Mon. Aug. 12, 2019: Paintings as Inspiration – #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Monday, August 12, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter DIRECT (as of yesterday)
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Last Week:
Last week , we talked about Still Lifes and taking an object in your home to use as inspiration.

What did you use? What kind of piece came out of it? A story? A play? A song? A painting? A dance? Something else? Leave your answer in the comments (mine will be there as well). I’ll also post the title of the book I looked at with Still Lifes in it. I tend to gravitate to the Dutch painters for that.

Paintings as Inspiration
I love to use paintings as a jumping off point for a new piece. If I’m feeling stuck or un-creative or like any of the various fragments and outlines and Ideas I’ve jotted down are worthless, I go to a museum and look at paintings (I always prefer to do it in person) or I get a book out of the library and look, or a DVD on a great museum.

I find Edward Hopper’s work particularly inspiring. New York Movie is one of my favorite pieces, and it inspired what may wind up as a long short story or a novella (I’ve been working on it, on and off, around other projects, for several years).

I love wandering into a museum and letting the pictures and sculptures “speak” to me. I may not get the story the painter intended to tell; but I always come away with something. I always come away feeling brighter and fuller and excited.

Details
One of the things I like to do in paintings is to look closely at what is not central to the action. For instance, in Canaletto’s “Rio dei Mendicanti: looking South” (1723?), I’m less interested in the men on the sunny side of the canal in conversation than in the darker, right side of the painting, with the laundry lines hanging out of the window, the woman shaking her broom, and the man perched on the edge of the building, nearly in the canal, cleaning the side of the building. To me, there’s something furtive about the man. Is he observing the place in order to rob it? Although it’s a not a rich area, filled with working people. Are the acoustics in that position good, allowing him to eavesdrop on the conversation of the burghers across the water from him? That’s a possibility. Or does he not want them to recognize him? Does he have a dispute with one of them? Or is he simply going about his day, doing his work, and has to adjust his position so as not to get hit with the debris from the broom shaken out above him? (Aside: I’m writing a play about Canaletto’s sisters, so I’m looking at a lot of his paintings these past months).

This painting could inspire an historical piece (probably a mystery) tying those three elements together. Or a short radio play. Or I could take the ideas and sensations it provokes and set them somewhere completely different: A New York tenement or a created world in a fantasy novel.

In Poussin’s “Summer”, the woman with the bowls beside the tree and the man in the background handling the horses are more interesting to me than the central figure of a man kneeling before the other man. Is the woman going about her business, ignoring what is going on? I don’t think so. She may be related to the kneeling man, or perhaps he is her lover. Or perhaps her lover is the man on the other side of the tree, drinking, out of the sight line of the man in charge. What’s going on in the woman’s mind? There are so many wonderful possibilities.

Even a portrait can inspire. Several years ago, I wrote a play about Lavinia Fontana, the first woman painter in the Renaissance who took in commissions like the men. One of my favorites of her paintings is the portrait “Portrait of a Lady of the Court.” This woman looks like she has a secret. She and Lavinia share it. But we must guess. My research into the extensive network of powerful Bolognese women at the time reinforces that idea, and the research helps me look at the painting with more knowledge.

This Week’s Challenge:
This week, give yourself an Artist’s Date (thanks to Julia Cameron for encouraging us to do that) to go to a museum or a gallery and look at paintings. Pick one that inspires you and write something about it.

You can leave information about it in the comments below, or wait until next week.

Tues. Aug. 6, 2019: Life And . . .

Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Hot and humid

It’s been nearly a week since I blogged about daily life. I needed the break.

Today is Lucy’s first anniversary since she came to live with us. She’s grown from being a shy, terrified cat into a friendly, inquisitive lovebug. She makes every day better.

Late last week, I struggled with stress and motivation. My client kept telling me the check was mailed; it kept not arriving. It finally got here yesterday, just as I was getting ready to send a second invoice with a late fee. I’ve already cut this client too many breaks: didn’t require a deposit due to past work together; didn’t charge when one of the venues to which I uploaded the information changed and did it on my own time; gave 5 extra days past the 30 days before sending the invoice with the late fee. Needles to say, I won’t be cutting the client ANY breaks in the future. Deposit up front, late fee on the day it’s late. I no longer trust this client. That it’s typical of local clients doesn’t change the fact that it is unacceptable.

Work on both ELLA and GRAVE REACH was shaky. Had an idea that combined other ideas with which I’ve played for several years. Made some notes, but it’s the type of piece that won’t be done much faster than a page or two a day. I’m trying to combine themes from several other projects that haven’t quite worked. It’s percolating, but not really ready to be written yet, which is fine, since there’s plenty that HAS to be written at this point.

I’m having a lot of fun with the Upbeat Authors posts this month about inspiration. I’m playing with the #31Prompts posts, and it will probably take me a couple of years to write the projects inspired by them all. Having fun with the serial parable I’m doing on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Did house and hearth stuff. Have some worries on the home front, but we’ll see what happens.

Had a good meeting with a potential new client. I definitely have the skills and versatility they need, but it depends if they want versatility and skill, or merely a drone.

Went to a sound bath at the yoga studio on Friday night, which was good, although my back was giving me trouble.

Got my hair cut, finally, on Saturday. A totally different style than I’ve ever had, and it looks good. Fun, flirty, professional, a little retro. It goes with the way my hair naturally waves at this point (considering it used to be stick straight). It feels much, much better. Make-up updated, wardrobe freshened, new hair. Getting the changes started.

My hairdresser was an artist-turned-hair-art guy, and his boyfriend is an aspiring YA writer, studying for his MA. I reeled off a bunch of local writing resources. I always prefer to talk about my stylist than myself when getting my hair done. I’m not one to gossip about myself in the chair.

Read Soniah Kamal’s UNMARRIAGEABLE. Wow, is that a good book! Absolutely loved it. Will shelve it with the set of Jane Austen from my grandmother, and re-read it often. Soniah asked for a photograph of the shelf. Once I dust and light it properly so it photographs well, I’ll do it!

Started the book I’m reading for review. Started the next radio play, tentatively called “A Pier-less Crime.” It’s the next Frieda/Lazarus comedy.

Delved into art books for both the month of Upbeat Author posts on inspiration and the Canaletto play. Started re-Feng Shui-ing some of the house. Did more research on Caribbean recipes to incorporate into my writing. On the flip side of that, also made some more smoked trout pate, because it’s a good cool dish to eat on a hot day. And we had tiramisu, although I bought that. I’m not confidant enough to try making it — YET.

Read a couple of cozies (from two different series) by an author who always leaves me with mixed feelings about her work. There’s a lot of charm and warm detail. But her protagonists are too dependent on the men in their lives, cry too much, repeatedly get “tired” as a plot device to miss important information, and are always rescued by men during the climactic sequence instead of participating in their own survival.

Focused mostly on writing and reading on Sunday. I’m reading a mystery by a Spanish writer. Again, so different from the way US/British/Australian mysteries are structured. So interesting. With an unusual pair of detectives. I also read THE ABOMINATION by Jonathan Holt, set in contemporary Venice, dealing with the war crimes, especially against women, when Yugoslavia was split up. I couldn’t put it down. It’s a huge book, and I read it in one day.

Worked on my Llewellyn article, the play, GRAVE REACH.

Angry and heartbroken over the shootings in El Paso and Ohio. The Narcissistic Sociopath dances with glee that he can incite such violence, and his Russian handlers are delighted. The corruption in this administration is astonishing, although it’s been building since the Reagan years. None of this is a surprise. The lack of will to change it is disgusting.

Yesterday, had to go into my client’s early, so someone would be there to receive a shipment. Challenging day.

Meditation was much-needed.

But Sunday and Monday were good writing days, and this morning was, too. Onsite with a client for most of the day, before other appointments. Getting out some article pitches this week that I hope will hit their marks and create some additional income.

Back to the page.

Fri. July 26, 2019: Figure, Configure, Reconfigure & Unethical Businesses Who Demand Phone Numbers

Friday, July 26, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

For some reason, I feel like one of those big steamrollers went right over top of me! I’m exhausted,physically and emotionally. I’m trying to solve those reasons, and change what needs to be changed, but it doesn’t happen in a day. Heck, it’s been taking me months, and certainly months longer than I’d hoped. But I’ll get there.

Got a little bit of writing done yesterday. Nowhere near enough. I lost the momentum I had on GRAVE REACH, and I’m fighting to get it back. ELLA has slowed down, but at least it’s putt-putting along. Of course it is, because that’s the piece that’s not on deadline.

Conferences with my cover artist and editor yesterday. The cover artist has roughed out the next two Coventina Circle books — THE BARD’S LAMENT (Sylvie’s book) and DEADLY GROVE (Diana’s book). They are kind of cool. I like the black and gray tones on all the Coventina Circle covers, with the yellow/orange lettering.

We’re still going back and forth on the Justice By Harpy books, which is just fine, since they are quite a way down the road. I am being difficult about them. I have a very clear idea of what I want, which my editor and publisher agree will be striking, but how to make it happen, how to layer and color, is a challenge. We may just bring in a painter to do small paintings of the three and then photograph or scan the paintings. Book 1 is close to ready to go into production, but I’m behind on Books 2 & 3, and we want all three ready to release quickly. And we’re discussing the Gambit Colony covers for the first six books.

I’m so lucky that my publisher allows so much input.

Took my mom to the doctor in the afternoon. He’s pleased with her progress. Had to take her over to Osterville for a blood test, only they were closed by the time we got there (it would have been nice to know they were closed before we left the doctor’s office).

Read on the deck in the afternoon, enjoying the yard. Worked on some article pitches I plan to send out early next week. I got some interesting leads, and I’m spinning ideas.

Still trying to chase down the freelance payment from that job I did over a month ago.

Some yahoo from TruGreen scared the bejesus out of us yesterday by pounding on the door like the FBI doing a raid. And then launched into a diatribe on how bad my yard was with all the weeds and how I “had” to pay him to fix it. WTF? Seriously? Why the hell would you dumbass think I would ever, EVER do business with you when you come to my house and try to intimidate me into hiring you? Especially since I have an organic lawn and every so-called “weed” is something that is there on purpose as a pollinator or because it’s good for the soil. TruGreen is getting SUCH a letter from me. I rarely say “never”, but I can say I will NEVER do business with TruGreen again, and the next time this jerk shows up and tries to intimidate me, I’m going to kick him in the nuts and then call the cops.

This morning, I was up early. Got a little bit of work done on ELLA. I really need to type up the chapters written in longhand, because I’m losing some threads in this draft.

Took my mom to the blood test. They were open this time, and it was early.

Then, headed to Stop & Shop and Trader Joe’s for grocery shopping, and then Staples. Because notebooks are on sale. I bought 16 spiral bound and 4 composition books, for a grand total of SIX BUCKS.

As a writer, this is one of my favorite times of the year. The school supplies go on sale.

I plan to spend the weekend reading, writing ELLA and GRAVE REACH, roughing out my article for Llewellyn, and maybe starting to shape the opening scene of the play on Canaletto’s sisters. The three Canaletto books I hunted down and ordered because I kept taking them out of the library arrived, and that will make the writing of the play so much easier.

I’m still trying to figure out the plot of the Brighton Pier radio play. I have sounds and jokes, but the plot is weak so far.

I ordered from Chewy this morning — cat food and cat litter. I refuse to shop at Petmart anymore, for multiple reasons. I’ve heard good things about them, but putting the order through was a major PITA. Let’s hope the rest of the customer service experience is better, or it will be a one-and-done.

I also hope to clear out some boxes from the basement. I also have to take the recycling in tomorrow. It’s getting a little crowded.

For the moment, though, back to the page.

Have a lovely weekend!

Wed. July 10, 2019: Daily Pages Add Up

Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

 

 

There are plenty of things that are worrying me and infuriating me on several fronts. However, I am grateful for some of the small, but important pleasures.

One of the biggest of those is my first writing session of the morning out on the deck. I take my coffee, Tessa usually comes with me, and I write my first 1K or so outside, enjoying the yard.

It’s not always 1K on this particular project. Sometimes it’s only 500 words. Sometimes it’s more than 1K. But it’s in longhand, in a series of notebooks, and it’s uncontracted and not on deadline.

Which is one reason I’m having such fun with it. There’s no pressure. I can just let it rip.

I recently started my second notebook on this project. The first notebook contains the first 10 chapters, a little over 130 pages, approximately 1/3 of the book for this first draft. I love seeing the tangible evidence of these past few months’ work.

I’ve done some research for this book, but as I continue, I keep finding more things I’ll have to look up, and I’m using more placeholders than usual to keep the momentum. I’ll regret that when I hit the next draft, but it’s working for me in this first one.

After my yoga/meditation and my shower, I go to the computer, and I work on the next book that’s contracted. I do at least 1K, although at this point, it’s more like 1.5K, and with a deadline looming, I have to up my game to closer to 2.5K a day. That’s the reality of deadlines. But the steady, daily work, even on days I don’t feel like showing up to the page, builds momentum, keeps me in the world of the book, and makes this book better than the previous books in the series (which is my goal).

I print out my pages every day, both because I’m paranoid about losing work (even backed up work has been corrupted) and because it’s easier for me to edit on the page still. It’s easier for me to make the tracking sheets I need and the notes I need for the Series Bible when I can physically flip between the pages.

I print material on 3-hole punch paper and keep each draft in a 3-ring binder. I do refer back and forth between different drafts in the editing process, especially when my editor and/or copyeditor find discrepancies. Or when I cut characters or subplots, and decide to re-introduce them in other books, where they fit better, further down the line in the series. I use the final galleys to update the Series Bible.

(If you want more information on how I create and maintain a Series Bible, I have a workbook available, based on my workshops).

Again, I have (and need) the tangible evidence of the pages adding up.

While this contracted novel is with my editor, a few weeks down the line, I’ll switch to the next book in the next series that has to be torn apart and rewritten, because the last few drafts I wrote haven’t hit the mark. It has to get fixed and get in the publication queue — we already pushed back the dates for it, and for another book, and now we’re playing catch-up. But I’d rather push the release date back a reasonable amount of time than release a bad book.

At the same time, in the evenings, I’m playing with pieces inspired by #31Prompts.

Again, there’s not pressure on these pieces. They’re not contracted. They’re taking all kinds of different formats. I’m stretching and having fun.

By the end of the month, I have to write a short radio play set on Brighton Pier in the 1920s, and I have to start writing the play about Canaletto’s sisters, which is due in NYC by the end of the year.

Showing up at the page every day for whatever project I’m working on is vital to me. I can’t write in spurts and then go away for stretches. I lose the innate rhythm, the heartbeat of the piece.

I need to see it through.

I need the dailiness of the writing. It keeps the rest of my day in perspective, and makes me feel better and clearer about the entire day.

I change my writing process every few months. I make adjustments as to the where and when I write.

But I show up.

What is your process?

Published in: on July 10, 2019 at 6:20 am  Comments Off on Wed. July 10, 2019: Daily Pages Add Up  
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Tues. March 5, 2019: Prepping Pitches

Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Dark Moon
Mercury Retrograde

Today is my friend Arlene Kay’s launch of her new book, DEATH BY DOGSHOW, the first in her new series! She’s a wonderful writer, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Not loving the Mercury Retrograde thing, especially since it covers most of this month.

I ran around a lot on Friday, doing storm prep, errands, laundry, baking, etc. Got some reading done, but not much writing.

Got a new idea during meditation that I’m playing with. Kind of out of my wheelhouse, but it intrigues me. It needs a lot of figuring out before I can write it.

Slept in Saturday and woke to snow. Snowed most of the day. The heavy, wet kind.

I roughed out three pitches for trade journals, and an idea for another article. The latter probably won’t hit where I plan to pitch it. The editor decided she doesn’t like me, and she always rejects my pitches. As much as the call for pitches got me thinking down the road for this particular article, it makes more sense to pitch it elsewhere. Why beat my head against the wall? So I roughed the pitch but I’m re-thinking where it will go.

Got my hotel booked for NECRWA. That’s a relief. There were rumors all the rooms were booked. But I got my confirmation, etc., so I’m all set.

If you’re in the northeast, and interested in my workshop about using wardrobe as a character development tool, information on the conference is here.

Made some notes on the next section of GAMBIT COLONY, then wrote 16 pages. Made some notes on the next radio play, featuring Frieda and Lazarus from “Horace House Hauntings.” I think I’ll put them on a luxury cruise ship across the Atlantic.

Made some notes for the new idea. It pulls at me, but has to be worked around other things.

Read quite a bit. I really enjoy Ed Ifkovic’s mysteries featuring Edna Ferber as a protagonist.

Started watching the 1982 RCS NICHOLAS NICKLEBY starring Roger Rees. I’d seen it on Broadway, and wanted to see the DVD again. It’s quite wonderful and disturbing.

Up early on Sunday. Did some Canaletto research. The books I need for the next steps in my research are all at the MFA’s library in Boston, and can only be used in-house. So I’m going to have to arrange a day to go into Boston and spend the day researching in the library. Not sure when that will happen.

Read a few more essays in SCRATCH. It really is a wonderful book.

Worked on polishing the trade journal pitches and also on notes for an essay I’m going to pitch to some of the writing magazines. As I checked the websites for the first four listings I made, I saw that the first one has changed their formatting a bit, but the slant I put on my pitch will still probably work; the second has gone out of business since listed, so I have to figure out where else I can send the pitch; the third no longer uses freelancers and does everything in-house; the fourth, I couldn’t access the guidelines from where I was, but I got them yesterday, and I’m pretty sure I can send them a decent pitch. I do, however, have to scan some article clips and turn them into PDFs to go with the pitches.

The article I had an idea for but don’t think a particular editor will take because she doesn’t like me? I re-framed it, and I have an idea where to pitch it to a higher-paid market. And I made some more notes on the essay.

We had a breath between storms on Sunday. It was nice and sunny. The snow that fell after I shoveled Saturday afternoon melted down, so I didn’t have to shovel again.

I’m reading Andrew Lanh’s mysteries, set n the Vietnamese-American community in Hartford, CT. Very well done. I should have been reading other things, but I was too caught up in the book.

Woke up to slush Monday morning. It had snowed a bit, then rained, so it was a big. slushy mess. Got some writing done, then went to work with a client, ran some errands. I’m with a client again today and tomorrow.

I’ll be working on all the other writing, but my primary focus this week is whipping the article pitches into shape and getting them out. I’ve been derelict about article pitches for months now, and I need to get back into the swing of it. I’m a little worried about sending them out during Mercury Retrograde (one shouldn’t sign contracts during the retrograde), but I also don’t want to put myself back another month, and sending them out now doesn’t mean I’ll get hired during the retrograde.

Back to the page.

 

Published in: on March 5, 2019 at 6:40 am  Comments Off on Tues. March 5, 2019: Prepping Pitches  
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Tues. Nov. 27, 2018: Busy Season is Here

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Waning Moon
Neptune DIRECT (as of Saturday)
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving last week.

We drove to Maine, leaving early on Wednesday. We managed to thread the needle through the Big Dig tunnel, avoiding the bulk of the traffic, and getting through it only moments before a breakdown in the tunnel caused problems.

Our preferred hotel in Ogunquit was closed for the holiday, so we found another one, in Wells. It was fine. It had a kitchenette, which always helps, but the space was cramped, and the shower only had hot water for three minutes.

Hit my favorite thrift shop in York, and got some adorable decorations to add to the decoration family.

We got our favorite pizza from our favorite pizza joint in the area, Da Napoli. On the way back, I ran into a snow squall. From clear to whiteout in seconds. It was like someone poured a giant vat of sugar over the road.

Got some writing done, on a couple of different projects. Tried to watch TV, but it was dreadful. The news has a single sound byte and then a half a dozen commercials. There isn’t any actual reporting going on. The shows don’t even have scenes any more, just moments. But at least Comcast doesn’t run everything up in Maine.

Thursday was the coldest in years, although clear. 8 degrees, but it felt like in the minus numbers. We drove up to Gray. We always rent out the American Legion Hall. This year, we had 63 for dinner. I mashed, I believe it was, 108 pounds of white potatoes, and 40 pounds of sweet potatoes. Lots of people I hadn’t seen in years were there, and it was fun to catch up.

I felt bad for my mom. This year, she was the oldest one at the dinner (at 94). All her contemporaries have died. It was difficult for her.

We ate, we cleaned up (everyone helps with everything), we went back to the motel to recover. It was fun, but exhausting. For an introvert, that’s a lot of people.

Friday morning, we hit the road early. Stopped at Stonewall Kitchen in York to stock up on our favorite things, and then headed home. There was a lot of traffic, but it was moving. We made another stop at Market Basket when we came over the bridge, to stock up, and were home a little after noon.

The cats were glad to see us, but they’d coped just fine while we were gone.

Unpacked, and switched out the harvest fabric to the holiday fabric on various surfaces. I felt like I was coming down with something, and hoped I was wrong.

Saturday, I had a sore throat, but pushed ahead. We took 300 gallons of leaves to the dump, then raked up another 330 gallons. We got the tree in the stand, and the lights on it. I hate putting on the lights, but when we took them off last year, I took the time to pack them differently and mark them, and that made all the difference this year.

While raking, sorted out the scenes for the holiday story I want to include in the newsletter this year. It will be short — 3, maybe 4 scenes, inspired by the fireplace at the rest area on the border between New Hampshire and Maine on I-95.

Cleared off one of the bureaus, to set up the Santa collection, and wound up polishing the whole piece. It looks wonderful, so it was worth it. But the Santas didn’t look right there, so they’re back on the behemoth. For now, the carolers are on the bureau and the herd of deer are on the mantel, but it might all move around.

By Sunday, I was sick, sick, sick. Curled up and read all day. Made chicken soup from scratch. Read a wonderful book called THE STRINGS OF MURDER by Oscar de Muriel, set in Victorian Edinburgh.

Yesterday, I was too sick to work onsite with my client. I probably could have pushed through, but didn’t want to sneeze and cough all over my client and colleagues. Dropping off library books and picking stuff up at CVS was about all I could handle.

Today, I’ll be onsite with my client, prepping for her holiday sales. Busy weeks coming up, with the holidays, and all. I need to get the overseas cards written.

I am disgusted by the administration’s policy firing on asylum seekers and threatening to close the border — all while Russia is making a move in the Crimea. I am sick and tired of no one DOING anything about the corruption in this administration.

I need to get back to the page. BALTHAZAAR is going along well, and I need to make sure that stays on schedule. In the meantime, I need to tear apart DAVY JONES DHARMA and fix it, so that it stay on its new release date schedule.

And I have a review to write.

I watched a documentary about Canaletto, one of my favorite painters, and got an idea to write a play about his sisters. Not sure if that will be pitched to 365 Women or elsewhere. But I think that will be the play after the anti-gun violence play is done.

In the meantime, trying to really get well. I’m better, but still get tired quickly.

Onward, and back to the page.

Published in: on November 27, 2018 at 6:49 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 27, 2018: Busy Season is Here  
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