Mon. Jan. 14, 2013: NMLC’s Successful Seal Release!

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Monday, January 14, 2013
Waxing Moon
Foggy and mild

The weekend here was very mild, but it was foggy. Sunday was a brilliant day, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Worked hard on Friday and Saturday, a lot of hours at the desk, not feeling a lot of accomplishment, unfortunately. I’m still struggling to get the right tone on the sample with the proposal, and getting discouraged. Worked with students. I need to figure out how to promote the small books more effectively — both the fiction shorts and the non-fiction Topic Workbooks. I also need to figure out how to enlarge the covers — that’s the only obstacle right now to getting into the premium catalogue — their system says my covers are “too small”. Yet, when I check the pixels, the jpg has what they ask for. I don’t get it. I’m frustrated.

I’m also not happy with “That Man in Tights”. It needs more work than I originally thought. I’m not going to release it until it’s the best it can be, but right now, that’s farther away than I would like.

The details are up for the workshop “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects.” It only runs three days, it’s only $30. You bring in abandoned projects and we take a second look; we see what has potential, and what needs to be put to rest for good, and then we come up with a way to get them onto your schedule and get them done. Info and registration here.

Sunday was release day for Major Margaret “Hotlips” Houlihan, the NMLC’s seal patient that came in and was so badly injured. I was at the Center before nine, photographed MM’s final feeding and playtime with Townsend, the other seal patient. Then, she was loaded into her crate and into the animal ambulance. We had a caravan to Scusset Beach, where about 150 people gathered to see her off. Her crate was carried over the dunes to the beach, a pathway cleared to the water, and the door opened.

She was a bit hesitant at first, especially with so many humans around. The waves grew larger and more insistent, as though they called her home. She lit up when she realized what it was, and paddled herself down the sand and into the surf. She was truly HAPPY, joyful, to be back in the surf, and it was so wonderful to see an animal who’d been so critically injured back in her habitat.

It was a beautiful experience.

And it was great how many kids and families. et al, were all there, excited and supportive.

After we were done at the beach and cleared up, we headed back to the hospital; did some rearranging in the kitchen, a lot of scrubbing (there’s always a lot of scrubbing involved). We cleaned Townsend’s tank and refilled it — he was completely befuddled about what had gone on. I think yesterday was more stressful for him than for Major Margaret. But even the turtles in the other tank were sticking their heads up, wondering what was going on.

The other volunteers and staff kept working in the hospital and I headed to Osterville Library where Kathy Zagzebski, the Executive Director of NMLC, was giving a talk. Osterville built themselves a new library and it is GORGEOUS. Beautiful space, and we were in a terrific meeting room. Kathy’s presentation was great, and there were some wonderful questions, especially from the kids. I helped Kathy clean up, came home, uploaded my photos, and then collapsed in front of the TV to watch the Golden Globes. The cats were delighted, because I still smelled like herring.

Tiny Fay and Amy Poehler were GREAT as hosts. And there was a minimum of stupid banter, either from hosts or presenters. It always sounds fake anyway, so just skip it, people.

I started Sunday feeling very blue about a lot of things — and then had a good laugh, because the songs playing on the radio as I headed for the bridge were “This Girl is on Fire” and “Don’t Stop Believing”, which felt like they were a direct response to what was going through my mind.

It would up being a wonderful, wonderful day!

I have a LOT to do today, especially getting the play organized and start the writing — the title’s set, MURDER SEALS THE DEAL, with the play on words for “seal” — that I better get going. I also have a budget meeting for the Beautification Committee this afternoon, and have to get some material together for that.

Finished all my Cosmology homework on Saturday, but am still behind on Astronomy. It’s all fascinating, I just can’t keep up with sometimes 15 lectures per week that run 40 minutes or more. Thank goodness I’m only auditing, and have a little extra time.

Devon

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Fri. Jan. 11, 2013: Murder Mystery Play a Go!

Friday, January 11, 2013
New Moon
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was busy, but in a good way. Except Verizon is being a pain in the butt, as usual, but that will be handled, never fear!

Christian, to answer your questions — I’ve accumulated a lot of decorations through the years — frequently at thrift shops and yard sales, vintage stuff, interesting stuff, etc. When I worked on Broadway, I always decorated my actor’s dressing room, and my area, so I had boxes of that stuff that stayed either at the theatre or in storage. I decorated my apartment a lot, too (in fact, my tree was so big I had to move it every time I wanted to sit down on my couch). Add that to all the decorations accumulated while growing up, and the ones I add every year, and now that there’s a house and outdoor space and — I have a Christmas closet.

The space over the garage is a storage area with four closets and the rest bookshelves. I keep the Christmas decorations in one closet, the Halloween decorations in another closet, the rest-of-year decorations in the third closet, and the fourth is kind of a catch all. The bookcases have books (of course) and my yarn and fabric stashes.

I started taking courses via Coursera last fall, because I wanted a chance to catch up on things that interest me, but that I haven’t formally studied, especially in connection to the different types of writing I do. I was certified in Sustainability (which will make me more valuable as a local hire) and in Greek/Roman Mythology (so much of my writing is myth-based that, if I hadn’t earned the certificate, I would have been embarrassed). I successfully completed the World History Since 1300 course, but that wasn’t for certification, and I’m currently auditing Intro to Astronomy and Galaxies & Cosmology. It adds quite a few hours to the work week, but it’s worth it. The classes are taught by top professors at top universities from all over the world.

Yesterday, I struggled with the proposal for my agent. The proposal itself is solid, but the writing sample doesn’t yet sing. It feels a little “falsely cheerful” to me — I haven’t found the key to the protagonist yet. I’ll get there. I kind of have to — by today.

I also have to get another proposal out for an appearance in early June.

I’m all locked in for NERWA’s April conference, “Let Your Imagination Take Flight”. The conference is April 26-27 in Burlington, MA. I’m teaching my “Setting as Character” workshop on the 27th, but I plan to be there both days.

Most of yesterday, for me, was about prepping my idea packets for the National Marine Life Center meeting and then attending the meeting. It was a great, lively meeting with lots of great ideas and interesting discussions. There are some new-to-me people getting involved, with great ideas and enthusiasm.

The mystery play is a go — we brainstormed ideas, and I started writing the opening scene and fleshing out the plot and some of the tech stuff in my head driving home. I’m going to send out another brainstorming email in a few hours, when I’ve written my way into it a bit and figured out a few more things, and I got another performance piece idea (that’s less involved) for later in the year this morning while I made coffee.

I have to work fast, because it goes up mid-March!

Most of the snow melted, and now I can see how badly the plow guy hurt my lawn. Not happy about it. Will contact the landlord and then the town.

One of our seals is well enough to be released on Sunday — how exciting!

Busy day starts a busy weekend, so I better get moving.

I’ll have information on February’s workshop, The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects, up either later today or on Monday.

Have an awesome weekend, everybody!

Devon

Thurs. Jan. 10: Time Wasted Due to Coporate BS

Thursday, January 10, 2013
Dark Moon
Sunny and cold

I actually had a positive experience with Comcast yesterday. I’ve bashed them frequently over the years here, especially with problems in the Philadelphia area, but yesterday, we were able to have positive contact, intelligent discussion, and able to SOLVE the problem in a way that benefit both of us. In other words, actual customer service and negotiation. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. I thought it was worth a public mention, and I thanked the person who was so helpful.

Verizon, on the other hand — well, we won’t even get started there! They really need to be slapped around by the regulators, because they treat their customers like dog poo. I have a neighbor who works for them, and they pretty much treat their employees just as badly, but someone needs to get them in line. Hopefully, I can wrap everything up with them soon and not have to deal with them anymore. You’d think, after being a customer for a dozen years, they’d give a damn. But what do you expect from a company that funds crazy, right-wing political candidates and finds it acceptable for employees to THROW THE PHONE at customers who come in to ask questions?

Still feeling under the weather. Boston has declared a health emergency, due to the flu. I’m one of the small percentage allergic to the flu shot, so I can’t get it — the shot could kill me. The flu itself just makes me feel like crap for a week.

Worked with students, wrote a pitch, got some writing done, but not enough. Never enough, which is discouraging. I had to waste far too much time and energy fighting with Verizon when I should have been doing income-earning work.

Spent some time on school work, too. I’m trying to catch up in the Astronomy class — the sheer volume of lectures each week makes it tough. There are fewer lectures in the Galaxies and Cosmology class, which started this week, so I’m in pretty good shape on that. The math is far beyond me, but the quizzes on theory I’m doing quite well in (even though I don’t have the science background).

Struggling to finish the proposal for my agent. I haven’t hit quite the right tone for the sample. The proposal itself is very strong, but the writing that the proposal is ABOUT has to sing, and there’s a metaphorical frog in its throat right now.

Also, on MURDER’S INTOLERANCE, I’m over 80 pages in and have to stop and write the outline. I’m getting unfocused.

Have to put some material together for a meeting this afternoon at the Marine Life Center. Also have to remember to take my camera to do some promo shots of Townsend and Major Margaret. MM is healthy enough to be released this weekend!

It looks like the only class I’m teaching in February is going to be a three-day seminar called “The Graveyard of Unfinished Projects.” More details to follow. Should be fun.

So much to do, hard to focus. But, somehow, it will all get done.

Devon

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Wed. Jan. 9, 2013: SETTING UP SUBMISSION SYSTEM Available!

Submissions Cover 6X9 PDF

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Day Before dark moon
Sunny and cold

I have a fun interview up with Sharon Buchbinder over here. Many thanks to her for hosting me!

Worked with my students, which was fun. And I have a new ebook up on Smashwords — SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM. It’s based on the seminar I taught last year, with some updates and additional information. Only $2.99 in various e-formats, and definitely worth it. What it does is help you streamline your submission process so that, as you finish projects, you assemble all the piece. When the opportunity comes to submit, it takes 15 minutes to put together a packet, rather than starting from scratch and taking hours or days. Check out the book here.

I’ll be releasing several of the Topic Workbooks over the next few months.

Very tired and have a lot on my mind. Trying to get a bunch of different things sorted out, with obstacles every step of the way. You do what you can, right? Spent too much time dithering.

That was most of my day yesterday — working on MURDER’S INTOLERANCE, working with students, prepping the book for release, doing the photo shoot for the cover (the basic cover design will serve all of the Topic Workbooks, with the different titles, to tie them together). I got a little bit of work done on the Dickensian Steampunk in the evening.

Napped for about an hour in the afternoon. Just feel run down and icky. Today is the day before the dark moon — always my lowest energy day of the month.

Have some unpleasant business to deal with this morning, but the sooner dealt with, the sooner handled.

Hopefully, some of the pitches and LOIs I’ve been sending out will hit soon.

Devon

Published in: on January 9, 2013 at 7:34 am  Comments (2)  
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Tues. Jan. 8, 2013: Trying to Get It All Done

Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Hopefully, I’m not getting sick. I feel a little run down and achy. I may take a nap this afternoon, if I can. I can’t afford to get sick, on any level.

Yesterday, I worked with students, but the rest of the day was about taking down the decorations. The house looks so big with them down! Some of the ribbons still need to be dealt with, but, for the most part, things are packed away and the Christmas closet is full again. We’re leaving the red ribbons around the windows and doorways until Valentine’s Day, because they’re pretty.

Reconfigured the space in my office a bit, so I have more breathing/working space. I’d reconfigured it to have the high buffet table (built of boxes of books, covered in fabric) for the party, but it purposely cut off the desk space, and I needed to switch it around again.

The Galaxies and Cosmology class started yesterday — I’m auditing it, too, rather than going for certification. I’m still trying to catch up in the Astronomy class.

Worked on “That Man in Tights” yesterday, prepping it for the Smashwords release, and realized that it needs some major work. Did a lot of work on it yesterday, but I think it will probably be the end of this week or early next week before it’s truly ready for release. I’d rather make it the best it can be than release something with more holes in it than Swiss cheese. I need to expand it a bit, flesh it out. I don’t want to lose the somewhat slapstick comic element, but it needs to go deeper, and I have to trust that the comedy will come organically out of the situation.

Got a lot of work to do this morning, so I better get to it!

Devon

Published in: on January 8, 2013 at 8:48 am  Comments (3)  
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Mon. Jan. 7, 2013: Plough Monday means Ploughing Back into Life!

Monday, January 7, 2013
Waning Moon
Plough Monday
Sunny and cold

The whole weekend was about the Twelfth Night party. I baked/cooked/cleaned all day Saturday, did the last minute prep set-up on Sunday morning. Costume Imp was in Aruba, so he couldn’t co-host with me, but we had his picture at the cruise ship posted and people could toast him.

The party itself was a fun, eclectic group of friends and neighbors, mixing Marine Life Center people and Writers Center People and garden people and neighbors. Everyone got along and had lively conversations, which was terrific –people from different walks of life, interesting and interested, getting to know each other.

People loved the way the house was decorated, and the regulars always find it interesting how different it is every year. Which, for me, is kind of the fun of having a house. In the apartment, everything fit only one way — here, I can design something different every year. And they get a kick out of the fact that I set up a rolling rack for coats. Well, I’m a wardrobe person — I live by rolling rack! 😉

Tessa was a little bit sociable, and, when she had enough, she went back upstairs. Iris and Violet were gray blurs every once in awhile, streaking through the rooms to remind people they exist, but not social enough

The officially ended at 6, but some of us stayed and hung out for awhile, which was fun. Got the clean-up going, including starting to take down some of the decorations. Today is the big push to take down the decorations, once I’ve worked some more with my students.

I’d like to sleep for about three days, now that the holiday season is done — but no much luck!

I gave myself the weekend off from writing, and I knew I was going to do that, so I could work ahead and take off time with a clear conscience.

Onward,

Devon

Published in: on January 7, 2013 at 8:02 am  Comments (3)  
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Fri. Jan. 4, 2013: Gearing Up for A Busy Weekend

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Reindeer over the fireplace

Friday, January 4, 2013
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Busy day yesterday, in spite of the late start. Wrote 1K on LEADING OPPORTUNITIES — I’m starting to get back into its groove. Did a lot of admin. Worked with students. Cleaned up the back bedroom (I’m getting the house sorted for Sunday’s party). Finished the material for Confidential Job #1 — now I just have to write it up.

Got nearly 2K done on MURDER’S INTOLERANCE this morning. I need to type up what I’ve handwritten — I’m getting too far behind, and need to update my character charts and arcs. Am about to go and work with students, and then have a LOT to do, especially when it comes to admin, grocery shopping, and party prep.

A slot for a manuscript critique opened for January — if you’ve got a manuscript that needs a critique, or know someone who does, please contact me via email for pricing and details. Spread the word!

Read a book that came highly recommended. Liked the world building, but felt the plotting was weak, and the characters weren’t quite unique enough. Oh, well. Glad I test drove that author at the library! There are good things in the book, but I’m not sure I’d buy/read another. I took the recommendation because it was so highly recommended, and this author was compared to one of my favorites. I don’t see many similarities.

“Just Jump in and Fly”, “Tumble”, and “Too Much Mistletoe” are all available on Smashwords now (see the Short Stories page). I’m excited. I’m looking forward to putting up some more shorts in the coming weeks, and also starting to put up some Topic Workbooks that grew out of seminars I’ve taught. I need to do a cover shoot for “That Man in Tights”, because that’s the next in the queue to release.

Better get going — lots to do!

Devon

Thurs. Jan. 3, 2013: Writing, writing, writing, writing . . . .

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Thursday, January 3, 2013
Waning Moon
Sunny and c-c-cold!

Good morning! A little late getting online today, because I was at yoga.

I’m so delighted by the enthusiasm and thoughtful posts over on Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions — it’s always such fun to work towards goals together in company!

I wrote 1K on MURDER’S INTOLERANCE yesterday and 1K on LEADING OPPORTUNITIES — good day for both books. I caught up on a lot of email, and I’m getting through the backlog, too — seeing what needs to be filed, what can be dumped, if there’s stuff I never dealt with, and organizing market listings so I can attack them methodically for either queries or submissions. Swapped interviews for slots on blogs — my guest will be here at the end of January, and she’ll host me on the release day of OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK.

Spent most of the afternoon re-formatting “Too Much Mistletoe”, “Tumble”, and “Just Jump in and Fly” and getting them up on Smashwords. I’ll add the links to the appropriate pages on the website. I still have to tweak the covers some more — where Payloadz distorted the covers and said they were too big, Smashwords is saying they’re too small.

It’s made me realize that Nina Bell was really, in a lot of ways, a character ahead of her time. I’m looking forward to working with her more NOW, although, initially, the stories will be set back in the 1990s. I will move them forward — eventually, she’ll have to face 9/11. It will be interesting to see how she and her career evolve. I’m going to fix the parts of TAPESTRY that don’t work — since I know a lot more about structure than when I wrote it — while still keeping her character, well, Nina, because that’s what makes her memorable. The characters in “Just Jump in and Fly” and the energy in that piece just delights me — I look forward to working on the piece for Imbolc. I’ll probably release another Nina short in the next few weeks, and I also have to turn my attention to the re-release of “The Ramsey Chase” — now that I know I was writing time travel/steampunk/fantasy, I can actually use the expectations of each genre to support the structure better.

I’ll get those links up on the website later today — but I hope people find the stories and fall in love with the characters. Nina has always been a fan favorite — maybe, with my maturing a bit in terms of craft, now she can find her audience.

I’m also considering putting together a media kit that covers multiple books, etc., that I can use as a catch-all, in addition to having the more focused kits for the individual books.

I did a chunk of work on Confidential Job #1, and will be able to complete that assignment and get it out by tomorrow.

Still working on the proposal for my agent, and still working on the Twelve Days of Christmas stories — I have a feeling I’ll be working on those well into the month! But they’re fun, and I think, when they release during the holiday season at the end of this year, people will enjoy them.

Yoga was great — now, it’s digging in to work. Got some student assignments to check up on!

Devon

Jan. 2, 2013: Racing into 2013!

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The winter doormat

Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

2013 and here we are! Yippee!

Since I’m rather fond of anything with the number “13” in it, I’m a happy camper about the coming year.

First of all, today is the last day “First Feet”, the Jain Lazarus tie-in story, is available. So download it before the link is cut. 😉

If you didn’t get a chance to read my first recommendation of a book for the new year, Shirley Wells’s DYING ART, please hop over to A Biblio Paradise and check it out.

The GDRS are up — the answers to my questions (and those were hard to answer both honestly and compassionately) are here and my To-Do list for January is here. I’ve even managed to knock a few things off the list!

I worked more than I expected to yesterday — I meant to just hop on “for a minute”, but then got tied up in stuff. Which is fine; it needed to get done.

Both “When Words Align” and “Sensory Perceptions” start today, along with a private student, so I’ll have my hands full for the next chunk of time. I’m almost finished with the wacky proposal for my agent, I’ve been working on the next assignment from Confidential Job #1, I got a few pitches out yesterday, and am still working on the Twelve Days of Christmas stories. Glad I didn’t commit to writing, editing, and POSTING them for this cycle! I like the challenge of doing them, but some need to be circled back to for some additional work.

I need to spend time on the Astronomy assignments today — I’m falling farther and farther behind. The lectures are long — there are about 15 of them per week, instead of the usual 6-8 I had in other classes, and a lot of them are double the length. However, I’m not holding anyone else up, since I’m auditing, and I’ll just keep working. The next science class starts on Monday, so I don’t want to fall too far behind on this one.

Of course, I’ve got a bunch of other work to do today, too, trying to secure some income-generating work immediately for the New Year! Lots to do, but I’m excited for the New Year!

Baked scones this morning (test driving the recipe for Sunday). It’s fine. Not brilliant, but it will work. Wrote my 1K on MURDER’S INTOLERANCE.

And off we go!

Devon

Jan. 1, 2013: Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful time greeting it last night.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to read about my first recommendation for 2013: DYING ART by Shirley Wells. It’s terrific!

And then, join me over on Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions, where I have the answers to the questions I posed back in August. I have no doubt it will ruffle some feathers, when individuals mis-read certain paragraphs as blaming others, when I’m actually blaming myself. But that’s it — I’ve already rewritten it to be much more diplomatic than it was, and if I watered it down any more, I would be dishonest.

I plan to have a lovely holiday today, and hit the ground running tomorrow.

Devon

Published in: on January 1, 2013 at 9:25 am  Comments (4)  
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