April 6, 2007

Friday, April 6, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I’m a guest blogger today on Deborah Ng’s Freelance Writing Jobs
and the discussion topic is “Why I Don’t Ghostwrite”. It is a discussion, started by my opinion on the subject (and why I don’t ghostwrite). I hope you’ll hop on over and join in the discussion. I’ve gotten some interesting gigs from Deborah’s job listings.

Something that’s come up amongst my circle of freelancers is the topic of “the latte life”. Several so-called writers have published essays about how easy it is, and how they spend their time sipping lattes in coffee shops as they work. It’s set off fury amongst those of us who have to work our butts off to make ends meet. Essays talking about how “easy” freelance writing is are not only inaccurate, and generally written by people who don’t have to make ends meet via their pens – but they also drive down the pay rate for all of us. If it’s so easy, companies who read these pieces figure, why pay what we’re paying? We can get it for less.

A truly good freelancer is worth the money, and should be paid decent dollars. None of this $10 for 50 posts crap. Because a good freelance writer entices and enchants the reader and draws the reader to the company’s product. You get what you pay for.

However – and here is where some of my colleagues are going to get annoyed with me – I disagree with the points they make about having to be available to their clients all the time. I’m simply NOT. That’s the point of freelancing. Yes, I honor my work day. And I get to set the work day however I wish. But I make it very clear to the clients up front that I am almost impossible to reach by phone. I HATE phones anyway, and, to me, one of the points of freelancing is to have large swaths of uninterrupted work time. When I’m working, I’m WORKING. To me, working means NOT TALKING ON THE PHONE – whether it’s to a client or to a family member. I’m WORKING. The phones are OFF.

I have certain times of the day when I check my messages, and then I take the hour or so it takes to return the calls. And, I let the clients know that, if they email me, they’re more likely to get a quick answer, because I tend to hop on and off my email accounts in the short breaks I take in the actual writing.

It keeps my concentration flowing, and it prevents me from being interrupted by something a client calls an “emergency”, but is, in fact, merely an annoyance. If I wanted to be at someone’s beck and call, I’d still be working in an office. To me, the point of being a freelancer is to create my own schedule, so that I’m working with my biorhythms and give the clients excellent work at a reasonable price within the deadline time.

Just don’t try to call me when I’m trying to get the work done! 😉

Rhian honored me in her “Thursday Thirteen” post yesterday by calling me one of the bloggers she wanted to be when she grew up. She even called me a “Renaissance Woman” – which to me, is a high compliment.

A few months ago, at one of the PEN events, I was talking to one of my colleagues. The discussion was about being put into boxes by the publishing industry and marketing people, and my colleague complained that, because she likes and is capable of doing many things in many areas, she’s called “unfocused”. I shot back, “Just tell ‘em you’re a well-rounded Renaissance Woman – that’s what I do!” She laughed and said she would. I got an email from her a few weeks ago, saying that, since she’s started using that line – she’s not hassled as often.

And now Rhian – who was, at that time, still unknown to me – calls me so without prompting. I am honored. I wish I had Rhian’s patience and tolerance when dealing with the world!

Polished the guest blogger article and sent if off. As mentioned above, it will appear later today.

By the way, Devon’s Random Newsletter went out. If you didn’t get your copy, send me an email to let me know; if you haven’t yet signed up, you can do so here.

I’m a member of another blog chain this week – hello to my fellow links! I did my first round of visits yesterday, and look forward to continuing visits for the next week.

I got the packages off to my cousin (nothing like a post office that can’t be bothered to open during hours that are relevant to the community), got my TSA-approved travel locks, and picked up a pound of coffee, since I was almost out. And that just can’t happen.

Dilly-dallied around too much instead of getting down to work. I’m getting in my own way on a couple of projects and have to remove myself as an obstacle.

Chaz’s book singing a siren song at me didn’t help, either. “Don’t you want to lose a few days under my enchantment?”

I got a positive response yesterday from a pitch I’d sent out the day before. They’re going to pay me to do a sample. If we like each other, it’ll be a regular, paying gig – with another confidentiality agreement. It sounds like it would be a ton of fun, so keep your fingers crossed.

I managed to deal with 350 emails, which was progress. The backlog of them, spread amongst the various addresses, is sometimes overwhelming. I try to stay on top of them, but sometimes, it all gets away from me.

Spooky visited up and down several times during the day, demanding I be his butler. In other words, he’d dash up three flights of stairs for a snack and some attention, and then demand I travel DOWN three flights of stairs to let him back out into the courtyard. Um, no. I am many things to cats, but I am NOT a butler. I caught Iris trying to pry one of the hinge pins out of the door frame –she figured she can’t pry the door open with her paw the way she does the other doors because the front door locks – and she KNOWS there’s kibble on the other side of it. So she’s working on the hinge pins. If I hear a big crash in the middle of the night, I’ll know she’s worked both of them out and the door’s fallen down. She’s very stubborn.

Both the twins missed their breakfast this morning. A group of birds were busy on the fire escape, having some sort of spring convention. Iris and Violet were in the window, chattering to them. The birds, well aware that the cats can’t get through the window, completely ignored them, except for one mischievous robin who marched back in forth right outside the window just to tease them. And Elsa ate everybody’s breakfast. You’ve gotta move fast if you want your meals around here!

I spent most of the evening working on the writer’s outline for Good Names. I rearranged some of the earlier notes and embellished, and plugged the holes. I think it’s just about ready for me to begin. Part of me wants to wait until the New Moon to start – a better time, I think. Part of me, of course, wants to begin now. The outline is eight single-spaced pages. It’s quite thorough. I like the way it’s developed. There’s one section, near the climax, where it’s going to be difficult to figure out how to pull off the action – I need the reader to know what’s happening from more than one point of view, but I want to keep the entire book in the first person. I think I’ve found a way to do it – since the entire book is a memory anyway – but it’ll be up to my Trusted Readers to tell me whether or not it works. And that’s about a year down the line or so, so I’m not going to worry about it quite yet. I need to fill in some more peripheral characters – more servants in the NYC townhouse, and the servants in the Westchester house – and decide where in Westchester the house will be. I want it on the Hudson, and might set it in and amongst the fashionable houses in Tarrytown. I have a feeling it’s time for another trip to the Westchester Archives to research. Now, if I could only find my card . . .

If I do Nano again this year – I think I’ll write Amadeus Doe for that one. It’s been percolating for nearly two years now – about time it comes out.

I need to get some work done on The Project, send off the confidentiality agreement for Confidential Job 2, and hopefully get the sample, so I can work on it this weekend.

I have an idea buzzing around my brain for a new short story, based on a botched bank robbery and manhunt that happened around here yesterday, but it’s not quite ready to go on the page yet.

It will be a busy weekend.

Devon

Published in: on April 6, 2007 at 8:27 am  Comments (8)  

April 5, 2007

Thursday, April 5, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Misty and cold

I decided that Saturn can’t STILL be retrograde, so, even though I can’t find a “direct” on my calendars – I hereby declare it DIRECT! With both Pluto (hidden things) and Jupiter (money, material things) retrograde, I am NOT dealing with a continuing Saturn Retrograde as well. SO THERE!

I could not get the engines fired yesterday. I made it to Old Greenwich to Staples, where I got the binders I needed and a new Staples Rewards card. About time – I’ve had the old one for five years and it’s done me NO good.

At least I have binders to organize the information for Good Names.

Someone asked me the other day if I didn’t think Good Names was too close to Mia King’s title of Good Things. Well, no, and not just because they’re in two different genres and two different time periods. When I speak the title of Mia’s book, I put the emphasis on the first word: GOOD Things. When I speak the title of my book, the emphasis is on the second word: Good NAMES. To me, the inflection keeps the titles from being too similar. Plus, to me, both are the beginnings of phrases with quite different roots and meanings – they take us to different places.

Got out a couple of pitches and spent too much time dilly dallying on the internet. Now that I’ve limited the time spent on various forums (although I’m still having technical difficulties and can’t get in to the freelance forum that’s my absolute lifeline), I’m more focused with my time. But I’m doing some research, and the problem with research is tangents. I love tangents, and some of my best inspiration comes from tangents, but one still has to be careful.

It rained and rained and rained yesterday, so I kept the car on high ground and I’m hoping I don’t get a ticket. I will challenge it if I do.

Spooky stopped by this morning for a snack and a pet. He has absolutely no interest in being an indoor cat. He likes his independence too much. However, he does count on me for regular meals and cuddling. He’s getting the best of this deal, I think, but at least my girls aren’t upset.

I’m enjoying Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love more and more. It’s nice to watch her blossom into herself, instead of completely defining herself by men all the time (at the start, she was one of those people who had to be in a relationship all the time – the type of woman with whom I have absolutely NO patience). And her details and asides, especially in the section on Italy, are wonderful, funny, and engaging.

Worked on the guest blogger piece. Will give it a quick polish before I send it out this morning.

Started to sign up for the Freelancers Union – but found some of their questions during the sign-up process intrusive, and, quite frankly, none of their business. I should be able to choose not to answer them. If they keep insisting – I will UN-sign up.

Chaz Brenchley’s new novel, River of the World, arrived last night, and I look forward to reading it.

I prepared chicken and Italian sweet sausage last night, cooked in garlic, onion, tomato, and thyme, served over pasta, with green beans on the side. It was very good.

I have a busy morning ahead of me – the post office may deign to be open for a few hours, and I need to get some packages out to my cousin in Germany. And then I need to sort some more receipts in preparation for taxes. And work on The Project. And write. I want to get some work done on Good Names.

Devon