Fri. Jan. 8, 2016: Revising the Writing Schedule and Goals

Friday, January 8, 2016
Dark Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Meeting in Hyannis yesterday morning. It was fine; at least I didn’t want to jab my eye with a fork, like I do at some of these meetings.

Back to work, tried to catch up. Computer isn’t working properly, so that makes it more difficult.

I got some sad news: Amber Quill, with whom I have half a dozen titles, is shutting its doors on March 30. LAKE JUSTICE, SEVERANCE, ELUSIVE PRAYERS, and TRACKING MEDUSA will cease to be available from them at that time. I wish I’d found out directly from THEM instead of through a second party, but, other than that, I’ve always been treated well by them. I loved my editor; they paid on time; they gave me good covers. They believed in their authors. I will miss being a part of the company.

So what does that mean for my writing?

Several different things.

I’m meeting with my advisors to decide what to do. There are still two months until the doors close, two months until rights revert back. Once rights revert back, unless I’m going the indie route, it doesn’t make sense to just shoot the titles straight out again. While it makes me nervous to have anything go out of print, at the same time, I need time to launch a re-release properly, wherever and however I decide to do it. I expect they will be out of print until at least September. If I go independent, I’m going to have to marshal massive marketing resources to make it worthwhile. Right now, that much marketing emphasis isn’t going to fit my schedule. I’m not convinced the independent route is the right choice for me. I prefer to work in a more traditional model right now.

I do realize that, when I’m ready to launch the series that started life as THE POWER OF WORDS (which now has multiple titles as it breaks down into multiple books), it is most likely I have to use the independent model, because it would be exceedingly difficult for a traditional publisher to put it out in the usual channels. It’s a strange monster – one I love, but one that would require the type of Gentleman (or Bluestocking) Publisher to take it on, a type of publisher who no longer exists.

I was in the throes of planning a big marketing campaign for everything over the next few months, which now will not include the titles that won’t be available, for obvious reasons.

I also had three books scheduled to go to Amber Quill this year, all Gwen Finnegan books: BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, SANDOVAL SECRET, and SHAKESPEARE’S BACON. It was a pressurized schedule, but I wanted to make sure I finished the Gwen Finnegan cycle quickly for them, with an eye to moving in some new directions, as inspired by last August’s conference, where Claire Cook gave me the push I needed to give what’s now TIE-CUTTER a shot, and Carole Bugge encouraged me to continue work on SONGBOUND SISTERS.

With those three books off the schedule, at least for the moment (which means I’ll work on them in and around other projects, without the pressure) it moves up SONGBIRD SISTERS and the aviation mystery set in the late 1940s that I’ve been playing with for a few years.

I do love Gwen and Justin, and I want to see their stories to completion, but a break may not be a bad thing. As I kept saying last year, struggling with BALTHAZAAR, I can do it fast or I can do it well. Both aren’t happening in tandem right now.

HEX BREAKER and OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, the Jain Lazarus books, are still with Solstice, and I’m not sure what’s next with them; we’re in a bit of a holding pattern.

I have several play scripts and radio scripts on the slate for the year, and some film and television scripts on which I worked last year, which go out on submission this year.

The focus will be more on writing, polishing, and submitting this year, building on the previous writing, but taking me in new directions that I’ve been interested in for the past few months. That’s a positive. It moves up the timeline for me, but it’s a positive. It takes a lot of the “write as fast as possible” pressure off me – something that’s bogged me down over the past couple of years and actually interfered with my productivity, instead of increasing it.

As saddened as I am by the news, I think it’s the push I need right now. My gut tells me this is a positive in the long run.

I’ll have a long day at work today, but, since I’m feeling run down, I pulled out of my commitments for this weekend. I have some work to do for Monday’s NMLC Board meeting, and I’m going to write. I want to finish the first draft of the short radio play that goes out at the end of the month, and I’ve been approached to adapt the historical play into a radio play. I’ll take a look at that to see if it makes sense. I use a good deal of sound in the play anyway, and I think if I make some changes to make it more aural than visual, it will work. I also need to get LIGHT BEHIND THE EYES into US radio format from BBC format, because I have a US market interested.

Plus, I want to stay on schedule with TIE-CUTTER and DEATH OF A CHOLERIC.

So I’ll have a solid writing weekend ahead of me.

This certainly didn’t happen the way I wanted it to, but I have a feeling that, in the long run, these changes will be positive.

I remain hugely grateful to Amber Quill for their support, belief in me, and everything they’ve done for me and for my writing over the years I spent with them. I wish all the partners well in their new ventures, and I hope we can all stay in touch and support each other’s work. Thank you, Amber Quill!

Have a great weekend, people.

Devon

Fri. May 9, 2014: Library, Scripts, Contest Entries, and Edits

Friday, May 9, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Busy day at the library. A lot of it was spent coaxing our machines to do what they’re supposed to do — what should have been a fairly straightforward project took much longer than it should have. A solid reminder of why I loathe Microsoft and how much happier I am with my Mac. However, I also got some other work done, on outreach for the theatre collection and to writers, encouraging them to use our library as a resource and even write their books on site, polish my report for the board next week, etc. There were also all those things that come up during the day, to help patrons find something they want, and to deal with the dozens of issues that come up during the day that need attention to keep the collection running so patrons can get what they need when they need it.

Today, I’ll be finishing up the big project from yesterday and printing a lot of book spine labels, along with everything else. A few things came up yesterday that I need the Circulation Director to teach me how to do properly, too! Always something new to learn, which keeps things fun.

Before I’d gone to work, I’d polished and sent the second episode of The Big Script Project. I’d integrated notes from the first episode that affect the second episode, and tried a few things that are easy fixes if they want a different direction. Later today, I’ll get started on Episodes 3 & 4, which need to be delivered next week, along with the revisions of Episode 1.

The next round of edits for TRACKING MEDUSA arrived yesterday morning (I think I mentioned that in yesterday’s blog post), so I’ll turn those around this weekend, finalize the Series Bible for it, and do the “Odd Word Sheet” for “Severance”, which is the next Amber Quill release coming down the pike for me.

Stopped at the store and the liquor store on the way home from the library. Had a glass of wine on the deck — Tessa was pouting and wouldn’t come out. Cooked dinner, and then got to work on contest entries. I have one stack to finish up over the weekend, and I’m supposed to meet with a colleague after work to go over entries on another contest.

Donna Leon’s newest release, BY ITS COVER, is out (and I got it, I’d put it on hold). It’s set against a Venetian library. I’m in heaven! Now, I just have to make sure I carve out some time over the weekend to read it.

At some point, I also have to get gas for the mower, fire it up, and start mowing my lawn, before it looks like a jungle!

Have a great weekend, all, and Happy Mother’s Day!

Devon

Hey, if you want a fun read for the weekend, pick up a copy of my ghost story, “Lake Justice”, released by Amber Quill Press here.

Published in: on May 9, 2014 at 5:50 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 9, 2014: Library, Scripts, Contest Entries, and Edits  
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Mon. April 7, 2014: Exciting New Paths

Monday, April 7, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Wow, what a weekend. Worked flat out on client projects, winding up the class, and on script revisions. In negotiations for another short script project that might happen between now and June, and which sounds kind of fun. Also worked on material for my editor.

I’m guest-lecturing at a local college later this month (they’re teaching one of my plays) and teaching a workshop at NECRWA at the beginning of May. That’s it for teaching for me for awhile. I’m glad, because I’m burned out on it, and my life is taking exciting new paths to which I want to give my full attention.

Went to NMLC mid-afternoon to work on the program and other show-related stuff. Set up the room, trying to get it warm enough so we could concentrate to work. We had a good rehearsal, got a lot done.

Landed a quick-turnaround script job (yes, paid, of course, or I wouldn’t do it), that could lead to a two or three month longer script job.

Saturday, I got some wonderful news, which I can’t share publicly until all the contracts are signed at the end of the week. But then, believe me, we’ll all be celebrating together. Also had the first interaction with my new editor at Amber Quill Press — I think we’ll get along just fine!

Did some work in the yard, raking out the terraced bed. It looks much better, and things are coming up. Hopefully, we are moving into spring. Did some work for one of my other editors, and did my pacing and muttering on the script job.

Sunday morning, I did some more pacing and muttering, and then wrote the first draft. I feel pretty good about it, which means I’ll feel even better after some revisions.

Then, I headed in to the NMLC to meet the light/sound designer for the show and we did the light hang. It went pretty well and we were done by 8:30.

Came home, had a late dinner, watched a little TV. GAME OF THRONES started again; much as I like the quality of it, I’m also tired of the unrelenting cruelty the characters have towards each other.

I have a busy day and a busy week coming up — somehow, with all this work coming in, I still have to find time to finish my taxes.

Devon

Mon. Feb. 24, 2014: A Writing and Researching Weekend

Monday, February 24, 2014
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Good news! My western novella, ELUSIVE PRAYERS, has been accepted by Amber Quill Press. This is a tie-in novella to my previous WIDOW’S CHAMBER serial. It had been accepted by the WC publisher, who went out of business on release day. I’ve rewritten it substantially in the interim, and it will now come out in late July. Re-working it, I liked the characters, situation, and depth of research, so I’m excited.

I have four releases coming out between the end of March and the end of July. So I’m pretty excited. It means I’ll be gearing up for some serious PR soon — watch out! 😉

Busy weekend. Friday was frustrating, but I got through it. Saturday, I worked on the novel I’m going to write in tandem with a friend who’s also working on a novel. We’re brainstorming and exchanging chapters, which is fun. I’ve read her outline and the first three chapters; she’s now got my initial fragment, my character notes, and the ideas for some major turning point scenes that I have to flesh out into my Writer’s Rough. In two weeks, I’m going to give her the first chapter. That’s longer than I usually take to write a chapter (I usually have to cough up one or nearly one a day), but this is a different kind of book and is not on a contract schedule.

I also wound up my course work for the Environmental Law and Policy Class. Got 100% on my final quiz, and 100% on my research exercise. I love, love, loved this class, and definitely want to get more involved in this type of work. It also made me understand some of the policies in place at the National Marine Life Center more completely.

I did some reading over the weekend. My next two books for review arrived, and I’m excited to dig into them. I started a couple of novels from the library, was frustrated with them, returned them. I read one novel I really enjoyed, THE TWISTED THREAD, by Charlotte Bacon. I wanted to shoot her an email to let her know how much I enjoyed it, but couldn’t find contact information online, and realized how spoiled we’ve all become at being able to locate anyone we want instantly! Good for her for not playing the always-available game!

Did a lot of research for the Sparkle & Tarnish series on Victorian dining. Since food plays a big part in the books, I want to make sure I get it right. I found THE SECRET GARDEN COOKBOOK filled with lovely historical tidbits, and I’m reading FANNIE’S LAST SUPPER, about a chef researching and recreating a meal from Fannie Farmer’s 1896 cookbook.

The current Garrett POV chapter I’m working on in TRUE HOME is set in Boston in 1886, so I’ve also been doing extensive research on geography, et al, of the time in order to properly write the chapter. Now, I have to cross-check some information, because I’d like to use some food info that is in books about Boston at the time, only I want to use them in NY chapters, but have to find out if similar places were in existence in NY at the time.

I see a trip to the Massachusetts Historical Society in the not-so-distant future for a day’s research.

Saturday night, I stayed up way too late watching NOW YOU SEE ME. The movie got lukewarm reviews, so I wasn’t expecting much, and I was pleasantly surprised. I liked it a lot. I figured out the big twist, but then, that’s what I do. I understand structure, and that choice made the most sense within the structure and the clues dropped in. I watched it again on Sunday, to pick up some details I’d missed.

Sunday, I researched, wrote, and scheduled articles for the wine blog all the way into mid-March. Took a break for more research, and then spent the afternoon at the Osterville Library, at a talk by author Paul Kemprecos, who writes a detective series set in this area, and also wrote several books with Clive Cussler. A colleague from the Writers Center was there, and they had a nice spread of wine, cheese, etc. It was a fun, lively afternoon.

Watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics — pretty, but I didn’t have the context for much of the symbolism. Although I appreciated the tribute to writers, the performance didn’t make much sense, and where were the women writers?

This will be a very stressful week for me, not to mention that I have to finish the revisions of the play.

Got an intriguing job offer that I need to investigate more closely. I think it would be fascinating, if we can work out the time/money part of it.

The expected overnight storm missed us, and now they’ve downgraded Wednesday’s storm from a foot of snow to only four inches. Phew!

Back to the page.

Devon