Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, sticky

The Summer issue of The Scruffy Dog Review is up, and yours truly’s column, The Literary Athlete, continues with “Now What? Tips for Thorough and Sensible Revision, Without Losing Your Sanity”, here.

So here’s my idea for campaign finance reform – since the millions of dollars wasted on campaigns can be better spent on services like health care and rebuilding New Orleans:

Each candidate gets one million dollars, total, with which to campaign. That includes dinners and events thrown/financed by others “for” the candidate, etc. They have to do it all with a single million. If people particularly support a candidate, they are allowed to make a campaign contribution, in any amount allowed by law, to honor the candidate, to the nonprofit service organization of their choice (such as cancer funding, ASPCA, educational programs, programs that send city kids to camps, programs that send anyone who earns good grades to college, etc.).

Because if a candidate can’t be fiscally responsible enough and creative enough to run a campaign on one million dollars, why should we trust that person with our nation’s treasury?

The country should not be run by those with the biggest “war chests”, but those who demonstrate the most creativity and compassion.

Many thanks to all of you who’ve let me know how much you enjoy my essay in Perfectly Plum. It was fun and sometimes challenging to work on, and I’m glad the result is good.

Made it to Staples, got my supplies, and another crate. I’ll crate all the sailing tomes I’m accumulating, since I’ll be writing about the Cup up to and through the next Challenge – whenever they decide to decide when to hold it. I’ll clean out my Evanovich crate (put together during the work for the essay for Perfectly Plum) and put in the turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York and Chicago books for Good Names.

Found nine books for my grandmother – that should keep her busy for a few weeks!

Heard from the restaurant owner – so I could finish the article. I’ll give it a polish before I leave for the theatre this morning and send it off.

I’ve been thinking, and I’m interested in your responses. Those of you who are familiar with my popular character Nina Bell (Tapestry, Tumble, But Is She a Betting Man? and the forthcoming Finding Jake) – instead of writing all her stories chronologically, I’m thinking of jumping ahead to modern day (the early stories are set from 1994 on) and doing a piece with her now. Thoughts? Ideas? I’ll go back and do some of the stuff in between, but I was just thinking . . .

Mark Chisnell, who wrote the wonderful blog Tack by Tack during the Cup, mentioned to me that, in the past three months while covering the races, he’s written approximately a quarter of a million words – that’s the equivalent of two very large novels! I wish I was that productive! 😉 Seriously, he’s earned a bit of a rest before tackling his next novel.

I decided I needed a break from all the “have-to’s”, so I’m reading a fun book by Roberta Gayle called The Girl Next Door. Even though it deals with reality television (a form I loathe), it handles it in a clever and funny way (unlike several of the other books who jumped on the chick-lit/reality television bandwagon by simply copying what’s on the little box). I don’t know whether Gayle has actual production experience or simply did her research thoroughly, but she captures backstage pretty accurately – which is unusual. Most writers without production experience seem to take their backstage material from watching movies or television shows which portray it inaccurately, thereby continuing the incorrect stereotypes. Or, they spend a single day on a set somewhere, and everyone’s on good behaviour.

Having trouble concentrating on Good Names. I need to get some more article stuff done and out today and tomorrow. I’m already packed for the trip to Maine on Thursday, and I have to see what writing I’ll take with me. I have three or four ideas dancing around in my head – I want to find out if they’re all separate, or if I can link them somehow.

Off to the theatre. We’ve been lucky so far – it’s not been as hot as they warned. I’m just hoping the power stays on so that I can get back home tonight.

I hope none of you are wearing polyester or poly-blends in this weather. Stick to 100% cotton and/or linen – you’ll feel much better!

Devon

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 30, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Almost full, almost Blue Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Dog Blog post will go up later today.

Yesterday was a rollercoaster. I went in a bit early and over to the NYPL. I took a lot of photographs (with permission, for the inside ones, anyway) and will do a separate post on how walking it affected the story. In other words, I’m going back and rewriting the chapter inside the library – breaking my own rule of not rewriting until I’m completely done with a draft.

I couldn’t photograph in the reading room, but I took notes. And I forgot to look for the photocopy machine – and it’s not on the floorplan — I think I have to give my male protag back his research cubicle and give him scanning capacity – I’ll check with the research librarian I know there how to structure it. Thank goodness for David, who always knows how to steer me in the right direction! I found a wonderful painting on the 3rd floor that I can tie in to something later in the book – it gave me so many ideas I wanted to run right back home and start rewriting the chapter!

I treated it like I would a preliminary location scout for a film, and it worked well. I took a lot of photos and notes, and now I’ve got almost everything I need. I was feeling jazzed and creative coming out of there, and it held for the whole day.

Needless to say, focus or lack thereof, was an issue at the theatre. Thank goodness it was only daywork. If I’d had to do quick changes, who knows what they’d wear onstage!

I’m breaking another rule by sending first draft chapters of Medusa to a friend to read – we’re swapping chapters of our WIPs as we work. Usually, it’s a third or fourth draft before anyone else sees it, but this time, I wanted faster feedback.

Elsa, my oldest cat, the tortoiseshell, had what we call “An Episode.” She has a neurological problem that prevents her from being able to land on her feet. For instance, if you pick her up, before you put her down, you make sure she’s right side up and say, “All four feet, Elsa, all four feet,” so she’s got them going in the right direction, and then you put her down. She can jump and climb and all that, but if she rolls off something, she goes splat. When she was a kitten, at least three vets told me I should put her down because she “wasn’t worth the extra work.” I disagreed. Yes, she has times where she gets confused and disoriented and needs extra attention, days when she’s never met any of us before and the apartment is all new; but she’s lively and funny and affectionate. She’s thirteen years old now, and definitely worth it.

She had a really good day on Monday, but Tuesday, she was having a rough time. Fortunately, my mom could stay with the cats while I was at the show. And she seemed much better by the time I got home.

And I had a fit of nostalgia on Monday about NYU, which is sure to bite me in the ass down the road. I completed a 5 year program in 3 years during my time at NYU – holding down a ridiculous amount of credits year-round, working my way through the film/television program by working in theatre, which is totally ass-backwards, but are you really surprised? And I prefer theatre, and that’s where I spent most of my professional life. I started working professionally in the theatre when I was eighteen, before I even got into NYU. I had a mixed experience there, for a variety of reasons (many of which were due a lack of good judgment on my part).

But receiving the alum info/resources packet the other day and doing research for this interview that might or might not happen, I started thinking back, focusing on the good times, and wondering . . .

I’ve always stayed in touch with my advisor, through all the years since I left, at least with cards at the holiday. In fact, I owe him an email, and we may get together to catch up in person. Unlike most of my fellow students, I never had a crush on him, but he was probably the best and most steadying influence on me there. I didn’t confide personal stuff to him (which was probably a relief for him), but when I flew in the face of what I believed to be administrative bullshit, he was there to pour oil on those troubled waters and make sure everything worked out. Even then, I had problems with authority.

I also had a writing teacher who I believe is the single biggest, most important influence in my development as a writer. He always believed in me, no matter what. And, I can’t tell you how often I’ve felt I let him down by not being a famous author (although this is a projection on my part; he’s never done anything to make me feel that way). Anyway, I looked him up in the NYU directory, and shot off an email yesterday, thanking him for everything. In addition to technical skills, he taught by example how important it is to take a stand and speak out when you believe in something. He taught me a lot about walking the walk as well as talking the talk.

And he emailed me back. I honestly didn’t think he’d remember me. I didn’t think I was that memorable. But he does. In fact, he says he remembers me “very well” – which I hope is a good thing. And he wants to stay in touch.

I also found email addresses for some of the other students with whom I worked. I’m still friends with my best friend from that time, who’s built a career both as a location manager and as a documentary filmmaker. But I’ve lost touch with most people from NYU. Other than the small team of filmmakers who used to work together all the time, as a commuting student, I didn’t know many of my colleagues. Plus, I was working – either a work/study job in the Interactive Telecommunications Department, or back in the theatre. Anyway, I sent off some emails, catching up with former colleagues and wishing them well. I’m always happy to see someone living his or her dream.

Today’s agenda is mostly writing. I read my friend’s adaptation of a short story into a stage play, and commented last night (he’s on deadline), and I’ve got to sort out the muddle of Act II of City of Lost or I will be royally screwed next week—uh, end of this week.

Good Names is developing in an interesting way. In addition to the plot, the themes are developing. Technically, plot-wise, it’s an historical murder mystery. The first victim won’t be killed off for several more chapters, but she’s already getting on my last nerve and I’m looking forward to bumping her off (on the page). I decided that she isn’t going to be out-and-out horrible, but there’s a build-up of slow annoyances and narrow-mindedness that leads to her demise. The main theme of the book is the protagonist refusing to be confined and defined by society (and teaching the narrator this), but the themes of building families and giving people second chances are also developing. On top of that, a new character’s inserted himself into the story – he was supposed to be a walk-on, one of the young street boys that ran around at that time doing errands for a coin. But he is bound and determined to become integral to the action. And fluster my young narrator. AND, an elderly character I originally envisioned as an antagonist has other ideas. She’s still difficult and antagonistic, but there’s quite a different agenda behind it. She’s surprising me (in a good way) and I think she’ll surprise the reader.

I’m going to do some rewrites on Tracking Medusa from yesterday’s work, and then move on to new pages.

Two days and counting, not just to the start of Script Frenzy, but to the release of PERFECTLY PLUM, to which I am a contributor. If you haven’t ordered your copy yet … uh, why not?

Studying sailing; trying to figure out when the NHL Draft is, because I cover that every year; I know it’s in June, but I think it overlaps with the America’s Cup, and I’m trying to figure out how I can be in two places at once. Yes, I checked. The draft is June 22-23, in Ohio and the Cup starts on the 23rd in Valencia. I knew I should have paid better attention during those bi-location lessons!

The Barbarians may have to hold off migrating for awhile. I think I’m at capacity.

Devon

Good Names – 18,537 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

18 / 100
(18.0%)


Tracking Medusa
– holding at 15,553 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

15 / 90
(16.7%)

PS.  Breaking news — my press credentials came through this AM for the America’s Cup.  Woo-hoo!  I am psyched!!!!