I don’t want to. (Picture that with a four year old’s petulant foot-stomp and crossed arms.) I spent nearly a year refining each of them, and I don’t want to throw away three years of my life. Plus, I’m a super slow writer, as evidenced by the fact I just admitted to spending a year on a short story. So writing the full version of each will likely take me eons. And really, what else am I going to do with them? There’s virtually no market for republication of short stories. At least this way, they’ll get to have a longer shelf-life and maybe reach more than the 5 people who read them the first time.

As you can tell, I’ve had quite the long argument with myself over this, at times feeling like I was battling a split personality. But the conclusion I’ve drawn is that, like everything surrounding writing, it really comes down to the individual author and what’s best for their career. In my case, I feel the pros outweigh the cons. I’ll get to erase all the little things that irritate me in each story and re-release them with a feeling of confidence instead of resignation. For now. I’m sure later on, I’ll wish I could fix them again. But by then, my brand will be established and that would be like diving head first into the flames of perfectionist hell. I’d probably never get out alive.

But what about you? What do you think of revising previously published work? If you were presented with the opportunity, would you do it?

Storytelling for Demo Teams

Here it is– the final piece to the puzzle; my secret weapon; that frustratingly elusive element in my demos that everyone’s tried for years to figure out. Story. Such a deceptively simple word, isn’t it? But chalk full of so much complication.

Writers will tell you that story doesn’t exist without conflict. (Ok, that’s partially true.) English teachers will tell you it’s centered around theme. (Also important.) But I say it’s more basic than that. I believe it’s about conveying an emotional message.

From the time man figured out how to draw charcoal stick-figures on a cave wall, humans have used storytelling to pass along messages. Sometimes they were warnings, other times they were preserving heroic deeds and a culture’s history. But no matter how embellished or fictional, the core mission was always to convey a message, usually by manipulating the audience’s emotions.

When you stop and think about all the movies/books/games/etc. that have stayed with you over the years, what is it you remember them for? Chances are, they “moved” you in some way. They had an emotional impact on you. Right? Whether it was a message of happiness, hope, fear or anger, you remember how the story made you feel. That’s why I say emotion is the heart of storytelling. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

But you can’t just say “I want to tell a happy story,” or “my story’s about revenge.” (Well, you could, but you probably won’t get much further than that.) Emotions are broad things, with a thousand different ways to convey them. So you need a target. A goal. Something that directs you. In short, you need a Summary Sentence.

I spoke once before about this soundbite approach to storytelling. But this time I got off my lazy butt and located the book: Animation Magic by Don Hahn. In it, Mr. Hahn talks about how each Disney film starts from an idea that can be summed up by a simple theme, and contains one central actionable task. He gives several examples from the different movies, but since Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite, I’ll use that one. He summed it up under the theme, “don’t judge a book by its cover” with the actionable task of “break the spell.” This is the same strategy I use to comprise a Summary Sentence (because I’m an uber-dork Disney fangirl, as we’ve previously established, and I thought it was brilliant when I was 11); one part emotional content (“theme”) and one part conflict (“actionable task”).

Why is conflict suddenly an essential part of the equation? Didn’t I just say that storytelling was about the emotional content? You’re right, I did. But a beautiful message doesn’t make an entertaining story. For that, you need plot, and plot consists mostly of, guess what? Conflict. Plus, I’m a writer, so you really should have seen that coming. 😉

Think of conflict as the delivery service for your message. It’s the UPS of the storytelling world, dropping your emotional content in a nice pretty box, (Ok, dirty and bashed-to-hell box), at your audience’s feet.  For whatever reason, we humans are hard-wired to be riveted to conflict-filled situations. Just look at any reality TV show. Is the cast of Jersey Shore really talented enough to warrant the millions of dollars they earn? Of course not. They’re obnoxious idiots. But they know how to thrive off their audience’s sick fascination with drama. So now they’re rich obnoxious idiots. Point is, you need conflict in order to convey your message. And this two-part Equation of Storytelling, (emotional content + conflict = story), is tailor-made for demo teams.

Demos are, by nature, short. You only have maybe 5 minutes to convey your story. Which is why such a focused approach to storytelling works so well. It’s like Simon Cowell, blunt and to the point. Every one of my demos starts with a concept, (emotional content), and from there I build a story that best conveys that message, (conflict). For example, one of my most memorable demos, and sadly, one I don’t have a convenient video for, was titled Eternal Balance. Set to “Two Worlds” by Phil Collins, it was about two warring sides that come together in unity at the end. If you dissect that sentence, you get the emotional content– unity — and the conflict– two warring sides. Put them together like I did and you get the Summary Sentence for the demo– i.e. the point. Starting to make sense?

But that still doesn’t explain how you go about finding a concept, does it? Those of you who have followed me for a while already know where this is heading. I’ve talked about it before, detailing the level of my freakness quite effectively here, and I also hinted at it in Musical Emphasis under Staging, and Musical Storytelling in Musicality. The short answer is that I get all my creative inspiration from music. Especially when it comes to demo teams. Music contains all the information you need to create an award winning demo, if you know how to listen for it.

Last week, I showed you how to listen and interpret musical layers. Listening for story cues is very similar, except that you step back and look at the music as a whole. Instead of dissecting the various layers, you listen to the overall song, looking for the emotional content and built-in storyline that all music has. (Yes, even Gangnam Style has a story. It’s a super deep tale about a dude hitting on a girl who apparently really enjoys her coffee. Hey, what did you expect from a song whose stated philosophy is to “dress classy, dance cheesy”? ;))

The first thing I look for in a potential song is tone. By that, I don’t mean the actual notes. I pay attention to how it makes me feel, to it’s emotional tone. Is it somber and heavy, or light and bouncy? Is it frenetic and aggressive, or is it soft and melancholy? Music is a language, and just like you can often figure out context in a language you don’t know through tone of voice and body language, you can decipher emotion in music by paying attention to the overall sound and feel of the piece.

Give it a try. Open up iTunes and randomly choose 3 or 4 songs. Hopefully you have a somewhat eclectic music library and will get songs of varying genres and tempos. Listen to them with your eyes closed, (I know, I say that a lot, but it really does enhance your connection to sound when your ears don’t have to compete with your eyes), and don’t focus on anything in particular. Let all the layers wash over you and pay attention not to the lyrics, the drum beat, the background instruments, but to how it makes you feel. What emotion does it elicit from you? Do you feel how it varies from song to song? How, even if you get the same emotion more than once, it’s a slightly different shade each time? That’s the first half of the equation– the emotional message.

Now we just need conflict. To find it, I look at a combination of things. The first is lyrics, if the song has them. Not all potential songs do. But it requires a more advanced ear to be able to do this with instrumental songs, so we’ll stick with mainstream music for now. Secondly, I look at the types of instruments being used and try to see what kind of images they evoke. Certain instruments are distinctly ethnic, automatically giving you an Asian, Middle-Eastern, Celtic or just plain Tribal vibe. Pay attention to that as it will point in the direction of a setting, and can help determine costume/prop choice down the road. And lastly, I let the song tell me what it’s about.

Wow, could that be any more vague and unhelpful? What I mean is that I basically turn my imagination loose and let it do what it will. I let the music tell me, through a combination of overall tone, instrument choice, pacing, emotion, lyrics, etc., what it wants to be. This is the part I honestly don’t know how to teach. All I can say is that it feels kind of like flipping through TV channels, trying out different ideas and images until something clicks. The best guidance I can give is to ask yourself, “What does this sound like?” Does it sound like a brutal war set in ancient Greece or is it a demented circus with clowns and stuff bouncing around? A cheesy romantic comedy, or a twisted horror story of revenge? This is where the real creativity in demo teams comes in.

The thing to remember about storytelling, in any form, is that there are no right or wrong answers. Even if everyone reading this worked on the same concept, the same summary sentence, we would end up with as many different variations as there are participants. But that’s why this method works. It takes universal themes and conflicts that an audience will resonate with and allows you to infuse your own personal interpretation and creativity into them. And the best way I know to learn how to do it is through practice. So let’s do that.

Take those same 3 or 4 songs you just listened to and play them again. This time, pay close attention to the lyrics, the instruments, everything, keeping the emotional message you already identified in mind. There should be a built-in story. Whether it’s heartbreak and revenge, or falling in love, or an identity crisis killing-spree, everybody sings about something. This is where you’ll find your conflict for the second half of the equation. As you finish each song, try to sum up the story in a succinct sentence.

Don’t freak out, it’s not as hard as it seems. In fact, it’s a natural human inclination. What’s the first question you hear when you tell someone about a book or movie you just finished that they’ve never heard of?

“What’s it about?”

And what do you immediately answer with? A sentence or two that sums up the entire plot in one fell swoop. Not so different, is it? Only this time, you’re summing up your own story. Kind of. Ideally it should be a story based on the one already contained in the music. This is why songs with lyrics are easier, because technically, someone else already wrote the story. You’re just mooching off of it to create your own version. (Yay for shortcuts!)

So now you know the secret, the thing that makes my demos seem different. My Equation of Storytelling. Pair it with the tools I’ve given you over the past couple weeks and you’ll soon see a dramatic difference in your performances. Story is most important in this style of demo, but remember that you need all three, Staging, Musicality and Storytelling to create that magic winning combo of skill and entertainment.

If anyone out there actually implements my method, I’d love to hear how it worked out for you. Please come share your experiences in the comments and maybe a link to a video so we can see it in action. 🙂

A Lesson in Musicality

Musicality is a term heard frequently in the world of dance, (which is where I first heard it, courtesy of Lil C on So You Think You Can Dance), but is almost nonexistent in the world of Demo Teams. Simply put, it refers to a performer’s ability to interpret music through motion. And when added to the principles from last week’s lesson in Staging, it creates another layer of depth in your performance.

In the more traditional approach to Demo Teams, music is an afterthought, if it’s included at all. Think back to the majority of demos you’ve seen. (I say “majority,” because there are a few enlightened souls out there who get it right, and I want to give them their due credit.) How many of them either didn’t have music, or had it playing in the background like white noise at the mall? My guess would be nearly every one of them.

A lot of schools believe that simply playing a track in the background is enough to add drama and interest to their performance of drab, traditional techniques. It’s not. All that does is create competing elements vying for your audience’s attention. Remember how I said that people only pay attention to one form of information at a time? Well, this approach requires them to choose between either the visuals or the audio. Not both.

Music should never be something you add after-the-fact. It should be the first thing you decide on, with the rest of your demo being built around it. It should be so tightly woven into your performance that the whole thing collapses without it, like that Jenga block you didn’t realize was holding everything up until everyone’s screaming at you for knocking the darn thing over. Musicality ensures this, creating a seamless performance where all the elements compliment each other, instead of duking it out for the spotlight.

Some people are born with an innate sense of Musicality. Everyone else has to develop it. All it requires is an ability to listen for, and recognize, the layers in music. Luckily, this is a skill that can be learned, even by those claiming to be tone-deaf. (If you’re actually tone-deaf, then you’re probably out of luck and should just stick to flailing around like you’re Elaine from Seinfeld. At least you’ll get humor points then.)

I define a “layer” as a distinct part of the music, such as drums, vocals, or mid-range instruments, i.e. violins/piano/guitar. And all music has them. Some styles have fewer layers, yes, but they’re still there. Whether it be Dubstep or an Instrumental Movie Score, every song contains something you can work with. (Unless you manage to find a song consisting of one super long, drawn-out note, in which case, I would be wrong. And you would have very questionable taste in music.)

Since this is one of those concepts that really works best with an example, let’s pause for a moment and try it out. Find a piece of music, any piece of music, (yes, even Gangnam Style will do), and listen to it with your eyes closed. Listen to the whole song and really pay attention to the different layers, the nuances, and the way they all work together to play with your emotions. Which instruments are highlighted where? And if your song has lyrics, which words stand out the most? (“Eeeeeeeh, sexy lady!”) Most people have a tendency to naturally resonate with a particular layer of music. For some, it’s the lyrics or vocals. For others, it’s the beat. Few actually listen to all the layers. Did you hear more this time, actively listening, than you have before?

Now that you have all this information about the song, what do you do with it? You interpret it into choreography. There are several ways to do this, of course. (You didn’t expect it to be simple, did you?) Below are a few of the ways I’ve used Musicality. Again, these are all my own terms and they don’t exist anywhere else. They’re just there to give you something easy to remember.

Visual Mimicry:

This is the most basic form of Musicality. Whether you go on to use the other tools or not, you will use this one. (Or I will fly to your studio and throw my shoe at you. No one likes a stiletto to the back of the head, and I have really good aim. 😉 ) Each musical layer has a distinct sound quality that can be interpreted into motion. The idea is that you match choreography with that specific sound type, using only techniques that look like the visual equivalent. Did I lose you? It’s not really as hard as it seems. Let’s use the three layers I identified above for examples.

  • Drums/Bass:

Typically, this layer is rhythmical, staccato, fast and dramatic. So you want to choose techniques that also possess those qualities. I gravitated toward fisted techniques– punches, blocks, etc.– because they’re easy to match to faster pacing, and still look good choppy. They’re also powerful and aggressive, creating a visual echo of the bass-line. You can use kicks, but it’s harder to find students capable of keeping the pace with kicks. So those are better reserved for especially large beats, which are also perfect for showcasing jumping kicks or acrobatics.

  • Mid-Range Instruments:

This encompasses everything from violins to guitars. But even though it’s kind of a catch-all layer, it still exhibits certain standard characteristics, namely that it’s generally more lyrical and melodic than the bass line. So I tended to pair sweeping, flowy techniques with it. Things like open-handed techniques and spinning kicks tend to fit nicely, as they are more fluid, with long extensions and a circular nature. But since this layer varies in speed and attitude, you’ll have to adjust accordingly.

  • Vocals:

This is the most difficult layer because it requires actual interpretation of words, not just capturing the “feel” of an instrument. The trick is to catch those words that clearly stand out among the rest, or that have an obvious pairing. Words like “down,” “jump,” “break” etc. are obvious cues that you can easily incorporate into choreography simply by doing what they say. But not every song contains such convenient markers. So you’ll have to decide which words are most important. And it may not even be a single word. You can choose phrases, focusing on the emotional impact and interpreting that into your movements. You can also ignore the words completely and instead match the vocal patterns in the melody. The best approach is a combination, where you primarily follow the melody line, and only highlight a few key, specific words.

This is the technique you’d use if you’re simply showcasing traditional things you do everyday, like forms. Normally, Musicality works best when you start with the song and then choreograph to it, creating something new that’s connected solely to that song. But you don’t always want to do that. If you’re doing a smaller, local demo with a longer performance, you don’t want to spend forever creating several different skits. So instead, you’ll put together some throw-away segments– forms set to music, some kind of self-defense thing, hand and kick combinations, all those unimpressive moments that have no story, but can at least be interesting if they contain Musicality and Staging. Which means that you’ll have to work backwards– finding music that fits established choreography.

The key to that is dissecting each form for it’s overall style. Some forms are more fluid, with open-hand techniques dominating and a slower pace. Others are fast flurries of fisted techniques. Depending on which you want to showcase, you’ll need to find a song that matches. Here’s the kicker though– in order to do this well, you will likely need to modify the rhythm of the form to fit the music. (I can hear the traditionalists freaking out already.) Ideally, you would find a perfect song that just magically fits the form like a glove. But that usually isn’t the case. So don’t be afraid to tweak the form, inserting pauses where there aren’t really supposed to be any, or speeding up sections that normally should be slow. Remember, this is a performance, and the music is what will make the form stand out. Entertainment trumps traditionalism in this setting. Sorry, traditionalists.

Depth & Emphasis:

This is a more advanced technique that combines Musicality and Staging for a richer effect. Remember, Staging is largely about keeping everyone on the floor at the same time and directing the audience’s eyes subtly. While Musicality is about making the audience “see” the music. The idea, here, is to take everything from the previous section and combine it with Staging techniques for a multidimensional performance.

For example, say you have a song like Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life.” It starts off with the haunting vocals and piano, then builds into the guitars and the chorus. Using what I said above, you’ve choreographed to each of the different layers, and now have to figure out how to emphasize the different parts of the music. Sometimes you’ll want to follow her voice, sometimes the guitar riff, sometimes the piano. By using Staging, you can fade the choreography for each layer in and out of the background, creating a visual filter on the music kind of similar to the way a surround-sound system can shift focus from speaker to speaker. What this does is create an overall feeling of depth, because everyone’s constantly moving, while still emphasizing specific parts of the song. With the end result that the audience becomes much more emotionally invested in the whole shebang. And all without realizing they’re being manipulated! (Mwahahaha! Sorry, too evil?)

Musical Storytelling:

This is the Grand Poobah, the ultimate goal of Musicality, and kind of belongs more in next week’s section, Storytelling for Demo Teams 101. But I’ll very quickly introduce it now. It involves finding a message within a song and then creating a story based around that. From a technical standpoint, you do this by very carefully choreographing the demo to jump through the different layers of music, meaning you’ll need to have people hitting all sorts of different cues to emphasize various story-points. No more of this lovely division between layers or Staging techniques. When you get to this level, everyone has to do everything, and the story becomes the most important element.  Like a giant puzzle, you have to figure out how best to convey emotional impact, humor, suspense, or all the other things that define storytelling and keep an audience riveted. It combines everything we’ve covered so far into one giant mish-mash of creativity to create something brand new, emotionally charged, and inextricably linked to the music. After next week, you’ll probably never look at music the same way. And if music wasn’t your muse originally, it soon will be.

Until then, get to practicing Musicality. Remember, stiletto throwing-star. Don’t make me use it. 😉