Mon. May 15, 2017: Creative Juggling & The Need to Weigh Decisions

Monday, May 15, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

The lilacs are magnificent this year. I could just sit all day and breathe in the scent.

Busy writing weekend. On Friday, I managed to revised six chapters of THE FIX-IT GIRL and get the changes put into the manuscript. I also did 20 pages of revision on WINNER TAKE ALL.

I put changes into three more chapters of FIX IT GIRL, but didn’t get them into the manuscript.

Saturday, another 21 pages of revision on WINNER TAKE ALL. Two and a half pages of new material on the literary novel, five pages on a paranormal Victorian romance. Research.

I worked on the proposal packet for the new play, including sample pages. I wish I could submit ENEMY for development, but that’s not inherently in Boston, and the producer wants something where Boston is a character.

I also found a new-to-me market and came up with ideas for four short pieces for them. I roughed out all four, and now it’s a case of drafting them. They’re short — one is 800 words, one is 1000 words, and the other two can run between 3K and 7K. I figured out where to re-slant and re-send a pitch that I’d sent to a publication and they liked it, but had run something similar in the issue that was about to land. I’m hoping they’ll accept a different idea. I’d like to get all these pieces done and out the door this week, along with finding some markets for some other ideas.

I’m still waiting to receive my first assignment on this new gig I was supposedly hired on.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and pouring rain. I cut some lilacs (this is a wonderful year for lilacs on Cape), and made scrambled eggs with Canadian bacon for my mom.

I also wrote the first draft of the 800 word piece and did another 23 pages of revisions on the screenplay. I’m just beyond the half way point on it. This morning, I revised the 800-word piece, and it’s ready to send out.

Re-slanted a pitch, typed up a filler, and created another pitch and article outline.

I re-read Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS, which was interesting (I like her writing). I’m in the midst of reading another novel (by a different author) I found among my pile and hadn’t yet read — I’m on the fence about it. Parts of it I really like, and other parts feel a bit pretentious. Tried watching a new-to-me series, but it was juggling too many subplots with no explanations, taking spare dialogue too far, and I got exasperated. I don’t need everything explained (in fact, I prefer it not to), but this was beyond Mamet-ian. And British. Which didn’t quite work for me.

Heard from an old friend I didn’t think I’d hear from again. We have a lot of catching up to do. Drafted back my response. Found out another old pal is only about an hour and a half away — I’ll have to get in touch.

Did more Lavinia Fontana research. I have a feeling her father, Prospero, will be one of the top supporting characters in the play. He strikes me as quite an ambitious rascal.

This morning, I drafted just over 600 words of one of the 3K stories I’m working on this week. It’s taking on a more vibrant life of its own, which is a good thing, but it’s also not something I can just crank out, the way I’d hoped. But the quality will be better without the cranking, and the quality of the work is the ultimate test.

I need to make some decisions on what I want the trajectory to be for PLAYING THE ANGLES and the subsequent books from that circle of friends, and how I want to re-launch the Gwen Finnegan books. Simply sending them to a small publisher who only does POD doesn’t help me. The companies are too small to do adequate promotion, and the POD knocks me out of too many markets. Yet neither series really fits the current traditional publishing trends. They’re good stories, and people respond positively, but they intentionally break traditional formulas. Do I have the creativity, the stamina, and the resources to mount the carefully-plotted out marketing campaigns they would need? More importantly, am I able to keep up with the additional books in each series in a timely manner? Because feeding the monster is important. And Amazon, the Behemoth, is an important market force, but I have trouble with some of the ways they’re doing business. All of this has to be weighed and measured.

I hope this week will wind up being both creatively fulfilling AND financially rewarding. I need the two to balance. I’ve got my mid-month check-in up on the GDR site here.

Have a great week!

Wed. May 10, 2010: Research, Writing, Nasty Bookers, and Project Juggling

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

It still goes down into the 30s at night. We had to bring the tomato plants in.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise. Jamieson Wolf is a guest, and he talks about his new release LUST & LEMONADE.

Yesterday was kind of all over the place; grocery shopping; trying to get some work done at the library, but it was both noisy and full of the crazies.

I did some research for a handful of projects; figured out that an article I was working on actually needs to be broken down into two articles in order to keep a solid focus; wrote most of an outline for a new piece and the first ten pages of it, so I can figure out what it is and if it will work (so far, so good). I’m working on a proposal packet for a slot with a producer who wants to develop a new play. It’s a different way of working — I’m trying to develop enough of the idea to create an exciting package, while, at the same time, leaving enough room for collaboration. I usually put the proposal together with a finished, polished script, but that’s not what this theatre wants. Good to work differently. Keeps one from getting stale.

It was interesting reading the research book I’ve been reading the past few days. It feeds into three different projects, and I’d read a passage and think, “that will work with X” and a few pages later, “That will work for Y” and a few pages later, “I can use variants of that for X AND for Z.” Then, of course, I had to jot down notes in the various outlines referring to the research notes so I wouldn’t forget!

I’m in article mode now, and I had an idea for another spate of articles. Unfortunately, so far, the research I’ve done into the markets — the publications most geared to the topic — not only refuse to pay, they want their contributors to write numerous articles per month FOR FREE. I’m getting a little tired of the “Gimme Culture” instead of a sustainable Reciprocal Culture. Nope. Next. Bye. If I was starting out and looking to build my portfolio, maybe. But not at this stage in the game. So I have to dig a little deeper into other markets, and see what’s what.

I’ve been asked by two organizations I used to be associated with for marketing advice. I don’t mind throwing them a few ideas, but I’m not working for either one for free anymore. I put in my time. No matter how much I did or how much of my own work suffered, it was never enough; in fact, my thanks from one organization was metaphorical multiple slaps in the face, so, no. You get a short email with some ideas, and then it’s up to you, unless you plan on hiring me as a marketing consultant at my regular rate. In fact, I’m writing an article on just that topic. 😉

I’m working on a couple of other pitches to send out. I’m in negotiations for one particular gig which I think would be fun, and I have a meeting tomorrow about another one.

I’ve been working on FIX IT GIRL rewrites. Unlike some rewrites, I’m not putting all the changes into chapters every day. I find, with this, as I work on the hard copy of the first draft, I need to stop and research this detail and that detail and the other detail; expand, contract, restructure; get rid of sloppy writing. About every three chapters, I pull up the document and put in the new material. On the one hand, it’s slower; on the other hand, it means more goes into this draft, which means fewer drafts, because I’m not doing separate passes for separate elements.

I’ve done my prep to dig into the revisions of WINNER TAKE ALL. I’m hoping I can read through it this afternoon and get started. I already know one character/subplot I need to cut, and there are some other cuts, along with a new scene I need to add to have it make sense. As long as I can keep the script 120 pages (I’d like to get it down to 112-115), I’m okay. But 120 pages — where it is now — is the top of the limit. I want some more room in the draft, so I have to see what I can cut. There are a few scenes that could use some trimming. I want to raise the sense of danger for my protagonist in a couple of scenes, too. She sails through it all with a bit too much serenity. Yes, she’s smarter than most of those around her, but, as we all know, stupid people can be dangerous. Look at what’s going on in the country right now.

Speaking of which, Sally Yates was amazing in her testimony. Talk about someone with ethics, intelligence, and integrity. She put Ted Cruz in his place, that slimy piece of corrupt garbage. Then the Narcissistic Sociopath fires the FBI Director — on the advice of the corrupt, racist AG who supposedly had recused himself from the situation because he’s involved. Granted, Comey needed to go. There were two major conflicts/investigations going on with the elections last fall, one with each party. He made a partisan choice that affected the outcome. For that, he should have been sacked by November 10, and then prosecuted. For far too much of his recent testimony recently before Congress, he sounded like a whiny moron, not the head of a legitimate intelligence agency. But to be fired by the people he was investigating AT THIS POINT, is also suspicious. Nor should the people under investigation be allowed to appoint his successor until the investigation is complete. The level of corruption in this administration is astonishing.

It reminds me of the research material I’ve been reading, about the 1920s. Harding’s administration was pretty damn corrupt, too, and that ended in the Crash of 1929.

Re-reading Elizabeth George’s WRITE AWAY!, which is a book I assign to my writing students. The more I write, the more my process evolves away from hers. I don’t do the detailed character profiles she does — if I write down too much ABOUT a character before I write a piece, my subconscious believes I’ve already written the book and moves on. All I do is stare at a blank page. You can ask me anything about a character, any detail, and I know it, but I can’t write it all down. By trying her method, I lost what could have been a good book. Maybe someday, I’ll get it back, but so far, no luck. However, she has good points about knowing one’s setting and putting butt in chair and getting it done. I’ve always been on the fence about her books — some work for me better than others. I always loathed the character of Helen.

A little over a year ago, when I tried to book her as a speaker at the library for which I then worked, the person who handles her bookings quoted me a rate that would have wiped us out for nearly three years, and then was rude about us not booking her, although I politely explained the “why”. The booker berated us for having a small budget, for thinking a “name” author could be bothered with us, and for not being willing to go into debt to pay her anyway. By the way, we had plenty of name authors come in within our budget. Yes, have your “team” play the bad guys, but when they behave that way, don’t be surprised when it touches how people respond to your work. Now, every time I see a new release of hers, I remember how nasty her booker was, and, since I was already on the fence about the book, I pass. I respect what she’s achieved, but she is no longer on my “must read” pile. That could change, with time and distance, but that’s where I am right now. I do, however, respect and admire her work ethic. She gets things done. She does them well, and she makes a living from it. Good for her!

Tried re-reading a memoir of Paris, which is well done, but I wasn’t in the mood for the exploits of a young, drunken, male Aussie. So I went back to re-read Claire Cook’s IT’S NEVER TOO LATE. I met Claire two years ago at the Cape Cod Writer’s Conference, and we had some great chats. In fact, I’m going to dedicate TIE CUTTER to her. Her novels are a good pick-me-up when things look bleak. I also respect the way she gets things done, like Elizabeth George and Jayne Ann Krentz and just about every other writer making a go of it. She doesn’t whine or waste time in negativity. She writes her books, she respects her readers, she doesn’t bow to the changing winds. She’s comfortable in her own skin, and that’s always something to admire.

Tonight, I’m going to a reading in which my friend’s daughter has a part. I’m looking forward to it. I missed the last production she was in, and I want to support her and her mom.

At least there’s a lot of creativity going on!

Wed. April 9, 2014: Head down, Working

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Worked flat out all day on client projects, stuff for the play, the quick-turnaround script, and contest entries. The next batch of books arrived from my editor and look good — I’m excited to dive into them. Finalized the details for tomorrow, which is a big day for me.

Had to stop by another client and withdraw from a job, because I couldn’t juggle everything, and I had to make the choice that was career-oriented. Fortunately, they were understanding and supportive.

Did some research for the articles due on May 1.

This morning, I received the edits on “Lake Justice”, which I’ll have to turn around in the next couple of days. It’s definitely do-able, but a challenge.

That’s all she wrote — I have to just keep my head down and get things done, because everything’s about to change — and all for the better.

Published in: on April 9, 2014 at 7:20 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

Tues. Feb. 4, 2014: Crusty Snow and School Work

Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

We had snow most of yesterday, the wet, icky kind. It didn’t stop until after dark, which means I got to shovel wet, crusty snow this morning. And that Toro Power Shovel? Piece of crap. I thought Toro products were good and reliable, but both the design on this and its unreliability make it a huge disappointment. Save your money and and buy a product that actually WORKS.

If you haven’t dropped a comment on my blogging article, please do so. I’d love to be asked back for a regular gig.

Finished up a book proposal yesterday, printed it out, and realized that there were font and formatting problems, so I had to go back, fix it, and reprint. It looked good on screen, but I hadn’t checked the details, and it wasn’t right, so . . .had to make it right. That will go into the mail today, when I get to the post office. I fell in love with the book all over again, working on the proposal.

Polished the sci-fi/horror/western novella and submitted it to Amber Quill, who let me know, a few hours later, that they accepted it! That was quick! We’re going to find a new title — which makes perfect sense — but they definitely want it. Nice, quick sale! Now, I need to polish another novella for them and get back to BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

Did some work on the new play, but it still isn’t where I want it.

Made a quick library run to return some books and get out some novels for the snowstorm. Reading Jake Arnott’s THE HOUSE OF RUMOUR, whose chapters are structured on the Major Arcana of the tarot.

Trying to catch up on computational neuroscience work, but it’s giving me a headache (no pun intended). Catching up on Astrobiology — fascinating class, out of University of Edinburgh, and did the peer evaluations on the Environmental Law papers.

Did some thinking on an untitled novella (which seems to be expanding into a novel) and on the Sparkle and Tarnish project. Caught up on some correspondence.

I need to get a lot of writing done and work with students. I’ve got a new student, a guy whose college papers I proofread, who’s hired me to give him some grammar lessons along the way. So that’s all good.

Got paid for my last two articles on the random-date-paying market — earlier than I expected, which is nice.

I’ve got some wine research to do for Adventures in Vineland, and some other research on a couple of articles I’m interesting in pitching to markets that are a bit of a stretch for me.

I was invited to participate in an eco-festival this spring out in Provincetown. I’d wanted to do it last year, but didn’t find out about it until too late. This year, unfortunately, it conflict with the dates for the new play. Oh, well. It’ll happen when it’s time, I guess.

Back to the page, and to the school work.

Devon

Published in: on February 4, 2014 at 9:22 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 4, 2014: Crusty Snow and School Work  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wed. Jan. 15, 2014: Brain Work

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Mid-month check-in over on the GDR site, and an update on the garden site.

Busy day yesterday. Lots of it was admin work and prep work for meetings. Worked with students. Pitched for some jobs.

My computational neuroscience class started. Turns out my neurons fire differently than most people’s. I kind of knew that, but the professor finds it interesting. My fellow students, however, do not. There’s resentment that even though I don’t have the math background, I’m capable of figuring out the equations in my own, off-the-wall way. I don’t believe algebra exists, I don’t do calculus, and, to me, “probability” is how I pick a winning horse. Oh, and my brain responds receptively the same way as a cat’s.

My question to that is: is that BECAUSE I live with cats, or do I live with cats BECAUSE of the way my brain works?

It’s all very interesting.

The Environmental Law & Policy class has also started; I need to get up to speed on that. That should be quite fascinating.

Driving to the meeting last night was a nightmare in the storm. I didn’t think I was going to make it. Hydroplaning all over the place.

Meeting was lively, with some surprises.

Client STILL hasn’t paid me. Client will shortly be ex-client.

I have to finish up the last set of articles for the other slow-paying client today (the one who actually paid, albeit late) and that finishes out our contract.

I have some admin to do and some errands to run. I’m supposed to be in four different places tonight; I’m not going to be in any of them. I need some rest. I’ve got a migraine again, and it’s not going to get any better.

One of the interesting things about these neuroscience classes is that I’m starting to understand the physical components underlying the psychological components of how the brain works, and how that is tied to an individual’s value systems. What we remember and what we forget isn’t just about the amount of information we have — it’s tied to what and who we value and how we assign those values in relation to our own agendas. It’s easy to say “I forgot” or “that was careless”, but there is an underlying reason that works on both mechanical AND psychological levels on what we forget and why. As people around me make decisions that, ultimately, affect me, having this additional layer of information is useful as I make decisions on my responses, and can separate the platitudes spoken to ass-cover from the scientific reality of how the brain works.

Haven’t been in much of a writing groove this week — need to get back into it.

Devon

Published in: on January 15, 2014 at 8:33 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 15, 2014: Brain Work  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Fri. Oct. 25, 2013: Percolating Ideas

Friday, October 23, 2013
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I got some good work done on the palate-cleanser yesterday, and I’ve figured out the ending, which means I have something for which to aim. Two characters wandered in that I wasn’t expecting, but they are demanding their share of page/screen time. Pushing through on the screenplay, even though I know it needs massive revision.

Worked on articles, worked with students, did some pitches, did some grocery shopping, did some yard work, but it feels overwhelming. Kind of feel like I’m going in circles, which I hate.

Developing an essay idea that I hope to flesh out and submit early next week. Actually, I have two ideas, but I’m going to do one, and then the other.

Will spend time on the novella this weekend, and also, hopefully, some time at the Marine Life Center, if I can sort everything out. Must run over to Osterville Library today to pick up some material they’ve gathered for me.

Short post because so much of what’s in my head is figuring out stuff for the WIPS, and if I talk it too much before writing it, everything will dissipate.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on October 25, 2013 at 6:51 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , ,

Thurs. Sept. 26, 2013: Projects Moving to Phase Two

Thursday, September 26, 2013
Waning Moon
Sunny and cool

Polished and sent out two articles yesterday. Finally got them right. Worked with students. Sent out a few pitches. One got an almost immediate response, so we’ll see where we go from there. I thought it was a stretch when I pitched, but they liked my materials, and now we’re working on the next step.

I had a two hour meeting with someone in LA on a project for which my agent pitched me. We are also taking the next step on that, and, if it works out for both of us, will go to contract hopefully sooner than later.

Received my next two assignments from Confidential Job #1. Already read the material for one of them, and have to write it up.

Received my first assignment from my new editor. Will get to work on that today.

Re-read the 85 pages I’ve got on Project D so far, and feel good about it.

OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK got a 5-star reader review on Amazon, which was great, and will be available in print in the next couple of days.

Back to the page,

Devon

Published in: on September 26, 2013 at 6:40 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

Mon. Sept. 9, 2013: Writing, Neuro-Ethics, Idea Batches, & Script Coverage

Monday, September 9, 2013
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Busy weekend. Most of the focus was on the new novel. I’ve now written six chapters, the first 107 pages. I’m happy with the bones of it, although it will need revision. The pace is a little more intense than my usual one, but it fits this particular book’s rhythm. My original concept was category genre, but it’s evolved into contemporary fiction, so I’m rolling with it. I trust my characters, and they are not disappointing me.

Did my course work for the Creativity Course and the Paleontology course. I’m a bit disappointed in both. I don’t feel challenged enough. Maybe I was just spoiled in the archaeology course.

Found my neuro-science research and the notes for the project that didn’t work. That one can’t be saved — too derivative. But I wrote eight pages of an outline for another one that I think will work. Even if the neuro-ethics course keeps getting pushed back, I’m going to tap that professor as a resource.

I also jotted down a batch of notes, because ideas come in batches, and, on days when the well runs dry, I can pull out the notes and get to work. These are loglines for projects I’d love to create, a mix of prose and script projects, and I hope I get the chance to explore at least some of them.

I went over my script coverage package samples again, and I’m happy with them. Now, it’s a case of running off copies of the packet, sitting down with the production book, and deciding where I want to pitch. I like the work, and I want more of it.

Have to do some work in regards to the play today, and also knock out a couple of articles. I was paid for the last batch of articles, so now they get the next batch.

The 9/11 Anniversary is coming up, and I’m trying to prepare myself. I will honor those I lost that day, but I also have to function, unfortunately, because I have to attend a grant writing seminar at the Arts Foundation that night. This is a wound time does not heal.

Relaxed by watching movies in and around the writing all weekend. There was a continuity issue in BOURNE LEGACY that bugged me — at the top of the motorcycle chase, suddenly he’s putting on a pair of sunglasses. Where the heck did he get them? Renner’s a smart enough actor to want logic, and a movie that is so detailed that the wallet he later gives her is in the shot when he picks up the car in Chicago is not going to make that kind of continuity mistake. But it bugged me (hey, I used to work in wardrobe — it’s one of the discussions I would have had with actor and other crew in setting up the shot). I hunted down B roll footage on line and saw that, originally, the sunglasses were in the helmet hanging off the handlebars, so when he hands her the helmet, he takes out the sunglasses, delivers a line (giving her time to get the helmet on), puts on the sunglasses, and off they go. THAT made sense. It was cut in the edit, to keep pace. So, from a production point of view, it calmed me down, but that shot is still going to bug me any time I see it (but you know, sometimes things get sacrificed).

Watched MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL. My response was, “meh.” I grew up absolutely crazy about the series (I mean, really, Peter Graves? Be still my heart, especially as a kid not even realizing I was learning about story structure), and just never really connected to the film franchise. What they do, they do well, and there were some character scenes I loved (especially the second-to-last in Seattle that had some great detail work by the actors). Too much character development was sacrificed for action, especially when it came to the villains. The team discussed the whys of the villainy, but I would have rather SEEN it during the scenes where we encountered the villains than HEARD about it in dialogue (I know, don’t faint, I actually want information not given via dialogue). I mean, it was fine, it was fun, but I don’t feel like I missed anything by not seeing it in the theatre.

And, of course, NEWSROOM was on, but because it was part of a two-episode season finale, it felt dragged out to me. I love the show, I’m glad it’s coming back next year, but this episode didn’t pack the emotional punch the last few episodes did.

So, I’m back at the desk this morning, juggling novels, getting other work done, hustling for yet more work. I feel pretty good creatively right now, but there are some other ducks that need to mind the row.

Devon

Published in: on September 9, 2013 at 7:05 am  Comments Off on Mon. Sept. 9, 2013: Writing, Neuro-Ethics, Idea Batches, & Script Coverage  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wed. Sept. 4, 2013: Writing Frenzy and Neuro-Ethics

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Day Before Dark Moon
Sunny and cooler

Flat out yesterday. 4707 words (18 pages) on one of the two priority projects I’m juggling. Just over 1200 words this morning, and nowhere near stopping, although this morning’s work was more of a struggle. I was fighting a scene in a different POV, because I don’t like switching POVS within a chapter. But I didn’t want this whole chapter in this second POV. But I needed the scene. I tried to do without, and it didn’t work. So I went back and added it in, and now the chapter is smoothing out a bit.

Also invoiced some articles, wrote, polished, invoiced, and sent off two reviews. Pitched a couple of jobs. Responded to some emails. Worked on the book proposal, but couldn’t finish it. I’ll have to finish it and get it out today.

I had to stop work for a few hours yesterday because of severe storms, and I didn’t want to blow out the computer. Thunder, lightening, torrential rain. Refilled the jugs with rainwater for the plants, though, but it was still a lot.

Sat down and watched THE BOURNE LEGACY all the way through last night. Hey, I pay for On Demand, I might as well use it. I liked it a lot better than I expected. Structurally, it’s astonishing. I mean, the action sequences are spectacular, too, but the way it’s written and edited, the structure is one of the strongest I’ve seen in a long time. I’ll have to watch it a few more times and break it down, really get inside the structure, live in its skin, and I’ll learn a lot. Renner and Weisz were excellent, and I love how, with Weisz’s character, every time she’s pushed beyond her limits and one thinks she’ll totally lose it, she steps up and comes through. Some of the supporting cast were a bit cardboard, but I figure those character developments were sacrificed for pace. I would have liked the assassin in that final chase to have been a threat from earlier on, but that’s just me wanting more development in antagonists in work — heck, I teach a class on antagonists. There were a couple of places where I wanted just a single beat of stillness — both these actors can use stillness to positive effect, and, especially in a movie where pace is so important, there were two or three scenes where I just wanted ONE more beat of stillness, especially between them. I felt the full connection was cut short in those particular edits.

What I found interesting in the plot was that it reminds me of research I did on various Super Soldier programs a few years ago – I wonder if the screenwriters and I read some of the same source material. Somewhere, still packed, I have the book on the program that I tracked down, after finding it at the library and knowing I had to have it as part of my research materials for a project. I remember working with Vietnam Vets years ago, and they were already talking about that kind of program. So it’s interesting to see how these theories and possibilities are creatively explored. And the question asked over and over again: Can you keep your moral compass, your integrity as a human being, and still participate in war? If you don’t participate in war, is the only choice being conquered? Do some have to hang up their moral/human integrity in the name of keeping the many safe? Where do you draw the line? I don’t think we have easy answers to that. I don’t think there have ever been easy answers to that, no matter what we want to think and believe on an individual basis. Warfare has always been about cruelty and dehumanization, and advances in technology and genome science have created new questions, not solved old ones.

That’s why I signed up for the Neuroethics class that keeps getting postponed. These are some of the questions we explore in regard to programs like developing Super Soldiers. I want to take that class, because I want to dig deeper.

Then watched LUTHER on BBC America, which is just so character-oriented that it’s always a terrific ride. I think it’s running four consecutive nights, so that will be good.

Lots of work today,and a blazing headache, so I better get to it.

Devon

Tues. Sept. 3, 2013: Hellish Weekend & Jeremy Renner Saves This Writer’s Bacon in a Dream

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Waning Moon
Sunny and humid

A Hell of a weekend. A good lesson in not letting the b.s. get you down.

Friday, I had a fairly light workday. I was waiting for what I’d been assured was good news on a big contract that would take up most of my time in the upcoming months. I was clearing things off my desk, preparing to actually HAVE a holiday weekend.

A little after 5 PM, the news came — I did not get that contract. I’ve been jerked around all summer with assurances about how much they love my work while they went and hired someone with no practical experience, no track record of meeting deadlines, but with more degrees.

To say I was devastated and heartbroken is an understatement. First of all, I am the best person for the job. Period. End of story. I have the skills, the creativity, the ability to meet deadlines; they even said my proposal was so perfect they didn’t need to change even a comma. Yet they gave the contract – -which means the MONEY — to someone who has no practical experience, but a string of letters after the name.

That throws the rest of my year out of whack — I’ve got to scramble financially and find work to replace this. It wasn’t something that could be layered onto anything else — it would need my full attention, so I held back on long-term projects that would conflict. That was MY stupidity, and I’m paying for it dearly now.

Hurt, angry, frantic. That was my Friday night.

I didn’t get any sleep. I was too upset. I couldn’t pretend it was okay, because it wasn’t okay, not on any level. And I will NEVER believe them again until the check has cleared – -this is a big name house with a solid reputation. The fact that they fucked me over in this way means my price just went WAAAAY up in anything related to them in the future. I already know the person who beat me out for the gig can’t meet the deadlines or deliver solid work — they’ll find it out. Cold comfort to me, who has to find a way to pay the bills over the next few months, but, ultimately, I have to trust that the universe will find a far more interesting way to sort this out than I ever could.

Also, pretending it doesn’t bother me when it does would just make me sick. And I’m angry at myself for trusting them — although I trusted the person who set me up with them in the first place, because that’s what she’s paid to do. Don’t bullshit me with the talk of future projects. I need something NOW.

I was up before 5 AM on Saturday, and between 6:30 in the morning and about 4 in the afternoon, I wrote another book proposal and sample chapters. This is a book that I want to write, a book I’ve wanted to write for awhile, but was put aside for the moment when this other project came up. So I sat down and powered through it.

I was exhausted by the end of the day, but happy with it. It’s something I know well, something about which I love to write, and very practical.

I could have spent the weekend wallowing in my anger and self-pity, but I decided to take the frantic momentum and turn it around. I wrote something important to ME, something I want to do, and that also has huge market potential, so it has the best of both worlds, for the right partner.

I put it aside on Sunday, and made some notes on an idea I’ve been playing with for awhile. An idea that is FAR out of my wheelhouse, a huge stretch/leap for me in my work. But I’ve found the voice and it feels right.

I did 994 words on it Monday morning. I like where I’m going with it. It’s so far out of what I usually do, and in a POV I rarely use, but it’s working, and I love it.

And I pitched some article ideas — got to jump right back into the water, get back on the horse, all those cliches, right?

I had to stop then, because I had to drive Costume Imp back to Providence, so he could get his bus back to New York. The bus, was, of course, delayed, but I’m glad we got off Cape early, because by the time we returned, there were backups coming over both bridges that looked interminable. Plus, on the way home, we took a detour to Target.

Over the weekend, we gorged ourselves watching TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY on demand. I can never get enough of John Barrowman and Eve Myles anyway, and their chemistry is terrific. But this show is one of the most terrifying, relevant, and best written shows I’ve ever seen. It was wonderful to be able to watch the entire season in just a couple of days.

NEWSROOM wasn’t on this Sunday, so I wound up watching the end of THE BOURNE LEGACY. I’ve seen bits and pieces over the past weeks, but still haven’t sat down and watched the whole thing from start to finish. I should — it’s got Jeremy Renner in it, and he’s one of my favorite actors. I liked his work well before HURT LOCKER and most people even knew who he was.

But anyway, note to self: don’t watch THE BOURNE LEGACY right before bedtime unless you want it to invade your dreams. Actually, it was the actor AS an actor, not as one of his characters who invaded my dreams. I dreamed that I wrote another show for the National Marine Life Center, but the actors didn’t show up for rehearsal, and I couldn’t find them for the performance. Which was sold out. For some reason, Jeremy Renner wandered past as I was running around looking for my actors, stepped in and cold-read all the roles in the entire script, bringing down the house.

Which he is totally talented enough to do, but since we’ve never worked together, I don’t know why he would! Even though it was a dream, I’m terribly grateful to him, and woke up with some solutions. I spent so many years working with actors, I don’t usually dream about them. Too much of a busman’s holiday. But if my subconscious wants to personify itself as Jeremy Renner, who am I to argue? 😉

I’m sure other people have dreams about Jeremy Renner in quite a different context!

Obviously, I’ve got some anxieties about remounting the play.

Upon coming back home yesterday, another idea blazed across the brain (because Ideas come in batches, always). I wrote an outline, and this morning wrote 4707 words (18 pages) of this project.

So, I’ve got two priority projects to juggle, plus the fantasy trilogy, plus getting the play up again, plus finding enough work to pay the bills for the next few months.

Which means I better get back to it, huh? I’ve got two book reviews to finish today, some contracts to resend, work on the play, work on the grant for the next play, invoicing for previous articles, and a final polish on the proposal I wrote on Saturday (that I still love) that I intend to have on my agent’s desk by the end of the day.

Power on.

Devon

Tues. July 2, 2013: Long List, Short Time

Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and muggy

I’m teaching a one-day seminar online about putting together Media Kits and Media Rooms. It’s only $15 to get walked through the process for both, and you get a PDF of the class after. Information here.

And we’re coming up on a new cycle of private student slots. They are application-based, for writers serious about building a career only (not those who want to do it as a hobby), and writers are chosen on a combination of solid storytelling and demonstration of basic craft knowledge. Information on those slots here.

The articles I wrote this weekend were all submitted and accepted. That’s what we like. Worked with students. Did a huge chunk for a major editing client — hope to finish that today. Got some pitches out. Accepted another editing client on a shorter project. Got a review out to my new editor. Took my mom to the doctor — she’s doing well.

And . . .the carbon monoxide detectors got cranky. They were beeping intermittently, both the low battery and the “get out of the house!” sequences. I changed the batteries and the readings skyrocketed. So, I called the Fire Department.

The guy came over with his highly sensitive detector and confirmed it was fine. I don’t see how it could be otherwise, with the windows open. He took the carbon monoxide detectors out in the fresh air, and said sometimes they need “airing” and they get wonky in the humidity. Everything was all fine and off he went . . .and then the smoke alarms went off.

Mercury Retrograde is a pain in the butt.

Everything was fine. The batteries SHOULD be fine — I changed them on the Equinox. Frustrating, and upsetting for the cats.

It also meant I had to cancel out of my meeting.

Watched TV last night, because I just had to rest my brain. And my back, hunched over the computer all day.

A colleague suggested some new markets interested in novelette and novella-length fiction, and I spun a few ideas. We’ll see if I can slot it in with the other stuff.

I had to mow No Man’s Land — the dandelions were taller than my knees. Even though it was wet, it had to be done.

Tessa nearly caught a bird. It was a fresh one, who’d been teasing her, but still . . .I don’t want her to feel punished because she reacted on instinct, but she jumped from the deck nearly all the way to the neighbor’s yard (in one leap). As impressive as that is, she is not allowed off the deck. So she is back in her enclosure, with the gate closed, instead of having free range on the deck, but I did not scold her for doing what cats do.

I’ve got a couple more articles to draft today, on various topics, and I’m doing some follow-up on submissions that went out awhile ago and should have had a response by now.

I have a lot to do this morning, and then a conference call with my agent, and a Mermaid Ball meeting after that.

Must be productive!

Devon

Published in: on July 2, 2013 at 8:43 am  Comments Off on Tues. July 2, 2013: Long List, Short Time  
Tags: , , , , ,

Mon. July 1, 2013: Riding the The Writing Train

Monday, July 1, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and muggy

I can’t believe it’s July already. Wow.

Don’t remember much from Friday, other than it was a work day, worked through, but didn’t feel like I got enough done (which is pretty usual, I guess). Pitched a couple of pieces and my agent set up a conference call for tomorrow afternoon on a project.

Saturday, I hit the ground running, writing-wise. I drafted three articles and wrote a whole short story. The short story was supposed to be a 1500 word piece of contemporary literary fiction, but wound up being a 3999 word piece of magical realism. Which is fine. I roughed out a couple more short stories in my head, working on characters and situations. It was a good writing day.

I also watched the pilot of CROSSING LINES. Spoiler alert. If you still want to see it, skip this part of the blog! I liked a lot, but a lot of it frustrated me. I love the idea of an ensemble cast/team that works across borders. Yes, it was a marketing decision, in many ways, to pull in the overseas sales, but I still liked it. I like a lot of the production detail, although we really don’t need a shot of the Eiffel Tower every time we cut back to Paris in order to be oriented. Give us some more emotional geography, and we’ll get it. I liked a lot of the scene work between the actors — the moment-to-moment stuff, when the ensemble went from full dynamics to two or three person scenes. I like William Fichtner’s work a lot — I was lucky to work with him off-Broadway years ago. His acting’s excellent, and he’s good to work with. I felt some tropes were imposed on the piece, and I could feel it whenever a mid-level network executive forced a note, because that’s where it rang false and became stolid, formula-style again, instead of using the formula as a foundation and letting it open out. I was angry that they killed off Sienna. It wasn’t a character-driven, plot-driven move, although they’re pretending it was done to reveal more about Tommy. It wasn’t. They killed the blonde because they knew they’d get crap for killing the Asian or (if they had one), the Latino. That’s one of the things we used to talk about backstage, especially on shows like MISS SAIGON (which had a very diverse company). We’d sit there and roll our eyes and go, “oh, this is the season where the Asian eats it first” or “this is the season they kill the Latino first”, because they overused the cliche of killing the black guy first. If you watch action or sci-fi a lot, you’ll see that the ethnicity of the first character killed off changes, depending on the mood of the executives, not what serves the story best. This time, it was the blonde. They’d set up some wonderful arcs to develop, and yes, it was good to care about a character that dies, instead of it being someone we haven’t gotten to know. But I’m REALLY sick of the trope of killing off a member of the team in the first episode of every damn action or ensemble show. Overused, people!!! I continued to have mixed feelings about last night’s episode, although I felt the creators were fighting more for their vision and giving in less just to get it on the air. We’ll see how it develops.

Sunday, I woke up cranky and just got worse. Vile mood, for most of the day. Didn’t help when I went to revise the short story I thought was due and found out that the publication to which it was originally aimed changed their submission guidelines and only will have open submissions in the fall. If I want to submit it on the date I originally used as the deadline — from the guidelines I read a few weeks ago AND a conversation I had with them — they’ll read it. For a fee. Um, no. I don’t pay reading fees. I am paid to write. I do not pay to write.

Did the revision, sent it off to a different market. At least I didn’t have to hustle on the other two short pieces (we’d originally talked about me submitting three to them by the 30th).

Caught up on my archaeology coursework, which I loved. Got a high grade on the quiz. Found I’d missed a deadline for a paper (somehow, that came on the radar while my computer was down, and I missed it), and that I have a paper due later today. No worries, I’ve got something fun planned. Did my Climate Literacy coursework, getting more and more frustrated with that class. Then, as I was taking my timed quiz, all three cats decided it was time to practice Feline Armageddon. Complete chaos going on in my office. I was being timed, taking the quiz online in real time, so I couldn’t get up and solve it. I just yelled at them over my shoulder and hoped, as they flew over the desk, they wouldn’t hit the keys and put in a wrong answer. I was sure I blew it.

I got 100%.

Maybe I should stop studying! :0

Had to send out a mailing for an organization. They provide the flyer, I send it. Only the flyer they provided was five years old and couldn’t be edited. Talk about one’s head up one’s ass. I will not renew my work with them, once this cycle runs out. There’s too much continual frustration involved.

Started reading a mystery that was so bad, I put it down by page 100. I didn’t care enough about any of these people to find out who did it and why. In fact, I kept wishing the murderer would take out the protagonists, because they were so damned stupid and there was no logic to the story.

Finished material for Confidential Job #1 and have to do the write up today. Worked on material for an editing client that’s taking longer than I expected. Have to edit and send out another article. Have to do my archaeology paper. Have to run errands, and do things like take my mom to the doctor.

The yard is suffering from Vacant Lot Syndrome, but I can’t mow when it’s raining. Shucks. Yes, that is sarcasm!

Have a wonderful start to the month!

Devon

Published in: on July 1, 2013 at 6:55 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , ,

Wed. May 29, 2013: The Challenge of The Travel

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and humid

Yesterday was certainly a challenge!

The morning started well, although I felt a wrench at being away from the garden this week. The irises are about to open. They are my favorite flower. I think they’ll have come and gone by the time I get back. The terraced back needs mowing, and I’m worried that the ants will get the upper hand while I’m gone.

But everything will rub along without me — plants were doing that for thousands of years before people started to garden!

I opened my email to find out that I’ve been contracted for 14 short articles (yes, paid) over the next seven months. I’ll do the first one next week, when I get back. I also finished and pitched another article to a different publication. Not a bad way to start the week!

The drive to Providence wasn’t bad, except for the construction work around New Bedford. If it’s the left lane that’s closed, why is that the only one moving? Because the travellers in that lane are pushy bastards, that’s why. If everyone let one person get ahead of time, and six people didn’t force their ways forward, causing the other lane to come to a grinding halt, we’d all get where we needed to go on time.

Megabus late in Providence. Turns out, the bus coming from NY broke down in CT, so they had to send another bus. However, the bus they sent was a single decker, and the Providence-NY bus was sold out as a double decker. Not everyone could get on the bus — some had to wait for another bus they were sending. Um, why didn’t anyone check the manifest for the trip BEFORE sending out a bus? We do make reservations ahead of time. There’s no reason to act surprised that there’s a line of people waiting.

Needless to say, I was on that first bus. 😉

Once we got rolling, it was okay. I ate the lunch I packed (simple– hard boiled egg, carrots, celery, radishes, a gigantic chocolate bar). I read Joelle Charbonnau’s END ME A TENOR, which was a lot of fun. I’m meeting her for a drink tonight, so I wanted to read at least something of hers!

The wifi on the bus didn’t work, and people were even having problems with cell phones, so at least it was quiet!

The problems happened from Bridgeport to New York. Should have taken maybe an hour and a half for that stretch. It took a little over three. The traffic was just backed up, it was raining and miserable.

I was glad that I packed the rain gear I wore in Iceland a few years back. It’s a light windbreaker that folds into its own pocket.

Once we disembarked in NY, we were in the midst of rush hour. Taking the escalator down into Penn Station, watching all the people scuttle around, was like descending into a colony of cockroaches. Reminded me of one of the reasons I no longer live here and have to deal with the commute.

Got the Metro Card — actually, I refilled the one I used when I was down here for Costume Imp’s birthday. Turns out they now charge you $1 for a new card, but credit you an extra $1.50 (three quarters of a ride? Huh?) if you refill. I opted for the refill.

I got the C train — I even got a seat! Headed out to Brooklyn. Humped the luggage in the rain through Ft. Greene to the place I’m staying. Imp left the key at the diner around the corner. Retrieved the key, hauled my luggage up the steps of the brownstone, and then up the steps INSIDE — tall ceilings, lots of steps.

It’s a wonderful place — and it’s the location I based the Ft. Greene brownstone in which Sophie, Fawn, and Bianca live for THE CHARISMA KILLINGS.

Greeted the animals, handed out the toys I brought, gave out pettings. The Puerto Rican street cat decided maybe I should give her some extra attention, and even climbed on the bed with me a few times. She wasn’t sure what to do next — she’s not a cuddler — but it was funny. Imp’s cats were delighted to see me and tried to convince me they haven’t been fed in at least three days. Riiiight.

Went back to the diner and had a roast chicken dinner. Yummy. Chatted with the housemates for a bit, read, waited for Imp to get back from the ballet. He had to haul out to Long Island for a photo shoot for HARPER’S BAZAAR, and had trouble getting back to the city in time for his show, too.

But we caught up, played with the cats, he lent me three more of Joelle’s books to read (and one of Pauline Gadge’s). And I lent him END ME A TENOR.

Slept like a log. I did wake up at 3 AM — like I have for the past few weeks — but got over it, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

I’m showered and dressed (although the makeup has yet to be applied). Did yoga. The younger of the two huskies and the Puerto Rican Street cat have wandered in and out a few times. Had my first cup of coffee. My run-around day bag is packed — promo materials, notebook, camera, in-case book to read, all the directions and appointments for the day.

Going to do some work with students and then a few email things — the editor of the publication to which I pitched wants to see the article, so I need to polish it and get it out. A proofreading job to which I applied says they want me, but the terms sound slimy — they want to pay by KB instead of by word or page, which sounds weird to me, and a few other things made the red flags go up.

Will foray out to get some breakfast soon, get some stuff done, and then I’m headed out for the day’s appointments, including the Indie Next Generation Book Awards at the Harvard Club tonight. I better get going!

Devon