Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

The last day of August, can you believe it?

My article “Travers Triumphant” is up on FemmeFan. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with the link, so you have to go to the home page of Femmefan,

and then scroll down until you see “Travers Triumphant”. Sorry.

I had a great, busy, couple of days.

And I did it again, what I always do when I go to Philadelphia.

I bought shoes.

Last year, I bought three pairs and had to haul them back up to NY. This year, I bought only two. Both are lovely suede flats, one in brown, and one in a red that goes with the new fall purse.

Hello, my name is Devon and I’m a Shoe-A-Holic.

Only I don’t want to be cured.

There’s the old joke: How many pairs of shoes should a woman own?

Answer: One more pair than she already has.

Tuesday, work was okay. I like most of the people, but the situation is no longer for me, and if I don’t cut the cord and do without it as my safety net, I’ll never move forward. I kept telling myself I was hanging in there to make insurance, but our union’s screwed us so badly insurance-wise that I’m not going to make it anyway, so why stay in a situation that’s no longer supporting any part of my life?

One of my colleagues was about to fly to London that night. He landed the job as the assistant designer for a show that’s coming to Broadway from the National in London, and off he goes to learn the show, work with the designer, etc. Good for him! I love it when something like that comes together so quickly! He’s very talented and deserves it. He text-messaged me yesterday to let me know it was great over there. The National’s a wonderful place – everyone is so nice and the facility is outstanding. He’ll have a blast.

Shot out of work and down to Port Authority. The 4 o’clock bus was still loading when I got there, so I thought maybe I could get on that, but they ran out of seats. Then, they put us through so-called security checks – poorest excuse for a security check I’ve ever seen.

They pulled up another bus, and I ended up on one that left at 4:37 instead of 5:00, which worked for me.

The ride was fine, although the bus was full. People were just tired, and most of them slept on the bus –except for the guy in the seat ahead of me who sung tunelessly to himself the whole time, until I was ready to hurt him. So I put on my MP3 Player instead, which seemed like a much more equitable solution.

I tried to read on the bus, but was so disappointed with the book. I felt almost guilty not liking it, because the writer’s gotten a lot of praise and won quite a few awards. But I don’t like the characters and the story’s not told engagingly enough to keep me focused. So that book is going into the Book Mooch pile.

Arrived in Philly a little before 7, grabbed a cab, got to my friend’s place, dumped my stuff. We went across the street to a really cute pub called The Black Sheep. They’re very nice there and the food is good. I had my first hamburger in ages (topped with roasted red peppers and garlic spinach), and a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat Ale. I’d never had that before, and it was quite good – doesn’t taste like beer. But I eat red meat so rarely now that I felt like I was walking around with a lump of lead in my stomach for the rest of the night.

Hung out with my friends, did some crocheting, but went to bed pretty early. Slept well, up early, yoga. I felt separation anxiety since I left my mat at home, but they had wall-to-wall carpeting. Their cat had never seen yoga before and was both freaked out and fascinated.

Brought breakfast in from Miel Bakery. We walked down to Trader Joe’s and did some grocery shopping. On the way back, we hung out in Rittenhouse Square for awhile. It’s so beautiful. I’d love to set a story in that area.

I met my friend L. for lunch at Susanna Foo’s. The food was exquisite (I had curried chicken dumplings, the crabmeat Egg Foo Yong, and a glass of pinot noir) and the service was excellent – a rarity in Philadelphia, in my experience. My friend and I had a great catch-up time, and then walked the half a block to Lush, where we treated ourselves to organic soaps and creams.

Later that afternoon, I dropped by one of the theatres to catch up with some old friends (missed them), and, on the way back, bought shoes.

Cooked dinner for my friends, hung out with other friends. Didn’t sleep well – I dreamed I was moving furniture all night, and woke up exhausted.

I hoped to get some writing done in Rittenhouse Square, but they had it sealed off to shoot a movie – I think it was the same M. Night Shyamalan movie that shot near my friend’s place last week. As I passed the wardrobe truck, I kidded with the crew, “Can’t I ever get away from work?”

I cooked a big salmon lunch for my friends, and then decided to take a 2 PM bus instead of a 4 PM bus back to New York. I got on, no problem, and read Yasmine Galenorn’s Witchling on the way home. It’s great – if you haven’t read her Sisters of the Moon series, go out and get them right now!!!

Hauled my luggage across from Port Authority to Grand Central, cursing out the tourists all the way. New Yorkers aren’t rude, tourists are. They also act like the biggest, sloppiest pigs ever. It’s disgusting, and I wish the cops would start ticketing again for litter (as if they don’t have enough to do).

Caught the 4:49 express and was back home by 5:45. The cats were so happy!

Chilled out and played with the cats.

Did not have a good start to the morning. Was jolted out of bed at 6:25 AM when, two buildings down, they started in with the leaf blowers. We have an ordinance in town that says they can’t start until 7 AM weekdays and 9 AM on Sundays. So I went down to tell them to stop and they started with the bullshit, “No speak English.” Amazing how quickly they found it when the cops showed up. One guy said something demeaning towards women as the cops wrote them up and I asked him if he wanted me to cut his dick off and feed it to him. Anyway, the building owners are being fined and so is the landscaping company.

Unfortunately, the noise also woke up the crazy downstairs neighbor who turned on his television full blast and then decided to “sing” – which is basically a cross between yodeling and a cat being tortured.

Like I said, not a good way to start the day.

I still have to finish and send off two articles today. I had a good morning’s work on Good Names. Finished the confrontation –with-the-killer chapter. It’s a little odd – I’ve never read a scene quite like it, but I think it’s fun, and hope it gets to stay in the book. I have about two more chapters and then this draft is DONE!

Off to do some errands, check the job boards (but without much hope – bad week on the job boards), and finish those articles. I’d like to do some more work on Good Names later today – it would be great if I could finish the draft before I leave for my next gig on Sunday.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Devon

Good Names
– 70,632 words out of est. 75,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

70 / 100
(70.0%)

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Full Moon
Lunar Eclipse
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

How many of you were up early enough to witness the lunar eclipse? I was up, but didn’t get outside to see it, unfortunately.

I’m mere centimeters from blithering idiotdom, but at least I got a lot done.

It seems Yasmine and I have one of the same soapbox issues – waiting around for the Muse! Neither one of us can – we have to seize, wrestle, chase – no, better yet, invoke the Muse and get our work done.

Also, in the modern publishing world, there’s less and less room for slow writers. It used to be that a writer could take five years to create the next book – and slow percolation time is often good and necessary. But publishers now demand at least one book per year, sometimes two. It’s the reality of the business, and, when you’re entering it, you have to play by the established rules until you’re in a position to set your own. If you can turn out quality material that connects with people on time, eventually you’ll work yourself into a valuable enough position to set stronger boundaries. Until then, there’s no reason why a publisher should take a risk on you, the unknown quantity, when there’s someone else in the stable who can turn out solid work on a reliable schedule.

Got a royalty statement from an anthology. Decent sales, but not enough to make additional royalties from the advance, which is what I expected. However, there’s no reason this book can’t have legs and continue to grow, so I have no doubt we’ll see something down the line. Of course, I’ll have to do my part to kick up sales, won’t I?

I’ve been battling a bit of a sore throat the past few days. The logical, physical reasons have to do with going in and out of air conditioning, stress, etc. The psychological reason is that I don’t feel like I’m being heard, as though I’ve “lost my voice” in certain areas of my life.

And, it’s mostly because I haven’t clearly asked for what I need. In fact, I’m trying to figure out how to do so. I’m pretty lucky with the people in my life – the majority of them, when asked directly for something, either: help me if they can; share resources or point me in the right direction; or tell me upfront if they can’t. All positive, all good, even if it’s not necessarily the answer I was looking for. But if I don’t communicate clearly in the first place, how can they make a decision?

The internal work never stops, and sometimes, it kinda sucks. But even after just writing it out – my throat’s already better.

Polished the articles. They needed more revising – mostly cutting – than I’d hoped. It took me most of the day. I rewarded myself with a new purse for fall and some nice wine with dinner. Both red. The long article’s still too rough, in my opinion, to send. I’m taking it with me and working on it over the next few days, then will send the polished version off on the day it’s due, Friday. Put off the other short article that’s not contracted.

The majority of the listings on the job boards suck this week – most of them want unlimited work for pennies. No, thanks. Hopefully, it’s just because this is the last week of summer and things will pick up after Labor Day.

Of course, when I get back from Maine the second week of September, I can post my services ads up on Craigslist and see how that goes. No point in posting them now if I’m not going to be around.

Good morning’s work on Good Names. The murderer is confessing. It has to be carefully structured, but fortunately, it’s a highlight of the book. It’s working. I will miss working on the piece for the next few days while I’m out of town. I can see the finish line – it’s just a case of reaching it.

Off to the theatre, and then out of town and offline for a few days. I’m looking forward to it!

Devon

Good Names – 69,382 words out of est. 75,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
69 / 75
(92.0%)
Published in: on August 28, 2007 at 7:58 am  Comments (7)  

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cooler

Pant, pant, pant.

Writing marathon yesterday.

Post-Travers article written, polished, out.

25 short articles, researched and written. I have to type them and polish them, but they can start going out today.

Good start on the long article. Will finish it today; polish and send it out tomorrow morning before I leave.

Several ideas for the other short article for the other publication, which I’m going to give a shot.

Such is the life of a freelance writer.

Right now, especially, I have no patience with “ooh, I haven’t been able to write for days/weeks/months because of (pick on ) lack of inspiration, family, no time, etc. etc.”

Guess you don’t have to worry about eating and paying bills, then do you? Got someone else to cover those. Lucky you.

And the writing boards are rife with those whines right now, and I just want to slap some of these people upside the head. So I’m taking a break from the boards, because, really, it’s not my business and not my problem, and I can choose not to engage.

There’s nothing wrong with choosing not to write, for whatever reason. Your life choices are YOURS. But own it, take responsibility for it, and stop making excuses.

When you rely on the writing to pay the bills, you don’t have the luxury of a lack of inspiration. It’s what separates the pros from the amateurs. And it doesn’t mean you can’t love what you do, just because it’s how you make your living.

And it’s amazing how quickly “inspiration” kicks in when there’s a deadline looming!!!

Did I “wanna” yesterday?

No.

I WANTED to sit around with a good book and a nice bottle of wine.

Did I write?

Sure I did.

Did I enjoy it?

Yeah. In spite of some struggle, lots of pacing, some frustration, yes I did. Because I my vocation is also my passion.

And I wasn’t going to whine, because the jam I was in this weekend was of my own making – not paying proper attention to the contracts. Although, looking back at the emails, I did bring it up with the former editor and she confirmed the dates I had on my calendar, not the dates on the contract.

Too bad the new editor didn’t see it the same way, in spite of receiving copies of the confirmation emails.

Well, get it out of the way and then I don’t have to worry about it all month, right?

Managed to get in some good work on Good Names this morning. We’re in the climactic chapter, where Althea and Ruby unmask and face down the murderer. Then I have two more chapters, and the first draft is DONE. I’d hoped to get it done before I left for Philly, but no such luck, thanks to these other articles. I’m not dragging a 275 page manuscript on the bus to work on it. However, I figure that mid-September is a pretty reasonable time to aim for a finish date.

It won’t hit 100K – more like 75K. Which is perfect, because then it gives me 25K of room to fill out with details, descriptions, and more red herrings. It will be a nice skeleton on which to hang the final book.

Sunday’s my night off from evening workouts, but I missed it. Good Yoga session this morning, and I’m looking forward to a solid weight training session tonight.

Devon

Good Names — 68,382 words out of est. 75,000 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
68 / 75
(90.7%)
Published in: on August 27, 2007 at 7:25 am  Comments (7)  

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, sticky, icky, cloudy

Imagine my surprise when I pulled out a contract to check something on Friday and discovered that, instead of the September 30 delivery date my editor and I agreed on, the delivery date, for 25 short articles was AUGUST 31. And my editor has since left, with someone totally inexperienced taking over.

It’s no one’s fault but mine. I know this particular organization has degenerated over the past few years into disorganization. I should have been on top of it. So, not only do I have to finish the 1700 word article that I knew was due, I have to get the 25 short articles researched, written, polished, and out.

And it has to happen before I leave town on Tuesday, because I won’t be back until they’re due, and I can’t have them hanging over my head while I’m gone, or I won’t be able to concentrate.

On top of that, I have to write the post-Travers article today.

And I don’t feel like doing a damned thing. I’m tired and cranky and hot.

Too damn bad.

I wrote 2 of the articles on Friday night, and 12 more yesterday, so I only have 9 more to write today. It won’t be fun, but it will get done.

And there’s another article I SHOULD get done and out by tomorrow, but I don’t know if I can.

It’s even more frustrating because I only have myself to blame. But, that’s the way it goes.

Wrapped up the CT job last night and came home. Was pretty much a waste of food once I got here. After all, I had three cats who DEMANDED that I make up to them for being gone all week. So I did. I’m almost forgiven, even though I unpacked and repacked in front of them (they were not amused) so I’m set to go Tuesday morning.

I managed to get a bit of work done on Good Names this morning, but that’s it.

Back to research/writing/polishing.

Devon

Good Names – 67,382 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
67 / 100
(67.0%)
Published in: on August 26, 2007 at 10:12 am  Comments (3)  

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Another quick visit to feed the cats and check the computer, then back to the CT gig.

Dug in and focused on the work in the short time I was here yesterday. Caught up on some email. Scoured the job boards. Prepared and sent 5 pitches. Meant to take 3 more with me because they need more thought and planning. Left them on the kitchen table. Baked brownies. Switched over clothes – it’s been cold the past few days, but now it’s supposed to get hot, and I had to have the appropriate clothes.

Went back to CT. Worked on the material for the Dialogue Workshop for the Muse Online Conference. The exercises and material online needs to be handled a bit differently than an in-person class. Worked on a couple of articles that I need to get out before I go out of town next week.

Caught up on email this morning. Will check the job boards and see if there’s anything worth pitching, pick up the laundry, do some bills, go to the post office, and head back to CT.

I’m so happy to see that hats and gloves are the fall fashion rage. Of course, my boxes of both are tucked into storage where I can’t get at them. (Sigh).

I got a good start on the next Lit Athlete Column – several sets of interview questions have already been returned. That’s the way I like to work. Meanwhile, some of the profiles I’m doing for THE SAVVY GAL and FEMMEFAN – it’s like pulling teeth. You know, we’re all busy, but when someone’s trying to shine a positive light on your hard work, at least show them the respect of responding within a reasonable length of time. Some of these sports that are underwritten about are ignored because the participants and administrators can’t be bothered to communicate. If no one knows what you’re doing, they’re not going to give you their money, so grow up and learn to communicate. It doesn’t take any more time to be gracious than it does to be rude. And you’ll get better results.

Some good work on Good Names and “Revenge Tangents”. Pushed back the word count for the latter – again. Well, it is what it is.

Have to do the rest of the paperwork and then back to CT. I can’t tell you what an enormous difference it makes to work someplace where it’s quiet – no braying women or screaming construction workers under the window; no repetitive machine noise; no arguments from the apartment next door, or loud music at 2 AM from the apartment below. I’m actually getting creative work done. And I don’t even mind the lack of television – I’m reading, writing, and working out more. Heaven!

My cats are really mad at me, though!

Travers tomorrow: My picks for the Big Race are Street Sense and Sightseeing. Hard Spun is my choice in the King’s Bishop. I haven’t studied the rest of the card yet, so I can’t say how I’m going to bet.

Back to work!

Devon

Good Names — 66,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
66 / 100
(66.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” — 12,375 words out of est. 15,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
12 / 15
(80.0%)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I’m making a flying visit home to feed the cats. The gig in CT is going well – they have a great fitness room, and I’m taking full advantage.

I have THREE articles in this week’s issue of FemmeFan:

Horse Racing at Saratoga, pre-Travers:

Horse Racing at Del Mar:

and the Central New York Scottish Games:

Check them out, if you get the chance!

I’m home long enough to feed the cats, check some email, and get some business done, then it’s back to CT. I don’t have internet access there. I don’t mind, though, because I’m getting both writing and percolating done.

I do have something to say about the Michael Vicks case: this man is accused of running a dog fighting ring and either drowning or hanging several dogs himself. The NFL is only worried about the gambling aspect; and Vicks himself has apologized for his “mistakes”. Torturing and murdering animals is more than a “mistake”, and the NFL’s shrugging off of these acts is disgusting. All I have to say is give me ten minutes with Vicks, alone in a room with him. At first, I wanted a machete. But I don’t need one. And I’m sure there are many people who feel the same way I do.

In my opinion, the so-called “justice system” is going to wait until he murders a girlfriend or someone he considers a rival somewhere down the road before they do anything more than slap him on the wrist. Again, look at the studies: if someone is capable of doing this to an animal, they often move up to do it to children and then adults.

And PETA completely failed the animals here. All they did was go to the hearings, stand outside and screech. If they were actually motivated activists, they would have infiltrated the ring and taken it down. The idea of an organization like PETA is a good one, but the way they put their so-called beliefs into action – or lack thereof – is ridiculous.

Let us hope the Karma Dogs appear very quickly to take care of this situation. I have no doubt they will be far more inventive and imaginative than I could ever be.

Good Names is chugging along well. I’m in the last three or four chapters. I think it will come in at under 100K, which is a good thing, because than it means the next draft won’t be so over the word count I have to cut 1/3. I’m also slowing down as I near the end, because I hate the thought of leaving these characters. However, the next draft needs to build more tension and toss in more red herrings at certain points. This is far too straightforward a narrative as it currently stands.

“Revenge Tangents” is moving along, but it’s getting bigger than I thought. That’s okay, because I have the scope of the overall project in my head, and it can be whatever it wants to be.

Did some planning on some other projects, and I hope to get some work done on Tracking Medusa over the next few days.

Must check job boards, get some pitches out, do the first couple of pages on a couple of articles, and then get back to CT. I have a batch of brownies in the oven – it’s easier for me to make them here than over there, although I’m totally enamored of the kitchen there.

My thoughts are with everyone in the middle of the country, dealing with flooding. I hope the waters recede soon and there’s a break in the weather. I know, first-hand, how devastating this can be.

And the Utah miners and their families are in my thoughts and prayers. Something must be done to bring these men home. The owner saying there’s nothing he can do is crap. Then he shouldn’t have sent them in there in the first place.

FDNY lost two more firefighters when the former Deutsche Bank building beside the World Trade Center site caught fire – and they were trapped by shoddy construction work and the fact that the stand pipe supposed to get water up to the higher floors had been taken apart by the construction crews and left in the basement. The way this building’s demolition has been handled for the past six years has been completely unacceptable – especially since they keep finding human remains from 9/1ll there. Two more firefighters – from a house who lost 11 men on 9/11 – should not have had to die because of the greedy developers. And I’m getting tired of these same greedy developers – who did not lose anyone on that day – saying that we need to “get over” 9/11. There’s a difference between getting over something and healing from it to rebuild lives. The developers don’t care how many people were murdered that day; they want their cash. We never will get over it, even as we rebuild lives, the site should be a memorial the way Pearl Harbor is a memorial, and these greedy bastards need to be run out of town.

On that note (ahem), I’m going to do an hour or two of focused work here online, and then get back to the CT gig.

Devon

Good Names – 65,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
65 / 100
(65.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” – 11,875 words out of est. 12,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
11 / 12
(91.7%)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Busy day yesterday. I had a lot to do and not much time in which to get it done. And the noise was ridiculous – workers screaming at each other and behaving like unsupervised toddlers (but using four letter words) under my windows. And more asshole developers walking around seeing how much it’ll cost to get the building emptied so they can do whatever they want to it.

So I turned up the bagpipes full volume, threw open the windows, and the disruptors scattered in all directions.

MacTalla Mor overpowers screaming obscenities. Works for me.

Positive energy combating negative. And winning.

Light bulb.

Cleaned like a whirling dervish – scrubbed floors (with appropriate oils), vacuumed (with appropriate herbs). Etc., etc., etc. Amazing how much better everything felt.

And it was quiet all around.

Aha!

Thanks for ideas on securing the place. I have a bagua mirror on the front door. Very few problems from that direction. In fact, one of the evil developers flinched as though he’d been stung last time he walked past it, so the front’s protected. Maybe that’s why I’m having problems at the fire escape! Hmmm – wonder if I can fasten another one to the outside of the window? The spice bottles are a good idea, Abby, if I can figure out a way to keep the cats from thinking that knocking them down and rolling them under the bed is the coolest new game ever!!!

I am putting up a sigil on the window that will serve as some serious intimidation, if nothing else!

Had another aha! moment while reading. I picked up some easy reads the other day, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I was pleasantly surprised by them. Two of the books are part of Michele Scott’s Napa Wine Country series. Usually I avoid what I call “gimmick” mysteries, because they tend to substitute one character trait as the be-all and end-all for the protagonist, who becomes a caricature instead of a fully-rounded character. However, these books avoided falling into that hole, and I enjoyed them. The protagonist and her romantic dilemmas began to grate by the end of the second book, though. When you’ve had the SAME misunderstanding repeatedly in the same way with the same guy three or four times – it’s not cute, it’s not Fate keeping them apart, it’s the characters acting like they’re in high school, and it got on my nerves. That was my only complaint, though. The second book had a really interesting plot twist which I admired.

The book I read yesterday I picked up because of the pseudonym – India Ink. Turns out it’s one of a series of mysteries written by Yasmine Galenorn under that name. I’d read some of her Chintz ‘n China mysteries, which had some clever stuff in them, but I felt stuck too close to formula (I had the feeling she was forced into some of those choices by her publisher). And I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of her Sisters of the Moon series, which I think is one of the best, most passionate, most enchanting and enveloping series out there right now. So I was delighted that I’d just “happened” to pick up this book. You know me – no such thing as coincidence. Her protag mixes natural fragrances – something to which I can totally relate – and makes bath salts, etc. I really enjoyed the book, which was brave enough to know the formula and break it in places. And it struck on a few things I’d been mulling over. I shot off an email to Galenorn, got an answer, and suddenly – another aha! moment. Not the kind of “I know everything now”, but the kind of “oh, THAT’s what that means”.

I can feel the shift out of certain stucknesses in which I’ve been mired, and that’s a good thing. Don’t know where it’ll lead or how I’ll get there, but I’m starting to feel movement, and in a positive way, which is such a relief.

It was as though something about the book helped me understand another piece of the puzzle, which is a good thing.

Shout out to Poets and Pornstars! Congrats on the release of your CD today – wish I was on the West Coast to celebrate with you!

Rewrote and submitted an article. Submitted a short story. Scoured the job boards – absolutely nothing I wanted to pitch. Caught up on some email. Got a response from an interview request I sent out a few weeks ago and sent out the questions. I have an idea for a project that I really, really want to do. It would have to have a specific release date next March (tied to a calendar celebration day), but I’m not sure I can get it together in time, so I’m wondering if I should launch the preliminary late next spring in order to release the project the following March. I have to think about it. It needs more percolation time. When some of these outstanding invoices are paid, I can purchase a couple of things vital to making these percolating projects happen, and then I’ll have a better sense of scheduling.

I tried to convince the cats that washing the floors was a really fun new game. They weren’t having it. It’s days like this I wish I had a dog – I bet I could convince the dog it was fun!

Great weight session last night; good yoga session this morning, in spite of the cats chasing each other and running across my back while I was in Bow!

Decent morning’s work on Good Names, but too short.

Off to the theatre – day work and then off to another gig. I’ll be online somewhat this week, but not regularly. I will, however, have a lot of uninterrupted work time, if all goes as it should.

Devon

Good Names — 64,132 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
64 / 100
(64.0%)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I need sleep!

I got the pre-Travers article done, polished and out in the morning. I did some more work on the Scottish Games article, but it just wasn’t sparkling.

I went to my friend’s, where I read the paper, played with the dog, read a bit, cooked dinner, did some writing, and, in general, had a fairly relaxing afternoon.

Came back, finalized the Scottish Games article, picked photos, and sent it off. I’m not happy with it. I haven’t done it justice.

I caught some of the Del Mar races, which affect the Breeders’ Cup in October, so I did a quick piece on them and sent that off. There’s a horse from New Zealand named Crossing The Line, who won the Del Mar Mile, and is a horse with which to fall in love.

Noisy Downstairs Neighbor was at it again. Even the cats are fed up. At least it was earlier in the evening, and not after midnight.

I’m ready to play CDs of bagpipes at full volume all the live-long night to see if maybe that shuts up some of the crazy neighbors!!!!

Good morning’s work on Good Names; decent morning’s work on “Revenge Tangents”.

I have to be very organized during the next three weeks, with all the traveling and working from different places. I need to clear quite a bit off my desk today and also do practical things like pack, vacuum, and wash the floors. They don’t wash themselves – believe me, I’ve tried.

I need to check the job boards, get out pitches, follow up on a few emails, send out some interview materials, research a quartet of articles, work on my column, and work on an article I want to get finished by the end of the week. And, one of these days, I’d like to get back to Tracking Medusa. I think I figured out how to fix the problem with the OBE chapter.

Not a particularly compelling post today; sorry. Too many things whirling around my head, and I’m trying to put together a to-do list that’s both logical and do-able.

Devon

Good Names – 63,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
63 / 100
(63.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” — 10,625 words out of est. 12,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
10 / 12
(83.3%)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Love this cooler weather!

Last night was quite the ridiculousness, thanks to Psycho Next-Door Neighbor. I wanted to catch up on rest, so I went to bed early. Imagine my surprise when I wake up, a couple of hours later, to hissing cats and some guy I’ve never seen before trying to open my screen, then saying, “There’s someone in here” and PNDN saying, “you’re kidding.”

I jumped right up and yelled, “Hey, what do you think you’re doing out there!”

The excuse was that PNDN had locked herself out of her apartment and the super’s not around to let her in. Now, there’s no way she could have mistaken my window for hers – she uses the fire escape like a personal balcony all the time. She and the guy were trying to break in to my apartment, no matter what story she comes up with.

Then, she tries to turn it around on me, saying, “Well, why didn’t you answer the door when I knocked?”

My response was, “First of all, I was asleep. Second of all, I’m not required to open the door; and third of all, how were you able to get upstairs past the security door to knock on my door if you don’t have your keys?”

Needless to say, she couldn’t answer that. And she and her buddy climbed in through her window.

I’m letting the super know and if even a cat hair is out of place when I get back from traveling, I am filing a police report. This is the one who misbehaved so badly during the flooding and with whom I deal with as little as possible.

So, I get back to sleep and, a few hours later, we’re all woken by hisses and growls from outside – the cats hide under the bed – a cat’s in an argument with a skunk. From the smell, I’d say the skunk won and there’s a very stinky cat wandering around out here somewhere.

Not much sleep, needless to say.

Which is shame, because yesterday was a lovely day. I gave myself the afternoon off, went to a friend’s, did three loads of laundry, played with the dog, and read a book just for fun. I’ve had so much reading for work it was nice to read something just because. I cooked dinner, we had some nice wine, I came home fairly early and did some more reading just for fun and went to bed early.

Great core workout last night; decent yoga session this morning.

Today, I’ve got two articles to polish and send off (one is the pre-Travers article — Travers Day is next Saturday), and then I’m spending the afternoon with a friend again.

And I’m making sure the lock on my window is very secure.

Devon

Good Names – 62,882 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

62 / 100
(62.0%)

Published in: on August 19, 2007 at 9:00 am  Comments (9)  

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Yesterday’s migraine slowed me down, but I still managed to get the most pressing deadlined work out. And the corresponding invoices, which is always a relief. So far, no payments are late (although several are right on the line), but, when you work on invoice rather than regularly scheduled payment, there’s always the lag time, so this month has been, financially, a bit tight, even with Jupiter going direct.

Absolutely nothing on the job boards to which I even wanted to pitch.

Did some work on a couple of short pieces. Realized a piece I want to do as a gift for conference attendees will work better for my friend’s new publication, and the one I originally intended for his publication will do better as the giveaway. Live and learn, right? So I have to finish both of them and get them polished and ready in the next couple of weeks.

Train was late, as usual (gee, what a surprise). It started raining as soon as I stepped out of the house, thundering, etc. Oh, well. It was still waiting to rain in the city, so I managed to get to the theatre unscathed.

Survived the show. There are just too many egos and personal agendas going on where there shouldn’t be, and I have no time or patience. It filters from the top down – the show is run by film people, and you can’t run a theatre production like a film production. It’s starting to rot from the core. Eventually, it will implode. But it’s made a lot of people happy, and it’s kept a lot of people employed, and it’s a good piece. It’s just a shame it’s disintegrating the way it is.

I’m thoroughly enjoying Good Omens, although it resonates much more this time around, because of the state of the world.

Too sore and tired to work out when I got home last night, but had a good yoga session this morning, extra long. The Psycho Neighbors seem to have been away last night, so I even got a full night’s sleep.

Decent morning’s work on Good Names. Will try to get some article work done, and then I have errands to run and things to do out of town. I’ll take some writing with me and see what happens. I also have to start moving things over to where I’m working next week. I’ll be home for a few hours on most days, but the bulk of the work will be done elsewhere, and I need to make sure I have what I need with me.

I’ve got some chicken marinating in a honey-soy-mustard sauce – I’m looking forward to that meal tonight!

Off to write, and hope that last night didn’t drain every drop of creativity out of me.

Devon

Good Names – 61,882 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
61 / 100
(61.0%)
Published in: on August 18, 2007 at 8:40 am  Comments (4)  

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Tired, cranky, and a touch of the blues yesterday. Too much of feeling like a hamster on a treadmill. Bad headache today.

So, if Nano wasn’t challenging enough, there’s The 3 Day Novel Contest.

No, I’m not doing it. First of all, I don’t pay to write; secondly, I don’t send things in for possible publication without editing; Third, I have way too much on my plate that weekend. I will be writing – but not for that.

However, if it’s something that inspires you, go for it.

Frustration: a few weeks ago, I heard about a deadline, wrote a quick story, worked on it, had one of my Trusted Readers vet it, submitted it. I heard back from the editor quickly, saying she liked the piece and would give me the final decision within a week.

Nothing.

A few days ago, I looked at the site and saw that it wasn’t one of the pieces chosen.

Now, the editor has the right to choose whatever fits the issue the best. But don’t say you like it and then not have the courtesy to tell me you’re not using it.

There’s a line through that publication on my list.

Spent a good portion of the day doing follow-up on various projects. Got good news back on some of them; we’ll see about the rest. Re-worked some older material that has potential and got it out. Got angry when I’d scoured a website, prepared and sent off a submission, only to get an autoresponder that the publication is closed to submissions. Put it on your website, dumbass, and don’t waste my time!!!

Found some interesting anthology guidelines. Will see if I want to do anything. I’m feeling a little overbooked right now, so I’m not sure if I want to start anything new.

Followed directions from a craigslist ad to request guidelines. Instead of the promised guidelines, I get an email that I’m signed up for a mailing list and led to a “shopping cart” on the site. That’s a bait-and-switch, and I’ve removed myself from that list. A fellow freelancer who answered the same ad and got the same screwed-up response flagged it. If you’re selling something, it goes under “services”. Don’t list it as a job opportunity and then try to get money out of people who think you’re hiring. Sleazy, sleazy, sleazy.

And, let me say, once again, how much I hate Microsoft, which has decided that it no longer wants to open some of the older files. What’s the point of having a system with upgrades when it won’t open older files? What about the paperless office phenomenon? How about stop screwing your customers, Bill Gates, and give us a product that works for more than a year? Or works, period?

Too hot and humid. I hate this weather. It makes me cranky.

(Gee, can you tell)?

I’m going to cancel my last subscription to a writing magazine – they’re too depressing. They’re geared towards wanna-bes and newbies, recycle the same themes over and over and over again, and have very little (usually nothing) for mid-level, steadily working writers. And they’re overpriced. Waste of my time and money, and I’m just left feeling like crap when I’m done with the issue. These magazines are now a hindrance, not an inspiration.

I also feel stale, writing-wise. I feel as though I’ve plateau’d, and there’s a sameness, a flatness to several pieces on which I’m working. I also realize that I usually feel this way when I try to write the day after doing shows – yet another reason I have to leave that world behind me, much as I’ve loved it.

Started re-reading Terry Pratchett’s and Neil Gaiman’s collaboration, Good Omens, a book I absolutely adore, and a book Costume Imp lent me (my copy’s in storage) so I could enjoy it. And I did – those two writers always haul me up out of the abyss, laughing, and help me view the world slightly askew, but with a healthier perspective.

Managed to get some work done on some early-stages projects. The main part of the project is becoming hydra-headed, in a good way. Each head/arm/section of the project is unique, and yet it all falls under a single umbrella. It will take a lot of organization, but, once the system is in place, should run pretty steadily. But it requires a well thought out business plan, ideas on the systems to put in place, and content. It needs percolation time, and then the ability to distill and clearly write out what comes from that percolation.

No workout last night, but good morning’s yoga session.

Decent morning’s work on both Good Names and “Revenge Tangents”. Playing with some other ideas for upcoming deadlines. We’ll see. Not feeling particularly creative, but need to push through. I don’t have the luxury of not putting my butt into the chair if I don’t feel like it. The work has to be done or the bills don’t get paid.

Got to get a lot done today, and then, yes, it’s off to the show again tonight. Hopefully, that won’t wrest every possible drop of creative energy out of me for the weekend.

Devon

Good Names – 60,882 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
60 / 100
(60.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” — 9,375 words out of est. 12,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
9 / 12
(75.0%)
Published in: on August 17, 2007 at 9:04 am  Comments (5)  

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Did you miss me?

It’s been quite a week! Good, in many ways, but exhausting. 656 miles on the car in four days.

Let’s start with getting the heck out of Dodge last Friday. My crazy downstairs neighbor came home again roaring drunk at 2 AM, this time singing at the top of his lungs and playing on his furniture with drumsticks for hours. It’s completely out of control. So, not only did I barely get any sleep, but the weather was dreadful. As usual, the meteorologists were wrong – they’d downgraded from predicting storms as bad as the ones that spurred the tornado two days previously to “light rain”.

Now, I don’t consider rain pouring down in curtains so that I can’t even see the end of the hood of the car “light”. It was awful all the way across the Tappan Zee Bridge the entire trip to Albany. It finally lightened up about 20-30 miles west of Albany, and the rest of the trip wasn’t bad.

I still made it from home to Syracuse in just over 5 hours, which isn’t too shabby. It was too early to check into the hotel, so I went to the Denny’s next door. I hadn’t been in a Denny’s since I lived on the west coast in the mid 1980’s. I forgot how big the portions are and how much salt they dump on everything. No wonder I was the only person in there who was under 300 pounds!

Drove around for a bit afterwards – found a Michael’s, looked at yarn, etc., but was too tired to buy anything.

Finally got into the room. It was fine, simple – wallpaper peeling a bit, the toilet tank took its time refilling. But it was clean, had large windows, got a lot of light, and was safe. I took a nap, tried to get some writing done, did about an hour of yoga, and went back to get take-out from Denny’s for dinner. Couldn’t finish it all – too big a portion and too salty.

Watched some bad television, did a core workout and went to bed early. There were dogs and kids in this hotel. The dogs behaved beautifully. The kids were a nightmare. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re too stupid and lazy to teach your kids to behave like decent human beings in public, leave them at home. Don’t inflict them on the rest of us. They’re not cute; they’re horrid.

Woke up early on Saturday. Did an hour of yoga, and got a bit of writing done. The complimentary breakfast was fine, although the coffee was awful. I met a lovely Great Dane named Princess Leia, who wanted my doughnut badly, but was far too well-behaved to just snatch it from my hand.

Got into the car and headed over to Liverpool for the Central New York Scottish Games. Got there just as they were gearing up, and got a parking spot only two rows from the gate, which was a good thing, considering how often I went back and forth to the car over the course of the day.

The Games were fantastic. I didn’t want to leave. It’s amazing that you can have over 1000 people, 200+ dogs, wandering around in the sun all day long, and nobody’s an asshole. Yes, there were plenty of kids dashing around and being rambunctious – but none of them were horrid. There was NO LITTER. Over 1000 people, no one designated to clean up, and no litter. Everyone picked up after themselves. There were trash barrels, recycling barrels, etc., etc., and everyone took personal responsibility. There was a little kid recycling a bottle that was almost bigger than he was. Everyone was nice and friendly and genuine. There was no snobbery, no exclusion, no nastiness. Everyone was there having a good time and interacting.

Music, music everywhere. There were dozens of pipe bands, plus other musical acts in the entertainment tent. And a hut full of harpists.

I admit that, after the first two hours of listening to pipers warming up, I’d kind of had it. I enjoy piping, but . . .however, after a handful of Excedrin and a Tennant’s, I felt much better.

There was a beer truck. As in a massive truck with taps on the side, with Guinness, Harp, Tennant’s, and some others. I hadn’t had a Tennant’s since the last time I sat in The Last Drop in Edinburgh, and that was far too long ago. (Here at the St. Andrew’s Pub, the only Scottish bar in Manhattan, I usually order a Bellhaven).

I played and played and played with dogs – Alfred, the “aggressive” Westie who rolled over to get his tummy rubbed every time he saw me; the German Shepard puppy with the huge paws who crawled into my lap and fell asleep, sucking my thumb; and many, many more. I met a woman who runs a Scottie rescue – Scotties aren’t good with cats, but she has a friend who does Westie rescue and often comes across puppies. If I raised a Westie from puppyhood with cats, he/she would be fine, and I’d rather have a rescued dog than go to a breeder.

For details on the actual games, you’ll just have to read the article in next week’s FemmeFan, but they were fun: the shotput, the weights, tossing the caber, tossing the sheaf, etc., etc. I got some good pictures to go with the articles. The pipe bands also had competition, which was just as fervored at the athletic competitions.

It was great to spend a day with people who were genuinely nice. And how often do you spend time at an event where no one is rude or annoying? I’d definitely go back. There was plenty of playing and flirting, but everything was in good fun. There was no hassle or sleaziness or annoyance involved. It was all upbeat and low key.

And, even better, that night, we got to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower!

I did not want the night to end.

Did core work when I got in Saturday night, and an hour of yoga Sunday morning. Skipped the hotel breakfast and got mine from the Dunkin Donuts across the street. Got on the road around 9:30. Made it to Saratoga by noon.

Unfortunately, it took an hour to drive from the exit to my friend’s place – a drive which usually takes 10 minutes! It was beach chair giveaway day, and people were insane – getting five or six vouchers, going back again and again and again. They gave away over 72,000 chairs! The track was packed, it was hot and humid and not a great race card. Kind of a disappointment. I did get to see my friend’s horse run in the feature race, and I met the horse named Dave.

Dave.

If you follow racing, you know that most horses have complicated names. But Dave is simply “Dave”. He’s the closest thing to a hippie horse I’ve ever seen – totally mellow. Nothing phases him. He’s friendly and curious, with this attitude of, “Hey, I’m Dave. Cool.” As he walked from the paddock to the track, people yelled, “Hi, Dave!” and he’d turn in their direction and nod his head as though he was saying, “Hey.” He’s a pretty good runner when he gets on the track, too – pays attention to his jockey, tries hard. He came in fourth for this race, which means he got some money, even if the bettors didn’t. He’s got a very distinct and engaging personality.

After the meet, we went back to the house to change, and then headed over the few blocks to Union Avenue, where someone was giving a reception with food, drinks, and music. I have no idea what it was for – never saw the invite. Met some interesting people – a man who used to be in the airline business, a woman who runs a site for women in racing, a woman who does feng shui consults. And, of course, it’s interesting to watch the whole band-for-hire culture at work, especially when they try to hit on the trophy wives. The older, wealthy men with the dumbass, shallow arm candy get real old real fast. But at least if they’ve got each other, they’re not inflicted on the rest of us, right? And we can go off and have fun with people of substance.

Speaking of which, several of us then went out to dinner at Leon’s, a Mexican restaurant owned by an ex-jockey. The food was okay, but one of our group found a piece of metal in the food, which is just not good. Needless to say, he didn’t have to pay for his meal.

We were all tired and had too much sun, so we made it a relatively early night.

I was up early the next morning, did my yoga. We went over to my friend’s barn during the workouts to visit with the horses and see my friend. She was outriding today, and they were working out on the Oklahoma track rather than the main track. We went back to the house for breakfast, which was fun – a lively, wide-ranging group. Another friend of my friends stopped by and wanted to go to the Horseshoe Inn for another breakfast. I decided to decline and get on the road early. I stopped by Mrs. London’s, the wonderful bakery, to grab something for later, and headed home.

The traffic was dreadful, and there were some real crazy people on the road, like the guy in the Mercedes who forced me into the median just because he felt like it. He had plenty of room to safely pass me and then get in front of me in my lane, but he wanted to occupy my space at the same time I was. It wasn’t that he couldn’t see me – he was looking right at me as he forced me off the road. Fortunately, a state trooper saw it and went after him. If there’s been a barrier instead of just grass in between, I would have had a serious accident. But I got home in one piece, albeit exhausted, unloaded the car, had dinner at a friend’s, caught up on a few things.

I plunged back into shows Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m not going to say much about it. Too much crap going on and I have other things that need my attention. Managed a good dinner with friends between shows yesterday, but the rest of it – it’s time for me to totally disengage.

Came home from the theatre at midnight to find that my crazy downstairs neighbor had his television blasting again and my crazy next door neighbors were in the midst of yet another domestic dispute. I’m going to start calling the cops on them, because talking to them politely isn’t fixing the problem. And I’m sick of disruption every single night, in violation of our leases.

I got some nice work done on both Good Names and “Revenge Tangents” during the time away. I’ve now pushed the word count for the latter up to 12K. I’m also working on a giveaway for people who signed up for the Muse Online Writer’s Conference in October, and a couple of other projects. I have a half a dozen article deadlines coming up, and the material for Confidential Job #1 is due tomorrow.

Busy, busy. Better get to work.

Devon

Good Names – 59,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
59 / 100
(59.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” – 8,375 words out of est. 12,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
8 / 12
(66.7%)

Jackie Kessler Rocks!

Yeah, like we didn’t already know that.

She sent me a lovely bag of swag, and she’s getting ready to promote her new book, THE ROAD TO HELL, with a tour.

If you haven’t already, check her out here . . .

Published in: on August 9, 2007 at 3:22 pm  Comments (9)