Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sunday, August 5, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny, less humid, cooler

I gave myself the day off from studio work yesterday. I repaired one pair of pants, and that’s it.

I did break in the new bathing suit and even spent some time in the pool, trying to get more comfortable in the water as a prelude to maybe, someday, learning how to swim.

Found a town/area I really like and want to look at some property in – provided that it doesn’t flood. Good ole FEMA charges $195 dollars for each flood map – not one dollar and ninety-five cents, but one hundred and ninety-five dollars – for information you can get for free at a town hall. Bastards. Typical. So I’m going to talk to the Town Clerk of this community and get some information. I sure don’t want to be in the same flood situation I’ve been dealing with over the last few months. It’s a little west of my target area, but still close to everything I want and need. Plus, I think I can get more land for less money in that area, and I want as much land as I can afford.

Wrote two chapter of Tracking Medusa last night – a little raw, but a decent skeleton.

Had a good core workout last night. Good yoga session this morning.

Decent morning’s work on Good Names. Even better morning’s work on “Revenge Tangents.” Venice kicked the ass of a local who made unfriendly assumptions about them, and Posey just met the guy who’s going to play a huge part in her life.

Back to the studio again for the day.

Devon

Good Names – 54,132 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
54 / 100
(54.0%)

Tracking Medusa – 40,053 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
40 / 90
(44.4%)

“Revenge Tangents” – 4,125 words out of est. 5,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4 / 5
(80.0%)
Published in: on August 5, 2007 at 8:09 am  Comments (8)  

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Saturday, August 4, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, sticky, rainy

It’s confirmed! I’m covering the Central New York Scottish Games next Saturday, up near Syracuse! I’m very excited. And then, I’ll be heading to Saratoga for a few days to cover horse racing.

Today, however, in the Haskell over at Monmouth, I’m rooting for Hard Spun.

The cats demanded attention yesterday. Violet is tired of being the smallest and the most pushed around, so she’s fighting back. Iris demanded attention and finally sat her butt on the keyboard, causing all sorts of chaos on the screen. Elsa was merely pathetic for a few hours, then climbed on the kitchen table (which is not allowed) to watch my neighbor’s television through the window (he has a big screen television). When he pulled down the shades, she had a fit!

Bad storms last night, with lots of thunder, lightening, and rain.

Driving to CT, I stopped at a traffic light. The guy behind me’s honking his horn, waving his arms, motioning me to the right. The right was a turn-only lane. I got out of the car and asked him what’s the problem?

“Get in the right lane.”

“It’s a turn only lane and I’m not turning.”

“I like to be the front car at a light.”

WTF?????

I got in the car and took my own sweet time pulling out when the light changed to green. Tough luck, buddy, you don’t always get to be first, and I’m sick and tired of always being expected to accommodate everyone else’s neuroses.

Got most of the first dress done in the studio yesterday, although I’m unhappy with the zipper. I think I’m going to replace it with a shorter one. Thanks for the advice, Costume Imp! I may have to wait and get in the city – I can’t believe how difficult it is to get zippers out here in Westchester!!!

Got to tend to my personal life, too, which was a nice change. Sometimes, it just needs a bit of caretaking to keep on track.

Sat down to work on Good Names this morning and realized I hadn’t done the research I needed for the next section. Did enough to get the scene complete, but have to do more to finish the sequence. Sigh. I need more hours in the day.

Nice morning’s work on “Revenge Tangents.” The world of Posey Penrith, her friends Venice and Niktoria, the orange tabby cat Pickles and now the dog rescued from death row, Marvin, gets wackier and wackier. I’m starting to worry that it’s too large for what I originally envisioned for the project. But I need to see what it is, then figure out its venue.

Decent evening’s weight training in spite of the shoulder; good morning’s yoga session.

Off to finally do some work on Tracking Medusa, and then head back to CT.

Devon

Good Names – 53,382 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
53 / 100
(53.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” –2.625 words out of est. 5,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
2 / 5
(40.0%)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday, August 3, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, icky sticky

I’ve heard from all but one of my contacts in the Minneapolis area, and I might have a bad email address for her. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Our state is re-inspecting all the bridges now to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen here anytime soon. There are two overpasses in our town that I think have worsened over the past months. Maybe now they’ll actually take the complaints I filed seriously.

Got some paperwork out of the way in the morning, but not enough. Typed the first chapter of Good Names, so I don’t fall so far behind.

Had a good afternoon in the studio, although I didn’t get as much done as I hoped – but isn’t that always the way? I’m going back today.

One thing I like about the studio work is that, in and around the measuring, cutting, etc., I can also think about the stories and work out plotlines and scenes.

Also got two loads of laundry done.

Today is about errands, studio work, finishing an article and sending it off, doing follow-ups on some interview material, sending out some more interview requests, and dealing with idiot PR people on two events that I’m ready to bag because they’re so useless. There are so many good PR people out there – companies/events need to stop hiring people and calling them PR because: 1) they’re sleeping with someone connected to the event and/or 2) they’re cheap.

Decent core workout last night, and then added in a slightly more challenging yoga sequence, which made a big difference. Good yoga session this morning.

Reasonable morning’s work on Good Names, but I have to do some research before I can write the next section. Good morning’s work on “Revenge Tangents”. It’s surprising me, but in a good way.

Better get going – I have a lot to do this morning, and I want to leave for the studio by 11. It took me an hour to drive 12 miles yesterday because of all the construction. I’m going to try to find a different way today.

Hey, Brandy: Genuine classic styles are consistently turned out by: Ann Taylor, Talbot’s, Banana Republic, LL Bean, some of Land’s End, some of J Crew (although their stuff gets a little preppy for me), Liz Claiborne, St. John’s Bay, the older Burberry, and, of course, Chanel. That list has a variety of price points, but I find that their clothing stays in style, season after season.

If I have to read one more chick-lit that copies reality television instead of doing something creative with the premise, I am going to scream.  From now on, I’m putting down the book.  And, if it’s one of the ones I’m being paid to review — watch out.  If you’re going to create a reality show within your novel, be creative.  DON’T COPY AND BE DERIVATIVE!  Yes, that’s redundant, but I’m trying to drive home the point.  If you’re going to tread over the same territory, do it better and more creatively than those who’ve come before.  Argh.


Devon

Good Names 52,882 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

52 / 100
(52.0%)

Good Names Typed Draft 1A – 2,566 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

2 / 100
(2.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” – 1,875 words out of est. 5,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

1 / 5
(20.0%)

Published in: on August 3, 2007 at 7:35 am  Comments (9)  

February 24, 2007

Saturday, February 24, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Revolting and disgusting Microsoft corrupted all my files, research, layout, etc. AND the back-up for the newsletter that was supposed to go out this weekend. I’d done everything three weeks ago, before my sojourn in the city. I’d checked every file, once it was saved. It was in a protected box. And I put it in tonight and it’s all corrupt, can’t be retrieved, and I’m screwed.

Now, in the “help” files there are several different ways that Microsoft swears up, down and sideways will retrieve corrupted information including “open and repair” and “recover text from any file”.

They lie. I know rugs that don’t lie as much as Microsoft does.

So I have to start from scratch – all the articles, all the information, the layout, etc. – and hope I match the tone. I’ll do it as a “March” newsletter instead and hope for the best. I’m upset and disappointed because it was one of the best, merriest things I’d written in a long time, and would have generated a LOT of business.

Oh, yeah, and the mailing list I took six weeks to painstakingly put together – gone. AND the backup. I hadn’t run hard copies because I planned to keep copies of the final for my file, and, before I printed it, I was going to go over it all one last time.

What’s the point of making a back-up if it doesn’t actually BACK THINGS UP?

Damn Microsoft and damn Bill Gates even more, for heading a company that builds things to fail.

I re-wrote about a third of the newsletter last night. I figured I could use those hours productively instead of simply being upset. I’m getting there. I have to do some more things tonally. I THINK I have a good part of the mailing list written in longhand somewhere, if I can find it, so recreating it shouldn’t take the six weeks it took to create in the first place.

My friend who commented that looking at houses in bad weather’s supposed to be a good thing is absolutely right – I wouldn’t have minded tromping through them in the weather; unfortunately, I couldn’t get up to the area in which I’m looking because of the roads. For bad weather house-hunting, I carry a pair of slippers with me so I can leave my muddy boots on the doorstep and not tramp stuff through the house they so carefully cleaned so people can look at it. It’s tough on the seller in many ways to have people coming through the house – physically and emotionally – you never know if someone with horrible energy is going to show up and taint the place.

Lara tagged me for “What do you need to write?”

What I NEED to write is this:

Pen
Paper

That’s it. I am capable of writing anywhere, and I like to do first drafts in longhand (except for articles, which I find easier to do directly onto the computer).

In the best of all possible worlds, I LIKE to have a large desk, plenty of books around me, fresh flowers, and my little inspiring knick-knacks from here and there. I like to have music playing, sometimes, but if I’m writing fiction, it has to be instrumental only. Absolutely NO soundtracks or I start getting influenced by the piece for which the soundtrack was written. No lyrics, because they influence the dialogue. Sometimes, to get me into the mood for a character, I’ll play music I believe the character would play, but, when it comes down to the actual writing, it needs to be instrumental only. Usually some sort of jazz or jazz funk or Celtic or Nordic. Sometimes classical, if I’ve had a particularly stressful day.

When I’m writing non-fiction, I can listen to anything that strikes my fancy at that moment.

When I’m writing, I prefer to have the CD player on as opposed to the MP3. I like the sense of space in having the music fill the room. I use the MP3 if it’s noisy outside and the CD can’t cover it, or if I’m away from home and want to cut out noise or vibration.

To remind me of the sense of place, I like to have a bulletin board with photos of the location someplace where I can look up and get inspiration.

But I don’t NEED any of that. I need the pen and the paper, and then I drop down the well and live in the world of the piece.

So I tag Anita, Debra, and Rhian. What do you need when you write?

Tons to do today – as of Tuesday, I’m back fulltime on the show, and there will be little room for anything else. It’s difficult to spend the necessary (and, in this case , it is NECESSARY, not OPTIONAL) six hours a day on the writing business when I have to spend 14 hours at the theatre, but, for three weeks, that’s what I have to do.

I didn’t get any sewing done this week, which I’d hoped to do. I’m not going to stress about it, it’s not on a deadline. I’ll get it in when I can. The fabric’s not going anywhere – unless the cats drag it out of the bin and stash it.

Speaking of cats, Iris is playing with a ball that has a bell in it, chasing it up and down the living room. Although the tingling is slightly annoying (not a good pitch), it’s great to see her having so much fun with something so simple.

Did just a touch of work on Changeling this morning – I need t go back to the notes. Yesterday’s scene was unexpected and a happy surprise, but there are still a few points I need to hit. I wonder if I brought Thierry into the story too late. I have a feeling Changeling will need a good bit of restructuring in the rewrite. Well, that’s why there ARE rewrites – once it’s all out there in a first draft, I can move things around. If there’s nothing there in the first place, there’s nothing to move.

Devon

Published in: on February 24, 2007 at 9:30 am  Comments (7)  

fabric-stash.JPG

The fabric stash from the final trip to JoAnn Fabrics.

Published in: on February 15, 2007 at 1:46 pm  Comments (1)  

January 20, 2007

Saturday, January 20, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Adventures in Shopping. That was yesterday for me.

Went to the post office; got the package off to Pickles, some bills mailed, and got the stamps for the newsletter.

Walked over to the train station to buy my ticket for the next ten trips to the Big Broad Way.

Brushed off the car (light snow, wrong shoes for ice, had to move carefully) and drove upstate, into the flurries to bid farewell to Jo-Ann’s. Most of the store was already stripped bare, but I found some very nice material. None of it was on my list . . . .but it will all be used someday. Let’s just say I’ll be wearing many variations on blue this spring and summer.

Over 20 yards of fabric for $33. Not too shabby. Especially for a last hurrah at Jo-Ann’s.

Corporate Chickie was walking around, talking in a loud voice to no one in particular about how they’d lost the lease on this store without advance warning; it was given to Michael’s, who offered more money; there was nothing Corporate could do; it takes at least six months to plan a store move . . .

“Not if you’re running an efficient company,” I called back.

She began to huff and puff with more excuses, and then I said, “Oh, just stop LYING to us already. Do you think we’re stupid?”

And the other patrons in the store began to applaud and call out comments of their own.

So she stormed into the office and slammed the door. And the people who worked there started coming up to me and telling me what really happened.

And everyone is really upset that Jo-Ann’s corporate assholes won’t stand up and take the flack. They’re hiding. They turned off the phone, refuse emails, won’t talk to anyone (especially reporters), won’t explain except to send Chickie out for her lie-fest. I mean, come on! If that cock-and-bull lost lease story was real, stand up and say, look, we got screwed, we need time to figure this out, you’ll get another store in the area as soon as we can find space. And, hello, there is a TON of space for rent in the vicinity, and I’m sure it’s a damned sight cheaper than where they are now. But to hide behind closed doors and refuse to acknowledge or deal with people who’ve paid their salaries and made their business a success for decades . . .is revolting.

It was so poorly handled, and Jo-Ann’s shows so much disrespect for both its customers and its workers that I don’t want to give them my money in the future. I’ll hunt down places that treat their people decently.

Why so much attachment to a fabric store? Quilting and sewing and all fiber work are art forms that allow something beautiful, creative, and useful. Fiber arts reach deep into our souls, touch a place that’s often left unnourished. When a gathering space for such work is torn away with such utter disregard of what it supposedly stands for, it leaves deep and bleeding wounds in the community.

Tossed the fabric in the trunk of the car and meandered over to Office Max or Office Depot or whatever it is, in the same complex. I need to design stationery and business cards for Fearless Ink and for the pitches I want to send out this week. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I had such a bad feeling in that store, I had to walk out and leave. No one was being rude or anything; they just went about their business. The store was a mess – stuff tossed every which way off the shelves, in the aisles, in a jumble and no one seemed to think it was his or her job to do anything – but it was more than that. I had a strong feeling to get out. So I did.

Went over to the B&N and found some journal books I needed for 50% off, so grabbed those. Stopped at a Staples down the street and found the letter paper, but not the envelopes or business card stock.

By this time, it was nearly 2 PM. I forgot to eat breakfast and hadn’t eaten lunch (don’t try this at home, people, it is NOT healthy). I knew I was in bad shape when I wondered how the steering wheel would taste with a little seasoning.

I got back on the Taconic and then 287, got off the next town over from me, grabbed a bottle of Medoc and some Chinese food and finally ate my meal a little after three.

The cats unpacked all the fabric and dragged it around, and I had to tell them that the cow-jumps-over-the-moon fabric is NOT for them, but for yoga clothes. (It’s cute and silly and perfect to stay home in and write).

Plenty of whacky people driving on the roads who don’t seem to understand that fishtailing down the highway because you’re driving 90+ mph on a road meant for 45 mph that’s now covered in ice won’t get you there faster, just dead faster.

I printed off the newsletter in the afternoon, and will get the envelopes done today and throw it into the mail tomorrow. I prefer to have it out by the 10th, but I had to wait for some additional information before it could go out, so, oh, well. It’s a January newsletter and still going out in January.

I have to finish typing my notes on Chaz’s play and get it out to him, then go to Trader Joe’s before the winds kick in (gale force winds predicted today). There’s only one can of cat food left in the cupboard, and the felines are distressed!

Hung out with a friend last night (told you I had to stop the hermitage lifestyle), and had a good time.

Lots of admin work to do today, but got a few solid pages done on Changeling this morning.

Was tempted to skip the yoga because I overslept, but that would mean disrespecting the commitment I made to myself on Yule, and I’m not willing to do so. Once I got into it, I was glad I had.

Devon

Chasing the Changeling – 12,467 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
12 / 45
(26.7%)

January 19, 2007

Friday, January 19, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowy and cold

New poem over on Circadian: “Water Diamonds of Joy” by Danielle Frézier.

I’m researching markets, trying to find the most likely fit for some pieces of which I’m extremely fond, but which aren’t easily categorized. I often feel like I’m banging my head against a wall – especially if a publication pays well, and then I read it and can’t stand any of the writing in it.

And then I realized: genre boxes. At this point, it’s almost genre-within-genre boxes.

For instance: female-centric fiction is now shelved in romance if it has so much as a kiss in it. It can be urban fantasy (Hell’s Belles) or action adventure or paranormal or whatever cross-genre imaginative, wonderful creation it is – but it’s “romance”.

While, if it’s male-centric, it’s fantasy or sci/fi.

It’s as though if the sex has any sort of positive emotion behind it, it’s shoved into the romance category, even if that isn’t the main focus of the story. If the sex is clinical, unemotional, or used simply for power, then it’s sci/fi or fantasy or magical realism shelved with fantasy.

There are exceptions, of course: Mercedes Lackey, CJ Cherryh, Diana Paxson, et al. But they broke away from the pack, no matter where the book was shelved (as Jackie Kessler will do with Hell’s Belles, and, before people start having hissies at me, I do NOT think romance is a ghetto genre; I just think HB is more urban fantasy/magical realism that straight-up romance novel).

Side note on Hells’ Belles – I went to a chain for it because I could not wait ONE MORE MINUTE – but I couldn’t find it. So I asked at the desk, and the clerk searched for it and walked me to the romance section, yanked it out and said, “Who was the dumbass who decided it should go here? I HATE working for a chain!” – and yes, she’d read the book! And loved it! (The woman obviously has taste).

What we need are more fantasy/magical realism publishing houses run by women, who won’t stringently categorize their submissions. I think both Samhain Publishing and Freya’s Bower/Wild Child Publishing are working to fill that niche nicely, but we need more.

So, who’s going to step up to the plate?

Speaking of genres, I realized, sadly, yesterday, that there isn’t any one magazine that is fully relevant to my life. I cancelled a bunch of subscriptions recently, and the subscriptions I have only address pieces of the life: Yoga Journal, Health, Writer’s Digest (which will not be renewed – it’s the same material recycled every few months for newbies – I need information for mid-career working writer), Elle, Vogue (I’m in wardrobe, remember? Clothes are part of my job), Organic Gardening (yes, I’m dreaming), National Wildlife (I’m an NWF member) PEN Journal (I’m a PEN member), most issues of Vogue Patterns (I sew), and, well, New Jersey’s stud handbook (horses, not men, and I have no idea why they send it to me).

There are tons of magazines aimed at married women or women whose sole purpose in life is to marry. But there’s nothing for an intelligent, single, in-her-prime working artist.

Step up, people! Go create the magazine of my dreams. I’m not the only one of my kind out there!!!

It was brought home even more clearly when I read the draft of my friend’s new play. It’s wonderful and touching and disturbing and heart-rending all at once. I knew he’d draw me in – he always does. He’s one of those writers who defies genre – call him “boxless” or “unboxed” or, what he truly is, brilliant.

I’m talking, of course, of Chaz Brenchley, who understands what makes humans (and other beings) tick better than we do ourselves, and is brave enough to expose it. If you’ve never read a Chaz Brenchley book, go order one right this minute – and if you’re in the U.S., Bridge of Dreams is a good place to start. He’s lyrical; compelling; a stunning linguist; understands the heights and depths of love, passion, turmoil, manipulation, loyalty, and pain; and helps the reader see the world (any world about which he writes) in a new way. Sometimes the beauty of his prose literally takes my breath away.

His work is beyond genre. It’s too expansive and too honest to fit in a box. Plus, he can write in any genre – mystery, fantasy, or, as in this play, naturalism/realism.

And he certainly does not get the acclaim he deserves. There’s another writer out there selling millions of books out there, who’s at a point of hiring people to co-write/ghostwrite because “he has too many ideas” – yeah, make me gag – whose, writing makes me want to go beyond gag and downright throw up, it’s so damn sloppy and formulaic. That’s one of the writers I sometimes joke about, who I think uses “global replace” for the character name and the location.

There’s nothing wrong with selling well. More power to anyone who earns the right to do so (Janet Evanovich and Tess Gerritsen immediately come to mind in that category).

And Chaz should be right up there with them.

(stepping down off soapbox, polishing it, putting it away).

I also realized (hey, it was snowing, I had lots of “realizing” time) how many married women with whom I’m acquainted, or meet in my travels, who live away from major cities – don’t have friends. It’s like when they signed the marriage certificate, they signed away their right to have people around them not related to them whose company they enjoy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, kids. You know what? The damn husband can take the kids one night a week or whatever so you can do something fun. You work just as hard. Because any time you wrap up your entire life in another individual, you are asking the Fates to kick your ass.

And it’s not the guys who EVER give up their friends.

Nor should they. But neither should the wives. Everyone needs a group of people around them whose company they enjoy on a regular basis. People who don’t have ego-centric agendas, but are just trying to struggle along on the journey, and are companions, not competitors.

It doesn’t seem to be so bad in cities – I guess there are so many people in such a small space, you have enough regular contact with some of the same people that you become friends in spite of yourself.

Speaking of friends, if I don’t get out of “hermit mode”, I’m going to be in big trouble. My friends are getting cranky. “We know you’re writing, but we need to see you ONCE in awhile –and the blue moon’s in May! We don’t want to wait that long!”

So I better book some social engagements! 😉

Did some good work on Changeling this morning. Pieces are fitting into place nicely. They surprise me, but it’s working.

Gave myself the night off last night to read Janet Evanovich’s Plum Love, the between-the-numbers Valentine book. It’s fun and cute and sweet in a good way. And very short – I read it cover to cover in an hour and a half.

I’m on my way to the post office to mail Pickles’s toy and get stamps and mail some bills. Then, if the roads clear up enough, I want to drive up to Mohegan Lake. The Jo-Ann’s is about to close. People are furious – the next closest one is over the Tappan Zee Bridge in a hateful mega-mall – the money you save on the fabric is spent on gas and tolls, and the frustration factor is so high, why bother? What really makes me angry is that the company refuses to acknowledge or respond to the community’s upset. They won’t respond to calls, emails, or reporters. They have so little respect for the people who shop at their store and are such COWARDS, they won’t step up and deal.

So I’m going to Mohegan Lake to say good-bye to the workers who’ve been so good to me over the last few years (who are NOT being shifted to other stores, but simply fired), and then. . .no more Jo-Ann’s for me. Why should my money go to a company that disregards the needs of its customers? I’ve gotten too sensitive of voting with my wallet when it comes to things like that. I don’t know where I’m going to get reasonably priced quilting fabric around here – to me, $11/yard, as one of the other county stores sells is not reasonable for calico. So I’ll have to figure something out. Ordering online is not an option. Fabric is tangible and textural. I need to see it and feel it before I buy it.

If the roads remain icky, I’ll go tomorrow. But we’re supposed to have gale force winds, and I don’t want to be hit by a tree.

Pulled a stack of job leads off the internet yesterday, and will send out the pitches this weekend.

And I have to print off the quarterly newsletter and get it in the mail. No point in writing the damned thing if I don’t mail it.

And then . . .back to the page.

Devon

Chasing the Changeling – 11,467 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

11 / 45
(24.4%)