Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday, April 17
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus DIRECT (as of this afternoon)
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Venus goes direct this afternoon, thank goodness.

I did some work on the play yesterday, but I was more in non-fiction head than in fiction head. I re-vamped the proposal for the dialogue workshops. I’m tired of every institution having a completely different submission format and basically having to re-do it every time. I did it in a clear, concise format with all the information and submitted it with the pitch letter to part of my list of places I’d like to teach, and we’ll see. If any of them want it in their format, I’ll re-do it, but I’m not waiting around to go back and forth five or six times and THEN rewriting it. They’ve got the info; make a decision. I got six proposals out, which is a decent day’s work.

Thanks, Fiona, for the museum info. I’ll put it to use today. That’s very helpful. Twitter at its best!

Colin, I use the regular web Twitter when I’ve been offline overnight, so I can scroll down farther and to do searches, because it works better for me. The TweetDeck is good for tracking the shorter term notifications and replies and for posting. So I switch between them. I think you’d like TweetDeck. You can probably make it do a bunch of fancier stuff than I can.

The weather was gorgeous yesterday. I walked across town to the library. The book I wanted to pick up from the sale shelf was gone. I snoozed; I lost. I don’t remember the title of the book or the author. I vaguely remember what it was about (a YA). All I remember is the spine of the book I think it “Menderley” or something in the title. Oh, well. It was the first in a series. Too bad for me.

I continued walking. I stopped by and visited the Episcopal Church where I was both baptized and confirmed – within the same month. I spent four years there, as an acolyte, once I was confirmed. The curate was one of the first women elevated to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. Yeah, it was that long ago. Anyway, although I no longer practice an organized religion, I slipped into the church just to see what it was like nearly 30 years later.

Not much had changed. It’s a fairly small church, with beautiful stained glass windows. It still feels friendly and welcoming. Particularly in this church, when the sign out front says, “The Episcopal Church welcomes YOU”, they mean it. I have a lot of happy memories connected to that place, and it was nice to revisit.

I continued walking and went to the local Arts Center, a small building that used to be someone’s house, but now has studios for painting and pottery and photography and all sorts of things. I picked up some information. I’d like to take a pottery class this summer, if I can possibly swing it, so I thought I’d check there first. Of course, they don’t offer a pottery class this summer, so I guess their pottery studio will be dark.

I picked up quite a bit of information there, walked back towards the main portion of town, and sat in the sun on the village green outside the library to read through it. I got an idea for a column for one publication — I will work on that over the next few days and pitch it. Got some other ideas, too, but I have to percolate them for awhile, to figure out if any of them are viable.

When I got back home, I researched local pottery classes and discovered one of the best professional ceramic studios is only one town over. They have a class this summer that sounds great – it’s quite a bit pricier than something at a local art center or Y would be, but, if I can swing it, I may sign up. I want to swing by the place in the next few weeks and get a sense of the vibe. After all, if it’s a studio to train professional ceramic artists, the focus will be different than mine. I want to play with clay to see if I actually like it and have an affinity for it, or if I just like the idea of it. Training at a professional studio would definitely make me push myself, but it also might be too much too soon, since I’ve never worked with clay before. I’ll have to go to the place, talk to them, see what it’s like. If it’s the kind of place that welcomes everyone, it might be right; if it’s focused on the vocation of ceramics, I need something with less pressure. It’s all still in the “possibilities” column rather than the “probabilities” column at this time. I have to see how my summer shapes up.

I had a great workout session last night (finally, after a few weeks of frustration), and I’m sore in a good way today. And then got to hang out with friends.

Got some errands to run today, need to get some work done on the play. I’m out of town in CT tomorrow, to which I’m really looking forward. I’m taking a dark Icelandic novel to read in the bright sunshine. Should be fun. And I got the new assignment from Confidential Job #1, which looks great.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 17, 2009 at 6:42 am  Comments (3)  
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Okay, it’s the middle of April and there’s still frost on the car windows in the mornings. That’s just wrong!

Yesterday was another odd, interesting day. On the positive side, I spent most of the day working on the play, FEMME FATALE. Act I was hard – I don’t know why, but I had a terrible time with it. I realized I had to introduce the faux villain earlier for it to make sense – the actual villain’s intro still works. I planted a few red herrings, worked in a few surprises, but it took me all morning to finish the act. I started working on Act II in the afternoon, which is much easier. I have a clearer idea of what I want, the dialogue sparkles, the layers are mostly there, it’s chugging along quite nicely.

On the negative side, in the afternoon, I started having computer problems again. I wound up with seven computer crashes. SEVEN. Some of them were caused by McAfee. Some of them were simply because Microsoft and Dell suck.

On the odd/interesting side, I’d downloaded TweetDeck the day before. There are things I like about it and things I don’t. I still need to use the old version sometimes, especially first thing in the morning, when I’ve been off the computer all night; TweetDeck only allows me to scroll down for a finite period & I can’t catch up on everything I’ve missed. But it’s easier to send a message, shorten an URL, track incoming messages, all that. So, using both works.

However, I was Tweeted approximately every 14 seconds. That gets a little distracting. I had the Deck open most of the day, and it pings when a new message comes in. I can see where that can be a time suck. I didn’t mind during Act I, because it was such a struggle, but it got annoying during Act II. Today, I’ll go back to just checking in occasionally.

And, McAfee HATES TweetDeck. The McAfee kept hijacking the Deck and the entire computer and bringing it down. For awhile there, after all the Conficker updates, McAfee was behaving itself, but this week, it’s back to the same old crap. And, of course, neither their Customer Disservice Department nor the Executive Office can be bothered to even respond to the complaints. However, the BBB has, and I appreciate it. The complaints will continue (as will the invoices for lost work time) until it is resolved to my satisfaction.

I made a pitch to an Australian magazine. I’d come across it a few days ago and sent an introductory email. They responded, so I responded back, and we’ll see from there where it goes. I really like the magazine, the pay rate’s decent, and I’d like to be involved with them. We’ll see how it goes.

The sci-fi book surprised me yesterday, in a good way. I’m getting a better idea of the overall structure and plot for this particular novel. The subplots were clear before the plot, which is weird, but hey, one of the things I’ve tried to strengthen in my work over the past few months is the use of subplot. This is where scriptwriting is useful – you need to weave in at least one “B” storyline succinctly into a finite number of pages (especially for a television script). Learning how to do that and then apply it to a novel helps.

I realized this morning that I shut off my phone a few days ago when I went to the library and left it off. Oops.

Some errands, and it looks like a nice day. I think I can walk to all of them, so I will alternate writing sessions with errands and split up my day a bit.

I had a reasonably pleasant exchange with building management yesterday and the hot water was back a little before noon.

DAUGHTER OF BOSTON shipped yesterday. I can’t wait to receive it and read it!

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 16, 2009 at 6:09 am  Comments (3)  
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cold & rainy

The library time was interesting. I ran some errands in the morning, then left the car in the home slot and walked across town to the library—which I then discovered changed its hours and only opens at noon on Tuesdays. It was nearly noon, so I waited around.

Usually, when I go to the library, I’m on A Mission. I know what I’m looking for, I hunt it down, I do my research, list my sources, take my notes, and go.

Well, this wasn’t actually a research trip. It was more of an I’m-in-exile-because-my-water’s-shut-off trip. I brought some writing and took some notes, but wasn’t really in the mood – I was in the mood for the projects on the computer drive AT HOME. But I was at the library – and not just any library, the small library in the suburban town in which I grew up, which brings back all kinds of weirdness, and Without A Mission.

I wandered and finally pulled some books off shelves. First, I was at a table, but the chair was the wrong height and too hard, and it just hurt after awhile. I found one of the very, very, very (like from 1968, when my family first moved to town) old green naugahyde chairs that was tossed between the stacks near a window, and settled in that with some books.

I skimmed through Francine Prose’s READING LIKE A WRITER. It’s a book I’ll invest in, eventually, and settle down to read leisurely. I’ve met her at PEN events, and I like & respect her as a person as much as I like & respect her work. I also skimmed through 78 REASONS WHY YOUR BOOK MAY NEVER BE PUBLISHED & 14 REASONS WHY IT JUST MIGHT by editor Pat Walsh. Basically, it’s all the common sense stuff I either do now or extol to the newbies who keep asking me annoying questions but can’t be bothered to actually put in the work. (But then, hey, I fall into the “published” category, fortunately). His number one reason why someone isn’t published is the same as what I always tell aspirants –-because you haven’t written the damned book yet! Anyway, it’s a well-written and tough-love kind of book, and I think it should be on every writer’s “Must Read” list for breaking into the business.

I also went back and found Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD. I realized, as I sat in the old green naugahyde chair beside the window, overlooking the brook and parking lot of the local Y (and able to hear the brook when people shut up and stopped jabbering into their cell phones – people, it’s a library, show some respect) that I always wind up reading her book in a library. I’ve re-read it quite a few times over the years, and checked it out from quite a few libraries at this point. It’s about darned time I owned a copy. Her writing that’s not about writing is hit or miss for me because she talks so much about God in a way that makes it clear that she’s replaced her addiction to alcohol or whatever her addiction was with an addiction to religion; hey, whatever works, but if someone talks non-stop about religion, I’m always suspicious. Those who LIVE it don’t have to yammer about it all the time; they don’t need to, they’re simply living it. But I do like this particular book a lot, and, in my travels, will keep an eye out and pick it up somewhere.

In her book, she uses a poem by Philip Lopate, which I really liked, so then I went in search of a book of his poems. And the library didn’t have one. I found that rather disturbing. Will have to hunt down his work on some other avenues. I found work by poets Glyn Maxwell and Muriel Rukeyser, which I will also hunt down and read in more detail in the future.

And then, I had one of those moments where I pulled out a book and had to own it. Bibliophiles know this well – you are suddenly obsessed with a book of which you’d never heard, but you hold it in your hands and suddenly nothing is more important that owning that particular book. It’s called DAUGHTER OF BOSTON, and is a compilation of 75 years of the dairy of Caroline Wells Healey Dall, who was in the circle of Alcott, Emerson, Thoreau, etc. Simply reading it wouldn’t do – it’s far too relevant to too many of my projects. I had to own it. So I wrote down all the information and put it back on the shelf.

I got home in the mid-afternoon, earlier than I planned, but with a blasting headache. I started my search – the book itself lists at $30, but I managed to find a new copy of the paperback at an independent bookstore on the west coat for $2.99. I ordered it. It ships tomorrow. I’m THRILLED.

Water didn’t come on until much later than promised, and then only the cold water had any pressure; the hot was a mere trickle. and the headache blew out of control by early evening, so I took it easy. This morning NO water comes out of the hot water taps. I hate these landlords.

I’m not feeling very creative today; maybe I’ll concentrate on proposals and pitches. Got my first 1K of fiction for the day done, so at least it’s not a total wash.

Devon

Published in: on April 15, 2009 at 7:14 am  Comments (3)  
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cold

First of all, Melissa Donovan has a great article on “How Poetry Writing Improves All Writing”. Check it out.

Second, today should be an interesting day. Landlord scum is turning off the water all day (at least they warned us), so I am taking myself and my writing into exile elsewhere. Not sure where yet – I have to see what I can carry with me and work on in longhand.

Urgh.

But a change of scenery usually works well for my writing, so I’m not going to fret too much. Just whine a lot. 😉

And, of course, it’s rainy, cold, and icky, so it’s not like I can go to the beach or the park or the Nature Center and write there for a few hours.

I signed and returned my contract to The Ranfurly Review. I’m very excited that they accepted a story of which I’m quite fond for their June issue. I went through my Pitch Log for January to see what needed follow-up. I was quite surprised by: The amount of pitches I’d made in January that turned out to be scams or bait-and-switch rates (so I refused them) and the amount of pitches I wasn’t really interested in following up. I only followed up on three, and one of those now has an invalid email address. Sigh. Two more pitches will get follow-up next month – they’ve got longer response times.

The job boards have just sucked lately, as far as anything that really ignites my interest. So I’m looking elsewhere and polishing some more proposals – this time with more careful proof-reading.

Disappointed with Castle last night. Especially since last week’s episode was so strong. Still love the actors, but the script was weak, and the “B” story line ex-wife character was so badly written I gritted my teeth every time she came onscreen. This was not the actress’s fault – it was the script. There was nothing for her to work with. There were so many ways to cleverly get across the same information, and they chose not to. Come on, people, you can do better than that! Give us a person, not a cipher!

Skipped my workout last night because I was reading a book – and regretted it. Skipping the workout, I mean, not the book. The book was fun. But I was out of sorts for the rest of the night, and I didn’t do my evening yoga. I had trouble getting to sleep, odd dreams once I fell asleep, woke up too often, and am grumpy and out of sorts today.

Sometimes, you just have A Day.

Mediocre writing session this morning – too many interruptions, due to the impending water shut off. So, I’ll pull together my stuff and decide where to hole up for most of the day. I’m sure the change of location will improve my mood, once I find a good location!

Hope you’re all having a GOOD day!

Devon

Published in: on April 14, 2009 at 8:11 am  Comments (5)  
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Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Stop by Sole Struck Fashions for my article on “Freshen Your Wardrobe”.

It’s still below freezing here, and it’s half-way through April. Hope that means the serious heat doesn’t arrive until well into June.

Never got around to blogging yesterday because I was too busy writing. Saturday was a cold, rainy day. I took it easy, alternating between leisurely-paced writing and reading. Part of the reading was some hard science research for a project, and the reading got the cogs of it unstuck, so I got several chapters of it written on Sunday. I had also had to do things like research a driving route between Detroit, Michigan and Santa Fe, NM and then rewrite a section of the chapter, because my protagonist came across like a moron. The first time around, I took the easy way to make happen what I needed to happen, and it made my protag come across as incompetent. So, I had to re-think it and find a more clever way to portray the circumstances, so the same chain of events I needed to happen happened, but without losing respect for the character. Always an interesting challenge. I got there, eventually.

Wound up writing a little over 30 pages on the project, which is a pretty good day’s work. Again, it didn’t feel frantic, and I didn’t feel wrung out by the end. It was simply a good, steady pace.

I’m doing one more proofread on the full of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. The submission package material is all fine, but I want to do one more pass on the full. So I’m working on it in short spurts – about three chapters per day, reading slowly, to make sure I catch everything. If I get a request for the full quickly, I’ll have to ramp it up, but for now, I think I can accomplish it via slow, steady & very, very careful.

Did a little reading in the evening, talked to friends, watched some television. Couldn’t tell you what. Reviewing tape of Derby contenders – the Kentucky Derby is in a few weeks, and there are articles to write.

Finished my taxes.

Had a decent, but not great writing session this morning. Need to get out some business correspondence, make the copies and mail out the tax returns, and get back to work on some of the deadlined writing, as well as get out some more pitches today. Gotta keep up the momentum.

Hope you had a great holiday weekend and will have a great week!

Devon

Published in: on April 13, 2009 at 7:41 am  Comments (8)  
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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Yesterday was an excellent writing day. I managed nearly 30 pages over the course of the day, 22 of them on one project. It wasn’t a day where I pushed particularly hard, either; it flowed well at a good pace. I was tired, a little dazed and disoriented after (since it was contemporary, it was always a surprise to look up from a scene and realize I was at my desk, not in the scene). By the end of the day, I was tired, but it was a good tired, not a burnt-out tired.

Decent writing session so far this morning, but nowhere near like yesterday’s. Also, there are other projects I need to work on this weekend – and get my taxes done.

It’s rainy and dark outside, so I just plan a quiet, and hopefully productive day today. Maybe do a bit of reading, too.

Nothing much to say today, I’m afraid; I said it all on the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 7:48 am  Comments (6)  
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cold

The arrogance of the unpublished never ceases to amaze me. I was in negotiations with a potential client to critique/edit a manuscript. I’d made my pitch with rate quotes & credentials. The response? “Once you’ve edited the manuscript, I expect you to recommend it to your agent so your agent represents me.”

In other words, this aspiring writer isn’t looking for actual editing and feedback. The writer wants someone to pimp the manuscript – an agent to find an agent.

In a word: No.

Next!

The tent cities in California will be evicted today; the residents are forced into shelters, and, horribly, FORCED TO GIVE UP THEIR ANIMALS. This is piling yet another unspeakable act of cruelty on those who have already lost everything. Tear family members apart (because yes, animals are FAMILY MEMBERS) over the Easter holidays. The emotional bonds with one’s animals are especially important in times of severe stress and crisis. Yet these fucking bureaucrats are causing even more pain and suffering – for situations they could have stopped in the first place. Yeah, that’s honoring the religious principles of compassion. Right.

It’s not impossible to set up shelters that meet the needs of both pet-oriented and non-pet-oriented people. They just can’t be bothered, and they continue to abuse their power of authority and hurt people simply because they can.

If the system can bail out, with billions of our dollars, the rich bankers and AIG executives, they can create viable, compassionate, humane housing for people who were economically raped by those bankers who are now being supported via our tax dollars until actual working people can get their jobs and their lives back.

Realized I blew a job pitch via a typo in the subject line. There is absolutely no excuse for that kind of carelessness on my part and it serves me right if they delete the pitch without reading it. I could kick myself. I thought I’d been careful, and I was wrong. Oh, well, cross that possibility off the list. Learn from my mistakes: if you think you’ve proofed it perfectly — go over it yet one more time.

Kept the headache sort of at bay – Diane, you’re right, it’s a mutli-day migraine, not a series of them, gosh darn it. I wasn’t feeling particularly creative. It hovered around the edges, threatening to strike at any moment, which was irritating.

Had to give a friend bad news. She’d asked me to look into something she suspected, but wanted verification, not trusting her own findings and hoping I’d find something different. I didn’t – in fact, it’s more complex and deceitful than she’d originally thought. And it’s confirmed from multiple sources with integrity. She’s disappointed, but at least now she has all the information to make an informed decision. And it’s her decision, not anyone else’s.

A Twitter post actually started the seed of a story – well, of a character, I don’t have her story yet. When it’s written and out there, I will make sure to thank the Twitterer (Tweeter?) in the acknowledgements! Too funny.

Research, research, research. Because when you’ve got characters who fly from Austin, TX to Santiago, Chile, you have to look up the flights and see how it works. Much more complicated than I expected, but gives me room for some fun scenes with plane changing, etc.

I also need to get a guidebook on Chile. I was going to set it in Argentina originally (that would also require research), but I think Chile or Peru will give me more of what I need. I also have to plot a driving path from Michigan to New Mexico for a different project. I love maps!

Jotted some notes down for a story that starts in Michigan and then moves into the Southwest.

I don’t use an alarm clock, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Finally, these past few days, I’ve been waking up naturally around 6:30 again, which makes a huge difference. Just that one half hour earlier makes all the difference in the world in getting the cats fed, the yoga and meditation done and getting to my desk earlier, while it’s still quiet.

Good morning’s writing session: 1700 words on one project. 1400 words on another, got three more on which I hope to get some serious progress completed, and then . . .it’s time to do my taxes.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Devon

Published in: on April 10, 2009 at 8:20 am  Comments (6)  

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 200o9
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cold

We had snow showers yesterday. It was pretty funny.

I acted like a grown-up yesterday and I’m proud of my self. Yeah, I know, it happens so rarely, you can all applaud and throw chocolate.

I spent some time catching up on blogs yesterday, because I was behind. I clicked on to one particular blog, someone whose work I enjoy, and was stunned. The person made an off-hand, perhaps attempt at humor that was, in reality, an ignorant comment denigrating my religion. I read it over a half a dozen times because I couldn’t believe these words were coming out on the page of someone I had, to this point, assumed to be reasonably intelligent and certainly capable of basic research on the topic. I was floored. And then I was furious. I spat out quite the stern response. Then, I went back and re-phrased it diplomatically. Then, I deleted it and clicked away from the blog without posting. I took a breath. First of all, the comment is out of ignorance and frustration at what isn’t working in the person’s own life; heaven forbid taking personal responsibility, let’s blame someone else. And, sometimes, there just isn’t a good explanation. Bad stuff happens to basically good people, and it’s not fair. If I decide to respond, I will do so in a private email, and I will try to be compassionate, while still making it clear that I find insulting my religion unacceptable, setting out possibilities that might be helpful without getting into “preach and teach” mode. Let’s face it, those with prejudice tend to hang on to it. I would have never considered this person prejudiced before reading the post. So, I haven’t decided yet what I will do. But at least I didn’t react out of anger, which I think is an important step. That wouldn’t have helped anyone – it would have just escalated the existing negativity in the situation.

Well, you know, Pluto is retrograde, which means that what’s hidden is revealed (in this case, prejudice and ignorance). Saturn is retrograde – life lessons, and if you didn’t learn it the last time Saturn was retrograde, the ass-kicking will be more intense. And Venus is retrograde – relationships.

For some reason, getting the first query out on a newly-submission-ready project is always the hardest. I make my lists. I have my materials ready. I’m fine sending out the other queries. But getting that very first one out the door is always the hardest –even when I batch queries, hitting “send” or sealing the first envelope is hard. Doesn’t matter how often I do it, doesn’t matter that I know when a project is ready, that first query on a project is tough.

I got out the first query, and then the rest of the batch was much easier to send. I’m not worried about this book; I know it will land where it needs to. It’s just a case of finding the best spot.

Also got out one of the teaching proposals, and worked on two more.

Got out the updated B’way resume. I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I’d updated it. I had quite a bit to add.

Had a tarot client last night – it’s been awhile since I did any professional readings for others.

Staved off another migraine last night. The possibility of its return lingers this morning, but I hope to hold it off. I can’t afford to lose another day this week, especially since I want to take some time off this weekend.

Watched LIFE last night, a show I really like. I’m not sure if this was the season finale or what’s going on – some questions were answered, some remain, but in a good way. I’m glad Damian Lewis anchors his own show – his work in BAND OF BROTHERS was very good.

Tried THE UNUSUALS. Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it. I may give it a few weeks to see if the characters move into character from caricature, but this first episode just didn’t do it for me. I want to be fair, and not just dismiss it because it replaced a show I really liked. I wasn’t thrilled with the writing and I felt that the multi-arc storyline introduced was woven in awkwardly. Actor-wise, Harold Perrineau always delivers and Jeremy Renner was pretty good, but overall, the actors weren’t given much into which they could sink their teeth. Still more character traits than characters. But it’s hard to set up an ensemble show in the first hour – especially when, due to the ridiculous amount of commercials, it’s actually only 47 minutes. Wait, that was when I was working on hour-long dramas a few years ago. Bet you it’s even less than that now. Wouldn’t surprise me if it’s only about 42 minutes of actual scripted time. Pilots should either run without commercial interruption (three minutes at the top of the hour and at the end, giving the company 54 minutes of screen time to tell us the story) or get a two-hour slot.

April’s Full Moon for Peace meditation will be up on the Cerridwen’s Cottage site later today.

The Yellow Room Conspiracy is a fascinating book. The writing is gorgeous, the story compelling. It’s a slender book, but I’m taking my time with it because I enjoy it so much.

It’s morning; the cats had their breakfast and the twins are chasing each other around the apartment in their “Wildebeests thundering across the savannah” mode until it’s time for the morning nap. Elsa is trying to unroll the yoga mat. Never a dull moment.

The Morning Glories I planted last week are starting to sprout. Yay! Plants coming up always make it feel more like spring, even when it’s 30 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 9, 2009 at 6:52 am  Comments (4)  

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Well, the migraine won and I lost yesterday, so yesterday was a “lost” day. It happens. I managed to get my errands done, but that was it for the day.

Light doesn’t bother me with these migraines, but I’m even more hypersensitive to sound than usual, and very aware of scent. The sound of the maintenance people taking out the garbage (three stories below) nearly killed me. Low-toned piano music usually helps, and I had some incense burning, which also helps. Yeah, they’re in direct contradiction to most headache remedies, but they work for me. That and some rosemary oil on the temples.

I managed to read a bit, off and on. Unfortunately, it was one of the worst books I’ve ever read. I won’t detail the title, the author, or even the genre – I’ve never read this person’s work before, have no knowledge of this person via internet or anything else – and will avoid all future work by this person. It was supposed to be funny – well, that’s what the book blurbs stated. Okay, I LOATHE book blurbs, the fact that the blurbs told me what to think should have tipped me off. It wasn’t funny. It was stupid, poorly plotted, unmemorable supporting characters, clichés all over the place instead of actual human beings, bad jokes about sexual choices that barely masked homophobia (while pretending to be “tolerant” about it), and the protagonist was an idiot who didn’t learn from her mistakes, jumped to stupid conclusions, and was mean to the people around her. Why would I root for this person? I kept turning the pages hoping the protag would meet her demise – even though it wouldn’t have made sense, since the book was in the first person. Ick, ick, ick, ick. Thank goodness I picked this up at a book sale and it only cost me about twelve cents – or I would have asked for my money back! I want those two hours of my life back! (Preferably without the migraine).

I rarely dislike a book as intensely as I disliked this one. Usually, I can cut some slack and say, “Well, it’s not to my taste, but there’s a market for it” – I can’t imagine anyone with a quarter of a brain who’d think this was worth the time.

Fortunately, I then slipped into Peter Dickinson’s The Yellow Room Conspiracy. I didn’t get very far because my head hurt too much, but what I read is beautiful. Every word in every sentence is perfectly placed, and the way the sentences flow into each other to create paragraphs that enhance mood and character and plot – in addition to being just a damned good story, the construction is gorgeous.

The problem with lying prone fighting a headache is that one’s head starts to fill up with stories again. I made some notes. There were some characters and situations that floated around my head for a few weeks that are now coming together, so I’m jotting notes in order not to lose them.

Remember that dream I had last week about a (well-known) actor, and I interpreted not as being about that particular actor, but about work on Broadway? I got a call to work a show last night. It’s from someone with whom I haven’t worked with before, and she’s rightly cautious to find out more about me instead of just saying, “Come play with us.” I’m going to update my theatre resume and I’ll email it over today. If it works, great, it’ll be some quick cash; if not, that’s fine too, because I’ve got plenty of writing on my plate, and I don’t miss the theatre as much as I expected. I’ll just roll with whatever opportunities come my way and not worry too much about it.

I’ve got residual migraine soreness, which I hope dissipates over the course of the day. I have to catch up on what didn’t get done yesterday. And, of course, the landlord is shutting off the water for a good portion of the day, so I have to fill up everything and hope that he remembers /bothers to turn it back on. At least we got written notice, even though it wasn’t technically 24 hours ahead of time, which, by law, it’s supposed to be.

There’s a new neighbor in the apartment across the alley. Elsa disconcerted him by sitting in the living room window and staring at him while he hung his new blinds. It was really funny. And, as soon as he was done, he pulled them down. She was very disappointed. She hoped he had a large screen television she could watch from the window. The guy in the apartment next door to the new guy, whose large-screen television she used to watch from the kitchen window, rearranged his living room and now she can’t see it. Yeah, when I move, I have to get a bigger television for the cat.

To answer Piter’s question, from a comment he left on the March 13th post, I consider this blog part of my job. I’m a full-time writer; it’s how I earn my living, and I consider this blog part of that. It’s also a joy. But it’s definitely not a “hobby.” And I’m glad so many of you agree with me that the whole blogger-as-royalty-commentor-as-peasant model is crap. You know, if people want to classify themselves like that, they can. WE don’t!

Decent morning’s writing so far. Let’s hope the rest of the day remains productive, and the migraine doesn’t flare up again. I really don’t need a multi-day migraine.

Devon

Published in: on April 8, 2009 at 7:06 am  Comments (7)  
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

The Sunday New York Times had an article about a blogger who fell in love with a commentor and married him. I don’t remember the name of the blogger or the blog (it was right wingnut political crap that doesn’t interest me); I don’t remember the title of the article or the author, so I can’t properly source it, and I apologize. The love story part of it wasn’t what caught my attention: The attitude of the author and the people quoted in the article that the blogger was some sort of royalty because she had a blog with a strong following and the commentor being a “commoner” was what struck me.

Huh?

What weird alternate blogging universe do these people live in?

I don’t think of myself as “royalty” and those who drop comments as “peasants”. I think of us as a group of equal individuals who sit around over virtual morning coffee and brainstorm and exchange ideas. And I don’t feel as though I’m treated like a “commoner” on the blogs I visit. Heck, if I felt that way, I wouldn’t go back.

But then, I’m always far more interested in a tribal model than a hierarchial model.

Disagreeable weirdness, in my opinion. It left a bad taste in my mouth. And it wasn’t just old, burnt coffee.

Yesterday was a good, steady work day. I got a reasonable amount done; I wasn’t over tired by the end of it or too frustrated and not knocking off everything on my mental list. It was a steady pace. Stopping for a short afternoon meditation helps me get another focused afternoon session in. Got some writing done, revised most of a short story, some business done, some reading done. Hopped on and off the guest blog to respond to comments.

Started cleaning off my desk. Set the timer for 15 minutes and focused completely. I was surprised by how much I got done in such a short span of time. There are three large piles on the desk, and I got halfway down one pile and got the pile of current material that stays in the center of my desk for work throughout the day sorted and straightened out so it’s barely a pile anymore.

Good morning’s work on the Maine book. Getting ready to do some work on CRAVE THE HUNT, get out a proposal, and do a final polish on the query for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. I have a bunch of errands to run today (it was rainy and icky yesterday, so I didn’t go out yesterday), and then we’ll see what else the day brings.

Nothing particularly interesting to blog about today – the interesting stuff all goes into the work! 😉 I’m trying to stave off a migraine that threatens to overtake my workday, and I’d rather not deal with it.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 7, 2009 at 8:05 am  Comments (11)  
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Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I’m a guest on Star-Crossed Romance, in an article detailing ideas how to give your fictional character a tarot reading. There’s also information about HEX BREAKER and OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. Stop by and leave comment please!

Obviously, OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK did not release on April 1 as scheduled. I know the publisher is behind in releases; I have not had any direct response to my questions as to the new release date. I had to give up quite a few promotional slots this month because the books aren’t ready and there’s no new firm release date. Once I get one, I will shout it from the rooftops, believe me.

The past weekend wound up being more of a writing retreat than intensely focused work. It was unexpected, but a good thing. I took a good deal of work with me, hoping to knock some of it out. I also took Natalie Goldberg’s books WRITING DOWN THE BONES and THUNDER AND LIGHTENING to re-read and maybe do a few exercises. It’s sort of like practicing scales – it’s helpful to go back to basics every now and again to stay agile.

I read one book on Saturday and one book on Sunday (I’d forgotten the book I planned to take with me as a pleasure read, and, the site on which I worked and where I stayed doesn’t have many books, which caused anxiety, and I couldn’t leave to go to a bookstore).

I also wrote. A lot. Not on any particular project or any exercises, but just writing to get a lot of what’s swirled in my head for the past few months out onto the page, to clear my head so I can work in a more focused manner this month. I wrote more than twenty pages longhand on Saturday, and about four or five pages on Sunday. It felt good to get it all out.

Some of it started to take the shape of a non-fiction book that I didn’t realize I wanted to write until I started writing about it. I don’t write much book-length non-fiction, although I do write many shorter pieces. This will be an interesting challenge because it will take a long time to achieve what I want, and it needs to be written non-linearly and non-chronologically. In other words, I’ll write chapters and then, once a draft is complete, I’ll rearrange them until it’s right. There will be a basic structure of sections within which the chapters will fall, but it’s not a case of writing an outline with a table of contents and shopping around the first three chapters, as one often does with non-fiction. I need to write the whole book (as one does in fiction) before I can write the proposal.

And no, I don’t think it’s a waste of time to do it before the contract. No writing is EVER wasted. It always pays for itself somewhere down the line.

I also had a breakthrough on the anthology story I put aside last month because I realized I didn’t want to write to the particular anthology’s guidelines (the replacement story, not the one where the characters looked at me and said, “Uh, no. We’re not doing that.”). Now the story makes sense. Too bad I didn’t have the epiphany a month ago. But I guess you can’t rush enlightenment. 😉

I did some work on the Maine book, and realized it doesn’t want to be outlined, so I have to discover what it is in the first draft. Okay. That’s the process the book demands, so that’s what I’ll do.

The truly practical accomplishment was a kick-ass query for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. I want to take another pass over the manuscript this week, tweak the synopsis a bit, and out it goes.

I cooked a lot; I ate properly. Yesterday was a gorgeous, sunny, warm spring day and I spent a good chunk of it outside. Today’s rainy and icky and cold. I’ve got some business correspondence to deal with, some errands to run, and I ‘m going to work on my receipts for my taxes. I’d also like to polish a proposal and get it out – finally. I’ve sat on it for far too long, and get started on two other proposals. No client work for me today – I’ve got too much other stuff on my plate.

On the fiction side, the primary focus this week needs to be CRAVE THE HUNT, FEMME FATALE, and the Maine book.

I had a good session on the Maine book this morning, about 1200 words. I think I’ve got Chapter 14 of CRAVE THE HUNT sorted out, so now I can write it. I have to be careful — Chapter 15’s already formed in my head, and I want to make sure I don’t rush 14 so I can get to 15.

I also want to reconfigure my writing space this week. Because I have deadlines/writing/client projects, I have to do it in increments, but I’m not happy with it – I want to clear off the clutter and start fresh for spring. I need to file what’s done, put “in process” pieces close enough so I’ll still deal with them, but out of the way, and have a clear creation space. This weekend was good for eliminating mental clutter; now it’s time to eliminate some of the physical clutter.

Devon

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 7:48 am  Comments (7)  
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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday, April 4, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Windy and cool

Just what we need – another SLOW retro! Urgh.

Roasted a chicken last night, with baked potatoes, and steamed asparagus served with hollandaise sauce. Yummy.

Got up early this morning to bake banana bread before I leave for the site job.

Changed the dressing on my mom’s hand, made sure all the dishes were done and she has enough food so all she has to do is heat things up for the weekend, she’s staying with the cats (Elsa’s doing better, by the way, still not 100%, but better), etc. So it’s as organized as it can be without me micromanaging for the weekend.

Typical: Anything that is Microsoft-compatible is built to fail. The latest is my Zen V MP3 player, which won’t load any more music. The download program says the MP3 player is full – the player isn’t. There should be room for about 500 more songs on it.

Fuck it. I’m getting an iPod.

I’m tired of fighting with technology that’s built to fail. I won’t get the iPod right away, mind you; it’ll be once I switch systems to Mac.

Went out to stock up on cat food and wound up bringing back four large grocery bags of people food, in addition to the cat food. And a bunch of daffodils. It was such a gray, dismal day that the bright yellow flowers popped in the room. Daffodils are so cheerful!

Lost most of the afternoon in the technological kerflamma, but finished up some writing that I printed out and will take with me this weekend.

Off to the site – looking forward to the job, and also to having time to cook in an awesome kitchen, and reading and writing time.

Devon

Published in: on April 4, 2009 at 6:22 am  Comments (5)  

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I forgot to answer Kathy’s question yesterday about Script Frenzy: I’m not participating. I don’t expect to participate in any frenzies, nanos, or writing challenges this year. I’ve got too much on my plate, and last year’s nano got in the way of my work instead of supporting it. I think all of these challenges are great; they’re just not great for me right now. I’ve got five plays to write this year and am in negotiations for several more. Although I have to write quickly, the quality has to be above the quantity. I already know I can write a draft of a script or a novel in a month, and I regularly write more than 50K in a month. I don’t need challenges in order to get words on paper; at this point is counterproductive to my process.

I do encourage anyone who hasn’t done these challenges before to try it, though. One learns a lot.

Diane, I don’t know if the LIFE ON MARS here is a remake of the UK one. This one is about a 2008 cop who gets hit by a car and wakes up in 1973, and tries to get back “home”. That’s an oversimplification of the series, but it’s a basic logline. It was shot here in NY, with a great cast, and the network was willing to put the money into it to make it a period piece (unlike a series pilot on which I worked a few years ago that should have taken place in the 50s, but the network didn’t want to pay for that kind of period detail, so they moved the story to modern times but kept the same conflicts, which made NO sense and the series failed). Anyway, it took me awhile to get into the series, but once I did, I really liked it and I was curious to see where they’d take it. The ending they chose for the series finale was a complete surprise – I didn’t see it coming AT ALL – was a clever pun, in a way, and I’m glad they had the chance to wrap the show up instead of just pulling it and there we are, as happened with several shows over the past series, where we never know what happened. The cast and the writing were wonderful. Some of the structure got a bit too predictable at times, but what worked was good enough to make me forgive what I got ahead of.

Laura, thanks for the videos; I enjoyed them.

Lori, if the creators have to “explain” things in those special re-airings with the crawl below, they’re not telling the story properly. Good storytelling doesn’t need additional explanations – it all needs to be within the context, even when it’s complicated. I wanted to keep watching the show because I like a lot of the scene work and the actors. To me, the season started as eye-rolling, now it’s gag-inducing. Yeah, Sawyer’s emerging as the one with true character growth, but I feel that the creators are messing with us just to mess with us. They’ve broken my trust to such an extent that I can’t go with them anymore, because I’m always waiting for the next element that’s put in just to shock or surprise the audience rather than doing it in an organic context of the story. I don’t trust the story telling any more, and I can’t just go along with it to see how it comes out. As I’ve mentioned several times, there was a point a couple of seasons back where the storyline, to me, had three very specific routes it could take. The creators chose the one I liked least of the three I predicted, which is absolutely their prerogative. But they “lost” me with that choice. I’m glad so many people are enthralled by the show – hey, it keeps people in my industry employed, I’m all for it. But the show doesn’t do it for me. I don’t mind having to think during the course of a show; I mind feeling that I’m being jerked around just because the creators can.

Got some work done on FEMME FATALE yesterday, but not happy with it. I think I’m going to have to set out the first draft of the play and then de-construct it to re-construct it. I had an idea right before I went to sleep last night that I hope to implement today.

Chapter 14 of CRAVE THE HUNT is going slowly. That’s okay. It needs to read without too much weight, yet the impact of the chapter and the information imparted have a huge impact not only on this story, but on the final book in the series. So I have to take my time and construct it properly so it doesn’t feel overly important, but is memorable enough so that when consequences appear in other books, the reader will remember this scene in Iceland in a coffee house. It’s an interesting challenge.

Great morning’s work on the Maine book. Pretty soon I’ll have a strong enough idea of where I’m going with it to outline the rest of it.

Got to go to Trader Joe’s this morning to stock up on cat food. We opened the last can, and the felines get agitated when their cupboard is bare. They keep opening the door, looking inside, and then coming to me and miaowing.

My mother cut her finger badly, so I had to bind it up and perform all kinds of first aid (all that Red Cross training comes in handy). I don’t think she needs stitches, but she wasn’t paying attention and got hurt. Being responsible for an elderly parent certainly has its challenges.

I’m packed for the site job; I leave tomorrow morning. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get online; I assume I won’t. I’m not dealing with other business clients until Tuesday, in any event.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Devon

Published in: on April 3, 2009 at 8:33 am  Comments (4)  
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