Tues. July 25, 2017: Working In Multiple Directions

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Drizzily and cool

First and foremost, happy release day to Alyssa Maxwell for her newest book, MURDER AT CHATEAU SUR MER. I love this series, and that particular house is my favorite of the Newport mansions.

Sorry to post so late. I got a late start and have been running behind ever since. Today is proof that if I don’t get up around 5:30 or 6 AM and get to it, I lose the most creative part of my day and I’m disoriented.

Yesterday, I managed to get a play out to an interested producer. There are quite a few of us in contention — it’s a big deal. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, and the play stood up to re-reading better than I remembered it, so off it went.

Another producer was interested in the work I’ve done for 365 Women; unfortunately, she’s looking for non-naturalistic work, and all the plays I’ve done for them are naturalistic, inspired by real historical figures and events. I was recommended to her on the strength of the writing, which is always good; but my structure isn’t what she’s looking for, unfortunately. Still, if I ever decide to write something non-naturalistic, I know where to pitch it first!

Did one editing pass on the short story written yesterday morning; now I have to let it sit for a bit before doing another round. One can’t edit well right after finishing a piece; there needs to be time, so one can go back with fresh eyes, and look at it as though someone else wrote it. Whenever someone boasts about finishing a book or a story or whatever and immediately starting edits, I roll my eyes and know it’s a book I won’t be reading (unless one of the publications that pays me to review sends it to me).

I’m also getting tired of the bullying posts aimed at authors, some of them posing as “articles”. They spend the bulk of the article diminishing authors’ self-esteem, telling the authors they suck, and then, at the end, pretending to “rescue” the author — should the author buy whatever product they’re selling.

First of all, the content of most of these pieces is crap. They’re not well-written, many of them are “listicles” — a format I loathe as both a reader and a writer. They’re advertorials posing as articles.

Every author’s path is different. That’s a good thing; the level of conformity that’s being demanded, both by corporate-owned mega-publishers and by society in general is geared to kill creativity. It IS important to build a strong foundation in craft and to know how to tell a cracking good story. Craft is something that should grow with every book or story or article. Authors need the flexibility to try new things — even if not all of them work.

When it comes to marketing, it’s time for unique and creative campaigns, not following what “everyone” does. You need to target your audience; at the same time, you want to reach as wide an audience as possible. You want to be assertive and inclusive, not aggressive. It’s hard to find that balance. Also, people will respond differently on different days. All you can do is the best you can do.

If a certain type of marketing makes you miserable, don’t do it. Do what you enjoy. When the author has fun in the process of sharing the work, the reader picks up on it.

Listening to someone who makes a living taking money off of aspiring authors by berating them doesn’t help me, that’s for sure. I like to see what other people are doing, and then either use that to jump start my own marketing ideas, see if I can adapt what they’re doing to suit my particular project, or if it’s something that I don’t respond to positively, and then I move on.

Just because it doesn’t work for ME doesn’t mean someone else shouldn’t do it. All I can do is make the best, most informed decisions I can for my own work.

But bullying posts turn me off. I’ve decided to stop sharing them. I’m not going to troll them. I just scroll by and go on with my life.

Did some work on the various media kits. I need to finish the Q &A for “The Ramsey Chase” media kit. I find the non-fiction section of the Devon Ellington media kit much harder than the fiction. I have to write the press release for the PLAYING THE ANGLES media kit. That needs to be ready to go out at the beginning of August, even though the book doesn’t drop until October.

Working on the article that’s almost ready to go out, and then two more are stacked up behind in.

We worked on a new cover for “Plot Bunnies”, to tie it in more with the upcoming “Labor Intensive”, but it wound up looking more like a children’s book than a light-hearted mystery, so we’ll stick to the current cover for now.

I’ve had to scrap parts of the plot for “Labor Intensive”, because it went too dark for the tone of the series. I will probably use those plot elements in one of my darker books.

I’m meeting a friend for coffee this morning, which should be enormous fun. She lives in Amsterdam now, and I only get to see her once a year, although we’re in regular contact.

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing!

Mon. May 8, 2017: The Reading Groove Leads to the Writing Groove

Monday, May 8, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I gave myself the weekend off from writing, after revising another three chapters on THE FIX-IT GIRL. I’ve got just over 15K done on the second draft. I’m going along more slowly than I would like, but, at least, it’s going. It’s necessary, in order for the piece to be the best it can be.

Worked on outlines for the pseudo-Gothic and for the literary fiction novels.

But, for the most part, this weekend, I went on a reading marathon, reading only what I wanted to, nothing that I had to. I re-read TC Boyle’s EAST IS EAST. I forgot how brutal it was, especially the ending. I read the first Veronica Speedwell mystery by Deanna Rayburn, A CURIOUS BEGINNING, which I loved. That is quickly becoming one of my favorite series. Read two of Shelley Freydont’s Newport Gilded Age mysteries, A GILDED GRAVE and a GILDED CAGE. I like them, and I like her writing. They’re very different from Alyssa Maxwell’s mysteries set around the same time, also in Newport, and both series are well worth it.

On the non-fiction side, I read GHOSTING by Jennie Erdal, a memoir of her twenty plus years as a ghost writer for a particular individual. Interesting and somewhat depressing. I also re-read A BOOK AND A LOVE AFFAIR, by Helen Bevington. I’d read four of Bevington’s volumes of diaries/memoirs back in Rye. At some point, I bought a copy of this. I wanted to order the other three from the CLAMS libraries here and re-read them, too, but none of them are in the system, which is frustrating. I’ll have to go on Commonwealth Catalog, or, if that doesn’t work, go on ILL to get them.

Was berated by a so-called “publisher” who advertised for freelance contributors, but didn’t list rates. When I queried the rate, I was told that they don’t discuss money with new contributors; they want proof of “commitment” and “passion” first. Well, honey, I have a commitment and a passion for keeping a roof over my head, and I do so with my writing. If you aren’t up front about your rates, I can only assume that you either don’t pay at all, or you pay a pittance; professionals aren’t squeamish about stating what they pay. Cross that one off the list and move on. Another publication wants me to be a contributor –at 1/20th of my normal rate. I don’t think so. Next!

On a more positive note, I got a lovely letter from a company interested in one of my radio plays. The reader (who is also one of the company’s actors) loved the piece and will recommend it for next season. So, fingers crossed. There are still plenty of steps between interest and production, but it’s one of the nicest letters about my work I’ve ever received.

I have some pitches to write and send out this morning (to publications who pay appropriately and are open about their rates). Bills to pay — never fun, but always a relief when paid.

I hope I can get the mowing working again, because there’s grass that needs to be cut, and I can’t afford to buy a new mower if this one has bitten the dust permanently. I’ve gone back to using my Melita filter pot because my coffee pot died! A lawn mower is much more expensive.

Later on, I have to revise the next chapters of FIX-IT GIRL. WINNER TAKE ALL has had its percolation week; I’ll re-read that this afternoon and start my 20 pages-per-day revision on it tomorrow.

Working on an outline for an idea for a piece set in the 1890s that could be kind of fun, and hoping to write my way a bit into the literary fiction. I’m still trying to make some structural decisions on it; I hope that by writing my way into it for a bit, that will give me some answers.

I’d like to get back to NOT BY THE BOOK one of these days. I’m still on the fence about the radio adaptations — I’m not sure the time necessary to do the adaptation properly balances the money. Maybe it’s because I’m not excited enough about the material. Still debating.

Trying to get a few other things into motion, hoping they pay off (in every sense of the word) in the next few months.

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing.

Mon. Feb. 27, 2017: Some “Mistakes” Are Not Okay

Monday, February 27, 2017
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

The weekend seems far away, even though it’s not.

Most of it was spent writing. Some studying, some researching, but mostly writing. That is a good thing, and I intend to take advantage of it.

I ran some errands, should have done some yard work and didn’t. I’ve got the edges of a migraine threatening, and I hope it doesn’t blow up full force, or I will be in bad shape.

The weather was unseasonably warm early on, so I did some of my work out on the deck.

I’m reading Alyssa Maxwell’s A PINCH OF POISON, which is a lot of fun.

Also watched the first season of THE LIBRARIANS, which is more clever and funnier than I expected. It’s also structured very well, so I’m watching it for structure as much as for content. There was one episode where you could tell there were just too many writers in the room, but, other than that, I was pleasantly surprised.

Tried watching another show that came highly recommended, but stopped watching. I’d read the books, and wasn’t as thrilled about them as a lot of people. I’d absolutely loathed one of the protagonists in the book, and I didn’t like her any better in the series. The primary protagonist, around whom the story is built, was okay but not my favorite in the books — I found the actor irritating. He was difficult for me to watch, both in the show and in his interviews. There was something about him I didn’t like and didn’t trust, and I found it difficult to go on a complicated journey with him.

So I didn’t.

Diving into a busy week; I have to finish reading and commenting on my colleague’s script, I have to study for Constitutional Law, I have to research both the Italian Renaissance and fashion in 1931 Hollywood. I have to work with my elected officials.

I’d hoped to go to Salem next weekend to see the shoe exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Oh, well, that’s the way it goes.

Mixed feelings about the Oscars last night. Kudos to the winners — the work was very good. I was glad to see the blue ACLU ribbons and the refusal to bow down to fascism and be silent.

Unfortunately, all the good done and the credibility of the evening was destroyed with the Best Picture Fuck Up. It is inexcusable. It’s not a “simple mistake.” You do not humiliate, in front of millions of viewers, a group of people who worked as long and put as much heart into their work as the LA-LA LAND company did by calling them onstage with the win and then say, “Oops. Kidding. Not yours after all.”

Not only is it being cruel, it negates the credibility of the entire evening, which was the chance to do some good in the world, by showing artists being creative, vocal, and engaged.

There is no room for this kind of “mistake”. There better be some heads rolling this morning.

It’s cruel to the company of LA-LA LAND and undermines the company of MOONLIGHT. Both films are extraordinary in their own ways, and they deserve better.

That’s what happens when you give bean counters too much power.

Back to the page.

Published in: on February 27, 2017 at 10:13 am  Comments Off on Mon. Feb. 27, 2017: Some “Mistakes” Are Not Okay  
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Wed. Oct. 5, 2016: Revising The Way I Run My Writing Career

Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cool

I managed to find my mowing Zen, going into my seventh year in this place. I got the front and side yards mowed in twenty minutes yesterday, without feeling like it nearly killed me. There’s still an enormous amount of yard work to do, but at least I’ve got a decent start. I’m not putting up the outdoor decorations until I’m sure Hurricane Matthew has passed. Right now, it doesn’t look as though we’re going to be badly hit, but it’s a storm, so who knows?

Working on the Victorian mystery, fixing the bits that need adjustment due to research. Also doing some procedural research for the states of Massachusetts and Vermont — jeez, the way things are done so differently from state to state! 😉 That’s for two different contemporary projects.

I’m having trouble getting back into the plays. I’m not quite in the right headspace for any of the three of them that need work. That will have to change this weekend. I need to dig in and get working on them, whether or not I feel like it.

I have to take a look at PLAYING THE ANGLES this weekend, too. I want to get that out on submission next week. I have some solid possibilities.

I need to figure out a marketing push for the Digital Delights, and it’s time to give the Jain Lazarus short story set around this time another push. I’ll have to figure out a good day to have it available as a free download and then do a big PR push for it.

I’m reading Alyssa Maxwell’s Gilded Newport mysteries and loving them. I was worried that my Victorian mystery would be too similar, because it’s set in Newport just a few years after her first mystery. But it’s very, very different, thank goodness. Plus, for this particular series, I’m only setting the first book in Newport. The second will be in Saratoga, the third in NYC. If the series continues beyond that, I plan to do one on an ocean liner, one in England, one in Florence, and so on and so forth. If the series takes off, it will be fun. But, as I said yesterday, these books require a very different writing process than I usually use, and can’t be written quickly. In other words, not a good candidate for a Nano!

If I was going to get sucked into doing Nano this year, it would be either the book that follows DEATH OF A CHOLERIC (using my friend Lori’s suggestion to call it MURDER OF A MELACHOLIC), or the next Sophie Batchelder. However, I am probably NOT going to do Nano this year, so the point is moot. I have three plays to get back on track, and I need to get back to SONGBOUND SISTERS. Nano would be a distraction, and it would be my ego wanting it, instead of it actually being useful.

Since a great deal of last year and this year have been about thinking about how I want to proceed in my writing career and changing a good many things about it, I need to concentrate on those decisions, those actions, and that follow-through, rather than getting distracted by new and shiny. I am also tired of other people telling me how I “have to” do things in my writing career, and trying to push me into boxes and formulas that don’t suit me or don’t interest me. I spent many years developing my voice, and I don’t want it diluted by “formula”. Which means I have to look at options that give me more flexibility. I also don’t like the way we are “supposed” to market. Bland or aggressive marketing turns me off as a consumer, and that’s not what I want to put out there to promote my work.

Yet, the siren call of Nano is always tempting.

I have a meeting this afternoon that could also wind up opening some lovely doors for me, and I’ve got a boatload of research to do (some of it is even about boats). So I better get going!

Devon

Published in: on October 5, 2016 at 9:36 am  Comments Off on Wed. Oct. 5, 2016: Revising The Way I Run My Writing Career  
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Mon. Sept. 19, 2016: Getting Back to a Writing Rhythm

Monday, September 19, 2016
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and humid

We finally have some much-needed rain!

Saturday, we were up and out very early, headed to Providence. We dropped our friend off, then headed down to Newport. It was a gorgeous day.

The International Boat Show was in Newport. The place was packed! And I happened to walk into a store, and there was my fellow Sister-in-Crime, Alyssa Maxwell, doing a book signing for her Gilded Age mystery series set in Newport! I knew her work, of course, but we’d never met before. It was great to have a chat, meet, and I bought and she signed the book I didn’t have! 😉

We met friends for lunch at the Red Parrot (lots of choices, but a bit disappointing). I did some geographical research for the Victorian mystery.

Exhausted by the time we got home, and the cold came back full force. To bed early.

Sunday, I gave myself the day off, mostly reading and doing a few errands.

Today, it’s back to the page, once I’ve done some errands. I need to start opening out CONFIDENCE CONFIDANT (I need to submit the full length within the next few weeks), and work on the other projects I’m juggling. I’m also starting the next round of edits on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, and preparing for another trip later in the week.

Busy, busy, but good busy.

I think I know what’s coming next for the characters in “Lake Justice” – so I’ll have to get that going soon. I want to pair three shorts for the “Lake Justice” characters – one set in a ski resort, and the other set on an island in Maine. That will make a good set of stories to put together with the re-released “Lake Justice.”

I also want to do another Twinkle Tavern series mystery – probably a novella.

Somehow, I have to figure out how to fit them in with the projects I’m juggling, including the plays and CHOLERIC and SONGBOUND.

But it’s a good dilemma to have!

I will be very relieved when Mercury goes direct in a few days – and the Equinox is coming up!

Devon