Fri. May 24, 2013: Stormy Start to Memorial Day Weekend

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Friday, May 24, 2013
Almost Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday. Yesterday wound up being kind of a mess.

Yoga was great in the morning, and I stopped by Covell’s Beach, even in the bad weather — it was lovely. Last time I get to go to the beach until Memorial Day — I’ve been going regularly off-season. On-season, even if I get a permit, it will be so crowded, I won’t be able to enjoy it.

So I enjoy my garden instead!

My mother had to get an adjustment done on her driver’s license (in light of her cataract operation), and realized that yesterday was the last day she could do it. So we had to race to the RMW in Yarmouth and wait for nearly two and a half hours to submit a piece of paper, throw some money at them, and get the license adjusted. Don’t get me wrong — the staff is pleasant and efficient. But the institution started a new numbering policy that doesn’t let the workers be efficient. Very unfair to everyone, but especially to the people working there.

But it got done, we made another stop at the beach, and got home. By now, it was mid-afternoon. I tried to get some work done, and didn’t have much luck with it. I tried to work on the proposal, but it didn’t make sense. So I finally gave up and had a mojito on the deck instead. And cooked pork chops for dinner.

One of my lovely neighbors (the one with the great garden), gave me an enormous catmint for the round herb bed, and some spinach, escarole, and romaine plants. I got them into the bed — it looks nice. Can’t wait to eat them.

Blazing migraine, so went to bed early.

Bad storm in the night. We lost some tree limbs (big ones), and one of them hit one of the gazing balls in the garden and smashed it. The two small potted trees in the front were overturned. The buckets were full (good thing), and the power was out (not so great).

The power came back on in a couple of hours, and I cleaned up what I could in the yard. All by 7 AM.

Today was the last day of the May is Manuscript Prep Month tips and they got the regular tip and a bonus tip! Hopefully, people have enjoyed this little foray.

Today, I have errands to run, packing to finish, proposals to get out, working with students, projects to finish before I leave, and things to wind up for next week’s trip. I’ll be working flat out through the weekend, so I can enjoy the trip without anything hanging over me. I also have a good friend’s going away party to attend.

Have wonderful holiday weekend, and a terrific start to the summer!

Devon

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Wed. May 8, 2013: A Harsh Reality of a Writer’s Life

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Wednesday May 8, 2013
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I have a post up on Gratitude and Growth about the ups and downs of the latest plantings. I hope you stop by and leave a comment.

I’m going to talk today a bit about the harsh reality of an author’s life, and the unrealistic expectations of part-time writers or non-writers put onto a writer.

I’m glad everyone enjoys the manuscript prep tips. Daily mailings like this take a LOT of time to put together, so it can only be something done sporadically. Because writing is my business and not my hobby, and how I pay the bills, what’s offered for free needs to generate enough new business to pay for more similar “events”. If it winds up being financially successful as well as building good will, I can do more. If people don’t buy my books and recommend my services, and it doesn’t generate new income, then I have to do something else that will INSTEAD of being able to put together another event like this. It’s that simple. Use the tips; land slots with publishers or magazines (I’ve created the tips because I genuinely want other writers to succeed — when one of us does well, it helps ALL of us); recommend my work as something that helped along the way, which will then generate new business for me, so I can afford to take the hours it requires to put together another event like this, offering a series of free useful things. Recommend my books (the novels and the Topic Workbooks) IF you like them and find them helpful. The income from book sales help pay the bills.

The time it takes to put together something like the daily mailing is the equivalent to writing about three chapters, and then the time it takes to do the daily mailing is the equivalent of about two pages’ worth of time each day. All of that is time away from my own, income-generating work. If it’s not my own work that’s put aside, it means it’s time away from a freelance writing or proofreading gig that will pay the electric bill for the month or get in that week’s groceries.

“Free” to you has cost to me — beyond just the time it takes to put together and the time away from my own work. It directly affects the bills. Eventually, it has to even out, or I can’t do it.

Would I write anyway with a “day job”? I did for many years, earning the right to be a full-time writer. When I left Broadway to be a full-time writer, I’d hit the crossroads where I could no longer do both. I HAD to make a decision. I chose writing. The harder of the two choices, but it also means I have to make more ruthless decisions and make sure I can pay my bills working at my PROFESSION.

That is the reality of a professional writer’s life. We pay the bills with our work, the same way the lawyer, the accountant, and the plumber do. That’s why it’s so important for those who label themselves “writer” to limit how much they write for “exposure” (when National Grid lets me pay my bills with “exposure”, I’ll be able to write for “exposure”), AND writers need to stop working for content mills, turning out dozens of articles a week for pennies and/or maybe/someday pay-per-click payments.

I want to write stories that people love and respond to. But if they don’t buy my books, I have to find another way to make a living. That doesn’t mean I’ll get a day job and write at night. It means I change careers. If people request a class, and I take the time to put it together and schedule it, it means I have turned down other paying work. If people then don’t sign up for the class, I’ve still put in that time and lost that other work, and now I have to hustle OTHER work to pay the bills — I don’t have the time or the financial cushion to re-schedule the class when it’s “convenient” — because, nine times out of ten, the people who wail the loudest about wanting/needing the class still won’t sign up for it, because they don’t want it badly enough to rearrange their schedules to do it. It’s not a priority for them. It’s something they’ll do if they have nothing better to do, including paint toe nails and watch reality TV. They don’t really want to be in a writing class that makes them actually, well, WRITE. It means the material is not in demand — therefore, there is no reason for me to offer it. That’s the way it works. I am the sole breadwinner in the family. I don’t have a husband or a trust fund to pay the bills. It’s all on ME.

If you like an author’s work — any author’s work, not just mine — go out there and buy books and post Amazon reviews and talk about the books on social media, so that said author can land another contract and write more books. Because if the author has to go get a job at McDonald’s or something else — to change careers — chances are, the other books won’t get written. Or, they might, but instead of being able to write a book a year or a book every two years, it might be a book every three or five, and few publishers and agents are going to invest in someone who can’t turn out regular content (yet too many publishers still don’t do their share in partnering with their authors to make sure the sales figures are high). We’re all on tight budgets — don’t cause yourself harm, or spend more than you can afford. But do whatever is in your power to encourage the people making the decisions to keep hiring the authors.

That’s reality.

Back to yesterday:

Many thanks to Donna Alward, who I met at the Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference. She writes at an amazing rate, working for one of the Harlequin lines, and also has a series of novellas out with Samhain. I happened to run across her on Twitter yesterday morning, when I was poking around not doing what I needed to do. She challenged us to an hour-long sprint 1K in one hour. I jumped at the chance. I did just over 1600 words in just under an hour, finishing the fourth chapter of LEADING OPPORTUNITIES. This is from Elliot’s, my male protag’s, POV, and it took some interesting turns. I like him a lot more than I originally envisioned. I mean, of course, my heroine has to adore him, but in the initial planning, he was a bit more of a dick than he is now. There’s still room for him to grow, but he’s more receptive to his surroundings (and still, loyal to a fault).

Worked with students, got some pitches out. Then, it was off to the Marine Life Center, and from there, on to New Bedford, to Gallery X, where the Marine Life Center may partner with the gallery for an exhibit in mid-June. The space is exciting. I wish I had the capacity at this point to create a piece for the exhibit. I’d love to do some soft sculpture, but I don’t think I can make it the priority it would need to be in order to get it done on time. I might do a mixed media words-and-image piece.

We then had lunch at No Problemo, which was really good. All in all, a lovely day.

On the way home, I started percolating on the new play — I have to submit ten pages by the end of the month — I realized that my initial opening and images are a different play than the original theme I intended. I need to separate those out and decide which play I’m writing NOW.

Spent some time reading on the deck. Both Tessa and Iris were in the enclosure. Iris has decided she’s missing out by staying inside, so now she wants to come out, as long as Tessa is close by (even though they stay as far apart as possible in the enclosure). I applied flea and tick medicine to all of them, so we’re covered in that arena.

Today, I have to work in the yard before the rain starts, do my 1K on LEADING OPPORTUNITIES, work on the non-fiction, work on the adaptation, and start ripping apart the book I finished on Sunday for revisions (I have only about 10 days to get this revision done). Early this evening, I have a Mermaid Ball meeting at the Marine Life Center.

So I better get going!

Devon

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

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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

May 1, 2013: Beltane and Writing

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant
Beltane

It’s Beltane! May Day! Time to dance around the maypole!

Yesterday, I had a frustrating writing day. Granted, the work on the short story was good, but I struggled with the novel. And I had to get two chapters written. There is no wiggle room in this particular deadline — I miss it, I lose opportunities.

I went grocery shopping, to the library, worked in the yard, worked with students, finished an edit for a client. Did some work-related reading out on the deck, because it was so nice out. Struggled with the novel.

So, instead of signing off at night, as I usually do after a long day at the computer, I kept going.

It was nearly 11 PM when I finished the two chapters (nearly 5000 words) I needed to get done, but they are done. A couple of scenes came up that are a lot of fun and were unexpected. The love scene I wanted to put in these chapters didn’t work. I cut it, and I found a place in an upcoming chapter where it is more organic and will work in the overall structure of the book better.

I have to do two more chapters on the novel today, and get them done before I head out for the Beltane celebration this evening, so I better get going! The draft needs to be done by Friday, and then it rests for the weekend. I’d like it to rest longer, but don’t have that option this time around, so it must rest, and then, on Monday, I start tearing it apart for revisions.

“May is Manuscript Prep Month” has started, and the first Tip went out this morning. Enjoy!

Devon

Published in: on May 1, 2013 at 10:30 am  Comments Off on May 1, 2013: Beltane and Writing  
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Thurs. April 25, 2013: Still Rainy and Raw

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Yesterday was no where near as productive as I wished. I was checking on Iris every few minutes, struggling with Chapter 13 of the book, and working with students. I baked brownies, and, in the evening, went to the Volunteer Appreciation dinner at the National Marine Life Center, which was fun. The organization really does honor and respect its volunteers, and it’s a great environment.

This morning, I spent some early morning time outside with Tessa meditating, and then it was off to yoga. Great class, and gave me ideas on layering more yoga into the book (because, after all, my protagonist is a yoga teacher).

Iris is much better this morning, ate a lot, is back to almost-normal — poor little thing!

Have to finalize the last few things for Saturday’s conference, and finish printing materials out.

I heard about a community yoga half-day on Sunday — if I’m not completely wiped out from Saturday, I’d like to do it.

AND, of course, if I’m up-to-date with my deadlines! 😉

Read an interesting book, the first of a new series by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzoni (two writers whose work I like). They have a new series set in SF in 1894 and have wonderful sensory and historical detail and great characters. The first book is called THE BUGHOUSE AFFAIR, the one I read yesterday. There was one choice off adding a recognizable character which didn’t quite work for me, but I liked the rest of it to roll with it anyway.

An interesting opportunity landed on my desk yesterday. It could be a chance to be part of something exciting, but I have to see how it balances out against the rest of my commitments.

Back to the page.

Devon

For more information and to sign up for your free Manuscript Preparation Tips in May, visit http://www.fearlessink.com/manuscript.html. In addition to a free tip each weekday from May 1-24, you get a 10% discount code on a critique of up to 30 pages, and signed up for Devon’s Random Newsletter. Come join the fun!