Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Thanks for all the kind words, everyone. Once I don’t have to fight for my home every damned day, life will be much better. I understood how the pioneers felt in the old west, when the developers came through, even back then, and took away their homes in the name of “progress” – by which they meant personal profit. That’s all these scumbags are after – and I’m pretty sure the Evil Developers we thought we drove away a year or so ago are silent partners in this venture.

It’s exhausting, to live this way. To never know what fresh threat will be at your door or on your answering machine hour to hour.

I’m also tired of living most of my life lately in RE-action instead of PRO-action.

But I’m working on some articles that will be spread out over several publications. I should be able to work them up fairly quickly — two of the people I asked for quotes yesterday got back to me in less than an hour – love that! I’ll get them going, and then maybe find decent rhythm to finish the sci-fi horror western and the essay. And I get to read my friend’s novel this week – I’m looking forward to it. I finally have to change ink tanks – the very first time with this new printer – and then I can print it out and start reading it.

It’s supposed to rain all day, so I moved the car, even though the brook is low. I’m not willing to take the chance.

I’m hoping today will be fairly quiet so I can get a lot done. I’ve received some of the science books I need to read and comprehend for the thriller – maybe I’ll allow myself a few pages on that, if everything else gets done.

Script Frenzy changed their criteria this year – instead of a word count, it’s a page count, as it should be. It’s in April this year – in other words, next month. An acquaintance told me I was “stupid” not to hold off on the thriller until April 1 and then use it for Script Frenzy –uh, beg to disagree. The thriller needed to be written when it needed to be written, and that’s now, not in two weeks. I’ve made tremendous progress, and as soon as I sort out how I want it to end, I’ll be able to finish it. (Okay, THAT was stupid and obvious sentence). I’ve still got about six pages of outline notes before I have to worry about the ending, but I’d like to know how it ends before I get there. I know how I want to set up the climactic scene – but I’m not sure what I want to happen in it after I set it up.

And I have an idea for a play that I might try for Script Frenzy. I’ll have to see how I’m doing, deadline-wise, in two weeks.

So far, this week, I managed to stick to my evening workouts. So let’s hope I can do so for the rest of the week, and then next week and so on. It’s much better. I’m a spaz with that new jump rope, though. It’s too long for me, but not long enough to loop it over my wrists, and I keep tripping on it. It’s supposed to be adjustable, but I haven’t figured out how to adjust it yet.

Oh, before I forget: Can I just say how much I admire the way Jill Shalvis has set up her life, and that she is a perfect example of being in the right relationship and balancing work and family? She’s got a great husband, three great kids, a dog, a puppy, a kitten, a visiting bear (no, that’s not code for an in-law, don’t worry). And when she’s on deadline, they all pitch in. They support her career and her dreams, as she supports theirs, and they all work together so that they can all achieve their goals. There’s none of this martyr crap that’s so prevalent in far too many marriages. I was shocked when, a few weeks ago, an acquaintance of mine told me her son hates college because he has to do his own laundry and there’s no one to make his bed! (He grew up with a maid). To me, that’s crap. Jill’s got it set up the way it SHOULD BE, and her career reflects that. Nora Roberts and Janet Evanovich have similarly supportive home lives, and THAT is a major reason why all three of them are able to consistently turn out top selling work. You have to demand that respect, set up your life as a WHOLE life, not separate realms – each has to support the other. Jill, I salute you!

Now, let me take some of my own advice and get back to work in spite of the scumbags. Anyone know of a spray called “Scumbags Be Gone”? Think Raid would develop one if I asked them to do it?

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:


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

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


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

Published in: on March 19, 2008 at 7:30 am  Comments (5)  

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007
Full Moon/Blue Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Next to Jill Shalvis and M.E. Ellis, I am an absolute slacker, let me tell you! Those two writers are an inspiration. They get more done in an hour than I get done in a week! Oh, well, it gives me something towards which to strive!

And a shout of congratulations to Shirley Wells, whose new book, INTO THE SHADOWS, is out.

One more day until:

Script Frenzy

And

The release of PERFECTLY PLUM.

The Dog Blog post on process is up here.

To answer Ivan’s question – basically what I’m doing here is changing my process slightly for this book, and brainstorming in public. There’s still plenty I’m not talking about, because it has to work itself out. I’m careful not to “talk myself out” before it’s written. I’m also interested in tracking back once it’s gone through the revision process to see where it started and how it grew. Ivan, sorry you had a bad experience with Sontag, but not surprised. I was never a fan for reasons I shan’t get into here.

Finished the material for Confidential Job #1, did the write-up, off it went and now I can invoice. Love that part!

Realized I can’t rewrite much of Medusa until I get to the Met on Friday. I need to play with a few more possibilities. While running errands at Staples, I found a scanner small enough to fit in Justin’s backpack, but I think I’ll just have him still retain his research cubicle in the room (we were in there, I can’t remember the name of it) – and say there’s a photocopier in there, whether there is or not. It doesn’t make sense to drag the laptop and the scanner internationally. A photocopy makes more sense. And I’ll add in some quick interchanges with the staff he’d run into on that library route, so he’s not questioned removing a book from the reading room. Problem solved, only stretching reality slightly – but there’s still enough reality to suspend disbelief.

Started work on Chapter 7 of Medusa, but I have to do some research on Greece and the temples in order for Gwen to tell Justin (as they’re walking around Lindisfarne at night) the backstory of the Medusa head. And I might throw in one or two of the Lindisfarne ghost yarns in there while I’m at it. Maybe the black dog running through the Abbey ruins.

Good morning’s work on Good Names. There were a couple of scenes that set up the social dynamic among the women of different economic classes, and some of the alliances and conflicts.

I was supposed to do some sort of errand this morning, but damned if I can remember it.

No hot water today. Again. We’ve had trouble almost all this week. I know they’re still working on the basement and all from the floods, but the last flood was on April 15 and it’s now nearly June. My patience is wearing thin. Not that it’s ever that thick in the first place.

But I am going to have to put the air conditioner in today.

I’m doing several tarot readings today, since it’s the Blue Moon, so I’d better prepare.

Devon

Good Names – 20,287 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
20 / 100
(20.0%)

Tracking Medusa – 16,546 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
16 / 90
(17.8%)

Starting tomorrow: the wordmeter bar for City of Lost

May 11, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and warm

Jill Shalvis is going to laugh at me.

If you read her wonderful blog, you know that she is less than fond of spiders. And, if you’ve read my comments to those posts, you know I keep telling her that spider is a messenger and she has to interpret the message.

Well, I came home from the theatre on Tuesday night and went into the kitchen to fix a cup of tea and one of the biggest gray spiders I’ve ever seen scuttled across my bare foot from one side of the kitchen to the other. I screamed and nearly dropped the kettle.

It wasn’t as big as the spider who visited our apartment in Edinburgh a few years ago, where my fellow cast-mates jumped on furniture and I chased it around with a baking pan and a spatula and finally corralled it and released it out the window (we were on the first floor). But it was big.

And now I don’t know where it is.

So every time I feel the least little tickle, I jump ten feet, sure that a four inch spider is about to crawl up my leg.

And I have NO idea what it’s trying to tell me.

Go ahead, Jill – laugh! Serves me right! 

Brandy, I really admire the way you’re handling everything. Chris needs you to be strong right now. And remember – you’ve got all of us as your support system. You care-take him; we’ll care-take you so that you CAN care-take him. We’re here, so don’t hesitate to call on us.

Red tagged me for “eight wonderful things about me”. I’m going to do it – but so far, I’ve only thought of two!

Hop on over to the new site for The Scruffy Dog Review Blog and read my post on “Living By Your Wits”. Thank you, Brenda and Colin, for moving it to WordPress!

And hop on over to The Tactile Muse to read about my latest knitting adventures.

I was pretty much a waste of food yesterday. Exhausted and not feeling well due to this respiratory whatever – which is made worse by the growing (in every sense of the word) mold problem in the basement of this building, post-flood. The Tenants’ Organization is putting together a meeting to figure out what to do about it.

But I read a bit, caught up on some work, knitted a bit (Elsa helped), dealt with some phone stuff, etc., etc. All I wanted to do was sleep, but that’s not an option right now. Maybe Monday I’ll be able to take a nap.

I bought lilacs on my way home from work last night – and I’m so congested I can even smell them!

Took the train into the city. Stopped by the Imperial Theatre, where Coram Boy is currently playing. A friend of mine just moved into the assistant supervisor position. I wanted to stop by and drop off the tiny little gift I brought from Iceland. And I ran into another friend of mine who’s in the process of buying a house not too far from me, so we got to catch up. I barely made it to my own theatre by call time!

Show was fine. I started reading Practical Demonkeeping backstage. It’s hilarious! Well-written, well-structured and genuinely clever. I got pulled in so deeply that sometimes, I barely made my cues! But they all got done, so it was fine.

Missed the 11:10 train by one minute. I’d much rather miss it by ten minutes than one! Puttered around Grand Central for awhile, but got a good seat on the 11:40. Got home just before one, knitted a few more rows, and went to bed.

Good yoga session this morning, and a productive session on Good Names. I need to do some more research. I’m tired, in that state of exhaustion that an eight show week always places me. If I was ONLY doing the eight shows, I could sleep in and focus on that. But, since I’m juggling the writing and the rest of it as well – I simply have to be in a state of perpetual exhaustion all week.

Today, I have to catch up on paperwork, do some research, scour the job boards (they’ve been very disappointing this week), write the pre-Preakness article, and run some errands. And then, tonight, it’s off to the theatre again. The Circadian Poem will go up later – I’m having trouble with the disk.

Today’s Iceland photos, top and bottom, are of Kerio (there should be a line over the “o” to extend it, but I think it’s pronounced “Keyrith”). This is a volcanic crater now filled with water. No guard-rails, so I didn’t get too close to the edge! I love the colors.

Hope you’re preparing for a terrific weekend!

Devon

Good Names ¬ – 9,562 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
9 / 100
(9.0%)

April 29, 2007

Sunday, April 29, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

It was a good trip, but not an easy trip. Nothing like your family to completely tip your equilibrium!

I received the next assignment from Confidential Job #1, along with the notification that the invoice I submitted was approved. Woo-hoo! Guess they like me! I’m still waiting both for payment from Confidential Job #2 and if they’re going to give me another assignment. Another freelance job asked for samples; I sent them; when I got back yesterday, there was the exact same email asking for samples, so I RE-SENT them, with a pointed email saying that’s what I did.

Icelandair fixed the problems, with many apologies, so it all seems good – provided they actually did what they said they did. I have all the paperwork, so we’ll see.

Wednesday night, I took my friend J. to the PEN World Voices Festival – readings at Town Hall. We went in early enough to have a cocktail at the Algonquin’s Blue Bar (one of my favorite places). I had a sidecar – they make the best sidecars ever.

The event itself was amazing! Tonight’s event was “Writing Home”. Salman Rushdie provided the introduction – and, three times, admonished people to turn off their cell phones and some idiot’s phone STILL went off halfway through! The writers reading from their work were: Steve Martin, Pia Tafdrup, Don DeLillo, Tatayana Tolstaya, Saaadi Youssef, Kiran Desai, Alain Mabanckou, Neil Gaiman, Nadine Gordimer, and Salman Rushdie. Each one was uniquely exquisite.

We left walking on air. What a wonderful way to replenish the soul!

THIS is a writers’ conference. A place where writers share ideas and responsibility and use their talents to change the world, to make it a better place. This is an international organization of writers committed to justice, peace, and making a difference in the world, inspiring everyone with whom they come into contact, and I am honored to be a part of it.

THIS is what a writers’ conference should be, rather than what most are – places where wanna-be writers try to find agents for books that will never be written and go to marketing seminars for work that they’ll never finish. Yes, it’s important for conferences to provide the business protocols on a regular basis, both because of the constant influx of starting writers and those who, no matter how many times they’re told, believe none of it pertains to THEM, but there’s really nothing out there for the working writer. Conferences bring together starting out writers and wanna-be writers with best-sellers. There is nothing for the steadily working writer who’s crafting a career – and a life – in the art form without bestseller-dom or spending 80% of the time marketing rather than writing.

PEN’s festival is about craft and content, not marketing. There was a sense of community, of writers and readers embracing each other, rather than a sense of competition and cliques which pervades so many conferences. These are people who want to talk to those who attend, who want to interact, who give a damn. They are confident in their skills and their work and in their sense of responsibility to humanity at large, but also humble.

It was an eye-opening, soul-reviving, life-changing experience.

Afterwards, J. and I went to the Campbell Apartment for another drink and to continue that feeling of well-being (because once we got on wonky, unreliable Metro North, it was hard to maintain).

I’m seriously thinking of writing a book of short stories based on Metro North nightmares. Darkly funny. Because there’s got to be a way to make positive use out of all the pain and frustration this train line causes on a daily basis!

Unfortunately, when I got home, I discovered that I’d broken the little toe on my left foot and it was black and swollen. I knew I’d tripped over something earlier in the day, but didn’t think it was a big deal.

It was. I had to adjust it (all together now – Owww!), ice it, and tape it.

Since I got home after midnight, I had a heck of a time getting up at 4:30 on Thursday morning. We were an hour late starting off for Maine – and I was up, I was packed, but I couldn’t get it together to get out of the house!

The drive up was fine, as always. The Rabbit drives like a dream and loves the highway. We stopped at my favorite Nutcracker Bakery in Newburyport, MA for coffee and a snack, then I nipped in to visit Jabberwocky Books there. If you’re ever in Newburyport, or near it, you MUST visit Jabberwocky – it’s an amazing bookstore and right next to the bakery. Tess Gerritsen turned me on to that place, and every time I go to and from Maine, I thank her for it!

We meandered through lower Maine the way we usually do – did some shopping in Kittery, stopped at the thrift shop in York, the Book Barn in Wells – which is about to close! After 25 years, they are going into semi-retirement and only working online via Alibris. The two lovely frame houses that are the store and the house have been sold to the shopping center beside them. I hope they’re not torn down! I bought my two final books there, and will miss them terribly.

We made our usual stop in Stonewall Kitchen in York. Stocked up on some more of their Wild Maine Blueberry jam, horseradish cream, shallot and champagne mustard, and they had a spicy corn relish that’s so good I bought the biggest jar they carry.

My grandmother had asked us to buy a few things on the way in, so we went to the Wells Food Mart (beside the bookstore) to get things. Then, it was a stop at the wonderful Maine Diner for a lobster lunch, and back onto the Maine Turnpike at Kennebunk. Those Bushes really ought to give the town some money to fix the roads! They can spare it, and the roads are in bad shape!

We got to my grandmother’s, unloaded the car, and filled up the freezer with all the things I’d cooked. My grandmother is too ill to cook anymore, so when I go up, I cook batches of things she and her brother like, put them in microwave containers, and stock her freezer. We also brought her a stack of Large Print mysteries – her eyesight’s failing, so she can’t see to read unless it’s Large Print. I taught her how to run the CD player I’d given her for Christmas so she could listen to the Books on Tape I’d bought (because no one else could be bothered to take the two and a half minutes to figure it out). My grandmother’s cousin and her granddaughter stopped by, whom I’d never met, so we had a nice visit.

We ordered in food from Bob’s Seafood over in Windham, and my great-uncle got a ride in the new car with me to get it, which was fun. We visited and caught up. My grandmother’s Parkinson’s is much worse, but she says it’s better since they switched her medication, so I can only imagine how bad it was in the interim.

My foot was killing me, so I put it up and iced it off and on for a few hours (in ten minute bursts – any more and it hurts the nerves).

Friday morning, I read a colleague’s manuscript (which is GREAT by the way. Not good – GREAT. Any agent or publisher who doesn’t snatch it up immediately is a complete and utter moron and the publishing industry is DOOMED). Meanwhile, I had the laundry going downstairs. We’d brought up two loads of laundry from NY, because we don’t know when we’ll have a laundry room again, and they had some laundry, and since I AM a laundry goddess, I did the whole lot of it.

My grandmother felt well enough to dress and wanted to come shopping. We made a list and went to Shaw’s. I LOVE that store! Ever so much better than many of the stores around here. And everyone’s so friendly and helpful. And it’s set up logically. The matches are with the lighter fluid and fireplace logs instead of in the middle of the dish soap (as in one store here) – and most stores in my area no longer sell kitchen matches “because everyone has a lighter”. So I stocked up on things like kitchen matches and oyster crackers to take back to NY, and got my grandmother’s grocery shopping done, and then ran into Staples to get some 3 hole punch paper (which is hard to get down here, but it’s what I use for drafts because I put them in binders).

Got Grandma back home, the groceries put away, the laundry folded, more work done on the manuscript. Then, it was back to Bob’s Seafood for lobster rolls for lunch (yum). After lunch, I had to head back out because I had to find a place to get keys copied. I have a 30 year old security lock on my door here, which does make me feel secure, but a single key makes me nervous. Down here, key cutters shrug and say they “can’t.” So I thought maybe a more rural area would have more resourceful locksmiths.

I found one, and I learned more than I ever knew about making and matching keys. You know it’s going to come in handy in a story someday. He was absolutely lovely, and I may need to base a character in something on him someday. Of course, I couldn’t test the keys until we got back to NY yesterday, but – they work! Ta-Da!

Did some other shopping (like I needed to spend the money). Came back to the house, finished the manuscript, wrote up the notes, and my grandmother’s sister-in-law stopped by, and we also had a nice visit. Then I started the next assignment for Confidential Job #1, fixed dinner, and helped my grandmother go through some things which I took back here to NY to get repaired – since I’m in wardrobe, I know the places that specialize in these kinds of repairs.

Somewhere in all of this, I ended up with a tick on me, which nearly sent me over the edge, but I got it off and stomped on it before it bit me. Two of my friends have had Lyme Disease, and it’s left them with permanent damage. I’m just glad I noticed it before it had the chance to chomp.

Up early yesterday morning, got my grandmother sorted out, packed the car. We were on the road by 7:30, and stopped in Ongonquit at The Egg & I for breakfast. I’ll be writing about this restaurant soon. The short version: The best eggs benedict I’ve ever had anywhere, and scrumptious coffee. Delightful! Not only is the food great and the atmosphere welcoming, but the other diners were all cheerful and interesting.

Back on the road, stopped in Newburyport for gas. Picked up a Boston Globe, but was halfway across the MASS pike before I saw that I missed my colleague Jon Clinch by MINUTES. He was appearing at 10 AM in Newburyport – I’d taken gas at 9:50 only a mile down the road, but didn’t find out about it until I stopped at a rest area and glanced at the paper around noon! Talk about ships that pass in the night! Jon’s book is FINN – if you haven’t read it, read it. It’s a harsh, beautiful book. I would have loved to stop by and support him.

Stopped in Sturbridge, MA, at Earth Spirits, to stock up on incense and oils. Their quality is so terrific it’s always worth the stop.

Stopped at a bookstore down the street from me on the way in, looking for Jill Shalvis’s latest to take with me on the plane on Tuesday. They didn’t have it. They didn’t have ANY of her books. I was NOT amused. I said, “The reason better be that you’ve sold through them and your re-orders haven’t yet arrived. The next time I walk in here, I expect to see an ENTIRE SHELF of her books!” I bought DANCING SHOES AND HONKY TONK BLUES by Luann McLane and SUSANNAH’S GARDEN by Debbie Macomber, both of which look good. That, along with POISON STUDY, should work for the trip.

The cats were glad to see me. I unpacked, finished the assignment for Confidential Job #1, and tried to get settled for today.

Worked on my pre-Derby article, the manuscript critique, and the report for CJ#1. Got the critique done and out; have most of the report for CJ#1 complete. The Derby piece still needs more work, but I have to finish it before I head for the city this morning.

Today, I’m at the PEN World Voices Festival again all day – I can’t wait. It’s like finding an oasis in the desert. I come out of these sessions so inspired and so honored to be in the company of people like these writers. And most of the attendees are pretty fascinating, too.

I had to move the car again when I came back – the brook’s too high, and, even on Friday, there was some concern of yet another flood.

I can’t really go into the emotional impact of the trip. It’s difficult to see my grandmother, who could always run rings around everyone, grow more and more frail. And, on the one hand, she’s appreciative that I come up and do all the things no one else thinks are important enough to take the time to do, but, on the other hand, she’s always harping on me. She’s proud of all the other relatives and what they’ve accomplished, but I’m the black sheep – and only because I’m not married and not popping out babies all the time. She’s finally accepted the fact that I’ll never get “a real job” and that I’m making a decent living in the theatre and now, switching to the freelancing. She’s stopped telling me that, “well, you’ll HAVE to do something you hate if you want to succeed in this world” and I’ve stopped countering with, “I won’t.”

I think a friend of mine is correct when he said that, because she made the choice of duty to “give up her art” (she was a talented artist) in order to devote herself to her husband, and then, after he died and her sister-in-law died, to move back to Maine to “take care” of her brother, she resents the fact that I’ve always refused to make the same decision. I’m willing to support and care for the man in my life – but not to the extent of dismissing or giving up my own writing. I won’t do it. And, according to my friend, whether she’s conscious of it or not, she has to punish me for that decision. And the fact that I can make it work.

Most of the time I get so upset and enraged and hurt that I’m beside myself by the time I leave. This time, I remembered the part of “detachment” that yoga always talks about and decided to apply it. I’m not denying that it hurt, frustrated, and annoyed me. But, this time, I decided it wasn’t going to fester, nor was I going to start an argument. There was far too much to do, too little time in which to do it, and I’ve had way too much to deal with in the past months to have to defend my choices to ANYONE. And I could move through the anger and hurt much more easily by not letting it infect me like a cut that wasn’t properly cleaned. It’s almost as though catching and destroying the tick before it bit me was symbolic of the entire trip.

Off to PEN, to waft on the wings of inspiration for the day.

Devon

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.

Devon

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.

January 31, 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and snowy

I can’t believe January is over. I need another two weeks, please. Not quite ready for February.

“Blue” by Brenda Braene is up on Circadian.

A new essay on supporting living writers is up on the Dog Blog.

The train was late, big surprise, but frustrating because I had three errands that HAD to be run on the way to the theatre. First two, knocked right off. Third was all the way across on the West Side, almost to the river, and, of course, took longer than I wanted, but I still made it to the theatre just a hair late. Amazing how quickly you can walk if you have to.

Work was fine. Not too many sewing repairs, but I had to re-glue some bits of the tin man that were peeling away from the frame.

I heard some of the music from the new musical version of Legally Blonde, which is coming to Broadway sometime soon. It’s REALLY good. I was pleasantly surprised. The kind of music that sticks with you and that you can walk out of the theatre still humming.

I’m writing an article on Barbaro that needs to go out the end of this week, and I need to clear off my desk some more. I don’t know why I’m so sore – I’m going to try to work out some kinks later today with an extra yoga session.

So many of the performers have dashed to Target to get those humidifiers meant for kids in the shape of animals. They’re all over the place. They’re so damn cute, I might have to get one for my apartment.

My first check arrived for the anthology – woo-hoo! It’s always nice when someone pays on time.

The computer decided to upload the newest version of IE (don’t I get a say in these things?) and I had a bit of a fit when everything was rearranged. I found where it hid most of the stuff and put it back where I want it, but I’m not sure.

And this new Microsoft Vista? For which some people paid over $600? That only runs on computers less than two years old, only they don’t bother to tell you BEFORE you plunk down the money?

Typical effing Microsoft.

Chaz’s package returned from the UK, with all sorts of paperwork. Nothing seems too major – maybe I’ll rewrap the toys with bells so they won’t ring and upset postal workers – and then I’m going to try sending it again. At least it wasn’t stolen.

People need to back off from the jawing about Daniel Radcliffe doing Equus. Especially since most of these idiotic gossipy bastards haven’t bothered to learn about the play.

Equus is a modern classic, written by the astounding good playwright, Peter Shaffer. It’s extremely disturbing. However, the young man is not the main character —the psychiatrist treating him is. I saw the play on Broadway years ago, when it first became a phenomenon. It’s dark. It’s disturbing. You leave the theatre viewing the world differently than you viewed it when you entered it, which is what a good play is supposed to do. Although the kid was shirtless for a good portion of it, I only remember one full frontal scene. It was completely organic to the piece and necessary, brief, and not a big deal at all. It didn’t feel shocking or out of place. Plus, you’re in a big darned theatre, so, except for the voyeurs with the opera glasses, you’re not seeing a whole lot.

And believe me, there are plenty of plays that put nudity on stage just to sell tickets. I attended a production at a well-known off-Broadway company a few years back. Can’t remember if I knew one of the actors or one of the crew or why the heck I went. Maybe we just got on the list for one of the previews or something. At any rate, it was a tiny theatre. I was in the third row, and if I’d stretched, I could have touched the bed on the stage.

In the second act, one of the actors is completely naked, sprawled backwards, doing a monologue as part of a 12 minute scene. There was no organic reason in the text for him to be nude in that scene. He had the body, and the company knew it would sell tickets. Good thing he HAD the body, because he sure couldn’t act.

That was exploitation. And, believe me, I know what they pay off-Broadway, and he should have demanded a much higher salary.

Equus is different. The publicity photos that are being blasted around the world are pushing the nudity angle to sell tickets, which annoys me. There’s a shot of Radcliffe and the actress nude together. Now, I don’t remember, in the production I saw, the actress ever actually getting naked with the boy, but maybe that’s something they decided to do for this production. And the house staff will have its hands full taking away cameras.

Photographs are not allowed in ANY professional theatre – it’s a violation of the performers’ right to their image. You purchase a ticket, which is the right to see the live performance IN THE MOMENT, something that can never be exactly replicated again – not to photograph it and sell it or show it to others. Also, using a flash can disorient the actor and cause serious injury onstage. Especially if the actor is trying to maneuver on or off stage, is disoriented by a flash and is run over by a two ton piece of scenery. By being a selfish bastard and taking a photograph, you could maim or kill someone involved with the production. And let’s face it, people are going to try to sell photos of Radcliffe’s genitalia on eBay. I used to work front of house and remove film from cameras – it’s in the program, on the ticket, announced before the show, so if you’re going to violate it, you deserve to get your camera taken away. Personally, I think there should be a list, and if someone violates the no-photograph rule in one theatre, they should be banned for three years or more from all of them.

Regarding Radcliffe and Equus, I’m curious as to how a 17-year-old young man can handle this role. Working on it is bound to change his view of the world not just as an actor, but as a person. It’s an awfully young age to work on the material.

With the whole Harry Potter thing – look, Radcliffe is an actor. His job and responsibility to the audience is to show up on the HP set when he’s contracted and do a terrific job. Which he does. When he’s not on contract, it’s his job to make me believe in any character he plays. That’s what he’s trying to do.

I’d much rather see him doing Equus than go around drinking and doing drugs because the pressure of being HP has become uncomfortable.

I came to the HP movies as a fan of the books. When Rowling writes other books, I plan to read her work, because she’s a damn good writer. With the movies, I was a fan of the body of work of several actors whose work I’d known for years (Rickman, Thewlis, Smith, Shaw, etc.). And I’m interested to see what Radcliffe, Watson, Grint, et al do away from the HP movies.

I’m much more interested in a body of work than seeing someone do the same thing over and over and over again. Part of that is because theatre/film/television is my profession in tandem with the writing. But part of it is because I’m not an ignoramus. There’s enough information on the inner workings of the industry now that only a moron isn’t going to allow growth and change in the performers of which they claim to be “fans”.

As I said in the Dog Blog essay about writers, which makes sense in this situation, too: Decide if you’re a fan of the actor or of the character; own it, and take responsibility for it. If you’re a fan of Harry and only Harry – don’t go see anything else. If you’re a fan of Radcliffe, go with an open mind and give him a chance.

He’s 17. With any luck, he’ll be around for a long time, with a large body of work. Look over Johnny Depp’s body of work. He started young, had early success with Jump Street, made his own way in unusual (to say the least) work, and now he’s got the over-the-top success as Jack Sparrow. Why can’t Daniel Radcliffe find his way, too?

Okay, here’s the January wrap-up for the GDRS:

January 2007 Wrap-Up

Done:
Devon’s Random Newsletter
Finished 1st draft of Token and Affection
Plum essay revisions completed and essay accepted for anthology
Started Chasing the Changeling
Quarterly Newsletter
Occasional (but more frequent than last year) entries on Biblio Paradise and Wordish Wanderings.
Circadian Poems
SDR blog every Wednesday
Kemmyrk Mondays and Thursdays
Devon Ellington temporary site up

In Progress:
Typing Token and Affections
Working to finish 1st draft of Real
Pitches
13-in-Play
Reading research books for the Assumption of Right rewrite
Requested revision for Tumble
3 short stories – I’m going for quality over speed

Postponed/Dropped:
Work on Fix-It Girl
Dixie Dust Rumors queries out
Typing Shallid
Next SDR column begun

Additional:
Unknown Journey outlined
Knockabout Kingdom outlined
Marching Band stories outlined
“New Year’s Resolutions for Sports Fans” article (pub. By Femme Fan)
“Submission Log and Pitch Tracker” article written and submitted
Two interlinked paranormal comedy stories outlined
“Ink in My Coffee” moved to WordPress
“A Biblio Paradise” moved to WordPress
“Kemmyrk” moved to WordPress
“13 Traveling Journals” moved to WordPress
“Place and Space” moved to WordPress
Joined Kristen King’s Query Challenge 2007
Novel idea: Turn of 20th Century
Novel idea: Contemporary action/psychological
Designed and put up Fearless Ink site
Designed and put up Cerridwen’s Cottage site
Joined a blog chain
Devon’s Random Newsletter for February

Disappointments:
Rejection of The Merry’s Dalliance
The death of Barbaro

Successes:
First article of the year published on Jan. 4 (by FemmeFan)
Plum essay accepted
Token and Affections first draft done
Negotiations for possible regular writing gig (not signed, sealed and delivered, but I’m hopeful)

Reading:
Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner. Very good; lots of fun.
Death by Station Wagon by Jon Katz. Excellent. (Actually, I read this in December and forgot to list it).
Hell’s Belles by Jackie Kessler. Wonderful! Excellent!
Dorothy and Agatha by Gaylord Larsen. Liked the plot; struggled with characterizations. Okay.
Diaries by Lavinia Riker Davis. Lovely.
The Ragman’s Memory by Archie Mayor. Excellent.
Off Season by Philip R. Craig. Very good.
Death on a Vineyard Beach by Philip R. Craig. Very good.
Seeing Red by Jill Shalvis. Very good.

Devon

Chasing the Changeling — 20,842 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
20 / 45
(44.4%)

January 30, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Felt vaguely uneasy for most of the day, and couldn’t put my finger on it. Some of it, I’m sure, comes from the fact that this building is in the sale process, and we wonder how the new owners will try to drive everyone out; part of it, stemming from the former, is that my relocation is being taken off my schedule and is now on someone else’s schedule; part of it is trying to get my head around the full show weeks I’ll be doing over the next month or so, and trying to reconcile it with the transition, the relocation, and keep all the writing balls afloat. And who knows what else contributes to it?

I had a terrible time getting things done, and, most importantly, focusing. Again, I think part of it was switching around the routine – not getting some creative work done before I started the practical. It left me out of sorts. I’m getting in my own way again, and I don’t like it.

Starting my day with: feed the cats, yoga, write, and THEN officially start the day is a natural rhythm for me, and when that is disrupted, dis-ease sets in. I never thought of myself as a creature of habit – you really can’t be when you freelance, and I’ve freelanced my whole darned life – but this particular configuration works for me.

So, I have to figure out how to protect it and nurture it amongst all the change and chaos around me.

I finished Seeing Red by Jill Shalvis, and enjoyed it. I liked the dynamic between Summer and Joe. I also thought the way the family tried to protect itself and heal itself simultaneously was interesting. And, of course, I loved the puppy, Ashes.

I’m a member of the Sierra Club, now, since I signed that petition against the opening the Sequoia Forests to logging. They have some interesting local events; I hope I can attend one or two of them.

Catching up with blogs yesterday, it was interesting to read, in Ann’s blog, why she likes the show Grey’s Anatomy so much – the very same reasons I stopped watching it are the reasons she continues to watch it! Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s well-written and well-acted. However, the lives have gotten so messy that I find it wearying. I get to deal with people with lives in that much turmoil on a regular basis, and I am well-paid to do so. I don’t want or need to come home and watch it on television. I hope it runs a long time and they’re all happy, but I’d rather watch something very different in my sparse spare time. Maybe, once things are a little calmer in the lives around me, I’ll go back and enjoy it.

Got another pitch out today; should have gotten more out, but, oh, well. I’m starting to send them out from the Fearless Ink address, since that’s the business writing site, instead of the primary address I can only access from home.

Too tired to think straight. The pitch wasn’t my best, but I knew I had to move fast.

I’m working my way through the piles on my desk. I had three large piles, and a stack in the printer tray. I managed to get through one entire stack and the printer tray – dealing with every single item, not just rearranging stuff.

Another migraine threatened, probably due to exhaustion and frustration. And that, of course, leads to feeling discouraged at not getting enough done, and it all spirals downward from there. And fretful and jumpy as a cat in an electrical storm.

I remembered reading in one of the health magazines – Yoga Journal or Health or Natural Health or one of those – how important a warm lunch is and how that helps keep the body in balance. So I had vegetable soup with bread and butter. It did help, a bit.

And, I decided to cut myself a break on the short stories I’ve fretted about readying for the end of the month. “Illuminated Nude” and “The Man on the Yoga Mat” are more interesting and more complex than I expected, and need more time to unfold. Why rush them and send off something that’s not well written? That won’t achieve a goal of publication. Since it wasn’t contracted, the only deadline I’m breaking is my own, getting them done in time for a submission deadline; but it’s not contracted, so I’m not putting anyone else out. I’d rather stick to the integrity of the story than wreck the piece just to get it out by a certain date.

Worked on a newsletter that needs to get out this week. The other newsletter, for Biblio Paradise, will go out about mid-February, when I’m back from the little stint in the city. It’s almost done, too; just needs a few tweaks, and I have to go over the mailing list.

Also, I have a stopgap version of the Devon Ellington site up:
http://www.devonellingtonwork.com
It’s not as cool as Colin’s design, but it’ll work until I learn everything I have to about the other one to get it up. My friend, Barbara Rosenthal, is going to park her work on one of my pages until she gets her own site. And, in a few months, I intend to have some interesting items in the “Bazaar” section.

If you want a treat, click on to the article I have on the site about “How to Bet a Horse”.
(http://www.devonellingtonwork.com/betahorse.html)
And yes, that’s yet another of my photos in the header; this one was taken at Rye Beach.

I cried when I heard about Barbaro’s death. That was a special horse. He meant a great deal to many, many people, but those who dealt with him every day and grew to love him must be hit especially hard. It’s the dark side, the unfortunate side of horse racing – these creatures are being bred for speed rather than endurance, or a good balance, and they’re getting more and more fragile. This is a sport where living creatures die or are permanently disabled on a regular basis.

Got a few pages done on Changeling this morning. I think I’m getting it back on track.

Off to the theatre. Hopefully, it will be a smooth day, and I can get everything else cleared off my desk by the end of the week.

Devon
Chasing the Changeling – 19,842 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
19 / 45
(42.2%)

January 28, 2007

January 28, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

The Capercaillie Beautiful Wasteland CD finally arrived (I ordered it in November). So I loaded it onto the Zen V. It’s one of my favorite CDs.

I only load music I completely love to the Zen V – the tried-and-true – Capercaillie, Texas, Tellu, Hedingarna, Ani DiFranco, Elvendrums, Pat Benatar, Springsteen, etc. That way, I can just play all the tracks in any order and be happy.

It helps a lot when the train gets frustrating, or there’s too much construction noise, or I’m off by myself doing day work.

Managed to get out a submission before I left for work.

Very sore from dragging around the heavy coats on two shows yesterday. This morning’s yoga got a lot of the major kinks out, but I’m still sore. And I get to turn around and do it all over again.

The cats hate the feeling of the sticky mat under their paws. However, Elsa figured out that if she stands next to it and rolls onto it, her paws never have to touch the mat!

My mom said the dog is like a different animal – he’s happy and peppy and playing. So, all he needed was company and reassurance.

Yesterday, my mom had to come over while I was at work – because I couldn’t get the front door to close, and I had to make the train for work. Even with the keylock chain on the door to keep intruders OUT, I couldn’t risk the door being cracked open for fourteen hours – it was wide enough for nosy felines to slip through. So, the door’s been fixed. And cats corralled.

What sort of omen is that, eh?

Artie treated me to dinner last night at eatery. It’s been around for quite a few years – since Miss Saigon was running, and that was back in 2000 – but I’d never eaten there. A group of us from that show had gone in when it first opened, but they were so rude, we walked right back out. But I’d heard good things in the interim. The food was very good – Artie had farmer’s pasta and I had a duck tostada – and the service was also good.

And, there are three new restaurants in the neighborhood that we have to try in the coming weeks.

I wandered up to the Time Warner Center after (actually, I was thinking of something else and wandered all the way up to Lincoln Center before I realized I overshot it). I went to Borders and got books by two of this blog’s visitors: Seeing Red by Jill Shalvis, and The Tin Box by Holly Kennedy. I look forward to reading both of them.

I’m reading Philip R. Craig’s Death on a Vineyard Beach. One of the things I like about his books is how he weaves daily life into the mystery. In most books of the genre, the mystery IS it. It drops in, rips the fabric of life, and first people have to get through it, then they have to cope, and we often don’t see them doing so. In both of the Craig novels I’ve read, the mystery is there, but so is the daily life. Yes, JW investigates – but he also keeps to his unfettered schedule of fishing and drinking Sam Adams and spending time with his wife, and generally, having a life. I like that style a lot. It breaks the rules one is taught in mystery writing workshops – but, to me, it allows me a deeper connection to the characters, and lets me suspend my disbelief and live in the world of the book more thoroughly.

Did a bit of work on Changeling this morning, but am not happy with it. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s not working, but it doesn’t feel right.

Back to the show for a matinee. This will be the last time I do this track for quite awhile. The way it was originally set up, it was my favorite track. Some of the permutations make sense, but some were made to stoke the various dressers’ egos, and I have no patience for that. Changes should make the track run more efficiently, not be made just so the dresser can mark territory.

The shower beckons, and then I need to eat and catch a train . . .

Devon

Chasing the Changeling – 18,717 out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
18 / 45
(40.0%)