Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and warm – but the birds are singing!

Quill pens and parchment : Just sayin’.

Carrier pigeons to deliver manuscripts.

Much less frustrating.

Thanks so much for all the suggestions and the support yesterday. They really helped. Well, the one person who emailed me and said this was a good time to practice detachment – let’s say I was less gracious than I should have been! Because I am not detached from my work, especially not in the creation stage. I don’t think artists should be or can be.

I did everything I could without screwing up someone else’s computer – I would have been a lot more adventurous on my own. Heck, I probably would have hacked it apart with an axe looking for the thing, but one must be more restrained with someone else’s property.

It never ceases to amaze me – astrobiology and physics and all of that make perfect sense, but a computer – not so much. Because, frankly, whenever I do delve into the workings, I don’t find it based on a logic that makes any sense to me, where even chaos in the universe has a decent logic. I find computer “stuff” is created by people with too much time on their hands who take joy in making it as difficult and inefficient as possible. But then, my brain is wired differently, and things that other people believe have no sense or logic are absolutely transparent to me. It’s all in the perception.

So I started re-creating the piece. I still have my notes – thank goodness those didn’t go, even though that file was open. I’d updated them as changes happened, for the most part, and I’d even emailed them to myself. In fact, when I lost the document, that’s what the save was for – saved so then I could back it up and email it to myself. It was the ONLY document on the whole drive not yet sent to my backup account, and the ONLY document not printed – which is why, of course, it failed. Five more minutes, and there wouldn’t have been a problem. And it doesn’t make sense – when Word fails, it always saves something with a ~ so you can restore the document. Nothing. And it usually only dumps the version you’re working on, not every version previously saved. If I’d lost those 30 pages, I’d have been sad, but could have immediately recreated them. To lose 98 pages – when the Script Frenzy count is 100 – very frustrating. I searched every drive, checked every file to see what it mutated into – it’s as though the file never existed. Talked to several computer-savvy friends and spent an hour on the phone with a tech guy I actually trust. They agreed this can’t happen – it has to be in there somewhere.

Maybe the guys who own the computer can find it. I asked them to look and then email it to me if it turned up.

And Yasmine let me have a good cyber-weep on her shoulder. Thank you very much. It’s deeply appreciated.

So I’m going back to my extreme state of computer paranoia.

Dealing with computers makes me think of the Nine of Wands in the tarot – you’ve always got to be ready and keep those defenses up, no matter how much work you’ve put in to date.

Feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to solve anything. I’d done everything I could physically do in terms of data recovery (or, in my case, non-data recovery). It was time to buckle down and get back to work.

In any case, I recreated the first 11 pages. Some of it’s better, like the opening sequence, because now I know Jack Danou’s coming back as ghost, and he’s not just some guy that Zenda has to kill because he and his men were hired to slaughter a village. Some of the scenes are stronger, because having written so far into it, I actually know who these characters are, and I can set them up. Some of the scenes, like the breakup scene between Carole and Sam are weaker. But hey, it’s technically draft 1 ½ , so whatever. As the character Sam said to me (the writer), “Look, it’s not as though we haven’t been around for six years or something. It’s been a couple of hours. Just drop back in and listen to us.”

I also have an idea of a technique I learned for another area of my life, and I’m wondering if I can apply it here. I don’t want to discuss it too much ahead of time, but it would be awfully intriguing if it works.

I was on the 7 PM bus out of Philly. What a horrid group of nut jobs traveled! Really, half of them should have been put off the bus – truly energy-sucking vampires and disruptive to everyone else. I just cocooned myself in my music, set up the psychic barriers (which one of the nut jobs could actually see and commented on – but he couldn’t pass it), and stayed in the world of Sharon Shinn’s THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE for the trip.

Trundled across town from Port Authority to Grand Central with my luggage, mowing down tourists and climbing over something or other that filmed near Bryant Park. Don’t know what it was, but the Craft Services guy remembered me from . . .something . . .and pressed a much-needed cup of coffee into my hand for the rest of my trip home.

Got home around 10:30, couldn’t sleep, was up unpacking and puttering far too late. Elsa and Iris were glad to see me; Violet was furious with me for leaving in the first place and wouldn’t even look at me. However, this morning, she is Velcro Kitty.

I’m going to write this morning and then I have to pack this afternoon and get another load of stuff to storage.

This time next week, the Window Tango should be complete and maybe we’ll have a little bit of peace before the scumbags come up with their next element of torture.

I’m going to combine the next trip to Maine to check on my grandmother with some serious house hunting.

Does anyone know where I can purchase binders in bulk? I keep my manuscripts in binders, and it’s ridiculously expensive. Staples just looks at me like I’ve grown extra heads when I ask about bulk binder purchase. So I need to find some other, more reasonably priced outlet. Novellas usually go in 1” or 11/2” binders, but I usually need 2 ½-3” binders for novel-length.

Because let’s face it, I’m going to print out EVERYTHING after this latest fiasco. I know, I know: Tree Murderer!

At least I’m using recycled paper, and I recycle every scrap of paper I toss.

Got a disappointing rejection this morning for a piece I was sure was a good fit for that particular venue. Guess I was wrong. So off it goes to the next one on the list.

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on April 9, 2008 at 10:26 am  Comments (10)  

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold
3-5 inches of snow predicted

I’ve been trying to figure out how to articulate my feelings about the assassination of Bhutto, and I can’t get it down properly. Saddened, angry, concerned – just don’t express the gamut of emotion that I feel. But I did want to acknowledge it, and not act like I’m ignoring it.

The year-end GDR Wrap-Up for 2007 is in the post below this one. I kept in what I stated last January and then updated where I am now, for comparison/contrast. I’m frustrated because the only thing I seem to have done is the career transition. Which is huge, but I wanted to get more done.

I’m going to ramble on about the National Treasure movies a bit more, since the first one was on again last night and I checked a few things, and then I’ll shut up and go back to my life and MY characters. Geez, between yesterday and today, it sounds like my existence is revolving around two darned movies, for crying out loud, and it’s not.

The next paragraph may have character spoilers for the second film, but if you skip it and go to the paragraph beyond, there aren’t spoilers, just character studies.

They changed houses between 1 and 2 and never dealt with it, thinking we (the audience) are too stupid to notice. In the first film, Riley is smart and resourceful and funny and inventive. He’s a great foil for Ben, and a great balance to the Ben/Abby teamwork. In the second, he’s treated like a joke, he’s miserable, has no sense of self-esteem, and keeps trying to prove he’s valuable. It might make sense at the beginning, that he hit a rough patch since the end of the last film, but as 2 moves on, he should regain his confidence, thanks to Ben’s confidence in him. Instead, Ben is dismissive. That hurts Ben’s character as much as Riley’s. And, in the first, Riley’s always the gentleman. Ben rushes forward; Riley’s the one who turns and gives Abby a hand when she needs it. That dynamic set up between the three of them, subtle, but there, worked beautifully, and is missing in the second film. In the first film, Riley actually saves Abby’s life, when she’s so focused on the Declaration that she nearly gets run over by a truck. It would have been a good touch to see her do something helpful for Riley in this one. Or get to see them do anything except run through the basement of the Library of Congress. The fun of the first film is you get to figure things out WITH them; in this one, they already have the answers and simply reveal them to each other. The sequence in Buckingham Palace, as ridiculous as some of it is (hey, buddy, no backpacks get through security after 9/11), is the only one where that sense of fun and discovery is retained. I missed it in the rest of the movie. I got more and more frustrated, because I felt characters were sacrificed for badly constructed machinations. And, as someone whose own work is character-driven, and who is drawn to character-driven material (the best action/adventure movies are all character driven), I got more and more frustrated.

A reader emailed me a question yesterday about why I think Riley Poole is such a good character. A big part of it is how perfectly Justin Bartha portrays him. It’s a case of the actor finding the details in the character and communicating them in a way that connects to the audience. Riley’s a smart, resourceful guy, especially in the first film. He’s not just the sidekick who gets killed off two thirds of the way through the movie. Yeah, it’s Disney, they can’t kill him off. You root for him, for a good portion of the film, you ARE him, He embodies the regular guy in the audience in many ways, but smarter, which is what you want for fiction. You don’t necessarily want to be as obsessed as Ben, although you’d want to be friends with Ben and want to help him on his quest. Ben and Abigail fit so well together, especially in the first film, because they’re both obsessed. Riley is their counterpoint, their reality check.

Ben is smart enough to know that history is written by the victors until somebody comes along to make more discoveries and rewrite it. A prime example in our time is Aaron Burr, back in Revolutionary Times and into the early 1800’s. In his time, he was tarnished as traitor, and Hamilton as hero, especially after the duel. As the centuries have gone by, and more information comes to light, it looks more and more like Burr was original and committed and on the verge of crazy in the right way, while Hamilton was the control freak and the asshole. Actually, in my opinion, based on my research over the years, both men could be brilliant and both could be assholes at times. They were too complex and interesting to be just one thing – as all truly brilliant people are.

To get back to Riley: You’d want to be Riley. He might not have the background in history, but he knows how to find things out, and he’s got a great learning curve. He makes himself irreplaceable in the team, even though he doesn’t realize it. He’s just totally who he is, and totally up for doing whatever it takes to support those to whom he’s loyal, and in whom he believes. We’d all like to be that good a friend as well as have that good a friend.

You believe he doesn’t get the girl and he has trouble finding dates, because, in life, that kind of guy, smart, but with self-esteem issues, ALWAYS goes for the girl who’s going to treat him like crap. He’ll go for the pretty, shallow young thing with lots of money, or the ambitious, manipulative young thing who wants a lot of money and expects the guy to pay for everything. He’ll never fall for a woman of substance, because it would never occur to him. He’ll always be hurt and, eventually, alone because these twinkies keep using him and dumping him. And the women who used to regularly fall for HIM (because they recognized he’s smart, funny, and a good guy), but whom he always ignored because he’s off busy chasing the shallow things, eventually outgrow his kind of guy and fall for guys who appreciate them. That’s how it happens in life, anyway. In fiction, there’s always the possibility that Riley will actually gain enough self-respect to fall for a woman who’s smart and resourceful. And that gives the people who relate to the character hope, and the people who tend to fall for that kind of character hope. Riley’s all about hope. To me, he’s the lynchpin of the movies, which is why I got so frustrated in NT2. In other words, he’s interesting and important to me for what he represents in the mythology of the stories. If I was to compare him to a tarot card, he’d be The Fool in the Major Aracana – standing on the precipice, ready for his hero’s journey, with infinite possibilities in front of him. The Fool isn’t a weak or foolish character; he’s a symbol of hope and joy – despite his cynical and sometimes sarcastic repartee. Riley is the every day guy embarking on the wonderful journey. The original NT set that up for him, and then didn’t fulfill it in the second movie. Now, if there’s a good character arc in a next movie, I might accept this arc within context of a trilogy, but if they just keep making him a joke because twenty-three useless, talent-free middle executives thought it was funny . . .you’ve lost a viewer.

And I’m not even going to discuss the poor research done by the writers in the second film. In the first were delightful historical tidbits then blown into unique mythologies that served the vision for the movie. Even when it stretched credibility, there was enough cleverness involved that you forgave it. In the second, it was sloppy – whether on the writers’ parts, or because some stupid mid-level executive made “changes” and figured the audience was too stupid to notice. And it lost me.

And now, back to my life.

I actually had to turn down hockey tickets tonight between the Rangers and the Canadiens – that was hard. But I can’t rearrange my schedule to go, so I had to say no.

And I’m thrilled that the Patriots won last night! I’m not a football fan, but I do like the Pats, and I used to have family in Foxboro, so the tiny percentage of football loyalty I’ve got goes to them. I’m thrilled that they had a perfect regular season.

I had a FANTASTIC morning on Hex Breaker. I’m almost at the climactic scene and then we wrap it up. I’m exactly where I want to be. With any luck, I can finish it on retreat the next few days and then have nearly a week to polish it before I send it off. I love this piece.

And more adventures with these characters are swirling around in my head. And the ideas for two short stories that have nothing to do with anything else that I’m writing, but could be kind of fun.

I’m off to my friend’s place (to do more laundry) and then off to my retreat. If I don’t check in for a few days, I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year!

Devon

Hex Breaker – 19,975 words out of est. 25,000

PS Diane, thanks for the Writertopia info. It NEVER works for me — the bar will NOT appear in here, no matter how many times I follow the exact coding it says to put in. I have never, ever, ever been able to get Writertopia to work.

I need to create my own word bar. Because relying on these other people’s crap just doesn’t work.

Published in: on December 30, 2007 at 11:09 am  Comments (5)  

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

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%)

New look/url for Kemmyrk

Kemmyrk has a new look, a new URL, and information on working with The Celtic Oracle. Check it out here.

And, yes, it’s another of my photos in the header. I took it in Maine a few years ago.

Published in: on January 11, 2007 at 1:54 pm  Comments Off on New look/url for Kemmyrk  

January 9, 2007

Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Quick, short entry today because Blogger is about to go down for servicing, and I was up far too late last night trying to get the essay done.

Hop on over to Circadian Poems for “New Year” by Bliss Monaghan (which should have gone up yesterday) and a short essay, “How It Feels to Write a Poem” by Brenda Braene.

Hop on over to Kemmyrk for a short essay on Comparative/Competitive Spirituality.

Acupuncture was great yesterday, and I feel better, although I’m having trouble shaking this cold.

Worked on the essay until nearly midnight and got it out at ten minutes before twelve. Oh, well, technically it was still Monday, right?

Some nice work on Token and Affections this morning – I think I only have one more chapter to go.

Off to the theatre – I’m sure it’s a crazy day today – and then back to do some work on “Illuminated Nude.”

Devon

Token and Affections — 43,421 words out of est. 35,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

43 / 35
(122.9%)