Wed. Nov. 18, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 182 — Trying to Stay Balanced

image courtesy of Manfred Richter via pixabay.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Waxing Moon

Neptune and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

It’s been snowing in Western and Central MA.

There’s a post up on Ink-Dipped Advice about not begging for work.

Yesterday was pretty satisfying, on a creative level. I started finally writing the Susanna Centlivre play yesterday, and I like the way it’s going, at least for a first draft. Working out a lot of it in my head before actually writing was helpful. I’m really delighted by the relationship between Susanna and Joseph.

I had to do a Trader Joe’s run. The lines are back to the length they were in April. The store was pretty well stocked, although, even on a Tuesday, already some items were selling out.

Since I was in the same plaza, I also dashed next door to Christmas Tree Shops for some more cookie tins. They’d sold out of the cute little trucks, but I found some others that are pretty and will do.

And bought some things I didn’t really need, but liked.

Came home, put the CTS stuff in quarantine, decontaminated the groceries and myself. And there was the morning. We’re back to it taking a half a day to do a couple of errands.

I got some client work done, some admin done. I’m spinning ideas for holiday ads for a client, but haven’t landed on the right one. Something with sparkles, but not sure how to pull it off yet.

Then, I worked on the revisions for “Just Jump in and Fly” which will be re-released after Thanksgiving for the upcoming holiday season. It’s a magical fantasy/comedy/romance short under the Ava Dunne name, playing with Yuletide myths, and is still one of my favorite pieces I ever wrote. I need to do one more proof, and then I can sign off on it.

I re-read “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall”, which is a holiday ghost story/romance I wrote a few years ago. I still like most of it. I need to add a couple of scenes to put in some more conflict, but that should be ready to re-release by the end of November, too.

Which, of course, meant I had to make changes on the links on the websites and, as new buy links go live, keep them updated.

I’m also working on the promo campaign for the shorts, and figuring out how to promote the TRINITY OF TEASERS, which is a free read of the first three chapters of the first book in each series.

It was a busy day. I should have gotten out some more LOIs, but I didn’t.

I reached for the pizza pan and somehow hurt my back again, which made me feel old and grumpy.

Received the next book for review, which is good.

Knowledge Unicorns was about steady work yesterday. They’ve had a lot of assignments piled up, with the workload increasing. It’s as though they’re being punished for learning online. But we spent some time on everyone’s assignments, offered support to each other and ideas, and I think they’re in good shape. ALL of their grades have gone up this year, since we’ve been working together. We – meaning the parents, the kids, and I – are working hard to make sure that this isn’t a negative, non-learning, back-sliding time, the way the “experts” who’d rather see kids go to school and die, just so they get their reopening numbers, claim. I spent a LOT of time every day looking for additional resources and tools and fun stuff to add to their curriculums, and to expand on what they’re supposedly learning. I don’t want them to feel restrained by online learning, but expanded.

The parent session after the kids are done is useful, too, and it’s nice to see the parents making virtual friends with each other and able to offer support.

But I admit, by the end of the sessions, I’m tired. So I can only imagine how exhausted the parents must be every day.

Watched AUNTIE MAME on DVD, the Rosalind Russell version. Wow, she’s good. Her timing, her ability to communicate multiple layers of meaning in a gesture, a glance, a pause. Truly wonderful. I didn’t like the way Ito was portrayed most of the time, although he had a couple of good scenes. The way Mame fought back against the anti-Semitism was good, but would be considered too subtle nowadays. It was a movie with a lot of contrasts and some inconsistencies, but Rosalind Russell was terrific.

Tired when I finally fell into bed.

Slept well, though. That’s a positive from the curfew. No drag racing to wake me up at 2 in the morning.

Getting some writing done this morning. Then I have to spend a few hours onsite at a client’s, then home to decontaminate, join Remote Chat, and proofread in the afternoon. Maybe, if the onsite escapade hasn’t stressed/worn me out completely, I can get some more writing done.

Onward, and trying to be safe.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

I’m back. I lived a lifetime in a few days, and had my hands full with my elderly relatives and their primary care person, who was also under the weather. Unfortunately, I can’t go into details without invading their privacy, much as I would like your opinions on some of the events. Let’s just say it was – and is – complicated.

We had some beautiful days, though. I managed to stop for awhile at one of the Ongonquit beaches. On another day, I drove up to Naples and around Long Lake and Sebago Lake. Just gorgeous.

I stopped at three great restaurants: Amore Breakfast in Ongonquit, The Stone Dog Café in North Windham, and my old favorite, The Egg and I, in Ogonquit. Of course, we stopped at The Stonewall Kitchen to stock up. They have a new Roasted Apple grilling sauce that’s wonderful, and a Mango Lime Salsa. Plus, I needed the Garlic Teriyaki and the Wasabi Ginger sauces.

I continued reading Will in the World, and taking notes for the various projects it feeds. It truly is one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. The author, Shakespearean scholar Stephan Greenblatt, has a play he co-wrote, Cardenio, opening at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge. I’d like to get up there to see it. It’s only running until June 8, and I’m not sure I can get up there within the time frame, but I’d like to.

I was disappointed in two other books I took up with me. Both were by authors I don’t know personally, but whose work I’ve read before, and who I understand from others are lovely people. Both sell very well, and I respect what they’ve achieved in the business. One author’s work I’d read before and liked; the other’s work I’d read before and it exasperated me, due to the lack of research and believability. The attitude that came across to me was, “well, I’m writing fiction, so who cares? I’m supposed to make it up.” I thought maybe I’d been unfair and should give Author #2 another chance with my money and time. Won’t make that mistake again. The ideas were fun, but poorly executed. The work took place overseas, and it was obviously she got her info from the tourist board and something like Wikipedia. There was no sense of anything unique about it – it was advertorial travel babble, not a true sense of place. And, while I thought some of the ideas were clever, the execution was poor. I know this author sells A LOT, but, although some of the ideas are clever and fun, I find the writing sloppy and all the protagonists and antagonists always sound exactly the same, no matter from which country they supposedly originate. There’s no cadence, there’s no individuality in either people or place. And it drives me nuts.

At least there weren’t any typos. That author has a good copyeditor!

The other book, by the author whose work I previously liked, was an even bigger disappointment. Again, some interesting ideas. But I loathed the female protagonist. There was absolutely no reason for me to give a damn whether or not she survived, much less succeeded in her quest. I hated her and wished she’d be killed off. She was weak, stupid, and selfish, and, when she had shown zero growth by the midpoint of the book and zero potential for it, I put the book down.

But no typos. 😉

I did read the last chapter to see if I should go back and read the second half of the book – couldn’t be bothered. Ick. Which is a shame, because I’ve really enjoyed other work by this author. It doesn’t put me off the author, unless the next few books alienate me as well. I think writers should write whatever they want to explore, and not every book is going to please every reader. It is the writer’s right to follow the vision. Once I’ve decided I like a writer, it usually takes several books to alienate me.

I got more writing done than I expected, which is good. Of course, none of it was on what I planned to work. It was an idea I had while in Maine, and Maine is practically a character in it. It means doing some research on the natural history of Maine, but that will be fun.

I also got some ideas for a new Fearless Ink brochure, which I will sketch out and work on this week. I found some places for whom I’d really like to write on this trip, but I need a new brochure, and I think I’m out of business cards.

The mail tampering in this building has gotten out of control. It’s time to bring in the US Postal Inspectors. I had someone stop by to pick up the mail every day I was gone after work – and by the time the person got here, the mail that didn’t fit into the boxes had been tossed. I’ve talked to management over and over and OVER about this, and we have an eyewitness to the perpetrator, who was spoken to about the fact that removing someone’s mail is a felony. His response was to shrug, walk away, and keep doing it. Time to bring in the feds. I put up a poster provided by the post office with the consequences of mail tampering and it was ripped off the wall during the day. Gee, wonder who’s doing it? Three guesses, bet you’ll get it in one. I’m going to keep printing them and keep putting them up. It is my right, as it is my right to have un-tampered mail. I should not have to pay for a post office box because building employees are thieves. I warned building management what the consequences would be of ignoring this situation; now it’s time to show them I’m serious.

Yesterday was a raw, rainy, cold day, so of course I was running around like crazy and got soaked to the skin. I’d had to cancel out of a few things because of complications in Maine and here at the building. But I was still running around enough to be soaked to the skin.

On the up side, I stopped in a bookstore because I wanted something different. I wanted new-to-me authors and something I wasn’t being paid to read.

I picked up two books. One, Summers at Castle Auburn, is by one of my favorite authors, Sharon Shinn. The other is an anthology called Misspelled, edited by a new-to-me author (with an amazing track record) named Julie E. Czerneda. I started reading it on the train, and all I have to say is:

WOW!

What a great, witty, charming, intelligent, inventive collection of stories! I can’t wait to go to the bookstore and get more by these authors. I sat down and read the whole anthology late last night and into this morning, cover to cover. I liked every single story in it, but my favorites were “Trippingly off the Tongue” by Lesley Livingston, “8 rms, full bsmt” by Kristine Smith, “Chafing the Bogyman” by Kristen Britain,, “A Perfect Circle” by Kent Pollard, and “Crosscut” by S.W. Mayse (every writer should read this one). It was actually hard to pick these, because I liked all the stories so much. The first two mentioned particularly enchanted me. Livingston either just had a novel come out, or one is coming out this summer, and I’ll definitely buy it. I don’t want to tell authors what to write (hating it so much myself), but I hope Kristine Smith does more with her story’s characters. I can’t stand golf and Kristen Britain’s story still captured me. I don’t game or know anything about gaming, but Pollard’s story was so well written it hooked and carried me. All of the stories are worth reading – the inventiveness, the quality of writing, the flashes of humor!

Bookstore, here I come!

What a great way to end the week!

Tons of errands to run this morning, and bills to pay. And then I have to buckle down and have a very productive writing weekend. Deadlines are looming, some new contracts came in, and next month’s bills will be here before I want them.

A new idea sprang fully formed into my head. I’ll make some notes on it, and put it in the queue.

Devon

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thursday, January 31, 2008
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I forgot to mention my disappointment with REAPER the other night. The show still made me laugh, but there was a lapse of logic (what? There’s logic in the show?) that I couldn’t get past with the bugs. The type of bug changed from shot to shot – close shots were some gross coackroachy-beetle things while the flying shots and other close-ups were bees. Without explanation or reference. Looked to me like someone skipped doing the symbolism research. And when you’re dealing with paranormal elements, it matters. Even fictional worlds need to have internal logic, and when the logic is breached, it needs to be dealt with, not “oh, no one will notice.”

I’ve mentioned, a few times in the past weeks, my frustrations with the job listings. I decided to stop visiting some of my regular stops on the job hunt trail because, while the host of the site is making a buck running the freelance site and purports to champion the rights of freelancers to earn a decent living – the jobs listed are still for piddly-ass pay. To me, that’s hypocritical. If you’re telling writers not to work for peanuts, stop listing the $20 jobs.

Buh-bye.

It’s easy to get into the habit of visiting the sites instead of trolling around doing one’s own research, but when the sites are listing the low-pay jobs, you start thinking that’s all that’s out there. And it’s not.

So, it’s a little more leg work up front, but a heftier paycheck.

It’s like anything – the amount of effort you put in is proportionate to what you get out. Or, at least, it should be. If you’re putting a lot of effort in and getting pennies, you need to step back and re-think your strategy.

Yes, we ARE in a recession. Sometimes you need to take a job you don’t really want to make some quick cash. But don’t settle. Always strive to use each gig as a building block towards a better and better-paying one.

I continue to have problems with the email accounts connected to the websites on the 1and1 host. So, if you’ve sent me mail and I haven’t answered, it’s because I haven’t been able to get into the account. Almost all week, I’ve gotten the “Server Error 500” again. And when I report it, Customer Un-support ignores me. This has now gone on regularly for months. They’re charging for full service, even though they’re not providing it.

I did some research on other hosts, and found a few more possibilities. I want to put the new websites on one particular host, and then I’ll probably slowly switch the Devon Ellington, Cerridwen’s Cottage, and Fearless Ink sites to a different host over time. I hate giving up the template for the Cerridwen site – I think it’s magnificent – but maybe by then I’ll have figured out how to design one of my own.

Because you see, when the server error comes up, it’s not like the mail stacks up and waits – it vanishes. And then, when I can finally get in, especially to Fearless Ink, I receive angry emails from potential clients wondering why I didn’t get back to them. So 1and1’s ineptness (not to mention rudeness) is costing me money. And that can’t happen. They came highly recommended, their customer service was supposed to be superb, and it’s been big fat pain since Day 2. Day 1 was good, but from Day 2 on, they’ve been a nightmare. I mean, it took a year from the time I switched the domains over from Yahoo (whose hosting is also run pretty badly) to get the information I needed to rebuild the sites. So, I’m doing a lot of consumer research before I make the next move, because it will be a damned nightmare, between all the address books and email accounts and everything else that need to be moved.

And I’m adding an alternate gmail address to the business emails going in and out of Fearless Ink.

And I’m certainly not stupid enough to try to make a move during a Mercury Retrograde! 😉

Spent a good portion of the day in bed, trying to coax away the migraine. Wasn’t particularly successful. I couldn’t switch off the brain, and was in the half-dozing, half-dream state. Some of it was good, working out plot whatevers on projects; some of it wasn’t so good, fretting about things beyond my control.

Started work on the material for Confidential Job #2.

Trying to sort out what needs to be written/polished/submitted when, so that it all gets done, I don’t drop the ball on any opportunities, but I’m also not spreading myself too thin. It’s a challenge. Too many possibilities; too few definites. And the definites MUST get priority.

Booked some for next week which pays quickly – always a good thing.

Back to work on Wyatt this morning. I had an excellent morning’s work, dived right back in. Then I’ve got a long list of errands all over the map (although I’m trying to plot a logical course); then a couple of hours for Confidential Job #2, and back to the polish of Tracking Medusa.

Because the focus tomorrow needs to be on the sci-fi horror western.

Devon

Wyatt — 12,290 words out of est. 20,000 (61.4%)

Published in: on January 31, 2008 at 9:51 am  Comments (8)  

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

The errands turned out to be Fool’s Errands – I’m trying to track down some material for a project, but no luck yet. I haven’t exhausted all my resources yet, so it’s no big deal, and it was good to be out and around.

I had a relaxing afternoon at my friend’s place in CT, reading, doing laundry, etc.

Returned home to more building crap. This is halfway civilized building crap, which will take place on Monday – when Mercury turns retrograde, with Mars and Saturn still retrograde – just shoot me now, okay? ‘Cause if the gun’s still loaded by Monday, I might just use it on someone else. Metaphorically speaking.

The whole thing flattened me with a migraine of the jabbing-the-icepick-through-my-eye variety.

Forgot to mention yesterday that I watched both episodes of Chuck the other and thought, for the most part, they were clever. They made me laugh a bunch of times, and that’s always a good thing.

I have to finish the material for Confidential Job #1 today – I forgot that it’s due on Monday. I wrote about 2K this morning on a fun little project that’s just for me, to blow off some steam, and now I’m ready to get back to Tracking Medusa. I’ve come up with a possible log line — in the shower, where some of my best material emerges. Either there or in Corpse Position after yoga. Because if I try to turn my brain into a void, it fills with stories.

The comment from the guy who says I watch too much TV made me laugh. I spent over twenty years on an eight show/week schedule and maybe got to watch 1-2 hours of television a week. So now, I actually watched about fifteen or twenty hours in the past month — and for once, I’m just flipping around channels instead of trying to catch up frantically on my own or my colleagues’ work — and some stranger’s telling me I watch too much TV! Too funny. (Eye roll).

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on January 26, 2008 at 10:27 am  Comments (3)  

Monday, July 9, 2007

Monday, July 9, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT (woo-hoo!)
Venus Retrograde
Hazy, hot, humid

Short story polished and out. Racing articles (horse and yacht) polished and out. Headache back – I think I need to go to the eye doctor and get my prescription changed.

I still have to muck through 25 pages of protocol for the NEXT America’s Cup Challenge. I skimmed it for the article – now I need to read it and understand it.

Tweaked the Fearless Ink website a bit to make the article markets list easier to read.

Finally put aside the dully written journal of a mediocre writer that I’ve attempted to read over the past few weeks. I’m not being paid to read it; I don’t enjoy reading it; so why bother?

Now I can get back to Hermione Lee’s excellent biography of Edith Wharton.

Speaking of paid to read, the material for Confidential Job #1 is a bit of uphill work this time around. I’m surprised – it seemed so promising at the beginning of it. But I’m having trouble getting through more than 50 pages at a time, and I have the deadline looming . . .

I have to rewrite the end of Chapter 10 of Tracking Medusa. I have it happen too quickly, and the action has too much impact on both characters to be simply glossed over. But I gave myself the night off last night. I’ll attack it all today.

Today’s agenda is to finish the restaurant article (I’ll contact the owner one last time – he doesn’t get back to me today, I’m not quoting him. I can’t blow the deadline because he “doesn’t have time” to respond to questions). I want to give a final polish to three short-short pieces and get them off, and then possibly get out a flash fiction submission – I think I’ve found a market for it, and it should take about ten minutes to prepare the submission, in spite of the hoops the publication wants contributors to jump through.

That’s one of the things I started doing: If the ad makes my eyes cross or gets on my last nerve, I skip it. Tell me what you want, where to send it, the word count, and the pay. And that’s it. Don’t have three pages of instructions. Because I can’t be bothered. There are plenty of other markets that pay more than you do who are concise, precise – and pay on time.

I have to go to Staples (I forgot on Saturday), put gas in the car, and also stop at the library to see if they have any Large Print mysteries on the sale shelves that I can take to my grandmother later this week. Yesterday wasn’t as beastly hot as they predicted, but who knows what today will bring?

Pretty soon the back-to-school supplies sales starts. And you know what that means! Packets of notebooks for pennies! I can hardly wait!

I also need to start another short story that’s due at the end of the month.

And I guess I should look at my contracts and see when those calendar pieces are due.

I’m writing some ads to put up on Craigslist – but I won’t post them until I get back from Maine next week. There’s no point in not being around to respond to responses, is there?

There seems to be a lack of common sense in our government regarding the wildfires and the flooding (gee, you think?). In areas where there’s flooding, use tanker trucks and flatbeds with large drums (not cute little rain barrels, but drums). Set them out, seal them as they fill, and send them to drought-stricken areas. You’d need several hundred trucks and drivers, and, eventually, special designs, but you’re creating jobs and helping mitigate floods – if the water’s going into drums, it’s not overfilling rivers and streets, and not flooding. Preferably hybrid trucks, but those probably still have to be designed. Meanwhile, in addition to using rainwater (not floodwater – you’re catching it before it’s down) on the fires burning, for crying out loud, douse dry tinder areas instead of sitting there with your thumb up your ass talking about “drought”. We live in the twenty-first century, people, not the eighteenth! USE technology and modern machinery. You can use bomb-sniffing dogs on the trucks to make sure no one brings through explosives masquerading as tanker trucks, and you’re taking the overflow from one area and bringing it to the areas that need it. It’s a simple solution and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. There doesn’t have to be a lot of paperwork involved either – you just need someone with intelligence running the program.

Some more interview requests also need to go out today, and then I should be on top of my deadlines. . .for the moment.

Not as much work as I’d like on Good Names this morning, but Mrs. Frasier is turning out to be quite a feisty character. She was supposed to be walk-through annoyance – but she’s much more than that.

Devon

Good Names – 33,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
34 / 100
(33.6%)

April 10, 2007

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I ended up trying to help my mom with her taxes yesterday, and that ate up most of the day. I have a feeling we’re going to get Turbo Tax and simplify things. It didn’t help that I went through everything, did all the calculations and then realized one of my early numbers was wrong!

Anyone else use Turbo Tax? What’s your experience?

Assignments from both Confidential Jobs arrived yesterday, so I have to put my nose to the grindstone and get those done. Fortunately, I’m excited about both assignments.

I ended up having to rewrite the beginning of Chapter Two of Good Names because they would have traveled from the stepmother’s house to the hotel via horse-drawn hacks – it was still a bit too early for cars to be common just then. After all, Henry Ford sold the first Model A to a Detroit doctor in 1903 – but it may have been later in the year than when the story opens. I’d rather not risk the inaccuracy, and put them in a hack instead. But I can still have them pass streetcars – Chicago had lots of streetcars at that time! But I also went further into the chapter. It makes it stronger.

Got out two freelance pitches and a request for more information to a third company. Printed off some other guidelines for a potential market – I have to look through my pieces and see if there’s anything appropriate.

Did the assignment for Confidential Job #2, wrote the report, and sent it off this morning. Keep your fingers crossed that they like the result and keep using me!

Off to the theatre for day work today, and then I have to rush back and across town for the meeting regarding the flood last month. I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to speak – it depends how much I disagree with what’s said!

Devon

Good Names — 3,562 words out of est. 100,000

Kristen King’s Inkthinker Query Challenge 2007 — 27 pitches out of 120 = 22.5%

March 1, 2007

Thursday, March 1, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cold and Rainy

I finally managed to get up the article “Other People’s Careers” on the Dog Blog yesterday. Can I just say how much I hate the new Blogger?

By the end of the day, you should be able to catch up on the past few days’ worth of Circadian Poems¸ finally up (I had Microsoft problems, it had nothing to do with WordPress), and the latest poetry news, and to check out Kemmyrk – and, if you have tarot questions, next Monday’s column is going to answer a few. Send them here.

Blogger’s newest annoyance, when I’m visiting friends’ blogs, is that it won’t give me the actual letters for visual verification. It simply says “visual verification” and the blank box, but not the letters I’m supposed to verify. So it takes five or six attempts to get the letters, then it tells me I didn’t enter them properly (which is total b.s.) and so on and so forth.

Why shouldn’t the spammers go through the hoops, not the legitimate readers?

Both shows were fine yesterday. Artie and I went to Whym, a fairly new eatery a little farther up Ninth Avenue than we planned to go. Décor nice. Artie chose the pork tenderloin with fig sauce, which was very good. Unfortunately, I had a quite mediocre chicken pot pie (I should have gone for the Mahi Mahi). Dessert, however, was excellent: warm chocolate cake for me and pear cobbler with cinnamon ice cream for Artie.

Chaz finally received the package (in Newcastle) with the filled Christmas stocking for his cat, Barry. Artie made the stocking and together we’d put in all kinds of things for cats to enjoy – and, according to Chaz, Barry’s enjoying it! The Royal Mail screwed up and sent it back when I’d sent it over for Christmas, but this time it got over there in only four days.

I’m reading In the Devil’s Garden, a book about food taboos arranged according to the Seven Deadly Sins. It’s fascinating, but it also makes me angry – the cruelties and the fact that so many people (and animals) have to suffer because of mentally ill rulers. It’s not a read-straight-through book or a good backstage book. I have to be able to pick it up and put it down.

Managed to catch an earlier train, which got me home at midnight instead of at 12:30. That meant I was able to get out two pitches before I went to bed last night. Keep your fingers crossed.

I can’t believe it’s already March. Here’s February’s Wrap-Up:

Done:
Query Challenge (12 queries out)
Circadian Poems
Kemmyrk
2 full weeks on the show

In Progress:
13-in-Play
Finish Chasing the Changeling
Biblio Paradise Newsletter out – Microsoft problems set this back; will go out by Mon.
Finish next Lit Athlete column – almost there
Real – did a bit of work, and then stopped
Tumble revision
“Illuminated Nude”
“The Man on the Yoga Mat”

Dropped/Postponed:
Work on DE site – I’m going to stick with this one for the moment
Revisions on Assumption of Right – I carried it around a lot, but didn’t actually start yet.
Fix-It Girl – although we talked about it at the show, and my colleagues got me excited about it again.
Typing Shallid – no time
Typing Token and Affections – no time
Restructure Thirteen Traveling Journals – ran out of time
Dixie Dust Rumors queries out – I focused on other queries instead

Additional:
The Project accepted and prep work begun
Tarot story for anthology discussed

Disappointments:
Getting sick and working on the show fulltime set everything back.

Successes:
Landing The Project
Article accepted by Notes in the Margin
Landing another steady gig

Reading:
The Tin Box by Holly Kennedy. Very good.
Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton. (re-read). Excellent.
Martha Gellhorn by Caroline Moorehead (unfinished). Excellent.
Bride and Groom by Susan Conant. Good.
Dinner at Deviant’s Palace by Tim Powers (unfinished). Excellent, but pushes a lot of buttons.
Natural Enemy by Jane Langton. Very good.
Ivy Days by Susan Allen Toth. Excellent
In the Devil’s Garden by Stewart Lee Allen (unfinished). Excellent, but not an easy read.
The Easy Way to Be Brilliant at Business Writing by Suzan St. Maur (unifinished). Very good.
Noel Coward’s Diaries. Excellent.

March To-Do List:

Circadian Poems

Kemmyrk

The Scruffy Dog Review Blog

Finish Lit Athlete Article

Prep The Project

Press Release for Ink in My Coffee Third Anniversary

Biblio Paradise Newsletter out

Restructure Thirteen Traveling Journals

Craig’s List Ads for Fearless Ink

Query Challenge

13-in-Play

Write anthology story due March 31

Finish Chasing the Changeling

Finish Tumble re-vision

Type Token and Affections

Type Shallid

Start revisions on Assumption of Right

Work on The Fix-it Girl

Work on Real

Finish “Illuminated Nude”

Finish “The Man on the Yoga Mat”

Get out Dixie Dust Rumors queries

Two and a half full-time weeks on the show

Good thing March is a long month!

Devon

February 24, 2007

Saturday, February 24, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Revolting and disgusting Microsoft corrupted all my files, research, layout, etc. AND the back-up for the newsletter that was supposed to go out this weekend. I’d done everything three weeks ago, before my sojourn in the city. I’d checked every file, once it was saved. It was in a protected box. And I put it in tonight and it’s all corrupt, can’t be retrieved, and I’m screwed.

Now, in the “help” files there are several different ways that Microsoft swears up, down and sideways will retrieve corrupted information including “open and repair” and “recover text from any file”.

They lie. I know rugs that don’t lie as much as Microsoft does.

So I have to start from scratch – all the articles, all the information, the layout, etc. – and hope I match the tone. I’ll do it as a “March” newsletter instead and hope for the best. I’m upset and disappointed because it was one of the best, merriest things I’d written in a long time, and would have generated a LOT of business.

Oh, yeah, and the mailing list I took six weeks to painstakingly put together – gone. AND the backup. I hadn’t run hard copies because I planned to keep copies of the final for my file, and, before I printed it, I was going to go over it all one last time.

What’s the point of making a back-up if it doesn’t actually BACK THINGS UP?

Damn Microsoft and damn Bill Gates even more, for heading a company that builds things to fail.

I re-wrote about a third of the newsletter last night. I figured I could use those hours productively instead of simply being upset. I’m getting there. I have to do some more things tonally. I THINK I have a good part of the mailing list written in longhand somewhere, if I can find it, so recreating it shouldn’t take the six weeks it took to create in the first place.

My friend who commented that looking at houses in bad weather’s supposed to be a good thing is absolutely right – I wouldn’t have minded tromping through them in the weather; unfortunately, I couldn’t get up to the area in which I’m looking because of the roads. For bad weather house-hunting, I carry a pair of slippers with me so I can leave my muddy boots on the doorstep and not tramp stuff through the house they so carefully cleaned so people can look at it. It’s tough on the seller in many ways to have people coming through the house – physically and emotionally – you never know if someone with horrible energy is going to show up and taint the place.

Lara tagged me for “What do you need to write?”

What I NEED to write is this:

Pen
Paper

That’s it. I am capable of writing anywhere, and I like to do first drafts in longhand (except for articles, which I find easier to do directly onto the computer).

In the best of all possible worlds, I LIKE to have a large desk, plenty of books around me, fresh flowers, and my little inspiring knick-knacks from here and there. I like to have music playing, sometimes, but if I’m writing fiction, it has to be instrumental only. Absolutely NO soundtracks or I start getting influenced by the piece for which the soundtrack was written. No lyrics, because they influence the dialogue. Sometimes, to get me into the mood for a character, I’ll play music I believe the character would play, but, when it comes down to the actual writing, it needs to be instrumental only. Usually some sort of jazz or jazz funk or Celtic or Nordic. Sometimes classical, if I’ve had a particularly stressful day.

When I’m writing non-fiction, I can listen to anything that strikes my fancy at that moment.

When I’m writing, I prefer to have the CD player on as opposed to the MP3. I like the sense of space in having the music fill the room. I use the MP3 if it’s noisy outside and the CD can’t cover it, or if I’m away from home and want to cut out noise or vibration.

To remind me of the sense of place, I like to have a bulletin board with photos of the location someplace where I can look up and get inspiration.

But I don’t NEED any of that. I need the pen and the paper, and then I drop down the well and live in the world of the piece.

So I tag Anita, Debra, and Rhian. What do you need when you write?

Tons to do today – as of Tuesday, I’m back fulltime on the show, and there will be little room for anything else. It’s difficult to spend the necessary (and, in this case , it is NECESSARY, not OPTIONAL) six hours a day on the writing business when I have to spend 14 hours at the theatre, but, for three weeks, that’s what I have to do.

I didn’t get any sewing done this week, which I’d hoped to do. I’m not going to stress about it, it’s not on a deadline. I’ll get it in when I can. The fabric’s not going anywhere – unless the cats drag it out of the bin and stash it.

Speaking of cats, Iris is playing with a ball that has a bell in it, chasing it up and down the living room. Although the tingling is slightly annoying (not a good pitch), it’s great to see her having so much fun with something so simple.

Did just a touch of work on Changeling this morning – I need t go back to the notes. Yesterday’s scene was unexpected and a happy surprise, but there are still a few points I need to hit. I wonder if I brought Thierry into the story too late. I have a feeling Changeling will need a good bit of restructuring in the rewrite. Well, that’s why there ARE rewrites – once it’s all out there in a first draft, I can move things around. If there’s nothing there in the first place, there’s nothing to move.

Devon

Published in: on February 24, 2007 at 9:30 am  Comments (7)  

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 2, 2007

Friday, February 2, 2007
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Imbolc
Maybe about to snow?

Click on over to Circadian for poems celebrating Imbolc.

If you want to know how to piss off an editor, when I’m said editor, hop over to Wordish Wanderings. These are the arrogant morons who give writers a bad name. And the rest of us have to work twice as hard to prove that we’re professionals.

I designed and printed the new business cards for Fearless Ink, Devon Ellington, Cerridwen Iris Shea, and Ink in My Coffee yesterday.

Now I can get out the Fearless Ink pitch letters that have been waiting around – because of the lack of business cards!

Caught up on a ton of email. Got out Devon’s Random Newsletter. If you haven’t signed up or didn’t receive yours, let me know here.

Caught up on the fan mail (I always get a stack after the holidays because the annuals and calendars are often given as Christmas/Yule gifts). That can all go out today, and I don’t have to fret about it over the next few weeks.

By the way, my article (under the Cerridwen Iris Shea name) is the featured article for February in The Witches’ Calendar.

I had way too much in the writing stack to go to the city on Monday. After all, I’m only going to be there a week, and the bulk of it will be in the theatre. The only down time I will have is a few hours Thursday and Friday. I can’t take twelve projects. I need to pick two and focus all my attention on them. So I’m taking Chasing the Changeling (I don’t want to lose its rhythm) and the revision of Tumble. It’s bad enough I’m taking the yoga mat, the travel altar, the diary, the fitness journal, the MP3 Player, and the project discs. And, of course, my kit so I can actually do my work! No more heavy manuscripts!

The way I’ve been packing books, one would think I was going to the northern wilds of Canada away from all civilization, rather than the midst of Manhattan, a city with some of the best bookstores in the world!

I applied for a writing job with a company in Chicago, that indicating that telecommuting was okay. They contacted me for an interview – early next week – in Chicago. If they’re paying, I’ll go, but I’m not doing it on my own dime.

I got the info I needed for the anthology – here we go, people!

And the show wants me to come in this weekend – but I can’t. They’ve got me for most of the next month, so I need this weekend to clear everything off the table – and maybe go to Chicago and back.

I need to finish cleaning off my desk today, get out more pitches, get my haircut, pack some more, and cook ahead.

Better hop to it.

Devon

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%)

January 21, 2007

Sunday, January 21, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and COLD

The problem with doing admin work all day is I feel so unproductive. That sounds silly – I should be glad it’s done, right? But because it’s a bunch of little bits that take longer than it seems they should, I always feel like I’ve gotten very little accomplished.

Regarding the question on Saturn Retrograde: Better than Mercury Retrograde? Not so sure about that. During a Mercury Retrograde, travel is delayed; communication is hard and misunderstandings abound; electronics go klaplooey; but it’s a great time to go bargain shopping. You want to stay away from big ticket items: houses, cars, computers, plasma TVs – but go to thrift shops, flea markets, or hit sales.

My mantra for a Mercury Retrograde: Stay low, stay quiet, go shopping.

Safest thing to do.

Saturn is the planet of life lessons. If you haven’t learned –and made the changes – since the previous Saturn Retrograde – the Universe is going to kick your ass and you’ll have a hard time.

Because I was thoroughly ass-kicked last time around (still have the bruises), I’m being especially careful this time. Every time I find myself falling into a pattern, I stop and ask if this is really the most positive way to deal with it.

Got the links and thank yous out to the interviewees for the Lit Athlete article.

Cleaned out a bunch of email accounts that had way too much spam in them. But managed to retrieve some non-spam that nearly got lost.

Worked on Circadian.

You know what’s cool about Valentine’s Day, Circadian-wise, this year? Many of the really good submissions are from men. And it’s lovely writing. Loving and clear and unsentimental, but with deep feeling.

So Mia and several others are encouraging this new magazine idea. I’m definitely open to brainstorming for a few months, and to getting it started once I’ve relocated. That’s the big thing – I don’t want to commit to something this big until I’m settled. The other thing is to write a business plan/proposal and get financing, because I want to pay all the writers. It might not be a lot, especially at first, but I want to pay everyone. I’m still waiting for a grant to come through for another project that will allow me to pay some writers for some stuff. I’d hoped THAT would get off the ground by May, but it now looks like October.

I also don’t want to exclude either men or married people. I have plenty of friends who are both, and I’d hate for them to feel left out of the mix, as either writers or readers.

So – writers, artists, readers – what’s missing from the magazines, in your opinion? What cravings are not being fulfilled? Let’s brainstorm over the next few months.

Regarding the advice of putting advertisements on the blogs and the websites: I appreciate your expertise, but I’ve decided not to do so right now. I’m happy that it works for others. I tend to ignore the ads on other people’s sites, unless the ad is for the new book or a friend’s book or something. I feel battered by everything being advertising/marketing all the time. I’d rather my pages weren’t that – which sounds like a contradiction since both Fearless Ink and Cerridwen’s Cottage are there to market my work. But people are coming there because they want to learn more about my work, not read ads for a casino cruise or erectile dysfunction or something. I’m going to put up Links pages in a few weeks on both sites to lead readers to other sites I think they might find interesting, but, at least for now . . .I’m skipping the ads.

Errands: Put gas in the car; went to Trader Joe’s; went to the drug store (hey, lipstick was buy one, get one free, I am there). Trader Joe’s was enormously busy – that’ll teach me to go on Saturday at mid-day, right?

The poor guy in front of me – he had two items and a woman with a cart ready to burst at the seams shoved him with it in the back of the knee so she could go ahead of him in the line. He had two things – she could have let him go first. But he doesn’t say a word, lets her go ahead of him. She’s digging through her purse, she’s bitching about her life (chick’s wearing a full length fur coat AND dangling a Lexus key – oh, here are the violins, you’re the one who married someone who gives you STUFF instead of love, don’t tell me you didn’t know what you were getting into — and get a better colorist, you can afford it), anyway, on and on, and on. The poor guy is totally uncomfortable and she does everything she can to make him more uncomfortable. I’m starting to wonder if maybe she’s naked under the coat and flashing him. She’s muttering something to him and, even though I’m behind him, I can see he’s turning all shades of red. I really thought he was going to crawl into the produce display and pull the lettuce over himself. Anyway, she finally leaves, he places his two things on the checkout, pulls out his wallet and change flies everywhere. I pick up the change and hand it to him and he’s beet red, very grateful, and looks like he’s going to burst into tears at any moment. And he can’t be more than 20. He’s about six feet four, but he’s YOUNG. Poor kid.

So he pays, and leaves. And I whip all my stuff through the checkout (I bring my own bags and can pack MUCH faster than they can). I take everything outside, pull the bags out of the cart to leave it where it needs to be – and the guy’s waiting for me – to carry my bags to the car because I helped pick up his change. It was so cute! I thanked him and told him that was his good deed for the day, but tolerating Lexus Bitch scored him angel points for at least six months.

Nice to know there are still some sweet guys growing up. His parents did a good job!

On today’s agenda is picking up groceries at the OTHER store (I love having six grocery stores in a five mile radius, I am such a spoiled grocery brat), and going over to my friend’s place to do laundry and cook a nice meal. This’ll be a busy week theatre-wise. I got a lot done in the fussy admin quarter, but not nearly enough writing.

You’re right, Brandy – it’s so important to eat properly. I’m usually pretty good about it, but I’ve woken up later than usual lately, and the food is what’s getting cut from the schedule, which it can’t.

And congrats to my friend J. from the UK, who just bought a place in Saratoga!!! We go to horse races together all over the world. He loves Saratoga and spends so much time there, especially over the summer, that it makes complete sense to own a place there.

Nice morning’s work on Changeling, but I need to get a lot more writing done today and tomorrow in preparation for the week.

Wrote a blurb for my friend’s book, which is always fun.

Devon
Chasing the Changeling – 14.092 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

14 / 45
(31.1%)