Preakness Handicapping

Handicapping the Preakness

If you’re looking for the regular “Ink in My Coffee” post, scroll down, it’s below this one. If you’re interested in my picks for tomorrow’s race, you’re in the right place.

Race 1:
Wink At the Girls across the board.

Race 2:
If Ovechkin looks good, I’ll place a long shot show bet on him, in honor of the hockey player. Otherwise, I’ll sit this race out.

Race 3:
Early Star, Idolatry, and Convoy Ahead across the board and maybe a boxed trifecta.

Race 4 — Deputed Testimony Starter Handicap:
No Brakes and Northpoint Costas across the board.

Race 5:
Ham and Ernie across the board — because I think the name is hilarious.

Race 6 — Chick Lang Stakes:
It’s a very small field of horses unknown to me, so I’ll have to see them at the paddock to decide.

Race 7 — James W. Murphy Stakes (Turf):
Beau Choix and Thunder’s Brew across the board.

Race 8 — William Donald Shaefer Stakes:
Blame and Flying Private across the board, with Bullsbay as my longshot show pick.

Race 9 — Gallorette Takes — Turf:
This is one of my favorites. Rainbow View has even odds, so, if she looks as good in person and she does on paper, I’m there. I also like Ave. Love’s Blush has very long odds, but if she looks good, I’ll put her in as my show pick.

Race 10 — Maryland Sprint Handicap:
I’m surprised at the long odds on Celtic Innis and Silver Edition. They are both excellent horses. I usually bet on them, so I want to take a look and see if I can figure out why their odds are so long, and if they’re worth it as long shot bets. Half Metal Jacket is the current favorite, but I’m leaning more towards Snapshot at the moment. It’s such a short race, the look in the paddock is even more important than usual.

Race 11 — Dixie Stakes:
My top choice is Wesley, a horse I really, really like, and I’ll bet him across the board. The other horses I like — Picou, Forgotten Dynasty, and Pick Six — all have surprisingly long odds. I doubt all of them will come in, so I’ll mix and match as I see them in the post parade.

Race 12 — Preakness
Calvin Borel has a target on his back, and the other jockeys are going to try to keep him off the rail. If Super Saver comes in with the same attitude with which he came into the Derby, where the HORSE knew the race was his in the post parade — there’s nothing to worry about. He’ll tap dance over their backs, if he has to. This is a race where both Calvin and the horse have to show versatility, because “same old system” won’t cut it.

I’m definitely going with Super Saver and Paddy O’Prado again across the board. Lookin at Lucky got so squished in the Derby I feel he had no chance, and he’s in the 7 spot here, so I feel I should give him another shot. Whether it’s across the board or in a place spot, I don’t yet know. I’ll put Jackson Bend in to place again. Ice Box isn’t running this one — let’s hope he learns to change leads before the Belmont or he’ll wear himself out. My longshot in here will be Pleasant Prince for the show spot, although I’d like to take anohter look at Northern Giant.

I think the favorites might get into a scramble and one of the long shots will sneak around them and take it. I just hope I pick the right one.

Ultimately, I hope I’m wrong and that Super Saver wins it so there’s a shot at the Triple Crown this year.

Race 13:
Lacrosse Moon, Firefighter, and Decisively across the board.

In today’s Black-Eyed Susan, I’m disappointed that neither Unrivalled Belle nor Rachel Alexandra are running. I’m going to bet Tidal Pool across the board as my favorite, along with No Such Word, and then Diva Delite to show.

Happy Racing!


Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 8:16 am  Comments Off on Preakness Handicapping  

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010
New Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury — What the Hell?
Rainy and mild

Today is Writers’ Worth Day, and go check out Lori Widmer’s blog. You should read it anyway, if you want to make your living as a writer, because she knows her stuff. You need to learn how to value your work and yourself, and, most importantly, if you think writing for content mills constitutes a “career” you need to get a clue as to what it means to be a professional.

So I’m in a Mercury muddle. I hadn’t thought it was retrograde, and then an astrologer friend said it’s retrograde until May 18. My calendar does not say that. In the back of my calendar, I just saw that it said Mercury was retrograde from April 18 until May 5. So now I’m completely confused. I think my Mercury is just in perpetual retrograde right now, so I’ll have to sort it out this weekend with some alignment work.

Drove up to Westabrook, CT to the Tanger outlet center. Shopping is not my idea of fun, unless it’s books, but I had a list of things I needed, figured I could knock them all out in one spot, and, since I mistakenly thought Mercury was retrograde – – –

Let’s just say it was not fun. Couldn’t find anything I wanted and/or needed in THE ENTIRE COMPLEX. Since we’d driven an hour and a half and it was only 7 more exits to go to Niantic and The Book Barn, that’s what we did.

Gorgeous day to wander through the books. I’d crafted a detailed list of everything I planned to look for there, but, of course, since we weren’t planning to go, I had it at home. I kinda sorta remembered, and picked up the works of John Donne and the works of William Blake, both of which I need to read over the next few months for various reasons. I also picked up Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, a book I enjoy, but isn’t on my writing shelf. I got a couple of novels, including Tim Powers’s DECLARE. I am rabidly wild about Tim Powers’s writing — I still think his book LAST CALL is one of the best books I ever read in my life. I’m going to read it over the weekend — it’s too big to take with me when I travel at the end of next week, and, once I sit down and open a Tim Powers book, the world falls away until I’m done. So it’s my Sunday treat, since tomorrow will be caught up in the Preakness and the pottery class. Once I’ve finished and submitted my Preakness wrap article to my editor on Sunday, I get to read the book. How’s that for a carrot? I also picked up an anthology that sounded interesting, and it happens to have a novella by yet another of my favorite writers, Sharon Shinn, in it.

Was in the mood for a burger, and, on the recommendation of the staff, tried The Niantic Diner, which is across the street from The Book Barn. The burger was good and hit the spot. I rarely eat red meat anymore because I feel better when I don’t — but once in awhile, when I crave it, it’s exactly what I need.

Drove back — way too much traffic on both I-95 and the Merritt. Still a lot of infrastructure work going on from the stimulus money. It’s a pain in the ass, but the parts of the road that are finished are wonderful. I’ve been driving these roads for decades, and it’s the first time the bridges feel secure and the pavement doesn’t rip up the tires. Yes, this is one of the few places I want my tax dollars! 😉

Couldn’t find Iris when we got home, and nearly had a fit. She’d made herself a nest tucked down amongst a pile of cushions and ignored us when we called. I should have trusted that, since the other two weren’t worried, there was nothing to worry about.

Heard from the vet. We’re going to add an olive leaf supplement and then a homeopathic nasal treatment, as though she has the feline equivalent of a sinus headache. If she responds well to that, we’ll also switch the cats’ drinking water to an alkaline water because Elsa’s pH is too acidic, and that could also contribute to the problem. We’re switching her from the synthetic steroid to a natural one, and, in about a month, will see if we can wean her off it or if we need to continue. The natural steroid has fewer side effects than the synthetic, so it’ll be better to use long-term, but we’ll eventually want to get her off it. We’re adding and subtracting things one at a time to see how each bit affects her, and kind of breaking new ground here. She’s definitely responding well to the first portion of treatment — she made quite a bit o forward progress just in the last two days — so let’s go with it.

I have to handicap tomorrow’s race card and get that up, then drive up to South Salem to get her additional medication. Hopefully, I can get some writing done, too. Thought of another issue in the screenplay — we know what all the older characters do and what got them where they are — the mainstay caper that broke them apart — but what do Lucas and Jimmy “do”? Are they still in college? Do they have jobs? Are they unemployed due to the bad economy? I need to figure that out, even if it’s not a big deal in the story. Lucas’s girlfriend has a job, so why wouldn’t Lucas? I can add in a line about him having a bit of bereavement leave, but then, what about JImmy? I have to figure it out. It can be solved in a short line, but it needs to be addressed.

I better get going — busy day leading into a busy weekend.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

We have heat! And the repair guys came to fix the bolt on the door in the morning (which hasn’t worked since the new doors were put in) and the intercom in the afternoon (which hasn’t worked for three years). Everyone was very nice, and each repair was done in about ten minutes. Elsa, of course, was right in the midst of everything, making new friends. If only relations with the landlords would stay pleasant, but I’m sure they’re dreaming up some fresh hell for the tenants.

In and around the repairs, I completely restructured the first section of SETTLING THE SCORE. Now, I have a series of quick scenes setting up the characters up front, once we’ve set up Lucas at the gravesite. You don’t know WHY these people are connected, but the group photo that sends Lucas on his journey is established early with the various characters who are in it, and it brings it back to being an ensemble story, my original vision, instead of simply Lucas’s story I’m tightening a lot of the scenes already there, but now, I think it has a better flow. Everyone important (hero and villain) is established early on, with the audience not entirely convinced who falls into which camp, and then we see Lucas bringing things together with the news of his father’s murder, and pieces of the ensemble’s former connection and strong emotional ties coming through. It’s less linear, but more cinematic, which, being a screenplay, matters. And I chose NOT to go with flashbacks, which I think is a stronger choice.

Should I decide to adapt the final screenplay into novel form (because, for me, where I am in my career, that would probably sell faster, unless these early summer meetings land me something quickly I don’t expect), I will go back to a more linear format.

As I moved through the material, tweaking it, I also incorporated the notes I made the other night. It will still run long, but I can then make more internal cuts and collapse dialogue and make things more specific in further rewrites.

Watched LIE TO ME last night, for the first time. Liked Tim Roth’s work a lot, on the fence about the whole show. It’s trying to masquerade as an ensemble vehicle, without making the supporting characters strong enough. Tim Roth is an interesting and inventive enough performer to deserve equal matches around him, in fact, I think it would even elevate what he’s doing, and he’s not getting the challenge. A lot of that, I think, is in the writing. I see why it’s a show on the bubble. There are some really good ideas in it, but the execution feels diluted.

This morning, I will write for an hour or so, but then I’m getting in the car and driving up to CT. I’m actually going shopping — Mercury is retrograde, and I want to see if I can pick up a few things I need. I have my tickets booked for the out of town job at the end of next week. I got a lovely orientation packet from the pottery workshop. Now that I see who’s teaching it, I am Very Intimidated. This place is for pros, not dabblers. And I’m going to find out if I really like working in clay, or if I only like the IDEA of working in clay. I’ll make my decisions from there.

I’ve already had to cancel plans to attend two writing conferences, a yoga conference, a trip to Maine, a trip to Seneca Falls,and two trips to Canada due to Elsa’s illness and the vet bills. I’d really like to participate in something fun, challenging, and unique over the next few months, but it has to be closer to home and not too expensive. We’ll see. I hate having my wings clipped.

By the way, I STILL haven’t heard from the vet. Not happy.

I’m reading a fantastic book called SPANNING TIME: A DIARY KEEPER BECOMES A WRITER by Elizabeth Yates, who won a Newbury Award in 1951. The diaries span her life as a teen in the teens to either the 40s or 50s, and show how determined she was to be a writer rather than a debutante. It’s wonderful, and it certainly makes me want to hunt down and read her other work.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

The alarm went off early, so I was out by 5 AM for the run.

I’ve been really lax about marketing, because I’ve concentrated so much on fiction and scripts over the past few months, but now that the theatre commissions are winding down (at least until the next round of meetings/commissions), I need to get back on the stick. The job listings have sucked the last few months — the content mills are pulling down a lot of the prices, and I’m not going to write a press release (for years my bread-and-butter) for one-fifth of my normal rate.

I looked at Media Bistro — LOTS of jobs, well over 1000, legitimate jobs at legitimate rates, but very few that interest me. One did, it’s a company I’ve looked at for awhile and something opened up I could definitely do, but the amount of invasive paperwork and “investigative rights” you’re supposed to sign over to even apply for the job pissed me off, and I decided not to. I don’t do drugs, but I’m still not going to pee into a cup on demand, nor am I going to sign paper work to let you delve into my personal life. My personal life’s not particularly interesting or salacious, but IT’S MINE, and it has nothing to do with providing copywriting for your frigging company. I could understand if it was some national-security type job for a government or research or medical or defense firm where people’s lives were on the line, but copywriting for this type of company? Give me a break. And, knowing what I do about this particular organization, at least 70% of the people administering the tests are cokeheads, so I don’t think so. Hypocrites. There was another organization that looks really interesting (and the application process less invasive), but the job offered isn’t really what I want. However, I’m going to do some research and send them a proposal creating the freelance position I want, and we’ll see.

The NYFA job search board has a lot of jobs listed — again, they’re good, solid, legitimate jobs, many with benefits, but not what I’m looking for, too much full-time; but I can pull information and do direct mail pitches. If I can get a mailing out by early June, that would be great. I’ve built an interesting prospect list over the past few months, but it doesn’t do anyone any good if it’s just sitting in a folder.

Got some work done on SETTLING THE SCORE. When I’m done with this sequence, some of these scenes will be darkly funny. The trick is to give the actors and director enough solid, specific text WITHOUT STAGE DIRECTIONS so they can explore and have fun and bring their uniqueness to the material, and yet make it precise enough so the layers of meaning are clear without everything being overly explained.

For some reason, I got very nauseous yesterday. It came and went all day. I have no idea why. I managed to get the grocery shopping done, and took a nap, but it wasn’t the productive day for which I hoped.

Cleaned a bunch of stuff. Literally wiped off all the papers that piled on top of my desk and stuck them in a box. I’m going to sort & file from that box for 15-30 minutes per day to get it all handled. I now have a clean desk, which, to Violet, means a place to perch and watch me while I work. I still have the old behemoth PC because I’m not done transferring the disks — yes, it’s taken over a year and I’m still not done — but there’s a lot more room to work. It’s been a long time since I had a clean desk. It’s a little intimidating, but hopefully, will lead to more productive worktime. Definitely better feng shui. I need to look up in my favorite feng shui book, MOVE YOUR STUFF, CHANGE YOUR LIFE, how to rearrange the desk.

“Organizers” say you “can’t” have “stuff” on the desk” — well, i can’t work without my “stuff”. It’s my creative fuel. I have my gargoyle and my dragon and my crystals and my Ganesh and other items that have personal creative meaning for me, along wiht the pens and the computer and the Rolodex and whatever I’m working on at the moment. Files are nearby, but not on the desk, and books are stacked in crates beside the desk by project, and office supplies in a bookcase against the wall beside the desk. Photos relevant to various projects are on corkboards, and I put the one I need up on top of the office supply bookcase where I can see it while I work. Works for me, and that’s what matters, right? I’ve yet to meet an “organizer” whose systems had any relevance to my life and work. Julie Morgenstern’s books come the closest, but then, she used to work in theatre, so she gets it.

Still haven’t heard back from the vet and am getting frustrated. I’m trying to hold Elsa steady, but we need to make decisions to move forward. If he needs to see her again (and wants me to dump more money at the facility) TELL me to make an appointment. Don’t just not get back to me.

Today is a day for dealing with scumbag landlords who are coming in to “make repairs”, but, in reality, coming in to snoop to see how they can continue to make lives miserable. Will also get on their case about the heat.

LOST just annoyed me yesterday, and that’s all I have to say about it. At this point in the story, I don’t care to learn backstory of anyone we’ve haven’t lived with a lot unless it takes 3 (short) scenes or less. Even if I did go to college with one of those guys. Again, no surprises, just the order in which they’re revealing stuff, and the length of time they’re taking to jerk the audience around.

I am looking forward to the day being over.

Hey, whaddaya know? 6:14 AM and the heaters are clanking. What do you figure, three, four minutes of heat this morning before they turn it off again?


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

We had no heat yesterday, and none again this morning, although it’s down in the 20’s. I was bundled in sweats, cashmere socks, and a hot water bottle all day. Lori, the city council no longer has anyone left on it who’s sympathetic — all the ones who got us the ETPA protection are gone, and only economic segregationists remain. We file the paperwork with DHCR, but that all takes time. The Health Dept. usually steps in pretty quickly, so I don’t know what the excuse is this time.

Not a good writing day yesterday. I was obsessively checking email to hear back from the vet — nothing yet. I’m struggling with the next sequence of scenes for SETTLING THE SCORE. Now that I have Elizabeth and Chris in the same room, it has to be handled delicately. These two had a passion on the scale of Heathcliff and Cathy, without the self-indulgent melodrama. They’re pragmatists. They made the decision to stay apart to keep someone else they both cared about safe. It didn’t work. So not only do they have to deal with the fact that they made a wrong life-or-death decision, they denied themselves years of happiness together. So it’s using spare language and still getting across that tsunami of emotion that they’re trying to deal with. Challenging. I’ll get there, but it’s taking a few tries.

Cleaned out some more stuff. Slowly but surely, I’m getting more room in this tiny space, tossing or giving away what I don’t need, getting books out on BookMooch, packing stuff I need, but don’t need right now and getting it to storage.

I’m going to try and tackle a bit of the urban fantasy this morning, and then head off to Trader Joe’s for cat food and other groceries. The cat food cupboard has enough room in it to make the cats anxious, and we can’t have that! 😉 Elsa’s steadying, still sneezing quite a bit, but livelier than she’s been. She’s also jumping up and down onto surfaces — mostly where she shouldn’t, but the point is, for months, she’s climbed, not jumped, and she’s back to jumping, which is a good sign. She’s still sneezing a lot, but she’s in less distress. We really need to make a decision about what’s next in the treatment regime, and I can’t do that until I hear back from the vet. There’s now room in the living room for Iris and Violet to get a good hockey game going with a toy mouse, so that’s what going on behind me as I type. Hey, it’s better than those balls with the bells in them that they like to play with in the middle of the night! Never a dull moment.

I also need to work on a new type of cover letter for the script meeting materials. I’ve got to figure out when I can see FEMME FATALE — not too many chances left. Since it’s the last show the company’s doing before relocating to Florida, and the producer’s playing the lead, I have to get my butt over there to see it. And I have to finish the paperwork for the class schedule.

A site called Divine Caroline’s picked up the Derby article, which is pretty exciting, and gets it to an even wider audience. Pretty exciting!

Friday, May 14 is the annual Writer’s Worth day. Go check out Lori Widmer’s blog to get more information. I haven’t been able to get the icon to post here, but she’s got great information on creating your freelance career without selling yourself short.

Back to the page.


Published in: on May 11, 2010 at 5:56 am  Comments (7)  
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

My post-Derby article is up on FemmeFan here. My editor loved it, even though I felt it lacked sparkle. Motivates me to make the Preakness article this week twice as good!

Exceptionally cold all weekend, frost on the ground this morning, and the scumbag landlords had the heat off until 6 AM today. Typical.

The alarm didn’t go off this morning, but Elsa is better than any alarm clock, so I went out for my run by 5:15. It’s quite light out, with just a sliver of waning moon, singing birds, corporate types scurrying to the train station . . .

So, where do I start? Didn’t write on Saturday at all — on purpose. Needed to refill creative well. Did my errands, sorted, purged a bunch of junk, took stuff to storage. Read. Cooked.

Got some good ideas for the next section of the urban fantasy.

Was about to order a great futon couch. It looks good, the price is good, and it will fit through the doorway — since they put in the new doors, I can’t bring in my sofabed. the doorway is now too narrow. Not to mention the doors suck. Anyway, I was trying to figure out the shipping costs, and, when I read the fine print, it clearly states that they don’t deliver the couch to the house. They deliver it TO THE CURB. If you want it taken into the house (or, in my case, the third floor apartment), you negotiate with the delivery guy when he arrives and you pay him cash on the spot. Sounds like extortion to me — no price quotes, no regulations. So I’m not ordering the futon. Bite me, assholes. You think I’m really that stupid? I wonder how many people were stuck with furniture left on the curb and wound up paying a couple of times more than they paid for the pieces themselves just to get them inside the house?

Elsa was up and down on Saturday — much better than she was on Friday, but still not doing as well as last week. I got up early on Sunday to give her the medicine, went back to bed, and had a weird dream.

In the dream, I was brought in to script doctor some piece or other rehearsing in Greenwich Village. I’m assuming it was a film, but maybe it was a play. That was unclear. It starred an actor who tops the list of people I still want to work with. He looked completely dazed at the disorganized chaos. No one seemed to be in charge. There were far too many producers floating around (as usual), saying, “I’ll take care of it” when something was brought to their attention and then doing nothing (as usual). We had to fill out huge packets of information we were told were “for tax purposes” but read like psych evaluations. I told the actor I was excited to work with him, just not sure it should be on this. He laughed. Some other guy asked me to watch his stuff because “You’re the amateur.” I said, “No, I’m the writer” and he replied, “Same thing.” I did NOT watch his stuff. I knew a lot of the actors in the project in the dream and had worked with them before, although in life, I’d only worked with one actress in a big musical. She kept trying to match-make me with this one and that one, whether I was interested or not (which she tried when we worked together). I was about to pitch a fit and either take over or walk out (in spite of the actor I really, really wanted to work with) when Elsa sneezed in my face and woke me up.

Obviously, I’ve been thinking about production a lot lately, since POWER OF WORDS takes place behind-the-scenes on one. This dream is a warning, the the specific actor representing not just himself, but everyone that’s still on that list of people I hope to work with (poor guy). Knowing how my dreams work, it may also be a caution– an opportunity may present itself and it may not be what it initially seems. I shouldn’t accept simply because there’s someone involved who’s on my list. So I stand warned. The nasty comment from the guy who wanted me to do PA duties represents the way writers are often treated in this business.

Made some cuts in SETTLING THE SCORE on Sunday, wrote twenty more pages, made more cuts, wrote eight more pages. Printed it all out (now that I have ink and paper again) and saw a huge, huge, HUGE logistics gap. There’s no way that character could have that piece of information vital to the plot machinations at that point in time the way I’ve got it laid out. I wrote some notes — I want to complete the draft before making any more fixes and running any more copies — and will move forward. Also, in the final draft, I’ll have to fix some formatting things. When I write scripts, I triple space between dialogue bits instead of double space. And the default font on this machine is Helvetica, which is fabulous to work in, but for script purposes, I have to change it to Courier (I loathe Courier). That will also drop the page count, which is good, because I’m up there now, and there’s still another good third of the movie to go. My goal is to have it run just over 2 hours, but feel like about 85 minutes.

On today’s agenda: pack more stuff for storage, work on SETTLING THE SCORE, maybe work on the adaptation of BEHIND THE MAN. I need to get my scripts sorted and synopsised and loglined over the next few weeks for some upcoming meetings. I may take WOMEN WITH AN EDGE out of retirement briefly just for the meetings, even. I should also take a look at my spec TV scripts — I don’t even know what one is “supposed” to have in one’s portfolio this season. I don’t know if I can still even use the BUFFY sample or the STARGATE ATLANTIS sample. If I need to come up with new ones, it would make sense to do one for HUMAN TARGET, since I spent so much time dissecting the show, but I don’t think that’s on “the list.” Of course, I might do one anyway, just to prove to myself that I can.

I’ll check with some acquaintances and find out what this season’s “list” is, and then figure out if I should even do a set of specs, or just stick to the plays for the moment, and this next round of meetings. I’m not angling for a series slot anyway — there are, literally, thousands of scriptwriters more qualified, in line ahead of me, and in LA so to do. But sometimes, even if you’re not up for the job, that’s the kind of sample someone wants to see in a meeting.

I’ll pack extra Excedrin, too. The meetings aren’t for a few months, but it takes time to put everything together, write any new material necessary, and have it be good, so I’m looking ahead. That way, instead of scrambling, everything is ready, I can just pull what i need for that meeting out of the file, and it’s much less stressful.

I’d like to get back to the urban fantasy this week, since I figured out how to overcome it’s obstacle, and, of course, ANGEL HUNT. My worry with ANGEL HUNT is that, once I go down the rabbit hole with that, I won’t come out for weeks, because of the intensity of the project. With the Preakness AND a pottery workshop this week, AND paperwork to complete for next year’s teaching schedule (yes, I’ve already got some major bookings for 2011), I don’t know if I can go down that rabbit hole right now. However, I want to get the book out on submission by the end of the month, so I need to get cracking.

Hard to sort out when so much has equal value and equal importance. But, I’ll figure it out. And I have to talk to the vet. Elsa is steadying again, but it doesn’t look like we can wean her off the steroid just yet. So we need to discuss next steps.

Back to the page.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cooler

Tired. Didn’t run this morning. Elsa had a bad night. I got up at 4 to give her medicine, in the hopes of giving her some relief, and then fell asleep again, and overslept.

Yesterday was another good writing day, thank goodness. I did another twenty pages on SETTLING THE SCORE, the screenplay. Letting things unfold. I’m worried that some of the major characters don’t get introduced until too far into the piece. It’s also become Lucas’s story, he’s the one we see from the get-go and the one we follow. My original vision was that it was more Elizabeth & Chris’s story. I made some internal cuts, and then, after dinner, when I thought I was so written out I couldn’t even speak properly, I had an idea. I put Max into the original diner scenes with Elise, Viola, Arthur, Lucas, and Jimmy, so they’re all there together and I can cut a lot of the road scenes. It means daylight arcs are even more important to indicate time passage.

An actor friend (who likes performing in my work) said he thinks I’m so used to having female protagonists at the center of my work (because I’m known for strong female characters, especially in plays and screenplays — not women behaving like men, but strong female characters), he’d like to see a male protag at center. He thinks I write well for men — and, of course, he wants to be considered for the role! 😉 I’m writing the role of Jimmy for him, but still . . .

I think I’ll continue the way the story’s unfolding now so that I learn about the characters and then, in the next revision, maybe rearrange some scenes and introduce some of the other characters earlier, having the story run on parallel tracks until they all intersect, rather than the current episodic. Send both versions to the readers, see which one gets the best response!

Ran out of ink. Ran out of 3-hole punch paper (I put my drafts in binders). Can’t find my hole puncher. Yeah, a Mercury Retrograde type of day!

Packed a bunch of stuff for storage. Will pack more and make a couple of trips this weekend. Have to get in the goodies for my mom for Mother’s Day.

It’s so funny — a character in another piece discussed writing a piece such as SETTLING THE SCORE in a scene where she was on a panel discussion at a conference, and here I am, writing the piece.

Back to work.


Published in: on May 8, 2010 at 8:07 am  Comments (2)  
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Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I did not get up to run this morning. Reason? I went to bed at 2:30 in the morning, because I was writing.

Yesterday, finally, was a good writing day.

I spent most of the morning getting the first section of POWER OF WORDS into shape for the Trusted Readers. I ended up tweaking a few pages near the end of Chapter six, so they’d make more sense. I proofed things and off they went. I hate sending anything to readers this early in the process because so much will change, but i need another pair of eyes on a few different possibilities that affect the trajectory of the rest of the piece.

Then, I started Part II of the book, reworking Chapter Seven almost entirely, and I’ll be starting Chapter Eight in a completely different point.

I wrote myself out on that, and made some notes on another project that’s been percolating for a few weeks, but really don’t have time for. However, it started unfolding very strongly, so I wrote a few pages after dinner. I tried to watch some TV, but it worked my last nerve, so I went back to the desk.

Next thing I knew, it was 2;30 in the morning, I could barely see straight, and I had 45 pages of an action/caper screenplay. The last thing I need right now is a screenplay, but there you are.

I woke up this morning realizing I forgot to introduce a major character, so I’ll go back and fix that today. Two characters who were supposed to be comic relief in a single scene decided to stick around, and have hooked up with a third who wasn’t even supposed to be here. I hoped that meant I could cut three other characters, but no such luck. Well, it’s not full of expensive locations or effects, so it’s all good. I often get impatient with the amount of time it takes to set up characters and get them all in one spot — and that’s exactly what I’m struggling with now. But I’m going to get it all on the page, and then tweak, tighten, cut. Cutting is always easier than finding out the piece is too tight. I’m also going to have to tweak some dates mentioned — I think they’re too recent for logic, but my initial vision has them too far in the past for the characters’ ages to work. But all of that can be fixed in the rewrite.

Right now, I have to write.

And catch up on everything that didn’t get done yesterday, like correspondence and hauling boxes to storage.

It will be interesting to see what kind of writing gets done today.


Published in: on May 7, 2010 at 7:21 am  Comments (2)  

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

I’ve gotten some really nice emails/comments about both yesterday’s Jenny Storm interview and the Anita Blake essay. Thank you! I learned a lot writing both, and hope I can apply that moving forward. Talk about work in two very different arenas, right? But that’s what makes writing such fun. I can switch between a rather innocent piece for middle grade readers and an examination of using sex as a character-building device.

I’m going over the first six chapters of POWER OF WORDS and sending them to Trusted Readers. Normally, I wouldn’t send first draft pages – I usually send out about third draft — but I need to know specifics about what does and doesn’t work in certain elements here in order to focus on the next bit. The next bit, the section dealing with rehearsals, has to be massively rewritten. A lot of that is because of changes I made in this section, dealing with the audition process.

Relationships in this industry tend to be transient, not because the people are shallow, but because, when you spend 18 hours a day for months working on a creative process, creating as a group, there’s a special bond and intensity that no one outside of that specific project shares or understands. The project ends, as it must, you scatter to other projects, and it starts again. Some people you never see again, and that’s okay; some you miss a lot, but lose touch with. Some strong friendships are formed, and you keep in touch regularly wherever you go. Some people you don’t really keep in touch with, but if you land on another project again or even run into each other in the street, the warmth is there instantly and you pick up the conversation right where you left off. It’s very different than working in any other industry. People truly do fall in love during a project — it just is often not a “forever” type of love portrayed in romance novels. That doesn’t make it any less real or less intense, but it’s a different kind of love than most people see as the traditional, settle down forever love. It takes a lot of life experience, self-knowledge, and self-esteem not to blur the line between the creative process and one’s life. And there are all kinds of strong emotional bonds created on a production that have nothing to do with affairs or romance. Some do, of course, but plenty don’t. You’re dependent on each other for your creative and emotional lives. And since each project is sooo different and each experience so different, only those on a particular project can ever really understand the experience. Even when it’s bad, there’s a bond. It’s much closer to the type of bond soldiers share in the field than people going to an office. The threat of physical death rarely exists on a production (unless the director and producers are totally irresponsible, hence the strong safety regulations enforced by unions), but the threat of emotional devastation is always there. Some directors feel they get better work out of actors if they are emotionally or verbally abusive. I think that’s a crock, myself, but that’s the way some people work. Or, you can pour your heart and soul into a project, but sometimes it still doesn’t work No one WANTS to make a bad film, but sometimes the elements just don’t come together, for a variety of reasons. That’s devastating, not just because it can make it harder to get hired again, but because you gave your all and it failed. Usually, it’s because the original vision was diluted by a bunch of executives who shouldn’t be making creative decisions, but are trying to justify their salaries. The more diluted the vision, the more of a mess the project. Or, if you cast because you want a name instead of getting someone who’s not only right for the role but enthusiastic, you can run into problems. You want someone low-key, with a strong work ethic, who treats people well and can retain a sense of humor in difficult situations. Theatre-trained people tend to fit that bill better, because it takes a lot of stamina, professionalism, and humor to do eight shows a week indefinitely. It’s one reason, when I have a say in the casting process of my own work, I am adamant that there’s a good theatre resume. Most big name actors who are known for their acting rather than their lives have solid theatre credentials, and come back to Broadway when they can (Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Hugh Jackman, etc.).

It’s an interesting challenge to try to present the complexity of relationships on a production. I did a bit of that in REAL, although the circumstances of the production and the primary relationship in that book were very different. There are some similarities — the creative team has enough clout to tell many an exec to go f–um, go away! 😉

I have to say something about Tuesday’s episode of LOST. Yes, it was sad and very well-acted, but really, how could anyone be surprised by this? Look at the way they’ve jerked around the audience for six years. Again, much as I like the scene work and the actors, I sit there and shake my head and say, “Of course they chose that.” The creators never regained my trust after they broke it several years ago. I think they created a wonderful phenomena, and the amount of creative control they were granted shows how good work can happen when you leave the creative team alone to fulfill their vision and keep executives from diluting it as mentioned above. I wish networks would learn from this, but instead, they try to copy the show, instead of developing other creative teams’ unique potentials. Yes, I’m watching this final season. And I have yet to be surprised. They moved around the order of a few things I expected, but nothing, so far, has surprised me. I appreciate the talent and the vision that goes into the piece, and I think it will remain as a wonderful example of creation, even when I don’t find it personally fulfilling overall. I’ve certainly learned a lot from it. I hope the people from the show don’t keep getting hired in the hopes of recreating it; it would be nice to let them fulfill new visions, and not compare everything they do to LOST. Once it’s done, let it be what it is and appreciate it as an entity unto itself, because that’s what it deserves. However I feel about certain elements of it, it’s always been a top quality production.

A bit of work on the urban fantasy this morning, then another pass at POWER OF WORDS so I can get those chapters out (along with a list of very specific questions). Some of the typos I’ve caught are screamingly funny and entirely change the context of the chapter they’re in. Then, it’s tackling the ANGEL HUNT revision. I think I’ve finally figured out how to wrestle what I need from chapters 12 & 13. I’m going to combine them, strip them, and then rebuild them. It’s a true “re-envisioning” of this section, not just fixing a few typos. This book has made such a huge transformation since its original life as a serial, and I’m so passionate about it. It’s the best, riskiest, most challenging thing I’ve ever written.

I also need to get back to the BEHIND THE MAN adaptation. So I’ve got a busy day.

We’re adjusted Elsa’s medication to wean her off the steroid, and she’s in that delicate transitional stage, where one minute she’s better and then she’s not.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Up early, out the door by 5:15 for my run. It’s getting lighter and lighter earlier and earlier, and it’s interesting to watch the moon’s progress. Also, it’s interesting to see how many more people are up early on a Wednesday than a Monday. I don’t know why I find it interesting, but I do.

There’s an interview with me in my Jenny Storm persona, for DIXIE DUST RUMORS here, on Katie Hines’s blog. I hope you hop over and drop a comment. Thanks to Katie for including me in her blog.

I got some work done on the urban fantasy yesterday. I’m almost done with the scene with which I’m having trouble. I’m re-thinking the end of the first scene in BEHIND THE MAN. Because of production constraints, I had Max and Sally Sweet retreat to his office offstage and that what gets Ida out of her good-girl persona and start some actual detecting on her own, instead of being the “sweet office girl”. In the adaptation, I think I’m going to have Max’s office on stage, and what Ida overhears them do in the office serve as additional impetus. I think I could get into some funny and farcical elements.

I have a really difficult section to tackle on POWER OF WORDS — because of the changes I did in part one of the book, it completely changes this section. I have to expand it and develop a lot of different themes and weave in character arcs without losing sight of the ones I feel are the center of the book.

I spent far too much time fighting with 1and1 yesterday. I feel like they’re holding my webmail files hostage — I haven’t been able to download them through a file manager, and I can’t move hosts until I have my old mail, contracts, etc. It’s fat too much for me to be able to print them out. And, I’m discovering that a good many of my work-related emails aren’t getting through, and I’m not receiving a lot. I need the professional address for work. I can’t have some other non-site-related address. As it is, I’m having to send and receive a good portion of email by pulling it through mail2web, because most of the time I can’t get into the webmail, and, if I can get into it, I can’t actually get any work done in it. Plus, with their fucking “upgrade”, not only are my address books useless, but now I can’t even read some of the email that comes in. It’s so frustrating. I’m paying them and losing work — some of which can never be replaced.

In better news, I got an email from the vet this morning. There’s no tumor in Elsa’s nasal passages, just inflammation. One of the lab tests still isn’t back, but the other indicates more of a fungal infection than cancer. That’s a relief. It’s not definitive yet, but it gives us another place to work from. He doesn’t think she needs a CT scan (thank goodness). I’m weaning her off the steriod and have her on the supplement and, in a week, we’ll see how she is and see what other course of treatment to start her on to fight the inflammation that won’t trigger the rest of the infection — the antibiotics and steriod helped with the inflammation, but triggered the infection. It’s good news, but there’s still a long road ahead for the little kitty. She was doing great yesterday and has backslid a bit today, so I hope she steadies.

I have some sort of irritation on my little finger of my left hand. I’d originally hurt it during the Prague trip and didn’t think much about it, but it’s been bothering me on and off since. I took a good look at it yesterday, and something’s wrong. Of course, I can’t go to a doctor, because I don’t have insurance, and a basic out-of-pocket 5 minute consultation starts at $285 around here — that’s just for a doctor to open the door, and only at places where they’d actually agree to see someone without insurance. I’m not going to the emergency room unless I think the damn thing’s ready to explode or fall off or something.

I’m going to acupuncture today, so I’ll have her treat it and then do some homeopathic/herbal treatments and see where we go from there. But it makes typing difficult.

I’m reading an autobiography of a Very Famous Actor. I’ve never worked with the guy, but we’ve worked at some of the same places and with a lot of the same people over the years. I thought it would be interesting, and give me a good idea of the atmosphere of the era on Broadway just before I came up in the ranks. Because, of course, we always think the years just before us were so much better. In addition to the book being appallingly badly written, this guy spent so much time drinking and screwing around that it’s amazing he ever found the stage door on any given night, much less managed to get his lines out. Drunks just aren’t that interesting to anyone but themselves or fellow drunks. A bit of a disappointment, and he comes across as not a particularly nice person or loyal friend at all. Maybe that’s part of the point — confessional? Or that presenting himself as a total ass would sell more books? In any case, it’s certainly made me glad I’ve never worked with him! There’s some good atmospheric detail in a couple of the anecdotes that may be useful should I ever set something backstage during that era, but, overall, far too much I-love-my-drink-and-constant-sex and not enough approach to character or sense of fun in the overall process. Maybe part of the point is that he wasn’t having fun? I don’t know. It’s fun to read his opinion on some of the people I’ve worked with over the years, though, and anecdotes I’ve heard from them backstage told from a different point of view. Interesting, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who wasn’t doing specific research.

I need to get back to the page. I’ve got a truncated writing day today, because I’m heading off to acupuncture in the late morning, and, when I return, I’ll have to let it set.

Back to the page.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

Here’s my essay, from the Anita Blake anthology.

Of course, I hope you buy the whole book and enjoy everyone’s essays, but my essay’s on offer for just a couple of days on the SmartPop web site.

I got some work done on the urban fantasy yesterday, and I also started adapting BEHIND THE MAN from a three-act interactive play to a two-act proscenium piece. I have to add a few more pages — it’s too short for traditional stage time, but it gives me a chance to add some scenes and some business that had to be cut from the original vision because of the production needs. BEHIND THE MAN, THE MATILDA MURDERS, and FEMME FATALE are all solidly constructed, fast-moving, and witty. There’s no reason they can’t have lives in traditional, small/regional venues.

So, I’m adapting it to two act format, prepping proposal packages (most theatres want a synopsis and the first ten pages), and then starting the theatre query process. I’ve researched some of my favorite small and regional theatres around the country, and found several I think would be a good match.

Speaking of the plays, the first royalty check for FEMME FATALE arrived, and I’m happy with it. I will miss those checks when the company closes up shop in the summer and moves to Florida! I hope the producer launches a company down there, but, we’ll see.

Struggled with the Derby wrap article, but got it to my editor. I’m not happy with it. It’s long on workmanship and short on sparkle.

It was so hot and sticky, I had to keep turning off the computer yesterday so it wouldn’t overheat. I put in the fans this morning. I’ve hesitated on the air conditioner, because Elsa seems to do better in humidity. Which really sucks, because the rest of us wilt in it.

Hopefully, the vet will have some information from the test results, and hopefully, it will be good.

In the meantime, back to the page. I’ve got to push through this section and get to the next bit. What i have to do is sit down and plot the whole rest of the novel. Flying blind isn’t working for me.

Must back and haul boxes to storage today, and get some groceries in.

Colin, the foiled car bomb reminded me of Glasgow, too, and the more information we get as the investigation progresses, the more disturbing it all is.


Published in: on May 4, 2010 at 6:22 am  Comments (5)  
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Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday, May 3
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and warm

It’s not even 6 AM, and I’m posting! That’s wrong on so many levels! 😉

Got out the door before 5 for my run. It was raining too hard for me to see, so I only did one circuit.

Busy weekend. I wrote a little over 3K on Saturday morning, and spent the rest of the day watching Derby races. I had something hit the board in almost every race, and had picks come in 1,2,3 in the Derby itself (I had Super Saver across the board, and he won; Ice Box to place, which he did, and Paddy O’Prado across the board, and he hit the show spot). I’m skeptical that Super Saver will win the Triple Crown, but hope I’m proved wrong. My actual favorite in the race was the filly, Devil May Care, who ran a great race but wore down towards the end.

Thank goodness for the person (or people, depending upon your news source) who said something about the suspicious car and the fantastic NYPD for diffusing the car bomb in Times Square on Saturday night. Depending on the force and circumference of the explosion, based on the block where it was placed, at the very least a few hundred people would have been hurt or killed, at the very most a couple of thousand. Not to mention damage done to the subway, theatres, and hotels. According to the information we’ve been given, which isn’t much, since they need time to sift through everything, it wasn’t enough to take down any buildings, but it was enough to do some serious damage. In Times Square. On a Saturday night. Times Square on a Saturday night has more people in it than many towns in other parts of the country. Makes you wonder how many lives would have been saved, had the Bush Administration acted on/shared the information received on August 6, 2001, a full month prior to 9/11. No, that’s not some wild conspiracy theory. Go read the documentation. It’s all a matter of public record.

I admit, I’m glad I no longer live just off Times Square, and I’m glad I don’t have to cross through it 2x/day on my way to and from the theatre.

Between Boston’s water rupture, the Gulf Coast oil spill, and the floods in Tennessee, there’s a lot going on. I want to know why these dicks in the oil business were allowed to drill in the first place when they didn’t have a way to turn off the well if something went wrong? Oh, yeah, because they bought themselves enough politicians to do whatever they want.

I wrote a lot yesterday, too, and I’m at a sticky section now, where I need to sort some stuff out and do some plotting before I can move on. I plan to do some work on the urban fantasy today and on ANGEL HUNT. (I worked on POWER OF WORDS most of the weekend). I’m not happy with my post-Derby article, so I’m going to strip it down and rebuild it. I need to get it to my editor today. I’ve also got to pack more boxes to take to storage tomorrow.

Actually, I’m ready to just go back to bed, but that’s not an option.

Elsa seemed a little worse over the weekend, but a little better today. The supplement I had to special order arrived on Saturday, and I think it’s doing her some good. She’s off the antibiotics, and the steriod dose is cut in half, so we’ll see. By tomorrow, I should know the results from the radiology consult and the sneezing swab cultures, so maybe we’ll have some ideas on moving forward, poor little thing.

I screwed up my schedule — the pottery workshop is on Preakness Day, which means I can’t go down to Maryland (boo — it’s my favorite of the three because it’s more laid back). I’ll miss seeing the first few races live and then, after the workshop, watch the live feed from the other races. A big field is expected, because a lot of people want to prevent Super Saver from winning the Triple Crown. Which is a shame, because we need such a winner.

Back to the page.


Published in: on May 3, 2010 at 5:03 am  Comments (5)  
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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cover for my YA DIXIE DUST RUMORS. Since it’s set against horse racing, it makes sense to have it today’s picture

Saturday, May 1, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

I got a little bit of writing done yesterday, but not much. I did handicap the entire Derby Day race card — the post is below this one, if you’re interested.

The only change to the Derby picks I may do is move Super Saver in there, even if it doesn’t rain. If it rains, he definitely becomes an across-the-board bet.

Ran some errands, paid some bills. Read A YEAR OF FOG by Michelle Richmond. It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking book. I felt the end was a bit abrupt, but I think that was part of the point she was making. Started re-reading MOCKINGBIRD, the Harper Lee portrait, by Charles Shields, which is just wonderfully written.

This morning, I got up and ran — out of the house by about 5:30. It was pretty light, the moon was still up, and no one was around, just the way I like it.

Did some work on the urban fantasy. Hoping I can get a bit done on the novella and on ANGEL HUNT before I turn my full attention to the Derby. I wish I was more excited about it this year, but with all my favorites out, the horses I’ve followed for months, well, we’ll see. Watch — this will be a Race for the Ages simply because no one’s that excited.


Published in: on May 1, 2010 at 6:17 am  Comments (2)  
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