Tues. Nov. 21, 2017: So Much Going On!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise and get to know my guest for the week, Patsy Collins.

Friday afternoon, I raked and bagged 180 gallons of leaves. And that was only half of the front yard! But I wouldn’t trade my trees for anything.

Also, Friday, I was irritated by trolls. At this point, one expects them regarding politics. But now there’s a cadre of people attacking writers who write regularly (every day or most days), claiming “most” writers don’t write every day, they’re living their lives, and people in the industry should stop talking about writing every day. Oh, and if you’re writing that much, you’re a hack and can’t possibly care about quality.

I have no idea if the attackers consider themselves writers or not. I sure as heck couldn’t find any published credits. But most professional writers I know write on most days. I couldn’t keep a roof over my head if I didn’t. That doesn’t mean I don’t love it or that I don’t care about quality.

But it my job. It is my business, not my hobby. I don’t do it on the side. It’s how I pay the bills, how I keep a roof over my head. No matter how much I do write in any given day, there’s still more that needs to be written.

I don’t wait for inspiration. I hunt it down.

Some whiny wanna-be who wants to be praised for not writing isn’t going to get cut a break from me. Do it. Don’t do it. Your choice. But stay out of my way. And don’t attack me because I love my job, I’m good at it, and I earn a living at it.

And guess what? I have a pretty terrific life along WITH the writing.

Hey, if you’ve got a high-powered agent who gets you six figure advances and CAN take five years to write a book, more power to you. But I need to show up every day and do the work.

Speaking of inspiration, another conversation on Twitter about a powerful medieval woman, inspired an idea for a new play, which I will pitch to 365 Women in January. Here, I’d decided four plays in three years were enough with them, but I’ll pitch one more. The person who extolled this particular woman was shot down — she’d gotten her people mixed up — but there were enough sources for me to start my research. I will reveal the name of the woman and a bit about her if the pitch is accepted.

Saturday, I finished a guest blog article for someone kind enough to host me, and sent it off with various information. I went to the post office to find out what happened to the package that was supposedly delivered on Thursday. Turns out it was delivered in another state. When I went on the site to rate the seller, it turns out that five other people have had the same issue THIS WEEK. There were no such reviews when I placed the order. I contacted Amazon. They are opening and investigation, and the lovely customer service rep filed an A-Z refund request on my behalf. Hopefully, I’ll get my money back. I can’t just cancel the card before that happens, or I won’t get the refund. But, as soon as I have it, I need to cancel that bankcard and get it replaced. I’m worried. I don’t want this person to make false charges on my account.

In the interim, I’ve cancelled my outstanding orders on Amazon, and I don’t plan on doing any of my holiday shopping through them. I wasn’t planning to do much anyway — I prefer local businesses with unique items. But there were a few things where Amazon seemed like the best deal. But now, I don’t trust the transactions. If things are resolved quickly and to my satisfaction, I may re-order; at this point, I doubt it.

I raked another 240 gallons of leaves. The front yard is now done. It took two trips to the dump to get them out.

Read a little, wrote a little in the afternoon. Watched travel documentaries in the evening, and did some plotting on some outlines.

It looks like I’m going to have to move all my websites soon. Not to a different host, but because the host “upgraded,” I am basically fucked. Because heaven forbid THEY take care of it when they’re the ones who make changes. What am I paying for again? I really need to start auditioning new webhosts. I have to go back to the questionnaire I started a few months ago.

Sunday was a day to dig in and write. Worked on the aging novel. I’m rewriting what I’ve got so far in third person to first person. The protag is talking in first person, and I need to go with it.

It was pouring with rain, so I couldn’t do any yard work. I did some housework, but I’ll do the big scrub right before the holiday.

I wrote about 1K of new material on the aging novel and then went to type up he first handwritten chapter. When I rewrote it in first and actually got into what I was trying to say and how to say it, it wound up being two chapters. Massive rewrite — not the way I usually work, rewriting as I go. But every book needs its individual process, and you have to honor the work.

Anyway, I wound up writing 29 pages on the book.

Then, I switched over to the play, SERENE AND DETERMINED. It seemed like I’d done massive amounts of work on that, but it turned out to be only 12 pages. Frustrating, since that deadline looms. But those pages are good pages, so I should be happy. Even if I wish I’d managed 29 pages on the play and would have been content with only 12 pages on the novel.

It means I have to dig deeper this week, and will probably add late night writing sessions in, along with the early morning sessions.

I worked on site with one client for a few hours, got some work done at the library, and did some writing for another client, which I added to this morning, and which goes off this afternoon, in advance of our next meeting after the holiday.

Started raking the side front lawn, but didn’t get very far. In yesterday’s storm, a bunch of the leaves from the side blew back onto my newly-cleaned front. Of course, it doesn’t help that the neighbors use leaf blowers to blow their leaves into the street, which then blow into my yard. So I’m basically raking leaves for the entire neighborhood.

In addition to digging down on both the play and “Miss Winston Apologizes” over the holiday weekend, I have a book to read for review, and I need to finish the TRACKING MEDUSA edits, which have to go out next week.

Somewhere in there, I’ll be doing the cooking for Thanksgiving and starting to put up the holiday decorations. The tree will make it into the stand and the Advent Table will go up, if nothing else. Plus, the overseas cards need to be written — they have to go out next week if I want them to arrive before February. For some reason, from the Cape it takes for damn ever for an airmail card to actually take air.

We’re still changing the dressings on my mother’s foot regularly, adn she goes back to her regular doctor tomorrow morning.

Onward.

Published in: on November 21, 2017 at 2:41 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 21, 2017: So Much Going On!  
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September 15: Guest Blog by Michelle Miles!

If all goes as planned, today Costume Imp and I land in Prague to start our adventure.

I don’t want you to miss me too much, so I’ve got a series of guest bloggers while I’m gone –and, if I hit an internet cafe and can, I might sneak in a few quick posts myself.

My good friend and fellow author Michelle Miles kicks us off, talking about packing an emotional punch in one’s writing:

Giving Your Characters Emotional Punch
By Michelle Miles

When Devon asked me to guest blog, I had already started writing this little article on emotional punch. I thought it’d be the perfect guest post for her blog, so here I am!

Writing emotion is probably one of the hardest things to learn. You have to do it in such a way that makes the reader believe that’s what the character is thinking and feeling and you have to make the reader feel it, too.

I write romance because I love seeing two people overcome impossible obstacles and odds to get together and have that happy ending. That’s what it’s all about for me. And, as we all know, romance stories are character-driven. I can suspend disbelief in the hokiest plot as long as the characters are unforgettable and the romance is timeless. Seriously.

In some of the contest entries I’ve read, the story is great, the pacing is fine, the plot is good. The author even has a good voice. But the characters are flat, flat, flat. You have to dig deeper and go beyond the physical description to make me want to cheer for your hero or heroine. It’s not just about how they look, it’s what they feel and how they feel it. You have to make me ignore my dirty house, the litter box that needs to be emptied, and the mounds of laundry to spend three hundred pages (or more) with your peeps.

How do you give your character that emotional punch?

Dig deeper! I bet you’re wondering how you can do that. The best way I can describe it is put yourself in your hero/heroine’s shoes. Think like they do. Channel their personality through your fingers as you type their actions, thoughts, feelings, dialogue.

Before you run screaming from the blog, here are a few examples that can help you get that power punch. These are from my current work-in-progress, Phoenix Rising.

Original:
“No!” Elena shouted. “I won’t do it.”

“Oh, yes. I think you will. Because if you refuse,” the Emperor said, “then I’ll have you both killed right now. Accept and perhaps one of you will live.”

“We’ll do it,” Cassius said quickly.

“Cassius, no—”

“Done,” the Emperor interrupted.

Revised:
“No!” Elena shouted. “I won’t do it.” She floundered in the agonizing maelstrom swirling within her. She couldn’t face Cassius in the arena. She wouldn’t! She’d rather die on Death Hill. She’d rather die in the jaws of the tigers. Anything but fighting Cassius, one-on-one to the death.

“Oh, yes. I think you will. Because if you refuse,” the Emperor said, “then I’ll have you both killed right now. Accept and perhaps one of you will live.”

“We’ll do it,” Cassius said quickly.

“Cassius, no—” The desolate shock held her immobile, a terrible sense of bitterness assailing her.

“Done,” the Emperor interrupted.

When I read the revised version, I can really feel her desolation, her shock, her fear all boiling out of her. The thought of facing the man she loves in the arena is devastating to her. And when I wrote it, I tried to channel that into Elena. I asked myself how *I* would feel if I had to fight the man I loved to the death. Not a happy feeling, to be sure.

But emotion isn’t all despair like this. Sometimes, it’s all about feelin’ the love. Romance novels (and Hershey bars) are about giving the reader that intense feeling of falling in love. Who doesn’t want to fall in love over and over again? If you’ve ever been there, then you know what I’m talking about. You can’t breathe if you don’t have that person near you. Your world is whole now that you’ve found your certain someone.

Showing with your character is all about feeling it, too.

Original:
Sometime during the night, Cassius slipped out of her apartment and left her alone. It would do neither of them any good if he were to be found in her company the next morning. It was a risk both of them knew they couldn’t take, even though she desperately wanted him to stay the night.

Her sleep had been restless. She tossed and turned for much of the night. Without a doubt, she had allowed herself to fall in love with him. As she watched, the sun’s rays filtered brighter and brighter through her room.

Can you spot the telling? Here, I’ll help. Telling: Without a doubt, she had allowed herself to fall in love with him.

BOR-ING. This makes me want to hit the snooze bar. Instead of telling the reader she loved him, how can we show it? Read below.

Revised:
Sometime during the night, Cassius slipped out of Elena’s apartment leaving her to her restless sleep. Memories of skin meeting skin, breath mingling with breath, bodies brushing in the heat of desire and lust haunted her dreams. Her heart skittered in her chest more than once when she thought of him. And a constant flutter in her lower abdomen had her pressing the palm of her hand against her skin to quell the flurry.

With the blood quivering in her veins, she realized it was more than lust. More than illicit sex and defiant passion.

    By the gods, I love him.

Rolling to her side and drawing her knees to her chest, she clutched the ratty blanket and squeezed her eyes shut. Was the Goddess of Fate playing a horrific trick on the two mere mortals? Or was her love for Cassius, the man who would be the Emperor’s killer and her savior, truly meant to be?

No matter how she played out the scenario in her mind, she still came up with the same answer: she would either be dead or alone. And neither sounded very appealing.

The revision is so much better than the original, don’t you think? It really shows what Elena is thinking and feeling about Cassius. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had intense emotions like this before. And instead of telling the reader she’d fallen for him, we feel it. So much better!

One more example and then I’ll close this post.

I never really “got” the emotional punch until a critique partner pointed out all my missed opportunities. And when I forced myself to sit and really think about who my characters were and worked on their emotional responses, I think I have a much better story.

Original:
She couldn’t—or wouldn’t—let it go. She had managed to work herself into a frenzy. “Just because I’m stuck in this pit of hell doesn’t mean I want to be. It doesn’t mean I want to kill people. It means I’m a slave of Rithos, just like you are now. Just like any of us here in the Games. Forced to fight or die. I have no choice. I hate it!”

What can be changed in the above paragraph to make it more emotional? To give it more of a punch? Here’s the sentence I changed: She had managed to work herself into a frenzy.

Now, read below.

Revised:
She couldn’t—or wouldn’t—let it go. Her heart palpitated at a quick pace. Her palms had broken in to a hot-cold sweat. “Just because I’m stuck in this pit of hell doesn’t mean I want to be. It doesn’t mean I want to kill people. It means I’m a slave of Rithos, just like you are now. Just like any of us here in the Games. Forced to fight or die. I have no choice. I hate it!”

Not only do we see and feel her frenzy, we hear it, too, in her dialogue.

So, do you see how do you get an emotional punch? It’s your job as the author to feel character’s feelings, too. Don’t play it safe and tell the reader, show it. Push yourself. It’s not always going to be comfortable for you or your characters (and, if you’ve done your job well, your readers!).

If you can do that and translate it successfully on paper, then you’ll have one heckuva punch!

Now go take on the page!

Michelle Miles is a member of Romance Writers of America® and serves as President of her local chapter as well as Treasurer of the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal special interest chapter. She writes hot contemporary and fantasy romance. For more information about her books or to sign up for her monthly newsletter, visit her website at http://www.michellemiles.net.

Published in: on September 15, 2009 at 1:24 am  Comments (16)  
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

I was at my desk, working steadily yesterday, for ten hours, and still didn’t get everything done that I hoped I would! It was good, steady, productive work, but there was a lot of it.

My only breaks were a half hour for lunch and a half hour when the couch arrived.

Ah, the couch. I ordered a flip couch that’s supposed to sleep two adults. That’s what I paid for. Unfortunately, they sent me a CHILD-SIZED couch. It fits better in the space, and it flips out to sleep one adult just fine (it’s really comfortable), but it’s not what I paid for. I’m perfectly willing to keep it — provided they refund the difference. There will be some negotiating. I checked my order — I ordered something different than was sent. They’re arguing about it, saying they don’t carry the adult-sized couch “anymore.” Um, that’s really not my problem. That’s what I ordered and the order was confirmed, so stick to your side of the deal.

The cats love it. It’s red micro-suede, and, in couch form, it’s the perfect size for them. Violet, in particular, considers it hers. I explained that I don’t pay that much money for a cat bed. She simply snorted at me.

Anyway, it was a productive day. In addition to work on client projects, I got out a half a dozen submissions and a half a dozen pitches. After months of low-paying, uninteresting jobs, the boards are starting to perk up again, both in pay rate and content. There’s a lot coming out of DC, in areas that actually interest me, such as environmentalism and conservation. I don’t know if I’ll land any of it — I haven’t written much in that arena, but I have the writing skills and the learning curve to pull it off. I’ve also got to warn everyone in pitches that I’ll be out of the country in September, and that might toss me out of contention on certain projects.

I was also asked to write an article for a colleague’s blog, to run while she’s on vacation, and I have to finish my column today. I’m behind on the GDRs and on the July/August newsletter, but those will happen. I got a few more anthology invites — I have to look over the deadlines and see if I can slot them in. They’re really fun, and at least one of them could involve the crew of The Merry’s Dalliance.

I sorted out upcoming get-togethers with friends over the next few weeks, and sat down to figure out the food for the site job next week — I always take it with me. There’s a great kitchen, and I love to cook there, so I bring in my own food and have a blast.

Today’s roster contains more client work — I hope to finish up a couple of pieces; the column; the guest article; starting to type up “Plot Bunnies”; a large grocery shopping trip; wrapping some fragile pictures in bubble wrap and getting them into storage.

I started the second mystery (everything is due on August 15 it seems). I’m struggling because it wants to be written in first person and I want it/need it to be written in third person. “Plot Bunnies” is in first person, and it makes more sense to have one story in first person and one in third, especially if they’re going to appear in the same anthology. But the damn piece wants to be written in first. I’m sure it will win, but I’m not going down without a fight.

Devon

Published in: on August 4, 2009 at 6:55 am  Comments (2)  
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Yesterday was another busy day. I had a few hours’ worth of frustration on the PC, but the ease on the Mac helped with the rest of the day. Basically, I have no more excuses — no reason not to be thoroughly productive, because the computer runs beautifully.

I messed around with moving WIPS to the Mac. What’s started in Word will stay in Word, because it’s easier. What I start new will go in iPages and then get converted to whatever it needs to be converted into.

Sorted through some email. I’ve been invited to guest blog in a couple of places, so I got started on that. Did an email interview for a colleague’s book.

Paid a ton of bills that piled up — once they’re all gone, I will fee much freer. Pitched for a couple of jobs. Caught up on some email and some other stuff. I have a handful of books to finish this week for review, and some other client work that I will do today.

Ran some errands. Picked up the stuff for the cats’ teeth — I call it “Scope for Cats”. That way, they won’t need to have the procedure where they’re put under to get their teeth cleaned.

Bought a pair of shoes — they were on sale for $10, cute navy canvas flats with white circles. Comfy, go with everything Couldn’t resist. I’ve been so budget-conscious for the past few months. Work’s picking up, so I felt I could afford a $10 indulgence.

Started typing up the first few chapters of the book I’ve been writing in longhand. i love being able to take the Mac anywhere I want to work. It’s a huge help. I love to work at the kitchen table, near the window, in natural light. Once I can get rid of the PC, I’m going to reconfigure the desk area to be lighter and a more creative space. It’ll probably take me a couple of months to load the floppies onto flash drives, especially with the way the PC is running. But it will be worth it in the end.

It was definitely an afternoon for ice cream! It should cool down a bit later this week, thank goodness.

The cats got me up early today. By 6 AM, I already did yoga, my meditation, fed the cats, made coffee, and was writing. I fed them “Spot’s Stew” brand food today. It looks like baby vomit, but they really like it.

Back to work on the plays today, too. I want to finish BLOOD SOUP this week, give it and FEMME FATALE a revision, and get them to my producer by the end of the week.

Off to the post office today to send the bills, and some stuff for Bookmooch. I’ve got some HEX BREAKER giveaways to pack and send this week, too, and I have to get the car serviced, and finish the assignment for confidential job #1. It’ll be a busy week.

But, thanks to the Mac, a great one. I’m still having trouble adjusting to the lack of a mouse, but I’ll get there. I’m also redesigning my logos, business cards, brochures, flyers, etc., and will redesign the covers on all the ebooks.

Devon

Published in: on April 27, 2009 at 6:35 am  Comments (7)  
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Mercury’s retrograde now, until about Oct. 15, so here’s my mantra:

Stay low, stay quiet, go shopping.

Because I’d really rather not get into any trouble over the next few weeks.

Worked on ANGEL HUNT a bit yesterday, which was good, getting back into that groove.

Did a bunch of work on The Big Project.

Verizon actually showed up after lunch, and it was chaos. How many big, clumsy guys does it take to come in, drill a messy hole in the wall, pull cable, and fasten a box?

Four.

And they’re telling me I have to move the pot rack and do this and do that and I said, “No.” I pointed to the tiny spot where the cable for the television comes through and told them they could make their big old mess next to THAT. Of course, it was three feet higher, but at least it was in the general vicinity. I made it very clear that drilling holes in the apartment because it was convenient for THEM in the moment was not an option. This is MY home, where I LIVE every day, and they will put it where it’s convenient for ME. Or leave. I didn’t argue. I didn’t raise my voice. I simply told them the way it was. No negotiation. No wiggle room. This way or leave. They did it my way.

Because it’s a frigging cable, people, not a nuclear reactor. You can run it from ANYWHERE.

It’s not like I’m going to order Fios anyway. Building scumbags have forced this on us for the future fantasy tenants when they’ve driven all of us out. I wonder how big a kickback they got from Verizon.

In the midst of all the chaos, I got a call from my supervisor who asked me to come in and work the show tonight. So, as soon as I shooed Verizon out, I checked my bag, ate some dinner, and headed out, because on Tuesday we start at 7, not 8, which means call time is 5:30, which means I have to leave no later than 3:30.

Show was fine; everyone was glad to see me. All good.

Landed another guest blog spot, so I’ll work on that today and get it out, since I’m away next week. Have to do the work for Confidential Job #1. Lots of writing to get done, then I’ll break to run errands, then write some more. As far as I know, I’m not going in to the show tonight! 😉

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:


Hex Breaker
by Devon Ellington. A Jain Lazarus Adventure. Hex Breaker Jain Lazarus joins the crew of a cursed film, hoping to put to rest what was stirred up before more people die and the film is lost. Tough, practical Detective Wyatt East becomes her unlikely ally and lover on an adventure fighting zombies, ceremonial magicians, the town wife-beater, the messenger of the gods, and their own pasts.
$4.00 ebook/ $6.00 on CD from Firedrakes Weyr Publishing.
Visit the site for the Jain Lazarus adventures.


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on September 24, 2008 at 7:37 am  Comments (12)  
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Guest Blogger on Character Work!

I have a guest blog on character work up at the Firedrakes Weyr blog.

Stop by! Leave a comment!

Published in: on September 22, 2008 at 3:59 pm  Comments (1)  
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