Saturday, April 23, 2022

Whole Latte Love to be published

Just got the word that Pioneer Drama Service has accepted my play Whole Latte Love for publication. It's an important milestone for a couple of reasons.

First, this is my 20th play to be published. Second, it's my first play to be accepted in almost two years.

That dry spell was largely my fault. After snagging a literary agent in early 2020, I spent much of the next two years trying to break into novels.

Well, that didn't work, and looking back now, its seems like a big waste of time. But it was something I had to try.

Now I'm back to writing plays--and even that's had some fits and starts. My first play back was It's a Madhouse!, but because it was written on commission, I had to wait until it had premiered at the school that commissioned it before I could submit it to my publisher. That premiere happened late last month, and I'm just putting the final, post-performance polish on the script now.

Next I wrote The Real Reason Dinosaurs Went Extinct, but after it got rejected by Pioneer, I decided to approach some theater companies directly before submitting it to another publisher. That play will get its premiere this weekend in Wellington, New Zealand.

It was my third play back that got accepted. I'm hoping now I can keep the pipeline full. 

Whole Latte Love was a play I've wanted to write for a while. With the unending popularity of coffee shops around the country and, well, pretty much everywhere, I was surprised to find there were no plays actually set in one. So I knew there was a need.

The first question was: do I make it a mystery or a farce? I actually started writing it as a mystery (it would have been called--what else?--Whole Latte Murder). But I soon hit a wall with the plot. And I really didn't want to spend three months writing about murder, even if it was a funny one.

Then I thought I'd make it a You've Got Mail type story, where a big unfeeling corporation tries to stomp out the little guy. But I didn't know where to take it.

Then I thought, I'd make it a magical coffee shop (echoes of The Enchanted Bookshop?), in which the coffee casts a spell on the customers. But which spell? Love at first sight, as in A Midsummer Night's Dream?  Eternal youth? A truth serum? 

It wasn't until I realized I could include all three spells, plus three others--and have the scatterbrained new barista mix them up for the customers--that I had my story. And the writing just flowed from there.

Here's the opening:

ISLA: So tell me, Shelly. Why do you want to work at Whole Latte Love?

SHELLY: Oh, it's because I just love coffee! All kinds of coffee! I love the taste of it! I love the smell of it! I even love the way it feels against my skin.

ISLA: (Joking.) What do you do? Bathe in it?

SHELLY: Why? Is that weird?

ISLA: Huh? (Realizes SHELLY's serious.) Oh. Well, it's not exactly normal.

SHELLY: I can stop.

ISLA: That won't be necessary. (Scans the resume.) I see you've worked at quite a few coffee places.

SHELLY: Oh, yes! Practically every one in town! I started out at Starschmucks. Then I went to Ditch Bros. After that came Cocakpoo Coffee. And my last job was at Munchkin Donuts.

ISLA: So why did you quit?

SHELLY: I didn't quit. I was fired.

ISLA: Fired? From all of them?

SHELLY: All but Munchkin. They filed a restraining order against me. Said I was too intense!

ISLA: Imagine that.

I think the story's a lot of fun, perfect for both high schools and community theaters. It has lots of female roles, it's easy to produce (single set! few props! no special technical requirements!) and it's got a positive, upbeat message.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love. And Whole Latte Love has plenty of it.