Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007
Full Moon/Blue Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Next to Jill Shalvis and M.E. Ellis, I am an absolute slacker, let me tell you! Those two writers are an inspiration. They get more done in an hour than I get done in a week! Oh, well, it gives me something towards which to strive!

And a shout of congratulations to Shirley Wells, whose new book, INTO THE SHADOWS, is out.

One more day until:

Script Frenzy


The release of PERFECTLY PLUM.

The Dog Blog post on process is up here.

To answer Ivan’s question – basically what I’m doing here is changing my process slightly for this book, and brainstorming in public. There’s still plenty I’m not talking about, because it has to work itself out. I’m careful not to “talk myself out” before it’s written. I’m also interested in tracking back once it’s gone through the revision process to see where it started and how it grew. Ivan, sorry you had a bad experience with Sontag, but not surprised. I was never a fan for reasons I shan’t get into here.

Finished the material for Confidential Job #1, did the write-up, off it went and now I can invoice. Love that part!

Realized I can’t rewrite much of Medusa until I get to the Met on Friday. I need to play with a few more possibilities. While running errands at Staples, I found a scanner small enough to fit in Justin’s backpack, but I think I’ll just have him still retain his research cubicle in the room (we were in there, I can’t remember the name of it) – and say there’s a photocopier in there, whether there is or not. It doesn’t make sense to drag the laptop and the scanner internationally. A photocopy makes more sense. And I’ll add in some quick interchanges with the staff he’d run into on that library route, so he’s not questioned removing a book from the reading room. Problem solved, only stretching reality slightly – but there’s still enough reality to suspend disbelief.

Started work on Chapter 7 of Medusa, but I have to do some research on Greece and the temples in order for Gwen to tell Justin (as they’re walking around Lindisfarne at night) the backstory of the Medusa head. And I might throw in one or two of the Lindisfarne ghost yarns in there while I’m at it. Maybe the black dog running through the Abbey ruins.

Good morning’s work on Good Names. There were a couple of scenes that set up the social dynamic among the women of different economic classes, and some of the alliances and conflicts.

I was supposed to do some sort of errand this morning, but damned if I can remember it.

No hot water today. Again. We’ve had trouble almost all this week. I know they’re still working on the basement and all from the floods, but the last flood was on April 15 and it’s now nearly June. My patience is wearing thin. Not that it’s ever that thick in the first place.

But I am going to have to put the air conditioner in today.

I’m doing several tarot readings today, since it’s the Blue Moon, so I’d better prepare.


Good Names – 20,287 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
20 / 100

Tracking Medusa – 16,546 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
16 / 90

Starting tomorrow: the wordmeter bar for City of Lost

Process Posts

The regular daily entry is down at the bottom of this set of posts.

These posts, with photographs, show how walking the geography of the NYPL yesterday affected the story and the rewrites. My two main protagonists are Gwen and Justin, and Karl is one of the antagonists.

The Universe is having a good laugh at my expense: I hardly know anyone named Justin, but I like the name, and it’s the right name for the character. In the few days since I began work on Tracking Medusa, I’m tripping over “Justins” everywhere.

But my character is very adamant that this is his name, and he has a right to it. So there!

The chapters at the library are early in the book, where Justin runs into Gwen by accident and is drawn into the mystery.

Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 9:21 am  Comments (6)  


This is where the attack on Gwen happens (one of the lions is on top of the pedestal) and Justin is drawn into the action simply because he’s there.  And there wouldn’t be a story if he kept walking!

Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 9:10 am  Comments Off on  


This was my first choice of location for the place where Justin sits to make the phone calls trying to locate Gwen, and then has the confrontation with Karl. But then, I came across the following location and thought, hmmm . . .

Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 9:08 am  Comments Off on  


When I saw this, I thought that might be a more interesting place for the phone calls and Justin’s confrontation with Karl to happen.  If this was a film, it would be my first choice (in spite of the fact that the echo would affect the phone calls).  Since it’s in prose, I have choices.

Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 9:06 am  Comments Off on  


These are the chairs outside the library, where the scenes between Justin and Gwen happen after Gwen is attacked.  Why photograph chairs?  Because the physicality of sitting on a chair like this is very different from sitting on the steps on on a bench.

Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 9:04 am  Comments (1)  


These are the stairs from the second floor to the third floor, where the catalogue room and reading rooms are located.

Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 8:59 am  Comments Off on  


This painting is on the wall outside the catalogue room on the 3rd floor — I apologize for not having the proper credits for it, and for the fact that it’s out of focus.

I forgot it was of a monk working on an illuminated manuscript. I can tie this painting in to something the characters later experience on Lindisfarne, the Holy Island off the coast of Northumbria where the illuminated manuscripts were prepared.

You know how much I love Lindisfarne — of course I’d have to set a chunk of the book there!

Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 8:58 am  Comments (1)  


This is the entrance to the catalogue room and the Reading Room, where a good chunk of the action takes place in the early chapters.

Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 8:53 am  Comments Off on  


These benches are so wonderful that I think I’ll add a scene for Justin.

Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 8:52 am  Comments (1)  

May 30, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Almost full, almost Blue Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Dog Blog post will go up later today.

Yesterday was a rollercoaster. I went in a bit early and over to the NYPL. I took a lot of photographs (with permission, for the inside ones, anyway) and will do a separate post on how walking it affected the story. In other words, I’m going back and rewriting the chapter inside the library – breaking my own rule of not rewriting until I’m completely done with a draft.

I couldn’t photograph in the reading room, but I took notes. And I forgot to look for the photocopy machine – and it’s not on the floorplan — I think I have to give my male protag back his research cubicle and give him scanning capacity – I’ll check with the research librarian I know there how to structure it. Thank goodness for David, who always knows how to steer me in the right direction! I found a wonderful painting on the 3rd floor that I can tie in to something later in the book – it gave me so many ideas I wanted to run right back home and start rewriting the chapter!

I treated it like I would a preliminary location scout for a film, and it worked well. I took a lot of photos and notes, and now I’ve got almost everything I need. I was feeling jazzed and creative coming out of there, and it held for the whole day.

Needless to say, focus or lack thereof, was an issue at the theatre. Thank goodness it was only daywork. If I’d had to do quick changes, who knows what they’d wear onstage!

I’m breaking another rule by sending first draft chapters of Medusa to a friend to read – we’re swapping chapters of our WIPs as we work. Usually, it’s a third or fourth draft before anyone else sees it, but this time, I wanted faster feedback.

Elsa, my oldest cat, the tortoiseshell, had what we call “An Episode.” She has a neurological problem that prevents her from being able to land on her feet. For instance, if you pick her up, before you put her down, you make sure she’s right side up and say, “All four feet, Elsa, all four feet,” so she’s got them going in the right direction, and then you put her down. She can jump and climb and all that, but if she rolls off something, she goes splat. When she was a kitten, at least three vets told me I should put her down because she “wasn’t worth the extra work.” I disagreed. Yes, she has times where she gets confused and disoriented and needs extra attention, days when she’s never met any of us before and the apartment is all new; but she’s lively and funny and affectionate. She’s thirteen years old now, and definitely worth it.

She had a really good day on Monday, but Tuesday, she was having a rough time. Fortunately, my mom could stay with the cats while I was at the show. And she seemed much better by the time I got home.

And I had a fit of nostalgia on Monday about NYU, which is sure to bite me in the ass down the road. I completed a 5 year program in 3 years during my time at NYU – holding down a ridiculous amount of credits year-round, working my way through the film/television program by working in theatre, which is totally ass-backwards, but are you really surprised? And I prefer theatre, and that’s where I spent most of my professional life. I started working professionally in the theatre when I was eighteen, before I even got into NYU. I had a mixed experience there, for a variety of reasons (many of which were due a lack of good judgment on my part).

But receiving the alum info/resources packet the other day and doing research for this interview that might or might not happen, I started thinking back, focusing on the good times, and wondering . . .

I’ve always stayed in touch with my advisor, through all the years since I left, at least with cards at the holiday. In fact, I owe him an email, and we may get together to catch up in person. Unlike most of my fellow students, I never had a crush on him, but he was probably the best and most steadying influence on me there. I didn’t confide personal stuff to him (which was probably a relief for him), but when I flew in the face of what I believed to be administrative bullshit, he was there to pour oil on those troubled waters and make sure everything worked out. Even then, I had problems with authority.

I also had a writing teacher who I believe is the single biggest, most important influence in my development as a writer. He always believed in me, no matter what. And, I can’t tell you how often I’ve felt I let him down by not being a famous author (although this is a projection on my part; he’s never done anything to make me feel that way). Anyway, I looked him up in the NYU directory, and shot off an email yesterday, thanking him for everything. In addition to technical skills, he taught by example how important it is to take a stand and speak out when you believe in something. He taught me a lot about walking the walk as well as talking the talk.

And he emailed me back. I honestly didn’t think he’d remember me. I didn’t think I was that memorable. But he does. In fact, he says he remembers me “very well” – which I hope is a good thing. And he wants to stay in touch.

I also found email addresses for some of the other students with whom I worked. I’m still friends with my best friend from that time, who’s built a career both as a location manager and as a documentary filmmaker. But I’ve lost touch with most people from NYU. Other than the small team of filmmakers who used to work together all the time, as a commuting student, I didn’t know many of my colleagues. Plus, I was working – either a work/study job in the Interactive Telecommunications Department, or back in the theatre. Anyway, I sent off some emails, catching up with former colleagues and wishing them well. I’m always happy to see someone living his or her dream.

Today’s agenda is mostly writing. I read my friend’s adaptation of a short story into a stage play, and commented last night (he’s on deadline), and I’ve got to sort out the muddle of Act II of City of Lost or I will be royally screwed next week—uh, end of this week.

Good Names is developing in an interesting way. In addition to the plot, the themes are developing. Technically, plot-wise, it’s an historical murder mystery. The first victim won’t be killed off for several more chapters, but she’s already getting on my last nerve and I’m looking forward to bumping her off (on the page). I decided that she isn’t going to be out-and-out horrible, but there’s a build-up of slow annoyances and narrow-mindedness that leads to her demise. The main theme of the book is the protagonist refusing to be confined and defined by society (and teaching the narrator this), but the themes of building families and giving people second chances are also developing. On top of that, a new character’s inserted himself into the story – he was supposed to be a walk-on, one of the young street boys that ran around at that time doing errands for a coin. But he is bound and determined to become integral to the action. And fluster my young narrator. AND, an elderly character I originally envisioned as an antagonist has other ideas. She’s still difficult and antagonistic, but there’s quite a different agenda behind it. She’s surprising me (in a good way) and I think she’ll surprise the reader.

I’m going to do some rewrites on Tracking Medusa from yesterday’s work, and then move on to new pages.

Two days and counting, not just to the start of Script Frenzy, but to the release of PERFECTLY PLUM, to which I am a contributor. If you haven’t ordered your copy yet … uh, why not?

Studying sailing; trying to figure out when the NHL Draft is, because I cover that every year; I know it’s in June, but I think it overlaps with the America’s Cup, and I’m trying to figure out how I can be in two places at once. Yes, I checked. The draft is June 22-23, in Ohio and the Cup starts on the 23rd in Valencia. I knew I should have paid better attention during those bi-location lessons!

The Barbarians may have to hold off migrating for awhile. I think I’m at capacity.


Good Names – 18,537 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

18 / 100

Tracking Medusa
– holding at 15,553 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

15 / 90

PS.  Breaking news — my press credentials came through this AM for the America’s Cup.  Woo-hoo!  I am psyched!!!!

May 28 Part II

I’m trying to set up a Script Frenzy blogroll within my regular blogroll and failing miserably. It showed up the way I wanted to for a brief moment, and never again. I don’t know if I have to customize a widget (yeah, like I actually know what that means) or what.

So I emailed support because, unlike Blogger, Word Press support actually reads the question and answers it.

I worked on the questions for the interview which may or may not happen. I’d rather be prepared than have to hem and haw if it comes together more quickly than I expected. I like to plan a good foundation and then improv from there. I’ll poke around NYU a bit, since we’re both alums, and see if there’s any additional research there with which I can prepare. That damned expensive piece of paper might as well be worth something, right? And I actually bit the bullet and set up a MySpace account, because the potential interviewee has a page up. The things I do for my work! 😉

With Colin’s permission, my protagonist Gwen in Tracking Medusa reads Colin’s book Hunting Jack on the plane from NY to London. I love inside jokes like that!

Off to the theatre in the a.m. I hope they don’t keep me for the show – I’d like to do the day call and be done. I’m going in early because I want to stop at the main branch of NYPL and get the photographs and mappage I need for Tracking Medusa. Even though I wrote that section, I want to double check the geography.

On Friday, I might hop up to the Met to remind myself of the proper geography – I might even drag someone along to help me choreograph that sequence for Medusa. I’m pretty sure I have the chase scene from the Greek/Roman gallery through the Sculpture Garden back around to the front, threaded through those two gift shops and into the Egyptian wing correct – but I want to walk it again. And then I want to travel across the park and see the exhibit on Mythical Creatures at the Museum of Natural History. Of course, the NY Historical Society is right next to MNH, so if there’s time, maybe I’ll nip in there and do some research for Good Names. Which means I have to remember to bring pencils, since they don’t allow pens in the reading rooms.

I hate writing in pencil.

I can’t think in pencil. I think in ink.

We’ll see how it goes. I might have to focus on Medusa only on Friday and then go to the Historical Society some other day. But it’s so tempting to try and lump it all together . . .and next week will be insane, with the show and the Belmont and the Tony Awards and everything else. Not enough solitude.

Got one of the big submissions out that had to go out this week. The disk is missing for the other one, and I can’t recreate it in time, so I’m passing on that opportunity. It’s a shame – I have all the production disks, cast breakdowns, call sheets, everything EXCEPT the script. I’m taking it as a sign that it’s just not supposed to go out this time around. I was on the fence about the submission anyway, so that kind of pushed the decision.

Of course, Friday is the first day of Script Frenzy, and I have to get those pages done before I can do anything. But I should be able to knock out four script pages pretty quickly. Actually, I’d like to get the whole first scene out – which I’m estimating will run about 12-14 pages. The outline for the first scene is over a page.

I worked on the outline. And, finally, I have a title, City of Lost. The title, of course, brings up the question “lost what?”, which is answered in the play. It’s the reason the play exists (other than the fact I wanted to use Script Frenzy to exercise those muscles again). And there’s nothing in it that’s even remotely like the series Lost, so don’t worry.

Got more work done on Tracking Medusa today, and I’ll do my typical 1K on Good Names before I leave for the theatre tomorrow.

Oh, and raise your hand if you think I should do an article on the topic of Barbarian Migrations.


Tracking Medusa – 15,553 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15 / 90


As we drove from Geysir to Thingvaller, a rainbow stretched out between the hail storms.  Instead of arching up, the way we think of rainbows, it reaches across the ground — just for about a minute, and then it vanished.

Published in: on May 28, 2007 at 10:04 am  Comments Off on