Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
VERY cold

Yesterday turned out quite differently than expected. For one, I was under the weather. It felt sort of like an almost-stomach bug but not quite. I wonder if our water’s contaminated again, the way it was after the floods last spring. I’m going to look for a locally-based lab and find out how much it would cost to test some samples. I’m better today, but I’m double-boiling all the water I use, even to brush my teeth.

Of course the CATS get purified water, so they’re fine. I’ve been careless and used tap water for far too much lately.

It’s also a shame, because I had an excellent weight training session on Friday night, and finally felt like I was getting back on track. And yesterday, I didn’t feel well enough to do more than an abbreviated core workout, because my core wasn’t having it.

I need a jump rope, and I’m kind of horrified at how difficult it is to track down a jump rope in this county. Why can’t I just walk into a store and get one? If it’s a piece of equipment that costs 5 grand, you can get it at the corner store, but if it’s a jump rope, you have to drive 50 miles. No common sense around here at all.

I decided that I’m going to do something on my OWN for Yoga Day USA – just because none of the studios around here are participating, it doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate, right? Haven’t figured out what, yet. Maybe try a different type of yoga via live stream video or something.

Went to my friend’s place and spent the day (in between loads of laundry, because they still haven’t replaced the machines in the building since the floods) working on outlines. I feel a little stuck on Balthazaar, and, while part of it is about research, part of it is that it’s not outlined. I outlined Medusa, and, even when I deviated, I had a jumping off point. So I sat down to do some work on the Balthazaar outline. I found out where I went off-track all the way in Chapter One, for crying out loud – this book starts too soft. The Prologue works really well, because it leaves you with a feeling of dread as in, “What has Justin messed up here?” but then it gets into the story too quietly. I need to jump into the middle of a melee with them, and then go back to them trying to figure out their lives and juggling careers and the illness in Justin’s family and all of those distractions before they head for the Carribbean and the treasure.

I also realized I have to outline the third book before I can figure out the second book, even though each of the three books stands alone. That sounds like it’s a conflict, but it’s not. The characters grow from book to book, but the plots stand alone. There are references to the other books, but done (I hope) in such a way that anyone can pick up any book and not feel like they’ve missed anything, while those who stuck with it from the beginning won’t feel like there’s too much explanation.

I’ve got a good chunk of the third book outlined, and, my goodness, Justin is in a really dark place for a good portion of it. And I’m not sure he’s going to make it out. I knew there was going to be conflict, especially for him, beginning midway through book 2 and the consequences (but not the plot) running into book 3, but I was always optimistic about the outcome. Now, I’m not so sure. The first portion of the book, Gwen and Justin’s stories are running on separate tracks, and then, it should be a third of the way through the book, but it’s eight pages into the outline, they’re in the same space at the same time.

The evolution of Karl really surprised me. Originally, I visualized him as the villain/antagonist. As I wrote Medusa, it turned out he was an antagonist, but with a long history with Gwen, and the more I wrote, the more I realized he wasn’t a villain at all, just that there were issues (to say the least) that he and Gwen couldn’t get past, which kept them on opposite sides of a job very often. Karl’s journey in the second book is quite scary and sad, but it definitely makes Gwen re-think a lot of things, and drives Justin up the wall. And in the third book, at least early on, he’s the one person you don’t want to smack upside the head.

I spent about ten hours on the outline, but don’t have a whole lot of tangible pages to show for it. I needed the thinking time. And, all of a sudden, it was midnight, and I hadn’t finished the outline for Balthazaar or for the Sci-Fi Horror Western!

I do have a good idea how I need to restructure the beginning of Balthazaar, though. The Prologue is still Justin leaving for Rome on his own, but Chapter One becomes a very interesting, action-filled flashback in Paris.

I’ve also decided that, if some disorganized client expects me to give up my weekend to do business writing simply because I am a freelancer, I’m charging time and a half. You want me to give up my weekends (which, I’ve decided, I want to be fiction-centric)? It’s gonna cost you big time.

I’m also getting really sick of the bitching and moaning of freelancers who pay sites for the “opportunity” to bid on piddly-ass jobs and then complain. If you’re going to agree to the ridiculous terms these sites set up, what do you expect? Professionalism? We are professionals. People pay US to work, not the other way around. The only way I’d pay either a fee or a percentage to a site is if an individual from the site/company brokered a deal the way an agent would, and the job paid at least 10 Grand. That’s right, $10,000. Anything less than that, I can get my own damn work without paying a “bidding site”. My hourly is more than most of those sites offer per job.

In fact, I’ve stopped visiting some of the job listing sites, even the free ones, because of the abundance of jobs that pay crap and the dearth of jobs that pay at a professional level. I do better creating my own job niches for companies that interest me. Yes, it takes more work upfront, but the payoff – in every sense of the word – is better.

It reminds me, when I read the police logs in the paper of the dumbasses who leave their purses, briefcases, computers, cell phones, etc. in open view in their cars (often unlocked) and then are surprised when they’re stolen. We live in an era of predators. Since the corporate predators don’t have to take responsibility or answer to anyone, thanks to the Pretender in the White House, the street predators are getting bolder, too. If you make it easy for someone to steal from you, they’ll do it. Is it wrong? Of course it is. But pretending it isn’t reality is simply going to turn you into a victim. There are going to be times when you’re going to get nailed no matter how careful you are; there are times you’re going to be tired or distracted or have a lapse of judgment. But let those be the exceptions; don’t make it easy, like the idiot in the white BMW convertible down the street who jumps out of his car every morning LEAVING THE ENGINE RUNNING while he goes into the store to pick up his bagel and coffee. Not only is he causing needless air pollution, he’s inviting the car to be stolen. Even I’ve been tempted to give it a spin around the block. I haven’t – not because of the possible consequences, but because, in spite of my annoyance at the guy’s arrogance and ego, it would just be mean in a way that’s unacceptable to me. But someday, someone’s going to jump in and take it – farther than around the block.

Off to work on Wyatt, read a manuscript, do some outlining on the Gwen/Justin books, and also get back to work on the cheat sheet for Earth Bride. I need to get that draft done, and I can’t move any farther forward until I do the cheat sheet.

I read an article that stated most American have sex an average of 57 minutes per week, which is under the European average. Per WEEK? Are they KIDDING? If that’s all the sex I had PER WEEK, I’d be even crankier than I am now!

It’s COLD today. I’m making pillow and quilt nests for the cats in their favorite spots and nestling hot water bottles in them.

Devon

Published in: on January 20, 2008 at 8:48 am  Comments (3)  

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

May I just say I am enormously impressed with Staples Customer Service? In spite of how badly the actual store is run up the street from me? Not only did they answer an email question in less than 24 hours, the ink, etc. order I put in around noon on Thursday was delivered just before noon on Friday. And everything that was supposed to be in the box was in the box, the first time. Wow.

I tried to sign up for Yoga Day USA on January 26th – only there aren’t any events in my area. It’s so typical of Westchester County – if they can’t make a buck, they won’t participate. And there’s not one event listed in the ENTIRE state of Connecticut! And nothing in Manhattan, either! I’ll be very glad to leave this area.

I got the edits done for chapters 3, 4, and 5 of Tracking Medusa. I worked on Chapters 6-8, but didn’t get a chance to enter them. I rushed through some things in those chapters, like the description of Berwick-on-Tweed and some of the details of Lindisfarne Abbey, so I have to go back and fill them in now. That will take some time, so I expect to have a pretty slow pace on those chapters. I rushed through a bunch of stuff in the first draft to fix later. Well, now it’s “later” and there’s no getting around it.

I got very little done on Balthazaar this morning, not enough to add to the word count. I have to stop and do some research on underwater archaeology. I got out some emails to appropriate sources this morning. I also found out that the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Management has a Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources, so I’m going to get on their mailing list and ask them questions. I may also approach the guy who owns the Salvage Company who was responsible for finding/excavation of a site and who wrote a book about it that I read in ARC a few years back. . All of that takes time, and I can’t go much farther without the information. Good thing I’m moving to Massachusetts, since so many of their resources are there!

Fantastic morning’s work on Wyatt. Got a start on the Sci-Fi Horror Novella, but I think I have to do some outlining before I can go much further. In the first five pages, I was already creating plot inconsistencies, and I don’t have time for them. The deadline’s too close.

Off to a friend’s place, ironically in CT, to play for the day. Looking forward to it. I’m going to bring a manuscript I have to read, and the next assignment for Confidential Job #1, but it will be read in between doing other types of fun stuff.

Devon

Wyatt – 6,544 words out of est. 20,000 (32.7%)

Sci-Fi Horror Western – 1,186 words out of 15,000 (7.9%)

Tracking Medusa revision – 17,480 words out of 90,000 (19.4%)

Published in: on January 19, 2008 at 10:59 am  Comments (1)  

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Hop on over to Biblio Paradise and read the interview with Colin Galbraith.

Mik tagged me for 7 Random things about me. Um, hard to think of them, but here’s a shot:

1. I hate confrontation, but if you corner me, I turn into a feral cat. And I don’t mean a small one! More like, leopard-sized!

2. I hate the telephone. I have it off almost all the time. I have two half-hour periods a day when I return business calls, and I return other calls when I can, but I just hate the telephone. I pretty much use it only when I’m running late.

3. I love the juvenile mystery fiction from the early twentieth century: Ruth Fielding, Beverly Gray, Vicki Barr, Nancy Drew, Penny Parker, Judy Bolton, Trixie Belden, Cherry Ames, the Dana Girls, Sue Barton, Dorothy Dixon, the list goes on and on. I find the social commentary as interesting (if sometimes frightening in its ignorance) as plot and structure.

4. I prefer animals to people, most of the time.

5. I like my men the same way I like my whisky – straight up.

6. I am technologically challenged. (Gee, you think?)

7. I’m much more of a winter gal than a summer one. I’ll take snow and ice over heat and humidity any day!

Hmm, who should I tag? Brandy, Girl-at-desk, Lori, Julia.

I had company stop by for a lunch visit yesterday, so I made roast pork with all the trimmings. Problem with that is, I was ready to nap all afternoon! But I didn’t. I got some admin work done, and went back to Tracking Medusa.

I also ordered a boatload of ink for the HP. According to the Staples website, one tank for this printer does 150 pages. WTF????? The Canon multi-pass did between 400-700 pages (I could always print more than a ream of paper on a single tank), and the Canon Baby Bubble did around 300. 150 pages is, like, a day in my printing life.

You can be sure I’ll compare the HP all-in-one capacities with Canon’s before I make my final decision. I just may stick with Canon after all! It never occurred to me that there would be such a MASSIVE difference in the ink capacity, especially since the HP tanks are bigger. And, frankly, I think the Canon print quality is better. Unfortunately, according to the reviews, the newer Canon models are ink hogs. So does that mean I should get my old Canon fixed? Spend the $100 and save several hundred a year on ink? This mathematically challenged human needs to sit down with pen, paper, and calculator and figure it out. But, from reading the various consumer reports, the machine I have is a higher quality and a higher print capacity than the newer models. So why fork out money for a new model that chugs ink?

And Iris, AKA Princess Hellion, has GOT to learn to leave the HP printer alone when it’s printing. I don’t know why it fascinates her so much – she always left the multi-pass alone. But she’s chasing the pages and sticking her paw in it and all of that. Elsa ruined an Epsom printer years ago by getting stuck in it when she was a kitten. She was just fine, although a little inky and she yelled a lot. The printer, however, was ruined. You can’t take your eyes off them for a second when there’s machinery going.

There’s something about reading a royalty statement that gets me all warm and fuzzy, even if there’s not an enormous check on its way. That’s all I’m saying.

I did a really nice chunk of work on the Tracking Medusa edit last night. I beefed up the Prologue. I expanded and detailed the first time Gwen and Justin meet, where she’s attacked outside the NY Public Library. I put the Harry’s funeral onstage, and created the dynamic between Gwen, Karl, and Jonathan. And I got to introduce Kitty – since it’s obvious later that she was in NY when Harry was killed, we might as well see her. I’ve given Tom Albright more to do. So it’s all good – the Prologue and the first two chapters, redone. Whew! And I love honing the language, fixing the structure, making it all polished and shiny. In spite of the hand-written notes on the actual manuscript, I find that, as I put in the changes, I’m delving even deeper into plot and story.

Decent morning’s work on Balthazaar. I have to stop and re-read the pirate research I did for Cutthroat Charlotte. It’s kind of cool to be able to use the same research with a completely different viewpoint for this.

Good morning’s work on Wyatt. The plot is taking an interesting twist. Wyatt seems to know what he’s doing, so I’m following along! I have the most basic outline of the story in my head, but no details, so I’m following Wyatt.

I hope that ink arrives soon – I’m halfway down the new ink tank I put in already.

Devon

The Balthazaar Treasure — 5,517words out of est. 90,000 (6.13%)

Wyatt – 4,176 words out of est. 20,000 (20%)

Tracking Medusa Revision – 8,579 words out of est. 90,000 (9.5%)

Published in: on January 18, 2008 at 10:22 am  Comments (9)  

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, where I’m hosting poet, novelist, playwright, and publisher Colin Galbraith.

Yesterday was a better day. The flash drive was working, whew. I managed to deal with the unpleasant business that needed to be dealt with, but it took all morning. And I got out the proposal for the anthology. Problem client still hasn’t paid – raise your hand if you’re surprised – neither the overdue amount from mid-December, nor the amount promised last week. I’m giving it a few more days, and then hitting back.

Found a publication that claims to seek just the odd sort of work I enjoy writing, but even a bit further out of my comfort zone. So I thought I might do a piece and toss it in their direction, simply because it would be fun. Deadlines are sane, money’s okay.

But then I dug a little deeper. Everyone involved in this venture is male. Normally, I wouldn’t care, but, for some reason, it started warning bells going off. And, looking at their writing, it’s male fantasy/female victim stuff. Their blogs are full of “oh, poor me, women don’t understand me” and their stories are about mutilating women. Um, I’m sure the women UNDERSTAND you boys just fine; they simply don’t LIKE you.

So I don’t think this is the right place for me.

However, the story already started to write itself in my head, so I may just have to see where it goes anyway and then try to find another home for it.

Hint: The male and female characters in MY piece are equally matched, because I find it much more interesting, and there’s definitely an “ewwww” factor in the plot that I don’t usually use.

Also, if I don’t aim it to this particular woman-bashing publication, I don’t have to stick to the weird length given in the guidelines which would make it impossible to market anywhere else.

Learn from me – do your research FIRST! 😉

The only major computer trouble I had last night was wrestling with the graphics for today’s Biblio Paradise. They were sent exactly as they should be – my darned computer just had a hissy fit about them. I finally figured out how to trick it into sending it to a file, where I could send it to another file, where I could then send it to a third file, from which I could open it and upload it. Because if you tried from any of the first two – no way. Even by the third file, it told me that the “target couldn’t handle” it, but there it was and it uploaded, so there!

Found a great big logistic lapse in Medusa, regarding Gus, so I have to plug that up. I know what it’s all about, but it would be kind of nice to let the reader in on it, too, y’know?

Hopefully, in a day or two, I can actually start reworking line edits chapter by chapter. I’m working off notes now, and honing the material, adding, cutting, using the Red Machete, then I’m going to start putting changes in it. I need to work off hard copy – I can’t work off screens, especially not when they only appear in “Read Me” format and I have no damned clue as to what page the notations are on. I need to work off lists and hard copies.

Diane, the Mac Airbook here retails for about $1800 from what I hear, which is significantly less than in the UK. Maybe you should come over for a weekend and buy one? With the exchange rate in your favor and all. Brookstone has great power converters. Of course, then there’s the plane fare, which would make it the same as buying it at home. It’s still out of my budget at this moment, but I’m going to take a look at it. I’m still not sure if I’m going to go to one system or two when I switch over. I’m most likely to get a desktop AND a laptop, which will be a huge expense, because if one goes down (and we know how often I have computer meltdowns), I want to have the other one while I get the first one fixed. One for home use, the long hours spent at the desk writing, and one on the go. Again, it’s a huge expense. But it’s worth it. I don’t want to take money out of the house fund, because if I keep doing it, like I had to for the car, pretty soon it’s gone. So it has to wait until I move. I’m pretty sure I want the Mac Pro desktop — huge, huge expense and more computer than I could use, but I can grow into it, and keep upgrading over the years instead of replacing. Also, when it comes to laptops, I have to play with the keyboard. I have long fingers – I’m often teased for not being a concert pianist – and small keyboards hurt my hands after awhile. And I’m not going to buy an exterior keyboard for a laptop – the point of a laptop is for it to be all in one piece and portable.

By accident, I found another publisher that might be good for the story I originally thought of for the publisher-who-turned-out-to-be-the-wrong-match. I emailed back and forth with this publisher, particularly about deadlines and work habits, and it sounds like a good match. Whether the material will fit their needs, well, I have to write it and they have to read it before we know. But at least they’re genuinely eager to read it and aren’t going to change their deadlines after I’ve put in a boatload of work. However, we seem to work along similar communication and deadline rails. So, now I’m excited about the story again!

Okay morning’s work on Balthazaar. I need to figure out the story of the group they’ve been hired to join, and then I need to figure out the story of the actual Treasure. And this time, I’m going to figure it out first, and THEN write it, instead of trying to make it up as I go and then forgetting what I meant to do. I’m trying to learn from my mistakes; I hope you do, too.

Great morning’s work on Wyatt. He continues to surprise me in the best possible way. And now that Jamey Cartwright’s about to crash into the picture, even more interesting conflicts should arise!

Late getting this up this morning because the phone was ringing with job offers – which is a good thing. But I need to sort everything out, schedule-wise. I really have reached the point where I need a laptop. Much as I like working in longhand, I’m running around enough where I need the whole mobile-office thing – my “office” needs to fit into a bag that I can stash in the trunk of the car or take on a bus or a train with me. It’s all good; it just needs to be figured out. Especially since I don’t like to be reachable all the time.

Devon

The Balthazaar Treasure — 4,145 words out of est. 90,000 (4.6%)

Wyatt – 2,293 words out of est. 20,000 (11.4%)

Published in: on January 17, 2008 at 10:38 am  Comments (3)  

Wednesday, January 16, 2007

Wednesday, January 16
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I spent the day in Dante’s Sixth Circle of Computer Hell, and Mercury’s not even retrograde yet.

So, I was looking at laptops. Dell is having a sale (what, am I nuts, going back to the same crap?). It’s got a laptop I can afford, BUT they will only load it with Windows Vista, which I don’t want, and Microsoft Word IS NOT INCLUDED. Are they high? That’s useless.

Sent a long email to HP, since I’m considering switching all my printers over to their brand, but I doubt they’ll be able to meet my needs, computer-wise. Still, I figured I could ask, because they have some systems that fit into my budget.

Diane, I will remain madly in love with my flash drive. It’s Microsoft and their/Dell’s embedded code that makes their computers self-destruct after a finite period of time that I am ready to cut loose. Every day for the past six weeks or so, when I boot up, a different hardware or software is missing and needs to be reloaded. The system ate it.

I’ve run all the scans. I had someone else come in and run scans. The system is self-destructing to force me to buy a new one. There are no viruses, no Trojans, no worms. It was created to destruct, because in the US, consumers are too fucking apathetic to fight it. Companies get away with it, and so they keep doing it.

I WANT to switch everything to Mac. Not only does their system seem to meet my changing needs better, as far as photography, graphics, desktop publishing, and layering in graphics go, and the ability to go in and out of Word, but they’re more reliable. But I can’t afford to lay out the money to do it right now. It’s a bigger upfront cost that will be worth it in the long run, but if the upfront money’s not there, it is simply not there. And the US is already in a recession and it’s not getting better any time soon, or at least until the next election, because Bush would rather protect his friends by: Having his buddies at the Supreme Court say investors can’t sue companies involved in fraud (WTF?) and threatening to add a 40 cent A GALLON gas tax on for consumers instead of gutting the $64 billion dollar per quarter profits the oil companies are making out of our hide. Bush (and the Republicans) are determined to go back to the feudal system – they will be the feudal lords and the rest of us, the peasants, are to work only to enrich them even more obscenely.

And you wonder why Rome imploded. And all of the other societies throughout history that were doomed by their own leaders’ greed.

Talking to several people who know what they’re doing, I realize that, basically, I’m going to have to get a system custom built with room in the direction I think I’m growing. An assembly-line computer is not going to cut it, and, as one IT guy put it, “No one working the 9-5 gig for a corporation is going to give a fuck whether or not you get what you need, because he doesn’t have to face you; he can hide behind ‘company policy’. You need a Mac Renegade who’s going to think it’s fun to develop the kind of system you need. You don’t fit a mold; the only one who’s going to be able to build the kind of thing you need is someone similar, who gets it.”

He’s got a point. I just can’t afford that level of Mac Renegade right now, especially since I’ll have to hire him OR HER to convert everything and dig into the Word documents that Word can no longer be bothered to open. I have probably close to 1000 documents I saved on various disks over the years that Microsoft no longer will open, because the new version only opens the previous version. In other words, XP won’t open Windows ’98, although it’ll open Windows ME. And forget anything before that. That totally sucks. So much for paperless office. And it’s material I need, it’s not just archival.

To calm down, I went grocery shopping, which always helps.

Bought a bouquet of hyacinths. It’s early for hyacinths, but they fill the apartment with a lovely scent. Although they make Elsa the cat sneeze.

Oh, and THEN – the brand new HP printer – is already out of ink. The tanks for the Canon are much smaller, but I could print 400-700 pages on one tank. This HP? I don’t think I even printed 100 pages. Not happy. I let HP know I was not happy.

Thanks for the advice. I tried the flash drive in all the USB ports. No dice. I tried the flash drive on other people’s computers and it works perfectly. It’s my effing slagheap from Dell that’s the problem.

Dell and Microsoft both suck. They’re out to get as much money out of their customers for as long as possible while providing as little as possible. That’s been my ONLY experience with them ever since I started using their products. Time to cut the cord.

I lost a whole day of work because I had to dick around with computer problems that shouldn’t be happening, and I am FURIOUS.

So I bought shoes. I had a gift certificate, I went to the store. I bought a gorgeous pair of brown silk stilettos with gold trim called “Chocolate Lust” that make my legs look great AND are comfortable, and a pair of dark red leather flats that will go with almost everything I own. They’re unbelievably comfortable, too.

Then, my friend’s brother, who is a computer genius, gives me a call. He’s got a good idea what the problem is; sends me a patch. I download it, I run it, I reboot. The annoying message is gone, but the drive isn’t recognized. I shut everything down a few times, I unplug and re-plug, etc., etc.

Nothing.

I start worrying that I’m screwed as far as using the MP3 in the port, too, which would really suck, since I don’t have a wall charger. I plug in the Zen V. For a minute, there’s nothing. Then, it docks, it’s on, it runs perfectly the way it always has.

I unplug it, I put in the flash drive and . . .it’s running.

No idea why the Zen kick-started it, and don’t care; maybe it just took longer for the patch to take hold.

But it works, and now I’m afraid to unplug it.

And I sent myself emails with the new material attached, just in case.

I was ready for some Scottish single malt by then, let me tell you.

So today, I have to deal with some business stuff that I didn’t get to yesterday, get that proposal out, decide whether or not I want to pitch to a knitting newsletter (do I know enough about knitting to write for a newsletter? – I know enough people who know enough about knitting to interview them for articles for the newsletter). There was a script-writing gig that sounded good on the surface (news writing; I don’t cross picket lines), but when I sat down and did the math on the payment per word to word ratio and compared it to my rate per scripted minute, I decided to put it in File 13. No way would I work for that small amount of money. It came out to just under one tenth of my rate. Truly laughable.

One of the things that I think works well in the rewrite of Tracking Medusa is strengthening and complicating the long history between Gwen and Karl. Justin is the love of Gwen’s life, but Karl is the best match for her. And Jonathan, her ex-husband from college is the big mistake that left scars that are causing many of the current problems. Exploring and deepening the dynamic amongst them all makes the piece stronger, I think.

Short, but decent morning’s work on both BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and WYATT. The work on TREASURE is strengthened by the rewrite of MEDUSA. They are stand-alones while still supporting each other’s character arcs. WYATT – well, I’m learning quite a bit about the man, which reflects back on HEX BREAKER without contradicting it, in a very interesting way. This piece is told entirely through Wyatt’s eyes, which is very interesting.

Every once in awhile, someone steps up when you least expect it. A near-stranger did that for me yesterday. I can’t get into the details, except to say it had to do with problems in the building. But he knows who he is, and I thank him. I am ready to return the favor at any time.

Off to deal with some unpleasant business, then head to the post office. Some people mooched a couple of books from me via BookMooch, and I need to get them out today. One person, in particular, has had to wait far too long because the BookMooch system isn’t sending me the alerts they’re supposed to. I have to physically go into the system and check it every few days. But I’ve found some books I no longer want or need (don’t faint) good homes, and I’ve received some really cool books in return. So it’s all good.

Off to try and be productive, finally.

Devon

The Balthazaar Treasure – 3,097 words out of est. 90,000

Wyatt – 1,914 words out of est. 20,000

Published in: on January 16, 2008 at 10:13 am  Comments (7)  

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

How much do I hate fucking Microsoft? Let me count the ways. The newest is that my home computer won’t accept my flash drive. It was fine when I loaded it. It worked fine in Philly. But it’s “exceeded the power of the hub port” or some dumbass excuse here and the computer won’t recognize it.

It’s all bullshit, to make me buy yet something else from the company that refuses to create machines that actually work.

So much for all my work in Philly.

The only thing this computer is good for is to be hacked into pieces and left as landfill. Because, frankly, polluting the planet is as close to positive as this piece of junk can accomplish.

Needless to say, there went this morning’s work on both BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and WYATT. Now I have to rekey everything onto hard drive or floppy and start over. AND I’M NOT IN THE FREAKIN’ MOOD.

I got the assignment out for Confidential Job #1, and I can start on the next assignment for them today.

My eyes are tired from all the hours in archives and on computers, so I had to spend some time giving them a good soak. A Chamomile compress is a wonderful thing.

Finished Class Dis-mythed. I was a big fan of this series several years ago, but haven’t kept up with the way the series developed, and I kind of felt like I was out of the loop for some of it. Then, it descended into, I guess spoofing, reality television and it lost me. I LOATHE reality television, I just can’t even articulate how revolting I find ALL of it, so this trend for novels to use it in plots turns me off entirely.

Are you prepared for Mercury to go retrograde on the 28th? There are two days when Mercury, Mars, AND Saturn are all in retrograde before Mars goes direct, so batten down the hatches!

Hey, I was REALLY good in Philly – I didn’t even walk into a shoe store!

I realized something, over the past few days: That the work I find on my own pays a darned bit better than the bulk of what’s on the job boards. Part of it was sparked by a woman defending one of those places that list low-paying jobs and charges WRITERS a monthly fee for access to them. This woman defended her position by saying she could make “$100 in a day if she wanted.” Honey, I can make that in an HOUR.

But not from most of the crap listed on the job boards. The prices are just too low.

And let’s face it, how many sites do you visit that have poorly written content? In the majority of cases, one gets what one pays for. Pay a couple of dollars, and the quality will be low. Pay a fair wage, and you’ll get decent content. The writers who consistently go after and land the low-paying gigs just aren’t that good. Before readers get all huffy about that judgment, think about it – the GOOD writers move on to higher-paying gigs after a job or two. The lousy ones can’t land the jobs that pay fairly, and keep churning out low quality content for low pay.

Yet, when I hustle on my own, I land much higher-paying jobs, through direct contact with companies, where I create a position for myself or find it through something like Media Bistro, although the bulk of work posted there is full-time, and I only want freelance.

Also, this b.s. about job board listings who demand that one write a “test” piece FOR NO PAY – uh, uh. No way. Especially since I know several instances where the work has appeared on the clients’ sites after the writer was told they didn’t get the gig. That’s one reason I don’t do them – my time is worth $$. If you want to see my style, read my damned clips. If you can’t tell from the clips whether my type of writing is what you want, you don’t know what you’re looking for.

On my part, I guess it’s another case of growing pains. I’m moving to the next level in my business writing. That’s a good thing, but like all transitions, it’s not easy.

And yes, I’m getting back to work on doing a brochure and business cards. I can’t use clip art for it, so I’ll have to design something on my own. And I’m slower at visual design than word-smithing.

It’s hard to describe the difference between relying on writing as THE full-time career and having it as part of a dual career with theatre, or having it on the side, as it was a few years ago. It’s a whole different perspective. You don’t have the luxury of not writing. You don’t have the luxury of not following protocols. Because let’s fact it – it doesn’t matter how frigging brilliant you are if you can’t get past the gatekeepers. And, having BEEN a gatekeeper – there’s a good reason why they’re in place. Charm the gatekeepers with both your talent AND your professionalism and you get the gig. That means appropriate pitch letters, loglines, single paragraph summaries, synopsis, outlines, following submissions guidelines, being able to turn on a dime without excuses.

Because there are a thousand lined up behind you just as talented and more professional, and they’ll get the gig before you will even if they’re not as good.

Job offers are coming in for February and March, which is a good thing. Glad I have a flash drive – a lot of the gigs are out of town. Now, if I could just USE it on my home computer again . . . Hopefully, in between them, the weather will be good enough to go back to house-hunting. There are more problems in the building, and I need to get back on track with that, too.

Another email asked why I broke down the projects I’ve read/watched lately so thoroughly. Well, I’m trying to learn what I believe does and does not work in each of them and then apply it to my own work. I want to build strong character arcs – that doesn’t mean that a character should be predictable, but that the character’s behaviour needs to be believable within context. And I want to plug the holes in the logical lapses in plot and construction. Even the most imaginative fantasy is grounded in its own internal logic. And everything, no matter how bizarre that happens, has to somehow be supported by that logic. The internal logic strengthens the imaginative values, not decreases it. For some people, world-building is writing notes and drawing maps. For me, the less I write down, but the more I KNOW, deep within, the better it all works.

And, if you’re going to base something in history, at least do the frigging research. Make your choices to move away from what’s proven CHOICES and logical, not just sloppiness, because you think no one will notice.

The dissections of Tin Man, the National Treasure movies, Timeline, etc., have been more about me trying to learn what I believe works and doesn’t work and apply it to my own work and my own visions than simply publicly “reviewing” the work for no reason other than to criticize. And because I’ve spent so many years working backstage in theatre, film, and television, I have knowledge as to how productions are put together and how a creative team’s excellent vision is often diluted by producers, mid-level and talent-free executives, and those who hold the purse strings.

Far too much pacing and muttering yesterday, with far too little discernible result. I can feel things percolating, but I can’t quite figure out what they are yet, and it’s frustrating. I don’t mind pacing and muttering when I arrive somewhere at the end – creatively, I feel the same way about it as I do about treadmills. I don’t use treadmills, because if I’m going to put that much effort into walking or running, I want to ARRIVE in a different place at the end of it, not run in place. So yesterday, although it was a day off, still felt like I was running in place. It’s a sensation I hate.

Tried a new weight-training workout last night. Hated it. Still have to find the right one. I’ve been faithful to the morning yoga practice – did it Philly, do it on the road, wherever – but I’m having trouble with the weights/core work that I do later in the day, and I need to find good, reliable workouts, because that’s where I’m currently weak. The yoga’s not enough. I wish I didn’t hate running. That would make sense. When I get the house, I want to buy a rowing machine.

Pondered the time travel novella. Once it’s ready to write, it shouldn’t be too bad – 15K is no big deal. And I want to get it in two months early, in case this set of editors gets any fancy ideas about moving deadlines, like the last batch did. Different publisher, so maybe I won’t run into the same problems. I have the characters, I have the basic situation. I even picked a time where I have quite a few research books – isn’t that a shock? – so I can get the ambiance. I need to work out some plot holes. And I’ll have to look up a few things in the law library, to see what the laws were at that time. Somebody will know if I screw it up, especially since I’ve harped on research so much these last few months!

I have to get a proposal out today. Good thing I didn’t start it on the flash drive.

Devon

Published in: on January 15, 2008 at 9:13 am  Comments (5)  

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

So where’s this huge storm they talked about? There’s been barely a dusting of snow around here!

I did some work yesterday morning, got everything ready to leave, and headed for the demon bus in the early afternoon. It actually worked, and was mostly a pleasant ride. I put on my headphones and listened to my music, while doing the work for Confidential Job #1. It was beautifully rendered, but heartbreaking, and will be difficult to write up. We got to the city, I hauled my luggage uphill back to Grand Central – people don’t realize that Manhattan is not flat, and there’s quite a rise from 33rd – 36th Streets. Got on the train, and I was home a little after 6:30. It takes me almost as long to get between here and Manhattan as it does between Manhattan and Philly.

Played with the cats, who were very glad to see me and had to tell me EVERYTHING that happened while I was gone. Did a whole lot of nothing at night; didn’t even unpack.

And that’s what I’m doing today. A whole lot of nothing. I’ve given myself the day off. Other than a trip to the bank and writing up the material that’s due today for Confidential Job #1, I am going to do exactly as I please. If I feel like writing, I will; if I don’t, I won’t. There’s plenty of reading that needs my attention – I’m partially through Class Dis-mythed, and I started Sharon Shinn’s Mystic and Rider, which is enthralling from page 1. I’ve got another manuscript to critique, and the next batch of material for Confidential Job #2. I’ve got plenty of writing to do – and I completely forgot that I have to work on the time travel novella. And there’s editing and all the rest. And a book of essays written by archaeologists in the field that I thought would be good background material for the next two Gwen/Justin books, since, instead of traveling with them in a chase, we’re actually out in the field with them. I also had a very odd dream that felt unusually real the other night. I think it will make a good basis for a story, eventually, but I have to figure it out. It wasn’t bad or frightening or anything . . .it was just odd.

But right now, there’s too much information roiling around in my head, and I have to give it time to sort itself out. If I try to force it, it will get more muddled. If I let it unravel itself slowly through some quiet time, I’ll be ready to get back to the page more quickly, and I’ll be more productive once I get there.

Devon

Published in: on January 14, 2008 at 8:48 am  Comments (9)  

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was an intense day. I spent most of it at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. What an amazing place! I got plenty of detailed research done for all three of the Gwen/Justin books, and found details to incorporate into the revisions of TRACKING MEDUSA, so that when I deviate from established myths/stories/history, it’s grounded firmly enough in fact so the imaginative aspects can fly.

The Egyptian exhibits were astonishing, as were those from Japan, China, etc. The Qiin dragons were my favorite, and I learned how to distinguish between the male and the female. The energy around the unwrapped mummies was particularlly intense — you can see how all the legends rose up around the findings in the tombs.

They also have an excellent Mesoamerican exhibit, which merely strengthened my belief that, in NATIONAL TREASURE 2, it was NOT Olmec used on those plaques. The Olmec glyphs I studied here are quite different in style, shape, and content. It’s more likely they used Mayan glyphs and figured nobody would notice or care. Wrong! I think it would have made more sense to create a fictional culture, toss in a line saying it was a little-known society between Olmec and Mayan, and then let their imaginations fly free, instead of calling it something that actually exists, but not bothering to do the research.

I took lots and lots of notes and nearly a hundred photographs, mostly for my own research. Well, all of them have to be for my own research — I was only given permission to photograph if I promised not to publish them, and that includes on the blog. Sorry.

Finished the last few chapters of the read-through of TRACKING MEDUSA. I’ve written about 20-30 new pages of material in the past few days, and fixed quite a few lapses of logic and streamlined that story of what they’re actually tracking so it makes sense. I’m having some mathematical difficulties, since I’m mathematically challenged, but when I get home, I’ll sit down with a calendar of the early 20th century and a calculator and figure out if I’m dealing with two generations or three. I still have about another 30 pages of new material, and then I can start the actual line edits. I’ve done a bit of it, but I need to focus on the language as much as the structure, once I’ve smoothed out structural problems.

Also, several other stories are perocolating. HORSEMEN RIDING, the apocalypse story, is pulling at me, but when I try to write it, it’s not formed enough yet for me to do so. I’m still at the pacing and muttering stage with it.

I tried to watch TIMELINE yesterday, which came highly recommended. Spoilers ahead, so skip down a bit if you don’t want it spoiled for you, although it’s old enough now that you might not care. It was a decent movie that just missed being great, and that made it more frustrating than it if was just bad. Based on a Crichton novel, directed by Richard Donner, with a kick-ass cast including Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, Anna Friel, Neal McDonough, David Thewlis, and it had some beautiful visuals. But again, there were holes in plot and character that annoyed me. I’m not sure how much of that was due to script problems, or choices made in the editing room which just didn’t work. Some of it may have been my fault — I was pacing and muttering and trying to sort out HORSEMEN RIDING with this on in the background. Thewlis was underutilized. Connolly was game, but again, his role was underwritten. Butler was given the best and most interesting arc. Once McDonough’s character was killed, the piece couldn’t hold me, and I only paid attention to the last fifteen minutes. I was annoyed because of his character’s inconsistency — the duplicity was not developed in a believable way. At the start, he was the go-to, take charge guy, which makes sense if he’d been there before and concealed it. But by the time of his death scene, when the script had him beg and plead for his life in a way that didn’t make sense with the way his character arced to that point — I was angry at the script. One of the pleasures of McDonough’s work is that he makes it look easy, but when you break down the performance, there are layers. There’s a lot going on, but without visible pyrotechnics. The actors who work so hard so their performances scream, “Look at how hard I’m working!” — those are the ones to watch out for and not trust. They can be a flash in the pan in the right role, but can rarely sustain a varied career. There were a couple of those in this movie. The ones you don’t see sweat, like McDonough — those are the ones with the widest range, usually. They also tend to be the most fun to work with. Butler was good, and given the best material. It had the feeling of something that started as an ensemble piece but was rewritten on set due to certain charismatic qualities of certain actors. And that can really bite one in the butt, because it becomes unbalanced. The two actors who, I think, were initially considered the leads were underwritten, although they tried to overcome the odds. Oh, and maybe I missed it, but why did Billy Connolly’s son sound like a California surfer dude? Now I’m curious to look at the novel and see how that’s balanced.

Started work on the material for Confidential Job #1, which is much more complicated than I expected, and it’s due tomorrow, so I better get my act together.

I worked on THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE this morning, and got some done on the next story with the HEX BREAKER characters. It’s as yet untitled, although, for working purposes, it’s currently called WYATT because it’s through Wyatt’s point of view.

Better finish packing and do what I’m paid to do here. I’m on the demon bus from hell back to NY this afternoon, trying to outrun the storm which is supposed to dump 5-7 inches of snow tonight.

Wish me luck!

Devon

THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE — 2,356 words out of est. 90,000

WYATT — 1,157 words out of est. 20,000

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Yesterday was a very productive, although exhausting day. For some reason, I have trouble getting out of the place here and getting down to work, but once I’m out the door, it’s pretty good.

I spent the day at the Historical Society. I read several diaires, looked up various records, etc., etc., until I couldn’t see straight any more. I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to hold a handwritten diary in my hands and read it from a man who was a lawyer in Philadelphia in the 1770’s. He talks about the growing anger at England; he talks about the reading and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence; he talks about Franklin and Washington and all these figures we idolize in the present moment. He describes being in the local militia, moving his family outside of Philly when he fears it is too dangerous. He talks about Washington crossing the Delaware at Trenton, and what it was like when Howe and his men were in Philadelphia. We all know how it came out, but he was writing (and writing well) in the moment. I can’t even begin to describe the emotional impact it had. This was his actual diary, not a typescript or a photocopy. He was extremely intelligent and funny and insightful. What an amazing experience!

To answer some questions: No, Krissy, no one involved was rich, so if there were murders, it wasn’t for money. I don’t think there was much premeditation involved. I think, if they were, in fact, murders, that they were of opportunity. All these people knew each other for a long time and were romantic rivals for this particular woman. Husband Number 3 simply made use of difficult circumstances to eventually get her. Yes, I am writing letters to all three historical sites stating my displeasure. And, I’m at such an early research stage, that I’m not yet sure what I’m writing. I’m feeling my way along, in an era that is of particular interest to me, pursuing some interests and ideas I’ve had for more than a decade. Diane, there is no blog about my personal life, because that’s what it is — personal. I talk about some issues here when they affect my writing, but other than that, it’s no one’s business except mine and the person who it directly affects. It’s not open for discussion. Plus, in my work, I often deal with recognizable names. I rarely mention them here by name because of a respect for confidentiality (unless I’m congratulating them for work well done) or if they’ve given me permission to mention them by name. I don’t read or watch gossip — why would I write it?

Oh, and for all you NATIONAL TREASURE fans out there: One of George Washington’s most important colleagues was General Horatio Gates. You know naming Ben Gates “Benjamin Franklin” was deliberate, but I wonder if the last name was from research or coincidence?

I came back to base camp in the late afternoon and fell asleep, exhaused from the sheer concentration and exhileration of it all. And then I had to stumble around and make coffee, because I was rather incoherent.

I spent the evening working on the first twenty two chapters of TRACKING MEDUSA. You can tell every point where I put it down to work on something else for a few weeks, because of the lapses in logic. I added information, I’m rearranging some stuff, I made notes on where I need to do more research, what I need to tighten, what I need to cut. Then I’ll look at the notes again from a Trusted Reader and see what I can incorporate. This next draft will be substantiallly different from the first one.

I haven’t even looked at the work from Confidential Job #1 while I’ve been here, and I need to do that, since it’s due on Monday.

I also did some work on THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE this morning. While I have strong ideas of its purpose and structure, I’m kind of feeling my way in. SANDOVAL’S SECRET is actually stronger in my head, but I need TREASURE to get to SECRET.

I need to jump in the shower, eat something, and go do some more research. I wanted to skip today, but I need it for the three Gwen/Justin books. So, off I go.

The Olympic Table Tennis trials are happening here, only a few blocks away. I’m tempted to stop in, but I don’t have my press credentials with me. They’re hanging on the corner of a bookcase at home.

Sigh.

Hey, the History Boys managed to get a stay of construction while archaelogists and the Lenape Tribe check out the site. They were in court, not at the HS yesterday, but I’m sending them some tips for dealing with Evil Developers via the HS.

Devon

The Balthazaar Treasure — 1,119 words out of est. 90,000

Published in: on January 12, 2008 at 9:51 am  Comments (6)  

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday, Januar 11, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

My head is so full of information, it’s about to explode. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; I just need to figure out what to do with it all.

And, I was naughty yesterday — no, bring your mind back to what we actually discuss on this blog, the rest isn’t open for viewing! 😉 Although it may well be relevant! 😉 Instead of working on TRACKING MEDUSA last night, I read Yasmine Galenorn’s DARKLING. And really enjoyed it. I’m a big fan of her series, and this was one of the books I’ve looked forward to most in the past few months.

The day didn’t start out in a promising fashion. I was an hour and a half late getting out of the house — I get up here later than I do at home, and that lost time in the morning is vital. I walked from Rittenhouse Square down to the Historic District. I’d looked up the three places I needed to hit online to make sure of their hours, the fees, etc.

First stop: Historic home. I get there. There’s a little sign on the locked gate saying it’s closed for renovations this week. Now, I checked the website before I left the apartment, and there was nothing on there about it. I was annoyed, to say the least. There was also a sign that suggested visiting the church used by the figure, which was the second stop on my list.

I go to the church. The gate is locked. It’s closed for renovation. Again, there was nothing about it on the website. The sign at the church suggested visiting the cemetary, which was the third stop on my list.

I get there, and it’s locked and there’s a sign saying they decided to close it for January and February. Again, there was nothing on the website about it.

I was not amused. In fact, I was rather in a mood by this time. I stalk down the street to another historical location and follow a guy with a briefcase in the side door. The security guard starts to say something to me, and my response is, “Don’t even.” He backed off immediately with, “Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry, ma’am.” I didn’t actually need to be at Site 4, but it was a good place to wander around and calm down, and I must have carried some serious NY “don’t mess with me” attitude, because the guards all kept a safe distance.

I wandered around soaking up Revolutionary War energy and trying to figure out what to do next. Obviously, I wasn’t supposed to be on those sites. So I left (saying thank you to the startled guards) and wandered around for a bit, letting my feet guide me.

I stopped at a sandwich place for lunch, and, feeling restored, headed to the Historical Society of Philadelphia. They were fantastic there, so nice, so helpful. I spent the afternoon there, and got done the bulk of the microfilm research I needed. I forgot how much of a pain in the ass the microfilm machines are. Digging through all these documents, I found out some pretty interesting stuff — the parents of one figure I’m reserching were called before their congregation on charges of being “intimate” before marriage, and admitted it. Coming across the marriage certificate later, they’d married in New Jersey, not in Philly. I still have to cross check some dates, but I think their first kid or two was born before the marriage. And I’m pretty sure their daughter’s third husband murdered her first two — it’s too much of a coincidence that he just “happened” to be there when they both died — one in Philly and one in England, and No. 3 just “happens” to be there, too? Doesn’t add up to me. I could never prove it — there’s not enough documentation, I’d be building a theory on circumstantial evidence. And the more research I do, the more I think it makes more sense to do this as a novel rather than a non-fiction piece.

I ddin’t talk to any of the History Boys, but they were there. And they were all male. They’re committed and passionate, but they’re going to lose because they lack somethng: Ruthlessness. They’re workig on ideology, and if you’re going to defeat Evil Developers, you have to take the fight to a whole other level and do some serious ass-kicking. I may have to give them a solid talking-to today, since I have some experience in this area. The only other woman researching was on a totally different project, and she sighed every two minutes and muttered to herself until I was ready to rip the microfilm off the reader and strangle her with it. Come on, people, you’re not by yourself, have a little consideration! All the other researchers were extremely considerate.

I’m already late, but I need to go over my notes again before I leave and see which diaries I want to pull and read today. I’d like to get a little writing done, too. I miss the early morning writing. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse story is brewing, the other idea about which I was approached is growing, Jain and Wyatt from Hex Breaker have another adventure to get on, Earth Bride wants attention, and so does The Balthazaar Treasure. My brain feels like a tangled skein of yarn.

But my body’s recovered from the bad fumes — walking around, getting the blood pumping in the air helped a lot. Granted, city air isn’t exactly clean and fresh, but it’s still better than being trapped in a bus full of fumes.

Off to the archives.

Devon

Published in: on January 11, 2008 at 9:54 am  Comments (10)  

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrogrde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and mild
Philadelphia

I’m finally in Philly, after the trip from hell on the demon bus. There were a few times when I was doubtful I’d ever make it here in one piece.

First, the 8:30 bus out of NY blew its starter. I mean, I knew that was the problem, I’ve had that happen in a car, but they kept trying to make it catch and flooded the motor. It was raining by then, but they let me stay on the dark, cold bus until the 9:30 bus showed up. It was still better than standing in the street in the rain.

The 9:30 bus shows up, there are actually about a half a dozen people for it (I was the only passenger for the 8:30). We get on it. And the door won’t shut. I told them to tie it shut and just GO!

They finally jammed the door shut — and I made sure I was sitting at an emergency exit window, just in case. Then, by Newark airport, the door comes open, and the driver stops IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HIGHWAY to futz with it. We have 18 wheelers thundering by on both sides, the bus is rocking like it’s going to tip over at any minute — not fun. He did that one more time, about half-way through Jersey. The ventilation system stopped working, so by the time we hit Philly, it was about 90 degrees in the bus and we were getting groggy — probably from carbon monoxide. By the time we started driving through the city, the dashboard was flashing and the buzzers were going — I was happy to get off the bus!

Then there was the Danish college student trying to pick up the women on the bus. I wasn’t having him, but he had better luck with a Twinkie a few rows back who giggled a lot and said, “I can’t understand your accent; are you Canadian?” (He spoke perfect English), and who thought Greece was part of Asia.

I have to kill off a character based on her in a story because she was so damned annoying.

After this round trip (because they do not give refunds for ANY reason), I’m sticking to Greyhound!

I walked to the place I’m staying, saw my friends off, got some unpacking done. Then, I walked back to Trader Joe’s, got in some food, and settled in for an afternoon’s work. I’d done some of the research I needed to finish on the bus before the oxygen ran out, so I tried to do some more. Couldn’t get it done. I was too tired, after getting up at 5 AM yesterday and the rigors of the trip. I got some of it done, and cross-checked some information and wrote down some questions, but I’m not anywhere near where I need to be to get started this morning.

I managed to write notes on few ideas last night, but I didn’t get too much creative work done because that part of my brain was dazed. And I have a horrible headache this morning, so I’m pretty sure it’s due to carbon monoxide on the bus. I’m going to walk to everything today instead of take public transportation so I get the air back in my system.

Work last night was fine; I slept well; had a cherry danish from my favorite pastry place down the street. I’m pulling myself together to get going, although all I feel like doing is sleeping. But I need to get moving and get these toxins out. The yoga helped this morning; walking will help, and I’ll work out tonight. Maybe eat something with spinach in it for lunch, to get the balance back.

I’m having a dilemma about what project to work on next: I’m editing TRACKING MEDUSA, I’m going to finish the ever-expanding EARTH BRIDE as soon as I get the cheat sheet done (because I can’t write the wedding sequence without the cheat sheet — too much of what happens there affects the next section of the book). I’ve had an invitaiton from an editor to sumbit something that would be a pretty sure sell. I haven’t written in that genre for a long time; I’m not sure if I want to; but the lure of the credit and the money is surely strong. I’d dust off a pseudonym that hasn’t been out and about in years. I’ve got a lot of other things to do, and I want to keep it all balanced, but the market for this type of work has exploded in the past few years. It’s just not my favorite thing to write. Really, what I want is a contract before I commit, so that’s the direction in which I should negotiate. How badly do they want me?

And that will have to wait until I get back to NY.

In the meantime, I’ve got to pack up and stop on the way to buy pencils.

Oh — a group here in Philly dubbed “The History Boys” are trying to prevent a casino from building over a Revolutionary Fort before they can excavate it. Great, I’m all for it, and we need the British side of the American Revolution story as much as the legends with which we all grew up, but . . .where are the women? Are there any “History Girls” involved in this? And if not, why?

I can ask them in person, because we’ll be in the same facility this week.

Hop on to Biblio Paradise for the interview with Hazel Statham. I must have entered it weirdly, because it posted early, but I’m glad it’s up!

Devon

Published in: on January 10, 2008 at 9:37 am  Comments (5)  

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Still dark – it’s before 6 AM

So yesterday just sucked all the way around. I’m glad it’s over; don’t want to live it again.

In addition to the fact that I had to finish up the gig for Problem Client, I got an auto response message that Hex Breaker’s been rejected/deleted without being read. The publisher decided to close submissions early. That is just a slap in the face to writers. If you publicize a deadline, honor it. We, the professional writers, bust our butts to turn out engaging stories, deal with the proper format, proofing, grammar, spelling, structure, etc., fit our story into the guidelines, create all the ancillary paperwork the publishers now demand, and get in clean copy on time. The least the publisher can do is honor deadlines it set in the first place.

This is the second negative experience I’ve had with this publisher, and they’re off my list. Burned the bridge, told them what I thought. Next.

Because sometimes, wondering if maybe they’ll be useful farther down the line isn’t worth it. And I’m not bowing and scraping to someone who can’t show me basic courtesy.

Bites from two other publishers already who are interested (what can I say? I didn’t waste any time – I had new queries out within fifteen minutes of the auto-response), and a third publisher who likes the premise, but wants at least another 20K in it. Although there are more stories for these characters, I don’t know if this particular story could support another 20K. While pieces like Ris an Abrar and The Merry’s Dalliance are really novels I tried to smash into guideline word counts, Hex Breaker pretty much stands as it is in novella form, at just over 29K. I will discuss with them whether they’d consider several novellas with the same characters as a possibility. If not, at least this place is genuinely interested in my writing, and maybe I can send them something else in the future.

And then a response came back to a different submission. They’d “consider” representing me, provided I did a “substantial” rewrite of this particular novel within the next three weeks – on spec. You’d be proud of me. I wrote a very diplomatic response. I pointed out that, although they praised the characters and the dialogue, they seemed to want an entirely different type of story than what I submitted and were asking me to put my characters into a completely different plot, setting, and circumstance. It seemed to me that an entirely different submission might be more appropriate than taking my characters and putting it into their “suggested” plotline. Or were they offering a work-for-hire deal for a book packaging client, perhaps? I’m open to that, but it’s a different discussion that what they presented. I also pointed out that the contracted, deadlined work comes first, and there’s no way I could fit in such a revision within that time frame if it was on spec. I have too much paying work lined up. Thanks, but no thanks. Put money on the table, we talk. Without that, I’m just moving on to the next one on the list.

On a happier note, I’ve entered the world of flash drives. The flash drive I bought has more memory than my entire desktop. So far, I’ve got Hex Breaker, Tracking Medusa, my general writing/submission files, and some of the freelance files on it. I put Earth Bride on it just for the hell of it. I’ve got lipsticks bigger than this drive. I think it’ll make my life a lot easier this week. Plus, I can edit on the flash drive, which I can’t do on CD.

To answer your question, Diane – a lot of anthologies are putting out calls for submissions on novella-length pieces and many e-publishers also handle novellas. I love the novella format. It used to be huge in the UK – I remember buying novellas for a pound at WH Smith’s at train stations, and have something to read on the train. They’ve since fallen out of favor. There’s starting to be somewhat of a resurgence here – well-know writers tend to sell novellas around the holidays, and more and more books are published that contain one or more novellas. There is a market – you just have to look for it a little harder. And since short stories are getting shorter – the market’s opening for something between short story and novel again.

And then, late in the day, I get an email from the first publisher saying that they ARE accepting the submission of Hex Breaker for consideration, in spite of the first email I received. Bet you dollars to doughnuts I get a quick rejection since I called them on the conflicting information.

That’s okay; I’ll send it to the next interested name on the list.

Diana – thank you so much. It worked and made a big difference.

Typical NYC story: Two guys were busted by an off-duty cop last night for check fraud. They rolled their dead friend down 9th Avenue in an office chair to a check cashing place and tried to convince the clerk he was still alive so they could cash his social security check. A guy they passed on the street noticed the guy in the chair was dead and called 911. And the off-duty cop in the deli next door noticed, too, and busted them. I can just imagine the thoughts running through that cop’s mind. I must have been really overtired by the time it was on the 11 o’clock news, because I couldn’t stop laughing, as macabre as it is. Especially since it’s in Imp’s and my old neighborhood –we would have passed them coming home from the show!

Finished the work for Problem Client, sent it off with the invoice – supposedly, I’m being paid by Friday. I’ll believe it when the check clears. Hopefully, I’m free and clear in general of that entire mess. Buh-bye.

I’m off to Philly – I’m working doubles all week, and it’ll seem like a vacation after this bru-ha-ha! I got a lovely email from the Historical Society, welcoming me for the research, so it’s all good.

Of course, I couldn’t sleep last night – no idea why – so I’m leaving in a state of half-delirium! Maybe I’ll put on my music and doze on the bus.

Devon

PS – My regular SDR weekly rant will go up late in the day, once I get settled in the Philly digs and know what my internet access is like.

And hop on over to Biblio Paradise today and tomorrow for the review of My Dearest Friend and the interview with author Hazel Statham.

Published in: on January 9, 2008 at 6:17 am  Comments (10)  

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tuesday, January 8, 2008
New Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and mild

The job listings yesterday were just wrist-slittingly depressing. I couldn’t feed one of the cats for a week on what most of these people are offering, much less pay the bills. Time to dig a little deeper. You get out of the search what you put into it, right?

Cleared off a bunch of admin work. Actually got some submissions out.

A couple of people asked why I talked about the argument yesterday, since I rarely discuss my personal life on Ink. Part of it is because it’s a boundary issue, which seems to be leitmotif in this cycle in both work and life. And one influences the other heavily. And let’s face it – on the surface, we were arguing about movies, but that’s not what the argument was really about. And it’s interesting to see how it fits into the retrogrades, and whether or not I’ve learned anything this time around!

Worked on the synopsis for Hex Breaker. I understand the need for all these materials – the logline, the one paragraph summary, the synopsis, the outline. It’s part of the profession. But I still don’t like doing them. Oh, well. Suck up and deal, right? I want to go over the material one more time this morning.

Worked on the last batch of articles for Problem Client, bitching and moaning the entire time. The cats would just open one eye, then roll over and put a paw over the face, wishing I would shut the heck up. The articles are not due until after I get back from Philly, but I want to get them out before I leave and be free!

Hex Breaker goes out today – scary, sending my “baby” out into the world.

So, did you hear about that guy in Texas? Cops show up, find his girlfriend’s ear boiling in a pot of water on the stove and a slab of human flesh on the kitchen table with a fork stuck in it. And you wonder why I don’t watch slasher films?

I felt SOOO much better after acupuncture. Truly restored. She found where the energy from the argument had taken up residence in the body and got it moving.

That is, I was restored until I returned to an email from Problem Client, who wants me to do something that I believe is unethical. I’m sick and tired of the guidelines changing day to day. They wait until I do the work, then come back and want changes, for which they don’t pay. Not that it’s easy to get the originally agreed-upon payment out of them anyway, and it’s not enough to make the aggravation and the compromises worth it. Hey, if I could turn down a job last year for six figures because I felt what they wanted me to promote with my writing was unethical, I can dump this dinky client.

Yes, the Saturn Retrograde is seriously kicking my ass for agreeing to those extra articles.

Don’t forget to hop over to A Biblio Paradise tomorrow to see the review of My Dearest Friend and return on the 10th to read the interview with the author.

I’ll try to blog at least intermittently while I’m working on the road.

Devon

Published in: on January 8, 2008 at 8:58 am  Comments (5)