Wed. Feb. 13, 2013: Auditions and Writing

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Worked flat out yesterday. The good mood from the good first writing session (on the Dickensian steampunk) supported me through quite a bit. I had a lot of catching up to do — amazing how much piles up when you CAN’T get online for a few days, isn’t it?

Caught up with students, which is the important thing. The Journal workshop had a rocky start due to the power problems, so I’ll keep it open through the weekend, making sure everyone can catch up.

Bill Keating’s office was very receptive to my views on the power issues, and I have a person to deal with directly. I’ll be submitting a proposal early next week to them with ideas on how to improve the situation in the future and prevent this from happening again — with consequences for the utility companies if they don’t start making improvements. It’s good to know that my elected representatives are actually representing me.

I’ve hit the point in the Dickensian steampunk where I need to sit down and outline the whole book. Some interesting subplots came up as I wrote the chapter I need between the first chapter and what I’d originally thought was the second chapter, but needs to be the third. I need to make sure I’ve got a coherent whole. A title would be good, too, but until I know more of its shape, I can’t give it an appropriate title. Hopefully, that can be handled today and tomorrow. I also need to do some work on the wacky proposal and take that to the next step, although my gut is telling me to take a more traditional route with it for creative freedom. The marketing-savvy approach will limit the creative portion, and there’s no telling which way will be more lucrative in the long run until we try it. So I’m approaching my top choice for the marketing-savvy option, and if it doesn’t interest them, I’ll go the more traditional route that gives me more creative freedom.

I need to print off the audition sheets and sides for tonight’s auditions for MURDER ‘SEALS’ THE DEAL — if you are a Cape Cod or South Shore-based actor, I hope you come by. Details and character breakdowns here. Hopefully, we’ll get a good turnout. I’m eager to get to work on this piece.

If you’re writing a series or interested in writing a series, sign up for “Prolonged Engagement”, from March 4-8, which deals with how to create/evolve a series. Details here.

Better get going — lots to do today!

Devon

Wed. Feb. 6, 2013: Snow and Writing

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

Got quite a bit of work done yesterday. I think SEVEN OF SWORDS is in decent shape, finally. I’m going to give it one more read this morning, and then send it off. Worked with students. I’m polishing the “Journal into Fiction” lectures and exercises — I had to cut some of the material out, because there was too much for a week-long class.

Had to turn something around quickly for one of my other editors, and sent out a few LOIs. Some paperwork came in for another confidential gig that the editor on Confidential Job #1 recommended me for, so that’s all good. The lunch meeting was good, although Beech Tree Cantina, where we wanted to meet, turned out to be closed. Um, it couldn’t have been on the landing page of the website? Especially with all the advertising they’ve been doing? There were a bunch of us, standing outside the door in the snow, totally confused.

We wound up at Rendezvous, the new crepe place. It was really good, with a nice atmosphere. Definitely a place to which I’d go back.

Roasted a chicken for dinner, did some reading, watched my friend’s show — some of the writing was a little heavy-handed, but he had some good scenes, and we dissected the episode, as we usually do after it airs.

Started re-reading POWER OF WORDS, which has been pulling at me lately. It’s such a sprawl — I think it’s really a serial novel about the making of a series. There’s no way I can stay true to its characters and themes and turn it into something that’s a more traditional novel. It’s going to be four novels’ worth of material just to get them through shooting the first season. But I think the dynamics of the individuals, and the creative nuts-and-bolts will be interesting to readers. Well, I need to write it at least through the first season’s shoot, and maybe partially into the second, and then decide what I want to do with it. I also re-read MODERN CREATION MYTHS the other day, and it holds together much better than I expected. I wrote the first draft material in script form (knowing it couldn’t stay a script), and I can see how to open it back out into prose. I think I will complete the draft as a script, though, because that’s giving me the dynamic. When I adapt it into prose, I’ll have to go much deeper into POV.

Did some of my fantasy/sci fi schoolwork yesterday (lectures). Really interesting insights into the Grimm tales.

I need to clear a lot off my desk today, because tomorrow is a busy day, most of it out of the house.

Devon

You can still sign up for “Journal into Fiction”, Feb. 11-14, learning how to transform journal entries into viable fiction. Information and registration here.

Cape Cod/South Shore Actors: Come audition for MURDER ‘SEALS’ THE DEAL, Feb 11 & 13, callbacks Feb. 15. Information and breakdown here.

Tues. Feb. 5, 2013: The Minimum Doesn’t Cut It

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

Marian Lanouette is my guest over on A Biblio Paradise, interviewed about her Jake Carrington series. Stop on by and drop a comment!

The February To-Do List is up on the GDR site. Short month, a lot to do.

I’m frustrated with a few people today, but venting isn’t going to do any good. Let’s just say I hate it when they waste my time, and I’m going to have to make changes to make sure that they don’t in the future.

Worked with students, finished an editing job, got out some pitches, ran errands, went grocery shopping, worked on SEVEN OF SWORDS. I’m almost there, I’ve almost unlocked what I want to fix in it. I’m hoping to get it finished and out the door this morning before my lunch meeting.

Finished Louise Penny’s BURY YOUR DEAD yesterday, and it was so well done and so tragic (in the large sense), that I was in tears by the end of it. The way she had characters re-live a traumatic event, through flashbacks throughout, is not something most people could pull off. But she did it effectively. Part of that is because she is a master of her craft. She understands structure, and therefore, when she goes against the expectations, she has the craft behind her to pull it off. Writers earlier in their careers, who can’t be bothered to learn structure, try this same type of maneuver, and most of them fail miserably. And it’s because they can’t be bothered to learn structure. It’s blatantly obvious when a skilled writer deviates from tradition and pulls it off, and an unskilled writer can’t be bothered.

It always amazes me when people say they want to learn how to do something– be it writing or anything else — and then can’t be bothered to learn the skills required for it. And then they’re surprised when they don’t succeed. If all you ever put in to something is the minimum, you won’t get more out of it.

Better get back to work — I need to clear a lot off my desk before I leave.

Devon

You can still sign up for “Journal into Fiction”, from Feb. 11-15. Transform journal entries into viable fiction. Registration and information here.

If you’re based on the Cape and/or South Shore, come try out of MURDER “SEALS” THE DEAL, Feb. 11 & 13, with callbacks the 15th. Detailed information here.

Tues. Jan. 22, 2013: Shoveling Out from the White Stuff!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Snowy and cold

My guest today on A Biblio Paradise is author Cynthia Woolf. Come join us, and drop a comment, entering to win a copy of her book!

We got about mid-range of the predicted snow overnight, about 4”. Not looking forward to shoveling later! I’m going to try using the “electric snow shovel” — something that’s halfway between a snowblower and a shovel, and usually just tosses it all into my face. Glad the morning’s meeting was canceled. The snow’s really pretty, though.

Didn’t get as much done as I would have liked yesterday. Not happy with the play — have to rip it apart and do some restructuring. Worked with students.

Most of the day was caught up in the Inauguration. I thought things ran smoothly, although it must have been a tough day for the Secret Service. The President’s speech was the one I wanted for the first term — so let’s see how much we can get done this term.

I need to disengage from someone who’s trying to be a creative energy vampire. I can’t have my creative energy siphoned off via frustration to fuel someone else’s work. Not acceptable.

Read the material for Confidential Job #1 yesterday — loved it. Will write it up and send it to my editor today. Most of my meetings were canceled, but I have one later tonight, and I have to prepare for that.

Only four more days left to book a reduced-rate editing slot — first 30 pages (Standard Manuscript Format ONLY) edited for $75. Go here for more information — offer ends on the 25th of January.

Don’t forget The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects Workshop from Feb. 4-6 and the Journal into Fiction Workshop from Feb. 11-14. Information on both here.

Happy Snow Day!

Devon

Mon. Jan. 21, 2013: Strong Opening Chapters; Presentation Dilemma

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Violet wraps up against the cold

Monday, January 21, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold
Inauguration Day
Martin Luther King Day

Only 5 more days to sign up for a reduced-rate editing slot for your first 30 pages– ends January 25! Go here to get the details.

Don’t forget “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects” from Feb. 4-6, and “Journal into Fiction” from Feb. 11-14. Both are great sources of both practicality and inspiration. Information and registration here.

Slots for A Biblio Paradise are booked through the end of April, so you all have some exciting reading coming up! A really interesting mix of writers.

Friday had its share of frustrations, especially with the Canon printer. An empty ink tank shouldn’t keep it from scanning something to go to the computer and/or reading a memory card, as long as I’m not asking it to print. Yet, it balked. This MX-860 worked beautifully the first day I got it, and has been trouble ever since. The shoddy plastic paper tray at the bottom causes all kinds of problems and the feeder rolls don’t work properly. The camera I bought a year or so ago to replace the the one that broke is a piece of crap. Auto-focus that doesn’t focus. Canon used to have top-of-the-line products, and now they’re just shoddy. Even worse, their customer service, which used to be great, is practically non-existent, and they don’t give a damn about their long-term customers. I’ve been rabidly pro-Canon for over twenty years. No more. I’m not interested in disposable products. I want something that WORKS, and works for more than a day or a week. I need value for money, reliability, and customer service. If Canon is no longer able to meet that need, I will find someone else who does. It won’t be HP, with whom I’ve also had frequent issues.

Finished the media kit for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK and also did one for the Jain Lazarus series as a whole. Some of the material overlaps, but now I can choose which one to send where. I need to do an overall Devon Ellington kit, too. Media kits are crucial to landing good exposure. Mine are simple, but effective, and I’m learning how to get faster at developing them!

Worked on the play, but it needs more work — not satisfied with what I have. That will be my primary focus today.

However, I finished the sample chapters for the proposal and they sing! They are exactly what I was going for. You know how I unlocked it? I changed my protag’s last name. Who would have thought something so simple had so much impact? The original name I gave her made me feel like I was trying to hard, and the first few pages reflected that. I changed the name and everything else fell into place. I wrote and edited over 3K in two sittings. I sent the chapters off to Trusted Readers and they were over the moon about them. What a great response to early-draft chapters. Now, I’m worried that the market I’m aiming for in the proposal will want to dilute the verve in them. I’m going to run the whole thing past my agent and see what she says — she’s got the business acumen and understands the creative position, and, best of all, she tells me the truth.

I’ve got business/admin stuff to do today, more LOIs, work with students, work with an editing client, and my own school work.

I’m going to pause in whatever I’m doing to watch the inauguration — the poet, Richard Blanco, is someone I met at PEN events in New York several years ago. I’m a big fan of his work!

Devon

Thurs. Jan. 17, 2013: Real-Time Webinar Kerflamma & Excellent Student Writing

Thursday, January 17, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Still feeling a little under the weather, although better than yesterday.

Yesterday was rather frustrating. I was supposed to attend a live webinar at 11 AM, so I focused and got a lot done earlier. Then, the GoToMeeting software wouldn’t let me in — even though I had it downloaded, was registered, had the ID and password. It kept saying, “error, try again later.” Um, isn’t the point of GoToMeeting to be there in REAL time? “Later” doesn’t cut it. The LIVE meeting was NOW. Support was no help, and someone on Twitter contacted me to supposedly help, but vanished after two Tweets that proved the company was “responsive”, although they resolved NOTHING.

I’ve never found GoToMeeting to be reliable, and I’m done with them. I just won’t sign up for anything anymore that’s presented on them. It was time wasted that could have been spent earning a living.

The conference materials had been sent out ahead of time, so I went through those. Some good information I can use as a jumping off point. However, there were too many ads for services BEFORE materials, and every few pages was another ad hawking services I became more and more convinced I didn’t want. Also, I felt some of the contributors/speakers were saying one thing, but doing another.

Regarding the questions on the SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM ebook, I plan to have it up as long as it sells and earns its keep! Yes, please, spread the word to writing groups and more! I’m honored!

Did some work on a non-fiction book in the afternoon and some admin stuff; got out a few LOIs. Worked with students. Was blown away by the depth, beauty, and quality of the pieces in the Sensory Perceptions workshop. Writing like that is what makes teaching a class exciting. These students are starting to come into their own as powerful and unique writers, and I’m proud of them.

Most of today needs to focus on the new play — we have a brainstorming/pre-production meeting tonight. I also want to get some work done on that other proposal for my agent, and the non-fiction book. I need to write a letter to the neighbor of a family member overseas, who wrote to let us know we hadn’t heard from the family member because he’d died back in September. We didn’t even know he was ill — we only ever heard from him at the holidays. It was very kind of the neighbor to take the time to get in touch.

Onward.

Devon

“The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects” — bring up to 5 projects you’ve put aside; see which ones are viable and breathe new life into them, and which ones need to be permanently retired. Feb. 4-6.

“Journal into Fiction” – learn how to transform journal entries into viable fiction, how to let characters evolve from the original inspiration, and how to keep a travel diary that will provide material for years’ worth of projects. Feb. 11-14.

More information here:
http://www.devonellingtonwork.com/fastandfun.html

Wed. Jan. 16, 2013: Rain and webinars and work

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Yes, Jupiter’s been retrograde for a good, long while now, but I’d hoped if I ignored it . . .didn’t work! 😉

I like the rain, though — I like being all warm and cozy inside and hearing it patter out there. I LIKE variations in weather! 😉

Got some decent work done yesterday, got out a few pitches, worked with students, got out the next of the Topic Workbooks up on Smashwords:

The Series Bible: Creation and Maintenance

It’s a great little book with ways to set up a series bible to track details, arcs, setting, clothing, furniture, quirks in the series, so that if there’s a deviation, it’s a choice rather than a mistake. I hope you enjoy it!

I also added one more workshop for February, again a short one, running Feb. 11-14: “Journal into Fiction”. It deals with different types of journals, and how to transform entries into viable fiction. It also has tips on keeping a travel diary with an eye to mining it for stories, articles, and essays in the future. Details and registration here, under the information for the Graveyard of Abandoned Projects.

Both February workshops are at the beginning of the month, because I’m going into rehearsal for the new play and that will be my life for most of February and into March. I’m waiting to find out the date the venue is booked, because that’s what I will work backwards from.

Dropped off some books at the Centerville Library, and picked up some books at the Osterville Library. Read Sheila Bender’s KEEPING A JOURNAL YOU LOVE, which was interesting, and some of the writers quoted make me want to read them! Now reading Nancy Slonim Aronie’s WRITING FROM THE HEART — good info and encouragement for those in the early stages of their creative exploration, although she advocates writing in the present tense, and there’s nothing that gets me to put down a book faster than an author using the present tense. To me, it’s not a sign of immediacy in the work — it’s the author calling attention to himself, a twee “look at ME!” rather than letting me enter the character’s skin. I can take it in non-fiction and essay, but in fiction — just makes me want to throw the book across the room. I agree with a lot of Aronie’s suggestions, but this is one where I respectfully disagree!

I’m always reading new-to-me books about writing, to see what’s useful to add to the list for students.

I’ve got to get some work done on the play this morning, and work with students this afternoon. At 11 AM, I’m attending a webinar that sounds pretty interesting, about marketing strategies. So I need to clear everything possible off my desk before that.

Spent some time with both my Cosmology and Astronomy homework — amazing how much the greenhouse effect comes up in Astronomy class!

I’m coughing and have a scratchy throat — will use one of my herbal remedies, but I’ve been feeling so run down the last couple of weeks, I hope I’m not tipping into full sick.

Devon