Monday, July 30, 2012

How I Became A Dancer

So You Think You Can Dance Summer continues with the story of how I fulfilled my dream to work as a dancer late in my career.

When I first got to Hollywood, I wanted to be Christina Aguilera's back-up dancer.

I threw myself into ballet and hip-hop classes, even this thing called Pilates until I developed bursitis and had no idea how to rehab it.  So I put my dream away.

Then The Universe Happened
In 2005, FOX debuted a reality show called So You Think You Can Dance.

I saw a Paso Doble for the first time, with a real Russian ballroom dancer. I finally realized the genius that is Wade Robson, who at that time was little more than a bleach-haired white kid from Orange County who purportedly danced like a black guy. I cried after every piece, in awe that this kind of dance was finally on network TV.

Something in me stirred.  I wanted to dance again, bad.

Getting the Call
The Universe has a way of responding to requests.

I received a recommendation to a trainer who knew exactly how to rehab my bursitis (as well as a car accident injury I had further accumulated in Hollywood.) I went to the gym every day.  In months I was stronger than I had ever been.

And that summer, as I dreamed in front of the TV, I got the call.

My agency phoned me with an audition for an untitled film directed by Julie Taymor (Frida, Broadway's The Lion King) featuring songs by the Beatles.

For a dancing role.

"But these are professional dancers!"

"You're a professional dancer," the agent replied.

After two sets of three-hour auditions and an amazing phone call later, I was indeed, a professional dancer.

That movie, you may have guessed, turned out to be Across the Universe, starring Evan Rachel Wood.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I inadvertently work with Desmond Richardson.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

National Dance Day

The Dizzyfeet Foundation (created by the So You Think You Can Dance team with Katie Holmes) is hosting National Dance Day again this Saturday, July 28th.

As I mentioned in my kickoff post, SYTYCD inspired me to connect with my charity of choice.  Because of NDD, I decided to contact the Asian Pacific Women's Center to lead movement workshops for the children at the shelter.

This year, a massive celebration will be held at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles, replete with food trucks and my SYTYCD favorite, Season 5's Brandon.

Food trucks and Brandon don't have anything in common other than I love them both.

You can learn the zumba or hip-hop routine that the country is doing en masse (I fear for us all), by visiting their facebook page.  And if you're brave, please share a video of yourself shaking it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Day in the Life: Kelsey Macke

I hate to share my lover with the world, but I cannot hold back our entirely-internet-based affair any longer.  For my next Day in the Life, I present my online-wife, Kelsey Macke.
You guys don't even knows the depths of my girl crush on Sophia.

Like, MY HUSBAND KNOWS ABOUT OUR LOVE... It's that serious. I thought it'd be a good idea to just make sure he knows she exists incase we decide to run off and make a world dominating girl rock band and get a little flat above a vintage jewelry shop.

So, yeah. Soph is in-crey-abb, and I am so happy that she indulged me by letting me participate in her cool-kids party over here.

6:45 AM
The hubs alarm goes off and he wakes to get ready for work. I spend the next hour or so with the covers over my head, resisting the call of daylight because it's summer. And I'm a middle school special education teacher (I work with lil rockstars who have emotional/behavioral disorders) and it's VACATION time.

7:30 AM
I eventually roll my butt out of bed and as soon as my feet touch the ground, I'm instantly awake and smiley because I'm insufferable morning person. I try to resist the singing part until he's out of the house, but don't always succeed.

At this point, I traipse downstairs and let the cats out of their kitty apartments.

(Yes, our cats are "crated" and it's AWESOME.)

At some point before 9 AM
I try to get outside and go for a jog before the sun here in North Texas begins to melt the pavement and turn the cement back into a liquid form which would trap me there forever, resulting in my skin burning off before lunch time. It really is hot here... and SO FREAKING HUMID.

9:45 AM
Showered and clean (unless I DGAF) I'm ready to do my daily vocal exercises. I'm a singer (folk indie duo, Wedding Day Rain, with the hubs -slash- musical theatre actress when I can) and warming up each day is great for my chords and makes it possible for my endless hours of youtube karaoke alone in my living room in front of my cats.

10:45 AM
I'm meeting some friends for lunch today, and I need to stop at the office supply store (aka the most important store in the universe) so I'm out the door headed for a little pick me up. I almost NEVER order the same drink at starbucks, but today, I go for a non-fat vanilla latte.

It is iced. Because I live in Nouveau Sahara.

10:57 AM

The new papermate inkjoys eye me from across the crowded aisle. I shyly avert my eyes, not wanting to be too forward, but quite confident that the feeling is mutual. The demonstration stand is on the endcap, scribbled on by so many patrons, filled with endless loopies, smiley faces, and dozens of "Hello"s.

I fight the urge to run away from the undoubtedly e coli infested sample pen. Eventually, I pick it up, and begin to write.


This moment is one of the highlights of my week.

1:45 PM
After an awesome lunch with two of my writer friends, I am rejuvenated.

These are the friends who tell you when you're being ridiculous.

And I am.

My contemporary YA manuscript needs some revision love to make it really shine, and I've been putting it off. My friends encouraged me to rip the bandaid and get in there.

I make plans to take a big bite out of my MS in the morning.

3:00 PM

This summer, I'm really excited to be working with new teachers who are coming into the profession from other careers. I'm filling in for an instructor for a couple of weeks, and teaching the basics class! I've always been interested in teaching adults, especially after graduate school, and this is the perfect chance to get my feet wet and see how I really respond to having adult students.

This will only be a short class, but the curriculum is fast and furious. I spend the next several hours going through my lessons and notes.

6:00 PM
Hubs is home, and he brought me ICE CREAM.

9:45 PM
I just realized that I've been at this very spot and on my computer for the past 5 hours.


Everyone's got a vice, I guess.

10:00 PM on the freaking DOT
I'm heading to bed with a little Harry Potter to keep me company. I re-read the series every other year or so, and I'm somewhere in the middle of Chamber of Secrets right now.

I usually go to bed early, but especially so tonight because I feel awfully sick. I - along with approximately 176 MILLION other women worldwide - have endometriosis, a chronic, painful disease which is, unfortunately, under diagnosed and often misunderstood.

So, that sucks.

But life doesn't!

Thank you, Soph, for having me here! And thanks to her readers for stepping into my crazy world of songs and words for a few moments today!

Obligatory paragraph in 3rd person:

Kelsey Macke is a YA writer, special education teacher, recovering graduate student, and singer from Dallas, Texas. She is in love with the internet, particularly twitter (@kelsnotchels) and blogging ( She likes office supplies, making music ( having an obnoxiously large smile, and sharing her home with an amazing husband and 2 cats. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Double Jacob

better than a double rainbow

I'm sick; I can wear whatever I want!

p.s. Kate Coursey's giving away ARCs of Diviners and Throne of Glass!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Caring for Introverts and Extroverts

One easy way to think of your characters is to divide 'em right down the middle - are they introverts or extroverts?
found on facebook
What about you?

I'm so extrovert it's not even funny.

This weekend I went partner dancing two nights in a row, which apparently is the fast train to sickville.  I just got over strep and now I've got my first cold in 12 months.  The moral is, being an extrovert requires hand sanitizer.  "Before" photos of healthy, happy Sophia about to Lindy Hop.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Kindness Project: The Hardest Thing - You're Living

Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts. We post the second Wednesday of every month.

I had lunch with an actor friend last week.

I try not have many actor friends because, let's face it, we're flaky people.

And I especially try not to "do lunch" with them because, we'll face it, didn't that first sentence sound douchey?

But Tohoru Masamune has a background like mine - he went to MIT and fell far short of his Asian family's expectations for a legitimate career.  (Though he did work on one of the biggest movies of the last five years.  Hint - is the top still spinning?)

During our douchey 3-hour lunch, Tohoru gave me some of the best encouragement for artists of all genres.

What we're doing is the hardest thing of all.

It blew my mind.  And was so simple I caught on immediately.

People my father often scoff at us for not having a real job.  One that makes you show up at the same time, usually too early, and every day.  For not doing the hard thing of growing up and being responsible.

I don't discount that - being a grownup is hard.  Especially when they see us lunching for three hours like douchebags, looking unnaturally fit for our age.

But on the flipside, they know where their next meal is coming from.  Whereas the lunching douchebags may not eat again the rest of the day.  (No wonder we sat for 3 hours - had to make the most of our one meal.)

Even staying fit isn't something to be envied - it's a job requirement for the only industry in the world in which, legally, your race, height, and fatness can land or lose a gig.  This isn't easy; it's primitive!  Just as Neanderthal man didn't eat if he didn't run, we don't get paid if we don't get on that elliptical.

This ability to tolerate an enormous amount of uncertainty, to even thrive on it, hits right down to our roots as people.  Cobbling together money to slide the rent check under the door at 5:01 p.m. (told you actors are always late) may not be the same as trekking twenty miles every morning to spear a boar, but the underlying drive is.  There's something about the sink or swim mentality that makes you feel ALIVE.  It's what keeps the actor going to rejection audition after audition, and the writer to complete one manuscript after another.

So if you've committed yourself to living your passion, you should be commended.  If you've finished a novel, if you've queried, if you dared to practice your craft and share it with the world, you're doing the hardest thing of all.  You're living.

Visit the other members of The Kindness Project:

P.S. Fellow Kindness Project author Meagan Spooner is having a massive giveaway on her blog for her debut Skylark!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Day in the Life: Sarah Skilton

Feel free to be jealous of my next Day in the Life! Not only is nicest-person-ever Sarah Skilton a total model with her cheekbones and height, but she's a double new mom: a Lucky 13s debut author with a gorgeous baby boy. 

Sarah Skilton's debut YA novel BRUISED arrives Spring 2013 from Abrams/Amulet Books. She also has 12 years of experience as a Hollywood script analyst.

5:30am - WHAT IS HAPPENING?? An alley cat has broken into my house and is making weird noises! Oh wait that's my baby. I have a baby. He's hungry and bored. Time to get up.

Elliot drinks his first bottle of the day, then accompanies me downstairs and sits in his highchair so I can have breakfast, too.

If we want to go on a stroll, and we do, we best do it now before it gets too hot. I live in a suburb of Los Angeles, sort of like the Valley's Valley, which means we're trapped by mountains in a desert climate. It's 10 degrees hotter in the summer and 10 degrees colder in the "winter" than, say, downtown.

Elliot and I have the park to ourselves and I'm feeling ambitious so we try to make it around the lake, or at least to the bridge where the turtles congregate. Each day we count them. Our personal record is 21.

I'm hoping we'll see The Beagle or The Corgi on our trek, but no such luck. Even dogs don't get up this early.

7:00am - On the walk back, Elliot murmurs for a bit and falls asleep. We arrive home and I put him down for his first nap of the day. Time to check email and see if my copy edits for my novel have arrived.

8am - Elliot wakes up and wants a bottle.

9am - My husband Joe, who works as a magician, is now awake (if by "awake" I mean lurching around the kitchen looking for cereal), propelled much like his son by the need to feed. Because Joe works nights and weekends, he's on baby duty for most of Monday-Thursday.

10am - I kiss my fellas goodbye and hit the road for my job.

Let me guess: you think your commute sucks. And I'm sure it's, you know, *cough* formidable and all, but mine has been declared the worst in the country. (Why don't I feel like a winner?) Say hello to the 405/101 interchange, aka Carmageddon. Some days it takes me 2 hours to drive 30 miles.

10:45 Text from hubby - "I'm going back to sleep. Nyah Nyah" (direct quote). Don't worry, our baby's not in danger; Joe's parents are visiting and helping out this week, so Elliot has extra cuddles and fun on his schedule with Grandma and Grandpa.

11am - It's bagel day at the office, yay. For my job, I and four other writers read TV and film scripts and create character descriptions for the roles being cast, to be used by casting directors, actors, agents, and managers.

Today I'm finishing a project I started yesterday. It's a feature film with 80-plus roles, which is a bit unusual but certainly not unheard of (most feature-length scripts have around 30).  Also, the two leads are already cast. I wish I could tell you who's in it because it's kind of awesome, but I gotta keep mum. Every day at work is different; sometimes I read student thesis short films, and other days I read things like The Hangover

1pm-1:30 - Lunch. I miss Elliot and watch videos of him on my phone. I finish my first project and pick up another script. Summer-only TV shows are filming now (shows that have 12-episode seasons), though we'll probably start seeing fall premieres in another month or two.

7pm - Work day's done. Elliot's asleep and my in-laws are happy to babysit while they're in town, so Joe and I meet up with friends for a rare double-date. We're dining with another magician and his lovely wife. I throw caution to the wind and order a margarita -- first one in two years -- which (spoiler alert) I will regret the next day.

11:45 pm - Elliot wakes and wants a snack. I fly into his room -- quick and quiet like a ninja, of course -- so I can snuggle with my bundle while he feeds. Then it's time for a lullaby, a page or two of THE GREAT GATSBY to lull him, and off to bed again for my little guy.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy So You Think You Can Dance Summer

Happy So You Think You Can Dance Summer here at Sophia the Writer!

A hearty welcome to our Asian contestant, Hawaiian-native Cole Horibe.  His precision and muscle control will make you think un-YA thoughts.

click me and regard the glory of my arms (photo downloadable at

SYTYCD is more than a show.  It inspired me to :

  1. Fulfill a childhood dream of being a professional dancer
  2. Which resulted in my working with Desmond Richardson, possibly the best contemporary ballet dancer right now and a SYTYCD choreographer
  3. Lead movement workshops for kids and recovering battered women at the Asian Pacific Women's Center
As you can see, my life has been altered forever by this show in the most amazing ways.  I hope that by sharing my experience with it over the next two months, you too will find inspiration.

Or at least enjoy the topless boys.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Shady Saloon

I'm actually at work today, but I hope the rest of you are enjoying your Fourth!

July 2011 ~ Irvine, CA


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