Tues. April 16, 2019: Trying to Get It Done

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to read about my next adventure in the Reader Expansion Challenge.

Busy weekend.

I didn’t get in as much yardwork as I wanted. I got a little bit done on Friday, before the rain started, and then again on Sunday, before the rain started.

I had a meeting Friday afternoon, which left me feeling lukewarm about the whole situation. It should have been very simple, but wasn’t.

Also, unless someone is planning to date me or sleep with me, asking about my marital status is irrelevant. I find it an insulting question. And I’m starting to push back when people ask. I thought that was not allowed anymore in interviews.

Saturday morning, up early, and got Tessa to the vet to get her shots updated. She was vocal in the car — first time ever. I guess, since Iris is no longer around to yowl, Tessa feels she has to pick up the slack. The visit went well; Tessa was good. Then, we headed home, and she was fine.

The day was rainy and yucky, so I focused on working on contest entries.

Sunday morning, I did a little bit of work on GAMBIT COLONY. I worked on contest entries. I went grocery shopping. It was a gorgeous day.

Took yard waste to the dump.

I went to Country Gardens and got pansies for the front, three kinds of lettuce, and parsley, then got potting soil. I potted the herbs and vegetables, put pansies in the front baskets and the barrel, and raked out the front beds. Cut back a lot of invasives that took up residence over the winter.

Sat outside on the deck for a bit, reading. Steven Axelrod’s newest, NANTUCKET COUNTERFEIT, is excellent.

Dinner, more WEST WING. I did not watch the premiere of the last season of GAME OF THRONES. It’s a magnificent production, but I stopped watching a few years ago due to the unrelenting cruelty. It’s great that people love it so much; always glad when art has that power. But I choose not to watch it anymore. I don’t denigrate those who love it; I don’t accept anyone denigrating me because I don’t.

Storm started Sunday night, and was bad into Monday. Monday was Patriot’s Day here in MA, and the Boston Marathon. I felt for the runners. Miserable weather. And tornado warnings in New York.

Got some work done on “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” but I’m still not satisfied. I have to keep working it until I get it right. Also worked on “Dashed Dreams” the Straw Hat Circuit radio play.

Worked with a client for a few hours yesterday on site, and am back there again today.

Have to get material to the organizers of the talk I’m giving in mid-May. It’s a panel discussion. Should be interesting, but part of me is wishing I hadn’t committed. But I did and I’ll see it through.

Am reconciling myself to disappointment on a couple of fronts, and feeling a bit discouraged.

Considering going to an event this evening, but I have to see how I feel. I don’t know if I can summon up the energy for yet another new group of people.

Back to the page.

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Mon. May 5, 2014: Conference Wrap-up and Hotel Choices

Monday, May 5, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and mild

Intense, busy, rather wonderful weekend. I had a late start getting out of here on Friday — I had to get some stuff done before I could leave. Thank goodness that I had packed and prepared earlier, or I would have been scrambling.

When I finally got on the road, I had to run some errands in Falmouth before even getting over the bridge. Traffic coming on-Cape was already backed up — looks like we’ll have a prosperous summer!

The drive to Burlington, MA was awful. Traffic was terrible, too many crazy drivers, too many texting while driving. What should have been a quick run up there took nearly three hours. Checked in to the Marriott (I’d prepaid). My rooms was on the second floor, in the back — quieter than some of the other locations, and for that, I was grateful.

I had really mixed feelings about the Marriott, and it’s unlikely that I would choose to stay at a Marriott again. This should actually matter to them, as my business travel is going to ramp up over the next couple of years. The staff was lovely — something very important in my book. Well-trained, polite, friendly. I had no problem with the room, although it looked like an 80’s bachelor pad, with all the dark wood and mirrors. The king-sized bed was fun (although a bit soft). The towels were about the size and consistency of dinner napkins, which was annoying. I expect small, thin, scratchy towels at a budget hotel, not a Marriott. There’s no fan in the bathroom, which means it steams up and stays damp all day. I liked that my particular room was oriented towards the East — I got beautiful sunrises and could do yoga in front of the enormous windows, screened by the trees and the sheer drapes. The in-room coffee was dreadful, and the coffee downstairs was overpriced and not any better, and there was no way I was going to pay $6 for room service coffee.

But, for me, the deal breaker was charging $12.95/day for internet access in the room. Um, no. The last dozen budget hotels I stayed at had free wi-fi in the room. When I’m paying scale at a supposedly “prestigious” hotel, I expect free damn wi-fi in the room. Supposedly, one could get it for free in the lobby or the bar, but I couldn’t get the laptop to connect, and why should I have to haul my laptop into the bar? There was a public computer in the business center, and I hopped on there for a hot minute on Saturday evening, but still . . .Further, it should be clearly stated on the site BEFORE one books that wi-fi in the room is both a separate charge and the detail of the charge. According to fellow conference go-ers, every Marriott charges differently. So? Put it on the individual sites anyway.

Marriott is off my list for go-to hotels. If I’m invited back to the conference next year, there’s another “name” hotel a couple of miles down the road that offers a better room rate, breakfast, AND free in-room wi-fi.

It’s pretty amazing that budget hotels not only charge less for the rooms themselves, but offer more amenities.

There were no phone books in the room, and I couldn’t use the wi-fi without paying the ridiculous rates, AND there was no information about nearby restaurants or anything else — again, something that most other hotels I stay in offer. Most hotels have a folder in the room with nearby sights, restaurants, etc. This one had a guide about what’s going on in Boston, but nothing about local businesses, not even sights in Concord and Lexington, which is only a few miles away.

Which meant I was trapped at the hotel for my meals. Fortunately, the food was good, although the prices were more New York than not-New York.

Friday night, I went down to the bar and had a burger and a glass of wine. They had a bunch of fancy burgers on the menu, but I just wanted something simple, typical pub burger, and they were kind enough to accommodate me. I started reading Neil Gaiman’s THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, which is a beautiful book. I also got an idea for a short story, which I hope to draft later this week, once I’ve got some deadlined work out of the way.

Went back up to the room, did some work on contest entries (I took a bunch of them with me for this second contest I’m working on), and re-watched THOR on TV. Liked it better this time around. Ran through my notes for the next day’s presentation. Toyed with the idea of putting together a Power Point for it, but was too darned tired.

Up early the next morning (love that Eastern-facing room). Bad coffee, yoga, meditation. The shower was decent, although the supposedly organic bath products provided by the hotel made me itch. No matter, I bring my own tried-and-true.

Dressed and in full make-up in time to go to the 7:30 buffet breakfast provided by the Conference. That was excellent, and I met some lovely people, including a writer who has experience similar to mine in marketing writer AND who is a costumer. We had a LOT to talk about.

I went back to the room, picked up my Bin O’Stuff, and headed back to Salon G, where my workshop would be held, and where the morning session I wanted to attend was held. It was great fun, about voice. Powerpoint, which made me wonder if I was doing a disservice by not have a Powerpoint presentation, but it was too late by then!

We had fun doing the turnover between the two workshops — the previous presenters were lovely and very aware of time and space. Last year, that was a problem. Last year’s presenter before me in the same space ran over by fifteen minutes and then stayed and chatted with people in the room while I was trying to set up because, “oh, I don’t pay attention to the clock.” Fortunately, this year’s predecessors were much more mutually supportive and respectful.

I even had a moderator to keep me on track with time, and some people were there who’d taken other workshops of mine. The handouts were a hit — there were a LOT of them. We got through all the relevant material, had time for questions, and even had time to discuss aspects of craft that weren’t strictly serials. So it was tons of fun.

We moved additional questions out into the hallway, so that my successor could set up for HER workshop, and then I took my bin back to the room and managed to catch the end of another workshop.

Lunch was fun — another buffet lunch provided by the Conference, which was really, really good. Along with fun conversation at the table, and a terrific speaker, a writer named Cara McKenna, who was a lot of fun.

I went to an afternoon session, which gave me devleopment ideas for the mystery series set at a marine life hospital. At lunch, an announcement was made asking for help to set up for the literacy signing, so that’s what I did — helped haul in books and set up tables, which is always fun. And then I bought some books at the literacy signing — four of my mom’s favorite authors put together a book, and I had all four of them sign a copy to her.

Dropped off the books in my room, went back down to help clean up, but the signing ran over. Had to head back to the room because the Kentucky Derby was on. Even though I’m not technically covering it this year (since, hey, I’m at a writers’ conference and not sitting in a press box at a race track), I didn’t want to miss it.

My pick, California Chrome, won! This is a horse whose sire cost $2500 and whose dam cost only $8000. He beat all the million dollar babies with both finesse and heart. For a three-year-old, he was remarkably together. Trusted his jockey completely, didn’t use himself up too early in the race, and, when the turn for home came, he poured it on and won by something like five lengths. He knew he won, too — he danced happily around after he crossed the finish line. Great personality, along with great skill. I was delighted. A truly great race. Usually, I don’t bet the favorite, but I loved this horse, and I’m glad he won. It wasn’t a money-making race for me, but it was a heart-warming race.

Had dinner in the room (overpriced Asian fusion — good, but small portion). There was supposedly a post-conference party for those of us still around, but a location hadn’t been set mid-afternoon and I was told, “oh, just come down, you’ll see us.”

I did some work on the edits for TRACKING MEDUSA, and went downstairs a little after 8:30 to look for the party, but didn’t find it. So I went back to the room and worked on edits until 11, when I was too tired to do anything more.

Up early on Sunday. Beautiful sunrise. Yoga, meditation, shower. Bad hotel room coffee. I was not about to pay $13 for a continental breakfast or $15.50 for Eggs Benedict (although I wanted the latter). I stayed in the room and finished the edits on TRACKING MEDUSA until an hour before checkout time, then loaded the car and checked out. Since I’d paid in advance and paid cash for room service and the meals, I had no extra charges on my card. Yet, this morning, I see they still put through a $50 charge. When I complained, I was told that it would be reversed “in a few days”. It should have been reversed up on check-out, when there were no charges on the room. Another strike against the Marriott.

Drive home was fine. It was raining in Burlington, but lovely on the Cape. Since I hadn’t eaten before I left, I was ready to chew the steering wheel by the time I got home, and I took my mother out to lunch at her favorite place, Cook’s.

Sent the completed edits to my editor and did some reading on the deck in the afternoon. I was too tired to do much else. Tessa got into trouble because she chased a chipmunk into a bush, instead of staying on the deck, so she’s losing her out-of-the-enclosure deck privileges and has to stay in the enclosure.

Watched some TV last night — as good as GAME OF THRONES is in so many ways, I find the unrelenting cruelty exhausting, and I’m kind of going off that show.

I’ve got two script episodes to write this week, work on the series bible for TRACKING MEDUSA, the short story I want to draft, and contest entries to work on. I also have to do things like laundry and library work and put in the understudy this evening for Wednesday’s final performance, and finish the reports for the Arts Councils. I also have some correspondence to deal with.

Onward!

tnLakeJustice

If you haven’t bought “Lake Justice” yet, I hope you do. It’s a fun read, and it’s only a dollar here.

Mon. April 7, 2014: Exciting New Paths

Monday, April 7, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Wow, what a weekend. Worked flat out on client projects, winding up the class, and on script revisions. In negotiations for another short script project that might happen between now and June, and which sounds kind of fun. Also worked on material for my editor.

I’m guest-lecturing at a local college later this month (they’re teaching one of my plays) and teaching a workshop at NECRWA at the beginning of May. That’s it for teaching for me for awhile. I’m glad, because I’m burned out on it, and my life is taking exciting new paths to which I want to give my full attention.

Went to NMLC mid-afternoon to work on the program and other show-related stuff. Set up the room, trying to get it warm enough so we could concentrate to work. We had a good rehearsal, got a lot done.

Landed a quick-turnaround script job (yes, paid, of course, or I wouldn’t do it), that could lead to a two or three month longer script job.

Saturday, I got some wonderful news, which I can’t share publicly until all the contracts are signed at the end of the week. But then, believe me, we’ll all be celebrating together. Also had the first interaction with my new editor at Amber Quill Press — I think we’ll get along just fine!

Did some work in the yard, raking out the terraced bed. It looks much better, and things are coming up. Hopefully, we are moving into spring. Did some work for one of my other editors, and did my pacing and muttering on the script job.

Sunday morning, I did some more pacing and muttering, and then wrote the first draft. I feel pretty good about it, which means I’ll feel even better after some revisions.

Then, I headed in to the NMLC to meet the light/sound designer for the show and we did the light hang. It went pretty well and we were done by 8:30.

Came home, had a late dinner, watched a little TV. GAME OF THRONES started again; much as I like the quality of it, I’m also tired of the unrelenting cruelty the characters have towards each other.

I have a busy day and a busy week coming up — somehow, with all this work coming in, I still have to find time to finish my taxes.

Devon

Mon. May 6, 2013: Recoving From the 5th, and Moving Forward on Manuscripts

IMG_1080

Monday, May 6, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Misty and cold

It amazes me that, by Monday, Friday seems so far away I can’t remember what I was doing.

I know I was pounding forward on the book. I know I did some work with students. I know I sent out the May Manuscript Prep Tip.

I wrote a review due to my editor.

I can’t remember if I mowed the terraced back section of the lawn on Friday or Saturday.

I saw an anthology call, and submitted one of the Merry’s Dalliance pirate stories. Fingers crossed it’s accepted.

We got a birdbath on Saturday — finally found one we like. It’s out in the back bed, with lilies and hostas springing up around it, and the birds are happy.

I’ve started re-reading Susan Wittig Albert’s AN EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF ORDINARY DAYS in the mornings, after I’ve done the first walk around the yard (pulling up a weed here and there), while I sit on the deck and drink my first cup of coffee. I find that book an immense restorative.

Saturday morning, the Beautification Committee headed out to Mother’s Park, pruning and weeding, and generally getting the park ready for spring. It was a lot of fun and full of lively conversation to go along with the work.

In the afternoon, I puzzled over the book’s ending, because it was pulling me away from the original outline.

Later in the afternoon, I watched the Kentucky Derby. A friend was riding, but I didn’t have a favorite horse this year, so I didn’t feel I had as much of a personal stake in things.

Diana Rigg and her daughter guest-starred together on DR. WHO — always interesting to see that type of dynamic. Between this and GAME OF THRONES, Dame Rigg keeps busy. She will also be Emma Peel in the AVENGERS to me, though. The ultimate kick-ass heroine.

Sunday morning, I sucked it up and finished the book. The draft is DONE. Now, I put it aside for a few days and, on Wednesday, dig into revisions. I have about ten days for the revisions. Less time in between and to revise than I’d like, but that’s the reality of this particular situation, so I must step up.

Wrote a little book illustrated with photos for my friends, whose son turned one yesterday. They had a Cinquo de Mayo party in his honor over in Sandwich. Great food, margaritas and fun. I ate too much — which was good, since it was the first time I’d had tequila in quite awhile!

This morning, the Manuscript Prep Tip is already out, and I have to work with students, do some freelance work, and decide which drafts to work on. I need to get back to the non-fiction book today — it’s behind where I’d like it to be. I’m going back to the adaptation, and I think LEADING OPPORTUNITIES is next up in the drafting queue. I’ve also got a short story to finish and get out this week, and another one tugging at me. I also have to follow up on the February pitches and land a few more short-term gigs for the month.

Back to the page!

Devon

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Summer Solstice
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was a dedicated work day. I got a lot of writing and business done; it’s never enough, but it helps. I got a good chunk done on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, got out a couple of proposals, made a manuscript submission, and worked on the backlog of short stories that needed to go out.

In the late morning, Costume Imp and I drove to Hyannis to check out Tim’s Books, right on Main Street. We both found some great stuff. And found parking about two doors down from the store! Imp went on to meet a friend of his he’d recently learned moved to the Cape, and I went on to run errands, get some work done in the garden, and go back to do more work.

We had a craving for Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner and gave in to it. Sometimes, you just need the fast food!

The evening was about reading (SACRED GROUND by Mercedes Lackey for me, very good), and then watching the repeat of the GAME OF THRONES finale. It was well done, and hopefully, the way they’ve left it means there will be a lot more of Peter Dinklage’s character in Season Two next year. His work is always good, but he’s outstanding here. And the scene between Jamie and Caitlyn was great. I’m debating whether or not to read the books in the interim.

Someone’s coming to fix the downstairs toilet this morning, my students have their next exercise due, and then we’re hitting a couple of farmers’ markets and natural food places. I’ve got a meeting tonight, and then we’ll do our Solstice ceremony.

In the meantime, I better get back to THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY and do my quota for the day! 😉 I hated to stop yesterday, but there were other things that had to get done. I’m hoping over the weekend, I can block off five or six hours just to work on the book.

Devon


ASSUMPTION OF RIGHTavailable from <a href="http://www.champagnebooks.com” target=”_blank”>Champagne Books.
Annabel Aidan webpage here.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Cliffs behind the Highland Light

Monday, June 20, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

There’s an interview with me over on The Book Connection, as Annabel, giving some background on ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT.

Good weekend. I got some good writing in on Friday and Saturday, but didn’t get much student time. I was feeling pretty lousy. Better, but not myself.

We drove over to the arts festival in Falmouth. It was well done, but there wasn’t anything we couldn’t live without. We stopped at the farmer’s market Mahoney’s Garden Center sponsors on the way back. I grabbed an oregano plant and they had an edelweiss plant. As in the little white velvety Alpine flowers. I saw a lot of them when I was actually in the Alps, years ago, and thought it would be fun to have a plant.

We took it easy on the deck in the afternoon, reading and hanging out. I cooked pork chops in a honey tangerine glaze for supper.

We watched INCEPTION on HBO. What a frustrating movie! Convoluted just to be convoluted. If they’d stripped down the storyline a bit, it would have had more impact. Also, I kept getting ahead of it and waiting for it to catch up, which I don’t like. I don’t like to sit there, tapping my foot, saying, “Yes, I figured that out twenty minutes ago. Where were you?” to the characters. Ellen Paige’s character was mis-used — the way they set her up, she should have been able to re-architect the dreams while they were in them — that should have been what made her so special. Joseph Gordon-Leavitt was great, as usual, and I wanted more of him in the film. But then it wouldn’t have been as much of a star vehicle for DiCaprio. I find true ensemble pieces much more interesting than star vehicles. This pretended to be an ensemble piece, at time, because there was a “team” involved, but the supporting characters weren’t developed, for fear they’d draw focus from the star. I wonder if it was originally written as a true ensemble piece, and then re-written to be a star vehicle. Although, a well-written piece properly cast can still create memorable supporting characters with just a few, well-placed lines, provided the “star” is secure enough not to demand those types of scenes are rewritten. It could have been a great ensemble movie; instead, it was a mediocre star vehicle. The production design was gorgeous, though.

Sunday was a quiet day. Got some good writing done, caught up with my students (finally), and am grateful that this group is so motivated and dedicated that they kept up with the work and supported each other even when I was too sick to stay on top of it. But I’m healing well, and getting my energy back. And now I have an anti-venom recipe that I can whip up from stuff I keep in the house, and it takes about ten minutes.

Read Henning Mannkell’s THE FIFTH WOMAN. The translation reads awkwardly and seems to oversimplify the stories (which are pretty depressing anyway). I wish I could read them in the original language, so I’d know how much of what bothers me is the writer and how much is the translator. Skimmed through some of my research books. Wrote a proposal and submitted it.

Costume Imp made us carmelized French toast for breakfast yesterday, and I cooked spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. So, we’re eating well! The farmers’ markets are opening, but it was such a long, cold winter and such a cool spring that not much is yet available.

Watched the premiere of FALLING SKIES last night. Much better than I expected. I was worried Noah Wylie would do a variation of his Librarian character, but he’s really made Tom unique. I was prepared to dislike Drew Roy (who plays Hal), because there’s been so much fuss about his looks in the pre-release marketing, but he was good, and the way he and Wylie play off each other is great. And they’ve got Colin Cunningham as the Sawyer of this group, which should be interesting. It’s inventive, the writing’s good, the pace is great — they reveal information actively while moving the story forward and giving you just enough backstory so you get a good sense of the enormity of what happened, without tedious clumps of information thrown at you. And they start out in my home state (supposedly — I don’t think they shot here, it looks a lot like Vancouver to me), which amuses me. They’re handling a large ensemble, and defining characters quickly, but memorably. They’ve got some interesting female characters who are played by interesting actresses — although they’ve acquired another blonde, so I’m wondering if one of the blondes gets killed off during the season.

Will watch the finale of GAME OF THRONES at some point this week. I was kind of surprised that so many viewers are so upset Sean Bean’s character was killed off. A) Sometimes really good actors don’t want a multi-year commitment, so enjoy their episodes and what they contribute when they’re there instead of having a fit; B) it was announced months ago he was the co-star in Ashley Judd’s new series, so DUH, he can’t hold major roles in two shows unless they’re shooting at the same studio and have worked out a schedule that would be brutal — days on set are usually a minimum of 16-18 hours for major characters, even if they’re not shooting every day, and you only have 8 shooting days to do an entire, one-hour episode; and C) from what I hear, the series follows the books quite closely, so if you want to know whether or not your favorite character lives or dies, go look it up! They weren’t keeping it confidential to build buzz, like they did on LOST. The information on the character’s probable destiny was readily available, so stop acting so shocked and betrayed.

Hopefully, Bean’s departure means more screen time for Dinklage! 😉

Anyway, I’ve got a lot of work to do for the Mermaid Ball this morning, writing to do, and checking in with students. I better get back to the page.

Devon


ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT available from Champagne Books.
Annabel Aidan webpage here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Assumption of Right is available from Champagne Books.
Annabel’s website is here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and warmer

When you’re finished here, hop on over to Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page, where I’ve got an article up about how writing fiction helps me land business writing contracts. Yes, it is part of the ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT launch week!

And thank you so much for all the good wishes and wonderful support, making my release day truly special!

Busy, busy weekend. Friends came over on Friday morning for breakfast. We had a lovely visit, and then I raced around trying to get everything done. Can’t remember if I mowed the terraced back last Thursday or Friday — it’s all one long mow for me! 😉

Took stuff to the dump, got some writing done, but as usual, never enough. The next assignment for Confidential Job #1 arrived. So I guess, even with the transition, they’re keeping me for awhile! 😉

Saturday, I got out a press release in the morning, did some promo for the book, and then headed up to Wellfleet for lunch with my friends. It was beautiful. I hadn’t actually been to Wellfleet in years — usually I was up in the winter, when everything was closed. The Wellfleet Preservation Hall has re-opened and the renovation is gorgeous. Really lovely. They have a wonderful schedule of events, so I think I’ll go up and participate in some of them. I also found the Wellfleet Mass Audubon Sanctuary, which I’ve yet to visit — will have to get up there so to do at some point. We wandered the stores, I bought a lovely piece of batik (I’m like a crow and shiny jewelry when it comes to batik), and we walked over Uncle Tim’s Bridge and looked around. There were lady slippers growing wild, which I’d never seen before. Exciting!

We had lunch at a place called the Beachcomber, which lived up to its name by being tucked in the sand dunes. The food was fantastic — I had fish tacos with a black bean and corn salsa that were just terrific. We walked down to the beach and enjoyed the windy day.

I headed back to find my retired neighbor who spends ten hours a day in his garden over in my yard, hacking at things with the edger! I’d like to think it was out of kindness, but, knowing him, it’s more out of a sense that I’m not getting things done fast enough to suit him. Well, hon bun, I don’t have ten hours a day to spend in the garden. I have two, if I’m lucky. And, while I admire your formal beds that you dig up every six weeks and completely replant, I want something more organic in MY yard. I don’t care if it’s a weed if it’s blooming and pretty! Besides, some of the plants you consider weeds, I consider invaluable in my stillroom!

I’m going to work in MY yard on MY schedule. It’s bad enough I get dirty looks if I’m sitting on my deck reading a book while those neighbors are gardening. Not their business what happens on this side of the fence, as long as it’s not harmful or illegal.

I worked very hard not to let it sour my day.

Slept very well Saturday night, was up early Sunday, getting the papers, etc. Came outside early because a neighbor’s kid (I’d say he’s about ten) got his new kite stuck in one of my trees, so brought out a sturdy chair and climbed up to untangle it. I really need to invest in a ladder!

Read the papers, and went out into the garden to try to do some deadheading. Pruned what I could reach of the big lilac, deadheaded the Stewartstonian Azalea in the back and the white fluffy one that popped and faded in the front. Got to work deadheading the rhodie in the back nearest the porch. Got about half of it done when my friend from Martha’s Vineyard called, asking if she could stop by on her way back to New York. Of course, I said yes!

Then I ran around getting cleaned up and setting out lunch things.

We had a lovely visit. She’s excited about the house, and thinks the yard is lovely. She agrees that it’s an awful lot of yard for me to handle on my own, mowing-wise, especially the way it undulates.

Went back to the page for awhile once she left, and also back to reading. I read two books over the weekend. One of them was COMMITTED by Elizabeth Gilbert (from the library), which I liked much more than I expected. I’m going to write a piece about it on the other blog in the next few weeks. The other was KNIT ONE, KILL TWO by Maggie Sefton. Usually, I get very impatient with what I call “gimmick mysteries”, but this one was very well done, and I’d love to read more of her work.

Watched GAME OF THRONES. Jane Espenson’s episode was definitely the best of the season. I’m getting a little tired of the unrelenting brutality, and I keep getting ahead of the story and waiting for it to catch up. The production values are absolutely gorgeous, but the piece takes itself a little to seriously ALL the time for my taste.

Monday was release day, and a very nice one it was, too! I flitted around from site to site in promotions. Hopefully, people will buy the book, and, even more hopefully, people will LIKE the book.

It definitely inspires me to keep going on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY!

Also, yesterday, did three loads of laundry, mowed the meadow, took the clippings to the dump, got more potting soil, mowed the front (which couldn’t wait until the end of the week), worked on a couple of articles that were a challenge because I don’t have the scientific background for them, and I kept having to stop and look things up. It will definitely need someone on staff to fact-check. I contacted the owner about my “list” of things to ready the property for summer, and, hopefully, we can set up a time late this week or early next week, and he can teach me how to do stuff.

Read some last night, did some yoga, but was so tired from the mowing, etc., that I went to bed early. Woke up early, too. Spent about an hour in the yard, watering thoroughly, weeding, etc. Then I showered and dressed (I put on gardening clothes for the morning garden routine — don’t worry, I’m not running around out there in my PJs! ) ;). Had my coffee out on the deck, which is lovely, and then came back to hit the page.

I need to get my daily quota done on SPIRIT REPOSITORY — this chapter is giving me agita — and then tackle the articles again. I’ve got appointments out of office for most of the day, so these early hours have to be very organized. As I leave for my appointments, going to swing by the dump to drop off yesterday’s grass clippings. Gotta love an integrated life!

Devon

Monday, May 23, 2011


The Black King Eggplant’s first blossom

Monday, May 23, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

All the garden centers sent out a flurry of emails about how awesome and warm a gardening weekend was predicted, and then, it was cold and rainy! Oh, well, it happens.

Saturday, I worked on materials for the class starting today, commented on student work, and covered the Preakness. Gee, what a surprise, no shot at the Triple Crown again. Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

Got a lovely compliment from someone at the publishing house, who sat up well into the night reading my book because she couldn’t put it down. Now, THAT’s what I like to hear! 😉

Stayed up late working on Saturday. Sunday, most of the day was spent polishing lectures for the workshop starting today and finishing up the assignment for Confidential Job #1. Also did a couple of loads of laundry, as I unpacked some more boxes. And, I started reading HOUSE OF CARDS, the next CE Murphy book of the Negotiator Trilogy.

Very long to-do list today, since I’ll be on the road for a couple of days this week. And it better be sunny, so I can finish mowing the back meadow! Have to finish the write-up for Confidential Job #1 and get off the invoice; have to return some books to the library; have to pick up some things at the store and the wine store; have to take grass clippings and recycling to the dump; have to work on PR for ASSUMPTION’s release; have to figure out the travel arrangements for Martha’s Vineyard (I’ve been invited to a friend’s place in a couple of weeks); the day’s lecture on the new workshop; excavating the desk; and oh, so much more. I’ve got to get back into THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, too. That manuscript has to be finished and get out the door sooner, rather than later, or the window of opportunity closes for it.

In the middle of doing a bunch of other stuff, I had a huge AHA! moment on a different piece. Several years ago, I wrote a mystery that then inspired a serial that ran for just over a year. I wanted to re-adapt it into a novel and start sending it out, But there were certain things that I just couldn’t make work. I’d started the second book in the series, which never really went anywhere, and outlined the third, about which I had strong feelings. I’ve been playing with the idea of just writing the third as a stand-alone. Yesterday, I realized that I can set the third book in the recent past (say 2007) and pull the chapters of the first book that are strongest as flashbacks to 1994, illustrating how the events in that book influenced what’s happening now. It also gives me the chance to show the growth in my protagonist, without having to write the entire series from 1994-2007. It makes a lot more sense, it will be a stronger book, and I can use strong material from the earlier book and cut out the weak material, or simply refer to the events I don’t want to show in conversation or other integrated ways. It also gives me a chance to show how different lives in NYC were pre-9/11 and post-9/11, and how the events changed the lives of my primary protagonists in ways that just evolving through normal life couldn’t. When I’ll get to do it, I’m not sure — I’ve got projects stacked up like planes over LaGuardia right now. But KNOWING what I want to do is a good step, and I’ll probably make some notes over the next few weeks.

Jane Espenson’s episode (the one she wrote or co-wrote, not sure which) of GAME OF THRONES aired last night. What a huge difference! The wit, the plot, the characterization, the action, all of it was head-and-shoulders above every other episode thus far. It was really well done. There were layers and details and development.

To the page — and all the rest of it today.

Devon

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Isn’t that pretty? That’s a Stewartstonian Azalea. There are so many azaleas and rhododendrons in the area that I’m kind of over them, but I fell in love with this one. It’s going to go in another of the cedar barrels. Because I’m taking it with me when I move! 😉

Got about 3K done on the untitled book yesterday — Chapter 4’s nearly done. I had to stop writing in order to drive to Plymouth for the car servicing appointment.

Dropped off the car, headed to the waterfront, browsed through stores and favorite places. Picked up a few things to take with me this weekend.

Had coffee and a pastry at a really nice cafe called Blue Blinds (it’s in an old house, and the shutters are blue). Fair trade coffee, pastries made with whole, fresh ingredients, good all the way around.

The car needed new spark plugs, so that was an expense I wasn’t expecting, but it was okay. And I’d rather know they’re working than get stuck on the road with all the driving I have to do this month. The car’s much happier with the oil change and the spark plugs and everything re-calibrated, so I think I’m set for the next few trips.

Came home, caught up on commenting on student work, did two loads of laundry, took care of some other business, including working on what I’m getting ready for my Senator. There’s a complex fact-checking and sourcing process involved in order for the material to be taken seriously. I’m not one of the ignoramuses who believes and repeats partisan sound bites. I do my own research, come to my own conclusions, and when I present a proposal, the facts are established and sourced. There’s room to disagree on the principles, of course, but the facts are solid. Unfortunately, it’s time consuming. But if even part of the proposal is accepted, it will make life easier for everyone.

Caught up on GAME OF THRONES last night. Mixed feelings on the first episode, didn’t like the second episode, liked the third episode. Sean Bean had some great scenes with the actress who plays his youngest daughter, and with the actress who plays his wife. I think one of the problems I have with the piece is that there are so many unlikeable characters in it. Yeah, I know, the actors call them “complex” — they have to, in order to invest in them. But they are unlikeable. And one gets tired of that many scenes of ugliness. We have to deal with enough ugliness in the world right now. I want to see better worlds, not worse ones in my fiction, at this point. That’s a personal point of view, but there it is. The production design is so gorgeous, though.

Found out I have to leave earlier than I expected tomorrow — probably will hit the road around 5:30 AM. I have to finish packing the writing bag and do a Time Machine Back Up on the computer later, but, for the most part, I’m in good shape.

Tomorrow will be a Very Long Day, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Devon

Published in: on May 6, 2011 at 6:33 am  Comments (5)  
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool
Boston Marathon
Patriots Day

I got my second round of revisions done and off to my editor on Saturday morning, along with the front matter. She’s going over it again early this week, and then, it’s off to the copy editor! From there, I await the final galleys — shiver, shiver! Whenever I hit the “send” on final galleys, I always want to throw up, because I’m sure I’ve missed something Really Important.

Did a library run, some errands, etc. The box of irises arrived from White Flower Farm (Wednesday’s Gratitude and Growth will have more on that).

Wound up the workshop. Two weeks of shouting into the abyss complete. I have to accept my portion of the responsibility in what didn’t work. Hopefully, I learned from my mistakes this time around and can apply it moving forward. I was the wrong teacher and it was the wrong format for this particular group. It happens. Fortunately, I am the right teacher in the right environment for a lot of people. I know I should focus on that, but it always takes awhile to get over something like this. Holding onto the anger, frustration, and disappointment doesn’t do anyone any good, and it goes beyond just a simple “oh, it’s Mercury Retrograde.” Let’s face it, if you can’t commit to two weeks of making writing a priority, how are you going to have a career?

The bulk of my teaching experiences are positive, but a trusted friend is right — I need to adjust certain things, especially the amount of time I put in as equated with the money. If these classes were being taught in person, they would be $425 and up. Online, they are considerably less, but I’m putting in the same, or even more time and energy, than I would in person. For instance, this last class took between four and six hours per day, plus the additional admin work the formatting problems brought up and trying to keep track of who still had material due. So I spent more than 84 hours on this class. I’m not being paid even a fraction of my hourly rate when you break it down like that. Turning around 15K or more in exercises with relevant comments takes time, and I’d even cut the word count on most of the exercises. Usually, classes take two hours or a little over per day, which is reasonable. I look at classes taught by some of the others, where material is posted (sometimes the entire course is posted the first day) and there’s only about 20 minutes of interaction a day. As a student in a class like that, I don’t get a whole lot out of it. I want my students to walk away from my classes with a short story that’s close to submission ready or a chunk of a novel that is in good shape. I want them to have something tangible they honed in class AND a set of skills they can apply to most of their writing moving forward. All of our time is valuable, and when students are willing to put in the time to hone the work, they leave the class with a feeling of accomplishment and more confidence, along with a piece of actual, almost submission-ready work. Students who do not put in the time or make excuses or ignore the notes do not. I want the students who do the work to have the best and most complete experience possible, while not getting drained by the small percentage one winds up with in class who suck the life out of everyone. I don’t want the students to have less of an experience because of the time factor on my part. There’s an imbalance there, and it’s up to me to address it and get back in balance in a way that’s positive for both myself and my students.

I enjoy teaching, especially when my students go on and publish and succeed, but I need to re-think where and how I accept bookings, factor in price more than I have, and, where appropriate (such as for advanced classes), institute an application process. Also, after the current teaching commitments expire at the end of Summer 2012, I may take a break and not teach for awhile.

Read the manuscript I promised my friend I’d read, and sent back comments. Enjoyed it very, very much, and was honored to be a Trusted Reader. Had to catch up with my Senators and my Rep, who actually represented my interests in a recent Congressional vote. Wanted to thank them and brainstorm a few more ideas. Before 9 AM on Saturday, 15 minutes after I’d sent off the email, one of the offices got back to me, wanting the proposal, so had to work on that.

Dealt with someone trying to stir shit to both get attention and cause trouble. I have a very low tolerance for the self-involved and manipulative. I just don’t have the time and patience for it.

In other words, it was a rough weekend! 😉

I have a few days before the next workshop starts, the Setting as Character one. I’m going to tweak the exercises a bit. But most of these next few days will be spent writing SPIRIT REPOSITORY, working on edits for ANGEL HUNT, and figuring out what I want to say in my new freelance brochure. The sooner I get that done and start that mailing, the sooner I pick up new clients.

My preferred clients are always small historical societies and non-profits. Again, I have to make sure I keep in balance the money and the work. A lot of these places can’t pay much, and, again, if I take them on, I have to make sure the ratios stay in balance for both sides.

I wrote a query and sent off the pitch for an article to a well-paying publication; let’s hope they pick it up. If they don’t, I have a half a dozen other pubs that pay just as well to whom I can pitch it. I may actually write some of it while the idea is still fresh. I got another idea for a different topic in the same field of interest that I will write up and pitch today to another publication in the field. And I’ve got to finish and polish the proposal package for my Senators. It’s a relationship, not a monologue for either side. That’s the only way one can effectively practice democracy. I was fortunate in New York to be represented, in both houses of Congress, by people who welcomed my ideas, listened to me, took my views under advisement, and sometimes even used my material in their legislative battles. It seems I am in a similar situation here, which is good.

I bet you dollars to doughnuts I get called in for jury duty this summer here! I get called regularly, and I’ve been put on a case every single time I’ve been called. Which is fine.

Watched GAME OF THRONES last night. I have mixed feelings about it. I adore the production design. It is gorgeous. They use Ireland and Malta to create alternate worlds in a beautiful way. The costume design is exquisite. However, I am so happy that I am not a wardrobe person on that show — continuity must be a nightmare. The crew is outstanding, because the continuity in last night’s episode was very, very good. My problem with the show is the direction (as in, the director’s work, not the way the story is headed). It. Feels. Very. Heavy. Every. Word. And. Scene. Is. Important. They’re very aware they’re Making an Epic, instead of just living the piece and letting it BE epic. That falls on the director.

The exception, and the actor who absolutely blazes through the piece with dynamics and layers is Peter Dinklage. I really like his work anyway — if I see his name in the credits, I know I can count on a complex and nuanced performance. He’s got a surprise for the audience in every scene and delivers it, and moves through the piece with an ease and a fluidity that the other actors haven’t yet mastered. Even Sean Bean’s a bit stodgy in this (and I’m a big fan of his work) — although, to be fair, that costume probably weights about forty pounds, and that’ll slow you down. Some of the camera angle choices also left me with a “what the hell are they thinking?” feeling. Other choices were gorgeous.

By the way, I’m fully expecting Sean Bean’s character to get killed off this season, since he’s already cast in the new Ashley Judd series. Although, given the size of the cast and the screen time given to each story, something might be worked out schedule-wise. I haven’t read the books, and I don’t know how closely the series plans to follow the books. If the director lets the actors stop taking everything so seriously and encourages dynamics instead of the current monotone, it could be good. Also, HBO lived up to its reputation for a particular style of sex scene, and I’m wondering if the scenes in the pilot were kept true to what was in the book or where written by a man who’s bad at writing sex scenes and that’s why they were all the same, no matter who participated, or were demanded in that position by HBO. I understand the choice not to make any of them about love or romance, but at least have a little variety, the way actual humans do! There was one scene with a hint of something else, but again — obviously written by a man in a way insulting to women. If you’re going to claim you have strong female characters, it needs to follow through in ALL aspects of their lives. Jane Espenson, whose work I adore, wrote one of this season’s upcoming episodes, and I have high hopes for it.

Of course, so far, all the reviews I’ve read so far, written by men, love it.

Mixed feelings. May watch the second episode, if it fits into my schedule. If I can find out which episode is Espenson’s ahead of time, I’ll make sure I watch that one.

Back to the page today.

And I really, really, REALLY want to spend some time in the yard today! A shrub to the left of the house has burst into deep magenta blooms. I have no idea what it is, but it’s pretty!

It’s Patriots Day AND the Boston Marathon today, both of which are a really big deal here.

Devon