Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

We’re supposed to get a snowstorm tonight and another one tomorrow night. Maybe that means hours of uninterrupted work time!

Yesterday was busy, getting out the assignment for Confidential Job #1 in the morning, invoicing them, etc.

I went to my friend’s place to do laundry in the afternoon, cooked dinner there, came home, gave Elsa her evening medicine. One of the two medicines is giving her diarrhea – great, another complication. I phoned the clinic yesterday morning to ask if I should stop or adjust one of the medications; they have yet to get back to me. So far, it’s only been once each day; still, it’s worrying. And I really don’t see any improvement. I’m hoping I will by today or tomorrow – mid-day today will be the third day since the medication started. It should be showing some signs of something by now.

I’ve got the February wrap-up over on the GDR site, and I’ll put up March’s to-do list tomorrow. If you just want a taste of what I read this month, hop on over to A Biblio Paradise.

I’ve been spinning out some new stories with a character called “Bedtime Louie” that take place at a racetrack during the 1930’s. I’m going to use the Jamaica racetrack and Aqueduct tracks as the foundation, but I’m pretty sure I’ll create a fictional track set outside of NYC.

I have a critique for a client this weekend – I’m really looking forward to it. Other than that, I’m going to focus on fiction and on keeping an eye on Elsa. I’m going to stick close to home, and, hopefully, leave most of the business stuff until Monday. I need some time for the fiction and the plays. I also want to add a page to my website about Elsa. And I’d like to get some queries out on a project that’s ready to go.

Abby, thanks for the idea about the air purifier. I’ve been thinking about that over the past few weeks, since I’ve been coughing quite a bit, too, and the plants don’t look too happy. They’re renovating more apartments in our section, and I suspect the quality of air around here has deteriorated even further.

Hopefully, the work will flow in steadily over the next few weeks so I can take care of all of the vet bills and get Elsa (and the rest of us) that air purifier. I’m using sage and rosemary (boiled on the stove, not burned, because I don’t want to put smoke in the air, even good smoke) to get rid of any bacteria floating around, but the purifier might be a good idea. I started giving Elsa the Rescue Remedy again last night, and I think it does more for her than anything else thus far.

Back to the page. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Devon

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Published in: on February 28, 2009 at 8:22 am  Comments (5)  
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Friday, February 27, 2009

christmas-2008-016

Friday, February 27, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

So, the moon turned a few days ago, and I didn’t pay any attention. So sorry. We’re waxing now. Which is a good thing – increase.

Thanks for all your support. I appreciate it. Both Diane and Anne-Katherine bring up important points about me knowing Elsa the best, since I’m with her every day. The only time she’s ever had to be under anesthesia was when she was a kitten and I got her spayed. She did not handle the anesthesia well, and it took longer than it took any of my other cats for her to shake it off. My gut instinct is that she couldn’t survive it at her age, especially not with the neurological problems, and I’m going to try alternatives. Every time I let a vet talk me into an intricate procedure against my gut, I’ve regretted it. I appreciate the expertise of that medical community, I know there are times when one needs modern medicine, but the most success I’ve had both with my own medical care and that of my animals is when I’ve mixed medical knowledge with alternative therapies to let each work their strengths. Actually, with these antibiotics, I’m worried about the Orabex. I did some research, and it can cause seizures in cats with neurological problems. I discussed Elsa’s neurological problems with the vet in detail, and the dosage is about 1/5th of the standard dose, but I’m still keeping a close eye on her. I found something that I’m going to try in lieu of that particular procedure, but I think I have to wait until she’s done with her antibiotics first. At least she’s good about taking medication – it used to take four people to wrestle a pill into Olivia, and she was only a twelve pound cat!

She’s still very mucousy, and I hope that starts drying up soon. The antibiotics must have an appetite stimulant in them, because she’s eating more than ever (and she always has a healthy appetite). She’s definitely herself, she’s just sounds like she’s got a bad cold, only much worse than the usual kitty colds that go around occasionally.

All three cats have been exceptionally clingy lately. And Violet started sneezing this morning, so I hope she’s not getting it. Of course I’ve started sneezing and coughing, too, but I suspect it’s more in empathy than anything else. I’ve been disinfecting the apartment daily within an inch of its life.

Everything I did yesterday was business and errand-related, which is frustrating, but clearing it out of the way should help me do creative work this weekend.

I fell asleep early without finishing the assignment for Confidential Job #1. I want to get that out before I go out to my friend’s place to do laundry.

I was actually rejected for a job writing for an astrology site yesterday because they wanted someone “more amateur”. I didn’t know whether to laugh or be horrified. They’d rather hire someone who’s cheap and knows nothing about astrology to write articles for the site than hire a professional who’s worked in the metaphysical field for fourteen years. Let’s just say I won’t believe anything I read on THAT site! 😉

And we wonder why there’s so much crap on the web.

Yet another newbie posted on one of the forums I frequent, asking the same old questions without bothering to research, wanting to know how to publish articles, but “not caring” whether or not there’s money involved. I ignored the post. The moderator later contacted me and asked me why, and I told her that I’m sick of wasting my time and advice on people who aren’t serious about the profession and are dragging the rest of us, who make our living at this down. She wants to get serious, I’ll answer her questions. I’ve answered that particular question at least a dozen times on that site, so she can do a little research in the archives her damn self. Done. One of the other so-called writers, a couple of weeks ago, contacted me off-site, asking me not to post when I publish something new because I get published “too much” and it’s “not fair” to writers who aren’t getting published. WTF? I get published because I work hard at my art and my craft, it’s my profession, I get better with every piece, and I put in the work.

Maybe I should take a break from that board.

McAfee is out of control again – hopefully, things will settle down a bit next week and I can get it out of my system once and for all.

Back to the page and the assignments.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Devon

Published in: on February 27, 2009 at 8:26 am  Comments (11)  
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Elsa

holiday-prep-06-004

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This is Elsa, the cat who’s ill. She’s a 14 year old tortoise-shell, and I’ve had her since she was 7 weeks old. I took her to North Shore Animal League’s Clinic yesterday. She likes to ride in the car. The barking dogs in the waiting area made her glad she had the safety of her carrier, but she wasn’t too freaked out. After all, they were out THERE, and she was safely tucked in her cage. One of the waiting dogs was a dachshund, and Elsa wants a dachshund of her very own, so she was happy about that. She was happy to meet the vet and make a new friend – that’s the kind of cat she is – she assumes that everyone is her friend until proven otherwise. If only we were all so open!

The problem is three-pronged. The first, and most important, is to deal with the respiratory infection that brought her there in the first place. She received two antibiotics, one in pill form and one in liquid form. Fortunately, she’s not bad with medication. Frankly, I think the Rescue Remedy with which I’ve been dosing her had a stronger effect, but antibiotics usually take a couple of days to work in people, so maybe it’s the same way in cats. So we’re optimistic, and we’ll see. Her appetite’s never wavered (always a good sign), she’s alert, friendly, sticking to her schedule. She smells different because of the medication, and that upsets Violet, who thinks there’s an imposter in the house, but Iris could care less as long as no one invades the Princess’s personal litter box. Elsa seems better during the day, but the nights are rough, and I’m feeling a little sleep-deprived from spending the last few nights up with her more than asleep.

The second thing they discovered was a mass on her underside. The vet said it could be nothing – it doesn’t bother her, she purred when the vet handled her, and tapped her with a paw to remind her it was petting time when she stopped. But they want to keep an eye on it over the coming months.

The third part is a procedure they want to do that would require her to undergo full anesthesia. Frankly, I don’t think she can survive it. I’ve had one cat and one dog go through this procedure as senior animals. Neither was ever the same after, and neither lived more than six months. Several friends of mine have had the same experience with the same procedure. I’m reluctant to put her through it.

When, at age 18, Felicia was diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure, my vet gave me a wide range of options, including dialysis and kidney transplant, both of which I refused. She was an 18 year old cat, and I felt that put unfair stress on her at such an advanced age. We actually got rid of a tumor via Reiki (I brought her in on Friday; they found the tumor and everyone looked grim. I brought her back in on Monday; they asked me if this was the same cat, because the tumor was GONE – we kept looking at the X-rays, the vet called in everyone in the building, and everyone was shocked. They even checked the X=Ray machine to make sure nothing was wonky). And, with a combination of fluid injections (which my vet taught me to do) and alternative therapies, we managed to give her a full year of good quality of life. When she was ready to go, she let us know. It was heart-breaking, but when it was her time, it was quick and painless, and she hadn’t been put through torturous medical procedures.

So, I’m looking into alternatives for the latter procedure, and I might also set up a Reiki session for her. I spoke to the wonderful folks at Whiskers, a pet store specializing in alternative care down in the East Village. They’ve been around for ages, advocating alternative therapies before it was popular, and they know their stuff. Stressed out as I was, I got quite emotional on the phone with them, and they were very helpful.

A few people suggested pet insurance. I looked into it a few years ago. First, it’s expensive. Second, there are so many caveats that basically, they don’t have to pay for anything unless your animal is hit by a car on the fourth Tuesday of the month when there’s a full moon. There are so many restrictions that it hasn’t made sense to get it, even in Felicia’s case.

It was quite a day, and it’s going to be a long haul for the next few months.

North Shore doesn’t work on installments, but is reasonably priced; however, this is still an unexpected expense during a recession. So, while I’m constantly pitching for jobs, etc., I’m also telling people that, if you haven’t gotten around to buying my books, my stories and/or my little e-booklets for writers, this would be a really helpful time so to do. E-book royalties get to writers much more quickly than traditional royalties. ALL royalties help decide whether a publishing house keeps or drops an author, so every time you buy any book by any living writer, you have a direct impact on their income and their future. Thirteen shows closed on Broadway in January, so I don’t have theatre work on which to fall back. And not much is filming, both due to the SAG uncertainty and the economy. The Republicans’ success in cutting out stimulus money to help production companies will keep thousands of people out of work for a longer period of time, instead of putting thousands of people back to work in the spring, which would then stimulate the economy in every location in which filming takes place. Just because someone works in the entertainment industry doesn’t mean the person is a celebrity making a zillion dollars.

For those of you who faithfully purchase my work as soon as it comes out, I am deeply grateful, and I hope to have some new, fun work out in the next few weeks that might catch your attention. And if you know of anyone you think would enjoy my work, I hope you’ll consider recommending it.

I’m sticking to my deadlines, turning around as much work as I can, and hunting down new work – while not falling into the trap of working for the mills that want 20 articles for $5, because let’s face it, all I’ll do is make myself sick and not get paid properly. I’ve sent out some really strong proposals this week to my prospect list, and will follow up with them in the next couple of weeks. But all of that takes time.

It was really discouraging to return from the half-day it took to get to Long Island and back, sit in the waiting room for over an hour, and then go through the examination, get the prescription filled, etc., and find a response from yet another company that turns out to be a mill rather than a legitimate site. I’ve got a much better shot at properly paid work with the proposals, once they work their way through the various layers that need to make a decision on it.

One of the little courtesies North Shore provides is that you get the medication right there, instead of having to go somewhere else to get prescriptions filled AND they cut up the pills for you. It’s a big help. I remember when I lived in the city, had to fill a prescription for Olivia’s valium and had to go to the local Duane Reade, where they treated me like some sort of junkie forger. Considering I rarely take anything stronger than an Advil, it was especially insulting.

I’ve got the next assignment from Confidential Job #1, and I hope to turn it around in the next few days.

Not much creative work done in these last few days. I’ve got some business letters to get out and to the post office today, and pay some bills; hopefully, I can also complete the assignment for Confidential Job #1 (it’s very good) and get that out by the end of the day, too.

Maybe Billy will get some more attention this weekend. It’s frustrating not to work on his story, since I’d finally made a breakthrough.

Devon

christmas-play-06-009

Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 8:52 am  Comments (16)  
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Rough Few Days

It’s been a rough few days, mostly focused on Elsa.

I finally found a good place to take her for treatment, about an hour away, and that’s where I’m headed.

Update tomorrow.

Not much writing done, although I’ve kept up with proposals and pitches. I’m really over the ads offering one rate and then trying to negotiate back to a lower one. I don’t even talk to them anymore. I say “no” and cut off the conversation. Post what you intend to pay; don’t waste both our time.

Devon

Published in: on February 25, 2009 at 7:53 am  Comments (5)  

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was a decent day. I got out a lot of business correspondence, I pitched for a job, I got some work done on the Billy Root story.

I felt like I was coming down with something, but went to my friend’s place anyway for the afternoon. I baked cookies, and we just had a relaxing afternoon of reading and hanging out, and I felt much better. I read Donna Leon’s A NOBLE RADIANCE. I enjoy her books so much. But they always make me hungry, because these are Italians, after all, and great food and wine are very important, even in the midst of a murder investigation!

I came home to find that Elsa’s sick. She seems to have developed a respiratory infection, which of course, is worrying, because I can’t isolate her from the others, and I don’t want everyone to get sick. I’m calling around this morning to find a clinic that can see her – I can’t afford my regular vet. But she needs some sort of antibiotic something, and fast.

Keep your fingers crossed – it’s always so stressful when one of the animals is sick.

I cancelled out of Oscar plans last night to take care of Elsa, although I had the show on. I thought Hugh Jackman did a great job, I liked having former winners give tributes to nominees, as a wardrobe person, it’s very, very, very important to have awards like art direction, costume, and make-up in the main program, not shunted off to the side somewhere. While individual dresses were, for the most part, flattering, I thought there was far too much dressing alike, with large skirts, one shoulder, and pleating. I like to see variety in fashion, and I thought that was sadly lacking. It was fine, but I’m not sure if I just wasn’t in the mood for it, or what. I wasn’t thrilled. I’m glad the nominees and the winners had a great time, I think it’s good to get that kind of recognition, because the fact that any movie ever gets made and released is something to cheer. If you’ve ever actually worked on a set, you know how much damned hard work it is and how hard you have to fight for everything.

Today will be all about getting Elsa the care she needs. There’s a list of “have-to’s” stacked up, but Elsa is the priority.

Devon

Published in: on February 23, 2009 at 7:57 am  Comments (12)  
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

So, yesterday was great, mostly because it was so quiet on site that I spent NINE HOURS working on the outline for the Billy Root book. I’ve totally surprised myself – and I have to say, Billy’s surprised me. He really took control of his life, didn’t back down from the new opportunities opening to him and he’s in a completely different place at the end of the book than I expected.

It rocks, if I say so myself!

Even though Billy was the “second lead” in HEX BREAKER, he built a solid following, and I think his journey in this book will surprise and delight his fans. If I can do justice to the scenes I sketched out, this will be a damned good read. That’s what great about the series – each book grows, and, while HEX BREAKER continues to hold its own, each book in the series gets richer and deeper.

And what an absolute heaven of luxury to spend an entire day on a single project, instead of switching back and forth.

Managed to get back home before the snow. I’m working at home this morning, spending the afternoon with friends, then spending the evening with a friend watching the Oscars instead of going to a party. I just don’t have the energy to deal with lots of people tonight, even people I enjoy.

Good morning’s session so far on the Billy Root story. I finished chapter eight and began chapter nine.

Back to the page – Billy’s calling, gotta answer – and then onto a day hopefully filled with fun!

I’ve earned it.

Devon

Billy Root story – 23,208 words out of est. 60,000

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23 / 60
(38.3%)
Published in: on February 22, 2009 at 9:17 am  Comments (3)  
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Sorry for the link problem in yesterday’s post. I have a separate post under this one with the full and direct link.

Lara, do you mean refunds? The tax return is the paperwork WE send to THEM. It would be great if tax RETURNS were cancelled this year, but I don’t think any of us will get that lucky. Some states have told their residents that they won’t receive a refund this year on the STATE level – remember, on the FEDERAL level, all those new tax cuts as part of the stimulus (I’m not sure which tax cuts take effect when – haven’t read the bill that far). The feds HAVE to give us those. The law differs from state to state, but I believe citizens can challenge the legality of withholding state tax refunds. If citizens have overpaid their taxes, the state can’t just say “too damn bad, we’re keeping your money because we were too stupid and corrupt to manage our budget.” Whether anyone will bother to challenge this is a different story. States are receiving billions of dollars in money from the federal government – so there’s definitely a case to be made. But nothing will happen if the rank and file citizens – EVERY rank and file citizen – can’t be bothered to take fifteen minutes to tell their representatives the way it’s going to be. They are OUR employees – especially now, with this stimulus package signed into law – not the other way around.

The morning was frantic yesterday, mostly because the computer ran like crap and McAfee kept hijacking it and crashing it – yeah, eventually, I’m going to have to hire someone to come in here and surgically remove it, because it refused to uninstall or let me put in any other antivirus protection. But I got a lot done, and got out the door a little after 10:30.

Did the errands, got the assignment out to Confidential Job #1, did the grocery shopping, had lunch with my mom, spent the afternoon at a friend’s doing laundry, listening to Mozart, and reading THE NEW YORKER, then cooked dinner there for us, and headed back home to get the bag packed for today.

I’m on site job today – should be fun, won’t be online until tomorrow. I should be able to get some writing squeezed into the day, which is good, but probably won’t get back until 10 or 11 tonight.

The cats are not amused.

I’m excited about the Billy Root story again – there’s a really interesting plot twist that just came up that opens a whole new realm of possibilities for Billy. This morning’s session on the story was on fire – over 2K. I definitely have to go back and plant a few things in previous chapters, but now I see the overall arc, how it fits into the whole Jain Lazarus mythology, and how the two sections of this book fit together. Plus, Billy’s growth in the book is enormous.

Off to work. Have a great weekend!

Devon

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
21 / 60
(35.0%)

Billy Root story – 21,571 words out of est. 60,00

Published in: on February 21, 2009 at 9:10 am  Comments (1)  
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Urban Muse Link

Here’s the full and correct link:

http://www.urbanmusewriter.com/2009/02/guest-post-giving-back-or-giving-away.html

that goes directly to the post. Sorry for any link kerflamma — when I tested it right after posting, it worked, so I’m not quite sure why it stopped working.

But at least this is to the direct post.

Thanks!

Published in: on February 20, 2009 at 5:36 pm  Comments (2)  

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Promised links pertaining to current events:
Several people wanted to know where they could get some unvarnished content on the stimulus bill. It’s up at the Government Printing Office:

http://www.gpo.gov

with the direct link to the text of the bill here:

http://fdsys.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr1ENR/pdf/BILLS-111hr1ENR.pdf

Yes, I will be reading it in its entirety. If there’s something worth saying about it here, I will. It’ll take awhile, it’s long, but, reading a few pages at a time, I will read it in its entirety, because only then do I have the information to responsibly comment on it. Of course, one of the bonehead representatives claimed it was “over 1100 pages” and that “nobody read it”. Um, then, why was ANYONE voting on it? We pay these people enough so that they can sit down and read the frigging legislation before voting, not spread lies from the sound bytes put together on a partisan level. And you know what? The people I pay to represent me actually DID read the plan before voting. Someone had to read it because someone had to write it and argue about it. It’s only 407 pages in the PDF format (only! Ha!), but the print is pretty tiny, so I suggest viewing it at 125%. I skimmed the first few pages, because I’d heard complaints that it was difficult to understand. I know five year olds who could read and comprehend the first couple of pages. But, of course, you can’t understand something you haven’t read.

You can also track the budget here:

http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/index.html

and if you want to track how the specific stimulus money is being spent and compare it to what’s laid out in the bill, so you can let your representatives and senators know what you agree and disagree with, so that they can actually represent you, the link is here:

http://www.recovery.gov/

And if you want to track how your representatives vote, to make sure they aren’t doing one thing in Congress and coming home to spread yet more mis-information, you can go to the website for Congress and find records of the roll call votes in each house. Not every vote is a roll call vote; quite a few are by voice. But on major issues, someone usually demands a roll call vote so that it’s a matter of public record where each person stands and how they voted.

http://www.congress.org

The media’s giving me a headache about it all, no matter what side they’re spinning, and I’d rather use these resources to get my own information and make my own decisions. And then make my views known to the people who represent me. I’m not allowing the government to destroy everything I spent my life building, the way they tried over the past eight years.

Life, writing, etc.:
When is an apology not an apology? When it’s an editorial in the NY POST. What a joke. If you say you’re going to stand behind something, even against opposition, then do it. Don’t pretend you’re maybe sorta apologizing for something for which you aren’t in the least sorry. I have to say, I was curious about the whole protest-at-the-Post thing. The Post is a TABLOID, not in just the shape the newsprint they use, but in content. Controversy is their crack. If people want to send the POST a message, not buying the POST sends a much stronger one.

I have to say I’m glad that those NYU students have locked themselves into the cafeteria as a protest about – well, heck, whatever it is that they’re protesting. The news has been rather vague. It’s nice to see some social activism happening again, but they need to communicate their position clearly, and somehow, I don’t think those You Tube videos are necessarily going to do it. NYU is, of course, handling it with its usual lumbering lack of anything resembling grace or intelligence. I had some great times at NYU, I had some great teachers (some of whom I’m still in contact with 20 years later). But the administration is just eye-rollingly out of touch with reality, and has been as long as I’ve known the institution.

Too bad more people aren’t protesting, especially against the banks.

Just an aside on the Government Printing Office. I first heard about them in elementary school, when we took a trip to the United Nations (one could still listen in at the General Assembly sessions then, dialing the headphones to all the different languages), and I saw the stacks and stacks of publications on various topics. I used to use them to write papers throughout elementary and high school – topics like NASA, aviation, geography, agriculture, etc., etc. So, if you have kids who have to write reports, it’s a pretty wonderful resource. And, of course, for writers, it’s a great resource. The publications can point you towards hundreds of primary sources for your work.

I felt about as creative as wilted lettuce yesterday. I managed to get some work done on the revision of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, incorporating the last few days’ research into the piece. Now, I’m struggling with inconsistent points of view. Odd numbered chapters need to be from Morag’s POV, even from Simon’s. But I’m finding a lot of inconsistencies, and I have to fix them. Otherwise, I’m jumping around heads too much, and it doesn’t work. I can also see where each day’s work stopped, because there’s a lot of choppiness in the first draft. It’s an excellent learning experience to break it apart and make it work, but it’s much more complex than I originally thought.

Finished the assignment for Confidential Job #1. Will polish the write up and send it off this morning.

Did some research for the Billy Root story (yes, there are times where I have to research). I still haven’t quite figured out how to bridge the two sections of the book, but I think, in the next couple of scenes, I can put in a few things that seem like fleshing out the time and place, but are really setting up the second half of the book.

Couldn’t get the knot out of my shoulder. Weight training last night helped – I had a great work out session of weight training and then yoga. But I would up taking a couple of valerian root capsules and using a heating pad. That helped a lot, but it’s still not completely released, and it’s affecting my neck and head.

New Jersey had three earthquakes in the past three weeks, and now has reports of red lights dancing in the sky that no one can figure out.

I got to watch BURN NOTICE last night. I enjoy that show so much – it’s clever and I love the cast, although I wish they’d change up the weekly structure a bit. I’m starting to get ahead of it, and can predict what will happen by looking at the clock. I’m learning a lot about script structure, though.

LOST just makes me roll my eyes. I’ve tried to watch the new season, because I like the actors and their scene work, in spite of feeling that the creators mess with the audience just to mess with them. I keep saying, “oh, no, they’re NOT going down that road, they’re just NOT” and then they do. I’m ahead of it all the time. They’re supposed to surprise me and they don’t. I stopped watching the show because I felt the creators were messing with the audience and because, of the three possible roads they could have chosen at the end of whatever season it was (I think it was Season 2), they chose the one I disliked the most strongly. I really like the cast, I really like the individual scenes, but overall, the show just isn’t working for me. I realize I’m in the minority, and I’m glad so many people love it (hey, it’s keeping a couple of hundred people employed in this economy, which is a good thing), but I want to be surprised and engaged in the overall piece, not just because I like the actors, and I’m not.

Today’s agenda includes: Errands , bills to pay, groceries to buy, laundry to do, some time spent outside. So I better have a really, really, REALLY productive early morning stint, because that’s my only shot at the computer all day.

Hope you all have a great weekend. And, if you haven’t stopped by The Urban Muse to read my article and comment, please do. Last time I checked, no one left a comment, and I’m feeling abandoned. 😉

Devon

Billy Root story – 19,348 words out of est. 60,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
19 / 60
(31.7%)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I’m supposed to be a guest on The Urban Muse today, but when I checked, the post wasn’t up yet. Hopefully, by the time you click on it, it is.

I need a writing treat, and I didn’t get one yesterday, so I’m cranky! 😉 What I call “writing treats” are the pieces without deadline, on which I’m working “just because” and they are my rewards for getting the “have-tos” done. But I didn’t get all my have-to’s done yesterday, so I didn’t get my treat!

Part of it was being under the weather. Nothing terrible, just connected to the health issues, and something I have to learn to deal with over the coming months. It sucks, but I have to learn to deal with it. Part of it was U-Haul getting yet another Middle Finger award. I can’t wait until I can afford to clear the remainder of my stuff out there once and for all. So I have to file yet more legal paperwork.

I need to address the so-called political cartoon run by the NY POST yesterday, mostly because the facets that bother me the most about it aren’t what everyone else is screaming about.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, the cartoon depicts the chimpanzee that went on a rampage in Stamford, CT, earlier this week, and was shot by police. In the cartoon, the animal lies either dying or dead from two gunshot wounds to the chest. Two cops stand there; obviously one or both of them shot the animal. One says to the other that now they have to get someone else to write the next stimulus package.

First of all, satire contains a cleverness born of intelligence and a wide frame of reference mixed with humor, be it dark or light. The cartoon had neither, and therefore fails the test of satire. Parody is supposed to push the boundaries, but also contain wit, humor, and relevance. Again, the cartoon fails the test of parody.

What angers me most about the cartoon is the pain it causes the woman who owned the chimp and lost him. However you feel about whether or not one should keep a primate in a home, especially a suburb, she built her life around this companion for ten years, raised it like a child, he is now dead via violence, and her best friend is in critical condition. Whatever arguments you want to have about the situation, it is inarguable that it is a family tragedy for this woman. She has stated that she has nothing left to live for, and, frankly, I hope they’ve got a suicide watch on her. To see her family, deeply personal tragedy put into such a cartoon will cause even more pain at a difficult time. The negligent cruelty on the part of the cartoonist should not be underestimated.

Of course the POST has the right to run a cartoon jabbing at the stimulus. But one of the lines crossed here was using a personal tragedy that has no relevance to the stimulus program (there’s nothing in there about bail-out money to keep exotic pets in houses, I’m sure), use something to increase the pain of someone already suffering – how would you like to see a cartoon of a family member who met a violent death? – and call it “political humor.”

Then, of course, we get into issues of race and incitement to violence. The old wounds of comparing African Americans to apes/chimps/primates are still close to the surface and easily re-opened. Anti-Obama factions portrayed him as a primate during the campaign in a wide variety of inappropriate ways. Read journals kept during the slave years – over and over and over again, slaves are referred to as “animals” in letters and personal journals from the time period. Reading these references during my research for THE WIDOW’S CHAMBER was both disturbing and disheartening. For the cartoonist to say he didn’t see it that way (provided he’s telling the truth) is either an appalling ignorance of social history – which, as a political cartoonist, he should know inside out – or, again, more negligence on his part. Of course people are going to connect the dots from Obama, who was the driving force behind the stimulus plan and an African-American to the dead chimp in the cartoon. Then you add on top of that the layer of violence – the animal murdered by COPS (the establishment?) – and you open a whole other Pandora’s box. Not to mention the fact that the stimulus plan will save hundreds of NYPD jobs. Then there’s the layer of depicting that it’s okay to kill someone with whom you disagree politically. So much for intelligent debate and detailed discussion to get to something that works for both sides. And then, the cartoonist digs himself even deeper, by stating if the dead chimp depicts anyone, it’s not Obama, but Nancy Pelosi. Exactly why is that funny or okay? Then, of course, there was the backtracking that it didn’t depict Pelosi, but why bring it up?

It’s absolutely possible that the cartoonist is not well-versed in history, politics, sociology, the stimulus package, and isn’t aware of the casual cruelty towards a family tragedy, which to me is more telling than any of the political overtones. But the editor SHOULD be well-versed in all of this, and the editor should have caught the problems before it went to press, and said, “You know what, this doesn’t really work as political satire or parody. Try again.” The cartoonist may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer (in which case, why is he positioned as a political cartoonist – they need to be the best and brightest of all), but the editor ‘s job was to catch the problems, hone the piece and make it relevant, witty, and funny before it went to press.

But the editor didn’t, the cartoon ran, and the paper stands behind cartoonist and editor. Which is their choice. Now we have to watch the consequences unfurl. It’s not surprising that it ran in the POST. I’ve often said that the only thing for which I find the POST useful is to line the litter box when I run out of cat litter and can’t make it to the store. I can buy the POST at the corner and use it as a stop gap.

What really disturbs me in the whole situation is the exploitation of a woman’s personal pain and tragedy that has nothing to do with the wider political landscape, without thought or care to how it could further hurt her. There were many other choices of current events to use in an anti-stimulus satire. This was unspeakably cruel, and beyond any racist or political overtones, tells us a great deal about the humanity lacking in both the cartoonist and the editor. I’m not going to get into the debate about intent on the part of the cartoonist or editor, because that can be argued forever. What disturbs me is the CHOICE to hurt a private individual – this woman is not a public figure – at a time when she’s already grieving. Politicians know unflattering portrayals go with the territory. But this woman’s suffering is exploited in an irrelevant context, and that is an act of unconscionable cruelty.

I pitched for a couple of interesting jobs. I’m getting decent response of most of my pitches lately, but I’ve noticed that, far too often, the money initially offered diminishes by the time they want to talk contract, and it’s just not worth it. The landlord and utility companies don’t care about maybe future profits “if” a project takes off. If you state you’re HIRING someone at a specific rate, that’s why people are answering the ad. Stop back-tracking and trying to negotiate a lower rate. I wouldn’t answer if it didn’t meet my criteria in the first place, and I’m not negotiating back.

Worked on some correspondence. Worked on the brochures. Worked on the proposals.

Between the computer work and sleeping wrong, I have a bad kink in one shoulder. The morning yoga didn’t fix it, so I guess I’ll have to stop throughout the day and try to unwind.

Got to get back to the page – lots waiting for me, and time is slipping away. And the computer is not running well at all today. Sigh.

Devon

Published in: on February 19, 2009 at 8:16 am  Comments (6)  

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snow storm approaching

I just love my new cover, so forgive me as I bask in it for awhile! It’s going to look really good on “stuff”. I might even do some tee shirts with the covers of HEX BREAKER and OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK for special giveaways. Once I actually get my release date, I can start planning things like a virtual tour, real-life speaking engagements, etc.

I spent some time working on the Fearless Ink website yesterday. I’ve revamped the Workshop Page, and added three workshops: Write Anything Authentically; Story Building; and Journal, Blog, Diary: A Journey of Internal and External Communication. Check out my workshop page for more information. A press release will go out on these new workshops this week.

I also updated the Critique page with some additional information.

The job boards were mostly discouraging. I found one job that I know I’m completely qualified, if not overqualified to do that would be ongoing, and really, really fun, but it all depends on the pay. My agency doesn’t have anything right now, and another place that wants me to write for them pays so poorly I think it would be detrimental to work there. Read Lori’s post from yesterday, and you’ll see why.

and if that doesn’t convince you, check out Anne’s post.

It’s sometimes hard to remember this with unpaid bills looming. But it’s important, because it winds up hurting you in the long run – it’s not like any of these low-paid content gigs can be used to get higher paying jobs – and you burn out.

I’m hoping the new brochures, new mailings, and new proposals will generate the kinds of jobs at the level it makes sense for me to work.

I had a good writing day, worked on some correspondence, research, reading, etc. Didn’t finish the assignment for Confidential Job #1, so I’ll have to get back to that today. Went to a friend’s and cooked dinner, then had a quiet evening. I’m really not up for the usual Oscar party this weekend – I might just hang out with a friend and watch quietly at home with some tapas and wine, and skip the whole getting-dressed-up-and-formal-party thing.

Fashion Week is on in New York right now, for the fall collections. I like the more fitted, tailored pieces. Some of the coats are a little bulky and shapeless for my taste. I do like the colors that are prevalent – the deep, jewel tones. Pamela somebody had a really nice collection yesterday, and Michael Kors has his show today – I like a lot of Kors’s work because the lines are clean and flattering.

The point of couture is for these designers to make “wearable art” – not practicality. But the reality of surviving in the business at this point is making something that people can actually wear in daily life that’s beautiful and practical and keep it at a price point so people can actually wear it.

I love going to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and looking at all the wearable art. The workmanship is fantastic on many of the pieces, with the detailed, hand embellishment. I think it’s important to have that joy and play and fun with clothing, Yet that’s what it is – an art form in cloth, not something that’s useful on a daily basis, and, in order to survive, most designers need to create collections that are useful to people and still retain the time, the energy, and the desire to create a few unique pieces that allow their imaginations to fly.

I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll mention it again. One of the things that disappointed me around the holiday season, walking around the boutiques in Manhattan was that the clothing displayed in the windows was so unimaginative and unflattering, as well as being overpriced. Let’s hope the spring season is full of fun. What I’ve seen of the fall collection is a mixed bag, which I think is a good thing, because then there’s something for a wide range of tastes. What I remember of the spring collection that showed last fall was a lot of huge pastel florals, which I can do without.

Let’s just say I am not someone who should wear large cabbage roses in pastel shades, shall we? I look ridiculous, as though I’m peeking through a vegetable patch.

But this has got to be a frustrating time in which to be a designer. Even if you cross over to design for theatre and film, you’re still constrained by the needs of the character and the production. I wonder if perhaps it’s less a loss of vision and imagination than the lack of opportunity to explore the imagination.

The monologues are percolating. I hope I can get some solid work on paper in the next few days. It’s much easier to write an entire play that holds together than a monologue where you need to communicate an entire world succinctly in under two spoken minutes.

Not a lot of work done on the Billy Root story this morning. I think I have to go back and add a scene somewhere in order to make what I’m doing now make sense. I’m not yet sure where or how to add it, but what just came up in Chapter Seven needs to be set up a little better earlier in order to make sense.

Sigh.

I’m starting to see how I need to restructure certain parts of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT so that it’s more logical, and I think I can do it without expanding the cast of characters too much. If I beef up the first two chapters, that should help a lot. And I can’t worry about word count until I’ve got the book the strongest it can be. Then I need to see if I need to tweak the count to fit the market, and then figure out how to do it. Step by step – it has to be polished before I can worry about submission.

I’ve got a bunch of business stuff to take care of; hope it doesn’t blow too big a hole into my writing day.

Devon

Billy Root story – 18,042 words out of est. 60,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
18 / 60
(30.0%)

My New Cover Rocks!

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Published in: on February 17, 2009 at 1:27 pm  Comments (12)  

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Good morning’s work yesterday on the Billy Root story. I finished Chapter Six. This morning, I had another good session, just over 1500 words, most of Chapter Seven. I feel like I know where I’m going and what I’m doing with it again.

Got some errands done, some correspondence out. Among the correspondence were a stack of thank you notes – both virtual and handwritten. I need to be as vigilant about writing thank you notes where appropriate as I am about filing complaints. Those individuals and organizations who actually do deal with integrity and individuality should know that it makes a positive difference. The jobs on the boards either sucked in payment terms or just weren’t something to which I’m suited, so no pitches.

Did some research for the rewrite of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT and attacked that again. I think I may have to change the job title of one of the major characters and give my male protag a new boss, or if I keep it the way it is, I have to create a new character to fill this other job description, because I’ve got a big illogical hole in the hierarchy. Character-wise, it keeps it tighter to have fewer people involved, but it’s not the way things run. And it’s the kind of thing that would annoy a discerning reader, so I have to figure out how to fix it without tipping the character balance in the story. Basically the character I have will remain strong and a driving force, and the new character has to be rather ineffectual. I’m just not sure which job I’m going to put which character into yet. And I have to figure it out before I go any farther in the rewrite.

Urgh. Here I thought I could just zip it out!

But the research is interesting, and I’m starting to feel like I have a handle on what I need to do to sell the book, while still keeping its integrity.

Did some background research to investigate a couple of opportunities, to see if they’re legit before I pursue them.

The monologues are spinning in my head, but not yet coming out on the page properly. Some new characters are talking to me, but I told them to shut the hell up and leave me alone for awhile, because I’ve got too much going on right now, and don’t want to spread myself too thin.

Quiet evening, thank goodness. I actually watched some television and took it easy. The weight training felt out of whack last night, so I skipped it and just did yoga. To counteract bitterness over the cancelled trip, I made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, because that’s such a fun dish it’s hard to remain bitter when there are spaghetti and meatballs involved!

The computer did very well yesterday, poor little thing. I’ve designated certain “rest periods” for it during the day, and turning it off earlier at night, which seemed to help, at least for the day. I’ve got to nurse it along until I can buy my new computer, and that is completely dependent upon a particular payment coming through that I’ve designated for the computer. Because, without a reliable computer, I can’t earn a living.

More correspondence to get out today, work on the proposals, work on the brochures, and, maybe I can land an article or two. I should also check in with the agency with which I signed up, and see if anything’s percolating on that front. AND finish the job for Confidential Job #1.

Devon

Billy Root story – 17,547 words out of est. 60,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
17 / 60
(28.3%)
Published in: on February 17, 2009 at 8:43 am  Comments (8)