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!

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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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Fri. Jan. 27, 2017: Trying to Get Back in Balance

Friday, January 27, 2017
New Moon
Chinese Lunar New Year — Year of the Fire Rooster
Cloudy and cold

Temperature’s going down again, but at least the rain’s let up for the moment.

Yesterday, I got some work done on the short story. I think it will be ready to go out on Monday (it’s due on Wednesday). As I was going to sleep last night, I had an “aha!” moment about it, which I will have to work in to the text today.

I sent off my proposals and we’ll see what happens next. I also worked on a counter proposal to the other contract negotiation. We’ll see if that works for both of us. If not, we part ways and wish each other well. I’m done accepting work for so far under my rate that it costs me. Pay me a fairly for a fair day’s work, or hire someone off Craigslist with no credits who mixes up possessives and plurals.

Turning over and over the themes and actions for the play. I hope to get a good chunk of it written this weekend, once the short story is done and simmering, prior to its final polish.

Worked on contest entries yesterday, and also on the research for the Italian Renaissance play. Found a tangent to my research — something very, very cool, but off-topic. However, it’s so cool that I made note of the sources and started a fresh file, so that I can go back and build a project just around that in the future.

Fascinating tangents are a pitfall of research. Many sniffily advise to “just ignore them.” I take notes, especially for sources, so I can go back to them once the project I’m researching is done. I find that works better for me — I don’t waste time on tangents (fifteen minutes to note sources is reasonable, in my opinion), and I don’t resent losing something interesting.

Did some political work, and have more to do today, including a potentially contentious encounter with someone whom I don’t think is living up to the obligations of the job.

One of my favorite authors, Nicole Peeler, has started a virtual book club as part of her activist and educational work. I joined, and ordered the first book. I’m looking forward to it — she’s putting together a smart group of people, and I think we can have some invigorating discussions.

I’m re-reading AS Byatt’s novel POSSESSION. I re-read it regularly, and it remains one of my favorite novels, although I wasn’t crazy about the film adaptation. I always get something new and nourishing from the text, as one does from well-written material.

I had hoped to get to Cape Cod National Seashore today, since our National Parks are about to be sold off, and I’d like to see it one last time. I don’t think I’ll make it until next week, but I’m determined to get there, thank the rangers in person, and take one last look before the destruction.

Back to the page.

Published in: on January 27, 2017 at 10:13 am  Comments Off on Fri. Jan. 27, 2017: Trying to Get Back in Balance  
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Wed. March 30, 2016: Refilling the Well & Moving Forward

Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy few days. That seems to be the mantra, doesn’t it?

Saturday was my Saturday “on”, and I was exhausted by the time I came home. I read, worked on contest entries, worked on the outline of the gothic, and percolated on the two short stories I have to write in the next month.

Sunday was Easter — even though we don’t technically celebrate it, the way I do with the Equinox, we ate an egg for breakfast and enjoyed the fact it’s a holiday. The weather wasn’t good enough to work in the yard. I did some planning, though, for what I’d like to do in the yard in the upcoming weeks. I baked a ham, and we had a good holiday dinner.

I worked my way through another stack of contest entries. The entries in the genre I’m currently reading, are, unfortunately, both derivative and weakly-written.

I took a break to read something well-written, which was Dawn Tripp’s novel GEORGIA, about Georgia O’Keefe. It was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Monday, I did some work in the morning, ran errands, and took my mom to the doctor. The weather was vile, but we got there. Good news — she’s in good shape, n spite of the X-rays and the pulmonary test for which she was sent. But she has to exercise more. On nice days, we’ll walk on the beach. On nasty days, she walks around the house trailing a cat toy, so the cats get exercise, too.

Went to Country Gardens to drop off a sample of the invasive, pick up a present for a colleague, and do some pricing on things I want/need in the next few weeks for the garden.

Came home and percolated on various projects — reading background material, sitting in the office in the reading chair, and just being quiet and contemplative. People don’t realize how important that kind of time is to the creative process. I have ideas for several more paintings and one or two mixed media pieces I’d like to play with, so I’m also going to build more studio time into the schedule. It can’t interfere with the writing, but I also want to make sure that I follow this thread of creativity, simply because I enjoy it.

Went out to dinner at the Black Cat in Hyannis with a writer friend — it was her thank you for me reading a draft of her novel (and giving her nineteen pages of notes on it). We had fun. It was a pleasant evening out, and we both miss the nineties! 😉

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty day. I tried doing a scene for SONGBOUND from a different POV — didn’t work at all for the story. Although I’m working in close third, it needs to remain in Enid’s POV throughout. Good to know.

The play is coming along slowly. Its innate natural rhythm is much slower than a lot of other things I write, although the actual playing pace of it will be brisk enough to keep it from sagging. I have a title — “Just a Drop” — and that’s helping its shape. It won’t be done by tomorrow, which was my original deadline — but I’m pretty sure I can finish it by the end of April, which still gives me May for revisions. Scripts don’t need as much “resting time” in between revisions as novels for me.

Went to a birthday lunch for a work colleague yesterday. She’s a lovely woman, and it was nice to let her know she’s appreciated.

Took my mom to get her medication, and then we walked on the beach. A little windy, but nice. Too windy and raw to work in the yard, though. Tried sitting on the deck for awhile, working, but it was too cold for that, too. In fact, it went down to 33 degrees overnight!

But the seedlings inside are thriving.

I’ve been re-reading some of the books on my shelves — books that meant a lot to me, for one reason or another at different parts of development — and jotting notes down about them, thinking there might be material in there for an essay “someday.” I realized, yesterday, that I have the basis for two non-fiction books. Nonfiction #1 will take about a year to eighteen months to re-read everything and then sort out the material, get in additional statistics and anecdotes; Nonfiction #2 will take between three and five years. Some of this is because they have to fit in and around other projects. Some if because it will just take that darn long. But the process will be a pleasure, and I think I’ll get something good out of it.

Last night was the Artist HobNob, back in Hyannis (I’ve been to Hyannis a lot this week) at Kelly’s on Main. Fun evening, good speaker. Good talk with two other artists, who’ve been very supportive of my foray into mixed media. We’re talking about doing a ‘play date” and just messing around, to see what we come up with. That sounds like fun.

This will be a long week at work — today, tomorrow, and then Friday night we have a big fundraiser, so it will be a 13 hour day for me. Fortunately, I don’t have to work on Saturday — although I’ll be doing plenty of work –errands, dump run, cat food, garden center, yarn shop, etc., etc. Saturday night is the opening of the “Unsafe” exhibit, so I’ll be over there for a couple of hours. Sunday, there’s Julian Cyr’s campaign kickoff in Truro, so I’ll be out there.

I’m hoping the weather will be nice enough to get some yard work done, too!

Plus, of course, work on SONGBOUND SISTERS and “Just a Drop”, starting the short stories, and continuing on with the non-fiction pieces.

I hope it will be a productive spring. A POSITIVE spring.

Devon

Published in: on March 30, 2016 at 9:12 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 30, 2016: Refilling the Well & Moving Forward  
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Thurs. March 24, 2016: Stacks of Work

Thursday, March 24, 2016
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Yesterday was a long and frustrating day. I’m glad it’s over. Today will also, no doubt, be long, but hopefully less frustrating.

We did have a program that ran well, though, in spite of a relatively low turnout. I have to make some adjustments on an upcoming program, though, which I hope can be done quickly so the proper PR can go out. I also have a lot of processing/cataloging to do.

I submitted the two short radio plays and the grant proposal. Both were acknowledged; either they are what is wanted in each individual situation, or they’re not. Time will tell.

Got a little bit of writing done this morning, but not enough. I’ve made some notes on revisions for DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, even though that project Is supposed to be “out of sight, out of mind” for the next few weeks. But I didn’t want to forget these editing notes, so I jotted them down. One of them will require a major restructuring of certain relationships in the book, but it fixes a logistical problem that bothered me.

This weekend is my Saturday “on”, but I’m hoping to get some work done in the garden if it’s nice when I get home.

I also need to work on the latest stack of contest entries, work on the play set in 17th century Italy, and get to work drafting the stories that are due at the end of April. Plus, get back to work on SONGBOUND SISTERS, or I’ll get behind. I have another proposal due as soon as I can get it done for a project where the powers that be will try to make me do all the work without any money, which simply is not going to happen.

One step at a time, one word at a time.

Published in: on March 24, 2016 at 8:22 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 24, 2016: Stacks of Work  
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Fri. Feb. 5, 2016: Wintry Writing Weekend

Friday, February 05, 2016
Waning Moon
Rainy, expecting snow, falling temps

Yesterday was busy, but hard to focus.

I’d hoped it would snow overnight and we’d have a snow day today, but it’s rain that will change over at some point during the day.

Up early this morning. Got about 750 words done on LAUGHTER RETURNED, and I’m actually happy with some of them, which is good. One of the supporting characters, who I’d planned as a bit of a British dandy sponging off the main characters has turned out to be a tough Western American. He’s got an agenda, intelligence – and more to offer than the original concept of the character, which I think will work better in the overall scheme of the book.

Background reading on another project. Originally, I planned to set in the 1950s, but the early 1920s seems to support more of what I want out of the piece.

I’d left my flash drive with what I needed for CHOLERIC in the other computer – glad to find it safe, and I’ll be more careful today, so I have what I need to work at home this weekend.

Finishing up some material for Monday’s NMLC board meeting, and hoping to finalize the ArtsWeek Boston panel. February’s book groups got a nice mention in today’s paper, so that’s good. Always good to see the PR’s hit properly.

The bulk of the next four days will be about writing, although I’m attending a friend’s event tomorrow afternoon in Sandwich, have to go over the bridge for some errands on Sunday, and over again on Monday for the board meeting (weather permitting).

But, overall, I’m looking at a reasonably productive weekend. I also plan to dig back into contest entries. I had a week off reading for the contest, so now I’m ready to go back. I much prefer getting the entries in batches, rather than 100+ books landing on the doorstep all at once.

I’m sorting through some possible opportunities, to see what it makes sense to accept, and what will throw the schedule so far off-course (without enough recompense to make it worth while) that I should decline. I’ll have my lawyer look at the contract extension before I sign it for the Jain Lazarus Adventures, and I’m in the process of getting the paperwork for the rights to the pieces I have with Amber Quill, so those can go on to their next lives.

On an exciting note, I’ve been asked to be on a judging panel for a high school radio writing contest in New York State. That will be lots of fun.

I’m also going to start preparing my talk for the March Writers Night Out and the handouts this weekend.

This weekend will be the good kind of busy! 😉

Devon

Published in: on February 5, 2016 at 9:44 am  Comments Off on Fri. Feb. 5, 2016: Wintry Writing Weekend  
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Wed. April 8: Lost Weekend — Writing, Not Liquor!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Waning Moon
Jupiter DIRECT
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy few days. Thursday and Friday were rough at work. Less said, the better. Really frustrated with the group that bought the CAPE COD TIMES newspaper. Not only did they dump all the calendar entries for April’s programs that took me several hours to load — and they dumped them AFTER they’d confirmed them — now, every calendar entry has to be approved by someone sitting in an office in Tennessee. That is simply not acceptable. Someone in Tennessee should not have the authority to approve or refuse a calendar entry about a local event on Cape Cod. Who ever is sitting there probably has never even visited, much less has any idea what’s important to residents. It’s WRONG on so many levels. Local calendar entries for the newspaper need to be handled LOCALLY.

So, I had to lose more hours re-entering everything into a new system, and now I have to wait for approval. From Tennessee. Especially with these crap “religious freedom” laws (which are, in actuality, laws to allow bigotry and discrimination to anyone the passers deem they want to discriminate against), it makes even less sense. If someone in the TN office decides a Cape Cod program is “against” his so-called “religious beliefs”, does that give him the right to refuse publication?

Finished watching the second season of MISS FISHER over the weekend. The energy and pace were off in a few of the early episodes, and then it picked up steam again as the season progressed. Read the first three books, too. Very different from the series. Since each is a completely different format, each works in its own way. The Phryne-Jack relationship is vital to the series, as is the Dot-Hugh relationship, in a way that isn’t in the books (Hugh isn’t even in the three I’ve read so far). Those relationships are what connect the viewer and make the episodes work within the time framework of each one, whereas the prose canvas is broader, and there’s more room for the other elements. Very interesting to see the differences, and how each works in its own format.

Scriptwriting isn’t “just dialogue” as so many prose writers who want to adapt their novels think. Scriptwriting is visual storytelling. Yes, dialogue is important, but so is choosing what the audience sees, and putting it on the page in such a way that the director and the creative team can fulfill the vision, without dictating every detail.
It’s a completely different way of telling the story.

Worked through quite a few contest entries. The disparity between what works and what doesn’t is far larger this year than in previous years. I finished all the print entries in one of the categories (I still have a few on Kindle), and I’m diving into the second category. The third category has only a few entries, so that won’t take long.

Watched THE IMITATION GAME over the weekend. It was well done, but Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance was a little too mannered for me. I like his intensity, I like his work, but he rarely surprises me any more. Keira Knightley was terrific. Also watched INTO THE WOODS. I’m a big Sondheim fan, and I loved the Broadway production. This one was clever, but I still think it works better on stage than on screen. Meryl Streep was wonderful. The actors playing Jack and Red Riding Hood reminded me of typical Broadway belter kids. There were lots of great moments by everyone throughout, although I thought Johnny Depp’s work was too close to his work in both ALICE IN WONDERLAND and WILLIE WONKA.

We got news of the death of a family member in Europe. It wasn’t someone I knew well, but it still leaves a hole, and there’s paperwork, and lots of other things to take care of.

Sunday was Easter. Since it didn’t rain, I did quite a bit of yard work. Not that it’s visible yet. There’s still plenty more to do. Monday it was supposed to rain, but didn’t, so I did even more yard work, including starting to clean out the front beds. There’s a little progress there, but I still have a lot more work to do, and I can’t do any of it until next weekend. Took a carload full of leaf bags to the dump. Replanted all eighteen heads of lettuce and six Brussels sprout plants. Started two kinds of tomato seeds, borage, feverfew, basil, parsley, and bok choy. Moved some of the potted trees and shrubs out of the garage and back onto the deck.

Tuesday, I was supposed to do taxes and finish the microfilm reels. Instead, I wrote a 5691 draft of a new short story. I have two short stories due at the end of the month. I’d been thinking, percolating, on some ideas, and this one burst forth. I thought I was only going to write 1 or 2K, but I was on a roll, and just kept going. Wrote the whole first draft in one day (practically one sitting, although I got up to pace and mutter fairly frequently).

It felt good, I got to figure out some stuff that was bothering me, and push it to its ridiculous limits and enjoy it. I like the characters, I like the premise. It’s 691 words above the limit, so there’s some serious cutting in its future. Either that, or I need to expand it by about 2K for a different market, and that leaves me still having to write two stories by the end of the month. So I’ll try to cut first. There’s a little too much of my Freudian slip showing in this one, so I’ll have to smooth this out. Great to have catharsis in writing, but therapy is not interesting to readers. Time to cut the navel-gazing and layer in the craft.

Far too many “writers”, when faced with a word count limit (especially in class assignments), ignore it. When called out about it, they go, “ha, ha, ha, I had too much story to fit.” Well, bunny boo, the limit is the limit. Either cut it down to fit, OR WRITE ANOTHER DAMN STORY THAT DOES. It’s called “craft.”

I was exhausted and out of words by the end of the day, although the next story is poking up from the subconscious to the conscious. I’m worried that, if I start it, I’ll lose all track of everything again.

Because, last night, I screwed up. I was supposed to attend a town meeting having to do with changes in parking and sidewalks that will adversely affect the library. I looked at the clock and had plenty of time. I started to do “one more thing.” The next time I looked at the clock, it was 9 PM, and I’m sure the meeting was winding up. I tried to justify it by reminding myself that it was my day off, and I put in far too many hours above and beyond my scheduled work time, but I still felt badly. There’s no excuse, no matter how I try to make myself feel better. I should have been there, and I wasn’t.

I had odd dreams all weekend. One night, I dreamed I moved back to San Francisco. Another night, I dreamed about genealogy. I don’t know WHOSE genealogy I was working on — it sure wasn’t my own family’s.

The upcoming week will be stressful, as will next week. Today is a basic, long workday. Tomorrow is pretty basic, with tango at night. Friday, I have a Chamber breakfast in Hyannis before work, then the work day, then a program that will probably last until 10 PM. I have to be in first thing on Saturday, and then there’s another program on Saturday afternoon, so I’m pulling a 10-5 day instead of a 10-2 day. I have Sunday and Monday to finish taxes and microfilm. Tuesday, I have a meeting in the afternoon (where I’m there for two different organizations), and then a program at the library at night. A week from today is another big program at the library, and so on and so forth.

I was up at 5:30 this morning, because I have so much to do before I go to work, including paperwork that has to go off to Germany. Somewhere in all this, I have to figure out where I’m going to bake and prepare “the light refreshments” we’re serving Saturday afternoon.

Thirty-two days until my vacation. I desperately need it. BEFORE that, I have to finish the contest entries, two stories, do the final edit on the radio play, and get it out. Plus all the programs at work. Plus put together some materials for the Marine Life Center.

It’s a busy month.

Devon

Published in: on April 8, 2015 at 9:37 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 8: Lost Weekend — Writing, Not Liquor!  
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Mon. May 12, 2014: Reading, Writing, Contest Entries

Monday, May 12, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Busy weekend. Friday was a good day at the library, albeit a busy one. Got a bunch of reports done, some new books on the shelves, prepped for today’s board meeting, dealt with all the little issues that come up to help patrons.

After the day was over, I headed to a different library, where a colleague and I culled entries for the third contest I’m working on — making sure the payments and entries matched, and then making sure that they followed the submission guidelines. Not able to follow directions? Gone! This is the real world, people. If you’re so arrogant you think you’re too good for “guidelines”, guess what? You’re wrong.

Came home, cooked dinner, went back to work on contest entries for the second contest.

Up early Saturday morning. Did some work on the TRACKING MEDUSA edits and the next two Big Script Episodes. Two trips to the dump with recycling and yard waste.

By 10 AM, I was headed to Osterville LIbrary to hear Patry Francis speak about her new book THE ORPHANS OF RACE POINT (which I ordered for our library –and it’s on the shelf). We’ve been communicating on social media since THE LIAR’S DIARY came out, but this is the first chance we got to meet, and it was fun. My boss was also there, and we had a nice chat.

Came back, worked all day, mostly on contest entries.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, so we had a nice day, doing whatever Mom wanted. I also finished the contest entries, finished the write-ups, and sent them off.

Did a lot of work sitting outside on the deck — it was so lovely out.

I did some reading for myself, too: Donna Leon’s latest release, BY ITS COVER (which is set against a library, which makes me happy). She’s trying something very post-modern with her last few books, and, much as I hate to say it, it’s not working for me. She’s stopping just before the climax. We KNOW who did it, and what happens next, but it actually happens offstage and there’s no breath of resolution or how that particular case changed Brunetti. I’m struggling with it. I respect her choices, I understand closing the blind on a life still in progress, but I’m getting frustrated with these abrupt endings.

Also reading Ann Patchett’s book of essays, THIS IS THE STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE. Love it. She spent some time at P-town’s Fine Arts Work Center. She talks about people who say they want to write and don’t, and says, “I believe, more than anything, that this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers.” (p.30). She’s very generous, and, based, on my own experience, I heartily disagree. What I have seen, in workshop after workshop after workshop over the years, is that people don’t write out of a combination of laziness and lack of commitment. They like the idea of being a “writer”, but they don’t actually want to sit down, put in the work, or learn the craft, and I have no patience for that.

Patchett also talks about people who come up and tell you they have a great story that YOU (the writer) must write, and how she struggles to be polite to them. I’m done with being polite to these insulting asshats. If I’m feeling generous, my response is, “Here’s my agent’s number. If there’s a first contract offer and a check for ten thousand dollars on her desk by 10 AM tomorrow morning, we can START negotiations. Anything less than that, forget it.” When I’m not feeling generous, I say, “No, I don’t HAVE to write YOUR story. I’m busy working on my own.”

I’m done with these people who think writing is easy and they’d do it “if they had time”. It’s about more than time. It’s about work ethic and talent and commitment and craft. It is a specialized skill, in the way that brain surgery and plumbing are highly specialized skills, and the better we are at it, the easier it looks.

Disagreeing with her in these particular essays doesn’t make me love the book any less, and I certainly appreciate her generosity of spirit.

Today’s focus is all on the TRACKING MEDUSA edits, the next two episodes of the script, and revising the first two.

The inspector is coming for his yearly making-sure-we-renters-are-following the rules. Put in fresh batteries for the smoke detectors, even though I changed them all on the Equinox.

I have some new story ideas spinning, on which I jotted some notes, and there’s a Mermaid Ball meeting this evening in Buzzards Bay.

Back to work!

Devon

Wed. May 7, 2014: From One Job to the Other

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Worked flat out yesterday, on client projects, on the Big Script Project, and on contest entries. Delivered three versions of the first episode, which was due yesterday. When they pick the direction, I’ll be able to tweak the second episode (due tomorrow) and work from there.

Did laundry, packed the car for today’s final performance of SEAL TIDES.

Read a book that’s getting a lot of buzz that infuriated me — such a narrow view of the topic, and, of course, making excuses. I will have to write an essay about it.

I have to get gas for the mower this weekend and start mowing. The lawn looks good, but it’s getting kind of long. And, of course — the ants are back. I have to try yet something else so they don’t destroy the yard.

Built a prop this morning for the show — last time I have to build this particular one!

Off to the library this morning for a full day, and then, leaving two hours early to get to the show. Final performance tonight at the Annual Meeting. I still have to file the final reports with the Arts Councils, but then, I’m done!

I’m taking contest entries with me to read on my lunch hour.

Devon

Published in: on May 7, 2014 at 6:03 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 7, 2014: From One Job to the Other  
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Tues. April 15, 2014: The Life of 5:30 AM – Midnight

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Full Moon
Lunar Eclipse
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Tax day and the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. Rain is appropriate.

Busy day. It was hard not to hustle for jobs — that’s become such a reflexive part of my day. But I really can’t take anything new on until late June, so anything that’s quick turnaround just can’t fit in.

Caught up on some stuff for the library, worked on client projects, wrote a review, wrote an article going live later this week, got the contest entries for the next contest, checked them in, read the series bible for the scripting job, took notes, had a meeting on that job, interviewed potential stage managers, worked on a prop I need to be able to put onto another prop and remove after each show. Still not where I want it. Took care of some correspondence. Hunted down a couple of stories I have to read for Thursday’s short story group. Got my instructions for Thursday, when I’m in charge — a little intimidating, but I plan to step up.

Today, I need to finish a draft of a client project, run some errands in Falmouth and Sandwich (preferably before the torrential rain begins), get some groceries and cat food into the house, continue the search for a stage manager, research my two articles due at the end of the month, finish another book for review, read two short stories for an event at the library on Thursday, and work on the storyboard for the scriptwriting job.

In other words — I better get going!

If you can’t come and see Seal Tides in person, I hope you’ll support it by donating to our indiegogo campaign here. Even $10 makes a huge difference (and you get a program mention, a signed program, etc.).

Devon

Thurs. April 10, 2014: Prepping for a New Chapter (Physically and Metaphorically)

Thursday, April 10, 2014
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Work was very stop-and-go yesterday. I’m back to trying to find a new SM to replace the fired one. Worked on some client projects. It was the first day in probably six months where I didn’t send out any client pitches or LOIs.

I’d been up the night before far past the point of diminishing return working on some client projects. One is done and out slightly before deadline. I feel good about it. They were excited to receive it and have already cut the check. It has to travel across the country to reach me, but this experience has been wonderful. Another project — let’s just say it has an interesting set of unnecessary challenges when it should be very straightforward and leave it at that.

Worked on contest entries. I’m in good shape on the first one, and ready to handle the entries on the other two contests as soon as they arrive.

The weather was lovely, so Tessa and I went outside with the script and spent some quality time preparing for rehearsal.

I edited the Powerpoint presentation we’re using in the play — suddenly, PowerPoint makes sense.

Early dinner and a Writers Center Executive Committee Meeting, then dashed home for rehearsal at the house. We focused on lines and beats and motivations and had a good giggle session.

I drank coffee during rehearsal, so I was wired.

I prepped for today, which opens a new chapter in my life — will fill you in tomorrow. I woke up at 5, because I’m so excited. Yoga, meditation, a little writing, but I’m unfocused on the writing, and focusing my energy on today.

I still have to finish my taxes this weekend. I want to get them out the door late Monday or early Tuesday and not have to think about them.

Lots to catch up on tomorrow, I am sure.

Devon

Published in: on April 10, 2014 at 6:23 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. April 1, 2013: Homestreatch for the Play!

MurderSealstheDeal 4-8-13-2

Monday, April 1, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Today is April Fool’s Day. Not one of my favorites, because too often the so-called “pranks” have an undertone of hostility and/or cruelty to them.

I spent a portion of each day working in the yard, cleaning it up and getting it ready for spring, which was good. Worked with students, did my own work (although not enough of it), worked on a prop for the show, worked through contest entries, and on material for Confidential Job #1.

Tessa scooted out one morning and dashed under the back deck –and was out in about a minute, back up at the kitchen door. She didn’t like it (fortunately). I brought her crate up from the basement, wiped it down and put a fresh towel in it, so she could be on the deck while I worked in the yard, or while I sat on the deck and read. She liked that a lot.

The seeds I started indoors are doing well, and soon I’ll start some more. The outdoor tulips are just shooting up leaves, but the indoor ones popped and have started to fade.

This time next week, we’ll have already performed our first show, and be prepping for our second. Hard to believe we’re in the homestretch! And Costume Imp arrives Wednesday night for eight days. Lots going on.

I finished an edit on a client’s book early — it’s really good, and I’m excited about it — so that means I can accept another line edit and/or manuscript critique in the next few days. So, if you have one or know of someone who needs a good editor or critique, have them contact fearlessinkworkshops – at – gmail – dot com to set it up.

Have to hit the ground running today. Lots to catch up on, and I have to clean the house and get it ready for the visit!

Devon

Published in: on April 1, 2013 at 7:17 am  Comments (1)  
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