Fri. June 23, 2017: Spinning The Freelance Plates and the Threads of Inspiration

Friday, June 23, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and muggy

Got a section of meadow mowed yesterday morning. It’s starting to look like actual progress. It looks like it will rain any minute this morning. I should use that as a reason to rush out there and mow, like my neighbors are; instead, I’m dragging my feet, hoping it will rain and I can’t.

I was in a lousy mood for a good part of yesterday. I tried to tease myself out of it with the “CrankyPants Song”, but it didn’t work. That’s a song I made up when I worked backstage. When a colleague or I was overtired and grumpy, I’d sing it to make fun of the grumpster (or myself), and we’d all laugh and get over ourselves. But it didn’t work yesterday.

Turned in the latest set of revisions to the new-to-me editor. Let’s hope he’s happy with this set. Also called him out on the contradictions. I hate working in their automated system that won’t let me do what supposedly needs to be done. At this point, it’s a toss-up about whether I’ll be fired or whether I’ll walk. I wonder if this is the norm, and that’s how they get out of paying writers?

Working on a pitch for a publication I hope to finish and send out tomorrow. I’ve written for them several times; it would be great to do so again. I’ve gotten decent pay and some solid clips from them in the past.

Pitched for another gig that sounded like fun; we’ll see if my samples are what they’re looking for. Again, money might be an issue. They pay “per word”, but haven’t said how much per word, or talked about volume and turn-around time. Heard back from them this morning — as I suspected, the per word rate is so low, I couldn’t even fill the gas tank with an assignment. For something that requires A LOT of technical craft, is for-hire with no royalties, um, no. I will send them a refusal today.

Press releases went out for “Personal Revolution”. I finally wrestled the website so that I could add the “Personal Revolution” information into the Delectable Digital Delights, the Media Room, and the Bazaar pages of the Devon Ellington site. No thanks to the webhost, but in spite of them. That webhost is useless. Not only are they unreliable, their customer service is non-existent. I’m starting to think most hosts are. But, by poking around and swearing a lot, I managed to figure out workarounds that got up the information I needed to add. I really need to take some classes in website coding and design. But it’s the usual dilemma — when the time exists, the money doesn’t. When the money’s there, it’s there because there’s a heavy workload in, and the time doesn’t exist. And anything web-related has to be something I can handle, update, tweak, and rearrange myself, not hire in a webmaster. The amount of attention my different sites need would mean I need someone weekly, and the cost (because the webmaster DESERVES to be paid for all this, and deserves a good rate) is out of my range right now.

The press releases also have the information for upcoming projects, which means I have to get my ass in gear and meet deadlines.

I have a good idea about the next Cornelia True/Roman Gray story. I had to have the title for the press release, and came up with “Miss Winston Apologizes”. And then I figured out who Miss Winston was and why she apologized, and there was the premise for the next piece. It’s still set in Cornelia’s time period. I decided I’m going to set three stories there, then have her go with Roman when he next time travels, and they can have adventures elsewhere (that all tie in to the main arc). Now, I need to write the opening, so I can pop it in with “Ramsey Chase” and get going on the proofread. The July 10 release date will be here before I know it.

I’ve also got the opening of “Labor Intensive”, the next Twinkle Tavern mystery, set around Labor Day (which is set to release just before Labor Day weekend, so I better get on with it).

With Playing the Angles hoping to release in October, we really need to find the right cover image. And I really need to do a final proof on it, and settle on the name for the series (even though each book will have a different pair of protagonists).

Think there’s enough to do? Along with keeping up a constant stream of pitches and freelance pieces so I can keep a roof over my head.

A royalty check from the Topic Workbooks and “Plot Bunnies” cheered me up. I certainly can’t retire on it, or even pay next month’s bills, but it helps tide me over a bit, and just getting the royalties makes me feel like I’m moving in the right direction.

The last research book I need for the Lavinia Fontana play arrived, thank goodness, because I have to start writing it at the beginning of July.

Got a rejection on an article pitch for a new-to-me market. I’m going to re-slant it to send elsewhere, and then submit something new to this market. I’m determined to crack it. Some of the content puzzled me; then I got an apology from the editor, saying the email had gone off before he was done, and he hoped I’d pitch again.  I told him no worries, I had every intention of so doing, but I’d let him rest over the weekend!  😉

Heard back from another place I pitched. They loved my samples. They want to know how good my French and/or Spanish are. Um, what? Why wasn’t that in the ad? I read French reasonably well (I read Moliere in French, because it’s funnier than any English translation I’ve yet found), and I can read newspaper and magazine articles and basically figure them out. I can get by in French, and I’ve got a little German. But I’m not fluent. So that might knock me out completely, which would be a shame. I’d love to get my French back up to speed, but I doubt they want me learning on the job.

I’m playing with yet another new idea, this one with a pair of older protagonists. I think it could be interesting. I’m trying to decide if I want to set it in Cornwall or in Ayrshire. I know both, but I know Ayrshire better, and, as I’m working on the outline, it seems to naturally gravitate to Ayrshire. I’ve set several things in Ayrshire, stretching it to add additional towns and do mix-and-match with real places. I’ve even added additional Scottish National Trust properties when Culzean Castle (where I’ve rented an apartment on more than one occasion, and which I know VERY well) didn’t quite fit the plot. In this particular piece, I’m adding a street off the main road to Culzean (halfway between the Castle and Little K’s Kitchen, where I used to get my newspaper and the racing form every morning), and that’s where my protags have rented a house.

I also figured out what I need to shift in another piece I’ve been noodling with, to get the opening different from yet another piece, whose opening I like, but was too similar to this one. The settings are similar — one at an artists’ colony, one at a meditation retreat. But the characters and situations and what I want to explore are very different. Interestingly enough, though, the protagonists for both pieces share some of the same titles on their bookshelves! Such as the Complete Works Of Shakespeare and Louisa May Alcott’s diaries.

Speaking of Louisa, a tweet from the lovely folks at Orchard House got me re-reading her. They were talking about Rose in Bloom, so I ordered that and Eight Cousins (which happens before RiB) from the library and read them this past week. From a critical, feminist perspective, there are plenty of problems. Yet it was still, in some ways, ahead of its time (although highly romanticized). It got me thinking of Fruitlands, which is where I always imagine those two books set, rather than Concord. In fact, I had an exchange with another Orchard House follower about that, when she was puzzled about “rolling hills” she didn’t remember around Concord, and now she’s going to visit Fruitlands!

It got me thinking that I would like to set something in a family compound in that area (Harvard, MA, which is different than where Harvard U. is in Boston). Somehow, I came up with a set of sisters (inspired by the great aunts in Maine), and their patriarch/matriarch based in the compound, but set in the early 1900s, and somehow, from there, I leapt to the opening taking place in San Francisco in 1904, pre-Earthquake, but just at the end of the “Barbary Plague” where so many of the Chinese immigrants died in SF from bubonic plague from 1900-1904, and that led to a stack of research books about that time period, so who knows how the piece will end up? Right now, I see it starting in SF, moving by train eastwards, with a stop in Chicago, but I have to figure out why, beyond simply changing trains.

1904 Newspaper archives, here I come. I think I can read some at local libraries, and probably access some via Boston Public Library’s digital files (I have an e-card from them); when in doubt, I can always contact my stalwart NYPL and Library of Congress.

But it’s amazing how re-reading a childhood book can set off a new train of thought.

I’ve just received Under the Lilacs and An Old-Fashioned Girl from the library to re-read. I remember reading both at my grandmother’s house in Foxboro, under an actual lilac hedge, when I was little.

Who knows what they will inspire?

This weekend, I have to dig in to FIX IT GIRL, because all those books on Hearst Castle have to go back to the library next week. They can’t be extended any more!
Besides, I want to get this draft done and the submission packets ready. I want to start querying after 4th of July, but have to get everything out before mid-August, or I might as well wait until mid-September, because few places actively read by mid-August, and right back from Labor Day, they need a couple of weeks to catch up.

I think I’ve got a handle on how I want the First Big Love Scene to go. Since this isn’t erotica, but historical fiction, the style is gentler, and I have to get it just right. Things were often down and dirty in 1930s Hollywood (as they often are everywhere in every time period), but my protag is neither a goody two-shoes nor a nymphomaniac. Nor is this a category romance where she’s only allowed to be attracted to one man. She’s an intelligent modern woman of her time, and slightly ahead of it, breaking new ground, fighting sexism, but also following her heart (and her passions). I’ve got that balance right in most of her scenes; now I have to get it right in the love scenes, too.

In general, I want this to be a fiction weekend. I’ve spent so much time on articles in order to pay the bills that the fiction has suffered, so it’s time to give it some more attention.

This is a great June for the roses — they’re blooming like crazy. And the petunias in the barrel out front have grown enough so they’re sticking their heads over the rim and peeking out. It’s very cute.

Have a great weekend!

Thurs. June 22, 2017: Primal Scream Therapy Would Be Good About Now

Thursday, June 22, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Got out some pitches, did some research. Worked on some articles. Got my errands done in a timely fashion–I was early enough to avoid the worst of the tourist traffic.

Mowed the terraced back area; it looks much better. Today, it’s back to tackling the meadow. If I’m lucky, it’ll be done by fall. 😉

On the drive to Orleans in the afternoon, I wrote a story in my head; will try to get it on paper today. I started this morning. I thought it would be an 800 word, rather upbeat piece under one particular name. The characters are taking it in a different direction, so I may have to re-think my target market, and what name it would go under.

The meeting went well. I liked the person I’d be working with. There are a few things that make me hesitate, and that I think will make them hesitate, and I’m disappointed by the money (or lack thereof). So I’m not sure what will happen. But I’ll know early next week.

Sat on the deck reading when I got back and got bitten to pieces by mosquitoes.

The new-to-me editor sent me another round of contradictory revision requests. This is just not going to work. I doubt I’ll even do all three of the assignments I told myself I’d do in my self-imposed trial period. Not the right fit, and the time/money ratio just doesn’t work.

Today is mowing, pitching, research, writing. I’m behind on a couple of things, especially THE FIX IT GIRL. I need to catch up this weekend.

I’m frustrated and discouraged this morning, and I’ll have to find a way to write myself out of that.

To the page (my mantra, it seems).

Published in: on June 22, 2017 at 9:46 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Fri. June 9, 2017: Sometimes Things Don’t Work Out

Friday, June 9, 2017
Full Moon
Jupiter Direct
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I pitched five script jobs and an editing job yesterday morning, back-to-back, and was exhausted. Wasn’t able to do much in the afternoon; it felt like I ran out of words, although I got all the background research I needed for my article.

Managed to revise and put in the changes for the next three chapters of FIX IT GIRL. In the upcoming chapter, I have to add The First Big Love Scene of the book, which wasn’t in the original draft, so I’m turning over, in my mind, how to do that in a way that’s appropriate to the context and time period.

This morning, I put some fixes into a few scenes in the first part of PARALLEL-O-GAME, where I’d rushed things near the end. I also started Part II. I’d say I wrote close to ten pages.

Had my meeting. Love the project, the people, the organization. We can’t make the money work. I’m a little heartbroken. But, as is typical in this area, they don’t want to pay for hours worked or work done. So, no matter how much I like them, I’m not doing it.

Came home and cried.

Pulled myself together and got back to work on the article. I need to get it out today, and then figure out some more to pitch. Then, it’s back to FIX IT GIRL, and to the next assignment from my new editor.

I’m feeling about as creative as wilted lettuce right now, and the last thing I’m up for is crafting a romantic love scene, but too bad for me.

I hope you have a good weekend. I will be working.

Published in: on June 9, 2017 at 10:57 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Thurs. June 8, 2017: When You Just Want to Slap the Bitch

Thursday, June 8, 2017
First Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Well, yesterday was . . .challenging.

Wrote 13 pages on the teleplay, finishing the first part.

Managed to arrive at the arts center on time for the social hour. The exhibit currently up is terrific; the interpretations are engaging and unique. About forty or fifty people turned out, which, for a Cape event, is great. A friend of mine was in charge of it, one of the most positive people I know, so that was all good.

Ran into someone with whom I’d been involved in an organization for months, and even been to her home on numerous occasions. She had no idea who I was. Or chose to pretend that. Okay, fine.

We went down to the costume shop and met the designer of an upcoming show. Talk about familiar surroundings! The costume shop could have been in NYC or San Francisco or Edinburgh. Too funny.

However, one of the other attendees waxed on and on about how the people who work in the theatre “love what they do so much, just do it for the love of it, work so hard, and then get up and go to work the next morning.”

I wanted to slap that bitch.

Theatre is a viable profession. That ignorant dolt’s attitude reflects the attitude around here, that theatre isn’t a “real job” and something to be done “on the side.” Sorry, it’s not. It’s a profession.

I think they were hoping to get volunteers for the organization from the coffee. Good for them, but I am paid for my work. This is my PROFESSION, not my hobby.

I was pretty upset when I left. That anecdote reflects what’s a big part of my weighing whether or not I should leave this area. I worked too hard all my life, all the way up to Broadway, to have my profession insulted like that. It’s the same as telling a neurosurgeon he’s got a “cute little hobby, cutting open skulls and poking around.”

This misplaced notion in this area that the only “real” work is to take minimum wage jobs and never get ahead and only work on art “on the side” is everything I’ve rejected all my life. As someone who’s made my living in the arts since I was eighteen, it’s frustrating.

Came home, worked on a couple more pages of the teleplay, but I have to work out the opening scene to Part Two in my head a bit more.

Worked on my next article; I need to do some research today to finish it off and fact check some links.

Was told my next assignment on the new, supposedly long-term gig is on its way.

Found a batch of script jobs to which I want to pitch; I will do that today.

Revised the next three chapters of FIX IT GIRL, which was just over 6K, bringing my total revisions so far to just over 44K.

The weather’s better, so I’m going to start mowing the meadow today, then run some errands, then do the necessary research for the article, finish it, pitch to the script gigs, work on a couple of other pitches, and do my quota of pages on both the teleplay and the revisions of FIX IT GIRL. Then, I have to prep for tomorrow morning’s meeting.

I slept in until 7 this morning, so I feel like I’m a bit behind, time-wise. Still, since I’m making my own schedule, I’ll simply work until it’s all done.

I can’t believe we’re in June and it’s still so damn cold.

Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear

Monday, May 22, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Not the productive weekend I’d hoped for, unfortunately.

The stress of the personal issues I’m dealing with hit like a hammer, and it was difficult for me to get anything else done. I managed a little yard work, but not like the marathon hours that my neighbors did. Their lawns are pristine; my mower still isn’t working. I’m hoping the replacement of a simple part or two will do the trick.

I got a little work done on the play proposal, and some plotting work done on the radio play. I need to gear up and get those out the door this week.

On the upside, I re-read Arlene Kay’s Boston Uncommons mysteries, and enjoyed them. I drafted up some reviews I’ll leave for them. I also read a couple of her earlier books, one-offs, which were also fun.

STILL waiting for my first assignment from that editor who, weeks ago, said I was hired. I could have done THREE assignments (and been paid) in this time frame. I’m irritated. Perhaps it’s time to move on and take other work instead. IF I’m ever contacted, I’ll see what my schedule is, or I’ll bow out. If you’re “constantly” adding people to the team and promising “steady” work, it doesn’t take three weeks to make the first assignment.

Drafting a short article and an article pitch that need to go out today. Also want to tackle the short story — I’d like to get that out by the end of this week. I need to do some reformatting on the Topic Workbooks for an additional release venue, and get back to work on the next Topic Workbook. I’m going to try to release one every three months.

I re-read TIE CUTTER, which needs to get back into the writing mix in the next few months, and also did some more research for the next section of FIX IT GIRL revisions. The revision process on this novel is different than my usual, but it’s working for the particular novel, so I’m going with it.

Managed to get in a bit of yard work this morning before the rain started, although I was bitten several times. I hate ants. I’m in full out war with the ants. I know, I should appreciate them and all they stand for, but they’re not keeping their part of the bargain.

I have errands to run this morning, some things to do at the library, and then, hopefully, I can get back to the page. This week will be very stressful, on multiple fronts, and I’m trying to prepare myself, both mentally and physically.

Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 9:02 am  Comments Off on Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Fri. May 19, 2017: Trying to Put It Into Play

Friday, May 19, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Took my mom to her medical appointment. Found more evidence on the CVS issue, and will turn everything over to the State’s Attorney General.

Finished reading a book by an author whose work I usually like, but this one had sloppy writing in it. Good plot, but one could tell that it was written fast. Sets up a new web of characters for more interconnected books, though.

Started implementing some of the things that were discussed on Wednesday. I have to make sure I break down the lists into do-able pieces, or I’ll get overwhelmed and won’t do anything.

Started working on some formatting changes for another outlet for the Topic Workbooks. The problem with those is that I can only work on them for a couple of hours at a stretch. It takes longer than I’d like to get the material done.

Re-read Arlene Kay’s SWANN DIVE. It’s the first of her Boston Uncommons Mysteries. Every time I re-read her books, I enjoy them more.

Still waiting for my first assignment from this supposed new gig.

Started going over some old short stories, both published and unpublished, to see if there are enough on any given theme for a collection. A collection of short stories is less important than getting on the novel carousel again, but it would be nice to get them out there. Some of them are more relevant now than when they were written.

Wrestling in the FIX IT GIRL revisions. There are a couple of B plot lines and red herrings I feel I should weave in to enrich the story; at the same time, I like the leanness and the pace. So I’m struggling with that. Can I keep a lean, fast pace, while just adding in a few tidbits here and there without it either slowing the piece down or it feeling like I’ve thrown things in there with no follow-up?

Getting some yard work done, but it’s difficult without a working mower.

Hopefully, I can have a solid writing weekend, and figure some more stuff out on my recalibration plan. I want to start implementing a few things, and then step back and look at it all again, make some decisions based on the new implementation, and so on and so forth.

Part of that is that, in the next few months, I want to get some general swag done for the constants: Ink in My Coffee, the Devon Ellington website, the Fearless Ink website, and maybe even the Topic Workbooks. Then, as more projects launch, I can add project-specific swag and mix and match for giveaways.

I also need to get rights back on a book where I suspect the contract expired ages ago. The publisher’s done diddly, in fact, new management wanted its authors to pay a monthly fee for promotion. I’d assumed they’d dropped me, but I found the book still on the website; never gotten any reports from them for years. So I have to dig up the contract, get the rights back, do some rewrites, and get it out in a better format.

I also have to figure out why I’m struggling to get back to NOT BY THE BOOK. It’s a good, tight story with fun characters.

Managed to handwrite a couple of pages on something this morning, but I’m still looking for those sample pages for the play proposal. I guess it won’t get out until early next week. I’ve got the proposal section done and the resume done, and I have the completed play done, but I have to find — and then type and polish — the sample pages to finish it.

Published in: on May 19, 2017 at 9:24 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 19, 2017: Trying to Put It Into Play  
Tags: , , , , ,

Mon. May 15, 2017: Creative Juggling & The Need to Weigh Decisions

Monday, May 15, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

The lilacs are magnificent this year. I could just sit all day and breathe in the scent.

Busy writing weekend. On Friday, I managed to revised six chapters of THE FIX-IT GIRL and get the changes put into the manuscript. I also did 20 pages of revision on WINNER TAKE ALL.

I put changes into three more chapters of FIX IT GIRL, but didn’t get them into the manuscript.

Saturday, another 21 pages of revision on WINNER TAKE ALL. Two and a half pages of new material on the literary novel, five pages on a paranormal Victorian romance. Research.

I worked on the proposal packet for the new play, including sample pages. I wish I could submit ENEMY for development, but that’s not inherently in Boston, and the producer wants something where Boston is a character.

I also found a new-to-me market and came up with ideas for four short pieces for them. I roughed out all four, and now it’s a case of drafting them. They’re short — one is 800 words, one is 1000 words, and the other two can run between 3K and 7K. I figured out where to re-slant and re-send a pitch that I’d sent to a publication and they liked it, but had run something similar in the issue that was about to land. I’m hoping they’ll accept a different idea. I’d like to get all these pieces done and out the door this week, along with finding some markets for some other ideas.

I’m still waiting to receive my first assignment on this new gig I was supposedly hired on.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and pouring rain. I cut some lilacs (this is a wonderful year for lilacs on Cape), and made scrambled eggs with Canadian bacon for my mom.

I also wrote the first draft of the 800 word piece and did another 23 pages of revisions on the screenplay. I’m just beyond the half way point on it. This morning, I revised the 800-word piece, and it’s ready to send out.

Re-slanted a pitch, typed up a filler, and created another pitch and article outline.

I re-read Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS, which was interesting (I like her writing). I’m in the midst of reading another novel (by a different author) I found among my pile and hadn’t yet read — I’m on the fence about it. Parts of it I really like, and other parts feel a bit pretentious. Tried watching a new-to-me series, but it was juggling too many subplots with no explanations, taking spare dialogue too far, and I got exasperated. I don’t need everything explained (in fact, I prefer it not to), but this was beyond Mamet-ian. And British. Which didn’t quite work for me.

Heard from an old friend I didn’t think I’d hear from again. We have a lot of catching up to do. Drafted back my response. Found out another old pal is only about an hour and a half away — I’ll have to get in touch.

Did more Lavinia Fontana research. I have a feeling her father, Prospero, will be one of the top supporting characters in the play. He strikes me as quite an ambitious rascal.

This morning, I drafted just over 600 words of one of the 3K stories I’m working on this week. It’s taking on a more vibrant life of its own, which is a good thing, but it’s also not something I can just crank out, the way I’d hoped. But the quality will be better without the cranking, and the quality of the work is the ultimate test.

I need to make some decisions on what I want the trajectory to be for PLAYING THE ANGLES and the subsequent books from that circle of friends, and how I want to re-launch the Gwen Finnegan books. Simply sending them to a small publisher who only does POD doesn’t help me. The companies are too small to do adequate promotion, and the POD knocks me out of too many markets. Yet neither series really fits the current traditional publishing trends. They’re good stories, and people respond positively, but they intentionally break traditional formulas. Do I have the creativity, the stamina, and the resources to mount the carefully-plotted out marketing campaigns they would need? More importantly, am I able to keep up with the additional books in each series in a timely manner? Because feeding the monster is important. And Amazon, the Behemoth, is an important market force, but I have trouble with some of the ways they’re doing business. All of this has to be weighed and measured.

I hope this week will wind up being both creatively fulfilling AND financially rewarding. I need the two to balance. I’ve got my mid-month check-in up on the GDR site here.

Have a great week!

Published in: on May 15, 2017 at 9:04 am  Comments Off on Mon. May 15, 2017: Creative Juggling & The Need to Weigh Decisions  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wed. May 10, 2010: Research, Writing, Nasty Bookers, and Project Juggling

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

It still goes down into the 30s at night. We had to bring the tomato plants in.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise. Jamieson Wolf is a guest, and he talks about his new release LUST & LEMONADE.

Yesterday was kind of all over the place; grocery shopping; trying to get some work done at the library, but it was both noisy and full of the crazies.

I did some research for a handful of projects; figured out that an article I was working on actually needs to be broken down into two articles in order to keep a solid focus; wrote most of an outline for a new piece and the first ten pages of it, so I can figure out what it is and if it will work (so far, so good). I’m working on a proposal packet for a slot with a producer who wants to develop a new play. It’s a different way of working — I’m trying to develop enough of the idea to create an exciting package, while, at the same time, leaving enough room for collaboration. I usually put the proposal together with a finished, polished script, but that’s not what this theatre wants. Good to work differently. Keeps one from getting stale.

It was interesting reading the research book I’ve been reading the past few days. It feeds into three different projects, and I’d read a passage and think, “that will work with X” and a few pages later, “That will work for Y” and a few pages later, “I can use variants of that for X AND for Z.” Then, of course, I had to jot down notes in the various outlines referring to the research notes so I wouldn’t forget!

I’m in article mode now, and I had an idea for another spate of articles. Unfortunately, so far, the research I’ve done into the markets — the publications most geared to the topic — not only refuse to pay, they want their contributors to write numerous articles per month FOR FREE. I’m getting a little tired of the “Gimme Culture” instead of a sustainable Reciprocal Culture. Nope. Next. Bye. If I was starting out and looking to build my portfolio, maybe. But not at this stage in the game. So I have to dig a little deeper into other markets, and see what’s what.

I’ve been asked by two organizations I used to be associated with for marketing advice. I don’t mind throwing them a few ideas, but I’m not working for either one for free anymore. I put in my time. No matter how much I did or how much of my own work suffered, it was never enough; in fact, my thanks from one organization was metaphorical multiple slaps in the face, so, no. You get a short email with some ideas, and then it’s up to you, unless you plan on hiring me as a marketing consultant at my regular rate. In fact, I’m writing an article on just that topic. 😉

I’m working on a couple of other pitches to send out. I’m in negotiations for one particular gig which I think would be fun, and I have a meeting tomorrow about another one.

I’ve been working on FIX IT GIRL rewrites. Unlike some rewrites, I’m not putting all the changes into chapters every day. I find, with this, as I work on the hard copy of the first draft, I need to stop and research this detail and that detail and the other detail; expand, contract, restructure; get rid of sloppy writing. About every three chapters, I pull up the document and put in the new material. On the one hand, it’s slower; on the other hand, it means more goes into this draft, which means fewer drafts, because I’m not doing separate passes for separate elements.

I’ve done my prep to dig into the revisions of WINNER TAKE ALL. I’m hoping I can read through it this afternoon and get started. I already know one character/subplot I need to cut, and there are some other cuts, along with a new scene I need to add to have it make sense. As long as I can keep the script 120 pages (I’d like to get it down to 112-115), I’m okay. But 120 pages — where it is now — is the top of the limit. I want some more room in the draft, so I have to see what I can cut. There are a few scenes that could use some trimming. I want to raise the sense of danger for my protagonist in a couple of scenes, too. She sails through it all with a bit too much serenity. Yes, she’s smarter than most of those around her, but, as we all know, stupid people can be dangerous. Look at what’s going on in the country right now.

Speaking of which, Sally Yates was amazing in her testimony. Talk about someone with ethics, intelligence, and integrity. She put Ted Cruz in his place, that slimy piece of corrupt garbage. Then the Narcissistic Sociopath fires the FBI Director — on the advice of the corrupt, racist AG who supposedly had recused himself from the situation because he’s involved. Granted, Comey needed to go. There were two major conflicts/investigations going on with the elections last fall, one with each party. He made a partisan choice that affected the outcome. For that, he should have been sacked by November 10, and then prosecuted. For far too much of his recent testimony recently before Congress, he sounded like a whiny moron, not the head of a legitimate intelligence agency. But to be fired by the people he was investigating AT THIS POINT, is also suspicious. Nor should the people under investigation be allowed to appoint his successor until the investigation is complete. The level of corruption in this administration is astonishing.

It reminds me of the research material I’ve been reading, about the 1920s. Harding’s administration was pretty damn corrupt, too, and that ended in the Crash of 1929.

Re-reading Elizabeth George’s WRITE AWAY!, which is a book I assign to my writing students. The more I write, the more my process evolves away from hers. I don’t do the detailed character profiles she does — if I write down too much ABOUT a character before I write a piece, my subconscious believes I’ve already written the book and moves on. All I do is stare at a blank page. You can ask me anything about a character, any detail, and I know it, but I can’t write it all down. By trying her method, I lost what could have been a good book. Maybe someday, I’ll get it back, but so far, no luck. However, she has good points about knowing one’s setting and putting butt in chair and getting it done. I’ve always been on the fence about her books — some work for me better than others. I always loathed the character of Helen.

A little over a year ago, when I tried to book her as a speaker at the library for which I then worked, the person who handles her bookings quoted me a rate that would have wiped us out for nearly three years, and then was rude about us not booking her, although I politely explained the “why”. The booker berated us for having a small budget, for thinking a “name” author could be bothered with us, and for not being willing to go into debt to pay her anyway. By the way, we had plenty of name authors come in within our budget. Yes, have your “team” play the bad guys, but when they behave that way, don’t be surprised when it touches how people respond to your work. Now, every time I see a new release of hers, I remember how nasty her booker was, and, since I was already on the fence about the book, I pass. I respect what she’s achieved, but she is no longer on my “must read” pile. That could change, with time and distance, but that’s where I am right now. I do, however, respect and admire her work ethic. She gets things done. She does them well, and she makes a living from it. Good for her!

Tried re-reading a memoir of Paris, which is well done, but I wasn’t in the mood for the exploits of a young, drunken, male Aussie. So I went back to re-read Claire Cook’s IT’S NEVER TOO LATE. I met Claire two years ago at the Cape Cod Writer’s Conference, and we had some great chats. In fact, I’m going to dedicate TIE CUTTER to her. Her novels are a good pick-me-up when things look bleak. I also respect the way she gets things done, like Elizabeth George and Jayne Ann Krentz and just about every other writer making a go of it. She doesn’t whine or waste time in negativity. She writes her books, she respects her readers, she doesn’t bow to the changing winds. She’s comfortable in her own skin, and that’s always something to admire.

Tonight, I’m going to a reading in which my friend’s daughter has a part. I’m looking forward to it. I missed the last production she was in, and I want to support her and her mom.

At least there’s a lot of creativity going on!

Published in: on May 10, 2017 at 9:24 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 10, 2010: Research, Writing, Nasty Bookers, and Project Juggling  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tues. May 2, 2017: Nasty Weather, In and Out

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and mild

Yesterday just sucked. I’m going to have to file formal complaints against CVS for preying on my elderly mother and against AAA for not providing the services for which they charge. Not particularly surprising in either case, but again, time away from other things that need attention.

I rewrote the few pages of the new idea in first person from third, and that’s what it needed. Now, it’s falling into place and making sense. Amazing what the choice of right voice does.

Managed to rewrite the first three chapters (nearly 8K) of THE FIX-IT GIRL. I’m rather appalled at some of the poor writing. But then, the first draft of this book was written in 2005 — 12 years ago. The characters, story, research, energy are great. But there’s a lot of sloppy writing that my wonderful editors trained me out of in the interim, so there’s a lot that can be improved. That’s the point of a revision, isn’t it?

Today is a miserable day, and I wish I didn’t have to go out, but I do. I SHOULD go get cat food, but I might wait another day, when it’s not quite so miserable. But there are a couple of things that can’t be put off. I also have to be in touch with my Senators and Representatives on various issues. Our state AG is having a town hall tonight. Good chance to chat with her about some of what’s going on.

Sooner I get out there, sooner I can get back and get back to the page.

May’s To Do List is up on the GDR site. Check it out, and add yours!

Published in: on May 2, 2017 at 9:33 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 2, 2017: Nasty Weather, In and Out  
Tags: , , ,

Thurs. April 27, 2017: Getting Back on the Query Wagon

Thursday, April 27, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Yesterday, I wrote three pitches and submitted them, and submitted a radio play. The play was acknowledged, and two of the three pitches got a positive response. Not a bad day’s work! That cheered me up — I was feeling rather down the past few days, between having a cold and everything else.

Admin work, and then I spent the afternoon making my final decisions on the contest entries. I send those off today — the contest will announce the winners on Monday.

Getting ready to start the next draft of the FIX-IT GIRL next week. I’m giving myself six weeks for it. Hopefully, I’ll have the first draft of WINNER TAKE ALL done over the weekend, or early next week.

Enjoying re-reading the Trollope biography. I’ve read some of his books; I’m debating whether I should re-read and go beyond what I’ve read.

I’m enjoying reading what I WANT to read for the moment, instead of what I HAVE to read. Important to keep that balance.

Balancing creating new fiction with revisions and writing/researching nonfiction is always a challenge. Each type of work takes a different thought process and different skills. The wonderful part is that it keeps one active and engaged, and it’s interesting to keep expanding one’s repertoire. But sometimes, one project pulls hard, while the others also demand attention, due to deadline.

Re-watched two of the DOCTOR WHO Christmas specials — THE DOCTOR, THE WIDOW, AND THE WARDROBE, and THE SNOWMEN — both from the reign of Matt Smith. They rank among my favorite episodes.

I wrote three more article pitches this morning, which go out today. I need to rework some requested samples this afternoon, do a few more script pages, and also dig in to the Venice section of POWER OF WORDS.

Never a dull moment, which is wonderful!

Published in: on April 27, 2017 at 9:23 am  Comments Off on Thurs. April 27, 2017: Getting Back on the Query Wagon  
Tags: , , , , ,

Mon. April 10, 2017: Creativity During Retrogrades

Monday, April 10, 2017
Full Moon
Venus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Spare me from the retrogrades! No such luck.

Busy weekend. I started the LA section on POWER OF WORDS, and did some work on the Orient Express section.

I did some further plotting for the revision of FIX-IT GIRL — I have to figure out where I need to put the new material, then write the first draft inserts, then I can go back and start a genuine revision. I’m keeping the ending where it is, on the train from LA to New York.

I did a lot of research, relevant to both projects: books on the studio system, books on various actors and directors, costume research. Also read Joe Eszterhas’s THE DEVIL’S GUIODE TO HOLLYWOOD: THE SCREENWRITER AS GOD. I don’t particularly like him or his work, although I respect what he’s accomplished. I don’t like the arrogant, swaggering persona he projects. I disagree with a lot of what he says — his contempt for many people in the business, and dislike of many manifestations of collaboration.

On the other hand, he has a point, and everything starts from the script. He believes one must fight for the script. I agree, to a point: I think a lot depends on the project. When the script originates with the writer — in other words, as he so often does, the writer writes the script from his own idea/something he wants to do and sells it — then, yes. Defend away, fight, be careful where you compromise. But when you’re brought in to write from an idea or a scenario or a treatment — then you’re hired to bring to life someone else’s vision, and I think you have to be more flexible. Of course, he loathes the idea of rewrites or script doctoring. Again, I understand his position, not messing with another writer’s work. But there are times when it’s the wrong writer for the project, or the notes have gotten things so muddy no one can see or think straight anymore.

Good for him that he’s earned the right not to be flexible, but I think there are plenty of cases where one has to be flexible. Especially when one is paying dues and building credits.

I disagree with many, many things in the book, but his actual advice on the process of writing — six script pages every day on the first draft, how to set work aside and go back and rewrite, that the “first draft” that is shown to anyone is really at least the third draft, writing every day and so forth and so on — that’s all great. It’s such a tiny part of the book — he knows he’ll sell more copies with the more controversial stuff about what he has fun with and/or loathes in the industry — but when he talks about the actual writing, he’s got good, useful stuff to say.

Read some Adrienne Rich poetry and prose, both in honor of National Poetry Month and in preparation for a piece on A Biblio Paradise, which will post tomorrow.

Have working title for the Lavinia Fontana play, but still don’t have the catalyst that will actually put the play into motion. More research required.

In the shower this morning, I had an idea for a new screenplay, set in the late 1930s, as the country comes out of the depression, but before the start of WWII. I’ll have to do some research for it, but I liked the idea — it plays against a lot of the noir ideas of the late 30s/early 40s, and some of their hypocrisies, and yes, the lead role is a woman. A very smart woman. Anyway, I sat down and wrote the outline already this morning, a quick paragraph for almost every scene — a couple of places where I need to figure out where the plant a couple of things.

So, I guess, between the errands and the yard work, and 1K on POWER OF WORDS and 1K on NOT BY THE BOOK and figuring out where to plant additional scenes in FIX-IT GIRL, I better get six pages of script done!

Published in: on April 10, 2017 at 10:00 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 10, 2017: Creativity During Retrogrades  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thurs. March 16, 2017: Between Storms

Thursday, March 16, 2017
Waning Moon
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Somehow, Monday’s post vanished. Not quite sure how that happened. So there’s lots of catching up to do.

It was a cold weekend; I stayed in and wrote most of the time. The rest of the books arrived for the contest, so I also worked on contest entries.

Re-watched the first two LIBRARIAN movies. I hadn’t thought much of them before, and that still holds. The series is much better.

Friday, we had about six inches of snow. It was a day snug inside. Hard to shovel, though, because it froze — had to count on the sun’s help.

Another storm was expected to hit Monday into Tuesday– blizzard. .

Saturday was my birthday. Kept it a nice, quiet day. I don’t do well with birthdays — my own, that is. I was grateful for many good wishes from friends and colleagues, and tried to keep it a quiet, even-keeled day.

Ran around doing errands Monday morning, making sure everything was done before the storm hits. Then, we’ll hunker down and emerge later in the week.

Still a little stunned at the rudeness of a distant acquaintance who nagged for a favor and then couldn’t even say thank you. Well, cross that person off the list and move on. No room for that behavior. Someone takes time out of their work to help with yours, especially someone with more experience/credits? Say “thank you”, even if it’s not what you wanted to hear. Stop leading with your ego, and you might actually learn something.

I can’t believe the Equinox is coming up soon! Although the days are getting longer (I dislike springing ahead — I’m exhausted for weeks).

Fortunately, Tuesday’s storm started as snow, then changed over to hail, then rain. Otherwise, we would have been hammered, the way Western Mass and Maine were hammered.

Unfortunately, one of the scrub pines in the backyard splintered and is teetering. A forty-foot tree being held off the ground by two companion oaks. I was scared to death. Called the landlord, who called the Tree Frogs. The landlord came over and checked it out — he’s convinced that, even if it crashes down, it won’t hit the neighbor’s house behind us, although it might hit the side neighbor’s fence. I warned the neighbors, and told them we were getting it taken down as soon as we could get someone in. They were much more nonchalant about it than I am.

The Tree Frog guy came yesterday to check on it. He swears it’s not going anywhere, and isn’t an emergency. It’s going to be a challenge to get to the tree and get it down, so who knows when they’ll get here.

As of this morning, it’s still sort of up — but we’re getting more storms this weekend, and it worries me.

I’ve been watching travel documentaries and doing research. My protagonist in POWER OF WORDS is going to Venice for the holiday break, (Paris first, then Venice via Orient Express), and I want to make sure I get the emotional geography as correct as the physical geography. The emotional geography of Paris is still imprinted from my own experience, but I need to get Venice right.

Also, she’s climbed a few echelons of recognizability and creativity, so even though she thinks she can travel anonymously, she really can’t.

I’m also doing research on the Hollywood studio system. Part of it is for POWER OF WORDS, where an impresario is setting up a modern-style studio system, melding the best of what worked in the old system — a creative home base and resources — with the more individualized creative styles that artists want and need. Part of it is because I’m reworking THE FIX-IT GIRL and finishing it, with an eye to getting it out on submission at some point this year, and I need to get my details right.

I’m still researching the Italian Renaissance. There’s information on what Lavinia Fontana did, but not really on who she was. I haven’t found that pivotal moment that will make good drama. I found many for Kate Warne; I found those moments with both Giulia Tofana and Jeanne de Clisson. But I haven’t yet found it for Lavinia. So I keep digging.

I hope to spend most of the day writing and working on contest entries. I also have to get going on my spring cleaning.

I have hope that spring will eventually arrive!

Published in: on March 16, 2017 at 9:17 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 16, 2017: Between Storms  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,