Friday, August 31, 2007

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

The last day of August, can you believe it?

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

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

I had a great, busy, couple of days.

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

I bought shoes.

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

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

Only I don’t want to be cured.

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

Answer: One more pair than she already has.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chilled out and played with the cats.

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Devon

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

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

70 / 100
(70.0%)

Friday, August 24, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My cats are really mad at me, though!

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

Back to work!

Devon

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I’m making a flying visit home to feed the cats. The gig in CT is going well – they have a great fitness room, and I’m taking full advantage.

I have THREE articles in this week’s issue of FemmeFan:

Horse Racing at Saratoga, pre-Travers:

Horse Racing at Del Mar:

and the Central New York Scottish Games:

Check them out, if you get the chance!

I’m home long enough to feed the cats, check some email, and get some business done, then it’s back to CT. I don’t have internet access there. I don’t mind, though, because I’m getting both writing and percolating done.

I do have something to say about the Michael Vicks case: this man is accused of running a dog fighting ring and either drowning or hanging several dogs himself. The NFL is only worried about the gambling aspect; and Vicks himself has apologized for his “mistakes”. Torturing and murdering animals is more than a “mistake”, and the NFL’s shrugging off of these acts is disgusting. All I have to say is give me ten minutes with Vicks, alone in a room with him. At first, I wanted a machete. But I don’t need one. And I’m sure there are many people who feel the same way I do.

In my opinion, the so-called “justice system” is going to wait until he murders a girlfriend or someone he considers a rival somewhere down the road before they do anything more than slap him on the wrist. Again, look at the studies: if someone is capable of doing this to an animal, they often move up to do it to children and then adults.

And PETA completely failed the animals here. All they did was go to the hearings, stand outside and screech. If they were actually motivated activists, they would have infiltrated the ring and taken it down. The idea of an organization like PETA is a good one, but the way they put their so-called beliefs into action – or lack thereof – is ridiculous.

Let us hope the Karma Dogs appear very quickly to take care of this situation. I have no doubt they will be far more inventive and imaginative than I could ever be.

Good Names is chugging along well. I’m in the last three or four chapters. I think it will come in at under 100K, which is a good thing, because than it means the next draft won’t be so over the word count I have to cut 1/3. I’m also slowing down as I near the end, because I hate the thought of leaving these characters. However, the next draft needs to build more tension and toss in more red herrings at certain points. This is far too straightforward a narrative as it currently stands.

“Revenge Tangents” is moving along, but it’s getting bigger than I thought. That’s okay, because I have the scope of the overall project in my head, and it can be whatever it wants to be.

Did some planning on some other projects, and I hope to get some work done on Tracking Medusa over the next few days.

Must check job boards, get some pitches out, do the first couple of pages on a couple of articles, and then get back to CT. I have a batch of brownies in the oven – it’s easier for me to make them here than over there, although I’m totally enamored of the kitchen there.

My thoughts are with everyone in the middle of the country, dealing with flooding. I hope the waters recede soon and there’s a break in the weather. I know, first-hand, how devastating this can be.

And the Utah miners and their families are in my thoughts and prayers. Something must be done to bring these men home. The owner saying there’s nothing he can do is crap. Then he shouldn’t have sent them in there in the first place.

FDNY lost two more firefighters when the former Deutsche Bank building beside the World Trade Center site caught fire – and they were trapped by shoddy construction work and the fact that the stand pipe supposed to get water up to the higher floors had been taken apart by the construction crews and left in the basement. The way this building’s demolition has been handled for the past six years has been completely unacceptable – especially since they keep finding human remains from 9/1ll there. Two more firefighters – from a house who lost 11 men on 9/11 – should not have had to die because of the greedy developers. And I’m getting tired of these same greedy developers – who did not lose anyone on that day – saying that we need to “get over” 9/11. There’s a difference between getting over something and healing from it to rebuild lives. The developers don’t care how many people were murdered that day; they want their cash. We never will get over it, even as we rebuild lives, the site should be a memorial the way Pearl Harbor is a memorial, and these greedy bastards need to be run out of town.

On that note (ahem), I’m going to do an hour or two of focused work here online, and then get back to the CT gig.

Devon

Good Names – 65,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
65 / 100
(65.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” – 11,875 words out of est. 12,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
11 / 12
(91.7%)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I need sleep!

I got the pre-Travers article done, polished and out in the morning. I did some more work on the Scottish Games article, but it just wasn’t sparkling.

I went to my friend’s, where I read the paper, played with the dog, read a bit, cooked dinner, did some writing, and, in general, had a fairly relaxing afternoon.

Came back, finalized the Scottish Games article, picked photos, and sent it off. I’m not happy with it. I haven’t done it justice.

I caught some of the Del Mar races, which affect the Breeders’ Cup in October, so I did a quick piece on them and sent that off. There’s a horse from New Zealand named Crossing The Line, who won the Del Mar Mile, and is a horse with which to fall in love.

Noisy Downstairs Neighbor was at it again. Even the cats are fed up. At least it was earlier in the evening, and not after midnight.

I’m ready to play CDs of bagpipes at full volume all the live-long night to see if maybe that shuts up some of the crazy neighbors!!!!

Good morning’s work on Good Names; decent morning’s work on “Revenge Tangents”.

I have to be very organized during the next three weeks, with all the traveling and working from different places. I need to clear quite a bit off my desk today and also do practical things like pack, vacuum, and wash the floors. They don’t wash themselves – believe me, I’ve tried.

I need to check the job boards, get out pitches, follow up on a few emails, send out some interview materials, research a quartet of articles, work on my column, and work on an article I want to get finished by the end of the week. And, one of these days, I’d like to get back to Tracking Medusa. I think I figured out how to fix the problem with the OBE chapter.

Not a particularly compelling post today; sorry. Too many things whirling around my head, and I’m trying to put together a to-do list that’s both logical and do-able.

Devon

Good Names – 63,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
63 / 100
(63.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” — 10,625 words out of est. 12,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
10 / 12
(83.3%)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Did you miss me?

It’s been quite a week! Good, in many ways, but exhausting. 656 miles on the car in four days.

Let’s start with getting the heck out of Dodge last Friday. My crazy downstairs neighbor came home again roaring drunk at 2 AM, this time singing at the top of his lungs and playing on his furniture with drumsticks for hours. It’s completely out of control. So, not only did I barely get any sleep, but the weather was dreadful. As usual, the meteorologists were wrong – they’d downgraded from predicting storms as bad as the ones that spurred the tornado two days previously to “light rain”.

Now, I don’t consider rain pouring down in curtains so that I can’t even see the end of the hood of the car “light”. It was awful all the way across the Tappan Zee Bridge the entire trip to Albany. It finally lightened up about 20-30 miles west of Albany, and the rest of the trip wasn’t bad.

I still made it from home to Syracuse in just over 5 hours, which isn’t too shabby. It was too early to check into the hotel, so I went to the Denny’s next door. I hadn’t been in a Denny’s since I lived on the west coast in the mid 1980’s. I forgot how big the portions are and how much salt they dump on everything. No wonder I was the only person in there who was under 300 pounds!

Drove around for a bit afterwards – found a Michael’s, looked at yarn, etc., but was too tired to buy anything.

Finally got into the room. It was fine, simple – wallpaper peeling a bit, the toilet tank took its time refilling. But it was clean, had large windows, got a lot of light, and was safe. I took a nap, tried to get some writing done, did about an hour of yoga, and went back to get take-out from Denny’s for dinner. Couldn’t finish it all – too big a portion and too salty.

Watched some bad television, did a core workout and went to bed early. There were dogs and kids in this hotel. The dogs behaved beautifully. The kids were a nightmare. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re too stupid and lazy to teach your kids to behave like decent human beings in public, leave them at home. Don’t inflict them on the rest of us. They’re not cute; they’re horrid.

Woke up early on Saturday. Did an hour of yoga, and got a bit of writing done. The complimentary breakfast was fine, although the coffee was awful. I met a lovely Great Dane named Princess Leia, who wanted my doughnut badly, but was far too well-behaved to just snatch it from my hand.

Got into the car and headed over to Liverpool for the Central New York Scottish Games. Got there just as they were gearing up, and got a parking spot only two rows from the gate, which was a good thing, considering how often I went back and forth to the car over the course of the day.

The Games were fantastic. I didn’t want to leave. It’s amazing that you can have over 1000 people, 200+ dogs, wandering around in the sun all day long, and nobody’s an asshole. Yes, there were plenty of kids dashing around and being rambunctious – but none of them were horrid. There was NO LITTER. Over 1000 people, no one designated to clean up, and no litter. Everyone picked up after themselves. There were trash barrels, recycling barrels, etc., etc., and everyone took personal responsibility. There was a little kid recycling a bottle that was almost bigger than he was. Everyone was nice and friendly and genuine. There was no snobbery, no exclusion, no nastiness. Everyone was there having a good time and interacting.

Music, music everywhere. There were dozens of pipe bands, plus other musical acts in the entertainment tent. And a hut full of harpists.

I admit that, after the first two hours of listening to pipers warming up, I’d kind of had it. I enjoy piping, but . . .however, after a handful of Excedrin and a Tennant’s, I felt much better.

There was a beer truck. As in a massive truck with taps on the side, with Guinness, Harp, Tennant’s, and some others. I hadn’t had a Tennant’s since the last time I sat in The Last Drop in Edinburgh, and that was far too long ago. (Here at the St. Andrew’s Pub, the only Scottish bar in Manhattan, I usually order a Bellhaven).

I played and played and played with dogs – Alfred, the “aggressive” Westie who rolled over to get his tummy rubbed every time he saw me; the German Shepard puppy with the huge paws who crawled into my lap and fell asleep, sucking my thumb; and many, many more. I met a woman who runs a Scottie rescue – Scotties aren’t good with cats, but she has a friend who does Westie rescue and often comes across puppies. If I raised a Westie from puppyhood with cats, he/she would be fine, and I’d rather have a rescued dog than go to a breeder.

For details on the actual games, you’ll just have to read the article in next week’s FemmeFan, but they were fun: the shotput, the weights, tossing the caber, tossing the sheaf, etc., etc. I got some good pictures to go with the articles. The pipe bands also had competition, which was just as fervored at the athletic competitions.

It was great to spend a day with people who were genuinely nice. And how often do you spend time at an event where no one is rude or annoying? I’d definitely go back. There was plenty of playing and flirting, but everything was in good fun. There was no hassle or sleaziness or annoyance involved. It was all upbeat and low key.

And, even better, that night, we got to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower!

I did not want the night to end.

Did core work when I got in Saturday night, and an hour of yoga Sunday morning. Skipped the hotel breakfast and got mine from the Dunkin Donuts across the street. Got on the road around 9:30. Made it to Saratoga by noon.

Unfortunately, it took an hour to drive from the exit to my friend’s place – a drive which usually takes 10 minutes! It was beach chair giveaway day, and people were insane – getting five or six vouchers, going back again and again and again. They gave away over 72,000 chairs! The track was packed, it was hot and humid and not a great race card. Kind of a disappointment. I did get to see my friend’s horse run in the feature race, and I met the horse named Dave.

Dave.

If you follow racing, you know that most horses have complicated names. But Dave is simply “Dave”. He’s the closest thing to a hippie horse I’ve ever seen – totally mellow. Nothing phases him. He’s friendly and curious, with this attitude of, “Hey, I’m Dave. Cool.” As he walked from the paddock to the track, people yelled, “Hi, Dave!” and he’d turn in their direction and nod his head as though he was saying, “Hey.” He’s a pretty good runner when he gets on the track, too – pays attention to his jockey, tries hard. He came in fourth for this race, which means he got some money, even if the bettors didn’t. He’s got a very distinct and engaging personality.

After the meet, we went back to the house to change, and then headed over the few blocks to Union Avenue, where someone was giving a reception with food, drinks, and music. I have no idea what it was for – never saw the invite. Met some interesting people – a man who used to be in the airline business, a woman who runs a site for women in racing, a woman who does feng shui consults. And, of course, it’s interesting to watch the whole band-for-hire culture at work, especially when they try to hit on the trophy wives. The older, wealthy men with the dumbass, shallow arm candy get real old real fast. But at least if they’ve got each other, they’re not inflicted on the rest of us, right? And we can go off and have fun with people of substance.

Speaking of which, several of us then went out to dinner at Leon’s, a Mexican restaurant owned by an ex-jockey. The food was okay, but one of our group found a piece of metal in the food, which is just not good. Needless to say, he didn’t have to pay for his meal.

We were all tired and had too much sun, so we made it a relatively early night.

I was up early the next morning, did my yoga. We went over to my friend’s barn during the workouts to visit with the horses and see my friend. She was outriding today, and they were working out on the Oklahoma track rather than the main track. We went back to the house for breakfast, which was fun – a lively, wide-ranging group. Another friend of my friends stopped by and wanted to go to the Horseshoe Inn for another breakfast. I decided to decline and get on the road early. I stopped by Mrs. London’s, the wonderful bakery, to grab something for later, and headed home.

The traffic was dreadful, and there were some real crazy people on the road, like the guy in the Mercedes who forced me into the median just because he felt like it. He had plenty of room to safely pass me and then get in front of me in my lane, but he wanted to occupy my space at the same time I was. It wasn’t that he couldn’t see me – he was looking right at me as he forced me off the road. Fortunately, a state trooper saw it and went after him. If there’s been a barrier instead of just grass in between, I would have had a serious accident. But I got home in one piece, albeit exhausted, unloaded the car, had dinner at a friend’s, caught up on a few things.

I plunged back into shows Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m not going to say much about it. Too much crap going on and I have other things that need my attention. Managed a good dinner with friends between shows yesterday, but the rest of it – it’s time for me to totally disengage.

Came home from the theatre at midnight to find that my crazy downstairs neighbor had his television blasting again and my crazy next door neighbors were in the midst of yet another domestic dispute. I’m going to start calling the cops on them, because talking to them politely isn’t fixing the problem. And I’m sick of disruption every single night, in violation of our leases.

I got some nice work done on both Good Names and “Revenge Tangents” during the time away. I’ve now pushed the word count for the latter up to 12K. I’m also working on a giveaway for people who signed up for the Muse Online Writer’s Conference in October, and a couple of other projects. I have a half a dozen article deadlines coming up, and the material for Confidential Job #1 is due tomorrow.

Busy, busy. Better get to work.

Devon

Good Names – 59,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
59 / 100
(59.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” – 8,375 words out of est. 12,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
8 / 12
(66.7%)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Thursday, August 2, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

That bridge collapse in Minneapolis is horrifying. My thoughts are with everyone there – and I hope all my readers from that area are safe. Pandora, Andrea – I’m trying to reach you. And I’m trying to reach my editors from that area.

My computer’s being crabby again. Sigh.

My article on the Empire State Games is here – along with my photographs. The top photo is of the archer in her 70s who won the Gold Medal in the Masters’ Division.

I hope you downloaded your free copy of Full Circle. And I’d love to know if you’d like to see more of my characters from “Pauvre Bob”. Should I write more stories about them?

Got out some more interview questions. Caught up on emails. Got out the FULL CIRCLE bulletin to MySpace. Worked on Devon’s Random Newsletter. If you haven’t signed up for it, you can do so here.

Worked on some article stuff. Checked the job boards; saw one thing for myself and a couple of things I sent off to friends.

I was in serious need of some retail therapy. Usually, unless it’s a bookstore, I don’t find shopping relaxing. If I go shopping, I have a purpose – it’s something for an event. I was in the mood for shoes, though, and I buzzed through some clothing stores while I was at it.

The fabrics, patterns, and cuts of most of it were awful. What is with this resurgence of polyester? And not even the modern blends, but the 70s faux disco kind? And that so-called “vintage” pattern? Looks like kitchen curtains from the 1970s, and they weren’t cute then! I shake my head – they paste beads and rhinestones onto things and call it “embellishment” when what it looks is cheap! There’s a way to do detailing and use trim, embroidery, even glittery stuff – but not when there are blobs of glue showing!

And these were at stores which consider themselves upscale.

I managed to buy one pair of shoes – peep toe, gray plaid ballet with slight wedge – very comfortable, cute, will go with pants, skirt, or dress. And I bought a blue and darker blue striped Henley shirt (love henleys), and a shirt for someone else.

But I can make better stuff . . .and I will.

Put together my sewing/studio bag because I have a chance to get some sewing done at a friend’s studio this week, and I want to grab it. There’s just no room to spread out here, but I can do so at my friend’s place, so that’s where I’ll head.

Worked on a new short story – it’ll be somewhere between 10-25 pages, interesting characters, as part of a bigger overall project. I struggled at the beginning; then I switched to first person, and it’s flowing. Amazing what a tweak will do.

Did a lot of planning on Tracking Medusa – tweaking the current outline, working on the outlines for the next two, seeing how that affects this book – although I’m completely committed to making all three stand-alones. Characters will grow through the three books, but they won’t have unfinished story arcs and can be read in any order. Mik, I’m warning you – the end of Book 2’s gonna break your heart.

My injured shoulder’s bothering me, so I had to be careful with the weight training, but I didn’t want to bag it completely. We’ll see how it feels today. It rotates forward in the socket and gets all out of whack. Hate it.

Good yoga session this morning, decent but not great session on Good Names. I need to push hard this morning so I can work in the studio this afternoon with a clear conscience.

Devon

Good Names — 52,382 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
52 / 100
(52.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” – 1,000 words out of est. 5,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
1 / 5
(20.0%)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy, humid, cooler

If they weren’t still down there making noise and raising dust, I wouldn’t need the air conditioner on today. Sigh.

Yesterday was nearly a lost day. The migraine came in waves; when it ebbed, I worked; when it flowed – well, any of you who’ve had migraines understand.

I have to finish, polish, and send one article this morning, and get a few more things out tonight. I have a break in the middle of the day to get some other work done, then go over to my friend’s, do laundry, cook him dinner, and then work more tonight.

I’m playing with some short story ideas for various ventures, anthologies, etc. I’m working on logo design for some upcoming projects. And I have a list of pitches to get out as long as my arm.

I’m working on the press pass for next week’s Empire State Games, New York’s mini-Olympics, which I hope to cover. Of course, the days it’s running are supposed to be the hottest days of the year, and many events (such as archery) are outside.

You know I’ll be inside the hockey rink to cover Women’s Ice Hockey as much as possible!

Nice morning’s work on Good Names. I have to get down to Gramercy Park with my camera in the next few weeks. I need to walk it and photograph it, in addition to the research I’m doing into the time, and all the fascinating memoirs I’m reading about it.

Someone in the theatre had a death in the family, so I might have to go in on Sunday and early next week. On the one hand, I’m trying to limit how much time I spend at the show, because it cuts in to my writing time; on the other hand, I feel a loyalty to the show, and I want to help out in an emergency. Unfortunately, the emergencies never seem to stop.

I watched the premier of Mad Men last night. Stylistically, it’s great. The writing’s quite good, too. However, I don’t have a great deal of respect for the lead character, Don Draper (although I think the actor does a great job). I don’t find him “complex” at all – I find him a lying, cheating user. I realize that’s part of the statement the show makes about the time, place, space, social change, and intent of the business – but the character’s going to have to go a long way for me not to want to see him fail.

Off to focus, migraine or not; too much has to get done before I leave this afternoon.

Devon

Good Names – 38,757 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
38 / 100
(38.0%)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, cloudy

My article on the Alinghi victory in the America’s Cup is here.

My articles on some of the summer racing, including my questions about the use of cobra venom is here.

I’ve been terribly unproductive this morning, and I have to fix that before I leave for acupuncture. I have a lot that needs to get done before I head out, a lot that needs to get once I get back.

I’ll be offline for the next few days while I head to Maine. I’m purposely staying disconnected while I’m there. And I hope to get some work done.

Day work was okay yesterday. At least the theatre was air conditioned. They had a put-in for a new cast member, so things were a little busier than on a usual Tuesday.

I finished reading The Girl Next Door. It was fun, for the most part. The whole catching-the-stalker thing happened off-stage, told in a couple of paragraphs in narration, which didn’t work for me, especially since I never felt the protagonist was in any actual danger. And the whys of the stalking were never addressed. The actual stalker never had any scenes with anyone or any dialogue, so he didn’t seem real, and, as a reader, I neither believed in him nor cared. So that was unsatisfying. But the bulk of the book was lots of fun, and I liked the characters a lot.

Other than that, nothing interesting to say: working on the deadlined articles; pitching so I’ll have enough money coming in for the rest of the summer; working in the fiction here and there.

Annoyed by two potential clients, who have definitely been bumped off the list. One of them is “hiring” someone to review products and websites. They want a signed contract from me in order to consider me for the job – I think not. Plus, my “pay” is 70% of the final bid of any price of a product I review that I decide to sell on eBay or Amazon.

No.

The other place said they’d review my samples and credentials, but, in the meantime, urged me to BUY a publication that appears to be their guidelines that “was a great help to their contributors”. Uh, no. YOU pay ME. You want me to conform to guidelines, you send them to me. You don’t expect me to buy them.

Another no.

The sad thing is, there will be people dumb enough to agree to the conditions both these so-called “employers” set.

Got to get going. Clock’s ticking away, and I have deadlines to meet, before I head out.

I have a chance to work on what could be an exciting project, but I have to weigh the pros and cons. It could take awhile to get off the ground, and I’m not sure that “while” fits in with my schedule right now. But it would be fun, and very different from anything I currently do. I’ll think about it this weekend.

Have a great rest of the week, everyone!

Devon

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sunday, July 8, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, sticky, yukky

An example of typical, American hypocrisy: Giant Stadium parking lot was filled with SUVs, the vehicle of choice for those who attended the Live Earth Concert.

Yeah. Sure, they got the message and are acting on it!

Right. In Al Gore’s dreams.

Unfortunately.

My errands only took an hour and a half yesterday. It only seemed like six hours, due mostly to the migraine. I reached the point several times where I wanted to chop off my head just so I’d feel better. The migraine’s gone today, thank goodness.

Came back, tried to get answers for my two articles by deadline; didn’t, so I’ll have to go without. Watched some stakes races.

Came across a job listing for a piece that’s due, well, today, so I sat down and wrote nearly 2500 words, then shot it to a Trusted Reader to vet while I kept working on it. Will do another polish, send it off today, and hope for the best. I like the premise; even if this market doesn’t want it, I’ve got other places I can send it. The characters are fun and a little goofy; I’d like to do more with them.

Wrote chapters 9 & 10 of Tracking Medusa. It felt good to get back in the mix with Gwen and Justin. Plus, they’re in Edinburgh, one of my favorite cities in the world, so I’m having fun with this section.

Nice morning’s work on Good Names. The murder finally happened!

On today’s agenda: polish the two sports articles and send them off; polish the short story and send it off; work on the restaurant article. Work on a trilogy of short articles for another publication; work on Confidential Job #1; try not to melt in the heat.

Devon

Good Names – 33,007 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
33 / 100
(33.0%)

Tracking Medusa – 23,170 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
23 / 90
(25.6%)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Saturday, July 7, 2007
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny, hazy, hot

Enough retrogrades for you? Venus went Retrograde on Thursday. At least Mercury turns direct on Monday.

Lots of catching up to do.

The article for races 3-6 of the America’s Cup is here.

So Scooter Libby’s getting off. Once again, this administration shows that if you’re an FOC (Friend of Cheney) you can do anything you want without consequence. The absolute lack of consequences for anyone in the administration has got to stop. These people are our EMPLOYEES, not our kings. We pay their salaries. We (usually) get to elect them – although the “election” that put this Bush in office originally wasn’t a genuine election – when the Supreme Court orders the vote count to stop and hands the election to a candidate, it’s screwed up.

What happens at the top trickles down, and one reason there’s so much more person-to-person violence (such as spousal killings, child murder, etc.) is because the people at the top of the food chain make it clear that there are no consequences to their actions.

On another infuriating note: On Staten Island, a tiny Yorkie terrier was shot because he stood on his porch and barked. This was a family member, not a piece of property. I think the shooter should have his throat slit and be hung upside down to bleed out from the nearest tree. Read the studies – someone who murders/tortures an animal often moves up to doing the same to a child, and then moves up to killing adults. There have to be strong consequences for people who come in and commit murder, whether the victim has two legs or four. Especially when it’s an animal or a child, who can’t defend itself.

Day work was okay on Tuesday, although I started feeling a bit unwell towards the end of it. Managed to get home and prepare to leave for the trip, although I was not looking forward to driving while feeling ill. On top of all that, many places started having fireworks displays on Tuesday, rather than Wednesday, so there were time when I felt I drove through combat zones. Not my idea of a good time.

But, since I didn’t have to worry about watching any more races immediately, part of these past days have been a self-imposed writer’s retreat, and that’s always a good thing.

I managed to get some work done on Good Names. The process is so interesting – Good Names is an historical mystery, set in a slower time (1903). The pace of the book is slower, unfolding gently, with building urgency. And I find that about 1000 words/day is good for that. Tracking Medusa, which is more of an action/adventure/mystery with some romance tossed in, is contemporary, much more quickly paced – and I find myself writing chunks anywhere from 1500-2500 words at a time. The project directs the pace, and each project has its own pace. I have to remind myself that this book’s slower pace doesn’t necessarily mean I’m disconnecting from it. Although I need to do some character charts – the intricacies of the web of connections is getting difficult to store in my head. I’m looking forward to getting back to Tracking Medusa later today.

The 32nd America’s Cup Challenge is barely over, and the preparations are starting for the 33rd. The challenger stepped up almost as soon as Alinghi got off the boat, but now Alinghi’s dragging its heels regarding dates, venues, etc. I asked the questions to find out the “whys” although I suspect it all boils down to money, and trying to get as much as possible for the Defenders. I think the process is fascinating, and it will be wonderful to watch the process from the beginning. I have a lot to learn about the sport – and at least I KNOW I have a lot to learn about the sport, and I’m looking forward to having my readers grow in the sport with me. And maybe attract some new readers, as I learn more and more about the sport. I was sorry to read that the BMW Oracle Racing Blog will stop as of July 11 – it’s such a terrifically written site, and I’ve learned so much from it (and by bugging the writer/editor with questions). I’d hoped it would stay up so we could get a view of the process of putting together the next American team.

The party on the 4th was lovely. Huge – about 475 people, great food, good wines. It was moved into tents, because the weather was a bit wonky. With a group that big, you get some people who are interesting and terrific, and some who are not. I don’t care how much is in your bank account, you moron, I care how you live your life. Plus, we’re in the 21st Century, for crying out loud, and there are still far too many girls (because WOMEN have more sense) whose entire mission in life is to find a rich husband, so the only work they have to do is in the bedroom. As we used to say in the 80’s, “gag me with a spoon”. Trading sex for money is still prostitution, even if there’s a gold band involved.

However, there were also plenty of intelligent, interesting people there from all walks of life. Some of them travel quite a bit – and they’re the kind of people who are interested in things that are different, rather than just trying to re-create their comfort zone wherever they are. Several of them travel regularly to Chile, and it sounds intriguing.

Big screens were up so we saw the fireworks in DC, New York, and Boston. Boston’s was great – I mean, they had Craig Ferguson as the host and Mellancamp performing – plus, instead of trying to do something all serious and holy, they were just having fun.

I wrote the first article of the nine accepted by a particular publication, polished it, and sent it off. I sent some questions to the New York Yacht Club for my wrap-up of Challenge 32/Lead-in of Challenge 33. I started my restaurant article and shot off a few questions to the owner. I’d prefer to get answers from him, but, if I have to, I’ve got enough to do the piece without his input.

I’m getting addicted to working on the go. I think I’ll have to invest in a wi-fi laptop shortly, instead of just borrowing one. And the little printer – a mobile office is a beautiful thing. Although there are still plenty of times when I simply turn off the phone and am “unavailable”.

Thank goodness I could work on the run, though, this week. I’m working on multiple articles simultaneously; there are rumors and all sorts of potential stories flying about, and I want to get as many facts and confirmations, clarifications or denials as possible before I have to turn in my work at deadline.

Such as a horse trainer under investigation because cobra venom was found in his barn’s refrigerator at the track. In addition to being a banned substance, for freak’s sake, it’s COBRA VENOM. But, before I completely fly off the handle about it, I need to do more research. Especially since none of the vets I contacted would discuss it, even off the record.

Worked on another horse racing article, due tomorrow, after today’s stakes races go off. Worked on the final 32nd America’s Cup race article, also due today (it still needs a polish).

I started to catch up with my clip file – managed to get copies of all the FemmeFan articles which have appeared so far this year.

So much for those fantasies of sitting in the sun overlooking the water, reading an Edith Wharton novel!

Coming home sank me into a deep case of the blues. I’m not happy here, it’s not conducive to my work or my life, but pulling off the move is more obstacle-filled than I anticipated. I need to employ patience, but that’s never been a virtue of mine. I like to jump in with both feet and DO it.

A kazillion errands to do today, all over the map. Better hop to it. Unfortunately, I have a migraine, which will slow me down.

Also had to give Kristen King (InkThinker) the update for my participation in the InkThinker 2007 Query Challenge. Thus far, I’ve sent 63 queries. 29 were acceptances, and 13 have been published to date. Not a bad average. My pitching has grown smoother and more precise over the past few months. I’m sure there’s an article in that!

I’m supposed to attend a Live Earth party tonight. From yachts to grass roots activism, all in the course of a couple of days. I don’t know if I’m up for another evening in a large group of people I don’t know. But . . .

I LOVE being a freelance writer!

Devon

Good Names – 31,737 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
31 / 100
(31.0%)

Friday, June 29, 1007

Friday, June 29, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy, hazy, humid

Condolences to my friend BK Birch, for the loss of her dog. There are no words to make the loss of such a valued family member any easier.

Spooky update: the stray cat who was our guest during the last flood, then spirited way, then ran away from his new home was found, after two months. Supposedly, he’s in rough shape – I lent his owner a cat carrier (again) so he could take the cat to the vet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll be okay.

I’m suffering from serious Flood Fatigue. Between the constant flooding and the developers crawling all over the building trying to un-home 100 families, it’s been a tough fight for the past two years. However, succumbing to the sometimes bone-crushing depression the fights bring on is not an option. It doesn’t get anything done. It’s also difficult to house-hunt when it’s too dangerous to leave the present premises unattended. I’m searching for a way to break the cycle; I have a few ideas, so it’s all down to trial and error. Unfortunately, I simply don’t have room to make errors.

On the Cup Challenge front, Emirates Team New Zealand lodged a protest against Alinghi after Race 4 because it is their belief Alinghi violated one of the rules. The press were downright gleeful (gave them something to do on a day without racing), and I spent several hours reading hundreds of pages of coverage. Some of it was quite entertaining; much of it made me roll my eyes. I’ll discuss it in more detail in the next FemmeFan article. In any case, the protest was reviewed and then dismissed. I’m sure conspiracy theorists will have a field day. I’m much more interested in the intent and the psychological politics of the whole thing than the actual protest.

One of the things I enjoy most about what I do (writing) is that I get to enter many worlds I might never get to experience otherwise. Whether it’s ice hockey or thoroughbred racing or sailing or theatre or writing a restaurant review or doing a profile of someone who’s made a positive difference – I’m dealing with intelligent, interesting, dedicated, skilled individuals. It makes the contrast between the vapid, self-styled celebrities and “Reality” television” even sharper.

Started background research for the profiles, and started sending out interview requests. Worked on the article that’s due next week for the other publication. Dealt with flood crap. Dealt with a migraine.

Got to the theatre; did the show. Many of the bodices of the costumes are boned in order to give a shape (a corset within the garment rather than a separate layer) and last night was the night for bones to fight their way out through fabric and jab singers and dancers in the ribs. Many pins with red ribbons as markers were put in for today’s stitching call!

Managed to catch the 11:10, and the train was close to being on time, so I got home a little after midnight. Thursday’s rains weren’t as bad as Wednesday’s, so we managed to avoid another flood.

Up early this morning to watch Race 5 of the Cup Challenge. What a race! New Zealand was aggressive at the start, but a tear in a sail compounded by the second sail going up getting tangled in the torn sail made for quite a dramatic day. I was astonished at how quickly NZ recovered (like when there’s a problem backstage – you have to drop it and move on, or you lose the act), and Alinghi beat them by only 19 seconds. Quite exciting.

So Alinghi’s won 3, New Zealand 2. Of course, I’d like to see it go the full nine races.

Ran some errands, and am now back to do an hour or two of article writing before heading back out to the theatre. The excitement of the race certainly perked up my whole day.

I’d like about a twenty minute nap before heading out, but somehow, I get the feeling that’s not going to happen.

Devon

PS to ME Ellis – Blogspot won’t let me comment on the blog, but I do still stop by – just can’t say anything! Thanks for coming by here – you’re always welcome to come and “talk” as long as you like!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Hazy, hot, humid

I do not do well in this weather. I’m much more of a snow and ice girl than a heat and humidity girl.

Here are some articles for you to read:

“The Future of the NHL: Musings on the 2007 Draft”

And

“The 32nd America’s Cup Challenge: Races 1 and 2”

Enjoy.

And, exciting news: remember that pitch I worked on for most of Monday, with a list of articles, towards a new publication that I like? Well, the editor emailed me yesterday – she wants ALL of them. ALL NINE ARTICLES. Woo-hoo!

Of course, now I have to write them. I’m working out a schedule with her now. Four of them are profiles of women who’ve achieved unique successes in their fields. I’m very excited.

One of the email accounts can’t receive mail today, for some reason – so if there’s a lag in getting back to you, I haven’t yet received the email, and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.

I’m still debating Script Frenzy: Do I push to finish in order to finish, because I don’t want any more unfinished projects draining my energy? Or do I cut my losses on something that doesn’t work.

Stay tuned to learn the answer, because I don’t know it yet, either.

I missed watching Race 3 live yesterday. It was postponed for two hours due to weather conditions, and I couldn’t wait any longer before heading to the theatre. As angry as I am at company management right now, I made a commitment to the production for this week, and I will fulfill it and I will fulfill it graciously (even if it’s sometimes through gritted teeth). I will dot my own “i”s and cross my own “t”s and not respond in kind to that with which I disagree.

In any case, I managed to catch some of the video when I got home late that night and listen to the press conference. Emirates Team New Zealand won, and from what I gather, it was quite an exciting race. I’ll have to do some more research on it before I can write about it. Hopefully, today’s race will go off on time and I’ll be able to watch it live before heading to the matinee

Day work and the show were fine yesterday. People were glad to see me, glad I was back. From what I gather, they had a rocky time of it while I was off writing about the Draft and the Challenge with swings just learning the show. I’m trying very hard to enjoy the things I enjoy about the show these last few months I have with it, but my heart’s not in the work. I work extra hard to be conscientious, because I won’t take it out on my colleagues, but it’s time to move on. I want to slide gently out of the work when I find my new home

On the creative writing front – no work on City of Lost, Good Names, or Tracking Medusa yesterday, and there won’t be any today, since I’ll be watching the Challenge up until the last second I have to leave to catch my train. I plan to return to work on them tomorrow – and get started on those articles for the publication. I’m very excited about this opportunity.

And, I admit it – I’m hooked on the sailing races!

Devon

June 22, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Some solid work on City of Lost. I’m flying by the seat of my pants here, but I trust the characters to lead me true. Almost 6K yesterday, and I finished Act I. I can’t imagine how it can be 20K. Every time I think about the word count demand for a play (can you say “amateur hour”?), my teeth start to grind. But I’ll push on and see what we come up with. I was rather frustrated by the end of the day, but walking back to the train after the show, I had a few ideas which I think might help sort things out.

Read Philip R. Craig’s Vineyard Prey. Very good. I like his writing. I figured out the who, but it took me awhile to get the why.

A bit of work done on Good Names this morning. I’m trying to get as much done as possible.

Show was fine yesterday, but I’m glad to be away from it for awhile. Next week will be tough.

My presence online will be sporadic in the next few days. The NHL Draft starts tonight and the America’s Cup Challenge starts tomorrow – both of which I’m covering for FemmeFan. My schedule revolves around those schedules – and I have to shift everything else – the other writing I need to do – around that.

Devon

Good Names – 29,012 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
29 / 100
(29.0%)

City of Lost – 9,812 words out of 20,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
9 / 20
(45.0%)
Published in: on June 22, 2007 at 7:56 am  Comments (3)