February 15, 2006

What Makes Barry Manilow Tick?

“Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl, with yellow feathers in her hair and her dress cut down to there, la da da deee da (bump!) la da da deee da (kick!) la da da” –oh, hi! I didn’t see you come in. I was just practicing in my brand new Claudia Ciuti three-inch spike heeled, strappy, gold metallic dancing shoes, yeah, BABY! Two hundred fifty bucks On Sale, a total steal. I bought them for my next trip to the Rivera. Pays to have rich friends and it’s a good thing I do, because for sure tightwad Beth’s never going to get me there. But I can’t worry about HER right now. My problem right now is finding yellow feathers for my hair.

FLASH: In my other, other life I’m a famous singing and dancing Broadway star. I can’t tell you my real real name because…well, I guess I can tell YOU why, since it’s just between the two of us, right? It’s because in my OTHER other other life I’m a covert CIA agent. But shhh, don’t tell anybody. It’s a secret.

I was thinking, while ago. I do that sometimes. I said the other day that Beth and I pretty much split our books, with her writing half and me writing half, BUT you know what I just realized? I’ve been writing less and less lately. I would have noticed it before but I’m flying here, cruising there, and that wretched Beth has been taking gross advantage of my absence.

Like I said the other day, I get to do the funny stuff, and Jack’s funny. Or he was, until Beth started getting him all spazzed out trying to find some killer. Well, I guess the poor guy CAN’T find out who it is. We’re at page 345 and even I don’t know who it is.

Anyhow, I just now realized Jack’s not ALWAYS funny. In fact, I’ve been almost totally pushed out of the writing-funny part, because another really cool, funny character in the same book, Kimberley Clarke, is changing, too, as the book nears the end. I don’t know about the others, I only read the ones I write.

(They’re all changing, Hots.)

Beth, JUST because I let you edit this mess is no reason for you to be inserting YOUR comments. Butt OUT.

It’s hopeless, folks. She’s everywhere. I bet she doesn’t even put my name on her new book cover in tiny letters, like a lot of big authors are doing these days when somebody else helps them write their book. Sniff!

FLASH: I have to go pack my bikinis. Did I tell you I’m staying on a yacht owned by Count Babalallapaloozo? He’s Italian. I hope his wife doesn’t find out I’m staying on his yacht. For the eighth time. Well, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right?

But back to what I was talking about, more or less, and that would be Barry Manilow, who is right up there at the top of our “next four husbands” list.

What makes Barry Manilow so famous?

I can hear my crit partners now, groaning OH, GOD! LESSON ALERT!! LESSON ALERT!! Well, this sweeps over me every once in a while so indulge me, okay?

It can’t be his voice. He’s got a great voice but not a MAJOR great voice. It can’t be his looks. He’s cute, yeah he is, but he’s not Tom Cruise. What is it, REALLY, that makes him such a fabulous performer that I drool every time I even hear he’s going to be in town?

Why does his music touch all of us?

(Only most of us, Hots.)

I’m ignoring you, Beth.

I think it’s because he seems vulnerable. He’s lasted for years and years because he looks shy, like he might be almost embarrassed when he sings. He looks like he’s not sure he can remember all the words or even finish the song. He looks like he’s really, REALLY hoping we like him and he’s going to bust his b–uh–butt (Beth told me to clean it up a little) to make sure we do. But he’s not sure we will.

Oh, but we do. We love him. We adore him. We want to name our children after him. Hell, we want to HAVE our children WITH him. But why would he have that effect on us?

What I said before. Because he has that vulnerable look. He gives us the feeling he just might not hit that high note and might not be able to hold it long enough if he does hit it.

We know he will. We expect him to. He always does.

But he LOOKS like he might not.

I have a theory that the world’s most famous performers, the ones who last forever and ever, all have that same look and they all give us the same feeling, that they’re somehow vulnerable to something, that there’s *something else in there*. The real greats all have that look, that’s why we love them and keep on loving them, v/s the slick, polished ones who don’t sound like they mean what they’re singing or whatever. They could be lip-synching the words for all they care. They all eventually wind up singing on cruise ships.

So in building book characters (you knew this was coming, didn’t you), especially lead characters, it seems to me that’s one of the things we need to know about them before we start writing. What is their vulnerability? What IS it that makes them unique and at the same time might, just MIGHT cause them to fail?

I guess we need to know that first, before we know anything else, because THAT ONE THING will color everything our lead characters ever say or do. Or it will if we create a truly memorable character. I think, anyhow. Like I said, I do that sometimes although not always successfully.

We might not let our readers in on it until way, waaaaaay into the book, but as long as WE know what it is from the git-go, by the time we tell them what it is, our readers will think, “Well, okay, yes, I sort of thought there might be something like that because he has been kind of (you fill in the blank here).”

But it’s not because they REALLY knew it. It’s because WE knew it and we’ve been building up to the moment when we want to reveal it, whatever IT is, when it’s natural in the course of the story to reveal it, and not one second before, right? That makes him ever so much more loveable, ever so much more mysterious, ever so much more–well, vulnerable.

Yes. He’s wonderful, but he’s not quite perfect. There’s something else going on in there.


Something to think about, anyway, unless you want to wind up writing on a cruise ship.

You can always argue if you want to. That’s what that comment thing at the bottom is for. Either that, or you can tell me how right and wonderful and adorable and gorgeous I am. I’ll take that, too.

Oh, by the way, I should tell you how many times I’m going to post. I think twice a week will do it. Now don’t y’all worry, the Count has had a special computer room built on his yacht just for me, so I’ll be able to blog you (sounds so sensous, doesn’t it) twice a week for sure, even while I’m there. I’m aiming for Saturdays and Wednesdays. Unless I’m doing something else.

By the way, M. J. Rose has been running a series of columns over at her blog, mjroseblog.typepad.com/buzz_balls_hype/ about book tours. If you’re a writer with a book coming out, you might want to go read them. They’re pretty fascinating. And if that link actually shows up in this blog as a link, since I’m just experimenting here, I’ll send you my first born child. When it’s born, of course.

Ciao for now, I’m off to the Riviera. The Count and I are going to hit a few castle sales as soon as I arrive there, to find exactly the right antique furnishings for my computer room. I’m looking forward to that. There’s almost nothing I love more than a great bargain.

Well, I SAID almost.

Ta ta till Saturday!

Love y’all, honest I do,

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7 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. Have a great time on the Riviera, Hotclue. You be sure to give the Count a great big – mmmhum -for me. Tell him I miss him!

    I must disagree about Barry. He never struck me as vulnerable and the only song of his I ever liked was Lola. But I do agree with our characters must be vulnerable beneath their extra strong exteriors.

    Please be kind to Beth. She’s working hard on her critique partners and needs a little love on the home front.


  2. Tell him you MISS him? You should have known better than to introduce him to ME.

    Hey, it’s okay, you don’t have to agree about Manilow. But you could have at LEAST said I’m beautiful and brilliant.

    Maybe one out of two? 😉

    Love ya and thanks for stopping by. Next time I’ll have more Chablis on hand, though, okay?



  3. Damn Hotclue, you’re a riot. Hey, I’m going on a cruise, and don’t plan on doing any writing. Just chasing JMan and JGirl, all over the ship. As for hubby, he’ll be lounging by the pool, eating, or waiting for the next meal.


  4. Chablis sounds good right about now, you beautiful exotic – or is that erotic? – woman. Are you going to go to Tuscany with us? Or is Beth forcing you to stay home and take care of the kitties?


  5. Ah, ladies.

    Sloane, of COURSE I’m going to Tuscany with you. The kitties will be well taken care of. Actually, I’m scoping Tuscany out right now, or getting ready to right after my massage. I heard there’s some GREAT antique furniture there.

    And Yasmine, what? You’re not even taking a laptop on your cruise? You’re going to actually relax and take a vacation? What nerve! Does that mean you’re not even going to BLOG? Quick, I’m going to faint! call the paramedics!

    Love to you both, even if it is from my hospital bed.


  6. I totally agree girl, Mr manilow does it for me, an im a hot blooded 33yr old….mmmmmmm manilow. He is very handsome in a shy, vulnerable sort of way, i think he is the best performer ive ever saw, no one else can hold my attention for 2 hours at a concert, he really is a proffesional musician, and damn hot too….woowee


  7. Barry Manilow My Name Is Leigh Christina Brown And I Am Your #1 Fan Ever! I Would Go Crazy If I Saw You At My Doorstep! I Have Your Screensavor In My Cell Phone And Your Ringtone Is Unchained Melody! Which Is My Favorite Song By You. And In My iTunes I Have Whole Bunch Of Your Songs. Manilow Sings Sintara, Summer of 78, and The Greatest Songs Of The Sixties. From Your #1 Fan Ever! Leigh Christina Brown


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