Archive for February, 2015

glenmar This is the little love story that could.  Made for just over $150,000, Once – a story about two young musical lovers in Dublin – was a box office smash receiving such critical acclaim that it has been given new life on stage.  And despite the subtle beauty and raw energy that unfolds from every intimate note, you might ask:  How did this little love story become so big? Well, in order to understand, we must know about one band – the Once band – the Swell Season. The movie tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their love of music.  It was the brainchild of John Carney – who was best known at the time as the bassist for the Irish band the Frames.  It starred Frames’ frontman Glen Hansard and Czech singer-songwriter Markéta Irglová.  This was certainly a case of art-imitates-life: Hansard and Irglová met in real life for the first time when she was just 13 when her father organized a Czech music festival in which the Frames played.  Hansard was invited to the family’s home, where he saw a piano and asked who played it:

“So I played him a song,” Irglová recalled in an interview with Radio Prague, “and he said, ‘Do you write your own material?’ I said, ‘No.’

But with Hansard’s influence, the teenager started penning her own songs.  By 2006 they’d developed a partnership, forming a band – the Swell Season – and began the recording of “Falling Slowly,” written for the Czech film Beauty in Trouble.  During those studio sessions they recorded many of the songs on the Swell Season’s 2006 debut album that appear on the movie soundtrack – “When Your Mind’s Made Up,” “Lies,” and “Leave”.

Neither figure had any professional acting experience, but Hansard persuaded his bandmate Carney to cast Irglová as the unnamed Girl in Once, and soon the director was referring to them as his Bogart and Bacall.  In retrospect, the tension depicted in the movie was all too real, as age differences (she was 17, he was 34) kept them from having sex and a grander love.  But when the movie studio sent them out on a bus tour to promote the film, they couldn’t resist the temptation and became a couple. Although they eventually broke up, the pair still perform together.

In the end, the massive success of Once — as a film, soundtrack and now musical — has as much to do with the simplicity and authenticity of the songs as does their on-screen chemistry.  Once timelessly croons the joys and sorrows of love:  powerful enough to turn our lives upside down; it is never tidy, sensible or even forever.


Posted on: February 24th, 2015 by Madison Lake No Comments


My good friend, Ian Lake, (no relation) is performing the lead roll in the stage production of Once at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto. The reviews have been nothing but outstanding and the show is opening each night to a packed house.

My kids grew up with Ian and his sister, which makes me feel like a proud Auntie. It also makes me feel really old!

For those who never saw the film, Once takes place in Ireland and is a lovely story about two people from different parts of the world who happen upon each other and connect through music. Each has their own secrets – personal challenges they are grappling with and holding close to their hearts. With her startling singing voice and his musical ability wrought with soul, they come together – even for a brief moment – and help one another become whole again.

Once is an endearing love story that will touch you to the core. At least it did me, but then, I’m a sucker for a good romance, and also a music lover.

But don’t we all seek out resolution to angst or love through the films we watch and the books we read? Don’t we yearn for whatever it might be that can help make us whole – even for a brief moment.


51JaJYwKDKLHello and happy new start of the week!

Today my Music Monday is inspired by exotic and passionate lands, yes, I’m talking about latin countries.  I own the CD of Latin Lounge by Putumayo Presents, and used to play it on repeat for a long time… until I put in in a drawer and forgot about it until just recently.  Now it’s on my player again, and I find it especially motivating in the evening hours, when I listen to it, do a little work on my upcoming two books, and enjoy a glass of nice red wine.  Everything is better with a glass of red wine, especially Monday, don’t you think?

So pour yourself a glass of wine, or any drink of your preference, turn on your speakers and enjoy with me. Listen Latin Lounge by Putumayo below.


Bruce JennerLong before Transparent or the real-time on-camera metamorphosis of Bruce Jenner, there were plenty of accounts of gender identity bending.  Although this recent trend – of brave men living publicly as women – is relatively new.  On the other hand, for women to live as men and hide their femininity in a world dominated by men, could be understood differently – it could be driven by other motives and therefore the truth was ignored.

The centuries old practice of “Boston marriages” – or “female husbands”- help to shed light on society’s view of identity and marriage.  Until the 1860’s in the U.S. there wasn’t much legal concern for marriage.  I mean, couples were assumed to be married if they lived together and claimed to be wed, and officials rarely checked any registration documents.  But after the Civil War, women came to regard men as the less refined of the sexes – perhaps a growing discontent occurred because men were absent and dying in mass numbers.  Whatever the reason, women started pairing with women in what were called “Boston marriages”.  It was natural for women to openly show their lady-crushes in those times, so sexual relationships were often disguised in layers of admiration and friendship.

No one thought any differently until the 1920’s sexual revolution when homosexuality actually emerged as a thing to isolate and judge.  Sarah Nicolazzo, a literary history professor at University of California, has studied many of these 19th century female husband stories and has made some suggestions about the true nature of these same sex unions.  She says that anatomy did not always necessarily indicate gender.  Also, she adds that some of these arrangements were actually what we would consider lesbian, yet the language and appearance of heterosexuality was used to enhance the social standing of these relationships.  And so the divide between physical maleness and social maleness began to be drawn.

Today, the plight of Bruce Jenner, whose image underwent a pendulum-swing of sexual opposites – from the pinnacle of male beauty to the feminine re-imagining of his outer self – can be viewed in the same light.  Sex and gender are such confusing concepts that most of us tend to isolate them into opposites and deny anything in between their civil rights.  Gays and lesbians began to gain rights when people saw that some family members were gay.  Research at the University of California at Los Angeles implies that while 3.5 percent of American adults identify as gay, only 0.3 percent are transgender.  This uphill run is coached by the courage of people like Jenner.  Far from the cash-driven sensationalism of the news media, his strength to stand up to the discrimination faced by transgender people means there can only be one motive for his journey: truth.

Publishing Woes

Posted on: February 17th, 2015 by Madison Lake No Comments


As I sit editing and polishing my fifth book, the third and last in the Cloud of Hawthorne series — before I begin book six — I contemplate publishing.

It’s a long road.

I self publish my books through a wonderful self-publishing house called Friesen Press. I am always happy with the process and the end result and really, it’s not that different a process than if I were getting published. However, that doesn’t stop me in my attempts to get my work recognized and picked up by a big name publisher. Why?

I suppose it’s still considered a badge of accomplishment in the writing world. It shows your work is ‘worthy’, although that is debatable. Big names like HarperCollins or Simon & Schuster give you clout, but no matter how good your work is, it’s a tough slog.

My friend and colleague recently posted this link. I think it says a lot. Just love what you do and keep doing it.