Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

I re-did the article for FemmeFan, and it was like reliving the whole race. Whew! Needed to take a break after that one!

Did some business/admin work, worked on some press release material that needs to go out, but spent most of the afternoon reading Debbie Macomber’s A Good Yarn, which I enjoyed.

Tried to write myself out of the corner in City of Lost and ended up in a worse one. Urgh!

Got the rest of my advance for Perfectly Plum and the latest check from Confidential Job #1. Love it when I have an excuse to go to the bank to make a deposit!

Read and commented on my friend’s next chapter. E-mailed another friend about geography of a certain cemetery in Edinburgh – turns out he’s going to use the same one in his next novel, but he’s on his way to London and will go there himself when he gets back to answer BOTH of our questions! Look out, Col – I may shoot some questions your way in the interim.

Prepping for my trip to Newport later this week. The woman who can’t swim is learning all about sailing.

Off to the theatre for day work – hopefully I can figure out a way of the mess I’ve made of City of Lost.

The new novel is poking at me. It’s got an emotional depth in areas which scare me, in a way, but that’s probably also why they intrigue me. It will be quite a change of pace after Tracking Medusa.

Re-worked the synopsis for Dixie Dust Rumors. I want to get the logline, one paragraph summary, synopsis and outline polished, change one phrase in the cover letter, and then blast them out next week (once the moon has turned, even though Mercury will be retrograde). The book is in good shape – it’s the surrounding paperwork that needs a quick fix.

I got my next set of contracts from Llewellyn – I’m turning them around immediately and getting them back in the mail before Merc goes Ret on Friday. Because from Friday until July 7, there is no contract signing for this gal!

Nice morning’s work on Good Names. I like the depth of the book, and getting so deep into the time and place. But I’m worried that I’m waiting too long for the murder.
But perhaps this is an historical novel that happens to have a murder in it instead of an historical mystery. I have to let the project pick the genre, and stay true to the story.

Good yoga session this morning, too, which always puts me in a better frame of mind for the day.

Off to catch a train – someone was stabbed on this commuter line day before yesterday, so I’m looking forward to The Hell That is Metro North even less than usual. I’m not really surprised – after all, they let rampaging drunks go up and down the train slugging people on St. Patrick’s Day and did absolutely nothing, so why would someone getting knifed be a surprise? I get cranky when someone pulls a knife on me, so for his own health – he better not.

Devon

Good Names — 27,387 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
27 / 100
(27.0%)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007
Full Moon/Blue Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Next to Jill Shalvis and M.E. Ellis, I am an absolute slacker, let me tell you! Those two writers are an inspiration. They get more done in an hour than I get done in a week! Oh, well, it gives me something towards which to strive!

And a shout of congratulations to Shirley Wells, whose new book, INTO THE SHADOWS, is out.

One more day until:

Script Frenzy

And

The release of PERFECTLY PLUM.

The Dog Blog post on process is up here.

To answer Ivan’s question – basically what I’m doing here is changing my process slightly for this book, and brainstorming in public. There’s still plenty I’m not talking about, because it has to work itself out. I’m careful not to “talk myself out” before it’s written. I’m also interested in tracking back once it’s gone through the revision process to see where it started and how it grew. Ivan, sorry you had a bad experience with Sontag, but not surprised. I was never a fan for reasons I shan’t get into here.

Finished the material for Confidential Job #1, did the write-up, off it went and now I can invoice. Love that part!

Realized I can’t rewrite much of Medusa until I get to the Met on Friday. I need to play with a few more possibilities. While running errands at Staples, I found a scanner small enough to fit in Justin’s backpack, but I think I’ll just have him still retain his research cubicle in the room (we were in there, I can’t remember the name of it) – and say there’s a photocopier in there, whether there is or not. It doesn’t make sense to drag the laptop and the scanner internationally. A photocopy makes more sense. And I’ll add in some quick interchanges with the staff he’d run into on that library route, so he’s not questioned removing a book from the reading room. Problem solved, only stretching reality slightly – but there’s still enough reality to suspend disbelief.

Started work on Chapter 7 of Medusa, but I have to do some research on Greece and the temples in order for Gwen to tell Justin (as they’re walking around Lindisfarne at night) the backstory of the Medusa head. And I might throw in one or two of the Lindisfarne ghost yarns in there while I’m at it. Maybe the black dog running through the Abbey ruins.

Good morning’s work on Good Names. There were a couple of scenes that set up the social dynamic among the women of different economic classes, and some of the alliances and conflicts.

I was supposed to do some sort of errand this morning, but damned if I can remember it.

No hot water today. Again. We’ve had trouble almost all this week. I know they’re still working on the basement and all from the floods, but the last flood was on April 15 and it’s now nearly June. My patience is wearing thin. Not that it’s ever that thick in the first place.

But I am going to have to put the air conditioner in today.

I’m doing several tarot readings today, since it’s the Blue Moon, so I’d better prepare.

Devon

Good Names – 20,287 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
20 / 100
(20.0%)

Tracking Medusa – 16,546 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
16 / 90
(17.8%)

Starting tomorrow: the wordmeter bar for City of Lost

May 30, 2007

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

Dog Blog post will go up later today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devon

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

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

18 / 100
(18.0%)


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

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

15 / 90
(16.7%)

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

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and hot

The migraine won yesterday, and I didn’t get everything done that I needed to do.

Put gas in the car. We’re up to $3.53/gallon, which means it cost me $35 to fill the Rabbit, for crying out loud! Went to CVS, which, as usual, didn’t have everything I needed; went to Trader Joe’s, which, as usual, had everything I needed and more, and I bought it; went to the liquor store to get a nice French rose (can’t get the accent to work on the “e” – have I mentioned how much Microsoft sucks in the last few posts?) that goes with everything I bought.

Read all the rest of the chapters my friend sent me of her manuscript and commented on them. Worked on some pitches, but didn’t send them. I want to re-read them and re-work them if necessary, when I’m migraine-free. Did some work on a short hockey article which has to go out later today.

Had to lie down for part of the afternoon because it was so bad.

Good news – I have the green light to go ahead and write about the America’s Cup Races. Which means I have to learn everything really quickly. I found a book my Dad bought many years ago, after he and my mom attended the races in Newport, RI; I found the notes I took when I covered the HEALTH magazine fair in Newport and skipped out for a few hours to explore Newport and “met” some of the boats from former races; and Strand Books is on it, so I’m sure it’ll be all good. It’s about learning first (as well as fast), and then formulating the interviews, and then watching the live feed from the races – because I really don’t think I’ll be able to hop a plane to Valencia at the end of June. Although wouldn’t it be fun if it worked out and I could?

PERFECTLY PLUM’s release date is June 1, so I better get on the stick and get some PR going. I should have gotten releases out two weeks ago, but if I get them out this week, it’ll still be in the early days of the release. I need to talk to the Ben Bella PR person and see what’s what, so we’re not cross-pollinating and look disorganized. If our lists overlap, I’ll send a friendly note rather than repeat the same information.

I’m also developing a contest where some of you can win a copy! Stay tuned – it’ll probably happen around mid-June.

Came up with a new idea called Tracking Medusa, which could be a lot of fun if I can figure it out and slot it in properly. It’s too early to really discuss – but it’s definitely something that will appear under the Ava Dunne name, so that should give you an idea of its direction!

Did the research I need to do for the next section of Good Names. Had a terrific morning session on it, and finished Chapter 5. Now I can type the first chapters, so I don’t get too far behind.

The migraine still lingers, but it’s better than yesterday, so, hopefully, it will be a more productive day. Melissa, I think you’re right. I think I might have a thyroid problem. Unfortunately, since my insurance plan is in name only, I’m having a difficult time getting in to see a doctor without paying out of pocket. And the lab work is too far out of my price range in order to do it all out of pocket. But I’m trying to get tested. In the meantime, I’m doing dietary research, etc., and I’ll talk with my acupuncturist on my next visit to see what I can do to support thyroid health until I can get the medical treatment I need. Thank you for thinking of it.

Sya, you’re right –maybe I should go back to headphones. I didn’t order the earbuds I wanted because the shipping added 50% to the price. Um, considering how small and light they are, that’s unacceptable.

Devon

Good Names – 15,412 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15 / 100
(15.0%)

Tracking Medusa — 4,123 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4 / 90
(4.4%)

April 25, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cooler

So, some self-righteous, sanctimonious, smug woman on a writing forum made a comment about how an agent must not be married and have kids and therefore has time to blog. I’m so sick and tired of married women with kids acting like they are the ONLY ones with busy lives. Honey, you aren’t. You’re not that important, and the world does not revolve around you and your kids, although YOUR world might. Get over yourself. There are plenty of people who are unmarried and childless who are making the world a better place, and to give you a world in which to raise your kids.

Mia King is a mother and a writer, and has one of the most balanced outlooks on her writing and family life that I’ve ever come across. It’s so refreshing to hear a writer who is a woman and a mother not use her kids as an excuse not to write. Men rarely make that excuse – although, when they do, it’s “my wife won’t let me” – which makes me want to barf. Are you over 21? An adult? There’s no such thing as a spouse “letting” or “not letting” unless you’re a major wimp or in an abusive situation that you should leave. Again, this is an example of a person refusing to take responsibility for his or her own life.

Mia TAKES responsibility. She balances. She knows that a career she loves does not have to endanger the family she loves. Go, Mia! May your success grow book to book, because you certainly deserve it! Jill Shalvis is another writer who keeps the balance going well – and also has a sense of humor about it.

Mothers who say they want to write should look to those two women as examples of positive ways to balance the writing life with the family life.

Work was fine yesterday. New York was unpleasant – too many people in too small a space, everyone trying to get somewhere. The usual. I’m booked for a couple of weeks when I get back from my trips in May – so that’s good. Pay some bills, replace some money used for the car.

Good thing I don’t have to go in until tonight – Metro North is down – again! Tonight, I’m taking my friend J. to one of the events at the PEN World Voices conference. We’re going early enough to stop at the Algonquin for drinks first (provided the trains run properly).

Verizon came to fix the landline yesterday and screwed up the DSL. When I called to complain, they said it was not possible for me to have working DSL without a dial tone. Then what have I been doing since last Friday? IMAGINING my time on line?

I’m so tired of idiots.

No response from Icelandiar. I am even less impressed with them than I was 24 hours ago.

Trying to get some writing done, after I scour the job boards and see if there are pitches to get out.

I’m offline for the next few days – planned. I’m going to Maine to visit my grandmother –and to do laundry – because who knows when the laundry rooms will be fixed in the building? Not a complaint, mind you – they are working their butts off to get the building back to rights. And they have to scour everything with bleach, because the smells have traveled up the old dumbwaiter shafts (one of those round stick-to-the-wall closet things helps). I checked out a few Laundromats in the area – they’re kind of dirty, and I’m not too happy with them. My friend, at whose house I often do laundry, lost his whole laundry room in the flood and has to rip everything out a renovate, too. I can’t take it to work, because there’s too much show laundry (and I don’t REALLY want to haul laundry on a three hour round trip commute on the train). I’ll hand wash as much as I can here at home, and we’ll play the rest by ear.

I’m doing my pre-Derby article that will appear next week on FemmeFan. Finally, I can reveal my Derby horse – I promised I’d stay quiet until Derby week, so the horse could do its work and mature without additional pressure.

The Plum essays were sent out for a final proof. It looks good, and I’m excited about the book’s release in June. Perfectly Plum – you can pre-order it from Amazon.

Have a great rest-of-the-week, all, and, hopefully, both landline and DSL will be working when I return.

Devon

PS  There are a lot of great moms and writing moms who read this blog.  Needless to say, I do not mean YOU — although you’re probably the ones who then worry you’re being too self-centered when you’re not.  I’m fortunate enough to have attracted a group of generous spirits here.

February 5, 2007

Monday, February 5, 2007
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and brutally cold

Ben Schwartz’s poem “Airport Waiting Room” is today’s Circadian Poem.

I answer some tarot questions on Kemmyrk. I got a batch of interesting questions; some of my answers are bound to piss off some people. Oh, well, it’s my opinion, my belief, and I stand by it.

Can I just say that I think the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet is much more fun than the Super Bowl? I’m bummed that the Colts won, as much as I can be about two teams that mean little to me.

But Prince’s half-time show was wonderful – even in that rain, he gave it everything. There are many things about Prince that make me roll my eyes, but as far as musician-ship – he is a genius. And genius is not a word I use lightly.

Worked on the copyedits for the Plum essay. The way the changes were tracked was a little confusing; I hope I got everything the way my editor needs it. I was loathe to lose a couple of the things that were cut, but my editor was right – they open a Pandora’s box that the scope of this particular essay in this particular collection can’t hope to address. I feel that one of the points that was the most important to me has been watered down to the point of almost non-existence, which is frustrating. And then, there are other changes that I think are great, and I’m so grateful that my editor caught me out in a bad habit, one of using too many dashes. I thought I’d edited them out of the draft I sent, but there they were, highlighted. So I’ve learned an area where I need to be more careful in submissions.

And, of course, being a typical writer (much as I like to think of myself as unique), when I’m hardly edited, I fret because I worry that maybe a stronger editing hand can help get me to a higher level; when I’m heavily edited, I fret that it’s too much change to my voice and meaning. It’s always about taking a breath, stepping back, and looking at the piece as though someone else wrote it. It’s about knowing when to step up and fight for something that’s truly important, and when to accept that the editor has the big picture in view, while the writer has the writer’s piece of the puzzle in view. And that’s only learned through experience.

No one told me I had to be better at balancing that a high wire walker! 😉

I get tired of “balance” – I’m even getting sick of the word. Sometimes, I want to be un-balanced. I want to sit in a sunny corner and read a book ALL DAY and to hell with everything. I want to take off my shoes and dance around the park, singing at the top of my lungs. I want to live from emotion rather than reason.

Doing all of it every day would be like eating too much ice cream; eventually, you’d throw up. But this constant mantra to which we’ve all become enslaved lately – “balance” – sometimes I just get sick of it.

Yes, it’s necessary. Yes, balance equates to better health. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it every minute of every day.

I had to repack everything. Because it’s winter, and this week promises to be the coldest week we’ve seen in the region in two years, I’m taking lots of layers, and more clothes than I normally would for a simple week. However, they’re winter clothes and bulky. So, instead of taking a variety of little bags, I put it all into one BIG suitcase (on wheels) – a suitcase big enough so I can put my yoga mat into it. I’m treading dangerous ground here, not even one dress-up piece, but I figure, any place I go is going to be directly after work and I wouldn’t go back to the apartment to change anyway, so everyone is just going to have to deal.

I’m taking A LOT of writing work with me. Probably more than I should. But I’ve got those extra three hours a day that would be used to commute, and I plan to use them to write.

We had a feline visitor for awhile yesterday. A neighbor knocked on the door – an orange and white cat was wandering in the halls. When I opened my door to see what was going on, the cat slunk into the apartment – and promptly took it over, intimidating the twins. Elsa was under the sofa, sleeping, and missed it all. The cat investigated the place and began to stake out territory, while my neighbors went door to door trying to figure out where she belonged. Turns out she belongs to someone who just moved in on the first floor – and she scratched him badly when he came to get her. She was in a MOOD, growling and yowling. It might have made more sense to just ignore her for awhile and let her settle down and then take her back, but her human wanted her home then and there; he lunged at a growling critter and snatched her up and then wondered why she drew blood. Poor thing. But she got home safely, and that’s what counts. And while there were hissy spitties between her and the twins, no blood was shed there.

Every cat that slips out of its home ends up here, what can I say? Just call me the Hotel Caterwaul.

Rhian – I’m always here to listen.

Tim – I also make incenses, bath salts, poultices, etc., so I try to keep a variety of herbs and spices on hand at all times.

I have to do a few things for my mom to make sure she’s all set while I’m away – fill up her car with gas, etc,, etc.

Trying to clear some more off my desk before I head in this afternoon – missives the rest of the week will be from the Big Apple.

Devon

Chasing the Changeling – 22,842 words out of est. 45,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
22 / 45
(48.9%)

January 31, 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and snowy

I can’t believe January is over. I need another two weeks, please. Not quite ready for February.

“Blue” by Brenda Braene is up on Circadian.

A new essay on supporting living writers is up on the Dog Blog.

The train was late, big surprise, but frustrating because I had three errands that HAD to be run on the way to the theatre. First two, knocked right off. Third was all the way across on the West Side, almost to the river, and, of course, took longer than I wanted, but I still made it to the theatre just a hair late. Amazing how quickly you can walk if you have to.

Work was fine. Not too many sewing repairs, but I had to re-glue some bits of the tin man that were peeling away from the frame.

I heard some of the music from the new musical version of Legally Blonde, which is coming to Broadway sometime soon. It’s REALLY good. I was pleasantly surprised. The kind of music that sticks with you and that you can walk out of the theatre still humming.

I’m writing an article on Barbaro that needs to go out the end of this week, and I need to clear off my desk some more. I don’t know why I’m so sore – I’m going to try to work out some kinks later today with an extra yoga session.

So many of the performers have dashed to Target to get those humidifiers meant for kids in the shape of animals. They’re all over the place. They’re so damn cute, I might have to get one for my apartment.

My first check arrived for the anthology – woo-hoo! It’s always nice when someone pays on time.

The computer decided to upload the newest version of IE (don’t I get a say in these things?) and I had a bit of a fit when everything was rearranged. I found where it hid most of the stuff and put it back where I want it, but I’m not sure.

And this new Microsoft Vista? For which some people paid over $600? That only runs on computers less than two years old, only they don’t bother to tell you BEFORE you plunk down the money?

Typical effing Microsoft.

Chaz’s package returned from the UK, with all sorts of paperwork. Nothing seems too major – maybe I’ll rewrap the toys with bells so they won’t ring and upset postal workers – and then I’m going to try sending it again. At least it wasn’t stolen.

People need to back off from the jawing about Daniel Radcliffe doing Equus. Especially since most of these idiotic gossipy bastards haven’t bothered to learn about the play.

Equus is a modern classic, written by the astounding good playwright, Peter Shaffer. It’s extremely disturbing. However, the young man is not the main character —the psychiatrist treating him is. I saw the play on Broadway years ago, when it first became a phenomenon. It’s dark. It’s disturbing. You leave the theatre viewing the world differently than you viewed it when you entered it, which is what a good play is supposed to do. Although the kid was shirtless for a good portion of it, I only remember one full frontal scene. It was completely organic to the piece and necessary, brief, and not a big deal at all. It didn’t feel shocking or out of place. Plus, you’re in a big darned theatre, so, except for the voyeurs with the opera glasses, you’re not seeing a whole lot.

And believe me, there are plenty of plays that put nudity on stage just to sell tickets. I attended a production at a well-known off-Broadway company a few years back. Can’t remember if I knew one of the actors or one of the crew or why the heck I went. Maybe we just got on the list for one of the previews or something. At any rate, it was a tiny theatre. I was in the third row, and if I’d stretched, I could have touched the bed on the stage.

In the second act, one of the actors is completely naked, sprawled backwards, doing a monologue as part of a 12 minute scene. There was no organic reason in the text for him to be nude in that scene. He had the body, and the company knew it would sell tickets. Good thing he HAD the body, because he sure couldn’t act.

That was exploitation. And, believe me, I know what they pay off-Broadway, and he should have demanded a much higher salary.

Equus is different. The publicity photos that are being blasted around the world are pushing the nudity angle to sell tickets, which annoys me. There’s a shot of Radcliffe and the actress nude together. Now, I don’t remember, in the production I saw, the actress ever actually getting naked with the boy, but maybe that’s something they decided to do for this production. And the house staff will have its hands full taking away cameras.

Photographs are not allowed in ANY professional theatre – it’s a violation of the performers’ right to their image. You purchase a ticket, which is the right to see the live performance IN THE MOMENT, something that can never be exactly replicated again – not to photograph it and sell it or show it to others. Also, using a flash can disorient the actor and cause serious injury onstage. Especially if the actor is trying to maneuver on or off stage, is disoriented by a flash and is run over by a two ton piece of scenery. By being a selfish bastard and taking a photograph, you could maim or kill someone involved with the production. And let’s face it, people are going to try to sell photos of Radcliffe’s genitalia on eBay. I used to work front of house and remove film from cameras – it’s in the program, on the ticket, announced before the show, so if you’re going to violate it, you deserve to get your camera taken away. Personally, I think there should be a list, and if someone violates the no-photograph rule in one theatre, they should be banned for three years or more from all of them.

Regarding Radcliffe and Equus, I’m curious as to how a 17-year-old young man can handle this role. Working on it is bound to change his view of the world not just as an actor, but as a person. It’s an awfully young age to work on the material.

With the whole Harry Potter thing – look, Radcliffe is an actor. His job and responsibility to the audience is to show up on the HP set when he’s contracted and do a terrific job. Which he does. When he’s not on contract, it’s his job to make me believe in any character he plays. That’s what he’s trying to do.

I’d much rather see him doing Equus than go around drinking and doing drugs because the pressure of being HP has become uncomfortable.

I came to the HP movies as a fan of the books. When Rowling writes other books, I plan to read her work, because she’s a damn good writer. With the movies, I was a fan of the body of work of several actors whose work I’d known for years (Rickman, Thewlis, Smith, Shaw, etc.). And I’m interested to see what Radcliffe, Watson, Grint, et al do away from the HP movies.

I’m much more interested in a body of work than seeing someone do the same thing over and over and over again. Part of that is because theatre/film/television is my profession in tandem with the writing. But part of it is because I’m not an ignoramus. There’s enough information on the inner workings of the industry now that only a moron isn’t going to allow growth and change in the performers of which they claim to be “fans”.

As I said in the Dog Blog essay about writers, which makes sense in this situation, too: Decide if you’re a fan of the actor or of the character; own it, and take responsibility for it. If you’re a fan of Harry and only Harry – don’t go see anything else. If you’re a fan of Radcliffe, go with an open mind and give him a chance.

He’s 17. With any luck, he’ll be around for a long time, with a large body of work. Look over Johnny Depp’s body of work. He started young, had early success with Jump Street, made his own way in unusual (to say the least) work, and now he’s got the over-the-top success as Jack Sparrow. Why can’t Daniel Radcliffe find his way, too?

Okay, here’s the January wrap-up for the GDRS:

January 2007 Wrap-Up

Done:
Devon’s Random Newsletter
Finished 1st draft of Token and Affection
Plum essay revisions completed and essay accepted for anthology
Started Chasing the Changeling
Quarterly Newsletter
Occasional (but more frequent than last year) entries on Biblio Paradise and Wordish Wanderings.
Circadian Poems
SDR blog every Wednesday
Kemmyrk Mondays and Thursdays
Devon Ellington temporary site up

In Progress:
Typing Token and Affections
Working to finish 1st draft of Real
Pitches
13-in-Play
Reading research books for the Assumption of Right rewrite
Requested revision for Tumble
3 short stories – I’m going for quality over speed

Postponed/Dropped:
Work on Fix-It Girl
Dixie Dust Rumors queries out
Typing Shallid
Next SDR column begun

Additional:
Unknown Journey outlined
Knockabout Kingdom outlined
Marching Band stories outlined
“New Year’s Resolutions for Sports Fans” article (pub. By Femme Fan)
“Submission Log and Pitch Tracker” article written and submitted
Two interlinked paranormal comedy stories outlined
“Ink in My Coffee” moved to WordPress
“A Biblio Paradise” moved to WordPress
“Kemmyrk” moved to WordPress
“13 Traveling Journals” moved to WordPress
“Place and Space” moved to WordPress
Joined Kristen King’s Query Challenge 2007
Novel idea: Turn of 20th Century
Novel idea: Contemporary action/psychological
Designed and put up Fearless Ink site
Designed and put up Cerridwen’s Cottage site
Joined a blog chain
Devon’s Random Newsletter for February

Disappointments:
Rejection of The Merry’s Dalliance
The death of Barbaro

Successes:
First article of the year published on Jan. 4 (by FemmeFan)
Plum essay accepted
Token and Affections first draft done
Negotiations for possible regular writing gig (not signed, sealed and delivered, but I’m hopeful)

Reading:
Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner. Very good; lots of fun.
Death by Station Wagon by Jon Katz. Excellent. (Actually, I read this in December and forgot to list it).
Hell’s Belles by Jackie Kessler. Wonderful! Excellent!
Dorothy and Agatha by Gaylord Larsen. Liked the plot; struggled with characterizations. Okay.
Diaries by Lavinia Riker Davis. Lovely.
The Ragman’s Memory by Archie Mayor. Excellent.
Off Season by Philip R. Craig. Very good.
Death on a Vineyard Beach by Philip R. Craig. Very good.
Seeing Red by Jill Shalvis. Very good.

Devon

Chasing the Changeling — 20,842 words out of est. 45,000

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20 / 45
(44.4%)

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

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11 / 45
(24.4%)