Saturday, April 9, 2011


Long Pasture Sanctuary

Saturday, April 9, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth to read about my adventures in soil. And see photographs of the work I’ve done this week. It’s been a trip, let me tell you. All part of the learning curve, right?

Yesterday was an up and down day, emotionally. I really struggled to focus. I just felt about as creative as wilted lettuce, and didn’t wanna. Unfortunately, due to my schedule, “didn’t wanna” is not an option right now. I had a bad case of the blues, for no good reason. Nothing’s wrong. I’m just tired. And we’re in multiple retrogrades again, which just gets wearing after awhile.

And then, I went to work on the edits for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT — and my editor’s notes had vanished from the margins. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get them back. She could see them just fine in her copy of the document, but they didn’t show up on mine. I called Apple Care, and they suggested that, since I created it on a Mac, she worked on it on a PC, and it came back to a Mac, it had gotten corrupted. So she cut and pasted the file to a new document and re-sent it. Still nothing.

Finally, I pulled it through Firefox and then opened it as a Word document instead of an RTF and everything’s there, and I can work from it. Now, I have to remember to ONLY open it as a word document, because if I open it in its RTF form, I lose everything. But it will still save as RTF (I’m going to save a copy in Word) to send back.

Ridiculous.

But I’m getting into the groove of the edits, and having an editor who is enthusiastic about the book helps a lot.


View towards Sandy Neck from Long Pasture

I took a break in the late morning and we went to Long Pasture Sanctuary, over in Barnstable. It’s beautiful! I also got to meet some of the new baby goats, who are just adorable, and have very distinct little personalities. I’m surprised by how affectionate they are. And the sanctuary also has its share of hollies, which makes me happy. I just love hollies.

After our walk, we drove to Sandwich and picked up some gardening stuff, including a small table and two small chairs out of eucalyptus wood for the porch. They’re prettier than anything we’ve seen so far and in our budget. We still have to find chairs, but now that we’ve found this set, we have something to sit on out there, and can add complimentary pieces around it. We also looked at some small plant tables we may go back and get, for the pots we want to keep on the deck.

Hopped over the Sagamore Bridge to get gas ($3.69/gallon, but still cheaper there than most other places) and found a discount store with large glazed and terra cotta pots at a much lower price than anywhere else. Even factoring in the gas, it’s worth the trip. So, I’ll probably go back there to get the pots for the herbs when it’s time. The tomato cages were too big — we couldn’t have gotten them in the car.

I still run out of energy very quickly since I was sick, so I had to rest for awhile when we got back. Didn’t get out into the yard to do anything.

Managed to catch up on my students’ work in the evening — for some reason, the loop didn’t come through properly the day before, so I had to scramble to play catch-up.

Today, I’m working on taxes some more, and then I hope to get pansies and put them in along the front. It’s supposed to be warm for the next few days, so I want to hook up the hoses front and back and get that sorted out, clean up the front beds, etc. I’d like to get some planters and some heather, but I don’t know if that’s in the budget quite yet.

Bit by bit, piece by piece. Whether it’s letting the pages you write stack up for a book, or doing the gardening, the little bits add up to bigger bits.

Just had to delete over 20 ridiculous spam messages pretending to be legitimate “conversational” posts in the comments of March posts. Part of the gig, right? That’s why there’s a “spam” button on the comment moderation page. Irritating, time consuming, but part of the deal.

Devon

Friday, February 4, 2011


Violet

Friday, February 4, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Diane Parkin has an outstanding article for writers about payment problems faced in the UK for short fiction. A lot of it applies here in the US. The other profession where people are supposed to work for “exposure” is theatre — imagine, you get to work every night and weekends for the joy of performance! Small theatre, that is. Many small theatres work hard to pay their personnel something, but the ONLY reason Broadway is paid is because of the unions. Having served as a union negotiator, the producers sit across from the table with the position we should be grateful they ALLOW us to work and stop expecting so much money — that working on Broadway is a “privilege”. Of course, they completely ignore the fact that if it wasn’t for writers, actors, designers, and crew, they wouldn’t have anything to produce, and therefore nothing that creates THEIR (often well-paid) jobs.

Yesterday was kind of a loss, due to the back problems, so I’m hoping to get back on track today. It flurried off and on all day, I managed to get out and run the errands that needed to be run, including getting to Staples, where the clerk said that the name of my company, Fearless Ink, sounds like “a really cool tattoo parlor”, which I thought was hilarious.

The rest of the day, I was stuck on the couch on either an icepack or a heating pad. I managed to finish a book I’m featuring on Biblio Paradise — sad, haunting, brutal, beautifully written — and do some more Tower of London research, some of which overlapped the time period in which the book I just read was set. I mulled over ideas for the essay that’s due on the 15th, and it’s starting to come together in my head. I just hope I can spin out 2K on it. It seems more like something that’s 800-1200 words. And a really interesting opportunity to get back to serial writing crossed my desk. I have to think about it and do some number crunching. The good thing is that the whole serial has to be finished before they start running it, which means I could be done writing it before the next big contract starts in fall. But can I fit it in now, knock it out, say in April, after this book is out of the way and the play is done, and still stay on track on all the other projects I’m trying to clear off? I have to think about it. I’ve got two ideas for it, actually — a really cool fantasy that the current research inspired, and also opening out a comedic short story into a serial. I’ve also got the sci-fi horror piece I could expand a bit. So there are possibilities; I just have to figure out what makes the most sense, if any of them do, in terms of time and money and creativity.

And that was it. Not acceptable. I have way to much to clear off my desk before the jobs start in CT to lie around not getting anything done. There’s an event at Long Pasture Sanctuary I want to attend tonight, but it all depends on my back. The valerian I took last night helped a little.

I have to go to the grocery store for myself and the pet food store for the cats, but, other than that, everything else today has to be about butt-in-chair and words-on-page. We’re supposed to get another big storm tomorrow, so maybe I can have a full-on writing weekend.

Devon

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


/View towards Sandy Neck from Long Pasture Sanctuary

Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Waxing Moon
Stormy and cold

Well, let’s hope the scolding i gave the students Sunday night into Monday means they’re actually going to step up. We’re halfway through the workshop, have only been working for two weeks, and there are certain members of the group who are regularly posting days late, some of them are getting sloppy in their construction. Instead of using the workshop to learn how to make the best of each genre, they’re slapping up whatever. The lack of respect for my time and the time of the students who are keeping up is just appalling. You can make all the excuses you want about what’s going on in your life, but we all have life stuff and we all have to keep commitments in spite of it.

It’s one reason I’ve sat on the longer-term proposals. If they can’t commit to a month and sustain it, how will the commit to longer?

Didn’t watch much of the Golden Globes on Sunday. Just wasn’t interested. Am pleased for Steve Buscemi, Laura Linney, Melissa Leo — about time their work was recognized.

Drank herbal tea that was supposedly calming before bed on Sunday, because I had to be up at five a.m.

Couldn’t sleep.

Sort of drifted in and out, but got up like a bear with a sore head when the alarm went off on Monday morning, and even yoga and meditation didn’t help much.

Battled through my first 1K of the day on the Samantha Light piece and realized I have to research yachts. Not necessarily a negative, but I have to research yachts. I need to know how they’re built, what they look like, etc. Time for another trip to the library.
The opening takes place on a yacht. Even if I make this a created world instead of a real one, I need to understand yacht construction. I know I have some books on it from my America’s Cup research, but they’re not yet unpacked.

Believe me, it was a battle. I did not feel like writing. But butt went into chair, and I fought my way to nearly 1K.

And then, while eating breakfast, I had a breakthrough on the piece due at the end of February, the one with which I’ve been struggling: I started with the wrong opening and set the wrong tone — no wonder I was lost! I changed the opening line, and suddenly, the book opened out before me.

Drove to Plymouth, found the garage, checked in, was given a ride to Main St. Unfortunately the coffee shop I wanted to hang out in didn’t open until 9:30 (really? are you freaking kidding me? 9:30?) and it was 8. Found another one open, further down the street, which was like walking into a Land of Lost Souls. They were mostly regulars, but they were lost. Settled in with coffee and a wonderful blueberry muffin. Tried not to let the Really Loud Guy Desperate for Attention work my last nerve too much. Got some good outlining done on the book. Now, I have to write my way into it a bit before I can finish the rest of the outline. I also need to get a couple of books out of the library on the Tower of London, since I don’t know where mine are. And I have to tweak the beginning, because one of the rules for this book (by the publisher) is that it has to be set in Scotland. So I have to make sure it opens in Scotland and have the few short scenes as JFK airport and in London as flashbacks.

When I got as far with that as I could go, I switched to working on the material for Confidential Job #1 that’s due this week.

Left the coffee shop earlier than planned because the guy sitting next to me was tunelessly whistling. I’m like a cat when it comes to whistling — I don’t like it. And TUNELESS whistling sends me right over the edge. However, people whistle out of happiness or for comfort, and I don’t have the right to interfere with that, much less rip anyone’s throat out over it, or give them Dark Looks.

So I left and started walking back to the garage.

In 13 degree weather. Windy. Without a scarf.

Not one of my more brilliant moments, by a long shot. Add to that the fact that 90% of Plymouth’s sidewalks hadn’t been cleared — even if a lame attempt was made to push a little of the snow to one side occasionally, it was pure ice underneath. And it’s a state law that walkways are to be cleared 2 hours after a storm ends. Guess no one sent the memo to the whole damn town. Even in front of town hall it was a mess. Only the churches and museums paid any attention. And Rt. 44 is far too dangerous to walk on.

I was so furious I nearly melted the snow with every step. Or maybe I should say “stomp.” 😉

At least it kept me from realizing how cold it was.

Got there, read a little more as they finished up the car. Car’s in great shape, just needed some basic servicing and a few filters changed. I liked them there a lot — they were nice, they’re knowledgeable, they’re ethical, they’re busy as all get out with people they know by name. I think I found the right place for the car.

And the car feels great. Unlike the previous place, where I asked them to check tire pressure and brakes and they didn’t but lied, I could feel the difference here. I hadn’t even asked them about the brakes, and they adjusted them for me. And the tires feel better. If they’d just hosed her off, they’d be perfect!

Unfortunately, it’s too cold out for me to sponge her down, even with warm water. I’m going to have to wait a bit.

Ran some errands because the storm is supposed to hit this morning, not this evening as originally predicted. Got a new flashdrive for the more current work. I’m a little worried about my hard drive. I’m being vigilant about backing up/printing out, but . . .I’m hoping it’s a Comcast issue, since it’s only being cranky when I get online.

Came back to the cats racing around with brush-like tails. No idea why.

Wrote and read in the afternoon. Discussed workshop proposals with the person to whom they were pitched.

No request to the response for press credentials for the new, local pro hockey team (I went through proper channels and had my editor request and everything). So I stayed home! I’m interested in following them from Day One, but I also have deadlines coming up, and, if I can’t slot it into “work”, I can’t do it right now.

Watched some TV. (spoilers) What can I say? Brandy and I were right about the Orwell character in THE CAPE. 😉 Seriously, there’s some good stuff in the show, I understand some of the snarky criticism that’s come in, and I still feel there are a bit too many cooks in it. I’m hoping it’ll find its feet in the next few episodes, and that it gets time so to do. My biggest problem with it is that the character of Peter Fleming is not a strong enough or interesting enough antagonist. All he’s got is money and ego. The “Villain of the Week” concept would work better if Fleming was more dynamic and pulling more strings. Also, I’m annoyed at the “Submit your Villain and we might use it!” campaign. You want me to CREATE a character and HAND him over to you? No WGA contract, no licensing fees? I’m supposed to just be happy you picked my character? Bite me!

Woke up with the “pre-storm headache” and wish it would start already so the storm would hit.

Figured out how I re-injured the bad shoulder, the one where I tore the rotator cuff a few years ago. When I go down to the basement, I twist my arm behind me at a weird angle to shut the door. That’s causing problems. I have to stop a few steps down, turn around to face the door, and then shut it. Great. Another few seconds for the cats to sneak down! 😉 But it will take the strain off the shoulder.

Going to see if I can put to use some of that outlining I did yesterday, and then, this afternoon, maybe I can make a good dent in the work for Confidential Job #1. Also, my students have a new exercise due today, and I have to post the one due Friday. We only have two more weeks/three more exercises! It’s gone very quickly.

I better get going. There’s a lot of writing to be done!

Devon

Monday, January 17, 2011


View over Plymouth Harbor

Monday, January 17, 2011
Waxing Moon
Martin Luther King Day

This is scheduled to post, because I had to get my butt out of bed and get on the road far too early in order to get the car to Plymouth for its spa day. Hopefully it means that, by the time most of you read this, I’ll be back. My car gets a spa day and I get to freeze my ass off in Plymouth before any of the stores open. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Plymouth, but here’s hoping I find a nice, warm coffee joint and can do some writing!

I have a dilemma with the Samantha LIght piece. I originally wanted it to be speculative fiction in either a created world or a parallel world. But I keep making familiar references. I don’t know if that means I should set it in a somewhat futuristic NY/Scotland/Paris or just use those references in the first draft, and then change them substantially into a created/imagined version of similar cities in revisions. Stopping to world build right now will make me lose the dynamic between the characters. But, in the ultimate piece, the setting will be very, very important.

Regarding my protag, Samantha, I’m not having trouble with her. I thought it would be a challenge, because, on the surface, she seems like the kind of woman I can’t stand, and yet, she’s very much her own person without being the sort of cliche we see of this type of woman on tv, in the tabloids, or in fiction. So, I’m having fun with her.

Costume Imp moves today, leaving Queens to go up to Washington Heights. New situation, new roommates, the whole thing. He brought his delightful beasts up on Friday night — yowling all the way. They can give Iris a run for the money when it comes to feline opera performances.

I certainly learned how far some students will go to bend the rules in class. In the historical/western assignment, we had more than one person have a character “tell a story” about an historical time to another character. I had to let it go since I hadn’t expressly forbidden it, but now I know, and I’ve tweaked the exercise for future classes. When I say “set your characters in an historical or western piece”, having them tell each other a story about someone else doesn’t cut it. Even when it’s cleverly done and good as a piece in its own right. But again, I guess I have to expressly forbid just about any place they have wiggle room.


Can you find the hawk hidden in the tree?

The raptor release at Long Pasture Sanctuary was magnificent. First of all, the place is gorgeous, and I can’t wait to spend more time walking around there when the weather is a little warmer. I learned a bit about identifying hawks — I’ll have to practice a lot more before I can actually do it. Two hawks were released — both females. The first one, who recovered from a broken wing, was still a little overweight. She flew to a nearby tree and stayed. Hey, I don’t blame her — she was used to room service! Two other hawks circled near by, wanting to know what was going on. The second hawk, also a female, nearly tore the carrier apart. When the door opened, she backed to the rear, took a few steps, and soared out. She paused on top of a nearby tree to get her bearings, and then she was outta there! Absolutely gorgeous.

Again, the kids who attended the event were bright, engaged, enthusiastic, asked some of the best questions and made some of the best comments. No crying or whining.

I like how the parents here actually engage in conversation with their kids when they’re off doing something, whether it’s at an event or going to the grocery store. They talk to them like actual human beings, unlike in the suburbs of NY, where parents are on the cell phone all the time talking about stupid gossip and just pause long enough to yell at the kid. Here, when parents take their kids grocery shopping, one kid has the list, and another kid scouts the aisle, and they learn how to tell if a piece of fruit or a vegetable is a good choice, etc., etc. Just a much healthier dynamic, and you can see the difference in the kids. They’re not as brittle and wounded and desperate for attention and filled with the sense of entitlement they see from their parents as suburban NY children.

The director took us on a short walk on the sanctuary — he showed us how to recognize rabbit tracks and otter tracks and we saw the pond where the otters like to come and fish. The otters were to smart enough not to let us see them, but it was fun to see where they played and slid.

It was just a great couple of hours, even though I’d lost all feeling in my toes before the end of it! I need to start dressing for these things like I did on the days I spent outside on location for television shows. And, Diane, I couldn’t find my silk thermals. I was not happy. I also need to find my fleece-lined jeans for the next event, and slip some toe warmers into my boots and hand warmers into my gloves. I will also pre-heat by drinking ginger tea before I go (learned from the Great Cape Herbs seminar last week).

I drank quite a bit of ginger tea when I got home, and that helped a lot.

‘Cause there’s no reason to attend these events if I don’t apply what I learn, right? 😉

The mail brought a box of books containing the second volume of Gail Godwin’s journal and Antonia Frasier’s memoir of her life with Harold Pinter, so I was a happy camper. Wrapped myself in a blanket, put on some jazz, and started the Godwin memoir.

I read a lot of her books in the late 80’s, early -mid 90’s and really enjoyed her writing. I haven’t read her lately, and I’m interested, once I unpack them, to re-read some of the books I read and see if my perceptions have changed. The writing on the page remains the same, it is fixed once it’s published, but do I respond to it differently?

I remembered getting impatient with the first volume of journals, but couldn’t remember why. I’m not very far into this volume of journals, and I get impatient again. Yes, it was the early 1960’s, and women had a different frame of reference. But if she spent even an eighth of the energy she wastes on pursuing toxic relationships with men on her writing, she would have gotten a whole lot further a whole lot faster.

The diary can help you see patterns and break them. I look at my diaries from my twenties and self-indulgent thirties and cringe. But writing it all down and looking back also helped me break negative patterns and realize how I was getting in my own way, both personally and professionally. That person helped form who I am now, but I wish she’d gotten her act together earlier. Maybe that’s why I get impatient with Godwin’s journals — I see too much similarity. The qualities I didn’t like in myself at that age, I see in those journals.

When she details observations on the world around her, and how her writing process evolves, it’s very interesting.

Also got a lovely CD mixed by a good friend that is a joy to play. I was just casting around for some new music, and it appeared in the post! Thanks, Colin!

Went to bed pretty early. Got up on Sunday pretty early, having dreamed I was working on location in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and I was as tired as if I’d actually spent the night doing just that. These “busy dreams” take it out of me! 😉

Morning routine, out to get the papers, read the papers. The papers here are better written, have fewer typos, and are more balanced that most other papers I’ve read across the country. They poke at multiple sides of an issue, so you get a broad spectrum of both information and opinion — each of which is clearly defined, so that biased opinion isn’t presented as journalism. It makes it easier to get a more complete picture of an issue to figure out one’s own stand on it. I read more than one paper, and each paper contains multiple points of view on different issues, so one really gets a good cross-section of information.

Decided that Sunday was going to be my day off from writing this week. I kind of feel that all of my life since I’ve moved is a bit of refilling the creative well, which I desperately need. I’m trying a lot of new things and trying to open myself up to a lot of new experiences I didn’t/couldn’t in NY, and seeing what I learn.

Read a lot. Caught up on some emails. Caught up on filing and receipts. Played with the cats.

Got frustrated with the workshop because so many people seem to think that the date an assignment due is a suggestion. Far too many of them post their assignment days late, the day before or the day the next assignment is due. Some people are skipping exercises, which they were told UP FRONT they can’t do. I had to resort to keeping a tracking sheet so I can track, as I jump back and forth between the assignments, who’s keeping up and who isn’t. It’s just so disrespectful. We all have life stuff. If you expect to have a career in anything, you learn how to deal with life and your career. You can’t wait until you’re earning a paycheck to behave that way or you’ll never earn a paycheck.

Enough. I had to get up at five frigging a.m. in the freezing cold to get in the yoga, meditation, and my first 1K of the day before I left for the garage. So I don’t want to hear about anyone’s conflicts when they have a half a week to get a 1300 word assignment done. In four days, I have to do AT LEAST 4000 words. Usually a heck of a lot more. AND run my life.

Devon