Tues. Aug. 27, 2013: Workday

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Waning Moon
Rainy and warm

I had a good workday yesterday. I got a lot of admin done, did a wrap-up document for the Mermaid Ball, got permission to post the Casting Notice for NMLC productions, got out two conference proposals for next spring, resigned from the Centerville Beautification Committee, and un-enrolled from two Coursera courses. They’re good courses, but I’m not putting in the time to do well and enjoy them, so they had to go. It’s not fair to anyone to sit in a class and not fully participate. I don’t allow it in my classes; I won’t disrespect someone else’s class by doing the same thing.

I got some character work done on the book-specific characters for the next book in the mystery series, and some plot and character work done on another piece, while also working out some plot details for the comic ghost story.

Worked with students. I’ve accepted a new year-long student starting in January — I’m excited about her potential. After all the rejections I’ve sent out in the past few weeks, and the arguments from students who don’t want to do the work and can’t be bothered to follow application instructions, it’s great to find someone with whom I’m excited to be working.

Worked on grant proposal stuff for the next NMLC play. I’m putting together those figures at the same time I’m getting the re-casting sorted out for the re-mounting of the play, because grant and play all happen the same week, and I want the grant out the door before things get too crazy with rehearsals.

Read in the afternoon a bit, both for fun and for Confidential Job #1.

Unwrapped the chair decorations from the Mermaid Ball. I have to iron all the navy blue satin sashes today and roll them, but I want to bring everything back tomorrow.

Up at 4 AM because Violet was howling; it was raining, so I put out the buckets to catch rainwater for the garden.

I want to get some work done on articles due next week, and clear off some work for Confidential Job #1 this week, so I can invoice by the end of the week.

Need to do some work on the fantasy novel and the shorter pieces.

To work!

Devon

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

IMG_1071

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

Mon. Jan. 28, 2013: Gearing Up for A Busy Week

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Iris enjoys a winter nap

Monday, January 28, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy weekend. Have to put the finishing touches on this draft of the play today.

Allowed myself to bask in the praise from a magazine editor who liked a submission (although she didn’t take this one, too many paranormal elements), but loved the writing, the pacing, the characters, etc., and asked to see whatever I do next in the genre. So I’m doing it! 😉 Also allowed myself to bask in the praise from a Major NY agent, who saw an article I wrote (the one for WOW) and shot me an email to tell me it was a well-written piece. Baby steps in the right direction!

I felt very burned out, so took a lot of time this weekend to refill the creative well, in this case, by reading.

Read Louise Penny’s STILL LIFE, her first Armand Gamache mystery. She is the only contemporary writer I can think of who can pull off third person omniscient, because she glides from head to head, giving you time in the neutral space between the characters, instead of head-hopping. There are plenty of writers — many in chick lit, romance, and cozy mystery — who try to do this and fail miserably. But Penny is such a beautifully nuanced writer that she can pull it off. Once I read STILL LIFE, I went back and re-read A TRICK OF THE LIGHT, the first of hers I read, released in 2011, and still one of my favorite books. Just beautifully done.

I also read THE BOOKMAN’S WAKE, by John Dunning, and liked it a lot. As someone who teeters on the edge of bibliophilia and could easily tip into bibliomania, the details about the book business in his series fascinates me.

I read a book I promised to review for a blog tour — liked it, will write it up today, and started re-reading both Julia Cameron’s THE SOUND OF PAPER and Starhawk’s THE SPIRAL DANCE. I have a lot of problems with many of Julia Cameron’s tenets, although I think her book THE RIGHT TO WRITE is her best. I agree with her Artist Dates — I think they’re vital. I disagree with the Morning Pages — for me, my first writing needs to be on my Primary Project, not whatever’s on my mind, because that is when my creative time is most fertile. If I do Morning Pages, I’ve used that time for something akin to journal-keeping, and lost my best creative time. But they work for a lot of people, and more power to them. And I’m glad she emphasizes the need to show up at the page every day, whether one feels like it or not.

It will be interesting to re-read Starhawk’s work from this perspective, rather than when I first read her books in the mid-1990s. I’m looking forward to it.

Worked with students. Finished up work with one editing client and have the rest who took advantage of the editing special to do this week. The special is over, and rates are back to normal. Doing some more prep work on the February classes. “Sensory Perceptions” finishes this week. I’ve got a couple of articles I want to pitch, two short stories to prep — one for release on February 1 (the next Samantha Wright piece) and one to send to a submission call.

I want to do some more work on the play before I send it to the actors already cast, and we have to set up auditions for the three remaining roles.

Lots to do, so I better get to work!

Devon

Don’t forget to breathe new life into old projects during “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects” Feb. 4-6, and transform journal entries into viable fiction in “Journal into Fiction” from Feb. 11-14. Information and registration here.

Thurs. Aug. 23, 2012: Good Busy

Thursday, August 23, 2012
Waxing Moon
Saturn DIRECT
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Got some good work done yesterday. Also did my hair, and painted “mermaid toes” — since I don’t have a tail, I have glittery toes that match my shawl! 😉 And, in between waiting for coats of nail polish to dry, I got a lot of procedural research done that will help in the revisions of the trilogy.

Up early this morning, outside for a bit, almost finished stitching the shawl for Saturday’s ball (good light), then to yoga. Good class. Have banana bread in the oven for tonight’s meeting. Have a lot of freelance work to get cleared off my desk today, and some interview questions out. Confidential Job #1 sent me my next assignment, and I have to do a quick piece for NMLC next week, too. So, it’s busy in the right way!

The year-long novel class wraps up next week. It will be strange not to be with these people every day, as I have been since last September; at the same time, it’s time for all of us to spread our wings into our different directions. There’s a firm foundation for them, and they have the talent — the rest is up to them. My commitment in teaching is helping writers find techniques to support them to do the best work they can in their own voice, to take chances, to understand the business aspects, and, most importantly, to be independent. Independent motivation is one of the most important aspects of surviving and thriving in this business.

Of course, I’d like to take a three month nap at this point, but no such luck!

Back to the page!

Devon

Published in: on August 23, 2012 at 9:29 am  Comments (1)  
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and cool

We’re on frost warning for tonight, so I’ll have to bring in some plants.

Busy day yesterday, working on classes. The in-person class that was supposed to run this month is being moved to January, thank goodness. It makes more sense to do it when things are a little quieter than in the midst of autumn insanity.

I have family coming down later in the month — which means I have to drive up to Maine, fetch ‘em, and return ‘em. Don’t mind, love ‘em, can’t wait to show them around, but it’s hours on the road instead of on the computer, so I will have to be very organized.

Grocery shopping, and, after lunch, the migraine was so bad I had to lie down. I fell asleep, which helped a lot, and I woke up feeling almost human again.

Continuing to work on the classes today, get some other freelance work cleared off the desk, and to prep the materials for my conference appearance later in the month. I’d like to get bookmarks made up, but I just don’t know if I’ll be able to get to a printer, and I can’t do them on my own computer. I’ve also got to finish an assignment for Confidential Job #1, and it’s a slog.

Excellent day on the Harpy book this morning, got Chapter 5 under my belt. So that’s good. I’m itching to keep going on it — I might do a few more scenes before turning my attention to everything else.

Devon

Today’s word count: 3074
Total word count: 10,538

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 8:04 am  Comments (6)  
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Friday, August 19, 2011


Tessa likes the eggplant

Friday, August 19, 2011
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

The WATCHMEN, HOGFATHER, and Donna Leon Mystery Deconstruction Workshops have been cancelled by Savvy Authors. I’m glad they let me know far enough in advance so I hadn’t yet put in the 60+ hours I put in preparing them. I was going to re-watch WATCHMEN this weekend and finish the lectures. It’s a big weight off my shoulders, and the Donna Leon was going to be my last deconstruction workshop for awhile anyway. Most of the students can’t be bothered to read the books or watch the movie before class starts, even though it’s clearly stated in the requirements they’re supposed to read/watch before they sign up. When I remind them of it, most of them don’t bother to do it over the course of the class. Now, if you misunderstood the requirements of class, wouldn’t you try to catch up? Most of them can’t be bothered. And they wonder why their writing gets rejected for not following submission guidelines! It’s been frustrating, and the time and work invested on my part doesn’t balance out with the money or what many of the students put in, so I’d already announced that the Donna Leon would be my last for awhile. The Anita Blake and Harry Potter deconstructions are still on for later in the fall, and it gives me more time to prepare for them. And I wouldn’t have been paid enough for the workshops for the cancellation to affect my bottom line negatively. So it all worked out.

Steady work day yesterday, although not as productive as I would have liked, mostly because I was mentally exhausted. And, this site job is more complex than most other similar jobs, so I have to spend a larger portion of the day on the reason I’m here! The windows don’t open here (central air) and it’s driving me nuts (yeah, I know, short drive). I’ve revelled in the quality of air and the scent of the sea since I moved here, and I miss having the windows and doors open all the time. And, of course, I miss the cats terribly.

I re-read part of a piece I’m playing with. I was happily surprised by its quality and focus. The characters are unique, and the relationships I set up are dynamic. I need to sort out what still needs to happen, plot and story-wise, so that I don’t lose the thread and the voice. I like it a lot and think it has huge potential, but I’ve got to finish SPIRIT REPOSITORY first. I’ve got a big two-day event over at Long & Short Romance next week – an interview on Tuesday, and I’m answering questions all day on the chat loop on Wednesday. I’ll post the links on the relevant days. This is in the Annabel persona, promoting ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT.

I’ve got an errand or two to run later this morning, and I have to clear a few projects off my desk before the weekend. Busy is good!

Devon


ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT available in print and digital versions from Champagne Books, and digitally on Amazon Kindle.
Annabel Aidan webpage here.

Published in: on August 19, 2011 at 6:32 am  Comments (3)  
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Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011
Waxing Moon
Partly cloudy and cold

I’m happy to say the party debut of Imp and I was a success. A nice group of people who all enjoyed each other and interacted well, good food and drink, lots of laughter and actual conversation.

Spent the morning on the classes. Then, once Imp was up and about, we prepped the space and the food, and went out in mid-afternoon for the flowers and ice. We decided that, instead of cut flowers, we’d buy potted blooms (two yellow Victory roses, one red Victory rose, a peace lily, and a small, blooming kalachoe). They look lovely, and they’ll last longer than fresh cut.

I’d organized the class so, provided students turned in work on time, yesterday wasn’t a day when an assignment was due (today is). Of course, some of them didn’t, but there comes a point where that’s not my problem anymore.

And, since we cleaned up last night after everyone went home, it gives me plenty of time today to spend on the assignments so due.

Hardly anyone drank alcohol, so I’m glad I served Shirley Temples — and they were a big hit!

It was fun. They’re good,interesting, intelligent, fun people. I’m glad I met them. I’m glad I’m getting to know them, and I hope to build friendships with them moving forward. Friendship is based on time and shared experience, and now we get to share experiences.

I admit I was a little nervous — I used to be famous (or is it infamous?) for my parties when I lived on the west coast — monthly dinners for 20. I used to throw a lot of parties in Manhattan, especially when I had an apartment overlooking the ball drop at Times Square.

But my last living situation didn’t lend itself to much entertaining, so I had to kind of get my feet wet again. It was nice to do a small gathering on Twelfth Night in honor of a visiting friend.

Imp broke one of the wine glasses in the prep — not a big deal, it wasn’t one of the vintage 1950’s glasses from the Pump Room, just an inexpensive daily one from a box store — but there was glass everywhere — kind of like how could that much glass me in one, well, glass? It made me appreciate the central vac even more! No one got hurt, and we got it cleaned up before any kitty ventured in to see what the heck was going on.

Iris hid during the whole party. Violet made a flying appearance, dashing through, just to let them know she felt it was really, REALLY unacceptable to have all these strangers in the house (it was pretty funny). A flash of gray flying through the air.

The downstairs looks great — all tidy and everything put away. And what’s not put away has fabric artistically draped over it!

Unfortunately, a lot of what got stashed got stashed in my room, so I have my work cut out for me next week getting it sorted out and put away. But I want to PUT IT AWAY, give it a home, not just stash it in another place and then have to move it again six weeks down the line.

Today is about classes, shipping Imp’s books home so he doesn’t have to carry them, and just chilling out. There’s supposed to be a snow storm tonight into tomorrow. Depending on the moment, it’s next to nothing or a lot. So, when we wake up tomorrow morning and turn on the news and look out of the window, we’ll find out if we are heading back tomorrow, or on Sunday.

I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks of calm, where I can just write, focus on the class, unpack, and rest up from the past few months. Make that years.

I can finally take a breath!

Devon

Published in: on January 7, 2011 at 7:46 am  Comments (9)  
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