Fri. March 21, 2014: Buckling Down

Friday, March 21, 2014
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I was absolutely exhausted yesterday. However, I pitched for some jobs, worked on the script, worked on contest entries, had an interview with a new client, and set up an interview for today with another potential new client. I circulated information to fill the two tech positions, and hope to fill them in the next week or so.

Today, I will work with students, work on the script for tonight’s rehearsal, probably pitch a few more jobs, do the client interview, and, hopefully, get some of my own writing done.

One of my most reliable clients is late paying the last invoice, and is ignoring my questions about it, which is a little disconcerting.

This next week will be difficult — I’m waiting to hear back on a potential gig that I really, really want, and I’ll be so disappointed if they go with someone else. But it will also be a busy week because the Grant Awardee Reception is next week, and I have to prep my actors for it.

Time to buckle down and get things done.

Visit Adventures in Vineland to read about the latest adventure here.

Devon

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Published in: on March 21, 2014 at 6:43 am  Comments (1)  
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Fri. March 14, 2014: Stress and Work

Friday, March 14, 2014
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Hop over to Adventures in Vineland to read about one of my favorite bottles of wine thus far.

Yesterday, it snowed far more than predicted. I was glad I could work from home.

One role is cast in the play; I’m waiting to hear back on another; and I’m setting auditions up for the third. We have to dive in to rehearsals next week.

Saturn is kicking my ass right now. I am listening, believe me!

Reworked the NMLC Media Kit yesterday and sent it off for the next round of feedback.

Finished another really good book for my editor. Will do the review today. Worked on contest entries. Worked with students (they frustrated the hell out of me yesterday, but we all have those days).

Started the next round of revisions on the play. Hope to have them finished by tonight.

Got a lovely note from a UK book packager who liked my proposal. He doesn’t need additional writers at the moment, but promised to keep me in the mix for future projects. It was a really lovely letter, with specific information that’s helpful to me on several levels, and we hope we’ll be able to meet at one of the upcoming conferences. These are the kinds of people with whom one hopes to do business. Plus, I really like what they do.

Tomorrow, I’m helping out with the Tomorrows Writers Today at the middle school, and, hopefully, finalizing casting, and getting a few other things out of the way.

Stressful stuff going on. But, somehow, I’ll get through it.

Onward.

Devon

Published in: on March 14, 2014 at 7:40 am  Comments (1)  
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Tues. March 11, 2014: La, La, La, Today’s My Birthday!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Today’s my birthday! Fuck Comcast, I’m gonna have fun!

Yesterday morning, I headed to the library. Of course, it was the day everyone needed to reach me and was getting back to me with information, etc. Which was great and very productive. I just had a limited time in which to get everything done.

A lot of it was for NMLC, and we managed to get it done, going back and forth quickly. The casting has begun for the play, the press releases are going out. I’m doing some more revisions, based on the scientific feedback Kathy gave me.

Worked with students. Worked on contest entries. I mean, I’m doing that every day — so many entrants, and I want to make sure each one gets a fair share of attention. It is painfully obvious who bothered to hire a professional editor, who went with cheap because it was cheap, and who couldn’t be bothered to work with an editor. Since part of the judging criteria has to do with grammar, punctuation, etc., that all feeds into the final score, and what makes it into the finalist category or not. As it should be.

Sent out the first script packets. Always scary. Have to finish revisions on several scripts in the next few weeks — while in rehearsal for the play. While working on BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and the Ferry Girl novel. Should be an interesting juggling act.

Home, took care of some stuff that was home-based. Waiting for a check that should have been here last week; very frustrating that it’s not. Shaking my head in disgust at the so-called “writer” who pursued me because he was so eager to work with me and impressed with my work, but disappeared the minute I gave him a quote for editing work. Typical. I don’t work for flattery. My work pays the bills.

On a further positive note, one of my plays is being taught at the local community college, and I will be a guest lecturer there at the end of April. I’m looking forward to it.

Read a book on wine as research for Adventures in Vineland that just made me roll my eyes. Every other paragraph was about the author’s ego. Every chapter had a photo focusing on the author, tilting her head at the camera (who told her to do that in EVERY SHOT?), with the emphasis on her rather than the wine. If I reviewed it for the blog, I’d be snarky, so I’ll just pass.

I have a lot I want to clear off my desk today, and then I want some playtime, too, because, hey, it’s my birthday and I’ve earned it!

Devon

Published in: on March 11, 2014 at 9:25 am  Comments (8)  
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Fri. March 7, 2014: Details About the Adventures in Boston

Friday, March 7, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Hop over to Adventures in Vineland to see what’s going on with the latest wine experiment.

Yesterday was exhausting, but really fun.

I didn’t sleep much, and woke up just before the alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning. Yoga, meditation, a little writing, breakfast, getting interview ready (I REALLY hate to be in full hair and make-up by 6 AM — it feels weird). Had to wear SHOES all day. I don’t wear shoes working at home; I’m barefoot until I leave the house, so wearing shoes always feels weird. Even though I have a lot of cute shoes.

Out the door by 6:15. Drove to Kingston train station. I had to buy a train ticket. MBTA had answered my email and told me I could buy it at a place called Coffee, T, and Thee. According to Google Maps, it was smack dab in the center of the road leading to the station. I figured it was a cart or something.

It wasn’t, of course. It’s a building at the end of the train platform. I bought my ticket, got change for the parking, and had to ask someone how to pay for parking. You learn the number for your space, and then you stick your $4 one-dollar bills in the slot for that space — looks like a set of metal mailboxes in an old apartment building. The guy at the coffee shop told me to make sure I folded the bills a certain way and put them in one at a time, or they wouldn’t fit. I started doing it, and the train came in. I couldn’t get the bills in and figured the train would leave without me and I’d have to wait a half hour in the cold for the next one.

The conductor said, “Don’t worry, take a breath, we’re not leavin’ without you!”

I took a breath, someone showed me how to use the can-opener-like device attached the the mailboxes with a cord to shove the money in, and I hopped on the train. All good.

What can I say? I’m used to the hateful Metro North New Haven line, where the train people will watch you run down the platform, then slam the door and pull out just as you reach it.

Thank you, kind people at the Kingston train station!

The train was awesome! The cars are old-style, like the ones we had in NY in the 60s and 70s, but very comfortable, double-decker cars, and the trains run efficiently. The conductors are really nice. The announcements are clear.

I find trains soothing. The ride in was great. It amazes me how it’s three times the distance I had to travel from my mom’s outside of NYC into NYC, but is the same price AND takes less time. That’s because Boston’s commuter rail is far more efficient than Metro North.

South Station is TEENY. Yet it’s more confusing than either Grand Central or Penn. I took out my Google map for the first interview. After about ten minutes of walking in the brutal cold, I was pretty sure the damn map was wrong (again) and I was mad. I went back to South Station to ask at the Information desk, and that was useless.

“That way” is not an answer. Especially not when “that way” encompasses three exits leading to different streets.

No kiosk or display with street maps or any relevant information. The one kiosk with tourist information had information on . . .wait for it . . .Vermont.

WTF??????

By sheer chance, I found the right street, and headed down to the first appointment. I was still an hour early. My appointment was pleased, since her day was packed, and it worked out well to see me early. We had a really nice chat and discussed a variety of possibilities. I filled out yards of paperwork, and then it was off to my next appointment.

Fortunately, the map was more correct for that one, although I later found out it took me the longest and most circuitous route possible.

I got to walk through Chinatown — small, but what a sigh of relief. I now know where to go when I need specific supplies that I can’t get on Cape. Wherever I’ve lived in the country, I’ve lived near a Chinatown until I moved to the Cape. I miss it.

Chinatown led to the start of Boylston Street, and my appointment was waaaaay down the street. Well, it wasn’t that far, just a couple of miles. If it hadn’t been so cold, it would have been a great walk, especially since it’s past the Boston Commons/Public Gardens. And next to Emerson College’s theatre is a cool little alley with an iron-front gate with the comedy/tragedy masks and interesting-looking bits inside.

I was far too early for my second appointment — but it was only a block from Copley Square, which meant the Boston Public Library. I went in and the lovely lady set up my Sandwich Library card so I can use it in the BPL System. I’m excited — I now have access to the BPL System, the Old Colony network, and the CLAMS network. Talk about feeling rich!

The circulating portion of the library was too noisy, so I went up to the older building, the one that’s very similar to NYPL on 42nd St./Fifth Avenue, and set up in one of the reading rooms to do some work (because yes, I always bring work with me). I had a solid hour to work in the library, which was delightful.

Headed back to my next appointment. There were a couple of things that set of warning bells at first, but the person with whom I had the appointment, and the department in which it was in were terrific. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

When the appointment was done, I headed back towards South Station, first on Boylston Street, but then, instead of the weird zigzag the Google map had me do getting there, I cut through the theatre district. First of all, it was my type of area — theatres, I felt right at home. Second, it was a faster and more efficient way to get to the station.

I hit South Station in time to catch the train I wanted. Stopped at The Well for a really good coffee and Rosie’s bakery for a nice cookie — I’d eaten breakfast at 5:30 and hadn’t had a chance to eat lunch. If the weather was more temperate, I would have packed a few other things in.

Rode the top level of the double decker back, which was fun. I was just as excited as the five year old riding with his Grandma.

Got back to Kingston, headed back over the bridge. Stopped at Market Basket to pick up a few things, and home. Pizza for dinner.

Now that the psychological barrier’s been broken to get into Boston, I’ll be able to get in and out more efficiently and more often. That’s where the money jobs and several other good opportunities are, and I need to be able to take advantage of them. The bus would pick me up/drop me off faster, but it’s both more expensive than the train AND there’s the chance I’d be stuck in traffic, which, on days where I have rehearsal, is not an option.

Went to bed really early last night. My legs hurt from walking on concrete all day – not used to it. But I liked walking around, and will like it even more when the weather is better.

Now, I have a lot to catch up on and prep for the weekend. Back to the page! Have a great weekend.

Devon

Fri. Feb. 28, 2014: Contest Judging and Mercury Direct

Friday, February 28, 2014
Dark Moon
Mercury Direct as of 9 AM EST (but can still wonk things until tomorrow)
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Decent work day yesterday. I’m very close on the play, which is a relief. I think I finally found the key to making it work.

Stop by Adventures in Vineland to see what I’ve been drinking, and what did and did not get done in February on the GDR site.

Ran some errands, dropped off books, picked up books, did some research, got some more work done on TRUE HOME and adapting the second episode of TALENT.

Wrote a kick-ass LOI that will go out with the script packets next week.

Did a bunch of pitches and LOIs; got some good responses immediately. Looking back at my pitch log, February’s responses were much higher than January’s, and the places to which I sent LOIs because I was interested had a much higher rate of positive response than any job postings. On the downside, as usual, there were still too many “writers” looking for “editors” who expect professional level work done for free. No. This is my business, not my hobby.

Happy that I have two more acceptances from my publisher; now that Mercury is going direct, I can actually sign the contracts.

Wrote, edited, polished, and submitted a review for a book I really enjoyed. My editor’s already shipped out my next batch.

Also, the books arrived via UPS for the first of the three contests I’m judging this spring. He had to use the dolly to get them to the house. One box was 50 lbs, the other 32 lbs. So exciting to open them!

The cover designs ALL look good this year. Really nice work.

Once the boxes were opened, I sorted the books into categories (I’m judging three categories for this contest). Then, I took the packing list to cross check what I’m supposed to have with what was actually in the box. Some of the missing ones are still to ship; some will be submitted electronically. I wrote up the list and sent it to Contest Central, to make sure our lists matched. Contest Central sent me the ebooks last night, and we matched lists again. The other books will be shipped shortly, and then we’ll finalize lists. The books are boxed in categories, with their judging sheets, ready to read.

I started in on the reading last night. Every time I pick up an entrant’s book, I want to fall in love with it. It doesn’t always happen, but I always start filled with optimism. I WANT these writers to succeed.

As I finish each book, I put it in one of three piles for its category: The Yes Pile, The No Pile, The Maybe Pile. If it’s submitted electronically, I put my notes for that book in the particular pile, so it gets the same amount of attention as the print books. Once I’ve completed the category, I go through each pile again, re-reading the notes, seeing how I still feel about each book, now that I’ve read everything in that category. As I read them, each book must stand or fall on its own. Once they’ve all been read, I have to weigh them against each other. Sometimes it means re-reading sections. Then, I go through The Maybe Pile yet again, making a final decision as to whether a book in it goes into Yes or No. The Maybe Pile is now empty.

Then, I go through The Yes Pile as many times as I need to, deciding which I think is the strongest book in the category, and which I feel are the four runners-up. That’s the list I submit.

I do this for each category. The writers poured their hearts and souls into their books, and I want every book to have a fair shot.

Busy weekend, lots of writing to get done, so I better get moving. We are going to be slammed with another major storm Sunday/Monday. Enough already!

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on February 28, 2014 at 9:25 am  Comments Off on Fri. Feb. 28, 2014: Contest Judging and Mercury Direct  
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Fri. Feb. 21, 2014: Trying to Stay Steady

Friday, February 21, 2014
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Ran some errands in the morning, got back before snow. Pitched for some jobs — there are two that I really want. I can only accept one of them, so we’ll see which one comes through. Whichever one comes through will be the “right” one.

Was unhappy with my writing.

Finished a book for review; wrote and polished the review. Sent it off this morning, along with the invoice.

I have a post up on Adventures in Vineland, if you’re interested.

Worked with students, and have to adjust some upcoming exercises.

Need to dig down into some writing today, and write, flat out, all weekend.

That’s pretty much it. We keep getting hit with storm after storm after storm, as everyone is, and trying to make the best of it.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on February 21, 2014 at 8:56 am  Comments (2)  
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Thurs. Feb. 20, 2014: Striving for Craft

Thursday, February 20, 2014
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and milder

Got some errands done in the morning yesterday, and also got the garbage to the dump — nice, clean bins now!

Came back and found out I landed a gig for mid-April to mid-May that I really wanted. So I have two upcoming gigs that I wanted and liked, and I’m looking forward to both.

Wrote a couple of articles for the wine blog. One is already up, and the other goes live on Friday. I’m going to finish up a few more and schedule them to post, so that I’m ahead of the game.

I’ve got a piece up, in my Annabel Aidan persona, over on Writers Vineyard, about “Inner Listening.”

Did some research for a couple of other things. Wasn’t happy with any of the fiction I wrote. Made some notes on characters that started yapping, trying to get them to be quiet.

Read some chapters of a friend’s WIP, which are very good. I had some suggestions, but I’m excited about this book.

I don’t understand it when someone (especially someone who claims to be a writer) says reading a good book is “depressing.” I find reading a good book thrilling. Why would I be depressed because a colleague does something brilliantly? It’s exciting and inspiring. It makes me want to hone my craft and let my imagination soar. I don’t want to write “like” anyone else. I want to write like me. But good writing always inspire me to set the bar higher for myself.

There’s no such thing as too many good writers. Human beings have an insatiable need for stories. What we, as writers, need to do, is keep working to be better with each piece, on both art and craft levels.

Back to the page for me. Lots to take care of today.

Devon

Published in: on February 20, 2014 at 8:34 am  Comments (1)  
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Fri. Feb. 7, 2014: The Project Juggle Dance (the 2200th Post)

Friday, February 7, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Do I get a prize for posting 2200 times? 😉

Thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading! I do this to have a conversation with you, and you inspire me.

I’ll have a post up, at some point today, on Adventures in Vineland, talking about an Argentinean Malbec I like.

Wrote nine pages on the untitled novella yesterday, which I suspect is turning into a novel. Pitched some jobs, worked with students, worked on the play, did some research.

Baked cupcakes for the helpful neighbors — lemon ones and spice ones. Frosted and delivered them.

Finished Stephen Dobyns’s novel THE BURN PALACE. Very unique and well-done. I love the different chances he’s taken over the years.

Feeling very tired and run down, but have to get it together and get a lot of work done today, and finish the draft of the play this weekend. It’s taking longer than I wanted, but it’s not sparkling the way I need it to.

Worked on some notes for a couple of other projects. May have to do a few pages.

Spun some ideas for the BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, rewriting the outline to make it make more sense. Pulled some of the research material to re-read over the next few weeks, as I get back into writing the book.

I don’t like that Olympic Events start before the Opening Ceremonies. If events start on Thursday, have the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday. If you need more time and want the Friday night TV audience, then tack more days onto the back. This “slipping a few things in” before the games officially starts feels wrong, on so many levels. I feel it’s disrespectful to both the athletes and the audience.

Watching and taking a lot of notes during the games, both for ongoing commentary and as research for some upcoming projects.

I prefer the Winter Games to the Summer Games, mostly because I prefer winter sports and winter, in general (although I’m kind of over winter this year). Everyone fusses about figure skating, but I like ice hockey, ski jumps, snowboarding, speed skating, etc. I love how the sport of snowboarding is growing and changing, and how the participants are coming up with new tricks and new challenges.

Back to the page — lots to do, and not much time. I have a meeting tonight. Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on February 7, 2014 at 9:15 am  Comments Off on Fri. Feb. 7, 2014: The Project Juggle Dance (the 2200th Post)  
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Tues. Feb. 4, 2014: Crusty Snow and School Work

Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

We had snow most of yesterday, the wet, icky kind. It didn’t stop until after dark, which means I got to shovel wet, crusty snow this morning. And that Toro Power Shovel? Piece of crap. I thought Toro products were good and reliable, but both the design on this and its unreliability make it a huge disappointment. Save your money and and buy a product that actually WORKS.

If you haven’t dropped a comment on my blogging article, please do so. I’d love to be asked back for a regular gig.

Finished up a book proposal yesterday, printed it out, and realized that there were font and formatting problems, so I had to go back, fix it, and reprint. It looked good on screen, but I hadn’t checked the details, and it wasn’t right, so . . .had to make it right. That will go into the mail today, when I get to the post office. I fell in love with the book all over again, working on the proposal.

Polished the sci-fi/horror/western novella and submitted it to Amber Quill, who let me know, a few hours later, that they accepted it! That was quick! We’re going to find a new title — which makes perfect sense — but they definitely want it. Nice, quick sale! Now, I need to polish another novella for them and get back to BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

Did some work on the new play, but it still isn’t where I want it.

Made a quick library run to return some books and get out some novels for the snowstorm. Reading Jake Arnott’s THE HOUSE OF RUMOUR, whose chapters are structured on the Major Arcana of the tarot.

Trying to catch up on computational neuroscience work, but it’s giving me a headache (no pun intended). Catching up on Astrobiology — fascinating class, out of University of Edinburgh, and did the peer evaluations on the Environmental Law papers.

Did some thinking on an untitled novella (which seems to be expanding into a novel) and on the Sparkle and Tarnish project. Caught up on some correspondence.

I need to get a lot of writing done and work with students. I’ve got a new student, a guy whose college papers I proofread, who’s hired me to give him some grammar lessons along the way. So that’s all good.

Got paid for my last two articles on the random-date-paying market — earlier than I expected, which is nice.

I’ve got some wine research to do for Adventures in Vineland, and some other research on a couple of articles I’m interesting in pitching to markets that are a bit of a stretch for me.

I was invited to participate in an eco-festival this spring out in Provincetown. I’d wanted to do it last year, but didn’t find out about it until too late. This year, unfortunately, it conflict with the dates for the new play. Oh, well. It’ll happen when it’s time, I guess.

Back to the page, and to the school work.

Devon

Published in: on February 4, 2014 at 9:22 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 4, 2014: Crusty Snow and School Work  
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Mon. Feb. 3, 2014: Snowing and Starting

Monday, February 3, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Snowy and cold

I’ve got an article up on how to get out of a blogging rut over on Learn To Blog. Stop by, drop a comment, maybe they’ll ask me back!

Busy weekend. Flat out on Friday, along with celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Felt great to get into the Year of the Horse.

Saturday was all about Imbolc, cooking, and launching two new blogs. I cooked for twelve hours, and you can see the details in my new blog on cooking, Comfort and Contradiction: Food as Muse. I also have an introductory post over on Adventures in Vineland.

Recently, I re-read Beverly Nichols’s book, MERRY HALL, a “creative nonfiction” — or maybe it’s fiction based in some fact — about buying his home and starting to revive the garden right after WWII. This weekend, I read the other two books in the trilogy, LAUGHTER ON THE STAIRS and SUNLIGHT ON THE LAWN. While there’s a funny, rather arch Noel Coward-esque tone to the books, he’s downright mean sometimes, and very condescending towards women, which I didn’t like. There’s some wonderful garden and house information, and he writes warmly and well about cats, but I finished the trilogy with mixed feelings.

Did some work on the play, but, for the most part, other than the new blogs, I gave myself a break from writing. I need to dig back in today, revising the novella and finishing a book proposal I want to send out tomorrow.

I will miss the year-long student who finished her work on the 31st. She was outstanding, and I’m looking forward to cheering her on during a long and productive writing career. I’ve still got my terrific editing intensive students, but this year, I really need — and want — to cut back on teaching. My focus needs to be elsewhere for the coming months, and I have to be very careful where I spread that energy when it comes to teaching.

Caught up on my Environmental Law and Policy class, wrote and submitted my paper. Still have two other classes to catch up on and then get going on this week’s assignments. I LOVE the law class — really terrific.

Got an interesting bite from a gig I’d pitched, not thinking in a million years they’d be interested — but they are. It’s the other side of the table from where I usually sit on this issue, so it would be an interesting challenge.

It’s snowing, and I have books due that can’t be renewed anymore, so, as soon as the library opens, I will pop down and take care of it, then stop by the post office to get a few things out.

And then, it’s all about digging in for the new week.

Devon