Racing Ink May 16-17,2008

Note: The post on “Writer’s Worth Day” is below this one; scroll down. Regular “Ink in My Coffee” posts resume either Sunday, May 18 or Monday, May 19.

I was surprised by the race card for Preakness Day. Usually, there are many more familiar horses entered.

On Friday’s card, I’m going to bet only in the Black-Eyed Susan. I’m going to bet all four of my choices across the board: Bsharpsonata, Highest Class, Pious Ashley, and Sweet Vendetta.

Saturday’s Card:

Race 1:
I’m sitting this one out and watching to see how the track plays.

Race 2:
I’ve liked Cryptogram before and will look at him here.

Race 3:
Celtic Innis, Suave Jazz, Forest Park (if he runs here).

Race 4:
Alphabet Storm, probably to place.

Race 5: Skipat Skates
I’m going to look at Drama Lady and Ursula’s Passion, but I may sit this one out.

Race 6: Gallorette Handicap:
Valbenny across the board and Saint Pegasus to show.

Race 7: Barbaro Stakes
Roman Emperor and Wesley; not sure how yet, but those are my two top choices.

Race 8: Old Mutual Turf Sprint:

The only horse I know in this race is Forest Park. If he runs here instead of in Race 3, I’ll start with him and build; otherwise, it’s all a paddock decision.

Race 9: Hirsch Jacob Stakes

I’m going to look at Silver Edition, Force Freeze, and Commandeered, but I’m not yet sure how I’ll bet them.

Race 10: Dixie Stakes
Distorted Reality and Shakis

Race 11: Allaire DuPont Distaff:
Peace Flambe across the board with probably Cash’s Girl and Silver Knockers in there somewhere.

Race 12: Preakness
Big Brown, across the board, of course, just in case he is the freak for whom we’ve been waiting.
Another Derby horse, Gayego, was also entered here; jockey Mike Smith knows this track well, the horse is excellent, and I’ll also bet him across the board.
I’ll take Behindatthebar for place and show, and longshot Ichabod Crane to show.
I want to look at Racecar Rhapsody, Giant Moon, and Riley Tucker for possible additional bets, and I might try an exacta or two with Big Brown and . . .somebody, depending upon who looks perky.

Race 13:
Loveme Lovemenot and Diamond Flyer.

The Preakness Wrap-up will be on FemmeFan nextweek, and don’t forget to check out Kay’s comments on Seriocity!

Published in: on May 16, 2008 at 10:36 am  Comments (1)  
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Writer’s Worth Day

Lori Widmer declared today Writer’s Worth Day.

That means, if you call yourself a writer or want to call yourself a writer, it’s time for some tough love and reassessment.

The reality: If you take those jobs that pay crap for a large number of articles, the likelihood that you will make a living wage in this business is very small. There are always exceptions, but if you really are that brilliant, your samples (even if you’ve never published, you can create samples) are good enough to land you a decent wage. If you think you can use these mass-produced articles as clips to get higher-paid work, those potential employees will laugh you right out of the arena.

If you have no confidence yet, you’re better off starting out for small, local publications that are looking for local coverage and/or taking on a cause or local non-profit on as a PRO BONO client and building legitimate clips that way.

A single newsletter for a legitimate organization like the American Cancer Society or your local animal shelter will garner you more paying jobs than 100 web “articles” for which you were paid $10. When you look at jobs, you need to consider the legitimacy of the employer.

If you have no self-respect, if you can live off a partner’s wage and you want to “play” at being a writer, go ahead. Write for these mills who pay crap and who publish crap. And that’s where your career will stay. In the crapper.

If you want to actually build a legitimate career so you don’t have to work in someone else’s cubicle and you’ll be hired by companies for whom you’d actually like to work, network with other LEGITIMATE freelancers (who hang out in places like Anne Wayman’s About Freelancewriting, Absolute Write, Writers’ Weekly, Funds for Writers, etc. Read Peter Bowerman’s book THE WELL-FED WRITER, and visit his blog, linked to the right of this post. See what professionals with self-esteem and a sense of their own abilities are doing to make a reasonable living in this game.

If you don’t respect your work, why should anyone else?

Show a little self-respect. Charge a fair rate, and you’ll get an employer who values you, and work that’s good enough to launch you onto the next wage platform.

Devon

Note: Racing Ink will appear here later today. Regular “Ink in My Coffee” postings will resume either the 18th or 19th of May.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and warm

I’ve got my SDR blog piece up, “Writers Who Blog . . .and Drive Me Away”, sure to get a few backs up. Hop on over if you like.

So, the Jupiter Retrograde kicked me in the ass yesterday with the 72” bookcase. It arrived, much earlier than I expected. I was all excited and started putting it together.

Only the holes where you’re supposed to assemble it were shut. Hadn’t been hollowed out to allow assembly. And, when I tried to hollow them out, the wood splintered. Gee, well-crafted piece, wasn’t it?Th

Called Staples; they were really gracious. The replacement should arrive today, but it could be up to a week before the pieces of the other one are picked up. I contacted the company who sold the piece to Staples and told them that I’m disgusted by their lack of quality control, and if the replacement has the same problems as this one, I’m reporting them to the BBB. Having the clear holes so the screws can meet the fasteners is not brain surgery – it’s their job.

So, by 9:30 in the morning, my hands were bleeding, my wrist swollen, and my nails broken thanks to their incompetence. I’ve put together dozens of bookcases before, so it’s not like I don’t know how. And it’s not like I don’t know when a product is defective.

And then, of course, you can’t get the crap back in the box, and they have “no idea” when they will come and pick it up in the next five days. I don’t have room for a 72” long box of crap to sit in my hallway. 5 days is not acceptable. I’m tempted to throw it out of my third floor window into the construction dumpster.

Polished the essay, got it out. Hopefully, my editor will like it.

Worked on THE MATILDA MURDERS in my head, which isn’t as good as putting it on paper, but I paced and muttered a lot, and I have a good idea of its overall structure now. For some reason, this piece really wants to be mentally written before it’s physically written, so I’m just going with it. I’m mentally writing while I’m doing things like mopping the floor and making Pad Thai.

It was too nice to stay in, so I went out to visit the Bruce Park in Greenwich to read for a bit – it was so pretty there, I’ll have to see if I can post pictures at some point. Stopped at the library, got some books off the sale shelves.

Finished reading Gail Z. Martin’s The Blood King and liked it. Not bad – it was over 600 pages and I read it in just over two days. In other words, it’s a page turner. And, I felt so relieved on the author’s behalf – the copy editing was good! It picks up right where The Summoner left off, but if you read this book before the first one, it still makes sense. She tells just enough about the first one to clue in new readers, but not so much that if you’re reading the series in order you feel held back. There are quite a few clever and imaginative escapades in both books, and I’m glad I read them.

An acquaintance and I were talking about various writers and one writer’s name came up. I’d happened to read a couple of her books over the last few years, and they don’t do it for me. The acquaintance said, “Oh, you must really hate it that she sells so well.” Actually, I’m glad she’s found her audience and that she’s making a living. I don’t know her personally, so I have no idea if I’d like her or not; just because her writing doesn’t thrill me doesn’t mean I wish she wouldn’t succeed. It’s hard enough to make a living in this business – most of the time, I’m glad when someone does. There are so many different tastes out there, there’s room for all of us.

Contrast between the type of client for whom you want to work and the one you don’t. Client A and I emailed back and forth some negotiations. She went with someone else (probably cheaper), but she wants to keep my information for the future, and she was so lovely to deal with that I’d work for her in a heartbeat (at a decent rate). Client B had an interesting but vague ad, so I sent an email asking for more information so I could put together relevant samples and I got this response: “We got over 200 responses in a single day to our ad. We have plenty of samples and therefore don’t need to respond to any emails that are stalling tactics.” Guess who I WON’T be working for unless there’s a hefty aggravation fee attached? 😉

Disquieting news from Confidential Job #1 – they’re cutting their pay rate. I’m not happy about it, but I’ll try it for awhile. It hasn’t dropped to insulting. I just always question the intelligence of allowing one’s fee to be cut. If it hits a point where I feel that the time spent isn’t being adequately compensated, I will have to leave. I’d hate to – I really enjoy the job – but I have to be paid a decent fee for my time and my work.

So that’s the latest. I’m waiting for the bookcase delivery, hoping there are some decent jobs in the listings, and working on both the adaptation and THE MATILDA MURDERS.

Devon

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 May 15, 2008 at 7:35 am  Comments (9)  
Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I got the material off to Confidential Job #1. I spent most of the day working on the revision of the essay. I’ll take another look at it and send it off today. It needs cutting, but I’ve cut as much as I can see to cut, and I trust my editor’s eye for the rest.

It was too nice a day to stay inside, but I was waiting for a delivery. Unfortunately, Staples called and has to deliver the bookcase today instead of yesterday, which is fine, no problem. But it better arrive today!

It was a quiet day, with a minimum of building crap. There’s always building crap, but I’m glad when it doesn’t interfere too much with everything else. The building’s new super has already proven himself to be management’s scumbag and not on our side at all and he’s only been here a few days. Oh, goody.

Got a decent morning’s work done on the adaptation, and now I will turn my attention to the first act of THE MATILDA MURDERS.

This is just a week of putting my head down and working, with as few distractions as I can manage.

I’m reading Gail Z. Martin’s THE BLOOD KING and enjoying it.

Sometimes, simple is good.

(I don’t mean the book I’m reading — I mean life)

Devon

Adaptation: 34,032 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
34 / 90
(37.8%)

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 May 14, 2008 at 7:27 am  Comments (6)  

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

My Derby wrap-up article is here:

My pre-:Preakness article should go up sometime this week. On Friday, I’ll handicap all of Saturday’s card again for Racing Ink, and the Preakness wrap-up will appear on FemmeFan the following week.

Didn’t get as much done as I wanted to yesterday, but that’s okay. I had to help my mom with something; we thought it would take twenty minutes and it took two hours. Oh, well, that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Caught up on correspondence, caught up on some blogs, came up with an idea for an article for a magazine I loved as a kid, so I have to figure out a great query letter for it. Had a great weight-training session last night.

Did some work on the Maine project I’m having trouble with titles lately – they seem to choose themselves at some point during the first draft. Had a great session this morning on the adaptation – wrote nearly two whole chapters.

I’m waiting for the new bookcase’s delivery, and I’m catching up on everything that didn’t get done. I have a massive headache this morning for some reason – I took something, and I’m hoping it will ease up. My mom’s fine again – must have been one of those 24 hour bugs. So at least that’s one worry less.

My grandmother found my missing sunglasses (they were custom and expensive, since I have a complicated prescription and it’s hard to find sunglasses that fit my glasses). They’d fallen out of my purse while I was in Maine, and she managed to find them. She mailed them back in a clever way – a box shaped like a small trunk filled with stationary and then the glasses well-wrapped. What fun!

I have to answer some questions from someone who wants to quote something I said in a speech he’s giving soon in DC – I’m flattered. And I’ve got some negotiations to work on before I can get back to the deadlined work. Hopefully, it will be reasonably quiet most of the day, so I can really push and get a lot done.

Nothing exciting, and right now, that’s a GOOD thing!

Devon

Adaptation – 33,099 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
33 / 90
(36.8%)

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 May 13, 2008 at 9:02 am  Comments (5)  

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Stormy

There are several topics to discuss to day, so I used sub-headers. Enjoy!

Negotiating Fees
So, I got a nasty but interesting email yesterday. Now, I get a couple of dozen nasty emails per week – that’s part of putting yourself out there. If you can’t deal with nasty emails, don’t have a blog/website/public life. Because there’s always the delete button and/or reporting the mailer to the ISP or the authorities, if it’s really squirrelly or dangerous. I don’t consider people who disagree with me necessarily nasty. Some dear friends and readers disagree with me on some issues, and/or give me a good solid kick when I need it, and that’s good. But there are also the parasites, and they’re a part of being out there. A lot of it comes from wanna-be writers I’ve never met and have no reason to deal with who demand that I coach/critique/write their idea for nothing/”get them published”, because as a published writer, I “owe” it to unpublished writers to get them published.

Now, we writers work our butts off, and most of us pay it forward, help other writers . . .who are willing to put in the work. But, simply because I am published and someone else is not, I do not “owe” that person anything. Help needs to be earned.

However, this nasty email was a little different and interesting enough for me to mention the topic. The person wrote that I am a hypocrite, because I advocate sticking to one’s rates, adding things like “aggravation fees” and late payments, and setting boundaries. This person claims to have read something of mine on a site I will call “Site X” for the purposes of this discussion, and then read the guidelines, which state that writers are unpaid. Therefore, I must be a hypocrite.

Uh, no. There’s a difference between taking on a pro bono client and writing 100 articles to sell at $1/each or not getting paid for them at all.

I have a couple of pro bono clients. Usually, it’s for a cause or organization in which I have a deep personal investment and belief. And, in spite of being pro bono, we still have a contract in place so that there are no misunderstandings. I also use samples of the work I do for these clients in my portfolio, landing me other, paid work.

I also write/have written for publications/sites that state in their guidelines that they do not pay writers. However, everything is negotiable. That doesn’t mean I sent them a submission and said, “You gotta pay me for this or else.” Most of these publications have approached me to write for them and we’ve negotiated a fee. That’s different then sending in something over the transom. And if you don’t know what sending over the transom means . . .go look it up.

I’ve always said, in discussions about payment, that each individual needs to negotiate on a case-by-case basis. When you say, “I never pick up a pen for less than X” – fine. But you may well miss some great opportunities. You may be in a position to do so, and that is YOUR CHOICE. Sometimes you come across a publication you think is just great and also has growth potential, and you want to be involved. Go for it. I choose not to join bidding sites, because I firmly do not believe in paying for job listings; if an employer simply wants to go for the lowest bid instead of the best writer, that is the employer’s prerogative, and it shows me that we’re not a good match anyway, so why put either of us through a miserable experience? I also choose not to work for sites that want a large amount of content per week/month churned out for a pittance. First of all, I don’t believe that many writers can maintain quality at that high a volume – and, if they can, they ought to be working for people who pay $1/word, because they’ll be able to retire in Tahiti in about five years – and they deserve so to do. Second, I don’t want to be tied down to a single site for 20 articles a week for crap money for weeks or months on end because I get too many good, well-paying, fascinating opportunities coming in and many of them involve travel. Third, I actually value my work and, by focusing on clients who value strong skills and content, we’re both happy and well-paid.

It’s case by case and everyone needs to make their own decisions and draw their own boundaries. The problem, in many cases, is once you establish yourself at working for crap pay, the companies willing to pay more are unlikely to hire you because they believe you get what you pay for; in other words, if your previous employers paid crap, that must be what they got. By establishing a reasonable fee within your market (and a small-town market’s reasonable fee will be different than a fee in a corporation based in New York or Los Angeles), you gain respect and are paid within the ballpark of what you’re worth. Because let’s face it, do we ever truly believe we’re being paid what we’re worth? We always want to challenge ourselves to move to the next level.

Do your research on the potential employer, have a clear-headed view of your own qualifications and how fast you write, and go from there. And talk to other freelancers – those who do it full-time – to get an idea of fee structures.

Life Stuff
Had a great day with my mom. Talked to my grandmother and she sounded good (what a relief). Went to White Plains, to one of my favorite Asian markets to get some vegetables, replace the bagua mirror for the front door that the scumbags smashed a few weeks ago (wouldn’t want to be them when that karma makes its return trip), and picked up a ceramic jar that I’m going to use as a kind of a “prayer pot” and a little ceramic bowl to use for . . .well, I’m not sure, but it was pretty, and I bought it.

Helped a friend move a massive piece of furniture. We celebrated with a beer (Blue Moon, of course). And another neighbor gave me a stack of leather-bound books she was getting rid of. I look forward to going through them!

I’m booked on a bunch of shows over the coming weeks, and the schedule works out so that the days I’m not on the show, I can be up in MA house hunting and doing some other work that’s booked up there. Even if the relocation starts during those weeks, I have a place I can stay here and complete my commitment. So it’s all good.

Mostly took the day off as a “holy day” celebrating my mom and some great women in my life.

Unfortunately, my mom got sick in the night, so I’m playing nurse today to make sure she’s okay.

Writing
Most of it was mental work, not physical. Lots of “mental writing” – plotting, working things out, making a few notes on a few different projects, some pacing and muttering. Got some work done on the adaptation. It keeps surprising me in a good way. It will be able to be a complete stand-alone; there’s also room to do more with these characters that doesn’t hinge on this book. So it’s the best of both worlds.

So today, I have to give the work for Confidential Job #1 its polish and I have to dive into the essay. I have some serious deadlines this week, so I better hop to it. Because I have a short week, due to the Preakness, and next week’s looking pretty busy, with a research trip to the Museum of Natural History, the PEN Literary Awards, acupuncture, and shows.

I had a good morning’s work on the adaptation. Now, on to everything else.

Kent, thanks for stopping by. I’ll look for your YA story, and I’m also looking forward to what comes out in the future.

Hope you have a great start to your week!

Devon

Adaptation – 30,626 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
30 / 90
(33.3%)

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 May 12, 2008 at 7:58 am  Comments (10)  

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant
Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

To all of you out there who are my friends and readers and who are mothers, a blessing to you for a day where you are shown how much you’re loved and appreciated, and may you have many more years of daily love and appreciation to come.

I was going to discuss several points about blogging that recently came up, but decided to save it for an article for this week’s SDR blog. So there! 😉

Busy day yesterday: Banking, bill paying, post office (the rates go up Monday, don’t forget), dealing with Verizon wireless (they are such a pain in far too many parts of my anatomy), bookstore, wine store, grocery store.

When I got my mom her bookstore gift card, I also decided to pick up a couple of books for myself. This store had nothing by any of the authors from MISSPELLED, which annoyed me. However, I picked up BLOOD KING, Gail Z. Martin’s next book (and I’m hoping there are fewer typos than in THE SUMMONER). I’m interested to see where the story goes from where THE SUMMONER stopped. I also picked up a book called DHAMPIR by Barb & J.C. Hendee, which looks and sounds very interesting. I think it’s the first of a series. It’s supposed to be quite witty, according to an actual person who recommended it to me. It’s a person whose opinion I trust, and someone who didn’t just think it was good because she liked it, but she thought the writing, the characters, and the wit would be aspects to which I’d respond.

I know we live in the Cult of the Book Blurb, but I hate them. Blurbs on the cover are more likely to make me put the book down and not buy it than to take it to the register. I don’t want to be told what to think about it, unless I personally know the author and have a reason to respect that author’s opinion. And then, the book will be recommended to me other than on a blurb. A lot of the cover art nowadays also turns me off – it’s too similar.

MISSPELLED has one of the best covers I’ve seen in a long time. But, actually, it was the title that made me pick up the book. I wanted an anthology, and the title was clever. Then I looked at the cover, which I thought was lovely. Then I looked at the editor, whose name was new-to-me, and thought, “Great.” Then I read the back of the book, and it sounded good. I just looked at the cover and, guess what – no blurbs! No wonder I bought it. Then I read a few random paragraphs. And it had to come home with me.

And it just happens to be one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

Anyway, I went to the bakery to get my mom a cheesecake for Mother’s Day. Cheesecake is her favorite thing, and I’ve never mastered the art of making a really good one. I can make all sorts of other cakes, but haven’t gotten the knack down for cheesecake.

In the afternoon, I wrote my pre-Preakness article, started the write-up for Confidential Job #1, roughed out in my head the script (tentatively titled THE MATILDA MURDERS), caught up on blogs and BookMooch, and roughed out two more stories. I also started playing with a better tracking system for the short stories. The Submission Log’s useful to let me know what’s out, what’s in, what’s paid, but I need a history of each story in one place, not different documents for different years, and a central location as to the length, pseudonym, and genre (or lack of genre) for each. It’ll take weeks to sort out properly, but it will be worth it in the long run.

I’m reading SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN, which I enjoy. I see glimmers of some of my favorite characters in the Twelve Houses series here – they could be relatives; they are, at least, what Anne of Green Gables would call “kindred spirits”. Elisandra in this book reminds me of Casserah; Roderick could be a more easy-going cousin to Justin. It’s very interesting.

I’m getting a new, 5 shelf oak bookcase on Tuesday. Can’t wait. Then I can bring more books back out of storage.

On, in response to all your helpful comments about how to stop the mail tampering – building management knows it’s happening and doesn’t care. The perpetrator claims he’s doing it at their instruction. It is simply another tactic o their part to drive people out of the building. Management has been talked to about this for months. Now, it’s time to bring in the feds. When one or more of their people are arrested, maybe they’ll realize we mean business.

Now, some quality time with my mother, and some writing time.

Devon

Published in: on May 11, 2008 at 6:39 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: ,

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

I’m back. I lived a lifetime in a few days, and had my hands full with my elderly relatives and their primary care person, who was also under the weather. Unfortunately, I can’t go into details without invading their privacy, much as I would like your opinions on some of the events. Let’s just say it was – and is – complicated.

We had some beautiful days, though. I managed to stop for awhile at one of the Ongonquit beaches. On another day, I drove up to Naples and around Long Lake and Sebago Lake. Just gorgeous.

I stopped at three great restaurants: Amore Breakfast in Ongonquit, The Stone Dog Café in North Windham, and my old favorite, The Egg and I, in Ogonquit. Of course, we stopped at The Stonewall Kitchen to stock up. They have a new Roasted Apple grilling sauce that’s wonderful, and a Mango Lime Salsa. Plus, I needed the Garlic Teriyaki and the Wasabi Ginger sauces.

I continued reading Will in the World, and taking notes for the various projects it feeds. It truly is one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. The author, Shakespearean scholar Stephan Greenblatt, has a play he co-wrote, Cardenio, opening at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge. I’d like to get up there to see it. It’s only running until June 8, and I’m not sure I can get up there within the time frame, but I’d like to.

I was disappointed in two other books I took up with me. Both were by authors I don’t know personally, but whose work I’ve read before, and who I understand from others are lovely people. Both sell very well, and I respect what they’ve achieved in the business. One author’s work I’d read before and liked; the other’s work I’d read before and it exasperated me, due to the lack of research and believability. The attitude that came across to me was, “well, I’m writing fiction, so who cares? I’m supposed to make it up.” I thought maybe I’d been unfair and should give Author #2 another chance with my money and time. Won’t make that mistake again. The ideas were fun, but poorly executed. The work took place overseas, and it was obviously she got her info from the tourist board and something like Wikipedia. There was no sense of anything unique about it – it was advertorial travel babble, not a true sense of place. And, while I thought some of the ideas were clever, the execution was poor. I know this author sells A LOT, but, although some of the ideas are clever and fun, I find the writing sloppy and all the protagonists and antagonists always sound exactly the same, no matter from which country they supposedly originate. There’s no cadence, there’s no individuality in either people or place. And it drives me nuts.

At least there weren’t any typos. That author has a good copyeditor!

The other book, by the author whose work I previously liked, was an even bigger disappointment. Again, some interesting ideas. But I loathed the female protagonist. There was absolutely no reason for me to give a damn whether or not she survived, much less succeeded in her quest. I hated her and wished she’d be killed off. She was weak, stupid, and selfish, and, when she had shown zero growth by the midpoint of the book and zero potential for it, I put the book down.

But no typos. 😉

I did read the last chapter to see if I should go back and read the second half of the book – couldn’t be bothered. Ick. Which is a shame, because I’ve really enjoyed other work by this author. It doesn’t put me off the author, unless the next few books alienate me as well. I think writers should write whatever they want to explore, and not every book is going to please every reader. It is the writer’s right to follow the vision. Once I’ve decided I like a writer, it usually takes several books to alienate me.

I got more writing done than I expected, which is good. Of course, none of it was on what I planned to work. It was an idea I had while in Maine, and Maine is practically a character in it. It means doing some research on the natural history of Maine, but that will be fun.

I also got some ideas for a new Fearless Ink brochure, which I will sketch out and work on this week. I found some places for whom I’d really like to write on this trip, but I need a new brochure, and I think I’m out of business cards.

The mail tampering in this building has gotten out of control. It’s time to bring in the US Postal Inspectors. I had someone stop by to pick up the mail every day I was gone after work – and by the time the person got here, the mail that didn’t fit into the boxes had been tossed. I’ve talked to management over and over and OVER about this, and we have an eyewitness to the perpetrator, who was spoken to about the fact that removing someone’s mail is a felony. His response was to shrug, walk away, and keep doing it. Time to bring in the feds. I put up a poster provided by the post office with the consequences of mail tampering and it was ripped off the wall during the day. Gee, wonder who’s doing it? Three guesses, bet you’ll get it in one. I’m going to keep printing them and keep putting them up. It is my right, as it is my right to have un-tampered mail. I should not have to pay for a post office box because building employees are thieves. I warned building management what the consequences would be of ignoring this situation; now it’s time to show them I’m serious.

Yesterday was a raw, rainy, cold day, so of course I was running around like crazy and got soaked to the skin. I’d had to cancel out of a few things because of complications in Maine and here at the building. But I was still running around enough to be soaked to the skin.

On the up side, I stopped in a bookstore because I wanted something different. I wanted new-to-me authors and something I wasn’t being paid to read.

I picked up two books. One, Summers at Castle Auburn, is by one of my favorite authors, Sharon Shinn. The other is an anthology called Misspelled, edited by a new-to-me author (with an amazing track record) named Julie E. Czerneda. I started reading it on the train, and all I have to say is:

WOW!

What a great, witty, charming, intelligent, inventive collection of stories! I can’t wait to go to the bookstore and get more by these authors. I sat down and read the whole anthology late last night and into this morning, cover to cover. I liked every single story in it, but my favorites were “Trippingly off the Tongue” by Lesley Livingston, “8 rms, full bsmt” by Kristine Smith, “Chafing the Bogyman” by Kristen Britain,, “A Perfect Circle” by Kent Pollard, and “Crosscut” by S.W. Mayse (every writer should read this one). It was actually hard to pick these, because I liked all the stories so much. The first two mentioned particularly enchanted me. Livingston either just had a novel come out, or one is coming out this summer, and I’ll definitely buy it. I don’t want to tell authors what to write (hating it so much myself), but I hope Kristine Smith does more with her story’s characters. I can’t stand golf and Kristen Britain’s story still captured me. I don’t game or know anything about gaming, but Pollard’s story was so well written it hooked and carried me. All of the stories are worth reading – the inventiveness, the quality of writing, the flashes of humor!

Bookstore, here I come!

What a great way to end the week!

Tons of errands to run this morning, and bills to pay. And then I have to buckle down and have a very productive writing weekend. Deadlines are looming, some new contracts came in, and next month’s bills will be here before I want them.

A new idea sprang fully formed into my head. I’ll make some notes on it, and put it in the queue.

Devon

Quick Check-In

I’m still not where I can effectively blog today; I hope to catch up tomorrow or Sunday.

It feels like I’ve been away for weeks, not days. That doesn’t mean things are bad, just . . .complicated.

I got more writing done than I expected, in spite of providing almost ’round the clock elder care . . .but, of course, it wasn’t on what I “should have” been writing.

On the fly here, gotta go, will check back in and get back to my usual routine — I hope — over the weekend.

Just wanted to reassure everyone that I’m still . . .well, KICKING. 😉

Don’t ask what or who I am kicking, just be glad I’m still kicking . . .;)

Devon

Published in: on May 9, 2008 at 8:18 am  Comments (6)  

Didn’t want to leave on such a down note . . .

. . .on the up side, in spite of this trip being difficult, the weather is supposed to be gorgeous, I’m taking up a good deal of reading and writing, AND the yoga mat.

It looks like I landed the script job, so, if that’s really worked out and we go to contract. . .I’ll be starting that in a day or two. While I’m on the road.

And I want to get the first draft of anthology story done, too.

Devon

Published in: on May 5, 2008 at 10:44 am  Comments (11)  

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008
New Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

It feels as though my soul is sick. That’s the only way I can describe it, because this is far more than just physical exhaustion. It feels as though the whole weight of the last three years, which started with my mom’s accident and the Evil Developers trying to drive everyone into the street just hit me with a wallop.

However, people tend to be kind if you allow it, and I’m certainly allowing people to be kind right now. All of you are lovely, and several clients and potential clients understand that I will be out of touch most of this week, dealing with family matters.

The coward in me doesn’t want to go to Maine to face the inevitable, but I know I would always regret it if I didn’t go.

I slept most of the day yesterday, but was, basically, non-functional. I packed, and my writing bag is almost packed. I hope that the pleasure I always take in the journey will give me strength so I can take care of my grandmother and everyone else who needs to be taken care of once I get up there.

Wrote and got out my post-Derby article, with a few choice words for those who want to ban the sport. Because, as usual, those who screech the loudest have no suggestions for the care of the tens of thousands of horses who would be left homeless by such a ban. If you’re going to pretend to be an activist, take an active part in coming up with solutions, not just standing on a soap box making proclamations.

Celayne, I understand your disagreement. But, like the rest, you did not offer a solution. Have you ever spent any time around thoroughbred barns? Have you ever seen the interaction between the horse and the trainer, the horse and its jockey, and, especially, the horse and the groom? At least 10,000 thoroughbreds are foaled per year. Horses live between 20-30 years, and it takes a couple of thousand dollars per week to feed and house them. If an immediate ban were put on the sport, the majority would be sent to slaughterhouses and turned into dog food, because there’s no one to feed them and care for them. You have dogs, Celeyne. Chances are good that if you feed them purchased food instead of preparing your own that you’re feeding them race horses that have been sent to the slaughterhouse once they stopped earning their keep. Most dog food has horsemeat in it. It doesn’t say so on the can, but do a little research on your particular brand. Even some of the so-called “natural” foods use horse meat as their main source. Where do you think that comes from? Not from horses that died natural deaths. What solution do you propose? What, personally, do you intend to do to manifest change? How many of those horses are you personally willing to take on? How many ex-racehorses have you adopted? Now, I don’t have one sitting in the parking lot, but horse charities are where the majority of my donations go. In other words, although I don’t keep one in the courtyard, I do pay money every month towards keeping rescued and retired racehorses fed and alive. If I had a farm and the income, I’d have a facility for rescued/injured/retired thoroughbreds. That’s one of my dreams. Along with a financial plan to make sure they aren’t sold to slaughter once I die. But to simply ban the sport without having a plan IN PLACE to care for these thousands of animals is a larger act of cruelty than to try to fix the sport from the inside.

I’m about to take the car in for its 10K check-up. Barely a year old, and already 10K! Gas is now between $4.29 and $4.69 a gallon up here. Bush just keeps letting his friends economically rape us, and he just sits back and giggles. If I can come up with at least a dozen viable solutions to ease the pain at the pump, the government should be able to come up and implement twice as many. But Bush will never see his buddies make less than a double billion figure profit, no matter how much of this country descends into poverty and recession. Because it doesn’t affect him personally, he has the ability to ignore any reality he doesn’t like, and he simply does not care, as long as he gets to play President and do as he darn well pleases, getting stroked by big business.

I’m off line most of this week, up in Maine, taking care of my grandmother. I will check in when I get back.

Devon

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 May 5, 2008 at 6:27 am  Comments (8)  

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday, May 4, 2008
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Nothing like waking up on Derby Day with a migraine. And I mean the Anytime-you-want-to-stop-jabbing-that-icepick-in-my-eye-
would-be-great migraine.

Skipping out was not an option.

To backtrack a bit: The show was fine Friday night. I said my farewells to the actor who’s leaving the show (while I’m covering the Preakness). I was surprised he remembered that it was our last show together, but he did. Hopefully, our paths will cross again – he’s one of the good ones, both on and off stage. I’ll probably send something over to his opening night this summer.

Finished The Summoner. It follows high fantasy quest tradition, and it does so well. There’s some wonderfully imaginative and inventive stuff in there. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. There were a few lapses of logic I found difficult to roll with, but perhaps they were set deliberately in order to set up something in a future book. And the copy editor should be fired. It is inexcusable that a book on the store shelves should mix up “where” and “were” AND have such a high rate of typos. I was furious, especially on behalf of the author, who I am sure pointed all of these out in the galleys. Obviously, the manuscript was only run through spell check and a copy editor didn’t actually sit there and read it. The amount of mistakes in books lately is truly, truly appalling. When I pay full price for a book, I expect all the steps in the production process to be taken, and I expect the book to be free of typos.

Yesterday morning, I had to go grocery shopping before the race card began because I needed cat food and had to make the stuff for the party.

I had trouble getting going, though. I was overtired, which meant I couldn’t retain body heat, so I was freezing and shivering. Rethought my clothing and opted for something warmer, but still spent most of the day wrapped in a horse’s blanket (don’t ask, really, my on-site colleagues are going to be teasing me about it until I’m ninety).

I got some potentially positive responses to some ads I recently answered, so that’s sorted. Llewellyn’s hired me for a 2010 calendar piece. That’s sorted. I may be working for a travel site. I’m up for a script job. All good.

I was late getting to the races because I received bad news from a friend that another close friend’s father died last night. So I wanted to see what I could do.

The races were quite interesting, for the most part, and, prediction-wise, I did pretty well.

Although I had Big Brown in my picks as a safety, I honestly didn’t think he’d keep his head together enough to win. The fact that he did indicates he could very well be one of the “freak” horses.

The tragedy of the day was the death of Eight Belles. As the day progressed, I fell more and more in love with her: Her beauty, her poise, her intelligence. She was radiant. I went from thinking she’d finish ninth or tenth in the Derby to believing she could be in the top three.

She came in second – then fell, breaking both front ankles, and had to be euthanized on the track. Completely heartbreaking. But, it’s about time the general public see the dark side of horse racing, with both Barbaro’s accident two years ago and this one. Positive change will not come in this sport, and certainly not quickly enough, unless tens of thousands of people realize what’s going on.

Banning horse racing is not, in my opinion, the answer. Banning the sport would result in tens of thousands of horses going to the slaughterhouse, which is certainly worse than what’s happening now. The price of dog food would go down, but it would be an equine holocaust.

But changes need to be made over a period of months, not decades, which is how long it’s been taking. The well-being of both horses and jockeys needs to be taken more seriously by the industry as a whole. Individual trainers and owners are doing what they can do, but until the rules change – and they haven’t, for the most part, since the 1800’s – the mortality rate will continue to rise.

Unfortunately, it’s corporations making the profits in the sport, not the individual owners, trainers, and jockeys who actually take the risk. And, as in the rest of our society, the corporate executives don’t care as long as they can make obscene amounts of money to pay off their wives and sustain their mistresses.

Until the corporate culture is destroyed, our society, as a whole, is going down the road of Rome. And we all see how well that turned out.

Only our ruins won’t last for centuries.

I was not in the mood for a party after the races. I came home and was in bed by 8:30. I stayed in bed for nearly twelve hours. Not always asleep – I was plagued by bad dreams. But exhausted. And I don’t feel much better today.

I’m sad: sad for Eight Belles; sad for the deaths of my friends’ parents over the last few weeks; sad because my grandmother is getting worse.

I have an article and a review to write. And then I have to finish packing for Maine. The next few weeks are going to be busy, some good, some difficult.

On a positive side, as I was driving to and from the grocery store yesterday, I got an aha! moment as far as Yuri’s Tale: Gunslinger Cole Larkin’s backstory was revealed to me, and I’m starting to figure out the structure. This book is certainly a challenge. Not in a bad way, but a challenge.

All I want to go is to go back to bed, but I’ve got work to do before I leave for Maine.

Devon

Racing Ink

My regular daily “Ink in My Coffee” post is below. Scroll down if that’s what you’re looking for.

However, if you want to read my race picks, stay here.

Today, Friday, there are two races at Churchill Downs on which I’ll bet. In the first race, I like Fancy Fusaichi and Tactical Warning (both across the board). In the 10th, the Kentucky Oaks, if both Proud Spell and Eight Belles run, I’ll bet them both across the board and in a boxed exacta. Eight Belles is also scheduled to run in tomorrow’s Derby. If she scratches from the Oaks, I’ll pick another horse in the post parade, but keep Proud Spell across the board.

Saturday’s Race Card at Churchill Downs:

Race 1:
Biker Boy is scheduled to run on Friday, but if he doesn’t, I’ll bet him here. I also like Bullet Rain and Sale Pending. I’ll probably bet all three across the board. Communicated will be a post parade decision – it’s a John Velazquez/Todd Pletcher partnership and I don’t want to dismiss it without one last look at the horse.

Race 2:
Most of my bets today will be across the board. I’m doing it again in this race with Sly Storm, Loving Vindication, and BR’s Girl. My longshot show bet here is Belle Roja. I like Stealing Kisses, but not sure she can triumph in this field. I’ll make the final decision on her in the post.

Race 3:
Spin Master across the board. Forty Grams to place or show if he looks amazing.

Race 4:
I’ll probably sit this one out. I’ll look at Cherokee Artist and Chris Got Even, but they will have to really impress me for me to spend money on them rather than a cocktail.


Race 5: Churchill Downs Stakes:

Looks like it’s time for another cocktail. I’ll look at the long shot Island Warrior and 5/1 shot Elite Squadron (because JV’s on him) in the paddock, but probably sit this one out, too.

Race 6: La Troienne Grade 3 Stakes:

Game Face across the board – that’s what she has, and it’s JV/Pletcher.
Secret Gypsy to place and show.
I want to look at Informed Decision because Jonathan Sheppard is the trainer. I want to look at Keep the Peace because Edgar Prado’s the jockey. If they were teamed, this would not be a decision, but they’re not, so I want to see the horses first.
My long shot pick for this race is Tiz To Dream at 30-1 for a show bet.

Race7: Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Grade 3:
Dreaming of Anna is the favorite here; if the jockey was different, I’d be more inclined to favor her. I’ll look at her in the paddock. If she’s in a good mood and looks sharp, I’ll bet her. If she frets, I may skip her.
I like Sharp Susan and Danzon (JV/Pletcher) across the board. I’m going to take a look at Bayou Lassie (Dale Romans trainer, Edgar Prado up) for a place or show spot. Ventura looks like a pretty safe bet to get in the top four somewhere, but my longshot will be VIP Princess at 50-1 for a show spot, unless she fusses in a bad way in the paddock.

Race 8: Humana Distaff Grade 1:
Sugar Swirl has low odds, but I’m not familiar with her racing style, so I’ll have to wait and see how she looks. Hystericalady, Miss Macy Sue, and Miraculous Miss are all old favorites. I’ll probably go across the board with those three and maybe toss them into a few boxed exactas or a boxed trifecta. Change It Up will probably be my longshot show bet at 15-1. I’m surprised that Baroness Thatcher’s odds are 10-1 – I would have expected them to be shorter. She disappointed me the last time I bet her, so she will have to really impress me to win me back.

Race 9: Woodford Reserve Turf Grade 1:
War Monger across the board. Einstein to place and show. Duveen and Artiste Royal to show. I want to look at the Irish horse Golden Balls, who’s the current favorite. He should like the turf, so he’s worth some money unless he has a very bad day.


Race 10: The Kentucky Derby Grade 1:

Big Brown is the favorite. He’s also got the outside post. He’s going to have to be a Freak horse to keep his poise, not wear himself out early, and win. If he was in the middle post position, I’d throw him out, because I think he’d freak the minute he got squished. I think the outside post helps him, but he’s going to have to move that big butt of his awfully fast AND not run out of steam to win this. Will Kent tuck him to the rail, if he can? Will that make BB feel more confident, or will the pressure of 19 horses to his right upset him too much? Will he lather in the post, like he did in his previous race – because, while it worked last time out, one needs a heck of a lot more stamina in this one. I will probably bet him across the board as a safety bet, but I have my doubts. But then, I was wrong about Street Sense last year, so . . .
Pyro and Gayego are still my favorites, and will get bet across the board. If Eight Belles winds up running here instead of in Friday’s Oaks, I will place a show bet on her, even though I believe she will come in ninth or tenth. Because I’ll support the filly. Tale of Ekati and Cowboy Cal are my longshots, with at least show money going towards them. I think Big Truck will try very hard (he’s a wonderful horse), but I don’t think this is his race. If it rains, Visionaire gets into my picks; and I’ll probably box him with Gayego. If it’s dry, I’m on the fence about him. To my surprise, Smooth Air is running, in spite of being sick last week. I’ll pass. Colonel John’s gotten a lot of good press, but I’m on the fence about him, too. Court Vision is growing on me – we’ll see how he looks. Behindatthebar didn’t make it in. Maybe we’ll get to see him in the Preakness. I’m staying away from exotics in this race because I think the field is too inconsistent.

Race 11:
Sonoma Cat across the board. Tiz Now Tiz Then for place and show. MapMaker to show and Lemon Custard to show.

Race 12:
Maiara and Pious Ashley across the board. I think Quiet Mover and Syrup both have the potential to be upset horses here, so they’ll get at least show money.

Tune in to FemmeFan (www.femmefan.com) next week for the Derby wrap-up, with commentary on hits and misses. If you want to tips on how to bet a horse, I have an article up on my website:
www.devonellingtonwork.com/betahorse.html

Have a great Derby day!

Published in: on May 2, 2008 at 11:23 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: ,