Fri. April 28, 2017: The Writing Stretch

Friday, April 28, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Thundery and cool

I can’t believe it’s already Friday!

The invoice goes off to the contest today. I worked on re-slanting some ideas, and those, too, have to go out today. Then errands, and Friday housecleaning, and then, maybe, maybe, I can get in some script pages and tackle the one act and the short radio play again.

I’d like to finish the first draft of the script this weekend — I have about another 30 pages or so to go. Then I can put it aside to marinate for awhile as I dig in to the second draft of FIX-IT GIRL next week.

Never a dull moment!

I’m hoping the rain will stop at some point so that I can get back in the yard and get some yard work done!

Otherwise, it’s a weekend of writing and reading for me (which sounds lovely).

Have a great weekend!

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Published in: on April 28, 2017 at 9:29 am  Comments Off on Fri. April 28, 2017: The Writing Stretch  

Thurs. April 27, 2017: Getting Back on the Query Wagon

Thursday, April 27, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Yesterday, I wrote three pitches and submitted them, and submitted a radio play. The play was acknowledged, and two of the three pitches got a positive response. Not a bad day’s work! That cheered me up — I was feeling rather down the past few days, between having a cold and everything else.

Admin work, and then I spent the afternoon making my final decisions on the contest entries. I send those off today — the contest will announce the winners on Monday.

Getting ready to start the next draft of the FIX-IT GIRL next week. I’m giving myself six weeks for it. Hopefully, I’ll have the first draft of WINNER TAKE ALL done over the weekend, or early next week.

Enjoying re-reading the Trollope biography. I’ve read some of his books; I’m debating whether I should re-read and go beyond what I’ve read.

I’m enjoying reading what I WANT to read for the moment, instead of what I HAVE to read. Important to keep that balance.

Balancing creating new fiction with revisions and writing/researching nonfiction is always a challenge. Each type of work takes a different thought process and different skills. The wonderful part is that it keeps one active and engaged, and it’s interesting to keep expanding one’s repertoire. But sometimes, one project pulls hard, while the others also demand attention, due to deadline.

Re-watched two of the DOCTOR WHO Christmas specials — THE DOCTOR, THE WIDOW, AND THE WARDROBE, and THE SNOWMEN — both from the reign of Matt Smith. They rank among my favorite episodes.

I wrote three more article pitches this morning, which go out today. I need to rework some requested samples this afternoon, do a few more script pages, and also dig in to the Venice section of POWER OF WORDS.

Never a dull moment, which is wonderful!

Published in: on April 27, 2017 at 9:23 am  Comments Off on Thurs. April 27, 2017: Getting Back on the Query Wagon  
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Wed. April 26, 2017: New Moon, New Ideas

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
New Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I had a cold yesterday — messy and miserable. I’m a little better today, but not 100%.

Lots of admin work yesterday. Some research. Made chicken soup from scratch for the cold, which turned out very well. Baked a chocolate sponge cake from the KAFFEEHOUSE cookbook — three mixing bowls, two pots, elaborate preparation, disappointing result. Chicken and dumplings for dinner was good, though.

I’m sending out article pitches for the first time in ages. I’d hoped, during my library work, to keep going with the article writing, but I didn’t have the energy. The last few months, I didn’t have the heart. But I have some ideas for pieces, and researched possible markets, so off we go. I think I’m ready to go back to writing articles. In fact, I’m looking forward to writing about topics in which I’m deeply immersed, balanced with learning new things.

More admin work today, sending out pitches. Trying to coordinate to pick up something, but the person is such a PIA, I may just pass.

This afternoon, I have to make the final decisions for the contest. I need to get them out tomorrow.

Not feeling well takes a lot of energy. I’m trying to keep going (I’d like to get some more pages done on the screenplay – I’m in the home stretch). But I’m exhausted, and I have to concentrate on a few other projects first.

Re-reading Victoria Glendenning’s bio of Anthony Trollope. Always enjoy it.

Onward.

Published in: on April 26, 2017 at 9:49 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 26, 2017: New Moon, New Ideas  

Mon. April 24, 2017: Digging In, Moving On

Monday, April 24, 2017
Waning Moon (Day Before Dark Moon)
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

My lowest energy day of the month, always.

Busy weekend.

I should be used to the deterioration of basic human courtesy around here, but it still surprises me. I remember, when we first moved here, I was so wonderfully surprised because people were “nice.” Well, Trumptattitude has taken over, ever since the election, and you can tell those who voted for them, because they now feel free to be their worst selves all the time. They’re the rudest, the worst drivers, the ones who take without conscience. Just like the one they follow. No patience with that. They need to go crawl back under their rocks.

Friday, I got some admin work done, some research done, and then worked my way through contest entries. Finished my third print category, and got to work on the digital entries. The weather was lousy, so it was nice to be able to stay tucked inside and get paid to read.

Ten script pages done on Friday and six pages on Saturday for WINNER TAKE ALL. I’m galloping toward the climax. Gave myself Sunday off from writing.

Saturday was Earth Day, and also the March for Science. Important. Unfortunately, as I feared, the march out here in Falmouth was poorly organized. If you want a successful event, you have to plan for parking and porta-potties. Never got close enough to check out the porta-potty situation, because they hadn’t made any arrangements for attendees to park. The attitude was “oh, there are public lots”. Well, at the best of times, in winter, parking is nearly impossible in Falmouth. In season, it’s a nightmare. For something like a rally? MAKE ARRANGEMENTS WITH THE TOWN SO PEOPLE HAVE A PLACE TO PARK. Make arrangements with public transportation. Or you won’t get the attendance you want. It’s not brain surgery. They estimated a crowd of 600, which is decent, but no wonder there wasn’t any parking!

It is, however, typical of Cape Cod. There isn’t enough parking anywhere, and people ignore it, and then are shocked when they lose business or attendance. The lack of a learning curve around here is one of the reasons I find it frustrating.

Worked and worked and WORKED to fix the problems in “Seven of Swords.” I don’t want to lose all the ambiguity, but when ambiguity=mess, there need to be some clarifications. I sometimes wonder if the play CAN be fixed, or if I should just retire it into a drawer and be done with it.

Finished the Orient Express section on POWER OF WORDS. Now, to deal with the section set in Venice.

I want to travel to Venice probably more than anywhere else in the world right now.

Except, maybe, Bologna, for the Lavinia Fontana play.

Dug in all weekend and finished the contest entries. Now, in the next few days, I’ll go over them and make my choices in each category, finish the admin, and send the information to the organizers, so they can announce the winners on May 1. Read a couple of entries that came close — there was nothing, technically, wrong with them, but they lacked sparkle. They served the genre, they were serviceable stories, but they didn’t stand out against the best of the batch.

My reward for finishing was to re-read a novel I’d read back in 1989 that I’d loved; unfortunately, as I reread it now, I’m impatient with it. Rather a disappointment.

Switched out the winter curtains to lace curtains for summer downstairs — big difference in light. Switched out some of the fabric. Did a few loads of laundry. The amaryllis (which bloomed last July) has decided it’s time to bloom again. Go figure.

Admin work to do this morning, and, hopefully, some yard work in the afternoon. I wrote eight pages on the screenplay: later, I’ll tackle the one act and the short radio play. I’m still not convinced that I’m the right person to adapt the short stories for radio, but I’ll play with them a bit this week and then make my decision.

What I’d like to do is go back to bed and sleep all day, but, after days of rain, it’s far too nice a day so to do.

Time to tackle the week!

Published in: on April 24, 2017 at 10:05 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 24, 2017: Digging In, Moving On  
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Fri. April 21, 2017: Almost the Weekend Already?

Friday, April 21, 2017
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I was not productive yesterday. Non-writing stresses got in the way. I hope to have a more productive day today, in spite of (or maybe because of) the lousy weather.

Ten script pages this morning was a good start.

Tomorrow is the March for Science. I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to the one in Falmouth or in Boston. Falmouth makes more sense, but the parking worries me. Parking is always an issue, and the organizers not organizing parking (“just park in the public lots”) doesn’t bode well for a strong showing at the march.

Working through the two short stories for the radio adaptations; not sure I’m the right person to do either one. I still have to play with it a little more.

Nothing like working your way through four large research books and finding something that’s good for maybe one line! 😉 Still, if it’s the RIGHT line, it could be worth it.

Not sure yet how the weekend will shake out. There’s a training session I’m interested in out in Wellfleet on Sunday, but I’ve gotten so protective of my Sundays as “disconnect” days, I’m not sure if I’ll do it.

The rain means no yard work for a few days, but we desperately need the rain, so I’ll roll with it.

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on April 21, 2017 at 10:03 am  Comments (1)  

Thurs. April 20, 2017: Getting It To Work

Thursday, April 20, 2107
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

The phone, the coffee pot, the microwave, and the oven are all wonky. I hate Mercury retrograde!!!

Yesterday was about running errands, working in the yard, doing a dump run, researching, and trying to figure out how to fix the problem area in the one act. I don’t quite have it yet. I know what the result needs to be, but nothing I’ve tried has gotten there yet. I wanted to get the play out by tomorrow, but it might need the weekend.

My college pal, who let me carry on about the concerns about the Lavinia Fontana play gave me the key to unlocking her character, and therefore, the play. Of course it was something simple — but I couldn’t see it. I was making it much harder than it needed to be. He’s brilliant! I mean, I knew that already, and I’m grateful that he figured out where I got off the rails and made the suggestion that suddenly puts all the research into perspective.

I’ve been watching the Australian DOCTOR BLAKE MYSTERIES — very good. Acting and writing superb. One forgets that Australia and New Zealand have large, thriving economies not dependant on America. Artistically, over the last twenty years, much of the most interesting and best work I’ve seen has come out of there.

I didn’t get anything done on the screenplay yesterday, so I need to get back to that today. Then, hopefully, I can wrestle the one act into submission, and get back on the short radio play.

I’ve got the two short stories I might adapt into radio — I need to read them to see if one, or both, are viable.

Glad that revolting Bill O’Reilly was fired, and that the corrupt Jason Chaffetz isn’t running for re-election. Nice to have some good news here and there, amongst all the idiocy and corruption.

There’s an idea I can feel trying to take form — I don’t even know what its origin is, but the very beginning of the creative process is physical as much as it is mental, and I can feel the physical signs of something trying to take shape. I’m interested to see what it will become.

I’m hoping to finish the third category of contest entries and at least half the digital entries this weekend. Next week is my deadline. I’ve got some good contenders for the top spots in two of the three categories, so far; we’ll see what kind of competition the remaining entries give them.

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing!

Published in: on April 20, 2017 at 9:17 am  Comments Off on Thurs. April 20, 2017: Getting It To Work  

Tues. April 18, 2017: Creative Well Refilled & Overflowing

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Waning Moon
Venus Direct
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I gave myself the weekend off, a long weekend off, starting on Friday. I read, puttered, refilled the creative well.

It must have been a good choice, because yesterday, I wrote 13 pages on the screenplay, wrote the first third of a new, short radio play, and did most of the revision on a one act play that needs to go out this week.

I got through a big stack of research books (which have to go back to the library today), and did some work on the outline of the other new script. I’m still doing research on it. I’ve got about the first third outlined.

I tracked down and reconnected with an old friend from my off-Broadway days; looking forward to catching up with him.

Saturday was a big day of trauma, for the cats, anyway. I haven’t been able to land an appointment with the regular vet, and it’s time for the girls to get their rabies shots. The Rabies Clinic was in Sandwich, so I stuffed them in their carriers (an ordeal in itself) and off we went. Iris yowled non-stop, as usual. Tessa had fought so violently, I wasn’t sure what would happen when they tried to give her the shot.

But they were both very good. We were in and out in no time, shots updated, paperwork complete, back home.

Tessa was SO relieved. I realized she thought she was being dumped, poor thing. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to reassure her that wouldn’t happen, and she stuck close. Once a rescue, always some issues.

Iris had forgotten everything within fifteen minutes, of course, the little princess.

I HAVE to get some yard work done today. The neighbors have been puttering around, and I’ve been neglectful. I just have to stick to the schedule of doing even just a little bit on every reasonably nice day, and, eventually, it will all add up. I just don’t have the stamina to put in eight or ten hours at a time, nor do I want to give up that much writing time.

I didn’t work on any contest entries over the weekend — I wanted to read only what I WANTED to read — so I have to get back on it today. I want to get the contest wrapped up sooner, rather than later. There’s a much larger gap between the strong contenders and the rest of the pack this year. It’s been interesting to see how the entries evolve. Some writers, who enter on consecutive years, have grown beautifully. Others spin in their same mire, no improvement, no attempt at learning craft.

I’m just past the half way point on the script. Looking forward to digging back into it. The short radio script is trying to go in a different direction — looks like the antagonist is not who I expected, which, if I can surprise the audience in the same way, is a good thing. And I’m so relieved the one act is salvageable.

I’d written it and it got into a local reading series a few years ago, a place that was supposedly “safe space” for development. I wanted to take advantage of it. Of course, the other entrants were polished, sometimes produced scripts, honed over years, not early drafts, like mine was. That was fine; we all learned from each other (there were plenty of so-called “polished” drafts that needed a lot more work). What disillusioned me about that particular environment was that there was a REVIEWER there, and REVIEWS were printed in the newspaper. You don’t REVIEW works in development. That completely negates the point of having the development atmosphere safe space in which to experiment. I wasn’t attacked in the review or anything, but it pointed out that the script needed work, without giving any useful feedback. I already KNEW the script needed work; that’s why I was there in the first place.

When I set out my response to the organizer of the event, and my sense that the “safe space” we’d been promised had been violated — she never spoke to me again. Not even to explain why she invited a reviewer. I understand why she wanted publicity; but we should have been warned. Not blindsided. And, when unhappiness with the choice was brought up, an actual discussion (even if the result wasn’t what I wanted) was the correct response. So much for professionalism.

Anyway, the experience left a sour taste in my mouth about the play. I put it away and never looked at it again until this weekend. I’d planned to junk it. But, with the objectivity and with what I’ve learned in the last few years about craft, I can see flaws, and, more importantly, I see ways to FIX them. Ways to make it better. It still might (will) need more work, especially once actors are involved, but I think I can fix the things that made it veer off course originally and the last third turn into a giant mess. That’s the plan, anyway. We’ll see if it works. This draft might not work, either.

If it remains a mess, I won’t submit it. If I think there’s something worth working on, I will. If it’s used in the series (at a different theatre) and put on its feet, it gives me a chance to see what additional work it needs, or if I should put it on the compost heap permanently.

I’m going to write to another college friend (with whom I reconnected last summer) and see if he can help me untangle the problems I’m having with the Lavinia Fontana play. He’s always been good at figuring out where I’m focusing on the wrong thing, and get me pointed back in the right direction. I STILL haven’t found the dramatic catalyst yet, and pretty soon Research Time for this play is over and Writing Time has to start. I’m also going to contact curators at the Met in New York (my go-to for art questions, and see if they can point me in the right direction).

Need to get out a query to a company in Paris, and get another script off to Ireland, all in the next few weeks.

Busy. The RIGHT kind of busy.

April’s mid-month check-in is over on the GDR site. WordPress is refusing to add the link, which is irritating. It’s the midmonth post on http://goalsdreamsresolutions.wordpress.com (you can cut & paste the link, sorry for the inconvenience). I should have had a poetry essay ready for A Biblio Paradise, but I don’t. I wanted to do something on Shakespeare’s sonnets and got all caught up (as I always do), following this thread and that thread and the other thread, that the actual essay didn’t get done. The Adrienne Rich essay is still the latest one.

Have some issues to discuss with my senators and reps today. I have an idea for a couple of bills I’d like them to propose. Which means I have to write coherent proposals for them to propose. Never a dull moment.

Now — my day’s quota on the screenplay, and then out in the yard.

Published in: on April 18, 2017 at 10:28 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 18, 2017: Creative Well Refilled & Overflowing  
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Thurs. April 13, 2017: Steady Progress

Thursday, April 13, 2017
Waning Moon
Venus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy day yesterday. Worked on one of the front beds. Got 11 pages done on the screenplay. Act 1 is done, and I’m into Act II. We’re humming along nicely.

Worked on the next category of contest entries and made good progress. I think I can complete this category in the next few days (it’s the smallest), and then move on to the digital entries.

Had lunch on the deck, but it was too cool to spend as much time out there as the previous day. Today’s even cooler; hopefully, the weather will turn warmer again later in the week, and over the weekend.

Watched a documentary and it gave me another project idea. Started outlining. I have some of the characters and the opening ten minutes or so. I have to figure out the rest. It might need some research.

By the end of summer, my portfolio will be updated with original pieces that work. That’s a good thing. Then comes the question of getting them out there. Careful planning and patience is the key. So is knowing what I want from the work, not listening to what others say I “should” want or do with the work. I’ve put in the time; I’ve learned the protocols. Now I get to make the decisions that serve ME best, not those who want to make a buck off my talent without compensation.

I’m looking forward to getting rights back to a project in July; every draft I’ve done listening to “others” has taken me farther away from what makes the project special; so I’m going to get the rights back, revise it yet again to make it what it can and should be, and take it from there.

Planning, patience, research, information.

Integrity in the work.

More yard work today, and a couple of errands. Writing, of course. And a meeting this afternoon. I’m looking forward to it, and hope it goes well. Fingers crossed!

Published in: on April 13, 2017 at 9:43 am  Comments (1)  

Wed. April 12, 2017: Script Progress

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Last Day of Full Moon
Venus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cooler

Some yard work done in the front and back yesterday. I’m attacking the beds a little differently this year. Instead of just trying to tidy up so the whole thing looks “okay”, I’m breaking the yard down into sections and doing detailed work on each section. That will make it harder to get the whole thing done, but it will look better when it finally is.

10 more pages on the screenplay. The scene I’m getting ready to tackle today is the end of Act I, pretty much in the right place. I think the first draft will run a little long, but I already see where I can make some cuts. Of course, there are a few things I also have to plant. It will work out. The script feels “right” in a way few have in a long, long time.

Worked on contest entries. Nearly finished with the second category in print — will be able to finish that and start the final category today; when those are done, I’ll get started on the digital entries, probably next week. The gap between the books that really work and that really don’t is the largest, this year, than they’ve ever been. The winners and finalists will be within a whisker of each other.

Spent a lot of time outside on the deck yesterday. Took my work out there, and worked outside, because it was so lovely. Tessa was out with me, for most of it. She was pretty happy, too.

Back to the page, errands, yard work, taking my mom to a medical appointment, preparing for a meeting tomorrow. Somehow, it all weaves together.

Published in: on April 12, 2017 at 11:22 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 12, 2017: Script Progress  
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Tues. April 11, 2017: Building the Writing, Building the Garden

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Full Moon
Venus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to see what I wrote about Adrienne Rich for National Poetry Month. The essays I’m writing for the month there are personal, rather than critical. It’s about my response and reaction to the material, not an objective examination of it.

Got some yard work done yesterday, but nowhere near enough. I’m out of shape. It will take much longer than I would like to get things back to rights. Plus, there’s a LOT of work to do, and I’m paying for not getting more done before the snows hit last winter.

Got a chunk of the terraced bed done, but there’s a lot more to do. Managed to get some of the invasives out, but some weird grasses also took up residence, and there’s stuff that has to be dug out that takes time and attention. The star juniper in the barrel out front died, so I have to yank that out. I think I’ll put flowers in it this year, and not worry about something permanent.

Got more plants out on the deck, and they’re happy.

Started the screenplay I outlined yesterday morning, and did 14 pages on it. The outline is a huge help, although I’m finding I have to get a few more things in earlier, and I’m combining action in some scenes to keep it lean.

I think I’m going to set the screenplay in 1937, although I’ll have to research a few things. I want it to be later than FIX-IT GIRL, but before the US gets into World War II.

Got some research done. Still hoping to find that catalyst to get the Lavinia Fontana play in gear. It’s frustrating — I have an idea of the characters, but I need a plot to galvanize things. I’m hoping studying the monograph on her patrons will help me find what I need.

Also need to do some research for an article I want to write this week. It may be my introduction to a new-to-me publication. The pay is a little lower than I’d like, but it’s been awhile since I did any articles, so maybe that would get me back into the swing of things. I need to do a bit more research — something I saw on the website yesterday troubled me; I need to dig a little further, and it may knock the publication off my list of possibilities.

So United dragged off a paid passenger because THEY overbooked. It’s time that we stop flying all the major US carriers and send them out of business. Flying used to be glamorous and fun; customer service used to matter. Not anymore. It’s simple: DON’T GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY. Even though trains, busses, and automobiles take longer, it will be worth it in the long run. Or use non-US carriers. It’s time to teach this “industry” that if they don’t treat their customers like they matter, they won’t have a business anymore. But the general public won’t have the guts to actually take action that will make changes. They’re too lazy. They’d rather pay through the nose to be treated like cattle than take a stand that gets results.

Today’s supposed to be an even nicer day than yesterday, so I’m hoping to do my errands quickly, get some good writing done, and then it’s back in the yard.

Published in: on April 12, 2017 at 11:20 am  Comments (1)  
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Mon. April 10, 2017: Creativity During Retrogrades

Monday, April 10, 2017
Full Moon
Venus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Spare me from the retrogrades! No such luck.

Busy weekend. I started the LA section on POWER OF WORDS, and did some work on the Orient Express section.

I did some further plotting for the revision of FIX-IT GIRL — I have to figure out where I need to put the new material, then write the first draft inserts, then I can go back and start a genuine revision. I’m keeping the ending where it is, on the train from LA to New York.

I did a lot of research, relevant to both projects: books on the studio system, books on various actors and directors, costume research. Also read Joe Eszterhas’s THE DEVIL’S GUIODE TO HOLLYWOOD: THE SCREENWRITER AS GOD. I don’t particularly like him or his work, although I respect what he’s accomplished. I don’t like the arrogant, swaggering persona he projects. I disagree with a lot of what he says — his contempt for many people in the business, and dislike of many manifestations of collaboration.

On the other hand, he has a point, and everything starts from the script. He believes one must fight for the script. I agree, to a point: I think a lot depends on the project. When the script originates with the writer — in other words, as he so often does, the writer writes the script from his own idea/something he wants to do and sells it — then, yes. Defend away, fight, be careful where you compromise. But when you’re brought in to write from an idea or a scenario or a treatment — then you’re hired to bring to life someone else’s vision, and I think you have to be more flexible. Of course, he loathes the idea of rewrites or script doctoring. Again, I understand his position, not messing with another writer’s work. But there are times when it’s the wrong writer for the project, or the notes have gotten things so muddy no one can see or think straight anymore.

Good for him that he’s earned the right not to be flexible, but I think there are plenty of cases where one has to be flexible. Especially when one is paying dues and building credits.

I disagree with many, many things in the book, but his actual advice on the process of writing — six script pages every day on the first draft, how to set work aside and go back and rewrite, that the “first draft” that is shown to anyone is really at least the third draft, writing every day and so forth and so on — that’s all great. It’s such a tiny part of the book — he knows he’ll sell more copies with the more controversial stuff about what he has fun with and/or loathes in the industry — but when he talks about the actual writing, he’s got good, useful stuff to say.

Read some Adrienne Rich poetry and prose, both in honor of National Poetry Month and in preparation for a piece on A Biblio Paradise, which will post tomorrow.

Have working title for the Lavinia Fontana play, but still don’t have the catalyst that will actually put the play into motion. More research required.

In the shower this morning, I had an idea for a new screenplay, set in the late 1930s, as the country comes out of the depression, but before the start of WWII. I’ll have to do some research for it, but I liked the idea — it plays against a lot of the noir ideas of the late 30s/early 40s, and some of their hypocrisies, and yes, the lead role is a woman. A very smart woman. Anyway, I sat down and wrote the outline already this morning, a quick paragraph for almost every scene — a couple of places where I need to figure out where the plant a couple of things.

So, I guess, between the errands and the yard work, and 1K on POWER OF WORDS and 1K on NOT BY THE BOOK and figuring out where to plant additional scenes in FIX-IT GIRL, I better get six pages of script done!

Published in: on April 10, 2017 at 10:00 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 10, 2017: Creativity During Retrogrades  
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Fri. April 7, 2017: Working Out The Details for Revision

Friday, April 7, 2017
Waxing Moon
Venus Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
As of Sunday, Mercury Retrograde

I simply cannot cope with all these retrogrades right now. Things are in too much of a fragile balance. ANYTHING tips, and it’s over.

Difficult week. Lots to juggle, bad weather.

Didn’t get much done on either NOT BY THE BOOK or POWER OF WORDS. Did a lot of research for FIX-IT GIRL. Went over the whole manuscript again. The first two thirds are in pretty good shape, minor tweaking. Some major decisions about how far Mavis takes her relationships with both Arnie and Troy in the book. What is realistic for the time and the place? What is organic to her character? That decision is going to have an enormous impact on the next draft. I think I’m NOT going to add another hundred pages. I like where the book ends, on the train headed east. It wraps up a lot of plot and story. It gives Mavis the chance of an HFN (although it’s not a romance, merely has romantic elements). I like that stopping point. I think my original instinct, to have the FIX-IT GIRL be in Hollywood, and then a second book, set in New York and London, makes more sense. But FIX-IT can stand alone. There’s some good, solid writing in there, and it’s nice to have a book that’s leaner than some of the stuff I’ve written lately.

Some of the research I’m doing on the studio system also serves POWER OF WORDS, with the fictional studio set up outside of Vancouver, but with a modern twist.

The country continues to be dismantled, thanks to the Narcissistic Sociopath and his corrupt cabinet and the corruption of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. A group of horrid individuals, who should all be prosecuted for treason and failure to uphold their sworn oaths to the Constitution.

I just cut a section of rant on a particular topic, because it’s not appropriate for this arena, and make more sense as a separate article. I need to do some fact checking and source research, but we’ll see where that goes.

I have a lot to get done this morning before I can get back to the page, including getting a good bit done on spring cleaning. It looks like we might have some dry weather this weekend, so maybe I can even get started on yard work.

Have a great weekend! Buckle up for Saturn and Mercury tandem retrogrades! And a full moon next week.

I’d like to just curl up in a fetal position and stay there until it’s all done, but that’s not an option.

Published in: on April 7, 2017 at 9:49 am  Comments Off on Fri. April 7, 2017: Working Out The Details for Revision  

Mon. April 3, 2017: Difference Between Review and Evaluation

Monday, April 3, 2017
Waxing Moon
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

This will probably be the only sunny morning we have all week. So much for getting any yard work done!

I can’t believe another weekend flew past. I did some work on POWER OF WORDS. I did research for NOT BY THE BOOK on corporate espionage. The research was very depressing, especially in light of everything going on in the world today. It makes me glad I turned my back on corporate work (except for the temp jobs until I earned my way into full-time theatre work) as early as I did.

I did a lot of work on contest entries. I finished the preliminary read of the print books in one of the categories I’m judging, and moved on to the next one. Once I’m done with all the print entries, I do the digital entries; then I go back and take another look at both the “yes” and the “maybe” piles in each category. I re-read, if necessary. It’s usually just a case of a point or two difference in the top contenders, and I want to make sure I weigh everything fairly. It’s a lot of work. I put in A LOT of time. Which is why I only take paid gigs of this kind at this point.

Although I turned down a paid judging gig a few weeks ago; I’d done it last year, and not been happy with it. The pay was low, and they dragged their feet paying (it was per entry). The entries were the weakest I’ve ever read in ANY contest. Most of them were first-draft quality, and shouldn’t have been entered ANYWHERE, much less called themselves published books. But to me, the unethical part of it was this: The entrants were told, when they paid the entrance fee, that they would get reviews they could post as part of the contest. BUT THE ORGANIZERS DIDN’T TELL THE JUDGES. Instead, we were given a 92-word limit to evaluate the manuscript. First of all, a thorough manuscript evaluation often runs for pages (when you do it correctly). Second, there’s a difference in the way one critiques if it’s for publication, or if it’s a private edit/evaluation letter to a writer. Third, if I’d been told that the entrants expected to have a usable review (often for material that needed far more work), I wouldn’t have agreed in the first place, because that’s just WRONG, in my opinion. Reviews and evaluations are two entirely different animals. They come at different parts of the process.

To me, one of the most important aspects is that: AUTHORS DO NOT PAY FOR LEGITIMATE REVIEWS. That includes not paying the publication for the review (several publications have lost their status, in the eyes of the industry and of librarians, because they now charge for reviews, which makes them suspect). The publication pays the reviewer. The reviewer’s ONLY obligation is to do as fair and thorough a review based on the quality of the work.

In addition to the dozens of requests I get daily to review books by individual authors for free (there are plenty of authors whose work I’ll read and host on BIBLIO PARADISE, and I’m not paid for that, but I usually have some sort of relationship with them first, even if I’m hosting fellow authors from the same publishing house, or authors I’ve met in my travels), I get frequent requests from authors who want to pay me for a review. And I say no.

While the bulk of the reviews I do are paid, I am paid BY THE PUBLICATION. The author (or the publisher) sends a request w/media kit to the publication. The review editor decides if it’s suitable for review by the publication. If yes, the book goes in to the publication and is then assigned to the reviewer. The reviewer reads the book (I usually read it at least twice, sometimes three times) within the two week period of assignment, and writes a review. It goes back to the publication. It is fact-checked (all references have to have attribution), and edited. Then it goes into the publication queue. I usually invoice the publisher for every three or four books reviewed, and I’m paid within two to three weeks of invoice, depending on where I fall in their accounting cycle.

Being paid by the author throws it out of balance. The author needs a good review to post. By paying a reviewer directly, it takes away the objectivity — the author is paying for a service. Let’s face it, no matter how much they claim to want “an honest review”, they want a GOOD review.

And, as I said, a REVIEW is different than an EVALUATION. An evaluation (for which I DO accept money from an individual author) is done prior to a book’s publication, often prior to its acceptance. It’s about story, structure, and all the things that need to be fixed BEFORE publication, and, most importantly, BEFORE it goes out for review.

An EVALUATION helps make the book better (one hopes) BEFORE it is sent out in the world to rise or fall on its merits. A REVIEW is the judgment of whether it meets the standards set for engaging, strong, POLISHED work.

Evaluations are critiques; reviews are the criticism of the finished work. Each type of read/comment comes at a different stage in the process. Both are valuable, but for different reasons.

Reviewing is a specific skill, whether it’s literary, art, music, theatre, etc. A reviewer MUST know the protocols of the medium in which he/she is reviewing. It’s not just about “liking” or “not liking” something, although that is one of the many factors. It is an understanding of genre, craft, and the finished piece.

Genuine reviewers/critics, who knew what they were doing (even if the result wasn’t always what people hoped for) are: Kenneth Tynan, Frank Rich (believe me, I have many a bone to pick with him), John Simon (likewise), Pauline Kael, Virginia Woolf (read her COMMON READERS — they’re a revelation), David Denby, Edmund Wilson, George Jean Nathan, Mel Gussow, Walter Kerr, Brooks Atkinson. If you want to learn about the genuine art of this skill, read their work.

What some random reader posts on Amazon or Goodreads, complete with spelling errors, may help, as part of sheer bulk, get you higher in their matrix, but it’s not actually useful to your craft. Of course the opinions of individual readers matter. However, reviews are different than opinions (although they include opinions) and are an art form unto themselves.

I do very little reviewing anymore. Part of it is that, far too often, the word count is so small (often less than 300 words), it’s difficult to do the book justice. Part of it is that most publication don’t pay a whole lot, and, in order to genuinely write a well-crafted piece, I need to read the book being reviewed several times, I need to read the writer’s other work (unless it’s a debut novel), I need to be able to pull other references within the genre. That takes time. What most publications pay covers about 15 minutes, when it’s more likely to take the equivalent of 25-30 hours or more to do it truly well. Often more. When you read Virginia Woolf’s diary, and you see how long she took to do a review, and how much work, time, and thought she put into it, it suddenly makes sense, and you see how this modern model causes more harm than help to authors.

I judge fewer contests, too. I also, now, have learned to ask more questions about the expectations, before I say yes. It’s not that I think I’m so brilliant, or know so much more than everyone else or that my own work is perfect; it’s that I want to make sure the organizers are dealing with both the judges and the entrants with integrity.

Hop on over to the GDR site. I have a very simple list for April. There are things that need to be dealt with that prevent me from loading the list as much as I’d like.

Tomorrow, I’ll have an essay up on BIBLIO PARADISE about my first re-read for National Poetry Month, Susan G. Wooldridge’s POEMCRAZY.

Have a great week!

Published in: on April 3, 2017 at 9:25 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 3, 2017: Difference Between Review and Evaluation  
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