Mon. May 8, 2017: The Reading Groove Leads to the Writing Groove

Monday, May 8, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I gave myself the weekend off from writing, after revising another three chapters on THE FIX-IT GIRL. I’ve got just over 15K done on the second draft. I’m going along more slowly than I would like, but, at least, it’s going. It’s necessary, in order for the piece to be the best it can be.

Worked on outlines for the pseudo-Gothic and for the literary fiction novels.

But, for the most part, this weekend, I went on a reading marathon, reading only what I wanted to, nothing that I had to. I re-read TC Boyle’s EAST IS EAST. I forgot how brutal it was, especially the ending. I read the first Veronica Speedwell mystery by Deanna Rayburn, A CURIOUS BEGINNING, which I loved. That is quickly becoming one of my favorite series. Read two of Shelley Freydont’s Newport Gilded Age mysteries, A GILDED GRAVE and a GILDED CAGE. I like them, and I like her writing. They’re very different from Alyssa Maxwell’s mysteries set around the same time, also in Newport, and both series are well worth it.

On the non-fiction side, I read GHOSTING by Jennie Erdal, a memoir of her twenty plus years as a ghost writer for a particular individual. Interesting and somewhat depressing. I also re-read A BOOK AND A LOVE AFFAIR, by Helen Bevington. I’d read four of Bevington’s volumes of diaries/memoirs back in Rye. At some point, I bought a copy of this. I wanted to order the other three from the CLAMS libraries here and re-read them, too, but none of them are in the system, which is frustrating. I’ll have to go on Commonwealth Catalog, or, if that doesn’t work, go on ILL to get them.

Was berated by a so-called “publisher” who advertised for freelance contributors, but didn’t list rates. When I queried the rate, I was told that they don’t discuss money with new contributors; they want proof of “commitment” and “passion” first. Well, honey, I have a commitment and a passion for keeping a roof over my head, and I do so with my writing. If you aren’t up front about your rates, I can only assume that you either don’t pay at all, or you pay a pittance; professionals aren’t squeamish about stating what they pay. Cross that one off the list and move on. Another publication wants me to be a contributor –at 1/20th of my normal rate. I don’t think so. Next!

On a more positive note, I got a lovely letter from a company interested in one of my radio plays. The reader (who is also one of the company’s actors) loved the piece and will recommend it for next season. So, fingers crossed. There are still plenty of steps between interest and production, but it’s one of the nicest letters about my work I’ve ever received.

I have some pitches to write and send out this morning (to publications who pay appropriately and are open about their rates). Bills to pay — never fun, but always a relief when paid.

I hope I can get the mowing working again, because there’s grass that needs to be cut, and I can’t afford to buy a new mower if this one has bitten the dust permanently. I’ve gone back to using my Melita filter pot because my coffee pot died! A lawn mower is much more expensive.

Later on, I have to revise the next chapters of FIX-IT GIRL. WINNER TAKE ALL has had its percolation week; I’ll re-read that this afternoon and start my 20 pages-per-day revision on it tomorrow.

Working on an outline for an idea for a piece set in the 1890s that could be kind of fun, and hoping to write my way a bit into the literary fiction. I’m still trying to make some structural decisions on it; I hope that by writing my way into it for a bit, that will give me some answers.

I’d like to get back to NOT BY THE BOOK one of these days. I’m still on the fence about the radio adaptations — I’m not sure the time necessary to do the adaptation properly balances the money. Maybe it’s because I’m not excited enough about the material. Still debating.

Trying to get a few other things into motion, hoping they pay off (in every sense of the word) in the next few months.

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing.

Wed. May 3, 2017: Project Juggling

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde (goes direct today)
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Thank goodness Mercury goes retrograde this afternoon. This go-round has been rough.

Yesterday, I was under the weather; I ran some errands and did some research necessary for the revisions of the next chapters in THE FIX-IT GIRL.

The grass in the front is long and lush and beautiful. I’ll mow it, probably tomorrow. My neighbors keep their lawns in a buzz cut, but I like to strengthen the roots and have it a little longer, the way my friend at Mass Audubon said was healthier.

Read Deanna Rayburn’s A PERILOUS UNDERTAKING yesterday — so good I read it straight through, couldn’t put it down. It’s her second Veronica Speedwell mystery, and it’s a lot of fun.

Gave myself the day off from most writing yesterday. I felt so lousy that I knew I’d have to toss it all anyway.

Did some research on art colonies in New England — most of the books about the art colonies are so poorly done. There’s an excellent book on Yaddo that I keep checking out, but the others are all dull. I may have to re-read TC Boyle’s EAST IS EAST, which is a satire set at an art colony. Although it’s very different from what I’m doing, it still might be fun to re-read.

Playing with ideas for two more pieces. One is a literary fiction novel, set just after World War I. The bulk of it would be in Maine, with forays into New York, Boston, and England. The other is a pseudo-Gothic, with elements of comedy, mystery, and romance, set in Cornwall. We’ll see where they go.

Heard back from an editor I pitched last week — he’d like some samples. So, off they go today, and, fingers crossed. I need to start another article in the next couple of days, an opinion piece that I’d like to get out next week.

I’m still struggling with “Seven of Swords”. I don’t seem to be fixing the problem with my tweaks, but prolonging it. Very frustrating.

Enjoying a terrific book on Manet’s life and work in 500 images. His paintings, like Edward Hopper’s, often give me ideas for short stories.

There’s finally sunshine. When the puddles dry up, maybe I can get some more yard work done. The yard work will be ongoing until the next snow!

Attorney General Maura Healey held a town hall last night. We are lucky to have her. She is far more active and involved with people than her predecessor. She takes a stand, and she gets things done.

Did about 1K on the Venice section of POWER OF WORDS, and four pages of the pseudo-Gothic outline. Not a bad start for the day.

I have to finish the complaint paperwork regarding AAA and CVS today. Those have to be filed this week.

Never a dull moment, which I guess is a good thing.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy weekend.

Saturday’s job went well. I got everything done and had time to work on some writing, too. The environment was peaceful and conducive to creative work. One piece on which I’m working has a “piece with in a piece” and have to figure out the internal logistics in order to write the actual story. I did get home around midnight, though, so getting up at 6 AM on Sunday wasn’t fun.

Up early, out the door, to CT, picked up my Mom, back here (because I live across the street from the train station, so it makes sense to use this one. On the train into the city — it was actually on time, nearly unheard of in the annals of Metro North.

Up to the hotel where my friends are staying, and we met up with them and their great kids. My mom hadn’t seen them in twenty yearns, and for me, it was even longer. I hadn’t realized it was that long, because we always talk on the phone every Christmas. It was lovely to see them and catch up. I have an open invitation to come to Rio, so I very well may take them up on it next year — I can start putting aside some money every paycheck for the “Rio Fund”. 😉

One of the friends runs the first cat-only vet practice in Brazil, so, of course, we talked cats. They have a few cats in their homes, and her practice, next door, is exclusively cats, so to say she’s a “cat person” is putting it mildly. He works for a good company in Brazil — he used to actually work on the oil rigs, but now he’s back on land. We met when we lived next door to each other in a residence club, when I first moved to San Francisco, a VERY long time ago! 😉 And have stayed friends ever since.

It was great to see each other again and catch up. And the kids are great — his daughters are 12 and 4. The older daughter brought a friend over, and his nephew, about eight, was also there. All of them are very bright, self-motivated, and don’t expect the world to entertain them The four year old is more computer-savvy than I am, which is a little scary. They’re in NY for a few days, and then headed to Disney World. I know of very few American children in that age range (unless I had a strong hand in bringing them up, the way I did with most of my godkids), who would have behaved as well and handled a first trip to NYC with such sophistication, and yet still been kids.

The contrast was even stronger on the train back, where there were far too many badly behaved, spoiled suburban children running wild on the train and their parents not paying any attention, or thinking it’s “cute.”

But before we headed back on the train, we stopped at Borders and used our gift cards! I bought quite the stack of books, and didn’t get everything on my list, because I was distracted by other books that looked really interesting!

I bought Yasmine Galenorn’s newest, BONE MAGIC (of course, I’m a big fan of the series). Sharon Shinn has a new book out in the Twelve Houses series, FORTUNE AND FATE, so I had to get that (her first book in the series, MYSTIC AND RIDER, continues to be one of my favorite books across the board). I picked up Monica Ferris’s THAI DIE, a mystery that I’m worried is what I call a “gimmick” mystery (it has a counted cross stitch pattern in the back), but the story sounds intriguing enough that I bought it anyway. Nicole Peeler’s TEMPEST RISING looks good, so I added that to the pile. That’s a case where the cover design completely drew me in — Sharon Tancredi’s illustration is completely unique, especially from the other books shelved around it. So many of the cover designs are so similar — all dark with the heroine in stilettos and a bustier, could we please have a RANGE of fashion choices, thank you very much, and some color? Yes, the covers are often appropriate for individual books, and, for instance, I think Yasmine’s covers are great and unique, but when shelves and shelves of covers on books by different authors with unique voices all look the same, I don’t want to buy any of them– but the colors and the artwork on this were completely unique. And the story sounds good, so I bought it. I also bought Deanna Rayburn’s SILENT IN THE GRAVE, and Karen Harper’s MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE.

A good afternoon’s shopping! 😉

There was one kid on the train, though, who didn’t fit into the “spoiled suburban brat” mode. He was about nine years old, doing card tricks. His mother was at her wits’ end — I bet he’s been saying, “Pick a card” 24/7 for WEEKS. So I let him ply his tricks on me, and he’s actually very good. I gave him a few suggestions on presentation (he takes direction well), his mother had a break, and we had fun. I’ll have to use a character inspired by him in something.

Quiet evening at home. Watched the premiere of CHUCK and was disappointed. To me, it seems meandering, repetitive, and scattered, and lost a lot of its charm. They’re spending waaaaay too much time on the friends in the store — they’s supposed to be B story-line comic relief, and they’re getting equal screen time, and it doesn’t work for me.

I have to comment on the whole Jay Leno debacle. So many mistakes were made all the way around, and, instead of fixing the issue, NBC is closing its eyes, sticking its fingers in the ears and singing, “La, La, La” at the top of its lungs. People want scripted shows in the 10 PM slot. Period. I specifically did not watch the new Leno show, which I understand was basically a re-hash of the old Leno show, but in an earlier time slot, because, as someone who’s worked in the industry, NBC could get away with 5 hours’ less of produced, scripted shows by putting him on, and I protest that, both as someone who makes my living in the industry, and as an audience member. I’d stopped watching Jay awhile back, because the segments like “Jay walking” infuriate me. Why is he rewarding people for being uniformed morons by putting them on TV?

Yes, it costs a lot of money to produce a good scripted show, and to produce it well. But it’s worth it. I definitely have my problems with LOST, but it’s well-scripted and well-produced, and has been a gold mine for ABC. As usual, the network is trying to cut costs the wrong way. Having worked on several NBC shows, unless they’re up against a producer who pushes back, they’re always trying to nickel and dime. All the networks do, which is why it’s so important that the exec producer on a show has clout and is a hardass and pushes back at the network, and trains the producers under him or her on various shows to be the same. The networks don’t care about quality most of the time (example — reality shows). They only look at numbers and gossip about the network. If they widened their view a bit, they’d end up making more money over a period of time.

Okay, it’s back to the page for me for a few hours. I should take another load of decorations to storage and run some errands. Not yet sure if that’s on the agenda. Depends on the writing and what I feel like doing. I’ve also GOT to get a new phone sooner rather than later, although I hesitate to get it during Mercury Retrograde. I’ve also got a lot of correspondence to handle this week, and continue attempting to pull off emails from 1and1.

Ick.

Devon