Fri. May 26, 2017: Cold But Hopefully Creative Holiday Weekend

Friday, May 26, 2017
New Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Not a good weekend for vacationers. It’s going to be cold and rainy the entire time. Imagine — Memorial Day weekend and it’s still in the 40s. Brrr!

Ran some errands, got some work done. It feels good to have the play proposal out; now I have to polish the short radio play, so that can go out on Tuesday. Prepping for Wednesday’s meeting. Two pitches went out yesterday.

I’m not going to send anything out today, since it’s the day the long weekend starts. That would be silly.

Working on the assignment for the new editor. Planning to have it ready to turn in by Tuesday as well.

Research for the between-the-wars piece.

Came across, by accident, information on some abandoned towns for sale in New England. There are some all over the country, but the ones in New England especially interested me. I did some research, and then wrote a few pages, to see if the idea was viable. I’m up to page eight, so I’d guess it is.

I’m hoping to clear off the “have-tos” out of the house earlier rather than later this morning, and then be able to write and/or revise for the rest of the day. Heck, for the rest of the weekend.

I plan to finish the assignment for my new editor, and craft several other pitches to go out early next week. I want to prep for my mid-week meeting, and to get a good chunk of work done on FIX IT GIRL.

I have to decide if I’m going to do any work on POWER OF WORDS (which, really, is a project I work on in between other projects, since it’s not a viable, sale-able project, just something I work on to blow off steam), or return those research books and take them out when I need to work on the project again. At the same time, it seems silly not to finish the 20 or 30 pages when I have the material here. I will have to see how I can marshal my time in the next few days. It would be better to buckle down, get it out, and send the books back once and for all. Or, at least until I revise the sections!

I should do some work on the next Topic Workbook, and I also have to plan the campaign for “Personal Revolution”, which I plan to promote the second half of June, since the action takes place on Fourth of July weekend.

Never a dull moment!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you on the other side of it!

Published in: on May 26, 2017 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Thurs. May 25, 2017: Fixing and Creating

Thursday, May 25, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

So, yesterday, I fixed the mower by my damn self, with help from my neighbor. So much for the warranty on this chunk of garbage, and so much for the people who kept promising to show up to fix it. I bought a new spark plug for $3 at the hardware store, and my neighbor had the spark socket, and we did it. I don’t even have to wrestle with it anymore — it starts right up. I got about half the front mowed. It’s raining this morning, but as soon as it lets up, I’m going to finish the front and start the side. It’ll take me a few days to catch up on everything, but I’ll get there.

Received my first assignment from my new editor, and started on it. Sent off an article pitch; a different editor passed on a pitch I’d sent, so I sent off a new one today, and that one, slightly slanted, so someone else.

Wrestled the sample script pages. Cut them back, layered them some more, and they read much more subtly. I still have room in the page count, so I worked on a second scene. Then, I put all the pieces together, and the proposal went off this morning. Either it’s what this particular producer wants, or it’s not. Not much I can do about it now.

I shot off an email to an author I met once at the conference here on Cape to ask him to supply some emotional geography for the city in which I’ll have my meeting next week. Sounds wacky, but I’d rather get some insight from someone who knows the community than what’s up on a website somewhere. He may not have the time or inclination to answer, but nothing asked, nothing answered.

Worked on the short story; I’ve lost momentum and have to find it. I want to finish it, polish it this weekend, and send it out early next week. I also have to do a fresh read on WINNER TAKE ALL and get going on the next draft. I want to get the next draft of the screenplay done in the next couple of weeks; if it then passes muster, off it goes.

Having trouble finding the right images for the new cover for PLAYING THE ANGLES. I know I have a photograph that I took that would work for it, but darned if I can find it right now. I’m looking through the proof sheets for my camera disks. There’s a potential image I like, of stage lights on a bare stage, but I’m not sure. A bare stage with dramatic lighting doesn’t really communicate the story.

The new cover for CREATIVE STIMULUS went up, and works. Now that is in alignment with the other Topic Workbooks.

I’m working on the personal media kit that spans the different things I write, and it’s difficult. It’s much easier to write copy about the books and about other people than about myself. Believe it or not, I think I have to do a rough outline of the kit, so I can figure out the bits and pieces I want to include. Then I’ll work on each piece, trying to keep the same objective distance as when I put one together for someone else, and then arrange them until it has a good flow.

I should be able to start putting the changes into the next section of FIX IT GIRL today or tomorrow, too, and then move on the next section.

Prepping for my meeting next week; instead of worrying about anything beyond the actual meeting, I’m focusing on the meeting, and taking it from there.

Read Felicia Day’s memoir, which reads like a conversation with someone with whom one connects.

I got bitten by something working in the yard yesterday, right at the top of my tailbone. Not only is it an awkward place to treat, it hurts like hell. Not just discomfort, but actual pain.

It’s supposed to be a rainy weekend, so I hope that means it’ll be a productive one for writing!

Published in: on May 25, 2017 at 9:54 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Wed. May 24, 2017: Trying to Keep Going On

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Struggled a lot with the sample pages for the play proposal. They’re speaking the subtext, and I need to cover it with text that’s clever enough to communicate the subtext, but not be as ham-handed as it currently is.

Got a new cover for “Creative Stimulus”, so it now matches the other Topic Workbooks. I want to go over the text again, maybe do some updates.

Looked at some images for the new Fearless Ink logo, but didn’t find what I wanted. I may have to shoot it myself and then layer in the text. I’m looking into rights for a Charles Dana Gibson image that I like for something else. It’s supposedly in public domain, but I want to be sure.

Talked to a designer about a new cover for the re-release of PLAYING THE ANGLES. I need to do another copy editing pass on it, and then also put in the first chapter of SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and then make sure I can get SPIRIT out on time. We need to talk release dates soon.

More mower issues — turns out I have to buy special tools in addition to the special parts. Take it from me — don’t buy a Poulan Pro. They run poorly and the company has no interest in honoring warranties. Really, really not okay.

I have a meeting next week north of Boston for a project I’d really like to do. The logistics would be a nightmare, but first we have to see if we’re compatible.

Struggling to show up at the page every day and get anything done. Feeling sick and exhausted all the time doesn’t help. But any time I put off the work on the page, I feel worse.

Managed to create a pitch on the fly for an opportunity that landed unexpectedly. Fingers crossed.

Just have to keep going on, don’t I. That’s the only option.

Tues. May 23, 2017: Personal Scale, Grand Scale

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy/sunny/cool

Yesterday was a day. The stress is getting to me. I’m getting tired of the platitudes people offer. This isn’t about attitude, this is about situation, trying to change the situation, and setting fresh boundaries. I realize people mouth platitudes because it makes THEM feel better (and has little to do with the person to whom it’s being offered), but, really, if you can’t offer useful action, just back off, please.

There have been times, over the last few weeks, where I’ve felt as though I was on the brink of collapse. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of that type of indulgence, so I have to carry on, no matter when I’m feeling.

Frustrated with the pages for the play proposal. They’re not doing what I want/need them to do. I’m running out of time, so I have to figure out how to make them work.

Played with some other ideas. One mixes two genres, fantasy and mystery. We’ll see. The other is a contemporary piece, set in, of all places, Washington DC. The focus of it won’t be political, although one can’t set something in DC without politics affecting it.

Read an early novel of a writer whose work I’ve read quite a bit of. I see the seeds of how far she’s come, but boy, that book needed an editor. Copy editing mistakes up the ying yang, inconsistencies, and so many exclamation points the characters all sound breathless. But the characters, dialogue, and plotting are all solid, and I can see how that one-off book set the foundation for her other books. It’s also wonderful to see how much she’s grown.

The attack in Manchester is awful. Words fail. I have to say, I’m not impressed with the reaction so far from Ariana Grande’s camp. Yes, it’s a shock, and yes, it’s devastating. But for the reports to merely say she’s “inconsolable” and she’s cancelled concerts because she “can’t perform” — honey, this isn’t about YOU. This is about the people who died or were injured, and their families. Of course upcoming concerts had to be cancelled, out of respect. On top of that, come out swinging. A strongly-worded statement against this type of attack, and providing actual HELP to the injured and families of the dead. Not platitudes. Not acting like this is about you. Not hiding in one’s room crying and being “inconsolable”. It’s time to show public strength and class, and be devastated in private. As an artist whose venue/work was chosen as the site of the attack, it’s necessary to be a warrior in response, not pose as another victim.

Errands to do today. I wish I could get the damn mower fixed so that the yard wouldn’t look like a vacant lot. Hopefully, by tomorrow. I’d like to get the yard handled over the upcoming holiday weekend.

Finally heard from the editor who supposedly hired me several weeks ago. Looks like I’ll be getting my first assignment in the next few days. I’m ready to dig in.

Doing research and getting price quotes on several fronts in order to implement the writing plan worked on last week. I have to keep reminding myself to break things down into manageable steps. Having some interesting discussions with distributors, and also with swag providers.

In the next few months, I’d like to do some general swag for Ink in My Coffee, the Devon Ellington site, and the Fearless Ink site. There’s also some generalized swag I can do for the Topic Workbooks. Then, I can do book-specific swags for releases.

I’m also in the process of doing a general Devon Ellington media kit, along with the media kits that are project-specific. I should probably do one for the Topic Workbooks as well.

It’s hard to keep everything balanced, since the marketing uses different parts of the brain than the writing or editing.

All I’m craving lately are fruits and vegetables. I can’t seem to get enough cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, peppers, and the like. Well, if I’m going to stress eat, better a cucumber than a doughnut, right? 😉

Getting some pages done on several projects in the exploratory stage, so that I can see which will catch fire and should be pursued. Researching the next part of the FIX IT GIRL, so I can get the changes into the next chapters on the revision. Working on the short story I’d like to get out the door sooner rather than later.

Feel like I need to sleep for about a week, but not an option.

Onward!

Published in: on May 23, 2017 at 9:17 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear

Monday, May 22, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Not the productive weekend I’d hoped for, unfortunately.

The stress of the personal issues I’m dealing with hit like a hammer, and it was difficult for me to get anything else done. I managed a little yard work, but not like the marathon hours that my neighbors did. Their lawns are pristine; my mower still isn’t working. I’m hoping the replacement of a simple part or two will do the trick.

I got a little work done on the play proposal, and some plotting work done on the radio play. I need to gear up and get those out the door this week.

On the upside, I re-read Arlene Kay’s Boston Uncommons mysteries, and enjoyed them. I drafted up some reviews I’ll leave for them. I also read a couple of her earlier books, one-offs, which were also fun.

STILL waiting for my first assignment from that editor who, weeks ago, said I was hired. I could have done THREE assignments (and been paid) in this time frame. I’m irritated. Perhaps it’s time to move on and take other work instead. IF I’m ever contacted, I’ll see what my schedule is, or I’ll bow out. If you’re “constantly” adding people to the team and promising “steady” work, it doesn’t take three weeks to make the first assignment.

Drafting a short article and an article pitch that need to go out today. Also want to tackle the short story — I’d like to get that out by the end of this week. I need to do some reformatting on the Topic Workbooks for an additional release venue, and get back to work on the next Topic Workbook. I’m going to try to release one every three months.

I re-read TIE CUTTER, which needs to get back into the writing mix in the next few months, and also did some more research for the next section of FIX IT GIRL revisions. The revision process on this novel is different than my usual, but it’s working for the particular novel, so I’m going with it.

Managed to get in a bit of yard work this morning before the rain started, although I was bitten several times. I hate ants. I’m in full out war with the ants. I know, I should appreciate them and all they stand for, but they’re not keeping their part of the bargain.

I have errands to run this morning, some things to do at the library, and then, hopefully, I can get back to the page. This week will be very stressful, on multiple fronts, and I’m trying to prepare myself, both mentally and physically.

Fri. May 19, 2017: Trying to Put It Into Play

Friday, May 19, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Took my mom to her medical appointment. Found more evidence on the CVS issue, and will turn everything over to the State’s Attorney General.

Finished reading a book by an author whose work I usually like, but this one had sloppy writing in it. Good plot, but one could tell that it was written fast. Sets up a new web of characters for more interconnected books, though.

Started implementing some of the things that were discussed on Wednesday. I have to make sure I break down the lists into do-able pieces, or I’ll get overwhelmed and won’t do anything.

Started working on some formatting changes for another outlet for the Topic Workbooks. The problem with those is that I can only work on them for a couple of hours at a stretch. It takes longer than I’d like to get the material done.

Re-read Arlene Kay’s SWANN DIVE. It’s the first of her Boston Uncommons Mysteries. Every time I re-read her books, I enjoy them more.

Still waiting for my first assignment from this supposed new gig.

Started going over some old short stories, both published and unpublished, to see if there are enough on any given theme for a collection. A collection of short stories is less important than getting on the novel carousel again, but it would be nice to get them out there. Some of them are more relevant now than when they were written.

Wrestling in the FIX IT GIRL revisions. There are a couple of B plot lines and red herrings I feel I should weave in to enrich the story; at the same time, I like the leanness and the pace. So I’m struggling with that. Can I keep a lean, fast pace, while just adding in a few tidbits here and there without it either slowing the piece down or it feeling like I’ve thrown things in there with no follow-up?

Getting some yard work done, but it’s difficult without a working mower.

Hopefully, I can have a solid writing weekend, and figure some more stuff out on my recalibration plan. I want to start implementing a few things, and then step back and look at it all again, make some decisions based on the new implementation, and so on and so forth.

Part of that is that, in the next few months, I want to get some general swag done for the constants: Ink in My Coffee, the Devon Ellington website, the Fearless Ink website, and maybe even the Topic Workbooks. Then, as more projects launch, I can add project-specific swag and mix and match for giveaways.

I also need to get rights back on a book where I suspect the contract expired ages ago. The publisher’s done diddly, in fact, new management wanted its authors to pay a monthly fee for promotion. I’d assumed they’d dropped me, but I found the book still on the website; never gotten any reports from them for years. So I have to dig up the contract, get the rights back, do some rewrites, and get it out in a better format.

I also have to figure out why I’m struggling to get back to NOT BY THE BOOK. It’s a good, tight story with fun characters.

Managed to handwrite a couple of pages on something this morning, but I’m still looking for those sample pages for the play proposal. I guess it won’t get out until early next week. I’ve got the proposal section done and the resume done, and I have the completed play done, but I have to find — and then type and polish — the sample pages to finish it.

Published in: on May 19, 2017 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Thurs. May 18, 2017: Recalibration Begins

Thursday, May 18, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Yesterday was long and challenging. We didn’t get through all the material. But we made a good start, on the writing, the chosen outlets, and the marketing fronts. Pages and pages of notes, lists of actionable steps that now need to be put into use.

It’s a challenge, but it’s restructuring my writing life so it suits ME, not based on the convenience of others who aren’t paying enough.

This is what you want from me? This is what it costs.

Otherwise, I might as well follow my own path and control my own destiny.

We went over the Amazon KDP contract in detail, and none of us liked it. Yes, Amazon is the Behemoth, but that contract is restrictive. I can’t see that it pays out in proportion to what it keeps, in the majority of cases. When they contract as a distributor for a publisher, it’s a better deal. But directly with authors? They want too much from the author, giving too little in return.

I have to take my mom to a medical appointment midmorning, so I hope to get some writing in before that, and then, after, it’s about start implementation of what was decided yesterday.

I finished marking up the 165 pages of the next draft of ANGEL HUNT that I found. I like it, it has good bones, it’s funnier than I remembered, but in a way that works. It needs to go back into the queue somewhere, after FIX IT GIRL revisions are done.

Got a bit of yard work done. Now, I’m turning my attention to the draft pages for the play proposal, and then to a short article I want to get out in the next day or so. I went to type the draft script pages and polish them, and the pages are missing from the rest of the proposal. That I found the second part of the sample, but I can’t find the first part. So I have to methodically go through all the different project files to see if I mis-filed it, which is a pain in the butt.

I’m getting frustrated in that the new gig that supposedly hired me is now dragging its heels with the first assignment. I’m ready and eager to begin, so let’s begin, damn it.

Still trying to fix the mower. The yard is looking like a vacant lot. Not good.

I’m glad there’s a special prosecutor, but I’m tired of everyone dragging their feet, instead of ousting the corrupt morons. This is what happens when you defund education for over 30 years. The problems we’re dealing with right now were seeded during the Reagan years.

Onward.

Published in: on May 19, 2017 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Wed. May 17, 2017: Prepping for Recalibration

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

I couldn’t get the mower going yesterday, and I’m totally frustrated. I hope it’s as simple as cleaning the air filter and replacing the spark plug, because I can’t afford a new mower right now.

Gorgeous day yesterday, finally.

I finished the second draft of WINNER TAKE ALL. Now, it can marinate for a week before I tackle the third draft.

Found the next draft/adaptation of ANGEL HUNT, which had been a serial years ago. I’d done some massive restructuring when I started turning it from serial to novel, and then put it aside. It’s much funnier than I remembered. Some sloppy writing, and some bad habits that my wonderful editors in the interim trained me out of, but there are good bones there. I have to figure out how to get it back into the roster.

Worked on some notes for today’s Recalibration Meeting. I need to recalibrate certain things in my writing life, and that’s what today is all about. Going through things, project by project, and figuring out what needs to be retired, what needs renewed promotion, how to re-release some titles in the way that will serve the work best (not just “this is the way everyone does it”).

“Everyone” doesn’t work for my needs and how I want to construct my career. I need to explore other options, and then come up with actionable steps in a reasonable timeline.

With the way the industry is changing (the Big 5 dumbing down too many of their releases, too many POD “publishers” who don’t do enough to support their authors, lines constantly shutting down), it’s time for something new that appeals to readers while helping the writers build their careers in a professional manner. I can’t change the industry, but I can certainly try things that fit into my vision for what I want and need for my writing career, that is true to both my artistic sense and my ethical sense. Which looks pretentious on the screen, but I’ve always believed in walking my talk.

Today will be a long, difficult, in some ways potentially traumatic day, but I think, in the long run, it will be worth it.

I hate giving up a day of writing — I may try to sneak in a bit — but the business headspace is different from the creating headspace, and I need to focus on business today.

Published in: on May 17, 2017 at 8:45 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Tues. May 16, 2017: Breakthroughs and Restructuring

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Finally, a sunny day! Now, if I could only get that mower going! Otherwise, I’ll be sitting on the grass with the pruning shears, cutting a few inches at a time.

Yesterday wasn’t as productive in terms of words on paper as I would have liked, but it was good in terms of creativity.

I got out the short story and a re-slanted pitch. I was about to send out a filler; I checked the guidelines one last time, and found the publication is ceasing — something which wasn’t on their website last week! So I have to rethink and re-slant.

Did some research. Was going to give myself the day off from writing completely (except for the work I’d done on the short story in the morning), but didn’t want to lose momentum on WINNER TAKE ALL. So I did the next 20 pages of revisions on that, and it felt good. I should be able to finish this second draft in a day or two, and then put it aside to marinate.

Had a breakthrough on the proposal for the play set in Boston. All of a sudden, it came clear, it started shaping. I can write the synopsis, I’ve written several sample pages, the artistic vision of what I want to explore and why is clear. I even found the right title, at least for while it’s a work-in-progress. I love those kinds of epiphanies!

I wrote a good chunk of the proposal this morning. I have to type up what I scribbled for sample pages and finesse them before I finish the proposal and send it off.

I’m preparing for tomorrow, when there is a big sit-down to figure out how I want to reshape my career. I’m tired of the “everybody does” and “this is THE way it has to be. It’s obviously not working. The big 5 are dumbing down way too many of their releases; independent authors are struggling, and I know several who are ready to give up; the small publishers who do POD are shut out of too many venues that could be profitable; even Harlequin is shutting down five of its lines. Not that I have anything with Harlequin, but for the authors who’ve been paying their bills with those five lines, it’s a shock. There are things that “everybody does” that I don’t agree with, that I don’t like, and that don’t work for me.

So we have to sit down and find other ways. The Topic Workbooks do well, but they can do better. I want PLAYING THE ANGLES to have a good shot at market share when it re-releases, because it’s a good book, and I want the books that are set/planned for that world to build on each other. I want TRACKING MEDUSA to have a good re-release, so I can complete the books I see with those characters. Only then can I decide what I want to do with the Jain Lazarus books, which are in a weird limbo with their current publisher. I want to do more with the delectable digital delights, and I have a batch of short stories whose rights have reverted, and maybe I can do something with them that will serve them well. The Justice by Harpy trilogy is sitting around gathering dust instead of earning its keep, are EARTH BRIDE and ANGEL HUNT. They need to get out the door. I want to take the Sophie Batchelder books in the direction I believe is best for them, not the current constant dumbing-down, and I need to see if there’s also a place in the world for the Gin Adams books. These are stories that interest me, that I wrote because there wasn’t anything else like it on the market.

THE FIX IT GIRL is going to be solid; it’s going to need one more revision after this current draft, I think, but it should be ready for submission sometime in summer. I want to get back to NOT BY THE BOOK and HEART SNATCHER, which are geared to a specific, traditional market, and also get back to SONGBOUND SISTERS and the 1940s aviation mystery, both of which have early chapters which excited people.

At the same time, I have to balance and hustle and juggle the freelance work, which pays for everything else. I have to freshen the scripts in my portfolio, and get those back out in the pipeline. And keep up on the play commissions and the radio scripts.

All the while, I have to plan both long-and-short-term marketing campaigns, both financially and conceptually, and then have impeccable follow-through.

It’s a lot. A lot of juggling, a lot of brain time, a lot of physical time, and needs a very big calendar. I need to market in a way that highlights the best of each separate element/pseudonym, but also tie it all together.

So tomorrow will be a long, difficult day, but important to implementing the vision of the next phase of my creative life.

In the meantime, I have to fix the mower!

Mon. May 15, 2017: Creative Juggling & The Need to Weigh Decisions

Monday, May 15, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

The lilacs are magnificent this year. I could just sit all day and breathe in the scent.

Busy writing weekend. On Friday, I managed to revised six chapters of THE FIX-IT GIRL and get the changes put into the manuscript. I also did 20 pages of revision on WINNER TAKE ALL.

I put changes into three more chapters of FIX IT GIRL, but didn’t get them into the manuscript.

Saturday, another 21 pages of revision on WINNER TAKE ALL. Two and a half pages of new material on the literary novel, five pages on a paranormal Victorian romance. Research.

I worked on the proposal packet for the new play, including sample pages. I wish I could submit ENEMY for development, but that’s not inherently in Boston, and the producer wants something where Boston is a character.

I also found a new-to-me market and came up with ideas for four short pieces for them. I roughed out all four, and now it’s a case of drafting them. They’re short — one is 800 words, one is 1000 words, and the other two can run between 3K and 7K. I figured out where to re-slant and re-send a pitch that I’d sent to a publication and they liked it, but had run something similar in the issue that was about to land. I’m hoping they’ll accept a different idea. I’d like to get all these pieces done and out the door this week, along with finding some markets for some other ideas.

I’m still waiting to receive my first assignment on this new gig I was supposedly hired on.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and pouring rain. I cut some lilacs (this is a wonderful year for lilacs on Cape), and made scrambled eggs with Canadian bacon for my mom.

I also wrote the first draft of the 800 word piece and did another 23 pages of revisions on the screenplay. I’m just beyond the half way point on it. This morning, I revised the 800-word piece, and it’s ready to send out.

Re-slanted a pitch, typed up a filler, and created another pitch and article outline.

I re-read Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS, which was interesting (I like her writing). I’m in the midst of reading another novel (by a different author) I found among my pile and hadn’t yet read — I’m on the fence about it. Parts of it I really like, and other parts feel a bit pretentious. Tried watching a new-to-me series, but it was juggling too many subplots with no explanations, taking spare dialogue too far, and I got exasperated. I don’t need everything explained (in fact, I prefer it not to), but this was beyond Mamet-ian. And British. Which didn’t quite work for me.

Heard from an old friend I didn’t think I’d hear from again. We have a lot of catching up to do. Drafted back my response. Found out another old pal is only about an hour and a half away — I’ll have to get in touch.

Did more Lavinia Fontana research. I have a feeling her father, Prospero, will be one of the top supporting characters in the play. He strikes me as quite an ambitious rascal.

This morning, I drafted just over 600 words of one of the 3K stories I’m working on this week. It’s taking on a more vibrant life of its own, which is a good thing, but it’s also not something I can just crank out, the way I’d hoped. But the quality will be better without the cranking, and the quality of the work is the ultimate test.

I need to make some decisions on what I want the trajectory to be for PLAYING THE ANGLES and the subsequent books from that circle of friends, and how I want to re-launch the Gwen Finnegan books. Simply sending them to a small publisher who only does POD doesn’t help me. The companies are too small to do adequate promotion, and the POD knocks me out of too many markets. Yet neither series really fits the current traditional publishing trends. They’re good stories, and people respond positively, but they intentionally break traditional formulas. Do I have the creativity, the stamina, and the resources to mount the carefully-plotted out marketing campaigns they would need? More importantly, am I able to keep up with the additional books in each series in a timely manner? Because feeding the monster is important. And Amazon, the Behemoth, is an important market force, but I have trouble with some of the ways they’re doing business. All of this has to be weighed and measured.

I hope this week will wind up being both creatively fulfilling AND financially rewarding. I need the two to balance. I’ve got my mid-month check-in up on the GDR site here.

Have a great week!

Fri. May 12, 2017: Physical/Emotional Geography in Fiction

Friday, May 12, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Someday, it might actually warm up around here.

The meeting went pretty well yesterday morning. We’ll see. I’m waiting to receive my first assignment from the other gig. I’m working on some more article pitches.

I did the initial re-read of WINNER TAKE ALL and made notes/changes on the hard copy. It holds together better than I thought. I cut some characters that don’t really drive the plot (mostly because there was no room for the subplots they were supposed to anchor), tightened a few things, made notes where I have to add in some non-dialogue visuals, and cut. Implementing the changes starts today.

Did some research on a few different things; tried to figure out and juggle some other things.

Read a book that was disappointing. I’ve read other books by this author. One of her series I just love. The other, I was lukewarm about. because I felt the protagonist had been so dumbed down I couldn’t respect her. This one is supposedly set on Cape Cod. Too bad she’s never set foot here. I don’t mind the fictional town — many authors stretch the geography of place, and that’s fine. We need to create towns that serve the story, and then stick them within recognizable geography. However, she created a harbor that could only work on the bay side and stuck it on the ocean side. She got some of the physical geography wrong, mostly in calling things by names that appear on tourist maps, but, if you’re a local (as her protagonist supposedly is), would never use that phrasing. Most importantly, she got the emotional geography wrong. She didn’t capture anything of the essence of Cape Cod, what makes it completely different from anywhere else in the country, and why people both visit and move HERE. The way the book read, it might as well have been in Kansas. The whole tone was far more Midwest than New England. The lack of sensory detail was astonishing, although the ocean was mentioned a time or two. I was terribly disappointed. I felt betrayed and cheated.

Now, she can write about anything she wants, and more power to her. But if she’s going to write about a place she hasn’t visited (or maybe visited once on the fly), at least do research and talk to people WHO LIVE HERE.

Emotional geography is so important to a book. If you’re going to set a piece in a specific location, looking at maps isn’t enough. If you can’t visit, you need to watch endless hours of video about the place, talk to people WHO LIVE THERE, and get a sense of what makes that place unique. It’s a huge amount of research, and it’s very different than, for instance, doing historical research. The historical research is one layer, the geographical research is another layer. The emotional/sensory research is what makes the piece work or not work.

I have no intention of publicly trashing the book or its author — I respect most of her other work too much, AND I don’t want to do that to another author. It was a good lesson in caution, and makes me dig into the locales of some of what I’m writing even more deeply. Even when I write about a place I’ve spent time in, I go back to my journals and/or travel diaries to make sure I have the sensory and emotional details right.

My travel journals are filled with smells, sounds, textures — because to me, when I read about a book about a place I know, I expect those details to be recognizable, even if the character is new to the place and surprised and/or delighted by the details. When I read about a place I don’t know, I want to feel as though I’m in the place. Without emotional geography and CORRECT sensory detail, it feels false. Yes, people filter things differently, but when a specific location reads as generic, the warning bells go off. Most of the time, at this point in my life, when I read a book, I can tell how much time the author has spent in the location.

I feel an article coming on about how to keep a travel journal! 😉

I have errands in the morning, some time needs to be spent in the library, and then, hopefully, I can dig in and get some good writing done, and at least the first twenty pages on the revision of the screenplay. FIX IT GIRL needs attention, as does Lavinia.

And, of course, work on more pitches. The next few weeks will be, to say the least, challenging. Right now, I’m not feeling up to it, but I’ll just have to dig deeper and do it.

Published in: on May 12, 2017 at 9:29 am  Comments (2)  

Thurs. May 11, 2017: All Types of Theatre and Creativity

Thursday, May 11, 2017
Last Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny/cloudy and cold

Yesterday wasn’t quite as productive as I hoped. The library was fairly quiet, so I got a good chunk of necessary work done there, finally, thank goodness.

I got caught up in a book and spent too much time reading, but I’m glad I did. I spent most of the day fighting a migraine, and could only do creative work in short spurts. For some reason, reading doesn’t bother my headache as much as, well, thinking.

I did some research for this morning’s meeting, so that I can feel properly prepared. It looks like I’ve landed a steady reviewing gig again that will start in the next few days; we’re trying each other out to see if we’re a good match.

I did some work on the play proposal. So much of it is thinking work, planning work. I need to know the shape of it for myself before I can effectively communicate it.

Angry and frustrated with the way the GOP is deliberately dismantling everything good about this country, and letting a Narcissistic Sociopath play Emperor and sell us out.

Burned my forearm badly on the steam from the roasting pan. I’ve got ointment and the whole thing gauzed up to protect from infection. I keep aloe in the kitchen, and applying that right away helped a lot, but I’m in for a few uncomfortable days.

Went to see a reading of THE CRUCIBLE last night at Cotuit Center for the Arts. My friend’s daughter had one of the major roles. The reading was much better than I expected — the actors committed and gave it their all. My friend’s daughter was good in a role that required quite a few reversals over the course of the piece. The play never gets old, never gets tired. It is particularly relevant with what’s going on right now. And, while it reflects the error of McCarthyism, is also reminds us how often religion is perverted in this country to justify injustice.

Ran into someone with whom I’d served on a board for a couple of years. Either he genuinely didn’t recognize me when I greeted him, or he chose to be rude. Not my problem, but it’s very telling about this area, and it’s growing lack of basic courtesy. I lived up to my standards for myself; what other people do is up to them.

Still fighting the migraine, but trying to be productive before this morning’s meeting. I hope it goes well. There are a lot of variables to make it a viable option for me.

One of the organizations I sent some asked-for advice (with 24 hours of the requests, I might add) was pleased, grateful, and thanked me. The other, an organization with whom I worked much more closely for many more years, has, of course, not. Fuel for the article, right?

I have to finish up with some of the Lavinia Fontana research material this weekend, because they have to go back. Time to get my head out of 1930s Hollywood, 1920s Maine, 1890s New York, and back into the Italian Renaissance.

The meeting went well; now for follow-up and prepping for other meetings. Good to be busy, especially when it’s creative!

Wed. May 10, 2010: Research, Writing, Nasty Bookers, and Project Juggling

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

It still goes down into the 30s at night. We had to bring the tomato plants in.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise. Jamieson Wolf is a guest, and he talks about his new release LUST & LEMONADE.

Yesterday was kind of all over the place; grocery shopping; trying to get some work done at the library, but it was both noisy and full of the crazies.

I did some research for a handful of projects; figured out that an article I was working on actually needs to be broken down into two articles in order to keep a solid focus; wrote most of an outline for a new piece and the first ten pages of it, so I can figure out what it is and if it will work (so far, so good). I’m working on a proposal packet for a slot with a producer who wants to develop a new play. It’s a different way of working — I’m trying to develop enough of the idea to create an exciting package, while, at the same time, leaving enough room for collaboration. I usually put the proposal together with a finished, polished script, but that’s not what this theatre wants. Good to work differently. Keeps one from getting stale.

It was interesting reading the research book I’ve been reading the past few days. It feeds into three different projects, and I’d read a passage and think, “that will work with X” and a few pages later, “That will work for Y” and a few pages later, “I can use variants of that for X AND for Z.” Then, of course, I had to jot down notes in the various outlines referring to the research notes so I wouldn’t forget!

I’m in article mode now, and I had an idea for another spate of articles. Unfortunately, so far, the research I’ve done into the markets — the publications most geared to the topic — not only refuse to pay, they want their contributors to write numerous articles per month FOR FREE. I’m getting a little tired of the “Gimme Culture” instead of a sustainable Reciprocal Culture. Nope. Next. Bye. If I was starting out and looking to build my portfolio, maybe. But not at this stage in the game. So I have to dig a little deeper into other markets, and see what’s what.

I’ve been asked by two organizations I used to be associated with for marketing advice. I don’t mind throwing them a few ideas, but I’m not working for either one for free anymore. I put in my time. No matter how much I did or how much of my own work suffered, it was never enough; in fact, my thanks from one organization was metaphorical multiple slaps in the face, so, no. You get a short email with some ideas, and then it’s up to you, unless you plan on hiring me as a marketing consultant at my regular rate. In fact, I’m writing an article on just that topic. 😉

I’m working on a couple of other pitches to send out. I’m in negotiations for one particular gig which I think would be fun, and I have a meeting tomorrow about another one.

I’ve been working on FIX IT GIRL rewrites. Unlike some rewrites, I’m not putting all the changes into chapters every day. I find, with this, as I work on the hard copy of the first draft, I need to stop and research this detail and that detail and the other detail; expand, contract, restructure; get rid of sloppy writing. About every three chapters, I pull up the document and put in the new material. On the one hand, it’s slower; on the other hand, it means more goes into this draft, which means fewer drafts, because I’m not doing separate passes for separate elements.

I’ve done my prep to dig into the revisions of WINNER TAKE ALL. I’m hoping I can read through it this afternoon and get started. I already know one character/subplot I need to cut, and there are some other cuts, along with a new scene I need to add to have it make sense. As long as I can keep the script 120 pages (I’d like to get it down to 112-115), I’m okay. But 120 pages — where it is now — is the top of the limit. I want some more room in the draft, so I have to see what I can cut. There are a few scenes that could use some trimming. I want to raise the sense of danger for my protagonist in a couple of scenes, too. She sails through it all with a bit too much serenity. Yes, she’s smarter than most of those around her, but, as we all know, stupid people can be dangerous. Look at what’s going on in the country right now.

Speaking of which, Sally Yates was amazing in her testimony. Talk about someone with ethics, intelligence, and integrity. She put Ted Cruz in his place, that slimy piece of corrupt garbage. Then the Narcissistic Sociopath fires the FBI Director — on the advice of the corrupt, racist AG who supposedly had recused himself from the situation because he’s involved. Granted, Comey needed to go. There were two major conflicts/investigations going on with the elections last fall, one with each party. He made a partisan choice that affected the outcome. For that, he should have been sacked by November 10, and then prosecuted. For far too much of his recent testimony recently before Congress, he sounded like a whiny moron, not the head of a legitimate intelligence agency. But to be fired by the people he was investigating AT THIS POINT, is also suspicious. Nor should the people under investigation be allowed to appoint his successor until the investigation is complete. The level of corruption in this administration is astonishing.

It reminds me of the research material I’ve been reading, about the 1920s. Harding’s administration was pretty damn corrupt, too, and that ended in the Crash of 1929.

Re-reading Elizabeth George’s WRITE AWAY!, which is a book I assign to my writing students. The more I write, the more my process evolves away from hers. I don’t do the detailed character profiles she does — if I write down too much ABOUT a character before I write a piece, my subconscious believes I’ve already written the book and moves on. All I do is stare at a blank page. You can ask me anything about a character, any detail, and I know it, but I can’t write it all down. By trying her method, I lost what could have been a good book. Maybe someday, I’ll get it back, but so far, no luck. However, she has good points about knowing one’s setting and putting butt in chair and getting it done. I’ve always been on the fence about her books — some work for me better than others. I always loathed the character of Helen.

A little over a year ago, when I tried to book her as a speaker at the library for which I then worked, the person who handles her bookings quoted me a rate that would have wiped us out for nearly three years, and then was rude about us not booking her, although I politely explained the “why”. The booker berated us for having a small budget, for thinking a “name” author could be bothered with us, and for not being willing to go into debt to pay her anyway. By the way, we had plenty of name authors come in within our budget. Yes, have your “team” play the bad guys, but when they behave that way, don’t be surprised when it touches how people respond to your work. Now, every time I see a new release of hers, I remember how nasty her booker was, and, since I was already on the fence about the book, I pass. I respect what she’s achieved, but she is no longer on my “must read” pile. That could change, with time and distance, but that’s where I am right now. I do, however, respect and admire her work ethic. She gets things done. She does them well, and she makes a living from it. Good for her!

Tried re-reading a memoir of Paris, which is well done, but I wasn’t in the mood for the exploits of a young, drunken, male Aussie. So I went back to re-read Claire Cook’s IT’S NEVER TOO LATE. I met Claire two years ago at the Cape Cod Writer’s Conference, and we had some great chats. In fact, I’m going to dedicate TIE CUTTER to her. Her novels are a good pick-me-up when things look bleak. I also respect the way she gets things done, like Elizabeth George and Jayne Ann Krentz and just about every other writer making a go of it. She doesn’t whine or waste time in negativity. She writes her books, she respects her readers, she doesn’t bow to the changing winds. She’s comfortable in her own skin, and that’s always something to admire.

Tonight, I’m going to a reading in which my friend’s daughter has a part. I’m looking forward to it. I missed the last production she was in, and I want to support her and her mom.

At least there’s a lot of creativity going on!