Tues. Dec. 31, 2013: Happy New Year’s Eve!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Snowy and cold

Last day of 2013. It’s been challenging, to say the least, and I’m eager for 2014. But there were also a lot of blessings, as far as being surrounded by wonderful people, getting to do some good work, and learning new things.

I worked flat out yesterday, especially on admin and with students. Today, I’ve changed the beds, done laundry, will run the dishwasher, vaccuum, mop the floors, dust, and smudge the house. I plan to do a mini yoga/meditation retreat for most of today and tomorrow. There will be some posts up at various blogs of mine to celebrate the New Year tomorrow, and I will be back with you on Thursday.

Harvested the last of the peppers this morning — pretty good haul!

Have a safe Eve and a wonderful start to 2014! I cherish each and every one of you.

Devon

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Published in: on December 31, 2013 at 8:54 am  Comments (3)  
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Mon. Dec. 30, 2013: How I Develop Material & Juggle Projects

Monday, December 30, 2013
Day before Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Friday was busy, busy, busy. Took the leaves and the recycling to the dump. The place was so busy! But it’s heartwarming to see how dedicated people are to recycling in this area.

Picked up a few groceries, ran some books back to Wheldon Library (and, of course, got out some more), picked up something waiting for me at Sturgis Library, and then headed back. Got out some job pitches, worked with students.

Set up the development notebook for the Stowe-Eliot-Bronte project, even though I’m not really sure what it is yet. Ordered some books for it via the library network. Wrote up the passage that got the wheels turning in the first place, sourced it, and copied out the bibliographic notes.

Dug out the Hedrick biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Using the index, I tried to cross-check the info from the Eliot bio, and didn’t find confirmation. So I’ll be re-reading the entire biography — which will give me plenty of background for the piece in general. Asked a friend who knows a lot about the Brontes if she’d ever heard the reference. Found the Rugoff biography of the Beecher clan, and there’s a reference to the same incident, but not enough to hang my hat on. I hope getting my hands on the volumes of letters will give me what I need!

My friend and colleague Nancy Rubin Stuart’s wonderful book DEFIANT BRIDES was named a Best Book of 2013! I’m so thrilled for her. It’s an amazing book, and well-deserved recognition.

Saturday, I finished and printed out the pilot episode of a one-hour drama. It’s in the editing queue. I started the third teleplay for this packet, an adaptation of one of my novels. Got some good work done on it and fell in love with my characters all over again.

Unfortunately, I was also under the weather, sneezing and coughing, although I didn’t feel that bad. I felt much worse by Sunday, where I ended up fighting some sort of stomach upset. Don’t know why — I’ve been the least self-indulgent during this holiday season that I’ve been in years. Irritating.

Read Donna Leon’s THE GOLDEN EGG, one of her Venetian mysteries, which I love. Also started Kim Edwards’s THE LAKE OF DREAMS, which is quite good, and got some reading done on the Stowe bio. Treated myself to a chapter in an excellent art history tome as background for a different project.

Got some good work done on TRUE HOME, the initial novel in the Sparkle & Tarnish series. I love the way it’s developing. I’m working very differently with this project — developing a section, writing a few chapters, typing them, adapting them to script. The amount of research is enormous, and I’m looking forward to layering in a lot more detail.

I spent hours with Gilded Age Mansion house plans over the weekend, and am about to design their NYC mansion, remembering that they’ve taken over a mansion that was originally built several years earlier by an eccentric, and then having their architect modify it for the Gilded Age. As always the librarians at the New York Historical Society, the New York Public Library, and the JP Morgan Library have gone out of their way to be helpful, and will all be thanked in the Acknowledgements.

Speaking of Acknowledgements, I start keeping a list as soon as I need to ask someone for something when I’m researching a book. Every time someone is helpful, I add that individual to the list, so by the time the book is ready to go through the production process, it’s all there, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting anyone. Again, something I learned the hard way by not keeping track during the writing and then screwing up and forgetting people when the manuscript went to press.

Hey, if you can learn from my mistakes, they’ll have been worth it!

Still a little queasy this morning, but have a lot to do. I have an editing intensive workshop starting on the 6th, and I need to polish up the exercises. Those students are getting a lot for their money, but they’ll also have to put in a lot of work!

I want to wait and run my errands tomorrow, but I will have to run down to Centerville Library later today to drop off/pick up some books. Yes, I go to one of the local libraries ALMOST every day.

I want to get some work done on the novellas, the teleplay, and the airship steampunk piece. I need to get back into the latter — I’ve lost my momentum in it, and that’s a shame. I need to find those threads again and get back on track.

Day before the dark moon is always my lowest-energy day of the month. I’d like to crawl back into bed, but that is not an option.

I can’t believe 2013 is nearly over. It’s been challenging, and I’m ready for a better year next go-round!

Devon

Fri. December 27, 2013: Random Inspirations & Thoughts on the UPS Debacle

Friday, December 27, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Good writing day yesterday. Got some truly good work done on the holiday novella, figured out some plot stuff on the other novella, but spent most of the day on the Sparkle and Tarnish series — typing up the next chapter of TRUE HOME, and then adapting some of it for the teleplay. So those deadlines are chugging along.

Did some work for the Writers Center, pitched for some jobs, worked with students.

I found a few paragraphs about some correspondence in the George Eliot biography that sparked the idea for a new play (not the one I got the grant to write — I’ll have to write that one first, then I can work on this one). I tracked down the reference in the notes/bibilography, and now I’m going to see if I can get my hands on the primary material for research. This is very exciting!

Watched RATATOUILLE last night — very funny and clever. Glad I got to see it.

A word on the UPS Christmas delivery debacle: I’m not at all surprised. UPS has a horrible attitude towards customer service, which is why I don’t use them. When a customer pays extra to have a package arrive on time, it is UPS’s job to get it there. Period. If it doesn’t get there, it is up to UPS to refund the cost of shipping — which, in my experience, they NEVER do. A senator is getting on their case about this, and it’s about damn time. Yes, drivers work long hours during this season. But if UPS is going to charge the ridiculous fees they charge, they have to deliver — in EVERY sense of the word. Or pay the price. In every sense of the word. It’s not the drivers — although plenty of the drivers I’ve encountered are asshats, everything from refusing to deliver during the day because it’s a residential address while delivering next door when that’s considered a “business” (and I can see my package iN THE DAMN TRUCK) to leaving the box of books I judged last winter in the driveway in a rain storm to merely slowing down when they “deliver” and throwing the box out of the truck in the general direction of the front door — management sets the tone. It’s time that UPS management was replaced.

Still feeling a bit under the weather, but too bad for me. I’ve got to get the leaves and the recycling to the dump and do a library run.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on December 27, 2013 at 8:33 am  Comments (3)  
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Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013: After the Holidays . . .

Thursday, December 26, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Hop on over to Writers Vineyard, where in in Annabel Aidan persona, I talk about the blessings of the season.

Terrific couple of days off. I got a good bit of work done on Wednesday, especially on two novellas. Did the last-minute grocery shopping.

Christmas Eve dinner was pork loin with herbs and thyme gravy, mashed potatoes, red cabbage, green beans, and cranberry horseradish sauce. Very good! With traditional stollen for dessert.

Christmas Day, we did the stockings and then had a big breakfast before stuffing the turkey and wrestling it into the oven. Yes, I cook my stuffing IN the turkey and have never had a problem. I know how to cook thing so they don’t make people sick!

Roast turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, peas, corn for Christmas dinner, and for dessert, pears in warm chocolate sauce.

Then, we divvied up the food, boiled down the bones, strained them and made a lovely turkey soup!

In other words, I spent the day either cooking or doing dishes, but it was fine.

I did a lot of reading, too. Also watched the farewell tribute to Matt Smith on BBC America and his final DR. WHO episode. I wish they hadn’t hyped it so much — I thought most of the episode itself was a hot mess, trying to be too much in too many directions. Matt Smith was fun in the role, I still adore David Tennant, and I’m looking forward to Philip Capaldi. The beauty of the show is that each actor who plays the doctor has room to be unique.

Back to the grindstone today, although I’d love to have an actual vacation. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted.

I did some work earlier this week with a lovely new client, and I hope we get a chance to do more work together.

Devon

Published in: on December 26, 2013 at 8:05 am  Comments (3)  
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Mon. Dec. 23, 2013: Solstice and Writing and . . .

Monday, December 23, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Still dark out

Busy weekend. I don’t even remember Friday, although I suspect I worked flat out. I haven’t been getting enough of my own writing done, which is frustrating. I have a big deadline coming up in early February for a large package of projects, and that’s my main focus, around the freelance jobs that are paying the bills.

I’m disengaging from several clients who have proven to be unreliable and difficult in the wrong way. I don’t mind precise with high standards — that’s a good thing, and something I appreciate and respect. I mind legends in their own minds, without the goods to back it up. It amazes me that the lowest and most unreliable payers are often the biggest pains in the ass, and the ones most worried about other people “stealing” their material are the ones who have the weakest and most derivative stuff that no one would want to poach anyway.

The ones with the best material are the most prompt, pay fairly and on time, and the easiest to work with.

Saturday was the Solstice, a lovely holiday for me. I finished decorating (about time), although the outdoor trees don’t have lights this year, because I pulled the outdoor cords for something and didn’t put them back — I have no idea where they are. Got some of the holiday cards out (late) and will do New Year’s and Valentine’s cards for the rest. Tried ecards for some people, too — not quite as satisfying as paper cards, but better than nothing.

Sunday, I spent the morning writing a half hour teleplay. It turned out better (and different) than I expected, and is printed out and in the editing queue. A character walked in for the cliffhanger who I wasn’t expecting, and I think will be a good fulcrum/cause of conflict in the series. I set it at a friend’s Brooklyn brownstone (a place that’s often used for location shooting anyway, so . . .). Pitched for some jobs.

Some neighbors stopped by with cookies! So thoughtful. I haven’t gotten my usual holiday baking done, so it was nice to have treats.

Re-read HOGFATHER, one of my favorite Terry Pratchett novels, and relevant to the season. As usual, I laughed out loud at portions. Wrote, polished, and scheduled my Boxing Day post for Writers Vineyard, and updated my 2014 calendar on a few things.

I have to get back to work on a couple of scripts today, work on the novella, maybe work on the holiday piece that was supposed to be a short story but has turned into a novella that I would like to finish and submit by February. I also have to get the car inspected and run some errands to a few libraries. I may have a quick turnaround proofreading job, if the guy coughs up the deposit, as has been emphasized now in a half a dozen emails. I do not do a job without a deposit. When the deposit shows up, I will do the job. It’s very clear in the LOA.

I can’t believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve! I am unprepared!

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on December 23, 2013 at 7:09 am  Comments (1)  
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Fri. Dec. 20, 2013: Solstice Blessings

Friday, December 20, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Busy day yesterday, working on the novella and a couple of scripts. Got some reading/research done, client negotiations, grocery shopping, and finalizing the insurance switch. This insurance plan will serve me much better than the previous one.

Have to finish decorating the house for the holidays — I’m behind on EVERYTHING. I’ve done some ecards, but the bulk of the cards will be for the New Year rather than Christmas/Yule.

The NMLC got a grant to partner with me on the play. So that’s two yeses on grants for this project, one no, and one from whom I’ve yet to hear. Looks like it will be happening. Now I have to write the darned play! 😉

This morning, had to be out of the house early to take my mom for her bloodwork, and then head further into Falmouth to the Credit union, picked up a few things on the way back, and hit the library. We are so blessed to have such wonderful, vibrant libraries on the Cape.

Looking forward to the Solstice tomorrow, and having a thoughtful, creative weekend.

Devon

Published in: on December 20, 2013 at 11:41 am  Comments Off on Fri. Dec. 20, 2013: Solstice Blessings  
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Thurs. Dec. 19, 2013: Routines Constantly Changing

Thursday, December 19, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy day yesterday, but got everything on my list done –minutes typed and out, other minutes amended and out, press release and blurb rewritten, pitches done, questions out on room rental, questions out about the grant, filled out the rest of the information for my new health plan.

I’ve been moved to a new insurance plan, which is about 10X better than the one I was on and cheaper. It kicks in on January 1, and that’s a big relief.

I still wasn’t feeling well–upset stomach. Which is better this morning, but now I have the sniffles. The cold in stages, I guess, one symptom a day, which is somewhat easier than being down for the count.

Got through some research, including a poorly written biography (a shame, because the subject was interesting).

Not much of my own writing done, unfortunately — trying to catch up, since the internet was working and I didn’t have to dash from library to library all day.

I got my certification in neuro-ethics, which was exciting!

I’m hoping to work on the two novellas and get some work done on the Sparkle & Tarnish series today, and maybe one of the screenplays. Deadlines are looming, and I keep sorting and resorting things! S&T is what I really want to work on, though. That’s the project pulling at me the most strongly, and, of course, is the most complex.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on December 19, 2013 at 7:51 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Dec. 19, 2013: Routines Constantly Changing  
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Wed. Dec. 18, 2013: Reconnected for the Moment & Awards

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Snowy and cold

For the moment, the Comcast is working again. I realize it could go down again at any moment, but I’m enjoying it while I can.

Yesterday, I got a lot of work done at Wheldon in the morning, came home to frost cupcakes, and then came down with a fever and chills. So no party or festivities for me! I wrapped up in quilts with hot liquids and books on Victorian architecture and furnishings and took care of myself. I feel better today, but still not 100%.

I was awarded a grant to write a play, which is pretty exciting, and I will share full details once I have the logo and all the other stuff I have to put on any and all materials about it.

Lots of work to do today to make up for what didn’t get done yesterday, but I’m having an awful lot of fun with a script caper set in the art world and working on the Sparkle & Tarnish series.

Devon

Published in: on December 18, 2013 at 9:20 am  Comments (1)  
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Tues. Dec. 17, 2013: Writing, Baking, Meetings

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Check out the interview about Killion Slade’s new release on A Biblio Paradise here.

Busy day yesterday. Got some work done in the morning, some writing done on a script. Headed to the Writers Center, where we had sort-n-shred day, going through the archival boxes, deciding what to keep, what to toss, and learning a lot.

I’d made mac and cheese for lunch, which was a nice break.

We did some more sort-n-shred in the afternoon, then I hopped over to Osterville Library to work for a bit before heading home.

I had barely time to catch my breath and do some yoga before heading out the door for the Executive Committee meeting in Sandwich. Nearly got lost in the dark, but the full moon helped, and I found where I was going, eventually.

Meeting was good and lively. We have a group that’s active, rather than passive. We want to get things done, not talk about doing them some day.

But I’ve got a long list of things to get done!

Home, baked spice cupcakes for tonight. Fell into bed, exhausted.

Up early this morning, yoga, worked on a short story. Headed out to Wheldon Library to work, then have some errands to run, then back home to frost cupcakes and head out to the NMLC party.

Picked up a book I hoped would be an entertaining mystery, but it was dull and badly written, so back it goes. Don’t have the time to waste on badly written books unless I’m being paid to read them.

Started reading Kathryn Hughes’s biography of George Eliot. Very interesting, and makes me eager to get going reading and re-reading, in some cases, her work.

Off to work.

Devon

Published in: on December 17, 2013 at 9:27 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 17, 2013: Writing, Baking, Meetings  
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Mon. Dec. 16, 2013: Days offline — peace!

Monday, December 16, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy weekend, but good one. I got some writing done, more decorating. Friday I worked at the library morning and evening, at home in between. Saturday morning was snowing, so I worked at the library in the morning, and then tucked in for the rest of the weekend, offline.

Loved it.

Got some good writing done, good decorating, and things like laundry and other stuff that needed attention at home. Also did yoga 2-3X/day.

Watched movies. MISS POTTER on Friday, which was quite charming, although I understand why some people didn’t know what to do with it. THE ILLUSIONIST on Saturday — Edward Norton was great. He never holds back in his performances, no matter what. One of the things I admire about him. THE PRESTIGE on Sunday night — a little too convoluted at times, although I managed to figure out the “big reveal.” But interesting concept. I wanted to see THE ILLLUSIONIST and THE PRESTIGE because they both dealt with illusion/magic in Victorian times, but from very different perspectives, and they came out around the same time, perplexing people.

Busy few days coming up. Today I’m at the Writers Center, and then at an Executive Committee meeting. When I get home, I’ll have to bake for tomorrow’s holiday party at NMLC.

Not ready for the holidays.

Devon

Published in: on December 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm  Comments Off on Mon. Dec. 16, 2013: Days offline — peace!  

Fri. Dec. 13, 2013: Friday the 13th!! Yay!

Friday, December 13, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy day yesterday. Wheldon library in the morning, lots to do online. But worked through the list and got it done.

Home, quick bite to eat, and then it was my turn to help out at the Spectacle of Trees in Hyannis, at the JFK Museum. Every participating organization gets a shift, and today was NMLC’s. There were four of us staffing the place, which was fun.

I was amazed by how many people came through. 17 non-profits have trees up. People buy tickets, see what’s on the trees and by which organizations, and place tickets in the boxes. Each organization gets the $ amount from the tickets in that box, and one person wins the entire tree and all the prizes with it. You can win $10,000 of stuff for a $10 ticket. And everyone’s decorating designs are very creative.

I met a woman who’s a first grade teacher in Chicago. Her class just did a project on marine life, so I’m sending her the NMLC link, so that her class can follow the Center for the rest of the year.

Most people were lovely. Some were grabby, and had to be spoken to. And one group had a toddler who was very grabby and they would only watch him if one of us stood right there and made sure he didn’t touch anything. It wasn’t fair to the kid, either — he doesn’t understand why he can’t play with everything. Some people just don’t think.

Went over to work at Hyannis library after my shift, but there was no room for me, so I had to dash to Sturgis and grab a few minutes there.

Home, chicken with gravy and rice for dinner, baked a chocolate sour cream cake, and then read, before going to bed early.

Busy day to day — storm’s coming in this weekend, so we have to batten down. I plan to get a LOT of writing done.

Packed up some gifts that have to go out today. I’m so far behind on cards, I may send them out for Valentine’s Day instead.

So happy with the work on the Sparkle and Tarnish series – both the novel (and the prose series development) and the television pilot.

Off to work.

Devon

Thurs. Dec. 12, 2013: Writing and Timing

Thursday, December 12, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Good writing day yesterday on the novella, one of the screenplays, TRUE HEART, and the television pilot. Also got some correspondence done. Still struggling with the climactic sequence of the other screenplay, but I think I’ve got it now.

I HATE working in Courier font, but for screenplays and teleplays, that’s the standard, so that’s what I’m working in. The same way one should draft the novel or short story in Standard Manuscript Format, because it’s easier to change OUT of it than INTO it per submission guidelines, it’s easier to work from the first draft in Courier for scripts.

The morning look-for-internet-because-Comcast-continues-to-behave-like-a-douche was at Sturgis Library, which was a zoo. Kids running around unsupervised, screaming. Excuse me, this is a library, you have a children’s room. KEEP them there. But I managed to work with students, send out a short story and a requested manuscript, get out some interview questions, pitch for jobs, and catch up on email.

The editor with whom I thought I’d straightened things out is back to random payment dates again, and I am not amused. I only have one more set of articles due at the beginning of January, and then I’m done.

Got some more writing and research done at home in the afternoon, then headed over to Wheldon Library for a quiet hour on the internet. A few things to catch up on, but mostly, under control.

Having to go elsewhere for a connection certainly makes me realize how much time I WASTE jumping on and off the internet all day. The mileage and drive time are annoying, and I have to keep running lists going in both directions of what needs to be done before I go in the other direction, but I am being productive, for the most part.

Iris has decided that it’s too cold to sleep outside the covers, so now she’s sleeping curled against my lower back. I have to be careful when I roll over in the night not to squish her.

Watched the BBC remake of THE 39 STEPS last night. Wow, was the continuity a mess. He’s got a briefcase in one shot; it’s gone in the next. He’s running down a lane without anything in one shot; he has a lantern in the next. He’s in his pajamas in one shot; he’s wearing a fisherman’s sweater (miles away from civilization or anyone who could have lent it to him) in the next. Drove me nuts. The leads were pretty good, the locations and camera work were great, but the continuity and the overly-melodramatic music took away from the piece.

Reading Danny Danziger’s book on behind the scenes at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fantastic book, and makes me miss the museum terribly. During this season, I always visited the Angel Tree in the Medieval Hall. I have the calendar and the book about the tree, which is a comfort, but it’s not the same as making the yearly pilgrimage to SEE it.

The only thing I miss about New York are ethnic food delivery at odd hours and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Devon

Wed. December 11, 2013: Quiet Worktime

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Got some writing done yesterday, worked with students. Worked at Wheldon Library in the morning, but then the snow started, so I didn’t go back out in the afternoon. Instead, had the radio on we did some more decorating for the holidays, I wrote some more, and did some research.

I’m trying to prioritize projects, which is always a challenge, balancing what I want to write with the deadlines coming up, and then, constantly, pitching for more work.

I’m getting some good work done on the novella and on the Sparkle & Tarnish steampunk series. Still trying to choreograph the climactic sequence of the screenplay, and still haven’t gotten it right. Just keep moving the pieces around until it works, I guess.

Watched the GET SMART remake at night, the Steve Carrell version, which was better than I expected.

I’m keeping track of what this is costing me, in time, lost work, gas, mileage, etc., so that Comcast can be appropriately billed.

I’ve got a private student finishing up at the end of December, and another one finishing at the end of January. I’m trying to decide what and if I will teach next year. The good students are a thrill; the ones who aren’t dedicated are a drain. And it’s hard to tell what type someone will be until you start working closely with them. Also, so many organizations who offer online classes do so at such a low cost and with zero standards that they’re training wanna-bes that there’s no reason to have a commitment. You can’t build any kind of career without commitment.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on December 11, 2013 at 10:24 am  Comments Off on Wed. December 11, 2013: Quiet Worktime