Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Dark of the Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and warm

Here’s my Belmont article: “A Flash of History”

What a wacky day yesterday turned out to be!

When I left for the train, I noticed that a notice had been posted downstairs, stating that the intercom system was being updated, and, as of today, access to our apartments was required for the next ten days, whether or not we were home.

Uh, no. First of all, you have to be a dumbass to word it identically to the demands made by the Evil Developer last year at this time and not think people would get upset. Secondly, under the Tenants’ Rights Laws of this state, we have the right to deny access for a non-emergency situation and set up a mutually convenient appointment. They can ask for a span of days, but we do not have to agree to it. AND we have the right to the names and credentials of those coming in to work in the apartment BEFORE they show up.

I was ready to hit the roof. I am NOT giving up my trip this week, not losing any more work because this building is a total disaster, and they are NOT coming in to the apartment without someone being there. Workman always break things unless you watch them non-stop, PLUS they’d be careless with the doors and the cats might wander out.

But I wrote a polite letter stating they were granted access at any point today or next week (I can have someone at the apartment at all times), but NOT Thursday or Friday. I’ll post a legal STOP notice on the door before I leave tomorrow, and use the Big Lock, for which they don’t have a key. Access for six days out of the requested nine is more than generous, and the state backs me up.

Then, I lost all patience with an acquaintance. This is someone who repeatedly engages in behaviour that is hurtful to others. When it is brought to her attention, instead of apologizing and trying to work out a compromise, she lists excuses. I’m sorry, but none of them give her the right cause harm. On top of that, she then escalates her behaviour towards those around her until they snap and fight back – then starts screaming and crying that they’re “abusing” her. What I can choose to do is not engage on any but the most perfunctory level. We’ve had the conversation five or six times about this, and a few weeks later, she acts like it never happened. Bluntly, at this point, I don’t give a damn why she’s trapped in this pattern – I refuse to be on the receiving end.

I have to cut short my trip to Newport because one of my friends on the show is having a family emergency, and I’m going to cover Saturday and Sunday for her, and possibly the first half of next week, before the NHL Draft. It’s my least favorite track on the show, but it’s an emergency, and I’ll deal.

A friend and I had talked about going to the ballet after day work tonight; the friend flaked, but I decided it’s been years since I went to the ballet, so I’d go anyway. I headed up to Lincoln Center, where ABT is performing at the Met. I got my ticket, then wandered around looking for a place to eat. I settled on Il Violino, not far from the complex, up on Amsterdam Avenue. It’s an older haunt, frequented by locals, not yuppies or tourists. I had two long-time theatre-going babes behind me, who grew up on the Lower East Side, but now live on the Upper East Side, with successful husbands nearing retirement, and using cars and drivers to get everywhere. They discussed all their friends and the bad marriages (“she didn’t even appreciate the condo he bought her in Florida”; “He bought her another mink so she’d stop whining”; “She’s not a loving person. She rates her husband’s worth by how many diamonds he buys her from Tiffany. Is it surprising he looks for affection elsewhere?”). It was hilarious. It was also one of the best meals I’ve had a in a long time – home-made tortellini stuffed with spinach and ricotta, in a cream sauce with salmon and asparagus. Heaven!

After, I wandered to the bookstore (note: it only rained whenever I set foot outside – as soon as I went into any building, it stopped). I bought a couple of yoga books on which I’d had my eye, and headed back to Lincoln Center. I tucked myself in to a covered niche for awhile, reading my book. The wind changed and I started to get wet anyway, so I went inside. The head usher suggested I come in before the house opened and go up to my tier to the bar – you should have seen the looks on the faces of the people who had to actually wait for the house to open!

What can I say? Theatre people recognize each other.

Somewhere along the way, there was some sort of reception, and, as I made my way up the red, circular staircase, a flute of champagne was pressed into my hand. More champagne! Not that I’m complaining!

So I had a glass of champagne while waiting for the house to open, looking out of the enormous arched windows of the Metropolitan Opera House onto the city. I forget how lovely it is (in spite of people moaning that Lincoln Center is boxy and soul-less). Working on Broadway shows, you tend to shy away from being in another theatre on your day off. But the Met is gorgeous. And offers affordable tickets which still have great views.

The ballet was ABT’s Manon, which I had never seen. The sets, costumes, and most of the dance were beautiful. The scheduled lead was sick, so Julie Kent took over, and was exquisite. She’s so fluid and her lines are gorgeous. I thought the corps was sloppy. First, I thought maybe it was choreographed so some dancers would be off the beat, but the more I watched, the more I realized it was just plain sloppy. That’s a disappointment. Everyone has an off day once in awhile, but for the majority of the corps to be that far off all together – no.

As beautiful as it was, as the ballet wore on, I mentally nicknamed it Moron. I found it hard to have any sympathy for the lead characters – three hours watching bad, destructive choices annoys me. I didn’t find their story tragic – I felt the characters had zero learning curve and weren’t very bright. And I quickly lost sympathy for them, as much as I enjoyed the beauty of the actual dancers.

As we exited the theatre, sirens blazed everywhere. All the way down the street, as far as the eye could see, were police cars, sirens screaming. More and more joined them. I didn’t know what it was about, but it couldn’t be good. I ducked back into the Met, and bolted down the stairs to the underground tunnels. I popped up in Avery Fisher Hall like a prairie dog, and made my way to the side exit, as far from the commotion as possible. For all I knew, they would lock down Lincoln Center, and I wasn’t about to be caught in it. I sauntered across the street – very important, head up, New York Woman on the move. If you go with the instincts and try to hurry by with your head down, someone’s going to wonder what you’re up to. I slipped into a crowd of people exiting a restaurant and moved down a few blocks with them (hard to blend in when you’re wearing turquoise). I abandoned them and shot east to skirt Central Park, go along Central Park South, through the yuppie cocaine deals going down at the fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel, and down Fifth Avenue until I could cut across to Grand Central Station. I made it from Lincoln Center to Grand Central in 33 minutes on foot – which, if you know Manhattan, is pretty fast.

And you know what? NOTHING on the news. NOTHING. I’m sorry, but several dozen police cars blocking a street only two blocks from the ABC News station should warrant a little bit of coverage.

Got on the train with a crazy woman and her cat – the cat was not amused; she was fighting on her cell phone with the boyfriend, swearing in front of the nine year old seated across from us, which I thought was inappropriate. She was obviously in love with the drama of it all. If I was that annoyed, I wouldn’t keep picking up the phone every time he called, keep getting into it, and then letting him hang up on me. I’d have turned off the damn phone and called it a day. She kept hauling the cat out of the carrier and I was afraid he’d dart out when the doors opened at a stop. I’m sure she adores her cat, but she made consistently stupid choices about his safety. When I got off at my stop, he glared at me like, “How can you leave me here?”

Good morning’s work on Good Names.

I need to finish prepping for the trip, and then work on City of Lost – or I’ll lose it and the opportunity to complete Script Frenzy. And you all know I don’t like to lose.

I’ll be off line for a few days. I’ll check in when I get back.


Good Names – 28,387 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
28 / 100
Published in: on June 13, 2007 at 9:09 am  Comments (12)  

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

I re-did the article for FemmeFan, and it was like reliving the whole race. Whew! Needed to take a break after that one!

Did some business/admin work, worked on some press release material that needs to go out, but spent most of the afternoon reading Debbie Macomber’s A Good Yarn, which I enjoyed.

Tried to write myself out of the corner in City of Lost and ended up in a worse one. Urgh!

Got the rest of my advance for Perfectly Plum and the latest check from Confidential Job #1. Love it when I have an excuse to go to the bank to make a deposit!

Read and commented on my friend’s next chapter. E-mailed another friend about geography of a certain cemetery in Edinburgh – turns out he’s going to use the same one in his next novel, but he’s on his way to London and will go there himself when he gets back to answer BOTH of our questions! Look out, Col – I may shoot some questions your way in the interim.

Prepping for my trip to Newport later this week. The woman who can’t swim is learning all about sailing.

Off to the theatre for day work – hopefully I can figure out a way of the mess I’ve made of City of Lost.

The new novel is poking at me. It’s got an emotional depth in areas which scare me, in a way, but that’s probably also why they intrigue me. It will be quite a change of pace after Tracking Medusa.

Re-worked the synopsis for Dixie Dust Rumors. I want to get the logline, one paragraph summary, synopsis and outline polished, change one phrase in the cover letter, and then blast them out next week (once the moon has turned, even though Mercury will be retrograde). The book is in good shape – it’s the surrounding paperwork that needs a quick fix.

I got my next set of contracts from Llewellyn – I’m turning them around immediately and getting them back in the mail before Merc goes Ret on Friday. Because from Friday until July 7, there is no contract signing for this gal!

Nice morning’s work on Good Names. I like the depth of the book, and getting so deep into the time and place. But I’m worried that I’m waiting too long for the murder.
But perhaps this is an historical novel that happens to have a murder in it instead of an historical mystery. I have to let the project pick the genre, and stay true to the story.

Good yoga session this morning, too, which always puts me in a better frame of mind for the day.

Off to catch a train – someone was stabbed on this commuter line day before yesterday, so I’m looking forward to The Hell That is Metro North even less than usual. I’m not really surprised – after all, they let rampaging drunks go up and down the train slugging people on St. Patrick’s Day and did absolutely nothing, so why would someone getting knifed be a surprise? I get cranky when someone pulls a knife on me, so for his own health – he better not.


Good Names — 27,387 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
27 / 100

Friday, June 8, 2007

Friday, June 8, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

My Belmont preview article is here:

Today’s race card is handicapped below this post.

Dog Blog post up here.

I rarely comment on celebrity this and that in the blog because most of the time, I just don’t care. But I am so angry that Paris Hilton whined her way out of serving her sentence. She didn’t pull some harmless prank – DUI is putting lives in danger. And she had two chances to make it right and shrugged them off. The so-called Justice System sent a message that, if you’re rich enough, you can get away with anything you want and not be held accountable. There are thousands of people serving time for lesser offenses because they’re not rich. Martha Stewart was sent to jail because she’s a good businesswoman and dealt with jealous liars, cheats, and thieves who decided to set her up; this spoiled brat chickie puts people’s lives in danger and gets away with it, threatens a nervous breakdown and goes home to order cupcakes. What are they going to do when she does it the next time, and someone dies? Since they’ve now sent the message that her behaviour is perfectly acceptable? Right, a “medical condition”. This is why she gets to go home and throw a party, completely flipping off the Justice System and most of the rest of the country. The level of narcissism and disregard for anything outside her own immediate desires is revolting, and her sense of entitlement that she can get anything she wants has been reinforced. Hmm, let’s see, what does this sound like? Scarily, for the past six years, very similar behavior has been demonstrated in the White House. Considering how George Bush got away with handling Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, are we really surprised? For the last six years, more than ever, if you’ve got the money, you can do anything you want without consequence. That is NOT democracy. It is a perversion of everything our Founding Fathers and Mothers fought to create.

(Dusting off soapbox, putting it aside until next time).

Ran errands, got groceries in (the cats don’t like it when the cupboard is bare), went to the bookstore. I bought it – Sailing for Dummies – so I can learn the basics and the vocabulary and at least have a clue when I get up to Newport. I also bought The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig, which looks like it’s going to be such fun! As far as the sailing, I plan to learn as much as I can and continue learning, using the slant, “This is fascinating; come learn with me.” I’m not going to try to fake being an expert; I’m going to take the readers out on the adventure with me, and hopefully we’ll all learn some interesting things.

Came back to find my next assignment from Confidential Job #1. This one looks really good, which will more than make up for the last one.

In White Plains, we had to go through police checkpoints coming and going. Every car was stopped. They’re looking for someone. I guess there was a shooting at the Galleria Mall’s parking lot. Again. I don’t know what it actually is, but it must have been pretty serious.

Racing Ink for today is posted below. I’ll wrap it up and handicap tomorrow’s card either late tonight or early tomorrow morning, before I head out.

I’m at Belmont Park today – should be fun. If you’re in the neighborhood – come out and play!

The biggest challenge with writing about horse racing for a period of years is to keep it fun, and not succumb to the feeling that I have to be right all the time. It’s horse racing – once they’re in the gate, anything can and does happen. You pick your favorites for whatever reason and hope no one dies. Yes, it’s fun to cash a ticket; but it’s more fun to watch a wonderful race, with so many variables no video game can come close to the excitement.

I’ve hit a wall with City of Lost. Getting this next scene right is crucial, or all of Act II falls apart. And I’m not getting it right. I’m over-convoluting things. I need to strip it down and simplify, simplify, simplify. Even though the play is still on the page, I want to pretend I’m in the rehearsal room and imagine the three dimensions the actor brings to the role and work it through that way. Eventually, I’ll have to just sit down and do it, but I want to let it simmer for a few days, and then hopefully push well into Act II.

I know I won’t get much writing done between now and Monday, other than horse racing articles, but I at least want to put it in the percolator so my unconscious can work on it – while my conscious mind is off playing the ponies!


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thursday, June 7, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cool

The day got better yesterday, thank goodness, and I’m booked there again at the end of June, in and amongst all the sports-related assignments. Both shows were fine; everyone’s getting excited about the fund-raiser Broadway Bares that’s coming up. And the Tony Awards. And saddened by the fact that Pirate Queen got its notice. You never want to see people out of work.

Ran around before the matinee, looking for a dress for tomorrow. The styles I liked were in colors I didn’t – I’m sorry, but dogshit brown is simply not in my palette – and the colors I liked were in styles that looked ridiculous on me. I should have just gone straight to Banana Republic and called it a day, but I didn’t, and then it was too late, and, oh, well. I’ve got to have SOMETHING in my closet. And I don’t have time to make anything by tomorrow.

A friend and I went to dinner at Trattoria Rino, an Italian place about two blocks from the theatre. We had a great meal, and it was nice to relax in between shows.

I’m learning as much and as quickly about sailing as I can, but it’s a great deal of information to absorb in two weeks, and I need to learn the basic vocabulary in order to make real progress. It’s a daunting challenge – but I’ll rise to it.

Hopefully, the pre-Belmont article will be up later today at FemmeFan. Otherwise, since Belmont is on Saturday, there’s not much point, is there? Later today, here, I’ll do a segment of Racing Ink, handicapping tomorrow’s entire card.

Ahh, the Stanley Cup Final. Anaheim won last night – not my preference of the two, but they played a better game and Ottawa fell apart, unfortunately, and in spite of excellent goal tending by Ray Emery. This also means that I lost a bet on this outcome – a bet whose payment rises with the point spread, and Ottawa lost 6-2. I’ll have to pay up on draft weekend – and let’s just say it’s not money! 😉

Like I always say with the thoroughbreds: Don’t bet what you can’t afford to lose!

I’m studying for the NHL draft in two weeks, and figuring out my picks on the “To Watch” list for the next few years. The original picks from my first year of this in 2002, when I said I’d watch them for five years – heck, it’s five years already. Wow. Over the summer, I’ll have to do some articles to update the progress of some of my picks.

I have a lot of errands to run this morning, and then a lot of writing, because the weekend is about doing and writing about it later. A new post should go up on the Dog Blog later today.

I got the requested info to Confidential Job #1 yesterday and my editor liked and booked one of my pitches – even though it was late. Phew! Contract is on its way, and I want to get it turned around before Mercury goes retrograde on the 15th.

Still lots of building kerflamma and unnecessary drama (which is draining). The noise and the debris and the stench are just wearing.

Not much of interest today – I wish I could take a nap, but the decibel level makes it impossible to rest, so I’m going to put on the MP3 player, turn up the volume, and try to be productive. I want to be able to add to those word meters tomorrow!

Off to try to be productive, in spite of the odds. Come back later for Racing Ink – it will probably be up about mid-afternoon, my time.


Published in: on June 7, 2007 at 8:07 am  Comments (3)  

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and hot

The migraine won yesterday, and I didn’t get everything done that I needed to do.

Put gas in the car. We’re up to $3.53/gallon, which means it cost me $35 to fill the Rabbit, for crying out loud! Went to CVS, which, as usual, didn’t have everything I needed; went to Trader Joe’s, which, as usual, had everything I needed and more, and I bought it; went to the liquor store to get a nice French rose (can’t get the accent to work on the “e” – have I mentioned how much Microsoft sucks in the last few posts?) that goes with everything I bought.

Read all the rest of the chapters my friend sent me of her manuscript and commented on them. Worked on some pitches, but didn’t send them. I want to re-read them and re-work them if necessary, when I’m migraine-free. Did some work on a short hockey article which has to go out later today.

Had to lie down for part of the afternoon because it was so bad.

Good news – I have the green light to go ahead and write about the America’s Cup Races. Which means I have to learn everything really quickly. I found a book my Dad bought many years ago, after he and my mom attended the races in Newport, RI; I found the notes I took when I covered the HEALTH magazine fair in Newport and skipped out for a few hours to explore Newport and “met” some of the boats from former races; and Strand Books is on it, so I’m sure it’ll be all good. It’s about learning first (as well as fast), and then formulating the interviews, and then watching the live feed from the races – because I really don’t think I’ll be able to hop a plane to Valencia at the end of June. Although wouldn’t it be fun if it worked out and I could?

PERFECTLY PLUM’s release date is June 1, so I better get on the stick and get some PR going. I should have gotten releases out two weeks ago, but if I get them out this week, it’ll still be in the early days of the release. I need to talk to the Ben Bella PR person and see what’s what, so we’re not cross-pollinating and look disorganized. If our lists overlap, I’ll send a friendly note rather than repeat the same information.

I’m also developing a contest where some of you can win a copy! Stay tuned – it’ll probably happen around mid-June.

Came up with a new idea called Tracking Medusa, which could be a lot of fun if I can figure it out and slot it in properly. It’s too early to really discuss – but it’s definitely something that will appear under the Ava Dunne name, so that should give you an idea of its direction!

Did the research I need to do for the next section of Good Names. Had a terrific morning session on it, and finished Chapter 5. Now I can type the first chapters, so I don’t get too far behind.

The migraine still lingers, but it’s better than yesterday, so, hopefully, it will be a more productive day. Melissa, I think you’re right. I think I might have a thyroid problem. Unfortunately, since my insurance plan is in name only, I’m having a difficult time getting in to see a doctor without paying out of pocket. And the lab work is too far out of my price range in order to do it all out of pocket. But I’m trying to get tested. In the meantime, I’m doing dietary research, etc., and I’ll talk with my acupuncturist on my next visit to see what I can do to support thyroid health until I can get the medical treatment I need. Thank you for thinking of it.

Sya, you’re right –maybe I should go back to headphones. I didn’t order the earbuds I wanted because the shipping added 50% to the price. Um, considering how small and light they are, that’s unacceptable.


Good Names – 15,412 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15 / 100

Tracking Medusa — 4,123 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4 / 90

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Late start today, but I didn’t get to bed until 2 a.m., so I’m entitled.

My article on the Preakness: “Post Preakness: When Eight Does NOT Mean Infinity” is up on Femmefan here:

It is the top feature article in this week’s issue – I’m pretty excited!

Hop over here to The Scruffy Dog Review Blog to read my next installment on “Crafting Your Writing Life”. Yesterday’s column (yes, I had to rewrite it – the disk’s gone AWOL) is about craft.

And then, since you’re jumping around, there’s a new post up at The Tactile Muse.

Getting to the city was a nightmare yesterday. For some reason (downed power lines, I later found out), trains running in both directions were running on the same track. I felt like I was in the middle of a third grade math problem. Remember those? “If one train goes at 48 miles an hour and the other train goes 60 miles an hour . . .when will they meet?” I used to get into trouble because I said, “If the dispatchers were competent, they never would meet, because they’d be switched to different tracks, a crash could be avoided, and no one would get hurt.” And I’d get detention.

Anyway, since the people running Metro North don’t have the sense of your average five year old who plays with trains, it was all about which train had to back up to the switchback, etc., etc. Two hours to travel 25 miles on a daily basis is simply not acceptable.

And, on top of it, the conductors are rude to customers. They wouldn’t need to put up the signs saying it’s a felony to assault a conductor if the conductors didn’t behave in such a way so the commuters wanted to assault them!

Two shows yesterday. They went well. I enjoy working with the actress a lot. We have many of the same interests – holistic health, meditation, connection to animals, crystals, etc., so we have a lot to talk about.

I’m still struggling, though, because part of me just isn’t there anymore – my heart’s not in my work. Even though I enjoy it. So I have to use even more energy to focus so that I don’t make careless mistakes.

Four of us went out to eat between shows – back to the New World Grill at World Wide Plaza. It was nice, so we ate outside and had a good chat. It’s so important to take the time to get out of the building and truly relax on those two show days.

Got home at a reasonable hour and stayed up reading SEEING A LARGE CAT. Lots of plot. I did figure out the answers, but the way the ending came about was a surprise. As I said, I want to get the whole series and read them in order.

I have to leave about an hour earlier than usual this afternoon to get a few things done in the room, and then, blessedly, this should be my last show for the week. I’ve loved working with this actress, but I’m ready for a few days of focused writing time.

I have to do some business and admin work this morning, and then I hope to get back to GOOD NAMES, and also finish the outline for the play. I figured out the ending, but, as usual, I have to sort out the middle. And come up with a title. It could easily open out into a screenplay, but, for now, I want to keep it a stage play.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday, May 20, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Late post today and no photos. Oh, well. It took awhile to get back and get back into the swing of things.

Preakness Day was lovely – except for the horrible accident in the undercard, ending in the euthanasia of one of my picks, Mending Fences, and the fact that it rained for the 11th race and the Preakness itself. I’m sorry Street Sense lost by a nose – I like him, as a horse, better than Curlin. Quite a few of my other horses came in on the undercard – I hope Diabolical makes it to the Breeders’ Cup this fall. I like that horse!

I’m working on my Preakness wrap-up article, which I have to submit tonight in order for it to go up in the coming week’s issue of Femmefan.

To answer Julia’s question, my very first Kentucky Derby and my very first Kentucky Derby win was in 1969 with Majestic Prince. I was seven. I adore racing. I’ve been writing about it since the late 1990s. I think this is the fourth or fifth year I’ve covered the Triple Crown for FemmeFan. The majority of trainers, jockeys, groomspeople, hotwalkers, etc., truly love the horses and treat them very well, as do the owners that are in it for love of the sport, not love of prestige. And those who truly love horses are trying to change the sport in positive ways to make it a more compassionate sport and take care of the horses beyond their racing lives. Horse-related charities are a big thing with me – they’re the focus of my charity work. If I could, I’d have a farm for retired racehorses and premarin foals, but, as I can’t, I do what I can for the chartable organizations that help them.

Managed to get a nice chunk of work done on Good Names – just over 3000 words over the past few days. Also realized that I have to go back and insert a chapter between my current chapters 3 and 4 – there’s a hole there. I have to do the research for it before I can write it.

After I finish chapter 5, I’m going to type up the first chapters; working in longhand, it gets intimidating to have to type the whole thing when I’m done, so I figure if I type every five chapters as I go – without stopping to revise – it should help.

A chance remark of Colin’s a few days ago gave me the inspiration I need for the stage play I’m going to write for Script Frenzy – part ghost story, part treasure hunt, starting in Reykjavik. No title yet, but I’ve got most of the first act plotted.

To answer Michele’s question – the weather changed moment-to-moment when we were in Iceland. There’s be hail and five minutes later, bright sunshine. And a few minutes later, dark clouds, high winds, and pouring rain again. Also, it was daylight most of the day – I’m sure there were hours of darkness during a 24-hour period, but we didn’t see them.

Got Hermione Lee’s new biography of Edith Wharton today – can’t wait to read it. Her work is always so meticulous.

A friend sent me some chapters of her WIP to read – looking forward to that – and Confidential Job #1 sent me my next assignment, which I will start work on tomorrow morning, while in transit.

Probably won’t blog tomorrow morning – I’m off to Philly for the day, and then I start in on the principal track of the show for the middle portion of the week. I hope I’m free for the weekend, so I can dig it and get some solid work done on Good Names. It was so nice not to HAVE to stop after 1000 or 1500 words and get on with the rest of the day, but to have four to six hour stretches to actually work. I hate writing in little bits – I like large swaths of uninterrupted work time. I’m much more productive that way, and the quality of the work is much stronger.

Off to finish my article and get some pitches out.


Good Names -14,412 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
14 / 100
Published in: on May 20, 2007 at 2:53 pm  Comments (8)  

May 10, 207

Wednesday, May 10
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

I overslept (happens when you get in after midnight and can’t get to sleep right away) and am having a slow start. Don’t have an update on Good Names yet, so tomorrow’s entry will probably combine today’s and tomorrow’s work.

The “Egg-on-Face Post-Derby Wrap-Up” article is up on Femmefan here.

No, Brandy, I haven’t received any replies to my adoption question. I think I’ll have to email my contact at NYPL and see if he can point me in the right direction.

And, Brandy, my thoughts are with you that everything works out. Most important thing to know – no matter how difficult it is for you, do NOT let the doctors, etc., push you around. You need to be Chris’s advocate right now. If someone’s not forthcoming with information or not doing what you believe needs to be done, be polite but FIRM and DON’T BACK DOWN. Unfortunately, hospitals tend to prioritize by who advocates and who rolls over. This, in my opinion, is due to pressure from insurance companies, and not necessarily the fault of the health care providers. My mantra when dealing with that is, “That’s not acceptable. Try again.” Hysterics won’t get you want you need, but firm, immovable determination will. You’re going to have to move out of your comfort zone to protect Chris’s health.

Mini-rant – I’m getting a little tired of celebrities jumping on the eco-conscious bandwagon. You want me to take you seriously? Stop riding in limos, using private jets, and get rid of your SUVs. More walking the talk, fewer photo ops.

Our show is one of several Broadway companies involved in helping the post-Katrina kids in this organization, (After the Storm Foundation) bring their production up to NYC and see other shows. They’re coming up in mid-June — it’s going to be exciting for all of us! I’m honored to be a contributor.

Shows were fine yesterday. I took allergy medication for the first show and it made me dizzy; didn’t want to take it for the second and was congested. Can’t win!

The weather was so gorgeous that my friend B. and I went over to World Wide Plaza and ate outside at the New World Grill in between shows. We had some wine and split several plates of appetizers and enjoyed a lovely, sunny New York experience.

I’m reading one of the novels I brought back from Iceland, called 101 Reykjavik by Hallgrimur Helgason. It’s my understanding this book (published in the mid-90’s) was so popular it was turned into a movie or TV thing or something. It’s sort of an existential slacker novel. Unfortunately, I hate it. It’s well-written, mind you; but I loathe the navel-gazing, self-involved, dull protagonist who’s as obsessed with his own genitalia as any Philip Roth character (but without the literary technique). Someone said that I “should’ like it because it’s Icelandic, and not liking it shows I’m a small-minded American – well, you know, the novel could be happening in New York (parts of it remind me of some of Jay McInerny’s work – not parts I like) or Los Angeles or London or Paris or anywhere – I’d still dislike the protagonist. He’s just the type of guy for whom I have no use and no sympathy. If I met him in a bar, I’d walk away within the first three minutes. There’s way too much going on in the world and that needs to be done in the world for me to have any patience with passive/aggressive apathetic morons.

“But isn’t it because it’s a pre-9/11 novel and you’re reading it post-9/11?” My questioner persisted.

I considered this, and decided that no, even before 9/11, I had no time for passive/aggressive apathetic morons. They are simply not people with whom I choose to spend my time, whether it’s on the page or in real life.

So my friend Jack lent me Christopher Moore’s Practical Demon-keeping instead, which he thinks I’ll really like.

I need to work on Good Names, get caught up on a bunch of paperwork, get out the report for Confidential Job #1, etc., etc., and then it’s back to the show tonight.

Let’s hope Lara has her baby today. I already told her I’m going to laugh like crazy if it turns out to be twins! That happened to an acquaintance of mine a few years ago, even though she had the ultrasounds and everything else. No one noticed it was twins until the kids were born. She kind of suspected (she said, “I’ve been big as a house in previous pregnancies, but never as big as a barn”), so she was less surprised than the folk in the delivery room. In fact, she was rather relieved that it wasn’t triplets!

I’m vamping now, avoiding getting down to work. Here are more Iceland pictures, top and bottom. Eventually, I’ll get around to actually writing about the trip. I had colleagues howling with laughter upon hearing some of our adventures.

Have a great day!


April 30, 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Derby article went out yesterday morning. Short, sweet, and to the point. It will be up on Femmefan either Tuesday or Wednesday, so look for it. It’s called “Kentucky Derby 2007: The Horse.” I think this year’s field is much less wide open than the past few years.

I took the train in around 10 AM yesterday. A woman accompanied by three boys under the age of ten was on the train. One was her son, who was in a wheelchair; the other two were in her care for some reason, the smallest barely beyond toddler. I helped her get them on the train. We all sat together in facing seats and I made up a story to keep them entertained, giving each of them a magical power. I included the tattooed guy sitting beside us because he was so obviously listening. I may well use it as the basis for one of the train stories.

I wasn’t pleased with having to stand in line for 40 minutes outside the NYPL, and then having to walk the length of the library on a broken foot and down several flights of stairs to the PEN event.

One Neil Gaiman wanna-be (but without the intelligence, the humor, or the gentleness), in full black regalia asked me why I wasn’t in black (I was one of the few in line who was actually wearing a color). My response was, “I’m secure enough in my intellect not to need the uniform.”

However the even itself, “Voyage & Voyeur: Travel and Travel Writing” was magnificent. Moderated by Paul Holdengraber (there should be an umlaut over the “a”, but I can’t get the key code to work), the panel consisted of Alain de Botton, Ma Jian, and Illija Trojanow. The discussion (sometimes a debate) was what travel writing really IS – which is not, necessarily, a list of good deals and sightseeing. Inner and outer landscapes, getting to the depths of a place and the self, etc., etc. I agreed with much of it, disagreed with some of it, was fascinated by all of it. De Botton made a point about many people who are disappointed with travel experience because one always brings oneself. I agree, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I rather enjoy bringing myself along when I travel. The exterior cacophony is quieted, being out of my – well, I don’t exactly have a routine as a freelancer, but the usual daily chaos – and I can hear the inner voices. I can recharge the well.

Of course, the trip tomorrow is flat-out running away from the stresses of the past months – I want to pretend they don’t exist for a few days. It’s simply escape. Plus research for a Sean/Elle story and probably a backdrop for a novel, sometime in the future.

There was a lot of pushing and shoving at the book table, but I managed to purchase Ma Jian’s The Noodle Maker and de Botton’s The Consolations of Philosophy. I didn’t get to the stack of Trojanow’s books, and will have to hunt them down later. De Botton was kind enough to sign the book for me, and then I limped out. By now, it was far too late to cross over to the east side and up to the seminar I wanted to attend on Exile – but I was still to full of this seminar to be able to concentrate properly anyway. There were so many points to think about – far too many for a blog entry – that I decided to take the afternoon to enjoy them.

I meandered down Fifth Avenue, from the library on 42nd Street to Union Square, down on 14th Street. For some reason, standing on the broken foot hurts, but if I walk carefully, I’m okay. Good to know, since I’ll be doing some hiking on Thursday.

Once at Union Square, there was some sort of performance chaos going on within the park, and I needed some solitude, so I ducked into the B&N (not the best choice). It was packed and noisy. I found another book of de Botton’s, The Art of Travel, which I picked up (the one relevant to the seminar). I also picked up Bernard-Henri Lévy’s book American Vertigo, which I’ve wanted since it was first published, and Jeremy Mercer’s memoir of his time at Paris’s Shakespeare & Co., Time Was Soft There.

Laden down with far too many books (now THERE’s a surprise), I continued wandering down to Cloisters on E. 9th St. and had a café au lait and cappuccino cheesecake in the garden.

I set part of Tapestry in that restaurant, and it was nice to re-visit it. It’s where Nina is first introduced to Tom.

I started reading The Art of Travel, and I will forever associate it with the scent of dill wafting over from various brunch dishes. It’s an excellent book, and I found myself having a conversation with it – agreeing with parts of it, disagreeing with others. I think I travel differently than most people – which is probably why I’m not being hired by the slick travel mags! I’m not that interested in the spa at the Hilton – I’m interested in what’s available at the market and how people use it.

Wandered back to the B&N on Astor Place – big mistake. Packed, a pick-up joint, and people shouting at each other across the floors like we were in some sort of carnival. Ick. Kept wandering westward to Washington Square Park, where jazz played and magnolia blossoms wafted on the wind.

I sat and read there for awhile, until it got too cold. I’d hoped to stop in to Posman’s books, but it’s no longer just off Washington Square. Kept on going to 8th Street, headed east again. Stopped at Cosi for a coffee, and then it was time to pick up my tickets and get in line over at Cooper Union.

I left B’s ticket at the box office, got in line with my ticket, and continued reading, which was a much pleasanter way to wait. I got a good seat and saved one for B. She arrived soon after, having jumped a cab after getting out of work on the show. We settled in, and listened to the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, which was given by David Grossman, who was then joined by Nadine Gordimer in conversation.

Again, it was astonishingly inspiring. He talks how the stress of daily trauma affects the life and the work, and how the desire is to someday return to something “normal.” Gordimer strongly believes that, no matter what, the social/political/daily traumas must infect and affect the characters. And Grossman spoke of the responsibility of the writer to show people that there IS another way, that there ARE other choices.

Again, the emphasis is on craft and content and responsibility to humanity, not on marketing. Salman Rushdie came on stage towards the end, to close the festival, and the emphasize that there’s room for all kinds and genres of writing, and there’s NEED for all kinds and genres of writing, but how important it is to keep these international connections and discussions going beyond the festival. And he’s absolutely right.

I was reminded again of working with the Core Freedoms/Freedom To Write program just before the holidays, writing cards to imprisoned writers all over the world. I remember the shock I felt writing an address to a labor camp in Vietnam. I’m grateful that I’m not in that situation, but I’m also aware of how spoiled I am in this life, and my responsibility to try to make the world a better place through my writing. That doesn’t mean everything has to be serious and with a Greater Purpose. But it means emphasis on content rather than market.

During the “Voyage and Voyeur” discussion, the point was made, several times, how it’s easier to tell truth in the context of fiction, which is something I’ve believed for years. People connect when it’s part of a story and part of a character about which they care.

These past days gave me a lot to think about as far as how I want to shape my work, my career, and my literary life.

B. and I wandered over to a favorite haunt of ours, Telephone Bar and Grill, on 2nd Avenue and 10th Street, to get something to eat and discuss all the ideas.

I managed to catch the 10:40 out of Grand Central. However, it was well after midnight when I got home. God forbid Metro North actually run a train. First, the excuse was that the bridge was up and we couldn’t get off Manhattan, so we sat for 15 minutes or so at 125th St. Once we got over the bridge, we stopped in the middle of nowhere for who-knows-how long. I called the Customer Service line to complain and got, “Oh, there’s a train broken down ahead of you. We don’t know how long you’ll be there.” I told them I was sick of something going wrong EVERY day, and this was the fourth time in six months something like this happened. It’s not acceptable. .

The train began to move.

Then, at two of the stops, they had bridge plates up, couldn’t line up the car to the plates, only opened one door – AND NEVER TOLD THE PASSENGERS. So we had to wait for 15 minutes at each stop while passengers scrambled to find the single open door.

The level of incompetence grows exponentially week to week. I’m sick of it. Why should we pay them? They should pay us to ride the damn train. It should not take 2 ½ hours to go 25 miles!

Today, I’m finishing my packing, doing last minute errands, getting the report off for CJ #1, and getting set for the rest of the week.

I think I’ll blog early tomorrow morning before I leave, but we’ll see.

Hope this is a great start to a great week!


April 25, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cooler

So, some self-righteous, sanctimonious, smug woman on a writing forum made a comment about how an agent must not be married and have kids and therefore has time to blog. I’m so sick and tired of married women with kids acting like they are the ONLY ones with busy lives. Honey, you aren’t. You’re not that important, and the world does not revolve around you and your kids, although YOUR world might. Get over yourself. There are plenty of people who are unmarried and childless who are making the world a better place, and to give you a world in which to raise your kids.

Mia King is a mother and a writer, and has one of the most balanced outlooks on her writing and family life that I’ve ever come across. It’s so refreshing to hear a writer who is a woman and a mother not use her kids as an excuse not to write. Men rarely make that excuse – although, when they do, it’s “my wife won’t let me” – which makes me want to barf. Are you over 21? An adult? There’s no such thing as a spouse “letting” or “not letting” unless you’re a major wimp or in an abusive situation that you should leave. Again, this is an example of a person refusing to take responsibility for his or her own life.

Mia TAKES responsibility. She balances. She knows that a career she loves does not have to endanger the family she loves. Go, Mia! May your success grow book to book, because you certainly deserve it! Jill Shalvis is another writer who keeps the balance going well – and also has a sense of humor about it.

Mothers who say they want to write should look to those two women as examples of positive ways to balance the writing life with the family life.

Work was fine yesterday. New York was unpleasant – too many people in too small a space, everyone trying to get somewhere. The usual. I’m booked for a couple of weeks when I get back from my trips in May – so that’s good. Pay some bills, replace some money used for the car.

Good thing I don’t have to go in until tonight – Metro North is down – again! Tonight, I’m taking my friend J. to one of the events at the PEN World Voices conference. We’re going early enough to stop at the Algonquin for drinks first (provided the trains run properly).

Verizon came to fix the landline yesterday and screwed up the DSL. When I called to complain, they said it was not possible for me to have working DSL without a dial tone. Then what have I been doing since last Friday? IMAGINING my time on line?

I’m so tired of idiots.

No response from Icelandiar. I am even less impressed with them than I was 24 hours ago.

Trying to get some writing done, after I scour the job boards and see if there are pitches to get out.

I’m offline for the next few days – planned. I’m going to Maine to visit my grandmother –and to do laundry – because who knows when the laundry rooms will be fixed in the building? Not a complaint, mind you – they are working their butts off to get the building back to rights. And they have to scour everything with bleach, because the smells have traveled up the old dumbwaiter shafts (one of those round stick-to-the-wall closet things helps). I checked out a few Laundromats in the area – they’re kind of dirty, and I’m not too happy with them. My friend, at whose house I often do laundry, lost his whole laundry room in the flood and has to rip everything out a renovate, too. I can’t take it to work, because there’s too much show laundry (and I don’t REALLY want to haul laundry on a three hour round trip commute on the train). I’ll hand wash as much as I can here at home, and we’ll play the rest by ear.

I’m doing my pre-Derby article that will appear next week on FemmeFan. Finally, I can reveal my Derby horse – I promised I’d stay quiet until Derby week, so the horse could do its work and mature without additional pressure.

The Plum essays were sent out for a final proof. It looks good, and I’m excited about the book’s release in June. Perfectly Plum – you can pre-order it from Amazon.

Have a great rest-of-the-week, all, and, hopefully, both landline and DSL will be working when I return.


PS  There are a lot of great moms and writing moms who read this blog.  Needless to say, I do not mean YOU — although you’re probably the ones who then worry you’re being too self-centered when you’re not.  I’m fortunate enough to have attracted a group of generous spirits here.