Fri. May 10: Writing, Gardening, Helping a Friend

Friday, May 10, 2013
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yoga was great yesterday morning. Came home, got a bit of work done, got some edits done on CHARISMA KILLINGS.

Spent the afternoon with several friends helping another friend stage her mother’s house for sale. We arranged furniture so the rooms look light and inviting, packed up what wasn’t needed, and put it all in the basement. It’s a lovely little house on Long Pond, built in 1949, with a sweet garden. I’m sure it will sell in a heartbeat.

Came home exhausted, and continued to work on edits. Tended the plants a bit.

This morning, changed the beds, vacuumed, mopped the floors, etc., in preparation for the yearly inspection. The Health Dept. sends someone by every year to check the carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, stairwells, and make sure only the number of people supposed to live on a property live there (so there aren’t illegal basement apartments with 12 people who then die of carbon monoxide poisoning, as happened a few years back. The guy who comes by is really nice and we know him now, so it’s all good.

Lots of writing garden stuff to do, all day and throughout the weekend. Have a good one, all!

Devon

Published in: on May 10, 2013 at 8:08 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 10: Writing, Gardening, Helping a Friend  
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Thurs. May 9, 2013: The Damp and Cranky Day

Thursday, May 9, 2013
New Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Foggy and cool

Yesterday was quite the experience!

Got some work done in the morning, on the blogs, with students, pitching, etc. Decided I had to get out into the yard before the rain started. Mowed the front, set down some grass seed.

Went downstairs to turn on the garden faucets so I could hook up the hoses. A new turny-thing (yeah, I’m a college graduate, can you tell by the vocabulary?) was put in last fall, when I couldn’t get the water to turn off. Anyway, I turn it on and . . .get soaked. So does a corner of the basement. Water gushing everywhere except out through the spigot into the garden.

I shut it off, called the landlord, called the plumber. Went back out and hauled buckets of water to saturate the new grass seed (felt like a pioneer woman — hey, they had to do this every day without running water), and then replanted the tomatoes, the cucumbers, the kale, and put some kale and lettuce into the veggie bed. Planted some cosmos in about three or four beds, where I thought they’d look pretty.

Also went to war on those icky little bugs. They tried to go after the tomatoes, cucumbers, and sage. I wasn’t having it.

Plumber arrived. Turns out a pipe had split and needed to be replaced. These guys are great — they have everything in the truck. It’s not like in NY, where they don’t show up for a week, shake their heads and talk about ordering a part, and then you’re lucky to ever see them again. This company gets in there and fixes the problem.

And then I had to mop up, set up fans, run the dehumidifier, etc.

I couldn’t go to the Mermaid Ball meeting after all, so I made pizza instead and attacked the revision of CHARISMA KILLINGS. Made some good progress. The pass is about catching errors and inconsistencies, tying plot elements together, making sure I have enough mystery and revelation, and developing subplots.

This morning’s yoga class was great. Stopped at the beach and the library on the way home, and now, I’m attacking my work for a few hours, because I’m going to help a friend in the afternoon. Then, it’ll be back to more revisions. I also finished material for Confidential Job #1 and have to write it up.

To the page!

Devon

Published in: on May 9, 2013 at 9:58 am  Comments (1)  
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Wed. May 8, 2013: A Harsh Reality of a Writer’s Life

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Wednesday May 8, 2013
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I have a post up on Gratitude and Growth about the ups and downs of the latest plantings. I hope you stop by and leave a comment.

I’m going to talk today a bit about the harsh reality of an author’s life, and the unrealistic expectations of part-time writers or non-writers put onto a writer.

I’m glad everyone enjoys the manuscript prep tips. Daily mailings like this take a LOT of time to put together, so it can only be something done sporadically. Because writing is my business and not my hobby, and how I pay the bills, what’s offered for free needs to generate enough new business to pay for more similar “events”. If it winds up being financially successful as well as building good will, I can do more. If people don’t buy my books and recommend my services, and it doesn’t generate new income, then I have to do something else that will INSTEAD of being able to put together another event like this. It’s that simple. Use the tips; land slots with publishers or magazines (I’ve created the tips because I genuinely want other writers to succeed — when one of us does well, it helps ALL of us); recommend my work as something that helped along the way, which will then generate new business for me, so I can afford to take the hours it requires to put together another event like this, offering a series of free useful things. Recommend my books (the novels and the Topic Workbooks) IF you like them and find them helpful. The income from book sales help pay the bills.

The time it takes to put together something like the daily mailing is the equivalent to writing about three chapters, and then the time it takes to do the daily mailing is the equivalent of about two pages’ worth of time each day. All of that is time away from my own, income-generating work. If it’s not my own work that’s put aside, it means it’s time away from a freelance writing or proofreading gig that will pay the electric bill for the month or get in that week’s groceries.

“Free” to you has cost to me — beyond just the time it takes to put together and the time away from my own work. It directly affects the bills. Eventually, it has to even out, or I can’t do it.

Would I write anyway with a “day job”? I did for many years, earning the right to be a full-time writer. When I left Broadway to be a full-time writer, I’d hit the crossroads where I could no longer do both. I HAD to make a decision. I chose writing. The harder of the two choices, but it also means I have to make more ruthless decisions and make sure I can pay my bills working at my PROFESSION.

That is the reality of a professional writer’s life. We pay the bills with our work, the same way the lawyer, the accountant, and the plumber do. That’s why it’s so important for those who label themselves “writer” to limit how much they write for “exposure” (when National Grid lets me pay my bills with “exposure”, I’ll be able to write for “exposure”), AND writers need to stop working for content mills, turning out dozens of articles a week for pennies and/or maybe/someday pay-per-click payments.

I want to write stories that people love and respond to. But if they don’t buy my books, I have to find another way to make a living. That doesn’t mean I’ll get a day job and write at night. It means I change careers. If people request a class, and I take the time to put it together and schedule it, it means I have turned down other paying work. If people then don’t sign up for the class, I’ve still put in that time and lost that other work, and now I have to hustle OTHER work to pay the bills — I don’t have the time or the financial cushion to re-schedule the class when it’s “convenient” — because, nine times out of ten, the people who wail the loudest about wanting/needing the class still won’t sign up for it, because they don’t want it badly enough to rearrange their schedules to do it. It’s not a priority for them. It’s something they’ll do if they have nothing better to do, including paint toe nails and watch reality TV. They don’t really want to be in a writing class that makes them actually, well, WRITE. It means the material is not in demand — therefore, there is no reason for me to offer it. That’s the way it works. I am the sole breadwinner in the family. I don’t have a husband or a trust fund to pay the bills. It’s all on ME.

If you like an author’s work — any author’s work, not just mine — go out there and buy books and post Amazon reviews and talk about the books on social media, so that said author can land another contract and write more books. Because if the author has to go get a job at McDonald’s or something else — to change careers — chances are, the other books won’t get written. Or, they might, but instead of being able to write a book a year or a book every two years, it might be a book every three or five, and few publishers and agents are going to invest in someone who can’t turn out regular content (yet too many publishers still don’t do their share in partnering with their authors to make sure the sales figures are high). We’re all on tight budgets — don’t cause yourself harm, or spend more than you can afford. But do whatever is in your power to encourage the people making the decisions to keep hiring the authors.

That’s reality.

Back to yesterday:

Many thanks to Donna Alward, who I met at the Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference. She writes at an amazing rate, working for one of the Harlequin lines, and also has a series of novellas out with Samhain. I happened to run across her on Twitter yesterday morning, when I was poking around not doing what I needed to do. She challenged us to an hour-long sprint 1K in one hour. I jumped at the chance. I did just over 1600 words in just under an hour, finishing the fourth chapter of LEADING OPPORTUNITIES. This is from Elliot’s, my male protag’s, POV, and it took some interesting turns. I like him a lot more than I originally envisioned. I mean, of course, my heroine has to adore him, but in the initial planning, he was a bit more of a dick than he is now. There’s still room for him to grow, but he’s more receptive to his surroundings (and still, loyal to a fault).

Worked with students, got some pitches out. Then, it was off to the Marine Life Center, and from there, on to New Bedford, to Gallery X, where the Marine Life Center may partner with the gallery for an exhibit in mid-June. The space is exciting. I wish I had the capacity at this point to create a piece for the exhibit. I’d love to do some soft sculpture, but I don’t think I can make it the priority it would need to be in order to get it done on time. I might do a mixed media words-and-image piece.

We then had lunch at No Problemo, which was really good. All in all, a lovely day.

On the way home, I started percolating on the new play — I have to submit ten pages by the end of the month — I realized that my initial opening and images are a different play than the original theme I intended. I need to separate those out and decide which play I’m writing NOW.

Spent some time reading on the deck. Both Tessa and Iris were in the enclosure. Iris has decided she’s missing out by staying inside, so now she wants to come out, as long as Tessa is close by (even though they stay as far apart as possible in the enclosure). I applied flea and tick medicine to all of them, so we’re covered in that arena.

Today, I have to work in the yard before the rain starts, do my 1K on LEADING OPPORTUNITIES, work on the non-fiction, work on the adaptation, and start ripping apart the book I finished on Sunday for revisions (I have only about 10 days to get this revision done). Early this evening, I have a Mermaid Ball meeting at the Marine Life Center.

So I better get going!

Devon

Tues. March 7: New Books and Old Exhaustion

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

KC Sprayberry is my guest today on Biblio Paradise, talking about mixed up words and her new release, SOFTLY SAY GOODBYE. Please stop by and drop a comment!

Forced myself not to think about the book yesterday, although it was hard. Sent an update to my agent. Tried to work on the non-fiction book, but the material, for some reason, mystified me. I have to get back into that groove.

Did a little over 1K on the next book in the queue (LEADING OPPORTUNITIES), and a few pages on the adaptation. Worked with students. Pitched a few projects. Ran some errands. Read (for work) on the deck. Did some work in the yard.

Emotionally, I’m very tired, as well as physically.

Supposed to go to New Bedford today to check out a gallery space, but not sure what time we’re leaving or where we’re meeting, so I’m just going to keep working until someone lets me know!

Pitched a few projects this morning, and had my morning stroll around the property, then reading AN EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF ORDINARY DAYS. I find that book very nourishing.

The tips are going out on time every day, which is fun. Hopefully, the recipients are enjoying them.

Back to the page, to see how much I can get done before it’s time to head out.

Devon

Mon. May 6, 2013: Recoving From the 5th, and Moving Forward on Manuscripts

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Monday, May 6, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Misty and cold

It amazes me that, by Monday, Friday seems so far away I can’t remember what I was doing.

I know I was pounding forward on the book. I know I did some work with students. I know I sent out the May Manuscript Prep Tip.

I wrote a review due to my editor.

I can’t remember if I mowed the terraced back section of the lawn on Friday or Saturday.

I saw an anthology call, and submitted one of the Merry’s Dalliance pirate stories. Fingers crossed it’s accepted.

We got a birdbath on Saturday — finally found one we like. It’s out in the back bed, with lilies and hostas springing up around it, and the birds are happy.

I’ve started re-reading Susan Wittig Albert’s AN EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF ORDINARY DAYS in the mornings, after I’ve done the first walk around the yard (pulling up a weed here and there), while I sit on the deck and drink my first cup of coffee. I find that book an immense restorative.

Saturday morning, the Beautification Committee headed out to Mother’s Park, pruning and weeding, and generally getting the park ready for spring. It was a lot of fun and full of lively conversation to go along with the work.

In the afternoon, I puzzled over the book’s ending, because it was pulling me away from the original outline.

Later in the afternoon, I watched the Kentucky Derby. A friend was riding, but I didn’t have a favorite horse this year, so I didn’t feel I had as much of a personal stake in things.

Diana Rigg and her daughter guest-starred together on DR. WHO — always interesting to see that type of dynamic. Between this and GAME OF THRONES, Dame Rigg keeps busy. She will also be Emma Peel in the AVENGERS to me, though. The ultimate kick-ass heroine.

Sunday morning, I sucked it up and finished the book. The draft is DONE. Now, I put it aside for a few days and, on Wednesday, dig into revisions. I have about ten days for the revisions. Less time in between and to revise than I’d like, but that’s the reality of this particular situation, so I must step up.

Wrote a little book illustrated with photos for my friends, whose son turned one yesterday. They had a Cinquo de Mayo party in his honor over in Sandwich. Great food, margaritas and fun. I ate too much — which was good, since it was the first time I’d had tequila in quite awhile!

This morning, the Manuscript Prep Tip is already out, and I have to work with students, do some freelance work, and decide which drafts to work on. I need to get back to the non-fiction book today — it’s behind where I’d like it to be. I’m going back to the adaptation, and I think LEADING OPPORTUNITIES is next up in the drafting queue. I’ve also got a short story to finish and get out this week, and another one tugging at me. I also have to follow up on the February pitches and land a few more short-term gigs for the month.

Back to the page!

Devon

Fri. May 3, 2013: Lost Day

Friday, May 3, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Yesterday was somewhat of a lost day. I couldn’t get my feet under me. The writing went poorly, I was frustrated with other work.

I managed to get material done for Confidential Job #1, and did it outside on the deck, which was nice, since the weather was so gorgeous. Got some errands run and took a walk on the beach.

Today, it’s about buckling down to finish the book. Don’t know if I can get it done, but I plan to keep my head down and just work.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on May 3, 2013 at 6:14 am  Comments (1)  

Thurs. May 2, 2013: Car Massage

Thursday, May 2, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and gorgeous

Yesterday was certainly a day of challenges. Someone flaked on me — someone with whom the “no flake discussion” had been held. The writing on the novel went badly.
I sent in the proofreading test and got an auto response that I failed and didn’t make it to the next round — um, there’s no way an auto response can indicate the test was actually looked at. Since I had the manual they claimed to use open on my lap when taking the test (which was allowed) — I know I got things right, per the manual. I checked the website, which said all positions were filled. Now, if you tell people they have 3 days to take the test, don’t tell them they “failed”, when, in reality, you filled the position and didn’t have the courtesy to tell the rest of us. Red flags all over that one, so it’s probably a good thing I didn’t get in!

Put stuff together for the Beltane festivities, drove out to Brewster — and the car died. Ignition locked. I was at the site, fortunately, not somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. The celebration itself was great, a lovely bunch of people.

Tried the car again after — no deal. Lost it and was sobbing in the kitchen. Nothing like having a nervous breakdown in one’s first meeting with a bunch of strangers. But everyone was very kind. Called the VW Roadside Assistance program — I have too many miles on the car, so now they charge. They arranged for a tow truck. I calmed down with a cup of tea and went out to wait. I played with the car, massaged it, basically Reiki’d it — and it started. I drove it around the neighborhood, stopping and starting a few times to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t.

I cancelled the tow truck, got to hang out with some of the other celebrants, and then drove home. No problems, except I was exhausted and wrung out. Called Roadside Assistance and told them to return the money they’d charged me, since I fixed the damn problem myself.

Two years ago, the ignition coil was replaced when the same thing happened in Shaw’s parking lot in Hyannis. An ignition coil should damn well last more than two years, so this better not be an indicator this will be an on-going problem!

Fell into bed, exhausted. Woke up late this morning, but got to yoga on time. Good class. Stopped at Covell Beach on the way back — gorgeous.

Finished painting the plant rack. Forgot to mention that, last weekend, I oiled all the porch furniture – those of you that have teak furniture and teak oil know what I’m talking about! It’s time-consuming, but well worth it.

Now, I have to dig in and get everything done today that didn’t get done yesterday. All I really want is a nap, but I have to catch up on the book and a few other things.

Exhausted, but relieved that the car is okay.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on May 2, 2013 at 10:12 am  Comments (1)  
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May 1, 2013: Beltane and Writing

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant
Beltane

It’s Beltane! May Day! Time to dance around the maypole!

Yesterday, I had a frustrating writing day. Granted, the work on the short story was good, but I struggled with the novel. And I had to get two chapters written. There is no wiggle room in this particular deadline — I miss it, I lose opportunities.

I went grocery shopping, to the library, worked in the yard, worked with students, finished an edit for a client. Did some work-related reading out on the deck, because it was so nice out. Struggled with the novel.

So, instead of signing off at night, as I usually do after a long day at the computer, I kept going.

It was nearly 11 PM when I finished the two chapters (nearly 5000 words) I needed to get done, but they are done. A couple of scenes came up that are a lot of fun and were unexpected. The love scene I wanted to put in these chapters didn’t work. I cut it, and I found a place in an upcoming chapter where it is more organic and will work in the overall structure of the book better.

I have to do two more chapters on the novel today, and get them done before I head out for the Beltane celebration this evening, so I better get going! The draft needs to be done by Friday, and then it rests for the weekend. I’d like it to rest longer, but don’t have that option this time around, so it must rest, and then, on Monday, I start tearing it apart for revisions.

“May is Manuscript Prep Month” has started, and the first Tip went out this morning. Enjoy!

Devon

Published in: on May 1, 2013 at 10:30 am  Comments Off on May 1, 2013: Beltane and Writing  
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