Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and warm
Memorial Day

Woke up at 3 and couldn’t get back to sleep. Even the cats were, “You’re kidding, right?”

Up and out of the house for my run by 5. Did my bowtie circuit, which I like much better. No creepy paper delivery guy, but a different creepy guy, also in an SUV. Look, I live in a residential neighborhood. The only reason people have to be out at that hour in that neighborhood are to run, to walk dogs, deliver papers, or go to work, either by car or heading to the nearby train station on foot. There’s just nothing else to do here at 5 AM, unless you’re doing something shady.

Busy weekend. Went to hang out with my friend on Saturday, caught up on laundry, read. Wasn’t the best company because my head was completely into POWER OF WORDS.

Tried a new recipe for dinner. It didn’t work. Enough said.

Played with the cats at night. Did more yoga and a long, helpful mediation. The landlords are gearing up to be hateful again and I have to prepare. If I could give notice and move right this second, I would, but that is not possible for a myriad of reasons.

Sunday morning, had a good yoga section and wrote 3100 words on POWER OF WORDS. I’m as tired after every section as though I’m actually in rehearsal for a production. I’m kind of thrilled and amazed that the section of the book dealing with rehearsals is almost done. I figured it would take me all summer to write the first draft of it. Did another 1K later in the day. When I finish this chapter, Chapter 12, I’m done with the rehearsal section of the book and get to work on the location shooting.

It’s so bizarre, because of the amount of detail I have to put into the planning of the piece they’re shooting within the book — set and costume building schedules, rehearsals, call sheets, shooting schedules, storyboards — it’s like actually doing the shoot, and I’m always a little puzzled for the first couple of hours after writing it until I realize that it’s not an actual production I’m working on!

I’ve got paperwork to prepare for a filing tomorrow, some more pitches to get out, three short pieces to percolate for that job in Austin — I think we’re going to try each other out for awhile –and work to do on Confidential Job #1. I’m up to my neck in Belmont prep and covering the Stanley Cup Final as well, so it’s shaping up to be a busy week.


Published in: on May 31, 2010 at 4:52 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Yesterday was a good day on POWER OF WORDS. It’s coming along nicely, ideas and characters flowing well. Sometimes I forget that the production within it isn’t actually happening! 😉

Ran some errands, went to the bookstore and got THE BOOK OF THE DEAD, the Preston & Child sequel to DANCE OF DEATH. And sat down and read all 500+ pages of it. One of the really interesting aspects is where they get away with breaking traditional “rules” of storytelling. Their grammar, spelling, paragraph structure, research, etc. is very specific, and when they “stretch” geography in NYC (mixing real places with their fictional ones), they use enough correct geography that it works (hey, they’ve lived here, it makes a difference). And they’re aware of the traditions (if I use the prime example in this book, I’ll ruin it for those who don’t read it, but it has to do with the protagonist-antagonist relationship and final battle) — so, when they turn something upside down and inside out, it’s choice and it works, it’s not simply carelessness or a rejection of logic. It’s an informed choice.

It’s actually kind of quiet around here for once; most people are away for the weekend. I’m going to hang out with a friend today, and then do some serious work in the next two days.

Got a few pitches out; have a few more to get out this weekend, and some large packets to submit early next week. Am in negotiations for that job in Austin — it sounds like it might work, but we’ll see. There’s a bit more talking to do to work out the details and some contract stuff. But it’s one of those things that could be an occasional, fun gig over a long period of time. I’ve also got to get into Belmont prep head this week — the Belmont is next weekend.

Brandy, according to my research, bamboo isn’t poisonous to cats. And the way Iris eats it –like I said, she thinks she’s part panda. Anyway, it helps to spray it with apple bitter every couple of days — most grocery stores and pet stores have it, and so does Target. Most cats don’t like the taste, and leave stuff sprayed with it alone.

Hopefully, this will be a quiet and productive weekend.


Published in: on May 29, 2010 at 6:45 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cooler

Up at 4:30 and out for my run a little after 5 (because I do yoga before the run). Instead of doing a double circuit, it was more of a bow-tie — I did a different loop for my second circuit. I expected it to be really busy this morning, people going in early so they could leave at noon, but I guess a lot of people took today off. Plenty of people were up and moving around in the houses, but few were on the street, which made the run easier. I like the second loop, but, on days when the commuters move down the hill towards the train station like lemmings, I don’t know if it will work. Also, changing the route helps me avoid the creepy paper delivery guy. I don’t know why I have a bad feeling about him — he’s never done anything but ask for directions and wave. But every time I adjust my running time, a day or two later, his is adjusted,too, and that seems more than coincidence. And I just — get a bad feeling. I like being out there on my own with my thoughts, but I also don’t want to be stupid. Yet another reason not to wear headphones and listen to music when I run — I need to stay alert.

Houseplants — yes, I have a lot of them. Actually, I have less right now than usual, because a bunch died off or Iris ate them. I try not to keep plants poisonous to cats around (although I do have two great philodendron), and I spray them with apple bitter to keep the cats from chomping. it doesn’t work on the bamboo — Iris eats it anyway. She must think she’s part panda. So I keep moving it. I only have one big one and one small one left. I have a small tangerine tree I grew from seed from a tangerine someone gave me one holiday. And, a small rose, African violets, bamboo, philodendron, kalachoe (they reproducer quickly), ivy, bamboo, fern, jade, mother’s tongue, a small silvery green plant whose name escapes me, Thanksgiving cacti, a small Spruce tree, morning glories. I don’t have enough sun to grow many herbs, although chives and mint do pretty well, but I don’t have them this year. Last year, our tomato plant lasted until Christmas, but we didn’t have enough sun for it to actually give us tomatoes. There’s one plant that I think is either begonia or geranium, but it hasn’t bloomed in awhile. The greenery is pretty, though.

Excellent day on POWER OF WORDS. The chapters dealing with rehearsals are going very well, and it’s a good way to get to meet the actors in rehearsal context and get to know them as they both work and hang out. I’ve rearranged chapters, added some new material from the original vision. I need to go back and fix a scene — I start in Evan’s POV and switch to Mia’s when she enters. I’m going to break it into two scenes,with specific POVS and a sight overlap. Zander finally earned his right to stay in the book yesterday — he needs to do more of that earlier. Today, I’ll go on to the confrontation I originally had in the first rehearsal chapter, but is now in the third.

I’m actually really excited to start on the chapters that deal with the shooting of the mini-series — almost as much as if we were actually shooting it! I want the piece they’re shooting to feel clear and immediate. I made a lot of notes on it, but I’d really rather not write the entire piece-within-the-piece!

Ran some errands in the morning, just missed the thunderstorms. It’s cooler today, thank goodness. I washed Elsa with the sage/rosemary concoction I made,and I think it helped. I hope when the sinus medication is finished next week, we stop. I think she’s tired of getting it 5X/day, and I think, at this point, it’s getting counterproductive. I realize we have to get all the infection OUT, hence the runny nose, but where she used to be better after each dose, I no longer feel that’s true. Well, something to discuss with the doctor next week. She’s definitely more and more “Elsa” again, if that makes any sense. Here, I thought she was just getting old, but in reality, she was sick.

I’d like to spout off on my opinions about the situation in the Gulf Coast, but Confidential Job #3 is in the pro-environmental sector and I’m bound by a confidentiality agreement to keep my mouth shut. Hopefully, though, the work I’m involved in will have a positive, long-term impact and fix what is broken on several levels. Several people have asked why I haven’t discussed it, and it’s not that I’m ignoring it. I’m doing what I can within the context of this particular job and bound by a confidentiality agreement.

Got a royalty check from the play. The producer is talking about re-mounting it after she moves to Florida, which would be great. I’ll get to see it in a couple of weeks. And I got some interesting job offers in my inbox that I need to sort through and consider this weekend. Of course, they’re for 2011, but still . . .

It’s a holiday weekend! Woo-hoo! Not that it makes much difference in my personal schedule, but it’s still fun.

Back to the page.


Published in: on May 28, 2010 at 5:32 am  Comments (7)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Thursday, May 27, 2010
Full Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Stormy and warm

Happy Birthday, Michelle!

My Preakness wrap-up, “Preakness Prana” is up on Femme Fan — if you still remember the race, here are the day’s highlights.

Got the grocery shopping done, dealt with the landlords (for the moment), heard back from the vet who was impressed that i know something about aromatherapy. Um, yeah, I’m not certified yet, but I’ve been working with herbs and oils for years, so why not put the knowledge into use, right?

Repotted most of the 22 houseplants yesterday. Those that didn’t need repotting at least got some fresh soil and tending. Planted some morning glories. They usually do pretty well here, even though I only have northern exposure. It’s been really hard to find seed packets this season. I haven’t ordered any, I figured I could pick them up at garden centers or whatever, but the displays just didn’t go up this year. Frustrating.

Didn’t commit too many words to paper yesterday, but did a lot of percolating. It was hot, and I wanted to keep myself, the cats, and the computer quiet. Actually, because there was low humidity during the day, it wasn’t bad. In the evening, the temperature went down and the humidity went up, so it was actually worse. Today, we’re supposed to have bad storms, so I’ll run my errands in the morning and then hunker down and work on the material for Confidential Job #1.

I was invited to an art opening at a local gallery. I’d like to go, but it’s on Belmont Day, so that’s out of the question.

Tried a new kind of ravioli last night. The filling was good (rosemary, ricotta, parmesan, and garlic), but I didn’t like the texture of the dough. When I have a big kitchen, I’m getting a pasta machine and experimenting with some recipes for fresh pasta. I don’t have the counter space here — even if I used the kitchen table instead of the counter. Purchased pasta is too gluey, and the wonton wrappers aren’t quite right, either.

Elsa wanted to snuggle yesterday evening, curling up next to me while I read. She hasn’t done that in ages, so I hope that means she’s feeling better.

Violet started sleeping in the cat carrier, an object she’s always hated. Go figure.

Went to bed ridiculously early last nigiht, which was good, because the cats kept it interesting. Iris threw up at two. Elsa woke me at 4:30 — she can’t tell the difference between a running day and a non-running day. So I gave her the medicine and went back to sleep. She woke me again at 5:30, because she needed her nose wiped. I wiped it and told her to let me sleep until 6. At 6:15, she was insistent that it was time to get up NOW, and, besides, she needed her nose wiped. I think her nose is sore. I’m going to wash her face with a solution made with rosemary and sage for disinfectant purposes, and then simple soap and water, and then put some aloe on it. Poor little thing.

Errands, work on confidential Job #1, and on some proposal papers I have to get out next week for someone down in DC. Hoping all the percolation will wind up in figuring out what I actually want to put down on paper. There’s a job I’m really interested in writing for a group down in Austin, but I’m not sure it’s the kind of thing I can do long-distance. But I can at least ask, right? And I have another job proposal I have to finish putting together.

I think someone’s been trying to hack into my iTunes account. It’s a Mac, so they haven’t, but I still contacted iTunes security to get it sorted out.

Back to the page.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and hot

It’s supposed to top 90 degrees today, but for only one day, so I’m not putting in the air conditioner yet.

Yesterday was up and down. I wrote two chapters of POWER OF WORDS and realized I hadn’t even thought about the character about whom I’m on the fence! I guess that tells me. I still think he’s useful — I’m just not sure how to integrate him. He needs to start standing up for himself, dammit! 😉

Had to limit computer time and reading time because my eye is bothering me. I need to get my eyes checked and my prescription updated sooner rather than later. But it’s so expensive that I’m dragging my feet. However, seeing is vital to what I do.

Went to Costco and stocked up on a few things. We have the basic list of things we restock every few months, and then we try one or two things that might be good — if they are, we keep buying them; if they’re not, we don’t. Of course, they don’t have everything every time, so it’s a little hit and miss, but there you have it. I broke down all the receipts last year, figuring what we would have paid at full, and I think, in a year, we saved $1200 on items we would have bought anyway. So the membership fee is worth it.

Unloaded, put stuff away, headed to Target. Target is the only place around here that has the potting soil I like — well, Costco had it, but 55 quarts? No room for that in an apartment, even with a lot of plants! I got a reasonably sized bag, and will repot today (according to my calender, it’s a good planting day). Bought a few other things, including a Champion sports bra, on sale. Good stuff.

Salad for lunch. I whipped up a batch of the lime cilantro mayonnaise — in summer, that’s a staple for me. I got the recipe from GOURMET magazine last May — it was placed as a dipping sauce for roast potato wedges. I use it on all kinds of vegetables and fish. It’s really great. Anyway, for dinner, I used it on top of salmon burgers.

Elsa was having trouble last night, so I tried some aromatherapy — eucalyptus. Made a huge difference, and she slept through the night without incident. I never did aromatherapy for a cat before, so that was an adventure! Waiting to hear back from the vet.

Looked for Little One yesterday and couldn’t find her. At some point in the middle of the night, Bossy Girl was out there, screaming at someone, but when I went for my run at 5 AM, I couldn’t find anyone.. I’m hoping she’s got a home and her owner lets her out too often and too late (the way Bossy Girl’s owner does). Unfortunately, it cuts the cat’s life expectancy enormously. According to the vets I’ve spoken to (and I spoke to a wide cross section for an article a few years back), a feral cat lasts 6 months – 2 years; indoor/outdoor cats 4-5 years (this expectancy has gone down exponentially in just the last twenty years); indoor only cats 14+ years depending on breed, genetics, and home environment. That’s a huge difference.

I’ve got to deal with landlord unpleasantness today, and then repot plants, get to the regular grocery store, and get some writing done. In a different order, of course– the writing must come first.

I have to say, I’m looking forward to playing in the dirt today. And, knowing Elsa, she will try to “help.”

Back to the page.


Published in: on May 26, 2010 at 5:46 am  Comments (8)  

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Home. The trip was uneventful, thank goodness. Hauled my luggage to the bus pick up behind the station. They actually let us on early. Settled in with the book and the iPod. It was the same driver I had going down on Friday, which was pretty funny.

Read DANCE OF DEATH on the bus. It was interesting and complex. I enjoyed it, with my only problem being the occasional chapter or scene from a character’s POV where we never see that person again. That’s a device that doesn’t work for me, although I see how, structurally, it was necessary in the story. The plot and structure are impeccable, and I learned a lot about the book by deconstructing it as I read it. Usually I’d go back and do that, just read to read, but this time, I did both together.

Grabbed a cab in NYC and my driver seemed to think we were trying to break the land/speed record. FIT (where they drop us off, at 7th and 28th) to Grand Central, in 6 1/2 minutes, in traffic, at top speed, and I’ve never changed lanes so often in my life. I felt like a character in an action comedy. It was pretty funny.

It also meant I was able to catch two trains earlier than I expected, the 4:12, and get home earlier. Elsa’s holding steady. Violet wouldn’t talk to me last night, but is very affectionate this morning, and Iris is happy to see me.

Unpacked, got the herbs out of bags into glass jars and properly labelled. Dinner.

I wound up being a feline negotiator last night. I heard a cat screaming. I was worried it was the lovely grey and white cat owned by people in the basement apartment. She’s a gorgeous cat, but they keep her outside often, and, frankly, it’s far too dangerous around here for any cat to be an outdoor cat anymore. I was worried she was hurt or something, so I grabbed a flashlight and went down to see what was going on (with Iris watching from the window).

I get into the back walkway behind the building, and there she is, sitting down, like she’s guarding something, right outside her apartment. I approached slowly, worried she was hurt, and not wanting to spook her. As soon as she heard me, she jumped up and ran right over to me, chattering, rubbing up, wanting to be petted. She was perfectly fine. Now, she’s right outside her home, I can hear her people having dinner, their windows are open, and they never checked on her when they heard cat screaming? If I could hear it on the third floor, they could hear it right outside the window. Can I just say how badly I want to punch them?

Anyway, I talk to her (I call her “Bossy Girl” because that’s what she is — a large, long-legged female cat who’s very bossy). I asked her what was going on and why she was yelling, etc., etc. She told me all about it, but damned if I could understand. I heard a “miaow” and looked up. In the first floor window was a little black kitten. I ask LBK if she was the one making all the noise, and if they’d been arguing. LBK had quite a bit to say, too. I told them to stop yelling at each other and play nice.

Bossy Girl stiffens and looks past us. I look up and see yellow eyes glowing, and then the form of another cat approaching, responding to my voice. Bossy Girl takes off — and she’s fast — chases the other cat through two parking lots into the one where my car is kept. I followed (I’m nowhere near as fast). Bossy Girl chased the other cat under a car, and was circling around it, swearing in feline. I peeked under the car — it’s a lovely, small grey cat, looks very much like my twins, but with a little V of white on her chest. She cowered under the car.

I scolded Bossy Girl for being mean and coaxed her back to just outside her apartment, then went back to see if I could coax Little One out. LIttle One responded to the sound of my voice, and I though I was going to get her, but Bossy Girl came charging back and scared her again. I got Bossy Girl back to her own area and told her to stop being mean. Little One was okay under that car — the woman doesn’t leave until late in the day. She’s certainly safer there than out in the open.

I’m going to look for her again in daylight. She’s too little to be out on her own for long. I don’t know if she belongs to someone — I didn’t see a collar, but I wasn’t that close. If she doesn’t, and I can get my hands on her, maybe we can find out if she’s microchipped. She’s not mangy or anything, so she either belongs to someone who’s being very stupid by letting her out and the police should be able to help me, or she’s been abandoned in the last day or so.

I got back up in time to watch the last episode of LAW & ORDER. I mean, I had to watch — pretty much everyone I know in the industry in New York has worked on it at some point or another. Dick Wolf has kept many a wolf from the door for all of us.

I have some business to take care of, and I have to figure out what writing project to work on. I’m restructuring a query and sending it out to a more targeted market. My mystery, “Personal Revolution” has been accepted by the anthology to which it was originally pointed, and that should come out in mid-September, so I’m pretty happy about it.

Violet is velcro kitty this morning. I think she missed me.

I better get back to the page.


Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 6:09 am  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , ,

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy, foggy, cooler

I feel like I’ve done nothing but sleep this weekend. Well, I’ve read and cooked,too,but that’s about it.

Saturday morning, I went to Reading Terminal Market, which far exceeded my expectations. The food stalls are wonderful, fresh, and reasonably priced. I found both Herbiary and Spice Market and stocked up on herbs and spices I used to get at Aphrodesia, but can’t because they went out of business. I think I’ve got enough to get me through until my next trip down in July. I’ll keep a running list and re-stock then. I got a few things I don’t really need, but want to play with in recipes, too. I got some lovely baked goods at one of the organic baking stalls and an iced coffee for the walk home at Old City Coffee — which was really, really good. Philadelphia has lots of small, independent coffee brands, and most of them are very good.

I finished THE QUEEN IN WINTER — Sharon Monette’s novella “A Gift of Wings” was lovely and I definitely want to read more of her work.

I wandered over to Barnes & Noble on Rittenhouse Square in the afternoon, picking up Ann Aguirre’s HELL FIRE and the anthology WINTER MOON, which has novellas by Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee, and CE Murphy. The Ann Aguirre book was supposed to be my treat for finishing the next assignment for Confidential Job #1, but really, who am I kidding? I read most of it on Saturday afternoon and evening, and finished it Sunday morning. It’s the second Corinne Solomon book, and they’re both just fantastic. I’m really looking forward to the third next year.

Pizza for dinner, more reading and some yoga in the evening. To bed fairly early, and slept in on Sunday.

I don’t understand how Comcast can get away with sucking as badly as they do. I couldn’t get online at all on Sunday morning. I finally managed a bit in the afternoon.

Wandered to Borders to use my “bucks” that were only good this weekend — and that I didn’t find out about until AFTER I got back from B&N! Had a hard time finding something I wanted, but finally settled on DANCE OF DEATH by Douglas Preston and Lawrence Child. Started it — instead of the assignment for Confidential Job #1. The multiple (and I mean MULTIPLE) POVs get tiring sometimes, especially when it’s a character in whose POV we only are for a single chapter. There’s a LOT of plot — supposedly, it’s a stand alone, but I get the feeling it would make more sense if I read the earlier books.

It got me thinking, though, that I’ve been submitting/pitching TRACKING MEDUSA in the wrong genre — in spite of the many trappings, ultimately, it’s a mystery, not a weird hybrid I’ve been trying to slot.

Okay, LOST. (SPOILER ALERT). My big response was, “Really?”

The ending was what I expected, although how they got there wasn’t. As usual, I enjoyed individual scenes and the actors, and whole didn’t add up for me. If I’d remained emotionally invested for the whole six years, I would have been angry. Fine, so the whole thing is Jack’s death fantasy/search for redemption in his final moment of life after the crash so he goes “into the light” instead of elsewhere. Okay, fine, it’s not like we hadn’t figured that was the probability years ago. But the way they got there basically negated the season. They spent so much time with Jacob & his brother, going on and on about good and evil butting against each other, and,the whole series, they played with the idea that both are slightly ambiguous, and we need both in order to survive. Too much evil OR too much good and the balance is lost (no pun intended) and it’s all over. And then they just dropped it. Jack anoints Hurley — without the incantation? Really? The whole Dharma Initiative subplot is simply dropped. And, while I’m glad the characters “found” each other and “remembered” in the sideways line, it got a little treacly for me. I spent a lot of time eye-rolling. The whole ending in the church filling with light, frankly, I found offensive. They spent so much time debating the power of Nature and end it in an effing church. They pretended to be philosophical and open-thinking and alternative and then descended back into the same old claptrap. Negated so much of what was unique and wonderful about the show. Looked like the church scene out of HAIR.

Several years ago, the creators promised it wouldn’t be like the really bad season of DALLAS, that turned out to be a dream. This may not have been, technically, a dream, but it was close enough to prove they lied and jerked us around yet again.

I’m glad the dog was there with Jack for the last moment, though. A lot of people have criticized that, but I liked it.

I think, for the actors, it was satisfying, and I’m glad, because they poured a lot into this. And it was the creators’ vision, not mine,so, oh, well. They broke my trust in the 3rd season and never won my trust back. I watched, piecemeal, since, and watched this season, and fine, it’s over, let’s move on, and I hope the actors and creators find many fulfilling projects down the line. This will always be special to all of them, and they’ll be earning residuals for the rest of their lives.

BITCH had an interesting essay on how the writers failed the character of Kate, which I think is very well done. i hadn’t entirely thought of it from that perspective, but it articulates a lot of my frustrations. Of course, now that we know it was all Jack’s perspective on Kate, not Kate herself, it makes more sense. And Gawker has a very funny rant.

Anyway, I’ve got laundry to do, packing to finish, and, hopefully, some writing to work on. I leave in the early afternoon and will be home tonight. I don’t know whether to laugh or sigh at the fact that it takes longer to get from Penn Station to my apartment than from Philadelphia to NY.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Getting here as an adventure yesterday. I was up and out the door for my run, and back by the time I usually leave; got everything gathered, got the train to the city, picked up water, walked over to Penn Station from Grand Central.

That’s where it got sticky. Because of an accident in NJ, the turnpike was closed, and the busses couldn’t get in. Three of the DC busses and one Boston bus that were supposed to leave well before ours still hadn’t loaded. And they had no idea when any of it would clear up.

Switching bus services wouldn’t work — it wasn’t the bus line, but the highway that was the problem. I figured, if I waited too long, I’d pop into Penn and see if I could get a seat on an Amtrak (although that’s a full $80 more than the bus).

They got two DC & the Boston bus off and started lining them up for the next Boston. Suddenly, our Philly bus turned up, they shoved us all on it, and we took off. It was only about 35 minutes late. Our driver said, “I don’t know when the hell we’ll get there, but we gonna get there, ‘cause I am the BEST.” And he was.

The trip itself was fine. I had the iPod on, and every song in the shuffle was perfect. I’m reading an anthology of fantasy romance called THE QUEEN IN WINTER with novellas by Claire Delacroix, Lynn Kurland, Sharon Shinn, and Sharah Monette. I read all of Kurland’s “A Whisper of Spring”, which was lovely, and started Shinn’s “When Winter Comes” which I really like, too. When I picked it up, I didn’t realize Shinn was included. I’m glad, because she’s one of my favorites.

Philly was so hot and sunny I thought I would pass out. I found out later it hit 91. Considering I had to wear fleece two days ago when I went on my run, it was too rapid a change.

Went to where I’m staying/working, dumped the luggage, changed out of travel clothes into LL Bean cottons, and headed up to Trader Joe’s (which is almost all the way back to 30th St. station). Picked up what I needed, went to the liquor store, got what I needed there, went to Metropolitan Bakery to get my coffee and something for breakfast today — all they had that was breakfasty was a fruit and oat bar, which didn’t thrill me, but I got it anyway. However, when I ate it this morning, it was WONDERFUL. Lovely surprise.

The rest of the day, I lay around reading cookbooks and magazines. I was done. I had lobster ravioli in Alfredo sauce for dinner. Didn’t watch TV. Instead, I did a tough yoga routine to get out the kinks the travel-with-luggage put in, a good meditation, and some reading. I went to bed very early.

Slept well, up early, yoga, did my work here. It’s supposed to be cooler here today and then rain tonight, but it looks like it’ll rain before then. Good thing I travel with an umbrella!

The plan is to go to Reading Terminal Market today. Although I’m worried it’ll be high-end touristy, there are some things I want to see, like the second-hand bookstore, the cookbookstore, and some of the food stalls. If it’s too touristy, I’ll leave.

My arm is healing well. I don’t even think there will be much of a scar. I’m glad, because I’ve been working on this poultice for several years now, and I’ve finally hit the balance of materials that my body responds well to. It disinfects and draws out contaminants while starting the healing process. I’ve noticed that, when I use traditional/synthetic medicines, I feel worse for the first 48 hours, it looks gross, and then the surface seems to knit while underneath is still a mess, and often it has to be re-opened and the process started again. So, while it seems to heal quickly, there are frequent set backs. When I use holistic medicine, there’s relief within the first hour, and, although the overall healing is visually slower, it’s more thorough and there are fewer setbacks. Normally, in a wound like this, one treatment would be applied to disinfect and decontaminate, while then another put on to start the healing. I wanted to see if I could put both into one concoction — I’ve been working on this for about five years now — and this seems to be getting there. Patience is not one of my virtues, but it’s paying off here.

When I get back, I’ll do some more work, and maybe get some writing done. I nearly left the computer at home, but realized all my “in process” projects are on the computer, not in longhand (yes, I backed everything up on Time Machine before I left).

The internet connection here is Comcast, which. compared to my Optimum, is pathetically slow and unreliable. Now I know which company NOT to use when I move!

Off to the market!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
It’s supposed to be sunny and warm today

I’m scheduling this to post while I travel. The plan is for me to get up extra early and get in my run, the shower, eat breakfast, grab my luggage, take the train in to Grand Central, walk down to Penn, take the Megabus to Philly.

Once I get to Philly, I’ll dump the luggage, then go out for some grocery and wine shopping and settle in. I’m not going to do a whole hell of a lot this weekend– I want it to be R&R, not running around or on frantic deadline.

I have my next assignment from Confidential Job #1, which I’ll probably read on the bus.

Yesterday, I did some work on the screenplay. I’m learning what’s happening as I write, and I have to say, the longer I do this and the more I sell, the more I prefer to work from an outline. It helps re-orient me as I move from project to project, and it cuts down on the time spent staring at the page going, “Where did I plan to go from here?”

I got some good work done on the next section of POWER OF WORDS.

Violet climbed on something she shouldn’t have and it toppled over. I went to grab her/catch her as she panicked, and she accidentally gave me a deep slash in my forearm with her back leg (in addition to jarring my wrist by landing on it). Poor little thing was terrified. Unfortunately, I have a deep gash. If I had insurance, I’d have gone for stitches, but since I don’t, it was a case of being grateful I’m certified in advanced First Aid, cleaning it, disinfecting it, putting on an herbal poultice to draw out infection (you can tell because It starts to stink after about an hour or so — I caught this before it got a chance to infect. I dressed it properly and will take dressing changes with me on the trip. But that whole side is badly jarred (and she’s such a little cat) and handling luggage today totally sucks. She’s okay, although she managed to knock over a glass of red wine, so it looked like blood splatters all over a white kitchen.

Elsa watched it all go down with a completely puzzled expression on her face, while Iris hid.

I need a few days away! 😉

Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 1:48 am  Comments (10)  

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and warm

My column, The Literary Athlete, is up in the new issue of THE SCRUFFY DOG REVIEW. It’s the last of a three part series on workshops, conferences, and groups, and this installment talks about groups, loops, and crit partners. The link will take you to the main page — click current issue, then click the Lit Athlete. Hopefully, you’ll stick around to read the whole mag!

Yesterday just sucked, every possible way for the majority of it. The tank was empty, but there were still things that had to get done. Sometimes you have to sit there and get it done, no matter what.

It was a challenge to write witty and engaging copy when I felt weepy and listless. I got some work done on a brochure. I’m sure I’ll tweak it, but if something’s not there in the first place, and I’m staring at a blank panel, there’s nothing with which to work. I did a little research. I tried to work on an essay, based on some notes I previously took. The notes are pretty good, and the essay is one of those pieces that needs to cook over time. Do a bit of work on it, put it away, let it percolate, then come back and do a little more work.

Tried to tackle the next section of SETTLING THE SCORE,using yesterday’s comments from the blog readers (which are very helpful, by the way). Unfortunately, the scene was as light and as graceful as a dropped anvil, so I chucked it. I’ll have to attack it from another angle.

In the next draft, I may cut out three characters and a subplot. Two of the characters, in the diner, I may keep for a pair of comic scenes, but the third — love him to pieces, but I think he belongs in a different piece. I was thinking in terms of actors, creating roles for the “perfect ensemble” I’d like to work with, instead of putting story first, and that’s one reason I’m running into trouble. I may very well have a “Max-full” version and a “Max-less” version, send them both to my readers and let them pick.

I did about 3K of work on POWER OF WORDS. I’m restructuring the chapters in this second section quite a bit, and weaving in some of the stuff set up as I’ve worked on the first section. I got the comments back last night — very helpful. Because I’m in the world and the jargon has to come naturally to these characters, I forget that not all of the readers will know what the terms mean. So I have to clarify and integrate that information without making it presentational or preachy. And I’m going to rearrange a bunch of information and let it trickle over several scenes instead of sticking it all in one. I’ve either got to cut one character or give him more to do, because he’s at a bit of a loss right now, and it’s more than because he’s at a life-changing crossroads, poor guy. He’s likable, and I’m not doing him justice. The notes got me really excited about the piece and how to make it more engaging, while still keeping the whole premise of it takes a boatload of people to pull something like this off, and the interpersonal relationships, both personal and professional, get very tricky! 😉 Because I’m worried about length, the internal editor is tripping me up and I’m skimming some things that need fleshing out. I need to work each section in as much detail as is necessary and then worry about cuts later. It’s really detrimental for me to write with an eye towards “this is too long, I have to telescope it” when it’s not on the page yet for me to work with. Internal Editress needs to take a vacation to Tahiti and not return until the draft is done (which I anticipate will take about a year, if I’m lucky).

Also, because POWER OF WORDS is about the making of a minii-series that then gets picked up as a series, I had to outline the mini-series and the first couple of seasons. That’s been fun, but it’s kind of like writing two pieces side-by side! I’m writing a set of arcs for the characters in the piece, and a set of arcs for the characters that the characters play!

I’m re-reading Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, which I enjoy more this time around — I’m getting different things from it in this reading, which is good. I’m also re-reading Joyce Carol Oates’s published journals from 1973-1982. I usually re-read them once or twice a year as fuel. The remind me to step back and look at the whole creation of a piece, and then step forward to do more detailed work,without losing sight of it.

I’ve got some errands to run today, some bills to pay, some paperwork to file with authorities, and then figure out which writing projects to take with me this weekend. I don’t want to take too much — I need a lot of this to be about not doing a whole hell of a lot, and playing the time moment-by-moment to rejuvenate a bit. In fact, I may well make this a retreat weekend — the job itself is more my physical presence than anything else to oversee things, so I can do what I want as long as I’m there. A little reading, a little writing, a lot of yoga. I don’t HAVE to dash around the city, although if it’s pretty out, I may go to the park.

So, I watched THE GOOD GUYS last night, because I love Bradley Whitford’s work. There’s some good stuff on it, some clever work, and Whtiford is fantastic in it — the detail, the sense of comic timing, the knowledge of when to drop the comic mask to see what’s under it — absolutely great. They pack about two hours’ worth of stuff into a single 47 minute script, which, at times, felt like it was a bit much. Hopefully, that was because it’s the pilot and we needed the set up. It sounds like they’re keeping the character of Julian in there, which is great, because his timing, too, is impeccable. Some of the camera work annoyed me — jerky jump cuts — and the device of overlapping a few seconds from the previous scene when it comes back from commercial break sets my teeth on edge. I’m not a moron — I remember where you stopped before the commercial break, in spite of the fact that there are far too many commercials in proportion to shows now. This stylistic choice that’s in vogue now among the action shows — I find it condescending, and it insults my intelligence. If you insult my intelligence like that, you’re going to lose me. HUMAN TARGET only used it once or twice, thank goodness. I nearly threw shoes at the screen those times (and said many bad words), and, had that been the weekly style choice, I would have had to stop watching the show, Jackie Earle Haley or not. It has the same effect on me that a mirror ball has on an epileptic. Anyway, back to THE GOOD GUYS — there was a lot of clever, fun stuff in it, and I’d definitely watch the show if I was around. I don’t Tivo or DVR, so if I’m not around to watch the show or the re-run, too bad for me.

Back to the page, and I’m feeling a little more optimistic today.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

I managed to get out the door for a run this morning, but it wasn’t easy. I am just exhausted from the last couple of days. I still have to get some paperwork filed to day with the appropriate authorities, but I think the situation is on the way to being resolved. The person I fired had the gall to argue with me — and I was in no mood for that, let me tell you. When I can do in less than an hour what she’d been paid to do and hadn’t managed to in over three weeks . . .well, you get the picture.

I’m signed up for a beginning clay class in July. They’ll let me sit in on another class to make up for the one I miss when I go out of town for work. So that’s all settled, and I’m very excited. When I go to pick up the pieces from this previous workshop, I will buy my set of clay tools, and I’ll be all set. It’s on Thursdays during the day, which is fantastic. I understand that a lot of people want to/need to go to class at night, because of day jobs — but being able to take a day class, where I’m around people like me who aren’t 9-5, makes all the difference in the world. There’s a very different mindset between “day job” and non “day job”.

I have a question for you, since most of you who read this like to watch movies. I’m having a dilemma in the screenplay. One character has positioned herself to look like she’s part of the good guy ensemble, when, in reality, she’s beyond working with the primary antagonist, she’s perfectly willing to double cross him as well for her own purposes. I’m not sure how much of that to show. I set a hint in the piece early on. Now, she seems to be in the same dangerous situation as Lucas’s girlfriend, only it’s all a sham. Do I only show the scenes where she’s playing like she’s on Alicia’s side? Do I sprinkle in a few of what she’s really doing in this section? Or does it become a big reveal later on, when it seems she’s been rescued by the protags and then turns on them? I’m leaning towards the latter, but, since I set the hint in early on, I don’t want to leave the audience feeling confused or unfulfilled. When you watch something, how much do you want revealed as it unfolds, or do you prefer a surprise, even if a hint’s been laid down early on?

I was doing something else entirely yesterday when I had a sudden breakthrough on a piece I’d worked on over a year ago and put aside because I got stuck. Originally, I was going to submit it as part of a shared world series. But there are restrictions — that have nothing to do with shared world locations or characters, but with character motivations dictated by the series — that were giving me a problem. I realized that, if I really want this piece to be in my vision, I have to dump the shared world aspect, rebuild the world into my vision of what serves the piece well, and then the character motivations I want to use for these characters will make sense. It means a good solid few weeks of world-building, but I’ve got a good 100+ pages of material and notes, and I hated to abandon these characters. Maybe I”ll take the material with me this weekend and see what kind of world building I can do.

I’m so exhausted from the past few days. I may go down to Philly and just do the work I’m there for and hang out for the rest of it, doing very little else. I need a change of scenery.

The vet is pleased with Elsa’s progress. Real health will take a long time to achieve, but she’s so much better than she was just a few weeks ago. I’ll type up the medication/feeding instructions for my mom today — Elsa is dosed a total of 8X/day on the various remedies.

I’m going to try to tackle some more on the screenplay. I don’t think I’ll have it entirely done by tomorrow, but I think, once I push through this section, the rest of it will fall into place pretty well. Then I can put it aside for a few weeks before I take another look and then start making cuts.

Next week, I want to get back to POWER OF WORDS and also move forward with the revision on ANGEL HUNT and BEHIND THE MAN.


Published in: on May 19, 2010 at 5:46 am  Comments (7)  
Tags: , ,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and warm

You so did not want to be on my bad side yesterday. Let’s just say that some serious ass=kicking was in order, and that’s what I did. When I pay someone to do a job and they don’t do it, and then I step in and negotiate better than the paid negotiator — there are SERIOUS consequences. And when you’re paid to advocate for my 86-year-old mother and you try to take advantage of her — they’ll be scraping you off the sidewalk for weeks. And that’s all I’m at liberty to say about it.

Oh, and I had three loads of laundry done before 10 AM, which was no mean feat, either.

So the upfronts are out. HUMAN TARGET is in Friday night exile, but it’s on the sked (better than being on the skids). Hey, too many people out on a Friday; now that I don’t have to work a Broadway show, Friday’s become my night to stay in so it works perfectly for me, but we’ll see how it affects the ratings. None of the new stuff particularly excites me — I’ll watch what’s convenient and take it from there. I am, however, glad to see so many scripted shows picked up. Perhaps the age of the reality celebutard is drawing to a close and we’re going to stop paying people to be their worst selves. Let’s get back to well-written, thoughtful, provocative material and tell the important, universal truths within the context of a good story.

Ran some errands, picked up some books, did some writing, mostly on the screenplay. Packed for the Philly gig. Am waiting to hear back from a business email so I can make a decision that will affect other decisions and schedules. Clock ticking people, it’s 48 hours by the end of the day and no response means buh-bye. If you call yourself a business and I email you with a business question, I expect an answer in 48 hours or less. That’s standard business email protocol. If you don’t answer within 48 hours, I know you’re not a pro and I take my business elsewhere. It’s especially important for freelancers and small business owners to follow this protocol. If you “don’t have time” to answer your email, chances are you’re not going to be able to deliver a high standard of work. The email is the first test.

Which is why I get so upset when 1and1 screws with my email and suddenly stuff turns up that was sent days or weeks ago. It makes me look unprofessional.

I have some business to conduct this morning — potentially more ass-kicking. Then I have to go grocery shopping.

This next section of the screenplay is going to be overly long in the current draft. I’ve got a lot of story to tell, and I’m discovering it as I tell it. In subsequent drafts, I figure I’ll cut it by about 70%, but I have to get it all down on paper first before I can start cutting and rearranging, as I did with earlier sections. I need to tell the story in too much detail so I can pick and choose the most relevant, specific, and succinct for the final version.

Got a couple of cookbooks yesterday and got inspired. Also picked up Judith Martin’s NO VULGAR HOTEL, a book about Venice. I’m looking forward to it.

Elsa seems to be doing better. I’m going to email the vet in a day or two with a progress report. For the next month or so, we’re going to keep on this course of treatment, which should get rid of the infection and inflammation, and rebuild her immune system.


Published in: on May 18, 2010 at 6:29 am  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Out the door a little after five this morning for a good run. It felt great.

Drove up to South Salem on Friday and picked up Elsa’s new medications. She responded immediately and positively to the sinus infection medication — I’m wiping her nose like she’s a toddler constantly, but it seems like she’s getting rid of all the gunk, which is a good thing. I mean, have you ever tried to get a cat to blow her nose into a Kleenex? She responds much better to the natural hydrocortisone than to the synthetic steroid, and yesterday we added the olive leaf, so we’ll see how that works. So glad I didn’t just slap her into the other center for radiation treatment.

Got my teaching information off on Saturday morning. Also had a request to a pitch I sent for a writing job a few weeks ago, asking for my portfolio samples. I already like them — they talked contract terms and didn’t expect me to write an audition piece for free. So let’s see if I’m a good fit. It would be a long-term, intermittent gig that sounds like tons of fun. If the pay is even in the ballpark and they like my work, I’d do it. Found another job that sounds fascinating. I’m going to apply for it — getting it would send me in a completely new direction in life, lifting the bulk of what I do out of entertainment and into more academic/preservation/education nonprofit. Which is fine, I’ve done a lot of work in nonprofit, and I am particularly enamored of this organization — but it would still be a huge change. It wouldn’t be 9-5 — I’ve never been able to cope with that — but it would veer quite far from theatre and plays and screenplays. Although I doubt I’d give up playwrighting — the theatre is my emotional home.

Didn’t run on Saturday morning — it was stormy again, although it blossomed into a gorgeous day. So that makes only two runs in last week. Will have to make up for it this week, and, due to the out of town gig next weekend, will run Tues-Thurs-Sat next week.

Had a good morning writing session on the screenplay, SETTLING THE SCORE. I’m honing some of the scenes, rearranging a few beats, putting in some short scenes of the ensemble to break up the former linear structure that made it Lucas’s story. Lucas is supposed to be the catalyst, not the focus. I had to write those early, more linear drafts to meet some of the other characters through his eyes, and now I can work with them on their own terms.

It’s still too long and there’s still a lot of story to happen, but I will deal with that once I’ve put down everything I want to say. Then I can look at it, see what’s unnecessary and remove it,, and tighten the rest of it. Because very often, the actors don’t need three rhythmic beats to get out a piece of information — if they’re good and I give them specific lines with meaning, they can do it in one beat.

I was really, really nervous about the pottery workshop. It’s an introductory workshop, and i wanted to take it to see if I truly like playing with clay, or if I just like the IDEA of playing with clay. The Clay Art Center, which is one town over from where I live, is a place where professionals can rent studio space, where artists-in-residence teach, etc., etc. It’s not like taking a class at the Y. These are serious, full-time artists. I’ve never worked with clay. So I was, to say the least, intimidated.

The class was small — there were only two of us, which was great. The teacher, an artist named Jon McMillan was really terrific. Some people have both the gift of their art and the gift to teach — he’s one of them. He kept it relaxed and fun, taught us basic technique, while giving us a lot of information we needed on both the mechanics and the background of it. I was surprised by how much chemistry goes into the process. Since my dad was a chemist and it makes sense to me, that was something for me to use as a starting point. Also, an example of why mystery writers should keep their mouths shut in pottery class — of course, I started speculating how the tools could be used in a murder, which got me a few odd looks.

Anyway, we learned how to make a pinch pot and made oversized mugs using the slab method. Mine are pretty pathetic — it will take a lot of work to develop technique. I have to think less about it and feel the clay more. I may need to take 101 level classes more than once to develop a decent technique and lay a solid foundation. But it WAS a foundation, and I had fun with it. Since the construction of my pieces was beyond rough and rustic, I felt that very technical and specific painting would make the mistakes in structure stand out even more. So I opted for bright color and exaggerated brush strokes to support the construction. We left them to be fired, and I’ll pick them up in about two weeks. Yes, I’ll post photos. I was way out of my comfort zone for all of this, but that was a good thing.

It whetted my appetite. I want to take a basic pottery class, but the one that makes sense to take runs during dates that don’t work for me. This teacher, who I like so much, is teaching a glazing class that does work for me, time-wise, but I’m wondering if that’s putting the cart before the horse. The chemistry of creating glaze fascinates me, and I’ve spent to much time in wonder at the Edgware pottery glazes, I think it would be interesting. If it’s just experimentation and tile making, I could do it — if it’s creating objects on which to experiment, it’ll be too advanced. However, since Jon’s residency finishes this summer and he won’t be here in fall, this might be my only chance to take it. I also don’t want to take a slot from a professional who might really need the class to progress with a career. I shot him an email to ask him about it. He responded pretty quickly, and my instincts are right — too early for a glazing class at this point for me. Another sign of an excellent teacher — he’s honest while still being supportive!

I’m disappointed I won’t get the chance to take another class he teaches, but very grateful for the opportunity I had to take the workshop with him.

There was a wonderful exhibit in the space, by Marlene Ferrell Parillo, called DREAM CITY. It mixed tapestry (with beautiful stitching), beadwork, crochet, and ceramic. Very striking and inventive.

Anyway, the whole day gave me a lot to think about. Which is a good thing.

Came back in time to watch the live feed from the Preakness — it was weird not to be down at Pimlico this year. The Preakness is my favorite of the Triple Crown because Pimlico isn’t as fussy and celeb-oriented as the Derby and the Belmont, and there are still high hopes — at least at the beginning of the day — for a Triple Crown. I watched the video of all the other races so I could see where my picks landed and write my article.

Sunday, I worked on the Preakness article and actually got it out in the morning — which meant I had the whole rest of the day to read a novel by one of my favorite writers. I was so excited! I’ve read five or six of his books and one of them ranks among the best books I’ve ever read.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of them. The premise was interesting, but there was too much espionage and too much religion. It gave me a headache. The characters crossed and recrossed each other so many times I couldn’t keep track. I realize that was part of the point, but it didn’t work for me. I read his author’s note at the back, where he talks about the genesis of the idea and his passion for the material. This is definitely a book of his heart, and I feel guilty that I didn’t like it, but . . .I didn’t. I felt both disappointed, because I’d been looking forward to the book for days and it was my treat, and also guilty for not being able to like something that someone I genuinely respect is passionate about.

Today I have to play hardball with someone who’s being paid to play hardball with someone else and not doing her job. Hate that. Also, am looking over some material for a friend of mine, working on a big job application, and working on the screenplay, and maybe a couple of article pitches. I had some ideas during my meditation this morning — so much for an empty mind!

Okay, some television stuff: Rumor has it HUMAN TARGET has been renewed, but with a different show runner. Interested to see how that changes it, and happy for those involved who still have jobs. Very interested to see how they’ll develop the characters, especially the way Jackie Earle Haley will continue to embody Guerrero. HEROES has been cancelled — finally! I can honestly say that’s one of the worst shows with the worst acting I’ve ever seen in my life (and I’ve been around plenty of atrocious acting over the years), and it was appalling that it was on for as long as it was. LAW & ORDER: THE MOTHERSHIP’s been cancelled after twenty years, which throws a lot of people I know out of work and makes me sad. You know why the show is expensive to produce? Because Dick Wolf values the people who works for him and gives them what they need to put on a quality show. I remember working on the CONVICTION spin-off, and they’d have to change the schedule for whatever reason and put more pressure on the crew. They never said, “This is what we’re doing, tough shit.” It was always, “This is what we need to do, what do you need to make it work?” which is how true professionals behave. I’m irritated that they’re doing an LA production — calling it LOLA ? Really? Ick. We don’t need to see any more shows set in LA. I’m also annoyed on the behalf of an actor whose work I really like, who was very excited about a comedy pilot in which he was cast. The pilot was picked up, but he was fired. I hope the show tanks on its first episode!

By Thursday, I should get my readers’ comments back on POWER OF WORDS, which means i can take them to Philly with me over the weekend to digest them and get back to work on the second section of the book. I’d like to have the draft of SETTLING THE SCORE done by then.

So I better get back to work.