Monday, December 31, 2007 — New Year’s Eve

In 2008, may leaders emerge who combine honesty, intelligence, common sense, and compassion, and may individuals take the personal responsibility to think and act for themselves, instead of simply blindly following anyone who offers easy answers.

Be safe out in your celebrations tonight, and have a wonderful start to 2008!

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Published in: on December 31, 2007 at 9:26 am  Comments (4)  

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold
3-5 inches of snow predicted

I’ve been trying to figure out how to articulate my feelings about the assassination of Bhutto, and I can’t get it down properly. Saddened, angry, concerned – just don’t express the gamut of emotion that I feel. But I did want to acknowledge it, and not act like I’m ignoring it.

The year-end GDR Wrap-Up for 2007 is in the post below this one. I kept in what I stated last January and then updated where I am now, for comparison/contrast. I’m frustrated because the only thing I seem to have done is the career transition. Which is huge, but I wanted to get more done.

I’m going to ramble on about the National Treasure movies a bit more, since the first one was on again last night and I checked a few things, and then I’ll shut up and go back to my life and MY characters. Geez, between yesterday and today, it sounds like my existence is revolving around two darned movies, for crying out loud, and it’s not.

The next paragraph may have character spoilers for the second film, but if you skip it and go to the paragraph beyond, there aren’t spoilers, just character studies.

They changed houses between 1 and 2 and never dealt with it, thinking we (the audience) are too stupid to notice. In the first film, Riley is smart and resourceful and funny and inventive. He’s a great foil for Ben, and a great balance to the Ben/Abby teamwork. In the second, he’s treated like a joke, he’s miserable, has no sense of self-esteem, and keeps trying to prove he’s valuable. It might make sense at the beginning, that he hit a rough patch since the end of the last film, but as 2 moves on, he should regain his confidence, thanks to Ben’s confidence in him. Instead, Ben is dismissive. That hurts Ben’s character as much as Riley’s. And, in the first, Riley’s always the gentleman. Ben rushes forward; Riley’s the one who turns and gives Abby a hand when she needs it. That dynamic set up between the three of them, subtle, but there, worked beautifully, and is missing in the second film. In the first film, Riley actually saves Abby’s life, when she’s so focused on the Declaration that she nearly gets run over by a truck. It would have been a good touch to see her do something helpful for Riley in this one. Or get to see them do anything except run through the basement of the Library of Congress. The fun of the first film is you get to figure things out WITH them; in this one, they already have the answers and simply reveal them to each other. The sequence in Buckingham Palace, as ridiculous as some of it is (hey, buddy, no backpacks get through security after 9/11), is the only one where that sense of fun and discovery is retained. I missed it in the rest of the movie. I got more and more frustrated, because I felt characters were sacrificed for badly constructed machinations. And, as someone whose own work is character-driven, and who is drawn to character-driven material (the best action/adventure movies are all character driven), I got more and more frustrated.

A reader emailed me a question yesterday about why I think Riley Poole is such a good character. A big part of it is how perfectly Justin Bartha portrays him. It’s a case of the actor finding the details in the character and communicating them in a way that connects to the audience. Riley’s a smart, resourceful guy, especially in the first film. He’s not just the sidekick who gets killed off two thirds of the way through the movie. Yeah, it’s Disney, they can’t kill him off. You root for him, for a good portion of the film, you ARE him, He embodies the regular guy in the audience in many ways, but smarter, which is what you want for fiction. You don’t necessarily want to be as obsessed as Ben, although you’d want to be friends with Ben and want to help him on his quest. Ben and Abigail fit so well together, especially in the first film, because they’re both obsessed. Riley is their counterpoint, their reality check.

Ben is smart enough to know that history is written by the victors until somebody comes along to make more discoveries and rewrite it. A prime example in our time is Aaron Burr, back in Revolutionary Times and into the early 1800’s. In his time, he was tarnished as traitor, and Hamilton as hero, especially after the duel. As the centuries have gone by, and more information comes to light, it looks more and more like Burr was original and committed and on the verge of crazy in the right way, while Hamilton was the control freak and the asshole. Actually, in my opinion, based on my research over the years, both men could be brilliant and both could be assholes at times. They were too complex and interesting to be just one thing – as all truly brilliant people are.

To get back to Riley: You’d want to be Riley. He might not have the background in history, but he knows how to find things out, and he’s got a great learning curve. He makes himself irreplaceable in the team, even though he doesn’t realize it. He’s just totally who he is, and totally up for doing whatever it takes to support those to whom he’s loyal, and in whom he believes. We’d all like to be that good a friend as well as have that good a friend.

You believe he doesn’t get the girl and he has trouble finding dates, because, in life, that kind of guy, smart, but with self-esteem issues, ALWAYS goes for the girl who’s going to treat him like crap. He’ll go for the pretty, shallow young thing with lots of money, or the ambitious, manipulative young thing who wants a lot of money and expects the guy to pay for everything. He’ll never fall for a woman of substance, because it would never occur to him. He’ll always be hurt and, eventually, alone because these twinkies keep using him and dumping him. And the women who used to regularly fall for HIM (because they recognized he’s smart, funny, and a good guy), but whom he always ignored because he’s off busy chasing the shallow things, eventually outgrow his kind of guy and fall for guys who appreciate them. That’s how it happens in life, anyway. In fiction, there’s always the possibility that Riley will actually gain enough self-respect to fall for a woman who’s smart and resourceful. And that gives the people who relate to the character hope, and the people who tend to fall for that kind of character hope. Riley’s all about hope. To me, he’s the lynchpin of the movies, which is why I got so frustrated in NT2. In other words, he’s interesting and important to me for what he represents in the mythology of the stories. If I was to compare him to a tarot card, he’d be The Fool in the Major Aracana – standing on the precipice, ready for his hero’s journey, with infinite possibilities in front of him. The Fool isn’t a weak or foolish character; he’s a symbol of hope and joy – despite his cynical and sometimes sarcastic repartee. Riley is the every day guy embarking on the wonderful journey. The original NT set that up for him, and then didn’t fulfill it in the second movie. Now, if there’s a good character arc in a next movie, I might accept this arc within context of a trilogy, but if they just keep making him a joke because twenty-three useless, talent-free middle executives thought it was funny . . .you’ve lost a viewer.

And I’m not even going to discuss the poor research done by the writers in the second film. In the first were delightful historical tidbits then blown into unique mythologies that served the vision for the movie. Even when it stretched credibility, there was enough cleverness involved that you forgave it. In the second, it was sloppy – whether on the writers’ parts, or because some stupid mid-level executive made “changes” and figured the audience was too stupid to notice. And it lost me.

And now, back to my life.

I actually had to turn down hockey tickets tonight between the Rangers and the Canadiens – that was hard. But I can’t rearrange my schedule to go, so I had to say no.

And I’m thrilled that the Patriots won last night! I’m not a football fan, but I do like the Pats, and I used to have family in Foxboro, so the tiny percentage of football loyalty I’ve got goes to them. I’m thrilled that they had a perfect regular season.

I had a FANTASTIC morning on Hex Breaker. I’m almost at the climactic scene and then we wrap it up. I’m exactly where I want to be. With any luck, I can finish it on retreat the next few days and then have nearly a week to polish it before I send it off. I love this piece.

And more adventures with these characters are swirling around in my head. And the ideas for two short stories that have nothing to do with anything else that I’m writing, but could be kind of fun.

I’m off to my friend’s place (to do more laundry) and then off to my retreat. If I don’t check in for a few days, I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year!

Devon

Hex Breaker – 19,975 words out of est. 25,000

PS Diane, thanks for the Writertopia info. It NEVER works for me — the bar will NOT appear in here, no matter how many times I follow the exact coding it says to put in. I have never, ever, ever been able to get Writertopia to work.

I need to create my own word bar. Because relying on these other people’s crap just doesn’t work.

Published in: on December 30, 2007 at 11:09 am  Comments (5)  

Wrap-Up: Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions 2007

1. Take a few minutes to reflect on the previous year. What are you happy with?

Jan.: I’m happy because I felt my writing took a leap. I met some wonderful people, and strengthened relationships with friends. I became clearer on my own boundaries.

Dec.: That was all true. I’m also happy that I left the show. It was causing too much stress, and too much conflict with the rest of my life. I’m also happy that I’ve gotten better at pitching and landing freelance jobs, better at drawing boundaries, better at chasing down money owed and cutting away deadwood, and that the quality of my writing improved and continues to improve.

2. What are you unhappy with?

Jan.: I’m unhappy that I’m not farther along in the transition, even though I know it was mostly due to the pressures of The Situation.

I’m unhappy in that I feel I lost a part of myself that was optimistic and kind in the Situation, and I don’t know if I can heal enough to regain it.

I’m unhappy in that I feel I spent too much time in groups.

I’m unhappy because I feel I got too caught up in the “busy-ness” of the writing “business” and neglected the art and the craft.

I also feel I often got caught up in other people’s “stuff” – which is very different from being supportive of friends who are going through a difficult time.

I feel I often spun my wheels, instead of settling down to do focused work.

Dec.: Yes, I’d say all the above was true. I started to get back towards the art and craft of writing later in the year (once I left the show). It also helped me stay out of other people’s “stuff” and not be as affected by it. Cutting back on forum time has helped a lot. I still visit and seek out blogs; but I’m spending less time on forums. On one hand, I know that I should so people get to know me; on the other hand, too often, it’s the ones who have nothing better to do but hang out on forums and stir up trouble that spend the bulk of the time there. The forums drained too much energy from my work, and I need to find a better balance. I’m frustrated that I haven’t moved yet, and I’m fighting the feeling of failure connected to that; at the same time, because I want it to be a move to the place I’ll live for a long time, I have to be particular.

3. What unexpected joys did you discover during the year?

Jan.: Getting to know some wonderful people.
Even sporadically, the time spent in yoga made a huge difference.
Strengthening bonds with some of the people close to me.

Dec.: That, yes, I can cut it as a professional writer. And I can be happy outside of the theatre. I wasn’t sure that was possible before.

4. What were some of the unexpected obstacles that came up, and how did you deal with them? Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

Jan.: Regarding The Situation, I would have struck back sooner and harder, and worked less from a position of fear. Spent less time in a tizzy, and more time acting. I also feel that I got caught up in a cycle of loyalty again, often with people who did not deserve it, and with that, I worked against my own best interests.

Dec.: I put aside my own needs too often for the needs of the show; even though I tried to negotiate a better balance. I felt I wasn’t listened to or respected, which meant that I had to leave sooner than I originally planned. Yet, that opened up all sorts of new opportunities for me. If I had to do it again, I think I would have left sooner.

The floods were another obstacle, and losing the car. Although I ended up with a much better car, it set back the move, and that was – and is – frustrating.

My biggest obstacle is myself, and that’s always the hardest with which to deal. Note the pattern of putting my own needs aside. I thought I was better about that this year, but maybe not.

5. What expectations did you find you needed to let go of?

Jan.: That I have full control over the transition.
That I have as much stamina as I need.
That other people are going to listen carefully and actually respond to what I say/write, instead of skimming it and imposing their own frame of reference onto it.

Dec.: The same. It took me the whole darned year to really let go!

6. Looking ahead, how do you want to structure next year to support your writing?

Jan.: Say “no” more
Put the writing first
Not get caught up in the web of what other people say one “must” do to become successful, and follow my own path to my own kind of success.

Dec.: I did all of the above, and it made a huge difference. I’m still not necessarily someone else’s definition of “success”, but I feel like I’m growing into myself, if that makes any sense (and even if it doesn’t, that’s how I feel)!

7. How does the rest of your life support your writing?

Jan.: Most of the rest of my life does, because I’ve learned to redraw boundaries this year. I need to push harder with the business writing. I need to manage time better and stop making excuses. And I need to worry less about other people not fulfilling their potential. It’s their choice, not my problem. I have enough to juggle.

Dec.: I agree with the above. I’m getting better at letting go when others choose not to fulfill their potential. After all, they have to deal with the consequences; I don’t. And what annoys me in others, as usual, is what annoys me in myself. So work on myself first. The house move will be the biggest support I can give to my writing, because I will have a dedicated office/library, with my books and files and everything else I need.

8. How can you change/compromise on the non-supportive elements?

Jan.: Hold to the boundaries drawn.
Remove unsupportive people from my life (who are different than the supportive ones who give me a reality check when I need it).

Dec.: I agree with the above. The third factor was to leave the show, and that made a huge difference.

9. What new aspect of the writing life do you want to try next year?

Jan.: I’m not sure. Every year, I keep saying I want to expand more into travel writing and food writing, and I keep holding back. Maybe this is the year I take the leap? I want to keep playing with cross-genre pieces and write whatever interests me. I want to learn more, listen more.

Dec.: I worked more in the fantasy and the science fantasy realms this year, wrote more in the paranormal, and some in the YA, which was fun. I also got more into the novella format, which I loved, and wrote a couple of how-tos, which was both fun and challenging.

10. Where do you need to be more disciplined?

Jan.: Time management, especially with less time on the internet.

Dec.: I have to add less time spent on forums to the latter. When I up my physical activity, such as yoga, weight training, etc., I’m more productive in writing, so I want to up the fitness regime even more. I believe in making time for friends and colleagues, which includes things like reading blogs; however, I need to limit my time with the wanna-bes and energy vampires on forums.

11. Where do you need to ease up on yourself?

Jan.: I need to make sure I leave time for fun, and don’t let writing become a job, even though it’s a vocation. I need plenty of percolation time, which I didn’t give myself this past year. This past year, I had it when I collapsed out of sheer exhaustion and stress. I want to build it in for the coming year.

Dec.: Committing to the daily yoga practice helped that a great deal. The additional work out routines still need to be refined, but a commitment to fitness and health gives me a lot of what I need to be more productive writing wise.

12. List your goals for the coming year.

–Finish at least three unfinished projects that are sitting around –honestly, I don’t know if I’ve done that. I’d have to read back through the whole year. I know several projects I wanted to get back to, I never did.
–Do the first drafts of at least three new novels – TRACKING MEDUSA, GOOD NAMES, so it was only two full-length finished. EARTH BRIDE would have made three, but it’s still growing. Novellas: TOKEN AND AFFECTIONS, REVENGE TANGENTS.
–Get the relocation DONE — no
–Expand the business writing — done
–Get the websites up — done
–Commit to both the fitness/yoga practice and redevelop my spiritual practice — done
–Keep 13-in-Play/Focus on finding homes for every piece – hit and miss with that; I concentrated on longer works instead of shorter. And I pursued so much of the paid, non-fiction work that the fiction suffered.
–Not let a backlog of projects accumulate – if anything, I have a bigger backlog, not a smaller one.

In addition, I had an essay in the anthology Perfectly Plum; wrote several months’ worth of articles for Blessed Gardens; wrote articles and am still chasing down the money from two other publications; covered The Triple Crown, The NHL Draft, America’s Cup, Empire State Games, Central New York Scottish Games, and Breeders’ Cup for Femmefan; moved the blogs to Word Press; joined and completed Kristen King’s Query Challenge (by the end of the year, I sent out nearly 200 queries – the goal was 120); landed two ongoing confidential jobs; attended PEN events and worked on their Core Freedoms/Freedom to Write campaign; traveled to Iceland; survived two major floods; presented a workshop at The Muse Online Workshop; had a story in the FULL MOON anthology;

13. List three positive, active steps to take on each goal to get it going.

Dec.: Not necessary to go over these; obviously, if I’d done them, I’d have finished more.

14. List your dreams for the coming year.

Jan.: Relocate
Create a secure, peaceful environment for my family and my writing.

Dec.: Still working on both.

15. List three positive, active steps to transform each dream into a goal.

Dec.: Again, not necessary to go over these.

16. List your resolutions for the coming year.

–Try to find the kindness and compassion that was stomped out of me during The Situation—Tried, did not always succeed.
–Sew more – not much more.
–Paint more – didn’t happen.
–Take more quiet time for myself – started to happen more in the latter part of the year.

17. List three positive, active steps to help you stick to them.

Dec.: Again, no need to go over them.

Overall
: I managed to make the career transition; but not the relocation. The relocation will take a lot of the financial pressure off, because the cost of living is lower and the quality of life is higher where I want to move. I worked on less fiction and more non-fiction this year, building up the business writing segment. That’s good, but I have to get things back in balance this coming year. I tripled my writing income from the previous year, but it’s still not enough to keep the worry wolves from the door. It was a very difficult year, but at least there’s some progress, however small. For all the frustrations, I feel that I’ve set some solid groundwork, and now it’s up to me to have the creativity and the commitment to continue the growth.

Published in: on December 30, 2007 at 10:51 am  Comments (2)  

Saturday, December 29 2007

Saturday, December 29, 2007
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Finished the work for Confidential Job #2. Now I have to type it up. Phew! Over 20 pages of notes on this one! I got about 12 pages typed yesterday; will try to get the rest done today.

Cat Muldoon, whom I hosted on A Biblio Paradise, has a question about what readers want from a writer’s blog in the comments from yesterday’s post. If you can leave a comment in response, that would be a big help for her. Thank you!

Okay, if you haven’t seen National Treasure: Book of Secrets, skip the next nine or ten paragraphs, because there are spoilers. If you have, or don’t care, here’s my opinion.

There were too many writers and no coherent vision. It started okay, the stuff with the Resolute desks and the Book of Secrets was all clever and fun and in the spirit of what made the first one great. But, first of all – the house that Abby and Ben lived in – different house. What happened to the historical house Ben bought at the end of the last movie? Completely different architecture. You think we wouldn’t notice? Second, although I liked the part of Riley writing a book and the scenes at the signings, etc., were something to which every writer can relate – I don’t believe for one second that Ben would not have read the book. Not only would Ben have read it, he and Riley would have gone out to dinner and debated it point by point. It diminishes Ben’s character to have him ignore Riley’s book. Their friendship was established too strongly for him to do that, and Riley is willing to drop everything to help Ben again, and Ben knows enough to go to Riley for help.

In general, I felt Riley was short-changed in this script. In the first NT, Riley Poole as sidekick broke fresh ground. And it wasn’t necessarily the script – it was Justin Bartha’s performance. He gave it a spirit and a sense of fun and intelligence that transcended both script and genre. In this film, Riley’s lost ground. Instead of gaining confidence and self-esteem from his previous experience, he’s lost it. He’s gone backwards. I understand that he’s always afraid he’s not good enough. But to constantly keep throwing himself on the sword, metaphorically speaking, because he’s hoping they’ll let him know they value him – didn’t work for me. Ben would have let him know he valued him, especially after everything they went through last time. I understand the mirror relationships of Abby/Ben and Patrick/Emily, but Riley’s character was left in the cold, and not in a good way. He didn’t necessarily need a love interest, but it was out of character for them to treat him the way they did. He’s too important to the team.

Ed Harris was wasted. His character was inconsistent, unbelievable, and not at all threatening. Ed Harris can pin you to the wall with a look – he wasn’t utilized properly. His opening scene was terrific, and the rest lost ground from there. Also, in the last one, all of Ian’s team was strongly, swiftly characterized. In this one – Wilkinson’s henchmen were unmemorable and largely ignored. There was never a THREAT, and the chase scenes were lame – except where Ben stopped in time not to hit the dog and the dog licked the camera.

Again – if Ben’s going to be that careful of a dog in the midst of a chase, he’s not going to abuse Riley the way he does. There was never a sense of tension in the chase scenes, either from the bad guys or the cops. It was frustrating.

Now, getting to the mystery/treasure. This lost city of gold was in Florida. So how did it get to underneath Mt. Rushmore? Did somebody move it when the mountain was carved? Wouldn’t someone have noticed it? And, if the city HAD been moved, then the engineering devices, wheels, etc. used to hide it would have had symbols native to the Black Hills area, or, at the very least, to the time that Rushmore was carved (since it was supposedly carved to hide the city), NOT to Central and South America carved on them. Or, if that’s where the city was all the time, again, it wouldn’t be all a mishmash of Central and South American symbolism – it would have been native to the region – Arikara, at the time of the city, and later Cheynne, Kiowa, Pawnee, Crow, and Sioux. The art would have resembled the work coming across the Bering Strait from Russia through Alaska and Canada and down, not up from Central and South America. And, supposedly, Helen Mirren’s character is fluent in Olmec. The Olmec were Mesoamerican, situated west of the Mayan. They were NOT in the Black Hills near Mt. Rushmore. I’d have to take a closer look at the glyphs on the two panels, but, from what I could see on screen, they were NOT Olmec (yes, I’ve done research on the Mesoamerican glyphs). There might have been one or two, but it was not straight-up Olmec. It looked to me like a mishmash of Toltec and maybe some Mayan or Aztec in there.

And yes, I care. The movie wasn’t tight enough or clever enough to make me suspend my disbelief by this point. They’d already pissed me off enough so I was ready to nitpick.

I also felt cheated because it started as a Civil War caper and then turned pre-Columbian. I understand the throwaway explanation that the Confederates wanted the gold from the Lost City to defeat the Union, but still . . .again, if Wilkinson’s character had been better developed, the segueway might have worked, and I would have bought it.

Then, again, you have the oil that’s been there for years, ready to light up; the fact that no one is smart enough to check the electronics when Patrick is knocked out in his own house and nothing is stolen, and treating Riley like a stray dog who happens to be following them around, instead of the integral part of the team that he is. Helen Mirren, was, of course, wonderful. Nic Cage was good most of the time, but was a bit too mellow (lost the edge of the character) at other times, and sometimes even bordered on smugness, which doesn’t become the character. Justin Bartha did the best he could with the material handed to him. Diane Kruger was underused. I would have loved scenes of her and Riley actually DOING things, DISCOVERING things, instead of just running around. There was too much focus on Nicolas Cage instead of being an ensemble piece. It’s not that Cage can’t carry a movie –of course he can. But part of the appeal in this context is the sense of teamwork, and that was lost. They took a great ensemble piece and tried to turn it into a star vehicle. They equated BIGGER with better, instead of simply making it better. And actually doing research. It’s fine to create a different mythology, but it has to be rooted in the believable before it can fly. And this had no roots.

Now, the first film wasn’t perfection – it was lively and clever and fun up until they got to the treasure room, but I figured most of my trouble with that was because I have such strong opinions on Templar Treasure based on my own research. But I started disagreeing with so much in this movie so early on, and by the time the glyphs showed up, well, if I’d been watching at home, I would have been shouting at the screen.

So, yes, I was disappointed. Deeply, deeply disappointed, because I’ve been looking forward to this film since I heard it was in production.

But then again, they made $65 million dollars in the opening weekend, so it’s not like any of them CARE what I think! 😉

And then, last night, I saw, finally Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. More spoilers ahead, although I suspect most of you have seen it.

I was very disappointed. I felt they short-changed both Lupin and Snape’s characters, which hurts the rest of the cycle. Lupin’s gentle understanding and insight was so important in book 5. He needed to be there when they got Harry out of the house at the beginning, along with Tonks. The attack on the trip to Sirius’s didn’t happen, and that’s vital to the story. The fact that young Lily defended Snape from James in the flashback is also vital to the story, and that was cut. The gold statues never came to life in the fight in the Ministry of Magic, which was also important to the story. The fact that Hermione and Ron flew on threstrals they couldn’t see was never dealt with, and needed to be. Another important occurrence in the book is how badly injured each of Harry’s friends is during the fight in the Ministry – it’s part of what hurts Harry so much. And here, they just all sort of wandered out and watched him writhe on the floor. It’s as though the filmmakers got tired by the time they got to the end.

They handled the passage of time well, to show things escalating throughout the year, but none of the action sequences had enough action in them.

Phoenix was my favorite book, and they diluted it so much for the movie that I was disappointed, and I’m also concerned for the next two. They sanitized it too much.

Two disappointments, movie-wise in two days. Sigh.

Great morning’s work on Hex Breaker. Over 5K, and now I’m exactly where I want to be. I’d like to keep going, but I’m spending the day at a friend’s, and I need to get going.

So, let’s hope I can keep the HB momentum going. I’m delighted with the way it’s taking shape, and I’ll hit the 25K exactly when I should. Then I can do another revision and get it off before I leave for Philly.

Devon

Hex Breaker – 17,151 words out of est. 25,000

Of course, it’s too much to ask that the Zokutu Word Meter actually WORK when I could really use the morale boost!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise and read the interview with Cat Muldoon, the author of Rue the Day. We share many of the same interests and had a lively, interesting interview.

So, yesterday was a fun play day. Getting into the city was a nightmare, worse than usual, and I had the start of a migraine by the time I got in. I fought my way through the crowds at Grand Central and got some errands done. When I got to the subway, all of the ticket machines had lines of 20-30 people in front of them, and, since the booth clerks won’t do Metrocard transactions when it’s busy, I was stuck. It would have taken me about an hour to get a $4 Metrocard.

So I didn’t.

Instead, I walked down Park Avenue/Park Avenue South from Grand Central at 42nd St. to 12th St. and Broadway. In the rain.

And it was still pleasanter than being cooped up in the subway.

AND, I had time to swing by Strand and pick up a book they had for me, saving the shipping fee, and, while I was at it, I picked up a biography of Martha Washington. People seem to think George and Martha were rather dull, but when you look at all they managed to accomplish, they were quite resourceful, and quite a good match. John and Abigail Adams get more attention because they were more volatile and public, but George and Martha had a lot of energy and intelligence. George’s diaries can be a little dry, but he doesn’t strike me as the type of man who could express himself on the page.

I met my friend Barbara at the Cineplex, and we got our tickets and our snacks, and settled in for National Treasure: Book of Secrets. I will have a LOT to say about it in tomorrow’s post. I want to fact check a couple of things before I really go off on it. Short version: There were some things I really liked; a lot I didn’t; too many writers and not enough vision, not to mention shoddy research and things that were beyond implausible and not in the way that makes you go, “I’m having fun, so I don’t care”; and one of my favorite characters got short-changed, in my opinion. You’ll get to read all the details in tomorrow’s post. I was disappointed because I love the first one so much.

Afterwards, we walked over to University Place to go to the Cedar Tavern and . . .it’s not there any more! I’m heartbroken. This was one of the premiere hangouts for decades for artists and writers and everyone else. The food and atmosphere were great. We hung out there for hours after writing class, plenty of after-show parties, etc., etc., etc. I used to go there and have a meal after wearing myself out at Strand. A great deal of my creative life was formed there.

And it’s gone.

At one point, I thought Barbara was calling Bellevue, but she was calling information.

We wandered back down to Union Square to Heartland Brewery, where we had drinks and a meal, tore the movie to shreds, caught up on life, work, and art. We had an absolutely lovely waiter who took good care of us. And Costume Imp joined us for the last hour or so we were there, which was fun. Barbara and Costume Imp gave me my Christmas presents, which were wonderful! (So, more thank you notes have to go out today). They took a cab up to the show; I stopped in at Barnes & Noble, but they didn’t have what I wanted. I walked back up to Grand Central and got a 7 o’clock train home, getting home by 8 (it was an express).

My legs are sore from all the walking (just over 6 miles, total), and I didn’t sleep well, but, other than that, I’m ready to attack the day’s work. I do have to run to Staples this morning – AGAIN – I have two and a half manuscripts to finish reading this weekend, and I ran out of paper. I need to print them because I can’t read that much on screen, especially not when I’m taking notes. And I got a double assignment from Confidential Job #1, which I will probably take to Philly with me. There are a couple of jobs for which I want to pitch, and I’ve got some articles to write this weekend and early next week, so I better get going.

I need to come up with a segue way for Hex Breaker and I’m having trouble with it. And I have no time to have trouble with anything right now. I need to focus, get it done, polish it, and get it out.

Devon

Published in: on December 28, 2007 at 8:16 am  Comments (6)  

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Got a lot done yesterday: errands run, thank you notes out, etc., etc. Nine West is having a shoe sale, but everything I liked . . .wasn’t in my size. Oh, well.

AND . . .. I was trying to figure out how to get down to Philly to do some research on a project. Voila! I got booked for a job there for the second week of January. Woo-hoo! The two won’t conflict with each other, and I can get everything done.

I made a promise not to buy shoes while I’m down there. Ha! For some reason, whenever I’m in Philly, I wind up buying shoes.

It means I have to work twice as hard next week to clear everything off and get it out before I leave. It also means I have a few days less to work on Hex Breaker – I was going to send it out on the 10th; now, the latest I can send it out is on the 8th.

Do I see at least one all-nighter in the near future?

I won’t bring Earth Bride down with me – at the rate it’s ballooning, I’d need to buy the manuscript its own seat on the bus. I will take the edit of Tracking Medusa down, though, because, even with the research, I’ll have uninterrupted work time to spend on it.

I got the notebook for the Shakespeare project; I’ll pick up another notebook this week or next week for the project that needs researching in Philly.

It’s all good.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise and read the review of Cat Muldoon’s book Rue the Day. Then come back again tomorrow for her interview.

I’m putting Earth Bride aside for a few days. Hex Breaker must be the priority right now, because I have less time to whip it into shape and get it off to the editor. And I still have to do my cheat sheet for Earth Bride. I’m a bit worried about losing momentum, but I have to be a pro and be able to jump in and out of it as needed.

Got a nice chunk of the work for Confidential Job #2 off. If I do more work on it tonight and then tomorrow, I can send it off on Saturday with a clear conscience, and be sure that it hits the desk in LA on schedule.

I’m also postponing two major projects I hoped to launch in 2008. If I wait until 2009, I’ll be able to pay the people I want/need to hire in to work on it more fairly, and it makes sense to wait and do it properly. I still have a couple of big things (and new websites) to launch in ’08, but these two projects need more time and money behind them.

Linda, thanks so much for starting the fascinating conversation on health care in yesterday’s comments. It’s such an important issue, and it’s interesting to hear the different facets.

I’m off to the city today – I’m going to play! I can’t wait.

Devon

Hex Breaker 11,824 words out of est. 25,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
11 / 25
(44.0%)

Devon’s Bookstore:


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.

Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on December 27, 2007 at 9:04 am  Comments (4)  

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
No idea about the weather – it’s still dark

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. We did, and this is the first morning in a long time where I woke up, raring to go. Of course, it was at 5:30, a little earlier than usual, but hey, might as well get an early start!

I got quite a bit cleared off my desk on Christmas Eve. I only worked an hour longer than planned, and shut everything down by 4 PM. The office is closed until the New Year, and everything simply has to wait until then.

I can’t tell you what a difference it made not to work this holiday. For over twenty years, I had a show to work either on the Eve or the Day; in the early years on both. Then, once I stopped full-time work and did part-time, I had the constant stress of being on call and the possibility that I could get called to swing at the last minute. This year, I was free of all that, and the level of relaxation made all the difference in the world.

The office was closed, and that was it. Yes, some things for which I’d set deadlines and asked did not arrive before I shut down for the week – although nothing was given less than a 10 day lead time. And you know what? It’s not my problem. Now it has to wait until 2008!

“Disorganization on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

Not unless you’re paying Triple.

I met my own outgoing deadlines, and that was the important thing, getting out material for Confidential Job #1, doing some work on Confidential Job #2, preparing the material and uploading it to appear tomorrow and Friday on Biblio Paradise, etc., etc. I hope you’ll stop by A Biblio Paradise tomorrow and Friday to visit with author Cat Muldoon.

I cooked a lot, ate a lot, celebrated at lot. One of my favorite gifts came from Elfboy, who tracked down the biography of Washington Irving that came out early in 2007, and which I hadn’t been able to find. It’s terrific, and hard to put down. It was nice and quiet in the building – I’m the only one nutty enough to cook a massive meal in our tiny kitchens, so it’s all good. The cats were funny and, all in all, it was a warm, relaxing couple of days filled with food, friends, family, and happiness.

I didn’t do any writing, which was just fine. It gave the material time to percolate.

I returned to Earth Bride this morning, working on the wedding reception scene. Unfortunately, I had a low word count and have to go back and check some of the stuff I set up in previous chapters – I think I need to do a character tracking sheet, because I set up some intricate relationships that are now going to come into play here and into the fourth section of the book, and I want to make sure I have everyone sorted out properly.

I’m about to get back to work on Hex Breaker, and see where I stand with that. Over the holidays, I didn’t want to deal with curses, etc. I have to say, I was disappointed at the dearth of fun holiday movies on TV. It was mostly about death and cruelty.

So I didn’t watch much TV.

I have thank you notes and other correspondence to deal with today, some errands to run, etc., but, all in all, I’m looking forward to a few days concentrated on my own writing.

I hope you had a lovely time. I hope you have a lovely week.

I’m working on those GDRS – not sure if I’ll post the year’s wrap-up over the weekend or on the 31st, before I go on retreat. I did lots of contemplative work the past few days. And worked out! I made some adjustments in my weight training – different weights for different exercises – and it’s made a big difference. I’m hoping to get back on track with my evening workouts – I’ve been good about the daily yoga, but I want to up the meditation.

I join the ranks of the uninsured in less than a week, and I’m not looking forward to it. Although this year, thanks to the way our union screwed us, the insurance has been more in name only than anything else, it was still in name. As of the first of the year, I don’t even have that.

That, for me, is the biggest issue in deciding for whom I will vote next year. Who has not only the best health care plan, but the one most likely to be implemented? I agree – the insurance companies need to be dismantled. The fact that “investors” make a profit off of people’s illness is disgusting. The fact that insurance companies make billion dollar profits by refusing people health care is also disgusting. Give investors back the money they initially put into the companies (they’ve made plenty of profits over the years), call them what they are, which is “unethical”, and change the entire way the industry is run. Profit should not be made from illness. Period.

I’ve heard ideas from four candidates about restructuring the health care industry. I need to do more research in each and see which plan I think will work the best, overall. And that will be the biggest part of my voting decision.

There are definitely other factors, but the health care issue is my number one priority.

And I haven’t decided for whom to vote yet. I’m not aligned with a political party. I make my decision based on who I think will represent ME, my issues and concerns most effectively. Under whose regime is my life most likely to improve? Because if my life improves, so will the majority of people’s in this country. And that’s what we need to work towards.

I mean, come on, two and a half years after Katrina, and look at what a bad state New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are still in! Where did all the money all of us raised and gave to various organizations go? It sure didn’t go to the people who needed it. Where is it? I want to see the books! If it wasn’t for individuals like Harry Connick, Jr. and Brad Pitt and organizations like Hands On and Habitat for Humanity, the whole area would still be in rubble.

It’s a reflection of our government. And it has to be corrected. We went from a surplus to the worst debt in this country’s history; we’re involved in a war; and the top execs in companies are getting away with, sometimes literally, murder. Certainly the murder of the middle class – the people who actually get things done, come up with new ideas, and create progress in any economy. It all trickles down from the top. We either have to vote out those who are corrupt next year, or, a few years down the road, we will be in yet another revolution on our own soil. I’d like to think there are more effective and less violent ways to effect change.

But humans never learn from history, do they? The corrupt remain corrupt, most people are too lazy and apathetic to do anything but complain, and then it hits a point of explosion and all starts over. It would be nice to think humans were capable of evolution, but I’m starting to wonder! It’s interesting to see how many of the concerns in Washington Irving’s time (the early 1800’s) are so similar to what we face now.

On that happy note (;)), it’s back to Hex Breaker and my errands.

Devon

Earth Bride – 116,692 words out of est. 120,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
116 / 120
(96.7%)

Devon’s Bookstore:


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.

Published in: on December 26, 2007 at 7:34 am  Comments (7)  

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

violet-on-mantel.JPG

Merry Christmas from Violet and the family!

Published in: on December 25, 2007 at 9:52 am  Comments (3)  

December 24, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and mild
Christmas Eve

We dodged a bullet – it didn’t flood yesterday. Santa and those reindeer made a pit stop at the dam and used their Christmas magic to make it hold.

I’m just nuts about reindeer – whether they’re stuffed animals or brass ones, or real ones. I just think they’re wonderful. Sometimes a little stinky and pushy, but wonderful.

I baked almost all afternoon yesterday – brown sugar sand cookies, dilly batter bread (to go with tonight’s pork roast), and a spice cake called “The Queen’s Spice Cake” that is wonderful. I was a little worried with the latter, because I spilled about double the amount of ground cloves that were listed and was worried, but it came out perfectly. I had to adjust the proportions on the orange glaze, though. The recipe said “4 teaspoons”, which made an odd-looking paste. When I adjusted it to “4 Tablespoons”, it was perfect.

I feel badly for those who are stuck at airports throughout the country. It’s not like the airline people don’t know it’s winter, there’s a strong possibility for bad weather, and that people DEPEND on the airlines to get home for the holidays.

What customers must force their representatives and senators to add to the Passengers’ Bill of Rights is that each individual airline must convert one of their hangars into a waiting compound for their passengers. What the compound must include is the following: cots with blankets and pillows; state-of-the art toilets and showers; a kitchen and dining area where healthy food and drink are provided FREE OF CHARGE, a lounge area for adults where they can read, watch TV, or use their laptops; a family area where families can take their kids to play (toys and soft, squishy furniture provided) and relax (and, no, they CANNOT bring badly behaved children into the adults’ lounge – if you have kids, you go to the family lounge), and a pet area where people traveling with their pets can get them out of the crate and play with them. And an infirmary, where people who are unwell can rest in peace and quiet and receive medical care. All airlines must provide ALL of these services FREE OF CHARGE and are not allowed to refuse ANYONE who holds a ticket to one of their flights. In other words, if you cancel flights and leave a couple of thousand people stranded, you must provide for all of them until you get them to their destination.

And the airlines are not allowed to raise fares.

Additionally, for every twenty minutes a flight is delayed, the carrier is not allowed to hike fares for three months. In about a week, the air fares would be frozen for years, which is as it should be.

Quite frankly, I think almost every major carrier deserves to go into bankruptcy and be completely dismantled, because they treat the passengers and their own workers like crap, while their top executives make millions. Those millions should be going back into the airlines, and ONLY when airlines have a stellar record of customer service and reliability should anyone in an executive position be allowed to make six figures or above, or get a raise.

If you cut off the unrestrained income of those at the top, things will improve drastically. But, because top executives in all kinds of corporations have no accountability – an example set by Bush, who believes he is not accountable to us, either – the country is in the mess it’s now in. And we’re about to dive into a huge recession.

Isn’t that a cheerful thought for Christmas Eve? 😉

Poor little Iris was sick this morning, all over the bedroom carpet, but she seems quite recovered. She was running around playing with her favorite ball and asking for dry food. I swear, it’s like having perpetual toddlers!

I’ve been working on my Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions for 2008, and I will post them after the first of the year. I have a couple of things to clear off my desk this morning before I shut down the computer for the holiday.

Come visit on the 27th & 28th, when I host author Cat Muldoon and her book Rue the Day over on A Biblio Paradise. A review of the book will be up on the 27th, and an interview with her will be up on the 28th.

We keep the Old World traditions for Christmas, so we have our big celebration on the Eve, with gift opening, etc. The pork roast is marinating, and we’ll have it with the leek and potato casserole, red cabbage, green beans, the dilly batter bread, and plum pudding for dessert. Tomorrow we’ll have the stockings and a calm, quiet day to enjoy the presents! I’ll roast a turkey, complete with all the trimmings: mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, peas, parsnip & carrot stuffing, cranberry sauce, herb muffins, and stollen for dessert. Since I was little, books were always a huge part of the Christmas haul and nothing was more fun than to spend the day tucked into the corner of the warm, cozy house reading the newest book.

Sue, I’m so glad you and your family had a great time in NYC! It’s a fun place, and it looks lovely all dressed up for this time of year!

I wish you all the peace and joy of the season, no matter what your holiday is this time of year. It’s such a great time to mix, match, and share traditions, holiday joy, and love.

Peace!

Devon

Published in: on December 24, 2007 at 9:28 am  Comments (4)  

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007
Full Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Fourth of Advent
Rainy and cold

We actually have to worry about flooding today, so I got up early and moved the car. Of course, the only place safe from the water isn’t safe from debris loosened by the high winds, so I’m taking a risk no matter what I do.

Sigh.

I ended up cleaning out a bunch of cupboards yesterday (hey, when the cleaning urge hits, who am I to ignore it?), which is also going to make things much easier when it’s time to pack up and go.

Ran my errands. Bought a dust devil Kone – yes, I am a woman who can get excited about appliances, especially one that will make my life so much easier. The cats HATE it.

Did a massive grocery shopping, but now have everything I need through most of next week, although I’ll have to go to Trader Joe’s about mid-week for more cat food and maybe some treats for the New Year. I decided I’m going to spend next weekend at a friend’s and then go on retreat for the Eve and the Day.

Worked on the Christmas story off and on. I’ve given myself off from Earth Bride and Hex Breaker until the 26th.

Today is a baking day – I want to make different breads and rolls to do with the feasts for the eve and the day, but instead of making them ON the eve and the day, I’ll bake them today and be done. I also want to get at least two hours done on the work for Confidential Job #2 – it’s due January 4th, but I’ll have to send it out on Friday before I leave for the weekend.

Keep your fingers crossed it doesn’t flood. That would REALLY suck on the day before Christmas. Many people in the neighborhood haven’t even been able to move back into the houses that were destroyed back in March and April – it would be awful if they had to re-gut everything and start over AGAIN – all because FEMA and the city have done jack to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

The Yule ceremony was lovely and has put me in a good frame of mind for the coming season.

Devon

Published in: on December 23, 2007 at 10:59 am  Comments (7)  

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007
Waxing Moon
Yule/Winter Solstice
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I managed to get everything done in the city fairly quickly. The ride in was a nightmare, due to more badly behaved children whining and screaming for the entire 50 minute trip. Everyone in the car was ready to throw the parents under the train. In addition, the parents just kept shoving doughnuts into the kids’ mouths to try and shut them up. Yeah, that’s what a cranky four year old needs – more sugar! Could we license parents, please? I mean, come on!

Grand Central Station was already a zoo by 10 AM. Plenty of people either took the day off or left early to begin their travels. I fought my way through the crowds, and went over to the 30s on 6th Avenue, looking for chains. Well, I’d have to buy it by the foot and put my own clasps, etc. on it, and I don’t really know how to do that. I could learn, but don’t want to take the time right now. The store personnel’s English wasn’t good enough to understand what I asked, and my Korean is non-existent, and it’s not that important right now, so I bagged it.

Headed up to the credit union, took care of business. Headed to the theatre to pick up a check that wasn’t there, but some phone calls tracked it down at the office, so I picked I up at the office and got it to the other bank, then headed to the Borders at 57th & Park to look for a few things. Found some, didn’t find others, but trekked back to Grand Central. By then, I’d walked the equivalent of 5 miles and I was losing momentum! It was like one of those filmed dream sequences, where you run and run and the destination keeps getting farther away instead of closer!

Managed to catch the 12:37 train back out – it was packed and I drank a vile cup of cocoa on the train, unfortunately. They were giving out free NY Post newspapers and I figured, hey, I’m getting a little short on cat litter, so why not? Because, in my opinion, that’s all it’s good for.

Can’t remember what I did in the afternoon. I know I was tired. I know my back’s bothering me, although there’s no good reason for it to do so. Oh, yeah, dealt with more building crap, which is probably why my back hurts. Worked on the menu for the Eve and Day. Wrote up the grocery list. Worked on the Christmas story.

Just when you think you’re done, there are ten more errands that turn up, so that’s what I’ll be doing today. The weather is supposed to be icky tomorrow, so I only want to have to go out and get the paper.

And, of course, tonight is the Yule celebration. Okay, so the Solstice was actually at 1:08 this morning, but I was in bed, and I’ll celebrate it tonight!

Decent morning’s work on Earth Bride. I finished the wedding ceremony. If I can handle the reception and all the deceptions going on there in one chapter and the wedding night in another chapter, I’ve got this third section of the book finished. The fourth section opens eighteen months later, and then the fifth is when Niki returns to earth. I’m definitely going way over 120K. I’m trying to choke the internal editor. Because she really is getting on my last nerve! Even if she’s right.

Have a great weekend leading into the holidays!

Devon

Earth Bride – 115,782 words out of est. 120,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
115 / 120
(95.8%)

Devon’s Bookstore:


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on December 22, 2007 at 8:12 am  Comments (3)  

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Here’s an illustration of the difference between a great client and a frustrating client:

I invoiced Confidential Job #1 after the last assignment was completed. Although they pay promptly, it was late enough in the month that I didn’t expect to receive a check until after the holidays. It arrived last Monday, because they wanted to make sure everyone was paid before the holidays.

I invoiced a different client early in the month for work completed with the understanding it would be paid by the end of the month. The invoice was received and ignored. Yes, I have proof it was received. Yesterday, I received an email asking if I’d been paid. I replied that I had not, and did they need me to re-send the invoice? They said yes, so I did. And received an email that they were walking out the door for the holidays and would pay me after the first of the year!

This is a client from whom I will disengage after the current batch of contracted work is completed. They do not pay enough or in a timely enough manner to be worth the aggravation.

The new owners are furious with me and increasing pressure because I filed the proper paperwork with the state and they were chastised. Well, buckoos, you shouldn’t have broken the law in the first place!

Off to the city today to run a myriad of errands. I’d like to get everything done and return by early afternoon, but I have that sinking feeling that everything will take longer than it should, and I’ll be lucky to get home by dinner. I realize this is probably the dumbest day to go in except for New Year’s Eve, but, unfortunately, I have some appointments and this was the only day they could be scheduled. So I simply have to effin’ deal.

I’ve decided not to accept any more work due before the end of the year – I’ve got enough on my plate. And I’d like to take a few days off to actually enjoy the holiday!

Again: “Disorganization on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part – unless you pay me TRIPLE!!!” Lori, sweetie, how do you like the last part? Think we should write it into our Freelancers’ Bill of Rights?

Yes, folks, I’m upping my aggravation fee. You get on my last nerve, I’m simply going to smile and charge you more. Ever so much better for both my blood pressure and my bank account.

I know I want to ring in the New Year again with a meditation retreat; I’m trying to decide if I want to only do it the Eve and Day, or include the weekend before. Hmmm . . . I’m fortunate in that I can decide on Friday, should I wish.

Ran some errands for my friend who’s recovering from surgery; dealt with more building crap. Mailed the last of the cards (I was waiting for some addresses – once received, off went the cards! They’ll be late, but they’ll still be pretty).

Finished Coward’s letters. His work ethic never ceases to amaze me. For all he played the lighthearted man with the martini in his hand (or maybe it was gin or whisky), in the mornings, he buckled down and wrote; he often went on trips away from everyone and wrote; he shut himself up at home and he wrote. Which is why there are so many of his plays, novels, short stories, letters, essays, songs, operettas, etc., etc., etc. in existence. He didn’t bitch and moan about a lack of time; he sat down and did it.

There are plenty of things I should be reading right now, and I don’t feel like reading any of them! I want to re-read the biographies of Shakespeare and Marlowe that came out a few years ago, taking notes, with an eye to a project that’s been rattling around in the brain for years. The comment that inspired the project was made by Virginia Woolf, and she inspired the project because I disagree with her comment. And I just happen to be reading Volume III of her Letters, so it all comes full circle.

I did a tiny amount of work on Earth Bride this morning. I realized I’d skipped a small section that needs to happen before the wedding, so I went in and wrote the insert. I didn’t want to delve too much farther into the wedding sequence because I knew I had to catch the 9:32 to the city, and had to plow through a long to-do list before that. I’ll have to reshuffle some projects to get everything done, especially the work for Confidential Job #2, on time. That’s the way it goes, right? You have to keep making time for stuff.

I am going to sneak in a few pages of the Christmas story before I leave, though.

Brandon, welcome to the blog! Pull up a chair and a cup of coffee and jump right in!

Devon

Earth Bride – 114,619 words out of est. 120,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
114 / 120
(95.0%)

Devon’s Bookstore:


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on December 21, 2007 at 8:38 am  Comments (6)  

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I survived the mall! I feel like I should be awarded a medal or something. I used my gift certificate to get a chain to replace one that broke (and this one’s too short for my comfort), a Mouse King nutcracker (I collect nutcrackers), and a new cookie sheet. And then I stopped at the wine store and bought two bottles of wine so I don’t whine the next few days.

Came home and had to christen the cookie sheet, so I baked tollhouse cookies. Instead of adding nuts in with the chocolate chips, I usually add raisins. But this time, I soaked them in rum while I prepared the rest of the recipe. The flavor’s pretty subtle, but it adds just a big of zing! You definitely wouldn’t go, “Wow, there’s so much alcohol in this” but you might be intrigued by just a hint of something you can barely taste.

The writing did not go well yesterday, so I gave myself the day off, which means about an hour later, I wrote 1000 words on a Christmas story. It’s hard to work on something like Hex Breaker around the holidays. Although I had to shut off Bing and Frank on the CD player after awhile –the carols were good, but the “patter” was annoying and got in the way of my story.

I have to make up for what I didn’t do yesterday, so today will be busy. Plus, I have to clean the apartment. It’s a mess. And the stress of the new owners and the crap they pull is taking its toll. They are more subtle than the previous evil developers, but cause, in their own way, just as many problems. I thought it would be less stressful to suspend the house-hunt during the holidays, but now I wonder if I made a mistake.

Hey, Santa baby, could you bring me a Victorian house on at least two acres in Massachusetts, with the electrics and plumbing in decent condition? I know it’s hard to fit in the stocking, but you’re magic; you’ll find a way.

Decent morning’s work on Earth Bride. I’m working on the wedding sequence. Since all I’d written in the outline was “wedding”, I have to create the ceremonies and rituals specific to the planet. They’re quite beautiful, if I say so myself, but constructing them is time consuming. They read quite well, not a ponderous pace at all, but writing them takes awhile.

If you haven’t worked on your Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions yet for 2008, they’re still up over on Wordish Wanderings.

Lyd, I don’t have my calendar for 2008 up next year, but Saturn is a slow planet and stays retrograde for about 6-8 months. Saturn went direct sometime in the summer – I don’t have the exact dates. It had gone retrograde in the early fall last year. I don’t expect it to go direct again until sometime in the summer of 2008. You might be able to do a Google search and find the exact dates.

Devon

Earth Bride – 113,745 words out of est. 120,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
113 / 120
(94.2%)

Devon’s Bookstore:


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on December 20, 2007 at 8:37 am  Comments (6)