Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Yesterday was gray and gloomy. I never left the apartment. I wrote, read, did some yoga, and slept all day. Emphasis on the sleeping. I’m just worn out. I’m both bone weary and soul weary.

I’m reading Sharon Shinn’s THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE and really enjoying it.

Got some writing done, but not as much as I wanted. Felt very disconnected from everything, including my characters.

Interesting article in the NYT about how some bloggers are basically blogging themselves to death trying to post continually and get scoops.

I rarely pitch for blogging jobs. I was in negotiations for one a few years ago that I was excited about, but it didn’t pan out, and, looking back, I’m now glad. One, I don’t want to be that tied down — I travel too much, and I have too much on my plate to only sit home and scan the internet and blog. I actually have a life in the real world. Second, I’m not going to blog for $10/post. I’d have to have the guarantee of a couple of hundred dollars per week and then, MAYBE revenue share on top of it. Otherwise, my time is better spent on articles, business writing, and fiction. There are people who make a great living at it, and good for them. But that life is not for me.

Tried to watch PSYCH last night because I sort of half-remembered that someone emailed me about doing a guest spot, only I couldn’t remember who or when and didn’t recognize anyone, so THAT was a waste of an hour. Sigh.

Had a restless night filled with odd dreams, mostly rehashing past events I want to put behind me. Maybe it’s part of the whole letting go thing.

You know when I was woken up by freaking construction noise? Six thirty in the morning! Totally unacceptable. I’m complaining to the tourism board, which is patting itself on the back for all its national and international campaigns. I have a list of things that tourists should know before coming here that the board is shoving under the rug and I, as a travel writer, will NOT.

Did my yoga, went to the patissereie, worked on the screenplay. I’m going to do some more writing this morning, and then meet a friend for lunch. Can’t wait.

Back to the page. I want to get back to Old-Fashioned Detective Work soon. Wyatt wants some attention, and I think I’m ready to respond.


Published in: on April 7, 2008 at 8:10 am  Comments (7)  

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday, April 6, 2008
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

The trip down to Philly was so smooth. Up at 5 (okay, not so much fun), on a 7 AM train to the city (late as usual), cruised smoothly across the Deuce. Kind of gross when a dead pigeon fell from the sky and landed on the sidewalk next to me, but it would have been worse if it landed ON me.

Got to Port Authority; saw the building in which I used to live, which is in terrible shape. Got on the bus, we left on time, and we made it down to Philly in an hour and a half. I’ve never travelled down that smoothly.

Needless to say, I did not take The Demon Bus from Hell this time. I stuck to Greyhound.

Grabbed a cab, got to where I’m staying, unpacked, went grocery shopping. Decided to go to the bookstore. Grabbed the Sharon Shinn novel I wanted, and, on impulse, went upstairs to the DVD section, and there it was: A Dog’s Breakfast. Can’t get it in NY, but it’s here in Philly. So I grabbed it. Can’t figure out how to use the DVD player in this place (why do there have to be SEVEN remotes and one needs a different configuration for everything?), so I’ll watch it when I get home. But I have it.

It was sunny and I spent some time in Rittenhouse Square, playing with other people’s dogs. I am a puppy magnet. I used to go to Central Park to read and write, and within five minutes, I was covered in dogs. I don’t mind at all.

I spent most of the day reading Sharon Shinn’s MYSTIC AND RIDER, which has joined my list of favorite books. I know I’ll re-read it often.

Worked on the screenplay. I hit 60 pages, the halfway point, this morning, and hope to get a lot of writing done on several different projects today.

Stacia, just because you haven’t received advances in the past doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, or that any of us shouldn’t. I emphasize again: Publishers have no reason to exist without writers. And writers deserve to be paid for their work. Paid a fair, living wage, and THEN a share of continuing profits. Not pie-in-the-sky, maybe you’ll get paid someday. Accounting numbers are moved around all the time to say what companies want them to say. Bet you most of those people never get a penny EVER. And yet the publisher will show a profit. That’s why we have unions — so we get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work with a finite amount of time.

Will this experiment destroy publishing? No. Does it chip away at the few rights writers retain? Of course. It’s what happens at every negotiation, because publishers/producers/etc. have no respect for what creative people do. And unless the writers and their agents take a stand, pretty soon the only kind of publishing that exits will be POD. A line needs to be drawn, and this is a good place to start.

I have no problems with advances that aren’t in the six figures, but have more parity spread among the authors on the list. As long as it’s a reasonable amount. And as long as the lack of a large advance doesn’t cause the publisher to ignore the promotional needs of the book. What I’m against is NO advance, with the promise that “maybe” in the future you’ll get a larger share of royalties. I’m telling you right now there will be clauses in the contract declaring royalites won’t even start being considered until all production, shipping, editing, etc. costs are recouped, so most writers will NEVER see a penny. They won’t start calculating royalites with the sale of the first book. I’ve worked on contracts departments — I know how they do this.


Published in: on April 6, 2008 at 8:14 am  Comments (9)  

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

So where’s this huge storm they talked about? There’s been barely a dusting of snow around here!

I did some work yesterday morning, got everything ready to leave, and headed for the demon bus in the early afternoon. It actually worked, and was mostly a pleasant ride. I put on my headphones and listened to my music, while doing the work for Confidential Job #1. It was beautifully rendered, but heartbreaking, and will be difficult to write up. We got to the city, I hauled my luggage uphill back to Grand Central – people don’t realize that Manhattan is not flat, and there’s quite a rise from 33rd – 36th Streets. Got on the train, and I was home a little after 6:30. It takes me almost as long to get between here and Manhattan as it does between Manhattan and Philly.

Played with the cats, who were very glad to see me and had to tell me EVERYTHING that happened while I was gone. Did a whole lot of nothing at night; didn’t even unpack.

And that’s what I’m doing today. A whole lot of nothing. I’ve given myself the day off. Other than a trip to the bank and writing up the material that’s due today for Confidential Job #1, I am going to do exactly as I please. If I feel like writing, I will; if I don’t, I won’t. There’s plenty of reading that needs my attention – I’m partially through Class Dis-mythed, and I started Sharon Shinn’s Mystic and Rider, which is enthralling from page 1. I’ve got another manuscript to critique, and the next batch of material for Confidential Job #2. I’ve got plenty of writing to do – and I completely forgot that I have to work on the time travel novella. And there’s editing and all the rest. And a book of essays written by archaeologists in the field that I thought would be good background material for the next two Gwen/Justin books, since, instead of traveling with them in a chase, we’re actually out in the field with them. I also had a very odd dream that felt unusually real the other night. I think it will make a good basis for a story, eventually, but I have to figure it out. It wasn’t bad or frightening or anything . . .it was just odd.

But right now, there’s too much information roiling around in my head, and I have to give it time to sort itself out. If I try to force it, it will get more muddled. If I let it unravel itself slowly through some quiet time, I’ll be ready to get back to the page more quickly, and I’ll be more productive once I get there.


Published in: on January 14, 2008 at 8:48 am  Comments (9)  

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was an intense day. I spent most of it at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. What an amazing place! I got plenty of detailed research done for all three of the Gwen/Justin books, and found details to incorporate into the revisions of TRACKING MEDUSA, so that when I deviate from established myths/stories/history, it’s grounded firmly enough in fact so the imaginative aspects can fly.

The Egyptian exhibits were astonishing, as were those from Japan, China, etc. The Qiin dragons were my favorite, and I learned how to distinguish between the male and the female. The energy around the unwrapped mummies was particularlly intense — you can see how all the legends rose up around the findings in the tombs.

They also have an excellent Mesoamerican exhibit, which merely strengthened my belief that, in NATIONAL TREASURE 2, it was NOT Olmec used on those plaques. The Olmec glyphs I studied here are quite different in style, shape, and content. It’s more likely they used Mayan glyphs and figured nobody would notice or care. Wrong! I think it would have made more sense to create a fictional culture, toss in a line saying it was a little-known society between Olmec and Mayan, and then let their imaginations fly free, instead of calling it something that actually exists, but not bothering to do the research.

I took lots and lots of notes and nearly a hundred photographs, mostly for my own research. Well, all of them have to be for my own research — I was only given permission to photograph if I promised not to publish them, and that includes on the blog. Sorry.

Finished the last few chapters of the read-through of TRACKING MEDUSA. I’ve written about 20-30 new pages of material in the past few days, and fixed quite a few lapses of logic and streamlined that story of what they’re actually tracking so it makes sense. I’m having some mathematical difficulties, since I’m mathematically challenged, but when I get home, I’ll sit down with a calendar of the early 20th century and a calculator and figure out if I’m dealing with two generations or three. I still have about another 30 pages of new material, and then I can start the actual line edits. I’ve done a bit of it, but I need to focus on the language as much as the structure, once I’ve smoothed out structural problems.

Also, several other stories are perocolating. HORSEMEN RIDING, the apocalypse story, is pulling at me, but when I try to write it, it’s not formed enough yet for me to do so. I’m still at the pacing and muttering stage with it.

I tried to watch TIMELINE yesterday, which came highly recommended. Spoilers ahead, so skip down a bit if you don’t want it spoiled for you, although it’s old enough now that you might not care. It was a decent movie that just missed being great, and that made it more frustrating than it if was just bad. Based on a Crichton novel, directed by Richard Donner, with a kick-ass cast including Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, Anna Friel, Neal McDonough, David Thewlis, and it had some beautiful visuals. But again, there were holes in plot and character that annoyed me. I’m not sure how much of that was due to script problems, or choices made in the editing room which just didn’t work. Some of it may have been my fault — I was pacing and muttering and trying to sort out HORSEMEN RIDING with this on in the background. Thewlis was underutilized. Connolly was game, but again, his role was underwritten. Butler was given the best and most interesting arc. Once McDonough’s character was killed, the piece couldn’t hold me, and I only paid attention to the last fifteen minutes. I was annoyed because of his character’s inconsistency — the duplicity was not developed in a believable way. At the start, he was the go-to, take charge guy, which makes sense if he’d been there before and concealed it. But by the time of his death scene, when the script had him beg and plead for his life in a way that didn’t make sense with the way his character arced to that point — I was angry at the script. One of the pleasures of McDonough’s work is that he makes it look easy, but when you break down the performance, there are layers. There’s a lot going on, but without visible pyrotechnics. The actors who work so hard so their performances scream, “Look at how hard I’m working!” — those are the ones to watch out for and not trust. They can be a flash in the pan in the right role, but can rarely sustain a varied career. There were a couple of those in this movie. The ones you don’t see sweat, like McDonough — those are the ones with the widest range, usually. They also tend to be the most fun to work with. Butler was good, and given the best material. It had the feeling of something that started as an ensemble piece but was rewritten on set due to certain charismatic qualities of certain actors. And that can really bite one in the butt, because it becomes unbalanced. The two actors who, I think, were initially considered the leads were underwritten, although they tried to overcome the odds. Oh, and maybe I missed it, but why did Billy Connolly’s son sound like a California surfer dude? Now I’m curious to look at the novel and see how that’s balanced.

Started work on the material for Confidential Job #1, which is much more complicated than I expected, and it’s due tomorrow, so I better get my act together.

I worked on THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE this morning, and got some done on the next story with the HEX BREAKER characters. It’s as yet untitled, although, for working purposes, it’s currently called WYATT because it’s through Wyatt’s point of view.

Better finish packing and do what I’m paid to do here. I’m on the demon bus from hell back to NY this afternoon, trying to outrun the storm which is supposed to dump 5-7 inches of snow tonight.

Wish me luck!


THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE — 2,356 words out of est. 90,000

WYATT — 1,157 words out of est. 20,000

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Yesterday was a very productive, although exhausting day. For some reason, I have trouble getting out of the place here and getting down to work, but once I’m out the door, it’s pretty good.

I spent the day at the Historical Society. I read several diaires, looked up various records, etc., etc., until I couldn’t see straight any more. I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to hold a handwritten diary in my hands and read it from a man who was a lawyer in Philadelphia in the 1770’s. He talks about the growing anger at England; he talks about the reading and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence; he talks about Franklin and Washington and all these figures we idolize in the present moment. He describes being in the local militia, moving his family outside of Philly when he fears it is too dangerous. He talks about Washington crossing the Delaware at Trenton, and what it was like when Howe and his men were in Philadelphia. We all know how it came out, but he was writing (and writing well) in the moment. I can’t even begin to describe the emotional impact it had. This was his actual diary, not a typescript or a photocopy. He was extremely intelligent and funny and insightful. What an amazing experience!

To answer some questions: No, Krissy, no one involved was rich, so if there were murders, it wasn’t for money. I don’t think there was much premeditation involved. I think, if they were, in fact, murders, that they were of opportunity. All these people knew each other for a long time and were romantic rivals for this particular woman. Husband Number 3 simply made use of difficult circumstances to eventually get her. Yes, I am writing letters to all three historical sites stating my displeasure. And, I’m at such an early research stage, that I’m not yet sure what I’m writing. I’m feeling my way along, in an era that is of particular interest to me, pursuing some interests and ideas I’ve had for more than a decade. Diane, there is no blog about my personal life, because that’s what it is — personal. I talk about some issues here when they affect my writing, but other than that, it’s no one’s business except mine and the person who it directly affects. It’s not open for discussion. Plus, in my work, I often deal with recognizable names. I rarely mention them here by name because of a respect for confidentiality (unless I’m congratulating them for work well done) or if they’ve given me permission to mention them by name. I don’t read or watch gossip — why would I write it?

Oh, and for all you NATIONAL TREASURE fans out there: One of George Washington’s most important colleagues was General Horatio Gates. You know naming Ben Gates “Benjamin Franklin” was deliberate, but I wonder if the last name was from research or coincidence?

I came back to base camp in the late afternoon and fell asleep, exhaused from the sheer concentration and exhileration of it all. And then I had to stumble around and make coffee, because I was rather incoherent.

I spent the evening working on the first twenty two chapters of TRACKING MEDUSA. You can tell every point where I put it down to work on something else for a few weeks, because of the lapses in logic. I added information, I’m rearranging some stuff, I made notes on where I need to do more research, what I need to tighten, what I need to cut. Then I’ll look at the notes again from a Trusted Reader and see what I can incorporate. This next draft will be substantiallly different from the first one.

I haven’t even looked at the work from Confidential Job #1 while I’ve been here, and I need to do that, since it’s due on Monday.

I also did some work on THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE this morning. While I have strong ideas of its purpose and structure, I’m kind of feeling my way in. SANDOVAL’S SECRET is actually stronger in my head, but I need TREASURE to get to SECRET.

I need to jump in the shower, eat something, and go do some more research. I wanted to skip today, but I need it for the three Gwen/Justin books. So, off I go.

The Olympic Table Tennis trials are happening here, only a few blocks away. I’m tempted to stop in, but I don’t have my press credentials with me. They’re hanging on the corner of a bookcase at home.


Hey, the History Boys managed to get a stay of construction while archaelogists and the Lenape Tribe check out the site. They were in court, not at the HS yesterday, but I’m sending them some tips for dealing with Evil Developers via the HS.


The Balthazaar Treasure — 1,119 words out of est. 90,000

Published in: on January 12, 2008 at 9:51 am  Comments (6)  

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday, Januar 11, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

My head is so full of information, it’s about to explode. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; I just need to figure out what to do with it all.

And, I was naughty yesterday — no, bring your mind back to what we actually discuss on this blog, the rest isn’t open for viewing! 😉 Although it may well be relevant! 😉 Instead of working on TRACKING MEDUSA last night, I read Yasmine Galenorn’s DARKLING. And really enjoyed it. I’m a big fan of her series, and this was one of the books I’ve looked forward to most in the past few months.

The day didn’t start out in a promising fashion. I was an hour and a half late getting out of the house — I get up here later than I do at home, and that lost time in the morning is vital. I walked from Rittenhouse Square down to the Historic District. I’d looked up the three places I needed to hit online to make sure of their hours, the fees, etc.

First stop: Historic home. I get there. There’s a little sign on the locked gate saying it’s closed for renovations this week. Now, I checked the website before I left the apartment, and there was nothing on there about it. I was annoyed, to say the least. There was also a sign that suggested visiting the church used by the figure, which was the second stop on my list.

I go to the church. The gate is locked. It’s closed for renovation. Again, there was nothing about it on the website. The sign at the church suggested visiting the cemetary, which was the third stop on my list.

I get there, and it’s locked and there’s a sign saying they decided to close it for January and February. Again, there was nothing on the website about it.

I was not amused. In fact, I was rather in a mood by this time. I stalk down the street to another historical location and follow a guy with a briefcase in the side door. The security guard starts to say something to me, and my response is, “Don’t even.” He backed off immediately with, “Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry, ma’am.” I didn’t actually need to be at Site 4, but it was a good place to wander around and calm down, and I must have carried some serious NY “don’t mess with me” attitude, because the guards all kept a safe distance.

I wandered around soaking up Revolutionary War energy and trying to figure out what to do next. Obviously, I wasn’t supposed to be on those sites. So I left (saying thank you to the startled guards) and wandered around for a bit, letting my feet guide me.

I stopped at a sandwich place for lunch, and, feeling restored, headed to the Historical Society of Philadelphia. They were fantastic there, so nice, so helpful. I spent the afternoon there, and got done the bulk of the microfilm research I needed. I forgot how much of a pain in the ass the microfilm machines are. Digging through all these documents, I found out some pretty interesting stuff — the parents of one figure I’m reserching were called before their congregation on charges of being “intimate” before marriage, and admitted it. Coming across the marriage certificate later, they’d married in New Jersey, not in Philly. I still have to cross check some dates, but I think their first kid or two was born before the marriage. And I’m pretty sure their daughter’s third husband murdered her first two — it’s too much of a coincidence that he just “happened” to be there when they both died — one in Philly and one in England, and No. 3 just “happens” to be there, too? Doesn’t add up to me. I could never prove it — there’s not enough documentation, I’d be building a theory on circumstantial evidence. And the more research I do, the more I think it makes more sense to do this as a novel rather than a non-fiction piece.

I ddin’t talk to any of the History Boys, but they were there. And they were all male. They’re committed and passionate, but they’re going to lose because they lack somethng: Ruthlessness. They’re workig on ideology, and if you’re going to defeat Evil Developers, you have to take the fight to a whole other level and do some serious ass-kicking. I may have to give them a solid talking-to today, since I have some experience in this area. The only other woman researching was on a totally different project, and she sighed every two minutes and muttered to herself until I was ready to rip the microfilm off the reader and strangle her with it. Come on, people, you’re not by yourself, have a little consideration! All the other researchers were extremely considerate.

I’m already late, but I need to go over my notes again before I leave and see which diaries I want to pull and read today. I’d like to get a little writing done, too. I miss the early morning writing. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse story is brewing, the other idea about which I was approached is growing, Jain and Wyatt from Hex Breaker have another adventure to get on, Earth Bride wants attention, and so does The Balthazaar Treasure. My brain feels like a tangled skein of yarn.

But my body’s recovered from the bad fumes — walking around, getting the blood pumping in the air helped a lot. Granted, city air isn’t exactly clean and fresh, but it’s still better than being trapped in a bus full of fumes.

Off to the archives.


Published in: on January 11, 2008 at 9:54 am  Comments (10)  

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrogrde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

I’m finally in Philly, after the trip from hell on the demon bus. There were a few times when I was doubtful I’d ever make it here in one piece.

First, the 8:30 bus out of NY blew its starter. I mean, I knew that was the problem, I’ve had that happen in a car, but they kept trying to make it catch and flooded the motor. It was raining by then, but they let me stay on the dark, cold bus until the 9:30 bus showed up. It was still better than standing in the street in the rain.

The 9:30 bus shows up, there are actually about a half a dozen people for it (I was the only passenger for the 8:30). We get on it. And the door won’t shut. I told them to tie it shut and just GO!

They finally jammed the door shut — and I made sure I was sitting at an emergency exit window, just in case. Then, by Newark airport, the door comes open, and the driver stops IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HIGHWAY to futz with it. We have 18 wheelers thundering by on both sides, the bus is rocking like it’s going to tip over at any minute — not fun. He did that one more time, about half-way through Jersey. The ventilation system stopped working, so by the time we hit Philly, it was about 90 degrees in the bus and we were getting groggy — probably from carbon monoxide. By the time we started driving through the city, the dashboard was flashing and the buzzers were going — I was happy to get off the bus!

Then there was the Danish college student trying to pick up the women on the bus. I wasn’t having him, but he had better luck with a Twinkie a few rows back who giggled a lot and said, “I can’t understand your accent; are you Canadian?” (He spoke perfect English), and who thought Greece was part of Asia.

I have to kill off a character based on her in a story because she was so damned annoying.

After this round trip (because they do not give refunds for ANY reason), I’m sticking to Greyhound!

I walked to the place I’m staying, saw my friends off, got some unpacking done. Then, I walked back to Trader Joe’s, got in some food, and settled in for an afternoon’s work. I’d done some of the research I needed to finish on the bus before the oxygen ran out, so I tried to do some more. Couldn’t get it done. I was too tired, after getting up at 5 AM yesterday and the rigors of the trip. I got some of it done, and cross-checked some information and wrote down some questions, but I’m not anywhere near where I need to be to get started this morning.

I managed to write notes on few ideas last night, but I didn’t get too much creative work done because that part of my brain was dazed. And I have a horrible headache this morning, so I’m pretty sure it’s due to carbon monoxide on the bus. I’m going to walk to everything today instead of take public transportation so I get the air back in my system.

Work last night was fine; I slept well; had a cherry danish from my favorite pastry place down the street. I’m pulling myself together to get going, although all I feel like doing is sleeping. But I need to get moving and get these toxins out. The yoga helped this morning; walking will help, and I’ll work out tonight. Maybe eat something with spinach in it for lunch, to get the balance back.

I’m having a dilemma about what project to work on next: I’m editing TRACKING MEDUSA, I’m going to finish the ever-expanding EARTH BRIDE as soon as I get the cheat sheet done (because I can’t write the wedding sequence without the cheat sheet — too much of what happens there affects the next section of the book). I’ve had an invitaiton from an editor to sumbit something that would be a pretty sure sell. I haven’t written in that genre for a long time; I’m not sure if I want to; but the lure of the credit and the money is surely strong. I’d dust off a pseudonym that hasn’t been out and about in years. I’ve got a lot of other things to do, and I want to keep it all balanced, but the market for this type of work has exploded in the past few years. It’s just not my favorite thing to write. Really, what I want is a contract before I commit, so that’s the direction in which I should negotiate. How badly do they want me?

And that will have to wait until I get back to NY.

In the meantime, I’ve got to pack up and stop on the way to buy pencils.

Oh — a group here in Philly dubbed “The History Boys” are trying to prevent a casino from building over a Revolutionary Fort before they can excavate it. Great, I’m all for it, and we need the British side of the American Revolution story as much as the legends with which we all grew up, but . . .where are the women? Are there any “History Girls” involved in this? And if not, why?

I can ask them in person, because we’ll be in the same facility this week.

Hop on to Biblio Paradise for the interview with Hazel Statham. I must have entered it weirdly, because it posted early, but I’m glad it’s up!


Published in: on January 10, 2008 at 9:37 am  Comments (5)  

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Still dark – it’s before 6 AM

So yesterday just sucked all the way around. I’m glad it’s over; don’t want to live it again.

In addition to the fact that I had to finish up the gig for Problem Client, I got an auto response message that Hex Breaker’s been rejected/deleted without being read. The publisher decided to close submissions early. That is just a slap in the face to writers. If you publicize a deadline, honor it. We, the professional writers, bust our butts to turn out engaging stories, deal with the proper format, proofing, grammar, spelling, structure, etc., fit our story into the guidelines, create all the ancillary paperwork the publishers now demand, and get in clean copy on time. The least the publisher can do is honor deadlines it set in the first place.

This is the second negative experience I’ve had with this publisher, and they’re off my list. Burned the bridge, told them what I thought. Next.

Because sometimes, wondering if maybe they’ll be useful farther down the line isn’t worth it. And I’m not bowing and scraping to someone who can’t show me basic courtesy.

Bites from two other publishers already who are interested (what can I say? I didn’t waste any time – I had new queries out within fifteen minutes of the auto-response), and a third publisher who likes the premise, but wants at least another 20K in it. Although there are more stories for these characters, I don’t know if this particular story could support another 20K. While pieces like Ris an Abrar and The Merry’s Dalliance are really novels I tried to smash into guideline word counts, Hex Breaker pretty much stands as it is in novella form, at just over 29K. I will discuss with them whether they’d consider several novellas with the same characters as a possibility. If not, at least this place is genuinely interested in my writing, and maybe I can send them something else in the future.

And then a response came back to a different submission. They’d “consider” representing me, provided I did a “substantial” rewrite of this particular novel within the next three weeks – on spec. You’d be proud of me. I wrote a very diplomatic response. I pointed out that, although they praised the characters and the dialogue, they seemed to want an entirely different type of story than what I submitted and were asking me to put my characters into a completely different plot, setting, and circumstance. It seemed to me that an entirely different submission might be more appropriate than taking my characters and putting it into their “suggested” plotline. Or were they offering a work-for-hire deal for a book packaging client, perhaps? I’m open to that, but it’s a different discussion that what they presented. I also pointed out that the contracted, deadlined work comes first, and there’s no way I could fit in such a revision within that time frame if it was on spec. I have too much paying work lined up. Thanks, but no thanks. Put money on the table, we talk. Without that, I’m just moving on to the next one on the list.

On a happier note, I’ve entered the world of flash drives. The flash drive I bought has more memory than my entire desktop. So far, I’ve got Hex Breaker, Tracking Medusa, my general writing/submission files, and some of the freelance files on it. I put Earth Bride on it just for the hell of it. I’ve got lipsticks bigger than this drive. I think it’ll make my life a lot easier this week. Plus, I can edit on the flash drive, which I can’t do on CD.

To answer your question, Diane – a lot of anthologies are putting out calls for submissions on novella-length pieces and many e-publishers also handle novellas. I love the novella format. It used to be huge in the UK – I remember buying novellas for a pound at WH Smith’s at train stations, and have something to read on the train. They’ve since fallen out of favor. There’s starting to be somewhat of a resurgence here – well-know writers tend to sell novellas around the holidays, and more and more books are published that contain one or more novellas. There is a market – you just have to look for it a little harder. And since short stories are getting shorter – the market’s opening for something between short story and novel again.

And then, late in the day, I get an email from the first publisher saying that they ARE accepting the submission of Hex Breaker for consideration, in spite of the first email I received. Bet you dollars to doughnuts I get a quick rejection since I called them on the conflicting information.

That’s okay; I’ll send it to the next interested name on the list.

Diana – thank you so much. It worked and made a big difference.

Typical NYC story: Two guys were busted by an off-duty cop last night for check fraud. They rolled their dead friend down 9th Avenue in an office chair to a check cashing place and tried to convince the clerk he was still alive so they could cash his social security check. A guy they passed on the street noticed the guy in the chair was dead and called 911. And the off-duty cop in the deli next door noticed, too, and busted them. I can just imagine the thoughts running through that cop’s mind. I must have been really overtired by the time it was on the 11 o’clock news, because I couldn’t stop laughing, as macabre as it is. Especially since it’s in Imp’s and my old neighborhood –we would have passed them coming home from the show!

Finished the work for Problem Client, sent it off with the invoice – supposedly, I’m being paid by Friday. I’ll believe it when the check clears. Hopefully, I’m free and clear in general of that entire mess. Buh-bye.

I’m off to Philly – I’m working doubles all week, and it’ll seem like a vacation after this bru-ha-ha! I got a lovely email from the Historical Society, welcoming me for the research, so it’s all good.

Of course, I couldn’t sleep last night – no idea why – so I’m leaving in a state of half-delirium! Maybe I’ll put on my music and doze on the bus.


PS – My regular SDR weekly rant will go up late in the day, once I get settled in the Philly digs and know what my internet access is like.

And hop on over to Biblio Paradise today and tomorrow for the review of My Dearest Friend and the interview with author Hazel Statham.

Published in: on January 9, 2008 at 6:17 am  Comments (10)  

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thursday, December 6, 2007
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
St. Nicholas Day!
Sunny and cold

I managed to catch the 9:32 train to NYC on Tuesday morning, which, of course, was late. I got in to the city, trekked across town to Costume Imp’s place, gave him his birthday presents, his Christmas present, and played with the girls. We got down to Penn Station in time to meet our friend C. and get on the 11:30 Cheapy bus. There were snow flurries, and somehow, everything in the city is brighter and happier when it snows.

And then, the driver didn’t show up.

One guy was walking down the street, screaming and swearing at his invisible companion. C said, “I hope that’s not our driver!”, and I said, “If it is, I’m driving the bus.”

The driver finally showed up, and we took off. But we got to Philly nearly an hour late. And the bus had no shock absorbers.

There was a pub called Slainte right next to the spot we were let off, and that’s where we had lunch. The place is great – club chairs, plenty of space, good food. We split an order of Philly Cheesesteak Eggrolls, which sound weird, but were wonderful. I had the grilled salmon sandwich; Costume Imp had onion soup and a buffalo wing salad; C. had chili and an apple walnut salad. The pinot noir served with it was excellent.

I got an idea for a short story there.

After lunch, feeling renewed, we walked across Market and down 23rd St. to South Street, and along South Street to Harry’s Occult Shop. I hadn’t been there for at least ten or fifteen years. I think it’s less hard core now. Or maybe my perceptions are different. In any case, I got some oils I can’t get up here (I miss Magickal Childe so much)!

Then we wandered back towards Rittenhouse Square, past my friends’ building (they weren’t home) and to Miel, my favorite French pastry shop, where we had pastries and coffee. Then, across the street, we went to Kitchen Kapers, one of my favorite stores, and did some shopping.

Into a cab after that and to the World Café Live, over in the university district. What a fantastic space! Extremely well run, great staff, great food and drink. We had a table up front, right at the stage, had another bottle of pinot noir, and enjoyed ourselves. The crowd (at least those near us, with whom we interacted), were very nice and lots of fun.

There were two opening acts. The first one was an excellent keyboardist, but he’d been traveling a lot and his voice was tired. The second one – I didn’t like his energy; he wasn’t what he seemed, and it put me off. If I was a cat, I would have made a fat tail and started hissing, but I behaved.

And then the main show, Darren Hayes, came out. I was familiar with Savage Garden back in the 90s – I’d bought their first album in Australia when my show ran there. But I hadn’t kept track of them or of Hayes’s solo career. Costume Imp is a huge fan, and this road trip was part of his birthday celebration.

We all really enjoyed the performance. Hayes is an excellent performer. Although he thinks on his feet and rearranges the material, everything is meticulously planned out and controlled. I’m sure many of his fans believe he’s being spontaneous, but all three of us attending have spent our lives in the biz, and we know good choreography and careful planning when we see it! He knows how to play and play to his audience; he can adjust to the vibe of the room. His material is excellent, and it was just him singing and one guy on guitar. I prefer an intimate experience like that. My days of stadium concerts with thousands of drunk people I can’t stand are over. It was an excellent performance.

I got another idea for a short story while at the concert.

After, we grabbed a cab and went back to the Greyhound bus terminal, where we boarded the “normal” bus back to NYC at 11 PM. Unfortunately, we had a crack addict a few rows behind us who spent the entire trip on his cell phone trying to swindle everyone he could think of out of money, giving each a totally ridiculous story about being abandoned/losing his car (when he’d called someone else to check on it), etc., etc., as he tried to return in time to check in with his parole officer! We were well rid of him by the time we got to NYC, let me tell you! You want to feel compassionate, but when someone is so determined to be the victim, blame everyone else, not try to take action and personal responsibility, and so determined to lie and cheat his way to more drugs, for me, that’s the end of compassion. I know the whole song and dance about “oh, he can’t help it” – what he can help is whether or not he tries to get the right kind of help or keeps going down the road he’s going. And, right now, it’s obviously the latter. I hope the kid (he was only in his early 20s, but sounded like someone in his 60s) gets his life together, but it’s his choice whether he does or not.

Went back to Costume Imp’s, got a few hours of sleep, brought in breakfast. He had to go and do two shows. Our other friend had to be in for day work at 9 AM! Made me glad that’s no longer my deal.

I meandered back through Bryant Park, picked up a few things for St. Nicholas Day (it was the Eve last night), and got a late morning train home. Slept most of the afternoon, took care of some paperwork, came to an arrangement to extend a writing gig for a few more months, but warned them they’re not paying me enough for the last minute crap they keep trying to pull on me and I simply won’t do it. Tried to run some errands and finish the holiday shopping, but couldn’t find what I wanted in the stores. So I did it online instead, and hope that I’ve ordered early enough for it to get here by the holidays. They’re saying delivery by the 20th for something ordered yesterday, which seems excessive, since all the other places from which I ordered this weekend have already shipped. Stocked up at Staples on supplies, especially paper. I need to go back to buying it by the case. Otherwise, I’m running to Staples twice a week for a new ream.

Watched a little TV last night – the last episode of Life that’ll be on for awhile, and it was, as usual, excellent. Went to bed early.

Light morning’s work on Earth Bride. Have some errands to do, but also need to get some articles written, and get back to work on Hex Breaker, We All Have Secrets, and Tracking Medusa.

I love St. Nicholas Day! It’s one of my favorite European traditions. Put the shoe out on the night of the 5th – it’s filled with fruit, candy, and small toys on the morning of the 6th. I especially like it now, since I’m older and we put in the chocolate we appreciate, such as Lindt, Godiva, etc.

One of the bars I set for whether or not a relationship will work is how the guy feels about holidays. If he doesn’t enjoy them, or at least respect them, he’s gone pretty darned fast.

And all those people who whine about the holidays being too commercial? Guess what? They don’t have to be. I don’t shop in malls; I don’t buy the latest hot whatever. I take the time to be creative in my shopping or cooking or creation and come up with something unique for that particular individual. Anyone can go to the electronics store and buy the latest gadget. A true gauge of the season is how creative you are in putting together the gifts. Again, to those who whine “don’t have time” – what they really mean when they tell someone they “don’t have time” to shop or write a card is that the person is not a priority to them. And why should I make people a priority in my life if I’m not one in theirs? Took me many years to get to that realization, but now, since I remove deadwood from my life regularly, I’m much less stressed and much happier. People who use you as a toxic dump, especially during the holidays, have no place in your life. And you CAN choose how toxic an effect they have on you, even if they’re related.

Off to get my writing and my errands done.


Earth Bride 91,569 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

91 / 100

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 December 6, 2007 at 9:52 am  Comments (8)  

Friday, August 31, 2007

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

The last day of August, can you believe it?

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

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

I had a great, busy, couple of days.

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

I bought shoes.

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

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

Only I don’t want to be cured.

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

Answer: One more pair than she already has.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chilled out and played with the cats.

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great Labor Day weekend!


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

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

70 / 100

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Quick post today – I’m running late and have to get to the theatre for a long day.

Philly was great yesterday. The quartet that traveled traveled well together, which is always fun. The bus ride was smooth – in spite of stopping for gas on the way and the scary bus bathroom – but relatively empty, so we had plenty of room. It’s a commuter bus that leaves outside of Penn Station, and much cheaper than the regular bus.

We got to 30th Street Station in Philly to find it a warm, beautiful day. We expected to have to taxi about – but it turns out that our restaurant was only two blocks over the bridge! Too funny.

The restaurant was St. Tropez Bistro. It’s in a design building, with lots of furniture showrooms. The restaurant itself is on the fourth floor, with a lovely view of the Schuykill River. The décor was hit and miss – most of it worked, except for the runched silver lame curtains at the windows and between some of the rooms. The food was excellent – they just revised their menu, and things were about half the price that they were on the online menu I’d printed out. I had the grilled salmon, L. had a vegetable platter, A. had the crab omlette, and C. had the saucisson. The table split a basket of Triples Frites and pate, and we had a nice Beaujolais wine. All of it was excellent. The service was better than I’ve usually had in Philadelphia – but still not quite at New York City standards.

We expected a long wander to the Franklin Institute, but it took about ten minutes. Ten minutes through beautiful streets with lovingly-cared for row houses. The four of us were ready to move to Philly! Later, I read in the paper that there have been 156 murders there this year so far, which kind of put a damper on it for me (I think New York’s had about 34 in the same time period).

But Philadelphia is, in many ways, a much more livable city than in New York. That sense of franticness is missing, which is a welcome relief.

We wandered around the Institute for a bit, enjoying it, and enjoying the shops. We did our preliminary shopping and then went into the King Tut exhibit. They herded us in and shoved us together as though we were in boxcars on our way to slaughter, which I did NOT appreciate – we paid a decent price for these tickets, we don’t need to be neck-to-nose with everyone else in the room. The video we were herded in to see had no new information for anyone past the third grade, which was annoying.

However, the exhibit was beautifully curated. They got quite a bit in too small a space, and it was very crowded. Those taking the audio tour were especially rude, shoving and elbowing everyone out of the way constantly. Well, honey, we’re New Yorkers, and we don’t put up with that kind of crap, so we shoved and elbowed right back!

It’s always fascinating to see objects which one has seen photos of throughout the year, and to see how much more vivid the actual colors are than they are in the photographs. It amazes me how the colors have held over thousands of years, when a newspaper begins to yellow in a matter of days.

About half of the exhibit was devoted to Tut’s predecessor, who tried to shift Egypt into monotheism with himself as the central figure. Tut returned to polytheism and managed to get quite a bit done in his short, ten year reign. How much was his doing and how much that of his advisor, Aye – who knows? In any case, someone in that reign seemed to have a fairly level head and re-stabilize the region.

I’d hoped to get a book on Henry Carter’s discovery of the tomb, but the only volume was out of my price range right now – I’ll have to see what I can track down elsewhere. A. bought several beautiful objects for his apartment, including a free-standing winged scareb mirror and a lovely Bastet statue with a votive holder. I bought a hand mirror and a few other little things.

We stopped at Trader Joe’s on the way back to the station. I bought just a few snacks, but L. and C. did some serious shopping –it’s much larger than the one on 14th Street in Manhattan, and the prices are better.

We had a quick dinner snack at the 30th Street station and caught the 6:30 bus back to New York. C. and I walked back from Penn to Grand Central together – the Empire State Building looked beautiful against the deepening evening sky, decked out in Mets colors! C. spoke of it being one of those days when she’s so happy to live in New York. It was funny, because I was thinking about how tired I am of New York, in spite of all its good qualities, and how I’m ready to leave – but I didn’t want to tarnish her happy thoughts.

Came home, unpacked my loot, and fell into bed.

Not much done this morning. I have to head to the theatre for day work and a show, and do some errands on the way. On the bus trip back last night, I started working on the latest assignment from Confidential Job #1. This one is not easy – I don’t like the material. Oh, well, not every one can be wonderful.

Llewellyn hired me for a calendar and an almanac (for 2009!) with deadlines of the end of August and the end of September, so I can get going on those. I think those are the only annuals for which I’ll pitch this year – I overdid it the past two years and am feeling a bit burned out.

I do the principal track for the next few days – it means a level of concentration which I’m simply not feeling right now, so I have to get into the right frame of mind.

I’d rather be outside. Writing.


Published in: on May 22, 2007 at 8:43 am  Comments (7)