Saturday, October 31, 2009

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Saturday, October 31, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and mild
Samhain

Greetings and blessings, everyone, on the Celtic New Year and the final harvest. May the coming seasons bring health, joy, and abundance in all good things.

Unless, of course, you’re my landlord. In which case I hope you (insert expletive of choice) and (insert expletive of choice). Scumbag landlords are at it again. The day before Halloween, with NO ADVANCE NOTICE (which is required, in the State of NY), they ripped down everyone’s decorations to paint the doors. Doors which don’t need painting, and, make this place look every more like a sleazy-rent-by-the-hour motel. Now, we were home. No one even attempted to knock on the door and politely ask us to move the decorations for the painting. It’s nothing short of yet another act of harassment against tenants.

I polished and submitted the online portion of both NYFA grants yesterday. I printed out all the work samples (with the printer giving me agita) and prepared them. I hope my confirmation numbers aren’t an indication of how many people have applied, because if it is, there are over 40,000 applicants in each category. But I needed to try. If you don’t try, you REALLY don’t have a shot.

But by the time everything was all put together, I was ready for a breakdown. It’s not even one of the more complicated grant applications, but one does have to be meticulous about making sure all the directions are followed EXACTLY. When I worked for a foundation, I was at some sort of networking luncheon or something and the subject of guidelines came up. Quite a few attendees said approximately 78% of the applications never even make it to the judging committee because they haven’t fulfilled the basic requirements set out in the guidelines. It’s similar to submitting to a publication — you have to READ the guidelines, UNDERSTAND the guidelines, and then go ahead and FULFILL the guidelines. Or you don’t get past the gate. Nor should you. It’s disrespectful and egotistical to send it however YOU wish without an eye towards the guidelines. Trust me, most of us aren’t so brilliant that we can wow the panel in spite of disregarding the guidelines.

Had to drive to Purchase (a couple of towns over) to mail everything, since our post office’s hours are so wacky. Also, since I was out — bought the Halloween candy.

Got the weirdest email from an editor yesterday. I’d submitted a short story to an international lit mag a few months ago. Got a nice acknowledgement, great, worked on other things. A couple of weeks back, I receive an email stating that they liked the story, but had decided they no longer would accept material from international authors, so they were rejecting it. Okay, fine, it’s their mag, they get to do whatever they want. Yesterday, I get an email from the same editor saying she’s updating her address book and “should I know you?” WTF is that supposed to mean? As in, does she know me and can’t remember? In which case, obviously, she doesn’t know me. Or does she mean, am I worth knowing? Which is a completely subjective question. In any event, HER address book is not MY job.

Delete.

So much noise around the place all afternoon I was ready to rip my hair out. I finally gave up, made dinner, watched the news (I’m seriously considering a self-imposed news blackout after Tuesday’s elections for about a week), and hit the desk again around 8 PM. I finished “The Misappropriation of Talent” at 10:30. I’ll give it a polish today, do a bit of cutting. It’s 20 words over the limit. I hope to cut more, especially from the front section, and then beef up the end a bit — it feels a bit rushed. And then, off it goes.

Right now, I’m headed off to finish “Lake Justice” so I can give that a polish and get it out the door, too. So it’s back to the page for me. As it is, today’s so booked I’ll be up until three or four in the morning.

The GDRS may be up later today, or they might go up tomorrow.

A friend’s little boy is in the hospital, very ill with H1N1. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. In the bigger scheme, that’s really the priority right now.

Devon

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Friday, October 30, 2009

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Friday, October 30, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Important: If you get an email supposedly from me that has nothing in the subject line or just “Re:” and blank, don’t open it. I received an email this morning supposedly from my publisher with such a header. I opened it, saw a “prayer” — which is not something she’d send me — and then the line “there’s a virus in this message.” I deleted mine immediately — Macs don’t get viruses, so I’m not all that worried. But in case it somehow grabbed my address book and sent out reproductions, be aware.

Really struggled with the writing yesterday. Part of it was because I didn’t feel like it. Part of it was the noise problem. Part of it was that I was simply struggling. Oh, well.

I need to get over my worries about the grant proposals and just print them and get them out. Either I get them or I don’t. There’s no middle ground. But there’s absolutely nothing if I don’t at least try. I feel the playwrighting grant is solid. I’m waffling on the sample choices for the fiction.

Thanks for all the happy birthday wishes for my mom. She had a great day and thanks all of you. And invites you to come visit once we have the house on the Cape.

Was offered a gig for which I’m totally wrong, so I’m putting together a list of recommendations for the potential employer of really great people.

A few days ago, a friend sent me a submission call for a steampunk anthology. It sounded really interesting, the deadline’s not until April, it’s only 25K. Yesterday afternoon, the characters and the basic story came to me, so I jotted them down. I have to clear off “The Misappropriation of Talent”, “Lake Justice”, another 2500 word piece and the Christmas story before I can start it, but at least I can outline over the next couple of weeks. Steampunk is right up my ally, melding history and fantasy and wild west! I get to pull out all my research on steam trains — yippee!

So that has to be slotted in to next year’s roster. Depending on which grants or residencies come through or don’t come through, that roster may need to change. Plus, I have to keep up the deadlined, contracted stuff.

Sorted all the little post-its for 2010 and got them into the actual calendar. I have to confirm one more set of dates, and then I can start looking at where I need to fill in and book some additional bits.

Worked on my presentation for Monday — I’m speaking at the place where I used to attend middle school! And I’ve been invited to a local Election Night party, since we’re having some local elections and some of my friends are running.

Had some questions regarding the grants, was pleased by the quick response, but the answers didn’t really help. So I’m just interpreting as best I can and hoping for the best.

Working on my Christmas lists.

I’ve got a neighbor who lost her job a few months ago and has been really struggling. She had a hard time holding a job before the recession. She loves being a victim. I try not to engage too much, because my philosophy is “if something in your life doesn’t work, change it. Own your life. Stop blaming everyone else.” Anyway, I found a great, legitimate site for jobs in the arts and sent her the link. If I was looking for a full-time gig, there are at least 3 dozen I’d go after on that one site. THREE DOZEN. All I got back was an argument about why the first job on the list was a stretch. Heck, if I only applied for jobs in which I felt comfortable, I’d never grow. If I like the organization, if it interests me, I create a pitch to show them that they can’t live without me. And it often works. Her attitude is just frustrating. But it’s her life, not mine, so all I can do is step back.

Anyway, I feel much better today — it was so nice to wake up and not feel like my head wanted to explode. I’m off to print the grant proposals, do the final polish on the paperwork, and finish both “The Misappropriation of Talent” and “Lake Justice.”

Better get going.

Devon

Published in: on October 30, 2009 at 6:34 am  Comments (3)  
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

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Lenox, MA

Thursday, October 29, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Today is my mother’s 85th birthday! Happy birthday to her! If I wind up being 1/18th of the person she is, I’ll consider it well done.

I felt pretty awful yesterday and didn’t get much done, although I got everything I needed for the birthday festivities in.

I spent most of the day working on the grant proposals. I feel really good about the playwrighting grant. I’m still unsure about the fiction grant. I’ve got to put the finishing touches on them, print them, and get them out today.

I didn’t finish “The Misappropriation of Talent” yesterday, so that needs to happen today.

Day 2 of the headache, but it’s not as severe, so I think I can just push through.

Really, not much to say today. I just have to put my head down and work. Hopefully, it will be quieter, or, if it’s not, I can turn the iPod up loud enough to shut out the noise while still retaining my eardrums.

Devon

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 6:42 am  Comments (4)  
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

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Upstate NY in Autumn

Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I have SUCH a headache today. Where’s the Excedrin? 😉

Monday was great fun, as I mentioned yesterday, and where I was, the foliage was at its peak.

I was out of the house yesterday by 6 AM, a little later than I wanted, because I was having trouble — again — with MobileMe. I’m really starting to think it was a huge waste of money. It does not do what it’s advertised to do. I can’t even get what I need on the iDisk, much less access it from anywhere. Unless Apple fixes it, I’m dropping it when the year is up. The computer’s working well again, but the MobileMe isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, so to hell with it.

Anyway, yesterday was kind of a gray and drizzly day. I’m curious why the NY metro area weather folk are NEVER right, when the Boston area weather folk are ALWAYS right. The NY weather folk promised it wouldn’t start to rain until late afternoon. At 6 AM, it was raining. Later in the day, as I had the Boston station on (which comes in clearly in VT, although you can’t get it in the MA Berkshires), they were spot on. Same with traffic. The NY traffic reports are always wrong, while the Boston/South Shore/Cape are always right.

We travelled up I-87. It was early enough to be fine. We hit Saratoga a little after 9 AM and, of course, headed immediately to Mrs. London’s for coffee and an almond croissant. Which was just fabulous.

And inappropriate customer requests never cease to amaze me. A woman of certain age, obviously wealthy, and her it’s-easier-for-me-if-I-never-argue-with-her husband entered. She asked if they served breakfast. The woman behind the counter said they don’t have eggs or anything like that, but there’s a variety of pastries and croissants and things that people eat for breakfast. The woman re-iterated that she wanted eggs. The woman behind the counter apologized and re-iterated that they didn’t have them. The woman said, “I don’t think you understand me. I want EGGS.” It took a minute for all of us to realize that she expected the woman behind the counter to go out to some other restaurant and bring back her order so she could eat it at one of the tables in this particular restaurant, rather than actually going to the restaurant that served what she wanted.

Uh, no.

After our snack, we walked up and down Broadway. I stopped at the Adelphi Hotel to take some photos. It’s closed for the winter, but I want to set a piece in a place inspired by the Adelphi, so I photographed some of the architectural outer detail and tried to photograph some of the interior through the glass. It looked very lonely, all closed up, and I wished I was a multi-millionaire so I could buy it, winterize it, and bring it back to its glory.

We stopped at Borders to pick up a couple of things — I love the fact that it was packed before even 10 AM on a weekday.

Back in the car, we headed up past the track (some horses are still training there, but racing’s done until next summer) and to the public gardens at Yaddo.

Yaddo is one of the premier artist colonies in the world. I hadn’t realized it backed up to the racetrack on one side — and I-87 on another. Several people whose work I respect swear by them with an almost obsessive fealty. I’d had a couple of negative experiences with their administrative staff about a dozen years ago, and scratched them off my list, but I’d always been curious about the facility. I hadn’t realized that the gardens were open to the public until recently, so I figured, why not take a look?
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The gardens were being put to bed for the winter, and those working there were quite lovely and welcoming. I bet the gardens are stunning in the summer. And there are some lovely places tucked away that seem quite inspirational.

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The main house, as you can see by the photo, is rather imposing. Lovely, but imposing. And there are signs and gates everywhere to keep the public away from the artists. Or is it the other way around? 😉 On the one hand, I appreciate that — you don’t want people tromping around peering in your windows or knocking in your door while you’re working. That’s not the point of a residency there. On the other hand, all those signs gave off a rather zoo-like vibe: “Don’t feed the artists. They’re more dangerous than they look.”

So that was really, really interesting. And the grounds are great. I took a lot of photos I can use in my work — there’s stagnant water with stuff sticking through it and downed trees and rushing streams and cairn-like creations — really fascinating. I’m glad I was there. I’ve never heard anyone complain about the noise from the track or the highway, so I guess the studios are well-insulated. Seeing the property, I understand the place in a different way. Funnily enough, it makes me not want to apply there. I think I have too much of a life, in a way, built on my time with various projects over the years, and it would be hard to stay in my studio and work — I’d feel like I wanted to go here and there doing all the things I usually do in Saratoga that make the place so special to me. There would be just as many distractions for me as I have at home, which cancels out the purpose of having a residency. I think it’s a great place for artists to work if they’re from somewhere else — it would not necessarily be the right place for me to work, because I’d be so tempted to be out and about instead of inside working.

I had hoped to see a friend’s exhibit that was outside of Saratoga — and I couldn’t find the turnoff. I felt like a total moron. I had the directions — I just couldn’t find the place. Fortunately, because I had no idea if I was actually coming up until that day, I hadn’t promised to get up there at any particular time. Maybe I can make another trip up just to see it.

We stopped at Lowe’s because they have one in Saratoga and we don’t, picked up some stuff, and headed to Vermont. The drive was very pretty, the rain held off, and the temperature dropped. There are many things I would have liked to photograph, but didn’t get the chance. Oh, well.

We drove across what’s basically a pass in the Green Mountains, past Bromley Ski Area and with the turn off to Stratton — and it smelled like snow. Technically, it was too warm to snow, but it still smelled like it.

We arrived in Weston later than we planned because we’d lost so much time looking for the exhibit we never found and were starving. We ate at a place called Bryant’s House Restaurant — I’m assuming a guy named Bryant owned it at some point. It’s an old farmhouse converted into a restaurant. The food was excellent – really good chicken pie with excellent biscuits.

We meandered through the Vermont Country Store after lunch. The store was the reason we’d factored in the side trip to Vermont today — we’d seen a few things in the catalog that looked interesting, but the shipping is so exorbitant it was actually cheaper to drive to Vermont and pick it up in person.

The store was really disappointing. To me, it came across more as a mass-produced version of a cliche of an image of Vermont lifestyle, rather than actual Vermont-based arts, crafts, and foodstuffs. When you look around at the overhead for the place, you realize why things are so expensive. We decided to try one of their stollen — stollen is a “must have” in our holiday season. But, other than that, there was nothing we really wanted.

Very disappointing.

But I got some ideas for AMENDS, of all things, while driving through the Green Mountains.

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Maple tree in Lenox

Back in the car, back across the mountains, down Rt. 7 through Vermont and down through Massachusetts. By the time we hit Lenox, it was starting to get dark, The Haven had closed (so no curried chicken sandwich for me) and we were tired. If it had been an option, I would have booked into a motel right then and there. But we needed to get home.

So we did. It was raining by now, and dark, and the new headlamps in cars are angled so they hit oncoming drivers (me) right in the eyes. It was not a fun trip.

We stopped to pick up a pizza on the way home, and were back after being on the road for 13 hours.

Ate, watched stupid TV, and went to bed early, after playing with the cats.

I’ve got a headache this morning and am weary, but I have to pull it together to finish the NYFA applications and one short story. I also have to go out and pick up a cake — tomorrow is my mom’s birthday.

Hopefully, I can squeeze in a nap sometime this afternoon. I’m beat.

Devon

Monday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Still dark out
— supposed to be partly cloudy

“The Misappropriation of Talent”, the new Merry’s Dalliance story, is going very well. It’s nice to be back with Captain Kit Erskine and the crew.

It was great to be upstate — a gorgeous day with wonderful people. We got our work done and had time to relax together over great food and wine and even visit a few art galleries. Lovely.

I’m off on an adventure today — will fill you in tomorrow. Have a great day, all!

Devon

Published in: on October 27, 2009 at 4:11 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: ,

Monday, October 26, 2009

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Autumn in CT

Monday, October 26, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Still Dark Outside — hopefully good weather

I’m off on a commitment upstate today, so I’m scheduling this to post and hoping for the best.

I’ve got a piece up on Kemmyrk about the importance of careful notation as you work.

If you didn’t read my encounter about the guy freaked out about my car full of brooms, hop on over here — it’s pretty funny.

The weekend was pretty good, albeit rainy and raw. I was out of the house early on Saturday, complete with luggage, writing bag, yoga bag, food bag, and arrived at the site just after 7 AM. The drive through the foggy morning was delightfully, appropriately, seasonally spooky.

Got in, got set up, got to work (after reading the newspapers).

I had a hard time concentrating. The goal was to focus the bulk of the weekend on “Lake Justice”, but a bunch of other stories kept leaking in. And, I was worried about the word count for LJ, so that got in my way. I figured out a way to stop worrying about it — if I can’t keep the word count in check, then “Lake Justice” won’t go to the anthology either, and I thought of a half a dozen other potential markets for it, and used the experience as the basis for my next SDR blog post the first Wednesday of November. Take away that pressure, and “Lake Justice” started to flow again. I’m still not where I want to be with it, and now I have to figure out yet a third possible story for the anthology — and get it out this week.

I also realized something else. I was constantly trying to keep on a normal/theatre (which is different from most people’s “normal”) schedule, just in case I got called for a show. Now that I’ve taken the honorable withdrawal, my body is urging me to move back into its natural rhythm, which is more nocturnal. In other words, I’d stay up all night into the morning (because morning is always my most productive time), go to bed in the late morning, sleep all afternoon, get up in the early evening and start over. I wasn’t planning on reverting to this until after I relocated, but I can feel my body moving towards that now. Unfortunately, that makes the business writing more difficult because a lot of those deadlines and meetings need to happen within regular business hours.

So, while I’m not making that schedule switch yet, at least I’m aware of it.

I’m reading Margaret Atwood’s NEGOTIATING WITH THE DEAD: A WRITER ON WRITING. It’s fabulous. It’s not a how-to book; it’s a why-do book. She brings up very interesting points about internal splits, responsibility, society, and the writer-reader symbiotic. Absolutely fascinating. Atwood’s perceptions of humanity in general are always fascinating. Her conversation with Bill Moyers in his series FAITH AND REASON is one of the main reasons I joined PEN.

I did a lot of work on my NYFA samples. The playwrighting samples are almost set (I need to find the flash drive with GLAMOROUS HEARTS in it and add that) and just need to be printed. I need to do a final polish on all my “statements” that go along with the work, file the application online, and then get my number to enclose with the hard copies that must be mailed this week. I have to check one piece of information for the fiction samples, and then that’s the same. The chances of getting awarded either grant are infinitesimal, but, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I think it’s been about ten years since I even considered applying, and my work has certainly matured during that time. It’s wroth a shot, and it may well be the last time I can apply for a state grant in New York – once I relocate, I’ll have to fulfill whatever residency requirements those states have for grants.

When I woke up on Sunday, I realized that I’d woken up at the same time I arrived the day before! I don’t know why I found that amusing, but I did. Sunday was a cold, crisp autumn day, lovely after the rain and tumult of the previous one.

Due to the weather, I might go off on my adventure tomorrow rather than on Wednesday. That means two truncated writing days in a row with deadlines coming up, but I’ll just have to somehow make it all work. I’ve got two short story deadlines (one the elusive anthology) and the NYFA applications to get out by the end of the week. Plus, Confidential Jobs #1 & 3 need some attention. And I’m basically away from my desk for two days. AND it’s Samhain on Saturday, which knocks that day out completely.

I might need to pack everything up and head to the library for a day or two, if it’s too noisy here.

I read an absolutely delightful mystery yesterday called HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER, the first of a new series by Kate Carlisle. It’s really delightful — melds the intricacies of book restoration with a lively mystery featuring a smart, engaging heroine and develops fantastic relationships with friends, family, coworkers, and handsome men! The title worried me a bit –the alliteration made me worry it would be one of those gimmick mysteries, where a single trait is substituted for a well-rounded character, but that was not the case at all. I highly recommend it. DruAnn, Lara, and Brandy — I thought of all three of you immediately as I read it.

Hopefully, I can track down the author and feature her on A BIBLIO PARADISE.

Got home early enough Sunday to do four loads of laundry and puzzle out the next Merry’s Dalliance story — this one damn well better be the right one for the anthology. Worked on it (and “Lake Justice”) a bit before I left this morning.

Yeah, I was up early.

Devon

Saturday, October 24, 2009

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The Ghostie Garland

Saturday, October 24, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
No idea the weather — supposed to rain

This is scheduled to post while I”m on the road, so, hopefully, it does.

Yesterday was, um, interesting.

I got reamed by someone I barely know for “not doing enough charity work.” This was, of course, after I turned down working for her for free on something that not only was I completely wrong for, but not interested in. I let her rant and then said, “Really, that’s not the way to entice people to volunteer or donate to your organization.” And I walked away.

First of all, I get to choose volunteer work — call it charity, pro bono, whatever. I don’t get bullied or guilted into it. Second, I work with some organizations about which I’m passionate — I’m just not running around talking about how much I do. I’m doing the work, and if I get the chance to appropriately mention the organization somewhere, I do. But the work isn’t about me or about promoting myself. It’s about the organization. Third, it’s none of her damned business how I spend my time unless she’s buying some of it! 😉

Second, I had to run out to get some traditional, birch=handled twig brooms (oh gosh, they’re gorgeous). Bought the brooms, they don’t fit in my trunk (hey, I drive a Rabbit), so I wrestled them into the back seat of the car at an angle. I’m driving home, getting ready to make a right turn. There’s a red light, and the guy in the car in front of me is riding both lanes. There’s not enough room for me to squeeze into the right lane and make my right on red. I’m not in a hurry, no problem. But the guy behind me starts honking at me and screaming at me and waving his fist. He can see the car in front of me and he can see that there’s no room. But he’s still honking and screaming and swearing.

He gets out of his car and stomps up to mine, screaming, “You stupid bitch! There’s a right on red. Who do you think you, holding up traffic?”

Of course, he’s ignoring the MAN in the very expensive car ahead of us who’s the one ACTUALLY holding up the traffic And the guy in that front car is trying to edge over without moving into the intersection and getting hit by turning traffic so I can hit the gas and get away from Psycho Bastard. The chivalrous thing to do would have been to get out of his car and take responsibility for a situation he created, but hey . . .

So, Psycho Bastard comes up and starts pounding on my window. And suddenly he seems the back seat full of brooms. He stops, fist in mid-air, and turns absolutely chalk white

I roll down my window and say, “Is there a problem?”

PsychoBastard: “Why do you have a car full of brooms?”

Me; “Why do you think I’d have a car full of brooms on a late October morning?”

Beat.

PsychoBastard: “I’m in deep s–t, aren’t I?”

Me: (smiling): “You have no idea.”

The light changed, and I drove off, leaving him standing in the middle of the street, because now HE’s the one holding up all the traffic.

It was pretty funny.

It will definitely show up, modified, in a piece of fiction someday.

We definitely have gremlins or something hiding things in the apartment, because stuff is disappearing, and it’s way too heavy for the cats. My Timberland boots are missing, along with four boxes of holiday-themed ribbon. That’s just weird. I can understand maybe misplacing the boots over the summer, when I didn’t need them, but the ribbon has been stored with the rest of the decorations for six years. All the boxes of decorations are there, but no ribbon.

i pretty much gave myself the day off yesterday, since I’m working all weekend. Morons all up and down the street had leaf blowers going all day, from 8 AM to 4:30, so it’s not like I could concentrate.

The next assignment came in for Confidential Job #1, and it looks really cool.

My beloved Strand Books sent me two fabulous-looking books: Margaret Atwood’s NEGOTIATING WITH THE DEAD: A WRITER ON WRITING and AMERICAN AUSTEN: THE FORGOTTEN WRITING OF AGNES REPPLIER, edited by John Lukacs.

I’m not blogging tomorrow, and I’m back on the road for an upstate booking early Monday, but I’ll schedule a post for Monday, so come on back!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Devon

Friday, October 23, 2009

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Friday, October 23, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Still dark out

Yesterday was pretty productive. Worked on several different projects; got one polished and out. Headed off to Larchmont to the really, really good Staples. Got everything on my list, including the special folders for the grant material. That Staples has the best staff — they even found the refills for my favorite pen that I couldn’t find. The packet in which the pen comes calls the refill one thing, but none of the refills are so marked. Yet, if you look in a corner, there’s a teeny tiny number (totally different from the legible markings on either packet) that match.

Went next door to Mrs. Green’s, the organic store, and stocked up, and then to Trader Joe’s where, oh horrors, they only had ONE flavor of cat food, not three! I hope they haven’t stopped making it. I bought a few cans of the one, and I’ll head back next week, hoping it’s just a case of a late shipment. Because my cats do NOT eat the same thing every day. After three days, they’d be like, “You’re kidding, right? You’re feeding me THIS again? No!” and stalk off, noses and tails in the air. It wouldn’t hurt Iris to miss a few meals, but the other two really can’t at this point. My felines demand variety.

At Trader Joe’s, I also found my new favorite decadent delight, the dark Belgian chocolate crisps. They look like chocolate potato chips, but they’re out of chocolate. Oh, boy! Dangerous!

They also had a spiced apple bread mix. I’m not one for mixes too often, but it looked really good, so I picked one up. I noticed, standing in the checkout line that EVERY cart in line (about 20 of them) had several of those distinctively colored boxes! Too funny.

At this very moment, it’s mixed and in the oven.

Two tarot readings in the afternoon, then off to dinner at a friend’s, which was a ton of fun. So much fun that I stayed way too late and was surprised by the clock on the way home.

Up before the alarm this morning, which is good, since I have some Very Early Mornings coming up. Yoga, baking, at my desk before 7 AM.

“Lake Justice” is going very well.

I’ve got more errands this morning, one that can’t be done until this afternoon, another tarot client in between. The writing bag is almost packed for the weekend gig, and i leave around 7 AM tomorrow.

Enjoy your weekend!

Devon

Published in: on October 23, 2009 at 6:07 am  Comments (6)  
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

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Violet and Elsa

Thursday, October 22, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Still dark out — can’t tell the weather

I’ve got a new post up on Kemmyrk on “Fashioning Ritual”, in case you’re interested. The photograph at the top of that post is one I took in Montreal one fall.

I’m booked at one of my favorite site jobs (the job to which I’m going this weekend and for a weekend in November) for about a half a week early in December. That’s going to be such fun.

I’ve been having a series of odd, sequential dreams the last few days. Although I can’t remember enough of them to write them down and try to figure them out.

I didn’t get much done on “Lake Justice” unfortunately. I wound up doing a long post for a friend’s site regarding fair pay for fair work, which ate up most of the morning. I managed to get to the grocery store to get in a few things. I headed to White Plains and picked up some books — I was looking for an issue of a magazine where I’m interviewed as part of an article, but I think I missed the issue. I’ll have to hunt it down in Greenwich Library and copy it. I tried on a bunch of shoes and boots at Nordstrom Rack — nothing I really liked. They’ve got a bunch of shoes where the heel is placed all the way at the back of the shoe instead of the slight curve that places it about 1/4” inch in and directly under the middle of the heel — so in those shoes, I felt as thought I was listing backwards all the time. I still haven’t found the gray boots o’my dreams!

Bounced down to Target, but they didn’t have what I needed. Well, they had one thing — exactly the type of new writing bag I’m looking for — a square carry-on with multiple sections for computer, cords, books, flashdrives, files, books, the travel yoga mat. But it was double what I was willing to pay for it, so I passed! I want to get the new bag before i head to DC next month, but we’ll see. Me and new luggage, right? A bag for every occasion.

Went to a dinner party last night, where we discussed a wide range of issues, including the whole writing-for-mill-content site issue and what it means. I’m the only one of the group who makes my living in the arts. Some of the others are in academia, some of them are in the corporate world, and some are now unemployed.

One of the interesting things about the discussion was how harsh the corporate types are about people who work for jobs (even beyond content mills) that pay crap. There’s a real sense of contempt for people who don’t negotiate or even attempt to negotiate. While a lot of writers in the community advise against it and warn how it can harm not only one’s bank account, but one’s future prospects (I belong to that group, although I’ve lost patience with those who insist that the crap wages are worth it, and my position is moving towards, “if you were good enough and motivated enough, you’d be earning a living wage”).

It was pointed out to me that businesses exist to make a profit, not provide for employees. Employees are a “necessary evil” and are to be cut loose as soon as feasible. Sure, some are using a more employee-friendly model, and those businesses tend to do well and hold on to their employees. But many businesses don’t care about turnover beyond their own bottom line. If they can get someone for a low price — and that person delivers — that’s what they’ll do. If the cheap ass can’t do the job, they’ll move on to someone else. They’ll wrangle for as low a rate as possible, because it benefits THEM, and they constantly have to figure if paying a rate quoted is worth it. If there’s quality involved that will build their business and raise their profit line, and if the person hired is reliable and not trouble to work with, then it is. But if they can get quality for less, they do. That’s why business always fights unions. The union position is “ a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work”, whereas management’s response is, “Why?” (Having sat at plenty of negotiation tables, I know from experience that that is true in many cases).

If employee-friendly policies result in a higher profit margin for a company, then they’ll do it. But few will actually volunteer to “do the right thing” unless forced to do so by regulations. Companies that do right by their employees from the get go are generally started up by one or two individuals with a vision that’s considered naive by the larger business community; and, on the occasions when it works and the company grows into a huge success, it’s shrugged off as an anomaly.

It was pointed out to me that, as long as employees are willing to be paid like crap and treated like crap (in any line of work), they will be so paid and so treated. Unions (especially early in the labor movement) managed to curtail a lot of that, but many of them are imploding because they began to fashion themselves on regular corporate models and have grown more interested in their own bottom line than the good of the membership, although that’s the phrase they use to shove something unpalatable down membership’s throat. As long as workers agree to be exploited and only look at the small picture instead of the big picture, that’s what many corporations will do, because that’s how they increase profits and reward the ones at the top who keep figuring out ways to cut salaries and benefits by giving the top execs huge bonuses. Current regulations are considered a joke, a slap on the wrist, and law suits take so long and have so many loopholes that it’s more cost efficient to draw them out, exhausting the other side’s resources and, if they lose, find ways to delay pay outs.

It was interesting to hear it from the corporate point of view. Depressing, but interesting.

Today will be busy — I’ve got some paperwork and correspondence to get out in the morning, a ton of errands to do, polish up one of the rituals and get it out, pack my writing bag for the weekend (my duffle is already packed and I’ve got the food sorted), and do two tarot readings. And I’m supposed to go out with a friend tonight.

Weather-permitting, I might have the opportunity for a really fun adventure at the midpoint of next week. Fingers crossed!

Devon

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

IMG_0667
Violet

Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Well, today I actually know what day it is, which is better than yesterday.

Up again at six, yoga et al done and at my desk by 7. It makes a HUGE difference in productivity.

Yesterday, I finally got a handle in the work statement for the grant application. Once i make the final decision on the work samples, I can send it all off. I’m torn between sending material that’s been published (and therefore accepted as “good enough”) and material that’s in decent shape, but still in progress, yet more along the lines of what I’d do if I get the award. For the playwrighting grant, there’s no question — I’ll use BEHIND THE MAN. But for the fiction, I’m not really sure what to use.

Got a really nice email from an editor who worked with me on the children’s story, delighted it’s accepted and will appear in January. I thought that was very sweet of her, and thanked her for her guidance. I learned a lot from them, and now we’ll see if I can apply that moving forward. Markets for children’s stories are difficult because most of the publications don’t pay much, but expect all rights. And if I’m selling ALL rights, it’s going to be for a boatload of cash. So my pool of potential submission sites is pretty small. The more I can learn from each successful submission, the better.

Talked to another editor about the essay — hopefully, we’re all the point where we can call it done and move to the copy edit stage. Again, I’ve learned a lot from this process, which is what I hope for each time I work with an editor.

Working on the rituals I’m booked to perform next week. I’ve got to put together a bag for each one, so that, as I gather the materials for each, I just drop them into the appropriate bag.

Did some good work on the novella. it’s natural rhythm is slower, about filling out each scene as completely as possible before moving on to the next (in the fewest possible words). Word count doesn’t add up rapidly, but the piece feels good.

Today, I may run a few errands, but, for the bulk of the day, I want to keep my butt in the chair and finish the first draft of “Lake Justice” so I can revise it over the weekend and then send it off.

Devon

Published in: on October 21, 2009 at 7:05 am  Comments (5)  
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

IMG_0665
Violet loves Samhain

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

It’s the third Wednesday of the month, which means my next SDR blog post is up. This one is about “Reading To Write.”
Note: I just realized it’s TUESDAY, not Wednesday, so this post is up a day early. headdesk.

I got up at 6 and was at my desk at 7 this morning. That hour makes all the difference, mentally and creatively. For once, the cats weren’t rummaging at 4 AM, so when the alarm went off, they were like, “What? it’s dark outside!”

But I’m so much more productive if I get up at 6 than if I get up at 7, that it’s worth it.

I had a great session on “Lake Justice.” It’s weird, because I feel like I’m doing so much work and covering so much ground, but the word count doesn’t seem to rise very quickly. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since this is a short story. But I look down and go, “I’ve covered all this ground and I’m only 300 words ahead?”

Good news: One of my children’s stories, under the Jenny Storm name, has been accepted for publication in January. When it comes out, I’ll point you all towards it. I’m delighted. Jenny needs a few more credits!

I’m booked to teach both the Dialogue Workshop and a Story Building Workshop at the 2010 Muse Online Conference, next October. AND, I’ve been invited back to the Catholic Writers Online Conference in February to teach the Dialogue Workshop and the One Story, Many Voices Workshop.

I think I’ve found my new web host. I’m pretty excited. So I’m trying to move forward a little more quickly on the website redesigns so I can move before the end of the year.

More legal paperwork to do today — it’s taking longer than I’d like because, the deeper we dig, the more points need to be articulated. But it will all be good when it’s done.

Good progress on BE THE MONSTER and a novella. I’ve got to read through another set of edits for the essay and then, hopefully, we’re done.

So I better get back to work!

Devon

Monday, October 19, 2009

IMG_0666
Elsa investigates the decorations

Monday, October 19, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Note to self: If you’re going to be dumb enough to pound on a steel door because you’re angry at the scumbag landlord, don’t be surprised when it REALLY hurts to knead the bread.

I’m not asking for sympathy here, I’m just sayin’! 😉

Found out some news indirectly that, once I file the legalities, I will be able to discuss here in more detail. It’s writing-related. While I’m not happy about the way it was mis-handled, at least, once all the paperwork is complete, it opens better doors for me.

We kept waiting for the horrible storm that never turned up. I baked bread and worked on conference stuff and other admin work, like the grant proposal, cleaning up the links on the blog, and shedding some projects. Seriously, there were a bunch of people who went on a marketing blitz and contacted me about swapping links. I put them all up on my links and never thought twice about it. After awhile, I noticed they weren’t actually visiting me, so I put aside some time to make sure they’d followed through on their end of the deal. “Swapping links” means both people actually POSTING the links, not just emailing about them. They didn’t, so they’re deleted. buh-bye! No loss for me — gives me room for other new and interesting blogs. Meanwhile, I’m reviving some other work that’s been on the back burner for awhile and now needs to come forward.

One of which is that I hope to post regularly on Kemmyrk again (as Cerridwen Iris Shea) on topics relevant to that blog. There’s a new post up today, if you’re interested.

Today’s to-do list includes work on “Lake Justice”, ‘Be The Monster”, ANGEL HUNT, the grant proposals, and the new Fearless Ink logo. And all the legal paperwork I wasn’t expecting to have to do, and which may reshuffle the To-Do list for the next few months a bit. I’ve also got to put some material together for what I’m dubbing “Confidential Job #3”. All I can say about it is that it deals with environmental issues and I think it’ll be a good opportunity, although my learning curve better be as fast as I think it is.

I still haven’t sewn the duvet cover — and it’s cold!

I also have to pack for the weekend — I’m doing a site job this coming weekend, and it will be COLD.

But I’ll have uninterrupted writing time for large chunks of each day.

Devon

Published in: on October 19, 2009 at 7:26 am  Comments (3)  
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009
New Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I think I’m fighting the beginnings of a cold or something, which totally sucks. I’m hoping to catch it before it fully develops. I’m right on that edge. I feel better this morning, but if it floods and I have to be in and out in the muck, I doubt I can stave it off.

One of the things I’m playing with in “Be The Monster” is handling relationships/conversations that are often handled in a rather cliched fashion in the fantasy genre a little differently. Only my Trusted Readers will be able to tell me if it works. It’s fun to write, though, because I’m turning all sorts of conversations we’ve read a hundred times on their heads.

“Lake Justice” or “Justice Lake” or whatever the hell I’m calling the other story today is simply fast, scary, and funny. That’s all it needs to be. It’s also a hoot to write.

I dreamed about one of the residencies last night — I hope that’s a good omen!

I’m going to shed some projects in the coming weeks that don’t fit in with my overall vision and path over the next few years. There are a couple of projects that would be fine if I was still where i was when I started them, or because I liked the IDEA of them, but when I sit down with the scheduling and responsibilities, I realize it’s not something that works in the long term. There are other people who are better qualified and more excited — I’d rather be a worker bee for one of them than the one responsible.

I moved the car, checked the brook, waited for the Big Bad Storm, hoped I wouldn’t get a ticket. I probably wouldn’t have moved the car until late at night, since it was dry around here, but a friend called me from the town marina to tell me that all the roads around there were filling up, even though the tide was going OUT.

I figured I’d risk a $25 ticket rather than losing my car.

The brook here stayed low all night, and, when I recently checked it (along with a dozen or so of the neighborhood folks), we don’t understand why the brook is still so low, when areas that don’t often flood are under water. According to the news, the tide never went out last night, so today we’ve got tidewater coming in on top of the water that’s already there, so by noon, basically, we should be screwed.

The desecrated courtyard is just one large mud puddle.

I can’t go out to buy bread in this weather, and we ran out, so I’m baking some this morning and hoping the power holds until it’s done.

Hopefully, I can finish out my commitment at the conference today without everything going kerplooey, but I have to take it one hour at a time.

Two of my really good friends are starting new jobs tomorrow and I’m thrilled for them. Always great when friends get opportunities that make them happy! I salute you!

The cats woke me up at 4 AM, and then I overslept. If they’d just let me sleep until 5;30, I’d be willing to get up and stay up! All of our lives would be easier, but I can’t seem to make them understand that.

I better get the bread kneaded so it can rise, and then I can get it in the oven. Fingers crossed that everyone is erring on the side of caution rather than a repeat of 2007.

Devon

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 7:04 am  Comments (3)  
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