Thurs. Jan. 19: Day of Resistance (Part II)

Thursday, January 19, 2017
Waning Moon
Cloudy turning to sunshine and cool

Not a productive writing day yesterday, but got a bunch of other things done. One contract negotiation, in particular, is taking more and energy than it should. I’m being pushed towards signing something that is not in my best interest and is in conflict with the standards provided by the Authors’ Guild, and I’m not willing so to do. Yes, I am willing to walk away if necessary. But the person who fights me on it wants me to sign it anyway. Which I won’t. This “shut up, roll over and deal, even though you’re being fucked on every level” mentality especially irritates me because it reflects what Swamp Thing Elect’s supporters are demanding of the country in every capacity.

Got some research done, but not as much as I’d like. I’m on hold on some of the research, because that is yet another contract that needs to be finalized.

On the third ongoing contract negotiation, the other party asked for more time, which is fine. She needs to run things by her legal advisors, too.

Today is officially the Day of Resistance, before tomorrow’s inauguration and our country’s march into destruction.

I am not able to go to NYC for tonight’s rally led by Michael Moore and Mark Ruffalo, unfortunately. Unfortunately, I’m limited in how much I can afford to travel right now, and since I’ll be marching this weekend, and last weekend was the PEN event — something had to give somewhere. But I will attend it virtually.

Swamp Thing Elect, the Narcissistic Sociopath, that corrupt con man, is not my president. I will not give him the attention he craves. I will not capitulate to his bullying, nor will I become complicit as he tries to destroy the many good things this country stands for, and the progress we’ve made over the last fifty years.

I am not interested in “unity” with Swamp Things Elect’s supporters, who believe it’s okay to mock the disabled, to deny women healthcare, to sexually prey on others, to destroy Medicare — which is an EARNED benefit, to destroy Social Security — again, an EARNED benefit, to condone violence against those who disagree, to destroy the educational system, to destroy the very planet on which we live on, to deny equal rights and basic human decency based on skin color and/or religion, and/or sexual orientation, to force one’s particular brand of extreme religion down the country’s throats while claiming everyone else’s religion makes them a “terrorist”, to condone domestic terrorism as long as the individuals performing it are white, to deny the press access to what is going on so the corruption can go unhindered, to put people in charge of agencies they are bound and determined to destroy, and to get us into a nuclear war because of a Who-Has-the-Biggest-Dick contest.

I’ve heard Swamp Thing Elect’s supporters proclaim that, should they see anything unethical, immoral, or tactics that resemble fascist tactics, they will be the “first” to stand up, and they will protect the “others.” These idiots are completely ignoring that they HAVE seen countless demonstrations of all of that throughout the campaign and voted for him anyway. The behavior had only intensified since the election. They can’t expect anyone to take them seriously that they believe in “family values” when they vote for someone who is its antithesis. They ARE NOT and they WILL NOT stand up against Swamp Thing. or his goons. As usual, they’re blowing a lot of hot air. Paraphrasing the meme that’s been going around, when someone comes for them, there will be no one left to stand for them, because they did not stand for others.

He has had numerous opportunities to respond to criticism and dissent with statesmanship and dignity. He refuses so to do. Instead, he behaves like a spoiled, ranting toddler, and incites further hatred.

It also amazes me how many Swamp Thing Elect supporters think they’re on a “special list” because they voted for him. They genuinely believe that, while people who voted for Hillary will lose health care, Medicare, all health and human services, and Social Security, because they voted for the Swamp Thing, they will keep their benefits while the “others” lose them. Several have SAID that to me. “You’ll be left to die in a ditch, but I’m getting a Cadillac plan and I don’t have to pay for it, because I’m on The List.”

So when they’re shocked that they might lose their benefits and go crying to the media? Honey, this is what you voted for. There is no such thing as “one issue voting.” You voted for the whole package including advocating racism and violence and inequality. You voted to lose your healthcare, your benefits, your overtime pay at your minimum-wage job, and to have your house foreclosed. You are not exempt. You are not on a “special list.” The information was out there; you chose to ignore it.

All while Swamp Thing Elect and his buddies line their own pockets, plunder the US Treasury for themselves, sell us off to other countries, and probably put the contents of the White House up for sale on eBay.

No. I will not “unify”. I will not normalize one of the most unqualified and corrupt administrations in this country’s history.

It is BECAUSE I have respect for the Office of the President that I will not unify with those determined to destroy it for personal gain.

For eight years, anti-Obama factions refused to work with/unify/compromise with the Obama administration. The amount of racial insult against the President and his family, the constant obstructionism. Mitch McConnell declaring it was his mission to make sure Obama was a “one-term President”. Not that he would do his job to serve the country, but that his entire mission was to obstruct Obama. Mitch McConnell refusing to give Merrick Garland a fair hearing for the Supreme Court vacancy, and then whining that the Senate has to rubber stamp anyone Swamp Thing Elect puts forth. If the cabinet posts are any indication, the next nominee for the Supreme Court won’t even have any legal experience.

I will not “unify” with such hypocrites.

I will not give the Swamp Thing the attention he craves. When the Supreme Court betrayed the American people by handing the election to GW Bush, instead of allowing votes to be counted, I did not consider Bush my president, either. I ignored him as much as possible, working with my elected representatives on issues that mattered to me.

Then, of course, 9/11 happened. Even though Bush had the information on August 6 that would have prevented it. Read, or re-read, the 9/11 Commission Report if you’ve forgotten. So we had to pay attention. And then Bush came to speak to an anti-war rally in NYC, against getting into Iraq, and told the assembled crowed, “I don’t care what you think.” I was there. I heard the words. I wrote them down on the day. He was my EMPLOYEE. He damn well better care what I thought!

And here we are, with thousands of lives lost and thousands of veterans who aren’t being cared for, and who won’t, be cared for, under the incoming administration.

The dumbing-down began in the Reagan years. I lived through them. I remember. It got worse with reality television. And now a reality television celebutard is about to take an oath of office he will not fulfill, treat the job like a hobby that he will ignore when he doesn’t feel like doing it, destroy our relationships with our allies all over the world, do whatever Putin tells him, and probably get us into a nuclear war, because he thinks it’s like a video game, and, in his pathetic life, there have never been any consequences for any of the horrible things he’s done. He’s been bankrupt four times. If this cabinet picks are any indications of how he’s run his businesses, hiring the least qualified for every position, no wonder. Now he gets to bankrupt the country.

I will not give him the attention he craves. I will ignore him as much as possible, while working with my elected officials on issues that matter, and fighting the policies that will destroy us.

One of the first things to do is to remove Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell from their positions, because they are using Swamp Thing’s ignorance and bombastic posturing for their own ends.

I have been keeping up with the confirmation hearings this week for the inept and corrupt that want cabinet positions. So far, they’ve all been horrifyingly unqualified for the positions to which they were named. I have been letting my elected officials know how I feel about them. I will continue working with my elected officials, and I will work to help other ethical progressives get elected all over the country in 2018.

I will continue with my own creative work, in prose, on stage, on film, and on radio, and accepting gigs from organizations in whose missions I can believe. I will not normalize behavior, legislation, and corruption that are sickening to me, and I will not “unify” with people who promote, condone, and live those beliefs. If I have to, I will co-exist with them, provided they don’t try to force them on me, and I will continue to use my First Amendment rights to speak out.

I will continue working with organizations like PEN, Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and environmental organizations that work for dignity and rights for all. I will cut ties with organizations who don’t take a stand.

I will continue to vote when votes come up, to read as many bills coming up as possible, and to find daily ways in my life to make the world around me a better place. That does not mean shutting up and ignoring the corruption around me.

There are plenty of progressive slogans being bandied about with which I don’t agree, because I think it’s too much bunnies and rainbows and not enough practicality. While we often need to unwind with cute cat videos and a glass of wine after a long day, bunnies and rainbows and “positive energy” won’t fix this. Hard work, cunning, intelligence, and a refusal to back down will.

That is my resistance.

I am not watching the inauguration tomorrow, for the first time since I can remember. I have other work to do, especially creative. I am also taking the trash to the dump — the gesture pleases me, in a small way. I intend to help take out the trash that is the incoming administration as much as possible in the coming months.

I will be offline from tomorrow until Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Jan. 19, 2017: Day of Resistance

I had a long post dedicated to today, and the computer ate it!

Ironic and telling.

Never fear, I am resisting — today and every day.

I will not give Swamp Thing the attention he craves, and I will continue working with my elected officials to work on policies that give everyone basic human rights and dignity.

I will be offline until Monday.

Published in: on January 19, 2017 at 11:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Wed. Jan. 18, 2017: Day of Discouragement

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Waning Moon
Rainy and raw

Very tired and a little discouraged. Going over one of the contract negotiations, one member of the team that’s supposed to represent me is not, in my estimation. That is always discouraging. I have no doubt that things will come to a head in the next few days.

I managed to write an article yesterday, which was good, and I got some errands done this morning. I need to get some research done this afternoon, and maybe even some writing.

I feel bleak about the future of so many things right now, personally, creatively, and in the bigger picture. Hopefully, just sitting down and doing some of the work will help and get me back on track.

Tomorrow is the Day of Resistance, and, of course, I’m participating. I will then be offline Friday through the weekend with other commitments.

And, hopefully, a breakthrough in the writing.

Onward, trudging slowly, unfortunately.

But it happens. Sometimes, one goes through a blues patch. Pretending it isn’t happening doesn’t do any good. Recognize it, own it, take steps to make it better.

And, of course, as a writer, remember how it feels, so when one of your characters goes through something similar, you can write it from the inside!

Published in: on January 18, 2017 at 12:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tues. Jan. 17, 2017: Reading, Figuring, Negotiation

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise and take a look at “The Joy of Re-Reading.” Maybe it will inspire you to re-read some of your favorites.

Well, the weekend wasn’t as relaxing or productive as I hoped.

There was news happening, such as Swamp Thing Elect’s attack on John Lewis — right before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Typical of a self-centered Swamp Thing to attack someone vital to this country’s civil rights.

Not to mention that Biloxi, MS is now calling it “Great Americans Day”. That is not the name of the holiday, and you don’t get to change its name just because you’re a racist representing other racists.

Ringling Brothers’ Circus is closing after 146 years. Feld blames animal rights activists, and I call bullslhit on that. There are circuses without animal acts (such as Big Apple) who are doing fine without them. As someone who pitched to them several years ago to be part of their marketing department, I had a plan that would have brought them into the 21st Century while still paying tribute to their history and the history of “circus.” (Regular readers know I have several circus-themed projects in development — I have a good handle on the history). They weren’t interested. To their credit, they also didn’t start hiring third-rate reality celebutards to get them more attention. Am I saying that if they’d hired me they’d still be viable? No, because I’m sure other people pitched even better plans. But they weren’t willing to take big enough risks.

Sent off some material to a theatre that seems interested in working with me. We’ll see.

Did some more research for a pitch to a different theatre. I’d like to do the particular project I’ve been researching, so I sent off the pitch. Fingers crossed. It would mean six months of immersion in a period of time I’m interested in, but don’t know much about except peripherally. It would mean six months of immersion in beauty (as well as drama), which I could use right now.

I also re-thought another long-term project, which means one of my deadlines that was at the end of this month is now at the beginning of March, and then the next at the beginning of June, and so forth, every 12 weeks for the next two years, instead of every 6 weeks for a year. That will allow each of those pieces to be more in depth and more polished.

Because the point of honing one’s craft is that every piece one writes is better than the earlier ones.

Read Gail Godwin’s PUBLISHING: A MEMOIR, and recommended it to a friend who’s been going through a rough time. I didn’t realize how many publishers and editors she had — although she found the right agent early on and they stuck by each other. The right agent is so important. And difficult to find.

I used to read a lot of Godwin’s work, and really liked it. Until the religion overshadowed things like plot, character, and story, and then she lost me. I haven’t read the last few books, but I think I will try them. I also want to find the early ones, the ones I liked so much, that are packed away somewhere downstairs, and re-read them.

I don’t trust people who say they never re-read. A good book gives you fresh gifts every time you enter it. The “don’t have time” argument is just another bullshit excuse. There’s no such thing as “having” time for anything. You make the time for things that matter, and you ignore the rest.

Playing with a few things writing-wise, but it wasn’t anywhere near the productive writing weekend I needed it to be. I’m way, way behind where I need to be and frustrated.

I managed to write 14 pages on a piece on Saturday, but it wasn’t one of the pieces I should be working on. However, it was important in its own way, and I learned from it.

Read Miles Morland’s MILES AWAY: A WALK ACROSS FRANCE, which was fun.

There was an absolutely amazing event on Sunday at the New York Public Library, hosted by PEN America. It was the Louder Together Event, for writers to express the importance of protecting and fighting for free speech. There were people I knew there; people I didn’t know before but admired; new-to-me people who I now know. Writers of all kinds: novelists, poets, short story writers, essayists, translators, journalists (I’m talking REAL journalists who work stories, not news readers), and, most importantly to me, perhaps: playwrights. Because live theatre is a huge arena of change, because it is experiential rather than theoretical. Heroines of mine such as Anna Devere Smith and Eve Ensler spoke. I have always felt a great honor and a great responsibility as a member of PEN — it was strengthened on Sunday.

I was disappointed not to see any familiar faces from where I now live — Cape Cod. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and think they went to the sister rally held in Boston. However, I seriously doubt it. May I be proven wrong!

Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr., day, and a holiday. I took it as such. A contract offer came through — why it was sent to me instead of to my agent puzzles me. Negotiations will start this week, and it will be settled one way or the other.

I have a lot of lost ground to make up on both NOT BY THE BOOK and SONGBOUND SISTERS, although I’m feeling more confident in SONGBOUND SISTERS. Its natural rhythm is a bit slower than I’m used to; since it is yet to be contracted, I have the luxury of working with the book’s natural rhythm.

I started reading ITALIAN WAYS: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo by Tim Parks. He says something that resonates even more strongly in 2017 than in 2013, when the book was written: “In America the lack of investment in train travel speaks eloquently of a country always ready to appear righteous but pathologically averse to surrendering car and plane for a more eco-friendly, community-conscious form of mobility.” (p. viii, Preface).

Today, in addition to catching up on writing, I have a Very Long List of administrative tasks. Gotta keep up with them or they become overwhelming.

If the contract negotiations end positively later this week or early next week, there will be press releases to get out. Ditto if the play set in the Renaissance I pitched is commissioned. So, I have to be ready to jump on either of those instantly, should they come to pass.

I’m also working on a new marketing plan for the Topic Workbooks.

It’s always feast or famine; if even a handful of the opportunism work out, I’m entering a feast cycle, which will be good. I’ll need to step up to the plate and deliver. And adjust the uncontracted work so it still moves forward (because today’s uncontracted work is tomorrow’s contracted work) without sabotaging the contracted work.

It’s all about protecting the work while keeping one’s commitments, and knowing how to shift. And being able to work on more than one thing. Very few writers have the luxury any more, of being able to work on one project at a time. They should honor their agents and editors when they do.

Have a great week!

Fri. Jan. 13, 2017: Lucky Day & Retreat!

Friday, January 13, 2017
Last Day of Full Moon
Sunny and mild

Yesterday was rather a useless writing day — yet another one.

I managed to get started on the contest entries, though. That’s always a good thing.

I’m also in the early stages of negotiations for an interesting project in New Bedford — that would happen when it’s unlikely snow will derail me! Fingers crossed I’m what they’re looking for.

I decided, this morning, that, once I go offline after posting things, I’m offline until Tuesday. I’m giving myself a writing/yoga retreat for a few days. I want to work for a few days without distraction.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

May you take Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday to contemplate the positive change he created in the world and see how you can contribute to it.

Published in: on January 13, 2017 at 11:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thurs. Jan. 12, 2017: Trying to Get the Work Done

Thursday, January 12, 2017
Full Moon
Rainy and mild

Managed to get errands run before the storm hit yesterday; hoping to do the same today.

Lousy writing day. I’m having too many of those in a row. Not quite sure how to fix it, other than to keep showing up at the page and working my way through it.

In negotiations for a project that sounds interesting; fingers crossed it all works.

Very little of interest to say today; frustrated by the way Congress betrays us. Disgusted by the Creature who thinks he will take office next week, in spite of the fact that he’s going to screw over and pillage the entire country and sell us to his foreign business interests.

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell need to be removed from their positions and tried, if not for treason, for crimes against the American people.

The story of an early Italian painter (female) interests me, and I’m wondering if I should accept the invitation to write about her for 365 Women this year. I have to do some more research.

I think I want to do some revisions on JUST A DROP. The bones are there, and there are scenes I really like, but some things, I want to change. One character in particular is much weaker than I originally envisioned him. While it works in the context of what I have, I wonder if making him stronger and more manipulative might ratchet up the tension.

This is a case where I wish I was in New York and had access to actors for a table read. That would help a lot. I need to HEAR it to really know what works and what doesn’t. Even if I had access to enough actors for this particular piece here, I don’t trust that they’re experienced enough to read without massive rehearsal and really give me an idea of the material. A table read is a specific skill. It’s the first creative dipping toes into the waters.

Full moon tonight. I need to decide on my focus. And Friday the 13th tomorrow! One of my favorite days.

Have a wonderful day.

Published in: on January 13, 2017 at 11:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wed. Jan. 11, 2017: Steady Writing

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Day Before Full Moon
Sunny and mild

I finally had a better writing day yesterday, although I wouldn’t call it a “good” one. I did a good day’s work on SONGBOUND SISTERS, though. I’m getting back into the protagonist’s soul. It’s slow, but it’s getting there.

I’m still struggling with NOT BY THE BOOK. I did some research for a potential play I’m debating on whether or not I should do; I’m interested, but I’m a little commitment-shy right now. I looked at what I’d written so far on the new pilot, and it’s solid. I have to decide the direction I want for the rest of it. Looked back at another pilot I wrote last year; wondering if it needs a little tweaking.

So it was a decent, if not a brilliant, writing day.

Kept track of the Senate hearings on Jeff Sessions, who is I believe is unfit to be Attorney General. My elected officials know how I feel; all I can do is trust them to do the right thing. Some of the others involved in the decision? Not so much.

Started re-watching THE WEST WING last night, because I’ll take a fictional president who has intelligence, heart, courage, and ethics over a reality celebutard any day.

On a creative level, I love ensemble casts. Shows that are nothing more than a “vehicle” for one particular actor usually bore me. Especially if the show is named for the actor in the lead role, who is playing a character with the same name. Ick. To me, it shows a lack of imagination.

I’m not even going to comment on the latest disgusting rumors surrounding Swamp Thing Elect. But if there’s actual treason at the root of it, something better be done about it, instead of this constant shrugging and turning the other way on the part of Congress and law enforcement.

The genuine President’s Farewell Address last night was a reminder of what we’re losing: a man with dignity, ethics, intelligent, heart, and class. Have I agreed with all his positions over the past eight years? Absolutely not. In fact, I’ve been frustrated because I felt he was too conciliatory most of the time. But he was always someone I could respect.

Errands to run today, trying to get things done between the storms. Last night’s rain got rid of a good portion of the snow pack. We have more rain coming. It’s supposed to be in the 50s today and tomorrow — far too warm for this time of year. I have a feeling there will be a lot of illness with the fluctuating temperatures.

I’m hoping for another good day on SONGBOUND SISTERS, and maybe NOT BY THE BOOK. I’m way behind on the latter.

The first batch of books for contest judging arrived last night. I have to sort them (I’m doing mystery, fantasy, and novella again), and then get down to it. It’s much better to have them come in batches, because then I can give each one more attention.

I’m reading THINGS I LEARNED WHILE TALKING TO MYSELF by Alan Alda. What a terrific book, especially in these dark times. He reminds me of issues I’d forgotten in the 80s and 90s, things that upset us then. I wish there were young actors coming up with the commitment to both art and justice that people like Alan Alda and Meryl Streep have. Emma Watson is really the only one I can think of.

Off to try and have a creative, productive, positive day.

Tues. Jan. 10, 2017: Choosing to Write

Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was not a particularly productive day. I got some research done and a proposal done. I did not get enough writing done, and, what I did, I wasn’t happy with.

It happens.

I’m hoping today will be better, at least on the writing front. I’m having trouble getting back into NOT BY THE BOOK — I seem to have lost the tone. I had some ideas for SONGBOUND SISTERS, so we’ll see if we can get a good writing day on that.

I’m debating whether or not to agree to do another play for 365 women. I have to do some research on a few women that I find interesting, and then see. I’m not sure I can make the commitment this year. I’ve done three plays for them — I’d like to hone those a little more, and then see where else is interested.

I’m seriously lacking energy, and that makes everything else harder.

But, the gig is showing up at the page every day, even when you don’t feel like it. You make one word march along with another, and eventually you have a sentence, a paragraph, a page, a scene, a chapter, a novel.

“Writing” is a verb. It means you DO something. Each day, you have the opportunity to CHOOSE to write. You have the opportunity to CHOOSE not to write. If you don’t write, the only person responsible is you — no matter what else is going on or who’d you like to blame. Writers WRITE.

You can run around and find apologists to soothe you for not writing and give you buckets of excuses. But the bottom line is that writers write, and non-writers find reasons not to write.

Which are you?

Nothing wrong with being either one. But own it and take responsibility.

Published in: on January 10, 2017 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Mon. Jan. 9, 2017: Blizzard, Alan Alda, Meryl Streep & The Power of Art

Monday, January 9, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Direct
Sunny and cold

Mercury is finally direct, thank goodness! This was a tough one.

It started snowing on Friday; I’d planned ahead, so I didn’t go out. We got about 4-6 inches of heavy, wet snow on Friday, which was a pain in the butt to shovel, but knowing another storm was on the way, we did it anyway.

Saturday, the snow started in the morning, and it snowed until well into the evening. Blizzard conditions, white-outs, instructions to stay off the road.

I had to give up my reading slot in the MOBY DICK MARATHON at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, because I couldn’t get there. Disappointing, but not worth risking my life over.

Instead, I stayed home and read and we took down the holiday decorations. It took most of the day Friday and most of the day Saturday. We’d taken in the outdoor decorations on Thursday, before the first storm hit.

I still have to fluff bows before packing them, switch out and wash/iron/fold fabric. I shouldn’t be surprised it took several days to take down — after all, it took a month to put up!

I had a lousy writing week. Last week started like gangbusters, with about half the short story due at the end of the month, and getting back to NOT BY THE BOOK, and some other stuff. But every word, later in the week, was a fight, and the ones I wrestled, I don’t like very much.

I’m hoping for a better writing week this week. I NEED a better writing week this week.

It’s tough, because I have no energy. At all.

I had some promising news from my agent over the weekend, which is nice, but nothing is settled until contracts are signed, so I’m not jumping up and down yet. If negotiations work out, great; if not, on to the next.

I also have to do some negotiating on a potential freelance job. We’ll see how that works. Again, until there’s a signed contract and the deposit clears, I’m not counting on anything.

I’ve been re-watching all of M*A*S*H lately, and I’m reminded how wonderful Alan Alda’s work is. I remember, during my theatre days, when he was the ultimate intelligent woman’s sex symbol: in addition to looks, he has intelligence, wit, humor, compassion, and courage. Then, I was lucky to work with him on some benefits, and he’s even better in person — interested and engaged, and KIND. His wife, Arlene, is amazing, too, and they’re wonderful together. He continues to be active, writing and advocating for science. We need more Alan Alda and less reality celebutard.

Adding to that, was Meryl Streep’s beautiful speech last night at the Golden Globes. As usual, she was intelligent, thoughtful, precise, insightful, and truthful.

Narcissistic Sociopath is having a hissy fit, but there again, you see the contrast between a genuine talent and a reality celebutard.

And hey, if the Duck Dynasty Dickheads have a right to spout politics — and they do, no matter how much I might disagree with them — then intelligent, talented artists have that same right.

For those who say actors/artists don’t have the right to speak about politics — ALL art is political. Some is overt, some is not. Great art makes the audience better, even for a few moments. Great art inspires us not to stand by and let people stomp on us. The incoming fascist regime is counting on squashing our spirit, by taking away everything that makes it possible to have a dignified life. We have to fight that, and one of the most effective ways so to do is through art.

You want to write narrow-minded formula pieces just to make money? Go ahead. That is your right. Even in those, though, isn’t there a happy ending? Doesn’t LOVE triumph over scheming and hate? That’s a form of political discourse. The most popular YA books in recent years — Hunger Games, Testing, et al — are political. Harry Potter is about overcoming a dictator. In Nora Roberts’s books, love and good overcome evil and destruction. That is political. Instead of just burrowing into these books (and we all need that escape), it’s time to take the principles that touch our souls in art and bring them forward into life. It is time for US to overcome those who want to break our spirits, take away love and hope, and control every aspect of OUR lives for THEIR profit.

We need to start creating the reality we want, both in our art, and then take it forward to turn it into our reality. It is time to defeat those who would crush our hearts, so they can line their own pockets.

Wed. Jan. 4, 2017: Writing a Better Reality, Reviews, Contract Controversy

Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold
Tenth Day of Christmas

Not a good dream last night, which means October will be rough. Oh, well. Maybe I can figure it out in time to make it smoother.

Yesterday, I was basically a waste of food. I got a lot done administratively, but not creatively. I felt about as creative as wilted lettuce. I managed to get in some MOBY DICK rehearsal, but the writing did not go well.

Which means I have to make up for it today.

I was so frustrated yesterday with reading. I’m so tired of dipshit, dumbed-down protagonists who can’t handle more than a half a glass of wine — white, no less! — without getting “sleepy”, put people’s lives in danger because they’re “too tired” to make a simple phone call, don’t learn from their mistakes, and, live in narrow-minded towns where you wish a serial killer would come in and wipe out a good portion of the population.

I want strong, intelligent, sassy, resourceful protagonists with a solid learning curve. I want to see diverse communities that are actually working together to build a better world. There’s plenty of drama in that, and plenty of obstacles.

By narrowing the formula, making it more and more restrictive, the big publishers are giving their readers permission to laugh AT protagonists instead of WITH them, and to say it’s “normal” to live in communities full of beastly people who hate anyone different. Basically, publishers are encouraging everything the Narcissistic Sociopath stands for, and telling people it’s okay to be narrow-minded and hateful.

It’s not.

People learn more from fiction than nonfiction. If we want a better world, it has to first start appearing in our fiction.

Simon & Schuster gave that disgusting, hateful What’s-His-Face a quarter of a million dollar book contract. Now, saying that S&S “shouldn’t” publish him is a form of censorship. If we are going to have free speech, that extends to speech with which we disagree. What we can do — unless we’re paid reviewers — is to refuse to purchase the book, if we want to send a message to the publisher. I won’t buy the book — I’ve heard what that creep has to say, and I both disagree and have no intention of lining his wallet.

I don’t know why anyone is surprised that S&S gave him a contract. Years ago, when I worked in publishing, in the industry, the nickname was “Shyster & Shyster”. That’s how they were referred to at book events or in the bar. They were known for having less than stellar contracts and treating their staff worse than other companies. Again, that was years ago; I think all staffs in publishing houses are suffering now.

Corporations can’t create art, which is why we need a renaissance of small publishers. Not necessarily self/indie publishers, unless those authors have the craft or are willing to pay the money for actual, talented editors (some do, and some put out excellent work). But small, old-school publishers who love books and give individual attention to every release on their list. Books need a chance to grow an audience, not rely on “pre-sales”. It wasn’t until I worked in a library until I realized how much all these “lists” are manipulated. Books need to grown an audience over time.

Do you even remember last week’s bestseller list? Can you recite it from memory? When was the last time you LIKED, really LIKED something that got a lot of buzz? I thought ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE and GIRL ON A TRAIN were well done and interesting. But the majority of books on the majority of lists haven’t resonated with me in the last several years. In fact, several of them have been beyond disappointing, they lack so much craft you wonder how they got their in the first place.

Market manipulation.

So how do you find good books? People whose opinions you trust. Readers tend to congregate with other readers. Librarians who actually read. I was shocked, once I worked in a library, when some of my colleagues claimed not to have “time” to read. Part of the job, people, especially with so many hours cut back. Reliable review publications who PAY THEIR REVIEWERS and where the reviews show a sense of craft, skill, and good writing, not just a book report. Preferably written by people who have an understanding of good writing and good storytelling. An actual, critical review is a honed skill. Everyone has an opinion and a right to their opinion. But an actual REVIEW, that is useful on more than one level, goes far beyond that.

A publication which charges authors for reviews can’t be trusted. Before you take a review seriously, find out if the review was bought, or if it’s an honest review.

At least one review publication has stated they will not review books put out by S&S in 2017. That is their right. They get to choose to whom they give space. Is it the fault of the other authors in the stable that S&S offered the contract? Of course not. I don’t get to tell my publishers and editors who else to publish. I’m an employee.

If the situation is so intolerable I can’t stand it, I get to leave, if I choose. But I don’t get to dictate who they do and don’t publish.

The way to put pressure on the publisher is not to buy the book.

Some people will do that by not buying ANYTHING by the publisher. I think it’s more effective if you simply refuse to put your money on the particular volume that you don’t like. Encourage them to publish books by ethical, insightful authors who do their research. Buy fiction that makes the world a better place. Reject the hatemongers.

I have to admit that I put a book back on the shelf the other day that I considered buying. It was non-fiction; I was not particularly familiar with the author or the author’s credentials. The publisher was S&S. I put the book back because I don’t trust that S&S will have done any fact-checking. Until I know more about the author, and whether the author actually deals in facts and reliable sources, I’m not going to shell out for the book.

That is MY choice. I get to practice conscientious consumerism — which, once I get the GDR file rewritten and up, you will see is one of my resolutions for this year.

If the knee-jerk response is that a publisher “can’t” publish something — well, eventually, someone will say they “can’t” publish something YOU agree with, too. It has to be a level playing field. Freedom of speech, whether you agree or not. When you don’t agree, come up with a reasoned argument backed by facts and evidence, and also practice conscientious consumerism. Free speech is different than incitement and hate mongering. Incitement and hate mongering are the abuse of free speech “Free” speech comes with responsibility, and the knowledge that words have weight and power, so you must choose your words wisely and practice your freedom responsibly. “Free” has far more layers than “I can do and say anything I want”. It also has consequences.  The speaker/writer must take responsibility instead of simply stating, “I can say whatever I want.”  It’s a sticky wicket — if you support the First Amendment, you must support the right of those with whom you disagree to have their say.  Where that becomes hate speech/incitement is an ever-changing line.   If you silence someone else, then someone will try to silence you in turn.  What you can do is not support hate speech and refuse to be incited.

I will not purchase that book. If I am paid by a legitimate publication to review it, I will read it and give my honest opinion on it. Since I rarely review non-fiction for the publications for whom I work, I doubt that will happen. However, without reading the book, I also cannot engage in reasoned debate about it once it comes out. If it becomes a central issue in my writing or personal life, I will have to read it. But I sure as heck won’t spend my hard-earned money on it. I will use the resources of the library — the sanctuary where ALL diverse reading is encouraged without judgment. If the book does not become a debate central to my work and life, I will ignore it and concentrate on publications that are.

There are plenty of things I WANT to read that are relevant to my life.

On a happier note, “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall” got a five star review yesterday, which was very much appreciated. The things the reviewer criticized and wanted more of were all valid, and things that I felt, too, and the fact that the piece merited five stars anyway was gratifying.

I got a late start today. I better get going, or I’ll never catch up.

I started, this morning, a wonderful book:  GOLD WEB by Vicky Delany. Grabbed me from the first paragraph, as a book should. I’m a big fan of her Constable Molly Smith books. If you haven’t read that series, I highly recommend it. This is not part of it — this is an historical mystery in the Klondike. But it’s damn good.

Devon

Tues. Jan. 3, 2017: Writing and Books

Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Ninth Day of Christmas
Rainy and cool

If you want to see my To Do List for January, visit the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site here.

I also have an article up about my favorite “Comfort Books” — books I re-read regularly — up on A Biblio Paradise here.

Yesterday, I wrote nearly 2300 words on the 5K short story that’s due at the end of the month, so that’s well on its way. It’s surprising me in a good way; I just hope it’s what they want.

I also wrote an article (the one on comfort books), and started rehearsing for this weekend’s MOBY DICK marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

I should have worked on NOT BY THE BOOK, but I didn’t. I’ll have to make up for that today.

I read a book called SKIN LIKE SILVER by Chris Nickson, and I really liked it. I definitely want to read more of his work. I ordered a bunch from the library. Once I read some more, I will decide which ones I’ll buy. Important to support living writers and all that.

I have more admin work to do today, and then it’s back to the page — both the short story, and NOT BY THE BOOK. Then, it’s more rehearsal for MOBY DICK.

Started a new training regimen of strength & cardio work to go along with the yoga and mediation. Yesterday was strength training. The circuit was challenging without being disheartening, and I felt much better once I did it. Today is cardio — I’m supposed to walk in this bad weather. Too bad for me, right? The only way I’m going to achieve what I want and need to is to get back in shape and stay healthy.

So the House of Representatives wants to gut the Congressional Ethics Panel, does it? The House GOP isn’t even pretending to have any ethics any more. Then it’s up to the few ethical Congress members left to hire private investigators and prosecute the unethical Congressional members through the court. Don’t make our entire system a mockery.

As of January 20, our government WILL be a mockery.

Onward.

Devon

Mon. Jan. 2, 2017: Hit the Ground Writing

Monday, January 2, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Eighth Day of Christmas

Busy few days.

The file with my answers to the GDR questions didn’t save, so I have to retype it and, hopefully, post it in the next couple of days.  Very frustrating.

JUST A DROP went out on time on Friday, and was accepted. I feel good about it, although there’s still work to do in the development process.

It was weird not to “have to” write for a few days.

So, of course, that meant I wanted to.

Ran some errands on Friday, including getting one of my 2017 calendars. In one of life’s little ironies, the store gave me a bag with a quote on it from MOBY DICK — just minutes after I was assigned my reading slot in next weekend’s MOBY DICK marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Nothing like synchronicity, is there?

But I tried to relax on Friday afternoon and evening. Saturday was about cleaning the house, ruminating on the year, and preparing for the coming one. As a final kick to all of us, 2016 took William Christopher, too. What a damn lousy year.

Made sidecars as the signature cocktail for the evening — I do love a good sidecar! Devilled eggs, cheese and crackers. Poached salmon with potatoes and broccoli for dinner. Bayberry candles for prosperity. Choked down some herring, too! 😉

Prosecco at midnight, a little writing, meditation before bed.

Up early on Sunday, extended yoga and meditation. Fire & Ice ritual, which I do every New Year’s Day. Eggs Benedict for breakfast. Cornish hen, roasted potatoes, and peas for dinner.

A little writing on a project just for me; sorting out some calendar stuff. Finishing up GDR answers and putting together my To Do List for January. Printing off my submission log from 2016, and putting away the drafts and the research for both “Courting the Lioness” and JUST A DROP. They want me to write another play this year; I’m trying to decide whether or not I think it’s a good idea. I will mull it over for a few days.

Re-read what I’ve written so far on NOT BY THE BOOK. I dive back into that today, hoping to finish a draft by March 6. Also working on the outline for SONGBOUND SISTERS, so I can start drafting that again next week.

I have some annoying administrative stuff to handle today, but can’t be avoided. Will also start putting together the newsletter, which I hope to get out by the end of the week. Instead of monthly, which isn’t an option, and too randomly, which doesn’t do anyone any good, I’m going to aim for quarterly.

Start rehearsals for the MOBY DICK marathon today, and also want to get a start on the short story due at the end of the month for the anthology. The word limit is 5K, so it shouldn’t take long to draft, but I want enough time to hone it.

Working on my personal strategic plan, and new marketing plans for the Topic Workbooks and for the Delectable Digital Delights.

Start a new strength training/cardio training plan today, that should work well with the deepening yoga/meditation practice. I need to get back into top condition. I was in shape working shows last summer, and then lost most of it in the autumn, between all the sitting and the driving.

I’m diving into the New Year and making a go of it!

Hope your New Year has started well. Let’s work together to make sure it gains positive momentum, shall we?

Devon

Fri. Dec. 30, 2016: Play Deadline Met, Buh-bye 2016!

Friday, December 30, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Seventh Day of Hannukah
Fifth Day of Christmas
Fifth Day of Kwanzaa
Sunny and cold

I’ve had my head down to finish JUST A DROP. From commission to submission-ready draft, the play has taken me a year. There’s a lot I love about it, and it’s amazing how relevant the political scheming in 17th century Rome is to today.

Of course, there’s plenty of room for further development, through workshopping and rehearsal. But, for now, it makes its deadline, and heads down to 365 Women in New York City.

I can’t believe all the recent deaths. Why aren’t any of the Horrid being taken?

Usually, I’m wonderfully optimistic about the coming year, but I’m not this year. 2016 has been tough; I would like 2017 to be better, but I’m discouraged.

At least the writing’s been going well.

If I choose, I can take a break from writing until Monday. I understand that civilians call this a “weekend” and have them quite regularly. As a writer and theatre person, that is rarely an option for me.

Tomorrow, my wrap up for the year will be on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site here. I am taking Sunday to contemplate what I want from 2017, and on Monday, I will post my answers to the questions on the same site. And start the work for 2017. Even if I don’t have much hope for it, I’m going to dig down and do the work, which is an action I can take, and see what else happens. It’s either that or give up and never get out of bed again, and that’s not what I do.

I was thrown off track this year by many things, and that is just something that happens. I’ve survived, and I want to put things into place in the coming months so that I can thrive.

Happy, happy New Year to you all. I wish you joy and abundance in all that is good.

Devon

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