Fri. May 3, 2019: The Slow Climb Back to Productivity

Friday, May 3, 2019
Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Feeling a little better. Physically tired, but the emotional exhaustion is starting to level off. I’ll take whatever progress I can get.

Wrote yesterday morning, then got some work done at the library. Got some LOIs out. Yoga. Afternoon and evening spent on contest entries. I plan to finish them this weekend, so I can make my final decisions early next week. I’m delighted that there are so many strong contenders, but the final decision will be difficult for the same reason. I can’t give all the deserving books an award. I have to pick the best for the limited slots.

This morning, wrote some more into the new project. It feels good, although it’s taking some unusual twists. Worked on GRAVE REACH. Figured out an important catalyst in THE BARD’S LAMENT, which is Sylvie’s book, the fifth Coventina Circle.

Working on an article about Coventina. Working on my other article. Working on a letter of support for an organization with which I used to work closely.

Some errands today, and then I’m focused on writing and contest entries all weekend. If the weather allows, I’ll sneak in some yard work.

May you have a beautiful weekend!

Published in: on May 3, 2019 at 8:53 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 3, 2019: The Slow Climb Back to Productivity  
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Thurs. May 2, 2019: Trying to Get Back in The Groove

Thursday, May 2, 2019
Day Before Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and chilly

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest on the garden.

I’m still struggling to get my energy back. Still feeling burned to a crisp. I’m going to take a little extra time around Memorial Day Weekend and just relax. But that’s still four weeks away. I have to find pockets of rest in there, or I won’t make it.

Onsite work with a client was fine. I played with some ideas for a new marketing campaign. Threw out most of them, because I couldn’t see how we’d get a worthwhile return. There were a couple of minor irritants, but nothing that was a big deal. The long term picture is getting sharper, and I’m more aware of the pieces I have to rearrange to achieve what I need and want.

Picked up a few groceries. I was so tired in the store that I stood holding a can of tuna wondering why the label made no sense — until I realized it was cat food, not people food.

Came home, worked on contest entries, made dinner, re-watched THE NEWSROOM. Played with some ideas.

Woke up around 3 AM, managed to get back to sleep for a few hours. Wrote 1K of a new project. I’m going to write about four chapters to see if it’s viable. Then my 1K on GRAVE REACH. I actually have to up the 1K/day on GRAVE REACH this month, in order to get everything done.

Headed for the library to get some work done, bring back some books, pick up some books. Then, there’s yoga. I might swing by a client’s quickly in the afternoon to take care of one thing so it’s not hanging over me.

Then, it’s back to contest entries. I’m doing a big push on them this weekend, so I can start making my final decisions next week. They’re due on the 10th, and I want to make sure everything is in good shape. I’m also starting to fill out the electronic scoring sheets. It’s a process.

I’m working on the Tip Sheet for the panel discussion for the event I’m doing on the 15th.

At some point in the next few days, I have to make multiple dump runs for the household garbage, recycling, and yard waste. Don’t like doing it in the rain, though.

Doing more Caribbean research, and continuing with classic ocean liner research.

Need to get some LOIs out, and work on an article, and an article pitch. Also have to make requests for a couple more article quotes. I have to finish and send off some letters in support of an organization with which I used to be affiliated, and also prepare some interview questions for a writer who’s guesting on the blog.

Never a dull moment. Which is a good thing. If I can beat this fatigue, I’ll be fine. It’s hard to think straight when I’m so tired, and I’m making stupid mistakes.

Back to the page.

 

Published in: on May 2, 2019 at 9:22 am  Comments Off on Thurs. May 2, 2019: Trying to Get Back in The Groove  
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Wed. April 24, 2019: Organization is Key

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the latest.

I’m tired. I’m wondering how I’ll pull up the energy for the conference.

Trying to get everything done so my client can get out the door and out of the country next Monday for her business trip is fun and interesting, but it takes a lot of energy.

Turned around the outline request from an editor; hopefully I’ll land the article. Took care of a few other admin things, and picked up the ribbons for my handout packets. Instead of putting the material in folders or just dumping it on the chairs, I’m going to tie them with pretty ribbon. I wish I’d had the budget to do swag for the conference, but that’s the way it goes some years.

Borrowed a sturdier rolling rack that folds down from one of my clients. It’ll fit in the car and be more stable than my little one that doesn’t fold. I need it for the display pieces I’m bringing.

Worked on contest entries.

Pondered what’s next for THE TIE CUTTER. I really like the material in the draft I re-read on Monday. But I think my original vision for the rest of the story was off. I have to re-read my outline and notes, but I think I want to take her journey more to self-realization (with love as a bonus) than the traditional finding true love story I originally wanted. She’s learning that maybe she shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place, and that the twenty-six years she spent with her husband wasn’t the partnership she needed.

The draft stops when she gets to Iceland. The Iceland section is next, and I’m going to deviate in that section, the Ireland section, and, ultimately, the Scotland section, from the way I originally envisioned this unfolding.

And that’s okay. Because an outline should be a roadmap, not a prison.

Really happy with the way GRAVE REACH is taking shape. That’s always a relief.

I’m re-watching STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, and enjoying it (in spite of some of the flaws I find in it) even more this time around. I learn so much from the structure and the writing.

With a client for the bulk of the day. Have to decide if I want to get some foam core and add vision boards to the presentation.

Mostly packed. The accessories are packed, and the pieces that will go in the garment bag are pulled — I just have to put them in the bag, zip it, and load it.

I’m kind of looking forward to sleeping in a hotel for a couple of nights; but I also don’t think I’ll be doing much hanging out on Friday night. I have a feeling I’ll check in, go to the cocktail hour, and then set up for Saturday and rest.

Saturday night, however, I hope I get to spend some quality time with fellow conference goers.

Tomorrow, I have a lot of last-minute stuff to do, and work to clear off, so that I can leave on Friday with a clear conscience, and nothing hanging over me.

Back to the page.

 

Fri. April 12, 2019: Long Weekend Needs to Be Productive

Friday, April 12, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Got some yard work done yesterday, which was a good thing. Compared with how much still needs to be done, it doesn’t look like I got a lot done, but every bit of progress is progress. I got rid of a lot of invasives, which was not fun, but necessary.

Took my mother to the doctor. She had to have another biopsy done on her leg. Hopefully, she won’t need more surgery.

Worked on contest entries and some other stuff. Behind where I want to be in the writing, and have to push hard this weekend. Also want to finish the material for my workshop. I’m last on the schedule, about which I have mixed feelings. It’s my lowest energy point of the day. But I’ll pull it off.

I need to start putting together the handouts, too. Because, of course, I am the Queen of Handouts.

I’m still not sure if I should do a Power Point presentation, or visual boards, or a mix. I might do both and be prepared.

Still not happy with those two scenes in “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale.”

Waiting to hear back on a couple of things, prepping a couple of pitches. In a holding pattern for a few things, because I can’t move forward until I have more information, and, once I have it, I might have to do some negotiating.

I have a meeting at 2 this afternoon, which could also put a few interesting things into play.

Tomorrow morning, Tessa goes to the vet to get her shots updated (Lucy’s are still good). In the afternoon, I have a sound bath workshop. I can’t wait.

In between, I have to write and do yard work (unless it’s raining). And finish my taxes (ick).

Most important errands this morning are to pick up my mother’s prescription and put gas in the car! All the other errands are build around that.

Monday is Patriot’s Day here in MA, but I’m going in to work with a client on a big project.

Have a great weekend.

Published in: on April 12, 2019 at 8:47 am  Comments Off on Fri. April 12, 2019: Long Weekend Needs to Be Productive  
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Thurs. April 11, 2019: The Attempt to Balance Writing and Yard Work

Thursday, April 11, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest on the garden.

And, I’m finally on Instagram as @devonellingtonwork.

Not happy that Jupiter’s going retrograde right now. That’s going to create obstacles to what I need in the coming months.

Working steadily on contest entries. Every time I pick up a book, whether it’s judging a contest or to write a review or to read for pleasure, I want to fall in love with it. That moment before opening the cover is so exciting.

The stress of the week is getting to me, but I’m trying to plod on. The next few months are going to be over-the-top for stress, and all I can do is mitigate as much as possible.

Appointment this morning, then I take my mom to the doctor, then yard work (if the weather holds), then writing. And contest entries.

I have to get back to purging the basement soon, too.

I’m not happy with the second half of “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” and am ripping it apart and working on it. It’s lost the farcical tone. I rewrote most of the second half yesterday morning, before I headed in to work with my client. The third-to-last and second-to-last scene still need more work. But it’s better. It’s still not where I want it to be, though.

I need to spend some quality time with the books I got from the library about luxury ocean liners, and researching the top news stories of the time in which it’s set.

I was exhausted when I got home yesterday from the client. I may have to stop in for about an hour to fix something on a big project I sent out, because the file was so big, I had to use Maildrop, and I’m not sure the recipient CAN use Maildrop.

A bunch of ideas are spinning, and I’m trying to see which ones are worth pursuing, while still keeping up with what I need to keep up with. That’s why the “Whatever” notebook I started last month is such a help. I just scribble notes on whatever comes to mind, with the date, and then I see if it’s worth developing.

Woke up a little after 3 AM this morning, so I’m going to be cooked — again – -by mid-afternoon.

Back to the page.

Published in: on April 11, 2019 at 8:40 am  Comments Off on Thurs. April 11, 2019: The Attempt to Balance Writing and Yard Work  
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Tues. May 15, 2018: Creativity Inspires Creativity

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
New Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise and meet Emily Montgomery, a writer early in her career who jumped in when the post supposed to go live today ran into trouble.

Busy, busy weekend. But a good one. I finished the contest entries late last week, made my final decisions, and sent off the winning choice in each category and the finalists. Now, I have to count up the books so I can invoice, and do the digital entry on the judging sheets. I did everything in hard copy, because it was easier to keep the categories organized.

Got some excellent work done on HEART THEFT. I’m hoping that will be ready to go out the end of this week.

Also did some excellent work on the serial – which I shouldn’t be working on, but it pulled so hard I had to or else.

Early to work yesterday with a client who’s going out of the country for a few weeks. She just designed the next season’s line, and I have to get her design information to the people who make up the samples. It was fascinating, and so different than designing costumes for theatre.

Over the weekend, I watched THE POST and THE GREATEST SHOWMAN. They were both terrific. THE POST made me mourn the way the NEW YORK TIMES has turned into a right-wing propaganda paper for the current administration. The former editors must be spinning in their graves. I looked up to the TIMES so much growing up – trained in their journalism style, admired their work. And, of course, their cafeteria was one of the best in the city! A friend of mine worked there, and I used to visit her and we’d have lunch or dinner there. Even after the whole Jayson Blair problem, they got back on track. Although they were never, in my lifetime, a “liberal” paper. They’ve always been The Gray Lady, slightly right of center. Now, they’re just a propaganda machine for the corrupt and the stupid. I read the WASHINGTON POST far more than the TIMES. I trust them more. And, of course, I remember both the Pentagon Papers and Watergate – when Congress actually pretended to have ethics and wouldn’t just let the White House run roughshod over everything like a banana republic. Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and all the supporting cast – all terrific. If you haven’t seen it yet, do it.

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN took my breath away. It’s completely unique. It’s a period film that’s not constrained by period, and goes beyond. Yes, the music is contemporary rather than period, and so it the dance style. But, somehow, it all works. And Hugh Jackman owns it. He lights up the screen, more so than in anything else I’ve seen him in. I even liked Zac Efron’s work – for the first time. The bar scene between Jackman and Efron is going down as one of my favorite film scenes ever. The joy, the cleverness, the precision – stunning. Michelle Williams pulled it off; not a big fan of her work, but she did a decent job here. I think I’m going to buy the DVD – it’s definitely a film I’ll go back to time and time again.

Back to the page now – I have two manuscripts to work on that need to go out by the end of the month AND get back on track with MYTH & INTERPRETATION and RELICS & REQUIEM.

I do love the process of writing, though, and especially after seeing two great movies, I’m fired up about creating again – even though what I’m working on has nothing to do with what I watched. But excellence in creativity inspires. Always.

Allow yourself to be inspired.

Then go for it.

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Just a reminder: PLAYING THE ANGLES, the first Coventina Circle book, is on sale for a limited time for 99 cents. THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, the second book in the series, is available for $3.99.

I hope you read them both and like them!

Back to the page.

The Spirit Repository.6

Fri. May 11, 2018: Uncreative Start, but A Beautiful Day

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Friday, May 11, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

A bad night’s sleep makes for a slow, cranky, uncreative start.

Yesterday, I got a few things done. There’s a special promotion going on for the Coventina Circle Series. THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, which just released, is available on multiple digital channels for $3.99. But many people prefer to start a series with the first book. So, PLAYING THE ANGLES is available, for a limited time, for 99 cents here.

I did a Facebook ad for the promotion, and I’m not happy with either Canva or Facebook. The ad was made on Canva. In order for the links to work, it had to be downloaded as a PDF. Only Facebook does not allow a PDF to be uploaded and used as an ad. I was forced to SHARE the PDF version of the ad from the Canva site — and Facebook didn’t allow me to boost the post. So I paid for an ad where you can’t click through the links, because they wouldn’t let me boost the one that worked properly. I am NOT a happy camper.

I added the promo info to the landing page of the Coventina Circle site and the News page on Devon Ellington Work. But I seriously doubt the ad will earn its keep. Last time I listen to Canva.

Worked on HEART THEFT.

Worked on the contest entries. I will be done with two of my three genres later today and send off the winners and finalists tomorrow. The final category, which is huge, will need Sunday and Monday to be finished properly, and I’ll send out that information on Monday.

Next week, I’ll buy my basic push mower and do the grass. It’s growing quickly — which is a good thing, but hey, it’s growing quickly.

This morning, I’m headed to Market Basket — haven’t been there in awhile. Then, I’ll work at the library for a bit, work on HEART THEFT, finish the two categories of contest entries — and dig out all the poison ivy that’s taken up residence in the yard.

I’m glad there’s never a dull moment, but I’m tired, and it’s definitely hurting my creativity.

I’ve been watching the Ken Burns documentary JAZZ and loving it.

Have a great weekend, and happy Mother’s Day!

Published in: on May 11, 2018 at 9:16 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 11, 2018: Uncreative Start, but A Beautiful Day  
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Tues. May 1, 2018: Overwhelmed With Deadlines

Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Beltane

Busy weekend. The copy edits for SPIRIT REPOSITORY are killing me. I’m so grateful to my copy editor, but how the hell did I miss some of this stuff the first time out? And, when I put in the changes, how the hell do we keep finding new errors? I’m at the stage, which I reach during copy edits on every book, where I’m second-guessing everything.

Got a good chunk of work done on HEART THEFT, but not as much as I wanted. I feel like that’s my mantra lately. I’m worried, because I won’t get much done next weekend, with guests here. Not to mention everything I have to do this week to prepare for guests.

I’m also worried because they’re working on our street, and it will be tough to get in and out of the house. I contacted the manager of the project for coordination.

Worked on contest entries, too, and am making progress. Grateful the deadline is the 15th of May and not the 1st.

Did another revision for the client with whom I’m trying to wrap things up. I disagree with the direction, but that’s one of the reasons we need to part ways. The check for last month’s work still isn’t here; contractually, it was due yesterday. Getting a little tired of that, too. I always get paid eventually; I can never count on when, even though it’s clearly spelled out in the contract. They won’t change, so I must remove myself from the situation.

Put out some invitations to potential guests on Biblio Paradise, and posted some questions for quotes for two upcoming pieces on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Client work on site yesterday, today, tomorrow. A batch of LOIs out — I need to replace the client with whom I just finished until fall, and the one I’m parting with permanently, plus add in some one-offs. All I WANT to do is focus on HEART THEFT and NOT BY THE BOOK, but that’s not an option right now.

Back to the page.

I hope I get SPIRIT REPOSITORY finalized by tomorrow.

 

Published in: on May 1, 2018 at 1:14 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 1, 2018: Overwhelmed With Deadlines  
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Tues. April 24, 2018: The Right Kind of Writing Busy

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy, busy, busy weekend.

I did a lot of work on the serial proposal, and that went out yesterday. It’ll be about two months before I hear anything, and, hey, it’s a 50-50 chance. I hope they pick it up; if they don’t, I have it outlined and ready to dig back into as a novel when I can fit it back into the schedule.

I went through a stack of contest entries, and I started reading the radio dramas sent to me to judge.

I did a good bit of percolating and figuring out stuff for both NOT BY THE BOOK and HEART THEFT, and have started drafting the additional chapters.

I’m in another round of copyedits for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY and hope to get them out later today or tomorrow.

I managed to get some yard work in, hauling the big branches that broke in the March storms, raking leaves in no man’s land, and cutting out some of the invasive oak. We put some of the big potted plants out on the deck — the two Rose of Sharons, the lilac, the forsythia, the hydrangea, the blueberry, some of the hanging baskets. Hopefully, we’ve moving into spring and can set up our enchanted deck soon.

I’m so exhausted, just feeling burned out on a lot of life stuff. But I’m excited about the writing opportunities, and I’m determined to do my best.

I’m excited by the worlds I’ve built for the serial, for HEART THEFT, and for NOT BY THE BOOK. I feel good about the work. There’s always room for “better” and that’s where editors come in, but I feel good about the work.

 

Published in: on April 24, 2018 at 2:14 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 24, 2018: The Right Kind of Writing Busy  
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Thurs. Jan. 18, 2018: Pushing Through Illness

Thursday, January 18, 2018
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cold

Still sick. I feel a little better (although I sound worse). My friend Jenn Mattern suggested oil of oregano and tart cherry juice, and that made a big difference. But it still lingers and slows me down. I’m too sick to go to yoga today, which makes me sad (although I keep up my practice at home).

It’s also slowed me down on SPIRIT REPOSITORY. I know what I’m going to write, but it’s harder getting the words on the page.

It was busy on-site with the client, but I got a lot done. My colleagues were worried I’d be upset about a thoughtless gesture; I decided not to be. It’s not that big a deal, although it’s telling in the bigger picture, and is reflective of how much more self-involved people are here than they are in the arts in New York. It amazes me how city dwellers are always portrayed as being selfish and isolated, when it’s really much worse away from cities.

I also have to rework my review. A few weeks ago, I got an email from my editor, citing new guidelines and rates. Okay, fine, I implemented them, I tried to upload my review, and it wouldn’t take. So I emailed her to ask why, and was told that those guidelines aren’t for the division for which I write. So why send them to writers for whom it doesn’t apply? Makes no sense to me. And annoys me, because I’d followed the new guidelines perfectly. Whatever. Back to the page on that one.

The Fearless Ink redesign is nearly done. I’m happy with it. I need to tweak some text, and then we move. I have just over a week to build the other six sites, which scares me, since it took me nearly two weeks to build this one. I’m hoping I get faster as I get more fluent and confident in the web language.

I also have to remember that these sites are living entities. They’ll grow and change all the time, because the content will grow and change. So, while I want to feel good about each site BEFORE it goes live, there are still tweaks I need to do to each one as it does.

I’m terrified of the move of the Devon Ellington Work domain and all the subdomains connected to the different series. I’m probably making it a much bigger deal than it is, but after years of lies and misinformation from my previous web host, I’m finding it difficult to fully trust the new one. In spite of the fact that they’ve been so clear in explanations, so helpful, and completely reliable in this first re-design and move. I need to get out of my own way and just do it.

I’m in talks to go to contract to write again for a series of publications for whom I wrote for many years. I’d stopped because I felt I’d said all I had to say; now I have more to say, and they’re delighted I want to come back. We’re going to talk contract specifics in early April. This is for 2020 — we work two years ahead. But I’m pleased to be back with them.

A writer friend just landed a contract with a great traditional publishing house! As soon as she makes it official, I’ll share. I am so happy for her! She deserves it — she’s an excellent writer, puts in the work, and it’s finally paying off! As I said, when she makes the formal announcement, I’ll celebrate her here with more details. She shot me an email about it last night. Happy dance for her!

Reading contest entries. They run the gamut. The top choices are going to be very competitive. There are some other entries where the author’s message is important and relevant, but the execution is so poor that they’re knocked out of contention. You don’t get a prize just for showing up or because you’re writing about an important issue — you also have to have the craft to communicate it with power.

I started reading a WONDERFUL book last night, in between all the other stuff I have to read. This is something I WANT to read, and I came across its existence reading about it in another book. It’s called POET’S PUB by Eric Linklater, and was one of the original ten books that launched the Penguin line. It’s a delight. I borrowed it through the Commonwealth Catalog from another library off Cape; I’m going to have to hunt down my own copy. I must own this book.

Taking my mom to get her blood pressure checked, sending off the revised review, working on the web redesigns for a couple of hours. Then home to rest and recover, do some client work, and dig back in to THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. I also have another book review due next week, so I’ll dig into that either tonight or tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I need to buy cat food, or there will be consequences!

Onward.

Mon. April 24, 2017: Digging In, Moving On

Monday, April 24, 2017
Waning Moon (Day Before Dark Moon)
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

My lowest energy day of the month, always.

Busy weekend.

I should be used to the deterioration of basic human courtesy around here, but it still surprises me. I remember, when we first moved here, I was so wonderfully surprised because people were “nice.” Well, Trumptattitude has taken over, ever since the election, and you can tell those who voted for them, because they now feel free to be their worst selves all the time. They’re the rudest, the worst drivers, the ones who take without conscience. Just like the one they follow. No patience with that. They need to go crawl back under their rocks.

Friday, I got some admin work done, some research done, and then worked my way through contest entries. Finished my third print category, and got to work on the digital entries. The weather was lousy, so it was nice to be able to stay tucked inside and get paid to read.

Ten script pages done on Friday and six pages on Saturday for WINNER TAKE ALL. I’m galloping toward the climax. Gave myself Sunday off from writing.

Saturday was Earth Day, and also the March for Science. Important. Unfortunately, as I feared, the march out here in Falmouth was poorly organized. If you want a successful event, you have to plan for parking and porta-potties. Never got close enough to check out the porta-potty situation, because they hadn’t made any arrangements for attendees to park. The attitude was “oh, there are public lots”. Well, at the best of times, in winter, parking is nearly impossible in Falmouth. In season, it’s a nightmare. For something like a rally? MAKE ARRANGEMENTS WITH THE TOWN SO PEOPLE HAVE A PLACE TO PARK. Make arrangements with public transportation. Or you won’t get the attendance you want. It’s not brain surgery. They estimated a crowd of 600, which is decent, but no wonder there wasn’t any parking!

It is, however, typical of Cape Cod. There isn’t enough parking anywhere, and people ignore it, and then are shocked when they lose business or attendance. The lack of a learning curve around here is one of the reasons I find it frustrating.

Worked and worked and WORKED to fix the problems in “Seven of Swords.” I don’t want to lose all the ambiguity, but when ambiguity=mess, there need to be some clarifications. I sometimes wonder if the play CAN be fixed, or if I should just retire it into a drawer and be done with it.

Finished the Orient Express section on POWER OF WORDS. Now, to deal with the section set in Venice.

I want to travel to Venice probably more than anywhere else in the world right now.

Except, maybe, Bologna, for the Lavinia Fontana play.

Dug in all weekend and finished the contest entries. Now, in the next few days, I’ll go over them and make my choices in each category, finish the admin, and send the information to the organizers, so they can announce the winners on May 1. Read a couple of entries that came close — there was nothing, technically, wrong with them, but they lacked sparkle. They served the genre, they were serviceable stories, but they didn’t stand out against the best of the batch.

My reward for finishing was to re-read a novel I’d read back in 1989 that I’d loved; unfortunately, as I reread it now, I’m impatient with it. Rather a disappointment.

Switched out the winter curtains to lace curtains for summer downstairs — big difference in light. Switched out some of the fabric. Did a few loads of laundry. The amaryllis (which bloomed last July) has decided it’s time to bloom again. Go figure.

Admin work to do this morning, and, hopefully, some yard work in the afternoon. I wrote eight pages on the screenplay: later, I’ll tackle the one act and the short radio play. I’m still not convinced that I’m the right person to adapt the short stories for radio, but I’ll play with them a bit this week and then make my decision.

What I’d like to do is go back to bed and sleep all day, but, after days of rain, it’s far too nice a day so to do.

Time to tackle the week!

Published in: on April 24, 2017 at 10:05 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 24, 2017: Digging In, Moving On  
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Mon. April 3, 2017: Difference Between Review and Evaluation

Monday, April 3, 2017
Waxing Moon
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

This will probably be the only sunny morning we have all week. So much for getting any yard work done!

I can’t believe another weekend flew past. I did some work on POWER OF WORDS. I did research for NOT BY THE BOOK on corporate espionage. The research was very depressing, especially in light of everything going on in the world today. It makes me glad I turned my back on corporate work (except for the temp jobs until I earned my way into full-time theatre work) as early as I did.

I did a lot of work on contest entries. I finished the preliminary read of the print books in one of the categories I’m judging, and moved on to the next one. Once I’m done with all the print entries, I do the digital entries; then I go back and take another look at both the “yes” and the “maybe” piles in each category. I re-read, if necessary. It’s usually just a case of a point or two difference in the top contenders, and I want to make sure I weigh everything fairly. It’s a lot of work. I put in A LOT of time. Which is why I only take paid gigs of this kind at this point.

Although I turned down a paid judging gig a few weeks ago; I’d done it last year, and not been happy with it. The pay was low, and they dragged their feet paying (it was per entry). The entries were the weakest I’ve ever read in ANY contest. Most of them were first-draft quality, and shouldn’t have been entered ANYWHERE, much less called themselves published books. But to me, the unethical part of it was this: The entrants were told, when they paid the entrance fee, that they would get reviews they could post as part of the contest. BUT THE ORGANIZERS DIDN’T TELL THE JUDGES. Instead, we were given a 92-word limit to evaluate the manuscript. First of all, a thorough manuscript evaluation often runs for pages (when you do it correctly). Second, there’s a difference in the way one critiques if it’s for publication, or if it’s a private edit/evaluation letter to a writer. Third, if I’d been told that the entrants expected to have a usable review (often for material that needed far more work), I wouldn’t have agreed in the first place, because that’s just WRONG, in my opinion. Reviews and evaluations are two entirely different animals. They come at different parts of the process.

To me, one of the most important aspects is that: AUTHORS DO NOT PAY FOR LEGITIMATE REVIEWS. That includes not paying the publication for the review (several publications have lost their status, in the eyes of the industry and of librarians, because they now charge for reviews, which makes them suspect). The publication pays the reviewer. The reviewer’s ONLY obligation is to do as fair and thorough a review based on the quality of the work.

In addition to the dozens of requests I get daily to review books by individual authors for free (there are plenty of authors whose work I’ll read and host on BIBLIO PARADISE, and I’m not paid for that, but I usually have some sort of relationship with them first, even if I’m hosting fellow authors from the same publishing house, or authors I’ve met in my travels), I get frequent requests from authors who want to pay me for a review. And I say no.

While the bulk of the reviews I do are paid, I am paid BY THE PUBLICATION. The author (or the publisher) sends a request w/media kit to the publication. The review editor decides if it’s suitable for review by the publication. If yes, the book goes in to the publication and is then assigned to the reviewer. The reviewer reads the book (I usually read it at least twice, sometimes three times) within the two week period of assignment, and writes a review. It goes back to the publication. It is fact-checked (all references have to have attribution), and edited. Then it goes into the publication queue. I usually invoice the publisher for every three or four books reviewed, and I’m paid within two to three weeks of invoice, depending on where I fall in their accounting cycle.

Being paid by the author throws it out of balance. The author needs a good review to post. By paying a reviewer directly, it takes away the objectivity — the author is paying for a service. Let’s face it, no matter how much they claim to want “an honest review”, they want a GOOD review.

And, as I said, a REVIEW is different than an EVALUATION. An evaluation (for which I DO accept money from an individual author) is done prior to a book’s publication, often prior to its acceptance. It’s about story, structure, and all the things that need to be fixed BEFORE publication, and, most importantly, BEFORE it goes out for review.

An EVALUATION helps make the book better (one hopes) BEFORE it is sent out in the world to rise or fall on its merits. A REVIEW is the judgment of whether it meets the standards set for engaging, strong, POLISHED work.

Evaluations are critiques; reviews are the criticism of the finished work. Each type of read/comment comes at a different stage in the process. Both are valuable, but for different reasons.

Reviewing is a specific skill, whether it’s literary, art, music, theatre, etc. A reviewer MUST know the protocols of the medium in which he/she is reviewing. It’s not just about “liking” or “not liking” something, although that is one of the many factors. It is an understanding of genre, craft, and the finished piece.

Genuine reviewers/critics, who knew what they were doing (even if the result wasn’t always what people hoped for) are: Kenneth Tynan, Frank Rich (believe me, I have many a bone to pick with him), John Simon (likewise), Pauline Kael, Virginia Woolf (read her COMMON READERS — they’re a revelation), David Denby, Edmund Wilson, George Jean Nathan, Mel Gussow, Walter Kerr, Brooks Atkinson. If you want to learn about the genuine art of this skill, read their work.

What some random reader posts on Amazon or Goodreads, complete with spelling errors, may help, as part of sheer bulk, get you higher in their matrix, but it’s not actually useful to your craft. Of course the opinions of individual readers matter. However, reviews are different than opinions (although they include opinions) and are an art form unto themselves.

I do very little reviewing anymore. Part of it is that, far too often, the word count is so small (often less than 300 words), it’s difficult to do the book justice. Part of it is that most publication don’t pay a whole lot, and, in order to genuinely write a well-crafted piece, I need to read the book being reviewed several times, I need to read the writer’s other work (unless it’s a debut novel), I need to be able to pull other references within the genre. That takes time. What most publications pay covers about 15 minutes, when it’s more likely to take the equivalent of 25-30 hours or more to do it truly well. Often more. When you read Virginia Woolf’s diary, and you see how long she took to do a review, and how much work, time, and thought she put into it, it suddenly makes sense, and you see how this modern model causes more harm than help to authors.

I judge fewer contests, too. I also, now, have learned to ask more questions about the expectations, before I say yes. It’s not that I think I’m so brilliant, or know so much more than everyone else or that my own work is perfect; it’s that I want to make sure the organizers are dealing with both the judges and the entrants with integrity.

Hop on over to the GDR site. I have a very simple list for April. There are things that need to be dealt with that prevent me from loading the list as much as I’d like.

Tomorrow, I’ll have an essay up on BIBLIO PARADISE about my first re-read for National Poetry Month, Susan G. Wooldridge’s POEMCRAZY.

Have a great week!

Published in: on April 3, 2017 at 9:25 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 3, 2017: Difference Between Review and Evaluation  
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Fri. March 24, 2017: Creative Productivity

Friday, March 24, 2017
Waning Moon
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

We’re supposed to get a mix of rain and wet snow today. Ick.

Yesterday was fairly productive. Got some admin done, did some promotion for the Topic Workbooks. I’ve set up a page on the Devon Ellington website that’s dedicated to the Topic Workbooks here, and I’ll keep adding information on all of them until it’s all there.

I revised about a third of a new Topic Workbook, one that I hope to release in April. I’m updating it and adding new material. I want to deepen what’s there and give some really detailed, useful information.

I also did just over 1K on NOT BY THE BOOK. I’m not really back into its groove yet, but I’m confident if I keep showing up at the page every day, I’ll get there. I’ve got just over 10K on this first draft, and I need another 44K. For the target market, I need to keep it around 55K, which , since I’m holding the book in my head and keeping it active and lean, I ought to be able to do.

I did some research on an upcoming section of POWER OF WORDS. I might have to write the section set in Venice ahead of where it comes in the order of the story, simply because the research materials I ordered are here NOW, and I need to use them while I have them. I rarely like writing out of order (although I’m doing so more than usual on INITIATE), but here, it’s a case of making the best use of the research materials from the library while I have them.

I’m also figuring out the fashion stuff I need for the rest of THE FIX-IT GIRL, I hope to dig back into that early in April. I’d like to finish the first draft sometime in June, let it percolate, then go into serious revisions over late summer, getting it out on submission in early fall.

Reading an excellent contest entry. Not quite as good as the one that got a perfect score (this has to be docked a couple of points for mis-use of words, grammar errors, and length — it could use about 75 pages cut), but it’s a strong contender as one of the finalists in its category. I’m enjoying it, but, because it’s so darned long, it’s putting me behind where I want to be in my entry pace.

I’m starting a promotion for the digital short comic mystery “”Plot Bunnies” under the Ava Dunne name, since it’s Easter-themed and Easter’s coming up. Seems like a good time to promote! It’s available digitally on Smashwords here.

I have paperwork and other admin to deal with this weekend, along with, I hope, a lot of writing, and maybe even getting some yard work done. I’m feeling emotionally exhausted and stressed by several things right now, so I’m counting on showing up at the page every day, my yoga and medication practices to keep me balanced and able to move forward and deal with what needs to be dealt with.

I have several choice words for other things going on in the world, but I’ll save them until after the weekend. I want to see how a few things play out first! 😉

Have a great weekend.

It would be so nice if we actually moved into spring by next week!

Published in: on March 24, 2017 at 9:04 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 24, 2017: Creative Productivity  
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