Mon. May 8, 2017: The Reading Groove Leads to the Writing Groove

Monday, May 8, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I gave myself the weekend off from writing, after revising another three chapters on THE FIX-IT GIRL. I’ve got just over 15K done on the second draft. I’m going along more slowly than I would like, but, at least, it’s going. It’s necessary, in order for the piece to be the best it can be.

Worked on outlines for the pseudo-Gothic and for the literary fiction novels.

But, for the most part, this weekend, I went on a reading marathon, reading only what I wanted to, nothing that I had to. I re-read TC Boyle’s EAST IS EAST. I forgot how brutal it was, especially the ending. I read the first Veronica Speedwell mystery by Deanna Rayburn, A CURIOUS BEGINNING, which I loved. That is quickly becoming one of my favorite series. Read two of Shelley Freydont’s Newport Gilded Age mysteries, A GILDED GRAVE and a GILDED CAGE. I like them, and I like her writing. They’re very different from Alyssa Maxwell’s mysteries set around the same time, also in Newport, and both series are well worth it.

On the non-fiction side, I read GHOSTING by Jennie Erdal, a memoir of her twenty plus years as a ghost writer for a particular individual. Interesting and somewhat depressing. I also re-read A BOOK AND A LOVE AFFAIR, by Helen Bevington. I’d read four of Bevington’s volumes of diaries/memoirs back in Rye. At some point, I bought a copy of this. I wanted to order the other three from the CLAMS libraries here and re-read them, too, but none of them are in the system, which is frustrating. I’ll have to go on Commonwealth Catalog, or, if that doesn’t work, go on ILL to get them.

Was berated by a so-called “publisher” who advertised for freelance contributors, but didn’t list rates. When I queried the rate, I was told that they don’t discuss money with new contributors; they want proof of “commitment” and “passion” first. Well, honey, I have a commitment and a passion for keeping a roof over my head, and I do so with my writing. If you aren’t up front about your rates, I can only assume that you either don’t pay at all, or you pay a pittance; professionals aren’t squeamish about stating what they pay. Cross that one off the list and move on. Another publication wants me to be a contributor –at 1/20th of my normal rate. I don’t think so. Next!

On a more positive note, I got a lovely letter from a company interested in one of my radio plays. The reader (who is also one of the company’s actors) loved the piece and will recommend it for next season. So, fingers crossed. There are still plenty of steps between interest and production, but it’s one of the nicest letters about my work I’ve ever received.

I have some pitches to write and send out this morning (to publications who pay appropriately and are open about their rates). Bills to pay — never fun, but always a relief when paid.

I hope I can get the mowing working again, because there’s grass that needs to be cut, and I can’t afford to buy a new mower if this one has bitten the dust permanently. I’ve gone back to using my Melita filter pot because my coffee pot died! A lawn mower is much more expensive.

Later on, I have to revise the next chapters of FIX-IT GIRL. WINNER TAKE ALL has had its percolation week; I’ll re-read that this afternoon and start my 20 pages-per-day revision on it tomorrow.

Working on an outline for an idea for a piece set in the 1890s that could be kind of fun, and hoping to write my way a bit into the literary fiction. I’m still trying to make some structural decisions on it; I hope that by writing my way into it for a bit, that will give me some answers.

I’d like to get back to NOT BY THE BOOK one of these days. I’m still on the fence about the radio adaptations — I’m not sure the time necessary to do the adaptation properly balances the money. Maybe it’s because I’m not excited enough about the material. Still debating.

Trying to get a few other things into motion, hoping they pay off (in every sense of the word) in the next few months.

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing.

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Fri. May 5, 2017: My Mercury Still Feels Retrograde

Yeah, the mower refused to work today, although I managed to get some done yesterday. Not a happy camper.

Managed to plant five hanging baskets of petunias, two flats of lettuce, one of plum tomatoes, and some strawberries yesterday.

Working on a complicated revision section of chapters for FIX-IT GIRL. Once I sort it out, it will be worth it, but I’m struggling.

Frustrated on a lot of different fronts.

Furious at the House Republicans for yesterday. They are doing no less than committing murder. They must be stopped. We cannot wait until the 2018 election. They must be removed NOW.

Supposed to be a rainy weekend; I hope I can get a lot of writing, cleaning, and reading done.

Found a research book I’d picked up for one project that will serve three! Love that.

Have a great weekend. Around here, it’s awfully cold for May.

Published in: on May 5, 2017 at 10:06 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 5, 2017: My Mercury Still Feels Retrograde  

Wed. May 3, 2017: Project Juggling

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde (goes direct today)
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Thank goodness Mercury goes retrograde this afternoon. This go-round has been rough.

Yesterday, I was under the weather; I ran some errands and did some research necessary for the revisions of the next chapters in THE FIX-IT GIRL.

The grass in the front is long and lush and beautiful. I’ll mow it, probably tomorrow. My neighbors keep their lawns in a buzz cut, but I like to strengthen the roots and have it a little longer, the way my friend at Mass Audubon said was healthier.

Read Deanna Rayburn’s A PERILOUS UNDERTAKING yesterday — so good I read it straight through, couldn’t put it down. It’s her second Veronica Speedwell mystery, and it’s a lot of fun.

Gave myself the day off from most writing yesterday. I felt so lousy that I knew I’d have to toss it all anyway.

Did some research on art colonies in New England — most of the books about the art colonies are so poorly done. There’s an excellent book on Yaddo that I keep checking out, but the others are all dull. I may have to re-read TC Boyle’s EAST IS EAST, which is a satire set at an art colony. Although it’s very different from what I’m doing, it still might be fun to re-read.

Playing with ideas for two more pieces. One is a literary fiction novel, set just after World War I. The bulk of it would be in Maine, with forays into New York, Boston, and England. The other is a pseudo-Gothic, with elements of comedy, mystery, and romance, set in Cornwall. We’ll see where they go.

Heard back from an editor I pitched last week — he’d like some samples. So, off they go today, and, fingers crossed. I need to start another article in the next couple of days, an opinion piece that I’d like to get out next week.

I’m still struggling with “Seven of Swords”. I don’t seem to be fixing the problem with my tweaks, but prolonging it. Very frustrating.

Enjoying a terrific book on Manet’s life and work in 500 images. His paintings, like Edward Hopper’s, often give me ideas for short stories.

There’s finally sunshine. When the puddles dry up, maybe I can get some more yard work done. The yard work will be ongoing until the next snow!

Attorney General Maura Healey held a town hall last night. We are lucky to have her. She is far more active and involved with people than her predecessor. She takes a stand, and she gets things done.

Did about 1K on the Venice section of POWER OF WORDS, and four pages of the pseudo-Gothic outline. Not a bad start for the day.

I have to finish the complaint paperwork regarding AAA and CVS today. Those have to be filed this week.

Never a dull moment, which I guess is a good thing.

Published in: on May 3, 2017 at 9:43 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 3, 2017: Project Juggling  
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Tues. May 2, 2017: Nasty Weather, In and Out

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and mild

Yesterday just sucked. I’m going to have to file formal complaints against CVS for preying on my elderly mother and against AAA for not providing the services for which they charge. Not particularly surprising in either case, but again, time away from other things that need attention.

I rewrote the few pages of the new idea in first person from third, and that’s what it needed. Now, it’s falling into place and making sense. Amazing what the choice of right voice does.

Managed to rewrite the first three chapters (nearly 8K) of THE FIX-IT GIRL. I’m rather appalled at some of the poor writing. But then, the first draft of this book was written in 2005 — 12 years ago. The characters, story, research, energy are great. But there’s a lot of sloppy writing that my wonderful editors trained me out of in the interim, so there’s a lot that can be improved. That’s the point of a revision, isn’t it?

Today is a miserable day, and I wish I didn’t have to go out, but I do. I SHOULD go get cat food, but I might wait another day, when it’s not quite so miserable. But there are a couple of things that can’t be put off. I also have to be in touch with my Senators and Representatives on various issues. Our state AG is having a town hall tonight. Good chance to chat with her about some of what’s going on.

Sooner I get out there, sooner I can get back and get back to the page.

May’s To Do List is up on the GDR site. Check it out, and add yours!

Published in: on May 2, 2017 at 9:33 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 2, 2017: Nasty Weather, In and Out  
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May 1, 2017: Process and Planning

Monday, May 1, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Beltane
Rainy and cool

Busy weekend, but good one.

Finished the first draft of the screenplay WINNER TAKES ALL. It took me 19 days to write it from concept through first draft. It flowed well. I’ll have it marinate for about a week, and then hit revisions. The 6 pages/day schedule was good (although I usually averaged 10-13). I like the leaps of craft I’ve made in this. The storytelling is better, and that’s the point.

I had an idea for a new mystery on Friday and started playing with it. We’ll see if it goes anywhere. I wrote a few pages and it seemed distant. This morning, I woke up with the protagonist’s voice very strong in my head, and the realization it needs to be first person. However, I’m worried about yet another mystery of mine in the first person, although I feel Anna’s voice is quite distinct from either Sophie’s or Gin’s. We’ll see.

Disappointing response to a pitch that requested samples. Part of it was my misunderstanding the request, which is entirely on me; the rest of it is the person in charge not wanting/being able to evaluate a writing sample that wasn’t project specific. In my mind, if you look at a writer’s portfolio, you should be able to evaluate voice, style, craft, even if the sample wasn’t written specifically for you — that’s the point of a writing sample. To show breadth and depth, not to provide something for free to the publication. An editor should be able to read a piece and tell if the writer fits the publication. If said individual “can’t” because it’s not specific to that publication, the warning bells go off. It had potential to be a steady gig that could have been fun, but if the editor’s ability to evaluate is so narrow, I’m not a good fit for the publication. Next. I was going to try to fix the misunderstanding, but the more I consider it, the more my gut tells me that I’ve dodged (yet another) bullet.

Did some yard work, and planted some bee-friendly patches on the side of the house and in the stone circle. Arranged the deck, turning it into the Enchanted Garden for summer. There’s still a lot to do, but I’m out of shape, and only have the stamina to do a little bit every nice day. I’m going to have to start mowing this week.

Have an idea for a literary fiction/historical novel. Not sure if it will go anywhere. Again, the protagonist’s voice is strong, and quite different from the other voices. I will play with the ideas.

Made some research notes for FIX-IT GIRL — I start revisions on it today. I need to finish the Venice section on POWER OF WORDS, because I need to get those research books back, since I have oh-so-many other research books on the way out.

Rewatched THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR and liked it. I appreciate Matt Smith’s work more with some distance. When he first started, I missed David Tennant’s work so much, it was hard to connect to Matt Smith’s. They’re very different, but very good, and they were excellent together.

Watching the AGATHA RAISIN series. I am not a fan of the books, and the series doesn’t do it for me, either. There’s a mean-spiritedness in so much of it, and a lack of logic that thinks it’s funny, but just comes across as stupid. I like most of the actors, I love the locations, but I don’t like the tone.

Finished re-reading the Anthony Trollope biography. I’ve always admired his professional approach to his writing. He got up early every morning and wrote five pages, no matter what or where he was. 250 words per page, 1250 words a day. If he finished a novel within those five pages, he pulled out a fresh sheet of paper and started the next one. He got things done, without a lot of fuss and bother, or moaning.

The April wrap-up is on the GDR site, and May’s To Do list will be up tomorrow. The view on May looks very stressful from here — I hope I can get things sorted out to relieve some of the pressure. Otherwise, it will be a very difficult month.

I have some errands to run this morning, and then, this afternoon, I hope to dig back in to the writing. My To-Do list includes NOT BY THE BOOK, THE FIX-IT GIRL, POWER OF WORDS, “Seven of Swords”, and “Axe to Grind”, but I seriously doubt I can get work done on all of them today.

I’m worried I may have missed the window of opportunity for “Seven of Swords.” At the same time, I can’t send out a piece I know is sub-par. I have to try to fix it. I thought I had the key to fixing it, but it’s not quite working. I want to retain some of the ambiguity, but clean up the parts that are a hot mess. I haven’t hit that balance yet. I either over-explain or it’s overly ambiguous. I just have to keep at it until I get it right.

Like so many things.

Onward.