Friday, April 16, 2010

Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

I was up at 5:30, but decided not to run, a mixture of the rain, the coyotes,and the fact that I could barely put weight on my left knee yesterday. Nothing says “prey” like a limping target, right? If I feel better tomorrow, I might give it a shot later in the morning, not at dawn.

I did a little writing Wednesday night, after I scheduled the post — mostly outline work.

Yesterday morning, the cleaning crew came in, so I packed up and took off for the Greenwich Library, to do research for the Chet Grey story. I’ve wanted to do it for weeks now, and the story is at a standstill because of it.

It was a very intense few hours of reading about neurology, neuoplasticity, interior and exterior artificial “brains”, neurowarfare, biological and chemical warfare, and the development of the elite “warrior-athletes”, commonly labeled “Super Soldiers” in pop culture. My dad was a chemist, and wanted me to be a nuclear physicist. I forget, in between bouts of science reading, how quickly I take to it, and how natural a lot of it is for me. Truly good science writing is a joy. It’s inspirational on so many levels — quality of writing and quality of content. And it sometimes makes me wonder about the road not taken.

The research will serve far more than this Chet Grey story — which may well turn out to be a novella. It’s given me a few ideas for some straight-up sci-fi, and additional info to get past the “stuck” on a piece that started as a screenplay for Script Frenzy a few years ago, and then morphed into a novel.

I also picked up a nice stack of books at the library sale.

And Strand Books, bless ’em, already have some relevant books on their way to me. They are my go-to book resource.

At first, I was totally elated by the research, high on the possibilities, both in actual terms and in terms of fiction. However, as the day progressed, and the weight of the information really began to sink in, I was filled with a combination of hope and despair. I don’t believe that the governments and the private companies funding this work have the ethics to safeguard it. And, deep down, most people want to believe they do, but don’t and therefore ignore the fact all this even exists — hence the basis for best-selling espionage fiction. Anyway, it depressed the hell out of me. We can’t just have the intelligent in charge — even the most intelligent of people can get caught up in the excitement of discovery or of greed. We need people with strong ethics and a strong sense of social justice. The right wing nuts in this country have hijacked the term “social justice” to be a Bad Thing for America — when, in reality, the only “bad” about it is that it doesn’t let the corrupt have all the money and all the power. “Social justice” is a concept far removed from “socialism” — but then, most of the people who toss around that term have no idea what it really means, either. This country is not heading towards socialism, and socialism wouldn’t work here.

Basically, I think we’re all fucked at this point, no matter who’s in office, because there’s so much greed and so much corruption, corporations can do anything they want without consequence, and the ones who scream the loudest against it,the fake protesters, pretending to be grass roots, but, in reality, funded by the most corrupt and ethically-challenged individuals in this country, funded by the ones who want to maintain the status quo and just have all this distraction, the noise, the smoke and mirrors, so they can continue to economically and socially rape the country. The current administration hasn’t taken strong enough steps to turn back the previous regime’s corruption — and the Cheney years will go down in history as the most corrupt since post-civil war reconstruction — provided we have a world left in 200 years to read the history of this era. And, honestly, I’m beginning to doubt that we will.

But you know, with all that volcanic activity in Iceland, in addition to their economic collapse, I’m kind of glad I didn’t buy a place there a couple of years ago, when I was considering it!

I started reading one of the books I bought, something light to take my mind off it all, written by an author whose work I’ve enjoyed before. Not this time. The premise is good, the characters engaging, the execution doesn’t live up to it, and the writing is so sloppy I can barely get through it. Big disappointment.

Fortunately, I’m not friends with this person and don’t have to fumble to find something nice to say about the book, because chances are, we’ll never have to have a conversation about it!

The reading certainly made me look at last night’s episode of FRINGE with a different viewpoint. And, much as I enjoyed the scenes between the Walter Bishop character and the character played by Peter Weller, I still can’t get into the show. Part of it is Dunham’s unrelenting dourness. I understand, she’s really busy saving the world and all, and was experimented on as a child, but really, can’t she have a moment or two of pleasure, relaxation, or joy? This is nothing against the actress, she’s very good; I just disagree with the conception of the character. I also disagree with the show’s insistence (at least in the episodes I’ve seen), that everything in an alternate universe/alternate plane/whatever they’re calling it is negative and a threat. You know what? I bet they’re just trying to get through the day as much as we are, and with many of the same problems, corruptions, joys and sorrows. My philosophy differs on such a basic level that I can’t just accept and enter the world presented in the show.

I promised comments on the season finale of HUMAN TARGET, and here they are. First and foremost, I thought it was an excellent episode — the villains actually had personalities and posed a threat — finally! I was worried that the character of Katherine Walker would be a disappointment. We’ve heard so much about her all season. She was played by Amy Acker (whose work I liked a lot in both ANGEL and DOLLHOUSE), so the casting was a relief. And the creators made a smart choice — she wasn’t a Super anything. She was ordinary, and it was her very ordinariness and kindness that was Chance’s tipping point. Fantastic choice, and not one that’s usually made in this kind of show. There wasn’t enough of Jackie Earle Haley in the episode. Good fight scene with Mark Valley, and Haley gave my favorite delivery of any line in any show all season. The simplest line you can imagine: “Dude, it’s me” when Chance wonders how Guerrero found him that told us VOLUMES about their past, their relationship, their future. Perfect example of how the simplest of lines can have the biggest impact with brilliant delivery. The episode really needed to be two hours long, so we could have a bit more of the early Chance/Guerrero years, but if they come back next season, hopefully we’ll see. Something happened between them to make them intrinsically loyal to each other in a way they aren’t to anyone else. It might be better if we never know what that is; it might not measure up. I also loved the fact that Haley had the last line of the piece, about getting Winston back, and it’s the first chance we had to see that Guerrero not only gives a damn about Chance, but he also gives a damn about Winston. I also liked the fact that Katharine did not die in Chance’s arms. I was worried they’d go that route. Not doing so was the right choice, and it also opens up other possibilities.

Problems with the episode: Dog continuity. I’ve had trouble with it all season. They’ve got the dog, and don’t really utilize him properly. They keep sticking him in because they established him in the pilot, and they showed how Chance got him in this episode, but their use and continuity with him is shaky. Another problem: Winston’s phone. We see Chance steal it from his pocket early on to find the text with Katherine’s safe house address — another problem, I don’t believe the cops are that stupid to text Winston with the address — but, a few scenes later, Winston talks to Katherine and Chance on the cell phone. Katherine wouldn’t have answered her phone if she didn’t recognize Winston’s number, so how did Winston get the phone back? Another problem: Baptiste wasn’t hungry enough to prove he’s better than Chance. It was referred to briefly, but there wasn’t enough desperation and resentment there. Another problem: Towards the end, I don’t believe Guerrero wouldn’t take the old man out when he had the gun on him. I believe he wouldn’t shoot Chance earlier, and he went off the grid — that sets up a lot of their relationship. But when the old man shoots the guy who’s about to shoot Chance and Guerrero has the gun on him — I believe he’d have taken the shot (and succeeded) and he and Chance would have figured out where Winston is and how to retrieve him. I understand, in the overall arc, why it couldn’t happen, but it wasn’t logical or true to the characters in the moment.

I’m glad this wasn’t the pilot — it worked well as the season finale. If it is the SERIES finale as well, if the show doesn’t get renewed, at least we have enough information not to feel cheated. I hope it comes back. I’m interested to see where the creators take it in another season –whether I agree with those choices or not! 😉

I do miss being on set sometimes, but I’m where I need to be right now — writing — and, although I feel a little stuck, it’s the pressure I need to get me going in the right direction. Spending time on my own work rather than pouring that energy into other people’s work is where I need to be.

Got to go help my mom on something this morning, and then, it’s a day of writing. Will probably work on the Chet Grey story, make use of the research while it’s still fresh, but the bulk needs to be on the novella. The novella needs to be finished this weekend.

Back to the page. From neuroscience to 1889 in a heartbeat. I love being a writer!

Devon

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010
Waxing Moon
I hope it’s a nice day

I’m actually writing this and scheduling it to post on Wed. afternoon, because I won’t be able to blog on Thursday.

Tax day in the US. Are yours mailed? Yeah, probably most of you got your refunds already! 😉

Wednesday’s weather was gorgeous. I got up and ran — not quite as early as I’d have liked, but I did it. My knee’s bothering me a lot. Was in the car and headed to the site a little after 7. I’m usually writing at 7 AM or on a highway — not used to dealing with this kind of commuter traffic.

I’m in a section of CT that was hit badly by the storms. I had to drive so close to downed power wires they nearly hit the car — scared the heck out of me.

Got there on time, started to get settled. Had to run an errand around 11 and had a hell of a time getting back — they were working on the wires and the downed trees and the like. But I got back. Hopefully, today won’t be a problem — I have to get in and out a few times over the course of the day.

Didn’t write. Had a day to refill the creative well. I handled on-site responsibilities and read a book while sitting in the sun.

The book was actually a re-read, THE COURAGE TO WRITE by Ralph Keyes. There’s some good stuff in there, but there are also things with which I disagree, and things which I think have changed since the book was published in 1995. The chapter called “The Devil in the Inkstand” definitely pushed the most buttons. I felt, at times, it just didn’t fit my experience and beliefs about writing. There’s a point where you have to get past your own psychobabble bullshit and excuses, put your ass in the chair and get words on paper. If you’re too scared, get over it, push through it, or do something else. I also disagree that writers write because they want attention. I write because I want to find out what makes people tick, how people, things, situations work, and hopefully, write a way to a better life on many levels. I prefer NOT to have a lot of attention on me — one of many reasons I’m not an actor, and one reason I like writing under several names. Because it’s not about me — it’s about the stories and the characters.

AND, I disagree with his belief that you don’t have to have a foundation in craft to write well. He says many of his best students are the ones who scrawl material on notebook paper without worrying about grammar, punctuation, spelling, et al.

How nice for him.

My experience, as a teacher, is that you can’t find the actual story under all the muck most of the time. I’m not here to teach Third Grade English. There are enough resources out there to hone the craft, and, in this day of overworked and underpaid agents and editors, no one has time to babysit. It’s the writer’s job to learn the craft. One of my students recently argued that “it’s an art, not a science.” Actually, it’s a craft. If you break the rules, you better know them inside out, so it’s a clear choice and doesn’t come across as a lazy mistake. I stand by my belief that it is INEXCUSABLE for an adult who supposedly has an education and is calling him or herself a writer not to know the difference between a possessive and a plural or the difference between “their” and “there” — especially if you’ve been in one of my classes and I’ve gotten on your case and given you the resources so you don’t keep making the same mistake. To not learn this stuff is a combination of laziness and ego.

We all make typos and get tired and have trouble proofing our own work. But to slap up a sloppy assignment, especially with the same mistakes on which you’ve been given notes, is a sign of disrespect to the instructor and the other students, and a huge sign of narcissism on the part of the writer.

Chances are, you’re not that damn good and the 10,000 other people behind you who can be bothered to learn the craft as well as hone their art will get published and you won’t.

Although, given the sloppy state of some of the published books I’ve read recently, it’s not necessarily true. I actually sent a book back to a publishing house the other day demanding a refund because it has so many mistakes in it.

A few months ago, I had a conversation with an agent at a party. The agent turned out to represent someone whose writing I can’t stand (which I discovered through a lovely case of foot-in-mouth on my part). The agent said, “You’re right. X’s writing is crap. However, it’s crap I know how to sell and we both make a lot of money off it.”

Fine. I’m still going to be all over sloppy writers in my classes! 😉

I also got very impatient about all the writers quoted moaning about all the ways they procrastinate to keep away from the page. Sit your butt down and do it. Stop whining. I look forward to getting to the page every day, even on the days I struggle. I love it or I’d find something that pays better and more regularly.

Something I totally agreed with in Keyes’s book:
“An empty bank account with the rent due can summon remarkable powers of concentration.” (p. 194)

Anyway, it’s a book worth reading.

A cleaning crew comes in this morning, so I pack up and head to the library to do research that’s been put off for days, and also get some writing done.

I’m sure I watched the season finale of HUMAN TARGET last night, and I’ll probably have a LOT to say about it in tomorrow’s post! 😉

I may even have gotten some writing done last night, in between the time I scheduled this to post and the rest of my night.

A bit of time away from the page did me good, and I look forward to getting back to it.

Devon

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 1:21 am  Comments (2)  

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
New Moon
No idea what the weather is

Since I have to be on site by 8 AM, the plan is for me to get up and run at 5:30, then, after I shower, head over to the site, and have a good workday there.

Since I’m still working at the time I’m scheduling this to post, who knows if that’ll happen.

Taxes are done — spent the whole day on them yesterday. Working on the final cover letter. They go off in the morning.

If I had the money to spend on a tax preparer — I’d use it to go to the doctor instead. Just a tad more important, at this point. But, since neither is an option right now . . .such are the choices in the life of a freelancer.

Did you know a racehorse — a living, breathing racehorse — is considered a piece of property that depreciates? There’s a whole table to figure out how much. Ick.

But, when you think about it, I can’t write off the cats, who are definitely dependents, it’s not like they’re out there earning their own kibble — but I could write off a racehorse. Weird.

Hopefully, I can make steady progress on the novella.

I should have some internet access while I’m on site, so you’ll probably hear from me throughout the week.

Devon

Published in: on April 14, 2010 at 1:08 am  Comments (3)  

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Dark Moon
Cloudy and cool

Yasmine Galenorn has some great advice on getting it all done as a writer, over on the Witchy Chicks Blog. Check it out.

Colin, to answer your question, I don’t use the iPod on the runs. I can’t stand it when runners in this area don’t pay attention to what’s around them and expect everyone else to watch out for them, instead. It’s too busy, there’s too much traffic and other people and dogs and things for one not to pay attention to what’s going on all around. I want and need to be very aware of the surroundings, even if I’m thinking!

Michael, hope the pilot shoot went well, and I bet you someone sold the DAMNATION ALLEY vehicle on eBay, and it’s in someone’s backyard or something. I’ll check out the film you mentioned — I trust your judgement.

Lara, yeah, can you imagine, the machines were floating around in the basement, in all that sewage and muck. Instead of replacing them, they simply hosed them down. Ick.

My taxes are killing me, and today is do or die, since I start work out of town tomorrow. Every time I think I’ve filled out the form, I find another form to fill out. They’re getting, like 50 pages of material from me. And it turns out books are a depreciated expense, if I plan on using them over time. All I can do is the best I can do. If I screw it up, they’ll let me know. Turbo Tax is absolutely useless, by the way. I looked into it. All those little boxes don’t have enough variation for what I do.

I’ve never been a person who could fit into someone else’s box.

Got my column out, worked on the third chapter of the urban fantasy, got out five queries, worked on the taxes, did the business correspondence. Took one batch of stuff to the post office; another trip set for today.

Did a little bit of work on the urban fantasy. I’ve now hit the point where I have to sit down and plot before I can work on it anymore. I also should put it aside for the next few days and work solely on the novella, which must get out the door next week.

Back to taxes.

Devon

Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 6:58 am  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010
Day before Dark Moon
Partly cloudy and cool

Up at 5:30 and out for a run. Last week was a frustrating one for running; let’s hope things improve this week. So far, I still feel like I’m not making progress. But different bits are hurting every day, instead of the same bit hurting worse, so I guess that’s progress? And today is my least energetic day of the month — day before dark moon is my toughest day, as far as energy and focus.

Just for the record, when I say I’m going to a friend’s to “do laundry” — it’s not a euphemism. I actually haul my laundry to a friend’s place and use his machines, because I don’t like the ones downstairs that weren’t replaced after the flood. Whatever else we do while I’m over there is OUR business, but yeah, I’m also doing the laundry! 😉

Trying to rework a piece for a different publication. It’s pretty solid at just under 500 words — a nice, tight short. But the mag — which a former teacher of mine thinks this will be a perfect fit — likes their “shorts” to run at 1500-2000. So, I either pad this or send it in short and hope for the best (ignoring guidelines, never good), or write something else and find a different market for this. It could use a bit of fleshing out, so I’ll see where I end up with it.

Spent a lot of time working on the novella, which has to get out the door soon. It wants to be a novel, but to fit these guidelines, it can’t. I’ve already cut one character who simply slowed it all down. I may have to cut more, especially because, in the next draft, there are at least two scenes that have to be fleshed out a bit.

Worked on the urban fantasy. I need to figure out how to weave the B storylines into the A storyline.

Didn’t work much on my taxes, which means today is a big push.

Spent some time online doing research. Nothing like having to slog through unpleasant material.

Was sent a couple of submission calls that sound interesting. Don’t know if I can do the first, since it’s due at the end of this month, but may be able to participate in the second, which isn’t due until the end of May. I have to really think if i want to write in that genre again, and if I’d resurrect an old name or create a new one — I wouldn’t use any of the current pseudonyms.

Contacted by a client with whom I parted ways and made clear that I would not work under those conditions again, all light and sunny as though nothing had ever happened, planning for the next project. Say what? Are you on drugs on just delusional? When I’ve made it clear that even after Hell freezes over and pigs fly, I STILL won’t work for you again — it’s a solid “no.”

Got another contract almost sorted out. One more detail, and we’re good to go. So that will be sorted today.

Watched BARTON FINK (again) over the weekend. I love the art direction and production design of that film. It’s gorgeous. The content’s not bad either, of course, but the design always makes me forget everything else.

I’ve got a column to write, taxes to finish, business paperwork to get out (take that, scumbag landlords), and the novella to work on. Off to work on the urban fantasy now. I really want to start using the running time to work out plot points. I’m doing a lot of thinking as I run, but it’s not necessarily on the current WIP.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 12, 2010 at 6:02 am  Comments (5)  
Tags: , ,

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

It was in the high 30’s (F) when I got up at 5:30 to run this morning. But it wasn’t storming, so running today was a better choice than running yesterday. Too many people out on a Saturday morning, though, even early. I like that time to be MINE. Just me and the street.

When I lived in Manhattan, I went out probably five nights a week after the show ended for the night — didn’t want to miss anything about living in the city, y’know? I loved coming in just before dawn, the light just starting, it was quiet — for the city, the garbage trucks hadn’t started their rounds, truly magic time.

Yesterday, I was pretty much a waste of food. Had a migraine, ran errands, grocery shopped. Finished chapter two of the urban fantasy. It needs work. It was written in fractured, short sessions, instead of longer ones, and it shows in the draft.

Had a bet with a friend regarding yesterday’s Apple Blossom. Zenyatta, my favorite horse, ridden by Mike Smith, my favorite jockey, was in it. She was my choice. I was so confident in her ability to win that I let my friend demand that, if she lost, I had to watch DAMNATION ALLEY. Why that? Isn’t that some film from, like, 1977? Because it’s a post-apocalyptic film and has people-eating cockroaches in it. I hate post-apocalyptic films –if we go boom! I want to be dead in the first pass — and I’m no fan of cockroaches, either.

Of course, if someone paid me a boatload of cash, I’d WRITE a post-apocalyptic film, skipping the cockroaches, and it would be unlike anything that’s ever been done. 😉

But — I WON this bet. Which means my friend has to pay up. And it’s GOOD, but it’s not something I’d post publicly! ;0

Plus, of course, I did some real betting and got some cash.

Good morning’s work on Chapter Three of the urban fantasy. The scenes between Louis and Edwina come the most easily, especially talking about life in the business (Louis is an actor). It’s kind of fun to write Edwina, who can’t stand actors — usually, if my protags are involved in the industry, they’re insiders, such as Jain from HEX BREAKER or Callie from REAL or Mia from POWER OF WORDS. Edwina’s an outsider, forced to observe the industry from the fringes because her client is an actor. It’s fun to play with that perspective — still keep it more realistic than most of the fiction that depicts the industry in tired cliches rather than how hard everyone works and how they have to pull together whether or not they get along.

Busy day today — have to pay bills and get a lot done, then head over to a friend’s tonight to do laundry, have dinner, and hang out.

Devon

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010
Waning Moon
Rainy and warm

Got up at 5:30 and didn’t run because of the bad storm. Tomorrow’s supposed to be lovely, so that will be my third run of the week instead.

No wonder I liked the actor who played “Connor Dunham” so much on Wednesday’s episode of HUMAN TARGET — it’s Christopher Heyerdahl, whose work I’ve enjoyed so much on SANCTUARY. And the other actor, who played Gerard, is Erik Avari, who’s always working and always good. Hey, give credit where it’s due and not just call them “those actors I liked”, right?

I think it’s really exciting that so much has gone/is going into production this pilot season. It’ll be even more interesting to see what actually makes it to release/airing, and pretty soon, the final renewal list will be in. Hopefully, the pendulum is moving away from reality crap and back to scripted shows, and hopefully, there will be an interesting array of actors.

Pilot season somewhat makes me miss being on set — a little. However, most pilots are shot on as tight a budget as they can get away with, which puts an awful lot of pressure on the crew. Depending on the production and the network, if it gets picked up, and there are names with enough clout attached who aren’t afraid to use it, the budget gets more realistic; otherwise, they continue to nickel and dime, and usually, those are the shows that tank pretty fast. You burn people out if you use as few as possible and push them for 18-hour days over a period of months. That part, I don’t miss. Nor do I miss the politics involved when the network demands actors are re-cast and stuff re-shot.

What’s frustrating is this assumption that a solid, healthy, loving relationship is boring. Lead characters who love each other are either kept apart forever or the show ends as soon as they get together. Most publishers who bring out “romance novels” – which seems to include any time a character kisses or has sex — want new pairs who get together in a book, rather than exploring the adventure of a healthy, solid relationship once the characters get together. Yes, it’s often in the submission guidelines. Some mysteries and urban fantasy have sustained relationships over the course of a series, but usually the threat du jour becomes a direct threat to the relationship, instead of letting the relationship grow and introducing a variety of threats. I think that does a huge disservice — it sends a message that sustained love isn’t interesting. Instead, it should be celebrated, and it should be celebrated in at least a solid fraction of our entertainment. Not just a brief reference to 80-somethings who’ve been together for years, but let us watch solid, healthy relationships evolve over the course of several seasons or the course of a series.

Yesterday was a frustrating day. Didn’t get much done, the taxes are a mess, etc., etc. Didn’t get enough writing done, wasted too much time puttering around on the internet.

An actor friend sent me a link to a YouTube interview. A fan was interviewing an actor whose work I enjoy. The fan, bless his pointy little head, was enthusiastic, but hadn’t done his homework and was just an awful interviewer. The actor was a little stunned by a few of the more ignorant questions, but, kudos to him, he collected himself and was as gracious and charming as he could be. I sat there, cringing with embarrassment for both of them — especially since the interviewer had no idea how badly he came across. I will have to write a scene along those lines for either this urban fantasy or in POWER OF WORDS.

Gotta love it, though, when watching a YouTube video counts as “research” for one’s writing! 😉

Good morning’s work on the urban fantasy today. Still feeling my way through the chapter, but I think I need to make some discoveries before outlining the next section. I have the loose frame of the entire piece in my head, but don’t yet want to write it down. I know what I’m aiming towards, and I have a couple of intense scenes to hit, but I need the whys. I also have to figure out where to introduce the antagonist, so that it makes sense and it’s a strong contest of skills and wills.

Gotta go to Trader Joe’s today — out of cat food. And work on taxes. And, hopefully, the writing day will improve.

Devon

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010
Waning Moon
Cloudy and humid

It hit 90 degrees in Central Park yesterday, which is just wrong. It was only 80 out here, but still . ..

Did some good work on the urban fantasy. I’ve written what I outlined, so I’m flying blind for a bit, then outlining more.

Acupuncture was great. The traffic, in both directions, was a nightmare, and I wasn’t in as bad shape as I usually am. She also worked on my knee.

Came back, did a little more on the urban fantasy, but mostly had to let the treatment settle. I’m reading PD James’s book THE LIGHTHOUSE, which is very interesting. She moves POV in various chapters, but is consistent within a chapter, and shows us the mystery through several perspectives. I haven’t read her books in order, so I’m a little lost in the arcs that have developed over the series, but not so lost so that it’s distracting. It’s also set on a fictional island off Cornwall, and makes me miss Cornwall.

I’m learning a lot by breaking down this show on a craft level, so thanks for bearing with me. HUMAN TARGET was on last night, and, I’m happy to say, back on track, at least as far as I’m concerned. i nearly skipped it because the premise required such a far suspension of my disbelief, but I’m glad I watched. The writing and direction were much better this week. The two episodes I had a problem with were directed by the same guy, and this was directed by someone else. Huge difference. His work was really solid, and he let the actors fly, for the most part. Jackie Earle Haley’s Guerrero had the hair that reads well on camera again, AND he got to be very active in this episode, with actions including taking out a sniper and driving an ambulance. This production must OWN that frigging ambulance, because it keeps turning up in episodes. And I have to take a second to praise the crew on this show — the demands of this show means they’re flat out busting their asses at an enormous rate. It’s amazing that the continuity of the show is as good as it is. I’ve been there, I’ve had to watch for continuity, at least as far as wardrobe, so wardrobe and hair continuity and prop continuity are things I tend to notice. And it’s damn hard, especially when you’re working outside and so many factors can’t be controlled. You do the best you can and you hope that, if something doesn’t work, it’s small enough not to notice, or they don’t decide to use the take with the continuity error because the performance is better and the director figures no one will notice. Other than hating the Guerrero hair last week that read so flat on camera (in contrast to the texture it usually has), and that had to have been a much-discussed choice, not an error, I’ve picked up very little continuity stuff that bothered me — and not enough to write about. Script inconsistencies — that’s something else. But even that — they’ve been good about looping references and coming back to follow up on things set up in earlier episodes, and I admire that. As far as last night, Haley had both the writing and direction support to really shine, except for one scene, which I’ll get to later. It was set in New York, and, while the stock footage and art direction were more realistic than, in, say CASTLE (a show I enjoy for the dynamic between the actors, except they don’t even try to get the locations right, and it’s so obviously shot in LA not NY, but they pretend it’s NY and it bugs me), it still was obvious that it wasn’t New York. There were logistical lapses in the script — if Gerard AND Chance had hunted Connor, why didn’t Connor recognize Chance? And once Victoria spouted off about the uselessness of fencing lessons, you knew, in the final fight, she’d come out swinging a sword. Really, that could have been handled better. Not to mention that it was either a broadsword or a claymore in the fight scene, and if she took fencing lessons, she’d have learned epee (accent won’t come in, sorry), foil, and sabre. Totally different fighting styles. I fenced, remember? AND had stage combat training. So stuff like that drives me nuts (yeah, I know, short drive). Loved the actors who played Gerard and Connor — well-known faces, and the actor playing Gerard was just a guest on something or other I saw a few days ago. It might even have been CASTLE. The last Guerrero-Winston scene bothered me — it felt like the producers or someone had demanded it, and it was inorganic to the rest of the episode (and some of what’s been set up in the series). It was written so that what Guerrero said was somewhere between a sulk and a whine. Had the director of the previous two episodes been at the helm, I have no doubt he’d have forced Haley down that path. Fortunately, both Haley and the director of this episode were smart enough not to make that choice. Still, it didn’t ring true to me. Haley’s had to fight the direction in this show before, depending on the director — this was the first time he had to fight the writing. He almost pulled it off — he did the best he could with what he was given, and he’s so damned good that you want to roll with whatever choices he makes. But, let’s face it, once Guerrero sets his sights on something or someone — he’s going to win. Or die. Period. That’s what’s been defined in the character, and to have it challenged with something as weak as the context and content of that particular scene, rubbed me the wrong way. I also felt Chance should have been watched, in that last scene in the graveyard, to put an ominous button at the end of the episode. Next week is the season finale, and it’s supposed to show us Chance’s conversion to good guy Human Target. I don’t know if the creators’ reality can live up to what I’ve imagined, quite frankly, although I’m happy to see the character of Baptiste is back — he was so good in my favorite episode of the season.

Regarding the urban fantasy, I realized I have to go into NYC sometime soon and walk the neighborhoods where I’m setting the story. I’ve set in around City Hall, Tribeca, and the fringes of Chinatown and LIttle Italy. I’ve certainly spent enough time there,and I’ve shot on location there (part of it takes place while a cop show is shooting). But, as I sit here and write it, I’m drawing a blank on some important details. Pulling up the city maps isn’t helping. I have to get down there and WALK it.

I need to see the Native American Museum for another project, and that’s in the same neighborhood, so I may combine the two. The city’s not that far away, but it’s gotten so expensive to go in that I try to combine as much as possible. I’ll take the notebook and the camera with me and get some details.

I’m working out of town for the second half of next week, so it might have to be the following week.

Decent morning’s work on the urban fantasy, but not as good as I’d like. That’s because I’m feeling my way through it, rather than following notes on sections I’ve already figured out. I’ve also got a couple of B plot lines to weave in.

I want to thank Diane Parkin for the Beautiful Blogger award. I really appreciate it. If you don’t read her blog, you should. It’s fantastic, and she’s so on top of her creative life, she inspires me on a daily basis.

Back to the page, and, ugh, the taxes.

Devon

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Waning Moon
Cloudy and warm

Got up at 5:30 and ran. Wednesday mornings are always the most crowded, for some reason. Did my double circuit, wish I was progressing more quickly, but I guess I just have to be patient.

Most of yesterday was caught up in receipts and dealing with tax prep. I kept all my receipts faithfully, but didn’t organize them once a week, like I usually do, so it’s a bit of a muddle. I’ve been better about it this year, that’s for sure. It’s complicated, because last year was a transition year between dual careers on Broadway and writing, and writing full-time, so it’s a little complicated. And this is the first year I’m doing the quarterly SE taxes, so it’s a great big mess. I spent about seven hours working on it yesterday. I’m helping my mom with her taxes today, and then I’ll probably spend most of the weekend working on mine again. Not only can I not afford paying someone to do it, the last time I had an “expert” do my taxes, it was all wrong and it took nearly 10 years to sort things out with the IRS.

I lit candles in memory and in hope for those miners in both China and West Virginia.

There’s something awfully satisfying about having my first 1000 words of the day done by 7:30 in the morning. The first writing session was on the urban fantasy, and I finished chapter one. I’m trying to decide whether to keep going, or switch projects to the novella, which needs some attention.

Opening night for FEMME FATALE went well, from what I hear. Totally sold out, and the audience didn’t figure out the murderer! That’s the way I like it. I look forward to seeing it after they settle into the roles a bit. (Yes, this is the company that doesn’t comp me).

Later this morning, I head off to Long Island for acupuncture. I need it!

If you haven’t made it over to A BIBLIO PARADISE for Gen Bailey’s release, go today and drop a comment, okay?

Back to the page. I also need to get some more pitches out this week. I didn’t get enough out while I was teaching.

Devon

Published in: on April 7, 2010 at 6:32 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Waning Moon
Rainy and warm

First of all, hop over and leave a comment on my sister site, A BIBLIO PARADISE, where we’re celebrating Gen Bailey’s release of her new Native American Historical Romance, SENECA SURRENDER. Her work is quite unique.

A teaching colleague said that, when the money doesn’t match the work, she only puts in the amount of work she feels is proportionate to the amount she’s paid, and not one minute more. Yes, that’s smart from a business perspective, but the workshops I’ve developed are very specific and intense. Giving less than 100% doesn’t do anyone any good. And, like I said, I had no intention of punishing the students because I jumped in at the last minute without doing my due diligence.

Wound up the workshop yesterday. Got out the assignment for Confidential Job #1, got the BIBLIO PARADISE spot finalized, and even managed to fit in a walk on the boardwalk in the sun. A pair of swans has settled in that area of the beach — I’m worried about their safety once the beach opens to the public.

FEMME FATALE, my play, opens today. Fingers crossed that it goes well, and the run is successful.

Had two good writing sessions so far this morning on the urban fantasy. The rough outline notes I scrawled are helpful, but it’s already taking its own shape, which is a good thing. I hope to get in one more writing session on it today, and a session on the novella, in and around working on my taxes. I usually prefer to write in long stretches. Several writers I know set a timer for ten minutes or thirty minutes or whatever. That doesn’t work for me. It makes me angry and resentful. Although, if those were the only minutes in the day I had to write, I’d make it work. But I like writing in long stretches. However, I find that 1500-2000 words at a stretch is usually solid, and then I need to take a break for a bit and come back with fresh eyes. Otherwise, the writing gets tired.

Technically, this is a day off. I wanted to go out and play — we were promised sunshine and 80 degree weather — but it looks like it’s going to rain at any moment, so we’ll see.

Devon

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010
Waning Moon
Sunny and warm

Woke up at four, but that was too early to get up. Went back to sleep, slept through the alarm, and was late going for the run. It was so light, and I felt so exposed. But I did my double circuit anyway. I prefer to go just as dawn breaks, experiencing the changeover from dark to morning. And there are fewer people and cars out, too. Although the guy running with his golden retriever on my last circuit was pretty funny. The dog. The guy was fine, but the dog, in typical golden retriever fashion, came over and was all, “You wanna run, right, right, right? Play? Play? Pet me, pet me, pet me? ‘Cause you wanna play, right, right, right?”

One of the struggles I have with POWER OF WORDS is that, no matter how strongly its story wants to be told, I don’t see where it will slot once it’s completed and polished. It’s going to be a damned hard sell, and I worry about spending time on it when there are other projects in the queue that are more likely to sell. Since this is how I make my living, I don’t just get to write whatever I feel like writing. I have to balance it with what brings in the money in a timely fashion. It’s finding a way to juggle the multiple projects without anything getting dropped that’s always the challenge, charting out the individual day to get it all in, and make sure there are enough short turn-around, quick-pay projects to keep the bills paid. If I try to ignore the project that’s calling loudest in order to work on something that’s ahead of it in line, the creativity freezes, the muse turns her back, and that’s it. NOTHING gets done. But unfinished projects drain creative energy, so putting something aside to work on something else is also counter-productive. They have to be worked on in tandem, and that becomes a challenge. Someday, I hope to get advances large enough to cover a few months’ bills and royalties coming in that are large enough and regular enough so I don’t have to worry about short-turn-around, quick-pay projects. If I want to take on something like that, I can. Frankly, working on a short story in the middle of a novel gives me energy, because I’ve got the momentum of completion on my side and I can funnel that back into the novel.

So I hear Matt Smith is awesome as the new Dr. Who. I loved David Tennant’s work — but then, I love most of his work. When we get the new DW episodes over here, I look forward to seeing what they do with it. Those of you in the UK, what do you think?

All kinds of technical difficulties on the workshop forum made the weekend particularly frustrating.

I need to take a breath this week and really think about whether or not I want to teach another workshop for this group again. I truly appreciate the students. I pushed them very hard, didn’t cut slack, and most of them rose to the challenge; but, overall, it has not been a positive experience, and cost me far too much in time, lost income, and creativity. Because the lost income influences the other two enormously, that’s been the biggest issue. What I was paid was out of proportion to the amount of time and energy necessary to make the workshop valuable. I’m not going to punish the students because of the situation and give them less than they signed up for because I made a mistake in the negotiation. Live and learn, right? Honestly, at this point, I’m ready to say I’m done with teaching ANYWHERE, but that’s not a rational decision, it’s coming out of a huge place of frustration and anger, much of which is my own fault. So, I’ll take a breath, try to negotiate some more safeguards, and make choices from there.

This past week in general was a test on several fronts. On two occasions, I chose to be gracious instead of confrontational. Not because I wanted to be a hypocrite, but because I felt erring on the side of politeness would get us all farther in the long run. I nearly bit my tongue bloody, but I got through it. Hopefully, the gamble will pay off.

I am just tired, tired, tired. It doesn’t matter how many hours I sleep, I’m still exhausted, because it’s about so much more than actual sleep.

I read Book 3 of CE Murphy’s Walker Papers series, COYOTE DREAMS. Again, I really liked it. Normally, the amount of narration she uses would drive me away from the books and make me cross my eyes and put it down. But she uses narration actively and specifically, even when there’s a lot of it. And, let’s face it, it’s the best way to communicate the shamanic journeys. She’s chosen the best and clearest way to tell her very interesting stories, and it works. I’m learning as much about craft as I am enjoying the books just to enjoy them. I also recommended them to the class. I want to track down books 2 & 4 now, and her other series.

The writing has not gone well these past two weeks, and that has to change. I’ve got deadlines coming up, and if the work I submit is crap, it won’t matter that I met the deadline. If I miss the deadline, I miss my shot. So, not only do I have to hit the deadline, it has to be GOOD.

On an up note, I got a request for a partial from an agent. I’m pleased, and I’d like to find a partner in the business aspect of all of this, but agents have to be so specialized nowadays that I despair on finding someone who will represent the whole package of the writing, not just a piece of it. I’m simply not going to stop writing in different genres. I’ll write in whatever genre serves a particular set of characters best. Nor do I want to stop writing plays — I love them too much. The theatre is my home, on many levels. I don’t want multiple agents — I want one person who believes in my work and my worth. That’s why, to this point, I’ve only worked with a lawyer. But I’ve got too much going on to deal with every nut and bolt myself — I need someone used to kicking in the doors and doing the negotiations so that I can get my work done.

Can I just say this is all way too much like dating until you find The One?

Because, really, I’d rather not be a Literary Polygamist (which is what I call having multiple agents). And, as in dating, there are plenty of agents with whom I interact regularly whom I really like and respect, and yet who I know are not the right match.

This week, I’ve got to deal with the scumbag landlords.

AND, my new play opens this week, which I kind of keep forgetting, because of everything else that comes up. I know, how could I possibly forget something like that? Just shows how much is going on. I hear it’s going well, although they had to cancel a preview because they “weren’t ready”, which concerns me. Yes, that’s common in production, to push back a preview, but it still always worries me.

Elsa felt well enough to play with the Easter eggs I brought back from Prague (those intricately decorated ones), so that’s a good sign. Of course, then I had to dig Easter eggs out from under all the furniture. But, if she’s getting better, it’s all worth it.

A batch of ideas hit me all at once, and I scribbled some notes. A few of them are, I think, short projects, and I can get them out relatively quickly. One of them is longer, and I’ve started a notebook for the research and the situations and the details I need to figure out before I can even start a Writer’s Rough, much less any pages. Gotta love Strand Books — they get something in that ties in with a current project, they get it out to me. I love them madly, and they are the Bookstore O’ My Dreams. I’m so lucky that I can spend time there, or, at the very least, order from them when I can’t get there in person!

Finished the material for Confidential Job #1. Will send off the notes today.

I am so looking forward to having tomorrow and Wednesday off!

I had a GREAT writing session this morning, set in Jain Lazarus’s world, but with a different set of characters (not Hillary, from the story that moved from San Antonio to Bath, ME, but really wants to be set in San Antonio). Obviously, I’m missing Jain’s world, but this book, although there’s a loose tie to the same organization, definitely stands on its own. The entire story came to me yesterday, after I overheard a remark spoken in an interview by an actor whose work I admire. I was going to write an article in response, supporting the information in the interview and going further, but It got me thinking. Instead of treating it in its original realm of non-fiction, why not push the possibilities into fiction? I did some research, Edwina started kicking my ass and telling me I damn well better pay attention, and the whole structure of the piece revealed itself. I made a lot of notes, and the first 1600 or so words flowed easily this morning.

I’ll go back to finish the work for Confidential Job #1 and then do some work on the novella. I’ve also got to finish prepping an interview that goes up on BIBLIO PARADISE tomorrow. And wind up the workshop.

It’s the first really good day of writing I’ve had in far too long. If I get everything done that I need to (which includes some errands), I’ll treat myself with another session on the Edwina piece.

Back to the page.

Devon

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010
Waning Moon
Sunny and pleasant

We seem to be in for a stretch of good weather, thank goodness.

I was booted off the workshop site in the late morning yesterday and couldn’t get back on all day, which was frustrating. I tried from three different computers with three totally different internet connections, and, nothing. If I can get on today, it means I have a lot of catching up to do.

Wound up driving to Fairfield, where I haven’t gone for years, to a bookstore there. I picked up the third of the CE Murphy books I wanted — they didn’t have the second. The traffic on I-95 was ridiculous. What were all these people doing out? They were supposed to be in church for Good Friday services! 😉 So I took the Merritt back, much nicer, but still lots of storm damage.

Got a little bit of writing done — I have trouble concentrating when so much is still hanging over me with the workshop. Had a decent, but not great, writing session this morning.

Elsa gets better for awhile and then gets worse. I’m trying to reach the vet so we can figure out what to do.

The author copies of the ARDEUR anthology arrived. Always nice to hold the finished book in one’s hand! It looks really nice. AND the other half of my advance was tucked in with the book, yee-hah! A check for one’s work always makes the day better.

Okay, let’s hope I can actually get on the forum and get my work done today.

Devon

Published in: on April 3, 2010 at 7:15 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , ,

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010
Waning Moon
Sunny and warm

Got up at 5:30 to run. The moon was out — it was lovely. And so much lighter than just a week ago at this time — not just because of the moon, either. I don’t feel like I’m progressing quickly enough, but I’m trying to be patient. I did a double circuit, combo of running and walking. I had to stop at one point when the street cleaning vehicle went by and I wound up with a lungful of dirt. Oh joy, oh rapture, right?

Got a little bit of writing done, but not enough. I’m in the home stretch of the workshop now, and, as good as a lot of the work is, I’m ready for it to be over. It’s taking too much time and energy away from my own work, and the compensation isn’t high enough to make up for it. And next time, I’ll take a closer look at the calendar and not have it fall over a week that contains two major holidays such as Easter and Passover! In general, I have to put more safeguards in place when I teach. I’m glad the students are getting a lot out of it, but my own work must always come first.

Grocery shopping, bill paying, all that fun stuff. I have to figure out how to work some legal kerflamma with the scumbag landlords for next week, deal withe some other business, and get Elsa to the vet. She is not doing well.

I’ve got writing deadlines coming up, so I have to pull it together and focus. I’ve made good progress on the assignment for Confidential Job #1, and I want to finish it off early this weekend and get it out. I’ve also got to get laundry done, somehow. I shouldn’t complain — hauling it up and down four flights of stairs is still better than having to go to a laundromat. But when I do haul it down and can’t get a machine, I get cranky.

I’m reading a fantastic book: URBAN SHAMAN by C.E. Murphy. I read about half of it yesterday and hope to finish it today. If I continue to like it, I’ll go get the other two in the trilogy over the weekend. It always cheers me up enormously to read good writing. I don’t understand wanna-be writers who say that reading good writers “depresses” them.

I have to give the place a good spring cleaning. The dust from the apartment renovation on the floor below us is disgusting.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Devon

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 7:49 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , , ,