Mon. June 26, 2017: Traction to Getting Back on Track

Personal Revolution Cover

“Personal Revolution” — A Cabot’s Crossing Mystery — Independence-Day theme.

99 cents on Smashwords here.

Monday, June 26, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

A slower-paced weekend than I probably should have had, but I needed it. My brain is tired, my soul is tired.

Saturday morning, I took a wrong step down the stairs and wrenched my knee. The good knee, not the Broadway knee. The outer tendon. My poor hockey players had that often enough, although not from going down a flight of steps. I treated it with arnica and gentle yoga. As long as I keep the leg in alignment, from hip to foot, it’s okay. The minute I go out of alignment, I’m in pain. That certainly slowed me down, because I need to move with more care.

I managed eight loads of laundry over the course of the day. A lot of it consisted of the blankets and fleece covers on the furniture for the winter. They’re now washed and ready to be packed away, with lighter cotton covers on everything. It’s finally warm enough to put the winter things away. Also in the process of washing, blocking, drying, and then putting the winter sweaters away with cedar shavings.

In between the laundry, I’ve been clearing out things that have accumulated — the big stack around my big reading chair, where I tend to nest; starting to go through drawers and boxes. I’m weighed down by too much stuff I don’t need; we haven’t even unpacked everything since we moved here. I wanted to get through everything in the winter and didn’t; so I better buckle down and do it now. A little bit at a time eventually adds up to big bits.

In and around that, I also wrote nearly 2500 words on the piece with the two older protagonists. I’m writing my way in, to see if I have something viable. I like the characters a lot, especially how they’re trying to heal from their damage. It’s naturally set itself in Ayrshire, Scotland, near Culzean, where I’ve stretched the geography a bit to add a small, fictional village between the villages I spent time in when I was there.

I’ll set something else in Cornwall, eventually!

I’m reading Alix Kate Shulman’s DRINKING THE RAIN. It’s a wonderful exploration of a writer’s need to balance solitude and companionship. I’m not as adventurous as she is, as far as where she chooses to stay. I’m a modern woman who appreciates indoor plumbing, and I’m no longer willing to stay in places without it. That doesn’t feed my soul; it merely irritates me. My soul is fed when I’m comfortable.

The book is from the library, but I’m going to hunt down a copy to buy; it’s something I will re-read.

I’m also reading Helen Bevington’s The Journey is Everything: A Journal of the Seventies. I love her writing, and it’s interesting to see her perspective on historical events we both lived through (although I was much younger, just a kid).
I originally read her books shortly after 9/11. I was staying with my mother, in the NYC suburb in which I’d grown up. I got a new library card at the library I’d practically lived in growing up. Wandering the stacks, I found Helen Bevington’s memoirs and journals, and loved them. A few years later, I found A Book and a Love Affair in Niantic and bought it; I keep an eye out for her other books, so I can add them to my personal library. I re-read Book recently, when I came across it, unpacking a box, looking for something else. I wanted to re-read the rest. The Cape Cod libraries don’t carry her books, so I had to order it through the Commonwealth Catalog. This volume is from U Mass-Amherst.

Sunday, I didn’t feel much like doing anything. I read a bit, and then went to S. Yarmouth library, where my friend and fellow writer Arlene Kay gave a program as part of their Author Series. It was wonderful, but then her programs always are. She had a nice turnout (thank goodness, it’s always hit and miss around here), including some mutual friends and colleagues I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was nice to catch up.

Came home, read on the deck, cooked dinner. I’d created a new-to-me salsa recipe on Friday, and combined two recipes from one of Barbara Ross’s mysteries (and then added some bits of my own) on Saturday, so Sunday was mostly leftovers.

I think I’ve got the opening of “Miss Winston Apologizes” in my head. Now, to write it down, so it’s ready to add when I’m done with the proofread of “Ramsey.”

I also have to write down the opening of “Labor Intensive” — and then write the rest of it.

Did some work on the Devon Ellington media kit. Did another 1000 words on the older protagonist piece. I think it’s viable. As I’ve been writing my way in, the plot is getting clearer. Pretty soon, I will stop and outline it. I worried the premise was a little too close to Death of a Choleric, but this morning, I figured out how to fix it.

I have a long list of things to do today, both fiction and non-fiction and pitching, and administrative work, and catching up on some correspondence. And, of course, mowing. I have to pause in my work on the meadow, because the damn front needs to be mowed again!

The roses are magnificent this year. We have vases of them all over the house and they smell lovely.

Back to the page.

Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear

Monday, May 22, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Not the productive weekend I’d hoped for, unfortunately.

The stress of the personal issues I’m dealing with hit like a hammer, and it was difficult for me to get anything else done. I managed a little yard work, but not like the marathon hours that my neighbors did. Their lawns are pristine; my mower still isn’t working. I’m hoping the replacement of a simple part or two will do the trick.

I got a little work done on the play proposal, and some plotting work done on the radio play. I need to gear up and get those out the door this week.

On the upside, I re-read Arlene Kay’s Boston Uncommons mysteries, and enjoyed them. I drafted up some reviews I’ll leave for them. I also read a couple of her earlier books, one-offs, which were also fun.

STILL waiting for my first assignment from that editor who, weeks ago, said I was hired. I could have done THREE assignments (and been paid) in this time frame. I’m irritated. Perhaps it’s time to move on and take other work instead. IF I’m ever contacted, I’ll see what my schedule is, or I’ll bow out. If you’re “constantly” adding people to the team and promising “steady” work, it doesn’t take three weeks to make the first assignment.

Drafting a short article and an article pitch that need to go out today. Also want to tackle the short story — I’d like to get that out by the end of this week. I need to do some reformatting on the Topic Workbooks for an additional release venue, and get back to work on the next Topic Workbook. I’m going to try to release one every three months.

I re-read TIE CUTTER, which needs to get back into the writing mix in the next few months, and also did some more research for the next section of FIX IT GIRL revisions. The revision process on this novel is different than my usual, but it’s working for the particular novel, so I’m going with it.

Managed to get in a bit of yard work this morning before the rain started, although I was bitten several times. I hate ants. I’m in full out war with the ants. I know, I should appreciate them and all they stand for, but they’re not keeping their part of the bargain.

I have errands to run this morning, some things to do at the library, and then, hopefully, I can get back to the page. This week will be very stressful, on multiple fronts, and I’m trying to prepare myself, both mentally and physically.

Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 9:02 am  Comments Off on Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear  
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Fri. May 19, 2017: Trying to Put It Into Play

Friday, May 19, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Took my mom to her medical appointment. Found more evidence on the CVS issue, and will turn everything over to the State’s Attorney General.

Finished reading a book by an author whose work I usually like, but this one had sloppy writing in it. Good plot, but one could tell that it was written fast. Sets up a new web of characters for more interconnected books, though.

Started implementing some of the things that were discussed on Wednesday. I have to make sure I break down the lists into do-able pieces, or I’ll get overwhelmed and won’t do anything.

Started working on some formatting changes for another outlet for the Topic Workbooks. The problem with those is that I can only work on them for a couple of hours at a stretch. It takes longer than I’d like to get the material done.

Re-read Arlene Kay’s SWANN DIVE. It’s the first of her Boston Uncommons Mysteries. Every time I re-read her books, I enjoy them more.

Still waiting for my first assignment from this supposed new gig.

Started going over some old short stories, both published and unpublished, to see if there are enough on any given theme for a collection. A collection of short stories is less important than getting on the novel carousel again, but it would be nice to get them out there. Some of them are more relevant now than when they were written.

Wrestling in the FIX IT GIRL revisions. There are a couple of B plot lines and red herrings I feel I should weave in to enrich the story; at the same time, I like the leanness and the pace. So I’m struggling with that. Can I keep a lean, fast pace, while just adding in a few tidbits here and there without it either slowing the piece down or it feeling like I’ve thrown things in there with no follow-up?

Getting some yard work done, but it’s difficult without a working mower.

Hopefully, I can have a solid writing weekend, and figure some more stuff out on my recalibration plan. I want to start implementing a few things, and then step back and look at it all again, make some decisions based on the new implementation, and so on and so forth.

Part of that is that, in the next few months, I want to get some general swag done for the constants: Ink in My Coffee, the Devon Ellington website, the Fearless Ink website, and maybe even the Topic Workbooks. Then, as more projects launch, I can add project-specific swag and mix and match for giveaways.

I also need to get rights back on a book where I suspect the contract expired ages ago. The publisher’s done diddly, in fact, new management wanted its authors to pay a monthly fee for promotion. I’d assumed they’d dropped me, but I found the book still on the website; never gotten any reports from them for years. So I have to dig up the contract, get the rights back, do some rewrites, and get it out in a better format.

I also have to figure out why I’m struggling to get back to NOT BY THE BOOK. It’s a good, tight story with fun characters.

Managed to handwrite a couple of pages on something this morning, but I’m still looking for those sample pages for the play proposal. I guess it won’t get out until early next week. I’ve got the proposal section done and the resume done, and I have the completed play done, but I have to find — and then type and polish — the sample pages to finish it.

Published in: on May 19, 2017 at 9:24 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 19, 2017: Trying to Put It Into Play  
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Fri. Aug. 7, 2015: Full Conference Mode

Friday, August 07, 2015
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

It smells like autumn in the mornings now. It warms up to summer during the day, but you can really feel the wheel of the year turning in the early mornings. About 3 AM – since that’s the time I’ve been waking up lately! 😉

Yesterday was busy – worked on conference stuff, casino night stuff, Mermaid Ball stuff, wine tasting evening stuff, photography contest stuff, cataloging stuff.

Left early to get down to the Conference Center and get my books into the bookstore before the 6 PM deadline. Even though I got there a little after 4:30, it was already closed and locked. So, I got my hands on the key (no, I did NOT pick the lock, that would have been rude, hush, you!) and left them with the paperwork.

Went to the cocktail reception, saw some old friends, made some new ones, introduced people to each other, welcomed newcomers to the conference, tried to get people chatting to each other and integrated. In other words, taking my job seriously as a Board member. Faculty Introductions went fine, we then repaired to the bar. To my regular table, where, when people came in looking lost and unsure, we waved them over, “Pull up a chair! Come join us!”

Because inclusion, along with inspiration, is what this conference is all about.

My friend and fellow (wonderful) author Arlene Kay made a comment that was 10% joke, 90% concern that triggered an epiphany about my unhappiness with both my writing quality and my writing productivity over the past few months.

I’ve unfortunately moved from steady, daily productive work (not that every day’s quality is good, but at least there’s something to work on) to more binge writing because of the extra hours I’m putting in between all the events that are booked for August. So I get frustrated because I’m writing less on some of the frantic days and frantic and pushing too hard to binge write on days I set aside for writing. It’s making things choppy instead of letting it flow. Even when something is one fire and I write a lot in a given day, I’m still happier and it’s better quality when I do a lower word count (1 to 2K/day), but a steady one.

Knowing I have to make changes this coming autumn on many fronts, that was an important realization. Thank you, Arlene! I can always count on her to cut through the crap!

In full conference mode for the next three days – tonight is our first keynote speaker, and then there are readings. And then, of course, the bar. Tomorrow, I’m working the desk in the morning, sitting in on one friend’s class in the afternoon, doing whatever needs to be done in the later afternoon, sitting in on a new friend’s class. The banquet is tomorrow night, but I have another commitment on another front in the evening, but will probably head back to the conference later. Sunday, I’m working the desk, sitting in on a class, and then helping load everything out.

In and around all that will be writing for said classes on which I’m sitting in, talking to people, making sure everyone feels happy and included and inspired, and listening. A lot, a lot, of LISTENING.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Mon. Aug. 11, 2014: Excited by The Wonderful Conference!

Monday, August 11, 2014
Last Day of Full Moon
Sunny and cool

Wow. The last few days have been intense.

Thursday, I worked at the library until 2 PM. It was busy — I wanted to make sure I got everything done (since I’m not back “in the office” until this Wed.) and not leave anyone holding the bag or cleaning up a mess I left. So I worked ahead on anything that I could think of being needed, such as the report for tonight’s Board meeting. I also processed a big stack of books that arrived from Ingram. Another box from Ingram arrived as soon as I was done, but I pretended it wasn’t there — and it might not have been mine, anyway. I also processed some videos that arrived from Amazon. I wanted to make sure as much as possible could get on the shelves while I was gone.

I left at 2 PM and headed for the Conference center. I checked in and found out that a fellow board member had a family emergency, so I agreed to cover the things he was supposed to take care of. I unloaded the car, got the library exhibit table set up, then got my own books checked in to the bookshop, then helped out at the cocktail reception.

As usual, we started at a table with two people and kept expanding. My rule of thumb is, “pull up a chair, join us; there’s always room for one more.” That way, no one feels left out, excluded, and people who are there for the first time and don’t know anyone get to meet people, and people who know other people get to meet new people. So that was fun.

My boss from the library joined us for the introduction ceremony upstairs. I announced the writing contest winners (one of them was even there, which was great), and all the instructors were introduced. We ran into someone with whom we’re going to put together a great panel for the library, and a group of us headed downstairs to the bar to catch up. It was fun and noisy, and we got out of there late.

Up early on Friday. Wrote a bit of 1000 words on INITIATE. Cooked for the incoming guests. Finished cleaning up. Ran to the store for the last few things.

Did a roundtable with my friend, Kevin Symmons, at the conference on inspiration –we had a good time with it, and the participants seemed to enjoy it, too. Then came the class I was taking, a screenwriting class. Since it covered the basics, I was worried that I might not be pushed hard enough. But the teacher was good (Chantalle Aimee Osman — if you ever get a chance to study with her, jump at it) and I found points where, because I move from format to format, I’ve gotten sloppy. There are certain areas where I need to sharpen what I do when I’m in screenplay format, in order to take it to the next level.

I’m also going to have to bite the bullet and invest in either Final Draft or Movie Magic, once I have the new Macbook. I’m very anti-formatting software, because I think it makes people rely on the software instead of learning the craft, but it is now the industry standard, and if I want to work in the industry, I need to suck up and deal.

Ran home after class to deal with a few things and get my company settled. Part of the company is a very old yellow lab that my Mom has taken care of since he was a puppy. He’s sweet, but not very bright.

The cats are horrified.

Raced back to the conference. Had rehearsal with the executive director for a skit I stepped into. Had a drink in the bar with some fellow panelists and the terrific novelist Gary Braver. I was on a panel moderated by Arlene Kay, along with Kevin Symmons and David Litwack. What a pleasure! We were talking about our journeys and how we keep writing on tough days, and things like that. It was a lot of fun. We then kicked off the reading sessions.

I knew about two paragraphs in that I picked the wrong scene — you can feel the energy in the room. But I was stuck by then, so I pushed through. Live and learn, right? Should have stuck to the scenes in the media kit! The readings were good — quite varied, and a better quality, overall, than some of the other years.

Went back down to the bar, had a drink with friends and colleagues, got in a bit after midnight. Chatted with the company. Fell into bed, trying to learn lines. Got a text from an actor for whom I just wrote a monologue — he’s on set for a new film and was in between set-ups.

Actor: What are you doing?
Me: Learning lines for Gutenberg.
Actor: Who’s Gutenberg?
Me: Use Google.
Few minutes silence, then another text.
Actor: How are you going to play a guy from the 1400s?
Me: I have no fucking idea.

Up early on Saturday. Wrote about 1100 words on INITIATE. Tessa is still furious with me because there’s a DOG in the house. Got the company safely off to the Nantucket ferry — although the dog stays with us. Tessa puffed up so big that she couldn’t dive under the bed, and had to deflate before she could fit. The cats were just starting to calm down, and then my neighbor decided to cut down a tree next door. Of course, that was my fault, too, as far as the cats were concerned. A DOG and all that NOISE. I’m unhappy, because I don’t think perfectly healthy trees should be cut down, but it’s not on my property, so I have no say in the matter.

Called the joke shop, talked to Chris –sounded like they had what I needed. Drove in to Hyannis, Chris got me all set up with the beard.

Back to the conference. Picked up my costume. Another excellent screenwriting session. Home. Tried on the costume, complete with beard. Cats took one look and dived under the bed. Ran lines a few times. Got out of costume. Took a nap.

Woke up, showered, dressed in a killer blue silk sheath dress, fishnets, and heels, pinning up my hair. If I’m going to play I bearded guy from the fifteenth century in an academic robe, I am going to look HOT for the banquet!

Got caught in Craigville beach traffic on the way back to the conference. Had my window down, had the music on. This shirtless surfer dude leans into the open window, sees the fishnets and says, “So, what’re you doin’ tonight?”

Me: Playing Gutenberg.
Dude: Huh?
Me: What, you don’t get into a little role playing sometime?

He had no idea how to respond to that!

The keynote was a roundtable with author Rishi Reddi and Alicia Anstead, who’s the editor of THE WRITER magazine. We all read Rishi’s story “Karma” and it was a discussion, led by Alicia. It was interesting, and a lot of fun. At times, I worried that over-analyzing it might take away some of the power and emotional beauty of the story, but Alicia is very good at what she does and knew how to keep it from getting pretentious or ponderous. Rishi’s writing is just gorgeous. The piece was the “One Story” that was read last year by the entire city of Boston as part of the Boston Book Festival.

Then, we paraded into dinner. I was lucky enough to be at the table with Rishi, Alicia, Michelle Hoover, and Karen Day (two more wonderful authors), along with others. We had a lively, fun discussion that ran the gamut of topics. I can’t wait for the new novels by Rishi, Michelle, and Karen.

Between the main course and dessert, I disappeared, and, with the help of Matthew, one of our scholarship students (whose work I really liked, and who already knew, from the previous days, that I am completely out of my mind), got into costume. Nancy and I did the skit. I couldn’t let my dislike of performance inhibit me. Nancy wrote an arrogant, self-assured character, and I had to go with it and over it — so I went for it, over the top, high camp. The audience loved it. I still wish Jim had been able to do it — he’s such a good actor, he would have brought a lot to the role. But I managed to get away with it. However, it was a prime example of why I spent my life BACKstage, instead of ONstage.

Scrambled out of costume, let my hair down (literally this time, not just figuratively), and had dessert. Stopped at the beach on the way home because it was such a beautiful night, hung out with some people playing music and dancing. Got home about one.

From silk sheath to panda pajamas in a matter of minutes.

Up early on Sunday, wrote about 1100 words on INITIATE. At the conference a little before 10 AM to help at the desk. At noon, I broke down the library exhibit table, loaded the car. As classes ended, I loaded the easels into the car, since we will use them for Mermaid Ball. Got the unsold books back from the bookstore — I sold some, and people kept asking me to sign copies, which was nice. Had a rash from the fake beard around my nose and my upper lip, though.

Took my final screenwriting session. We wrote tag lines and log lines. I created a tagline and used the logline from STALEMATE DEATH. Fortunately, the teacher liked both, although she thought I should put back a line I’d cut from the logline, so I did. If I hadn’t been able to walk my talk, in the experiences I’d shared in class, it would have been bad!

Bolted down a tuna melt in the bar, and came back to help break down the rest of the conference and load it into the truck. They had enough people to unload, so I got to go straight home. Drinks on the deck, dinner. Repacked the books that will go to Books by the Sea today, read a bit, but was too tired to concentrate, so I went to bed early.

Up early this morning. Wrote 1000 words on INITIATE. Tessa is getting braver, and even coming downstairs to be with me when I write, but she is still not happy there’s a dog in the house. Violet just stares at the dog, and he stares back, totally intimidated. Iris sidles by him. It’s funny.

Long day today — have to go in to the library to settle some dates; have to drop stuff off at Cotuit Library. Have to get my books to Books By the Sea. Have an appointment in Hyannis with a new student (we’re meeting at Uncommon Ground). Have a Mermaid Ball meeting tonight. Need to do follow-up on the conference (already had to do some business this morning). Need to finish two book reviews, and prep the cozy mystery group and do more research for BALTHAZAAR.

Busy day much?

All I want to do is sleep! No chance for that, not until tonight.

It was a great week. I’m glad I stuck to my guns and wrote every day, or I’d be feeling lousy today.

I hope the momentum carries the students into new work. Too often, the members are all excited during the conference, and by the time the Writers Night Out sessions start again, most of them sit around the table making excuses about why they’re not writing.

Which just drives me nuts. Which, I realize, is often a very short drive.

Back to the book reviews, and then I’m on the road for pretty much the rest of the day. I’ve already drunk a whole pot of coffee. It’s not helping.

But it was a great conference. In spite of the exhaustion, I want to use the energy and the momentum positively into the coming months, on a writing level, on a Board-Member-of-the-Center level, and on a programming level for the library.

After today, however, full focus MUST shift to the Mermaid Ball, which is at the end of next week.

Devon