Mon. May 14: Busy, Productive Days


The Stewartsonian Azalea

Monday, May 14, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Partly sunny and pleasant

Busy weekend, but a good one. Friday was all about all kinds of work, catching up with students, and finishing the prep for the workshop. And working on revisions. I got out the newsletter (yay, rah, rah) and did some work on the Fearless Ink website. I’d like to change the template, but I’m not sure to what. Basically, I just want to fill the background a bit, but it’s not working.

Worked on my article. Worked on the assignments for Confidential Job #1. Looked at some listings, and will send out pitches this week, some of which are in Boston. It would be good to get into Boston on a regular basis! Ran some errands, got in some stuff for Mother’s Day.

I also started mowing the meadow, and I had an idea about an additional bed I want to put in.

Saturday, I was up early, checked on the conference forum, then went out and mowed the rest of the meadow. It looks REALLY good. I’m pleased as punch about it, and the mower and I seem to have reached detente.

The Amazing Antagonists workshop went really well. It was lively, interactive, those who participated got a lot of information and individual attention. I had a great time (I even stayed live for nearly an extra hour). It was fun. I’m adding some extra resources into the resource guide in the next day or two, and then out it goes.

And, of course, I’m prepping for this weekend’s Tomorrow’s Writers Today at the high school, and for the Submissions Workshop for June 2. I’ve got to confirm some other dates and then put up the next round of Fast and Fun workshops, and I’ve got some in-person meetings this week on other projects.

Mother’s Day was good. I wound up the Antagonists workshop, finished two projects for Confidential Job #1, and discovered that I’m back battling ants on the front lawn!

This morning, we were up early to take a walk on Sandy Neck Beach. Tons of fun.

Busy week — in addition to writing up the assignments for Confidential Job #1, getting out the workshop handbook, writing an article and working with my students, I’ve got a project meeting tomorrow night, Writer’s Night Out Wednesday night, and an art opening on Friday night. Plus, a slew of proposals to get out and my own writing. Busy, busy!

I plan to do some work in the garden today, in the vegetable bed, and then put in the morning glories and moonflowers. We’re supposed to get rain, so I better get out in the garden sooner rather than later!

Billy Root and I had an epiphany — check it out on his blog.

And Writers Worth Week starts this week over on Lori Widmer’s blog. Today’s entry is from Ashley Festa on “How To Use Your Time Wisely.” Check it out!

Devon

Tues. May 8, 2012: Work, work, work!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Don’t forget the one-day Amazing Antagonists Seminar on May 12. It’s going to be awesome! More info and registration here.

Flat out all day yesterday and still didn’t get it all done. Got the front lawn mowed, though, and no man’s land off to the side. My lovely neighbor came over with his edger and trimmed things up for me, too. Ran some errands, worked with students, worked on the workshop lectures, worked, worked, worked, worked worked!

And got cat food in, which, as we all know, is the most important thing one can do.

Have even more on the agenda today!

But I managed to get to meditation, which was a good thing. And now, I’m out on more errands. And I have to pull it together to attend an event tonight — I really need to design and print new business cards for the freelancing.

I’d hoped to get some more mowing done today, but it’s too wet.

Got some writing done yesterday, and edited three chapters — managed to cut one completely and combine two more, with even more internal cuts. I think I want to keep the “interlude” scenes all under 1000 words. Try that bit of artificial construct and see how it goes.

Devon

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Mon. May 7, 2012: Intense Family Weekend


Mist over the dunes at the Province Lands Center, Provincetown

Monday, May 7, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Intense few days. Went to yoga on Thursday morning, came back, packed the car, and we were on the road a little after 11. Trip to Maine wasn’t bad, not much traffic, we made good time. We settled in, spent some time with my great uncle, I cooked dinner.

We were up early the next day, breakfast, picked up one cousin who lives down the street and one in Portland, and hit the road. The drive down wasn’t bad, either — we timed it well.

We hit Foxboro around 10:30 in the morning. I was born in Norwood, and Foxboro is where my grandmother lived for many years. I haven’t been back since the mid-90s.

We found the cemetery without any problem, and found my grandparent’s grave. The cemetery is beautiful — extremely well-cared for, and people are allowed to individually landscape each of the graves, which is great (unlike so many cemeteries, now, where everything is supposed to be identical and plain, and everyone is a number, not a memory of an individual). We also visited the nearby grave of another family friend. We spoke a few words by the site, and handed over the ashes to the caretaker, who will bury them today.

We drove past the house where my grandparents used to live, and where I have many happy memories. It looks lovely — the current owners take loving care of it, have landscaped it nicely, put on a new roof, etc. And the property next door (formerly belonging to the person whose other grave we visited) is also lovely. She had magnificent formal gardens, and the current owners have kept them up.

It was strange to see those childhood places through adult eyes.

Something is starting to tickle in the back of my head, an idea; I’m not sure where it

We continued around to the Cape and home. After getting the cousins settled in, we headed up to Cobb Hill — the cemetery where the first arrivals are buried. They came over from Kent, England, and one branch of the family went up to Maine. It was cold and rainy, so we didn’t spend as much time in the cemetery as we might have otherwise.

We went over to Sturgis Library and spent a few hours in their genealogy collection. They have a lot of information on the family — the branch that started here and wound up to Maine, another branch that wound up in West Virginia. It was fascinating.

I cooked dinner, and we all visited and played with the cats. I spent a bit of time with students.

To bed early, but also up early on Saturday. I baked apple spice bread for breakfast. Then, we headed out to Provincetown. Unfortunately, it was another cold, drizzly day. But we got to walk around town a bit (already quite busy) and had a nice lunch. We went up to the Province Lands Observation near Race Point, always one of my favorite places, and I got some interesting misty pictures.

We came home, and someone from Sturgis called — I’d left something important at the library the day before! Someone from the library was coming to my library for an event; I met her there, feeling both stupid and grateful. She is definitely getting a thank you note.

Cooked dinner, uploaded photos, made prints for them, copied the information from the library — by the time I tried to get online to deal with students, it was 9:30 at night and I was incoherent.

Up early on Sunday, made eggs benedict, and we were on the road a little after 9. Not a bad ride up to Maine, in spite of an accident on 93 and one inside the Big Dig tunnel. Dropped off the cousins and turned right around to go back.

I admit, I was getting a little tired.

But it was great to have the family from Maine here, to have them see where we live, and that this move was the right choice for us. They also have been working very hard, and I wanted to give them a happy, relaxing time.

We meant to stop for lunch, but didn’t find what we wanted, so wound up driving all the way back. Instead of going back through the Big Dig, we hooked around again on 128 so we could take the Bourne Bridge. The Sagamore had a two hour delay getting off-Cape, and that usually causes a tangle getting on the Cape, too. We shot over the Bourne Bridge and found off-Cape traffic backed up all the way to our little town, too. But we got home in a reasonable amount of time.

Heated up some dinner and went to bed. That was all I could take.

A LOT to do today, both online and off. The rain last week stimulated the grass — I’ve got to mow. And hit the bank. And put gas in the car. And do some work with my students. And help out a pro bono client. And polish my lectures for Saturday’s workshop.

Billy Root’s blog will go up later today.

Better get to it! I’m tired, but more optimistic this week. I’ve still got some stuff to figure out, but I’m getting there.

Devon

Don’t forget the Amazing Antagonists workshop on Saturday, May 12! You can turn your antagonists from ciphers to complex, fascinating individuals with these tips. More info and registration here.

Mon. April 30, 2012: Beltane Eve

Monday, April 30, 2012
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Billy Root blogs about the importance of leaving a character on the set. Check it out.

And don’t forget the Amazing Antagonists Seminar on May 12. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and, if you’ve ever had doubts about the strength and importance of your antagonists, this class will help you a lot. More information and registration here.

Busy weekend, and I’m still trying to shake off the last of this flu. So far, not much luck.

I did not think I could pull it together for the Arbor Day Celebration, but I did, and I’m glad I did. It was lovely, and I got to meet some of the people with whom I’ll be dealing when I teach at the high school in May.

Worked outside, worked with students in the afternoon. The plumber came, fixed the problem in ten minutes, and was done. Phew!

Saturday morning, I spent about an hour and a half working to weed Mother’s Park with the Committee. It was fun, but I still get tired awfully fast. Had to then dash to an appointment in Harwich, which turned out to be a washout.

Came back and cleaned out the garage (first time in my life I’ve ever been able to say that). Unpacked about 20 boxes, put up shelves, organized things. Lots more room in there now! It looks good. And I can get at everything, which is helpful.

Wrapped up the One Story Many Voices class and caught up with my year-long students and private students. Worked on revisions and proposals.

Dump run on Sunday, getting rid of the recycling. Tried to do bottle return — I swear, they’re quick to charge the bottle deposit, but then try to make it impossible for you to return them and get the money back. Why is that? Because they hope you’ll give up and they can keep it, of course. I had to go to three different places before I found one where the machines were in service. Because, heaven forbid, the place where I BOUGHT them, where they CHARGED me, would have a working redemption center. Oh, they have the machines — but in the year and half I’ve lived here, they’ve been in working order exactly once.

Verizon Wireless are being dickheads, as usual. I’m so sick of these mega companies who think they are above the law. They’re NOT.

I have a lot of work on my plate today, along with yard work that has to get done, and errands and appointments. Setting as Character starts today, and it’s Beltane Eve.

Never a dull moment!

Devon

Tues. April 24: Stormy Weather and Chasing Checks

Tuesday, April 25, 2012
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise and drop a comment to cheer my pal Karina Fabian’s new release, LIVE AND LET FLY. We met at Muse Conference my first year since, and have supported each other’s work ever since! Her writing’s energetic and fun and she knows how to tell a darned good story!

Worked hard yesterday, but it was one of those days where it felt like nothing got done. Lots of business/admin/proposals/pitches/marketing. I pitched for a few jobs — I’m pretty sure one of them thought it would cost $75 for the job that I calculated at $1200. But there was no pay range, and I was told to state my rate, so I did. Even at that rate, I’m undercutting some other people who do the same thing. But I doubt I’ll get it. And that’s okay. I’m worth the $1200. Speaking of being worth the money, I’m chasing down a major check and not having much luck. Different client this time. I’m being ignored. Sounds like we’ll have a parting of the ways coming up.

I’m revamping the Fearless Ink website. The workshop page is done here, and I like the result. Now, I’ve got to get the other pages up to speed. I’m not using it to its full capacity.

Janelle, the Organizational Goddess of Fearless Ink Workshops put up a Facebook Page for the site, but I’m not sure how it all works yet. There will be a writing tip several days per week, and notices about upcoming workshops. I think this is the URL, but I’m not sure. I’m not good at Facebook.

Worked on the author page for Annabel Aidan over at Amazon. It should be up in a few days. Worked on the Devon Ellington page, too, but made a huge mistake when I was trying to add the anthologies in which I’m included, which makes me look like I’m claiming authorship in a way I’m not. I contacted their tech team and explained how I screwed up, that I didn’t mean it to come across the way it did, apologize, and ask them how to fix it.

Got a nice chunk done in the writing sprint with my students yesterday — two solid scenes, and the start on the third.

Caught up on student work. There’s some great writing in the class, some of them have taken to the class like a duck to water, and re-envisioning each genre in truly witty and unique ways.

Finished WANTING SHEILA DEAD. It’s the first of this author’s books that kind of disappointed me. A lot of the major action happened off the page, and we HEARD explanations of it after the fact, a style choice that drove me nuts. There was so much good stuff in the book that, for the climactic scene to just stop where it did and then there be pages of explanation, without us seeing the moments after the Big Reveals and the actual confrontations with the perpetrators of both crimes, that I felt cheated.

Today, I went to meditation (we had a good talk after about applying the moment-to-moment of both action and awareness in the current political climate), and now I’ve got a ton of errands. Then, I have to try to track down that damn check. I’ve got a lot of work to get through at the desk after errands, and a meeting about a theatre project this afternoon.

Onward!

Devon

Don’t forget the one-day online seminar, Amazing Antagonists, on Saturday, May 12. More information and registration here.

April 16, 2012: Lovely weather for Patriot’s Day!

Monday, April 16, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Busy weekend, and I’m exhausted. Had to work hard, and now I’m feeling like I’m coming down with something, so I’m being a bit careful.

Friday was a busy day, prepping for the seminar. But I took the promised break in the middle of the day — I’d been invited to go with friends to Heritage Museums and Gardens for an author talk about Eudora Welty and the garden. I went with two friends, and we had a great time. After the lecture, we got to walk the grounds — it didn’t open for the season until the next day. The landscaping is stunning there, and everyone we met was enjoying the final preparations and the day. It was so beautiful out — sunny and not too hot.

We stopped in Sandwich at a shop called The Spotted Cod, which has some really nice stuff, and then went to the Beehive Tavern for a little snack. We were brainstorming/half-joking about a mystery series called “The Bellini Girls” about a trio of Bellini-swigging women (who loved Nancy Drew growing up) who wind up solving mysteries on Cape Cod. In other words, comic cozies. I think it would be fun to play with that idea. I’m sure, by the time I finish, it will have grown away from our original joking around, but it seems like something fun.

First, though, I have to get my contracted deadlines out of the way! 😉

Was up working on smoothing out the last minute technical stuff for the seminar until nearly midnight on Friday. Add to that the frustration of not being able to access the Savvy Authors forum at all to comment on student work — kept getting “attack page” warnings. Poor things, they’re working hard to fix the problem, and it’s been dragging on now for a couple of months. Makes it hard for all of us to meet our deadlines, but, as I said to them, we just do the best we can, give each other a bit of room. There are quite a few regulars, and I know that they’re conscientious, and I don’t want them to feel bad for something that’s not their fault.

Managed to catch up on the student work from both classes on Saturday in and around being online non-stop for the seminar hours. It was good group, although some of them were a little shy. Some of them are new students, and we’re learning our rhythms with each other.

Saturday night, I had to go to bed early (raging migraine). Read the papers Sunday, wound up the final seminar questions, finished the PDF of the companion handbook to the seminar — had to drop in the cover, add the indicia page, and add the resources. I put together a reading list of books that I think cover what we discussed, plus some of my favorite writing books, plus a pretty extensive list of volumes of diaries and letters that are helpful in attaining the cadences of an historical time period. Since I collect volumes of diaries and letters, I had to pick and choose, or the list would have run close to 30 pages! I think the final one is about three! Had to proofread it, too, and wowza! Missed some doozies of typos in the lectures, but they’re fixed in the handbook, so it’s all good. The handbook went out last night, so everyone’s got a long term reference guide.

The next one-day seminar is on Antagonists, and it’s May 12, and then, on June 2, I have a one-day seminar on Setting Up Your Submission System. The registration for both of those will open later this week. They’re the same deal — in real time on Saturday, where participants can read lectures, post relevant snippets, ask questions, get individual feedback, final questions on Sunday, and then a PDF of the lectures, exercises, and additional resources.

It’s Monday, which means Billy Root’s blogging, so go on over and check it out. Good news!

This week will be crazy-busy, but in a different, hopefully less stressful way than last week. This afternoon (even though it’s a holiday here), I’ve got a client meeting. I’m looking forward to it — hopefully, we’re a good fit and can start a mutually beneficial relationship over the next few months.

And I’ve GOT to get back to the page. I’ve done only the minimum the past few days, and that’s not enough.

Got to do some yard work today, and will do it early, before it gets too hot. Sometimes, Mother Nature’s deadlines are more pressing than anyone else’s!

Devon

Fri. March 30, 2012: A busy techie bee

Friday, March 29, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I was a busy little technical bee yesterday. As you can see from the sidebar, I’ve added pages for the Workshops and the Books — to help keep you up to date! I’ve got some great stuff going on in the coming months, and some of them are one day seminars (such as “Dialogue Dilemmas and Solutions” and “Amazing Antagonists”) or two days (“Scene Meat”), which mix lectures and techniques with the chance to post snippets you’re having trouble with and get guidance. It’s great for those who can’t commit to a full month’s workshop, but still want a fresh approach to creating sparkling dialogue or struggle to create a fully complex antagonist or waste so many words in unneeded transitions that the important aspects of a scene are diluted.

I also rearranged the sidebar here for the books. I think it looks and flows better. I did a bunch of work for the HEX BREAKER launch (more details to follow), tried a smoked salmon deviled egg recipe for the client meeting, and had the client meeting. Bourne Bridge wasn’t bad (since the Sagamore’s under construction. Now that I understand the way to go, it makes sense, and it lets me off right near the facility.

Followed up on some pieces in last year’s submission log, just crossing t’s and dotting i’s. I hadn’t heard back on several pieces, so I want to close them out (sent a polite letter with the dates of submission, stating that, since I never heard back, I assume the piece did not meet their needs and I will, therefore, submit elsewhere). Found a rejection I’d been waiting for (because, after I sent it, I found a market I think is better-suited, and now I can submit it to this other market). Tweaking a short story that has to go out this weekend. It’s still not where I want it.

Caught up on student work. “Sensory Perceptions” winds up this weekend, and then I’m taking a steampunk class starting Monday, but “One Story, Many Voices” doesn’t start until April 9. That means I can really focus on my year-long students next week, since we’re setting up systems that will serve us well in the revisions. The setting-up bit is kind of a pain in the butt, but the results will be worth it, because it will save them huge amounts of time hunting stuff down as they revise.

I’ve got some press releases to get out today, more student work, but most of the day, I spend to put my head down and get to work on a novel I want to finish this weekend.

I hope the weather’s nice enough (even though cold) so I can get some yard work done, too.

Devon