Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009
Dark Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

The storm didn’t hit us too badly yesterday; today’s is supposed to be worse, so I’ll keep an eye on the brook. I didn’t even have to move the car yesterday because the brook was several feet LOWER than usual, not higher.

We had heat, although I wound up being locked out of the building, and walked right through the construction, scaring the heck of the workers when they tried to stop me and I went off. Heaven forbid the locks work properly — oh, and there’s NO lock on the front door now for nearly a week. AND, when I went to the parking lot to run my errands, the workmen are pissing in the parking lot between the cars. In addition to being inappropriate, isn’t the employer required to provide adequate sanitary facilities for the workmen?

Yesterday was all about the conference. I spent most of my time commenting on exercises and answering questions. I put up a really hard exercise for them today — hardest I’ve ever thrown at a group of students. I warned them I’d be sending material back to them for multiple rewrites, and this was the one exercise on which I could read multiple rewrites (with 81 people signed up, I had to set a boundary of reading ONE rewrite per person per exercise, or I’d never catch up).

I’m not taking many workshops in this go-round. For one thing, I don’t want to be pulled into the tangent of new material. I’ve got stuff on deadline, I’ve got outlines stacked up. I tried to participate in some of the more business-oriented and practical workshops, but a lot of the information was stuff I already figured out, or stuff I’d tried and knew doesn’t work for me. Because I usually take workshops that involve more actual writing than I have this year, I feel less engagement from the instructors in the workshops I’m taking than usual, and it could be simply because it’s not as necessary as in this kind of workshop. Also, because I’m at a different place in my work this year, my needs are a little different, and it’s harder to find a workshop that meets them.

I’m sort of in that weird limbo of earning my living doing this, without being a recognizable bookstore name. My needs are different from someone starting out and trying to get published, and also different from someone with a multi-book contract. For over 20 years, I was in the Tribe of Theatre Professionals (and, thanks to the plays, I still am, in spite of the withdrawal from the wardrobe union). I was in the Tribe of Writers Starting Out. I don’t really fit into the Tribe of Secure Lit Fiction Writers (but then, is that ever really secure?). I’m a Working Writer, but it’s hard to find others doing what I do in physical proximity — they’re either only doing business writing or only working on their Great Novel while working a day job. That’s not a judgment, but it’s a different set of challenges and issues. I’ve got great writing friends as all levels of their careers via the internet, but I’d also like more in-person contact. A Nano group’s not going to give it to me; there’s no Meet-up Group around here that can — and I’m not sure I have the energy and commitment to start one.

I’m pretty sure I need to just sit tight until I relocate — in the areas I’m looking, they are more oriented to freelancing and flexible time management than they are around here. I’m in a typical suburb — it’s very rigid. In addition to missing the cultural diversity I had living in the city, I miss the emotional and artistic diversity. I feel more of that multi-levelled diversity when I go farther into New England.

One of the issues we face in the upcoming local elections is whether we keep in the current administration (of which I’m very supportive) that is working on the practicalities of infrastructure issues while meeting the needs of a growing, changing population. The opponents are running on a platform of union-busting (they’re saying our police, firefighters, and teachers aren’t worth the money, when, in reality, we get a return on our investment several hundred times over) and keeping the city affordable for those they deem worthy of living here, while cutting out others — a rise in economic snobbery and segregation that’s been on the rise in the community for the past few years. There’s a segment of the population that wants to run the whole town kind of like a co-op apartment complex, where you have to get permission that you’re “the right sort” to live here, which breaks all kinds of laws.

Honestly, I’d rather live next door to a small organic farmer than a slimy hedge fund manager any day.

Since “Be the Monster” is too big to be an anthology story, I’m plugging along on that while starting the story that’s due, “Lake Justice” — which is going to be both scary and funny.

Working on the grant applications, defining and redefining the work I’d do if I got the grant.

I want to go back to New Mexico to write for awhile, so I looked into residencies. One I found charges a grand to attend. AND expects the visiting artist to lecture. Uh, no. If I’m going to pay, I’ll just rent an apartment for about a third of what this particular organization charges (I found a really sweet one I bookmarked for the future) and be completely on my own schedule. And if I’m going to do work FOR the organization instead of just working ON the grounds — the organization will pay ME, not the other way around. I could have sworn there were a couple of others out there, but haven’t yet tracked them down.

Back to work. Elsa was on medication again for most of the week, but she seems much better. The twins are running around, playing. They just turned nine, but they still act like kittens.

Devon

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009
Day before dark moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Slow start this morning, because I did a longer morning yoga practice, meditation practice, and then baked apple muffins. The muffins are based on a recipe in Marion Cunningham’s THE BREAKFAST BOOK. However, her recipe only calls for cinnamon; I put in cinnamon,nutmeg, cloves, mace, and allspice. It gives the batter a beautiful harvest brown color and deepens the taste a bit.

Yesterday was all about the conference and storm prep. We didn’t flood yesterday, but there’s snow a little farther upcounty and certainly upstate. We had heat all day — guess the Health Department had a little chat with the landlords. We’ll see if they actually toe the line, or if it was just a one-day pretension of following the law.

I’ve got some errands to do today and then I’ll put the car up on the hill this evening, just in case — tides are about three feet higher than normal. We’ll see what the weekend brings.

The conference will wind up this weekend. I had a good time, but I’m ready to put more focus back on my own work again. I had one of those “Duh!” moments yesterday when I realized that I could make the artist statement for one of the residency applications do double duty on the grant application.

I’m re-reading the May Sarton biography by Margot Peters. Peters, along with Claire Tomalin and Hermione Lee, ranks as one of my favorite biographers. I use Sarton’s journals as fuel when I get tired, and I appreciate her poetry, but she always struck me as someone who was a bit of an energetic vampire with a martyr complex. She’s someone whose work I can enjoy and appreciate from a distance, but I made sure not to know her when she was alive. I had contacted her once, during some research for a project on Susan Glaspell, but her response didn’t make sense and I chose not to follow up.

Better get going, although today is the type of cold, rainy day where all I want to do is curl up in the big chair with the cats, a good book, and a cup of cocoa.

By the way, it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that Violet had her own Twitter and Facebook accounts and a blog. She’s that kind of cat. She does, after all, chew on Shakespeare. Literally.

Devon

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I had to really work yesterday not to be a whiny pain in the ass. I was cranky and cold all day.

Workshops were fine; you can see where some people took on too much for the course of the week and are rushing through. Nothing they can’t sit down and flesh out when they sit down and breathe for a minute. But part of my job is to be a taskmaster, and that’s what I’m doing.

Got the fans to storage. Got my cappuccino maker out — it needs a good, solid cleaning AND I have to replace the pot that broke, but I’m glad to have it home.

Had my headphones on nearly all day because of the noise. They’ve redone the front steps with a slippery fake slate and removed the handrails. Won’t that be fun in ice and snow, especially since they don’t shovel and/or sand properly? They’re redoing the pavement with brick pavers, which doesn’t make any sense in bad weather, or for professional women who wear heels, the brick looks like crap with the slate steps up to the sections (in addition to being a completely different color and texture from the brick of the building), AND there was no need to cut down all the trees to do any of this.

Quite a few people in the building have filed complaints with the Health Department about the lack of heat. Since today is the 15th, where they are even MORE required by law to keep the temperature reasonable, today I start my log and file it with DHCR on the first of every month. Dates, times, temperature, when it went up because I cooked, when they actually bothered to put heat on. And state clearly that I will NOT allow anyone to enter and plant a “sensor.”

We had a little heat over night, but they turned if off at 9 AM, as they do every weekday morning all winter.

Speaking of which, so many people talked about banana bread on Twitter that I had to bake some. Yummy.

I got some good work done on redesigning the websites — especially the Jain Lazarus site, which will be simply awesome. I’m having trouble settling on a graphic for Fearless Ink. I’m trying to balance something that really speaks to the purpose of the site and is very much “me” with something that looks professional without being corporate. I know what I want for Devon and I even found something I can use for Cerridwen — but the Fearless Ink is a challenge. Mostly because I need to design a logo, and I can’t seem to settle on what I want.

I posted a question in a conference forum and was told to buy a book to figure out my “mission.” I KNOW my frigging mission — I make a living at it, for eff’s sake –I’m a freelance writer who can write anything that needs to be written, for a decent price. What I need is help brainstorming a graphic! I can’t use anything from iStock because it’s a logo (and I didn’t find what I wanted there anyway). I can’t use anything from clip art, because it’s a logo. I’ve either got to draw it myself or take a photograph and see what I can do in “effects” — but if I don’t know what I want, I don’t know what to shoot.

Hey, I warned you I was cranky! Seriously, when I ask for advice and someone tries to part me from money instead of answering the question, I get annoyed. Recommend the book all you want IN ADDITION to answering the question, but answer the question!

Today, I plan to just sit tight and alternate between working on my own writing and teach the workshop. I have GOT to get back to that NYFA application. The good thing about working on the application and the residency applications is that it’s making me articulate focus on specific projects next year, instead of working on whatever catches my interest.

The first Nor’easter of the season is supposed to hit, starting with severe rain tonight, and we’re under flood watch again. I’m boiling water and checked the batteries, so, in case power goes out and everything goes kerplooey, we can hang in there. I’ll move the car up the hill later in the day.

I just had to delete a whole paragraph Violet typed when I got up for a minute. I don’t know what it said — it was in some mysterious feline dialect — but she is highly offended that I deleted it.

Devon

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

37 degrees F this morning. And no heat. Yeah, it’s illegal, but they don’t give a damn.

I have a piece over on Sole Struck Fashions about shoes in Prague.

I had to scold a few students, reminding them they don’t get to choose which elements of the exercise they use in their work — they have to integrate ALL of them. And they wonder why editors send them back material for not following guidelines — if you don’t learn how to read and follow guidelines, you’re not going to get published. So don’t give me a song and dance about “organic process” — organic your process all you want on YOUR time — follow the directions when it’s MY time.

Got an incredibly boneheaded email from someone — with next to no credentials — telling me how to write. It was so moronic I had to laugh. Got another email from a lit mag asking for a donation — a lit mag who can’t be bothered to acknowledge or respond to submissions or follow-ups. And I should support you because . . .? I’m sorry, I’m just not that nice. Deal with me in a professional way, and we’ve got a starting point. Act like a spoiled, entitled child, and I’ll do what I do with all spoiled children — ignore you.

Got out the work for Confidential Job #1. Smoothed out the essay and got it to that editor. Stayed on top of the workshop exercises and even got to participate in some of the other workshops.

Froze my little tootsies off — no heat until after 5 PM — so am breaking out the fleece-lined slippers! The cats are well-wrapped in fleece nests and hot water bottles.

Accepted the fact, this morning, that “Be the Monster” is the beginning of a bigger piece and not going to fit into the 5K word limit. Set up the folder, the character charts, the terminology charts so, as I create the world, I can track it instead of having to flip back and forth through pages to see what I meant. The writing went well — about 1500 words a day seems to be its natural pace. The last thing I need is another project, but Catriona is very stubborn and my metaphorical ass is sore from the kicking she gave it when I didn’t pay attention to her enough yesterday. It also needs a new title — this one was adequate for the section I hoped would be the bulk of the short story, but not for the larger piece.

Every piece has its own shape and rhythm and you’ve got to trust it.

It also means I have to come up with another story for the anthology — and fast.

I’ve got to keep up with assignments today, take the fans to storage and retrieve my cappuccino maker, and work on the grant applications.

Better bundle up and get to it.

Devon

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter DIRECT
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Jupiter goes direct today, thank goodness. That should ease up on some of the hearth-and-home and tangible stuff. Neptune’s still retrograde — which, as my ruling planet is no fun, and Uranus retrogrades are just a pain in the ass, pun intended.

Yesterday was busy — although not all 81 students are regularly posting exercises, enough are so that I’m spending 8-10 hours a day reading and commenting. It’s a little more of a challenge this year, because I wasn’t able to clear the desk off as far as deadlines, so I’m juggling projects.

I have to say that I’m delighted with the students. They’re dedicated and have some great ideas. There are a few who’ve taken the workshop every year, and their growth as writers is joyful to behold.

Acupuncture was great yesterday, and I feel so much better. She fixed the ear problem I’ve had since I got on the plane and got most of the knots out. A lack of sleep is bringing some of them back — between the scumbag landlords banging around all day so I can’t rest or concentrate and Metro North working on the train tracks across the street all night and me hating ANY kind of repetitive machine noise — life Chez Devon is not a barrel of laughs right now.

The work on the short story is going beautifully, although I know I’ll have to make cut to get it in under the word count. But it’s all I really want to be working on — so it’s a challenge. I love the characters, I love the potential.

I’ve got to write up the stuff for Confidential Job #1 and do another pass on the essay today, along with keeping with everything in the Muse Conference. All the while, trying to refrain from burying the scumbags with their own ditch digger.

1and1 is still not working properly, so next week’s priority needs to be redesigning the websites and pulling off what I still need from the mail accounts so I can move hosts. This is out of control. I hate to lose the design of the Cerridwen site, but I’ll just have to come up with something better. I think I can — I’ve got a few ideas percolating. I know what I want from the Devon site — I’ve even picked out a few designs. It’s the Fearless Ink one with which I’m struggling. I have a basic, overall idea, but I’m not sure how to execute it in iWeb or where to find the elements I want to layer. Redesigning the logo is the hardest part — I’m fully capable of it, but it’s settling on the elements of it that are the challenge — what I feel represents both me and the sense of “fearless” and open space that’s so important to the site, yet still tied to writing and business writing. Something that smacks of corporate isn’t going to cut it for me, but something a little too granola won’t do it, either.

The beautiful Linden tree in the back that we hope to save gave me a wonderful gift yesterday, as I returned from acupuncture. It’s a little longer than a branch for a traditional wand, but it’s lovely and will be treasured.

Devon

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

34 degrees (F) this morning outside and no heat. Gotta love the scumbags. Yes, that’s sarcasm, accompanied by an eyeroll. And, since it’s a holiday Monday (although they’ve got the workmen here disrupting our lives), there’s no one in any official capacity who can do anything. Again, they get their wrists slapped after the fact, but it doesn’t stop them from doing it over and over again.

The Muse Online Conference starts today. I’m excited. I have 81 people signed up so far. I doubt they’ll all post exercises, but, if they do, it’s 162 pages per day for me to read and comment on.

Rearranged the exercises so they build more logically.

Cut 3000 words from the essay. I’ve got to smooth out some transitions, but I think it’s good to go.

Didn’t make much forward progress in the short story today, although i had to go back and rewrite what I’d done, because it wants to be told in First person, not Third. The limited word count concerns me — it’s going to be quite the challenge. This story has a lot to say on several levels.

Going to comment some exercises and post Tuesday’s exercise, then head off to acupuncture. When I get back, I’ll work comment on some more exercises, write up the material for Confidential Job #1 (it’s due tomorrow) and go over the essay one more time before sending it out.

I’ve been re-reading Anne Truitt’s TURN. She’s a wonderful artist who published a series of her journals (DAYBOOK, TURN, PROSPECT), which are exquisite. I have to admit losing patience when she has trouble travelling on her own. Solo travelling is very different than travelling with a companion, but each offers enormous riches, if you’re wiling to accept them.

Busy week coming up, but I’m looking forward to it.

Devon

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

That puff of heat is just a memory. It’s in the 40s today, and, you guessed it, no heat. Good thing I cooked yesterday and had the oven on. And I’m planning to bake an apple spice cake today.

I pretty much gave myself the day off yesterday. I finished the reading for Confidential Job #1 — now I have to write it up. I treated myself to the rest of Richelle Mead’s THORN QUEEN, which I thought was really well done.

Still having trouble with 1and1. We’re now into Day 5. And they just can’t be bothered to fix it. I can’t just pull everything to another host because first I have to go in and get what I need. So, this will be a process. But, much as I hoped to be able to work things out with them and remain a customer, their only interest it to keep taking my money without providing service. I can’t earn a living if my sites don’t work. It’s ridiculous not to be able to access them between 11 AM and 3 PM almost every day.

With the online conference coming up this week, I need access 24-7.

I decided to rearrange the exercises for the coming week — the one starting the conference is too complicated right now, and we need to build up to it. So I’ll do some tweaking this morning, and then put it up to give people plenty of time to get to work.

I’m also going to attack the essay today with the red machete — I’d like to be able to turn around a revision by Tuesday morning for my editor.

I did just over 1000 words this morning on a new story for an anthology. I have two ideas, one of which is a Merry’s Dalliance story, but I don’t know if I can get both done in time and out.

I’ve also got to get focused on the NYFA grants this week, in and around everything else. I want to get them out before the deadline.

This is also the busy time for me — with Samhain coming up, I get a lot of calls for house blessings, readings, etc., and that’s all got to get sorted. The plans for the DC trip are moving along well, and I’ve got to schedule in another day trip to Lenox and one to Concord, although the latter will probably be in early December, weather-permitting.

I’m not going to the Morgan Horse event in CT today — I just don’t feel up to it. I’d rather just head to the farmer’s market and see how much I can clear off my desk when I get back.

Devon

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Have you see the “Simon’s Cat” animation pieces on You Tube? Someone tweeted about them yesterday, and I spent way too much time watching them and howling with laughter. “Cat Man Do” is one of my favorites, although I love them all.

The scumbags actually gave us heat yesterday, without me having to call the Health Department first. I’m not sure if they just did it because they got a clue that we won’t back down, or if someone else called the Health Department. It was only a puff, in mid-afternoon, but it made a big difference.

My editor sent back the essay with some suggestions for cuts — I’m curious to see if her cuts are the same as my first cut instincts. The other editor was pleased with the cuts in the short story, which I thought was interesting, since I felt those cuts took all the detail and charm away, but whatever.

I’m doing the final prep for the workshop, so I can post the first exercise tomorrow. I’ve decided to rearrange the exercises a bit. The conference officially starts on Monday — it will be a busy week. I may stop into a couple of workshops — last year I took a couple of writing workshops — I world-built again in Karina Fabian’s wonderful class, and I took both Kim Smith’s cozy workshop and Jamieson Wolfe’s short story workshop. I developed a new book in Karina’s workshop, which is in the To Be Written Queue; Kim’s workshop was the start of the first Helena Francis mystery, which is nearly done; and the short stories I started work on in Jamieson’s workshop are making the rounds — one of them was published in THE RANFURLY REVIEW, and the others are on submission, and there are more to go to create a volume of linked short stories. This year, I don’t really want to create new material — I’m up to my eyeballs in partials that need sorting and completion. So I’m looking into workshops dealing more with business and practicality. There’s also a research workshop that looks wonderful, especially since I’m about to start digging in the National Archives.

I read most of the material for Confidential Job #1. I will finish it write up what I have to either today or tomorrow.

I was supposed to go to a Morgan Horse event tomorrow, but, honestly, I don’t know if I’m up to it after this week.

Plus, I need to get back to the Prague essays.

I’m delighted that the President was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. When you travel outside of the United States and get away from the viewpoints of the liars and the hypocrites, the only people who come across on the world stage as fools are the obstructionists and screamers who are scared that an educated, rational viewpoint might hold some sway in the world, and that their own personal pockets will be lightened when the special interests no longer own the country. It’s going to take a long time to cut out the cancer that is comprised of corporate interests, but, hopefully, the people will continue to demand it. Our President is trying to do it peacefully and legally, and that is the way most people want it done, which is why he was elected.

And Representative Alan Graysin rocks — good for him, not kowtowing to the morons and telling it like it is.

Devon

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Waiting to see what fresh hell the landlords have in store for us. It’s no way to live — every footfall, every passing car, every time something is dropped at the door, you wonder what new aggression is performed against your home.

We were sealed in yesterday, and I don’t give a damn what they’re doing today, I have stuff to do, and if it means breaking the seal and walking through the cordoned off area, that’s what I’m going to do.

I didn’t get much work done yesterday — most administrative. I did, however, put out the Samhain decorations, and the place already feels better. And the decorations freak out the workmen, which is an added bonus.

The books on Mozart and Haydn arrived, the ones that interested me after the Prague trip. It’s amazing to me that the postman can’t get into the sealed building — but Strand gets the delivery here. You gotta love Strand Books! They always come through for me.

Yesterday was also the second day in a row I got non-stop “server errors” in the websites. Since I can only send out the newsletter via the webmail program, I couldn’t get out the newsletter. I pulled mail through some of the other accounts via mail2web, and managed to get out a couple of queries, but that’s it. I’m over 1and1. This is well over a year that we have the same conversation every day. Every day, there’ a problem between 11 AM and 3 PM. I thought maybe if I did the site resdesign, I could live with the webmail problems, but I can’t. So, on the few random days I can actually get into the accounts, I have to copy/backup the mail I need and pull it off, get the sites redesigned and move hosts. I can’t run a business and earn a living with an unreliable web host. And I MUST be able to access the webmail — puling it through something like Outlook doesn’t work for me — I need to be able to access it from ANYWHERE, not just the home computer. And the fact that their customer disservice keeps asking for my password to “fix” problems they never actually fix is beyond inappropriate. I have to grit my teeth and deal while I put everything in place for the transition, but it’s completely ridiculous.

I managed to get back to AMENDS this morning for a bit, before the latest round of chaos began here in the building. It felt good to get back to it.

i visited some forums yesterday I hadn’t visited in awhile — same sh**, different posters. I’m tired of the same questions posted by wanna-bes who are too damned lazy to look in the archives, and I’m not taking the time to answer the same questions I’ve answered a couple of dozen times. Do some research, prove you have a commitment to your craft, and stop expecting others to do the work for you.

It’s probably a good thing I’m skipping Nano this year, and not just because of my own deadlines. My patience with beginners right now is nil. It’s not necessarily fair –we all have to start somewhere, and asking questions is important. So I guess it’s not really the “beginner” part I have trouble with — it’s the “lazy” part. Do some background research and then ask questions that prove you’ve actually done some groundwork.

The cats are having fun with the decorations. They used to be afraid of them — no more.

Going to try to get some writing done, my errands done, and then get back to work on m mother’s new cover. After all, it’s getting colder, and the scumbag landlords don’t give us heat during the day in winter. If they did, they might actually be complying with the law, and they can’t have that!

Devon

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

My heart hurts, and I’m so sad I just don’t want to get out of bed. Getting out of bed is about all I can do — the scumbags “sealed” us into the building for the next 48 hours while they work on new front steps. Technically, they’re within legalities because, in an emergency, we could get out through the back basement doors — but the locks are bent, so we can’t get back in.

I spent time at City Hall, completely appalled by the loopholes in the city code and the lack of enforcement in what’s there — and this, after a member of the City Council claimed our town has some of the more stringent regulations in the area. Riiiiight. That’s why the tree cutting is far more regulated in just about every other town — because OUR regulations are so strong.

The tree cutters came and hacked at the big, beautiful tree in the back of the building. They told me they were only pruning it, not cutting it down. How much do you want to bet they’ll be back to destroy it today? My mom was crying — she loves that tree.

And I’m sorry, but a responsible “arborist” wouldn’t come in and destroy perfectly healthy trees. These guys are as big scumbags as our landlords. It’s even more appalling that they’re highly regarded by the Better Business Bureau. Believe me, I’m going to set the BBB straight on this particular company.

I’m having real problems with the concept of non-violence right now.

Ironically enough, I was contacted about a job opening upstate working on environmental issues. I’d need to know what it pays before I even considered applying.

This week is a wash — I’m not getting anything done. I was so distraught and exhausted by 4 PM I was a basket case.

I’d started working on my mom’s new duvet cover when the tree cutters pulled up outside the window. Believe me, I made them VERY uncomfortable.

The story I edited the other day was approved by that particular editor and sent up the editorial chain. I’m shaking my head, but . . .whatever.

Sorry this blog is such a bust, and that I haven’t had the chance to work on the Prague essays. I am preparing to teach next week — I’ve tweaked the workshop yet again, and it should be a lot of fun

1and1 sucks, as usual — server errors, couldn’t get into my emails, and the morons yet again, asked me for my password — totally inappropriate. I’ve found the graphics I want to redesign the Devon Ellington site — as soon as I figure out what I want for Fearless Ink, I’ll put it together, put the redesign together on those sites and move them to a different host. Fat Cow is the top contender, although HostICan looks pretty decent. Both have about an equal number of praises/complaints, but both seem more reliable than 1and1. I’m tired of paying fees and not being able to access my email accounts from 11 AM – 3 PM every day unless I pull it through mail2web. I’m paying 1and1 — I should be getting service FROM THEM. And then support argues with me. If they’re not going to give me service, I’ll find someone who will.

And if the City isn’t going to protect its environment, I’ll go above them to the county, state, and federal levels and change the laws to take it out of their hands.

May the karmic return for the scumbag landlords be swift and fierce.

Devon

Published in: on October 8, 2009 at 7:11 am  Comments (5)  
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I’m really not up to blogging today — too depressed about the trees.

I do have a post up on “integrity” over on the SDR blog.

I was pretty useless yesterday, and that was pretty obvious early on, so I spent most of the day doing genealogy research. I found a lead on one branch of the family that’s definitely connected on my mother’s side, and am trying to contact the person listed on Rootsweb — but the initial email bounced back. I’m trying to reach the person through the family’s blog now.

St. Louis sent the naturalization certificate from the one possibility on my father’s side of the family, and I tracked down the death certificate of his widow in the records.

I was very frustrated with Ancestry.com — first they say they’ll give you a free 14-day trial, but I can’t actually access the information unless I give them financial information. Uh, no. First I want to find out if your information is any good. And no, I should not have to “call and cancel” so I won’t be charged for something I shouldn’t be charged for anyway.

Plus — the records are a matter of PUBLIC record — which means I have the right to access them. Yeah, I can pay Ancestry for the convenience to look for documents while at home in my pajamas — but I contacted the National Archives about getting an appointment to look through the census records — to which I have right of access, although I’d have to pay for copies of anything I need, which is fine.

There’s another line of potential family members who seem to be medieval re-creationists. Not really sure how I feel about that! 😉

Went grocery shopping, which always gives me joy, found the whopper popper snaps for my mother’s new fleece coverlet at Michael’s — and was very disappointed in the holiday stuff. I know it’s inexpensive, but it used to be a lot more creative. I was also looking for yarn for a chakra blanket I want to crochet, but they didn’t have what I wanted — and certainly not in the price range I’d expect. I’ll go to a local store. I doubt “they” — whoever “they” are, collectively, making yarn — have the colors I want in bamboo, so I might go with a silk blend. I’d love to do an alpaca or llama yarn blend, but am not sure. I have to look at it and touch the yarn before I make any decisions.

I went to meditation group last night, and it was very helpful. Our teacher is wonderful and the lack of pressure and the ability to just be whatever and wherever you are is wonderful. i talked to him a bit about what’s going on with the trees, and he totally gets it. I also made some interesting discoveries, which I can’t really talk about yet, because I have to mull them over.

The center’s little white chihuahua climbed in my lap and curled up at the top of the class — it was hilarious!

I’ve got some ideas about ways to bring about some consequences to these soulless bastards — legal, don’t worry — but I’m going to play it a little close to the vest. Believe me — there WILL be consequences.

Devon

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

This is what the bastards have done to our courtyard — cut down all but 3 of the beautiful, old trees, and those will probably come down today. The City stands by and says they can’t do anything — which is bullshit — you can ALWAYS come up with something, if you really give a damn.

It causes me physical pain as well as emotional. I can’t really describe it, but I can feel every cut.

May those who ordered it and yes, those who carried it out — get their karmic retribution sooner rather than later, and may I be allowed to witness it.

Because I’m sick and tired of cowards who hide behind “it’s my job”. If you do something you know is wrong because “it’s your job” — it’s still wrong and you’re as culpable, if not more culpable, than someone who made the choice. Someone who makes a choice is taking action — someone who hides behind the job is a coward.

Believe me, I am not done with these scum yet. I may not have been able to save these particular trees, but I can work to change legislation to prevent these scum from doing this in the future. I would prefer to simply chop them to pieces with a machete, but that is not a sane viable long term solution, so I’ll refrain.

In other words, yesterday was an awful day, and I didn’t get much done on the job front.

I managed to proof the essay and get it to my editor first thing (before the chaos started). I rewrote the story for the other editor — I’m not happy with the requested cuts. The cuts took out the details that made it unique and, to me, the story now reads as though I’m “talking down” to the age group. Part of me almost hopes it doesn’t make the next round of readings, so that I can restore it to what it was (although, the editor was correct and the last line had to be better — so I put what I think is a humorous twist in it — and then re-submit elsewhere. We’ll see. If it’s accepted and published as it, I’ll learn about the publishing side for that young age group — even if I think they’re underestimating the actual readers.

I submitted two other stories yesterday, too, so, fingers crossed. But I couldn’t get any writing done, because I was too upset. I will find a way to shape the rage into a viable piece of writing, but it’s too soon, too raw.

I also received my honorable withdrawal card from the union, which was kind of jolting.

November is filling up with work — good thing I’m sticking to my commitment to skip Nano this year. I’m also determined to hold my dates for my trip to DC. Three days of libraries and museums will set things to rights in many ways, plus I’ll have meetings with both politicians who represent me and activists and writers I’ve gotten to know via Twitter and other writing. I’m going to pack a lot into three days!

On another weird twist in the story of my life, by accident I found a photo of a guy standing with the Stanley Cup who may well be related to me. I had to join Facebook in order to send him a message (don’t worry, folks, no page is going up, and I may well cancel my account soon). I did a little research — he seems to play — and win — in billiard tournaments — my kind of guy. And obviously likes hockey. We’re close in age, so he can’t be a half-brother, but maybe he’s a second or third cousin. The family name — especially that spelling — is very rare.

Delving further, I found another possible ancestor who was a founder in a small town on the Polish-Czech border — he was the town’s butcher, co-owned the inn, and owned a shop — a busy guy — in a town with a population of 483 back in the mid-1800s.

Someone with one letter missing in the last name originated in Russia and emigrated through Ellis Island, and has records in St. Louis. So I’ve contacted the special collection there to see if I can get copies of the records.

This is all on my father’s side of the family, and I know very little about them. My father’s elder brother was a well-known artist in Europe, who died a few years ago. his younger brother is an etcher and art printer. Supposedly, the younger brother has all the family records, but has ignored repeated requests for copies of the information, even though I offered to pay all copying and mailing costs. I’ve only ever met them once or twice, soon after my father died, back in the 1970s.

Ancestry.com was no help. They want me to sing up for a free 14-day trial and then do a monthly payment — bur since they won’t let me see the few records they have, I have no reason to believe their information is useful. I may be better off hunting stuff down on my own. Quite frankly, the information I’ve gotten through the site run by the Mormons has proven much more complete and accurate.

I’ve gotten a good portion of information from my mother’s side of the family, thanks to a project she and her dad did together when she was a kid. I’m kind of stalled there — time being a factor as much as anything else.

Eventually, I’ll need to spend a few months putting stuff together and then plan a trip to Europe that is specifically geared towards genealogical research.

On today’s agenda — trying to catch up on what I didn’t get done yesterday, work on some environmental legislation, and, hopefully, get some writing done.

I helped a friend hone an ad yesterday — he’s certainly had my back enough times in life, so I was happy to do something as simple as proofread and comment on some copy.

Let’s hope today is better, and Gaia starts pushing back against these scum.

Devon

Monday, October 5, 2009

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Monday, October 5, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy, but good weekend. I worked on site — cable and internet were both out, which mean I had no intrusions on my workday. It was kind of nice. I did have to dash out to the Greenwich Library briefly to pick up an email from an editor, but, other than than, Saturday was almost entirely consumed with work on the essay. I gutted and restructured it, building the whole beginning section from the ground up, adding in the information from the two newest books, and rearranging the rest of the information.

In between bouts of essay work, I also started developing a new project– I’m not exactly sure what it is, but it’s a big one, and requires a lot of thought. It feels right — like I can cover a lot of ground on a lot of issues and concepts that matter to me and that I want to explore. Part of me wants to develop it during the Muse Conference, and part of me feels it’s still at too delicate a stage so to do. I was practically in a trance during the times I worked on the information for it, which is how I like to be — if only I could sustain that for the duration of the project! Several of my main characters (it has a large, ensemble cast) are very clear to me and are revealing relevant information. Several more are still around the shadows, in the sidelines, not quite ready to step forward. I have to be patient with this, let it unravel at its own pace, and not drop any of my other deadlines while it reveals itself.

Over the weekend, I also watched more television than usual. On Friday, I flipped between STARGATE UNIVERSE, GHOST RIDER, and NUMB3RS. I missed the denouement of NUMB3RS, so I’ll have to see if I can go back and watch it online. I have mixed feelings about STARGATE UNIVERSE. I thought it was well done, in a lot of ways, but I missed the oddball humor that then turned on a dime and went straight to the heart that STARGATE ATLANTIS had. I haven’t quite warmed up to the cast yet, but I’m willing to give it a little more time. The ATLANTIS cast had an amazing chemistry and a lot of charismatic individuals in it, something that’s unusual to put together from Day One, so I need to give this some time.

I was surprised by GHOST RIDER — I’d heard such awful things about it, and it wasn’t as bad a I expected. I would have handled the material differently, both as a writer and a director, especially when it came to pace — the pace was off. And why do most actresses wash out up against Nic Cage? Angelina Jolie and Diane Kruger hold their own and have chemistry with him, but most others — ick. Cage, as usual, has an endearing quality and can pull off dialogue that would sound ridiculous coming out of anyone else’s mouth. I love how he physicalizes his characters — Johnny Blake’s kind of twitchy and then grows into Ghost Rider, while Ben Gates from NATIONAL TREASURE moves with the grace of a dancer. Sometimes when he gets twitchy, I want to shake him and say, “stand still. Be strong in the silence”, but twitchy worked for Johnny Blake, at least early on. And seeing Sam Elliot on screen just always makes me happy — talk about a solid performer who can communicate more with the tilt of a head and the glint of an eye than most other actors do with their entire bodies. Definitely an actor who knows how to use stillness. I prefer those actors to the ones that have to bounce around all over the screen.

Saturday night, I watched the re-run (I refuse to call them “encore presentations” — they’re re-runs set in the first week so they don’t have to pay production costs on having a full roster of shows) of TRAUMA. The show needs to find its feet, in a lot of ways, but I loved the work of Cliff Curtis. He was pitch perfect with a character who could have been an arrogant ass of a messed up individual. Instead, he came out of the gate with a complex human being, and I’m interested to see where he goes from here. I found the writing a little uneven and the emphasis more on the disasters than the aftermath. I’m not going to stress if I’m not home to see an episode, but if I happen to be home when it’s on, I may watch it, just for Curtis’s work. I also liked Aimee Garcia’s work a lot, but the rest of the cast has not yet enchanted me.In fact, some of them annoyed me, and not in the right way.

I slept in on Sunday until nearly 8 — bliss — read the paper, and didn’t get to work until about 10. Spent some time on what I’m calling The Challenging Project, and then spent the bulk of the day finishing the Anita Blake essay. I’m much happier with this version — although it’s far too long. I’ll go over it again this morning and shoot if off to my editor — if she likes the overall shape of it, we can take out the red machete and cut.

Got back from the site last night, unpacked, hung out with the cats. They all wanted attention.

Up at 7 this morning. No Prague diary yet — sorry, just haven’t had time to write it up properly. I need to get out the essay and rewrite a short story that an editor’s interested in, provided I do a rewrite with some cuts. Also have to do a new bio for the relaunch of the SDR site.

I want to do some work on The Challenging Project today, and on the Jain Lazarus Prague story, and then get back to work on AMENDS.

Busy day.

Devon