Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday, May 4, 2008
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Nothing like waking up on Derby Day with a migraine. And I mean the Anytime-you-want-to-stop-jabbing-that-icepick-in-my-eye-
would-be-great migraine.

Skipping out was not an option.

To backtrack a bit: The show was fine Friday night. I said my farewells to the actor who’s leaving the show (while I’m covering the Preakness). I was surprised he remembered that it was our last show together, but he did. Hopefully, our paths will cross again – he’s one of the good ones, both on and off stage. I’ll probably send something over to his opening night this summer.

Finished The Summoner. It follows high fantasy quest tradition, and it does so well. There’s some wonderfully imaginative and inventive stuff in there. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. There were a few lapses of logic I found difficult to roll with, but perhaps they were set deliberately in order to set up something in a future book. And the copy editor should be fired. It is inexcusable that a book on the store shelves should mix up “where” and “were” AND have such a high rate of typos. I was furious, especially on behalf of the author, who I am sure pointed all of these out in the galleys. Obviously, the manuscript was only run through spell check and a copy editor didn’t actually sit there and read it. The amount of mistakes in books lately is truly, truly appalling. When I pay full price for a book, I expect all the steps in the production process to be taken, and I expect the book to be free of typos.

Yesterday morning, I had to go grocery shopping before the race card began because I needed cat food and had to make the stuff for the party.

I had trouble getting going, though. I was overtired, which meant I couldn’t retain body heat, so I was freezing and shivering. Rethought my clothing and opted for something warmer, but still spent most of the day wrapped in a horse’s blanket (don’t ask, really, my on-site colleagues are going to be teasing me about it until I’m ninety).

I got some potentially positive responses to some ads I recently answered, so that’s sorted. Llewellyn’s hired me for a 2010 calendar piece. That’s sorted. I may be working for a travel site. I’m up for a script job. All good.

I was late getting to the races because I received bad news from a friend that another close friend’s father died last night. So I wanted to see what I could do.

The races were quite interesting, for the most part, and, prediction-wise, I did pretty well.

Although I had Big Brown in my picks as a safety, I honestly didn’t think he’d keep his head together enough to win. The fact that he did indicates he could very well be one of the “freak” horses.

The tragedy of the day was the death of Eight Belles. As the day progressed, I fell more and more in love with her: Her beauty, her poise, her intelligence. She was radiant. I went from thinking she’d finish ninth or tenth in the Derby to believing she could be in the top three.

She came in second – then fell, breaking both front ankles, and had to be euthanized on the track. Completely heartbreaking. But, it’s about time the general public see the dark side of horse racing, with both Barbaro’s accident two years ago and this one. Positive change will not come in this sport, and certainly not quickly enough, unless tens of thousands of people realize what’s going on.

Banning horse racing is not, in my opinion, the answer. Banning the sport would result in tens of thousands of horses going to the slaughterhouse, which is certainly worse than what’s happening now. The price of dog food would go down, but it would be an equine holocaust.

But changes need to be made over a period of months, not decades, which is how long it’s been taking. The well-being of both horses and jockeys needs to be taken more seriously by the industry as a whole. Individual trainers and owners are doing what they can do, but until the rules change – and they haven’t, for the most part, since the 1800’s – the mortality rate will continue to rise.

Unfortunately, it’s corporations making the profits in the sport, not the individual owners, trainers, and jockeys who actually take the risk. And, as in the rest of our society, the corporate executives don’t care as long as they can make obscene amounts of money to pay off their wives and sustain their mistresses.

Until the corporate culture is destroyed, our society, as a whole, is going down the road of Rome. And we all see how well that turned out.

Only our ruins won’t last for centuries.

I was not in the mood for a party after the races. I came home and was in bed by 8:30. I stayed in bed for nearly twelve hours. Not always asleep – I was plagued by bad dreams. But exhausted. And I don’t feel much better today.

I’m sad: sad for Eight Belles; sad for the deaths of my friends’ parents over the last few weeks; sad because my grandmother is getting worse.

I have an article and a review to write. And then I have to finish packing for Maine. The next few weeks are going to be busy, some good, some difficult.

On a positive side, as I was driving to and from the grocery store yesterday, I got an aha! moment as far as Yuri’s Tale: Gunslinger Cole Larkin’s backstory was revealed to me, and I’m starting to figure out the structure. This book is certainly a challenge. Not in a bad way, but a challenge.

All I want to go is to go back to bed, but I’ve got work to do before I leave for Maine.

Devon

Sunday, June 9, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

She won! She won! She won!

We were a part of history yesterday. And I just got home from the celebration.

Rags to Riches beat the boys – though Curlin put up a really good fight, and that horse deserves more respect than I’ve been giving him. She beat them with skill and grace and charm, and her jockey was confident enough in her poise to take her around to the screaming, cheering crowds after her victory, where she calmly and graciously acknowledged the delight of “her people” – the way any Queen should.

It was a beautiful, wonderful, magnificent race – and you’ll just have to read my article on FemmeFan for all the details!

I’m not cashing my winning ticket – I’m keeping it!

Then, later, at the party, someone turned on the Ruffian movie, and we were all bawling our eyes out. At any racetrack, if you talk to the old timers, everyone gets emotional at the mention of Ruffian. She had more impact, in many ways that Seabiscuit or Barbaro. And she’s buried in the infield of Belmont Park – she must have been smiling down yesterday.

What a fabulous day. It was a good race day, all the way around – great racing, and, again, more wins than losses for my particular picks. But Rags to Riches was the best. And I hope they savour this instead of only focusing towards “what’s next”. She made history.

The last filly to win the Belmont Stakes was Tanya in 1905, the year that particular track opened (although this was the 139th running of the actual Belmont Stakes).

My friend from England had to cancel his trip, so that brunch was cancelled, but I’m going to another one (and I get to do my laundry). Since they won’t replaced the machines in the basement that have been submerged under sludge and sewage twice now, merely rinsed them out, I will do my laundry elsewhere. As a friend says, “You don’t want cholera laundry.”

Then it’s back here in the afternoon to change and go to the Tony Awards Party. And somewhere, in all that, I have to do my wrap-up article. And read my friend’s newest chapters for comment.

Hopefully, I won’t need tomorrow as a full recovery day – and I can get some writing done. Because I’ve also got to do more work on the upcoming NHL draft and America’s Cup!

Have a great day!

Devon

Published in: on June 10, 2007 at 7:55 am  Comments (3)  

Racing Ink — Preakness Day Undercard

If you’re looking for the regular entry of “Ink in My Coffee” and the photos from Iceland, keep scrolling – they’re the entry below this one.

Sorry this is late going up – it took longer to handicap the undercard than I expected!

First Race:
The first race of a day is rarely this interesting. We have progeny from Real Quiet, Monarchos, Victory Gallop and Lemon Drop Kid here – wow! My choices are Leagelnote (Notebook’s colt), and Brandon’s Oboe (sired by Lemon Drop Kid) in an exacta with Cherokee Spirit across the board due to Mario Pino being his jockey.

Second Race:
I like Colonial Silver – the sire is Silver Deputy and the jockey is Mario Pino. I also like Magical Gem, who I think will be a pleasant surprise here, with Stormatic to round out the top three.

Third Race:
At 1 1/16 miles, this is a good endurance test. Alphabet Storm, sired by Alphabet Soup is my top pick here – unless it rains. My second choice is Pay Off Time (sired by Touch Gold and ridden by Ryan Fogelsonger). Grey Dorian’s not getting much respect; I’m hoping for a bounce off his last effort.

Fourth Race:
Roth Ticket (also sired by Touch Gold) and Suave Jazz are my top choices. If Musician’s Pride looks good in the saddling ring, I’ll toss him in at the last minute.

Fifth Race: — Baltimore City Turf Sprint:
Unbridled Sidney is entered on Friday’s card; if she doesn’t run there, I’d love to see her beat the boys here. Bingobear gets Gomez as his jockey, which can only help an already good horse.

Sixth Race – Hirsch Jacobs Grade III
Street Magician, sired by Street Cry, is my pick. He’s a good horse who’s kept the same jockey for his last few races. After a less than stellar showing last time, he’s due for a positive bounce.

Seventh Race – The Gallorette Handicap (Turf)
The Irish horse Grigorieva is my top pick in this race – good record, Graham Motion as trainer, Ramon Dominguez as jockey. Precious Kitten and High Moment are my other two picks.

Eighth race – Emirates Airlines Maryland Breeders’ Cup Spring Handicap
This has four horses worth a wheel – Talent Search, Diabolical (sired by Artax), Celtic Innis, and Semphore Man.

Ninth Race – Barbaro 100K
Much as I adored Barbaro, they should have renamed some other race for him and left this as the Sir Barton. Chelokee, one of my Preakness picks, moved to this race instead and he is my top choice, trained by Michael Matz. Zephyr Cat and Soaring By are my other choices. If Stonehouse looks good while saddling, I’ll toss him in at the last minute.

Tenth Race – Dixie G2 (Turf)
The field is large here. My choices are Cosmonaut (another Lemon Drop Kid progeny), Einstein, and Mending Fences. My hope is that Mending Fences wins – he’s improved so much over the past year.

Eleventh Race – William Donald Schaefer Handicap Grade III
Both Sunriver and Flashy Bull look good here. I like Smelling Salts, but would feel more confident if Aaron Gryder made the trip east to remain the jockey.

Twelfth Race – Preakness – Grade I
There were some roster changes in the race since my article in FemmeFan earlier this week. Chelokee is now in the 9th race instead and Circular Quay is here. I’ll take Street Sense across the board; Mint Slewlep and Flying First Class to place and show; and Circular Quay to show.

Thirteenth Race
Fire House, Misty County, and Moon Bean.

Other interesting Races:

Belmont Race 1: Theatrical Glory
Belmont Race 6: Black Adonis

Delaware Race 1: Plagiarize
Delaware Race 5: Miss Classy Trash

Hollywood Park Race 2: Fortunate Victory, Moteado
Hollywood Park Race 4: Flying Bearcat
Hollywood Park Race 5: Flip the Penny (if he gets in)

Happy Racing! Look for my Preakness Day Wrap-Up article in next week’s issue of FemmeFan.

Published in: on May 18, 2007 at 2:10 pm  Comments (1)  

February 9, 2007

Friday, February 9, 2007
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Check out the poem “Ski” on Circadian.

I do appreciate your comments of concern regarding the work schedule and the stress level. What I’m trying to communicate via this blog is how, if you work in the entertainment industry, it’s not what’s shown in the magazines and gossip shows. Because of the choices I made in my career, my passion, my vocation, I’ve eliminated many of the choices that are part and parcel of most people’s routines. To make a living in this industry is darned hard work, and you don’t have the luxury of taking time when you need it. You get time between gigs. If you’re any good, there’s not a whole lot of time between the gigs.

The incompetents we all have to deal with in our work day tend to be in the admin end of this business, not backstage or on set. Incompetence will only be tolerated for short periods of time in most cases. There’s too much work, and producers rarely hire enough people to comfortably cover it. And, because it’s concentrated work – it has to happen within the hours of the show or the filming – it’s not like you can let something slide and get to it the next day. There’s no inbox where something can sit. You’ve got to get the clothes prepped, repaired, preset, and toss those actors in and out of them on time or the show doesn’t happen.

Personally, my next day off is February 19, and I don’t intend to do a whole lot that day.

Yes, actors work hard in extreme conditions, but crews work double the hours and don’t get the pampering and coddling that actors get. Theatre actors get a heck of a lot less of the coddling than film actors, and have to be pretty smart and self-sufficient if they’re going to make it on stage. Which is why so few film actors do well on stage and so many theatre actors can make the transition to film or television.

Next time you watch an hour-long drama on television, know that it took AT LEAST 200 people that you never see, working 8 days of AT LEAST 12 hour days, usually 14-18 hour days, turning around and coming right back at the crack of whenever, usually in extremes of temperature, especially if it’s on location, in order for you to sit on your couches in your safe houses and watch. A feature film shoots about two pages (approximately two minutes) per day. A television drama has to shoot around 10 pages. Basically, an hour-long drama does a mini-movie every week. Remember when I worked that series last summer? On the hottest day of the year, temperatures over 100 degrees? And we had to match shots that were originally filmed in March, so I had to put my actors in overcoats? And very often, when the actors are wearing skimpy clothes, it’s about 20 degrees. That’s the way it goes. You can’t always schedule to season. You have to schedule when the network tells you to shoot it.

And frankly, my dear, the suits that make the decisions don’t give a damn, as long as they get their advertising dollars. If something creative and wonderful comes out of it (which is why every creative team goes into a project), goody, but as long as they can sell it, they don’t care.

Which is why you have crap like “reality” television. It’s not reality. If it was reality, it would be a documentary. It’s merely exhibitionists showing their worst selves. And it’s cheaper than properly scripted, well-produced shows.

Also remember that, for film or TV, most actors aren’t scheduled every day. The crew is, though. On a one-hour drama, an actor might get to shoot all his scenes in two or three days (if he’s lucky – some weeks, he will be in every day for the whole 14 hours). The crew is there for several hours before the actors arrive, and several hours after they leave. Every day.

On a theatre show, the actor has to be there every performance. Yes, there are swings and people call out and all that, but, basically, the performer has to be there, eight times a week, with no end in sight (and none desired) unless it’s a limited run.

When you go to see a Broadway show, there are over 100 people you never see (if they’re good at their jobs) making it all happen. And they only get one day off a week. And they work nights, weekends, and holidays. And many of them are working parents, just like you, only they don’t have the luxury of a 9-5 lifestyle. A friend of mine in the theatre raised her son as a single parent, working on a Broadway schedule. I don’t know how she did it. Imagine doing all the things you have to do as a parent AND work eight shows a week, nights, weekends, and holidays. How many of you could do it? And tech people don’t have child care. Successful actors hire in nannies, but most crew people don’t.

If you’re on a regular gig, and have an understanding boss, occasionally, you MIGHT be able to take a day off for your wedding anniversary or a birthday or your kid’s play. But that’s the exception, not the norm. Most of the time, you don’t get to participate in the normal family events, or you have to reschedule celebrations around the work schedule. And holidays? One of my friends on the show hasn’t had the chance to celebrate Christmas yet with her sister.

And yet, ask most stressed out, overworked persons in the industry if they’d rather do the 9-5 gig, and they’d say no. Who wants to be stuck in a cubicle when you can be part of a creative process? There’s a high price to be paid, but most people are happy to pay it for 20 years or so, and then try to move into another career (as I’m doing).

Backstage yesterday, we discussed the un-reality show You’re the One That I Want, that’s casting the next Broadway production of Grease, and how we, as a community, are insulted by the show. Yes, we’ve all watched parts of it. And we HATE it. It does not present an accurate casting process; it does not document the creative process that goes into putting on a show. It is an insult to the integrity of everyone who busts their butts eight times a week. But the producers don’t care, because they got an amazing advance sale out of it. There are some great documentaries out there about the “making of” various shows – go watch them instead, if you really want an idea of the process.

Anyway, back to yesterday. The phone kept ringing, but I finally got out of the apartment around 11. Took the R train (also known as the “Rarely”) down to Prince Street, rather than Canal, because Pearl River Mart recently moved from Chinatown up to Soho. Their new location is HUGE, quite a difference from their space on Canal Street. Full of tourists, now, too, but, oh well. I dug around in the back and downstairs and got the stuff I need for Chinese New Year next week (yes, I know, the Token White Girl shops for Chinese New Year – what can I say, I’ve worked on many Asian shows and am often teased as the “token white girl” or the “honorary Asian”).

I passed some boutiques – in addition to the regulars like Armani, you also have places like theory and Elie Tahari, who have some excellent stuff. A couple of the television shows I worked dressed most of the women with their lines. Many of those in the real lines of work represented by the characters really can’t afford to shop at theory, but hey, it’s fantasy, right? But after all the time it took me to wrap up to be outside, there was no way I was going to go into a store, unwrap, and try on clothes.

By then, I was really hungry, so I figured I’d eat down in Soho. Well, easier said than done. I checked out a few restaurants, but they had tapas-sized portions at banquet prices; no thanks. I wanted civilized, not trendy. I ended up wandering back up into the West Village. I think I might move the house location in Token and Affections from Perry Street over to 10th and Waverly. I found some wonderful buildings, which I photographed. I thought I’d try a Vietnamese restaurant on Bleecker I’ve wanted to try for ages, but it was already something else. Restaurants change like underwear. I nearly went to my old hangout, Le Figaro Café, but they’ve changed the menu, and didn’t have anything I really wanted. So, I wandered across W. 4th and over to Sheridan Square, and then on up 7th Avenue South to Riviera Café, a place to which I’ve gone for years. They had a glassed in porch-type section, right in the sun, so that’s where I parked, for a lunch of grilled salmon on julienned vegetables and arugula-type greens. Delicious.

Then, I wandered over to Avenue of the Americas and up to 23rd Street, to a store my friend Barbara told me about yesterday, called Reminiscence. She told me they had kitschy Nancy Drew stuff there, amongst all the various jokey and vintage stuff, so I HAD to go. I got several Nancy Drew journals and notepads. One of the journals has the cover for The Secret in the Old Attic, which was my very first Nancy Drew book and still one of my favorites.

By then, I was cold, and there was a subway stop right there, so I hopped the V (Voyeur) train and came back up to midtown. I crawled through the Fashion Week madness around Bryant Park and got back to Artie’s in the early afternoon.

The only stuff I’ve liked in this Fashion Week has been Michael Kors’s lines for both men and women, and some of Betsey Johnson’s hats. The rest – I’m sorry, I do NOT want to see most of the men around here wearing leggings come fall, and these short, A-line capes for men that hit about mid-thigh look stupid on them. These guys look like they’re wearing wool replicas of ski chalets. Um, why? If they look bad on the models, how are they going to look on regular guys? Ick.

Grabbed a nap with the cats, did some project work, made a quick pasta dinner, and off to the theatre. Morale tends to be good there on Thursday nights because it’s pay day. Show was fine; relatively smooth. It’s live, so there’s always something unusual happening.

The Tin Box is a lovely book; it’s difficult to read backstage in between cues because it deserves more than just a few minutes at a time.

This morning, I’m going to get some food in to prepare a meal for Artie’s return. He gets in Sunday night, and I want to make sure all he has to do is heat it up. Most of the day will be spent quietly, writing, and then I have dinner with a friend at 4 PM. I got a late start, so I’m going to do my banking and errands first, and then have about five or six hours for the writing. I plan to work on Changeling and Tumble today, and on whatever price quotes, etc., have come in for the business writing. I also need to do a couple of ads for the Fearless Ink site, a few press releases, and get those prepped to go out next week.

I’m truly surprised at how big a difference it makes NOT to commute 3 hours each day. I knew it had some effect, but it’s astonishing. Not only am I less exhausted, but I also have more hours in which to write. However, because I’m not on the train, I have much less time to read. I can’t believe I haven’t even finished a single book this week. I usually read one every two days or so.

I managed to start the Martha Gellhorn biography last night, when I had trouble settling down after the show, and wasn’t in the mood for fiction. It’s a wonderful book, and I’m excited to read more.

The Barbaro article was passed around backstage last night, and reduced most of the people who read it to tears. I admit — I was pleased. Means my words hit home, and I did the beautiful horse justice.

Devon

February 8, 2007

Thursday, February 8, 2007
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

My eulogy for Barbaro is on Femmefan here:

New post on Kemmyrk about the herbal studies.

Hop on over to Siobahn’s blog, and read her post about Jack M. Bickham’s view on writing excuses. I completely agree with it. Although I think there are thousands of “writers” who’d rather write a page of excuses than sit down and write their books!

Tammy – in answer to your question about keeping characters straight – sometimes I keep charts if I’m doing a series as to physical movement, etc. Characters themselves are very real to me, and they stay sorted in my psyche. It’s how they get from Point A to Point B, or town names or place names that I sometimes mix up from project to project, and those I need to track. If I work on projects in tandem, I try to make sure they’re in different genres, and that helps keep them sorted.

Diane – thanks for letting me know about the linkage thing. That was just WEIRD. I’m not sure how it happened. Hopefully, it’s fixed.

I did about twelve pages on the Tumble revision before heading out for the matinee. The editor wants me to deepen our insight into Nina. I need to do that in a way that doesn’t take her out of character. She’s a pretty closed person, and, since the story is told in first person, I have to keep the inner battle and the outer battle clear. It’s challenging.

Part of it is that Tumble is a part of the world of Nina, but needs to be strong enough to stand alone. I need to revise it out of context, not looking at it as part of a bigger piece, yet, at the same time, keeping it true to its overall fabric. It has to be a stand-alone and part of a series all at once. It makes me wonder if I should have revised and submitted Tapestry first. I also don’t want to lose the minutiae of the backstage world, because it’s so central to Nina’s world and character.

A hovering migraine doesn’t help, either. I’m sure it’s triggered because I’m trying to keep my cool while working with someone who’s passive/aggressive and manipulative.

Yes, in response to several comments, I’m stressed. However, it’s not like an office job, where you get to take time when you need it. The days I’m scheduled on the show or on set, it’s the gig – I have to be there and I have to be 100%. When you work with people who know and care what they’re doing, it’s busy, stressful to a point, and you always have to be at the top of your game, but it’s fine; when you’re working with someone who expects to be carried, it’s that much more difficult. This is why tens of thousands dream of a career in this business and only 1% can cut it. I’ve had a great 20+ years living like this all the time, but hey, I’m in transition out of it. And while I’ll miss the adrenalin rush sometimes, there’s plenty I won’t miss!

On a happier note, I had a great dinner with a friend who’s on a show around the corner. She loves the show on which she’s working. It’s a shorter show, with lighter costumes. And now she has time for her creative work. She’s a wonderful fiber artist. I’m delighted to see her so happy.

I’m off to Chinatown today, to run a few errands and visit some interesting places I rarely get to see. I was going to go tomorrow, but I’m meeting another friend for an early dinner, so I’d rather go today, when my schedule is a little looser.

Not much writing done this morning – I was still scattered from yesterday’s two shows, and had phone calls to deal with, etc. Will try to get some work done this afternoon. After all, I don’t want to have to write up a page of the excuses for not writing!

Devon

Published in: on February 8, 2007 at 9:45 am  Comments (13)  

February 4, 2007

Sunday, February 4, 2007
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Caught a morning train for the city yesterday, and hauled a few bags’ worth of stuff over to Artie’s. The cats were happy to see me; I fed them and played with them for awhile. I let them know I’d be back on Monday to stay for awhile. We’re going to keep “Little Roo’s Journal” during the week, sketches and anecdotes about our adventures for Artie to read when he gets home.

Took the E-train subway down to Greenwich Village. That, in itself was an adventure. The Metro Card machines weren’t working; there was a person in the booth who refused to help customers, claiming the booth was closed. If it’s closed, what the hell are you doing in it, lady? When customers said the machines weren’t accepting money, she said we’d have to wait until she rebooted the computer, and she’d do it when she “got around to it.”

Meanwhile, no one can buy a Metro Card and get on the subway.

So I went over to a machine, entered the information, put in my money – and kicked it (I wore my workboots). It flickered a bit, then spat out the Metrocard.

“THAT,” I said, “is re-booting the computer.”

And off I went.

First stop was on MacDougal Street, to the Himalayan store. I’ve had my eye on a small Durga statue for months, but the store was never open when I was in the neighborhood. Today it was, there was the figure, in and out in ten minutes. Then over to Porto Rico Imports to pick up a pound of freshly ground coffee. Then across Bleecker Street to Aphrodesia. In addition to stocking up on cooking herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary, etc., I also needed to stock up on things like buckthorn bark, all-heal, and oak moss.

I’m telling you, a half hour in that store has the same effect on me as a day at the spa.

Walked east across Bleecker all the way to Lafayette, and then up past the Public Theatre, etc. to the Astor Place station at Union Square. Around Great Jones Street, there was a man walking his little dachshund wearing a big puffy coat. The dog slowed down. His human said, “It’s only eight more blocks.” Now, that’s a long way for something with two inch legs. So the dog sat down, and there was nothing the human could do put pick him up and juggle dog, newspaper, and coffee.

Took the #6 train back to Grand Central, grabbed a newspaper, and just made the 1:37 train back out.

That’s the way to be in the city – on one’s own schedule, walking as much as possible on a sunny day, relaxed (except for the initial subway kerfluffle), and enjoying the rhythm of Manhattan.

Finished the Barbaro article, polished it, and sent if off – later than I wanted to, but it got out last night.

Two other pieces are pulling at me, plus I have another anthology deadline, plus I have to finish the copyedits on the Plum essay, so I have to sit down and focus.

Chicago trip was postponed due to the Super Bowl – the company’s doing an event, and the people with whom I need to meet won’t be back in town tomorrow in time for me to meet them before I’d have to get back to New York. We talked a bit by phone; they’re trying to back down on the money and the expenses (flying twice a month to Chicago is an expense THEY must carry, because I’m sure as hell not), so we’ll see what happens. The bottom line is that the client likes my writing samples the best of everything shown, and feels I have the best grasp of the overall campaign. When the company tires to nickel-and-dime me about the money, they said, “Well, aren’t X dollars better than no dollars?” And my response is, “If I don’t get X dollars from you, I get them from another job. This is how much what you want costs.”

Because, while I’m confident that I am the best person for this particular job, I don’t crave it so much that I’ll take it without making a decent sum of money from it, and certainly not if it costs me to work.

I’ve been having back problems the past two days. I only had a back problem once in my entire life before starting this particular show; now it seems to flare up every few weeks. I’ve adjusted everything I can in my approach to the job, but it’s the actual physical demands that are causing the problem.

I had terrible dreams last night, connected to the Situation The Sequel, and the building’s new owners. I hope they’re more anxiety dreams than prophetic dreams – because if things come to pass the way they did in the dream, it’s going to get REALLY ugly around here in the next few weeks.

Got to clean off my desk some more, finish packing, and see how much more I can get cleared off my desk before tonight’s Super Bowl bash. I’m making my infamous devilled eggs, plus a few different kinds of dim sum dumplings. I’ll prepare the dumplings here ahead of time and steam them when I arrive.

Got some work done on Changeling this morning. I like Elizabeth George’s discipline – she writes five pages every day (when she’s working on a book), whether she’s on the road, on vacation, or wherever, so that she doesn’t lose the rhythm of the book. While much of her process is far too structured and restrictive for me, some bits and pieces I think work well in my process. Got to keep trying until you find the way that works for you, right? Each person’s process is individual.

And there are things that so many people swear are “musts” in a writing career that I’m not willing to do. So I’ll see where I need to draw my own boundaries and work from there.

Back to the page.

Devon

Chasing the Changeling – 21,842 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

21 / 45
(46.7%)

Published in: on February 4, 2007 at 12:12 pm  Comments (6)  

February 3, 2007

Saturday, February 3, 2007
Last Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and COLD

Most of yesterday was spent going through my desk, item by item, to clear it off. As you may remember (not worth bothering), I had four stacks on the desk, and had gotten through two.

Yesterday, it took me the bulk of the day to get through HALF of the third stack. Very depressing.

But I managed to get out another submission and two more pitches, so not all was lost. Although one of the pitches bounced back because the mailbox was full, and I have to try to resend it.

And I cleared about 1200 legitimate emails out of the various accounts, and even more spam.

Remembered Saturn Retrograde in time to keep from repeating a mistake, while trying to be helpful. An acquaintance is in an unfulfilling relationship and is asking for “opinions.” What she’s really asking for is reassurance that staying in a relationship that borders on abusive is the right thing to do. I don’t think it is, but telling her so only gets her back up, not to mention the fact that most of her circle are also in negative/borderline abusive relationships because none of them want to go out there and earn their own livings. They’d rather be told they’re fat and ugly and get cheated on and still have an AmEx card without a limit so they can spend money they haven’t earned than go out and do it on their own. When questioned as to why they stay in the relationships and the answer is “Who would pay for my spa treatments?” “What would I do if I couldn’t shop at Bergdorf’s whenever I wanted?” — sorry, nothing I can say is going to help.

All I’m doing by stating my opinion is inviting more aggravation for myself. We’ve had this conversation numerous times; she knows my opinion. I’m not going to suddenly tell her everything she’s doing is good and okay when I don’t think it is. It’s fine to choose not to take someone’s advice; but then don’t keep coming back and asking the same questions.

Formerly, I would have continued trying to help someone who doesn’t want help, but wants enabling. Now, I just said, “You know my position on it. I’m not having this conversation again. It’s your life, and, ultimately, your choice.”

And that’s that. Much less stress for me, and she has to take responsibility for her own damn life.

The Situation: The Sequel is getting worse again here. Of course it is, because I’m going to be unable to do anything about it for the next couple of weeks. So someone else will have to step up.

Picked the books I’m going to take to the city: a biography of Martha Gellhorn, The Tin Box by Holly Kennedy, Dark Side of the Moon by Sherilyn Kenyon (it looks really good and I’ve never read anything of hers before), Dinner at Deviant’s Palace by Tim Powers, and Natural Enemy by Jane Langton.

I received the final version of the Plum essay and need to do a final proofing this weekend.

Yesterday, I raved on Wordish Wanderings from the editor’s side of the table about unprofessional writers who can’t be bothered with guidelines. Now, I’m going to vent for myself and other professional writers towards editors who change their minds midstream.

A story of mine was rejected yesterday, because “you sent us story type X. We’re looking for story type Y. I don’t know why everyone is sending us story type X.”

You want to know why? Because a call for submissions went out on several of the job lists stating you wanted story type X AND when I double-checked the guidelines on your website, that’s what they said. If you want story type Y, don’t ask for story type X. If you’re getting too many story type Xes and you want more Y’s, then SAY so on the guidelines. Don’t punish the writers because you got the type of story for which you asked in the Call for Submissions you sent out.

Finding the right placement for one’s work truly is like dating, and one has to kiss a lot of frogs first.

Got some work done on Changeling this morning, but not enough to update the word count.

I’m on my way into the city now to drop off some of my stuff at Artie’s, feed the cats, and then head down to Aphrodesia to stock up on some necessary herbs.

Then, it’s back to the desk and back to the page. I want to polish the Barbaro article before it goes off and get some other stuff done, before working my way farther down the stacks on the desk.

Devon

February 1, 2007

Thursday, February 1, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

There will be about Imbolc over on Kemmyrk later this afternoon.

There’s a bit of poetry news over on Circadian also later this afternoon.

I was furious with my web host yesterday – server problems kept me from accessing my site or my mail, which meant a document sent late the previous night which I needed to turn around that morning for a job was stuck in limbo. I finally pulled it through another site, but it was frustrating. When I finally got someone on the phone, the response was, “Yeah, I guess we’re having issues. They’re working on it. Try again in a few hours.”

Remind me why I’m paying them again?

I understand that every site has problems once in awhile. But this is just too often. I thought Yahoo was a bad site host, but . . .

However, I doubt I’ll ever find another template as perfect as the one for Cerridwen’s Cottage, so there’s that, too.

A new issue of Devon’s Random Newsletter goes out today. I know, I know, two months in a row, don’t faint. If you didn’t get yours or haven’t signed up, send me an email asking to subscribe here.

Worked on the Barbaro article; started the next column for SDR. Didn’t get through enough of the piles on my desk.

Some errands today, but I need to focus on getting it all done before I leave town on Monday.

What can I say? Yesterday, I just didn’t wanna!

This morning, the whole routine was thrown into a tizzy because of the meteorologists saying a snow storm was on the way to dump four inches of snow, starting at 2 PM. So, my choices were: Be stubborn, write first and drive around in bad weather OR get over my damn self and get the errands done and then come back to write.

For once in my life, I decided to be an adult. I shot out the door before 9 AM, went to the bank, drove to White Plains, hit up Target. Target, of course, didn’t have what I drove all the way to White Plains to get and God forbid someone being paid to work there should actually be bothered to stop conversing with another employee and check in the back, and God forbid that I should go to customer dis-service and they could be bothered to do anything but tell me they can’t look up anything without an Item Number. Which I happen to know is complete and utter bullshit, because every other Target in the country can do so.

However, I filled my cart with a whole bunch of stuff on which I hadn’t planned, but definitely needed, so I checked out, then ordered online what I needed – which, since they offered free shipping, ended up being cheaper than if I’d bought it in the store – some tax thing.

So it was all good, in spite of the crappy customer service. Which was a surprise, because usually Target’s pretty good – except in the White Plains store, where you might as well not ask where anything is because not only do none of the employees know, most of them could care less and just give you wrong information anyway.

Off to Trader Joe’s to stock up on cat food, so my mom has plenty to feed them while I’m gone – and stocked up on other stuff, so I can cook in advance for my mom and all she has to do is heat it up. Off to the other grocery store to get the rest of the stuff, the wine shop, etc.

Came home and the meteorologists were now saying the storm won’t start until 4 in the morning. I think they’re wrong – my head’s about to explode with the pre-storm headache (I seem to be a human barometer).

Yes, Dru Ann, the Merry will go out somewhere else – or I might work on the novel length version – I have two possible publishers for that.

Tammy – the list is part of the Goals, Dreams and Resolutions a group of us work on every year – I’d be happy to email the questions to you if you’d like, and the to-do and wrap-up lists are born from that.

I found an exciting anthology and sent a pitch last night and got more info this morning – I only have until March 30 to come up with 10-25K, but I think I can do it, especially since the topic excites me. So, off to do some more research for that, send them more info to see if it’s along the lines of what they need, and then – clean off more desk stuff and get down to work! AND, the anthology editor sent me guidelines for a new imprint she thought would be a good fit with me. All good!

Back to the desk, and then to the page.

Devon

February 2007 To-Do List

13-in-Play

Kristen King’s 2007 Query Challenge – 3-5 pitches per week

Biblio Paradise Newsletter Out

Finish next “Literary Athlete” column

Work on revisions for Assumption of Right

Circadian Poems

Kemmyrk

Work on Real

Work on Fix-It Girl

Work on typing Shallid

Finish typing Token and Affections

Finish Chasing the Changeling

Catch up/restructure 13 Traveling Journals

2 full weeks on the show

Get Dixie Dust Rumors queries out

Finish Tumble revision

Work on the “Illuminated Nude”

Work on “The Man on the Yoga Mat”

4 Dog Blogs

January 31, 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and snowy

I can’t believe January is over. I need another two weeks, please. Not quite ready for February.

“Blue” by Brenda Braene is up on Circadian.

A new essay on supporting living writers is up on the Dog Blog.

The train was late, big surprise, but frustrating because I had three errands that HAD to be run on the way to the theatre. First two, knocked right off. Third was all the way across on the West Side, almost to the river, and, of course, took longer than I wanted, but I still made it to the theatre just a hair late. Amazing how quickly you can walk if you have to.

Work was fine. Not too many sewing repairs, but I had to re-glue some bits of the tin man that were peeling away from the frame.

I heard some of the music from the new musical version of Legally Blonde, which is coming to Broadway sometime soon. It’s REALLY good. I was pleasantly surprised. The kind of music that sticks with you and that you can walk out of the theatre still humming.

I’m writing an article on Barbaro that needs to go out the end of this week, and I need to clear off my desk some more. I don’t know why I’m so sore – I’m going to try to work out some kinks later today with an extra yoga session.

So many of the performers have dashed to Target to get those humidifiers meant for kids in the shape of animals. They’re all over the place. They’re so damn cute, I might have to get one for my apartment.

My first check arrived for the anthology – woo-hoo! It’s always nice when someone pays on time.

The computer decided to upload the newest version of IE (don’t I get a say in these things?) and I had a bit of a fit when everything was rearranged. I found where it hid most of the stuff and put it back where I want it, but I’m not sure.

And this new Microsoft Vista? For which some people paid over $600? That only runs on computers less than two years old, only they don’t bother to tell you BEFORE you plunk down the money?

Typical effing Microsoft.

Chaz’s package returned from the UK, with all sorts of paperwork. Nothing seems too major – maybe I’ll rewrap the toys with bells so they won’t ring and upset postal workers – and then I’m going to try sending it again. At least it wasn’t stolen.

People need to back off from the jawing about Daniel Radcliffe doing Equus. Especially since most of these idiotic gossipy bastards haven’t bothered to learn about the play.

Equus is a modern classic, written by the astounding good playwright, Peter Shaffer. It’s extremely disturbing. However, the young man is not the main character —the psychiatrist treating him is. I saw the play on Broadway years ago, when it first became a phenomenon. It’s dark. It’s disturbing. You leave the theatre viewing the world differently than you viewed it when you entered it, which is what a good play is supposed to do. Although the kid was shirtless for a good portion of it, I only remember one full frontal scene. It was completely organic to the piece and necessary, brief, and not a big deal at all. It didn’t feel shocking or out of place. Plus, you’re in a big darned theatre, so, except for the voyeurs with the opera glasses, you’re not seeing a whole lot.

And believe me, there are plenty of plays that put nudity on stage just to sell tickets. I attended a production at a well-known off-Broadway company a few years back. Can’t remember if I knew one of the actors or one of the crew or why the heck I went. Maybe we just got on the list for one of the previews or something. At any rate, it was a tiny theatre. I was in the third row, and if I’d stretched, I could have touched the bed on the stage.

In the second act, one of the actors is completely naked, sprawled backwards, doing a monologue as part of a 12 minute scene. There was no organic reason in the text for him to be nude in that scene. He had the body, and the company knew it would sell tickets. Good thing he HAD the body, because he sure couldn’t act.

That was exploitation. And, believe me, I know what they pay off-Broadway, and he should have demanded a much higher salary.

Equus is different. The publicity photos that are being blasted around the world are pushing the nudity angle to sell tickets, which annoys me. There’s a shot of Radcliffe and the actress nude together. Now, I don’t remember, in the production I saw, the actress ever actually getting naked with the boy, but maybe that’s something they decided to do for this production. And the house staff will have its hands full taking away cameras.

Photographs are not allowed in ANY professional theatre – it’s a violation of the performers’ right to their image. You purchase a ticket, which is the right to see the live performance IN THE MOMENT, something that can never be exactly replicated again – not to photograph it and sell it or show it to others. Also, using a flash can disorient the actor and cause serious injury onstage. Especially if the actor is trying to maneuver on or off stage, is disoriented by a flash and is run over by a two ton piece of scenery. By being a selfish bastard and taking a photograph, you could maim or kill someone involved with the production. And let’s face it, people are going to try to sell photos of Radcliffe’s genitalia on eBay. I used to work front of house and remove film from cameras – it’s in the program, on the ticket, announced before the show, so if you’re going to violate it, you deserve to get your camera taken away. Personally, I think there should be a list, and if someone violates the no-photograph rule in one theatre, they should be banned for three years or more from all of them.

Regarding Radcliffe and Equus, I’m curious as to how a 17-year-old young man can handle this role. Working on it is bound to change his view of the world not just as an actor, but as a person. It’s an awfully young age to work on the material.

With the whole Harry Potter thing – look, Radcliffe is an actor. His job and responsibility to the audience is to show up on the HP set when he’s contracted and do a terrific job. Which he does. When he’s not on contract, it’s his job to make me believe in any character he plays. That’s what he’s trying to do.

I’d much rather see him doing Equus than go around drinking and doing drugs because the pressure of being HP has become uncomfortable.

I came to the HP movies as a fan of the books. When Rowling writes other books, I plan to read her work, because she’s a damn good writer. With the movies, I was a fan of the body of work of several actors whose work I’d known for years (Rickman, Thewlis, Smith, Shaw, etc.). And I’m interested to see what Radcliffe, Watson, Grint, et al do away from the HP movies.

I’m much more interested in a body of work than seeing someone do the same thing over and over and over again. Part of that is because theatre/film/television is my profession in tandem with the writing. But part of it is because I’m not an ignoramus. There’s enough information on the inner workings of the industry now that only a moron isn’t going to allow growth and change in the performers of which they claim to be “fans”.

As I said in the Dog Blog essay about writers, which makes sense in this situation, too: Decide if you’re a fan of the actor or of the character; own it, and take responsibility for it. If you’re a fan of Harry and only Harry – don’t go see anything else. If you’re a fan of Radcliffe, go with an open mind and give him a chance.

He’s 17. With any luck, he’ll be around for a long time, with a large body of work. Look over Johnny Depp’s body of work. He started young, had early success with Jump Street, made his own way in unusual (to say the least) work, and now he’s got the over-the-top success as Jack Sparrow. Why can’t Daniel Radcliffe find his way, too?

Okay, here’s the January wrap-up for the GDRS:

January 2007 Wrap-Up

Done:
Devon’s Random Newsletter
Finished 1st draft of Token and Affection
Plum essay revisions completed and essay accepted for anthology
Started Chasing the Changeling
Quarterly Newsletter
Occasional (but more frequent than last year) entries on Biblio Paradise and Wordish Wanderings.
Circadian Poems
SDR blog every Wednesday
Kemmyrk Mondays and Thursdays
Devon Ellington temporary site up

In Progress:
Typing Token and Affections
Working to finish 1st draft of Real
Pitches
13-in-Play
Reading research books for the Assumption of Right rewrite
Requested revision for Tumble
3 short stories – I’m going for quality over speed

Postponed/Dropped:
Work on Fix-It Girl
Dixie Dust Rumors queries out
Typing Shallid
Next SDR column begun

Additional:
Unknown Journey outlined
Knockabout Kingdom outlined
Marching Band stories outlined
“New Year’s Resolutions for Sports Fans” article (pub. By Femme Fan)
“Submission Log and Pitch Tracker” article written and submitted
Two interlinked paranormal comedy stories outlined
“Ink in My Coffee” moved to WordPress
“A Biblio Paradise” moved to WordPress
“Kemmyrk” moved to WordPress
“13 Traveling Journals” moved to WordPress
“Place and Space” moved to WordPress
Joined Kristen King’s Query Challenge 2007
Novel idea: Turn of 20th Century
Novel idea: Contemporary action/psychological
Designed and put up Fearless Ink site
Designed and put up Cerridwen’s Cottage site
Joined a blog chain
Devon’s Random Newsletter for February

Disappointments:
Rejection of The Merry’s Dalliance
The death of Barbaro

Successes:
First article of the year published on Jan. 4 (by FemmeFan)
Plum essay accepted
Token and Affections first draft done
Negotiations for possible regular writing gig (not signed, sealed and delivered, but I’m hopeful)

Reading:
Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner. Very good; lots of fun.
Death by Station Wagon by Jon Katz. Excellent. (Actually, I read this in December and forgot to list it).
Hell’s Belles by Jackie Kessler. Wonderful! Excellent!
Dorothy and Agatha by Gaylord Larsen. Liked the plot; struggled with characterizations. Okay.
Diaries by Lavinia Riker Davis. Lovely.
The Ragman’s Memory by Archie Mayor. Excellent.
Off Season by Philip R. Craig. Very good.
Death on a Vineyard Beach by Philip R. Craig. Very good.
Seeing Red by Jill Shalvis. Very good.

Devon

Chasing the Changeling — 20,842 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
20 / 45
(44.4%)

January 30, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Felt vaguely uneasy for most of the day, and couldn’t put my finger on it. Some of it, I’m sure, comes from the fact that this building is in the sale process, and we wonder how the new owners will try to drive everyone out; part of it, stemming from the former, is that my relocation is being taken off my schedule and is now on someone else’s schedule; part of it is trying to get my head around the full show weeks I’ll be doing over the next month or so, and trying to reconcile it with the transition, the relocation, and keep all the writing balls afloat. And who knows what else contributes to it?

I had a terrible time getting things done, and, most importantly, focusing. Again, I think part of it was switching around the routine – not getting some creative work done before I started the practical. It left me out of sorts. I’m getting in my own way again, and I don’t like it.

Starting my day with: feed the cats, yoga, write, and THEN officially start the day is a natural rhythm for me, and when that is disrupted, dis-ease sets in. I never thought of myself as a creature of habit – you really can’t be when you freelance, and I’ve freelanced my whole darned life – but this particular configuration works for me.

So, I have to figure out how to protect it and nurture it amongst all the change and chaos around me.

I finished Seeing Red by Jill Shalvis, and enjoyed it. I liked the dynamic between Summer and Joe. I also thought the way the family tried to protect itself and heal itself simultaneously was interesting. And, of course, I loved the puppy, Ashes.

I’m a member of the Sierra Club, now, since I signed that petition against the opening the Sequoia Forests to logging. They have some interesting local events; I hope I can attend one or two of them.

Catching up with blogs yesterday, it was interesting to read, in Ann’s blog, why she likes the show Grey’s Anatomy so much – the very same reasons I stopped watching it are the reasons she continues to watch it! Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s well-written and well-acted. However, the lives have gotten so messy that I find it wearying. I get to deal with people with lives in that much turmoil on a regular basis, and I am well-paid to do so. I don’t want or need to come home and watch it on television. I hope it runs a long time and they’re all happy, but I’d rather watch something very different in my sparse spare time. Maybe, once things are a little calmer in the lives around me, I’ll go back and enjoy it.

Got another pitch out today; should have gotten more out, but, oh, well. I’m starting to send them out from the Fearless Ink address, since that’s the business writing site, instead of the primary address I can only access from home.

Too tired to think straight. The pitch wasn’t my best, but I knew I had to move fast.

I’m working my way through the piles on my desk. I had three large piles, and a stack in the printer tray. I managed to get through one entire stack and the printer tray – dealing with every single item, not just rearranging stuff.

Another migraine threatened, probably due to exhaustion and frustration. And that, of course, leads to feeling discouraged at not getting enough done, and it all spirals downward from there. And fretful and jumpy as a cat in an electrical storm.

I remembered reading in one of the health magazines – Yoga Journal or Health or Natural Health or one of those – how important a warm lunch is and how that helps keep the body in balance. So I had vegetable soup with bread and butter. It did help, a bit.

And, I decided to cut myself a break on the short stories I’ve fretted about readying for the end of the month. “Illuminated Nude” and “The Man on the Yoga Mat” are more interesting and more complex than I expected, and need more time to unfold. Why rush them and send off something that’s not well written? That won’t achieve a goal of publication. Since it wasn’t contracted, the only deadline I’m breaking is my own, getting them done in time for a submission deadline; but it’s not contracted, so I’m not putting anyone else out. I’d rather stick to the integrity of the story than wreck the piece just to get it out by a certain date.

Worked on a newsletter that needs to get out this week. The other newsletter, for Biblio Paradise, will go out about mid-February, when I’m back from the little stint in the city. It’s almost done, too; just needs a few tweaks, and I have to go over the mailing list.

Also, I have a stopgap version of the Devon Ellington site up:
http://www.devonellingtonwork.com
It’s not as cool as Colin’s design, but it’ll work until I learn everything I have to about the other one to get it up. My friend, Barbara Rosenthal, is going to park her work on one of my pages until she gets her own site. And, in a few months, I intend to have some interesting items in the “Bazaar” section.

If you want a treat, click on to the article I have on the site about “How to Bet a Horse”.
(http://www.devonellingtonwork.com/betahorse.html)
And yes, that’s yet another of my photos in the header; this one was taken at Rye Beach.

I cried when I heard about Barbaro’s death. That was a special horse. He meant a great deal to many, many people, but those who dealt with him every day and grew to love him must be hit especially hard. It’s the dark side, the unfortunate side of horse racing – these creatures are being bred for speed rather than endurance, or a good balance, and they’re getting more and more fragile. This is a sport where living creatures die or are permanently disabled on a regular basis.

Got a few pages done on Changeling this morning. I think I’m getting it back on track.

Off to the theatre. Hopefully, it will be a smooth day, and I can get everything else cleared off my desk by the end of the week.

Devon
Chasing the Changeling – 19,842 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
19 / 45
(42.2%)

RIP, Barbaro

Rest in peace, sweet horse. There was never another like you, and there never will be.

Published in: on January 29, 2007 at 6:23 pm  Comments Off on RIP, Barbaro