Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

I re-did the article for FemmeFan, and it was like reliving the whole race. Whew! Needed to take a break after that one!

Did some business/admin work, worked on some press release material that needs to go out, but spent most of the afternoon reading Debbie Macomber’s A Good Yarn, which I enjoyed.

Tried to write myself out of the corner in City of Lost and ended up in a worse one. Urgh!

Got the rest of my advance for Perfectly Plum and the latest check from Confidential Job #1. Love it when I have an excuse to go to the bank to make a deposit!

Read and commented on my friend’s next chapter. E-mailed another friend about geography of a certain cemetery in Edinburgh – turns out he’s going to use the same one in his next novel, but he’s on his way to London and will go there himself when he gets back to answer BOTH of our questions! Look out, Col – I may shoot some questions your way in the interim.

Prepping for my trip to Newport later this week. The woman who can’t swim is learning all about sailing.

Off to the theatre for day work – hopefully I can figure out a way of the mess I’ve made of City of Lost.

The new novel is poking at me. It’s got an emotional depth in areas which scare me, in a way, but that’s probably also why they intrigue me. It will be quite a change of pace after Tracking Medusa.

Re-worked the synopsis for Dixie Dust Rumors. I want to get the logline, one paragraph summary, synopsis and outline polished, change one phrase in the cover letter, and then blast them out next week (once the moon has turned, even though Mercury will be retrograde). The book is in good shape – it’s the surrounding paperwork that needs a quick fix.

I got my next set of contracts from Llewellyn – I’m turning them around immediately and getting them back in the mail before Merc goes Ret on Friday. Because from Friday until July 7, there is no contract signing for this gal!

Nice morning’s work on Good Names. I like the depth of the book, and getting so deep into the time and place. But I’m worried that I’m waiting too long for the murder.
But perhaps this is an historical novel that happens to have a murder in it instead of an historical mystery. I have to let the project pick the genre, and stay true to the story.

Good yoga session this morning, too, which always puts me in a better frame of mind for the day.

Off to catch a train – someone was stabbed on this commuter line day before yesterday, so I’m looking forward to The Hell That is Metro North even less than usual. I’m not really surprised – after all, they let rampaging drunks go up and down the train slugging people on St. Patrick’s Day and did absolutely nothing, so why would someone getting knifed be a surprise? I get cranky when someone pulls a knife on me, so for his own health – he better not.


Good Names — 27,387 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
27 / 100

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

What a weekend! Rags to Riches makes history, winning the Belmont Stakes, only the third filly in its history to do so; Tanya won in 1905 and Ruthless won before the turn of the century. Silence Dogood, Enchantal, and Lauren’s Tizzy were all spectacular in their races last Friday. And the Tony Awards were last night.

Time for a nap!

No such luck – far too much to do.

I thought the Tony Awards last night was one of the best productions of this award show in years. Although, if they are going to get the full three hours, they should return the creative awards back into the main televised ceremony. It’s a slap in the face to designers not to give them the same amount of camera time as everyone else, and the design elements are integral to the success of productions. Other than that, it was a polished, professional show. And the Tonys tend to be so much more fun than the film and television award shows, because it’s a smaller, more tightly knit community, where most people are genuinely happy for each other’s successes.

I’ve had more champagne in the last 48 hours than I’ve had in the last 48 months!

So, back to reality today. Lots of writing needs to get done, along with lots of business/admin work. And it’s time to excavate my desk again – I can barely see the computer monitor.

I had a good morning’s work on Good Names. I thought I’d done all this research, but it’s not until I get into the details of each scene that I see what’s missing. So I keep a running list, and then I’ll go back and find all those make-or-break historical, sensory, and technical details that make or break a piece like this, and put it in for the second draft.

I want to get some work done on Tracking Medusa, and I’ve got to figure out a way out of the corner I wrote myself into on City of Lost. The clock is ticking on the month of June, and I have so many deadlines this month.

Got an idea for a new novel and two new plays, so they have to take a number in the queue. Scribbled notes so I won’t lose the thoughts. The material’s much darker than what I’ve done the past few months, but intriguing and I want to explore it further.

First, though, I need to finish and polish my Belmont wrap-up and get that to my editor!

Hope you have a great start to your week.


Good Names
– 26,412 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
26 / 100
Published in: on June 11, 2007 at 9:16 am  Comments (7)  

Sunday, June 9, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

She won! She won! She won!

We were a part of history yesterday. And I just got home from the celebration.

Rags to Riches beat the boys – though Curlin put up a really good fight, and that horse deserves more respect than I’ve been giving him. She beat them with skill and grace and charm, and her jockey was confident enough in her poise to take her around to the screaming, cheering crowds after her victory, where she calmly and graciously acknowledged the delight of “her people” – the way any Queen should.

It was a beautiful, wonderful, magnificent race – and you’ll just have to read my article on FemmeFan for all the details!

I’m not cashing my winning ticket – I’m keeping it!

Then, later, at the party, someone turned on the Ruffian movie, and we were all bawling our eyes out. At any racetrack, if you talk to the old timers, everyone gets emotional at the mention of Ruffian. She had more impact, in many ways that Seabiscuit or Barbaro. And she’s buried in the infield of Belmont Park – she must have been smiling down yesterday.

What a fabulous day. It was a good race day, all the way around – great racing, and, again, more wins than losses for my particular picks. But Rags to Riches was the best. And I hope they savour this instead of only focusing towards “what’s next”. She made history.

The last filly to win the Belmont Stakes was Tanya in 1905, the year that particular track opened (although this was the 139th running of the actual Belmont Stakes).

My friend from England had to cancel his trip, so that brunch was cancelled, but I’m going to another one (and I get to do my laundry). Since they won’t replaced the machines in the basement that have been submerged under sludge and sewage twice now, merely rinsed them out, I will do my laundry elsewhere. As a friend says, “You don’t want cholera laundry.”

Then it’s back here in the afternoon to change and go to the Tony Awards Party. And somewhere, in all that, I have to do my wrap-up article. And read my friend’s newest chapters for comment.

Hopefully, I won’t need tomorrow as a full recovery day – and I can get some writing done. Because I’ve also got to do more work on the upcoming NHL draft and America’s Cup!

Have a great day!


Published in: on June 10, 2007 at 7:55 am  Comments (3)  


The filly, Rags to Riches, won the Belmont Stakes — the first filly to do so since Tanya won in 1905.

Didn’t I tell you? 😉

Published in: on June 9, 2007 at 6:48 pm  Comments Off on SHE WON!!!  

June 9 Belmont Stakes Day Card

Yesterday’s wrap up is below; the regular Ink in My Coffee post is below that.

What a fantastic day of racing we have ahead of us. And what a pain in the butt to try to handicap!

Race 1:
I like Lord Snowden and Trippi Appeal to at least hit the board at a nice price.

Race 2 – Turf:
Risky Agenda sired by Dynaformer and Stage Dream sired by Theatrical look good here, with Risky Agenda making a late move. Street Bird, sired by Street Cry, is also a strong possibility. She was beaten by Enchantal (War Chant’s filly, who was second in yesterday’s Babae) in her last race, but could beat this company. Prom Party gets blinkers and retains John Velazquez, so she’s worth a look.

Race 3 – Birdstone 100K
Frost Giant, sired by Giant’s Causeway, has had great workouts lately and is my top choice, with AP Arrow as a close second. My old faithfuls Evening Attire and Naughty New Yorker are here, too, and I’m rooting for them to hit the board.

Race 4:
Nothing intrigues me enough to put money on. I’m sitting this one out.

Race 5 – Foresta 50K – Turf:
Daytime Promise is sired by Five star Day. She’s got experience. Beautiful Daniele, an AP Indy filly is inconsistent, but interesting – definitely a paddock decision. Meribel is consistent and a strong contender. Holy Bull’s got a daughter in this one, Dean’s List. If she’s anything like Them There Eyes, she’ll do well. I don’t want to throw out Flow Chart, who won her last two US starts. Sigh. Post-parade decisions on this one.

Sixth Race – True North GII:
I won on Suave Jazz when he ran at Pimlico on Preakness Day, and he’s my top pick here. I think Dashboard Drummer and Keyed Entry are both solid choices. I want to take a look at Bordernaro – he tends to win in batches. He lost a few, but won last time out, so may be starting a streak, if he can hold off Suave Jazz, which I doubt. But he does have Mig on his back, which is always a plus.

Seventh Race – The Just A Game GII – Turf:
My Typhoon and Wait a While will battle this out. They’re worth a boxed exacta. If they wear each other down, Take the Ribbon will steal the race. No, that’s unfair – she’ll EARN the win.

Eighth Race – Woody Stephens Breeders’ Cup GII:
What a tough race to handicap! The magnificent Street Magician is in here and has to be my top choice, especially after his victory at Pimlico on Preakness Day. Bill Badgett’s back with Out of Gwedda and you can’t discount anything he enters. Shortening Teuflesberg from a mile and a quarter down to six furlongs concerns me – he might run out of track before the finish line. Stormello’s gained experience and he’s got the talent. With a good ride, he’s a strong contender. Both Bill Place and Deadly Dealer won’t quit. This is one of the most fascinating races on the card.

Ninth Race – Acorn Grade I:
Dream Rush could do it here. She has the speed, but does she have the stamina to stretch from 7 furlongs to a mile? Princess Janie won her last two starts, but at 6 furlongs. Christmas Kid’s won at a longer distance, so she has the stamina, but will she move early enough? These are my top three picks and they’re still all question marks. This is the widest open race on today’s card.

Tenth Race – Manhattan Grade 1 – Turf:
Steppenwolfer is my favorite here, despite his inconsistency. English Channel is a strong contender and can’t be ignored. Cosmonaut jumped over the mortally injured Mending Fences on Preakness Day and still managed second – he’s the biggest threat in the field. I’m a long term fan of Better Talk Now and think he’ll hit the board, but not win. I want to take a look at the Irish horse Shakis in the paddock.

Eleventh Race – The Belmont Stakes – Grade I:
The filly Rags to Riches across the board.
Hard Spun across the board.
Tiago and Slew’s Tizzy for place and show.

Twelfth Race – Turf:
Iron Goddess looks best here, along with Abbyroar. If Freakazoid gets in, she’s worth a few dollars tossed in her direction.

Thirteenth Race – Turf:
Stately Pegasus, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus, is, of course, my first choice, even though his sire ran on dirt, not turf. He’s stubborn and digs in. Seittam looks poised to make a leap here as well. If Topsail gets in, he’ll round out my top three.

Enjoy a beautiful race day!

Published in: on June 9, 2007 at 8:19 am  Comments Off on June 9 Belmont Stakes Day Card  

June 8 Belmont Card Wrap-Up

Regular Ink in My Coffee post below. Today’s Belmont card handicapped above.

What a day, what a day! It was a fantastic day to be out at the races!

The first race was my look-don’t-bet race. I liked Irish Brian and Flaming Hope on paper, and figured Kiss the Cruiser dropped into the claimer to get a confidence win. Paddock-side, Kiss the Cruiser and Irish Brian looked fantastic, while Flaming Hope didn’t seem particularly interested. Kiss the Cruiser cruised home to a win, which should help in the next race. Irish Brian was second, and Flaming Hope 5th.

Second race:
I wanted to see what Cherna could do. She was the smallest, most delicate-looking horse in this group, with beautiful lines. New York Dixie was my other pick. As they walked the paddock, One in a Romp looked lively and ready, but I didn’t bet on her. I should have. She came in second, with New York Dixie third, and Cherna 6th. I want to watch Cherna – she’s lightly raced and I think she’ll improve. The race was won by Papa’s Kara, who’d danced through a bath right before she was saddled, and was ready to go. Another horse in this race, Marree Magee, was lovely. I didn’t bet on her because thought she wouldn’t win here (she was 7th), but I want to watch her in the future.

Third race:
Lauren’s Tizzy was my one and only pick in this race. She’s a daughter of Tiznow, and she carries herself with a beautiful sense of confidence. Unfortunately, I never made it to the betting window for this race, because we were interviewed by ABC TV about Rags to Riches. Scroll down to the regular “Ink in My Coffee” blog post to hear about the interview and the silly bit they actually put on the air (rather than the actual, legitimate, coherent material we gave them). Lauren’s Tizzy won, in spite of having to go wide, and she’s one to watch.

Fourth race:
My pick if it rained was Unbridled Danger, but it was hot and sunny. Plus, he was scratched. So much for that. My other pick, Eastern Crown, was also scratched. That left me scratching my head, wondering why Ojibway was in the way, figuring he needed a confidence win, much like Kiss the Cruiser did in the first. But he didn’t convince me he was in the mood to win today, and I went with a lovely black horse named The Village Vicar, who came in second. Sweet Grass Creek won, pressuring the other horses from the get go and drawing away from them towards the finish line.

Fifth Race:
I liked Ivory Star in the paddock even more than I’d liked her on paper. She has lovely conformation, and her coloring – light reddish brown, with dark, dark legs – is just beautiful. She had to go wide and still earned second, making me think she can go longer distances than these six furlongs. Sun Shower looked completely uninterested in the face that today was a race and she was supposed to run in it. But I bet her to come in her consistent third, and that’s what she did. Wheeltowin, on first time Lasix, looked comfortable in the paddock, but only managed 8th in the actual race (oh, horrors, are we going in for another string of 8’s? Don’t worry). Lost in the Dark, who was also one of my picks on paper and in the paddock, held tightly to the lead for about three quarters of the race. I hoped she could wire it, but she tired before reading the end. The race was won by Innovator, who looked early on as though she’d given up, but then changed her mind, dug in, and came back to win it.

Sixth Race:
I knew I wanted to take a look at Them There Eyes, because she’s Holy Bull’s daughter. Talk about falling in love. She’s beautiful, she’s graceful, she’s confident. She doesn’t have to throw a diva fit, because she’s got that quiet self-esteem. She knows she’s good. Trytoseeitmyway, Artax’s little girl, also looked good and spry in the paddock, nice and up on her toes. I’d wanted to look at Maria’s Muse to see if she was worth the risk. She still looked uncertain and inexperienced in the paddock, so I decided to wait with her and see how she develops. Clay’s Run, my top pick for the race on paper, was a very unhappy horse in the paddock, needing to come in late, bring her own pony, and still having fits. I don’t know why she was upset, but something truly bothered her, and she felt she wasn’t getting her point across, so she grew more and more upset.. She wore herself out before they even got to the gate, and flattened into tenth. A long shot, Dusty Tack, looked good in the paddock for a last minute bet, but got a bit finicky. Something happened between saddling and the gate to cause her to be scratched. She was in a serious bad mood when they led her back.

Seventh Race:
I really dislike the super short five and a half furlong races that have started to pop up lately. I believe that horses should be bred for stamina as well as speed, instead of only for speed, as seems to be the inclination now. The reason I believe this is that I think if there’s more stamina, there’s less likelihood of a bad step or collision when the horse tires. In any case, I liked both Phone Home and Stonewood here. Paddock-side, the beautiful, copper-colored Devil’s Concierge looked bright and ready, too, so I added her in to the mix. I thought Phone Home would come out on top, but Stonewood did, going wire to wire, in a nice, decisive victory. Unfortunately, Devil’s Concierge came in forth, losing confidence as soon as horses passed her early on.

Eighth Race:
This was my favorite race of the day. Talk about a race in which to fall in love with horses. One look at Enchantal, War Chant’s baby girl, and I was a goner. Her coloring is just like her daddy’s. She’s got a more delicate head and face, but she gives “the look” for which he was so famous. Silence Dogood, my number one pick in this race, is one of the most gorgeous dark bay fillies I’ve ever seen in my life, so dark she looks black in the sunlight. She wasn’t too happy with her bit in the saddling ring, and wanted a bit of negotiation, but I guess she got what she needed, by the way she ran the race. Naseem, Point Given’s filly, unfortunately, was scratched. Both Silence Dogood and Enchantal had fantastic breaks from the gate. There was no way Enchantal was going to be left behind – she wasn’t going to wire it, but she was going to settle in and then strike. Silence Dogood settled back a bit farther than I was comfortable, and when I heard the first quarter was run in 22 seconds and change, I was worried. However, suddenly, there’s Silence, picking off the horses ahead of her. Enchantal’s dug in, not giving up (again, like her daddy). Silence had to swing wide, but it didn’t bother her a bit. She passed Enchantal for a terrific win. When both she and Enchantal pranced back to the stands, they looked as though they wouldn’t mind going around again. Fantastic race, and these are two fantastic fillies. Beautiful, talented, smart, strong. I want to see much more of both of them.

Ninth Race:
Nothing I saw in the paddock convinced me to go to the betting window. Skeeter Girl, a possibility, did well for most of the race, but faded. Fiddler’s Princess stayed firmly in the middle. The race was won by Pont Me To It, who again went wide and won.

10th Race:
I adore Storm in May, so I was going to bet on him no matter what. Marcavelly looked even better in person than on paper, and was my definite top pick. Distorted Reality was ready to go. And, at the last minute, I tossed in a show bet on the beautiful Irish horse codeword. Storm in May and Reptilian Smarts dueled too much for too long, and Storm in May ended up last. Marcevelly grabbed his opportunity as soon as it opened, winning nicely, with Distorted Reality second and Codeword third.

All in all, an excellent day of racing, and a great way to prepare for today. On top of that, I noticed lots of women at the track – not just bored girlfriends trying to get some time with their guys, but women there on their own or with groups of friends because they wanted to be at the track. When I started writing about racing in 1999, most of the time I was one of the few women not trailing around after a beer-slugging, cigar-chomping guy, steadily ignoring “the little woman” trailing behind. It’s great to see women getting more active and interested in the sport.

Checking out the other tracks on which I’d made picks:

Monmouth Park, Race 4: My pick, Furious Ness, won after a duel.
Churchill Downs, Race 5: Drivingmaxandmitzi got too wide and couldn’t make up the ground, finishing a disappointing 4th.
Churchill Downs, Race 6: My Sweet Violet tried too hard too fast and wore out, finishing last.
Churchill Downs, Race 9: Sisyphus was scratched.
Churchill Downs, Race 10: Chekov was not in a hurry today, and finished fifth.

Published in: on June 9, 2007 at 8:15 am  Comments (1)  

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Saturday, June 9, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

The wrap-up for yesterday’s race card is posted above this; the handicapping for today’s race card is posted above that.

Can I just say yesterday was a wonderful day?

I thought a lot about a recent post of Diana’s, her worry that she remembers wonderful times, but is afraid she doesn’t appreciate them enough in the moment. And I took it to heart, and loved most of the moments of yesterday at Belmont Park!

One of the funny things that happened to us was that we were interviewed by ABC television as part of their “color coverage” pre-Belmont, because the filly Rags to Riches, runs today. We shot about ten, fifteen minutes of material. I talked about why I thought the horse would win, why John Velazquez is the perfect jockey, about racing in general, etc. My friend talked about the fascination of racing and how it deserves more attention. And we did some set-up shots on a near-by bench.

So what do they show? I knew it would be a quick sound byte, but it was a joke I made when I was told we were off-camera and they didn’t use one WORD of the legitimate comments! AND they referred to me as “Devin Alexander”, not “Devon Ellington.” Yeah, they do their research. I even offered to write it down for them.

At least they got FemmeFan right!

People ask me why I use various names in my work – this is one of the reasons – because “they” can’t get it right anyway, so why the heck should they have access to any more of my life than I chose?

On top of it, because the interview took so long, I missed betting on Lauren’s Tizzy – who won!

Another funny thing to watch was what one of our group christened, “The Badda-Bing Girls”. These are two women in their twenties, whose rich guys must have recently bought them some fresh body parts, and they decided to show them off in too-small designer stretch dresses and heels so stiletto the heels looked like horses’ legs (the women’s legs certainly didn’t look that good). They leaned over from their lofty perches to kiss the jockeys in the paddock, giving the jockeys a face full of breast implants, which I’m sure the guys didn’t mind at all. It was hilarious.

Silence Dogood and Enchantal were AMAZING in the 8th race. Astonishing, astounding, wonderful. I fell in love with both of them in the paddock – they looked magnificent. And Enchantal looks so much like her daddy, War Chant. Scroll up and read the details of the race, but let’s just say I am hoarse from cheering for my horses!

Anyway, the three of us had a great time drifting back and forth between the paddock, the betting windows, and the rail. We won more than we lost. We had a cocktail (I had mine early in the afternoon, since I was driving, then switched to water). We had a lovely dinner at Trinity, one of my favorite restaurants out there. We had good conversation, great racing, and we won a decent amount. It was sunny and beautiful until the last couple of races. There were people there, but it wasn’t crowded enough to be uncomfortable. All in all, a perfect day.

I had a drunk driver weaving in front of me on the way home, which was a little scary, but got home in one piece. Laughed my ass off when I saw the interview. I mean, you’ve got to have a sense of humour about all this stuff, right?

Yes, I did find a dress – thank GOD, because I was on television for goodness sake – and, not only that, but it was a dress I MADE several years ago that’s remained one of my favorites.

Oh, and other news . . .I resigned from the Tenants’ Organization and feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me. I don’t feel I can be an effective member of the organization, my schedule is crazy, and I’m tired of the sleepless nights. When you can’t change a situation, you can change your relationship to it, and that’s my choice. I am DONE. What a relief.

Off to the Belmont party. The Belmont wrap-up will be on FemmeFan next week.


Published in: on June 9, 2007 at 8:11 am  Comments (2)  

Silence Dogood

Silence Dogood (the horse) is awesome!!!

Read the June 8 wrap-up, to be posted soon, for details!

Published in: on June 8, 2007 at 9:18 pm  Comments Off on Silence Dogood  

Friday, June 8, 2007

Friday, June 8, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

My Belmont preview article is here:

Today’s race card is handicapped below this post.

Dog Blog post up here.

I rarely comment on celebrity this and that in the blog because most of the time, I just don’t care. But I am so angry that Paris Hilton whined her way out of serving her sentence. She didn’t pull some harmless prank – DUI is putting lives in danger. And she had two chances to make it right and shrugged them off. The so-called Justice System sent a message that, if you’re rich enough, you can get away with anything you want and not be held accountable. There are thousands of people serving time for lesser offenses because they’re not rich. Martha Stewart was sent to jail because she’s a good businesswoman and dealt with jealous liars, cheats, and thieves who decided to set her up; this spoiled brat chickie puts people’s lives in danger and gets away with it, threatens a nervous breakdown and goes home to order cupcakes. What are they going to do when she does it the next time, and someone dies? Since they’ve now sent the message that her behaviour is perfectly acceptable? Right, a “medical condition”. This is why she gets to go home and throw a party, completely flipping off the Justice System and most of the rest of the country. The level of narcissism and disregard for anything outside her own immediate desires is revolting, and her sense of entitlement that she can get anything she wants has been reinforced. Hmm, let’s see, what does this sound like? Scarily, for the past six years, very similar behavior has been demonstrated in the White House. Considering how George Bush got away with handling Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, are we really surprised? For the last six years, more than ever, if you’ve got the money, you can do anything you want without consequence. That is NOT democracy. It is a perversion of everything our Founding Fathers and Mothers fought to create.

(Dusting off soapbox, putting it aside until next time).

Ran errands, got groceries in (the cats don’t like it when the cupboard is bare), went to the bookstore. I bought it – Sailing for Dummies – so I can learn the basics and the vocabulary and at least have a clue when I get up to Newport. I also bought The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig, which looks like it’s going to be such fun! As far as the sailing, I plan to learn as much as I can and continue learning, using the slant, “This is fascinating; come learn with me.” I’m not going to try to fake being an expert; I’m going to take the readers out on the adventure with me, and hopefully we’ll all learn some interesting things.

Came back to find my next assignment from Confidential Job #1. This one looks really good, which will more than make up for the last one.

In White Plains, we had to go through police checkpoints coming and going. Every car was stopped. They’re looking for someone. I guess there was a shooting at the Galleria Mall’s parking lot. Again. I don’t know what it actually is, but it must have been pretty serious.

Racing Ink for today is posted below. I’ll wrap it up and handicap tomorrow’s card either late tonight or early tomorrow morning, before I head out.

I’m at Belmont Park today – should be fun. If you’re in the neighborhood – come out and play!

The biggest challenge with writing about horse racing for a period of years is to keep it fun, and not succumb to the feeling that I have to be right all the time. It’s horse racing – once they’re in the gate, anything can and does happen. You pick your favorites for whatever reason and hope no one dies. Yes, it’s fun to cash a ticket; but it’s more fun to watch a wonderful race, with so many variables no video game can come close to the excitement.

I’ve hit a wall with City of Lost. Getting this next scene right is crucial, or all of Act II falls apart. And I’m not getting it right. I’m over-convoluting things. I need to strip it down and simplify, simplify, simplify. Even though the play is still on the page, I want to pretend I’m in the rehearsal room and imagine the three dimensions the actor brings to the role and work it through that way. Eventually, I’ll have to just sit down and do it, but I want to let it simmer for a few days, and then hopefully push well into Act II.

I know I won’t get much writing done between now and Monday, other than horse racing articles, but I at least want to put it in the percolator so my unconscious can work on it – while my conscious mind is off playing the ponies!


Racing Ink — June 8 Belmont Card

If you’re looking for the regular “Ink in My Coffee” post, scroll down; it’s the post beneath this one.

If you’re here for the horses, keep reading!

Race 1:
This is a look-don’t bet race for me to see how the track’s going. Irish Brian and Flaming Hope look best to me here. Irish Brian is consistently good at this distance. Kiss the Cruiser drops into Claim Country here; I’m assuming he needs a win for confidence, and I’ll take a look.

Race 2:
I like the lightly raced Cherna due to trainer Michael Dickinson and jockey John Velazquez. I want to see what she can do. New York Dixie is my second choice, hoping she’s improved.

Race 3:
Lauren’s Tizzy looks like the best of this bunch. She’s sired by Tiznow, one of my favorites. She came in second in her last race and won the race previous to that – I hoping she bounces back to a win here.

Race 4:
If it rains, my number 1 pick will be Unbridled Danger, who’s done well in the slop. Otherwise . . .Ojibway is interesting – seems to be an odd fit here in a claimer unless he needs a confidence win. Worth a look. Eastern Crown’s been inconsistent, but won at this distance at Aqueduct, so also worth a look.

Race 5 – Turf:
Sun Shower has come in 3rd in her last three races, all at this distance. I’d like to see her do better here, but I’m not confident that she can. Wheeltowin is First-Time-Lasix, which always requires consideration. Ivory Star looks good, but the constant jockey changes bother me. Lost in the Dark is interesting because she has Danzig in her pedigree. On paper, I’d go with Ivory Star, Lost in the Dark and Sun Shower as 1-2-3, with an additional show bet on Wheeltowin. I prefer not to make a final decision until I see them in the paddock – especially with fillies and mares.

Race 6 – Turf:
Clay’s Run looks the best to me here, having come in 2nd in her last race and 3rd in the race prior. I like her trainer/jockey combo too – Leo O’Brien and John Velazquez. If Maria’s Muse grew up a bit since her last race, we might get a chance to see how talented she is. Them There Eyes is a gifted daughter of Holy Bull’s, and she came in second in her last race at a longer distance. I’m interested in Trytoseeitmyway due to Artax as the sire, but Clay’s Run beat her last time out.

Race 7:
At 5 ½ furlongs, sneeze and you’ll miss it. Stonewood’s been consistent and has the most experience. But Phone Home won the last two sprints, both as this distance and 6 furlongs, and retains John Velazquez. I favor Phone Home, but will include Stonewood and probably do an exacta.

Race 8: The Babae
My number one choice all around in this race is Silence Dogood. I hope her name comes from a desire to honor Benjamin Franklin, and not just because her connections like the movie National Treasure! I think she’s the most talented horse in this field. We’ve got daughters of two of my favorite horses in this race, too, and I’ve got to throw some cash at them. Naseem is Point Given’s daughter, and I want to see how much she resembles her Daddy. She hasn’t won since September, which concerns me, and I don’t like the musical jockeys played across her back. Point Given needed a specific jockey to be his best – Gary Stevens, in his case. Naseem might not yet have found her perfect match. But she’s Point Given’s daughter, and I’ll support her. Enchantal is War Chant’s daughter and she has Edgar Prado as her jockey. She won her last race, came in second the race prior, but was beaten by Sun Shower (one of my picks in Race 5) three races back. I think Prima Ballerina is talented, but not sure she can beat this company. I don’t want to throw out the French horse, Out of Time, especially since she’s on first-time Lasix. But her wins have been at a shorter distance.

Race 9 – Turf:
Maybe Skeeter Girl. Maybe Fiddler’s Princess. Maybe I’ll sit this one out and have a cocktail.

Race 10 – The Hill Prince Grade III Turf:

I love Storm in May, although I felt the Derby was not the right spot for him, and that he would be more successful at Belmont and Saratoga. Here he is, and I’m going to throw money at him. Marcavelly’s beaten several horses in this field, and is sired by the wonderful Johannesburg. Distorted Reality’s the most consistent of the bunch, although he was beaten by Marcavelly last time out. But he does retain John Velazquez. These are my top three.

A quick spin around the other tracks have some interesting picks:

Monmouth Park, Race 4: Furious Ness
Churchill Downs, Race 5: Drivingmaxandmitzi
Churchill Downs, Race 6: My Sweet Violet
Churchill Downs, Race 9: Sisyphus
Churchill Downs, Race 10: Chekov

Stop by again on Saturday morning for the Friday wrap-up and my picks for the entire Belmont Stakes Day undercard. Then join me on FemmeFan next week for a Belmont Stakes wrap-up.

Happy Racing!


Published in: on June 7, 2007 at 1:08 pm  Comments Off on Racing Ink — June 8 Belmont Card  

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thursday, June 7, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cool

The day got better yesterday, thank goodness, and I’m booked there again at the end of June, in and amongst all the sports-related assignments. Both shows were fine; everyone’s getting excited about the fund-raiser Broadway Bares that’s coming up. And the Tony Awards. And saddened by the fact that Pirate Queen got its notice. You never want to see people out of work.

Ran around before the matinee, looking for a dress for tomorrow. The styles I liked were in colors I didn’t – I’m sorry, but dogshit brown is simply not in my palette – and the colors I liked were in styles that looked ridiculous on me. I should have just gone straight to Banana Republic and called it a day, but I didn’t, and then it was too late, and, oh, well. I’ve got to have SOMETHING in my closet. And I don’t have time to make anything by tomorrow.

A friend and I went to dinner at Trattoria Rino, an Italian place about two blocks from the theatre. We had a great meal, and it was nice to relax in between shows.

I’m learning as much and as quickly about sailing as I can, but it’s a great deal of information to absorb in two weeks, and I need to learn the basic vocabulary in order to make real progress. It’s a daunting challenge – but I’ll rise to it.

Hopefully, the pre-Belmont article will be up later today at FemmeFan. Otherwise, since Belmont is on Saturday, there’s not much point, is there? Later today, here, I’ll do a segment of Racing Ink, handicapping tomorrow’s entire card.

Ahh, the Stanley Cup Final. Anaheim won last night – not my preference of the two, but they played a better game and Ottawa fell apart, unfortunately, and in spite of excellent goal tending by Ray Emery. This also means that I lost a bet on this outcome – a bet whose payment rises with the point spread, and Ottawa lost 6-2. I’ll have to pay up on draft weekend – and let’s just say it’s not money! 😉

Like I always say with the thoroughbreds: Don’t bet what you can’t afford to lose!

I’m studying for the NHL draft in two weeks, and figuring out my picks on the “To Watch” list for the next few years. The original picks from my first year of this in 2002, when I said I’d watch them for five years – heck, it’s five years already. Wow. Over the summer, I’ll have to do some articles to update the progress of some of my picks.

I have a lot of errands to run this morning, and then a lot of writing, because the weekend is about doing and writing about it later. A new post should go up on the Dog Blog later today.

I got the requested info to Confidential Job #1 yesterday and my editor liked and booked one of my pitches – even though it was late. Phew! Contract is on its way, and I want to get it turned around before Mercury goes retrograde on the 15th.

Still lots of building kerflamma and unnecessary drama (which is draining). The noise and the debris and the stench are just wearing.

Not much of interest today – I wish I could take a nap, but the decibel level makes it impossible to rest, so I’m going to put on the MP3 player, turn up the volume, and try to be productive. I want to be able to add to those word meters tomorrow!

Off to try to be productive, in spite of the odds. Come back later for Racing Ink – it will probably be up about mid-afternoon, my time.


Published in: on June 7, 2007 at 8:07 am  Comments (3)  

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Hot, humid, rainy

Rough day, starting with problems in the building caused by egotistical shit-stirrers. Can’t go into detail, but I’ve had it. I’m sick and tired of the manipulations and machinations of crazy people with no lives who need to feel powerful by willfully misrepresenting others. If you hate your life so much, change it; don’t strike out and try to hurt people who ARE living the life they want, because you’re too much of a damned coward to handle your own life.

Day work was fine. Show was fine, although there were dozens of small annoyances. Nothing worth holding on to. Some people are simply determined to wallow in their own misery. That doesn’t mean I have to join them.

Didn’t get any writing done. Came home to find some material I have to read for a friend on deadline (I’ll take it with me) and request for more clarification for something to do with Confidential Job #1. And I HAVE to get some ideas off to my editor this morning – they should have gone out over a week ago, and it’s inexcusable.

Two shows today, so I’m off to the theatre. Not sure yet where I’m showering. There was a smidge of hot water earlier (along with the burning oil smell so intense I got a migraine overnight), but, by the time I post this, who knows what it’ll be?

Over it.

I managed to get a page done on Good Names. It was a struggle – I’m having trouble dropping back into that world because I’m so annoyed with this one.

Sorry for the crabby post. Let’s hope today is a better all-around day.


Good Names – 25,162 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
25 / 100

No other increases in word meters for Tracking Medusa or City of Lost – boo hoo!

Published in: on June 6, 2007 at 7:04 am  Comments (7)  

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. The constant worry and preparation for a third flood in three months took an enormous toll yesterday.

This is where the hockey player advice comes in handy: When the going gets rough, dig deeper. My hockey boys (who are turning into wonderful young men) have taught me well the past few years!

The brook and the spillway held through the first deluge. A few inches of water in basements, but not full-out rivers running down the streets. And the second deluge passed us by, so, as of this writing, we’re okay. For now. Thanks for all the good thoughts – they helped!

And we’re having some building-related problems again, which need to be addressed. Ick.

I really need to spend some time on the job boards this week, to prepare for the rest of the month, when I’m not running around in twenty directions doing articles. Got to keep the money coming in!

The problem is, I enjoy concentrating on my three fiction projects and the sports writing. I’ve got a good rhythm going, and it would be great to coast through June. Don’t think I can afford to, though.

The positive thing about running my own business of a writing business is that when I’m dealing with people who are incapable of managing their time (which drives me nuts), I can charge them for it. Aggravation pay. I’m a big believer in aggravation pay. You can aggravate me all you want, but there’s a dollar figure attached. And, if you’re not paying me, I can walk away and be around people who don’t aggravate me!

If you expect to make a living as a writer, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, you must become an outstanding time manager. Not just a good one – an outstanding one.

I was discussing something along these lines with my friend over the weekend – we no longer live in a world where you can be an “artist” and not deal with the practicalities of day-to-day life. You’ve got to be able to juggle the business aspect along with the artistic aspect. If you aspire to being a “starving artist” – in this day and age, you will actually starve. A certain level of business acumen is necessary in order to survive. It’s not “selling out” – it’s survival. “Selling out” is when you create work that is against your own code of integrity and do it for the money. IE, there are certain types of companies to which I don’t pitch, because I am strongly opposed to what they sell. I don’t care that they pay and pay well – I do not wish to create business for them. If someone else doesn’t have a problem with it, good for them. Take the job and be happy. There are plenty of writers in the world. I don’t have to take assignments that go against my beliefs.

A couple of interesting things came up recently.

An acquaintance is hinting around at co-writing something. That’s not where I am right now, unless there’s a contract in place and money up front. This is my business, not my hobby, and I make my living at it. I’m not going to write someone else’s idea for them for a pie-in-the-sky process with a “someday” production date. Unless there’s a hell of a lot of cash up front. I have to protect my own work and my own time and value it. Which means I have to be a hard-ass about things like this.

And I’m getting better at it.

Another oddity which came up over the past few days has to do with interviews and perceptions of interviews. I’ve got about a dozen interview requests out for conversations I’d like to have with various people in various fields for articles and/or background on a variety of projects. Some will happen; some won’t. Never know until you ask, and there’s no pressure on anyone I’ve asked.

I spoke to someone who claims to have an in to a potential interview subject. I wanted to know what that particular person would feel is a correct and comfortable protocol of approach. My contact said, “Why do you want to interview him? He is soooo in the closet!”

Well, I want to interview this guy because I like and respect the work he does in his field, and it’s relevant to one of my projects. I really don’t care about his sexual orientation, and it’s not relevant to the interview. In fact, none of the questions I’ve prepared has anything to do with his personal life. But my contact couldn’t understand why I’d interview anyone that I wouldn’t want to at least try to bed.

That point of view is so far removed from the way I operate, and I was quite astonished. I rarely discuss my personal life, even with close friends. The man with whom I share my life and bed is sacred to me, and there’s no reason for the relationship to be open for dissection. As a woman who often interviews male sports professionals, who are often much younger than I am, I have to be especially careful not to do or say anything which can be mis-interpreted, or I lose credibility. I don’t discuss my personal life, and I don’t question interview subjects about theirs. Those aren’t the types of interviews I do. I don’t even read them, so why do them? It’s an indication, I suppose, of how tabloid-oriented our culture is. And how damned boring. Unless I’m sleeping with you, and it affects me directly, I don’t care with whom you’re sleeping. It’s not relevant.

Decent work on City of Lost. I wrote Scene 6. What an international cast I’ve got – definitely a piece I’ll pitch to theatres in the UK, the Continent, and Australia. I also have to do some research on Dutch seafaring expeditions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for the rewrite of this scene. Now I’ve hit a plot muddle, so I have to sit and think about it for awhile before I can do any more work.

My friend’s comments on Tracking Medusa were incredibly helpful. She picked up on a few things where my instinct was going in one direction, but I held back, and she encouraged me to go for it. Actually, something she suggested tweaking in the beginning will affect something that’s yet to be written, and the timing is perfect.

Updated the Devon Ellington website to include the new Dog Blog link, the Perfectly Plum information, and the articles on the Triple Crown.

Great session on Tracking Medusa, finishing Chapter 8. I made it a comic relief/action/adventure plot twist that moves it forward. And I incorporated a real life experience of taking refuge during a storm in the old limestone kilns behind the castle. So, that was fun.

Workmanlike session on Good Names. Ruby found out her assumptions about Hattie and Joseph (that they are her sea-faring Uncle Fletcher’s children) are incorrect, and she got the real story from Hattie, triggered by their cousins’ snobbish behaviour.

Seriously bummed: Anaheim beat Ottawa last night. And I’m working Wednesday night, so I can’t see the game. There were some, shall we say, bad choices on the part of certain Ottawa players tonight. Very disappointing.

Off to the theatre, for day work and the show. I hope that doesn’t break my writing rhythm too much. I want to spend some of that time untangling the plot problems in City of Lost.

Still no hot water. The next couple of weeks are terribly important and will help define the next few years of my career – and I can’t even shower. So I’m going in to the theatre early to shower there.


Good Names — 24,912 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
24 / 100

Tracking Medusa – 22,490 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
22 / 90

City of Lost
– 5,790 words out of 20,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
5 / 20

45 pages out of 120 pages

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
45 / 120
Published in: on June 5, 2007 at 7:55 am  Comments (7)