October 12, 2007

October 12, 2007
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
No idea; it’s still dark, it’s about 1:30 in the morning

So, it wasn’t even retrograde yesterday and I was already f—ked!

One of the publications, for whom I turned out quite a few articles in the past few weeks is now saying that I “misunderstood” the rate and it’s really less. Um, no, we talked about the rate and I was never told that different articles were paid at different rates or I would have said “no.” I want my money, and I don’t want to work for them again. Or, if I do, we renegotiate terms, and that’s what I told them. It’s a shame, because it was a fun gig. But, had the rate they want to pay me been the rate in the ad, I wouldn’t have even bothered to answer it.

By the time I got home, there were promises to pay, and a line saying, “If we don’t use you for January, February, or March, it’s not personal; we’re trying to cut costs.” Uh, if you don’t meet my terms, you won’t be using me those months or any others, because I’m not doing the work! Some always try to get in the last word, you know?

So goes the life of a freelance writer.

And it always feels like such a body blow when they try to screw you. So you have to step back, take a deep breath, remind yourself it’s business and respond in kind.

I’m in the process of adopting Nano Newbies for November. Shall I call them N3s? I figured, fuck it, I want to do Nano again, I enjoy working with the newbies, if I have to bag it to move, then that’s what I do, but why cut myself off from it before I know what November will bring? It will bring freedom in some areas, stresses in others, but why assume Nano’s a no-go?

And then I went to the train to begin my trip to the theatre and my life turned into something out of a Janet Evanovich novel.

First of all, it was pouring rain. I had to move the car, because the street was already flooding, although the brook held. Then, I’m standing there on the platform, in my long black trench, looking like a reject from The Lost Boys, waiting for my late train, wallowing in “poor me-isms”. The train from NYC pulls up on the other platform. I see Mr. Chivalry get off, from the other day – the guy who lent me his suit jacket when I was cold. He spotted me and started across the overpass to my side of the train tracks. My train pulled up. I got on; he sprinted the last part of the way, down the steps, and got on the train, sitting next to me! I was surprised, to say the least.

We’ve barely pulled out of the station, and a face pops up from the seat in front – narrow little face framed in curly brown hair with big brown eyes. For a minute, I thought it was an elf, but in reality, it was a 14 year old boy who said, “I know you.”

“Yeah, right.”

He told me my name, and then he said, “You went to school with my dad.”

“Who’s your dad?”

He told me, and it was a guy I’d gone to school with, in both elementary and high school. “He had a really big crush on you.”

“No, he didn’t.”

“He did.”

“Trust me. I was there. He didn’t.”

“He has a scrapbook of your writing, all the way back to when you wrote for The Chronicle and Garnet and Black.”

(The former was the local paper; the latter the high school paper, both of which contained my articles).

I found this a little weird, to say the least. And then the kid’s going, “And I read your stuff, too, especially about horses.”

“You don’t even know the names I use.”

“Do so.” And he reeled off about half of them. I’d have been really embarrassed if he’d known any of the erotica ones! Then he says, “You have to be my godmother.”

“What?”

“I’m fourteen. My dad’s divorced and my mom’s not around. I’m at the age where I need a strong female role model in my life.”

“I could so kick your ass.”

“I know. That’s why you’re a great role model.”

“You are so full of it.” But I have to admit, he was pretty funny.

Then, he launches into a whole social justice monologue – that seems to be his passion in life. He got off a few stops down, still chattering a mile a minute.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chivalry’s watching all this like we’re some weird sort of science experiment. Then, Mr. Chivalry and I finally get to talk without the interruption of a teenaged elf boy. He’s at a personal crossroads; I’m at so many crossroads there aren’t even signposts. I told him to trust his gut. His head and heart will take him on the most complicated path, but his gut will steer him true.

So we get to Grand Central Station, and, thanks to my Lost Boys trench, I’m pulled over to get my bag searched (but I got to play with the bomb-sniffing dog). And they pull my huge pliers out of my bag and want to know why I’m carrying them around.

“I dress flying monkeys for a living.”

“What?”

I spoke very slowly and clearly, as though I was speaking to the intellectually challenged. “I. Dress. Flying Monkeys. For a living.”

“Uh –“

Meanwhile, the bomb-sniffing dog is wagging his tail and gazing at me adoringly. So they let me go.

We get out of the station and there are film trucks all over, and it turns out I know one of the actors from something else I worked on a couple of years ago, and we joke around for a bit until we go on our merry way. Meanwhile, Mr. Chivalry’s looking at me like I’m some sort of space alien and I say, “Welcome to my freaking life.”

Somehow, even though he has my number, I seriously doubt I’ll be hearing from him.

I was exhausted before I ever reached the theatre.

Got to the show, got through the show, and that’s all I have to say about that. I was trailing, but it’s not with the actor with whom I’ll actually work next week, so there will be plenty I don’t know. Whatever. Costume Imp gave me a thorough talking-to the other day and he’s right, and it’s helped clarify some things. Kick a few signposts, so to speak.

I missed the 11:10 train by ONE MINUTE – Mercury Retrograde – so I got home much later than I wanted, but, oh well.

I have to work on conference stuff today, and maybe, just maybe, get the Samhain decorations up. I bought a pumpkin the other day. Now I have to decorate it.

Downstairs Neighbor’s back to running the television at full blast all night long. If I was a different type of person, I’d cut his cable line.

Hmm, the Loving Kindness Meditation doesn’t seem to be working. You think?

Let’s just say I’ve upgraded from depression to melancholy.

I’m going to try to get some sleep now, and get up early enough to get things done later today.

Devon

Sunday, July 8, 2007

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

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

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

Right. In Al Gore’s dreams.

Unfortunately.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devon

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

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

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

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

June 17, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Happy Father’s Day to those of you who celebrate it!

Thanks for all the good wishes, everybody. Believe me, I want to get the heck out of this Dodge, and I’m working on it. Unfortunately (?), since I want it to be a single move, I can’t make it a panic move – I have to find the place where I want to be and then secure it. And the move itself is going to be massive – yet, in a way, I’m looking forward to it, because it’ll be so much better on the other side. Unfortunately, with both Jupiter AND Mercury Retrograde – the chances are I wouldn’t be able to find something with them retrograde and if I did, the Jupiter Retrograde (which means you lose stability and instead of expanding in areas of home and money, you contract) and the Mercury Retrograde (don’t buy big ticket items or sign contracts or you’ll be really, REALLY sorry) – the next few weeks don’t look so good!

And, of course, one should be prepared for travel delays during Mercury Retrograde and what am I doing? Travelling nearly the entire time for writing gigs.

It looks like this will be a particularly nasty MR, so I better batten down the hatches.

Julia mentioned the beauty of the music of Manon and the two lovely scenes – the bedroom pas de deux and the brother’s drunken revelry – the music and those scenes are worth the ticket price, definitely, but I have a hard time feeling sympathy for characters who don’t learn from their mistakes, and neither Manon nor her lover did. But yes, the piece itself is lovely, as is the music.

Yesterday, on the train into the city, we stopped at New Rochelle (as we do). A little kid got on the train, and the doors shut before his mother could step on. About twenty of us are screaming at the engineer (who was less than ten feet away from us) to stop, and for the conductor. They IGNORED us. So someone finally pulled the emergency brake. And the kid was reunited with his mother before the train left the station. Yet another incident where the incompetence of Metro North shines brightly. When twenty people are yelling,” Stop! Wait! Don’t pull out!” there’s probably a good reason, you dumbass.

Can you imagine how scared that kid and his mother were? The kid couldn’t have been more than six or seven. And the mother had two smaller kids in a stroller. What would have happened if they’d actually been separated, due to the stupidity of the Metro North crew? By the way, the bell that’s supposed to ring before the doors close – didn’t.

Both shows were fine. The person who set the show up has a very different thought process than I do, and I don’t follow her logic. But if I follow the notes, for the most part, I can get through it. There was an important move missing from the notes in the first act, which set up a domino effect for awhile, but we got through it and caught up. I fixed it in the notes so I wouldn’t make the same mistake in the second show, but then one of the labeled baskets wandered off somewhere in the second show, so I have to go searching for it when I get in today. Far too much basket ballet.

A friend and I went out to Ciro’s for dinner. The food was good, but a few too many tourists in the place for my taste.

Back for the matinee today, and then straight home. I need to actually put in the air conditioner tonight – it’s supposed to be hot tomorrow. I meant to do it a couple of weeks ago, but the temperatures never got as high as they predicted, so I didn’t.

I need to work on an article this morning before I leave, and maybe, maybe, get a bit of other writing done, although I’m so tired I doubt it. I was so exhausted when I got home at nearly one this morning from a two show day that I was ready to cry out of sheer fatigue. I fell into bed, and the cats nestled up with me and purred me to sleep.

I’m exhausted, mentally and physically, and I’m tired of two years of non-stop problems in this building. All people want to do is to be left alone to live their lives. That’s not too much to ask.

Devon

February 3, 2007

Saturday, February 3, 2007
Last Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and COLD

Most of yesterday was spent going through my desk, item by item, to clear it off. As you may remember (not worth bothering), I had four stacks on the desk, and had gotten through two.

Yesterday, it took me the bulk of the day to get through HALF of the third stack. Very depressing.

But I managed to get out another submission and two more pitches, so not all was lost. Although one of the pitches bounced back because the mailbox was full, and I have to try to resend it.

And I cleared about 1200 legitimate emails out of the various accounts, and even more spam.

Remembered Saturn Retrograde in time to keep from repeating a mistake, while trying to be helpful. An acquaintance is in an unfulfilling relationship and is asking for “opinions.” What she’s really asking for is reassurance that staying in a relationship that borders on abusive is the right thing to do. I don’t think it is, but telling her so only gets her back up, not to mention the fact that most of her circle are also in negative/borderline abusive relationships because none of them want to go out there and earn their own livings. They’d rather be told they’re fat and ugly and get cheated on and still have an AmEx card without a limit so they can spend money they haven’t earned than go out and do it on their own. When questioned as to why they stay in the relationships and the answer is “Who would pay for my spa treatments?” “What would I do if I couldn’t shop at Bergdorf’s whenever I wanted?” — sorry, nothing I can say is going to help.

All I’m doing by stating my opinion is inviting more aggravation for myself. We’ve had this conversation numerous times; she knows my opinion. I’m not going to suddenly tell her everything she’s doing is good and okay when I don’t think it is. It’s fine to choose not to take someone’s advice; but then don’t keep coming back and asking the same questions.

Formerly, I would have continued trying to help someone who doesn’t want help, but wants enabling. Now, I just said, “You know my position on it. I’m not having this conversation again. It’s your life, and, ultimately, your choice.”

And that’s that. Much less stress for me, and she has to take responsibility for her own damn life.

The Situation: The Sequel is getting worse again here. Of course it is, because I’m going to be unable to do anything about it for the next couple of weeks. So someone else will have to step up.

Picked the books I’m going to take to the city: a biography of Martha Gellhorn, The Tin Box by Holly Kennedy, Dark Side of the Moon by Sherilyn Kenyon (it looks really good and I’ve never read anything of hers before), Dinner at Deviant’s Palace by Tim Powers, and Natural Enemy by Jane Langton.

I received the final version of the Plum essay and need to do a final proofing this weekend.

Yesterday, I raved on Wordish Wanderings from the editor’s side of the table about unprofessional writers who can’t be bothered with guidelines. Now, I’m going to vent for myself and other professional writers towards editors who change their minds midstream.

A story of mine was rejected yesterday, because “you sent us story type X. We’re looking for story type Y. I don’t know why everyone is sending us story type X.”

You want to know why? Because a call for submissions went out on several of the job lists stating you wanted story type X AND when I double-checked the guidelines on your website, that’s what they said. If you want story type Y, don’t ask for story type X. If you’re getting too many story type Xes and you want more Y’s, then SAY so on the guidelines. Don’t punish the writers because you got the type of story for which you asked in the Call for Submissions you sent out.

Finding the right placement for one’s work truly is like dating, and one has to kiss a lot of frogs first.

Got some work done on Changeling this morning, but not enough to update the word count.

I’m on my way into the city now to drop off some of my stuff at Artie’s, feed the cats, and then head down to Aphrodesia to stock up on some necessary herbs.

Then, it’s back to the desk and back to the page. I want to polish the Barbaro article before it goes off and get some other stuff done, before working my way farther down the stacks on the desk.

Devon

January 21, 2007

Sunday, January 21, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and COLD

The problem with doing admin work all day is I feel so unproductive. That sounds silly – I should be glad it’s done, right? But because it’s a bunch of little bits that take longer than it seems they should, I always feel like I’ve gotten very little accomplished.

Regarding the question on Saturn Retrograde: Better than Mercury Retrograde? Not so sure about that. During a Mercury Retrograde, travel is delayed; communication is hard and misunderstandings abound; electronics go klaplooey; but it’s a great time to go bargain shopping. You want to stay away from big ticket items: houses, cars, computers, plasma TVs – but go to thrift shops, flea markets, or hit sales.

My mantra for a Mercury Retrograde: Stay low, stay quiet, go shopping.

Safest thing to do.

Saturn is the planet of life lessons. If you haven’t learned –and made the changes – since the previous Saturn Retrograde – the Universe is going to kick your ass and you’ll have a hard time.

Because I was thoroughly ass-kicked last time around (still have the bruises), I’m being especially careful this time. Every time I find myself falling into a pattern, I stop and ask if this is really the most positive way to deal with it.

Got the links and thank yous out to the interviewees for the Lit Athlete article.

Cleaned out a bunch of email accounts that had way too much spam in them. But managed to retrieve some non-spam that nearly got lost.

Worked on Circadian.

You know what’s cool about Valentine’s Day, Circadian-wise, this year? Many of the really good submissions are from men. And it’s lovely writing. Loving and clear and unsentimental, but with deep feeling.

So Mia and several others are encouraging this new magazine idea. I’m definitely open to brainstorming for a few months, and to getting it started once I’ve relocated. That’s the big thing – I don’t want to commit to something this big until I’m settled. The other thing is to write a business plan/proposal and get financing, because I want to pay all the writers. It might not be a lot, especially at first, but I want to pay everyone. I’m still waiting for a grant to come through for another project that will allow me to pay some writers for some stuff. I’d hoped THAT would get off the ground by May, but it now looks like October.

I also don’t want to exclude either men or married people. I have plenty of friends who are both, and I’d hate for them to feel left out of the mix, as either writers or readers.

So – writers, artists, readers – what’s missing from the magazines, in your opinion? What cravings are not being fulfilled? Let’s brainstorm over the next few months.

Regarding the advice of putting advertisements on the blogs and the websites: I appreciate your expertise, but I’ve decided not to do so right now. I’m happy that it works for others. I tend to ignore the ads on other people’s sites, unless the ad is for the new book or a friend’s book or something. I feel battered by everything being advertising/marketing all the time. I’d rather my pages weren’t that – which sounds like a contradiction since both Fearless Ink and Cerridwen’s Cottage are there to market my work. But people are coming there because they want to learn more about my work, not read ads for a casino cruise or erectile dysfunction or something. I’m going to put up Links pages in a few weeks on both sites to lead readers to other sites I think they might find interesting, but, at least for now . . .I’m skipping the ads.

Errands: Put gas in the car; went to Trader Joe’s; went to the drug store (hey, lipstick was buy one, get one free, I am there). Trader Joe’s was enormously busy – that’ll teach me to go on Saturday at mid-day, right?

The poor guy in front of me – he had two items and a woman with a cart ready to burst at the seams shoved him with it in the back of the knee so she could go ahead of him in the line. He had two things – she could have let him go first. But he doesn’t say a word, lets her go ahead of him. She’s digging through her purse, she’s bitching about her life (chick’s wearing a full length fur coat AND dangling a Lexus key – oh, here are the violins, you’re the one who married someone who gives you STUFF instead of love, don’t tell me you didn’t know what you were getting into — and get a better colorist, you can afford it), anyway, on and on, and on. The poor guy is totally uncomfortable and she does everything she can to make him more uncomfortable. I’m starting to wonder if maybe she’s naked under the coat and flashing him. She’s muttering something to him and, even though I’m behind him, I can see he’s turning all shades of red. I really thought he was going to crawl into the produce display and pull the lettuce over himself. Anyway, she finally leaves, he places his two things on the checkout, pulls out his wallet and change flies everywhere. I pick up the change and hand it to him and he’s beet red, very grateful, and looks like he’s going to burst into tears at any moment. And he can’t be more than 20. He’s about six feet four, but he’s YOUNG. Poor kid.

So he pays, and leaves. And I whip all my stuff through the checkout (I bring my own bags and can pack MUCH faster than they can). I take everything outside, pull the bags out of the cart to leave it where it needs to be – and the guy’s waiting for me – to carry my bags to the car because I helped pick up his change. It was so cute! I thanked him and told him that was his good deed for the day, but tolerating Lexus Bitch scored him angel points for at least six months.

Nice to know there are still some sweet guys growing up. His parents did a good job!

On today’s agenda is picking up groceries at the OTHER store (I love having six grocery stores in a five mile radius, I am such a spoiled grocery brat), and going over to my friend’s place to do laundry and cook a nice meal. This’ll be a busy week theatre-wise. I got a lot done in the fussy admin quarter, but not nearly enough writing.

You’re right, Brandy – it’s so important to eat properly. I’m usually pretty good about it, but I’ve woken up later than usual lately, and the food is what’s getting cut from the schedule, which it can’t.

And congrats to my friend J. from the UK, who just bought a place in Saratoga!!! We go to horse races together all over the world. He loves Saratoga and spends so much time there, especially over the summer, that it makes complete sense to own a place there.

Nice morning’s work on Changeling, but I need to get a lot more writing done today and tomorrow in preparation for the week.

Wrote a blurb for my friend’s book, which is always fun.

Devon
Chasing the Changeling – 14.092 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

14 / 45
(31.1%)