Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cooler, but still pretty hot and humid

Yesterday was a day of brown-outs, short power outages, and general mayhem. It’s really less stressful to just have the damn power off for a chunk of time than to have it off and on and off and on and off and on and then try to coax the appliances back to life, only to have everything melt down ten minutes later.

I learned that, when the power goes on, you have to turn the modem box off and on to get back online. Wouldn’t it be nice if they’d included that in the manual?

In between power outages, I worked on my paperwork for the State, which should be ready to go later today, and finished the post-Belmont article, which I finally managed to get to my editor after 11 PM. Not sure if it’ll go up this week or next week.

I have to do a calendar article for Llewellyn. My editor told me June 15, my contract says July 15, but I bet they mean June, so I’ll do it this weekend and have it waiting for him on Monday. It’s for 2010, and supposed to be about 1700 words, which isn’t too bad. Nothing like writing ahead.

I’d hoped the headache would dissipate once the storms started, but no, it’s a full-blown migraine. My fellow migraine sufferers know that that means – periods of dull throbbing interspersed with periods of the ice-pick-going-through-the-eye sensation. Sylvia, I’ve tried chiropractic work for the headaches and for me, it didn’t work (although it does for a lot of people). Acupuncture is better, but, unfortunately, I can’t always get treatments in between my regular appointments. I’m going to take something today, and then probably valerian root tonight – I hesitated before, since I felt I had to be awake and alert in case Con Ed needed me to do something.

No sign of the superintendent yesterday, at all. Wonder if he went ahead and quit? It’s obvious he doesn’t like us anymore than we like him – why should everyone be miserable? I’m sure the scumbags aren’t paying him enough to make it worthwhile. The construction in the apartment next door (because heaven forbid they work to FINISH the lobbies, which have been torn up for weeks now) was so intense that my pot rack fell right off the wall. Lids were spinning through the air like Frisbees (dangerous) and the cats dived for cover. Lucky, only a few plants lost the tops of their heads.

I have to make up for everything I didn’t get done yesterday. The heat and humidity, coupled with the migraine, really knocked me for a loop. Back to SIDEKICK, the MATILDA MURDERS revision, the query to the major magazine, and the ebook. I figure if I work steadily in short bursts throughout the day, I should get things done.

I’m at a tricky scene in the adaptation. A tentative title is ENTERING ALLIANCES. I’m playing with it for awhile to see if it fits. I liked it yesterday, but today it looks odd. I need to find a better word than “entering”. There are all sorts of alliances shaped and re-shaped in the course of the story, so I want to keep the “alliances” part. I have to play with it. This section is one of political maneuvering, which my protag just hates, but has to do in order to get herself and those she’s drawn to her out of the current mess. The antag is in the morgue, but he’s going to vanish from it. But he is alive or dead? You’ll have to read it when it’s published to find out! 😉

I figured out how to make YURI’S TALE back into “Yuri’s Tale”, so it can stand alone, as can the other stories told from various characters’ POV in this setting. Each one can be read without any of the others; but when you put them all together, they will form the puzzle pieces of a bigger overall story. No prologue, no alternating points of view – stand-alone stories from different characters in this situation. That feels right.

I’m waiting for some checks to come through, which is never fun, and I need to get more pitches out, and work on my brochure. Plus, I have some other correspondence to get out and a monologue to write. Plenty to do – it’s up to me to use the time wisely.

The “bitter” post I worked on a few days ago is irrelevant – aren’t you glad? But I still have a bad case of the post-Cape blues.

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 June 11, 2008 at 6:39 am  Comments (6)  
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Power Problems — June 10

We’re having massive power problems here, so this will be a relatively short post that I’ll try to get up before the next outage.

I was going to write a post on bitterness, but by late yesterday afternoon, bitter was long gone and I was furious.

First of all, the Con Ed executives lied to all of us last week when they said they were ready for this. Not a surprise, but they must be held accountable. The people who are doing the actual work at Con Ed are great, but the executives need to feel a cleated boot in their backsides. In addition to all of them being removed and replaced with competent people, the rate hike they got (with, as a condition, that we would not face the same problems faced in previous years) should be rolled back. Their job is to provide the power THAT IS NEEDED, not to keep taking money and keep ruining people’s small businesses and lives.

Second, our horrible new super not only didn’t report the outage to Con Ed, but walked away from the building at 5 PM, even though we are in the middle of a construction zone with NO SAFETY LIGHTS (which means, since doors have been removed, people could fall down the stairs into the basement into the holes in the floor or get impaled on partially constructed walls), saying, “Tenants need to learn how to take care of themselves.”

And we are paying you exactly why?

I wound up being point person with Con Ed, on the phone with them every hour, and when the big trucks with the floodlights rolled up at 2 AM – the cats thought it was fun. Me . . .not so much. Glad to see them, glad to get power back, but . ..

I ate my first Creamsicle yesterday – why didn’t anyone tell me how good those were?

Sitting by candlelight wasn’t bad (I’ve worked by candlelight before). I had batteries for the radio, got Chinese take-out for dinner, used the portable emergency light I have to read LIFE’S COMPANION. I’d forgotten how good it is – I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interesting in diaries, journals, the writing process, the creative process in general.

I’ve been trying to read a biography of Germaine de Stael (yes, I’m missing the umlaut over the last “e”, but I can’t make it take). It’s so poorly written I can’t stand it.

I’ve kept the cats cool by using cool, wet washcloths on their footpads (since they can’t sweat, shouldn’t pant, and heat and cool via the feet). The twins think I’m crazy, but Elsa kind of likes it.

The Belmont wrap-up will be in next week’s issue of FEMMEFAN, not this week’s. I’m behind on the plays, and on everything else. Oh, well.

I’ll lose most of the day filing paperwork with the State (provided the power stays on long enough for me to do so). If the power goes out again, I’ll head to Greenwich Library – they offer me sanctuary. I can get some work done there, or just sit around in the air conditioning and read.

I managed to get the work for Confidential Job #1 done before the outage and also get some research done for some other stuff.

Massive migraine this morning, due to heat exhaustion and stress, but what can you do? I have to stave it off until what needs to be done is done and then I’ll take a long nap. Hopefully in air-conditioned comfort.

Hope all of you in storm areas are safe, and the rest of you aren’t sweltering.

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 June 10, 2008 at 6:30 am  Comments (11)  
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Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Hazy, hot, humid, ick

Well, it was quite a weekend. There was that huge upset in the Belmont Stakes – my wrap-up will be up later this week on FEMMEFAN.

Yesterday, I headed in to the city early. I’d booked brunch in the dining room of the Morgan Library, on Madison Ave. at 36th St. for myself and a friend in from the UK. Lori, we had lunch in the Café that time – next time, we eat in the dining room – it’s magnificent! Then we wandered around the exhibits for a bit. I want that three-level library for my very own. I headed back out to finish the work for Confidential Job #1 and work on SIDEKICK a bit – not much done on the latter.

There was no air conditioning on the train coming back out, so I was pretty cooked by the time I got back. Unbelievable – they run the air conditioning all winter, when it’s below freezing outside, but half the time don’t have it on in summer. Metro North is the most incompetent train line I’ve ever encountered, in all my traveling around the world. Even “Great Western” , the line that runs to Cornwall in the UK, that I nicknamed “Worst Western” when I was there – better than Metro North.

And, of course, Con Ed lied like rugs, as they usually do. They got an obscene 17% rate hike and SWORE they were prepared for this heat wave. They weren’t. Power outages in the five boroughs and CT. Someone really should set their executives’ pants on fire for all their lying, at least metaphorically speaking. Or, better yet, roll back the rate hike. Make them earn it.

Got more stuff out of the storage unit in the city. I don’t know how I’m going to manage to consolidate everything within this month. But it’s nice to get some of my stuff back. One of the books I pulled out of a box is Christina Baldwin’s LIFE’S COMPANION, one of the best books out there on journal writing.

I have a couple of errands to run this morning while it’s still in the 90’s, before it hits 100. I have a Plan B in case the power goes out. And then, it’s to work on the Belmont wrap-up article, the write-up for Confidential Job #1, more work on SIDEKICK, and finishing the revision on THE MATILDA MURDERS. And a proposal out to a high-paying magazine for whom I want to work. I read several issues this weekend, and have come up with some ideas that I think are within their scope.

Supposedly, I’m short-listed for this Canadian job, but I’m not convinced it’s a good fit.

I have to prep for the NHL Draft that’s happening in less than two weeks.

Good morning’s work on the Adaptation. It’s flowing well again, and I’ve come up with some plot twists that are intriguing to me. I look forward to exploring them.

Off into the heat so I can get back before what’s left of my brain broils.

Stay cool!

Devon

Adaptation: 51,126 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
51 / 90
(56.7%)

Devon’s Bookstore:


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

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


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 June 9, 2008 at 7:40 am  Comments (7)  
Tags: , , , ,

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Quick post, because I’m on my way out the door.

Big Brown’s race in the Belmont was a disappointment to many; I’m sure there will be lots of second-guessing, but the bottom line is that no one who’s not with the horse every day will really know what’s going on, and the second-guessing causes unnecessary pain and suffering to those close to the horse. I just hope the horse is okay and they find whatever caused him not to fire. Da’Tara had moved up, after Casino Drive’s scratch, as my place pick, but I sure never expected him to wire the race. What a beautiful job.

The yapping’s already started that 3 races in 5 weeks is “too hard” — it’s supposed to be hard, you idiots. If it was easy and we had a Triple Crown Winner every year, it would lose all meanings.

Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I worried about the horse? Yes. Am I surprised? Not particularly.

Sad to hear of Jim McKay’s death — I grew up watching his broadcasts.

I’ve hit the ground running for another busy day. The heat and humidity are ridiculous. I’m drinking so much water I slosh when I walk.

Devon

Published in: on June 8, 2008 at 6:39 am  Comments (4)  
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Racing Ink June 6-7, 2008

The regular “Ink in My Coffee” post is below this one; scroll down if that’s the one you want.

If you want my racing picks for today and tomorrow at Belmont Park, read on here.

Friday, June 6:
I’m betting on three races on today’s card, in spite of what looks to be gloomy weather.

Race 5: The Argentinean-bred horse Harbinger, trained by David Donk, ridden by John Velazquez, because of Donk and JV, and Chobe, the Christophe Clemente-trained horse. Across the board and boxed exacta.

Race 9: Brooklyn Handicap
Sightseeing, with Edgar Prado up, across the board. I loved this horse in his three-year old last year, and I continue to enjoy him.
I’m also going to bet Evening Attire, a ten-year-old gelding of whom I’ve been fond of, whether he wins or not, since he was three or four. I’ll bet him to place and show.
I want to take a look at the Pletcher/JV horse Nite Light for the possible win spot.

Race 10: The Hill Prince Stakes
Spark Candle, who was my pick in the pre-Belmont gossip as the possible upset horse, was entered in this race instead of tomorrow’s Belmont Stakes. So he’s my pick, across the board.

Saturday, June 7, Belmont Stakes Day:

Race 1:
Commandeered, Desert Key, Forest of Dreams, but not sure yet in what order.

Race 2:
Tiz It – across the board.

Race 3:
The David Donk-trained Smart Enuf — across the board.

Race 4:
Teide, Firejack, Forefathers – probably in this order, but may reshuffle them paddock-side.

Race 5:
I’m going to take a look at Too Tough Pete and Benny the Waiter to see how I want to bet them. I also want to put a show bet on a 30-1 longshot called Prince Dubai, because it’s trained by Leah Gyamati, whose style I love, and ridden by Channing Hill, who could get a sawhorse over the finish line.

Race 6 – True North Handicap:

Thor’s Echo – across the board
Probably add in a boxed exact with Benny the Bull (not to be confused with Benny the Waiter in the previous race).

Race 7: Just a Game Stakes:
With fillies and mares, a paddock decision is always best. On paper, I’m looking at Vacare (trained by Clemente) and Criminologist (ridden by JV) first. Sharp Susan is in here at unusually long odds, so I may try to make some money with her if she looks, well, sharp. The French-bred Lady of Venice, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and ridden by Edgar Prado is also worth a look.

Race 8 – Acorn Stakes:

Indian Blessing, Game Face, and Zaftig across the board. Game Face is my personal favorite horse of the three, but Indian Blessing just might beat her this time out.

Race 9 – Woody Stephens:
I’m going to make win and place choices in the post parade, but my show choice is Majestic Warrior.

Race 10 – Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap:

Shakis is at shockingly long odds, 10-1, in this race, so I’ll try to make some money on him.
I’m betting my nine-year-old buddy Better Talk Now across the board. We’ve had our ups and downs, betting-wise, and I’m not going to abandon him now.
Pays to Dream, the David Donk horse who did so well on Preakness Day undercard, is a choice across the board.
I’m going to look at Shake the Bank for a show spot.

Race 11 – The Belmont Stakes:
Big Brown across the board. I’m worried about him, I think they’ll try to trap him at the rail and trip him up, but I’m hoping he and Kent keep their cool in heinously hot weather and take down the field. I want a Triple Crown winner. And I’d like to see Big Brown be the one.
Casino Drive is also an across the board bet for me. This horse fascinates me, especially since we haven’t had a chance to see much of his personality, just his determination.
Boxed exacta with the above two.
I’m sticking with Icabad Crane and Tale of Ekati for show bets. I might also throw some show money at either Da’Tara or Ready’s Echo.

Race 12:
My Dream Tomorrow – across the board.

Race 13:
Law Enforcement or Ferocious Won for the win spot.
Lights of Broadway to place.
The Truffle Man – another 30-1 shot trained by Gyamati and ridden by Hill to show.

Have a great racing day, stay cool, stay hydrated, and let’s hope all horses and jockeys come home safely.

The wrap-up of this card will appear on FemmeFan next week.

Devon

Published in: on June 6, 2008 at 9:26 am  Comments (1)  
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Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and humid

The Racing Ink post will be up shortly, handicapping all the races on the Belmont Stakes day card.

I have a lovely small wreath now on my door out of artificial ivy with small flowers on it, and, hanging below it, my bagua mirror. The bagua mirror I bought to replace the one that smashed thanks to all the building chaos kept falling off the new doors, which have been treated with something so that nothing sticks to them. However, by hanging it, I have it where it needs to be. And, since the building chaos is getting worse – I’m taking every precaution I can. I was really twitchy without the bagua mirror on my front door.

Good grocery shopping. I have to be careful, since food prices have shot up so much, but I love grocery shopping, so I see what’s on sale and then create menus in my head and go for it. I can’t wait to have a garden. Can you imagine having basil, tomato, and mozzarella snacks when the basil and tomato are fresh out of the garden?

Sent my response to the potential Canadian client. Ball’s in his court now, so we’ll see. It’s an intriguing project, but I want to make sure there’s a solid contract before I commit to anything. And, I might not be what they’re looking for.

The first act of SIDEKICK is almost done. I’m having a ton of fun with it. It’s a wacky little play, another interactive mystery, but this one is the most comic of the three.

My remaining editor on Confidential Job #1 asked me not to quit. I told him that I would stay put . . .for now.

Dashed into the city to pick up my check and drop off the salt water taffy I brought back from the Cape for the show. It was fun to see everyone, and a friend I haven’t seen in two years is also swinging there this summer, so it’ll be a good chance for us to catch up.

There’s more building chaos – what else is new? At least more people are getting fed up and wanting to take action.

I’ve got some errands to run, and some on-site work today, but most of the day will be spent writing and preparing for tomorrow’s Belmont Stakes day.

Good morning’s work on the adaptation. The ending is completely different from the screenplay, and now I’ve got to create a bunch of new material that wasn’t in the screenplay, because it needs to be fleshed out. I also realized I have to deal with the issue of language. I did it in EARTH BRIDE in a very specific way, but I want to deal with it differently here.

I need to pull out the old Latin textbooks, because so much of the science reading I’m doing for upcoming projects uses Latin terminology. It’s been years since I took Latin in high school, and I need to brush up.

I’ve also got a friend in from the UK, so I’ve got to find a good place in the city for us to eat brunch. A friend gave me a good suggestion yesterday – I’ll probably take it.

Gotta run – Racing Ink will be up in a few hours.

Devon

Adaptation: 47,875 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
47 / 90
(52.2%)

Devon’s Bookstore:


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

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


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

Published in: on June 6, 2008 at 7:23 am  Comments (6)  
Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and warm

I’ll attempt to make this a short post, so if you haven’t had time to read yesterday’s marathon-length post, you can finish!

I’m putting together my press list for HEX BREAKER, and looking at “stuff” – because, once there’s cover art, there will be “stuff” to give away, and yes, dear hearts, you’ll all get the chance at some. I want to find some fun stuff that’s also relevant to the story. Thanks, Jackie – I’m looking at the company you recommended. And I’m working on permutations of an overall press release that can be sent hither and yon, depending upon the needed angle.

I’m also working on my new Fearless Ink brochure – between the trip to Maine and the trip to the Cape, I have, probably close to 250 new prospects that need a brochure, business cards, and a kick ass letter for a direct mail.

I looked back at the job listings put up while I was gone. 95% are simply insulting. Therefore, it is time for me to do a direct mail piece targeted towards places for whom I really want to work, and convincing them that their business will grow oh-so-much better with me.

This all helps fight the inevitable crash of coming back from an excellent trip. Bad case of the blues. The cats were happy I was home, but I wanted to be back on the Cape. Preferably, moving my belongings into my new home.

One of my editors at Confidential Job #1 was fired – this is the same company that recently cut our rates. If they fire the other editor, I’m giving my notice. It’s unacceptable to start treating people the way they are. I may leave anyway, if it becomes too much work for too little money. You can bet the top-level executives didn’t take a pay cut – why should we? We’re the ones doing the actual work. I’m devastated – these are two of the best editors with whom I’ve ever worked.

Got some work done on the adaptation this morning, and am getting ready to dive into the rest.

Amy, I’ve written for the Llewellyn calendars and almanacs for nearly 13 years now, and I learned most of the retrograde information from the other authors there. The almanacs and the calendars have great information. For general astrology information, I found the best-written book THE ONLY ASTROLOGY BOOK YOU’LL EVER NEED by Joanne Martine Woolfolk. I also have a book called RETROGRADE PLANETS; TRAVERSING THE INNER LANDSCAPE by Erin Sullivan. It’s very good, but my personal experience with tracking how retrogrades manifest in my life is a little more wide-ranging and not as absolute as the book indicates. Sullivan also wrote another interesting book called THE ASTROLOGY OF FAMILY DYNAMICS. Weiser Books published both.

Okay, must dash out and buy cat food, and then get back to work. I got an interesting nibble from a prospective employer in Canada – we need to talk further. It sounds a little too good to be true, but I don’t want to assume anything without a complete picture. I don’t want to get so jaded I never give anyone the benefit of the doubt. I’ll talk further before making any decisions.

Belmont Stakes coming up Saturday. Tomorrow I’ll have the entire race card handicapped. It’s going to be a hot, humid day on Saturday, which means I am going to be CRANKY. 😉 I’m a snow and ice girl, not a heat and humidity girl.

Detroit won the Stanley Cup last night — Yee-hah! Mike Babcock, their coach is both an amazing coach and a terrific human being. I was thrilled when Detroit hired him, and I’m even more thrilled that they won the Cup. It was a great game. The Pittsburgh Penguins have come so far this year — I know they’re hurting today because they lost, but when they look back over the entire season, they should be so proud. The team was in trouble for a long time, and this year was a wonderful comeback.

Oh, and I dreamed the show did a photo call on Martha’s Vineyard and we hit a storm on the ferry over . . .

Devon

Screenplay adaptation: 46,113 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
46 / 90
(51.1%)

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 June 5, 2008 at 8:02 am  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy, not, humid

Isn’t it always the way? Go off-line for a few days and there’s a lot to say. So, for reading ease, I’ve used sub-headings – you can pick what you want to read and skip the rest: Politics, planets, trip, life, writing. This is a very long post, so be warned.

Politics:
You may have noticed that I haven’t spoken much about politics on the blog lately. Mostly, because I’m worried that we’re totally f—, especially if McCain gets elected (I nearly said “re-elected”, thinking in terms of a Bush third term – my Freudian slip was showing). If that happens, I honestly believe the Mayans were right and the world as we know it will end on the Winter Solstice of 2012. The Republican Party has become an abomination and perversion of its original purpose, in my opinion. The Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Economic Rape and Pillage. As a woman, I do not EVER use the term “rape” lightly, but that’s what’s happened over the last eight years. Bush’s buddies get richer and richer while the rest of us, who actually do the work and keep the country running, are screwed.

At the beginning of the Democratic Primaries, I was pretty excited, because there was such a wide field of choices, and I was interested in hearing all the points of view and seeing how it played out. I didn’t get a voice in it (something I resent), because, in the State of New York, if you are an independent voter, you don’t get to vote in the primaries. Other states allow independent voters to vote, but not NY, something I think is wrong.

I had no intention of voting for Hillary Clinton simply because she was a woman; she needed to convince me she was the best candidate for this particular time and place. I like a lot of her ideas, she’s done a lot of good as a NY Senator, and she’s got a grit that gets the job done. However, I was already leery because, several years ago, when the hospital up the street was closed, I contacted her office for help. Since health care is a big issue for her, I thought she would be the person to whom to turn. A YEAR AND A HALF LATER, I received a form letter email from her office that had nothing to do with the topic. And the hospital was long closed. That has really stuck in my craw all this time, in spite of the many good things she’s done for New York. Her office is a huge contrast to the other NY Senator’s office, Senator Charles Schumer. You call his office –an actual human picks up by the second ring. You email, you get a response in the same day. You write a letter, you get a response – an actual response, not a form letter – within a week. And there’s always follow-through AND follow-up. Since I consider politicians my employees – after all, it is my tax money that pays their salaries, that is the way I like it done.

On the other hand, as a woman, I was angered by the sexist media coverage. Her hair, clothes, etc. were focused on in a way that NONE of the male candidates’ clothing choices were. That’s wrong. And, have you noticed? We refer to the male candidates by their last names, but to Senator Clinton always by her first name. Is that to differentiate her from her husband, the former President? Or is it a sign of disrespect that’s not even noticed, because for hundreds of years women have been referred to less formally than men? So that really bothered me, and made me more sympathetic to her.

On yet another hand (or am I starting on feet now), the fact she voted FOR the war bothered me. I remember being at a rally here in NYC before the war was declared. The Pretender President came out and said (direct quote) to the crowd, “I don’t care what you think.” Buddy, as my EMPLOYEE, you damn well better care. Politicians can back-pedal all they want about the misleading information they were given, but the fact is, we are paying them and IT IS THEIR JOB to dig deeper before they make their decisions.

Most of the women I know, of one generation older than I am, who laid the groundwork for women in politics and in many other areas, are upset because they feel that this was the last chance in their lifetime to see a woman become President. For now, it’s still in the realm of the Sci-Fi channel instead of being a reality in this country. And that’s a shame.

Yes, Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for President, as well as the first woman to have a company on the New York Stock Exchange back in the days of Cornelius Vanderbilt, but the fights women fought through the 1960’s and 1970’s really set a lot of groundwork for today. (If you’re interested in Victoria Woodhull’s story, the mystic daughter of a snake oil salesman who became so prominent in NY and then made a bid for the White House, read Barbara Goldsmith’s fascinating social history OTHER POWERS. It also deals with the fact that Frederick Douglass broke with the suffragettes because, even though they supported abolition, he felt supporting a woman’s right to vote would hold back the black cause – every once in awhile, I wonder how many shades of reflection of that are in this campaign).

As far as Obama goes, I like his ideas, I like the way he can walk into a room and talk to anyone, I like his grace under pressure, I like the way he did not vote for the war. My concern is whether or not he can implement his ideas, or whether he’ll be blocked by high-rolling lobbyists.

For Democratic women (and by that, I mean women who lean towards the Democratic Party, not all women who believe in democracy), this has been a very emotional and tumultuous few months. You can’t discount completely race and gender, yet you want to support the candidate you believe has the best ideas and is ABLE to implement them.

Something that gets on my last nerve across the board is the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on campaigns. That’s money that should be going into education, health care, veterans’ medical care and rehabilitation, rebuilding crumbling infrastructures, and wildlife conservation, not in buses and planes criss-crossing the country, polluting and spending money that could be used to improve the country.

I realize history has been made no matter what; I’m still ambivalent.

Planets
So, Mercury went retrograde last week without me noticing, which means I signed contracts and traveled during the Retrograde. However, since it never felt like it went direct last time, this retrograde actually feels like a relief, because things are getting resolved. So I’m not going to stress about it.

The Neptune Retrograde – hey, I’m a Pisces, it’s never easy, but too darned bad.

The Jupiter Retrograde actually feels like a relief because it oversees home and hearth and material things, and that’s been in such a mess, it feels like this retrograde will help with the resolution.

This is a case of me welcoming retrogrades.

So far.

The Trip
Ah, heaven! It was really, really, REALLY hard to come back. I missed the cats and the books and the writing and my friends, and, surprisingly, even the show. But it was heaven to be out there.

Considering how tired I was getting back from the show at midnight on Sunday morning, and then getting up at 4:30, I’m surprised I did as much as I did. On the road by six; traffic pretty light, and yet, more people traveling than I expected in this high-gas economy. We managed to find gas for $3.99/gallon up in MA the whole time, which made me do a happy dance at the pump. Seriously, it wound up equivalent to a free gallon of gas at each refill compared to prices down here, which are at least 50 cents more per gallon.

The weather was fabulous, sunny, warm, gorgeous.

We headed first up to the North Shore, Cape Ann area. I hadn’t been there in years. Drove around Rockport, doubled back to Gloucester, and spotted at Hammond Castle.

Hammond Castle is a medieval castle on the cliffs of Gloucester, MA, built by inventor John Hays Hammond in 1926 as a gift for his bride, Irene Fenton Hammond, a portrait painter. Both collected antiques, and the castle is amazing. The front is in German gothic style, the back in French, complete with flying buttresses. It was a museum since 1930 (they moved into it in 1929), and they were the caretakers. Hammond has more than 800 inventions to his credit – his “war room”, a circular room under the circular library, is pretty amazing. The library, wonderful as it was – was too small to hold all my books – isn’t that a scary thought!

There’s an interior courtyard with a glass roof (three stories up) – talk about the ultimate sun room. It’s Romanesque in design, with some of the doorways made out of volcanic, porous rock, and some out of limestone.

There’s a Great Hall where Gershwin once played, and a series of Tower Galleries, where each level has different objects, including religious icons and relics. The Castle is reputed to be haunted, but the room with religious relics was the only one that felt, to me, filled with unseen presences.

You walk through all these winding hallways, nooks, crannies, tiny rooms of medieval antiques and then come into a 1930’s kitchen – the contrast is astonishing. And the views over the harbor are magnificent.

I promise to post photos.

Then, back in the car to Salem. All I needed was a good map and some photos of Salem; Old-Fashioned Detective Work has a small bit set just outside of Salem, and I couldn’t remember its configuration. We had a quick lunch, and then headed back down.

There was a parade in Boston, which backed up the Tobin Bridge and the southern expressway, so we got stuck for a bit; but the Big Dig seems to be fixed, (nothing fell on the car, always a good sign), so once we were clear of the parade traffic, it was a smooth ride.

Instead of staying in Plymouth as planned, we continued south. There’s something about soaring across the Sagamore Bridge that always makes me happy (in spite of the sign the Samaritans posted with their number for those who might be inclined to jump off the bridge).

We ended up staying in Hyannis, getting an excellent rate at a hotel still under construction. It was cheap and clean, all we really needed. It had a small balcony. The toilet made funny gurgling noises and some of the hardware on the furniture needed to be replaced, but it also had a fridge, a huge television, REAL keys (not those vile keycards, which I hate) AND genuine old, soft, cotton sheets, not the poly sheets most hotels use (unless you’re in the $400/night ones). Okay, the sheets were PINK – but boy were they comfy! And the shower was fantastic!

Had we had the time, we could have walked from the hotel to the Nantucket ferry and hopped over for the day, leaving the car in Hyannis. Good to know for the future. I got to see where the writers’ group meets (the one I met during Nano last year that said I was always welcome), and we got a sense of the area pretty well.

Picnic lobster supper – always a good thing. And early to bed because, well, it was a busy day and we’d been up since 4:30 in the morning!

We had a leisurely breakfast by the pool the next morning (included in the hotel, it was a buffet and it was good), sitting next to the pool amidst overflowing pots of cheerful red geraniums.

Then, we drove down to Provincetown. On the way, I was looking for the Nauset Light, which I wanted to re-photograph (it’s been at least ten years since I was there), but couldn’t find it. Instead, I found the Cape Cod Light, also known as the Highland Light – which was fantastic. They moved it back to its current location in 1996, because the sea cliffs are eroding at one foot PER YEAR (faster, even then here in Montauk), and expect they’ll have to move it again within 30 years.

Wow.

The light is gorgeous, the surroundings are magnificent, the staff is phenomenal. A freelance writer handles their PR, newsletter, etc. – a woman after my own heart who’s doing an outstanding job, and I have to track her down via her website and congratulate her!

We bought the COOLEST wind chime – a four-side triangle (four plates, each triangular in shape) with a different lighthouse painted on each one. It sounds like a buoy, which I just love.

Again, I promise to post photos.

Over to the Province Lands Visitor Center, out by Race Point Beach. I’ve been going there since 1968, since I was six years old, and it’s always a pilgrimage. They’re wonderful there, and teased me that, when I live in the area, I should come and give tours, too! (Personally, I don’t think I’m nice enough to be a Park Ranger, but I appreciated the sentiment).

Into P-town, past Pilgrim Monument (I’ve been up those darned stairs so often over the years I really don’t need to do it anymore – but if you’ve never done it – do it). Parked on Macmillan Wharf. They’ve rebuilt the end of the wharf and done a lovely job. There are now glass partial roofs and benches and pavilions, so you can sit and enjoy it. It’s still a working wharf, but now it’s also a multi-tasking wharf.

One of the warehouses on the other wharf was rebuilt, and now has, on its outside walls, an art exhibit – photos of Portuguese women who were instrumental in the development of Provincetown.

My reason for going to P-town was the Whydah Museum, the excavation of a pirate ship off the coast of the Cape. I’d been there when it first opened years ago, but now, with the research for CUTTHROAT CHARLOTTE, “The Merry’s Dalliance”, and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, I wanted to revisit.

It’s a small museum, but lovely. It emphasizes pirates, and I was more interested in the nuts and bolts of the archaeology, but there was also some great information and demonstrations about concretions and the x-rays to see what the concretions cover, and the grid system used. Great stuff, which helps me a lot in my writing. Again, the personnel there were lovely.

We walked a little bit around P-town. The last time I was there, several years ago, they were very discriminatory towards straight women, and I was tempted not to go back. I don’t judge people by their sexual choices and I expect the same. Who I sleep with is my business. I found it a very hostile environment, which saddened me (since I’ve come there since the late 1960’s, when it was full of painters on the wharves) and angered me. However, it’s mellowed out a lot (or maybe the season hasn’t yet kicked in). Everyone was friendly and pleasant, and it was a very dog-centric community, which I liked. Many, many happy dogs. You can tell a lot about a place by the temperament of the pets.

And, joy of joys, the Portuguese Bakery is still open! I’d been told they closed, but they haven’t. I did a happy dance at the register. We had lulas (flaky, cone-shaped pastry filled with whipped cream) there, and took – well, I can’t remember the pretty Portuguese name, it starts with an M – but, basically, it’s hunks of moist, light, fried bread. We had to triple wrap it so the grease wouldn’t soak through and ruin the trunk of the car.

Then, we meandered back along the Cape to Brewster – a town we fell in love with. I hadn’t considered Brewster a possibility in my house-hunting, but it is now. The size and ages of many houses fit what I want, it’s a friendly, low-key, year-round community.

We stopped at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History –as soon as I relocate to MA, I’m becoming a member. Fantastic trails through forest, salt marsh, and to the tidal dunes. A camera on the Osprey nest, so you can watch their activities. A lookout room with comfy chairs and binoculars to look out over the marshes and a journal in which to make notations. The exhibits are wonderful, and the tiny aquarium is terrific. I took pictures of curious turtles who came to the side of the tanks to see the visitor. I was exposed to a slew of new-to-me nature writers whose work I want to read. Again, a terrific staff, and their ongoing programs are wonderful. I’d go two or three times a month if I lived in the area.

We found a clam shack for a late lunch and slowly meandered back along route 6A, past Hyannis and to Sandwich, Mashpee, and Marstons Mills for house hunting. And some shopping, of course, at the Lavender Moon and Sandwich Herb Shop. I wanted to find the glass studio, but sailed past it, realizing too late its only designation was a painted mailbox – this area is filled with individual artisans, which is great, but sometimes the signs are a little too subtle!

I can get a ton of freelance writing work out there, so, once I move, I’ll be able to make a living.

Again, a dinner picnic and a relaxing evening. There’s so much to do all over the Cape all year round at this point that, not only can I earn a living writing for it and about it, I won’t feel deprived being away from New York.

I also got to watch Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, between Detroit and Pittsburgh. Wow! It went into 3 overtimes, before Pittsburgh managed to score the final goal to keep them alive in the series. I’m a big fan of Marc-Andre Fleury, the Pittsburgh goalie, and Gary Roberts, of whom I’ve been a fan since his Maple Leaf days, but, as a team, I’m rooting for Detroit. What an amazing game, although it was 80 degrees outside the arena in Detroit, and a good portion of it was played on slush.

On the way home, we stopped at the Book Barn in Niantic, CT, where I got books by Julie Czernerda, Sharon Shinn, Jim C. Hines, and a bunch of science and nature books that I need for the upcoming projects.

The trip was great, I took nearly 200 photos – don’t worry, I won’t post them all – and I feel better about the whole house-hunting situation, because now I have a more solid sense of which communities I think are best suited to what I need, and I know what types of properties are in each community.

So, although I didn’t find “my” house, I feel much more confident about finding it.

Life
So the ever-lovin’ cable box forced on us by Cablevision worked less than 24 hours. I emailed them before I left, stating that they WOULD have a technician out here the morning I returned and it WOULD be fixed at no additional charge. I am currently waiting for said technician. Then, I have to go to Trader Joe’s – I’m out of cat food.

Oh, and the cable box that was guaranteed to be delivered on May 19? Delivery was finally attempted by the incompetent UPS on June 3. And refused.

Sorted out the problem with MacAffee. Once I could actually track down a live person, it was easily solved. Figuring out a way past all the recorded messages to get a live person was a challenge.

Hard to get settled back in. The cats were calm when we got back, because it was quiet in the building (heaven forbid they actually finish any of the construction in the building – they’ve ripped everything up and left it). The cats are happy we’re home, but at least they weren’t frantic.

I’m having a hard time getting mentally focused back on what needs to be done. I simply want to pack, load up a truck and go the Cape, but I need to have to place to go TO before I do that. All the steps need to be completed in the right order for this to work. I’m not 18 anymore; I can’t just pack two suitcases and a typewriter and land in a strange city, the way I’ve done so many times in my life, and start over. I’m uprooting an entire life and relocating it. It takes more organization.

There’s all sorts of building chaos going on and I don’t feel like engaging right now, so I’m not. “No” has become my favorite word lately. Without explanations or justifications. Simply, “no.”

Writing
I only wrote notes the entire time. I’d brought an enormous bag of work, the MATILDA MURDER rewrites, other stuff – nothing.

I had a huge breakthrough on YURI’S TALE – how I can keep it linked short stories that can also stand alone, yet, together, make up an entire novel arc. So that was good. But I didn’t write any of it.

I have to type up my notes (I’m bad at that – I tend to file the notebooks and then take hours looking for what I want).

I’ve given myself off from regularly scheduled writing until tomorrow, so I can settle in and get back my focus.

Believe it or not, that’s the short version!

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: