Tues. Feb. 18: Hard Work & Frustration with Corporate Morons

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Before we get into it all, hop on over for Anne Lange’s outstanding post on “Quality in Writing” over at A Biblio Paradise. Anne took several classes with me, and was a joy as a student. I’m delighted she’s doing so well.

Tough weekend. Got as much done as possible on Friday, despite many obstacles. Between the morons in customer disservice at N-Star and Verizon Wireless, far too much time is being wasted. Individuals who break the law and/or cause harm to customers CANNOT be allowed to hide behind so-called “company policy”, especially when those policies clearly violate state and federal laws. The companies need to be held accountable, but so must the individuals who implement such policies. If you’re too stupid or too cowardly to refuse when someone tells you to do something wrong, you are a danger to society and should be treated as such.

I had to spend way too much time dealing with stupid people, all across the board. How do these people even leave the house or tie their shoes, much less earn a living, when they can’t comprehend the simplest of instructions? I have no patience with them.

Worked Saturday, too, not sure if the power would stay on with the storm coming, and wanted to clear off a few things from my desk, including material for Confidential Job #1 and starting to work on some essays I need to get out this week. They’ve both been percolating for awhile, and since they are based on my own emotional experience (hence the “essay” bit), they take longer to develop.

Had an idea for the Dickensian steampunk that I want to play with, although I’m worried that the cast is getting too big. I think I have to do some work on individual arcs. I hadn’t looked on it as a series, but the way I’m building the characters and arcs, it sure seems that way. Which means I have to settle on a book-specific arc for this one to make it satisfying to stand alone, while still being a part of a series.

Which brings me to my course, “Prolonged Engagement: Developing the Series”, running from March 4-8, which will help you develop your own series. Sign up here.
And please do NOT send administrative questions to my personal email — they go to the Administrator of Fearless Ink Workshops, which is why we have one.

I had a fabulous audition with the actress to whom I’ve offered the role of Joye in MURDER ‘SEALS’ THE DEAL, and I’m working on Teri casting today. I’ve got to get some tweaks into the latest draft, and then send it out later today. We go into rehearsals next Monday.

Sunday, we had another 8 inches of snow here. I wasn’t feeling well, so I spent most of the day on the couch, reading. I needed to replenish. I read a couple of John Dunning novels.

The opening to THE BOOKWOMAN’S LAST FLING is brilliant: “The morning was angry but I was cool.” What an awesome opening line! I’m going to use that as an example in classes. Now THAT is a line that keeps me reading.

Monday, I woke up at 4 AM, thinking it was 6 AM(don’t ask) and was on the road earlier than I expected. There wasn’t much traffic, at least until Providence, and it being a holiday Monday helped. I made great time to CT, picked up my mom, we turned right around to get back, stopping for gas, to eat, and to sell some books at the Book Barn in Niantic. Yup, as I’m going through some of these 250 boxes of books in the basement, I’m culling some to sell. I’m keeping most of the non-fiction and reference books, but the fiction — especially if it’s something I don’t really like or find memorable — is going out, so that someone who’s really enthusiastic about it can enjoy it.

Back to work today — I am not looking forward to what the day holds, but when it’s done, I will feel better.


Published in: on February 19, 2013 at 8:33 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 18: Hard Work & Frustration with Corporate Morons  
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Wed. Feb. 6, 2013: Snow and Writing

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

Got quite a bit of work done yesterday. I think SEVEN OF SWORDS is in decent shape, finally. I’m going to give it one more read this morning, and then send it off. Worked with students. I’m polishing the “Journal into Fiction” lectures and exercises — I had to cut some of the material out, because there was too much for a week-long class.

Had to turn something around quickly for one of my other editors, and sent out a few LOIs. Some paperwork came in for another confidential gig that the editor on Confidential Job #1 recommended me for, so that’s all good. The lunch meeting was good, although Beech Tree Cantina, where we wanted to meet, turned out to be closed. Um, it couldn’t have been on the landing page of the website? Especially with all the advertising they’ve been doing? There were a bunch of us, standing outside the door in the snow, totally confused.

We wound up at Rendezvous, the new crepe place. It was really good, with a nice atmosphere. Definitely a place to which I’d go back.

Roasted a chicken for dinner, did some reading, watched my friend’s show — some of the writing was a little heavy-handed, but he had some good scenes, and we dissected the episode, as we usually do after it airs.

Started re-reading POWER OF WORDS, which has been pulling at me lately. It’s such a sprawl — I think it’s really a serial novel about the making of a series. There’s no way I can stay true to its characters and themes and turn it into something that’s a more traditional novel. It’s going to be four novels’ worth of material just to get them through shooting the first season. But I think the dynamics of the individuals, and the creative nuts-and-bolts will be interesting to readers. Well, I need to write it at least through the first season’s shoot, and maybe partially into the second, and then decide what I want to do with it. I also re-read MODERN CREATION MYTHS the other day, and it holds together much better than I expected. I wrote the first draft material in script form (knowing it couldn’t stay a script), and I can see how to open it back out into prose. I think I will complete the draft as a script, though, because that’s giving me the dynamic. When I adapt it into prose, I’ll have to go much deeper into POV.

Did some of my fantasy/sci fi schoolwork yesterday (lectures). Really interesting insights into the Grimm tales.

I need to clear a lot off my desk today, because tomorrow is a busy day, most of it out of the house.


You can still sign up for “Journal into Fiction”, Feb. 11-14, learning how to transform journal entries into viable fiction. Information and registration here.

Cape Cod/South Shore Actors: Come audition for MURDER ‘SEALS’ THE DEAL, Feb 11 & 13, callbacks Feb. 15. Information and breakdown here.

Fri., Feb. 1, 2013: Plays and Short Stories


Friday, February 1, 2013
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Yes, it’s already February! Later today, I will have the January wrap-up over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site, and also my February To-Do list by Monday.

Last chance to sign up for “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects”, which runs Feb. 4-6 online. Breathe new life into abandoned projects, or learn ways to set them to rest without draining creative energy from current work. Details here.

If you’re a Cape Cod/South Shore based actor, I hope you’ll consider auditioning for my play, MURDER “SEALS” THE DEAL, which will go up on April 7 in Buzzards Bay as a benefit for the National Marine Life Center. Details here.

Those for whom I wrote the play are pleased with the draft I sent them yesterday. I need to not look at it for a few days, and then do another draft. I want at least one more draft before we start rehearsals. The audition notice was up in the local arts newsletter, and out to the papers. Fingers crossed we get some good people in.

Worked with students. Ran some errands. It was so gorgeous out that I stopped at Craigville Beach and took a walk. The tide was high, the surf was rough, it was wild and wonderful. Loved it. The wind and water are part of the reason I live in this area, and I try to make use of it whenever possible.

I have two short stories to tackle, and the revision on the other play. I have to take my mom to the doctor today, but, other than that, I plan to focus on the writing.

Tomorrow is Imbolc — I’m looking forward to the ceremony, and to doing some indoor planting. The cats are starting to shed their heavy winter coats, and the Phoebes are outside singing, so I’m hoping we’ll have an early and long spring. We’re still supposed to get snow this weekend, but I’m hoping that February will ease out. Says I, on the day it’s barely arrived!

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Mon. April 9, 2012: Dialogue and Tulips and Taxes

Monday, April 9, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Billy Root’s blogging over on his site about auditions and how he wound up on the film that’s the backdrop for HEX BREAKER. Check it out here, and drop a comment so I know you visited!

Things are going well for the Dialogue Dilemmas and Solutions Seminar on Saturday, April 14. At this point, it looks like it’s the only dialogue workshop I’ll be teaching all year online. So if you missed the others, or if you want some new information, make sure to sign up here.

The dates for the next Fast and Fun workshops will be finalized in the next couple of days, and then pages will go up with the registration information. Unfortunately, 1and1, yet again, won’t let me put buttons on my site via Mac, so I’m going to go to the library and use a PC every time I need to put in a button. Definitely time to move hosts, once I get the webmail they’re holding hostage away from them. I was lucky last time, because I was working somewhere where I had access to a PC. The webhost shouldn’t dictate what type of computer I can use. I can’t even put in a “tweet this” button!

My “One Story, Many Voices” class starts today, and I continue as a student in the steampunk class.

I don’t know if I remember all the way back to Friday — I know I didn’t feel well, and that I did a lot around the house in preparation for the weekend’s company — tidying, washing floors, vacuuming, rearranging, that kind of thing. The house looked great, but I still want to do more with the front yard. However, it has to be inexpensive, whatever I do.

Had a good writing sprint with the students — it’s working better, on this book, to write in company.

Saturday was fun — long-time friends from CT came by for a visit and lunch. I hadn’t seen them in years, so it was good to catch up. I actually fell asleep in the late afternoon for awhile, while doing some research for a project.

Sunday, I slept in, then spent most of the day catching up on the computer with what I hadn’t gotten done on Saturday. I like Sunday to be my day offline, but, oh, well. The work has to get done, and I wasn’t up to it on Saturday after company left. I worked with students, did some research for some proposals that will go out this week, got out some interview questions for a piece, and did some promo work. I had a weird dream about an old friend on Saturday night into Sunday, and woke up with an idea for a tweak on a piece I’m getting ready to send out.

I’m glad Mercury went direct, and I’ll be glad when Mars goes direct at the end of the week. However, Pluto goes retrograde tomorrow. THAT always brings some interesting revelations!

Lots to do today, both writing and administrative, so I better get to work. This will be a busy week – but then, lately, every week is busy. Fortunately, it’s “good busy”. But I’ve got to deal with the taxes this week — ick. Not so bad because I do quarterlies, but still, gathering all the paperwork (I was bad about keeping up all year) is a pain in the butt, and I just don’t feel like it. Too bad for me! 😉

Some of my tulips are already blooming — isn’t it a bit early?


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009
New Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I am ready for a new moon, baby! 😉

I was in “gastric distress” yesterday for most of the day, the aftermath of the previous evening. And, I was tired. So I wasn’t particularly productive. However, I found that radishes helped enormously. Unfortunately, I then baked cookies and ate raw dough, so we were back to square one. By dinnertime, the sight/smell of food didn’t make me want to curl up into a fetal position and wail. An improvement.

Managed to get the grocery shopping done – that rocked, I shopped very well on my budget, including the food I need to bring with me on the site job this weekend.

Several people asked me what it feels like to see my work on stage. There’s always a bit of strangeness to the process, because you’re seeing something that ran two-dimensionally in your head (even if you see actual people speak your words as you imagine them) and then it’s three dimensional in front of you. Also, because I was not part of the rehearsal process in this particular case (I often am part of it – I love being in the rehearsal room with actors), there’s a lot that’s out of my control, and you just have to roll with it, as far as beats, rhythm, choices, etc. Mostly, when it’s a good production, it feels good. Good actors and good direction will take it to heights you couldn’t imagine when you wrote it.

You also have to put aside your own ego and accept it for what it is – it’s live, and sometimes an actor will go up on a line or paraphrase or whatever. Mistakes happen. When they’ve simply miscast, that’s when it becomes an issue. When I’m more closely involved in the day-to-day process of a show, I try to get in on the casting, and in theatre, it’s far more likely to include the playwright than in film (the screenwriter is rarely involved in casting unless the screenwriter is also directing and/or producing). Most actors pull from the same pool of monologues, material that most of us on the other side of the table have heard a zillion times – and, after the 15th time you’ve heard it in the same day’s casting session, you’re ready to tear your hair out. One of the reasons that actors who use my monologues usually land a callback and the role is that the material is fresh and that alone makes the casting folks perk up. That and the fact that the monologues roll easily off the tongue. Anyway, when you know the material the actor performs, you know if the actor paraphrases. It’s a warning bell. If you bring him back for a cold reading (he’s handed pages from the script and has to read them with a reader provided in the casting session – I always pay an actual actor to sit and read in the casting sessions, it’s only fair to those auditioning). Some actors are awful at cold readings, some are great at them, and you have to hope that being good in a cold reading isn’t their best, or it will be a long road ahead. Because it’s a cold reading, the words won’t be spoken exactly as written. But, again, if there’s too much paraphrasing, the actor is not going to respect the script in the rehearsal or performance process, and my vote is “no.” Also, in a callback, you get a chance to work the actor in a scene and then give direction – if the actor can’t take direction, it’s a “no.”

Of course, there are some actors who do their best work in auditions and go steadily downhill during rehearsal, and then you have to make the decision to fire them.

As a writer, I love being in the rehearsal room with the actors (provided the director isn’t a control freak). Yes, the director is in charge, but there are some directors who don’t want the writer to talk to the actor AT ALL, which is ridiculous. It’s something the director, writer, and producer need to thrash out before starting rehearsals. What’s the protocol? Who says what? When I have a good relationship with the director, we discuss the day’s work ahead of time, go in to the rehearsal on the same page, and we can both interact easily without contradicting each other. We check in with each other, but we don’t defy each other. I think it makes everyone in the room uncomfortable when the writer and director debate a point in front of the actors, or, every time the writer has an idea, the writer pulls the director into the corner and there’s a lot of whispering. I find that very counterproductive. It’s one thing to turn to the director and say, “Hey, I have an idea! Wanna hear it?” And then the director either takes you out of the room or says, “yeah, sure” and you present it (best scenario, when there’s a real collaboration). Again, there has to be a lot of communication before the production starts. You want to provide a creative and stable environment in the rehearsal room so that the actors can fly and contribute to the creation process.

You still discuss notes ahead of time with the director, and the director’s the one who gives the notes (although I’ve been in a room where suddenly the director turned to me and said, “Do you have any comments?” – I prefer to discuss them with the director ahead of time, and, if it’s something controversial, I’ll say that’s what I want to do, but if it’s little tweaks, I’ll say them). Also, I’m big on cutting in rehearsal – when you have a three-dimensional actor, you can cut out the unnecessary words. So there are often sessions at the top of the rehearsal, after I’ve discussed it with the director, I’ll sit and give cuts. And usually terrify the actors, because the act of cutting often frightens them, although once they run it on its feet, they love it. Or, if a scene doesn’t work, I either rewrite it that night, or go off during the rehearsal for an hour, re-write it, hand it to the director. The director and I talk about it, I make some tweaks, the production stage manager runs a clean copy and makes copies for everyone in the company who needs it, and off we go.

I wasn’t involved with the day-to-day of this particular play, but we’d discussed it ahead of time and I was fine with it. I knew the circumstances, I knew the nomadic nature of the company, all of that. If the circumstances were different, I would have written into the contract provisions for casting and rehearsals. So, things that might have bothered me had I had a different relationship to the day-to-day running of the show simply weren’t an issue here. As I watched it, I saw a couple of places I would have cut a line here and there to even tighten the rhythms further (although it was hard to tell with two new people ad-libbing whenever they got insecure, which was a lot).

As a stage manager and production manager, I’ve worked with playwrights so in love with every syllable that they refuse to cut anything, and it’s detrimental to a production. You’ve got to be willing to cut anything you don’t need.

I had a strange dream last night. I dreamed I was reading a book. What was strange about it was that, in the dream, I was reading the actual text of the book, the story, and simultaneously seeing it unfurl behind my eyes the way one does when one reads. And I suddenly knew that the book hadn’t yet been written. So I wonder if I’m supposed to write it? Well, if so, take a number!

I have some client projects to work on today, the two anthology stories, the plays, and an article. I’ve also got some errands to run (in the rain) and I have to pack for the weekend’s site job.

Busy day; better get going.


Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 7:33 am  Comments (6)  
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