Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I was trying to clear some admin work off my desk when the phone rang. It was the VW place — my car was ready a week early! I was so excited that I dropped everything and dashed over. I’ve got my Blue Bunny back, working pretty well, and they even washed it! So that’s a relief.

It also means that I can do the whole stretch of the different jobs down in CT, while my mom stays up here with the cats.

Again, time to adjust the mental focus.

It means missing some stuff I hoped to do up here next week, including the writers’ group dinner, and I’ll have to pack some more books, but it will give me a nice block of isolated writing time (even though I’m moving between two sites). I’ll be car-less for five days, and not in walking distance of anything, so I have to plan carefully, but it’s all good.

It also means I have to repack the clothes. I need 11 days’ worth instead of 3.

Dealt with trying to get my own health insurance before the window closes and it was nothing short of a nightmare. I’d been given the incorrect information about how to apply back in December, and the window may close before I’m processed. If that’s the case, they can go (you get the idea). I’m not paying a fine for being misinformed.

Anyway, I filled out the paperwork — my life does not fit into their forms.

On a positive side, I ordered seeds and plants last night. Finally, something to write about in the garden journal other than “it snowed again”. So I’ll have to get on that.

More brainstorming on a neat project with a writer friend, and Savvy Authors booked the workshop I tossed at them for March: “Unstick Your Book.” Participants get to bring in a WIP (usually I make them write fresh material for class), and, in very individual terms, we are going to find out where they’re stuck, why they’re stuck,and get it unstuck, so they can finish. Because that’s the point — not to get them to write the same stuff the same way, but to make them look at the individual work in a new way, from a fresh angle, and make it the best it can be. It’s not about writing it as I would write it, but how to make it work best within their own visions. Because it’s not about me — it’s about the work. Details are here. The need for something like this came up in discussions in other workshops, so I thought, why not create it? People are already signing up, and it gives me some work for March, which is a relief. The Dialogue Workshop, in September, is also filling up, which is great. It’s an Advanced Workshop, different from the two week one I’m teaching for RWA in April, and builds on what we’ve done in other dialogue workshops at Savvy.

So that’s all good, and bills will be paid, but I didn’t get much writing done.

Watched the season finale of HUMAN TARGET last night, which may be the series finale. Got my Jackie Earle Haley fix, which is always a good thing, and last night was a shining example of how good actors can find ways to make scenes and moments work, even in a big mess. The first third angered me so much, my reaction was, “Did this show even HAVE a showrunner this season?” But again, I’m not in there, the poor showrunner might have been browbeaten and undercut by producers and/or network execs who are running around trying to justify their salaries. I don’t want to pin it on the wrong person. But the first third of the piece was a giant mess — the lapses of logic were as big as black holes in the Universe, the writing and situation was untrue to the characters without reason — if they’re going to be that sloppy, there needs to be a reason. They’re not stupid or careless, and that’s how they were portrayed without a foundation. The way the first third was structured was disrespectful to the actors, who’ve busted their asses for two seasons getting the audience to care, and to the audience. Julia could have never tracked down Guerrero unless he wanted to be found, (and, if that’s what he did to bring her out into the open, it needed to be addressed) and he’s way too smart to have been conned by her. The way the show’s misused the character of Ames as the season progressed is just pathetic — she started out as strong, smart, funny, and a real potential protege for Guerrero, and, as the season progressed, they turned her into a shallow, self-absorbed, whiny creature who’s WEAK. She couldn’t survive the life she had or with these guys if she was weak. The scenes in the car with Guerrero weren’t comic relief – they were painful, although Haley was valiant about trying to pull something out of the mess, and he gave his scene partner much more than many other actors would in that situation. The boxes of files brought in marked “Guerrero”, where the villains learned about his pressure point? Make no sense in what’s been set up over the past two seasons — the point has been made more than once that he shifts identities and stays under the radar. He’s got a reputation, well-earned, but he doesn’t leave a paper trail. There wouldn’t BE any files, other than a page or two of unconnected police reports on mysterious deaths or disappearances in far-reaching areas (And yes, I have a way that they could have gotten the same piece of information they needed for the plot point — that would have fit the logic of the world that was set up the past two seasons).

Fortunately, it got better and tighter as the hour progressed (felt like that part was written by a different person or people). It was nice to see Ilsa more active, the rooftop scene was good and set groundwork for the Julia character to return at some point (she did a good job, she’d be worth a return). It was good to see Guerrero do what we’ve come to believe he does best — move like smoke, while taking out an entire team of opponents, and the choice of making most of the violence off-screen makes him even stronger and scarier. His final scene in the episode was beautifully done, perfectly played, fairly well-staged, effective. We hear how often he’s taken no prisoners — now we saw it. It was important to the overall character arc, because there have been times this season when they’ve tried to dilute his character, and it’s only been Haley’s abilities that have kept the character’s integrity intact.

If this is the series finale, it ended on a good breath of hope for all the characters (except Ames, of course, who never got a final scene, but she’s been an afterthought for most of the season). If the show gets picked up next season (with some different people in charge, I hope), it gives them a good jumping off point.

Shooting a one-hour drama — especially with action scenes — is a huge undertaking, I’ve been there, I know. Everyone’s pushed past their limit, especially towards the end of the season, and especially when ratings aren’t what one hoped, with enormous detail, scheduling, budget, etc. They could have kept the overall structure, the action, the locations, etc. — all they had to do was inject some more logic into the writing — logic supported by what they established over two seasons, and it would have been outstanding instead of just “okay, this is a serviceable finale.”

Again, this is just my personal response to the material and the way it’s handled. It’s ONE opinion, not THE opinion.

Continued reading AN EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF ORDINARY DAYS. What a beautiful book. I’m putting together the reading list for my year-long intensive, and that book will definitely be on the list.

Did not sleep well. The cats were impossible last night. Kicked them out of the bedroom, and then they tried to dig a hole in the carpet under the door. Had to let them back in — I don’t know why they were in such a tizzy, but there was no sleep to be had. Roadkill is in better shape than I am this morning.

Lots to do today, including going to the dump — ahem, “transfer station” — I don’t want garbage sitting around the house while I’m working out of town. Gotta make room for the new garbage! 😉 Seriously, we don’t generate much garbage, about 80% of it is recycling, and only have to go to the dump once a month or once every six weeks.

Hoping I can catch a nap this afternoon for a bit. Almost all packed — a few things need to get into the writing bag, but clothes and books are all packed. 12 books for 10 days — that should be about right. Gives “book bag” a whole new meaning!

Got to get some info to one of my editors so she can arrange a press pass for me at some local hockey games. Errands, etc. Still haven’t found those 200+ pages of notes for POWER OF WORDS, which is disconcerting. It took me weeks to sort out the character arcs, the arcs that the actor characters play, the show-within-the-book arcs, the plot arcs, and all the scheduling. I’d hate to have to start from scratch. It’s just odd that the notes wouldn’t be with the manuscript. I’m usually more careful than that — but then, it was an unusual situation. It’s got to be here somewhere, and it won’t be unearthed until I return.

The book, essay, and short story need to take center stage — especially since the latter two are due on the 15th.

Back to the page.

Devon

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Violet keeps an eye on things

Saturday, August 14, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Free Muse Online Writers’ Conference registration closes tomorrow, so if you want to participate, or take either my Dialogue Workshop or my Story-Building Workshop, register before tomorrow. The Dialogue Workshop has a limited amount of spots available, and once they’re full, that’s it. I simply can’t correct 50-70 exercises per day and give each student my full attention — especially when students are late turning in exercises, don’t follow the instructions, etc. So, the Dialogue has a limited amount of participants. The Story-Building does not this time, because it’s my first time teaching it at Muse.

Dialogue Workshop Taught by Devon Ellington
Learn how to craft character-cohesive dialogue that moves along the story. Explore methods of cutting, crafting, and creating conversation that sparkles on the page and in the ear, and works in the context of the overall piece. This is an intensive, hands-on workshop, with daily assignments. Participants are expected to have a solid grasp of grammar, spelling, proofreading, and structure, and the ability to process comments, apply them moving forward, and keep up with assignments rather than doing them in a batch. Daily assignments will build on each other. Newly created work is required in the class; please do not use something from a WIP or that is used for another class. It will trip you up as we build from assignment to assignment. Anyone is welcome to read and follow along on the assignments, but daily participation is limited to 30 students. If you sign up, please meet the commitment, or give up your slot within the first day so another interested participant can take it.

Story Building Workshop
Spend the week with Devon Ellington building your story scene-by-scene — but not in the way you’d expect! Learn to integrate the elements of plot, story, and character with dialogue, description, and action to create a complete draft of a short story over the course of the week. There will be intense, daily assignments with specific guidelines to delve into the day’s purpose. Please do not use previously written material in the class.

Registration for the Muse Online Conference is HERE. You may have to send a separate email once you’re registered to the “contact” address in order to sign up for the Dialogue Workshop. Sorry it’s so late going up, but there was a glitch on their end and my information wasn’t up until I mentioned it yesterday.

Even if you don’t sign up for my workshops, there are a lot of great workshops happening. I particularly recommend Karina Fabian’s World-building Workshop.

Now, onto Savvy Authors. The links are up for the deconstruction workshops. If you want to join the workshop to deconstruct a fantasy romance and learn how to apply it to your own writing, you can sign up here, and if you want to deconstruct a steampunk film and learn to apply the techniques to your own writing, you can sign up here. The fees are very reasonable for both members and non-members. And there’s no homework in the deconstruction workshops! You just have to read the book or watch the film before it starts.

Now, on to other stuff:

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Great writing session in the morning on the Willowspring Grove novel. I’m thinking about it a lot in between writing sessions, which is good. I’m averaging between 1500-2000 words per session, and I’m 86 pages in so far. i have to start putting them into the computer, or I’ll get too far behind.

I got out some of the backlog of short stories, and got out a stack of queries, all good. Decided not to submit to one particular publication — the way they wanted me to reformat out of standard manuscript format to their house format would have taken me so long that, even if they accepted the story, they didn’t pay enough to cover the time. There’s a reason it’s called ‘standard manuscript format” — the writer formats it once, professionally, and it should be acceptable to any professional publication. I can understand stipulating .doc or .rtf or even .pdf, but to expect writers to spend hours reformatting from market to market is a waste of time, except, maybe, for the desperate-to-be-published. it’s hoop-jumping, power-playing, and I’ve noticed that the markets that pay the least expect the most amount of hoop jumping.

NEXT!

Spent a few hours in storage. Consolidated 20 boxes into 8, bagged a bunch of stuff I’ll drop off as donations, tossed a lot of stuff that needed to be tossed. It feels good.

Plotting the next Annabel Aidan, whose working title is THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. Will start the actual writing on Monday. The central character will be Bonnie, who we meet briefly in ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. Amanda and Phineas will have important secondary roles, and then they will be the focus of the third book. It’s not really a series, as each book stands alone with its own set of protagonists, but they are in the same paranormal, romantically suspenseful version of Manhattan, and they wander in and out of each other’s books.

Dinner with friends last night, which was fun. And, I managed to see just a tiny bit of the meteor shower last night — one quick sprint across the sky. Very exciting. I’d been so disappointed the previous night because I couldn’t see anything due to cloud cover.

Today, I’m writing in the morning, trying to get some organizational stuff done, then off to a friend’s in the afternoon. Tomorrow should be all about the writing. Because come Monday, my daily output has to either double or triple amongst the different projects, and I have to stay on top of everything else. The next few weeks/month will be very busy, not the least of which is getting the house-and-home situation sorted.

Devon

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010
New Moon
The Ides of March
Rainy and mild

The brook’s holding, and, in fact, I moved my car back to my regular parking slot last night. Fingers crossed.

I log on to my account yesterday and discover 600 emails from January that had never come through until yesterday. SIX HUNDRED. Bite me, 1and1.com! Talk about one of the worst webhosts EVER. I spent several hours trying to sort it all out.

Some of the emails were work-related (though most of those come to a different account). I lost some freelance jobs, but I may have salvaged one or two.

To say that I am livid is an understatement.

Then, I asked support how to do something, since I have a trackpad, not a mouse — and they said I can’t. So, I went to the Apple site — of course I can do it. In fact, it’s much easier on a Mac. I can now create the new folders they told me couldn’t be created. And I spent several hours sorting hundreds more emails that couldn’t be properly sorted since the Webmail 2.0 wreaked havoc. I’m not entirely caught up, but I’m close.

I set up a Gmail account for the newsletter. It’s trying to pull the address book. So far, no luck. It’s like my new host told me, when they investigated doing a full transfer, including folders — 1and1 is set up so one can’t. They like to hold their customers hostage.

Thunder, lightening, rain, sirens. Not my favorite way to spend the day, while I’m frantically trying to salvage some income.

On the upside, I managed to land two teaching jobs in the salvage frenzy. I’m teaching my Dialogue workshop for two weeks starting on March 22, and then, in August, I’m teaching “One Story, Many Voices” for a month, both for Savvy Authors. Having the workshop spread over a longer period of time means I can go more in-depth with the students, and I’m looking forward to it. Here’s the link to the workshop about to start. If any of you are interested, I hope you’ll join in!

I spent the bulk of the day tweaking the workshop for this particular venue, updating tipsheets, checklists, welcome messages, etc.

I’m wondering if I should do Script Frenzy in April this year, since I have so many plays to write, or if the pace would hurt the quality of the work. I’ve now got FIVE plays to write instead of three, plus the drama that I started, plus marketing the plays whose rights reverted.

I just loathe the Daylight Savings Time switchover (or, as Tori put it so well, “Daylight Stupid Time”). It takes me weeks to readjust to that lost hour.

Today, I’ve got pitches and queries to get out, the newsletter to work on, and the plays.

I had a good morning session of POWER OF WORDS, but I need to do some more logistics planning. It’s a very complex piece.

Devon

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

IMG_0665
Violet loves Samhain

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

It’s the third Wednesday of the month, which means my next SDR blog post is up. This one is about “Reading To Write.”
Note: I just realized it’s TUESDAY, not Wednesday, so this post is up a day early. headdesk.

I got up at 6 and was at my desk at 7 this morning. That hour makes all the difference, mentally and creatively. For once, the cats weren’t rummaging at 4 AM, so when the alarm went off, they were like, “What? it’s dark outside!”

But I’m so much more productive if I get up at 6 than if I get up at 7, that it’s worth it.

I had a great session on “Lake Justice.” It’s weird, because I feel like I’m doing so much work and covering so much ground, but the word count doesn’t seem to rise very quickly. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since this is a short story. But I look down and go, “I’ve covered all this ground and I’m only 300 words ahead?”

Good news: One of my children’s stories, under the Jenny Storm name, has been accepted for publication in January. When it comes out, I’ll point you all towards it. I’m delighted. Jenny needs a few more credits!

I’m booked to teach both the Dialogue Workshop and a Story Building Workshop at the 2010 Muse Online Conference, next October. AND, I’ve been invited back to the Catholic Writers Online Conference in February to teach the Dialogue Workshop and the One Story, Many Voices Workshop.

I think I’ve found my new web host. I’m pretty excited. So I’m trying to move forward a little more quickly on the website redesigns so I can move before the end of the year.

More legal paperwork to do today — it’s taking longer than I’d like because, the deeper we dig, the more points need to be articulated. But it will all be good when it’s done.

Good progress on BE THE MONSTER and a novella. I’ve got to read through another set of edits for the essay and then, hopefully, we’re done.

So I better get back to work!

Devon