Mon. July 31, 2017: Author, not “Author”, Women’s Memoir Cliches, and Unfair Expectations

Monday, July 31, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and cool

It definitely smells like autumn. Tomorrow is the first harvest festival, so it makes sense.

The cats and I were up most of the night because a neighborhood dog was crying. We couldn’t figure out where it was, or I would have comforted it. Poor thing!

I gave myself the weekend off, mostly. I needed to recharge; I was mentally exhausted, even more than physically.

I did some yard work. I read a lot, which was hit and miss. I read a mystery that was set “backstage” in a “professional” theatre. Yeah, right. The performers went around quoting the Scottish play without comment or consequence. DOESN’T HAPPEN. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Don’t be an “author”. Be an author or a writer.

I read another mystery, first book in the series, where the characters were okay, but the plot forced to fit into a tight formula that didn’t work for the premise, and the writing weak.

I read Val McDermid’s OUT OF BOUNDS, which was excellent.

At least it was nice enough to read outside most of the time. A little cool, but nice. I prefer cool weather to hot, anyway, which is why I live in a place with seasons.

I’m reading a stack of books and memoirs about the NEW YORKER magazine, as background for a piece. Hit and miss interesting. I’m looking more for the daily-ness of working at the publication set against the historical backdrop, and what made the people tick, not the navel-gazing.

I’m so tired of memoirs by women who spent the whole book “finding” their “independence”, only to get married (or get married again). Basically, they’re just circling back to where they started, but with a different guy. But people buy into all this “I’m now an independent woman” — um, no, you’re still acting like a 1950s college grad with her MRS degree. Leaving one guy, “travelling” mentally and physically, in order to wind up with another guy, doesn’t make you “independent”. It makes you a cliché.

Worked on notes for a couple of projects.

Finished the next book I have to review. I want to get the review out today, and then request the next book. Hopefully, it won’t take them two weeks to assign it this time. To me “steady work” means the next assignment arrives when I turn in the previous one. They still owe me for the last two reviews, too.

I have two essays and two short stories to finish, plus a couple of pitches to get out. I SHOULD have done them this weekend, but the quality would have been crap. I’m still within my deadline, so it was a better choice to give myself a break, and then be able to attack them with fresh eyes this morning.

I already did a pre-tourist grocery run, so I’m doing okay! 😉

Little annoyed with a friend. I didn’t hear from him for about six months; fine, no problem. But I received an email from him late Friday night, and another one early this morning, berating me for not instantly getting back to him. Um, no. This was a “hey, how are you?” email, not an emergency or a question that required immediate response, and taking the weekend off-line is something he KNOWS I do. Not answering until this morning (just over 48 hours later) is not too long, especially since the last contact was at Christmas. I don’t say “how high?” when someone says “Jump”. I’m more likely to tell that person to eff off. 😉

Tomorrow is the cover reveal for PLAYING THE ANGLES. I’m nervous!

July wrap-up is over on the GDR site.

Back to the page.

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

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

Wow. The last few days have been intense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cats are horrified.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He had no idea how to respond to that!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Busy day much?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devon

Wed. July 9, 2014: Back To It

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Humid and ready to rain

I’ve been offline for a few days, for a much-needed break. I’m creatively exhausted right now, and need a chance to reinvigorate. The past few months have been at a ridiculous pace, and took their toll.

Thursday was a busy day at the library — people stocking up for the holiday weekend. That’s always fun — people who are excited about taking out books for the weekend, or for any other time. It’s one of my favorite things about the work — helping people find reading material that they enjoy and that engages in them. Also managed to get my desk cleared off for the first time since I was hired.

Exhausted Thursday night, and grateful that Friday was a holiday.

However, I was up at 5:30 on Friday morning. Since Hurricane Arthur was set to hit, we had to bring in all the plants from the deck and all the outdoor furniture and all the statuary, etc. We set down old sheets on the floor in the living room and the back bedroom and hauled everything in. We had to lock Iris in the downstairs bedroom and Violet and Tessa in my room, or we would have lost them, since we had to have doors to both outside and the garage propped open.

But we got everything in and then . . .waited. Most of the day was spent in humid suspended animation, waiting for the damn storm. I wrote a bit, read a lot, and battled the pre-storm headache. The storm didn’t hit until evening, and then I was glad I’d brought everything in.

Watched the Joss Whedon version of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, which was very clever.

Saturday, I took out some of the plants before I left for work. Since there were so many power outages, I was afraid the library’d been hit, and didn’t want my colleague there in a dark building on her own. So I went in early, the Exec Director went in early, our colleague was there, and the power was on. So it was all good. But it was busy, and there was no book delivery, which meant we couldn’t give people the books they’d ordered, and it was more chaotic than I’d hoped.

Came home, exhausted, and got the rest of the plants, furniture, statuary, etc., back out onto the deck. Read.

Sunday, I was out early and got us a Dunkin Donuts treat. Wrote a bit, then ran errands — had to do things like get the re-up cards for the phone. Looked at Kindles, and a few other things. We even went to the mall (oh, horrors) to get the phone cards and to pick up some things at Crabtree & Evelyn, where we had one of the nicest salespeople I’ve ever encountered. So nice, I’m letting the office know. Got a case for my phone, too.

Back home to read and write a bit. Juliet Blackwell’s newest, A VISION IN VELVET, arrived on Saturday, and I read it. I enjoy the Lily Ivory series.

Worked on the final round of edits for “Elusive Prayers”, which will go out to my editor today. Wrote the press release and the PSA for the Mermaid Ball.

Monday, up early and off to run errands in Falmouth. Stuck in traffic all day. Gave up after awhile, realizing it was going to take as long as it would take, and that was simply that. Getting upset wasn’t going to change anything.

Wrote a bit, came home long enough to make a black bean ful, and then headed to the Marine Life Center for the Mermaid Ball meeting. It took me an hour and a half. The meeting was the meeting, and, fortunately, coming home was quicker than getting there.

Watched FROST/NIXON — excellent. Fascinating interpretation of a period in history though which I lived.

Up early yesterday. Writing, but feeling burnt out. The weather didn’t help much, either. Went to Just Picked, where I found some good deals, but mostly was an uncreative lump, reading, and trying to replenish. I’m so tired that everything is a ridiculous amount of effort right now.

Up early this morning. Usual routine (which I’ve managed to keep up every morning, in spite of the exhaustion) of yoga, meditation, etc. Had a bad night — I had trouble sleeping and was fretful, for some reason. The last thing I need to do right now is borrow trouble. Getting some work done before I head to the library. I’m sure it will be a busy day — it always is when I come back from a few days away — and then we have a program meeting in the afternoon.

Onwards. I need to get back in the groove of BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, and it hasn’t quite clicked yet.

The copies of TRACKING MEDUSA that were supposed to be here for the signing, and then the bookstore haven’t arrived, but the copy that the library ordered is there. Go figure.

I settled on the new title for the re-release of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, and have to book the new cover artist. I’m getting print quotes. I hope to re-release it under the new imprint, title, and cover in October. Stay tuned.

That also means I have to get THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY back on track, because I won’t be releasing it through Champagne, I’ll do it through the new imprint.
I’ve got to get BALTHAZAAR back on track, get back to the ferry girl novel, do another pass on CHARISMA KILLINGS and submit that to an interested party ASAP, and do the next Bronwyn Rowan piece.

Yet I’m feeling about as creative as wilted lettuce.

I’m also tracking my activity/commitment with an organization with which I’m working to decide whether I will remain past my commitment (which ends next year) or not. If the financial ratio and the ratio of emotional give/receive do not balance better than they have in the past two years, I will withdraw when my commitment is complete. I would like to withdraw now, but it is unfair not to fulfill my commitment to the best of my ability, and not to spend a reasonable amount of time gathering actual data to review, rather than making a decision based solely on emotion.

Onward.

Devon

Mon. June 30, 2014: Go Direct Already, Mercury!

Monday, June 30, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny, warm, humid

Busy weekend.

Friday just sucked every possible way. I don’t even want to get into details, but I was furious by the time I left work, and had to reassess some of my goals and how best to get there. Hate it when Mercury and Saturn are retrograde at the same time.

Came home, and Tessa was like, “Mom, calm down. Play with the turquoise mouse. It’ll all be fine.”

Read a bit, wrote a bit, worked on the last three script episodes, finalized my PR materials for Saturday.

Friday night, we had coyotes in the yard. Woke us up at 2 AM, right up at the house. It’s a strongly bonded mated pair, and I think they’ve got little ones close by. They’re absolutely gorgeous animals — but they’re coyotes, and very close to the house. Tessa wasn’t phased at all, but the twins hid under the blankets. They were establishing territory — we heard them circle their two-mile patch for several hours. I don’t want them hurt, but I also don’t want them to hurt any person or animal in the neighborhood. If anything, I’m most worried that a neighbor will do something stupid and then officials will come in and hurt the animals. I’m hoping we can peacefully co-exist, but let’s face it — humans are stupid and arrogant, and it’s almost always the habitat that suffers.

Exhausted on Saturday, from lack of sleep. Sent off the last script episodes (will be happy when the final check arrives). Sent off some emails, took care of some business.

Headed home for lunch and to pack up the materials in the car, then over to Osterville Library’s tent for the AuthorPalooza event. There were 27 of us there, hosted by Books by the Sea. The copies of TRACKING MEDUSA didn’t arrive in time, but I had HEX BREAKER, OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, and ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT in print copies, and the sell sheet for the three digital releases, and the sell sheet for the Topic Workbooks. We were a fun, lively group. I got to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen in a long time, and meet some interesting new ones, AND talk to some of authors about the possibility of doing a program at the library. My boss came from the library after work, my friend from NMLC came, and it was, all in all, a fun afternoon. We were on the grass, so every time I got tired, I could slide out of my shoes and put my bare feet on the grass and re-energize.

Stopped at the liquor store on the way home and found an affordable bottle of blue raspberry vodka. Toss in a squirt of lemon juice, and I have my blue lemonade. Yummy!

Watched AMERICAN HUSTLE on Saturday night, on DVD. I’d seen it in the theatres when it came out, and now wanted to see it again. Enjoyed it thoroughly. It reinforced my sense that Jeremy Renner’s work wasn’t given the praise it deserved (although he didn’t maintain the Jersey accent consistently, which I hadn’t noticed the first time I watched it, but noticed here). What an amazing cast. In the interviews, the director talks about inconsistencies in characters and how that interests them, but my sense was that they were true to their cores, and then layered the inconsistencies onto that core to get what they wanted and needed.

Yesterday, I was going to do many things, but decided to stay true to my commitment to Disconnected Sundays. I did, however, turn around my edits for “Elusive Prayers”, which I will send off to my editor.

I also read Lauren Owen’s debut novel, THE QUICK. It’s getting a lot of hype, and the initial printing was 100,000 copies, so her publisher is very confident. I read the whole thing yesterday. Yes, it’s a great, big, fat book, but it held my attention. I absolutely loved the first 100 pages — especially her phrasing. I liked and admired almost all of the rest, and was frustrated by the last chapter, although I saw what was supposed to be the final twist coming about 150 pages before it did. It’s a literary horror novel, and there are vampires involved. Anything more would give away too much. It’s very well done, much better than most, but I’m rather vampired out at the moment. It’s definitely a novel I would go back and re-read in a couple of years (especially if I manage to avoid most vampire novels in the interim, which I doubt I can do). It’s definitely up there, for me, with DRACULA (the original Bram Stoker one) and Elizabeth Kostova’s THE HISTORIAN (which I loved).

Read a cozy mystery where the protagonist’s best friends were so unlikeable I kept hoping one or both would be the murderer’s next victim. No such luck. Also, there was only one body drop, and the protagonist was never in any actual peril. Boooring. That author’s off my list. Not reading more of her books for myself, nor am I ordering any for the library, nor will I recommend them for the Cozy Mystery Book Group that we hope to start in the autumn.

Re-reading Elizabeth Elo’s NORTH OF BOSTON, because she’s coming to talk at the library in July. It’s kind of a modern Boston Noir (very different from other types of noir).

The coyotes did a howl-by last night as they raced through the yard, but that was it.

I’ve got to mow today, send off some materials, and then run errands. Monday is errand day, after all.

Champagne Publishing and I have parted ways, as of today. The last few copies of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT are the last copies (it’s officially out of print), and it’s no longer available online. You can get the print copies that remain through Books by the Sea in Osterville (as of later this week — I have to drop them off when the copies of TRACKING MEDUSA arrive). Cotuit Library also has a copy in circulation. The rights have reverted back to me. I wait thirty days, then I’m commissioning a new cover, changing the title, changing a few things in the text back to my original vision, and it will be re-released, both in digital and paperback formats. I will keep you up-to-date as things happen.

I will be so happy when Mercury goes direct tomorrow.

Have a great week!

Devon

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  
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Thurs. Dec. 12, 2013: Writing and Timing

Thursday, December 12, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Good writing day yesterday on the novella, one of the screenplays, TRUE HEART, and the television pilot. Also got some correspondence done. Still struggling with the climactic sequence of the other screenplay, but I think I’ve got it now.

I HATE working in Courier font, but for screenplays and teleplays, that’s the standard, so that’s what I’m working in. The same way one should draft the novel or short story in Standard Manuscript Format, because it’s easier to change OUT of it than INTO it per submission guidelines, it’s easier to work from the first draft in Courier for scripts.

The morning look-for-internet-because-Comcast-continues-to-behave-like-a-douche was at Sturgis Library, which was a zoo. Kids running around unsupervised, screaming. Excuse me, this is a library, you have a children’s room. KEEP them there. But I managed to work with students, send out a short story and a requested manuscript, get out some interview questions, pitch for jobs, and catch up on email.

The editor with whom I thought I’d straightened things out is back to random payment dates again, and I am not amused. I only have one more set of articles due at the beginning of January, and then I’m done.

Got some more writing and research done at home in the afternoon, then headed over to Wheldon Library for a quiet hour on the internet. A few things to catch up on, but mostly, under control.

Having to go elsewhere for a connection certainly makes me realize how much time I WASTE jumping on and off the internet all day. The mileage and drive time are annoying, and I have to keep running lists going in both directions of what needs to be done before I go in the other direction, but I am being productive, for the most part.

Iris has decided that it’s too cold to sleep outside the covers, so now she’s sleeping curled against my lower back. I have to be careful when I roll over in the night not to squish her.

Watched the BBC remake of THE 39 STEPS last night. Wow, was the continuity a mess. He’s got a briefcase in one shot; it’s gone in the next. He’s running down a lane without anything in one shot; he has a lantern in the next. He’s in his pajamas in one shot; he’s wearing a fisherman’s sweater (miles away from civilization or anyone who could have lent it to him) in the next. Drove me nuts. The leads were pretty good, the locations and camera work were great, but the continuity and the overly-melodramatic music took away from the piece.

Reading Danny Danziger’s book on behind the scenes at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fantastic book, and makes me miss the museum terribly. During this season, I always visited the Angel Tree in the Medieval Hall. I have the calendar and the book about the tree, which is a comfort, but it’s not the same as making the yearly pilgrimage to SEE it.

The only thing I miss about New York are ethnic food delivery at odd hours and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Devon

Mon. Aug. 26, 2013: Stressful weekend

Monday, August 26, 2013
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cool

Quite a weekend. I left early on Friday morning to drive to CT. Obviously, not early enough, because I was stuck in traffic for the entire length of the state of CT. What a nightmare. And there was no good reason for it, other than most of the people driving were idiots. It’s a highWAY, not a highSTAND, so keep moving and stay off your frigging cell phones, because you’re not smart enough to talk and drive at the same time!

I was an exhausted wreck by the time I arrived, hours later than I should have.

Didn’t get much done, other than checking on a few things and doing some work on Confidential Job #1. I managed to plot out a suspense novel in the car — not sure how or where I’ll fit it in, but I like the premise. It would be a quick, down and dirty 50-60K thriller. Lean writing, tight plotting.

Didn’t sleep particularly well–the dog kept waking me up.

Up early Saturday morning, got some work done. Costume Imp was heading out from Brooklyn, and he ran into a few obstacles — he was a bit later than hoped, but not as late as he feared, so it all worked out. He had a swim in the pool, we had lunch, packed the car, and headed back.

Into another nightmare across the state of CT. It took longer to get from Greenwich to Niantic (1/3 of the way) than the entire rest of the way up. Unacceptable.

The Book Barn in Niantic was a great place of refuge. And, once we got past Mystic, it was pretty smooth sailing all the way back to the Cape.

We stopped at KFC and had a very late dinner (the trip took twice as long as it should have), along with some prosecco. The cats were delighted to see us — Iris, in particular, was very feisty and playful, and wrestled with Imp for his chicken.

I was up early yesterday, puttered around on the deck, did the laundry, got a bit of grocery shopping done, and read CARNIEPUNK, the anthology. Liked most of the stories in it. Unfortunately, two of them were in present tense — I LOATHE prose in present tense. To me, it the author going, “Look at ME!!!! Look at what a cool stylist I am!!!” instead of letting the story speak. I’d flip through longer works by both these authors, but put them down if they were in present tense. Unless I am paid so to do, I will not read prose in present tense. I hate it, it irritates me, it completely destroys my suspension of disbelief and pushes me irrevocably out of the story.

However, some of my favorite authors (Kevin Hearne and Nicole Peeler) were in the anthology, and so were some new-to-me authors whose work I will now track down and read.

Speaking of Kevin Hearne, he posted a list of titles that were rejected by his editor for a new piece. I fell in love with one of the titles. First, begging his pardon, I asked him to write a story that goes with one of the titles (I apologized, because I know how much I hate it when someone tells me what I “should” write). Then, I asked him if I could take the title and run with it. He said yes. I promised that if the piece turned out well, I would dedicate it to him, and if it didn’t work, I’d keep my mouth shut!

I’m playing with it and having fun. It’s a comic ghost story.

I have another idea that’s getting ready to manifest. It’s just out of reach. It’s been hovering on the fringes for awhile. I have the opening paragraph, and a strong image from about 2/3 of the way through it. Now, I have to figure out the rest.

Have to get a lot of work done today, including composing a sending a letter of resignation to an organization I’m leaving. It’s just not working out — too much work is being dumped on me (without pay), and I spend all my time being angry and resentful. We are not a good fit, and it’s time to part ways. It’s good for them to have me clean up the mess, but detrimental to me on many levels to remain. So, I won’t.

Time to see how much I can get done today! Especially on the fantasy trilogy.

Devon

Fri. Aug. 9, 2013: Wrapping Up the Conference

Friday, August 9, 2013
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and humid

Yesterday was a whirlwind, with a very stressful appointment in the morning, and then headed to Mystic, CT, to hand my mom off for her two-week jaunt in Greenwich, then driving back.

I was so tired that I was afraid I would fall asleep at the wheel, but I made it safely, in both directions.

Hop on over to the Writers Vineyard, where, in my Annabel Aidan persona, I talk about “The Joys of Conferences.”

Wednesday was great at the conference. I got to get some work done in the morning, and then had a great chat out by the pool with a new colleague. Then, it was off to read on the agents’ “Conference Idol”. The participants that day were more vocal and defensive than those the previous day, which I thought was interesting, since the set-up allowed participants to remain anonymous.

My agent and I talked about where to send the book — I gave her my “A” list of dream publishers. So, we’re getting the last few tweaks done so that can go out next week.

Had dinner with several conference people, including that night’s keynote speaker, Meg Wolitzer. I really like her books, and her mother’s book on writing is on my Recommended Reading list for my classes (and in the topic workbooks). In person, she’s even more delightful than she is on the page, something that is always a joy to discover! We had a great time talking about theatre and Edinburgh and Reykjavik. Her keynote address was wonderful, and I’m excited to read her newest release, THE INTERESTINGS.

She had some friends meeting her and they were headed to dinner in Hyannis, so I had them follow me to the restaurant (rather than trying to explain it, with the one-way streets, or having them go down a wrong one due to GPS), and then headed home.

Mermaid Ball stuff is coming together; I’ll have some running around to do next week, and I have to finish the costume.

The house is quiet. Iris misses my mom a lot, and Tessa just hates the fact that I’m not home much right now. Violet doesn’t really care, one way or another, as long as there’s kibble in the dish.

Got a lot to do today, so I better get going. I have to write two reviews and two articles this weekend, and prep some interview questions.

Have a great weekend.

Published in: on August 9, 2013 at 7:46 am  Comments Off on Fri. Aug. 9, 2013: Wrapping Up the Conference  
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Mon. June 17, 2013: More on the Cape Coastal Conference & a Day Unplugged

IMG_1300

Monday, June 17, 2013
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and chilly

Interesting weekend, in a good way.

Friday was the second half day of the Cape Coastal Conference. Nice to see that so many people stayed for the whole conference, and that many of the presenters didn’t just come for their own presentations, but stayed for other people’s presentations.

The Universe had a good laugh at my expense — although I found it highly amusing, too. The two individuals who inspired characters I plan to kill off in one of the Sustainability mysteries both wound up in the climate change session with me! I figured maybe I’d given them a bum rap, but they were even more annoying and desperate for attention (in the wrong way) in a smaller session than they had in the larger session. One of the things I found interesting was that physically they were very similar, and energetically, they were very similar. In the book, I’m going to make them sisters! I think that will be in the second book in the series.

Apart from that, the climate change seminar was pretty interesting. I think I have enough information to write several of the semester’s papers for the Climate Literacy class, between that and the information my friend provided. Great information and interesting people. The woman sitting in front of me was from the Town of Barnstable, and knew about me coming to tomorrow’s meeting on the climate change project. And I was surprised by how many people knew about the play I’d written for NMLC or had seen it or knew someone who’d seen it.

Back into plenary session. I took umbrage from a few things the head of the Cape Cod Commission said, in relation to writers — if you want your message spread effectively, don’t condescendingly tell us we should work for “exposure” when the special interest side is willing to pay us more than a living wage — and then whine that you’re not getting your message out. Value the people who can get the message out and pay them appropriately. You’re talking about the grants and funding you have for the coming year — if some of that doesn’t go to skilled people ABLE to communicate the message effectively, the project will fail. Period. You can be sure I’m going to speak up! 😉

Came home, caught up on a few things, but was utterly exhausted.

Saturday wound up being an unexpected day of internet disconnection. It wasn’t intentional — when I came out for my morning coffee, I decided I couldn’t live with the deck the way it was one more minute. Last year, we created an enchanted garden on the deck — so far, this year, it’s been a hodgepodge. We keep having to move stuff because of bad weather.

So, I got to work rearranging the deck and cleaning stuff and tidying and arranging. Then, I noticed the terraced area was in Vacant-lot syndrome, so I had to mow that (although the meadow’s getting a little scary, too). No Man’s Land was looking like No Man Will Ever Walk Here Again Land, so I had to mow that. Then, the bags were disintegrating — the biodegradable lawn waste bags were biodegrading — so I had to line the car in tarp and haul everything to the dump.

I sat down to take a rest, make some notes on a project, and read a bit — and suddenly the day was done.

I needed it, and Tessa had a blast being outside with me for most of the day, but I was also a bit worried falling even further behind.

Sunday, I caught up with private students and the RWA students — really happy with the growth the students are showing in the Supporting Characters workshop. Caught up on my own classwork. The Archaeology stuff was exciting — caught up on work, some of which is helping me with the BLOOD AND BONE adaptation, did well on the quiz, evaluated other students’ papers, etc. The Climate Literacy class is frustrating. Plus, I’ve been really good about staying on top of deadlines and they claim I never took the third week’s quiz — um, yes, and I did decently on it, I have the note of my score — and wont’ let me retake it. I also don’t find that the quizzes are reflecting the material we’re going over, which is an additional frustration.

Had a good breakthrough on an upcoming project, though, and started putting together a list of potential sponsors for the Mermaid Ball.

Up early this morning, walking the property. Found I left my notepad with my upcoming projects out on the deck — it was a little damp, but not ruined. I HAVE to get some mowing done today. One of the cats from across the street, a sweet tabby, keeps coming over, but she’s very shy and runs away every time I try to approach her. She’s welcome, as long as she doesn’t have kittens under the rosebush or something.

Note to self: when researching material from library books, notate from which library it came, in case you need to get it out again.

I have articles to get out today, tomorrow morning’s meeting to prep for, tomorrow night’s meeting to prep for, material for the Wed. meeting I can’t attend to prep for, and my presentation on the panel I’m going to be on Wed. night to prep for. Plus teaching and the other stuff.

Better get to it.

Devon

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

Wed. May 8, 2013: A Harsh Reality of a Writer’s Life

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Wednesday May 8, 2013
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I have a post up on Gratitude and Growth about the ups and downs of the latest plantings. I hope you stop by and leave a comment.

I’m going to talk today a bit about the harsh reality of an author’s life, and the unrealistic expectations of part-time writers or non-writers put onto a writer.

I’m glad everyone enjoys the manuscript prep tips. Daily mailings like this take a LOT of time to put together, so it can only be something done sporadically. Because writing is my business and not my hobby, and how I pay the bills, what’s offered for free needs to generate enough new business to pay for more similar “events”. If it winds up being financially successful as well as building good will, I can do more. If people don’t buy my books and recommend my services, and it doesn’t generate new income, then I have to do something else that will INSTEAD of being able to put together another event like this. It’s that simple. Use the tips; land slots with publishers or magazines (I’ve created the tips because I genuinely want other writers to succeed — when one of us does well, it helps ALL of us); recommend my work as something that helped along the way, which will then generate new business for me, so I can afford to take the hours it requires to put together another event like this, offering a series of free useful things. Recommend my books (the novels and the Topic Workbooks) IF you like them and find them helpful. The income from book sales help pay the bills.

The time it takes to put together something like the daily mailing is the equivalent to writing about three chapters, and then the time it takes to do the daily mailing is the equivalent of about two pages’ worth of time each day. All of that is time away from my own, income-generating work. If it’s not my own work that’s put aside, it means it’s time away from a freelance writing or proofreading gig that will pay the electric bill for the month or get in that week’s groceries.

“Free” to you has cost to me — beyond just the time it takes to put together and the time away from my own work. It directly affects the bills. Eventually, it has to even out, or I can’t do it.

Would I write anyway with a “day job”? I did for many years, earning the right to be a full-time writer. When I left Broadway to be a full-time writer, I’d hit the crossroads where I could no longer do both. I HAD to make a decision. I chose writing. The harder of the two choices, but it also means I have to make more ruthless decisions and make sure I can pay my bills working at my PROFESSION.

That is the reality of a professional writer’s life. We pay the bills with our work, the same way the lawyer, the accountant, and the plumber do. That’s why it’s so important for those who label themselves “writer” to limit how much they write for “exposure” (when National Grid lets me pay my bills with “exposure”, I’ll be able to write for “exposure”), AND writers need to stop working for content mills, turning out dozens of articles a week for pennies and/or maybe/someday pay-per-click payments.

I want to write stories that people love and respond to. But if they don’t buy my books, I have to find another way to make a living. That doesn’t mean I’ll get a day job and write at night. It means I change careers. If people request a class, and I take the time to put it together and schedule it, it means I have turned down other paying work. If people then don’t sign up for the class, I’ve still put in that time and lost that other work, and now I have to hustle OTHER work to pay the bills — I don’t have the time or the financial cushion to re-schedule the class when it’s “convenient” — because, nine times out of ten, the people who wail the loudest about wanting/needing the class still won’t sign up for it, because they don’t want it badly enough to rearrange their schedules to do it. It’s not a priority for them. It’s something they’ll do if they have nothing better to do, including paint toe nails and watch reality TV. They don’t really want to be in a writing class that makes them actually, well, WRITE. It means the material is not in demand — therefore, there is no reason for me to offer it. That’s the way it works. I am the sole breadwinner in the family. I don’t have a husband or a trust fund to pay the bills. It’s all on ME.

If you like an author’s work — any author’s work, not just mine — go out there and buy books and post Amazon reviews and talk about the books on social media, so that said author can land another contract and write more books. Because if the author has to go get a job at McDonald’s or something else — to change careers — chances are, the other books won’t get written. Or, they might, but instead of being able to write a book a year or a book every two years, it might be a book every three or five, and few publishers and agents are going to invest in someone who can’t turn out regular content (yet too many publishers still don’t do their share in partnering with their authors to make sure the sales figures are high). We’re all on tight budgets — don’t cause yourself harm, or spend more than you can afford. But do whatever is in your power to encourage the people making the decisions to keep hiring the authors.

That’s reality.

Back to yesterday:

Many thanks to Donna Alward, who I met at the Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference. She writes at an amazing rate, working for one of the Harlequin lines, and also has a series of novellas out with Samhain. I happened to run across her on Twitter yesterday morning, when I was poking around not doing what I needed to do. She challenged us to an hour-long sprint 1K in one hour. I jumped at the chance. I did just over 1600 words in just under an hour, finishing the fourth chapter of LEADING OPPORTUNITIES. This is from Elliot’s, my male protag’s, POV, and it took some interesting turns. I like him a lot more than I originally envisioned. I mean, of course, my heroine has to adore him, but in the initial planning, he was a bit more of a dick than he is now. There’s still room for him to grow, but he’s more receptive to his surroundings (and still, loyal to a fault).

Worked with students, got some pitches out. Then, it was off to the Marine Life Center, and from there, on to New Bedford, to Gallery X, where the Marine Life Center may partner with the gallery for an exhibit in mid-June. The space is exciting. I wish I had the capacity at this point to create a piece for the exhibit. I’d love to do some soft sculpture, but I don’t think I can make it the priority it would need to be in order to get it done on time. I might do a mixed media words-and-image piece.

We then had lunch at No Problemo, which was really good. All in all, a lovely day.

On the way home, I started percolating on the new play — I have to submit ten pages by the end of the month — I realized that my initial opening and images are a different play than the original theme I intended. I need to separate those out and decide which play I’m writing NOW.

Spent some time reading on the deck. Both Tessa and Iris were in the enclosure. Iris has decided she’s missing out by staying inside, so now she wants to come out, as long as Tessa is close by (even though they stay as far apart as possible in the enclosure). I applied flea and tick medicine to all of them, so we’re covered in that arena.

Today, I have to work in the yard before the rain starts, do my 1K on LEADING OPPORTUNITIES, work on the non-fiction, work on the adaptation, and start ripping apart the book I finished on Sunday for revisions (I have only about 10 days to get this revision done). Early this evening, I have a Mermaid Ball meeting at the Marine Life Center.

So I better get going!

Devon

Thurs. March 14, 2013: Running on Empty

Thursday, March 14, 2013
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I wasn’t feeling well, so yesterday wasn’t as productive as I hoped. I got some pitches out, worked on the synopsis for the new book for my agent, did some marketing, etc. I had a meeting about dealing with the trespasser — and he’s either being more careful or has backed off for the past two days. Got the batteries changed in the thermostat – -who knew it needed batteries?

Finished material for Confidential Job #1, and will write it up this morning and turn in the invoice — although the check hasn’t arrived from the last batch of work, which is unusual, and they’re “checking on it”. This client is very good about paying on time, so this is weird.

Watched the coverage of the new Pope. As someone who is not Catholic, the tradition, pageantry, and theatre of it all are fascinating.

Read a page-turner — THE ELDRITCH CONSPIRACY, by Cat Adams. I liked it a lot, and look forward to the other books in the series. I needed a break from reading what I HAVE to read, and read something I WANT to read.

As far as my own creative work, I feel drained and flat. I have to get past it, because I have deadlines, but the tank is empty. Still, I show up every day and push through, because that’s how it gets done, and sometimes the work that comes through on the hard days is what triggers a better flow.

The cats are being very clingy lately. I don’t know if it’s because they sense how much pressure and stress I’m under, or if something else is going on. I was so exhausted yesterday that I was shaking, so I made sure, after the meeting, I had a quiet afternoon and evening.

Today is meetings, back-to-back, all over the darned place, so off I go.

Devon

You can still sign up for March 23rd’s Query Clinic and get line-by-line support on multiple query letters.

Check out the new Author Services offered by Fearless Ink!

Tuesday, Dec. 18: Baking Exhaustion & Sugar Overload

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All three can finally share the same chair

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

Yup, I thought yesterday was December 15 -hence the mistake in the Blog Post title. I truly thought it was the 15th, not the 17th, which meant I missed a live video chat last night I wanted to attend. Fortunately, I wasn’t the presenter!

Yesterday I buckled down to holiday cards. My disorganization from last year bit me in the butt, because I spent more time hunting down changes of address than I spent on cards, and only made it through the J’s. That’s for domestic — all the overseas went out last week, thank goodness.

I also baked the molasses spice cookies I’d prepped on Sunday — three batches of them. They came out very well. I baked one batch of the lemon sugar cookies. They taste great, but the batch doesn’t make as many as I hoped, and I discovered it takes two lemons to create 1/3 of a cup of zest. So I’ll be buying more lemons today. The cookies are good, but they are a pain to prep, so this will probably be the only year I do them. Instead of two more batches of those, I have to do three.

This morning, I baked two batches of red velvet cupcakes. I’ll have to do at least one batch more. I also designed and printed the tags for the cookie platters. I don’t know what happened to the gift tags I’ve made in other years — disappeared into the Gift Tag Vortex, I guess. I combined what’s on the platter onto the tag, so I don’t have to prep the sheets of photographs.

The batter for red velvet cupcakes looks like blood — they’d be good for a Halloween party!

My hip flexors are giving me a lot of problems. I took valerian last night, to relax it enough to get some sleep, but I’m groggy this morning — which I shouldn’t be, from valerian. Too much raw cookie dough, probably — sugar crash.

Lousy first morning writing session, but I’ve got to get all this other stuff done, and I want to start moving the cookie platters out either later today or tomorrow. Anything with red velvet in it can’t sit around. I realized I need to yank some of the subplots from this book and save them for one further in the series. I can plant the seeds for those arcs now, but otherwise, too much gets too sprawly too fast.

I started planning the food for the Twelfth Night party — that’s not too far away, and I have to start thinking about invites, etc. But first, I need to get the cards and cookies out!

I’d love an extended nap, but that’s not on the agenda right now!

Pat, to answer your question about swapping out a revised piece for a contest entry — no, that’s not usually allowed. I’m trading on the relationship I have with this particular production company IF this draft is strong enough to land me a slot. What you send is what you’re judged on — if you get in, then, there is often a revision process. Before something is published, it’s going to get an edit (one hopes). But once it’s in the pipeline, you don’t get to swap it out. That’s where careful copy editing and proof-reading is so important. If a mistake hits someone in the pipeline on a bad day and that individual finds it particularly grating, you’re out. My revision for this play — should I land the slot — is more than just typos. I want to do a structural change, and hope that the seven pages it takes me to accomplish that will be allowed. I won’t know until mid-January, but I want to have the next draft in good shape, and then, if this draft gets me in, I’ll request the swap. If the draft doesn’t get me in, if I blew it, that’s on me, but at least I tried. I’ll still have a rewritten draft to submit elsewhere.

Back to baking. I may have to take a nap for an hour or so this afternoon.

Devon

Nibble on the Delectable Digital Delights for the holidays! Two Nina Bell shorts (read excerpts here) and an Ava Dunne romantic comedy/fantasy twist on traditional Yuletide myths (read excerpt here).

When Words Align is a one-week intensive to get you back on track with either your WIP or your revision, January 2-9.

Sensory Perceptions teaches you, story-by-story to focus on each of the senses, while layering them into a longer piece. January 2-February 3.