Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

In case I don’t go online tomorrow, or my computer implodes, I’m a guest on April 1 & 2 on Ye Olde Inkwell, talking about freelancing. I hope you will hop on by.

The March wrap-up for Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions will go up this afternoon. I will post April’s To-Do list on the 2nd.

Yesterday was one of THOSE days. I hissed and spat at Microsoft for a good portion of the day, because when it comes to this Conficker brouhaha tomorrow, they are no help. I don’t know why this comes as a surprise to me. So, either the computer blows up tomorrow or it doesn’t. I downloaded two security somethings – one of which “might” wipe my drive – not acceptable. Anyway, I plan to back up what I can, remove the flash drives, clear as many projects off my desk as possible and send them out, and THEN do the update tonight. Either it will work or it won’t, and my money’s on the latter. It’s not like McAfee’s going to protect me – they didn’t even send out any suggestions for extra protection. Remind me again why I pay them? Not that I’m important enough to hack into or anything, but I’m ripe as collateral damage. I was ready for a glass of wine by 1:30. But I held off until 5, in spite of the fact that it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere!

I may try a few other precautions as well, rather non-traditional ones, so to speak.

Sent off the article; wrote and sent off the review. And then couldn’t get out a coherent, typo-free sentence for the rest of the day. Worked on client projects. Helped my mom with her taxes. Pitched a few jobs. Negotiated with someone who was a potential client a few months ago, but went with someone cheaper. The person didn’t work out (gee, there’s a surprise), so the client wants to hire me – at the previous person’s rate. Uh, no. I was gracious (through gritted teeth), but refused. The research time alone is worth approximately 8x more than the payment, and then there’s the writing . . .

The play is closed, the cast is sad, and we’re having a barbecue in May. Something to which to look forward.

Two of the actors requested another play using their characters. I already figured out the first scene and most of the plot.

I spent way to much time on Twitter. Gotta say, it’s a good stress buster.

I may wind up staying off line tomorrow just for a mental health day, even if the computer works well.

I had a great morning’s writing – not on anything scheduled, but I had an inspiration and ran with it. 2K in less than an hour, and I could have kept going, had I not needed to leave for the mechanic’s. I’m off to get the car inspected for the state sticker, and then, I hope, hope, HOPE to have a very productive day so I can sort out the computer. And let’s hope it doesn’t all go kaplooey tomorrow.

I still can’t believe that April 2 will be the SIXTH YEAR of Ink in My Coffee. Who knew I had so much to say? Thanks for joining me on this creative journey.


Published in: on March 31, 2009 at 7:25 am  Comments (9)  

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Partly Sunny and cold

How to Deal with a Writing Saboteur:

Stranger: So, what do you do?

Me: I’m a writer.

Stranger: Oh, I love to read! I’ve always wanted to write, I have lots of great ideas, but I’ve never gotten around to it. What an easy way to make a living! All you do is sit around in your pajamas and make things up. I read all the time Would I have read anything of yours?

Me: I don’t know. What do you like to read?

Stranger: I read EVERYTHING.

Me: (reels off several of the names/titles/publications).

Stranger: You can’t be a REAL writer. I’ve never heard of any of those.

Me: Obviously, you don’t read that much or keep up with hot new releases.

There’s no need to be gracious to someone who tries to disguise jealousy with false enthusiasm.

Because if it’s someone who’s genuinely interested and excited about your work, the person will say, “Oh, I haven’t read any of that yet. Where can I find it?” THAT is an actual reader, someone worth the interaction.

Let’s face it, no matter how much any of us read, there will always be new-to-us authors. That’s part of the fun.

On to our regularly scheduled blogging:

It was really good to be offline for a couple of days. I think I’m going to have to do that more often, whether I’m working on a site or not. I checked email and visited a blog or two on Sunday after I got back, but that was it. Bliss.

I wrote an article on Friday morning before I had to leave for the job. I’ll polish it and send it off today.

The site job went well. The weather was great for the most part, so I got to spend time outside in the warm sunshine. By Sunday, instead of warm sunshine, we had cold rain, but that was fine.

Completed the assignment for Confidential Job #1, and will send it off this morning. It was fascinating. They’re giving me more challenging work lately, which I like.

Got some work done on CRAVE THE HUNT. I need to re-immerse myself in my Iceland trip to get the sensory details right for the Jain/Wyatt chapters set in Iceland – I think there will only be two, but it’s important to get them right. Coincidentally, negotiations have resumed about adapting one (or more) of the Icelandic myths for the stage, so I need to actually sit down and read that doorstop-weight of a book of the Icelandic Sagas over the next few months, taking notes – all 1800 pages of it.

Didn’t do any work on The Lucy Gothic, unfortunately. Mapped out a few other pieces. Had an idea in the car driving to the site for something – very strong opening scene, good characters, etc. The problem is that I don’t know why these characters are brought together or for what purpose. I’ve got a group of dynamic individuals in search of a plot, and, until I can figure out that plot, there’s nothing I can do, because it will just all fall apart. I jotted down some notes, and it’s put away.

Worked on a couple of outlines, which should be ready to go out the door this week. Went over a proposal I’ve got to submit today, and did the groundwork for another proposal I hope to get out this week. Worked on the newsletter — I’m combining March and April. I hope to get it out later today.

Also, once I got home, I managed to do some house-and-hearth stuff, including six loads of laundry and re-arranging some books. I’ve got some seeds to plant on Thursday, the next planting day on the lunar calendar. Someone moved in next door, into the apartment recently vacated by the Nasty Neighbor. I haven’t met the New Neighbor yet, but New Neighbor has a lot of bookcases and boxes of books, so I bet we’ll get along.

I re-read one of my favorite writing books, as fuel, one which I haven’t re-read in about two years. And was deeply disappointed. Whereas two years ago, although I didn’t find many of the techniques/exercises personally useful, I found the book detailing them fun and energetic. Now, I find it neurotic and filled with yet more ways to procrastinate. The words on the page haven’t changed, obviously, but where I am in my overall writing has changed a great deal. It’s interesting to see how much progress I’ve made on my own journey, but disheartening that I’ve “outgrown” this particular writer’s suggestions.

Read Colleen Gleason’s WHEN TWILIGHT BURNS, one of her Gardella Vampire Chronicles. I’d never read any of her books before. I enjoyed it – the contrast between Regency lifestyle and vampire hunting is strong. I like the characters a lot. I kind of felt like I was dumped in the middle of the wilderness without a map at times because it’s several books into the series. There were hints of what happened in previous books, so I think I’ve figured the overall series arc to this point, at least the basics; when I read the other books, I’ll find out whether or not I’m right. I liked the choice of not putting too much information about the previous books in it, and the way tidbits were woven in organically — I just felt I missed a lot. Part of it was reading when tired, but that’s the way it was. Characters are great, it’s well-plotted, the pace is good, the storylines are well-woven. All in all, I enjoyed it a lot, and I look forward to reading the other books in the series. The only thing that irked me was it’s yet another depiction of Lilith in a particular way. I’ve got a very different view of the Lilith myth, so every time I see this choice, especially in a book written by a woman, it puts me off a bit. But that’s a personal interpretation choice, which has nothing to do with the high quality of the writing. She’s got the right to create any mythology she wants (and she does it well), and it’s up to me how I respond.

I booked another job for next weekend, which will be tons of fun. Plus, the place I stay when I’m on that particular site has a fabulous kitchen, so I get to do some serious cooking along with everything else – there’s a great grocery store nearby, so I can stock up on my way in.

I have to be focused and productive this week, juggling my deadlines with client projects, but I’m looking forward to a productive week without too much paperwork B.S. I do have to have an unpleasant conversation with one of my editors at some point, but I’m being jerked around and I don’t cave to emotional blackmail; I’d rather get this sorted out sooner rather than later. I fulfill my contracts to the letter, and I expect the same from the other side of the table.

I also have to take my car in at some point for the state inspection. March is nearly over!

I will be offline on Wednesday, April 1. Not only do I loathe April Fool’s Day (the majority of so-called “jokes” usually have an undercurrent of cruelty to them, which I find inexcusable), that’s the day the Conficker worm is rumored to unleash, infecting millions of computers. And, since we know I can’t trust McAfee to do what I pay them to do and actually protect me, and since I tend to have computer problems anyway, I’m staying offline. This morning, McAfee is, of course, totally out of control. Again. And heaven forbid customer service or even the executive office can bother with the basic courtesy of a response to my numerous complaints.

When I return to the online world (hopefully, if the computer doesn’t self-destruct the following day as soon as I try to connect to the internet, which is a possibility), it will be the Sixth Anniversary of Ink in My Coffee. I can hardly believe it.

I expect to be online tomorrow.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

I started work on the anthology story to replace the anthology story that didn’t fit the guidelines. I checked the website, and nearly had a fit at first – it looked like they’d changed the guidelines since last week for something due before April 1. Reading the site more closely, I realized that they now list calls for two very similar anthologies with dates very close together.

However, I’m not sure I want to participate. Something feels off. So I think I’ll pass. What a relief! If all of these characters call strongly to me, I will probably write their stories anyway at some point, but I just don’t feel that now is the right time for them. And something about this particular anthology set off warning bells, although I can’t put my finger on it.

I immediately felt better. It’s not under contract, so I’m not breaking any promises. Sometimes one focuses so much on getting work out there when one needs to prioritize what that work consists of.

I made solid progress on the first act of FEMME FATALE. It’s much darker than I expected, and I have to go back and brighten it a bit. This is supposed to be COMIC noir mystery, after all. I’m making it happen with five characters instead of six, which creates an interesting dynamic.

Ran some errands. Picked up a stack of books at a library sale – nothing like walking off with 8 books, some of them hardcovers, for only $2 to make you feel like a smart shopper! Read one of them, another Donna Leon, SUFFER THE SMALL CHILDREN, last night. I love her books. If you like well-crafted mysteries and/or are interested in contemporary Venice, these books are fabulous.

Got some work done on Chapter 13 of CRAVE THE HUNT this morning. I don’t want to get too far back into it, since I won’t be able to work on it all weekend. But I set up a few things that will be supported later. Just a few tight pages, but necessary. Now, I can move on to Chapter 14, with Jain and Wyatt in Iceland, while things start to spin out of control for Billy in Scotland.

I’m packed. I’ve got a couple of things to do this morning, a few bits to clear off and maybe get a bit done on FEMME FATALE. After lunch, I head to the site job. I’ll be offline probably until Monday. I may get back online at some point on Sunday, but I doubt I’ll post anything new until Monday.

In addition to the work I’m paid to do on site, I hope to have time to work on The Lucy Gothic a bit, sort out the dream from the other night into a viable outline, and figure out a couple of other pieces. Of course, I’m taking the yoga mat with me. And the assignment for Confidential Job #1.

I’ve sorted out the article in my head, so I may start it this morning and then polish it when I get back, so it can go off first thing Monday. It’s supposed to be a lovely weekend, so I hope to spend a little time outside as well.

McAfee, is, of course, out of control again this morning, so I don’t know how much I’ll actually get done. I loathe McAfee, Dell, and Microsoft. They’re all hateful, and, in my experience, committed to wringing as much money out of their customers as possible without providing the services for which they are paid.

Have a good one, everybody!


Published in: on March 27, 2009 at 6:38 am  Comments (9)  
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009
New Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I am ready for a new moon, baby! 😉

I was in “gastric distress” yesterday for most of the day, the aftermath of the previous evening. And, I was tired. So I wasn’t particularly productive. However, I found that radishes helped enormously. Unfortunately, I then baked cookies and ate raw dough, so we were back to square one. By dinnertime, the sight/smell of food didn’t make me want to curl up into a fetal position and wail. An improvement.

Managed to get the grocery shopping done – that rocked, I shopped very well on my budget, including the food I need to bring with me on the site job this weekend.

Several people asked me what it feels like to see my work on stage. There’s always a bit of strangeness to the process, because you’re seeing something that ran two-dimensionally in your head (even if you see actual people speak your words as you imagine them) and then it’s three dimensional in front of you. Also, because I was not part of the rehearsal process in this particular case (I often am part of it – I love being in the rehearsal room with actors), there’s a lot that’s out of my control, and you just have to roll with it, as far as beats, rhythm, choices, etc. Mostly, when it’s a good production, it feels good. Good actors and good direction will take it to heights you couldn’t imagine when you wrote it.

You also have to put aside your own ego and accept it for what it is – it’s live, and sometimes an actor will go up on a line or paraphrase or whatever. Mistakes happen. When they’ve simply miscast, that’s when it becomes an issue. When I’m more closely involved in the day-to-day process of a show, I try to get in on the casting, and in theatre, it’s far more likely to include the playwright than in film (the screenwriter is rarely involved in casting unless the screenwriter is also directing and/or producing). Most actors pull from the same pool of monologues, material that most of us on the other side of the table have heard a zillion times – and, after the 15th time you’ve heard it in the same day’s casting session, you’re ready to tear your hair out. One of the reasons that actors who use my monologues usually land a callback and the role is that the material is fresh and that alone makes the casting folks perk up. That and the fact that the monologues roll easily off the tongue. Anyway, when you know the material the actor performs, you know if the actor paraphrases. It’s a warning bell. If you bring him back for a cold reading (he’s handed pages from the script and has to read them with a reader provided in the casting session – I always pay an actual actor to sit and read in the casting sessions, it’s only fair to those auditioning). Some actors are awful at cold readings, some are great at them, and you have to hope that being good in a cold reading isn’t their best, or it will be a long road ahead. Because it’s a cold reading, the words won’t be spoken exactly as written. But, again, if there’s too much paraphrasing, the actor is not going to respect the script in the rehearsal or performance process, and my vote is “no.” Also, in a callback, you get a chance to work the actor in a scene and then give direction – if the actor can’t take direction, it’s a “no.”

Of course, there are some actors who do their best work in auditions and go steadily downhill during rehearsal, and then you have to make the decision to fire them.

As a writer, I love being in the rehearsal room with the actors (provided the director isn’t a control freak). Yes, the director is in charge, but there are some directors who don’t want the writer to talk to the actor AT ALL, which is ridiculous. It’s something the director, writer, and producer need to thrash out before starting rehearsals. What’s the protocol? Who says what? When I have a good relationship with the director, we discuss the day’s work ahead of time, go in to the rehearsal on the same page, and we can both interact easily without contradicting each other. We check in with each other, but we don’t defy each other. I think it makes everyone in the room uncomfortable when the writer and director debate a point in front of the actors, or, every time the writer has an idea, the writer pulls the director into the corner and there’s a lot of whispering. I find that very counterproductive. It’s one thing to turn to the director and say, “Hey, I have an idea! Wanna hear it?” And then the director either takes you out of the room or says, “yeah, sure” and you present it (best scenario, when there’s a real collaboration). Again, there has to be a lot of communication before the production starts. You want to provide a creative and stable environment in the rehearsal room so that the actors can fly and contribute to the creation process.

You still discuss notes ahead of time with the director, and the director’s the one who gives the notes (although I’ve been in a room where suddenly the director turned to me and said, “Do you have any comments?” – I prefer to discuss them with the director ahead of time, and, if it’s something controversial, I’ll say that’s what I want to do, but if it’s little tweaks, I’ll say them). Also, I’m big on cutting in rehearsal – when you have a three-dimensional actor, you can cut out the unnecessary words. So there are often sessions at the top of the rehearsal, after I’ve discussed it with the director, I’ll sit and give cuts. And usually terrify the actors, because the act of cutting often frightens them, although once they run it on its feet, they love it. Or, if a scene doesn’t work, I either rewrite it that night, or go off during the rehearsal for an hour, re-write it, hand it to the director. The director and I talk about it, I make some tweaks, the production stage manager runs a clean copy and makes copies for everyone in the company who needs it, and off we go.

I wasn’t involved with the day-to-day of this particular play, but we’d discussed it ahead of time and I was fine with it. I knew the circumstances, I knew the nomadic nature of the company, all of that. If the circumstances were different, I would have written into the contract provisions for casting and rehearsals. So, things that might have bothered me had I had a different relationship to the day-to-day running of the show simply weren’t an issue here. As I watched it, I saw a couple of places I would have cut a line here and there to even tighten the rhythms further (although it was hard to tell with two new people ad-libbing whenever they got insecure, which was a lot).

As a stage manager and production manager, I’ve worked with playwrights so in love with every syllable that they refuse to cut anything, and it’s detrimental to a production. You’ve got to be willing to cut anything you don’t need.

I had a strange dream last night. I dreamed I was reading a book. What was strange about it was that, in the dream, I was reading the actual text of the book, the story, and simultaneously seeing it unfurl behind my eyes the way one does when one reads. And I suddenly knew that the book hadn’t yet been written. So I wonder if I’m supposed to write it? Well, if so, take a number!

I have some client projects to work on today, the two anthology stories, the plays, and an article. I’ve also got some errands to run (in the rain) and I have to pack for the weekend’s site job.

Busy day; better get going.


Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 7:33 am  Comments (6)  
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

More post-mortem paperwork. I’m spending several hours per day filling out paperwork, which then leads to more paperwork, because the people demanding the paperwork are morons. There needs to be a lot of corporate restructuring, as much as “let’s get rid of the unnecessary b.s., obstructionism, and vamping.” It ate up most of the time I hoped to put aside for writing before I had to leave for Long Island.

Oh, well. I’m starting to think I should flip my schedule, going back to working all night, sleeping during the day, and never being available by telephone again.

Typical example of Suburban Bitchery: I stood in line in the Post Office yesterday afternoon. A woman several people ahead of me had her sleeping, well-behaved baby in a stroller – very cute, very sweet. The woman behind her “oohed” and “aahed” over the little one, sidling around to “get a better look” – and then cut in front of her when the postal worker called, “Next.” I mean, come on, lady, you are NOT that clever, nor are you that important! If she’d tried that on me, I would have kicked her ass right there at the window. But then, people don’t usually try to cut in front of me in line. I tend to stand in line with the mirrored sunglasses and I can still turn on the “I live on the Deuce in NYC, don’t mess with me” attitude, even though I haven’t lived on 42nd St. for years. However, knowing how to waft intimidation through one’s pores like perfume comes in handy.

I was completely stressed out about what to wear to the show. Silly, isn’t it? But hey, it goes with the territory. The only contact I had with the production was with the producer via email and telephone – I’ve never met any of them, and it was a very hands-off production experience (which is fine with me, that’s the way it goes sometimes). But first impressions and all that. Changed my shoes eight times, and wound up with what I first put on anyway – the chocolate colored patent leather pumps with three inch heels.

The drive to Long Island was difficult, which I expected, going during rush hour. The drive to the Whitestone Bridge was fine, but the Cross Island was backed up because the LIE was a parking lot. It took me a little over an hour – but I was still an hour early. Lara, you’ll love this – the only place I could find to hang out was Stop & Shop. I kid you not. I walked the aisles doing meal planning – I actually have to do my grocery shopping today, so I walked around and made my list. There was no way I was going to stash groceries in my car for four or five hours.

The restaurant had the reputation of being top notch Italian. The prices sure were. Yet their idea of a “house salad” was iceberg lettuce with Thousand Island dressing and an olive on top. Um . . .? They either used vegetable oil instead of olive oil or such a low grade quality of olive oil that it tasted like vegetable oil, and so much of it, along with melted margarine (I can taste the difference between butter and margarine – I’m a cook), that it globbed into a ball of grease at the bottom of my stomach. The only choice for dessert was ice cream (really? In an Italian restaurant?) An Italian ice would have been lovely – but this was store-brand freezer type. On the plus side, there was enough garlic in the meal so that I did not have to fear vampires on the drive home. Even other cars kept their distance.

Perhaps I’ve become a food snob. Yet I eat at a wide variety of restaurants all over the world that aren’t written up and have great meals. This one, with its supposedly great reputation . . .

I also felt badly about disliking the food because the staff was so nice. Now there’s a paradox – usually when the food is under par, so is the service and the attitude. Here, they were lovely and they took very good care of me, which I appreciated, and I tipped well, in spite of the food, because the service was good.

I felt the venue was quite disorganized, but I was happy to see the play. They’d told the producer there weren’t many reservations; yet it turned out they were overbooked and had to add seating, cutting the playing area to almost nothing. It was a case where I had to bite my tongue and take a breath – I’m not on the production team on this one, I’m “just” the writer. I don’t have to take control in situations like this, the way I usually do – someone else does. Because, of course, my first instinct was to jump in and fix things. But the production has quite a wonderful, capable, CALM production manager. The actors didn’t know I was there – they’d been told I was coming to the final performance. This was the first performance for the two actors who stepped in after one actor was fired and one quit – so there are two actors on book for the last three performances this week. I’d written an alternate final scene because there were problems with the actor who was ultimately fired early on, which only changed one small thing but made sense of the fact that a woman had to step in to replace the most stable male character in the show. I was told that scene would be used; however, when I got there, I found they had created a new opening to “explain” the two actors on book (instead of just saying “we had cast changes, we’ve got two actors on book tonight”, which is perfectly legitimate and happens at all levels of the business) and that became the central focus of the show instead of the actual plot, due to piling on the ad-libbed material which took the air out of several of the scenes. Comedy is written and performed with specific pace and rhythm, and there were times when all of that went out the window. However, in the scenes that ran as written, where I could actually see the actors and the material, I thought they did a good job. The four core actors have a great rhythm together, and, in the scenes between the two female leads, there was great chemistry. The third actress was very good in her multiple roles, and the guy playing the detective was a lot of fun. When he first came in, I was worried about his choice, and then he turned on a dime in a wonderful way and made it work very well. The two actors who stepped in at the last minute had some funny moments and gave it a good shot – with a little work, they’ll own it and maybe even have some fun. I’m not going to stress about it for the last two performances – if there were two weeks, I’d insist on a rehearsal and work with them, tweaking the script. Because I’m that kind of bitch ;).

Hey, my plays are produced all over the world, and I’ve often stepped in to tweak my own shows. I don’t have directing aspirations, but I know how to talk to actors.

I even roughed out a new play during the intermissions (I always travel with paper and pen/ Besides, there are always napkins).

I was introduced at the end of the night. The delight on the actors’ faces made it all worth while. Especially the four core people said they felt I’d written them roles of a lifetime, and they wished the show would run for a year. Two of the actresses will be in THE MATILDA MURDERS in the fall (and one of the actors who stepped in to a role will direct it). I’m very pleased about that. The other actress will perform in my home town this summer, so I’ll get to see her. I already put a bug in the producer’s ear about a play I’d like to write for her. She connects to my material very instinctively, and, in our conversation later, we thought very much along the same lines. Some of the audience members even asked for my autograph – and yes, I learned from working with all those Broadway and television actors. The first thing you say is, “What’s your name?” and then you personalize it. Otherwise it ends up on eBay. (It shouldn’t for me, I’m not well-known, but you never know what people will try to hawk on eBay). I held firm to my “no-photographs” policy, which miffed the venue owner’s wife, who wanted pictures of me on the web site, but too bad.

It was great to meet everyone and talk to everyone. It’s truly a lovely group of people, and I am deeply appreciative of their commitment and work. I’m definitely happy to continue working with them. I had a few notes that I think will help the new-to-the-piece actors in the final two performances, and I followed protocol by giving them to the producer and production manager rather than directly to the actors.

The drive home was fine – hardly any traffic – hey, garlic works on more than vampires! Got home after midnight, but was too wound up to sleep, plus ate crackers to absorb the grease. I missed my workout last night and feel the difference. May have to add one today.

I need to get my stomach settled and my mind settled and get some good, solid writing done. After all, the producer wants to know when she gets to read FEMME FATALE!


Published in: on March 25, 2009 at 7:08 am  Comments (11)  
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

It’s 11 degrees (Fahrenheit) this morning. It’s just wrong! 😉

I finished reading my friend’s manuscript. It rocked! I’m delighted and honored she asked me to read it.

Spent far too long working on a proposal. Every organization’s format is off slightly from every other organization’s format, so it become time-intensive. You can have a well-written proposal, but have to cut it up 38 different ways for different organizations, instead of just a cover letter, biographical information, and the actual proposal. Honestly, this stuff makes manuscript submissions look like a cakewalk.

Got some business correspondence done. Didn’t see anything particularly interesting on the job boards, which is why I’m cutting my perfectly good proposal into 30 different pieces. I’ve got a list of places as long as my arm to which I need to send them, in their various permutations.

My plan is to have a reasonably productive morning and then go see my show tonight. I have to leave mid-afternoon and hope for the best. I am so NOT in the mood to be gracious and social, but I just have to get over myself.

Those of you who commented on the fact I should be comped to see my own show are absolutely right – that is the protocol. Unfortunately, the production goes into a variety of non-traditional venues to perform the show and the venue sets the rules. This particular venue doesn’t even know what a “playwright” is – I guess they think the actors make up the show as it happens. Just because they’re geographically located not too far from Manhattan doesn’t mean they have a clue when it comes to theatre. If I was able to see it at one of the other venues, it might have been a different story, or it might not. Unfortunately, this is the only night I can see the show, so I have to suck it up and try not to resent it too much. Not doing too well on the latter part. But it is what it is, and I’ll get over it. The show’s had a good run for three months, and the company is doing another play of mine in fall, so there’s an upside. What can I say? Royalties make me all warm and fuzzy. I’m interested to see what choices were made in the script – I left a certain amount of flexibility in it so that it can adapt to a variety of spaces – and I’m curious about the result.

There’s some other stuff going on that’s too early to publicly discuss. Contemplating the possibilities takes quite a bit of time, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it still takes time. Some interesting opportunities are dangling in front of me, that can’t be entered into lightly. Setting it up would be huge, and probably take the better part of a year. But, if I do it right, it takes an awful lot of pressure off me for about the next twenty years. If I can manage it, I may have to take off two weeks or so in early summer or late summer to investigate first-hand. In the meantime, I’m doing my research, and creating plenty of “pro” and “con” lists to see how things balance out.

Going to spend some time with Billy Root, and then work on anthology stories. I came up with a good, succinct scenario for an anthology story to replace the ones where the characters are taking it in a different direction. If the original characters want me to tell their tale, they will have to take a number in the queue. That’s the trade-off for not doing what needed to be done to fit into the anthology!


Published in: on March 24, 2009 at 7:20 am  Comments (8)  

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Diane, we use Fahrenheit here in the States – it’s COLD! 😉

Dumped a couple of the “follows” I had on Twitter because they sent the equivalent of spam email every day – several dozen of the same tweets trying to sell me something or get me to sign up for something. Not interested. Buh-bye.

Since I worked hard all week, I decided that yesterday was technically, my day off. I’m entitled to at least one day off a week; I usually have a floating day off depending on deadlines, and I couldn’t sit in front of the computer for more than 5 minutes at a time anyway. So it made sense all the way around.

I did some dusting, some vaccuuming, a lot of hip-opening yoga poses, a lot of stretches. Turning the vacuum duties into stretching exercise is a bit weird, but it works. Also, I sprinkled lavender on all the carpets about an hour before I vacuumed, so the apartment smells fresh and beautiful.

I did a little bit of writing, but in short bursts. I don’t like to work that way, but the physical demands of my body made it necessary.

I worked on a client project that I normally wouldn’t on the weekend, because I remembered he’s leaving for two weeks today, and I wanted to get it turned around before he left. So, yeah, although it was my “day off”, I ended up working.

I’m reading a friend’s manuscript and having fun with it. I managed to read about half of it over the course of the day. It’s frustrating when I have to get up because I can’t sit for long periods, and I want to know what happens next. The hip problem means tomorrow will be a nightmare – driving out to Long Island and then sitting through the show.

Of course, getting a reservation for the show was no picnic, either. I had to call FOUR TIMES before I found someone capable of taking a reservation. I mean, come on, this isn’t brain surgery. And the dweeb on the phone didn’t know what a “playwright” was. Frankly, I’m a little annoyed that I don’t get a comp to see my own show.

I’m going alone (seeing my own work is a strange feeling, even when it’s well done), and, because of metro area traffic patterns, if I want to make it remotely on time, I have to leave hours early and find something to do in the area, or else I’ll be stuck in traffic for hours. Only I can’t seem to find anything close by – not a library (I have research to do in that area, I figured it would be a perfect opportunity), not a bookstore, not a café, not a park, not a museum, not a fabric store, not a yarn shop. Heck, I’d even settle for a mall at this point, and I don’t do malls! I’m taking a book and a notebook – there’s got to be something that’s not too far away where I can SAFELY hang out for a few hours.

By accident, I came across another Terry Pratchett novel adapted for television last night: THE COLOR OF MAGIC. The design was beautiful, and at least they spoke at a good clip, but it was still four hours long. Actually, I think it’s less, but there were so many commercials – and huge chunks of commercials, that the piece was spread over four hours. Hey, I remember when everyone was excited about cable because there were NO COMMERCIALS. We need to go back to that. Yeah, like that’ll ever happen!

Lots of business to handle today. A lot of it is unmucking what others carelessly mucked up, which always works my last nerve. I have a feeling I won’t get much writing done. I realized that one of the anthology stories (the one due sooner rather than later) is not going to work – the characters simply don’t want to do what I need them to do in order for the story to fit this anthology. They’ve got a story to tell, but on a different theme. I tried to negotiate with them, but they’re stubborn. Unless I can come up with something else damn fast, I’m not going to submit, and concentrate on the second anthology story that’s due next month. That could weave out to being far more complex than I want or need it to, but I think I can structure it so that it’s within the guidelines, and maybe do more with the characters down the line.

Hopefully, I can add those scenes into CRAVE THE HUNT today, too, so that I can move forward with Chapter 14, the first of the Iceland chapters.

The hip is still painful. I took valerian root last night, which helped with the muscle spasms, but the problem is deeper in the sacro-iliac, so there’s more that needs work. I can’t get an acupuncture appointment quickly, but I’ll have to go and get it unwound eventually.


Published in: on March 23, 2009 at 7:01 am  Comments (10)  

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

It’s in the thirties here. So much for spring!

I got a good bit of work done, but not what I planned. I read over an adaptation I started last year. The bones of the story are good, but I have to map out more of it and finish the outline. The characters’ relationships weave an interesting web that’s integral to the story, and I have to make sure that I keep everything clear for me so that I know what to reveal when to the reader. It’s more hard sci-fi than I usually write, although there’s a good bit of mythology mixed in. It’ll be four to six months before I can actually go back and work on it again, but I think there’s enough there to warrant more attention. It’s a good stretch for me.

I also re-read what I have on MODERN CREATION MYTHS. Again, good bones, needs work. It’ll be awhile before I get back to it.

I was limited in what I could do at the computer because, in addition to the computer running poorly, for some reason, I had horrible pains in my hip and sacro-iliac. Bad enough so I had to take something for it (which is unusual). I could only sit for a few minutes at a time. That’s really going to make this week difficult if I can’t fix it fast.

I managed to get through some research (something I could do while lying on the floor, which seems to be the only position that didn’t cause excruciating pain, in spite of the pain pills and the yoga).

I wrote nearly 1K done on one of the anthology stories this morning (considering it’s due at the end of the week), and I will try to work in short bursts throughout the day. I hope to get some work done on the other story and maybe a little bit on CRAVE THE HUNT. If the weather holds, I’ll take a good long walk to loosen that hip.


Published in: on March 22, 2009 at 7:39 am  Comments (7)  
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Saturrday, March 21, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy day yesterday. Lots of business to take care of, but got a big chunk of it done, and then another load of crap landed on my desk. (Note: This has nothing to do with client projects — they are great. This is corporate, non-writing related CRAP).

I did some research on two non-writing related projects that was time-consuming, but, six months or so down the line will pay off. If and when I can talk about them publicly, I will, but it may well be that I can’t.

Cleared the client projects off my desk, so I can concentrate on my own fiction and deadlines this weekend, and also plan to read a friend’s manuscript. I may even wait to start the assignment for Confidential Job #1 until Monday.

Brainstormed with a friend about career directions and brainstormed with another friend, now that she’s being downsized. She hoped to leave in the next year or so; she simply would have rather had it on her terms. However, she’s the ultimate optimist and pragmatist, and is shifting through options in her typically upbeat way.

I’ve got some errands to run today, but the bulk of the day needs to be fiction-oriented.

The computer is running very, very badly, and my flash drive – let’s just say I plan to go to Staples in the next few days to get a new one and transfer everything, because I can’t risk it.

And I’m looking forward to it.


Published in: on March 21, 2009 at 6:15 am  Comments (3)  

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Spring Equinox

Yes, that’s right, it’s the Spring Equinox and it’s snowing! Too funny!

I want to take a minute to congratulate New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. Earlier this week, he broke Patrick Roy’s record as the goalies with the most wins. As of that game, he had 552 wins as a goalie. I haven’t paid attention to the Devils games this week (yeah, I know, I should), so it may already be higher than that. Brodeur is not only an extraordinary athlete, he’s a great guy. May he have as many more years of successful hockey ahead of him as he chooses.

Yesterday, I took care of a lot of business. A word of advice: If you ever get a chance to do business with LPL Financial, pass. They are a nightmare. I had to deal with them through no choice of my own these past weeks, and when I do have a choice, I certainly wouldn’t let them near anything of mine.

Violet is editing this post as I type. She decided that she must be involved with the actual writing process.

Elsa seems to be suffering a relapse. I’m going to keep an eye on her, but, if it continues through the weekend, I guess I’ll be headed back to the vet.

McAfee, as usual, is a nightmare this morning.

Cleared off a good portion of client work yesterday, which is great. I have one more project to finish this afternoon, and then the weekend is clear for my own fiction and for the work on Confidential Job #1.

It looks like I’ll get to see my play next Tuesday night. I’m excited and nervous. It closes at the end of next week, and there were a couple of cast changes.

The plan for the weekend is to work on the two anthology stories, keep going with CRAVE THE HUNT, go over ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT one more time, giving the submission package materials a final polish, and then get the first set of queries out for that next week, along with submission packets on another project that’s making the rounds and sparking interest. Once I’ve shoved those two projects out the door, I can return to the revisions on ANGEL HUNT and go back to The Big Project next week. I hope I get some work done on the plays, too.

I’m not paying much attention to the outside world this weekend; I’m concentrating on quite a few “inner lives”.! 😉 I also want to tweak my morning yoga practice a bit, and try something new meditation-wise.

Later today, I plan to post a ritual on the Cerridwen site for the Equinox, as part of the year-long series “Rituals for Gaia.” I’ll drop a post and let people know when it goes up.

I’m also going to cook hard-boiled eggs, color them, draw runes on them, and hand them out to friends, as I do each Spring Equinox. The runes are for love, prosperity, health, success, home, etc. Sort of like decorating Easter Eggs, but for Ostara and with runes.


Published in: on March 20, 2009 at 6:55 am  Comments (9)  
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I’m stunned by Natasha Richardson’s death. I never worked with her, but in the Broadway community, there’s six degrees or less of separation, and it’s tragic and frightening and awful. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

The computer was in a bad way yesterday, so that truncated my work somewhat, which was frustrating. I got out a few pitches and got some of the client work done, but finally, after yet another crash, I shut it down and went to take a walk on the beach. It was too nice a day to stay in and fret. Walking along the beach and the Boardwalk, watching the dogs play, etc., is a great way to clear one’s head. I had a few aha! moments on projects out there.

I’d gone to the grocery store in the morning. Wednesday is truly the best day to shop around here – prices at their lowest of the week, freshest produce. It was nice to make pizza for lunch, and then a dinner of baked flounder in bread crumbs, garlic bread, and ratatouille (Molly Katzen’s ratatouille recipe is my favorite).

Most of the day was spent on client projects. With a wonky computer, that needed to be the priority – this week’s deadlines. Hopefully, things will work well today and I can finish a few of them.

One of the dilemmas I have with the anthology stories is which byline to use. There’s some cross-over in subject matter with material already out there, and it could be useful to market under an established name. But there are elements of these pieces that may make it more practical to put it under a different name and not cross-market. I have to think about it, see where these pieces fit into the body of work under each name, and where the work under each name fits into the overall body of work. (There’s a part of me that’s rather tickled to realize I’ve been at this long enough and prolific enough to have a “body of work”). I’m leaning towards using something established rather than trotting out something new, because it could fit in with the likes of ANGEL HUNT and CHASING THE CHANGELING – the latter of which I planned to put out under a new name, but decided against. There are definitely both business and artistic concerns here.

On one anthology story, I realized that I’m writing my way into the story, and the beginning of the piece I actually submit will be farther into the piece. I might sprinkle some of this information within the final story, but now, this early in the process, I’m writing to find out what I’m writing. I’m getting to know the characters.

With a deadline looming, I need to write faster.

The other anthology story moves along better; it’s more fully formed in my head. But there are still details that I need to sort out as I write.

Lots to do today – some unpleasant business to take care of, and catch –up thanks to the wonky computer.


Published in: on March 19, 2009 at 8:26 am  Comments (4)  
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

The sun is out, the birds are singing, it’s warm enough to only wear shirt sleeves – could it be that spring really will start this week?

Thanks for the St. Patrick info, Lori. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know about him. I only know I refuse to work in the city on St. Patrick’s Day because Metro North allows the drunks to harass the commuters on the train, and it’s not worth it.

I’ve got an article on The Scruffy Dog Review called “Where’s the Work?” Stop by and leave a comment if you get a chance.

I’ve set off AIG comments, so if you don’t want to read them, skip down:
More AIG madness, with one of the best articles in yesterday’s LONDON TIMES (a reliable source):


Thank goodness we have Andrew Cuomo. He’s not waiting around while Congress drags its collective feet.

Abby, the reason these (word deleted because it was beyond rude) weren’t fired as soon as they started losing the company money is because Reagan began the deregulation that created the environment to allow this financial rape. Pay is not connected to competence, but to the amount of paperwork generated; the execs saw the opportunity for millions in personal profit and to hell with everyone else. United Auto Workers are told to take pay cuts or else. The AIG execs get a million dollars apiece for doing far worse to their companies – running them into the ground – whereas auto workers actually made cars, created something tangible. It’s not the auto workers’ fault that they were instructed to make gas-guzzling behemoths that couldn’t be sustained in an economy. Auto workers don’t make the decisions as to what’s built at a plant. But it IS the fault of the execs for writing policies that they knew couldn’t be sustained. Again, it’s an example of the direction towards medieval feudal society this country headed over the past years: If you’re rich and corrupt, you are rewarded; if you work for a living, you’re kicked in the teeth. NO MORE.

Lori, thanks for your comments. For those of you who don’t know, Lori has enormous experience writing about the insurance industry. She knows of which she speaks.

We need to remain outraged and keep pressure on those elected to represent us. If all we do is bitch and moan at home, nothing will happen. TAKE ACTION. Or shut up. Whining doesn’t solve the problem. Doing something does, and yes, we as citizens have the power to fix this, if we choose to use it. Believe me, I’ve been shooting off the emails every day. And, we need to call out the hypocrites who now pretend outrage for measures they allowed in the first place. We need Edward Liddy out, we need all those executives banned from ever working in the financial industry again (and those who knowingly wrote policies that couldn’t be covered, which, I’m sure, is all or almost all, jailed), and Hank Paulson punished. I want the list of the executives who received the bonuses MADE PUBLIC. It is our money; we have the right to know where it went.

Back to my daily life:
I forgot to comment on Monday’s episode of CASTLE in yesterday’s blog. Guess that’s how much it impressed me. 😉 Again, I like the leads. I could tell the production moved back to shoot in LA, rather than continuing to shoot in NY, and that turns me off. Got ahead of the story most of the time, and there were a few places, especially near the beginning, where you could see the actors working too hard to make the material pass. I was pleased that, in the Big Reveal scene and the final scene, they avoided a couple of cliché traps, although, early in the episode, they walked right into a few. I’m still very much on the fence with this show. I like Nathan Fillion’s work a lot (as I mentioned last week, it took awhile for him to win me over with his work, but now that he has, I’m loyal). I’m becoming a fan of Stana Kavic’s work, and I like them together. I’m not entirely satisfied with the writing, but again, I wonder how much of the script is watered down by the network. Fillion’s definitely on the list of people I’d like to work with someday – the odd details he puts into the work make me want to throw some unusual material his way just to see what he does with it. Of course, we’d need to find a context where we’re both paid! 

Computer troubles curtailed some of yesterday’s work. That was frustrating; I’ll make up for it today. My Microsoft decided I’m not longer “allowed” to create new folders in which to save files on my flash drive. Even though I’m only using half the drive’s space.. Microsoft can BITE ME.

I was worried I’d lose the revisions of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, so I sent backups to the three different accounts to which I always send backups.

Rewrote “Ris an Abrar” – I thought I found a spot for it. I see why it was rejected from the anthology to which I originally targeted it – there were some stupid mistakes in it. Hopefully, I’ve fixed most of what’s wrong with it, and I have to take a couple of scenes farther. Going over it again, I see that it IS the first chapter of a novel, whether I want it to be or not. There’s too much story to fit into a short story, so I’m going to put it aside and deal with it when it pulls strongly again.

I came up with an idea for the slot into which I planned to stuff “Ris an Abrar” into – now that it won’t fit, no matter what. I need to percolate it for a few more days, but the deadline for this anthology is coming up quickly, so I need to buckle down and do it or pass on it.

Got my next assignment from Confidential Job #1. I’m glad – it looks interesting. They’re definitely sending me the more challenging material crossing their desks lately. I don’t mind – although yesterday I was definitely more in the mood for brain candy!

I’m learning how to utilize Twitter. I’ll never be Uber-Marketer – that’s not my style. And I don’t go on and off it all day. I check it once or twice a day, tweet if I’ve got something to say or need to ask a question, catch up on tweets for a few minutes, and I’m done. I’ve met some interesting people with whom I might not have otherwise crossed paths. We’ll see. I’m cautiously optimistic.

The other anthology story’s percolated enough so I’m ready to write. Again, there’s a lot of story there, but I’m pretty sure I can pick and choose what’s strongest for this particular piece.

By the weekend, I hope to get back to both The Big Project and ANGEL HUNT.

We’ll see – a lot will depend on how the computer runs and how much client work I can clear off.

Back to the page.


Published in: on March 18, 2009 at 7:48 am  Comments (5)  
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and mild
St. Patrick’s Day

I always wonder about wishing people a “happy” St. Patrick’s Day, because wasn’t he brutally murdered?

Thank you, Andrew Cuomo, for going after AIG, and subpoena-ing the list! If I’m still in NY next year and he decides to run for governor – or anything else – he’s got my vote. He’s been one of the most effective people ever in any office here in New York. – not just bailout fraud, but on dozens of issues that affect New Yorkers.

Abby, the people getting the bonuses at AIG aren’t “good workers.” These are EXECUTIVES who made the decisions that ran the company into the ground in the first place. I don’t care if they spent 90 hours a week at the office – trust me, most executives don’t really work, no matter how many hours they clock in, I’ve seen it– their decisions created the problems that caused the company to fail. If they were “good workers”, the company wouldn’t need $173 BILLION dollars of tax payer money, wouldn’t have posted the largest quarterly lost in HISTORY – and yet rewards the people who caused this with bonuses? It’s not the admin assistants and the mail room workers or the janitors getting this – it’s the top guys, already earning obscene amounts of money, who make the bad decisions. The amount of hours does not matter. The result of work actually done matters. NO company that receives tax payer money should pay ANY bonus until the debt to the tax payers is repaid. On top of that, the people who made the bad decisions that caused the losses in the first place should be fired and replaced with competent people. Not given “retention bonuses.” Why do we want to RETAIN people who make decisions that lost so much money? We don’t. We want them fired. Not only that, they should be banned from ever working in finance again.

I had trouble settling down and focusing yesterday. I managed to pull it together to work on CRAVE THE HUNT a bit – I’ve got to add two scenes in Chapter 13 before I can move on to Iceland in Chapter 14, and I need to get out my photographs and maps from my trip to get the sensory details of Jain and Wyatt’s trip there correct. I worked on a couple of client projects and got out a couple of query letters. Nothing worthwhile on the job boards, so I’ll have to be a bit more pro-active as the week goes on.

Elsa decided her crate is now one of her favorite nap spots. So much for packing it away! As long as the door stays open, she’s happy. If, however, I shut the door, she complains. Well, at least she’s not afraid of it. She seems better, and Violet seems better, and they’ve started hanging out again together, so maybe we’re headed back to what passes for normalcy around here.

I had two very good sessions on ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, and finished this revision. It comes in just over 77K – I cut about 5K in the revision, streamlined the plot, tightened it, fixed POV shifts, etc. I do have to re-think the original two markets to which I planned to target it – they only take work up to 60K, and if I cut 17K, it means cutting the development of the relationship (which, even though it happens in a short time span unfolds in an interesting way) and just have “oh, they fell for each other, moving on”, which hurts this particular story. How Morag and Simon overcome the conflicts the commitments in their lives demand is one of the reasons the story works. I’ve found several other possibilities. I’ll put this draft aside as I polish the logline, one-paragraph summary, outline, synopsis, and query letter, and then go over it again before I submit; but it should be ready to start the rounds in a couple of weeks.

I dreaded going back to rewrite this book, because I remembered it being a complete and utter wreck, but it wasn’t (I wrote the first draft in 2006). It will be interesting to see where it ultimately lands.

I came across a call for submissions for an anthology a few days ago that intrigued me. While I slept, I figured out that story. It can only be up to 5K, which shouldn’t take too long, so I want to get started on that soon (start sooner, finish sooner, edit sooner, don’t send it at the last minute). And then a friend forwarded another call for submissions this morning that intrigues me. I’ll see what I can come up with – I may have something ready to go. Also, two other pieces are tugging at me and need some more notes – one a contemporary trilogy of about 60K each, and one a paranormal. The two main characters for the latter have roamed my brain for a few weeks now, but I didn’t have context. I finally found the context.

In other words, sleep last night wasn’t about rest, it was about creativity!

Back to the page.


Published in: on March 17, 2009 at 7:38 am  Comments (13)