Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007
Waning Moon
Sunny and cool

Rough start to the day: Crazy Downstairs Neighbor came roaring in at 3 AM, drunk and “singing”. Yeah. And by 8:30 AM, there were four leaf blowers, three mowers, and who knows how many chain saws going, drills, hammers, table saws, etc., etc.

I need to get out of here. Stat.

Pet Peeves: Women who can’t be without a boyfriend for more than two minutes and move from relationship to relationship, wondering why they all fail (uh, try learning to stand on your own, chickie, so you don’t keep making the same mistakes, yes you do have “kick me” scrawled on your forehead), and women who dump their female friends the minute they start dating, then wonder why the friends are busy with their own lives and their REAL friends when the relationships crash and burn. Yes, a new relationship needs to be nurtured, but if a romantic relationship has no room for anyone else outside of it, the seeds of abuse are already being sown.

This is the 21st Century, people, you should have evolved by now!!!

Worked on excavating my desk. Typed a bit of Good Names. Managed to deal with ONE THOUSAND emails. Did some on-line house-hunting. Worked on my articles. Picked up some material at Greenwich Library. Sat out in the sun for a couple of hours, reading a book, in the town park near the beach. Typically, the park was full of well-behaved dogs and badly behaved kids. Rural kids and urban kids are forced into common sense and independence because of location; suburban kids are unbelievably spoiled and indulged for the most part. Their parents need to spend less time on material things and more time on parenting.

There was a dachshund puppy that was hilarious – half the size of my smallest cat. And a Yorkie who was tied to the leg of a beach chair and determined to dig her way free!

I’m glad I have acupuncture on Monday – the headache won’t go away and the lower back pain is getting worse. I have to work the show Sunday and Tuesday – not quite sure how that’s going to happen with the back in the state it’s in. Skipped last night’s workout, but did this morning’s yoga – slowly, with longer stretches than usual, but it helped.

Too much to do, not enough time, feeling stressed about the living situation, which sends everything else into a spiral. And not being able to get a full night’s sleep for weeks on end doesn’t help, either.

RSVP’d “yes” to two parties in the upcoming weeks. Normally, I’d make excuses not to go, because of the shyness factor and not being good in group situations with strangers. But it’s time I move out of my comfort zone, so I’m gonna do it.

Good morning’s work on the Untitled Literary Fiction. More frustrating on Revenge Tangents because, by then, all the machines were on full blast, and, even with the MP3 player on as loud as possible without ruining my ear drums, the machine noise still permeated.

Sigh.

Devon

Revenge Tangents – 17,250 words out of est. 25,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
17 / 25
(68.0%)

Untitled Literary Fiction – 2,500 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
2 / 100
(2.0%)

Good Names – typed draft 1A – 3,752 words out of est. 73,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
3 / 73
(4.1%)
Published in: on September 14, 2007 at 9:07 am  Comments (6)  

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cool

I was going to drive back up to New England this morning, but I’m just too tired and have too much worked stacked up. No reason to wrap my car around a tree because I’m too tired to drive properly. So I’m going to work from home, but at a slower pace than usual, and see what I can get done without stressing myself out.

Got some work done yesterday, mostly catching up on emails, sending out job pitches, research, etc. Went over to a friend’s in the afternoon to do four loads of laundry, exercise the dog, and do some research for the garden articles.

I’m so tired that I really have nothing interesting to say.

Lara brought up an interesting point that had crossed my mind, but I haven’t really dealt with – that my home could well be making me sick. I’d figured it was all mental – the stress, etc., — but it could also very well be physical. I feel like crap when I’m home or at the show; I’m fine everywhere else. That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

My grandmother is home and sounds pretty cheerful. I just hope she doesn’t backslide – she simply won’t change her routine at home, and she doesn’t get enough stimulation. IF she was in a constant care situation, she’d thrive until she reached 100. But no one up there will admit it and deal with it, least of all her.

My MP3 player jammed, but I fixed it all by myself. I was pretty proud, neo-luddite, technologically challenged person that I am!

Decent morning’s work on the Untitled Literary Fiction, and not enough work on Revenge Tangents. I still have a massive headache today, and it’s slowing me down.

I am going to try to do some straightening up on the desk, etc., today. It’s gotten stacked too high again.

Devon

Revenge Tangents
– 16,500 words out of est. 25,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
16 / 25
(64.0%)

Untitled Literary Fiction – 1,750 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
1 / 100
(1.0%)
Published in: on September 13, 2007 at 6:52 am  Comments (7)  

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cool

Latest installment of “Crafting Your Writing Life” is up on The Scruffy Dog Review Blog. This week’s article is called “Your Writing Muscles.”

Yesterday was a difficult day. I decided to try to sit with the sadness, without interpreting it, running from it, or wallowing in it. Just sit with it. The train was unusually silent going in to the city. People weren’t even jabbering on their cell phones. It was quite somber. And even the tourists wandering around were respectful, for the most part.

There were ceremonies all over the place, but, more and more, families of people who live outside the city itself are attending the local remembrances. Many of those who died commuted in to the city from the boroughs or suburbs. Most of those areas have created their own memorials and hold services there. And, of course, there are ceremonies in the Pennsylvania field where Flight 93 went down, at the Pentagon, where 184 people died, and in Boston, where some of the planes took off.

In developer-speak, “moving on” means ignoring the day, hurrying construction and guaranteeing profit. For the most part, I believe the families simply want to ensure continued remembrance. I think the reading of the names is a very important part of the day and believe that should continue. It gives individual remembrance to each person who died, and the length of the list and the time it takes to read it makes people stop and think about the impact of the event in human terms. That’s important – these were people, individuals who were doing the best they could to get through the day, and they were murdered for simply existing.

If an individual harms another individual and a murder results – I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I understand it. But to murder someone without knowing anything about them as an individual, just because they fall under an assumed label – that’s the type of ignorance and insanity we have to eliminate in this world.

Got through the day work; couldn’t wait to get home. My knee started bothering me again, about ten minutes after I arrived. Must be a combination of the concrete and how I’m standing on it. Found a revision from Confidential Job #1 – depressed me, which it shouldn’t have, because there was nothing wrong with it, but I felt like what I’d turned in initially wasn’t good enough, even though I’d felt I’d gotten it right. It was simply long.

Blessed Garden wants even more articles than originally requested, which is a good thing, but I need to get going on them. I’m also waiting for one more piece of information for my lit athlete column – if it doesn’t come in the next day or so, I’ll have to do without.

My grandmother sounded very good last night, and may be coming home today. That will be good – I just hope she doesn’t backslide once she’s not under constant care.

Have a bad headache this morning, but too much to do, so I can’t just lie down until it goes away.

Decent morning’s work on the Untitled Literary Fiction – will have to do some research. And good morning’s work on Revenge Tangents.

I may have the chance for a week’s worth of writing and research in early October – that would be heaven.

Devon

Revenge Tangents – 15,750 words out of est. 20,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15 / 20
(75.0%)

Untitled Literary Fiction – 1,125 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
1 / 100
(1.0%)
Published in: on September 12, 2007 at 8:32 am  Comments (3)  

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tuesday, September 11
New Moon
Rainy and warm
6th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

This is always a difficult day if you’re a New Yorker, or if you lost someone on that day. The wounds are still raw and emotions run deep, in spite of much of the country getting bored by the ongoing grief. Someone from Bumfuck who watched it all on television doesn’t have the right to tell a person who lost a loved one in the attack how, when, and how long they can grieve. And, of course, the developers are mounting a campaign calling it “moving on” when it’s really all about profit for them.

On a positive side, there are remembrance concerts and organizations setting up volunteer days on this day and all manner of positive forces coming out of the tragedy.

On the negative side, there are the developers. In my opinion, the entire site should be turned into a memorial, similar to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. The developers screech about the value of the property. So what? The lives lost are worth far more. If one does need to redevelop at least part of the site, it should all be headquarters for non-profits and social services. If any of them ever expressed condolences or sympathy or desire to work with the community to come to a mutually acceptable compromise, it would be one thing. But the ONLY chorus they’ve sung since September 12, 2001 and keep singing is about rebuilding FOR THEIR PROFIT. Considering that, each week, human remains are STILL found on the site, I think it’s inappropriate. The developers screech that no one still commemorates Pearl Harbor or the Oklahoma City bombing or the first WTC bombing and, in a few years, no one will “remember” what Katrina did to the Gulf.

I beg to differ.

I commemorate all those anniversaries, even if I don’t do so publicly. Which means thousands, probably tens of thousands do the same for various anniversaries. And I don’t think a bunch of developers or people who didn’t lose anyone in the attacks or whose lives weren’t affected the way those who lived here were have the right to put a time limit on grief or decide how people should grieve. Grief is a process, without an expiration date. The mourning is already evolving, and most people are looking for ways to keep the loved ones remembered for good done during their lives and continuing good done in their names rather than making it an “oh, poor me” occasion. Unfortunately, the press helps the developers by usually focusing on the latter instead of the former.

Has everyone who was personally affected in the attacks always acted beautifully? Of course not. Do I believe that every individual who died was a hero or a saint? Of course not. Let’s face it, the only one likely to be beatified and become a candidate for sainthood, literally, is Father Mychal Judge. People are people. Human beings are going to do the best they can, and some of it is not going to be pretty, and sometimes they’re not going to make the best choice or the most selfless choice. But they have the right to make a choice, and their right to grieve is more important than some outside moneybags’ right to profit.

I have to go in to the city today, to the show, the first time I’ve been in the city on the actual anniversary since before the attacks. I’m not looking forward to it. In addition to the mourning, alerts have risen again and it’s likely that someone’s going to try something, so everyone’s on edge. I’m glad it rainy instead of sunny. This is the first time the anniversary has fallen on a Tuesday, and if the conditions mimicked the clear, beautiful weather on that day, it would have been too much.

Not feeling well still doesn’t help, but you just push through and do the best you can, right? At least I have acupuncture next week. And, hopefully, some additional yoga and a good core workout tonight will alleviate the blues. I’m feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and fatigued by the events of the past week, and all the travel last month (even though it was positive) is catching up. Plus the lack of sleep thanks to Crazy Downstairs Neighbor. I need a few days’ worth of quiet time.

I had a good weight session last night and a good yoga session this morning, which helped.

On a happier note, Elsa is delighted that I’m back home with my yoga mat, so she can have her after-breakfast nap during my asanas. I have to come up with some pretty interesting ways to work around her!

I started the new novel this morning. I’ve been playing with the idea since early June. It’s still untitled, a literary fiction, and the themes are new territory for me, which is both wonderful and terrifying. No title yet, and I’d be surprised if I can do much more than 500 words/day. It’s not the type of thing where the first draft just flows out. It needs to be more considered.

Good morning’s work on Revenge Tangents as well. I will have to move up the word count again, but I like looking at an almost-full word bar today, so I’m going to indulge myself.

Off to the city, however reluctantly. There’s so much that needs to be done at home.

Devon

Revenge Tangents
– 14,625 words out of est. 15,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
14 / 15
(93.3%)

Untitled Literary Fiction – 625 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meter
0 / 100
(0.0%)
Published in: on September 11, 2007 at 8:09 am  Comments (5)  

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007
Dark of the Moon
Pluto and Venus have both gone DIRECT
Hot, humid, rainy

My grandmother is very ill.

She woke us up around 5 AM on Saturday morning, saying she couldn’t breathe. I called 911 and her primary caretaker. The Rescue and the ambulance seemed to take forever to arrive – it’s much quicker here in the NY area than up there, let me tell you. But they were really terrific and got her on oxygen and calmed down and loaded her gently into the ambulance.

We got dressed, loaded the car up and found our way to the hospital in Portland, where they took us right in to the emergency room to be with her. For awhile, they were afraid it was a heart attack and they’d have to do emergency surgery. The test results showed it was not necessary, and other options were explored. The same questions were asked over and over and over again – it’s in the computer, why not print out multiple copies? Come on, people!!!

However, I have to say that every single person we encountered at the hospital had a terrific bedside manner. She (and the family) were never made to feel like they didn’t matter or rushed or neglected.

By 11, she was settled in a room, with two nurses to take care of her, and there was nothing else we could do, so we headed back as planned. Although we cancelled the property appointments – we just weren’t up to it. Instead, we made a stop at Earth Spirits in Sturbridge to stock up on some herbs and oils.

The final diagnosis is congestive heart failure. Her heart is simply wearing out. They drained the fluid accumulating in her lungs out for now, but . . .even with the pacemaker, we’re on borrowed time.

Which is difficult to come to grips with.

She’s vastly improved under constant care and might even be home in the next day or so – but we’re on borrowed time.

The weekend up to that point had been quite fun. Crazy Downstairs Neighbor, of course, kept me up most of the night with his noise (always, always, ALWAYS on a night when I have to be up exceptionally early). But we got out of the house by 6 AM. We looked at properties in several areas of Massachusetts. Two of the areas were okay, but not really the vibe we’re looking for. One of them was in an area that’s too industrial and too in-your-face churchy. Anyone can practice their religion as they wish, as long as they don’t interfere with my practice or try to foist their beliefs on me, and this was very much “walk-in-OUR-way-of-Christ” which just makes me want to behave disrespectfully and flip them off. Not the type of place I’d choose to live.

A little further up, though, is absolutely gorgeous. It isn’t an area I’d considered before, but I’d heard of a spread and wanted to take a look. It’s too big for me to handle, but I really like the area. If I can find something a bit smaller, I’d consider it.

I also saw some places in York, Maine that I liked – but the square footage and acreage was too small with the price too high. But I like York a lot – it’s still a vital artists’ community, and that’s important to me.

We had a great lunch at the café at one of my favorite Maine spots, although there was a bit of an incident. A woman was in the store with her husband, some other female relative, a toddler, and a smaller kid in a very large stroller. She kept ramming the stroller into people saying, “Can’t you see I have a stroller?” –even though there was plenty of room to go around them. When they reached the café, she parked the stroller next to my chair and said, “You have to watch the baby” and started to walk away.

“No,” I said, “I don’t.”

“Of course you do. You owe me.”

“I’ve never seen you before in my life.”

“Haven’t you heard it takes a village to raise a child?”

“Sorry, lady, I chose to live in a different zip code.”

Several of the staff intervened at that point. Now, there were two other adults in the group perfectly capable of watching the kid. In this day and age, not only is it stupid to try to dump the kid on a stranger, it’s dangerous. I was one cell phone button from calling child services on her.

Then, when her family group got all their stuff, she walked up to the table and said, “I want this table.” There were plenty of empty tables throughout the room.

“Too bad,” I said, and began eating veeeeeerrry slowly.

The staff was smart enough to escort that little grouping away. She did not have a New England accent or Midwestern accent. I’m figuring she was from somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic states – that misplaced sense of entitlement which is so common around here. Good thing the staff up there is so savvy.

Got to my grandmother’s, ran some errands, brought in dinner, and we made it an early night.

The next morning, we all had breakfast together. I went out and bought her a new toaster (her old one caught fire), and did the grocery shopping. Then we headed up to Freeport, Maine and paid LL Bean a visit in person. I buy a lot of stuff from them – their quality and their customer service are exceptional. The store was great, too. Busy, but everyone’s friendly, it’s kept neat and clean, and the temperature is comfortable.

We had a fabulous lunch a few doors down at a place called Azure. I had calamari and some of the best steamed mussels I’ve ever had in my life. Absolutely perfect.

I didn’t shop much – not in the mood to shop. Did a lot of looking, though. And had to walk out of a bath and beauty shop I used to like because I realized they used synthetic fragrance, not essential, and it was starting to make me sick.

Went to a favorite yarn store near Sebago Lake and found another ball of yarn for my current project IN THE SAME DYE LOT!!! Yarn enthusiasts will know how unlikely that is!

Made dinner for the family when I got home, did some catching up with people, and had a pretty early night, until my grandmother woke me up because she was ill, poor thing.

So exhausted when I got home Saturday night that I didn’t get much done. Did grocery shopping and errands Sunday morning, then took most of the day to read The New York Times (usually it takes me about an hour and a half). Cathleen Schine’s new serial in the Magazine section is set at an artists’ colony in Maine and is pretty funny.

I took in the car this morning for its 5000 mile check up (although I had nearly an extra 600 miles on it, thanks to the Maine trip). It’s much happier now. It was having hissy fits very much like the cats.

Last week, at the theatre, I somehow managed to hurt my back, so the additional stress hasn’t helped it. Thank goodness I have acupuncture next week.

Since everything is in limbo for now, I’m doing a big fall cleaning, and that way, I can leave at the drop of a hat without worrying that it’s all in chaos. I have some articles to finish up and a critique to do, but I’m in decent shape.

Found out the mothers of two friends of mine are very ill, and yet another friend is in the hospital with a staph infection. Everyone’s having a rough time right now, I guess.

Onward and mopward – the kitchen floors call.

Devon

Published in: on September 10, 2007 at 11:59 am  Comments (8)  

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Just a quick check-in – home only long enough to refill cat feeders, unpack and repack, take care of some business, run some errands, and off I go again.

The first article for Blessed Gardens is here:

And the 2008 Llewellyn Annuals are out! I have work in The Magical Almanac, The Spell-A-Day, The Tarot Reader, and the Herbal Almanac.

I’m thinking about the next novel. I wanted to wait awhile, but this particular tale has been forming for a few weeks now, and, since Good Names is now in typing stage instead of creation stage . . .I have to do some more percolating, and I’ll probably actually start it when the moon turns to new next week. Plus, I sat down and figured out what projects are in what stages, so I can get through the backlog and start getting projects out. There’s no point in doing all this writing if it just piles up. Finishing, revisions, and submissions are important.

The past few days, I’ve been in the city working with a small dog. He was taken off death row in one of the shelters by an acquaintance of mine who felt sorry for him. The shelter workers hated him; no one wanted him; he was deemed unadoptable, aggressive, and sentenced to death.

Those people were either crazy or lazy.

This is one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever met. He’s young, affectionate, and intelligent. He’s also frightened and insecure, and when he panics, it blocks his intelligence. Yes, he was a basket case when I walked in the door. But, when I left yesterday to go to the theatre, he was calm, affectionate, obeyed basic commands like “sit”, “stay”, “go find” and “no”. All he needed was structure and love, and he got both. He’s fine. He’s a delight. He’s still unsure of strange people, but he’s really good with other dogs. When I sat at the table, writing, he’d curl up by my feet. When I read the paper in the morning, he’d sit in my lap. He snuggled when we watched television at night, or later on in bed. He’s a delight. If his human keeps up the structures I’ve started, there’s nothing he can’t learn, except maybe to do things that require opposable thumbs.

How many other dogs are being killed every day, simply because they’re smart and the people around them were either stupid or lazy? It breaks my heart.

And I miss him terribly. Talk about instant bonding.

My untrainable cats are happy that I’m home and I’ve lavished plenty of affection on them last night and this morning. They all “helped” me crochet last night – which means I spent quite a bit of time retrieving yarn from under the bed, behind the bookcase, etc., etc.

Diane – to answer your question, new owners are unlikely to improve our conditions. What they are likely to do is try to toss us all out on our asses again, despite the ETPA protections. Which is yet another reason I’m stepping up the house hunt. I’m sick of the bullshit.

Brandy – to answer your question: most people find knitting very easy. I have a terrible time casting on, although Anita at “Snapshots of a Life in Pictures and Words” is a great knitter and gave me some good tips. Once I’m actually knitting, I’m okay, although I’m slow. But the casting on . . . I’m pretty useless. And without casting on, you can’t knit. I’m still more comfortable with crocheting, so that’s what I’m focusing on now. My mom is a superb knitter, but won’t use a pattern. I buy the yarn, sketch out what I want, and she does it.

Day work was okay yesterday, but my focus is so far from theatrical work right now that I really had to pay attention. I can’t slack off and expect other people to clean up after me because I’m busy with other things. Plus, the call is getting more and more stuff heaped on it all the time, so I just prioritize each time I’m in there, and do the most important things first, and then however much else I can fit into the call and there it is. Some of the stuff has been put in because the dressers don’t feel like doing it; some of it is simply because different people are in different tracks and different things happen.

The construction guys are using the power tools that drive me crazy (yes, I know, short drive) right under my window. So much for getting creative work done this morning.

I managed to get some decent work done on “Revenge Tangents”, which I’ve finally accepted is actually Revenge Tangents and will be a novella.

Off to deal with the unpleasant b.s,, run some errands, do some prep work, and off to the next gig. “See” you all in a few days.

Devon

Revenge Tangents – 13,635 words out of est. 15,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
13 / 15
(86.7%)
Published in: on September 5, 2007 at 7:58 am  Comments (11)  

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Sunday, September 2, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Good news! The Blessed Garden liked my article so much, it’ll be used in September’s issue, not October’s, and they’ve asked me to write two columns each in October, November, and December. Yes, paid. Woo-hoo! I’ll give you links and details as soon as I get them. I’m pretty happy about it. These columns are going under the Cerridwen Iris Shea name.

More good news! I finished the first draft of Good Names at about 8:20 this morning! I started it on July 22. That’s not too bad – about six weeks for a first draft. And it’s short enough, a good skeleton, so I have about 25,000 words to play with, as far as adding red herrings and period detail. I had a 9 page outline for this piece, a roadmap so I could sit down and write almost every day, and it helped a lot.

I went to Michael’s, to pick up something . . .didn’t find it . . .bought yarn instead. There will be a post on The Tactile Muse next week all about it. And Elsa tried to run away with the yarn I was using. . .a busy time of it. The blue cotton in the current project comes in 50g balls – just the right size for her to pick up and carry around. Although she tried to drag the larger skeins of alpaca around, too!

I cleaned like crazy: Washed the floors, first with Murphy’s Oil Soap, then with a combination of rosemary, cedarwood, and pine oils. Vacuumed, once I’d ground lavender, angelica, and chamomile into the carpets. Washed all the throw rugs. Used baking soda and vinegar and later baking soda and lime juice down all the drains. The place looks, feels, and smells much better. This building has gotten so negative that chasing those energies out can be a full-time job!

And it was QUIET for most of the day, which was heaven. Now, the only singing I hear is that of the crickets – love that!

While waiting for things like floors to dry, I treated myself to Annette Blair’s newest release, Sex and the Psychic Witch. It’s a nice romp, witty, clever, and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it. We got acquainted via MySpace, so I guess that space is good for something, right?

Devon’s Random Newsletter goes out on Wednesday. My choice was finish the first draft of Good Names or get the newsletter out. I chose to finish the draft.. If you’re not signed up, you can do so here, but make sure you put “Subscribe” in the subject line, or else it’ll get sucked into the spam abyss.

Off on the next gig – will be offline for a few days. Enjoy the rest of the weekend, and have a good start to the work week. Can you believe it’s September already?

Great core workout last night, good yoga session this morning –even with Elsa playing with the drawstring on my pants as I did things like forward bends and downward dog!

Devon

Good Names — 73,007 words out of 73,007

Zokutou word meter
73 / 73
(100.0%)
Published in: on September 2, 2007 at 7:33 am  Comments (12)  

Saturday, September 1, 2007

September 1, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

GRRRR!

So the new owners are supposed to close on the building next week, and the Tenants’ Organization (from which I resigned several months ago) has become such a joke they didn’t even let us know the building was under contract again! Bet you a dozen doughnuts they didn’t know.

I was so resistant to finishing my articles yesterday. Totally unprofessional, especially since I know the topics inside out. I think I’m burned out with one publication and don’t have enough background on the other to know if it’s worth it, and that’s where the resistance comes in.

However, the long article really rocks, if I do say so myself. I’m much more pleased with it than I thought I’d be. The short one’s kind of fun, too. Let’s hope the various editors like them!

Pitched a bunch of jobs – my total for the year stands at 144 in Kristen King’s InkThinker Query Challenge. I am pretty damned proud of myself. The goal was 120 during the course of the year. I’d have to go back to tote up how many were successful, but the number steadily climbs over the months.

Ran my errands, paid some bills, got in some more cat food for the timed feeders. And Murphy’s Oil Soap – I have to scrub down the place again before I leave for my next round of gigs.

I’m working on my Craigslist ads, so I can post them on September 10. I’m trying to decide if I only want 3 that are more general, or if I want to craft a half a dozen or so very specific (since I can’t cross post), offering a single service in each ad. I can do a mix and match and track stats to see what’s working and what’s not (love Excel).

My crazy downstairs neighbor started blasting his television again, from early evening on. And I still had work to do.

So I opened all the windows, turned on the fan, started burning Nag Champa incense, and put Loreena McKennit in the CD player. At first, he tried to play “My woofers are bigger than yours”, but guess what? They’re not!!!

Besides, it’s waning moon. You REALLY don’t want to get on my last nerve now.

Amazing how certain music just drives away the nutjobs. Fascinating. Within 45 minutes of Loreena McKennit and Karen Matheson’s beautiful voices wafting out, the building had settled into an almost reverent calm. Music soothes the savage . . .apartment building? That’s a new one on me!

Tori, regarding shoes: I didn’t get hit by the Shoe Muse until I was in my thirties. Pretty much lived in sneakers or boots before that. Now – love shoes. Because of the nature of my work and the damned commute, I can’t always wear the shoes I’d like, but I’ve invested in some good Timberland boots and Timberland sneakers that look good, wear well, and are comfortable. They’re also one of the more eco-friendly companies, with great customer service, so I like dealing with them. I buy almost all my shoes on sale – my criteria is if the shoes cost the same as a plane ticket to a place I want to go – I’m buying the plane ticket! However, a good pair of shoes is very comfortable and will last for years, so certain shoes are worth the price. I’ve always said that, on my next trip to Italy, I’ll spend the money on a pair or two of custom-made shoes. Hey, that’s a plane ticket AND a pair of shoes! 😉

It was 11 PM before I could even start my weight workout last night, but it was well worth it. And I had an extra long yoga session this morning – in the quiet!

My downstairs neighbor went out last night and never came home, so I actually had a peaceful night’s sleep. Bliss! The cats ran around like a herd of buffalo this morning, and Elsa played catch with her stuffed watermelon.

Nice morning’s work on Good Names. I’m in the wind-up chapters now. I hate it when books have the climax and then just end. I like at least one chapter of aftermath. I can see the end of the manuscript, though I doubt I can finish it before I leave tomorrow.

The short article I sent off has already been accepted and will publish in October, and the editor would like to see more. So, it seems it is a good, legit gig, and maybe I can get some regular work out of it!

Errands to run, column to finish, and I want to finish commenting on a colleague’s outline that I’ve taken far too long with. I packed last night, so today can be taken at a slower pace (although I still have to wash floors and vacuum). So tomorrow should be a nice, pleasant slide into the next gig.

Devon’s Random Newsletter will probably go out late tonight or early tomorrow. If you haven’t signed up, you can do so here. Make sure you put “subscribe” in the subject line, or it might end up as spam.

Devon

Good Names — 71,757 words out of est. 75,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
71 / 75
(94.7%)
Published in: on September 1, 2007 at 8:43 am  Comments (6)  

Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

The last day of August, can you believe it?

My article “Travers Triumphant” is up on FemmeFan. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with the link, so you have to go to the home page of Femmefan,

and then scroll down until you see “Travers Triumphant”. Sorry.

I had a great, busy, couple of days.

And I did it again, what I always do when I go to Philadelphia.

I bought shoes.

Last year, I bought three pairs and had to haul them back up to NY. This year, I bought only two. Both are lovely suede flats, one in brown, and one in a red that goes with the new fall purse.

Hello, my name is Devon and I’m a Shoe-A-Holic.

Only I don’t want to be cured.

There’s the old joke: How many pairs of shoes should a woman own?

Answer: One more pair than she already has.

Tuesday, work was okay. I like most of the people, but the situation is no longer for me, and if I don’t cut the cord and do without it as my safety net, I’ll never move forward. I kept telling myself I was hanging in there to make insurance, but our union’s screwed us so badly insurance-wise that I’m not going to make it anyway, so why stay in a situation that’s no longer supporting any part of my life?

One of my colleagues was about to fly to London that night. He landed the job as the assistant designer for a show that’s coming to Broadway from the National in London, and off he goes to learn the show, work with the designer, etc. Good for him! I love it when something like that comes together so quickly! He’s very talented and deserves it. He text-messaged me yesterday to let me know it was great over there. The National’s a wonderful place – everyone is so nice and the facility is outstanding. He’ll have a blast.

Shot out of work and down to Port Authority. The 4 o’clock bus was still loading when I got there, so I thought maybe I could get on that, but they ran out of seats. Then, they put us through so-called security checks – poorest excuse for a security check I’ve ever seen.

They pulled up another bus, and I ended up on one that left at 4:37 instead of 5:00, which worked for me.

The ride was fine, although the bus was full. People were just tired, and most of them slept on the bus –except for the guy in the seat ahead of me who sung tunelessly to himself the whole time, until I was ready to hurt him. So I put on my MP3 Player instead, which seemed like a much more equitable solution.

I tried to read on the bus, but was so disappointed with the book. I felt almost guilty not liking it, because the writer’s gotten a lot of praise and won quite a few awards. But I don’t like the characters and the story’s not told engagingly enough to keep me focused. So that book is going into the Book Mooch pile.

Arrived in Philly a little before 7, grabbed a cab, got to my friend’s place, dumped my stuff. We went across the street to a really cute pub called The Black Sheep. They’re very nice there and the food is good. I had my first hamburger in ages (topped with roasted red peppers and garlic spinach), and a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat Ale. I’d never had that before, and it was quite good – doesn’t taste like beer. But I eat red meat so rarely now that I felt like I was walking around with a lump of lead in my stomach for the rest of the night.

Hung out with my friends, did some crocheting, but went to bed pretty early. Slept well, up early, yoga. I felt separation anxiety since I left my mat at home, but they had wall-to-wall carpeting. Their cat had never seen yoga before and was both freaked out and fascinated.

Brought breakfast in from Miel Bakery. We walked down to Trader Joe’s and did some grocery shopping. On the way back, we hung out in Rittenhouse Square for awhile. It’s so beautiful. I’d love to set a story in that area.

I met my friend L. for lunch at Susanna Foo’s. The food was exquisite (I had curried chicken dumplings, the crabmeat Egg Foo Yong, and a glass of pinot noir) and the service was excellent – a rarity in Philadelphia, in my experience. My friend and I had a great catch-up time, and then walked the half a block to Lush, where we treated ourselves to organic soaps and creams.

Later that afternoon, I dropped by one of the theatres to catch up with some old friends (missed them), and, on the way back, bought shoes.

Cooked dinner for my friends, hung out with other friends. Didn’t sleep well – I dreamed I was moving furniture all night, and woke up exhausted.

I hoped to get some writing done in Rittenhouse Square, but they had it sealed off to shoot a movie – I think it was the same M. Night Shyamalan movie that shot near my friend’s place last week. As I passed the wardrobe truck, I kidded with the crew, “Can’t I ever get away from work?”

I cooked a big salmon lunch for my friends, and then decided to take a 2 PM bus instead of a 4 PM bus back to New York. I got on, no problem, and read Yasmine Galenorn’s Witchling on the way home. It’s great – if you haven’t read her Sisters of the Moon series, go out and get them right now!!!

Hauled my luggage across from Port Authority to Grand Central, cursing out the tourists all the way. New Yorkers aren’t rude, tourists are. They also act like the biggest, sloppiest pigs ever. It’s disgusting, and I wish the cops would start ticketing again for litter (as if they don’t have enough to do).

Caught the 4:49 express and was back home by 5:45. The cats were so happy!

Chilled out and played with the cats.

Did not have a good start to the morning. Was jolted out of bed at 6:25 AM when, two buildings down, they started in with the leaf blowers. We have an ordinance in town that says they can’t start until 7 AM weekdays and 9 AM on Sundays. So I went down to tell them to stop and they started with the bullshit, “No speak English.” Amazing how quickly they found it when the cops showed up. One guy said something demeaning towards women as the cops wrote them up and I asked him if he wanted me to cut his dick off and feed it to him. Anyway, the building owners are being fined and so is the landscaping company.

Unfortunately, the noise also woke up the crazy downstairs neighbor who turned on his television full blast and then decided to “sing” – which is basically a cross between yodeling and a cat being tortured.

Like I said, not a good way to start the day.

I still have to finish and send off two articles today. I had a good morning’s work on Good Names. Finished the confrontation –with-the-killer chapter. It’s a little odd – I’ve never read a scene quite like it, but I think it’s fun, and hope it gets to stay in the book. I have about two more chapters and then this draft is DONE!

Off to do some errands, check the job boards (but without much hope – bad week on the job boards), and finish those articles. I’d like to do some more work on Good Names later today – it would be great if I could finish the draft before I leave for my next gig on Sunday.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Devon

Good Names
– 70,632 words out of est. 75,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

70 / 100
(70.0%)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Full Moon
Lunar Eclipse
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

How many of you were up early enough to witness the lunar eclipse? I was up, but didn’t get outside to see it, unfortunately.

I’m mere centimeters from blithering idiotdom, but at least I got a lot done.

It seems Yasmine and I have one of the same soapbox issues – waiting around for the Muse! Neither one of us can – we have to seize, wrestle, chase – no, better yet, invoke the Muse and get our work done.

Also, in the modern publishing world, there’s less and less room for slow writers. It used to be that a writer could take five years to create the next book – and slow percolation time is often good and necessary. But publishers now demand at least one book per year, sometimes two. It’s the reality of the business, and, when you’re entering it, you have to play by the established rules until you’re in a position to set your own. If you can turn out quality material that connects with people on time, eventually you’ll work yourself into a valuable enough position to set stronger boundaries. Until then, there’s no reason why a publisher should take a risk on you, the unknown quantity, when there’s someone else in the stable who can turn out solid work on a reliable schedule.

Got a royalty statement from an anthology. Decent sales, but not enough to make additional royalties from the advance, which is what I expected. However, there’s no reason this book can’t have legs and continue to grow, so I have no doubt we’ll see something down the line. Of course, I’ll have to do my part to kick up sales, won’t I?

I’ve been battling a bit of a sore throat the past few days. The logical, physical reasons have to do with going in and out of air conditioning, stress, etc. The psychological reason is that I don’t feel like I’m being heard, as though I’ve “lost my voice” in certain areas of my life.

And, it’s mostly because I haven’t clearly asked for what I need. In fact, I’m trying to figure out how to do so. I’m pretty lucky with the people in my life – the majority of them, when asked directly for something, either: help me if they can; share resources or point me in the right direction; or tell me upfront if they can’t. All positive, all good, even if it’s not necessarily the answer I was looking for. But if I don’t communicate clearly in the first place, how can they make a decision?

The internal work never stops, and sometimes, it kinda sucks. But even after just writing it out – my throat’s already better.

Polished the articles. They needed more revising – mostly cutting – than I’d hoped. It took me most of the day. I rewarded myself with a new purse for fall and some nice wine with dinner. Both red. The long article’s still too rough, in my opinion, to send. I’m taking it with me and working on it over the next few days, then will send the polished version off on the day it’s due, Friday. Put off the other short article that’s not contracted.

The majority of the listings on the job boards suck this week – most of them want unlimited work for pennies. No, thanks. Hopefully, it’s just because this is the last week of summer and things will pick up after Labor Day.

Of course, when I get back from Maine the second week of September, I can post my services ads up on Craigslist and see how that goes. No point in posting them now if I’m not going to be around.

Good morning’s work on Good Names. The murderer is confessing. It has to be carefully structured, but fortunately, it’s a highlight of the book. It’s working. I will miss working on the piece for the next few days while I’m out of town. I can see the finish line – it’s just a case of reaching it.

Off to the theatre, and then out of town and offline for a few days. I’m looking forward to it!

Devon

Good Names – 69,382 words out of est. 75,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
69 / 75
(92.0%)
Published in: on August 28, 2007 at 7:58 am  Comments (7)  

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cooler

Pant, pant, pant.

Writing marathon yesterday.

Post-Travers article written, polished, out.

25 short articles, researched and written. I have to type them and polish them, but they can start going out today.

Good start on the long article. Will finish it today; polish and send it out tomorrow morning before I leave.

Several ideas for the other short article for the other publication, which I’m going to give a shot.

Such is the life of a freelance writer.

Right now, especially, I have no patience with “ooh, I haven’t been able to write for days/weeks/months because of (pick on ) lack of inspiration, family, no time, etc. etc.”

Guess you don’t have to worry about eating and paying bills, then do you? Got someone else to cover those. Lucky you.

And the writing boards are rife with those whines right now, and I just want to slap some of these people upside the head. So I’m taking a break from the boards, because, really, it’s not my business and not my problem, and I can choose not to engage.

There’s nothing wrong with choosing not to write, for whatever reason. Your life choices are YOURS. But own it, take responsibility for it, and stop making excuses.

When you rely on the writing to pay the bills, you don’t have the luxury of a lack of inspiration. It’s what separates the pros from the amateurs. And it doesn’t mean you can’t love what you do, just because it’s how you make your living.

And it’s amazing how quickly “inspiration” kicks in when there’s a deadline looming!!!

Did I “wanna” yesterday?

No.

I WANTED to sit around with a good book and a nice bottle of wine.

Did I write?

Sure I did.

Did I enjoy it?

Yeah. In spite of some struggle, lots of pacing, some frustration, yes I did. Because I my vocation is also my passion.

And I wasn’t going to whine, because the jam I was in this weekend was of my own making – not paying proper attention to the contracts. Although, looking back at the emails, I did bring it up with the former editor and she confirmed the dates I had on my calendar, not the dates on the contract.

Too bad the new editor didn’t see it the same way, in spite of receiving copies of the confirmation emails.

Well, get it out of the way and then I don’t have to worry about it all month, right?

Managed to get in some good work on Good Names this morning. We’re in the climactic chapter, where Althea and Ruby unmask and face down the murderer. Then I have two more chapters, and the first draft is DONE. I’d hoped to get it done before I left for Philly, but no such luck, thanks to these other articles. I’m not dragging a 275 page manuscript on the bus to work on it. However, I figure that mid-September is a pretty reasonable time to aim for a finish date.

It won’t hit 100K – more like 75K. Which is perfect, because then it gives me 25K of room to fill out with details, descriptions, and more red herrings. It will be a nice skeleton on which to hang the final book.

Sunday’s my night off from evening workouts, but I missed it. Good Yoga session this morning, and I’m looking forward to a solid weight training session tonight.

Devon

Good Names — 68,382 words out of est. 75,000 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
68 / 75
(90.7%)
Published in: on August 27, 2007 at 7:25 am  Comments (7)  

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, sticky, icky, cloudy

Imagine my surprise when I pulled out a contract to check something on Friday and discovered that, instead of the September 30 delivery date my editor and I agreed on, the delivery date, for 25 short articles was AUGUST 31. And my editor has since left, with someone totally inexperienced taking over.

It’s no one’s fault but mine. I know this particular organization has degenerated over the past few years into disorganization. I should have been on top of it. So, not only do I have to finish the 1700 word article that I knew was due, I have to get the 25 short articles researched, written, polished, and out.

And it has to happen before I leave town on Tuesday, because I won’t be back until they’re due, and I can’t have them hanging over my head while I’m gone, or I won’t be able to concentrate.

On top of that, I have to write the post-Travers article today.

And I don’t feel like doing a damned thing. I’m tired and cranky and hot.

Too damn bad.

I wrote 2 of the articles on Friday night, and 12 more yesterday, so I only have 9 more to write today. It won’t be fun, but it will get done.

And there’s another article I SHOULD get done and out by tomorrow, but I don’t know if I can.

It’s even more frustrating because I only have myself to blame. But, that’s the way it goes.

Wrapped up the CT job last night and came home. Was pretty much a waste of food once I got here. After all, I had three cats who DEMANDED that I make up to them for being gone all week. So I did. I’m almost forgiven, even though I unpacked and repacked in front of them (they were not amused) so I’m set to go Tuesday morning.

I managed to get a bit of work done on Good Names this morning, but that’s it.

Back to research/writing/polishing.

Devon

Good Names – 67,382 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
67 / 100
(67.0%)
Published in: on August 26, 2007 at 10:12 am  Comments (3)  

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Another quick visit to feed the cats and check the computer, then back to the CT gig.

Dug in and focused on the work in the short time I was here yesterday. Caught up on some email. Scoured the job boards. Prepared and sent 5 pitches. Meant to take 3 more with me because they need more thought and planning. Left them on the kitchen table. Baked brownies. Switched over clothes – it’s been cold the past few days, but now it’s supposed to get hot, and I had to have the appropriate clothes.

Went back to CT. Worked on the material for the Dialogue Workshop for the Muse Online Conference. The exercises and material online needs to be handled a bit differently than an in-person class. Worked on a couple of articles that I need to get out before I go out of town next week.

Caught up on email this morning. Will check the job boards and see if there’s anything worth pitching, pick up the laundry, do some bills, go to the post office, and head back to CT.

I’m so happy to see that hats and gloves are the fall fashion rage. Of course, my boxes of both are tucked into storage where I can’t get at them. (Sigh).

I got a good start on the next Lit Athlete Column – several sets of interview questions have already been returned. That’s the way I like to work. Meanwhile, some of the profiles I’m doing for THE SAVVY GAL and FEMMEFAN – it’s like pulling teeth. You know, we’re all busy, but when someone’s trying to shine a positive light on your hard work, at least show them the respect of responding within a reasonable length of time. Some of these sports that are underwritten about are ignored because the participants and administrators can’t be bothered to communicate. If no one knows what you’re doing, they’re not going to give you their money, so grow up and learn to communicate. It doesn’t take any more time to be gracious than it does to be rude. And you’ll get better results.

Some good work on Good Names and “Revenge Tangents”. Pushed back the word count for the latter – again. Well, it is what it is.

Have to do the rest of the paperwork and then back to CT. I can’t tell you what an enormous difference it makes to work someplace where it’s quiet – no braying women or screaming construction workers under the window; no repetitive machine noise; no arguments from the apartment next door, or loud music at 2 AM from the apartment below. I’m actually getting creative work done. And I don’t even mind the lack of television – I’m reading, writing, and working out more. Heaven!

My cats are really mad at me, though!

Travers tomorrow: My picks for the Big Race are Street Sense and Sightseeing. Hard Spun is my choice in the King’s Bishop. I haven’t studied the rest of the card yet, so I can’t say how I’m going to bet.

Back to work!

Devon

Good Names — 66,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
66 / 100
(66.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” — 12,375 words out of est. 15,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
12 / 15
(80.0%)