Thursday, August 2, 2007

Thursday, August 2, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

That bridge collapse in Minneapolis is horrifying. My thoughts are with everyone there – and I hope all my readers from that area are safe. Pandora, Andrea – I’m trying to reach you. And I’m trying to reach my editors from that area.

My computer’s being crabby again. Sigh.

My article on the Empire State Games is here – along with my photographs. The top photo is of the archer in her 70s who won the Gold Medal in the Masters’ Division.

I hope you downloaded your free copy of Full Circle. And I’d love to know if you’d like to see more of my characters from “Pauvre Bob”. Should I write more stories about them?

Got out some more interview questions. Caught up on emails. Got out the FULL CIRCLE bulletin to MySpace. Worked on Devon’s Random Newsletter. If you haven’t signed up for it, you can do so here.

Worked on some article stuff. Checked the job boards; saw one thing for myself and a couple of things I sent off to friends.

I was in serious need of some retail therapy. Usually, unless it’s a bookstore, I don’t find shopping relaxing. If I go shopping, I have a purpose – it’s something for an event. I was in the mood for shoes, though, and I buzzed through some clothing stores while I was at it.

The fabrics, patterns, and cuts of most of it were awful. What is with this resurgence of polyester? And not even the modern blends, but the 70s faux disco kind? And that so-called “vintage” pattern? Looks like kitchen curtains from the 1970s, and they weren’t cute then! I shake my head – they paste beads and rhinestones onto things and call it “embellishment” when what it looks is cheap! There’s a way to do detailing and use trim, embroidery, even glittery stuff – but not when there are blobs of glue showing!

And these were at stores which consider themselves upscale.

I managed to buy one pair of shoes – peep toe, gray plaid ballet with slight wedge – very comfortable, cute, will go with pants, skirt, or dress. And I bought a blue and darker blue striped Henley shirt (love henleys), and a shirt for someone else.

But I can make better stuff . . .and I will.

Put together my sewing/studio bag because I have a chance to get some sewing done at a friend’s studio this week, and I want to grab it. There’s just no room to spread out here, but I can do so at my friend’s place, so that’s where I’ll head.

Worked on a new short story – it’ll be somewhere between 10-25 pages, interesting characters, as part of a bigger overall project. I struggled at the beginning; then I switched to first person, and it’s flowing. Amazing what a tweak will do.

Did a lot of planning on Tracking Medusa – tweaking the current outline, working on the outlines for the next two, seeing how that affects this book – although I’m completely committed to making all three stand-alones. Characters will grow through the three books, but they won’t have unfinished story arcs and can be read in any order. Mik, I’m warning you – the end of Book 2’s gonna break your heart.

My injured shoulder’s bothering me, so I had to be careful with the weight training, but I didn’t want to bag it completely. We’ll see how it feels today. It rotates forward in the socket and gets all out of whack. Hate it.

Good yoga session this morning, decent but not great session on Good Names. I need to push hard this morning so I can work in the studio this afternoon with a clear conscience.

Devon

Good Names — 52,382 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
52 / 100
(52.0%)

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

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
1 / 5
(20.0%)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Finishing the ESG article took forever yesterday, mostly because the ESG site was running so badly it was next to impossible to fact check. In all my years of dealing with media centers/pr divisions, this is the poorest excuse for one I’ve ever run into. I can see why there was so little coverage amongst the network news and major papers – the pr people simply were incapable of supplying necessary information, especially to journalists on tight deadlines, which means they shouldn’t have been in those positions in the first place.

Sent off the article, after five additional hours on it, with photos. Cut and polished, it’s still 3266 words. I’m ready to bang my head on the desk.

Mark your calendars!

I’m presenting my Dialogue Workshop at The Muse Online Writer’s Conference from October 8-14. Information here:

Information on my specific workshop, which runs all week longis here:

and my real-time on-line chat will be on Sunday, October 14 at 4 PM, EST. I hope you’ll be there!

This conference is free, so I hope you all sign up and experience it – there are some great presenters.

AND . . . I’ve joined the 21st century, and I put up a page on My Space:

While there will be links back and forth, I also want to put content on it now and again that’s unique to the page. If you’ve got a My Space page, please “friend” me – I’m going through in search of people with the same interests to build my network, and I plan to use it primarily as a promotional tool for my work.

So that’s what yesterday was about!

Good weight-training session last night, and good yoga session this morning.

Good Names was a bit of a slog this morning, but I got my 4 pages done. I’ve now hit the half way point in the word count. Fortunately, I’m a bit over half way in the story, which means the second draft – the expansion draft – won’t end up being so overly long I have to take a machete to it – just a carving knife. It’s plugging along.

I can’t believe I have to go to the theatre tonight – it almost feels foreign!

I realized I switched two articles and sent off the one I was supposed to do this week last week, and the one I should have sent last week, I’m working on now to send this week.

Oops.

And here I thought I was so organized.

More pitches out, more interview stuff done, it’s all good. Now, if some of that invoiced money would hurry up and arrive so that I can pay August’s bills, I’d feel a lot more secure!

Devon

Good Names – 50,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
50 / 100
(50.0%)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, rainy

Exhausted.

I got to the hockey game yesterday. Hudson Valley lost, 3-1, which was kind of heartbreaking, especially since they led in the 2nd.

Came home and meant to head up to lacrosse, but I was running a fever and felt queasy. I lay down for what should have been ten minutes and woke up a couple of hours later. I felt better – but I’d missed the lacrosse game.

Read the paper, worked on the general ESG article, and took it easy. Pitched for a couple more assignments. Basically, I was a waste of food most of the day.

Have to finish the article and get it out, send out two sets of interview questions, send out some more interview requests, and work on an article that might be due tomorrow – I can’t remember, and I have to find my contract. I thought one set was due at the end of August and one at the end of September, but it might have been July and August instead. And I need to work on the column.

Sigh.

I’d like to crawl back into bed. At least I didn’t have to get up at 5 AM this morning; that made a huge difference.

I hate the humidity. I’m tired of feeling damp and sticky all the time.

Good morning’s work on Good Names. Let’s hope it’s a positive portent for the rest of the day. And a solid yoga session – some of the poses with which I’ve had a hard time are getting easier.

Devon

Good Names — 49,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
49 / 100
(49.0%)
Published in: on July 30, 2007 at 7:22 am  Comments (6)  

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007
Full Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, rainy

Today is always a difficult calendar day, because on this day, in 1972, my father died. It doesn’t get easier.

Yesterday was great, but exhausting. The women’s ice hockey game between Hudson Valley and Adirondack was exciting (AD won 5-3). I left an interview request for the coaches and dashed up to Manhattanville to watch some of the Master’s Fencing. That was interesting – again, totally different vibe from the past two competitions. Talked the the sabre fencer – had him write out the link this time, so I’ve got it right. Talked to the chairperson and some of the refs.

I just really hate that the sport has been computerized.

The only snacks provided at these events are healthy ones, like granola bars, which just makes me want to head out to the McDonald’s drive-through (and I hardly ever eat fast food). So I found a vending machine and had M&M’s for lunch.

As I headed back to my car, I saw a statue through the trees. I tromped through the trees and down some overgrown stairs – avoiding the poison ivy (“leaves three, let it be”). There was a garden dedicated to the founders of Manhattanville College. Because it is associated with religion, there was a Christ-on-the Cross in the center – and someone had placed a photo of a golden retriever within the shrubbery – very poignant.

Got back to the car and tried to leave. However, the damn soccer parents had camp chairs set up on the only road in or out of where I was. It didn’t matter that there was at least an acre around the field in all directions, variegated heights, choice of shade or sun – these dipshits spread out on the blacktop. I honked, but they wouldn’t move. So I hit reverse, backed up a few yards, and began revving the engine. My fave security guy leaned in: “Hey, beautiful, what’s making you so unhappy?”

“They won’t move and in 20 seconds I’m driving through, scattering them like bowling pins.”

“Let me take care of it.”

He went up and talked to them. Several argued with him, but eventually they all moved, and he walked back, grinning from ear to ear.

“How’d you do it?” I asked.

“I told them I gave you permission to drive through, scattering them like bowling pins.”

Love that guy!

I called the “media center” to make sure the archery hadn’t been called due to weather. It hadn’t, so I headed up to Valhalla. No coked up truck drivers today, thank goodness.

It was past 90 degrees by the time I got there. I saw my “eldest archer” – the woman shooting in the 70+ (years) category. She did well. I also talked to a guy from upstate, who knows one of the girls on the Adirondack Women’s Hockey Team. He just got back from the Senior Olympics in Kentucky. Talked to the EMT guy – turns out he works on the farm for a horse owner I know, and we know many of the same people in Saratoga! The world in tiny!!!

Within a few minutes, though, I was itching to get my hands on a bow. Of course, I was about 14 the last time I shot – and that was a long time ago. And the bows are amazing now.

I found the fencers and the archers the friendliest (both competitors and spectators), with hockey close behind – but that could be because I’m a hockey person.

I have to say, though, that many of these parents need to shut the fuck up or be banned – coaching from the sides is ridiculous. There’s a reason most of them aren’t coaches – they can’t see the big picture. It’s one thing to shout encouragement, but when it gets into actual instructions from the side – no. The kid needs to listen to what’s happening on the field and to the coach, not to instructions from the side. Especially when it’s painfully obvious most of these morons have no clue what they’re talking about. They may be on the sidelines day after day, but that doesn’t mean they’ve learned much.

Headed back home after an hour to prep for an interview; got a message requesting rescheduling, which was a good thing, as I was feeling dizzy, and had to lie down for awhile due to heat exhaustion. I thought I’d been careful, but the M&M’s for lunch was probably not a wise choice.

I got the contact info I needed for one of the interviews for another publication, so I can get going on that one tomorrow.

Up again at 5 this morning – I have to be at the rink before 8.

Good yoga session, although my hamstrings are tight and I needed to hold the hip-opening poses longer because all that sitting on bleachers kinked me up.

Decent session on Good Names – would have liked to have longer at it, but hockey games wait for no one.

Devon

Good Names – 48,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
48 / 100
(48.0%)
Published in: on July 29, 2007 at 5:37 am  Comments (5)  

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

Yesterday was a frustrating day, to say the least, in the beginning.

Got to Manhattanville for the fencing just fine – in fact, the security detail offered me Manhattanville’s own press kit – which is better than the one put together for the ESG . Had the chance to watch some of the preliminary sabre rounds, which was great. I like sabre better than foil. Also, today’s group was the Open Division, rather than the Scholastic – totally different vibe. More laid back, focused, but not with the same kind of nervous energy the younger competitors had yesterday, and the nervous energy that was in the room was different. I talked to one of the coaches, who was pretty interesting. He thinks the computerization of the sport is an improvement because it makes scoring more accurate and cheating harder. Yeah, but when the cables have to be replaced three time in the first hour and competitors have to keep switching their weapons because the sensors aren’t working properly, there’s room for improvement. And the damn beeping of the machines makes me want to whack ‘em with a sledgehammer.

Then, the conversation took an odd turn. The coach asked me if I had a kid competing; I said no, I was media. So then he starts launching into stories about how the best place to pick up women is a Neil Diamond concert or a Tom Jones concert, and how he likes to go into bars and lie to women. Um, ewww. And that’s coming from a woman. First of all, what does that have to do with the sport? Secondly, why are you telling me this? Do you feel because I’m not a parent we’re now out of common ground for conversation? I was rather puzzled. And he’s a good coach and a dedicated referee . . so I’m not sure what that was all about. If it was meant to impress me . . .it didn’t. And if it was an attempt to make conversation . . .I’d rather discuss fencing.

I met the guy he’s coaching – who did well in the round I saw. He’s got a quiet, sure presence and a wonderful grace that I enjoyed watching. I also saw the fencer with whom I spoke yesterday – it was good to see him in his event. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him – he was focused, as he needed to be, and I don’t think he knew I attended.

Later, as I was leaving, one of the fencers who’d sat near us during the strange conversation with the coach came out after me and said, “We’re not all like that, you know.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I know. But thanks.”

And it was interesting to watch the dynamics, especially when one performed a lot of footwork while the other was more solidly placed. Sometimes you’d get someone who specialized in footwork paired against someone who did more arm work. Or you’d get two who’d dance back and forth for a few minutes, neither getting a touch – which is the most interesting to watch, I think.

I wanted to stay, but yesterday was the only day for rowing, so I shot out of there and headed for Glen Island, New Rochelle. Only, I never found it. No signs, the map was wrong – and God forbid the “media center” should give us directions to any of the venues.

So, when I saw an entrance ramp to the Hutch North, I took it and headed back home. At first, I considered returning to the fencing, but decided against it – it would be wandering in during the middle of rounds, and I felt that would be rude. It was too late to head up to Ossining to the sailing, and I missed the women’s hockey game I wanted to attend, because I lost so much time looking for the frigging rowing venue.

I could either froth at the mouth or be productive. I chose the latter. The easy choice, the one I’d usually choose, would be to drive the extra 40 minutes to the “media center” to pitch a fit, but why waste my time? It’s not like they’re going to improve in the next two days.

If they’re not going to have a point person at each venue, then they need a coordinator for each region, and they need a message center where we can contact athletes and coaches for interviews and follow-ups. Grabbing someone when they’re in mid-event is simply wrong – they need to focus on what they’re doing, and we need the tools to be able to do our jobs in and around the events – which is why you’re supposed to have someone coordinating the press.

As one of the female fencers said to me, when Channel 12 was wandering around, shoving cameras in people’s faces as they were trying to compete, “When the cameras come out, I go in the bathroom. I don’t want to be a celebrity; I just want to fence.”

I stopped at the store and grabbed a watermelon, which rumbled around in my trunk like a dead body, cut it up, had lunch, and worked on the article about The Last Drop Pub in Edinburgh that was on deadline. Most of the article was already done, but it needed another hundred or so words and a polish.

Headed up to Rye Country Day School and watched women’s lacrosse – scholastic division. Hudson Valley played Western (and beat them 9-5). It was some of the best and smoothest teamwork from both sides that I’ve seen in a long time. Even more exciting, there was someone there willing to give me INFORMATION so that I could actually do a lacrosse article. I was ready to dance her around the edges of the field, let me tell you. I’ve already shot off emails to the coaches asking for an interview. In addition to the general article on the Games, I want to do a spotlight on Women’s Ice Hockey and on Women’s Lacrosse, both of which don’t get enough coverage.

Came back home, peeled off the hot, sweaty clothes, showered, finished the article on the Last Drop, sent it off, pulled some material for more pitches. Had some dinner, then headed up to SUNY Purchase to watch diving – men’s and women’s scholastic. The dynamic was so interesting – the men had a wider range of personality types displayed, but, overall, less confidence. The women came across as really confident and focused. It was fascinating.

I don’t know how beat reporters do this stuff. It’s all I can do to get the notes written up each night in a vaguely coherent format so I can see what I still have to research.

If I ever cover a “Games” of any sort again – I’m going to stick to a single event.

I have tons of ideas for fiction, and I think some of them will actually congeal into a single piece. I’m playing with ideas.

Came home, exhausted. I should have worked on Tracking Medusa, but I was too darned tired.

Attempted the weights. Went to bed early.

At least this morning, I didn’t have to get up at 5 AM. My first event’s at 9:45.

I have to say, their little rulebook/code of conduct makes me glad I’m not a teen right now. I’d never come up with doing most of what’s “forbidden” – except the fact that they wrote it down and SAID it was forbidden, which would make me want to do it, because of my problems with authority. I’m starting to think I was the last generation that really got to be kids. (Now there’s an awkwardly written sentence). Too tired to fix it.

My downstairs neighbor was at it again, for a good two hours last night, blasting away. From about 1-3 in the morning. It has to stop.

In addition, it rained heavily, and I wondered if I needed to move the car. I didn’t, but I think I will today.

An hour an a half of yoga this morning, and a solid session on Good Names. Into the shower now, and then off to the rink.

Devon

Good Names — 47,882 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
47 / 100
(47.0%)
Published in: on July 28, 2007 at 7:38 am  Comments (5)  

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and hazy

Checklist for the bag carried to cover The Empire State Games:

Lipgloss
Notebook
Pen
Digital Camera w/extra batteries
Press pass
Venue list/directions/schedule
Sunscreen
Bottled water

Let’s face it, when it’s ninety plus degrees out there, anything more than tinted moisturizer and lipgloss is a waste.

And, yes, lipgloss as the first listed item is on purpose. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I can be totally naked, but if I’m wearing my lipstick, I feel dressed.

Got my media pass for the games. They don’t do any sort of parking pass and I refuse to pay for parking when I’m covering this stuff, so we’ll see what I can come up with. Thus far, I am so unimpressed with the media center it’s not even funny. I asked about setting up interviews – they don’t do that. I have to try to catch athletes during the events. Excuse me? First of all, why are you there if you’re not coordinating press? Second of all, many of these athletes are underage, and it’s completely inappropriate to have complete strangers walking up to them asking for interviews. They locked down the Kensico Dam in Valhalla yesterday evening because they’re afraid someone’s going to blow it up or contaminate the water supply, but they’re leaving their athletes unprotected. Anyone can SAY they’re press, and let’s face it, these media passes are not high tech. It’s one thing when you’re dealing with adults, who have some life experience – but these are teenagers.

Although some of the ones I’ve had contact with thus far are smarter than many of the adults surrounding the event.

Covering sports takes a whole different set of creative muscles than working on fiction, or even working on other types of articles. I’m having difficulty shifting focus.

Managed to get back in time for the America’s Cup Press Conference (which was late, by the way, which pissed me off because I nearly broke the land speed record for VWs to get back in time). Frankly, for me, I ended up with more questions at the end of it than at the beginning. I’ll be writing an article on it that will go up in probably 2-3 weeks, giving me a chance to do some more research and hopefully answer some questions, but I walked away from the live feed quite disturbed. Money and ego are the two biggest obstacles to a level playing field for the next Challenge – especially since those two things are being used to make sure the playing field is NOT level.

My belief is that if you have a good team and a good boat or design for a good-boat-to-be-built and you’re secure in your choices, you want to level the playing field as much as possible because it makes the victory all the more earned and sweeter. But, to my view, that’s not at all what’s happening here.

And I predict that, if it continues the way it’s going as of the press conference, the US won’t have a team in at all – either by force or choice, that’s still open for debate, but it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

We’ll see what the next two weeks bring to light in time for the article.

I’m sore from the walking and workouts on Tuesday, but hung tough and did the weight training. Yoga was great, but the weight training kicked my ass. In the right way, but boy, oh boy, am I sore this morning. Triceps, thighs, abs – but it’s all good. Glad to have a good yoga session this morning to pull it all out.

Also washed the rug and pitched for some more writing jobs. Higher-paying jobs this time around.

Had to get up at 5 AM this morning in order to get everything done I needed to do and now I’m on my way to Manhattanville College to cover Fencing. Then it’s off to Archery in Valhalla, and women’s ice hockey at Playland Ice Casino.

Tough slog on Good Names this morning, but it got done.

Devon

Good Names — 46,132 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
46 / 100
(46.0%)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Foggy and hot

These construction/asbestos guys are getting on my last nerve. We were not relocated for this process; that means they need to take into consideration that people live here, and behave accordingly. Of course, the way they argue down there, I don’t have to go down to inflict grievous bodily harm; they’ll do it to each other. I also don’t see any certification or permits for this work – why am I not surprised?

One of the things I hope is coming across as Tracking Medusa unfolds is Justin gaining self-esteem and how that’s changed the way he reacts in the various situations/dangers/crisises they keep finding themselves in. He’s used to being with women who treat him badly, and he’s come to think that’s what he deserves – that he’s not all that smart, that he’s not all the resourceful, that his decisions are likely to be incorrect. Gwen treats him as an equal – she’s aware that he’s emotionally immature for someone his age, and takes that into account for certain things. But, as far as their working partnership, she approaches it from the standpoint of “you’re smart, you’re resourceful, you’re a professional, what’s your take on this?” and he’s growing and changing for the better for it. Of course, at the end of the second book and into the third one, he’ll take it a bit too far, with consequences, but for now, it’s a real blossoming of his spirit. And, when she revealed more vulnerability in the scene at The World’s End than she had before, he was faced with a choice to behave like the emotionally immature person he was when he started – and like the people he was used to being around – or make the choice not to deliberately hurt her in a way that would make her behave the way he wanted her to. It was a spur-of-the-moment scene, not in the outline, but I think it shows a great deal about the growth of his character.

I’m starting to realize how much the time I spent interviewing some of the younger hockey players is influencing these characters – there’s a lot of several of them in Justin, even though the only Justin would know what to do with a hockey stick is carbon-test it for age.

Train in to the city was a nightmare. I decided to take a train two trains earlier than usual, so I’d get in early and be able to leave early for the party. Usually, I take the 10:26 and arrive at the theatre at 11:45. Yesterday, I tried for the 9:32 to get there by 10:30 – and I got there at 11:15. And the train had the heat on. Ridiculous.

Pushed through the call as fast as I could, hauled ass from 51st St. up to Alice’s Tea Cup on 73rd and Columbus. It was a great party, and my boss was happy, so that’s always nice. She’s a terrific person, and deserves to know how much she means to us all.

Walked all the way back to Grand Central (and realized I walked the equivalent of five miles today, not counting all the running up and down the stairs required in the work call – no wonder everything hurt) and caught the 5:30 train back out. It was semi-ventilated, so it wasn’t as uncomfortable as the ride in.

Came home, peeled down and stood under the shower until I started to feel human again.

Was a waste of food most of the evening – got some paperwork done, and percolated on the Gwen/Justin stuff some more, but didn’t actually write. However, I did start up the evening workouts again – three times a week core exercises, three times a week weight training. When I don’t do 8 shows/week, I need to work out more, and I noticed that I’m using my body incorrectly with the heavy costumes lately, because the core is weakening. Have to fix that. My strength and stamina have always been important – now that I’m no longer 20, I need to work harder to not only keep them, but improve them. Last night was the core work, and I was a puddle of jelly on the floor by the time I was done.

Up early this morning – I’ve extended my morning yoga sessions for the past month, and it’s helped a lot.

Instead of working on Good Names, I had an idea for a press release that’s given me trouble, so I worked on that. It’s in decent shape, and I ought to be able to get it out by the end of the week.

But I missed having the session on Good Names. Now that the first murder’s happened (a third of the way in), the pace is picking up, the interwoven character lines are making sense, and it’s more fun to write.

I have to dash off to pick up my press credentials for The Empire States Games and then try to make it back for a live stream from Europe regarding the next America’s Cup Challenge.

And then finish up some articles that need to go out this week – but because of the games the rest of the week, if I don’t get a solid start today, they’ll be late.

Got an email from a new editor with whom I’m working – looking forward to working with her.

My presence will probably be sporadic here over the next few days, as the focus of my life is the Empire States Games.

Have a good one!

Devon