Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ice-encrusted light fixture by the front door

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Stayed in all day yesterday, except for the few times I went out to brush the snow that fell from the roof right onto the front step (would be good to have a little awning over the door, but that’s not my call). Wrote, read, enjoyed the season.

I’m thoroughly enjoying Alan Bennett’s UNTOLD STORIES. I’m a big fan of his writing anyway, and this book of diaries and essays is fascinating.

Designed, wrote, and delivered the thank you notes to the neighbors for helping me out by digging me out.

Had to redesign the party invite, because the template didn’t work with the notecards I have, but managed to do it. I had to wrestle the printer, though. I love Canon printers, and want to stay with them, but the MX860 is a piece of crap, especially the bottom tray, which is plastic painted to look like metal, and messes up special papers. I’d use the top tray exclusively for special papers, but you can’t always convince the printer to pull from it. I’ve complained to Canon about this model ever since I bought it, and get no solutions. I want my old multi-pass to get fixed and use that again, because it was a warhorse and a workhorse, and maybe just keep this for photo work, but I don’t know if I can still get the ink. I’ve got a stockpile, but still . . .

Anyway, the invitations are very pretty and will go out today.

Didn’t get much writing done, unfortunately.

Tried to light a fire in the fireplace for Yule. The smoke’s going up the chimney, so the flue’s properly open, but it’s also going in the house. Not badly enough to set off the smoke alarms, thank goodness, but enough to notice. I’m not sure if it’s my fire-building skills (probably) or what — the owner said the chimney was cleaned and inspected right before we rented. Costume Imp will have to figure it out when he gets here.

Speaking of Costume Imp, we are finalizing the plans for his week up here, and he’s already packed. We are very much alike in those types of aspects!

I looked at snowblowers online. I may get a small, electric one — yes, I know if the power goes out I’m back to using the shovel. But I need one that fits in the car and that I feel comfortable handling, and a lot of the bigger ones (besides being out of my price range) don’t seem comfortable for me to handle. I’ll have to play with a few today in the store and see what happens.

I also have to stop by my insurance agent’s to drop off the Allstate policy so she can do the official State of MA paperwork telling them to shove it, we’re covered with a better agency. I love that the state has official paperwork for that!

I contacted the Senators and my new Representative to introduce myself and voice a few opinions. Because how can they represent me if they don’t know where I stand on issues? I can’t expect them to be psychic. Anyway, within 24 hours, I heard back from everyone’s offices, very nice, offering to meet and talk to me about anything that’s on my mind, and giving actual responses to the content of my messages, so it wasn’t just robo-response. I was particularly blunt with Senator Brown’s office, saying I expected him to actually listen to his constituency, not goose-step the Republican Party line. He’s stepped out of the box a few times now to vote for things with which I agree, so it gives me some cautious optimism. I’m an independent — I’m an example of the type of voter both parties need to listen to, or they won’t keep their jobs.

MA will lose one congressperson in 2010, and NY two. I hope it’s none of mine! I was counted in NY, because that’s where I lived in April. And now I’m here, where they’re saying population has dropped (which, on levels outside of Federal funding, is just fine with me).

ALICE was rebroadcast last night, and I watched the last two hours. I enjoy that production so much, especially Andrew Lee Potts and Caterina Scorsone. Lots of really good work there. Makes me miss my actors (but not enough to go back).

The Hounds of the Baskervilles woke me up early this morning, baying at who-knows-what. Probably the moon. The full moon was gorgeous over the yard. There are also all kinds of tracks in the yard, including a set that come right up to the windows, skirt the house, and go to the back deck, but not on it. I’m not well versed enough in tracks to know what it is. It might be Imp Dog, it might be a small coyote, it might be a fisher. And there was something in the yard with hooves rather than paws, but I don’t know what. I haven’t seen any deer in the area since I arrived — they mostly stay on conservation land. Maybe a reindeer took a break on a training run! 😉

So, today is about writing, errands, and maybe getting some more unpacking done. We’re supposed to get more snow tonight, and they’re wavering as to whether the weekend’s big storm hits on Saturday or Sunday, so I don’t know if we’ll risk going to Maine. We might be better off tucked in here at home.

Back to the page. I want to play with a few ideas.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Iris likes to be under the blankets

Monday, December 14, 2009
Waning Moon
Cloudy and mild

I have a post up at Sole Struck Fashions (up yesterday, actually), about quick gift ideas.

My eye hurt like crazy yesterday, but it seems better today. I just kept using drops, and chamomile tea bags on it. The vision’s no worse than usual — it’s just the movement that hurts.

They know me at Michael’s, because I’ve been in there every day for the past week! Sigh! Of course they didn’t have the garland I wanted, but they did have one left of a really lovely one — green with silver and blue accents — it works perfecatly over the ktichen, and I have my cat ornaments hanging from it — it’s the “cat garland”. It took two hours to do the other garland — I realized, once I was done, that I should probably do all the fastening BEFORE I put it up, instead of standing on a chair! What I usually do is fasten the blank garland and then decide where I want to place the elements I add.

Anyway, they both look really good. The coffee table’s done with the centerpiece and a slew of nutcrackers, another surface has most of my Santas (although there are Santas and angels and elves and snowmen peering at one from every shelf and surface in the house — it’s sort of like being back in Prague, with all the statues on the buildings staring down at you). The faux mantel is done. The tree is 2/3 done — I have one more box of ornaments to hang. The ribbons are up around the doorways — I put red ribbons on either side of the doorways, with pine cones or ornaments at the top, and that’s where I hang the cards. I have some ornaments that need to go to Ornament Hospital, which I will set up probably tomorrow. The Advent Table’s not yet finished (and there’s only one more Advent left!), and the kitchen table (the only table where we can eat) isn’t done, because I still need it for baking and Ornament Hospital. It’s the only working surface other than the living room floor that I have.

The little live tree looks cute — I have most of the Solstice ornaments on it, and it will be the centerpiece for the Solstice Ceremony next Monday. I’ve been trying to name the tree something meaningful and the tree keeps going, “Uh, no, that’s not my name”, but I don’t yet know what the name IS yet.

All six hours of TIN MAN ran, followed by all four hours of ALICE yesterday. I watched favorite bits of both in between the decorating (I never just have the TV on as background — it drives me nuts. I’d stop and watch and bit, then go back to decorating, then go back and watch a bit, and so on). SyFy’s going to have to cut some serious residual checks for yesterday! 😉

I’ve been having really odd, busy dreams the past week. Last night’s may turn out into the good foundation for a story. Here’s hoping.

The weather was dreadful yesterday. Although we didn’t get snow, the temperature fluctuated enough so there were patches of ice with rain on top of them. And lots of fog. I had to pick up my mom at night (she can’t drive at night anymore). With all the accidents on the highways (there was a 50-car pileup in CT), I took backroads. Very little traffic, and easier to see.

I’ve got butter softening in the kitchen. I’m back into baking mode today. I need to frost the cookies that need it and take inventory, and bake some more. I can’t store the cookie platters once they’re made — I have to prepare them, load them, and deliver them in one fell swoop — so I’ve got to make sure I have enough of everything. I may test some new recipes on family for the New Year.

I also have to sit down with the recipes, copy them out and put them in the protective sleeves, and make notes on what did and didn’t work, so I have a jump on future years.

I retrieved my coats from the cleaners. They look fabulous. I just have to put new buttons on them, and I’m all set.

Good writing session this morning, thank goodness, and now it’s off to baking. I’ll do another push on the cards tonight, once the baking is sorted.


Published in: on December 14, 2009 at 8:46 am  Comments (8)  
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Elsa is in the doghouse, metaphorically speaking

Thursday, December 10
Waning Moon
Uranus Direct (oh, so many dates were given for this one)
Sunny and COLD!

I never got around to posting yesterday, but you had the Tuesday update, so I didn’t feel too guilty.

I’m really tired of feeling nauseous all the time. Wish the stomach bug would clear up. I still have an appetite — it’s just the consequences kind of suck. I’m a little better today, and hope that means I’m on the road to feeling like myself again.

Got the assignment for Confidential Job #1 finished and out the door. Phew! Now, I have to drive to the public library in Greenwich today so I can invoice them, since they only take invoices over IE, and I can’t run IE on this machine without major re-arranging. So I send the invoice from the library computer, which runs IE. Yippy Skippy.

Got quite a bit of writing done, although it always feels like it isn’t enough. I let the pressure build on the Apocalypse story so it would flow well this morning. There’s more of a fractured fairy tale feel to it than anything else. I suppose one could argue that the Apocalypse isn’t funny, but one has to find humor in tragedy, and sometimes, you get the point across better. That’s what I hope to pull off, anyway.

I got an idea for a thoroughbred-oriented tale for another anthology percolating, too. I was going to pass on that deadline (again, the end of the month), but this morning, the idea started going, so . . .if I can clear the Apocalypse tale off the desk by next week, I’ll go for it.

Did a lot of work on the outline I mentioned the other day. However, I don’t know how I want it to end. I may have to write my way into it in order to find out.

Had a good writing session this morning.

To answer some of the comments on the Tuesday update, no, telling the characters to shut up doesn’t work. But at least I feel like I’m being active, rather than just letting them muck around inside my head too much. I’m trying to prioritize projects for 2010,while still leaving room for the unexpected — the unexpected opportunities, for me, tend to be the ones that pay off both in financial and creative terms, so I don’t want to lock myself in to too much.

Sent out nearly two dozen pitches/queries for the plays whose rights are now coming available. They don’t do any good just sitting in the drawer — they need to get out in the world and earn their keep.

Perhaps I’ve simply gotten addicted to royalties! 😉

Longing for the days when there were so many magazines publishing fiction one could make a living at it,

Read some of the reviews for ALICE. I’m surprised that a lot of the reviewers think TIN MAN was better; I think ALICE was. It was tighter, more focused, and the chemistry between Scorsone and Potts worked really well, in my opinion. In particular, Potts is completely present and committed in every moment of every shot he’s in, whether the focus is on him or not, and that brings out more from those around him. You can tell he was trained in the theatre, and it serves him well.

Well, that’s what reviews are, aren’t they? Opinions. I’ve certainly read some reviews on my work and wondered what they hell they watched/read, because it had nothing to do with what I believe I wrote!

On the agenda for today: writing, baking, a few errands, working to get the decorations up. I feel a little better, but sill not great.

Annoyed at FedEx — they delivered a package, but not only did they contact a neighbor instead of me, they left the cardboard package out in the pouring rain. I am NOT amused, and I have let them know my lack of amusement.

Very tired. Was woken up by a disturbance at 3:30 this morning, and, after that, the cats didn’t let me go back to sleep. Ah, to live in a place where the doors actually close, and the little darlings can be locked out! All the doors in the apartment have so many coats of paint on them that only the front door actually shuts. In general, the cats were difficult anyway — running around squeaking all day, Elsa got out and had to be chased down the stairs before she could get out of the building (she was so proud of her adventure; she boasted to the others for the rest of the day); they were all rummaging all the time. It was like having a trio of two year olds in the full throes of “The Terrible Twos.”

Speaking of which, as I wrote the above, Elsa jumped on a table (where she shouldn’t) and knocked over a candleholder, breaking off the head of the figure and smashing the glass insert. That cat is in the doghouse today!

I cleaned it all up, I’m posting this, and then it’s back to the page. I put the figure’s head back on and fixed another ceramic piece Elsa knocked over and injured a few days ago. Sigh.


PS. I heard a shriek from the kitchen. Iris investigated the repaired ceramic figures. She’d someone managed to knock the head off one figure again, and it was stuck to her tail with the wet glue. I had to chase her through the apartment to get it off before the glue dried and repair the figure again and well, you can imagine . . .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Violet in Charge

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

First, the good stuff: I’ve got an interview with Christi Barth about her new release, CAROLINA HEAT, up on A Biblio Paradise. Congrats on your release, Christi! She was kind enough to host me on my blog tour for DIXIE DUST RUMORS (as Jenny Storm), so I’m returning the hosting.

Now, to the other stuff:

So around noon yesterday, I got hit with a stomach bug. I’ll spare you the details, but just say that it wasn’t fun and I was not a pretty girl yesterday, by any stretch of the imagination. I suspect it’s a continuation of whatever ailed me starting on Saturday.

I have an awful meeting this morning, with a state agency that fucked up (pardon my language), but is trying to penalize ME for THEIR screw up. I tried to reschedule so I wouldn’t go in there sick — both for myself and to protect the people I’m dealing with there — no dice. So if I wind up getting sick into a garbage can and they all come down with it, too, it’s on them.

Yesterday was all about putting together documentation — which I’ve submitted a dozen times over the past few months and has been ignored. This is IT — they want copies, they can make them from my master file. I am NOT wasting any more time, energy, ink and paper making copies for them.

Some ideas are spinning around, and I’m jotting down notes, and I had a great, great, GREAT writing session this morning –which, of course, must be truncated for this effing meeting. It’s one of the several tales set against the backdrop of theatrical/film production (hey, write what you know and what you’re passionate about, right?). These backstage sagas are fun to do, and I’ll have a whole set of them by the time I’m done, and I guess they should all go under the same name, probably the name under which ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT will publish.

I’m also coming along nicely on the stories on deadline. I just need more hours in the day, but don’t we all?

I was too sick to go to storage or get the apartment sorted or the decorations up yesterday. Hopefully, I can do some of that today after the meeting, provided the meeting doesn’t leave me ready to perform hara-kiri on the office floor.

Most of my emphasis today and tomorrow needs to be on finishing up the material for Confidential Job #1. It’s really great, I’m enjoying it, but it’s time consuming.

And I still feel awful, so today will be slog.

Watched the conclusion of ALICE last night and liked it a lot. Four hours was just right — it kept the pace going, and you didn’t want to leave the characters. But six hours, the way TIN MAN ran, would have been too long, as it was with TIN MAN. The two leads were just cast really, really well — Catriona Scorsone and Andrew-Lee Potts were great together. I’d seen Potts’s work in the episode or two of PRIMEAVAL I came across on a site job once (costume designers like to put him in hats, because he carries them off well) and liked it; it was nice to see him play a character very different. I love to see actors play a wide range of characters.

Better pull myself together for this dreadful meeting, and then get back to work — mostly to the page, I hope, and I’ll feel better on every level once the reason for the meeting is resolved.

I’ve also got a couple of new plays battering around inside my skull. They’ve got to wait to come out until I get the short stories on deadline done and the Christmas cards out, but they’ve taken up quite a clatter in there.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I have some catching up to do with you, don’t I? The decorating is getting started, but there’s still more apartment sorting to be done before I can really commit to it. But at least the front door’s done. Ran around to places like Michael’s and the garden center on Saturday, and spent the rest of the day sorting out the apartment. I have a couple of carloads of stuff stacked in the hallway to go to storage — and then I’ll bring in the rest of the decorations.

Yesterday, I was too damn tired to do any work on the apartment. “St. Nicholas” made a delightful visit and filled the shoes with candy and cute things. So that was fun. I went out early to get the newspaper, but most of the day was spent resting up, working on Confidential Job #1 (which is due on Wednesday), and writing. I had some really good writing days Saturday, yesterday, and today.

In late afternoon, my friend picked me up and we drove to Long Island to see my play. It went pretty well. For the most part, I was pleased with it. No matter how far removed a story or characters is from my actual life and experience, I always feel slightly naked when I see my work performed, even when it’s done well. Par for the course. I’ve learned to deal and smile through it and be gracious. And, of course, I sit there mentally cutting material, because once you put in an actor, a three-dimensional human being, you can cut out unnecessary words. And, since I’m not a part of the rehearsal process with this company (their contract is very specific about that), I don’t get to cut in the rehearsal room. This cast hadn’t had the series of crises that befell the last production, so the energy was much more upbeat, and there was much less tension. It showed in the performance. You could tell that the cast really enjoyed working on the piece, which is always a relief to the playwright — because, after all, if you hate the piece, don’t do it. No performance job is worth that. There are some timing issues, especially with entrances and exits leaving holes big enough to drive through convoys of trucks, and one actor went up on his lines and had trouble digging himself out of it, but that happens. It wouldn’t even be worth mentioning, except that he tried to say later that it was “intentional” — which is, of course, a slap in the face to a playwright who didn’t write those lines. Plus, I’ve spent my entire life in the theatre, a lot of it on Broadway, with the best of the best — I know when an actor deliberately adds his own material, and I know when an actor goes up on his lines and is trying to find his way back. There was one script change they hadn’t cleared with me which I wouldn’t have agreed to, and I will discuss that with the producer. One actor was particularly weak, in my opinion. The role was written so the guy is gregarious, happy-go-lucky, charming and a little snarky, but then falls head over heels in love, and, while he doesn’t reform, he softens a bit. Unfortunately, he was played at a single, frantic, one- note screech with no shading. I have no way of knowing if that was the actor’s choice or the director’s, since I wasn’t in rehearsal. I’d like to give the actor the benefit of the doubt. However, the woman playing the villain was perfect. She got every nuance, every subtext, all of it. I was delighted with her work. She actually had to improv at one point to fix something that went wrong (the joy of live theatre) and her improv was fantastic, just spot on. She had the training and the in-depth knowledge of the character to pull it off. One of the actresses in my last play done by this company was in this show, too, and she was very good. In fact, she played SIX roles in my last play, so it must have been a relief to only have a single role here! We pretended not to recognize each other until the end (the cast isn’t told when I’m coming, but since they interact with the audience, she spotted me) — it was pretty funny. She gets a lot of the timing down well.

In both of my shows for this company, the strongest actors in each piece have told me that they find my dialogue easy to memorize because it flows so well and has such rhythm. That’s my goal — to have the words flow naturally from both character and story –which is why when the less experienced/ less trained actors think they can “improve” the piece with their ad libs, it falls flat, doesn’t get a laugh, and all the air goes out. The rhythm is disrupted, and the piece goes off the rails a bit. If I was an inexperienced playwright without a world-produced pedigree, I’d have no right to say any of this, but I have the credentials and the experience so to do.

It’s always interesting to see how someone else interprets one’s script, especially when one is not included in the rehearsal process, and I’ve learned to pick my battles. There’s plenty I’m willing to let go (more than many playwrights, actually); there are some things I am not.

The producer and I discussed the next three plays I’m writing for the company, and we discussed the play that’s going to open in April, so that’s all sorted.

When I got home, I saw the first part of the ALICE mini-series on Sci-Fi (I will NOT use their silly new logo). I thought the piece was quite clever, although it looks like they used some of the same locations they used in TIN MAN. And some of the other shows on the channel. However, I think both Caterina Scorsone and Andrew Lee Potts are excellent. I wonder if they cut some of the early Hatter scenes or just didn’t develop the tea shop much due to time constraints. Anyway, I enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing the conclusion tonight.

Good morning’s writing session. I have some paperwork to gather for a meeting tomorrow, and then it’s back to Confidential Job #1, and trying to get the apartment organized so I can put up the decorations.


Published in: on December 7, 2009 at 9:05 am  Comments (7)  
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