The McManual

Blogging my little heart out in poetry and prose.

Month: August, 2012

Getting a Kickstarter Campaign going.

When I heard about, I thought it sounded cool, but I didn’t realize that I would ever use it.  Once I went to the website and started exploring, though, I saw that Publishing is one of their categories.  I got really excited, because I have a novel that I completed and that I had been  planning to publish. 

My problem was that I didn’t know really how to publish, and I certainly knew that I didn’t have enough money to publish it.  My original plan had been to go ahead and publish e-book versions, because that is very inexpensive, and then if I generated any money I was going to use the money to do a paper book launch.  But… that would, I think, have deflated any excitement about the launch, and I’m not sure that it would have had any chances at being reviewed by anyone.  

I still am not certain that it will ever be reviewed, but at least with Kickstarter, I will be able to launch all the platforms at the same time, and to me that seems better.  

Creating a project on Kickstarter is easy.  The website is very user friendly and I had no problems navigating around to the different pages and no problems with putting in my content.  I did get some help with the video, thanks to my good friend Josh Kortas, because for some reason the video I took of myself with my phone wasn’t that great. 😉  And you don’t have to do a video, although I believe your chances of getting funded are better if you do.  

Anyway, the whole site is easy to use, you can go back in and edit easily, there’s not problems with that. My thing is, it did take me a long time to do everything because there’s just a lot to say.  There are the rewards to decide upon, and to word nicely… I went to a LOT of other novelist’s projects to see what they were doing for rewards, and I found that the rewards descriptions were sort of dull, so I went back in tried to make mine reflect my voice, rather than just listing what people would get.  I don’t know how effective that will be, but I felt better about it.  

It’s a little intimidating to make a bunch of promises of what people will get for sponsoring, but it’s fun, too.

The other parts just seemed to write themselves – pretty simple, really.  Describe the project, tell what you will use the money for, and make up good rewards.  It took me about a month to get it to where I like it, and I think that’s fine.  Less time, and I think some parts would have felt unfinished.  More time, and gosh, you can second guess yourself to death. 

I submitted my project, “Someotherville: A Novel” last night, and it should be approved soon *unless I did something wrong* and then I will launch it through the end of Sept ’12.  

I was thinking that I want more than just an online presence, so I made up a postcard with the cover art on one side and a blurb for the book and my cover artist, Katherine Clayton, who is participating in the LOLA art crawl event this weekend, is handing them out, and I am sending them to friends and acquaintances this week.  Whew.

Meanwhile, I have a full time job, which I should probably go to right now, so bye – thanks for reading!  Sheila 


My Final Fringe Report 2012

Well, I’m done talking about fringe festival, at least for the time being.  It was fun while it lasted, but I ran out of steam for the past couple days of it…  Now I’m going to be thinking about what Jay and I might be doing for next year…  I think we’ll put our names in the hat for a show.  I have one idea I think is funny, and he has a couple… of course we are in completely different directions in our thoughts – we might have to do two shows.  🙂

I wanted to try to wrap up my reports, though, and so I guess I’m not quite done yet.  Since I last wrote, I went to see a few more plays – I got to see Sneak Thief, As the Stomach Turns, The Music Box, The Donner Party Kidz, The Urban Hermit  and Not Dead Yet: The Return of Mr. Elk and Mr. Seal.  

Sneak Thief  was very funny.  I thought the story was clear, simple enough, but engaging.  The actors were very funny – each of them had good timing, and there were some things that had me laughing out loud in (slight) anticipation.  When the one guy sang an Eminem song, I was losing it.  I also liked that this story showed a character grow just a bit, and that’s not something I expect from a slapstick sort of comedy.  Kudos!

As the Stomach Turns was not my cup of tea.  I guess I got it in my head that it was going to be somewhat based on the Carol Burnett Show, an that just threw my expectations up really high.  There were some funny burnett-style moments, but mostly I found the show confusing and dissatisfying.  I did like a lot of the dancing, although a lot of it wasn’t really justified by the storyline.  Oh well, that’s fringe for ya.

The Music Box was okay.  The story was a little overly sweet for me, and I was a little bored.  I thought the actors did a nice job, I just thought there needed to be some more heated conflicts between the two main men.

I was surprised by The Donner Party Kidz – I wasn’t going to see it, but I ended up over by the Playwright’s Center, and I wanted to see the show after, (Zen and the Art of Ushering or What I Learned While Putting People in Chairs, which I missed because I waited to the last second to go in & tix were sold out 😦 )  Anyway, for a show about the Donner party, it was pretty funny.  Some of the singing got a little bit tedious because they kept singing parodies of twinkle twinkle little star, and that gets a little old, but the story was solid and the kids had a lot of good energy.

Not Dead Yet: The Return of Mr. Elk and Mr. Seal  was fun – not a lot to say, they sang songs and bantered with each other.  They are cute and they work well together.  The show gave me warm fuzzies.

Finally, I want to talk about Urban Hermit.  I saw a preview for this a few weeks ago, and I felt very drawn to it.   I was not wrong.  I thoroughly enjoyed the show.  Rachel Nelson lays it on the line.  And she plays instruments.  So great.  I loved how she handled addiction – it was there, she showed us how it affected her, but it was more of an illustration of the walls she was putting up- if that makes sense – she illustrated how alcohol and weed were ways of putting up a wall between herself and other people, and then she showed us how she learned to live with the walls down.  And this play, and the film project that she is working on next, well, it’s hard to see that there ever were any walls, because there aren’t now.  She is so sincere, so immediate – I left the show feeling that I want to be fearless like her.  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

So, that’s the last of my fringe reports for this year.  Thanks for tuning in 🙂 – Sheila

My Fringe Report: Aug 5 & 6, 2012


So the past few days have been very busy & I missed writing on the 5th, so I’m combining it with the 6th.  I do have reviews of all of the shows I’ve seen up on the website under Sheila McMahon, but I’d like to go a little deeper into some of them here.

I had the pleasure of seeing (in chronological order): Stop Talking: A Game of Talking; Silence; The Complete Works of William Shatner (abridged); Pilgrimage: Why I’m not an Indian, Parts 1 & 2;  Billy Beechwood and the Mountain of Terror and Candide.

Whew!  Of all of those, the one I most highly recommend is Pilgrimage: Why I’m not an Indian, Parts 1&2.  Especially if you are someone who has very similar tastes to mine.  I happen to have been researching about Native American history in Minnesota for my next novel, and a lot of this piece resonated with questions I have personally.  That’s why I was drawn to this piece, which is over at the Gremlin Theater on University & Raymond. But you don’t have to be researching for a novel or have a particular interest in Native American (recent) history to see that this performance is nuanced, clever, and thoughtful.  Elaine Magree  is an excellent story teller, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  I felt like I really got a glimpse of her mother and other characters she embodied.  It really is a treat.

The show that got the most emotional response from me was Silence.  The blending of hearing speakers, interpreters, and ASL speakers was fun and they played with the idea that the interpreters in charming ways.  But the core of that show was the young woman who portrayed Abby: Canae Weiss, local Deaf dancer and actress.  She is a beautiful dancer and a very expressive actress.  There was a moment near the end ( I don’t want to spoil it, but if you saw it, it was what happened while she was texting) that really seemed corny to me, and almost pulled me completely out  caring about the play, but it was redeemed by the dance that she performs at the end.  I definitely had tears in my eyes and I was moved to stand during the bows.  And the part I didn’t like?  I have thought and thought about what I might do differently, but given the time limit, I came up with nothing.  They sort of had to go there, and ultimately it worked.  I hope you have a chance to see this one.

For reviews of the other four, you can check out – click on reviews.  🙂  But my favorite of the fun/silly ones was probably Billy Beechwood and the Mountain of Terror,  but to be honest it’s because I have known Aric McKeown  for a long time  & I think he’s brilliant in everything he does.  

Today I hope to see Salem, Vote!, Analyzing the Bully,  and casual encounters.  But plans can change, so we’ll see what happens!!  Happy fringing! – S.

My Fringe Report: Aug 4, 2012

Hey ya.

So I am in a show, as you know, and we spent a lot of time together before our opening, so I didn’t see any other shows until 5:30.  I got to see Kafkaesque and Class of ’98. I liked Kafkaesque, although I wonder a little bit why they didn’t just call it The Metamorphosis – I’d love to hear their reasoning. One of their reviews said it was poorly directed, and they referred to the door that is moved a foot or so here and there.  I noticed that a little at first, but since Kafka had such a quirky way of writing, I thought maybe it was a nod to his works like The Castle and The Trial – there is something jarring about the set changes, but Kafka is jarring… anyway, I hope that they are working on a longer version where the apple is thrown at Gregor…

And Class of ’98 was really fun.  I don’t have much to say about it – just that it’s clever, they obviously put a lot of work into it, the actors are all really good and the whole room has a great time.

I feel lucky to have gotten in to Class of ’98 with my Artist pass — there was a huge line, and I think I was only about 5 ahead of the cut off.  It’s so exciting to go to a sold out show…  but if you find yourself in a long line like that, make sure you have a backup plan.  I was planning to scoot over to the Southern if I didn’t get in…

Ok, I have to run. S



My Fringe Report: Aug 3, 2012

I just reviewed two shows on, so I’m not going to review them here, but I will tell you that I saw Chorus: Voices After the Silence  and Animaliceboth at the Playwright Center.  

Actually, I want to talk a little more about Chorus… I gave them a 4 out of 5 for the website, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think that these women and man are not incredible.  I did zone out in part of it though.  I did not zone out because I didn’t like the show, it’s just that at some point it became overwhelming and I literally wasn’t able to pay attention. Of course I looked like I was paying attention, but for at least 30 seconds during one of the readings, I just wasn’t there.  This is not a criticism.  I think that the works were so powerful that I just couldn’t really mentally handle what was being said.  It really is strong stuff.  And I am so in awe of people who can (or must?) deal with their abusive pasts by sharing it in a public forum.  I can see how that could be a healing action.  

I hope that it is healing for the performers to be so frank about what happened to them.  One of the effects of their frankness was that it led me to think about how victims of sexual violence, those other people who “whisper in the ears” of those who do talk about their pain, the victims who keep silent, are not only dealing with their pain, but they are dealing with it alone.  This leads my thinking back to the fact that I work at a sober high school, and that some of our kids have really tough stories.  And that I might not know – almost assuredly do not know – their whole stories.  I guess my point is that I believe work like this helps audience members like me – who haven’t experienced (much) sexual violence first hand to remember that many victims suffer in silence and it’s just another good reason to be a kind and compassionate person as much as possible.

Anyway, it’s 1:15 am, I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow – baby sitting in the morning, then rehearsing a little bit more, then on to the world premiere of our show, Bohemian Rappsody: DeTaming the Shrew.    Oh!  I remembered the last thing I wanted to say about Chorus… I am grateful that their stories and strength will now inform the characters that I will perform tomorrow.  I had an idea that perhaps we artists should consider ourselves an army – yes, an army of artists.  And when we see one troop (troupe!) do well, it encourages, enlightens, and enlivens all of us to do what we do.  (I just got deja vu, so I’m sorry if I have written this before…)  okay – good night before I really start babbling incoherently!!!! xoxo Sheila

Dang it, I should say something about Animalice before I go to sleep, since I did mention them.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I hope the actors gain a little more confidence, because the show is really really good, but there are some slight hesitations.  I thought the guy who played the mouse was fantastic, and the dances were really cool and fun to watch.  

Ok, good night for real.



It’s funny how art can mirror life.  

I ended up in a MN Fringe Festival play this year.  It’s called De-Taming the Shrew.  I haven’t been in a play for seven years  – for the last one, I got the choice role of Jane in Fallen Angels, a Noel Coward comedy of manners.  I was the only one who auditioned for my role.

This time, an acquaintance had posted “Looking for a 40 year old woman to help with a play” –(not an exact quote) – – I showed up, and I was in.  Little did I know that I was randomly volunteering for a show that I would relate to so well.

The stories intertwining through this one hour piece are of spiritual beings, middle aged women, and young women just starting out.  The cast is all women, although we have some male characters.  For a couple minutes, I get to play a 20 something douchey guy who takes his wife for granted soon after saying I Do.  I also get to be a middle aged woman struggling with having had a bankruptcy (11 years ago, in my case) and foreclosure (next month, if the short sale falls through – cross your fingers).  I also get to be a spiritual being who sings about how there’s hope, and that you must stand up for your rights and show the world your light.  

I am in awe of the other women on stage – not just the characters, but the actors.  One part of the play, an original song by Kimberly Michaels, made me cry during dress rehearsal last night.  Julie Rappaport, our writer/producer/actor, seems to be a force of nature.  All of the women involved are strong, intelligent and dedicated.  This play is alive with vignettes and interconnected characters and scenes, and there are lots of costume changes and movement.  We wouldn’t be able to do it if every single person wasn’t pulling her weight.  

Now, it’s not that there aren’t any men involved in the production – our wonderful, insightful director, Todd Bruse, is there ushering us through this process, as well as our stage manager, the young, bright Maxwell Mars.  (He wants to be a theater arts teacher.  I definitely see this happening.)  Just as I have tried to articulate pretty much since declaring that my minor in college was Women’s Studies, it’s nothing against men and working with men, but there is something powerful and necessary about women working together and seeing what they can do.  

I think the most powerful message that I have received from Julie and the play is that I have something to contribute.  This is definitely true on stage – I play several different characters and I feel my personal self-confidence rising as they develop.  But I also feel it in my own life.  Through our fundraisers, I have met another woman who is a novelist, a couple of women artists, and a woman who runs her own production company.  It seems like everywhere I turn there are strong, intelligent women doin’ their thing. And that makes me want to do my thing, which right now is acting, but shortly my thing(s) will be running my Kickstarter campaign to publish my novel and going back to work as a high school English teacher.

Just like our main character, Grace, I don’t know exactly what the future holds for me, but I’m going to do my best to experience life fully.  To do that, I will continue to draw strength from the other women in my life, hopefully strengthening them as well.  And that brings me back to art mirroring life, because that’s the show in a nutshell.  Women helping each other to find their own inner strength, and encouraging each other to use our strengths.  

I’m thankful to be in this play, so grateful, I’m ready for it, and I’m loving it.  

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