Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Finishing the ESG article took forever yesterday, mostly because the ESG site was running so badly it was next to impossible to fact check. In all my years of dealing with media centers/pr divisions, this is the poorest excuse for one I’ve ever run into. I can see why there was so little coverage amongst the network news and major papers – the pr people simply were incapable of supplying necessary information, especially to journalists on tight deadlines, which means they shouldn’t have been in those positions in the first place.

Sent off the article, after five additional hours on it, with photos. Cut and polished, it’s still 3266 words. I’m ready to bang my head on the desk.

Mark your calendars!

I’m presenting my Dialogue Workshop at The Muse Online Writer’s Conference from October 8-14. Information here:

Information on my specific workshop, which runs all week longis here:

and my real-time on-line chat will be on Sunday, October 14 at 4 PM, EST. I hope you’ll be there!

This conference is free, so I hope you all sign up and experience it – there are some great presenters.

AND . . . I’ve joined the 21st century, and I put up a page on My Space:

While there will be links back and forth, I also want to put content on it now and again that’s unique to the page. If you’ve got a My Space page, please “friend” me – I’m going through in search of people with the same interests to build my network, and I plan to use it primarily as a promotional tool for my work.

So that’s what yesterday was about!

Good weight-training session last night, and good yoga session this morning.

Good Names was a bit of a slog this morning, but I got my 4 pages done. I’ve now hit the half way point in the word count. Fortunately, I’m a bit over half way in the story, which means the second draft – the expansion draft – won’t end up being so overly long I have to take a machete to it – just a carving knife. It’s plugging along.

I can’t believe I have to go to the theatre tonight – it almost feels foreign!

I realized I switched two articles and sent off the one I was supposed to do this week last week, and the one I should have sent last week, I’m working on now to send this week.

Oops.

And here I thought I was so organized.

More pitches out, more interview stuff done, it’s all good. Now, if some of that invoiced money would hurry up and arrive so that I can pay August’s bills, I’d feel a lot more secure!

Devon

Good Names – 50,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
50 / 100
(50.0%)
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Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, rainy

Exhausted.

I got to the hockey game yesterday. Hudson Valley lost, 3-1, which was kind of heartbreaking, especially since they led in the 2nd.

Came home and meant to head up to lacrosse, but I was running a fever and felt queasy. I lay down for what should have been ten minutes and woke up a couple of hours later. I felt better – but I’d missed the lacrosse game.

Read the paper, worked on the general ESG article, and took it easy. Pitched for a couple more assignments. Basically, I was a waste of food most of the day.

Have to finish the article and get it out, send out two sets of interview questions, send out some more interview requests, and work on an article that might be due tomorrow – I can’t remember, and I have to find my contract. I thought one set was due at the end of August and one at the end of September, but it might have been July and August instead. And I need to work on the column.

Sigh.

I’d like to crawl back into bed. At least I didn’t have to get up at 5 AM this morning; that made a huge difference.

I hate the humidity. I’m tired of feeling damp and sticky all the time.

Good morning’s work on Good Names. Let’s hope it’s a positive portent for the rest of the day. And a solid yoga session – some of the poses with which I’ve had a hard time are getting easier.

Devon

Good Names — 49,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
49 / 100
(49.0%)
Published in: on July 30, 2007 at 7:22 am  Comments (6)  

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007
Full Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, rainy

Today is always a difficult calendar day, because on this day, in 1972, my father died. It doesn’t get easier.

Yesterday was great, but exhausting. The women’s ice hockey game between Hudson Valley and Adirondack was exciting (AD won 5-3). I left an interview request for the coaches and dashed up to Manhattanville to watch some of the Master’s Fencing. That was interesting – again, totally different vibe from the past two competitions. Talked the the sabre fencer – had him write out the link this time, so I’ve got it right. Talked to the chairperson and some of the refs.

I just really hate that the sport has been computerized.

The only snacks provided at these events are healthy ones, like granola bars, which just makes me want to head out to the McDonald’s drive-through (and I hardly ever eat fast food). So I found a vending machine and had M&M’s for lunch.

As I headed back to my car, I saw a statue through the trees. I tromped through the trees and down some overgrown stairs – avoiding the poison ivy (“leaves three, let it be”). There was a garden dedicated to the founders of Manhattanville College. Because it is associated with religion, there was a Christ-on-the Cross in the center – and someone had placed a photo of a golden retriever within the shrubbery – very poignant.

Got back to the car and tried to leave. However, the damn soccer parents had camp chairs set up on the only road in or out of where I was. It didn’t matter that there was at least an acre around the field in all directions, variegated heights, choice of shade or sun – these dipshits spread out on the blacktop. I honked, but they wouldn’t move. So I hit reverse, backed up a few yards, and began revving the engine. My fave security guy leaned in: “Hey, beautiful, what’s making you so unhappy?”

“They won’t move and in 20 seconds I’m driving through, scattering them like bowling pins.”

“Let me take care of it.”

He went up and talked to them. Several argued with him, but eventually they all moved, and he walked back, grinning from ear to ear.

“How’d you do it?” I asked.

“I told them I gave you permission to drive through, scattering them like bowling pins.”

Love that guy!

I called the “media center” to make sure the archery hadn’t been called due to weather. It hadn’t, so I headed up to Valhalla. No coked up truck drivers today, thank goodness.

It was past 90 degrees by the time I got there. I saw my “eldest archer” – the woman shooting in the 70+ (years) category. She did well. I also talked to a guy from upstate, who knows one of the girls on the Adirondack Women’s Hockey Team. He just got back from the Senior Olympics in Kentucky. Talked to the EMT guy – turns out he works on the farm for a horse owner I know, and we know many of the same people in Saratoga! The world in tiny!!!

Within a few minutes, though, I was itching to get my hands on a bow. Of course, I was about 14 the last time I shot – and that was a long time ago. And the bows are amazing now.

I found the fencers and the archers the friendliest (both competitors and spectators), with hockey close behind – but that could be because I’m a hockey person.

I have to say, though, that many of these parents need to shut the fuck up or be banned – coaching from the sides is ridiculous. There’s a reason most of them aren’t coaches – they can’t see the big picture. It’s one thing to shout encouragement, but when it gets into actual instructions from the side – no. The kid needs to listen to what’s happening on the field and to the coach, not to instructions from the side. Especially when it’s painfully obvious most of these morons have no clue what they’re talking about. They may be on the sidelines day after day, but that doesn’t mean they’ve learned much.

Headed back home after an hour to prep for an interview; got a message requesting rescheduling, which was a good thing, as I was feeling dizzy, and had to lie down for awhile due to heat exhaustion. I thought I’d been careful, but the M&M’s for lunch was probably not a wise choice.

I got the contact info I needed for one of the interviews for another publication, so I can get going on that one tomorrow.

Up again at 5 this morning – I have to be at the rink before 8.

Good yoga session, although my hamstrings are tight and I needed to hold the hip-opening poses longer because all that sitting on bleachers kinked me up.

Decent session on Good Names – would have liked to have longer at it, but hockey games wait for no one.

Devon

Good Names – 48,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
48 / 100
(48.0%)
Published in: on July 29, 2007 at 5:37 am  Comments (5)  

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

Yesterday was a frustrating day, to say the least, in the beginning.

Got to Manhattanville for the fencing just fine – in fact, the security detail offered me Manhattanville’s own press kit – which is better than the one put together for the ESG . Had the chance to watch some of the preliminary sabre rounds, which was great. I like sabre better than foil. Also, today’s group was the Open Division, rather than the Scholastic – totally different vibe. More laid back, focused, but not with the same kind of nervous energy the younger competitors had yesterday, and the nervous energy that was in the room was different. I talked to one of the coaches, who was pretty interesting. He thinks the computerization of the sport is an improvement because it makes scoring more accurate and cheating harder. Yeah, but when the cables have to be replaced three time in the first hour and competitors have to keep switching their weapons because the sensors aren’t working properly, there’s room for improvement. And the damn beeping of the machines makes me want to whack ‘em with a sledgehammer.

Then, the conversation took an odd turn. The coach asked me if I had a kid competing; I said no, I was media. So then he starts launching into stories about how the best place to pick up women is a Neil Diamond concert or a Tom Jones concert, and how he likes to go into bars and lie to women. Um, ewww. And that’s coming from a woman. First of all, what does that have to do with the sport? Secondly, why are you telling me this? Do you feel because I’m not a parent we’re now out of common ground for conversation? I was rather puzzled. And he’s a good coach and a dedicated referee . . so I’m not sure what that was all about. If it was meant to impress me . . .it didn’t. And if it was an attempt to make conversation . . .I’d rather discuss fencing.

I met the guy he’s coaching – who did well in the round I saw. He’s got a quiet, sure presence and a wonderful grace that I enjoyed watching. I also saw the fencer with whom I spoke yesterday – it was good to see him in his event. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him – he was focused, as he needed to be, and I don’t think he knew I attended.

Later, as I was leaving, one of the fencers who’d sat near us during the strange conversation with the coach came out after me and said, “We’re not all like that, you know.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I know. But thanks.”

And it was interesting to watch the dynamics, especially when one performed a lot of footwork while the other was more solidly placed. Sometimes you’d get someone who specialized in footwork paired against someone who did more arm work. Or you’d get two who’d dance back and forth for a few minutes, neither getting a touch – which is the most interesting to watch, I think.

I wanted to stay, but yesterday was the only day for rowing, so I shot out of there and headed for Glen Island, New Rochelle. Only, I never found it. No signs, the map was wrong – and God forbid the “media center” should give us directions to any of the venues.

So, when I saw an entrance ramp to the Hutch North, I took it and headed back home. At first, I considered returning to the fencing, but decided against it – it would be wandering in during the middle of rounds, and I felt that would be rude. It was too late to head up to Ossining to the sailing, and I missed the women’s hockey game I wanted to attend, because I lost so much time looking for the frigging rowing venue.

I could either froth at the mouth or be productive. I chose the latter. The easy choice, the one I’d usually choose, would be to drive the extra 40 minutes to the “media center” to pitch a fit, but why waste my time? It’s not like they’re going to improve in the next two days.

If they’re not going to have a point person at each venue, then they need a coordinator for each region, and they need a message center where we can contact athletes and coaches for interviews and follow-ups. Grabbing someone when they’re in mid-event is simply wrong – they need to focus on what they’re doing, and we need the tools to be able to do our jobs in and around the events – which is why you’re supposed to have someone coordinating the press.

As one of the female fencers said to me, when Channel 12 was wandering around, shoving cameras in people’s faces as they were trying to compete, “When the cameras come out, I go in the bathroom. I don’t want to be a celebrity; I just want to fence.”

I stopped at the store and grabbed a watermelon, which rumbled around in my trunk like a dead body, cut it up, had lunch, and worked on the article about The Last Drop Pub in Edinburgh that was on deadline. Most of the article was already done, but it needed another hundred or so words and a polish.

Headed up to Rye Country Day School and watched women’s lacrosse – scholastic division. Hudson Valley played Western (and beat them 9-5). It was some of the best and smoothest teamwork from both sides that I’ve seen in a long time. Even more exciting, there was someone there willing to give me INFORMATION so that I could actually do a lacrosse article. I was ready to dance her around the edges of the field, let me tell you. I’ve already shot off emails to the coaches asking for an interview. In addition to the general article on the Games, I want to do a spotlight on Women’s Ice Hockey and on Women’s Lacrosse, both of which don’t get enough coverage.

Came back home, peeled off the hot, sweaty clothes, showered, finished the article on the Last Drop, sent it off, pulled some material for more pitches. Had some dinner, then headed up to SUNY Purchase to watch diving – men’s and women’s scholastic. The dynamic was so interesting – the men had a wider range of personality types displayed, but, overall, less confidence. The women came across as really confident and focused. It was fascinating.

I don’t know how beat reporters do this stuff. It’s all I can do to get the notes written up each night in a vaguely coherent format so I can see what I still have to research.

If I ever cover a “Games” of any sort again – I’m going to stick to a single event.

I have tons of ideas for fiction, and I think some of them will actually congeal into a single piece. I’m playing with ideas.

Came home, exhausted. I should have worked on Tracking Medusa, but I was too darned tired.

Attempted the weights. Went to bed early.

At least this morning, I didn’t have to get up at 5 AM. My first event’s at 9:45.

I have to say, their little rulebook/code of conduct makes me glad I’m not a teen right now. I’d never come up with doing most of what’s “forbidden” – except the fact that they wrote it down and SAID it was forbidden, which would make me want to do it, because of my problems with authority. I’m starting to think I was the last generation that really got to be kids. (Now there’s an awkwardly written sentence). Too tired to fix it.

My downstairs neighbor was at it again, for a good two hours last night, blasting away. From about 1-3 in the morning. It has to stop.

In addition, it rained heavily, and I wondered if I needed to move the car. I didn’t, but I think I will today.

An hour an a half of yoga this morning, and a solid session on Good Names. Into the shower now, and then off to the rink.

Devon

Good Names — 47,882 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
47 / 100
(47.0%)
Published in: on July 28, 2007 at 7:38 am  Comments (5)  

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hazy, hot, humid

Quick post – I think.

Yesterday was great; exhausting, but great. Up early, an hour of Yoga, some writing, quick breakfast, in the car to Manhattanville College in Purchase. Their security staff is awesome, and helped me find the fencing.

Fascinating times in the fencing rounds. It’s been so long since I fenced that I never had to be hooked up to all those wires and computers – which failed repeatedly for people’s plug-ins and tips, etc. I think some of the beauty and the fluidity has been lost with all that cable.

Talked to an interesting guy who’s competing today and interested in working in DC in the intelligence realm. He gave me a link to his blog – I either misunderstood him or he was blowing smoke up my ass, because I haven’t been able to find it. I will assume the former until proven otherwise, because he had no reason to give me misinformation unless it was because I’m a stranger, so WTF. Sometimes you do that when a stranger starts asking questions. Besides, he knows how to find me – including via this blog – so he can always give me the correct link if I’ve gotten it wrong!

Had to dash out of fencing before the end of it. Buzzed past the men’s baseball and the women’s soccer (they were on my way to the car).

Got back on 287, which was more hateful than usual, heading to Valhalla. There was a guy driving a construction dump truck weaving in the lane ahead of me, shouting and waving his fist out the window. First, I was going to keep him in front of me, where I could keep an eye on him; then I thought, “fuck it, he can eat my dust” and as soon as there was an opening, I hit the accelerator (bless the rabbit’s quick speed) and blew past him. I got a good look at him as I passed, and I’m pretty sure he was coked to the gills.

Got to Valhalla in one piece; found the archery event. Again, it’s been a loooong time since I participated in the sport, and the bows are much more high tech, the scopes are intriguing, etc. It’s a sport I’d like to try again. The advances in bows are pretty spectacular.

I met a woman in her 70s who is participating in the Masters’ competition on Saturday – she’s been shooting since she was 7! Fascinating stuff.

And there was a doppelganger for one of the chorus girls on the show, and for one of my neighbors.

I spent a good portion of time talking to an EMS worker, originally out of Buffalo, now living in Ossining. Good stories.

Hopped back in the car, stopped home for some celery and some carrots for lunch, then back in the car to the ice rink for Women’s Hockey. It was so great to be back in an ice rink, especially the one in which I practically grew up. Heaven, just heaven. I got my timing wrong, so I arrived early – which meant I got to see two games, instead of just one.

I spent a good portion of the time talking to the guy sitting next to me, who manages a rink in Yonkers, played travel hockey, coaches, and used to work in the Street Crimes Unit for NYPD.

Again, more good stories.

In addition to the articles, I’m getting a wealth of inspiration for the fiction.

For some reason today, everyone just wanted to talk to me. Which is interesting, since it’s so hard for me to initiate conversations with strangers, even in a working situation, because I’m shy (yes, I am, stop LAUGHING, Colin). But it’s getting easier, because I’m actually interested in what these people have to say, and I’d much rather ask them questions and listen to the answers than talk about myself.

It made me laugh my ass off that the only place to get coffee near the rink was to leave the rink, walk into Playland Amusement Park, half way down to the Dragon Coaster and buy it – at the Carvel Ice Cream Stand.

Okaaaaay.

In the meantime, I snapped some additional photos to show off where I set “That Man in Tights” – Mik, remember? – though I rearranged the boardwalk to be closer to the restrooms for story purposes.

I took A LOT of photos. And the only time I ever saw another press person was at the rink – two photogs were there, and they agreed with me – the media center sucks. Not only is it a 40 minute drive to get there and get zero information, when you call to find something out – they tell you to check the website. I’m in the car, dumbass, if I had a computer nearby I wouldn’t be calling!!!!!! And, by the way – what I need isn’t up on the site yet, and the day’s events were over hours ago. There need to be press reps at every venue coordinating information and getting it where it needs to go, not just waiting until the information reaches “the center” – which is so far out of everyone’s way it’s not even funny. No way to contact the center by email, when you call them, they “can’t” get what’s needed. Very , very frustrating. Everything else runs pretty smoothly – although one of the baseball coaches mentioned problems with the shuttling buses getting athletes to and from events on time.

(Uh, yes, I was pulled over at the time – you know how I feel about driving while on the phone)!

Grabbed some dinner at Nathan’s – a pair of hot dogs and some fries and they gave me a bottle of water to go with it – I must have looked a bit wilted by then. Shared my fries with the (handsome) park ranger while I waited for my car. I didn’t realize you could still be a ranger and wear a baseball cap – I thought it had to be one of those broad-brimmed jobs. Learn something new every day.

Although it was hot and I am no hot weather gal, my sore muscles were very happy to be soothed by warmth.

Core work last night – ow. Good ow but . . .ow.

Quick visit with a friend, then work on the article due today.

Downstairs neighbor AGAIN blasted me out of bed at 1 AM with television on so loud that not only could I distinctly hear every word one floor above, but it was loud enough to hurt. This is ridiculous. I’m going to talk to him one more time, and then complain to the management. I think he comes home drunk and or is unstable or something. There’s no way one can’t know that the volume is loud.

Up at 5 AM again this morning. Hour of Yoga. I meant to go to the rowing first thing, but I want to go back and see more fencing first at Manhattanville. Then rowing in New Rochelle. I don’t think I’ll make the hockey game although I might swing by to leave notes for some players I want to interview. Up to Ossining to try to catch a bit of sailing, then back here to catch women’s lacrosse up the street.

Another full day.

Add “hat” to the list of necessities for the games. If I didn’t have my hat, especially at archery, I would have spent a good deal more time in the EMS tent, and it wouldn’t have been to chat.

I am doing a workshop as part of “The Muse Online” Writers’ Conference in October, with Sunday afternoon as our live time chat. Details and links to follow early next week, when I’m not trying to juggle all these sports.

Slow morning on Good Names, but three pages are better than nothing.

Devon

Good Names – 46,882 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
46 / 100
(46.0%)
Published in: on July 27, 2007 at 5:54 am  Comments (8)  

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and hazy

Checklist for the bag carried to cover The Empire State Games:

Lipgloss
Notebook
Pen
Digital Camera w/extra batteries
Press pass
Venue list/directions/schedule
Sunscreen
Bottled water

Let’s face it, when it’s ninety plus degrees out there, anything more than tinted moisturizer and lipgloss is a waste.

And, yes, lipgloss as the first listed item is on purpose. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I can be totally naked, but if I’m wearing my lipstick, I feel dressed.

Got my media pass for the games. They don’t do any sort of parking pass and I refuse to pay for parking when I’m covering this stuff, so we’ll see what I can come up with. Thus far, I am so unimpressed with the media center it’s not even funny. I asked about setting up interviews – they don’t do that. I have to try to catch athletes during the events. Excuse me? First of all, why are you there if you’re not coordinating press? Second of all, many of these athletes are underage, and it’s completely inappropriate to have complete strangers walking up to them asking for interviews. They locked down the Kensico Dam in Valhalla yesterday evening because they’re afraid someone’s going to blow it up or contaminate the water supply, but they’re leaving their athletes unprotected. Anyone can SAY they’re press, and let’s face it, these media passes are not high tech. It’s one thing when you’re dealing with adults, who have some life experience – but these are teenagers.

Although some of the ones I’ve had contact with thus far are smarter than many of the adults surrounding the event.

Covering sports takes a whole different set of creative muscles than working on fiction, or even working on other types of articles. I’m having difficulty shifting focus.

Managed to get back in time for the America’s Cup Press Conference (which was late, by the way, which pissed me off because I nearly broke the land speed record for VWs to get back in time). Frankly, for me, I ended up with more questions at the end of it than at the beginning. I’ll be writing an article on it that will go up in probably 2-3 weeks, giving me a chance to do some more research and hopefully answer some questions, but I walked away from the live feed quite disturbed. Money and ego are the two biggest obstacles to a level playing field for the next Challenge – especially since those two things are being used to make sure the playing field is NOT level.

My belief is that if you have a good team and a good boat or design for a good-boat-to-be-built and you’re secure in your choices, you want to level the playing field as much as possible because it makes the victory all the more earned and sweeter. But, to my view, that’s not at all what’s happening here.

And I predict that, if it continues the way it’s going as of the press conference, the US won’t have a team in at all – either by force or choice, that’s still open for debate, but it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

We’ll see what the next two weeks bring to light in time for the article.

I’m sore from the walking and workouts on Tuesday, but hung tough and did the weight training. Yoga was great, but the weight training kicked my ass. In the right way, but boy, oh boy, am I sore this morning. Triceps, thighs, abs – but it’s all good. Glad to have a good yoga session this morning to pull it all out.

Also washed the rug and pitched for some more writing jobs. Higher-paying jobs this time around.

Had to get up at 5 AM this morning in order to get everything done I needed to do and now I’m on my way to Manhattanville College to cover Fencing. Then it’s off to Archery in Valhalla, and women’s ice hockey at Playland Ice Casino.

Tough slog on Good Names this morning, but it got done.

Devon

Good Names — 46,132 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
46 / 100
(46.0%)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Foggy and hot

These construction/asbestos guys are getting on my last nerve. We were not relocated for this process; that means they need to take into consideration that people live here, and behave accordingly. Of course, the way they argue down there, I don’t have to go down to inflict grievous bodily harm; they’ll do it to each other. I also don’t see any certification or permits for this work – why am I not surprised?

One of the things I hope is coming across as Tracking Medusa unfolds is Justin gaining self-esteem and how that’s changed the way he reacts in the various situations/dangers/crisises they keep finding themselves in. He’s used to being with women who treat him badly, and he’s come to think that’s what he deserves – that he’s not all that smart, that he’s not all the resourceful, that his decisions are likely to be incorrect. Gwen treats him as an equal – she’s aware that he’s emotionally immature for someone his age, and takes that into account for certain things. But, as far as their working partnership, she approaches it from the standpoint of “you’re smart, you’re resourceful, you’re a professional, what’s your take on this?” and he’s growing and changing for the better for it. Of course, at the end of the second book and into the third one, he’ll take it a bit too far, with consequences, but for now, it’s a real blossoming of his spirit. And, when she revealed more vulnerability in the scene at The World’s End than she had before, he was faced with a choice to behave like the emotionally immature person he was when he started – and like the people he was used to being around – or make the choice not to deliberately hurt her in a way that would make her behave the way he wanted her to. It was a spur-of-the-moment scene, not in the outline, but I think it shows a great deal about the growth of his character.

I’m starting to realize how much the time I spent interviewing some of the younger hockey players is influencing these characters – there’s a lot of several of them in Justin, even though the only Justin would know what to do with a hockey stick is carbon-test it for age.

Train in to the city was a nightmare. I decided to take a train two trains earlier than usual, so I’d get in early and be able to leave early for the party. Usually, I take the 10:26 and arrive at the theatre at 11:45. Yesterday, I tried for the 9:32 to get there by 10:30 – and I got there at 11:15. And the train had the heat on. Ridiculous.

Pushed through the call as fast as I could, hauled ass from 51st St. up to Alice’s Tea Cup on 73rd and Columbus. It was a great party, and my boss was happy, so that’s always nice. She’s a terrific person, and deserves to know how much she means to us all.

Walked all the way back to Grand Central (and realized I walked the equivalent of five miles today, not counting all the running up and down the stairs required in the work call – no wonder everything hurt) and caught the 5:30 train back out. It was semi-ventilated, so it wasn’t as uncomfortable as the ride in.

Came home, peeled down and stood under the shower until I started to feel human again.

Was a waste of food most of the evening – got some paperwork done, and percolated on the Gwen/Justin stuff some more, but didn’t actually write. However, I did start up the evening workouts again – three times a week core exercises, three times a week weight training. When I don’t do 8 shows/week, I need to work out more, and I noticed that I’m using my body incorrectly with the heavy costumes lately, because the core is weakening. Have to fix that. My strength and stamina have always been important – now that I’m no longer 20, I need to work harder to not only keep them, but improve them. Last night was the core work, and I was a puddle of jelly on the floor by the time I was done.

Up early this morning – I’ve extended my morning yoga sessions for the past month, and it’s helped a lot.

Instead of working on Good Names, I had an idea for a press release that’s given me trouble, so I worked on that. It’s in decent shape, and I ought to be able to get it out by the end of the week.

But I missed having the session on Good Names. Now that the first murder’s happened (a third of the way in), the pace is picking up, the interwoven character lines are making sense, and it’s more fun to write.

I have to dash off to pick up my press credentials for The Empire States Games and then try to make it back for a live stream from Europe regarding the next America’s Cup Challenge.

And then finish up some articles that need to go out this week – but because of the games the rest of the week, if I don’t get a solid start today, they’ll be late.

Got an email from a new editor with whom I’m working – looking forward to working with her.

My presence will probably be sporadic here over the next few days, as the focus of my life is the Empire States Games.

Have a good one!

Devon

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hazy and warmer

Felt restless, blue, and unfocused yesterday. There are so many things I should do, could do, and I’m having difficulty prioritizing them. Some days I just feel as though I’m flailing, and yesterday was one of those days.

I also think I’m taking on too many of the lower paying jobs – short, quick writing and quick paying gigs to keep the bills paid, where I really need to start going after higher-paying jobs. I’m getting more positive than negative responses to my pitches, so now it’s time to raise my own bar, instead of getting complacent and only going for gigs I’m pretty sure I can nail.

Worked on the Craigslist ads, but I want them to settle a day or two before I post them. Also, I think I should wait until next week to post, since most of this week is about the Empire State Games. Sent out a half a dozen pitches. Got some info out to a colleague that should have gone out on Saturday. Dithering about some other query stuff, and completely disgusted by the piles of un-filed papers on my desk. Regarding the dithering – the material needs some more tweaking, but I have to draw a line beyond which I don’t tweak anymore and just send the damned stuff out. I’ve started getting in my own way again, and I need to get out of it.

Spent a lot of time working on material for submission packages I’m putting together – had to check the list of submissees to make sure it was current. Revised the query letter, and I think it kicks ass; now I have to get the outline and synopsis up to par with it. And then I have to get them OUT.

Could I have an extra 76 hours in today, please?

It was pretty much the equivalent of a literary nervous breakdown, with the Doubt Demons attacking, and feeling that almost everything I’m working on right now sucks (except Tracking Medusa and yesterday’s revised query letter). Out of sheer numbers, some of what I’m doing is bound to suck, but it can be fixed. Also, I want to make sure I’m making decisions based on what’s best for the work, not for my own ego. However, I need to get out of my own way and just get over it and keep working.

Off to the show early today – there’s a party for my boss that I want to attend, so I’m going in early. Then, I’m on stand-by for the show tonight, in case someone doesn’t return in time.

So I lose yet another writing day. But at least I’m away from the construction chaos. To answer your question, Michael, the asbestos removal is supposed to take until mid-September, but I don’t know how much longer the construction will take beyond that. Hopefully, I’ll be in the actual moving process by then, instead of merely house-hunting.

I’m delighted to hear that Spain is considering banning bullfighting. I loathe it – it’s no sport, it’s paying to watch slaughter. I always hope the matador is gored. A matador was quoted as saying that no one loves the bull more than the matador – right. Maybe no one loves the killing more. By the way, if you’ve ever met matadors – I’ve yet to meet one that didn’t deserve at least a solid kick in the balls, just to knock some sense, not to mention humility, into him. The preening, arrogance, and delusions are revolting. I don’t find them sexy at all. If they knew what to do with their own swords, they wouldn’t need to kill bulls with metal ones.

On a happier note, a new publication wants an article which may turn into a column. Paid. Got to get to work on it.

Buying a place with more land than I originally envisioned looks better and better. Which also means finding someone I can trust that I can hire to look after it when I’m traveling.

I want to take a moment to note publicly how much I hated the premiere of Saving Grace last night. Right wing evangelical crap can wrap itself up and parade itself hypocritically as much as it likes as “edgy television” – but it’s still right wing evangelical crap. I will not be watching it again. Aidan Quinn’s short-lived series a season or so ago, The Book of Daniel, had much more to do with actual faith than this piece of ram-it-down-our-throats garbage.

Wrote Chapter 14 of Tracking Medusa last night. It worked pretty well, although some of the Scottish War Memorial stuff is still shaky, in spite of the research. I invented an earldom and stuck it in southwest Scotland where I need it – will have to apologize in the acknowledgements. The Calton Hill stuff is right, though, including the memories of the Beltane Fire Festival – I gave Gwen mine. And there’s a good scene at World’s End pub – remember that one, Col?

I’m getting to a good point in the story, and hate to leave it, even for a day. It’s a crucial action sequence – some of it pretty violent – coming up – that cements Gwen and Justin together while nearly tearing them apart, and is a catalyst for the middle section of the book. Somehow, I have a feeling that this one won’t suffer the “middle sag” that usually sends me into despair. But that doesn’t mean the actual writing will be easy.

A good morning’s work on Good Names put me in a better mood to face the day, but I still hate leaving Tracking Medusa. This is a complicated sequence coming up, and it pulls at me.

Devon

Good Names — 44,882 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
44 / 100
(44.0%)


Tracking Medusa
– 35,427 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
35 / 90
(38.9%)
Published in: on July 24, 2007 at 6:33 am  Comments (12)  

Monday, July 23, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

It’s raining heavily here again today, and we’re on flood watch. The positive aspect is that the construction numbnuts, who started at 7:45 this morning, had to suspend their damned noise, and I could get some work done. I hope it doesn’t flood – really not up for that, but the car’s safe, so if it does, I can hunker down and just deal.

After two months of serious flooding in the UK, we’re only now hearing about it on the news. My thoughts are with all my friends and colleagues there.

Brandy, to answer your Rowling question: I think whatever she writes next will have huge sales and huge criticism, because too many will be narrow-minded enough to want the same thing from her, but bitch and moan no matter what she writes, even if the quality is excellent. I think by whatever she writes after THAT, there will be enough distance for people to embrace it on its own merits. I suspect that the media will be harsher on her than the public, since there will be plenty there who want to see her fail out of sheer spite. Fortunately, she’s now in a position where she can do whatever she pleases and follow her heart. If she chooses to write under another name, good for her; if she continues under hers, good for her. I wish her well in whatever she attempts, and I’m pleased by her success. She’s earned it.

I worked on Chapter 13 of Tracking Medusa yesterday. I think I’ll have to rework it substantially in the rewrite – it plods rather than flows. And I have to look at the photos I took of the Scottish War Memorial – I skimped on the description.

Went to my friend’s in the afternoon, did two more loads of laundry, more research for Good Names, and this time I cooked dinner: thyme chicken, asparagus with hollandaise, and potato salad.

For some reason, I was exhausted when I got home and spent most of the evening reading magazines and half-watching stupid television.

Didn’t get a gig I hoped for. Objectively, I should be relieved, because it would tie me down more than I can be tied down right now for less money than it should be for the gig, but it was an interesting, unusual thing that I wanted to try. Oh, well. Just means something better is right around the corner.

Good morning’s work on Good Names. One of the dead governess’s dalliances has been uncovered, and it gives them some detection work to do.

I have some business-y work to do today, and then I can get back to Tracking Medusa.

Let’s hope the water stays within its banks and the electricity holds on.

Devon

Good Names — 43,882 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
43 / 100
(43.0%)

Tracking Medusa – 32,990 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
32 / 90
(35.6%)
Published in: on July 23, 2007 at 9:09 am  Comments (5)  

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was a good writing day. I got a lot done, especially in the morning, which is my best writing time.

I wrote two chapters on Tracking Medusa – it’s going in the right direction and is an awful lot of fun. I figured out some bits that were vague a few chapters back, and have to go in and clarify them. But it’s moving forward nicely, and having a strong outline helps. I do deviate from the outline occasionally, but it gives me a roadmap and I can chose when to take an exit, and when to come back. They’re spending more time in Edinburgh than I originally planned, and I have to dig up street maps, my old diaries, photos, etc. to get the geography right. And I’m setting something in Ayrshire in a section I don’t know all that well, so it will mean more research. I wish I could just hop a plane to Scotland, but until the move is handled, I’m stuck here.

I had a nice morning’s work on Good Names, too. The new governess has been hired, and things are moving forward in the murder investigation, and Althea is discovering who are real friends and who are fair weather friends.

I’m going to try to get some more writing done this morning, and then I have plans for the rest of the day, which will be fun.

I spent most of the afternoon and evening yesterday reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s early enough so I don’t want to go into detail and spoil it for people – I’ll give a detailed write-up of my opinions in a week or two. There were a couple of things with which I strongly disagreed, especially where I felt one of my favorite characters was marginalized. There also felt like there were some arbitrary cuts which caused lapses of logic – I went back and re-read certain sections, shaking my head, because I felt there were other places where cuts could have been made that wouldn’t have jolted the narrative. But I really liked most of it, loved some of it, and was relieved that some of my least favorite speculations were wrong, but that some of what I hoped would happen did happen.

As a writer and reader, isn’t it wonderful that these books have had such an enormous impact? That a BOOK gets so much attention, and people line up at midnight to buy millions of copies? Rowling has given us a wonderful gift, by sharing her imagination with us for ten years, letting us share her world. She’s earned every bit of her success, and I’m excited to read anything she writes in any genre. Of course, there’s a part of me that wants to know about the next generation at Hogwarts, but I completely respect her decision that this is it.

As a writer, it’s also a lesson in what good outlining and planning can do for a series. I’m sure she found places to deviate/expand/contract on her original outline while still staying true to her overall vision, but if you break down the structure of all seven books, it’s quite a lesson in plot, character, and thematic development.

Off to do some more writing, and then – playtime!

Devon

Good Names – 41,257 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
41 / 100
(41.0%)

Tracking Medusa – 30,562 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
30 / 90
(33.3%)
Published in: on July 22, 2007 at 7:43 am  Comments (8)  

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cooler

The construction morons started banging around at 8 AM. On a Saturday. Thank goodness for my MP3 player and headphones, or I’d be down there inflicting serious bodily harm on them.

Yesterday ended up being a good day. The migraine lifted. I got my article out on time. I went to my friend’s, did 7 loads of laundry, and spent a good portion of the afternoon lying in a poolside hammock reading a book on Gramercy Park as research for Good Names.

Not only do I need to get down there and walk it, I need to spend a few days digging in the NY Historical Society’s Archives. Guess I should make the appointment sooner rather than later.

I cheated on the cooking, though; we ordered Chinese take-out. Twice.

I don’t have to go in tomorrow for the show – yeah! – so I can get a lot done, I hope.

I heard back from one publication – they like the three articles I’ve submitted thus far and will let me know as soon as they schedule them. And they understand that the four profiles are taking longer to write than I thought they would. It’s summer, people are away, and they’re harder to pin down.

It looks like I’ll be giving a workshop or an online chat for a writers’ conference this fall. As soon as I have all the details, I’ll post them.

I have three pitches to write, some short stories to work on, work on the e-book, figure out a giveaway if the conference thing actually pans out, work on logos, have another article to start, and I want to spend a good chunk of time on Tracking Medusa today. I’d hoped to work on it every day this past week – and didn’t.

Had a good morning on Good Names – it’s chugging along nicely. It needs lots of fixes as far as period detail, but character and even plot seem to hold together pretty well. I’m going to overwrite the second draft horribly, putting in so many details it’s silly, and then cut, cut, cut for the third draft, which will then go out to readers (like, six months from now).

And, of course, I’m waiting for my guaranteed delivery of the latest Harry Potter.

To work, to work.

Devon

Good Names — 39,757 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
39 / 100
(39.0%)
Published in: on July 21, 2007 at 8:45 am  Comments (2)  

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy, humid, cooler

If they weren’t still down there making noise and raising dust, I wouldn’t need the air conditioner on today. Sigh.

Yesterday was nearly a lost day. The migraine came in waves; when it ebbed, I worked; when it flowed – well, any of you who’ve had migraines understand.

I have to finish, polish, and send one article this morning, and get a few more things out tonight. I have a break in the middle of the day to get some other work done, then go over to my friend’s, do laundry, cook him dinner, and then work more tonight.

I’m playing with some short story ideas for various ventures, anthologies, etc. I’m working on logo design for some upcoming projects. And I have a list of pitches to get out as long as my arm.

I’m working on the press pass for next week’s Empire State Games, New York’s mini-Olympics, which I hope to cover. Of course, the days it’s running are supposed to be the hottest days of the year, and many events (such as archery) are outside.

You know I’ll be inside the hockey rink to cover Women’s Ice Hockey as much as possible!

Nice morning’s work on Good Names. I have to get down to Gramercy Park with my camera in the next few weeks. I need to walk it and photograph it, in addition to the research I’m doing into the time, and all the fascinating memoirs I’m reading about it.

Someone in the theatre had a death in the family, so I might have to go in on Sunday and early next week. On the one hand, I’m trying to limit how much time I spend at the show, because it cuts in to my writing time; on the other hand, I feel a loyalty to the show, and I want to help out in an emergency. Unfortunately, the emergencies never seem to stop.

I watched the premier of Mad Men last night. Stylistically, it’s great. The writing’s quite good, too. However, I don’t have a great deal of respect for the lead character, Don Draper (although I think the actor does a great job). I don’t find him “complex” at all – I find him a lying, cheating user. I realize that’s part of the statement the show makes about the time, place, space, social change, and intent of the business – but the character’s going to have to go a long way for me not to want to see him fail.

Off to focus, migraine or not; too much has to get done before I leave this afternoon.

Devon

Good Names – 38,757 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
38 / 100
(38.0%)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, rainy

So, the latest news I have on the explosion in NYC – steam pipe explosion, possibly caused by a transformer fire. They’re testing for asbestos – they refuse to make the same mistake Whitman did around 9/11, saying it’s all good when it’s not. Plenty of haz mat suits, area locked down. I’d be frantic if I lived there and couldn’t get to my pets. One confirmed death thus far and about 30 people in hospitals.

It may not have been a terrorist attack, but I hope they investigate other types of sabotage. The timing – it happening during rush hour, which doesn’t seem like a coincidence. And it’s happening just as Con Ed is screaming that the funds they received aren’t enough (probably because there are administrative pockets getting lined) and they want not only more money but a 17% rate hike.

I don’t believe in coincidence, so the timing on all of this makes me very, very suspicious.

And I’m trying not to go into the city until I have to be back at the theatre next Tuesday. I don’t trust the trains; there was minor flooding yesterday and we were told to expect more today.

I was ready to commit hara-kiri with a coat hanger by 10 AM yesterday, and the day didn’t get better. The workmen were underneath the window all day long, sawing and screwing together 2 by 4’s with boards across them. Not only that, but they didn’t know what they were doing. I’ve built enough sets and run enough screw guns to know that if every single screw is screaming in pain when you put it into the wood, you’re doing something wrong. Instead of hiring people who’ve never used power tools before, how about hiring someone competent? Oh, right, that would mean paying them a living wage.

And having building permits up. God forbid THAT should happen.

Turns out they’re building a containment shed out of plywood for the asbestos-contaminated dumpster under the window – that’s been there since APRIL. Who knows what health hazards we’ve been subjected to for months?

I am furious.

No wonder I’ve had even worse troubles with migraines, coughs, etc. for the past few months – asbestos-contaminated materials have been dumped under my window! Completely unacceptable.

I worked on some article stuff, had a good day’s work on Good Names before the construction numbnuts started their debacle, filled out an application in response to a pitch I sent, brainstormed with a friend about an article site that sounds too good to be true, yet might actually be legit, read a little bit, and tried not to do downstairs and commit seriously bodily harm to those morons – especially the ones running the building.

Good thing I didn’t have to go to the city tonight – we had three inches of rain in just a few hours, so Metro North didn’t run. Not to mention that a good deal of the region was without power and flooded again (we got away lightly this time).

I was going to go to a friend’s place to do laundry (since not only are the downstairs laundry facilities cholera-inducing, but they’re asbestos-contaminated). Unfortunately, his basement had an inch of water in it, so we’re putting it off until things dry out a bit. No reason to electrocute ourselves trying to wash some dirty drawers!

Even Belmont Park cancelled yesterday’s Race Card because of the floods. And there was a tornado on Long Island.

I meant to work on Tracking Medusa last night, but I was glued to the TV watching the coverage of the explosion and trying to track down my fellow New Yorkers who might have been in the area. So far, so good.

I had a good day’s work on Good Names this morning – the murder investigation is under way, and the gossip mongers are in full swing. I have to do more work on articles this morning, write some business correspondence, and then get back to Tracking Medusa.

Unfortunately, I have a migraine, so I don’t know how much will get done. And I’m practically choking to death on the sawdust. Normally, I’d just have fans going, but with all the construction dust around the asbestos dumpster, I’ve got the windows shut and the air on. Guess I’ll be scrubbing those filters frequently.

Devon

Good Names – 37,257 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
37 / 100
(37.0%)
Published in: on July 19, 2007 at 8:37 am  Comments (9)