The Greatest Showman (Easy and Big Note Piano)

As a quick follow-up to my last post, I’ve written some arrangements of a few songs from “The Greatest Showman” that are available exclusively on Sheet Music Plus.

Big Note/5 Finger:

Easy Piano:

Piano Solo:

(Stream on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and more)

 

 

Several of my piano students are “The Greatest Showman” fans, and so am I, so this has been a fun little project. I plan to add to the list this week, including some harder arrangements of the same songs. I’ll update this blog as more come available.

Other Soundtrack/Contemporary Piano Arrangements:

Greatest Showman Big Note 5 Finger Piano

Other New Releases:

I also can’t remember when I last updated this blog on my new music, so here are a few other new releases of mine:

 

 

 

Enjoy!

 

Why “The Greatest Showman” is the Greatest Show

Today, The Greatest Showman is released for digital download, after spending months with theaters full of avid fans.

It comes out on DVD/Blu-RAY in another few weeks.

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Personally, I have seen The Greatest Showman six times in the theater. SIX TIMES! I have never seen a movie even half that many times in the theater. I don’t even go to the movies that often. In fact, it’s an odd year for me to go to more than two in a single year.

But this was so worth it.

I kept finding new people who hadn’t seen it, and I’d take them so I could fall in love with the movie all over again. One time, I took my 19yo daughter back (for the third time) just because she’d missed the opening scene on her second time. And you CAN’T miss the opening scene.

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Two weeks ago, my husband and I decided to take the rest of the kids–again–because we’d listened to the soundtrack so many times. We went on a Saturday morning, 11am, almost three months after the release of the movie. So I didn’t think we needed to arrive early to get tickets.

We nearly lost out. We got the last four tickets. We couldn’t even sit together. The person in line after us was out of luck.

Sold out.

Three months after the movie’s release.

On a Saturday morning.

And when the movie finished, the audience clapped.

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How many Oscars did this successful, magical, popular film win?

A big fat ZERO.

Which proves what we all know: that Hollywood is clueless.

But the author/composer in me can’t stop analyzing why this movie is such a success. So here are some of the reasons I think it’s a smash hit.

(While pictures are great, they just don’t do this movie justice, so I’ve added some awesome Greatest Showman GIFs.)

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Why The Greatest Showman is the greatest show:

 

The Music

It’s absolutely phenomenal. It moves you–quite literally if you’re prone to dancing. It gets your heart pumping, and makes you smile.

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The Story

Following your dreams can lead to big, wonderful things. Outcasts can and should be loved. They can find their place and no longer be seen as odd, but amazing. Even P.T. Barnum isn’t labeled as an outcast in the movie, but technically he started out as one.

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The Music

Yes, I’m mentioning the music again. It’s that good.

The performances. The choreography. The integration of the music with the scenes (the hammering, the horses step to the music). I bought the soundtrack before I’d left the theater parking lot the first time. (The “Reach for the Stars” and “The Other Side” scenes are my personal favs.)

Listen to the soundtrack here:

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The Family Friendliness

I think the biggest part of its success is how family friendly this movie is. It’s PG, and not even a fake PG. It’s actually PG.

Critics can’t figure out how this movie has spread by word of mouth. Honestly, I only saw it in January after several of my friends kept posting about it on Facebook. Otherwise I wouldn’t have gone. As I mentioned before, I’m not a huge movie theater person. Now, I can’t get enough people to go see it. Young. Old. It’s for everyone.

Not only is there no sex, as well as minimal swearing and violence, but families are seen in a positive light. Shocking, right? A dad trying to support his family. A mom trying to support him. Cute kids who contribute to his magical ideas. Struggles, both financial and emotional. While I don’t know a single family involved in a circus, this movie has related to millions of people across the globe.

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And it has two very sweet romances. :)

My 10yo son who hates watching movies (especially movies I like) has fallen in love with this movie as much as I have. He was furious this week when I took his grandparents without him (during school). They loved it, too.

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No Politics

This is another huge part, I think, of its success. There wasn’t a single bit of politics in the whole thing. No social statements. No agendas. Nothing about destroying the environment or gun violence or crooked politicians. We’re all sick to death of news and politics–or at least I am. Two straight years of ugliness, and this was a desperately-needed breath of fresh air!

A happy ending for everyone. Hallelujah! (I’m looking at you La-La Land.)

This world can use A LOT more happy.

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It’s Magical

That’s what it boils down to. The combination of everything makes the story, music, and movie as magical as the circus.

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So . . .

If you haven’t seen it, GO SEE IT!

Buy it.

Get the soundtrack.

And fall in love.

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What do you think of The Greatest Showman? If you love it, why? And how many times have you seen it?

I Geek Being an Author

(promoting)

The White Lake Library in Michigan hosted a local author event last weekend, and they were nice enough to let me join the other 17 authors from Southeast Michigan.

Like other events, I met some amazing people, both authors and readers.  I have to say, this is a perk of being an author I didn’t anticipate. I’ve have thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people and talking about books, books, and more books.

It’s awesome!

During the event, the library filmed each author talking about their book(s).

Here’s my video:

Let me just say, there’s a reason I’m an author, not an actress. Okay, there are several reasons, some more obvious than others. But one of the main reasons is I am a million times more comfortable behind a computer screen than a camera. Heck, it took me nine months to get comfortable explaining my books to complete strangers. Doing it on camera was like…well…like taking a final exam with people you respect, adore, and want to speak to you again watching you the whole time.

You think you can talk about your own book? Prove it. Under duress. 

I’m being a little silly. I wasn’t under duress. It’s the nerves talking.

A…n…y…w…a…y…

As part of the GEEK THE LIBRARY campaign, the library gave me two cool pictures to thank me for coming. They now hang on my fridge because I truly geek being an author. 

Love it!

Btw, THANKS!!!! friends and readers who came out to support me at the library. You guys are the best!

Side note: After hearing my stunning description of SADIE, I’m sure you want to give it to everyone you know for Christmas, right?  Well, you’re in luck!

SADIE is 50% off at Deseret Book right now!

While I might be the tiniest bit biased, it’s a great read for Christmas. It’s set over Christmas break and has fun stuff like skiing, roasting marshmallows, and cozy fires.  Get it 50% off here.

If you live anywhere near me, email me and I’d be happy to sign it for you or your friends. If you don’t live near me and don’t mind shipping it to me, the same thing applies. Just drop me a note. My email is on my bio page.

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Have a good one!

Comment here

MARCH MADNESS: Book and Ball

Yesterday, the brackets were announced for March Madness. 
If you’ve never heard of March Madness–like I hadn’t 17 years ago–let me explain. There’s this game called basketball. It’s played with a round, orange ball (as if balls are anything but round) that is shot into a painfully high net. At the college level, students and fans alike go nuts over this sport, which turns into a blast come March when the championship round begin. The teams are whittled down to the best 64, and then 32, then 16, 8, 4, and finally 2 which play to determine the national champs. 

I have to pat myself on the back for a minute. I can’t believe I can explain–even in small detail–March Madness. My hubby will be so proud! You see, I was painfully oblivious to this whole cultural phenomenon until I married him and gave birth to three sports-obsessed sons. But I’ve grown as a person, a wife, a mother, and now I actually look forward to the day final teams are announced. It’s become a little family tradition of ours to fill out the bracket and each of us gets our own. Who will win this year? Will our teams make it (which when you live in Michigan/Michigan St. country it’s a pretty safe bet)? It’s not that we even watch many games, we just love the bracket. It’s all about the bracket. Our entire Family Night tonight will revolve around all seven of us filling out this cute (uh-oh, just lost hubby points) bracket. The person who predicts the most wins will then choose where we go out to ice cream at the end of the season. 

I must say, for a non-sports person like myself, I love March Madness. It might have something to do with the fact that I’ve won more bracket challenges than anyone in the fam, including the four sports nuts. Oh yeah, baby! Even better is the years I haven’t won, my 13yo daughter has. It drives them crazy. So awesome! Apparently hours spent watching ESPN (or games) lessens one’s ability to predict the outcome. This is the one case where ignorance pays off.

Disclaimer:  I may not win this year because I feel obligated to choose Michigan State. It goes against my instinct, but GO GREEN!

Anyway, the whole point was to explain a little about this whole MARCH BOOK MADNESS thing I’m hosting here on the blog, since I’m equally excited for it. In reality, MBM is nothing like the real March Madness. There’s no bracket. No teams. No competition of any kind because asking you to vote on the different posts for just one winner seems cruel to my guests. What MBM is about is having authors share their thoughts on anything book-ish. Reading. Writing. Editing. These posts will be (and have been) on Tuesdays and Thursdays in March. Or if you’re a visual learner, here’s a picture.




Here is the schedule thus far:

              Lynn Wiese Sneyd: Thurs, March 8, Querying 
          Tobi Summers: Tues, March 13, Plotting vs. Plodding
          JoLynne Lyon: Thurs, March 15, Marketing
          Cassie Mae: Tues, March 20, Editing
          Jessica Khoury: Thurs, March 22, Editing
          Tricia Pease: Tues, March 27th, Reading
          Sharon Belknap: Thurs, March 29  
          (if it’s blue, you can click on it to go to that post) 

That’s about it. Tune in tomorrow to get Tobi Summers thoughts on plotting versus plodding. It’s going to be great!


PS–Anyone reading this do the March Madness bracket thing? Who are you predicting to win it all? Do you want help with your bracket? I’m pretty good. :)

 

90% Non-verbal Stuff — Part 1

Yesterday I asked three questions of my writing friends. Since I got such a great response, and since several people have expressed interest in this particular topic–me especially–I decided to spread out their ideas over the next three days. That way this post won’t be ten pages long (and it might also give you some time to think of tricks that you can share with us as well).

here are the questions:

  1. If 90% of all communication is non-verbal, how should authors portray this? 
  2. How have you seen non-verbal communication used in other books? 
  3. What tricks have you personally tried that worked without weighing down the manuscript?

The first response comes from Tricia Pease. I broke down what she said into bullet points because I tend to think in bullet points.

Tricia:  I guess the biggest thing for me is to:

  1. Keep the non-verbal stuff brief and intuitive.
  2. Have the characters respond to a situation in way that your readers can relate to on some level.
  3. Try to keep the non-verbal communication logical. When authors make their characters do too much or too little in response to a situation, I feel myself stepping away from the story line and wondering what the author is thinking.
  4. I also have found that if I am spending too much time describing the non-verbal communication and it is weighing down my story, I just stop writing that scene. I’ll write the next chapter or two and then I can come back and fix it a lot easier. When I know what’s coming next it helps to more accurately describe what has already happened.

So true. What Tricia said made me think about the movie “Tangled.”

I love, love, love the scene when the guard comes to tell the king and queen that their long-lost daughter has finally been found. There isn’t a single word uttered. Not one. It’s all non-verbal totally cool stuff. It’s also brief and completely intuitive to how I picture myself responding to news so shocking. In fact, most of the scenes with the king and queen in “Tangled” are non-verbal stuff (if not all, I haven’t checked).

Here’s a very short clip–very short–to illustrate. (Turn down the sound so you can focus). As you watch, notice the guard’s face. His shoulders. His breathing. The way he’s leaned forward. How he nods ever so slightly. Then watch the king and queen, their faces, mouths, hands, and basically what they DO.




From a writing standpoint, that’s serious awesomeness.

Imagine if the guard had burst in and started talking a million miles a minute and the king and queen had gasped and sobbed on each other’s shoulders. We would have shut off to all the drama, right?

If you give your audience too much, it’s just too much, like Tricia said. But you still have to give them something. To use the old adage, “Don’t tell me. Show me.” And this is some serious showing. I counted at least five emotions just by watching their non-verbal cues. How cool is that?

I realize this is a movie, but books can and should be a movie in the readers’ minds. If you can’t see the subtlety in your characters actions, neither will your readers. But…only show us non-verbal cues if it matters to the story. Does it matter that the character is breathing quickly or leaning forward? Does it matter if he’s bouncing his knee? His pencil? If it doesn’t, skip it. Strike that balance. Think through what’s intuitive and if it isn’t working, come back to it later.

The second response comes from my friend Sharon Belknap.

 Sharon:
There is so much to be said in an expression, a hesitation, in the way a person folds his arms or even the length of a breath. (I’m picturing “Tangled” again.) To me, it is so much more imperative to a story to include details like this than the color of the curtains, the layout of a room or even physical features of the characters in the story.

The beauty of writing is that all of those nonverbal clues can be included. You can get inside the head of your characters, something you can’t do nearly as well as in a movie or play. You can follow a character along on a demented journey of wonderings, many of which paths can veer off into unexpected directions or dead end without warning.

That’s one of the things that makes reading and writing so interesting and compelling. I can’t remember feeling weighed down by these non-verbal kinds of details. But maybe that’s just me.

I agree. I love being in character’s heads. In fact, I get frustrated when I read a book and they forget to add in those details–or when I only get those non-verbal cues sporadically and only in the beginning when I haven’t grown to love or understand the character yet.

To go back to “Tangled” (because at this point, why not?), think about the scene where Rapunzel has just broken out of her tower/prison for the first time. If you haven’t noticed this scene before from a writing standpoint, notice it now.

Before you watch this clip, turn down the sound again and pay attention to all non-verbal stuff going on. There’s a whole bunch in there–from both of them.

I love it when a character DOES something and the author doesn’t tell me why, because really, that’s how life is. If someone looks at me and folds their arms, I have to figure out why. What did I say that ticked them off? Or are they even ticked off? Maybe they’re just pensive. Or tired. Or cold. Make your readers wonder—but ONLY if it ADDS to the story. If your character is tired because they stayed up too late cutting their toenails, don’t waste my time telling me UNLESS it’s going to impair their judgment and they fall asleep at the wheel and drive off a cliff to their demise. Okay. You get the idea.

Oh man, I’m so excited for this topic! I have a character I’m working on right now who is not a “man of many words.” This is going to help a ton! And tomorrow I promise no more “Tangled” references. Maybe.

Thanks to Sharon and Tricia for sharing your thoughts.

Tune in tomorrow for more ideas of how to get that 90% of non-verbal communication into your manuscript without weighing it down.

6 websites for authors to create an online (1)

Happy 400th!

When I get online every day, my homepage pops up, which has a quick list of news articles from around the world. Most days I ignore these articles, but today one caught my interest:

King James Bible: Queen marks 400th anniversary.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15754581

My first thought was, why on earth would Queen Elizabeth be celebrating the anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible? And even beyond, why the heck did the liberal media care?
Sometimes I’m really slow. 
Before that, I should mention that I’ve been aware that this year marks the 400th anniversary of the KJV for some time now. I teach an adult Sunday School class in my congregation where we have spent the entire year (to my utter delight) studying the New Testament out of the KJV. My church, the LDS/Mormon Church has asked that all English speaking members use the KJV. So I have grown up with it. To say that I love teaching out of the KJV would be a gross understatement. I eat up every moment of it. It’s been so awesome and I’ve learned so much just this year!
So I’ve been interested in any articles talking about the 400th anniversary of this incredible book. With that, I saw earlier this year that BYU had produced an awesome documentary (no, that is not an oxymoron) that is entitled “Fires of Faith.” It is a three-part documentary going through how the King James Version came to be in 1611. You can check it out here. It is very, very well done and informative. I had no idea how much controversy was involved, or how grateful we should be to have this beautiful translation of God’s word.
But even with all this, I still couldn’t figure out what the Queen of England had to do with anything.
Again, I’m really…really…slow sometimes.
It finally hit me that this is the anniversary of the KING James Version of the Bible, as in King James I, King of England in 1611. As King of England, James I was also the head of the Church of England, and sanctioned this particular translation.
Okay, so that explained why the British Monarch, namely Elizabeth, would want to celebrate. But still, front page news?
Then I remembered that British Monarchy isn’t like our US Presidency. You aren’t elected into it, you are born into it. Or in other words:
Queen Elizabeth II is King James’ great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great granddaughter. (That’s nine greats if you’re counting.) Of all the people in the world to help celebrate, surely she should be one of them. How would you like having your ninth great-grandpa’s name on your Bible? Cool, eh?
I also got to thinking today about how less than a decade after this translation was finished, the first permanent settlers sailed for America. Only 9 years later! That can’t be a coincidence. Especially considering how much of Colonial America was shaped by the Bible. The article above even points out how much of today’s English is influenced by the language of the KJV.
Another thing I learned (can you tell I’m excited?) is that it took 54 scholars to create the KJV. I knew it was a lot, but didn’t know it was that many. Not only that, but those scholars were contemporaries with William Shakespeare who died in 1616. In fact, they could have just walked across the field and asked, “Hey Shakespeare, what do you think of this particular passage?” or more accurately, “Pray tell, Sir William, what dost thou thinkest of said passage below?” Which explains why, at times, reading the KJV feels like you’re reading Shakespeare.
And yes, I agree–partially–with people who say that the King James language can be very cumbersome and difficult to understand. It can, but it is also absolutely, positively beautiful. And well worth it, in my opinion!
For example, in most new English translations of the Bible, the common phrase is rendered “Faith, Hope, and Love.” And yet in the King James Version it says “Faith, Hope, and Charity.” What is the difference between love and charity, you may ask? Well, charity isn’t just any love, it is defined as “The Pure Love of Christ,” which is something far greater than just love.
Apply that to an excerpt of Paul’s great sermon in 1 Corinthians 13. I’ve listed just a few verses side by side to show a quick comparison. The NIV, a popular version of the Bible today, is on the left, while the traditional KJV on the right.  Note the difference in language.
And if you go back and substitute “The Pure Love of Christ” in place of every use of the word “Charity,” the language becomes even more powerful.
“And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not (the pure love of Christ), I AM NOTHING…Now abideth faith, hope, and charity (which is the pure love of Christ), these three; but the greatest of these is charity…Follow after charity (the pure love of Christ).”
So yes, the KJV can be a bit cumbersome and confusing at times, but it is also incredibly, amazingly beautiful. And poetic. I think it is well worth the effort! But even beyond, I think the King James Version of the Bible has shaped our society, our language, and the history of America more than we will ever know.
Happy 400th KJV!