Monday, October 1, 2012

Guest Post- Theresa Milstein


Let's give a warm welcome to Theresa Milstein. Theresa writes children's books. Most of her manuscripts are YA, but she's written for middle grade as well. She's a member of SCBWI and active in the New England SCBWI branch. You can follow Theresa's blog here.  

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Thanks for having me on your blog!

My short story “My Moment” is included in the anthology From Stage Door Shadows.  The stories in this book deal with the darker side of performing.  It was easy for me to find inspiration.


Ever see the television show Toddlers and Tiaras?  

Pint-sized kids compete in beauty pageants.  Like passing by a car crash, I found it hard to look at, but couldn’t look away. Everything about their appearance screams WRONG.  They’re too tan.  Their hair is too high. They’re wearing too much makeup, and makeup on a kid just looks odd.  And don’t even get me started on those frozen faux smiles… for a preview click here

They’re made to look like adults, but it doesn’t work on cherub faces and tiny-toothed grins. 

But it’s the story behind the pageants that really intrigued me.  The clothes cost a fortune.  So do the pageant coaches.  Then there’s the spray tan expense. And if the poor child is in that cute “I lost my front teeth” phase, they must wear fake teeth, so they can look…. creepy instead of like children. Sometimes the little contestants have problems with the teeth onstage, like old ladies dealing with ill-fitting dentures. 

Then some mothers go a step further and hire someone to do hair at the show, which requires hours of prep, elaborate hairpieces, and enough hairspray to give the children asthma. 

It’s not all about “looks”.  There’s the talent portion too.  If my stomach hadn’t curdled before, it did during the routine practices.  If you have or deal with children, you know they don’t always cooperate when you want them to do your bidding.  So the children have meltdowns during rehearsals, while the mortified mothers coerce with bribes and/or threats. The editors like to cut to a previously recorded interview where the mothers say how their children really “want” to be in pageants.

Then there are the routines that cross the line from something a child should do, to something you might see in a Vegas performance. 


It made me wonder, what if pageants had more significance? What if, way in the future, pageants become vehicles for females to succeed in society?  What if “success” means to marry well?  I wrote a short story where women’s brains count for little, but it’s their ability to look good and use their talents to impress the husband’s guests at dinner parties.  It’s a Victorian or 1950s society meets 2313.   

Dystopian pieces always stick a lens into our contemporary society and show what the likely outcome if some sinister aspect were able to run amok.  In the short story “My Moment”, it was children’s beauty pageants. 

Blurb:

Twenty-six authors trade Tiny Dancer's California-blessed lyrics for the shadowed recesses of stages large and small in From Stage Door Shadows, a speculative fiction homage to the darkness just beyond the limelight of the entertainment industry.

The stories re-introduce the women Benny Taupin wrote about and Elton John sang about: blue jean baby, LA lady, the band's seamstress, the music man's wife and the girl dancing in the sand, along with a stellar cast of musicians, singers, thespians, fans, managers, dancers, DJs, magicians, talent show contestants, stars and has-beens.

From vaudeville to opera, piano bar and street corner, hotel suite and beauty pageant, From Stage Door Shadows is a backstage pass to where dreams of fame, fortune and fulfillment live and die in a heartbeat.


The anthology retails for $19.99, except at The Book Depository, which is listing the book for $12.97





On the emergent site, the book is $19.99 and the ebook formats are $4.95. 

Thanks Theresa! And congrats on your release!

63 comments:

  1. So excited for you Theresa. Your story sounds great. I agree about the kids and pageants. It's a weird world that moms put some kids through.

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  2. Thanks for hosting me! I just linked my blog to yours.

    Natalie, thank you. I couldn't agree more about the show!

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  3. OMGosh! Do they really make them wear fake teeth???? Seriously? I am totally appalled.

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  4. That show and Honey Boo Boo really make my stomach turn. I want to shake those parents, especially the moms.

    And congrats on your story!

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  5. SA Larsen, they do make them wear fake teeth because they're supposed to look like mini-adults instead of children.

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  6. Shelly, I haven't seen Honey Boo Boo. The commercials are already too much for me!

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  7. Those pageants sound horrible. How can parents do that to their kids?
    But what an awesome inspiration for a dystopian!
    Congratulations, Theresa!

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  8. I've never seen Toddlers and Tiaras but I have read of them and about them and seen the pics and thrown up everytime! LOL!!

    But I totally like how you've used this premise as a springboard to your fab story!! Yay!!

    Take care
    x

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  9. Your story sounds haunting! I totally agree about these pageants. The poor children. :(

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  10. Wow, what a great concept for a dystopian story! I think the kiddie pageants DO say a lot about how screwed up our values as a society are becoming!

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  11. Deniz, it seems that a lot of the parent drive is living through their children. It's written all over their faces during the performances.

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  12. Old Kitty, the saddest part of the show is when the children lose and feel like failures.

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  13. Janet, I cringe when the moms berate their daughters for losing or messing up a routine, and I ask myself, "For what?"

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  14. wow, that is creepy indeed. i cant believe what they do in real life, a zombie like horror is what it is! sounds fascinating!

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  15. Tara, the children in makeup with big hair reminds me of those old pictures of children when artists made kids look like mini-adults, so their features didn't look right.

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  16. Hi Theresa .. definitely going to get the anthology this month now!

    Great guest posting by you for Chandara's blog ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  17. What a fun idea! I love how you came up with the premise, Theresa. Can't wait to read this!

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  18. So glad you took on this topic. It needs to be be opened so people are aware of it and how terrible it is for kids.

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  19. Hilary, that's wonderful to hear. Thank you!

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  20. Cleemckenzie, it's a shame to see girls valued for something so superficial.

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  21. Congratulations, Theresa!!!! Yay!
    I've never seen that show, but it doesn't sound like something I'd like to watch! Yikes! But what a cool premise for a short story!

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  22. TerryLynnJohnson, seems to be a uniquely American phenomenon. Lucky us.

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  23. Thanks for stopping by everyone. It is a great topic for discussion and a great twist for a story. Thanks Theresa for being here. =)

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  24. OMGoodness! I had no idea. But what a great premise for a story. I so want to read yours, Theresa.

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  25. Susan, thank you. I hope you like it!

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  26. Fake teeth... didn't know... poor kids. Talk about major vanity. Love the premise of your story.

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  27. Thanks, tfwalsh! I hate the idea of covering over all that makes children wonderful and turning them into faux adults.

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  28. Congrats, Theresa! And I agree - seeing those little girls with their hair all teased and their faces all made up just seems so wrong.

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  29. Susan, I agree. It's the opposite of attractive. Girls are beautiful just as they are.

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  30. How do these girls learn how to be a kid? How do they learn how people really are? It's scary to think about a whole society of them growing up and then being someone's mother.

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  31. I always cringe whenever I see the commercial for that show. ugh. I totally love your story and will definitely check it out:)

    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  32. Carol, I agree. How can you be a kid when you're practicing routines, spray tanning, and all the other stuff: makeup and hair?

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  33. Nutschell, I hope you like the story as much as the idea. Thanks!

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  34. Congratulations, Theresa!

    I have seen that show. It's rather disturbing, especially the values being taught the girls.

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  35. This sounds like an intriguing story. :) Congrats to Theresa.

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  36. Congrats, Theresa, on the story! Like you, I don't care for the whole idea, but am drawn to watch on occasion. It's interesting to hear how your story came about.

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  37. Karen, it's hard not to watch these wrecks. That's how I am about Hoarders.

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  38. Theresa I am so happy every time I see you announce a new publication. I know the big one is just around the corner.

    I've watched T & T a few times. I just don't understand spending so much on dresses etc...I watch Hoarding too...so embarrassed...It makes me fell better about my house.

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  39. Sharon, that's so sweet. I don't feel any closer to being published with something big than I did 6 years ago.

    Yes, Hoarders makes me feel like I have my clutter under control!

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  40. I haven't watched the show, but even the commercials make me so angry with those parents - I don't know much about it, but it sure doesn't appear to be a healthy activity for those kids!

    Congrats on your story - you've done so well with your shorts! Awesome! :)

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  41. Jemi, you're better off not watching the show or you'd be even angrier.

    Thanks! It's nice having short pieces published. Some positive feedback instead of all rejections.

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  42. I think you just described Utah in your what if question.

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  43. Michael, marriage is nice, but I prefer more than just that for a goal. And choice is nice too!

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  44. That show is disturbing!

    But it has a purpose if it gave you that cool premise! Congrats!

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  45. Congratulations! I can't watch that Toddlers & Tiaras show. It makes me want to throttle the parents. Those poor kids!

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  46. I know what you mean about not being able to look away from those pageants. So wrong!! I love your concept for the story.

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  47. Jennifer, too bad those girls have to go through all that for my inspiration!

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  48. Lynda, I think Australia has children's pageants too, right?

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  49. What an interesting--and disturbing--concept for a story. I've never heard of Toddlers and Tiaras before, but it's amazing what people will shove their kids through. I'd hate to be one of those contestants.

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  50. The Golden Eagle, I'm not the contestant type either!

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  51. I cannot wait to get this. Love your successes, my friend. The big one is almost knocking on your door. *wink*

    I am glad I never put Ivy through that. I've heard of some of those witchy Mamas. I've heard of that show too. Bleh!

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  52. I am very happy for you Theresa.
    To me that tiaratoddlers is disgusting like a lot of tv lately.
    A good book is a better idea.

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  53. Best wishes Theresa! And I have to add I really do not like adults parading the small children dressed as adults in front of an audience. Just too many creepy people involved in this business.

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  54. Excited for you, Theresa! Your book blurb sounds wonderful. And yes, I also read in a magazine how the kids are made to act like adults for pagaents- horrible.

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  55. Those types of pageants make me want to bang my head on a wall. How are they really happening? It's crazy. It's the perfect premise.

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  56. Robyn, thank you for your positive outlook. I often need it!

    Anthony, a good book over bad TV is always better. (Though I do like a little reality TV. I'm a big fan of Flipping Out.)

    Stephen, let girls be girls for as long as possible. I agree with you about keeping the creepy out!

    Nas, yes, the lines crossed are incredible.

    Missed Periods, so true. I remember the death of that poor Ramsey girl in the 80s. I had hoped pageants would die after that, but now they seem more popular than ever.

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