April 23, 2007

Monday, April 23, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and hot!

It’s supposed to hit 85 degrees today! Nice to stand in the sun for awhile, after all the cold and damp.

Late start today. Acupuncture was wonderful yesterday, although I’ve never had so many needles before. But I feel much better, and I had the first good, long yoga session this morning in over a week. I also came across some new sequences for specific problems that I’m going to integrate into my practice.

I have to finish the assignment for Confidential Job #1 today. This one is a slog – really difficult to get through. The first two were great. But that’s sometimes the way it goes, and it’s one of the challenges of the gig, right?

I have to do some negotiating with a gig I landed last week, and see what’s on the job boards.

I want to spend some time outside in the sunshine as well.

Spooky’s owner returned the carrier last night (a pleasant surprise). If I understood him correctly, Spooky’s back. But the whole point of removing him was to take him to a safe, flood-free environment, so I don’t know what the heck is going on. Well, if he’s back, he’ll be at the door any time. The girls keep running to the door, so it’s likely he’s around again.

Someone’s moved in upstairs (the apartment’s been empty for over a year) – and he’s not light on his feet! 😉 The girls are NOT amused – they keep looking at the ceiling and frowning.

I’m sure we’ll have another city-wide meeting on the flooding, and now that the county and state are getting involved, maybe something will get done. However, if it’s not done by hurricane season – which is, what? Like, June? We’re screwed. You can’t undo 30 years of overbuilding in a month and change.

Fortunately, we have Spitzer instead of Pataki as our governor now, and he’s actually been touring around to look at the damage himself (and NOT just in Mamaroneck, the way Hilary has for photo ops), so maybe something will get done. To answer Yvonne’s question, I’m 25 miles north of Manhattan, on the Long Island Sound.

I want to pack away all the materials for the Plum essay and use that crate for the research material for Good Names. I hope to get back to that, and I have ideas for some short stories spiraling around . . .

Better get to it.

Still no landline (thank you, Verizon), but with a cell phone and the DSL, I’m okay. I expect credit for the days missed, but I can deal. As I said, the guys out in the field are great — it’s the customer service people who need training in dealing with people who’s been through a crisis.

What I really want to do is sleep for about a week. On the one hand, I’m okay. On the other, I’m not. It’s part of the process of dealing with something like this. It’s the people who refuse to even attempt any sort of coping with whom I have no patience, because they put a greater burden on everyone else, instead of pulling their weight. And those who whine the most usually are the ones who had the least at stake and lost the least. If we all help each other, we can get through it and figure out a way to improve things. If some people make it all about them (and they’re not the ones who need the help), it hurts everyone.

Devon

Published in: on April 23, 2007 at 9:33 am  Comments (7)  

April 7, 2007

Saturday, April 7, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

For crying out loud, it SNOWED yesterday! Not much, but . . .I mean, really!

I can not believe how much time all the paperwork takes in reference to the three regular gigs. I’m not talking about the actual assignments – I’m talking about tracking the assignments, incoming and outgoing deadlines, invoices, and payments, and the various instructions that fly back and forth. But I figure if I take the time now, at the beginning, to set up solid systems, I can just plug in the rest as I go, and keep track. It’s quite different than the one-offs, where you just pitch, negotiate, contract, do it, send it, and get paid, and move on to the next thing.

Thank goodness for Excel!

Worked on the Writer’s Outline for Good Names yesterday morning. Found a few holes to plug, a few character bits to strengthen. In general, it’s coming along well. It feels different than anything else, but it feels right.

Spent the afternoon at the local library, researching turn of the century architecture, etc. in Chicago and New York. I found lots of good information – and two books that I have to hunt down and purchase. There’s one book in particular, on the Mississippi, that not only serves Good Names, but will be a big help in the restructuring of The Widow’s Chamber.

I had to leave the reference room because it was so frigging loud – this is a LIBRARY, people! Shut the fuck up! And, if someone is on the cell phone – they should be excommunicated from the sacred space of the library!!! I long for the days of stern librarians!

I moved upstairs to “the quiet room” and we were all quiet – although, I swear, I ended up on the squeakiest chair known to man and was mortified. And then I got distracted by a biography of Daphne du Maurier (which I now want to own, too) and ended up spending far more time there than I should. On the sale shelf, I found an almost-new copy of Patricia Wells’s Bistro Cooking. It’s one of my favorites, my copy is in storage, this one was only $2 – it is now mine. I can always use it as a contest prize when I get my own copy out of storage, or put it up on BookMooch or something.

On my way home, I stopped at Patisserie Salzburg and treated myself to a chocolate éclair. Not just any chocolate éclair – this one had chocolate filling, not custard! Yum!

Came home and those idiots with their leaf blowers started up as soon as I walked in the door. They had an entire afternoon to be annoying – why did they wait until I got home? Personally, I think leaf blowers should be banned – they’re bad for our ears and nerves, and lousy for the environment, the way they belch exhaust. Use a rake, people!

Did some online research about Chicago – still don’t have the information I need about neighborhoods, but I have some on hotels, restaurants, stores, etc., that I can use. I might pop off an email to the Chicago Historical Society over the weekend for some specifics. I also found some books at Strand – but I have to restrain myself for the moment.

The first chapter of Good Names is starting to bubble up, but I want to have the details of place IN PLACE, in my mind at least, before I start. Place is an additional character in this book.

I’m off to a friend’s for a few hours today, to do laundry and maybe get some work done. And then I need to come home and do more on The Project.

Confidential Job #2 keeps adding more and more things to the confidentiality agreement, which makes me think they are a little paranoid beyond a reasonable scope. I’m a bit skeptical about this gig. We’ll see.

I still don’t have my energy back from this bout of flu. I took most of the evening off yesterday and actually watched television (you know I’m not feeling like myself when that happens).

Oh, and down the street – they’ve started with the effing leaf blowers – already! Um, it’s spring, the leaves aren’t even out yet.

Harmony tagged me – I’ll post the results tomorrow.

Devon

January 27, 2007

Saturday, January 27, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

But at least the heat is working again.

I gave myself a day off from writing, because there was a lot to do, not much time, and there was no point in driving myself crazy, or it wouldn’t all get done. I ran most of my errands, cut the ones that could be put off without disruption to anyone else’s schedule.

I went over to help my mom with the dog. He’s much better – the problem was that he literally made himself sick with terror and worry. My mom is very good with animals (which is why she’s a professional pet sitter), and, between us, we reassured him, and he was much, much better by the end of the day. He was back on his paws enough in an hour or two so he didn’t need to go to the vet, after all. My mom winds up the job she’s currently on today and will be with him full-time until his people return – although we have no idea when that will be. He’s a very sweet dog, but doesn’t know many words, and that lack of comprehension makes him even more scared of what’s going on. He’s never been left before, or around strangers, so the past month of being shuffled from pillar to post without his main human has been devastating for him. At least my mom can provide some stability for him over the next week or so. He already adores her, and he even brought me his favorite stuffed toy as soon as I walked in the door.

I spent most of the day with the dog next to me, reading Philip R. Craig’s Off Season. Craig’s series is set on Martha’s Vineyard, and it’s well done. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in it.

One of the things I like best about “discovering” a previously unknown-to-me author who has a lot of books to his (or her) name is the lovely anticipation of having a whole list of books to work my way down. I have that now, with both Philip Craig and Archie Mayor, and it means lots to which to look forward.

Rearranging parts of “The Man on the Yoga Mat” and it works better this way.

Did some work on Changeling this morning. Had trouble getting back into it. I’m in a complicated section that needs a large swath of uninterrupted time, which I don’t have, so it’s a mere skeleton with lots of squiggles here and there as I remember bits and pieces necessary to the puzzle.

Off to shower and then to the theatre for 2 shows/14 hour day. On a train just after ten; will return around one a.m., grab a few hours’ sleep and then go back for the matinee. It’ll be the last time for awhile I do this particular track (the heavy coat track) because the new permanent person starts on Tuesday, and hopefully, the actors will have some stability for a bit. As stable as anything can be in the transient world of theatre.

Monday, I have to be very, very focused to get out a whole bunch of paperwork stuff that MUST go out before the end of the month.

So I won’t have recovery time. But, then, this entire week will have to be about supreme organization of time, with no excuses.

Oh, yeah, and in The Sequel: Building’s under contract, so who knows what fresh hells await?

Devon

Chasing the Changeling – 17,967 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
17 / 45
(37.8%)

January 19, 2007

Friday, January 19, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowy and cold

New poem over on Circadian: “Water Diamonds of Joy” by Danielle Frézier.

I’m researching markets, trying to find the most likely fit for some pieces of which I’m extremely fond, but which aren’t easily categorized. I often feel like I’m banging my head against a wall – especially if a publication pays well, and then I read it and can’t stand any of the writing in it.

And then I realized: genre boxes. At this point, it’s almost genre-within-genre boxes.

For instance: female-centric fiction is now shelved in romance if it has so much as a kiss in it. It can be urban fantasy (Hell’s Belles) or action adventure or paranormal or whatever cross-genre imaginative, wonderful creation it is – but it’s “romance”.

While, if it’s male-centric, it’s fantasy or sci/fi.

It’s as though if the sex has any sort of positive emotion behind it, it’s shoved into the romance category, even if that isn’t the main focus of the story. If the sex is clinical, unemotional, or used simply for power, then it’s sci/fi or fantasy or magical realism shelved with fantasy.

There are exceptions, of course: Mercedes Lackey, CJ Cherryh, Diana Paxson, et al. But they broke away from the pack, no matter where the book was shelved (as Jackie Kessler will do with Hell’s Belles, and, before people start having hissies at me, I do NOT think romance is a ghetto genre; I just think HB is more urban fantasy/magical realism that straight-up romance novel).

Side note on Hells’ Belles – I went to a chain for it because I could not wait ONE MORE MINUTE – but I couldn’t find it. So I asked at the desk, and the clerk searched for it and walked me to the romance section, yanked it out and said, “Who was the dumbass who decided it should go here? I HATE working for a chain!” – and yes, she’d read the book! And loved it! (The woman obviously has taste).

What we need are more fantasy/magical realism publishing houses run by women, who won’t stringently categorize their submissions. I think both Samhain Publishing and Freya’s Bower/Wild Child Publishing are working to fill that niche nicely, but we need more.

So, who’s going to step up to the plate?

Speaking of genres, I realized, sadly, yesterday, that there isn’t any one magazine that is fully relevant to my life. I cancelled a bunch of subscriptions recently, and the subscriptions I have only address pieces of the life: Yoga Journal, Health, Writer’s Digest (which will not be renewed – it’s the same material recycled every few months for newbies – I need information for mid-career working writer), Elle, Vogue (I’m in wardrobe, remember? Clothes are part of my job), Organic Gardening (yes, I’m dreaming), National Wildlife (I’m an NWF member) PEN Journal (I’m a PEN member), most issues of Vogue Patterns (I sew), and, well, New Jersey’s stud handbook (horses, not men, and I have no idea why they send it to me).

There are tons of magazines aimed at married women or women whose sole purpose in life is to marry. But there’s nothing for an intelligent, single, in-her-prime working artist.

Step up, people! Go create the magazine of my dreams. I’m not the only one of my kind out there!!!

It was brought home even more clearly when I read the draft of my friend’s new play. It’s wonderful and touching and disturbing and heart-rending all at once. I knew he’d draw me in – he always does. He’s one of those writers who defies genre – call him “boxless” or “unboxed” or, what he truly is, brilliant.

I’m talking, of course, of Chaz Brenchley, who understands what makes humans (and other beings) tick better than we do ourselves, and is brave enough to expose it. If you’ve never read a Chaz Brenchley book, go order one right this minute – and if you’re in the U.S., Bridge of Dreams is a good place to start. He’s lyrical; compelling; a stunning linguist; understands the heights and depths of love, passion, turmoil, manipulation, loyalty, and pain; and helps the reader see the world (any world about which he writes) in a new way. Sometimes the beauty of his prose literally takes my breath away.

His work is beyond genre. It’s too expansive and too honest to fit in a box. Plus, he can write in any genre – mystery, fantasy, or, as in this play, naturalism/realism.

And he certainly does not get the acclaim he deserves. There’s another writer out there selling millions of books out there, who’s at a point of hiring people to co-write/ghostwrite because “he has too many ideas” – yeah, make me gag – whose, writing makes me want to go beyond gag and downright throw up, it’s so damn sloppy and formulaic. That’s one of the writers I sometimes joke about, who I think uses “global replace” for the character name and the location.

There’s nothing wrong with selling well. More power to anyone who earns the right to do so (Janet Evanovich and Tess Gerritsen immediately come to mind in that category).

And Chaz should be right up there with them.

(stepping down off soapbox, polishing it, putting it away).

I also realized (hey, it was snowing, I had lots of “realizing” time) how many married women with whom I’m acquainted, or meet in my travels, who live away from major cities – don’t have friends. It’s like when they signed the marriage certificate, they signed away their right to have people around them not related to them whose company they enjoy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, kids. You know what? The damn husband can take the kids one night a week or whatever so you can do something fun. You work just as hard. Because any time you wrap up your entire life in another individual, you are asking the Fates to kick your ass.

And it’s not the guys who EVER give up their friends.

Nor should they. But neither should the wives. Everyone needs a group of people around them whose company they enjoy on a regular basis. People who don’t have ego-centric agendas, but are just trying to struggle along on the journey, and are companions, not competitors.

It doesn’t seem to be so bad in cities – I guess there are so many people in such a small space, you have enough regular contact with some of the same people that you become friends in spite of yourself.

Speaking of friends, if I don’t get out of “hermit mode”, I’m going to be in big trouble. My friends are getting cranky. “We know you’re writing, but we need to see you ONCE in awhile –and the blue moon’s in May! We don’t want to wait that long!”

So I better book some social engagements! 😉

Did some good work on Changeling this morning. Pieces are fitting into place nicely. They surprise me, but it’s working.

Gave myself the night off last night to read Janet Evanovich’s Plum Love, the between-the-numbers Valentine book. It’s fun and cute and sweet in a good way. And very short – I read it cover to cover in an hour and a half.

I’m on my way to the post office to mail Pickles’s toy and get stamps and mail some bills. Then, if the roads clear up enough, I want to drive up to Mohegan Lake. The Jo-Ann’s is about to close. People are furious – the next closest one is over the Tappan Zee Bridge in a hateful mega-mall – the money you save on the fabric is spent on gas and tolls, and the frustration factor is so high, why bother? What really makes me angry is that the company refuses to acknowledge or respond to the community’s upset. They won’t respond to calls, emails, or reporters. They have so little respect for the people who shop at their store and are such COWARDS, they won’t step up and deal.

So I’m going to Mohegan Lake to say good-bye to the workers who’ve been so good to me over the last few years (who are NOT being shifted to other stores, but simply fired), and then. . .no more Jo-Ann’s for me. Why should my money go to a company that disregards the needs of its customers? I’ve gotten too sensitive of voting with my wallet when it comes to things like that. I don’t know where I’m going to get reasonably priced quilting fabric around here – to me, $11/yard, as one of the other county stores sells is not reasonable for calico. So I’ll have to figure something out. Ordering online is not an option. Fabric is tangible and textural. I need to see it and feel it before I buy it.

If the roads remain icky, I’ll go tomorrow. But we’re supposed to have gale force winds, and I don’t want to be hit by a tree.

Pulled a stack of job leads off the internet yesterday, and will send out the pitches this weekend.

And I have to print off the quarterly newsletter and get it in the mail. No point in writing the damned thing if I don’t mail it.

And then . . .back to the page.

Devon

Chasing the Changeling – 11,467 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

11 / 45
(24.4%)