Fri. Sept. 1, 2017: Start of a Productive Month

Friday, September 1, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I kept thinking yesterday was Friday, but it was only Thursday. Today is the first day of September. I can’t believe how quickly the year has gone!

Got some pitches out yesterday, and a request for an invoice for a piece that will go live next week — all good. I’m in the midst of preparing a set of LOIs to go out next week, when Mercury goes direct, and also the initial marketing mailing for the PLAYING THE ANGLES release, which will also go out next week.

It’s cool enough to switch the summer coverings on the chairs and couch over to the winter coverings — already! And there’s a lot of pruning that needs to be done as things die back, although I’ll have to wait to give the roses their hard prune until spring. The autumn clematis is blooming and gorgeous.

Didn’t get much writing done; mostly outlining. Finished re-reading Steven Axelrod’s NANTUCKET SAWBUCK. I’m re-reading the entire series, because it’s set on Nantucket, and we were just on Nantucket a few weeks ago. I like them even better this time around. I started re-reading NANTUCKET FIVE-SPOT.

There are a few things I need to send out this morning, but, generally, I try not to send anything out on the Friday before a long holiday weekend, because it’s unfair to dump a bunch of stuff in someone’s inbox before the holiday (in my opinion), unless that’s the deadline, and even if I’d rather get it off my own desk.

I hope to be offline most of the weekend. I want to concentrate on finishing my latest review assignment, do the final pass on PLAYING THE ANGLES, make sure “Labor Intensive” is ready to release next week, revise a few more chapters on both SAVASANA AT SEA and THE FIX-IT GIRL. That should keep me busy for the next four days!

And, of course, finalizing the LOIs and the first marketing mailing for PLAYING THE ANGLES. The media kit is finished, and that will go out as part of the mailing.

There are a couple of short story ideas with which I’m playing, but I don’t know if I’ll get to draft any of them this weekend, with everything else that’s going on. Plus, I have to sit down and figure out the GDRs for the month. I will have September’s To Do List up next Tuesday.

I will continue to do what I can to help in the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. We’re being warned about possible danger from Hurricane Irma within the next week or so. I hope they’re wrong, and it stays well out to sea.

I love autumn, and I love September. I’m looking forward to a productive, creative month!

Have a great weekend.

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Published in: on September 1, 2017 at 9:08 am  Comments Off on Fri. Sept. 1, 2017: Start of a Productive Month  
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Monday, July 17, 2017: Breaking Points and New Covers

Monday, July 17, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy, humid, hot

Sometimes you go through a rough patch, which is what is happening right now.  It will cycle through, but it’s not fun while I’m in it.  This post is a bit on the downside; feel free to skip it.  Tomorrow, hopefully, will be a more upbeat day!  But it does deal with some of the more stressful and unpleasant realities of the freelance life.

Stressful weekend. The life stress has been very, very bad, ramped up to a height where I’m ready to break under it, and, added to that, the last few days were filled with creative stress (the wrong kind) as well.

Some creativity in there, too, but stressful.

Two of the interview subjects (with big name associations) who’d promised to have their information back to me by Friday for one of the articles didn’t. Which meant on Saturday, I had to nag — something I hate. Because let’s face it, it’s not “follow up”, it’s nagging, and if you say you’re going to do something by a certain date, do it. Don’t just not get in touch. One of them suddenly said she was too busy to take the TEN MINUTES to answer the questions. No, honey, you’re not “too busy”. You either don’t want to share your knowledge, or you suck at time management.  Either one is your choice, and I respect it; perhaps you’re trying to be polite with the “too busy”, but I read your subtext.  Moving on!

The other sent the answers, and they’re very good, so they go in to the article.

Three other interview subjects never bothered to get back to me. Two of them were businesses related to the topic of the article with whom I considered doing business in the next few months. I’ve changed my mind. If they can’t answer a few basic questions, they’re not getting any dollars from me.  The third non-response was rather expected; it was a stretch, and I had the feeling that organization wasn’t about to share information. It proved something I suspected.

I thought the cover for PLAYING THE ANGLES was all set, but now I’m having second thoughts. I’m afraid the cover is too bright and peppy for paranormal romantic suspense. The cover has to properly represent and support the story; the image was more appropriate for one of the pieces in development.

The designer and I worked up a new cover this morning, and I like it much better. So that’s a load off – it combines theatre, moonlight, and gives a sense of suspense.

I did some work on the galleys; I’m working on the series bible as I work through the galleys, so that I’ll have it ready when I go back to finish SPIRIT REPOSITORY.  Tracking details is so important.  This past weekend, I saw a post from a writer who asked her readers a consistency question because she couldn’t remember and didn’t feel like looking back through her own work.  I was shocked.  That’s the WRITER’S job — keep a Series Bible, for crying out loud.  I was further surprised because it’s the only series this particular writer works on; I’d understand more if she was juggling multiple series.

Worked on SAVASANA AT SEA. While the pace of the last draft is decent, I had to dumb down a bunch of stuff in the previous draft for the previous team, and I want to figure out a way to put back some of the more interesting items I was forced to cut. The new editor and I are working on that together. The manuscript, as it stood, was only 70K, so there’s room for a few thousand more words, as long as they don’t hurt the pace.

Did more Lavinia Fontana research. I’m getting an idea of the characters I want to include. So much of her life was handled by men; even though she is the central character, there will be a lot of male roles in the piece. I need to find at least one patron or wife of a patron so she’s got a good female character to play off of.

Outlined a new idea and wrote about twenty pages on it, so that the characters would shut up and let me think about other things. There’s potential in the piece, but I’m not sure when or how to fit it in. There are several pieces with potential that have to get back on the schedule and have to get finished, polished, and out.

“The Ramsey Chase” media kit is almost ready to go. PLAYING THE ANGLES media kit is almost finished. I updated the Q & A to reflect what’s changed in the re-release. I finished drafting the fiction section of the overall Devon Ellington media kit. I’m about to start work on the nonfiction section.

I have to figure out how to do subdomains for both the Coventina Circle series and the Nautical Namaste series. I have the right to the subdomains from my host, but I can’t use the website builder for any more projects without being charged extra — and they just raised my hosting fees AND told me that I have to pay every month, instead of quarterly. I’m out of available web pages to add on my main Devon Ellington site — unless I agree, again, to a higher monthly fee. Not that they’re giving me the services supposedly included in my package. But I can’t afford to switch hosts right now. I should be able to create pages and upload them as ftp files, except the host won’t give me the correct code to get into my ftp manager. Because 1and1.com is one of the worst hosts out there. I’ve been talking about moving hosts for years; as soon as I have enough money so to do, I have to do it, because they are costing me so much in lost revenue every single month and they REFUSE to provide customer service when something goes wrong. They are just awful. Unfortunately, right now I’m trapped. I have to stay, because I can’t afford to move, even though staying is costing me lost income. They know it, and they’re screwing me even worse than usual.

Sunday, I worked on the article and its sidebar, and worked on a couple of pitches that have to go out today. Most of Sunday was devoted to the article. The initial draft, with all the information waaaay above my allotted word count. I cut nearly 1000 words, and I was still over, by a good deal. I contacted my editor and asked if there was wiggle room — and got it. While I don’t want to take advantage, and will try to cut some more, I am grateful that she trusts me so much.

I think I found a new market for a rejected short story. I’m irritated that there’s been no response to a follow-up I sent on a couple of pitches, where I’ve worked for the publication before and the editor seemed to like me. I’m even more irritated that now I have one late payment that’s a month late and another going on two months. Not acceptable AT ALL. I have bills to pay; I need to be paid on time, PER CONTRACT, not if and when you happen to get around to it.

Did several loads of laundry on Sunday, too.  Carry wood, chop water.  It keeps things in perspective.  Managed to deadhead some of the tiger lilies, too.

This morning, I mowed, did a grocery store run, finished a review and submitted it, submitted two short stories and a pitch. I have to write some follow up letters that might negate my original pitch, but I can’t wait any longer for an answer. I can’t be in limbo any longer with vague, “yes, you’re hired and we’ll get back to you.” To top it all off, I have a migraine.

I’m supposed to do something for a pro-positivity site I was invited to join, but I’m not finding much that’s positive right now. I’m being run into the ground, without recompense.

I posted a couple of upbeat things on Facebook and Twitter in honor of the day’s theme, but that’s all I can do.

However, the new cover for PLAYING THE ANGLES has cheered me up.

I just have to dig deeper and find a way to make things work.  Maybe I’ll sing the “Cranky Pants” song and it will help me get over myself!

Tomorrow will be better!

Mon. July 10, 2017: “Ramsey Chase” release & lots of writing

Ransey Chase Cover 2 Small

Monday, July 10, 2017
Last Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

“The Ramsey Chase” releases today, and I’m excited! Read an excerpt here. Buy links here.

Busy weekend.

Friday, I worked on the story for the hospitalized teen. I wrote about 2500 words, about 1/3 to 1/2 of the piece. Originally, it was supposed to be 500 words, but it grew.

Saturday, I sat down after breakfast to write 1000 words on INITIATE, before getting back to everything else I needed to do. When I next looked up, it was dinner time and I’d written nearly 30 pages (about 7500 words). But then, that’s what this particular piece does to me. Whenever I work on it, it becomes an all-consuming obsession.

I also managed to do some work on the proposals that need to go out this morning, and on the new essay that’s also going out. I’m frustrated because now two payments (one quite large, that I need for July’s bills) are now nearly three weeks late. At least I have a good shot at an interesting project meeting next week, that could lead to something long-term.

Sunday morning, I wrote another 15 pages (approximately 3750 words) on INITIATE. I finished a challenging section, and can now move on to the next section, which will also be a challenge, in its own way. Two more big chunks, and the part of the tale that will be broken down into WRAIG MATURE will be drafted. Then comes the INITIATE section that inspired the title, and then the KNIGHT WITCH section, which is a huge and complex undertaking.

I drafted an essay, which I polished this morning, and off it goes. I found a new market for an essay that was rejected, and that goes off; I have questions that need to be answered before I can polish and send off the serial pitch. I have questions and follow-ups on several fronts. A contract expires in the next few days, and I won’t extend — I want to take the work in a different direction.

Still need the Hearst Castle books, but can’t extend them any further, so have to send them back and then re-order them.

Worked on the Devon Ellington media kit and the “Ramsey Chase” media kit. Worked on the story for the hospitalized teen. Worked on scheduling issues for PLAYING THE ANGLES, the Gwen Finnegan books, and the Sophie Batchelder books. Prepped some queries to go out for DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. Made lists of everything that has to get done today.

And, of course, I have to mow!

Had weird dreams last night, about helping someone move. We kept having to cross through a narrow, brick-lined courtyard filled with garden gnomes. Wonder what the heck that means!

Mowing, admin work, and then, back to the page. I want to finish the story for the teen in the next day or two and send it off. I’m feeling the time pressure, because I want it to do her some good. However, it also has to be good quality to be worth anything.

Published in: on July 10, 2017 at 9:05 am  Comments Off on Mon. July 10, 2017: “Ramsey Chase” release & lots of writing  
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Thurs. June 15, 2017: Tightening Deadlines and Ridiculous Request of the Day (RRD)

Personal Revolution Cover

Thursday, June 15, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Promotion starts today for “Personal Revolution”, a short mystery set in a town near Concord, MA, that takes place around Independence Day. It’s only 99 cents, available on Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, and more.

Blurb:
When a man is hanged from the oak tree in a Redcoat uniform at an historic house just before the Independence Day program, Glenda is determined to both solve the murder and protect the newly-opened museum. What she finds is much darker — and more personal — than she bargained.
(End blurb)

I hope you enjoy it. I’m playing with the idea of doing more with these characters.

Yesterday seems very far away, somehow. Maybe it was all those mass shootings, and the ridiculous and irresponsible way they were covered by the press.

What did I do yesterday? Sent out some pitches. Worked on the 30 second script. Did more research for the article that I hope to finish, polish, and get out the door today. Checked email incessantly to see if another pitch was accepted (haven’t heard back yet). Looked at a website that’s been fallow for the past few years, with an eye to starting up that platform again.

The Ridiculous Request of the Day was from an “author” who “generously offered” (his words) to pay me $350 to do a line edit on his “blockbuster” novel — that runs 120,000 words. Um, no. 120,000 words breaks down to 480 pages in Standard Manuscript Format, and I bet his wasn’t. Bet it’s single-spaced. Sweetie, $350 gets you to page 70, and I’m on the low end of the editing price range. It’s not “generous”. It’s not even a professional rate. Plus, I’m taking on very few of that type of editing client — more for scripts than for novels at this point, unless it’s at the top of my rate. Now, I am sympathetic to someone’s tight budget. But don’t boast it’s a “blockbuster” (because if it was, you’d be under contract to an agent and one of the Big 5). Look for an editor where appropriate to your budget, such as a grad student in English, who can both use the cash AND potentially use it for credit in an independent study.

On a happier note, “The Ramsey Chase”, the first Cornelia True/Roman Gray adventure, will be ready for re-release sooner than I expected. The cover design will be done soon, and I should have the galleys shortly for a final proof read.

However, that means that I have to have the opening of the second Cornelia True/Roman Gray adventure ready to pop into the back of it, have the darned thing outlined, and meet a deadline for its release!

Considering that I also have to get moving on the next Twinkle Tavern comic mystery, which needs to be ready to release by Labor Day, that’s a new (but positive) pressure. That will feature the characters from “Plot Bunnies” and release under the Ava Dunne name.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Cornelia and Roman. It’s a satirical fantasy/adventure series, involving time travel and an alternate universe that’s somewhat familiar and somewhat not. There’s a wry, arch tone to it that’s a blast to write. I have a lot of fun turning genre formula inside out with it, and making pointed social commentary. When first released, in 2008, it was kind of relevant; it’s even more relevant now.

We’re also in talks to set the re-release date for Playing the Angles (which used to be Assumption of Right, or, as I joked, When Bad Titles Attack). Early October is looking good, with The Spirit Repository then releasing in May of 2018. This means we have to make sure the cover is ready sometime in July. Since we’ve been having difficulty finding the right cover image, that worries me.

I should have mowed yesterday, but didn’t. So guess what I had to do first thing today? Yup, side yard needs it.

So, there were two mass shootings yesterday in the country, one on the East Coast, one on the West. The UPS shooting is hardly getting any coverage, because only ordinary people were hurt and/or killed. The one involving a Congressman, a lobbyist, and other political types is getting attention, because of the GOP’s propaganda machine. The two Capitol police personnel who put themselves in the line of fire are being mostly ignored, while politicians who weren’t even there are tearful about their own “narrow escape.” The press is covering it irresponsibly, as usual. The GOP is blaming the left, because the shooter volunteered on the Sanders campaign. Of course, the fact that the Narcissistic Sociopath repeatedly incited and encouraged violence during his campaign and actually called for Hillary Clinton’s assassination is being ignored. As is the fact that the GOP is the party who votes to allow the mentally ill access to guns (because they expect shooting victims to be outside their own party — yesterday shocked them because they think only unarmed liberals will be shot). Paul Ryan is being lauded for the speech he gave on the floor; people are saying it was wonderful. I disagree. For the man who is determined to make inhuman cuts to healthcare, Social Security, Medicare and food stamps to declare “We don’t shed our humanity when we enter the Chamber” is hypocrisy. It’s typical of Lyin’ Ryan, but it is still hypocrisy.

They all make me sick.

On that not-so-happy note, I need to go and mow, and then it’s back to the page, because, no matter what the external stresses, I have to keep showing up at the page and getting it done.

Don’t forget to hop over to the GDR site, where I have the mid-month check-in posted. I can’t believe we’re half way through June!

Published in: on June 15, 2017 at 9:39 am  Comments Off on Thurs. June 15, 2017: Tightening Deadlines and Ridiculous Request of the Day (RRD)  
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Wed. April 2, 2014: Cover Reveal and a Busy Month

tnLakeJustice

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and milder

You know what that is, above? My cover for the ghost story, “Lake Justice”, which will be released soon from Amber Quill Press. Isn’t it cool? The cover artist totally got what the story’s about. I’m a happy camper.

Well, yesterday was a challenge. Lots of good, hard work. Not a lot of pitches. Worked on client projects, am in negotiations for a big project that would be both fun and lucrative. Shook my head in dismay when someone wanted to hire me for a gig “immediately”, demanded an hourly (rather than a per-page) rate, and when I gave it, said it was too high (it was already under market rate for the technical type of work demanded). When I said sorry it didn’t work out and wished him well, I got an email screaming at me for not lowering the rate. Um, no. My rate is my rate, and I am not obligated to work for less because someone has a complicated project and doesn’t want to pay. If you don’t want to pay someone else fairly to do it for you, for their skills, then do it your damn self and shut the fuck up. Don’t yell at someone for not lowering their rate to suit you.

Did the media kit for “Lake Justice”, added it to my website, to the blog page “The Stories”, and created a new Facebook page for short fiction. I’m waiting for the edits and the release date, and then I can get going on promotion.

Worked on the media kit for my client; will do more of that today. The information I asked for is coming in, and I’m doing a rough layout, so I can then pop in the material.

Worked on contest entries; got the information on another contest I’m judging; heard from my editor about the next batch of books on the way; one of the props I need for the show shipped and I’m hoping it arrives before Friday’s rehearsal.

Will have a post up on the garden journal later today, and have to get to work on the gardening articles due by the end of the month, and the next post for the wine blog. Also, need to get some of my own writing done.

The editing intensive winds up this week, and I’m glad. April is a crazy busy month!

Devon

Published in: on April 2, 2014 at 8:11 am  Comments (1)  
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

The days are flying by so fast! Part of that is because the writing is going really well, which is a good thing. I still have to rearrange my schedule to bring in some more short turn-around paying projects, but I don’t want to tip the strong writing rhythm that I’ve got right now.

Someone else dropped out of the year-long, and I had to hear about it third hand, which annoyed me more than the actual quitting. Acting with professionalism and grace costs nothing. Slinking away like a coward does not serve anyone. The expectations were set out at the beginning of class, and even earlier, during the application process. If anything, I scaled back some of the requirements and there are STILL people who thought it was too much work? What did they think writing a novel in a year-long INTENSIVE is? A vacation? A fluffy-bunny-white-light-kumbaya?

Well, that’s life. People never stop surprising you, and it keeps things interesting, right?

I’m glad I went to the meditation workshop on Friday night, although it was very different from the way I prefer to practice. It’s good to try new techniques, because until you try it, you can’t know whether or not it works. It was a little too much “guided” and not enough “mediation” for me. It’s hard to be “one with the silence” when you’re being yapped at all the time. And the leader had us OPEN our chakras, but not CLOSE them again, which I find dangerous. I closed mine, as is my practice when I do chakra cleansings or balancings, but it should have been part of the guidance. It’s unhealthy to walk around with totally open chakras. You’ll get whomped.

Wrote a lot, spent time with students, worked on the Harry Potter lectures. The class starts today and runs for the week. It should be really, really fun. I bet most of the people who signed up even read the books! It’s my last deconstruction class for the foreseeable future, and I think it’s a good one to wind things up with.

Put together the hard copies of media kits that have to go out in the coming weeks. I’m sending out some today, and dropping off several at local places that have interest in my work later today. I’m researching local book groups and putting together a proposal for them, too.

It’s supposed to be warmer today, which means I’ll get to work in the yard. I want to get most of the front mowed and tidied up. If everything work out, this will be the last mowing I need to do until spring. It will take me four or five sessions to get it all done, especially if the mower continues its wonkiness, But then, I’ll just need to keep up with the raking.

Re-read the ENCHANTMENT PLACE anthology edited by Denise Little. It’s a lot of fun. I was laughing out loud as I read some of the stories.

Put together another bookcase that will live in my room and hold urban fantasy, etc. There’s just enough room for it. Now, I think I’ve run out of space for bookcases in that room, as big as it is!

We’re still getting tomatoes and eggplants and strawberries from the plants under the grow lights, so all is good.

Should be a busy hearth-and-home week this week. I’ve also got to try a couple of lasagna recipes. I’m always responsible for the meal for the family in Maine on the night before Thanksgiving, and this year they’ve requested lasagna. Which I’ve never made before. So I want to do a couple of test runs!

I turned down a book contract this morning. I’ve been worrying over it for awhile now. It’s simply not the right fit. There were some red flags, and I ran it past my lawyer, who flat out said, “No way.” I’d done research on the company before I submitted, but once I looked at the paperwork they sent me, the warning bells sounded, and my gut told me it wasn’t the right fit. Better to bow out now gracefully than to get frustrated and miserable during the process. It’s always a risk to say no, but in this case, I think it serves everyone — including that publisher — the best. Scary, risky, but I want to re-think the approach on this series and try something else.

Devon

Today’s word count: 2985
Total word count: 64,684