Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT
Sunny and pleasant

I have to make a decision on a project, and I kind of want to tell the person on the other side of the table to shove it, but I’ll wait until Mercury is completely direct to make that decision. No reason to cut off my nose to spite my face, right? It could be a case of me being cranky and uncooperative (and I’m usually pretty cooperative, so I’m not sure why I’m having this reaction). Or it could be a power struggle, which is why I’m having this reaction. If it turns out to be the latter, I will walk away without regrets, but if I’m just in A Mood, it would be silly to respond simply out of that. I have to let it play out a bit more before making the final decision.

Yesterday was busy in the morning, catching up on business, doing marketing stuff, sending out a pitch, and running errands. I’m usually very organized when I run errands, figure out the most logical way to go from place to place point-to-point in a way that saves both gas and time. But I was very scattered yesterday, for some reason,and was all over the place wasting time AND gas. Frustrating. And forgot an errand, which means I have to go out and get that done today. It was also rainy and kind of icky, not the kind of day one wants to be out and running around.

On the positive side, I picked up a stack of books to replenish my reading. I’ve been reading a lot of “have-to-reads” and serious reads and client reads lately (which is a good thing), and I wanted something different. So I grabbed a stack of books that look like they’ll be light and fun.

i read the first one yesterday afternoon, giving myself the afternoon off from “have-tos” for a “want-to.” It was DEATH BY CHICK LIT by Lynn Harris, and I really enjoyed it. There’s a lot of wit and fun and warmth in it. A pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

I had a great morning’s work on the Matty book. I haven’t yet worked on the serial — I’m thinking of giving myself the weekend off to let it percolate some more, but I also don’t want to lose the momentum. I do want to get the first draft out (I HAVE to get the first draft out) pretty quickly. But I also don’t want to burn out. We’ll see how I feel as the day goes on.

I’ve got some tweaks to do to a couple of pieces to get them out of the door, and I’ve got a bunch of administrative/housekeeping stuff to get done.

I can’t believe it’s nearly June!

I do intend to have some fun this weekend, so I’m trying to clear off as much as I can this morning, and then relax!

Devon

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Published in: on May 30, 2009 at 6:56 am  Comments (1)  
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I’m glad the weather’s not hot; I’d love not to need the air conditioner for a few more weeks. But I am getting tired of the rain.

Thank you to Lori Widmer, Michelle Miles, and Colin Galbraith, who sponsored the first stops on the DIXIE DUST RUMORS blog tour. I’ve had a great time with you!

Lola, thank you so much for those suggestions about running Windows on the Mac. I will see what I’ve got! I still haven’t explored everything that came with it. I have Word for Mac, and a Customer Care person (hey, they actually help you when you call tech support, unlike Dell/Microsoft), suggested there was a way I could quarantine Windows and run it — I think that’s the Parrallex program you mentioned (quarantine — because, yes, Windows IS a disease. ;)).

Spent the morning writing and marketing. Spent the afternoon on client projects, working on interview questions, and getting out a submission. I also spent quite a bit of time updating my clip file. It’s annoying and time intensive, but it makes it easier in the long run when I pull together pitch packets.

The problems with UHaul continue because I have a storage unit with them. It’s not a one-shot rental; it’s an ongoing problem. I’ve managed to close out one of the units and move everything to a much better facility up here, but I’m having trouble with the other one. Believe me, once this is sorted out and my belongings are safely out of their grasp, I will never do business with them again. I rarely say “never”, but, in this case, I do.

I’m hoping to have a fiction-centered weekend, and also do some reading for fun. I need to sort out some projects. The “found” novel is actually only 2/3 done, so it has to take its place in the queue. I’ve got some other stuff to get done before I can concentrate on it.

Decent morning’s session on the Matty book. Okay session on the serial. Both were a struggle today. I was not in the mood to write, so I had to dig down and get out my quota for the day. Today was not a day I could take off.

Thinking about how I want to redesign the Devon site and the Freelance Ink site.

Got to catch up on mail, etc., and then it’s back to the page.

Devon

1st Draft serial: 6,127 words out of 50,000

Published in: on May 29, 2009 at 7:11 am  Comments (4)  
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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Hop on over to Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page. She’s hosting the latest stop on the Jenny Storm DIXIE DUST RUMORS blog tour. I talk about the process of writing this book, and how it was a little different than my usual process — but not because it’s middle grade instead of adult! The comments are open for questions all day, and I’ll be hopping on an off, so I hope you stop by.

Got another project out the door yesterday, and onto the submission go-round. Gotta get them out there or they can’t get contracted, right? Spent time marketing DIXIE DUST (hey, at $3.95, it’s a good buy, if I say so myself).

Converted some more floppies. Only spent about an hour and a half on it, but found some interesting stuff. I think I actually have a completed novel that I finished and forgot. I may have to take a look at it and see if there’s anything worth salvaging (and get another project out the door in the next few weeks). I’ve got another project that needs another draft, and then I’m re-thinking how I want to market it. If I could get two more novels out the door this summer, while still juggling those in process, I’ll be content. Sooner or later, the short stories need some attention. I’m writing them and they’re stacked up, but I’m not doing anything with them, which doesn’t serve any of us.

Of course, some of the short stories are in limbo because they really need to be novels or novellas. So, this summer is about a lot of literary housekeeping on my part. Which is a good thing. And some need to be “retired” and not go out. They were exercises, not pieces of marketable writing.

UHaul pulled another crap move. I’m livid, and at the end of my rope with them.

Finished reading my friend’s manuscript, and sent her the notes. I enjoyed it a lot — can’t wait until it finds its perfect home!

Good morning’s work on the Matty book this morning, and a GREAT session on the serial.

Lots to do today. Back to the page.

Devon

Serial: 4,052 words out of 50,000

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and COLD!

First of all, Happy Birthday to my friend Michelle Miles! Woo-hoo!

Second, hop over onto her blog, Ye Olde Inkwell, and see the interview with Jenny Storm there!

Those darn cats! I woke up this morning, shivering, it was in the 40’s (Farenheit) here. The feather bed was pulled off and wadded into a ball at the bottom of the bed, with three little, furry faces peering out of it. Stinkers!

Yesterday was just a Murphy’s Law day. Went to the bank, went to the post office, did a big shop at Costco. They don’t carry Izze water anymore, which makes me sad, but I got to enjoy two cases of it after not having it for several years, so that’s the way it goes.

The afternoon was spent on client projects, following up on previous pitches, and sending out some new ones. The scam artists are writing better ads to draw you in, and then doing bait and switch. I usually just shrug it off, but one response in particular so enraged me yesterday that I engaged in debate. But, to counter-balance that, one of the follow-ups got an enthusiastic response and the possibility of future legitimate– and legitimately paying work – I’ll keep in touch with that one!

Had to go on the old PC to get on IE in order to invoice Confidential Job #1 — their invoicing system ONLY works on IE, which is a pain, and means once the PC is removed from the house, I have to drive to a library every time I want to invoice this job. Urgh. It took 65 minutes to do something that should have taken 3. Thank goodness I no longer have to rely on that computer.

Read a nice big chunk of my friend’s manuscript last night — finally. I’m behind. And I’m really enjoying it.

Good morning’s work on the Matty book and good morning’s work on the new serial. I’m hoping for a productive day. I have a lot of correspondence to write, I need to get some stuff over to an eBay service that will list/ship/deal with it for me, and got to get back to work pulling stuff off the PC. More client work this afternoon, and the back to my friend’s manuscript. I also have a manuscript of my own to get out the door today.

Better get back to work.

Devon

1st draft new serial: 3,087 words out of 50,000

Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 8:03 am  Comments (5)  
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I didn’t have internet access over the weekend. It was pretty great to have the laptop with me, and I have to admit that I didn’t mind being disconnected for a few days.

Saturday was great — got out of the house, got to CT just fine, got set up. Got some work done. Dashed out at lunchtime to pick up some sushi and stopped at one of my favorite wine stores. Although I rarely drink white wine anymore, I felt like it, so, along with the bottle of pinot noir, i picked up a bottle of Chilean Savignon Blanc, one of the best wines I’ve ever had. Truly wonderful.

Worked on the Matty book all day. It will need a lot of work in the revision — I’m finding the book as I write it. That’s the rhythm of this particular book. I know what the themes are — it’s the execution of them that needs work!

I love the kitchen at this particular gig — I always have the best time cooking in this kitchen.

Worked on an assignment for Confidential Job #1 in the evening, but mostly, took it easy, did my yoga, etc. It’s nice to have the ROOM for yoga.

Slept well, up early on Sunday. Kind of a dreary day with patches of sun. I dashed outside to take advantage of the sun whenever possible, doing yoga and meditation out on the deck, got the work for which I was there done, and had a nice, relaxing afternoon reading Donna Leon’s FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES (I love her books) and cooking a great pasta meal in the evening.

I finally watched the original NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM on Sunday night — I’d never seen it before. It took longer to get going than I expected, but it was fun. I love the Museum of Natural History, so it was fun to see how it was used in the movie, and it was also great that the stuff they changed to fit the script made sense within the context of the museum, zaniness and all, although the whoe Egyptian area reminded me more of the exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art than anything I’ve seen at the Museum of Natural History! And yet, it was set up so I went with it instead of getting annoyed by it.

Monday morning was gorgeous — yoga and meditation outside, some writing done on the Matty book. I wanted to work on the sci-fi book and discovered I didn’t have the notes with me and was at a point where I couldn’t move forward without the notes. So that was a bit frustrating.

I did do a final proof on a manuscript that goes out the door tomorrow,and polished the outline and synopsis for it. I’ll polish the cover letter later today.

Got home by mid-afternoon, made potato salad, unpacked, tried to get the cats to forgive me for leaving. My mom stayed with them, so it wasn’t like they were alone, but they were still mad.

Quiet night, early to bed, up early this morning. I did some work on the Matty book, and also started the new serial. It needs to be around 50K, and I want to get that first draft DONE so I can revise it and get it out the door this summer.

I have a ton of errands and catching up to do from not being online and working out f town these past few days. So I better get to it. And then I want to get back to the page. I’m feeling optimistic about the writing again, after flailing for the past few weeks.

If you haven’t read my guest blog over on The Book Blues, please stop by, leave a comment, and, if you want, you can enter to win a copy of HEX BREAKER. And my Preakness Wrap-up is finally up on FEMMEFAN.

Devon

Serial: 1,656 words out of 50K

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Stop by The Book Blues to read my article on the need to balance passion with practicality in your writing. Drop a comment, and enter to win a copy of HEX BREAKER!

Everything took longer than I wished yesterday, but most of it got done. I’m headed out to the gig in CT for the weekend. If I have internet access, I’ll check in. If not, have a great Memorial Day weekend, and I’ll be back online on Tuesday.

Had a great session on the Matty book this morning. I feel like I’m in the groove with it again — partially thanks to the research around the Plymouth area last week, where the book is set.

Enjoy!

Devon

Published in: on May 23, 2009 at 6:48 am  Comments (2)  
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and warm

I hope you’re feeling active today, because I’ve got some links for you to visit.

First, Colin Galbraith’s hosting my very first stop on the DIXIE DUST RUMORS tour (as Jenny Storm) on Freedom From the Mundane. I hope you stop by!

My guest blog “Moving Out of Your Writing Comfort Zone” was posted on May 13, but I didn’t know about it; if you get a chance, please stop by here and drop a comment.

Honestly, I don’t remember what I did yesterday. I remember that I was on the computer a lot, doing a lot of business/admin/PR stuff and the day went by really, really fast. I packed for the weekend gig — I’m looking forward to it. I managed to get a bunch of stuff off to the post office, and hope to get another stack out either later today or tomorrow morning, on my way to the gig. I completed a bunch of interview questions for various blog tour things, and talked to a couple of people about booking additional stops. I got some work done on the assignment for Confidential Job #1, but it’s not finished. It’s due tomorrow, which kind of doesn’t make any sense due to the long holiday weekend, so I’ll try to get it off at some point tonight. Got some client work done, too, and any client work that comes in today won’t be dealt with until Tuesday. The “out of office” notation will go up around noon, although I’ll probably Twitter into the afternoon.

Last night, I watched LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER’S presentation of the New York City Ballet, Peter Martins-choreographed ROMEO AND JULIET, on which Costume Imp was working. It was gorgeous — dancing, sets, costumes, lighting, everything. Truly beautiful. I’m not a big fan of the play — there’s too much miscommunication and too many people acting like idiots for my taste — but the ballet was gorgeous. The dancers in the roles of Romeo, Juliet, and Mercutio were especially wonderful.

I got an idea tickling at the back of my brain with Tybalt, Mercutio. Hostpur, and Laertes, but it’s too early to see where that will go.

I had a fantastic morning on the Matty book and didn’t want to stop. May go back to it this afternoon.

Got to wrap things up before I leave for the weekend gig tomorrow morning. I should have internet access, but one never knows.

I should be a guest on The Book Blues in the near future — will let you know.

Devon

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and lovely

I promise I won’t pout or whine too much today, but yesterday was just a typical example of Mercury Retrograde.

So, I’m plugging along yesterday, with the attention span of a gnat, getting practical things done, following up on pitches, getting out correspondence, basically not having a good time. One of many reasons I don’t work in an office: I hate admin work. But I really think it’s pretentious for most freelancers to have “assistants”. In the time it takes to instruct an assistant, I can do it myself. Someday, if I’ve got a volume of work where it makes sense to truly delegate some of the interesting as well as mundane to someone, I’d consider it, but at this point, it’s just a waste of time, money, and talent. Too much requires me to make a decision as I sort through it.

Anyway, a little after three, I had the opportunity to go on a really cool roadtrip today. It’s a gorgeous day and would make sense to be out in it, plus I’d get a plethora of photos and research done for several projects. So, i decided to dig in, get a lot done, put up the “out of office” messages, etc.

A little after 6, we had some power weirdness. The overhead lights in the kitchen and two of the sockets (on opposite walls from each other) stopped working. The stove and the fridge were fine, as was all the rest of the power in the apartment, although the cable box got a power surge and freaked out. And I buy surge protectors because . . .? You pay all these money for the surge protectors and they are useless.

Called Con Ed, who said I had to call building management first. Checked the fuse box — all good. Finally tracked down my super, who said he’d come by this morning. Which meant I had to cancel the trip, because if people had to march in and out of here all day working with electricity, I am damn well going to be here.

Called the cable company and they talked me back through getting the cable rebooted. They’ve streamlined their system now, and it works much better. That only took about twenty minutes, instead of the usual two hours. I’d shut the computer off — the Mac seems to have a surge protector that works built into the plug (which is about the size of Elsa’s head), so it was all good. If I’d had the PC on, it would have probably exploded and bye, bye the rest of the stuff I have to pull off.

i figured I could make tea via candlelight all night. I went back into the kitchen around 9, automatically flipping the switch — and the lights were on. Tested the sockets. They worked.

By now it was too late to put the road trip back on, so I just gritted my teeth and dealt. I will try to reschedule it for next week.

Damn the Mercury Retrograde!

But at least nothing terrible happened.

Talked to the super this morning — turns out one of the workmen who are eternally making our lives hell for the past two years hit a switch on his way out yesterday, so the whole section of the building on that particular line was out.

Don’t even get me started.

But it’s fixed.

And I have work to do. Which I’d rather not do, but too bad for me, right?

More correspondence today, some client work, packing more contest winner stuff, and finishing the work for Confidential Job #1.

I got a nice chunk of work done on the Matty book this morning. And i’ve got to work on another outline/synopsis over the weekend, so I can kick another project out the door and onto the query go-round next week.

Brandy, to answer your question, if residents want to use the beach and the park in summer, we have to buy a resident permit. It works out to a reasonable rate if you use it every day, but I don’t. Non-residents have to pay some other price. It kind of sucks. A lot of people take the train out from Manhattan and surrounding areas to visit Playland and our beach and park. I love it that Playland’s so popular — it’s an Art Deco amusement park from the 1920’s — but it the beach is so overcrowded all summer that I avoid it.

Booked a few more stops for the blog tour, and a radio appearance in late July. Must keep the momentum going on the publicity!

I have to pack today for the weekend gig. It should be quiet and a lot of fun. And, I get to take the laptop. Major excitement at being so mobile.

Devon

Published in: on May 21, 2009 at 8:48 am  Comments (5)  
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and mild

I’m having a slow start today. Oh, well. Yesterday was mostly about catching up, trying to get up to speed. I spent a good bit of time on the media kit for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK and planning the PR blitz for DIXIE DUST RUMORS. Since I was expecting OFDW to come out in April and DDR to come out in August, and it’s happened in reverse, I have to re-configure all the PR work I did. Which is fine, but time-consuming.

Went to the grocery store, fixed a nice, big salad for lunch, and, in the afternoon, took a nice, long walk on the beach and the boardwalk. The season starts this weekend, which means I’d have to purchase a permit to use the beach and park all summer. Since I prefer to be there when the crowds aren’t, the expense doesn’t make sense.

I updated the websites with the release information. I’m thinking about a massive re-design on both the Devon Ellington site and the Fearless Ink, site, but so far, I haven’t come up with the design I want. I’ll keep playing over the next few months. I still want to keep it simple, but with a little more snap. As the work grows and evolves, the sites need to do the same.

If you know of anyone who hosts guest bloggers in the middle-grade realm, I’d love to visit on the blog tour for DIXIE DUST. I’ll be making a couple of stops this week and next, and extending stops throughout the summer.

Hopefully, I can get some work done on the Helena Francis book and the Matty book today, but we’ll see. I have a lot of correspondence to deal with, and some pitches to write for events coming up in fall. I have a feeling that the bulk of this week will focus on practical/business dealings, and then I can shift back in to the fiction over the weekend.

The Preakness Wrap-up Article should be up in a day or two. I’ll let you know.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 8:18 am  Comments (5)  

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cool

It’s here. DIXIE DUST RUMORS is out and available for purchase. The purchase link is here. It is a middle-grade novel, not an adult novel, and falls on the younger side of the middle grade spectrum. Even though the main characters are twelve, they are a young twelve, and not as hip-tweeny as a lot of twelve year olds are portrayed, and as they strive to act. But then, Rose would rather be around a horse barn than in school, so it kind of makes sense. Barn rats have a different kind of savvy.

If you’re willing to host a stop on my blog tour, please contact me, and we’ll set it up.

I did follow-up on queries, withdrew a few pieces yesterday that I will market elsewhere, started catching up on blogs, worked on client projects, continued reading a friend’s manuscript, caught up on much of the email that accumulated last week while I was gone. I get somewhere around 500 legitimate emails per day spread out over the various accounts, so it can be a challenge to keep up. I also did some work updating the local press list, since I need to get quite a bit of material out to the press in the coming weeks, and started the press kit for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. Once I have a release date, at least all the information will be ready and I can just get going on the PR go-round.

I sent FEMME FATALE to my producer yesterday morning. Not only did she sit down right away, but she loved it! Whew! It’s a relief, since it’s darker than the first two I wrote for her, and has quite the twist at the end. The director is a woman who will appear in THE MATILDA MURDERS, and loved my writing so much after coming to see TILL DEATH DO THEY PART that she accepted the directing job on FEMME FATALE without even reading the script. Anyway, MATILDA MURDERS will open in September of 2009 and FEMME FATALE will open in April of 2010.

On more news, I don’t know if I mentioned this yesterday, but I’m teaching my Dialogue Workshop at The Muse Online Conference again this October. If you haven’t yet taken the workshop, I hope you sign up and give it a try. If you have — I tweak the workshop every year a little bit, so it won’t be identical to any year you’ve taken it.

I did some research on Prague for the trip, gathered up some information for some correspondence that needs to happen before we go, and realized that, two days after I return from Prague, I head back to the Cape to cover the Bourne Scallop Festival. Nothing like a busy schedule!

Still not sure which of the WIPs I should concentrate on right now. I’ve got at least one more manuscript I’d like to get out the door by next week, and I’ve got to do some work on the serial I’m developing, as well as finishing a couple of these partial projects so they can go into Rewrite Land and then get out the door, too. Plus, I still have BLOOD SOUP, CHANNELLING JIM MORRISON, nad HEEBIE JEEBIES to work on, CRAVE THE HUNT, finish the HELENA FRANCIS mystery, and get started on the next Rose Olen book. I need to just pick one of them and start typing, instead of staring at the list and dithering.

I also have to get cracking on the assignment for Confidential Job #1, which is due at the end of this week.

Oh, yeah, and I have to pack. I’m scheduled to work out of town this weekend.

Unfortunately, I woke up with a heck of a headache, which does not bode well for many hours necessary in front of the screen.

I’ve also got some correspondence to get out — UHaul has crossed the line yet again. And I’ve got to pack up a winning contest entry and get that out the door. Busy day. The temperature nearly went down to frost last night, but of course, we didn’t get any heat. Scumbag landlords.

Time to get back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on May 19, 2009 at 7:07 am  Comments (5)  

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

If you haven’t read about last week’s trip, there’s a nice, long post about it below.

I can’t believe it’s another Monday. Last week just flew past. We had frost last night, but, because it’s after May 15, the scumbag landlords didn’t give us heat. A hot water bottle is a beautiful thing.

Yesterday was busy, but it feels like I didn’t get much done. I polished and sent the Preakness Wrap-up article to my editor. I went over the final corrections on DIXIE DUST — the book should release any minute. In fact, at least one person’s bought a copy, which shouldn’t be available yet — and has a copy with errors. I expressed my concern to my publisher.

I spent a couple of hours converting/pulling old floppies/documents from the PC to flashdrives. I realized it makes more sense to convert them before I save them,and only put the latest Word version on the flashdrive. I still have multiple drafts on the flashdrive, in some cases, but not the old files that I can’t open. I found some stuff I didn’t know I had — some of it will be retired; some of it will be rewritten and sent out into the world.

I want to take what I learned from DIXIE DUST and apply it to the next horse racing YA, tentatively titled DEAD MAN’S STALL, which I plan to set in Saratoga, and also to the partially-written YA with an ice hockey player as its protagonist. I still haven’t heard anything about OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK’s new release date, and it’s affecting how I work on CRAVE THE HUNT, which it shouldn’t. I need to reshuffle this summer’s projects and re-prioritize, and not get derailed by other people’s issues.

I have a new assignment for Confidential Job #1, some client projects due this week, follow-up on previous pitches, and I have to figure out which in-process writing needs the most attention. I also have a manuscript to finish critiquing for a friend this week, and several books to read so I can host the authors on A BIBLIO PARADISE.

And some business correspondence. There’s a lot to get done before Memorial Day weekend rolls around at the end of this week.

Took a final look at FEMME FATALE this morning, and sent it to my producer. I don’t want to hold it until BLOOD SOUP is done. That puts too much pressure on BLOOD SOUP. THE MATILDA MURDERS is set to open in September, so that’s great, and there’s been a request for an additional performance of TILL DEATH DO THEY PART in August. All good.

I’m doing the follow-up on the February pitches. I sent a few polite follow-up requests to places from which I haven’t heard back, and withdrew a column pitch from one publication and several article ideas from another, because they have not responded to either the pitches of the follow-ups. I can’t have things hanging around in limbo indefinitely — everything needs to be earning money. And since everything I write eventually finds a home somewhere, I don’t need to sit and wait until someone “gets around to” a response. I am more than generous in granting response time, and if you can’t be bothered, well, there are those who can, and they’ll get my work. One publication was a disappointment, because I’ve written several articles for them in the past. But they are too erratic with their communication, and I can’t put in the work and then have pieces tied up indefinitely. It’s not good business on my end. So, I’m working my way down the list. The lack of courtesy irks me more than a rejection would. It’s fine to tell me the piece doesn’t fit. It’s not fine not to respond to the initial query or to the follow-up.

Have to get the press mailing out for DIXIE DUST as soon as I’ve got the okay and the direct purchase link. If you want to read a couple of excepts, hop on over to the Jenny Storm webpage. I’ve also got a full media kit I can send out, and the press release for the book is here.

Better get back to work.

Devon

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday, May 17 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn DIRECT (as of yesterday)
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Wasn’t the Preakness great? Go, Rachel Alexandra! And Mine That Bird ran a great race, too.

I had a great few days out of town, on the Cape. Unfortunately, even though I dragged around the laptop, the internet access promised in the room didn’t work properly, so I was disconnected for those days — which was fine with me

We hit the road around noon on Tuesday, deciding to leave a half a day early. The weather looked great, and it seemed like it would be a great day. And then we hit a bad storm around New London. But we drove through it, and by the time we hit Rhode Island, it was gone. The storm moved west to east, and we drove south to north.

We chose a motel in the middle of Hyannis — we got a great deal on the room, and it was simple, no frills, but fine. I probably wouldn’t choose to stay there again, unless I had no other choice, but, for what I needed for research purposes, it was fine. It was clean and plenty of hot water, which are two of my top needs. We walked around town for a bit. For an affluent, rather famous community, I found it disturbing that there were so many homeless, mentally disturbed people wandering around,, and so many bored teens looking around for trouble. I immediately went into my I-Lived-on-the-Deuce-and-you-didn’t-so-don’t-even-think-of-messing-with-me mode. They didn’t. These kids may be bored, but they’re not stupid.

We had a fabulous dinner at a restaurant called Alberto’s — I had amazing mussels, and when THIS restaurant makes a house salad, it’s an assortment of greens, blood orange slices, walnuts, shredded carrots and prunes with a homemade vinagrette — wonderful. Quite different from the supposedly excellent Italian restaurant on the night I went out to Long Island to see my play, who considered their house salad iceberg lettuce with Thousand Island dressing. The wine, a California pinot noir, was okay, but not brilliant. The chocolate mousse, however, was sublime.

Got some work done in the evening. It helps, bringing the laptop, although I couldn’t get the wi-fi hook up to work. Oh, well. I had the yoga mat, so I could stay on schedule with the yoga.

Up early the next morning — coffee, yoga, but not much writing. I was in reasearch/experiential head, not writing head. We had a great breakfast at La Petite France Cafe — the food’s very good, the service is good, and the guy behind the counter is very nice. He’s there if you want something, but doesn’t try to be best friends just because you walked in the door.

Hit the road early, travelling East. I’ve been to the end of the Cape’s seashore, The Province Lands, ever since I was a little, little kid. But I never investigated the other end, the Eastham end of the shorelands. So, we went to the National Seashore and walked the trails for several hours. I took a lot of photos. It was thrilling to see so many red-winged blackbirds so close, and to hear the frogs chatter, and the ospreys and swans and all the rest. Truly gorgeous. It was a wonderful day, and plenty of benches. We could just sit and BE. The beach plums were in full bloom — gorgeous white flowers. One of the rangers told me I hit it just right – they weren’t in bloom last week and wouldn’t be in bloom next week. Good timing!

I picked up some materials in the bookshop, including a volume of letters from whalers to their families, put out by Descendants of the Whaling Masters. How’s that for a name?

On the spur of the moment, we turned to Nauset and went down to the beach and the lighthouse. I have a fondness for lighthouses anyway. This one was gorgeous, and, yes, still working. We went down to the beach — gorgeous light green water close to the beach, deepening to cobalt blue farther out. We sat on the beach for awhile, watching dogs play and someone try to surf. I gathered up stones. And then we headed back to the lighthouse.

It was still too early for the lighthouse to be open to the public during the week, but one of the workers was there to do something inside and asked if I wanted to come in. Yes! While she did what she needed to do, I got to climb around and explore the lighthouse on my own. It was fabulous! It’s a small house, without living quarters attached, but still a working light. It’s just beautiful. And it was so generous to let me in.

Lunch at a great, family-run fish shack called JT’s — terrific cod burgers with wonderful fries and coleslaw.

Then, it was back towards Brewster, to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural HIstory, one of my favorite places on the cape, to walk the trails on Wing Island. They have an “osprey cam” set up — a camera on an osprey nest, so you can watch the young osprey develop. I didn’t go inside to watch this year — last year’s batch where quite the little hams! The trail was lovely, and the wildflower garden was also beautiful.

I would say we walked at least ten miles over the course of the day. And we were in serious need of salad for dinner, so it was chicken caesar salad for dinner, and a quiet evening reading the materials I collected and typing up notes. The Helena Francis books are set on the bay side of midcape, and parts of the Matty book take place at the Natural History Museum and the shorelands, plus I’m thinking of setting a YA in the area.

Thursday was cloudier and windier. We ate at La Petite Francaise again, and headed out the door early. This time, we headed back over the Sagamore Bridge, off the Cape, to Plymouth. The Matty book is set along the coast just below Plymouth, and I wanted to get some geographical details and some photographs of the stretch where I want to place the house. We did all that, made a wrong turn and wound up in the center of Plymouth, which was okay, because I could grab some more pictures of where I want to set one of the confrontations.

Then, it was over to Buzzards Bay. There’s a marine life rescue center. I wanted to visit and maybe pick up a book on turtles, since turtle rescue is part of what they do. One of the characters in the Matty book loves turtles. I’d hoped to find one at the Natural History Museum, but the only one I found was large, unwieldy, and didn’t focus on Cape area turtles, which is what I need.

On the way to the center, we stopped to stare at the Railroad Bridge. It moves. In other words, the center span is stored in the “up” position, allowing boats to travel the canal freely. When a train comes across, it lowers so the train can actually cross the Canal. We happened to be there as they lowered and then raised the span. Fascinating. And yes, I will post photos.

Unfortunately, the Marine Life Center is both under renovation and not open for the season. I’m going to contact them about visiting in the fall. There’s an event I hope to cover in the area in September — just a few days after I get back from Prague. Maybe I can come out a day or so early or stay a day late and visit the center.

We headed back over the Sagamore Bridge and over to the Canal Visitors’ Center in Sandwich. They did a fantastic job — the museum is wonderful, and the educational DVD about this history and building of the Canal is one of the best of its kind. What I found interesting was that August Belmont — think Belmont Park Race Track here in New York — was the one who built the first canal as a toll thoroughfare. However, it was too shallow, and, due to the amount of accidents, failed. The Army Corps of Engineers took over, redug it during the Depression (in an example of an original stimulus plan), and now it’s a very active channel — and Cape Cod is an island, not a peninsula! We walked to the point where the canal ends and the bay begins. Turning back, I saw that they use actual traffic lights — the yellow metal lights, like they do on the street corners — for the channel. It was pretty funny.

Next stop, Sandwich, just about my favorite town on the Cape. Dashed into their wonderful library, checked email, got a few responses out, Twittered quickly, and was done They use Windows Vista — what a nightmare — everything was so slow and had to be done twice. Typical Dell/Windows!

Then, it was over to the Sandwich Glass Museum. The work there is fantastic, and I learned a lot about glassmaking. The demonstration was fantastic, and the woman who gave it was terrific. I wanted to slap the man sitting in front of me upside the head — instead of appreciating the delicacy required in rolling and pulling the glass, he wanted to see her make a show of the blowing — which, it turns out, is a very small part of actually working the glass. Instead of being excited to learn the intricacies and delicacies of how it’s actually done, he wanted to see what he expected. Moron.

In the gift shop, I found a history of the Orleans Inn at such a good price I was afraid it was a misprint. But it wasn’t, and I snatched it up. Can’t wait to read it.

We drove to Barnstable and the Sandy Neck beach. By now, it was cloudy and very, very windy. The beach is lovely, and this is the area where I’ll stick Collier’s Cove, the setting for the Helena Francis mysteries.

We had lunch at the Beehive Tavern in Sandwich — fantastic! I had some locally brewed Cape Cod Summer Ale. I’m very fussy about beer and ale, preferring wine, but this was terrific. And I had a wonderful sole stuffed with lobster, vegetables, and rice. Really, an excellent meal, great service, great atmosphere. Definitely a place I’d go again.

We headed down to Chatham for a look around, and then picked up some food from a local, mom-and-pop deli on the way back — a chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts, which was great.

Another quiet night full of typing up notes and reading. And watching playoff hockey, Boston vs. Carolina — heartbreaking loss for Boston in overtime.

Friday morning was rainy, so we headed back right after breakfast (again, at the cafe). A big bus nearly crushed me twice near the canal. I got its information and plan to complain to the company. I’m sorry, you don’t come to a dead stop in the middle of a roundabout and then suddenly swerve to a turnoff you’ve already missed, ignoring the cars around you — after you already nearly forced me into construction nearly a half a mile back. Not acceptable. Traffic was an absolute nightmare around Providence. I swear, Rhode Island has some of the worst drivers I’ve encountered anywhere in the world — and I’ve driven many places in the world. They’re even worse than New Jersey drivers.

Couldn’t make good time coming back from the Cape — combination of weather and traffic. Managed to stop in Niantic at the Book Barn, where I played with the cats and got a stack of books, including several on the Cape and several books I’ve wanted for years! Lunch in Niantic, and then continued back. Stopped at the apartment to switch out some stuff and then continued down for the Preakness. Horrible traffic, early night.

The races started really early Preakness Day. And the temperature was a good twenty degrees higher than it was on the Cape and muggy. I expected a deluge any minute, but the rain held off until there was a light shower just as the horses went to the post for the Preakness itself.

As thrilled as I was by Rachel Alexandra’s win, I just wanted to be home by the end of it all. I was supposed to leave revoltingly early this am to head back up to MA for the US Olympic Women’s Hockey Team tryouts, but that fell through. As annoyed as I am with USA Hockey right now, I’m also relieved not to spend six hours on the road today and six hours watching tryouts at a hockey ring.

I’ve got to finish my post-Preakness article and get if off to FemmeFan, and then take a final look at the DIXIE DUST proofs — the last round of corrections arrived while I was gone. The next assignment for Confidential Job #1 came in, I have client projects to work on tomorrow, and some reviews to do this week for A BIBLIO PARADISE. UHaul again made me livid, and it’s time to file charges with the appropriate authorities. Enough already.

Read one of the books I bought in Niantic already — THESE RUINS ARE INHABITED by Muriel Beadle, about her family’s year at Oxford University. It was published in 1961, and it’s funny how little has changed, and, of the changes that have taken place, which ones.

I hope to take it a little bit easy today, but I’d like to get a jump on all the work stacked up for the coming week.

Cape photos to follow.

Devon

Racing Ink — Preakness 2009

Racing Ink — Preakness May 16, 2009

In my years of covering the Triple Crown, the Preakness has become my absolute favorite of the three races. A sense of hope and excitement carries over from the Derby, yet there’s still a sense that anything can happen.

I know — there’s been so much excitement with Rachel Alexandra’s change of owner, her entrance into the Preakness, and the “conspiracy theories” floating around, but there are a lot of other great races here and the weather looks like crap, so whatever I suggest — take a look at how the horse responds to the weather in the post parade before making your final decision

Race 1:
I’m going to look-not-bet on this race to see how the track runs, with my eyes on MALIBU JOE and SMOKING HEART. The way they run will give me a good idea of how I’m skewing the day.

Race 2:
SEA CHANTER and SKYLIGHTER across the board, even though their odds are even at the time of this writing. They’re fine horses. My long shot pick to toss into the mix for the show spot is ALL SMILES.

Race 3:
I’m going to go with HOT BULLET and MYTHICAL HERO for the first two spots, though I might mix up the order, and JAZZMAN’S DANCE as my longshot.

Race 4 — William Donald Schaffer Stakes
EA, CRIMSON COMIC, and READY SET are my favorites here, although I’m not yet sure in which order. I want to take a look at REAL MERCHANT, ridden by JV — if he looks good, I might remove one of the above and replace him with REAL MERCHANT.

Race 5:
I’m probably going to skip this one and have a cocktail. I may watch HABITUAL, but unless I fall in love paddock-side with one or more of this field, the wallet stays shut.

Race 6 — Desputed Testimony Starter Handicap:
I really like BELLE’S BROKER and FURRIAT here, although NORJAC and SUMACHA’HOT have shorter odds. This will be a paddock side decision.

Race 7 — GALLORETTE HANDICAP
This race is always fun, for fillies and mares. It’s one-and-a-sixteenth mile and it’s on turf. Hopefully, the turf will be safe enough to race on today. I really like DYNAFORCE in this race, and I want to take a good look at ALL IS READY, trained by Christophe Clement, because his horses tend to do well on turf. There’s a long shot named ROYALTIES in there, ridden by Jeremy Rose, that I want to look at, potentially for a show spot.

Race 8 — Hirsch Jacobs Stakes:
NUCLEAR WAYNE looks pretty good here, to me. Both EVERYDAY HEROES and NOT FOR SILVER interest me, and I want to take a closer look at them in the saddling ring. YANO will probably be my longshot.

Race 9 — Woodlawn Stakes:
A mile on the turf, again, a fun one. Graham Motion’s horse COLONEL RUTLEDGE is in here, at longer odds than I expected, so I’ll probably bet him. Pletcher has the favorite, AFFIRMATIF, with JV up, so that’s most likely a go. And I’ll pick a third in the post parade.

Race 10 — Maryland Sprint Handicap:
This is one of the more wide-open races, in my opinion. I’d love to see the Contessa-trained WEST COAST FLIER win. I’m also surprised at the length of CELTIC INNIS’s odds. I’m going to take a look at both, but I want to see how they all respond to the weather before making a decision.

Race 11 — Dixie Stakes
This is a mile and an eighth on the turf. PROUDINKSY is back this week; if he looks better here than he looked at Churchill, I may include him in my picks. I’ll probably stick WESLEY into the show spot. And I’m leaning towards MUSKETIER, ridden by Mike Smith, for the win.

Race 12 — Preakness Stakes
The Big Race, with the Big Filly. Rachel Alexandra, who won the Oaks by 20 lengths, has a new owner who believes she can beat the boys. She’s brilliant; she also likes more than two weeks between races, so that will be her biggest challenge. There was all kinds of trauma and drama when Calvin Borel left MINE THAT BIRD, the Derby winner, to remain on Rachel, and mutterings about trying to load in enough horses to keep Rachel out because she’s so good. Look, if you’ve got a great horse, prove it by letting the field shake out as it may and take your chances.

I’m taking RACHEL ALEXANDRA across the board, hoping she had enough left in her after the Oaks to bring it today. I’m taking MINE THAT BIRD across the board. I underestimated him in the Derby, in spite of the Birdstone sire — but then, I always underestimated Birdstone. And he’s got Mike Smith as his new jockey. Smith excels on the Preakness track. The choice of jockey gives him the edge to possibly beat Rachel Alexandra. I’m taking PIONEER OF THE NILE across the board. He did damn well in the Derby, and he might do even better in the Preakness. I do think the Belmont will be a spot of him to excel, but he just might pull off the upset here.

Pre-Derby, I said that PAPA CLEM struck me as more of a Preakness horse than a Derby horse. He finished fourth in the Derby, better than I expected. I think he’s got the potential to hit third or fourth here. FRIESAN FIRE is back. I still like him, so I’ll toss some show money at him. I think he’s better than he showed at the Derby. FLYNG PRIVATE is back again; I’ll probably pass again, in spite of the Fusaichi Pegasus sire.
I really like GENERAL QUARTERS, but am not sure it’s his race. I like the look of TAKE ALL POINTS — again, I”m not sure if this is his race.

I’ll bet RACHEL ALEXANDRA, MINE THAT BIRD, and PIONEER OF THE NILE across the board and as a boxed exacta. I’ll put show money on PAPA CLEM and FRIESAN FIRE. I’ll look at BIG DRAMA — on the fence about him.

Race 13:
OUR SECOND SLEW and SPECIALALTERNATIVE, not sure in what order, with a show pick made at the saddling ring.

Enjoy!

Published in: on May 16, 2009 at 7:30 am  Comments Off on Racing Ink — Preakness 2009