Thurs. Aug. 24, 2017: Getting Motivated Again

Thursday, August 24, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I had trouble getting going yesterday. Eventually, I did, and sent off the edits for PLAYING THE ANGLES. Got a couple of pitches out. Heard back from an LOI I’d sent to a company that sounded interesting, but I don’t think we’re the right match.

Read a JD Robb novella, featuring Eve Dallas. Those are the science fiction/mystery/romance novels Nora Roberts writes. I enjoyed it; I’d read more. I like how she works with elements of all three genres. Structurally, I found it very strong, and I like the characters.

Got some work done on “Labor Intensive”, but not enough. That piece has to be ready to go next week, and I’m dragging my feet. I have to buckle down and get it done. I need to do some work on the essays, and get both FIX-IT GIRL and SAVASANA AT SEA revisions back on track.

One of the elements I’ve found most time-consuming in preparing these manuscripts is the back matter — excerpts from other books, additional material relevant to the books, etc. I enjoy writing and researching and sharing these materials, but it takes time, which means it has to be carefully built into the schedule.

I’m feeling creatively drained and fallow right now, without the usual stories and characters buzzing around in my head. Those are the stretches were one has to lean on craft first, and hope the creativity comes out of that. The foundation in craft is vital for a sustainable writing career. It also makes me very grateful for tools like my Writers Rough Outlines. They keep me on track, even on the rough days.

Alyssa Maxwell (a fellow Sister-in-Crime who writes the mysteries set in Newport) recommended the Hattie Darvish books written by Anna Loan-Wilsey. Hattie is a private secretary, earning her living, so each book is in a different location and different professional setting. I started with the first book in the series, A LACK OF TEMPERANCE. She’s very good with historical detail, makes it come alive well.

Several things are in limbo right now, and I’m trying to get things ready for my mother’s upcoming surgery. It’s in October, but there’s a great deal to be done before then, especially since she’s in her nineties, and any surgery can have difficult consequences.

Plenty to do today — research-wise and writing-wise.

One of the many good things about the trip to Nantucket is that it solidified my decision to set the whaling mysteries in New Bedford. I wasn’t sure which location I should pick, although I leaned toward New Bedford. What I need to serve the story makes more sense to put in New Bedford than on Nantucket, although, with its importance in the whaling industry, I’m sure there will at least be scenes set there.

Setting is so important to me, in what I read and what I write. Yes, the fictional elements of a setting are important, but they need to be grounded in reality if it’s in a real place or near a real place, and has to be believable as that area, not generic “small town” or “coast town” or “Southern town” or “English village” or whatever.

As I’ve spoken and taught for years, emotional geography matters.

In September, I really need to get to work writing the Lavinia Fontana play (it’s due in December). Some of the scenes are starting to take shape in my mind, but I still lack the throughline. I have themes, but not yet a plot. I’m character-building, and I may write one or two of the scenes to see how I can get a plot to emerge. The social structure of Bologna, especially amongst the noblewomen, will be an important part of that, and how Lavinia navigates that, with the burden of being the primary breadwinner for a large family, and the fact that she was constantly pregnant. It didn’t slow down her painting, though.

I feel like I’m using so much creative energy with the writing that pays the bills, it’s much more difficult to find the energy for the percolating time I need. The fiction and the non-fiction usually feed each other well, but, right now, I’m creatively weary and I don’t have the luxury of taking a break. X amount has to go out regularly, so X amount of dollars come in.

Smashwords has started paying monthly. Honestly, I prefer quarterly and/or twice-a-year payments for royalties.

In any case, I need to dig down and get back to work.

Buzz is starting to build for Nano again. With a book releasing in November, I don’t think this is a good year to do it. I might “write along with” Nano, riding the energy wave to finish THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, but I don’t think I should “do” Nano, as in starting a new book on November 1. I have to say, though, the tandem Nano I did two years ago was a good thing, winding up with DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, and a good chunk done on THE TIE-CUTTER (which has to go back on the schedule soon).

Preparing for the weekend, lots of reading and writing needs to happen (I have a reviewing assignment I need to finish), plus it’s toxic disposal day at the dump, so I can get rid of used batteries, light bulbs, aerosol cans, etc.

And, of course, I need to catch up on mowing. I’m sure you can all feel the eye roll, even though you can’t see it. 😉

Back to the page.

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Mon. July 10, 2017: “Ramsey Chase” release & lots of writing

Ransey Chase Cover 2 Small

Monday, July 10, 2017
Last Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

“The Ramsey Chase” releases today, and I’m excited! Read an excerpt here. Buy links here.

Busy weekend.

Friday, I worked on the story for the hospitalized teen. I wrote about 2500 words, about 1/3 to 1/2 of the piece. Originally, it was supposed to be 500 words, but it grew.

Saturday, I sat down after breakfast to write 1000 words on INITIATE, before getting back to everything else I needed to do. When I next looked up, it was dinner time and I’d written nearly 30 pages (about 7500 words). But then, that’s what this particular piece does to me. Whenever I work on it, it becomes an all-consuming obsession.

I also managed to do some work on the proposals that need to go out this morning, and on the new essay that’s also going out. I’m frustrated because now two payments (one quite large, that I need for July’s bills) are now nearly three weeks late. At least I have a good shot at an interesting project meeting next week, that could lead to something long-term.

Sunday morning, I wrote another 15 pages (approximately 3750 words) on INITIATE. I finished a challenging section, and can now move on to the next section, which will also be a challenge, in its own way. Two more big chunks, and the part of the tale that will be broken down into WRAIG MATURE will be drafted. Then comes the INITIATE section that inspired the title, and then the KNIGHT WITCH section, which is a huge and complex undertaking.

I drafted an essay, which I polished this morning, and off it goes. I found a new market for an essay that was rejected, and that goes off; I have questions that need to be answered before I can polish and send off the serial pitch. I have questions and follow-ups on several fronts. A contract expires in the next few days, and I won’t extend — I want to take the work in a different direction.

Still need the Hearst Castle books, but can’t extend them any further, so have to send them back and then re-order them.

Worked on the Devon Ellington media kit and the “Ramsey Chase” media kit. Worked on the story for the hospitalized teen. Worked on scheduling issues for PLAYING THE ANGLES, the Gwen Finnegan books, and the Sophie Batchelder books. Prepped some queries to go out for DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. Made lists of everything that has to get done today.

And, of course, I have to mow!

Had weird dreams last night, about helping someone move. We kept having to cross through a narrow, brick-lined courtyard filled with garden gnomes. Wonder what the heck that means!

Mowing, admin work, and then, back to the page. I want to finish the story for the teen in the next day or two and send it off. I’m feeling the time pressure, because I want it to do her some good. However, it also has to be good quality to be worth anything.

Published in: on July 10, 2017 at 9:05 am  Comments Off on Mon. July 10, 2017: “Ramsey Chase” release & lots of writing  
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Mon. June 26, 2017: Traction to Getting Back on Track

Personal Revolution Cover

“Personal Revolution” — A Cabot’s Crossing Mystery — Independence-Day theme.

99 cents on Smashwords here.

Monday, June 26, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

A slower-paced weekend than I probably should have had, but I needed it. My brain is tired, my soul is tired.

Saturday morning, I took a wrong step down the stairs and wrenched my knee. The good knee, not the Broadway knee. The outer tendon. My poor hockey players had that often enough, although not from going down a flight of steps. I treated it with arnica and gentle yoga. As long as I keep the leg in alignment, from hip to foot, it’s okay. The minute I go out of alignment, I’m in pain. That certainly slowed me down, because I need to move with more care.

I managed eight loads of laundry over the course of the day. A lot of it consisted of the blankets and fleece covers on the furniture for the winter. They’re now washed and ready to be packed away, with lighter cotton covers on everything. It’s finally warm enough to put the winter things away. Also in the process of washing, blocking, drying, and then putting the winter sweaters away with cedar shavings.

In between the laundry, I’ve been clearing out things that have accumulated — the big stack around my big reading chair, where I tend to nest; starting to go through drawers and boxes. I’m weighed down by too much stuff I don’t need; we haven’t even unpacked everything since we moved here. I wanted to get through everything in the winter and didn’t; so I better buckle down and do it now. A little bit at a time eventually adds up to big bits.

In and around that, I also wrote nearly 2500 words on the piece with the two older protagonists. I’m writing my way in, to see if I have something viable. I like the characters a lot, especially how they’re trying to heal from their damage. It’s naturally set itself in Ayrshire, Scotland, near Culzean, where I’ve stretched the geography a bit to add a small, fictional village between the villages I spent time in when I was there.

I’ll set something else in Cornwall, eventually!

I’m reading Alix Kate Shulman’s DRINKING THE RAIN. It’s a wonderful exploration of a writer’s need to balance solitude and companionship. I’m not as adventurous as she is, as far as where she chooses to stay. I’m a modern woman who appreciates indoor plumbing, and I’m no longer willing to stay in places without it. That doesn’t feed my soul; it merely irritates me. My soul is fed when I’m comfortable.

The book is from the library, but I’m going to hunt down a copy to buy; it’s something I will re-read.

I’m also reading Helen Bevington’s The Journey is Everything: A Journal of the Seventies. I love her writing, and it’s interesting to see her perspective on historical events we both lived through (although I was much younger, just a kid).
I originally read her books shortly after 9/11. I was staying with my mother, in the NYC suburb in which I’d grown up. I got a new library card at the library I’d practically lived in growing up. Wandering the stacks, I found Helen Bevington’s memoirs and journals, and loved them. A few years later, I found A Book and a Love Affair in Niantic and bought it; I keep an eye out for her other books, so I can add them to my personal library. I re-read Book recently, when I came across it, unpacking a box, looking for something else. I wanted to re-read the rest. The Cape Cod libraries don’t carry her books, so I had to order it through the Commonwealth Catalog. This volume is from U Mass-Amherst.

Sunday, I didn’t feel much like doing anything. I read a bit, and then went to S. Yarmouth library, where my friend and fellow writer Arlene Kay gave a program as part of their Author Series. It was wonderful, but then her programs always are. She had a nice turnout (thank goodness, it’s always hit and miss around here), including some mutual friends and colleagues I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was nice to catch up.

Came home, read on the deck, cooked dinner. I’d created a new-to-me salsa recipe on Friday, and combined two recipes from one of Barbara Ross’s mysteries (and then added some bits of my own) on Saturday, so Sunday was mostly leftovers.

I think I’ve got the opening of “Miss Winston Apologizes” in my head. Now, to write it down, so it’s ready to add when I’m done with the proofread of “Ramsey.”

I also have to write down the opening of “Labor Intensive” — and then write the rest of it.

Did some work on the Devon Ellington media kit. Did another 1000 words on the older protagonist piece. I think it’s viable. As I’ve been writing my way in, the plot is getting clearer. Pretty soon, I will stop and outline it. I worried the premise was a little too close to Death of a Choleric, but this morning, I figured out how to fix it.

I have a long list of things to do today, both fiction and non-fiction and pitching, and administrative work, and catching up on some correspondence. And, of course, mowing. I have to pause in my work on the meadow, because the damn front needs to be mowed again!

The roses are magnificent this year. We have vases of them all over the house and they smell lovely.

Back to the page.

Mon. Nov. 28, 2016: Writing Progress

Monday, November 28, 2016
Dark Moon
Sunny and cold

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Week.

I concentrated on letting the broken foot heal and on writing. The play about the 14th century pirate is nearly done and will go out at the end of the week. The proof of TRACKING MEDUSA will be done later today, and it will go out on resubmission tomorrow. Plus, I got some work done on a couple of other projects, including MURDER OF A MELANCHOLIC.

I need to do a couple of tweaks to the end of CHOLERIC, and then another batch of queries go out on that, too. Although I think that series will be a challenge for any thing that smacks of corporate structure, since the series breaks so many rules. But I wrote the book (and am developing the series) that I want to read, but can’t find anywhere.

I’ve studied structure, and I have craft, although I intend to keep honing the craft my entire career. When I break rules now, it’s by choice. Unless I’m being paid a VERY high for-hire fee, I’m going to write what I want and stand by it. I’m going to run my career the way I want to, not the way others tell me I “should.”

Participated in the Not Bannon postcard avalanche. It may not do any good, but it’s better than doing nothing.

This week is the set-up for Spectacle of Trees in Hyannis. I’m going to help decorate this afternoon, and we’ll see what the next few days holds for that.

Once the current play is out, I go back to JUST A DROP, because that’s due in a few weeks, and still needs a lot of work.

Tomorrow starts a new moon. Wouldn’t it be nice if, during that time, the Electoral College showed some guts and integrity? They won’t, however. They’re cowards, just like everyone else who is supposed to stand up for us.

Onward.

Devon

Published in: on November 28, 2016 at 10:11 am  Comments Off on Mon. Nov. 28, 2016: Writing Progress  
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Mon. Nov. 21, 2016: Writing Retreat

Monday, November 21, 2016
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

They say we’ll have some snow flurries today. So much for yard work! The weather was so damp and windy the past few days I didn’t get much done.

This will probably be the only time I blog this week, except for a holiday greeting on Thursday. This week is about the writing. I want to dive into it, and stay off most media for the bulk of the week. Check in just enough to make sure the Apocalypse hasn’t started early.

On top of everything else, I broke some bones in my foot on Saturday. The poor toe that keeps getting broken got it again; and also a bone lower down on the side of my foot. I didn’t even break it doing anything interesting. I was merely careless. Can’t even get a good story out of it!

Most of the weekend was spent working on the play about the 14th century female pirate. That’s been pulling at me harder than the 17th century poisoning ring in Italy. So I’m focusing on this one first, then going back to JUST A DROP. I hate the working title I have for this play, and have to come up with a better one. But I’m having fun with the characters, and letting them lead me, in the context, into some interesting places.

This will be only the fifth time in 44 years we have not gone to Maine for Thanksgiving: three years when I lived on the west coast, one year when I was working on Broadway and couldn’t get coverage (I usually had Thanksgiving off and worked Christmas), and this year. We’ve been too sick for too long to feel up to the trip, and with a broken right foot, I can’t go anyway.

Relieved that both DEATH OF A CHOLERIC and PLAYING THE ANGLES are out. I’m prepping TRACKING MEDUSA for resubmission.

I also want to get back to work on THE FIX-IT GIRL, finish the draft, then start revisions. I think it might need less work than some of my other pieces, although I have to decide how explicit I want the love scenes to be.

Mark December 17th on your calendar. I’m doing a holiday jingle party on Facebook with Angela Aarons and Tracy Kincaid. My slot is from 1 to 1:30 PM, EST. There will be giveaways and games, and all kinds of fun stuff.

Don’t worry, I’ll remind you!

Have a lovely holiday week, and I’ll check back in next week!

Devon

Published in: on November 21, 2016 at 9:30 am  Comments Off on Mon. Nov. 21, 2016: Writing Retreat  
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Fri. Nov. 18, 2016: Rolling the Writing Ball

Friday, Nov. 18, 2016
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cool

I forgot to post yesterday. I apologize. So this post combines both day’s thoughts.

Busy few days. Got some painting done, some yard work done (but I can’t stay ahead of the leaves).

DEATH OF A CHOLERIC was ready to go out on submission yesterday, but I had file compatibility problems, so it has to go out today instead. However, the completed revisions of PLAYING THE ANGLES went out, and will hopefully be picked up and re-issued soon. I’m going over TRACKING MEDUSA in a few days, and then that will go out the door in search of re-issue, too. HEART-SNATCHER is almost through revisions and will be ready to go on submission either before the end of the year, or just after the first of the year.

I love PLAYING THE ANGLES (what used to be ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT). It’s still one of my favorite books that I’ve written.

I think I’m going to do the Nina Bell books myself; they’re too quirky to make business sense for a traditional publisher. I need to do a new cover in the next few weeks for one of the shorts, and then work on the first Nina and the beginning of the second Nina so that I can release the first one in spring. It makes me laugh (uncomfortably) that a range of time I lived through could now be called “period”.

I found an older novel of mine, that needs about 100 more pages to complete, which I loved, but put away. It’s called THE FIX-IT GIRL, and is set in 1930s Hollywood. I read it yesterday. There’s a lot of good stuff there. I made notes on revisions, and I’ve got an idea of what to do with the last 100 pages. I think I can whip it into shape to be ready for submission by late winter or early spring.

I want to make sure I get through the backlog, and that everything out there is earning its keep!

Did some work on MURDER OF A MELANCHOLIC, and also on the sci-fi/fantasy/mystery. and the contemporary play. I need to get back to the contemporary intrigue/romance, and the two historical plays.

I have to stop eating red meat for awhile again; that seems to be what’s been making me sick lately. That happened a few years ago — I had to stop eating red meat for about six months. I’ve eaten too much of it since our company came in September (they were big fans of red meat), and now I’m paying the price. So, back to a lighter diet.

I’ve got to finish up some research on Gilded Age Newport in the next few days and get those books back to the library. I think I need to focus on plot and character for this draft, and then layer in historical detail in the next. I’ve got a decent idea of time and place, but the research is interfering with the story at this point. I need to write the story to see what I have, and then see what needs to change for it to make sense within its historical context, and where my character chooses to break the social norms. That’s one of the themes of the series — that she chooses to break convention, and then has to pay the price.

I’m hoping it clears up a bit in the coming hours, so I can get more yard work done. I mowed the front day before yesterday. It looked good for about five minutes until it filled with leaves again. I still need to do no-man’s land, the terrace, and the meadow, and then start raking the front.

However, I need to take the yard waste and recycling in as soon as the weather clears. It rained off and on yesterday. It’s miserable trying to unload the car and get it all the bins and on the yard waste piles in bad weather. But the garage is about to pop.

I think I’m done painting until spring, unless I paint some of the shells I’ve collected, with an eye to the holidays.

Onward.

Devon

Published in: on November 18, 2016 at 9:40 am  Comments Off on Fri. Nov. 18, 2016: Rolling the Writing Ball  
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Mon. Nov. 14, 2016: No Holiday Weekend For Me! Writing!

Monday, November 14, 2016
Full Moon
Sunny and cold

I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend. It sure wasn’t a holiday for me.

On Thursday, I started the fifth draft of DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I finished it on Saturday. It’s still got a higher word count than I hoped, but under the absolute “no way in hell” count it had before.

But I’m happy with it. I wrote the book I wanted to read and couldn’t find.

I have a few sentences to tweak, but it’s ready for submission. I wrote the blurb, the query template, and the synopsis. I didn’t even mind writing the synopsis this time, and liked the outcome. I must still be feverish. 😉

But doing all that means I didn’t get JUST A DROP done. Actually, the play about the female pirate (due the same day as JUST A DROP) is pulling me fairly hard. So I might do that one first — I think that will be a one act, and JUST A DROP is definitely full length.

However, the opening of a new play — not connected to any of my deadlines — came to me and I hurried to scribble it down. The working title is IDEAS AND IDENTITY. While that reflect the theme of the play, I think I have to come up with a better title! The rest of the play is percolating — I hope I can keep up!

I got some yard work done — although not enough. Never enough, is it? I painted some more planters and two more tables. The problem with painting is that one thing looks great, and everything else looks dingy, so you keep going.

Most of the pots are put away; most of the outdoor furniture is oiled and put away. I have a few more bits and bobs to do this week, and one more shelf to paint, and then, other than mowing and raking, we are set for the winter.

I have every intention of enjoying the last holiday before the Apocalypse!

Today, I start the mowing, do some more painting, work on MURDER OF A MELANCHOLIC (it takes place over Christmas, and I always write better about a season when I’m in it), work on the fantasy novel that came in a dream, and the plays. Plus, I have more edits to do on PLAYING THE ANGLES, so that, too can go out this week.

I made cranberry walnut bread first thing this morning. Hopefully, that’s a positive, productive omen for the coming week. And there’s an amazing full moon tonight. I intend to take advantage of it!

I went back to keeping the phone/social media/email, etc. turned off on Sunday, and it was great. I’d cheated the last few weeks. But the quiet time was wonderful. I want to hold a day of silence each week as long as I can. It lets me refill the creative well, and tap into creativity that gets tamped down by the constant noise.

Have a wonderful week.

Devon

Published in: on November 14, 2016 at 9:53 am  Comments Off on Mon. Nov. 14, 2016: No Holiday Weekend For Me! Writing!  
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Fri. Nov. 4, 2016: Friday Already?

Friday, November 4, 2016
Waxing Moon
Sunny and mild

I was such a waste of food yesterday, it wasn’t even funny. I did not get much done. A little work on revisions, some procedural research, some Newport research, switching out the spiderweb curtains to the winter curtains, making chocolate walnut butter bread. Not much to show for the day, although the bread is very good!

Just felt out of sorts, and not particularly creative. Realized I have to go back a few chapters in CHOLERIC and fix something else. Again, every time I get frustrated, I remind myself better to catch it now than have it go out with those mistakes. I should have caught some of them in earlier drafts, though.

Put together pitches on a couple of projects, so we’ll see where that goes. Unfortunately, several projects in which I’m involved will be affected by who wins the election next week, so I’m in a holding pattern on a few things, and I’m putting together alternate plans, just in case.

Had a lovely online conversation with author Paige Shelton yesterday. I’m looking forward to her story “A Christmas Tartan” that I downloaded a few days ago, but haven’t yet read. I like her work.

I read Eric R. Asher’s DAYS GONE BAD last night, on the Kindle. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised. The writing is lively and fun, I liked the characters, and Asher made good choices about where to play within the formula and where to break it. I’ll definitely read more of his work.

Some errands to run, and hopefully, it’s warm enough to paint those pieces I need to paint before putting them away for the winter. I’m going to try to oil some of the teak furniture, too, so it has time to dry before I put it away.

And get back to the edits. I have two pieces I need to finish editing and get out on submission before the holiday madness starts, so it doesn’t give me much time. But I need to make sure they’re in the best shape possible BEFORE submission, instead of rushing it just to get it out. That tender balance is always tough.

I can’t believe it’s Friday! If the weather is decent, the weekend means lots of yard work for me; otherwise it’s all edits, all the time.

Have a great one!

Devon

Published in: on November 4, 2016 at 9:46 am  Comments Off on Fri. Nov. 4, 2016: Friday Already?  
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Thurs. Nov. 3, 2016: Learning from What Doesn’t Work

Thursday, November 3, 2016
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and mild

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs, winning the World Series! Great job to the team, and kudos to the fans who stuck by them no matter what.

Ran some errands, did some yard work, and worked on the revisions of CHOLERIC. I’m getting weighed down by procedural details that are peripheral to the main action, but if I get them wrong, it throws off the piece. The reader will feel something’s not right, and then distrust the rest of it. Even in fiction, the trust of the reader and the foundation of fact on which to build the fiction is important. I have some questions out to experts to make sure I can smooth things out, but that’s holding up my progress.

Got a few pages done on MELANCHOLIC, too, but I have to get back to the other projects. I’m firmly in “edit head”, though. I couldn’t get this done if I was worried about Nano.

More editing, yard work, painting, etc. on today’s agenda. I got most of the Samhain decorations packed, but I forgot to take down the curtains, so I’ll have to do it today. I have a ton of laundry backed up that needs attention, too.

Read a novel last night that was interesting from a world-building point of view, but the protag’s love interest was such a moron, I kept hoping she would either get killed, or the protag would wise up and dump her. However, they ended up together. He was overly flawed, too, so I guess it’s better that they got and stayed together, rather than either of them being inflicted on anyone else. But it left me dissatisfied. Also, the pace was uneven, and the different points of view were unbalanced. From a structural standpoint, it was a good lesson, but as a reader, I was disappointed.

Last night’s Ceremony for the Dead was for children; tonight’s is for pets; tomorrow is for those who have no one to mourn for them. This week is always challenging from both an emotional and a stamina standpoint.

But the writing goes on.

Devon

Published in: on November 3, 2016 at 9:22 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Nov. 3, 2016: Learning from What Doesn’t Work  
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Wed. Nov. 2, 2016: Listening to Your Work

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cool

Ran errands yesterday morning, including discovering the location of Cape Cod Coffee, which was fun. Had an unfortunate lunch at a highly regarded place that was highly mediocre.

Worked on the revisions of CHOLERIC in the afternoon. Then realized, in the middle of the night, that I made a huge logistical error, so I have to go back six chapters and fix it, and carry it through. So much for making progress! But I’d much rather discover it NOW than once the piece is on submission.

People seem to be happily sailing into Nano this year, and I’m glad. I’m also at peace with not doing it myself. For me, it was the right decision this year.

One of the biggest challenges is learning how to respect the innate rhythm each novel naturally has, while still keeping on track schedule-wise. Before contract, it’s not to hard, since one’s deadlines are one’s own, and you can adjust as necessary. Within a contract, it’s more challenging. You have to stay true to the book’s integrity, but also meet the schedule of the dozens of people who are depending on you to get it done within a finite space of time, so they can do their jobs.

That’s where listening becomes so important. Listening to the team with whom you’re working, of course (and getting EVERYTHING in writing). But also, listening to the book. If you start going off the mark, tonally or in pace, you’ll hear it. That comes with experience.

I read a very disappointing true crime book yesterday. It was written by a supposedly award-winning journalist, but I didn’t see much journalism in it. It was a partisan rant with very little factual evidence set out, sloppy writing, and little to no journalism, much less investigative journalism. Although, looking at for whom the writer supposedly was a “journalist” before, I’m not surprised.

Lots to do today, on many different fronts. I got the outside Samhain decorations put away yesterday. Celebrated Day of the Dead last night, and more ceremonies for the dead. The rest of the decor is packed today, although I still have more ceremonies over the next few nights. Also have to wash out the empty pots, scrub down the deck furniture, oil it, and let it dry before putting it away. I’ll have to repaint one of the plant stands, too, and do quite a bit more yard work before the first snow falls. Bits and pieces, doing it all in bits and pieces, gets it done.

The plays are percolating; hopefully, they will be in shape to put down on paper soon.

Devon

Published in: on November 2, 2016 at 9:04 am  Comments Off on Wed. Nov. 2, 2016: Listening to Your Work  
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Tues. Nov. 1, 2016: Revisions, Samhain, No Nano for Me

November 1, 2016
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Busy weekend, but a good one. I got some solid work done on the 4th draft of DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I’m still worried I’m not cutting enough, but I am making cuts, so we’ll see where we end up. Since the focus of the book is the interweb of relationships and it’s set against the backdrop of the mystery, it’s a little different than a typical, formula mystery.

I also found that I had to write my way a bit into the second book, MURDER OF A MELANCHOLIC, to satisfy myself on a few things in CHOLERIC.

I hope you enjoyed “The Possession of Nattie Filmore.” The link is down, and it’s no longer available, but you can take your coupon for the Yuletide comedy “Just Jump in and Fly” and use it until tomorrow.

Got plants repotted and stored either in the garage or found a spot in the house for the winter. The bed between the pines has been tilled and raked and cleaned; it has too much shade to be used for vegetables and herbs next year, but maybe I can put in some lovely shade plants. I still have quite a bit of work to do to get the whole yard to bed for the winter, but I’m getting there. And yes, there is still mowing that needs to happen!

Samhain was fun yesterday. The little kids were adorable, and they found the house delightful. The older girls were mostly dressed as superheroes, but will elaborately beaded and feathered masks. Gorgeous! A neighbor and I were the only ones participating in Halloween, which is kind of a shame. But it was fun.

Samhain ritual was good last night, too. It was the first time I’d done a formal ritual with all the bells and whistles, rather than a spontaneous one. I’m glad I did. Lots of work to do for the coming year! Lots of changes coming.

Baked “Day of the Dead” bread this morning — good stuff. Although I’m not a big fan of anise, I liked it here.

I have errands this morning, and then it’s back to the revisions, and, hopefully, doing some more writing, both on the prose and the plays. I am NOT participating in Nano this year –it will derail too much. But I wish everyone who’s doing it success and the joy of the process!

Devon

Published in: on November 1, 2016 at 8:41 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 1, 2016: Revisions, Samhain, No Nano for Me  
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Thurs. Oct. 27, 2016: Lucifer, Choleric, and Cooking

Thursday, October 27, 2016
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

I’ve been binge-watching the first season of LUCIFER. Spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it, skip down a few paragraphs.

For the most part, I really liked it. I think the cast is great, and there’s a lot of wit in the writing. The cast has chemistry together, and that’s always fun to watch. They add detail, so the work isn’t just in broad strokes. The raise of an eyebrow, a particular inflection, a gesture — it’s those little things that make it unique. Every once in awhile, there was a clunker of a line or a twist in it, and it was obvious it was a network note. I got ahead of where it was going a few times, but it surprised me more than not, which is good.

However, in the set-up for season two with “mum” escaping — I will be seriously irritated if “mum” turns out to be Lilith. I’m tired of that depiction, and they will have to be very clever to win me back if that’s what it is. That’s one of the places where the Shadowhunters books irritated me, too — with the depiction of Lilith. As if women aren’t “demonized” enough anyway, on multiple levels.

At the same time, every creative person has the right and obligation to be true to his or her vision. I can always stop watching/reading if it bothers me that much. I don’t expect anyone to modify their vision just because I don’t like it, any more than I will modify my vision because someone else doesn’t like it.

So we’ll see what Season Two is like.

But, as I said, I like the acting and most of the writing. I like the production design, although Lucifer as a nightclub owner — I’d rather have seen him do something more unexpected. But the character behaves unexpectedly, so I like that. I know it’s based on a graphic novel series, and I’m purposely staying away from reading those in order not to skew my perspective.

Spoilers done.

I was so excited yesterday afternoon when I finished the third draft of DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. Then, I was totally bummed, because in spite of cutting nearly two dozen characters and plot lines, it’s still too damn long. In fact, with all the cutting, I came up with nearly the same word count. I’m four chapters shorter, but there’s still work to do.

Part of it is defining what the book is — my protagonist’s personal journey to returning to her life after a period of mourning, set against a mystery. It’s more literary than mystery, and more about the community she’s trying to participate in than about keeping the pace and leanness of a thriller. But that still doesn’t justify the length. I need to make some more serious cuts.

I know where I can do it. I lose some atmosphere there, but it will be necessary. I have to get the same feeling across, but with few and better words.

I wanted to put it aside and then re-attack it in a few weeks, but if I’m going to get it out before holiday madness descends on the industry, I need to get right back into it.

So disappointed in myself.

But that’s the way it goes. I’m lucky this wasn’t part of a contract schedule, or I’d really be screwed.

It’s also interesting to see how far the novel has evolved since I started writing it last November. It’s a much better novel now. Originally, I thought it would be a cozy. It got darker and darker, and I thought it would be a more traditional mystery with an amateur sleuth. Now it’s more literary fiction against a mystery backdrop.

Trying to get back into the rhythm of the two projects that started out with such energy a few weeks ago. I got some decent work done on one of them, but my frustration with CHOLERIC is now shadowing everything else, unfortunately. I need to let go of the frustration and the fact that I’m behind, and just write.

The weather is supposed to turn nasty. I’m going to do a turkey meatloaf for tonight (my special recipe). For my mother’s 92nd birthday, on Saturday, she’s requested lasagna, so I’ve got the ingredients for that and will make that on Saturday. I think I’ll use the recipe from THE NEW BASICS cookbook, one of my favorites. And, of course, she has cheesecake.

Don’t forget to come back here tomorrow for the link to the free download of “The Possession of Nattie Filmore”.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on October 27, 2016 at 10:08 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Oct. 27, 2016: Lucifer, Choleric, and Cooking  
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Wed. Oct. 26, 2016: Nattie Filmore Upcoming Free Release, HobNob, and More!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was busy, and, a little frustrating. The RMV renewal office at AAA told me I needed a “sticker” from my insurance company, but couldn’t explain how it worked — electronically or otherwise. I contacted my insurance company, and they sent me something they assured me would work, so I have to hike back out to Dennis this morning and try again.

I critiqued my friend’s short script for NMLC’s participation in Mass Audubon’s “Enchanted Forest” on Friday night — it’s hilarious and adorable. It’s about the dangers of plastic debris to marine life (specifically, in this case, sea turtles). It’s terrific!

I worked on revisions for DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I’m about five chapters from the end. Then I will let it sit for two weeks and marinate, while I work on the plays, the tweaks on what is now PLAYING THE ANGLES, and the submission materials I need for CHOLERIC. I’d like to get it out the door in November, before the holiday insanity.

Last night was another HobNob night. It was such fun! Someone I had recommended join us showed up and had a good time, and it was nice to reconnect with familiar faces. David Kuehn, from Cotuit Center for the Arts, was our speaker, and it was nice to see him again.

I’d made business-card sized promotions for “The Possession of Nattie Filmore” and gave them out at the event. Most of my fellow HobNobbers haven’t read any of my work yet.

Off to RMV again, and then it’s back to DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I’d like to get this draft finished either today or tomorrow.

My mother’s 92nd birthday is coming up this weekend! She gets her favorite: cheesecake.

Don’t forget: “The Possession of Nattie Filmore”, a short Jain Lazarus adventure, will be available for free download starting on Friday, October 28, through Monday, October 31. It will contain excerpts from several other pieces. It will also contain a coupon for one of the Ava Dunne shorts, will be good until Nov. 2.

Come back on Friday and get the link!

Devon

Published in: on October 26, 2016 at 8:50 am  Comments Off on Wed. Oct. 26, 2016: Nattie Filmore Upcoming Free Release, HobNob, and More!  
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