Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Dreary and cool

Stop by Diane Parkin’s blog today and read her interview with me (“The Evolution of Dixie and Jenny”), and visit Hywela Lyn’s blog for another stop on the DIXIE DUST tour!

Thanks to both of you for being such lovely and gracious hosts.

There was so much hail in New Jersey yesterday that people were out (in their shorts) with snow shovels!

For some reason, I couldn’t shake off my fatigue and lethargy yesterday. I scanned the job boards. There was some good material, but it was site work, and too far away for me. Still, it was nice to see a better quality of work up there.

Worked on the DIXIE DUST postcard mailing. The first list is almost complete and ready. As soon as I’ve got the second wave compiled, that should go out in a week or so.

Designed the postcard for Fearless Ink. It’s a first wave post-card, going out as part of a mass-mailing, different than the targeted list with the brochure. I also have to design a second card, that’s the follow-up card to the targeted mailing. I need to find scored, colored postcard stock. Any ideas? All the colored stock I’ve found is unscored. Me with a paper cutter and three curious cats? Now that’s an accident waiting to happen. I’d rather used scored cards.

Struggled with the write up for Confidential Job #1. I know what I want to say, but I’m not saying it well.

Worked on client projects, but it was slower going than I expected, and not because of the projects, but because my brain felt unfocused, so eventually I put it aside. My clients deserve SHARP focus.

I’m getting caught up on my filing and excavating my desk. Once the PC is done, I’ll have a desk back so I can work — right now, I use the Macbok on the part of the desk that used to house the PC keyboard, while the old monitor dominates the desk. I think I’ll put the monitor up on Freecycle eventually, with a bunch of other things, remove the hard drive, and then take the tower to the next county electronics recycling day. My old PC in storage also needs to go. Now that I know HOW to remove a hard drive, it’s not such a big deal. Plus, since I won’t need the damned thing once the transfer is complete, I don’t have to stress about screwing something up.

Pulled off a bunch more stuff from the PC, converted short stories from floppies, etc. The PC crashed every 6 or 7 minutes and took approx. 18-22 minutes to reboot. I HATE it. I can’t wait to be done with Dell for good. What a piece of crap. Not to mention that the older Microsoft programs can’t even be read by the newer ones. If I thought about all the lost time and productivity over the past years, because I never bit the bullet and got a Mac before this year, I could just kill myself. It’s amazing I ever managed to get ANYTHING out to a publisher or an editor.

By 3:30, I was feeling pretty lousy, and cancelled out of that evening’s workshop. It’ll come around again in a month or so, so I haven’t lost my opportunity forever. I had a quiet night, eating lots of vegetables, drinking juice, going to bed early. I feel a little better this morning, but still not all that sharp. I figure if I don’t push too hard for the next few days, I should get my feet back under me and be fine. Everything really starts to accelerate next week, so slowing down a bit this week and building up my reserves makes sense.

I have a big grocery shopping trip today (possibly to Trader Joe’s as well as to the usual store. I’m trying some great recipes this week, and I’m very excited.

I plan to clear some client projects off my desk this afternoon, and then spend a few days this week focused primarily on my fiction.

I worry that I’m spending so much time on re-organization and admin and workshops and all that, but, if I do it now, and reconfigure my workspace and my files and everything, it will streamline the rest of the year and help me be more productive.

Oh, and Chase Bank gets yet another Middle Finger Award. Yeah, like that’s a surprise.

Anyway, I better get going. I want to get a lot done early in the day and then rest. in spite of feeling under the weather last night, I pushed through my workout, and, once I was done, I was glad I did. During it, I wasn’t so sure, but it was the right choice.

Before I go to DC next week, I’m going to upload all the photos on the camera so far to the computer, just in case something goes wonky through one of the security areas. i fI lose the photos from the day, I’ll be sad, but I’ll deal. But if I lose everything I’ve put on the card so far, I’ll be very upset. So I’ll back it up first.

I’m going to Target in the next week or so. I need more bins, and, as I finish with the boxes of floppies, I’ll stash them in a bin and take them to storage. More room for the stuff I actually use! There’s going to be a lot of cleaning out of things over the next few months!

The fix Canon sent me for the little printer worked, and I printed out what I have of CRAVE THE HUNT, the Billy Root piece, so I can get back to it this week. I hadn’t realized how much I’d written. This will be the biggest book of the series so far. It’s kind of a turning point for several characters, so it makes sense.

Back to the page.

Devon

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Oooh, Dell, Microsoft, McAfee, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

The McAfee causes upwards of 5 computer crashes per day. It is out of control and it hates TweetDeck. McAfee cost me over $3K in lost work time during March. Unbelievable. And I can’t remove it from the computer. And now this piece of Dell crap – the space bar flew off the keyboard. I put it back on, but it’s wonky and I have to pound the bar to create spaces. My thumb is bruised, and I can only type for a few minutes at a time. I’m NOT buying a new keyboard when I plan to get a new computer.

It’s appalling that these companies are allowed to get away with the crap they pull.

And, I’m having flash drive problems, probably connected to the Microsoft/McAfee problems.

Before yet more computer problems, I managed to get some proofreading done on ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, submit a short story, and get out a query on a project. So it wasn’t an entirely lost day.

Now, it looks like Iris might have to go to the vet, poor thing. Not exactly sure what’s wrong with her, but something’s not right. Will watch her closely for the next few days. She seems okay this morning – hopefully it’s all resolved.

I had a good morning’s writing session in longhand. I will try typing wearing a thimble on my thumb, because otherwise I can’t type. Middle Finger Award to Dell for both substandard merchandise and their refusal to honor the service contract.

Now, for the great news: The submission I made yesterday was accepted. BOOKS FOR MONSTERS bought “The Retriever”. Woo-hoo! Got the contract this morning; already sent it back.

Devon

Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 7:02 am  Comments (10)  
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Okay, it’s the middle of April and there’s still frost on the car windows in the mornings. That’s just wrong!

Yesterday was another odd, interesting day. On the positive side, I spent most of the day working on the play, FEMME FATALE. Act I was hard – I don’t know why, but I had a terrible time with it. I realized I had to introduce the faux villain earlier for it to make sense – the actual villain’s intro still works. I planted a few red herrings, worked in a few surprises, but it took me all morning to finish the act. I started working on Act II in the afternoon, which is much easier. I have a clearer idea of what I want, the dialogue sparkles, the layers are mostly there, it’s chugging along quite nicely.

On the negative side, in the afternoon, I started having computer problems again. I wound up with seven computer crashes. SEVEN. Some of them were caused by McAfee. Some of them were simply because Microsoft and Dell suck.

On the odd/interesting side, I’d downloaded TweetDeck the day before. There are things I like about it and things I don’t. I still need to use the old version sometimes, especially first thing in the morning, when I’ve been off the computer all night; TweetDeck only allows me to scroll down for a finite period & I can’t catch up on everything I’ve missed. But it’s easier to send a message, shorten an URL, track incoming messages, all that. So, using both works.

However, I was Tweeted approximately every 14 seconds. That gets a little distracting. I had the Deck open most of the day, and it pings when a new message comes in. I can see where that can be a time suck. I didn’t mind during Act I, because it was such a struggle, but it got annoying during Act II. Today, I’ll go back to just checking in occasionally.

And, McAfee HATES TweetDeck. The McAfee kept hijacking the Deck and the entire computer and bringing it down. For awhile there, after all the Conficker updates, McAfee was behaving itself, but this week, it’s back to the same old crap. And, of course, neither their Customer Disservice Department nor the Executive Office can be bothered to even respond to the complaints. However, the BBB has, and I appreciate it. The complaints will continue (as will the invoices for lost work time) until it is resolved to my satisfaction.

I made a pitch to an Australian magazine. I’d come across it a few days ago and sent an introductory email. They responded, so I responded back, and we’ll see from there where it goes. I really like the magazine, the pay rate’s decent, and I’d like to be involved with them. We’ll see how it goes.

The sci-fi book surprised me yesterday, in a good way. I’m getting a better idea of the overall structure and plot for this particular novel. The subplots were clear before the plot, which is weird, but hey, one of the things I’ve tried to strengthen in my work over the past few months is the use of subplot. This is where scriptwriting is useful – you need to weave in at least one “B” storyline succinctly into a finite number of pages (especially for a television script). Learning how to do that and then apply it to a novel helps.

I realized this morning that I shut off my phone a few days ago when I went to the library and left it off. Oops.

Some errands, and it looks like a nice day. I think I can walk to all of them, so I will alternate writing sessions with errands and split up my day a bit.

I had a reasonably pleasant exchange with building management yesterday and the hot water was back a little before noon.

DAUGHTER OF BOSTON shipped yesterday. I can’t wait to receive it and read it!

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 16, 2009 at 6:09 am  Comments (3)  
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

The sun is out, the birds are singing, it’s warm enough to only wear shirt sleeves – could it be that spring really will start this week?

Thanks for the St. Patrick info, Lori. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know about him. I only know I refuse to work in the city on St. Patrick’s Day because Metro North allows the drunks to harass the commuters on the train, and it’s not worth it.

I’ve got an article on The Scruffy Dog Review called “Where’s the Work?” Stop by and leave a comment if you get a chance.

I’ve set off AIG comments, so if you don’t want to read them, skip down:
More AIG madness, with one of the best articles in yesterday’s LONDON TIMES (a reliable source):

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/banking_and_finance/article5926545.ece

Thank goodness we have Andrew Cuomo. He’s not waiting around while Congress drags its collective feet.

Abby, the reason these (word deleted because it was beyond rude) weren’t fired as soon as they started losing the company money is because Reagan began the deregulation that created the environment to allow this financial rape. Pay is not connected to competence, but to the amount of paperwork generated; the execs saw the opportunity for millions in personal profit and to hell with everyone else. United Auto Workers are told to take pay cuts or else. The AIG execs get a million dollars apiece for doing far worse to their companies – running them into the ground – whereas auto workers actually made cars, created something tangible. It’s not the auto workers’ fault that they were instructed to make gas-guzzling behemoths that couldn’t be sustained in an economy. Auto workers don’t make the decisions as to what’s built at a plant. But it IS the fault of the execs for writing policies that they knew couldn’t be sustained. Again, it’s an example of the direction towards medieval feudal society this country headed over the past years: If you’re rich and corrupt, you are rewarded; if you work for a living, you’re kicked in the teeth. NO MORE.

Lori, thanks for your comments. For those of you who don’t know, Lori has enormous experience writing about the insurance industry. She knows of which she speaks.

We need to remain outraged and keep pressure on those elected to represent us. If all we do is bitch and moan at home, nothing will happen. TAKE ACTION. Or shut up. Whining doesn’t solve the problem. Doing something does, and yes, we as citizens have the power to fix this, if we choose to use it. Believe me, I’ve been shooting off the emails every day. And, we need to call out the hypocrites who now pretend outrage for measures they allowed in the first place. We need Edward Liddy out, we need all those executives banned from ever working in the financial industry again (and those who knowingly wrote policies that couldn’t be covered, which, I’m sure, is all or almost all, jailed), and Hank Paulson punished. I want the list of the executives who received the bonuses MADE PUBLIC. It is our money; we have the right to know where it went.

Back to my daily life:
I forgot to comment on Monday’s episode of CASTLE in yesterday’s blog. Guess that’s how much it impressed me. 😉 Again, I like the leads. I could tell the production moved back to shoot in LA, rather than continuing to shoot in NY, and that turns me off. Got ahead of the story most of the time, and there were a few places, especially near the beginning, where you could see the actors working too hard to make the material pass. I was pleased that, in the Big Reveal scene and the final scene, they avoided a couple of cliché traps, although, early in the episode, they walked right into a few. I’m still very much on the fence with this show. I like Nathan Fillion’s work a lot (as I mentioned last week, it took awhile for him to win me over with his work, but now that he has, I’m loyal). I’m becoming a fan of Stana Kavic’s work, and I like them together. I’m not entirely satisfied with the writing, but again, I wonder how much of the script is watered down by the network. Fillion’s definitely on the list of people I’d like to work with someday – the odd details he puts into the work make me want to throw some unusual material his way just to see what he does with it. Of course, we’d need to find a context where we’re both paid! 

Computer troubles curtailed some of yesterday’s work. That was frustrating; I’ll make up for it today. My Microsoft decided I’m not longer “allowed” to create new folders in which to save files on my flash drive. Even though I’m only using half the drive’s space.. Microsoft can BITE ME.

I was worried I’d lose the revisions of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, so I sent backups to the three different accounts to which I always send backups.

Rewrote “Ris an Abrar” – I thought I found a spot for it. I see why it was rejected from the anthology to which I originally targeted it – there were some stupid mistakes in it. Hopefully, I’ve fixed most of what’s wrong with it, and I have to take a couple of scenes farther. Going over it again, I see that it IS the first chapter of a novel, whether I want it to be or not. There’s too much story to fit into a short story, so I’m going to put it aside and deal with it when it pulls strongly again.

I came up with an idea for the slot into which I planned to stuff “Ris an Abrar” into – now that it won’t fit, no matter what. I need to percolate it for a few more days, but the deadline for this anthology is coming up quickly, so I need to buckle down and do it or pass on it.

Got my next assignment from Confidential Job #1. I’m glad – it looks interesting. They’re definitely sending me the more challenging material crossing their desks lately. I don’t mind – although yesterday I was definitely more in the mood for brain candy!

I’m learning how to utilize Twitter. I’ll never be Uber-Marketer – that’s not my style. And I don’t go on and off it all day. I check it once or twice a day, tweet if I’ve got something to say or need to ask a question, catch up on tweets for a few minutes, and I’m done. I’ve met some interesting people with whom I might not have otherwise crossed paths. We’ll see. I’m cautiously optimistic.

The other anthology story’s percolated enough so I’m ready to write. Again, there’s a lot of story there, but I’m pretty sure I can pick and choose what’s strongest for this particular piece.

By the weekend, I hope to get back to both The Big Project and ANGEL HUNT.

We’ll see – a lot will depend on how the computer runs and how much client work I can clear off.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on March 18, 2009 at 7:48 am  Comments (5)  
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January 2, 2009

first-feel-cover-thumbnail

Friday, January 2, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowy and cold

The Jain Lazarus short story, “First Feet” is available as a free download. You can read an excerpt and then download it here.

I’m sorry it took me so long to get it up. I’m having horrible computer problems. It’s the same old refrain: Dell, Microsoft, and NitroPDF all suck, and I lose half my working day because these dishonorable companies, who are quick to take consumer money, do not honor their side of the contract, which is to supply products that WORK.

It will be good to get my new computer, and to hell with all of them.

Anyway, I’m happy with “First Feet”. It much more light-hearted than some of the other Jain Lazarus stories, yet gives more about everyone’s background, and when you read OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK and the Billy Root story (that I begin tomorrow), you’ll go, “Oh, yeah, that goes back to ‘First Feet’.” At the same time, you don’t NEED to read any of them to enjoy each one separately.

I had a good couple of days, in spite of losing more than half my workday yet again today due to computer problems.

The weather was pretty bad on New Year’s Eve – a twenty minute drive took me an hour and a half. I was kind of shocked at how bad the roads were once I crossed the border into Connecticut. But I got there, unloaded the food, and prepared the h’ors d’oeuvres. (Five bags of food). Good thing I did, because the power went out. Fortunately, the fireplace is gas (wood-burning is better in my opinion, but beggars can’t be choosers) and the gas stove still worked, so we weren’t completely lost.

The power came back on a few hours later, which was a relief. It would have been a cold, dark night otherwise. They’re not big on candles or flashlights at this house. Good thing I always keep my Mag light in my bag.

We enjoyed a good chat by the fire with wine and cheese mid-afternoon. We had a fairly early supper (the salmon in mustard-wine sauce with spinach and mashed potatoes). And wine. Buche de Noel for dessert. At 8:30, we had the traditional herring salad – only, because I can’t stand herring, I mixed it with chopped egg, scallion, and sour cream. If I say so myself, it wasn’t bad. With more wine, of course.

We brought out the devilled eggs and the smoked salmon/spinach appetizers around 11, along with the champagne and happily kicked 2008 out the door, welcoming in 2009. I am so READY for a new year.

I was up early the next morning, grateful for a few minutes of peace and quiet to do my yoga. The past few years, I’ve been so used to going on yoga retreats that a grown-up house party weekend felt odd. I’m not used to being around people for such a stretch, even people I like.

Anyway, we had a big bacon-and-eggs breakfast, complete with more champagne (either with orange juice or cranberry, depending on what people wanted). We watched The Tournament of Roses Parade, always one of my favorites, while I prepared the duck.

I roasted the duck with a combination of fennel, shallot, and rosemary – quite good. The mashed potatoes were such a hit it was requested to have mashed potatoes again instead of roasted potatoes – no problem. And steamed green beans with hollandaise. And, of course, more wine. And more of the Buche de Noel for dessert.

It quickly came back to me how much I hate taking the remainder of the duck off the bone; next time, I may go to the butcher and ask just for duck breasts and duck legs instead of the whole duck.

Some of the rest of them stayed to watch football, but I packed up and came home in the late afternoon. The cats had plenty to tell me, and, frankly, I was tired. I had a good workout session at night and just took it easy. I don’t have an alcohol-related hangover, because I drank very little over long stretches of time; but I’ve got a food hangover. Thirty-six hours focused on food and drink.

In spite of everything, I managed over a thousand words on the Lucy Gothic project while I was gone.

Had a slow start this morning, but did my yoga and set back to work getting “First Feet” up. It was ready to go, it was just a case of the computer freezing, locking files, refusing to upload, Nitro PDF refusing to open, etc., etc., etc. for about six hours.

Oy.

But the story’s up. I think I’m going to take a break before I tackle another file, an article file that’s on deadline and with which I’m also having trouble, due to technical difficulties beyond my control.

I’ll make it an early night tonight, I think. It’s snowing again, which is fine with me, since I don’t have to go anywhere. I have a long weekend of writing ahead of me, but I have every intention of pacing myself.

The first set of answers to GDR questions will go up either later today or first thing tomorrow. Make sure you hop on over to the GDR site to take a look and post your answers to the questions, should you wish.

Devon

Friday, December 5, 2008

2stacys-christmas-blogfest-082

Friday, December 05, 2008
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was mostly a lost day; spent far too much time in the morning putting together something that needed to be done and doing other business. Ran some errands. My computer, as usual, sucks, isn’t running properly, and heaven forbid the programs actually do what I need them to do. Someday, hopefully in the not-so-distant future, I can purchase a real computer and dump this Dell/Microsoft piece of crap permanently.

I was hungry, and couldn’t think of anything more wonderful than a bacon sandwich. Let’s just say that was a really bad idea.

Sigh. Someday I’ll be well enough to eat properly again.

Too exhausted and nauseous to do much in the afternoon. I’ve been reading a lot during the last few days. I re-read Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice the other day. My mom is a huge Rosamunde Pilcher fan, and I love her depictions of both Cornwall and Scotland, since I’ve been to many of those places. Her books are soothing. She has a great sense of place, and she writes well about animals. I can also say the same about Marcia Willet’s A Week in Winter, which is also set in Cornwall, and includes an hilarious mastiff named Polonious. They’re what I would call “comfort books”.

PJ, thanks for the heads-up on the links to the books. That’s the third time Payloadz has given me the wrong link when I uploaded something, and I am not happy about it. But it should all be fine, and I appreciate so much you taking the time to hunt down the books. I hope you enjoy them! And, everyone else, now that the links are correct – check ‘em out! 😉

I did some work on the Maine project this morning. The premise/basic plot is pretty straightforward, but the character development, the scene detail and the sensory filling out – in other words, the things that will make this piece unique – take quite a bit of doing. In other words, the project is more complicated than I originally expected. But it feels right, so I just have to go with its natural rhythm.

I have to get back on track today, no matter how I feel. I am far too far behind on numerous things, and just have to catch up. I’m looking forward to an intense session for the revisions of OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. I haven’t talked about it much, because, for some reason, I feel as though I need to protect the work on it. But I think Jain and Wyatt’s fans will truly enjoy this book. Because it’s told through Wyatt’s eyes, the tone is a bit different, but you learn a lot about them.

Back to the page, and wondering if I can choke down some dry toast for breakfast.

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:

too-much-mistletoe-cover-thumbnail
NEW! Too Much Mistletoe A Nina Bell Holiday Mystery by Devon Ellington. Nina Bell is back! Still trying to make a living in the New York theatre world of the 1990s, she’s trying to figure out which is the bigger mystery – a college friend’s disappearance, or her ever-complicated love life, as every man she meets wants to hang mistletoe over her head. Read an excerpt here and purchase the story for only $2.99 USD here .

ramsey-chase-cover-thumbnail
NEW! “The Ramsey Chase” A Remarkable Adventure of Cornelia True and Roman Gray By Devon Ellington
Meet the adventurous Cornelia True of Bodwin’s Ferry, whose life changes forever when “fixer” Roman Gray lands naked in her petunias, and they combine forces to track down a serial killer determined to murder thirteen women in thirteen months for their blood, with his latest victim right there in Bodwin’s Ferry!
Only $1.49 USD for this 10K adventure, the very first Penny’s Dreadfuls release! Read an excerpt of the adventure here.
Purchase the story here.

THE JAIN LAZARUS ADVENTURES
Free limited download
“The Possession of Nattie Filmore: A Jain Lazarus Adventure” by Devon Ellington. If you loved HEX BREAKER, you’ll love spending time with Jain and Wyatt as they try to solve a haunted house mystery. Read an excerpt of the story and download it free here


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.

BOOKS FOR WRITERS
Sensory Perceptions: Techniques to Improve Your Writing Through the Six Senses by Devon Ellington. Use the six senses to take your writing to the next level via a series of sense-specific exercises. By the end of seven weeks, you complete seven short stories!. $1.29 USD. Here.


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:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
New Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Cold, rainy, raw

Lots of stuff to talk about today.

First:
HEX BREAKER got another good review, this one from Bitten By Books here.

Second, building on that good review, the Jain Lazarus ghost story is finally available for free download! You can read an excerpt of “The Possession of Nattie Filmore” and then download it as a PDF here.

Third, I’ve got the website up for the new project launching next month, a line of short fiction called Penny’s Dreadfuls, in homage to the penny dreadful tales. The website’s still rough and will get worked on over the next few weeks, but come and visit the Penny’s Dreadfuls site to get an idea of the types of stories we will feature.

Okay, that’s the big stuff.

I got my Breeders’ Cup article out in the morning, and I’ll let you know when it publishes. I spent most of the rest of the day building the Penny’s Dreadfuls site, which didn’t take all that long because, for once, my webhost worked properly most of the time, and I understood what I was doing.

I lost far too much time prepping the Jain Lazarus story. I designed several really cool covers, but if they worked in Word, they didn’t convert properly in NitroPDF. NitroPDF does not have the versatility they promised when I bought it, and was not worth the price. It’s a huge, huge, huge disappointment. I’ll have to limp along with it for now, but once I get the new computer system, I’m getting the full Adobe Creative Suite package. That will do what I need it to do (although learning it will be a challenge, I’m sure). Until I can afford that purchase, all of my covers, etc., have to remain very simple and very geometric. Hopefully, I can grow from cover to cover, as far as scanning and maybe getting more color in (the Nitro conversion refuses to hold either background color or photographs as background, even though I can layer, and watermarking doesn’t really work, either). I can’t hold headers and footers with my cute little page designs, nothing. And, of course, I’m angry, because before I bought the program, I asked all these questions and was PROMISED it could do all these things that it can’t. So, don’t waste your money on NitroPDF. Perhaps somewhere out there is a product that actually does what it advertises.

And, of course, Microsoft just sucks, and I’m tired of the computer taking up to 22 minutes to boot up and then sticking, freezing, and giving me that fucking little hourglass all the time before I have to shut it down and start over.

Thank you, Colin, for all your time and patience helping me figure it out and helping me with the download glitch.

Heaven forbid I should be able to capture the cover out of Adobe and convert it to a jpg so I could do a thumbnail of the cover. No, tomorrow I have to go out and get more color ink. Then I have to print the cover, then scan it into the computer and then mess with it until I have a thumbnail. Which is ridiculous. I should be able to open the fucking document, copy the cover page into whatever format I want, and then manipulate it, not do 16 steps for something that should take 2.

Eventually, I’ll be able to post the damned cover!

Of course, it’s much simpler than the really cool covers I designed, with the photograph as the background and the text overlay, or the two column design with the current cover photograph on one side and the text on the other with a pumpkin-colored background, but again, fucking Microsoft won’t let me do that for the very first page, you have to have columns either for the whole document or “from this point forward”. How about “this page only” you dumbasses? I HATE MICROSOFT.

And, of course, I’m totally stressed out and behind on everything else because I had to waste so much fucking time AGAIN on programs that don’t do what they promise. Seriously, I’m ready to start invoicing NitroPDF and Microsoft for wasting my time.

On a happier note, I’m humming along with my N3s, all of whom seem committed and eager to get going, and I’m putting the work into my own outline. Yeah, I’m nuts, but let’s face it, I’m not going to be happy sitting on the sidelines. I still don’t have a title, so for now, it’s the Untitled Helena Francis Mystery. I think that’s what I’m doing – I might change my mind on November 1.

I’m happy with the site for Penny’s Dreadfuls, and working away on “The Ramsey Chase”, which is a ton of fun. Cornelia and Roman are quite an interesting pair.

Today is the worst weather day of the week; of course, I have to go out in it. Isn’t that the way it always goes?

Sigh.

Back to the page.

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:

NEW!Sensory Perceptions: Techniques to Improve Your Writing Through the Six Senses by Devon Ellington. Use the six senses to take your writing to the next level via a series of sense-specific exercises. By the end of seven weeks, you complete seven short stories!. $1.29 USD. Here.


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.

Back By Popular Demand!
30 Tips for 30 Days: Kick Start Your Novel and Get Out of Your Own Way. A Nano Handbook by Devon Ellington. FREE!
If you’ve ever wondered whether or not you could survive National Novel Writing Month, this is the handbook for you! Ideas on preparations, setting goals, overcoming blocks, pushing yourself, tips for each day of the process, and ideas for going beyond, this handbook by veteran Nano-er Devon Ellington will help you survive. Best of all, it’s free! Download it here.
Limited time offer


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:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Well, I have a migraine, so not a great start to the day. Get through, it right? There’s way too much that needs to get done.

Chase Bank bites. Yesterday, I got pulled out of line by an Account Exec who made all these promises about these great changes in my account to reduce fees. Yeah, but they haven’t cleared my payroll check – which, I might add, is from another Chase account and has always cleared from Friday to Saturday – because I deposited several checks together, so they hold them ALL. I swear, they charge you every time you breathe, and every promise they make is a bait-and-switch to more fees they “forgot” to tell you about.

Chase Bank gets the Middle Finger Award for the week.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to move banks right now, because if you’re not throwing a ton of cash at them to open the account, they don’t want you.

The chat went really well last night. Lots of people, a lot of good questions.

Caught up on commenting on everyone’s exercises this morning. I’m way behind on my exercises for other workshops, so I want to get that done, and I have an idea for a couple more ebooks. Now, I just have to figure out when to slot them in!

Most of the conference has been great. Two of the instructors annoy me, because I get the feeling that they “don’t want to give it away for free.” In one, the exercises have been frustrating, but I figured I could learn something, that whole “work past your resistance/try something new”. However, the instructor doesn’t give individual feedback on how to APPLY what we do in the exercises, or why something works or doesn’t work. Just makes it clear she is available for private hire. The other instructor claims she didn’t know she was signed up to give a week long workshop – which is bullpucky, because we were sent emails over a course of many weeks with links to check our information, our virtual room, etc. and instructions on what to do if something was wrong or listed in the wrong spot or whatever. We had WEEKS to make sure it was accurate. There is no way this chick could “not know” unless she didn’t bother to check her information, and that is HER fault, no one else’s. In addition, she says she’s “too busy” to interact (which is a real slap in the face to conference goers, in my opinion), but again, available for private hire.

I tried the old “oh, there are different ways of teaching” philosophy. It doesn’t wash in this case, in my opinion. I’m sorry, but WHY would I spend money on either of those two when I’ve gotten NOTHING from them in their workshops but the hand out? And neither handout gave me any new or intriguing information? I can spend my money better elsewhere, on instructors who actually step up to the plate and to their jobs. Oh, and when you download the handout, you automatically are signed up for their email blasts. Guess who’s going to opt out first thing Monday morning?

And then there are the great workshops, like the short story one and the cozy workshop, and a couple of others where I just wandered in off the virtual street, so to speak, and ended up staying. Where the instructors interact, share information, encourage, point out where things could be stronger, are open to discussion and new ideas, ask interesting questions, and, in general, actually TEACH A WORKSHOP. I’ve developed material for two very different collections of short stories in the short story workshop. I’m developing material for the first book of what could be a series in the cozy workshop. I’ve gotten fresh ideas about website media rooms from another workshop, and gotten into interesting discussions about writing groups in yet another workshop.

And I’m so proud of many of my own students, who show progress over the course of the week. Several of them have ended up with a near-complete short story in the scene building optional exercises, and there have been some fascinating scenes posted in the daily exercises which I hope they take farther.

So there’s a lot of diversity here, which is part of what I think makes it such a good conference, and, in spite of some of the frustrating elements, a great overall experience.

I have so much writing to catch up on today, so I have to push past the headache and get to it. I have a feeling I will sleep in on Monday morning.

I lost hours of potential work time again yesterday due to computer kerflamma. And then, my Firefox decided to dump all my Favorites. Colin told me where to look for them, so, hopefully, I can restore them. Both Dell and Microsoft also receive Middle Finger Awards this week, although I’ve run out of hands and need to borrow someone else’s! 😉

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:

NEW!Sensory Perceptions: Techniques to Improve Your Writing Through the Six Senses by Devon Ellington. Use the six senses to take your writing to the next level via a series of sense-specific exercises. By the end of seven weeks, you complete seven short stories!. $1.29 USD. Here.


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:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Exhausted and frustrated. It should have taken me 45 minutes to convert the ebook, upload it to Payloadz and list it.

It took seven hours.

Because both NitroPDF and Microsoft suck.

I designed a gorgeous cover for the ebook, and was thrilled with it. And that’s thanks to the readers like Kalem who taught me how to create it in Word. Only, NitroPDF won’t hold it when it converts the file. Even though the sales fuck who sold it to me swore it did. Because, believe me, I had a LONG list of questions before I bought it and I made it very clear that if the answer to ANY of them was no, this product was not worth my time or money. And the sales staff lied. Gee, what a surprise. Not only that, unless you pay them more money for them to tell you that no, the program doesn’t REALLY do what the sales team promised, you can’t even ask questions past the first thirty days. They can bite me. So not only do they make false promises to get you to buy it, customer service is non-existent.

In other words, if you’re looking for a conversion program, I suggest you take your business to a company that actually gives a damn about its customers once they’ve parted them from the money. There must be one out there somewhere.

It wouldn’t let me import images, it wouldn’t let me set new backgrounds, it wouldn’t let me do any damn thing. It took me a few hours, but I finally managed to underlay a photo as a watermark that’s still not exactly what I wanted, it’s not the photo I wanted, but that was that.

Only then Microsoft failed and the whole system crashed and then Nitro wouldn’t open again. It seems it only opens ONCE PER DAY. Um, excuse me, but when I’ve BOUGHT the program, shouldn’t it open whenever I need it to?

I finally tricked it into opening, planning to keep it open for the rest of the day, because I had to do the newsletter and all that other stuff that needed to get done in and around the conference.

But Microsoft kept failing, freezing, then crashing. Over and over and over again. And I had to keep finding new ways to trick Nitro PDF into opening, which it only did about every third time Microsoft crashed.

I’m telling you, I’d be better off hacking this Dell piece of crap into tiny pieces and then driving back and forth over it with a Hummer. It would work better. NitroPDF, Microsoft, and Dell – useless.

Seven effing hours. For something I knew how to do, which should have taken 45 minutes.

But the ebook is up, called SENSORY PERCEPTIONS, and it’s a seven week course based on sense-specific exercises and layering them. At the end of seven weeks, you have seven short stories. I’ve been working with these exercises with students for several years, developing them, and then did another test run on all of them last week, which is why I’ve ended up with a batch of new stories. I hope you check it out. I kept the price point low enough to make sense in these economic times, but high enough so that PayPal doesn’t keep 90% of it, which is what they do with Writing Rituals.

The newsletter came out, finally. If you haven’t gotten your copy, or haven’t yet signed up, you can do so here.

I wrote a short story for the short story workshop I’m taking. It surprised me in a good way, but the ending needs some more oomph, a kind of a button. The very last sentence is weak, and that ruins the impact of the piece as a whole

I commented on all the exercises I’d missed while fighting with the computer, and they’d stacked up. The majority of the students are really into it and there to learn. You always have one or two who pull something out of their drawer and slap it up there, whether it fits the exercise or not, or the ones who do the bare minimum, but for the most part, they’re an exceptionally lively, creative bunch.

I checked in to the workshops I’m taking, making sure I did the assignments and had the next and kept up my part of the conversation. I have to say, when the instructor can’t be bothered to respond to any of the assignments . . .it annoys me. We’re there for interaction, not to be lectured and then, when we do the work, be met with silence. The point of a workshop, in my mind, is to WORK, and to me, that means something that’s interactive. But, everyone’s got their own way. I’m meeting a lot of great people, and I’m also meeting some people whose methods just don’t jive with mine, and that’s fine – we can be pleasant colleagues and then go our separate ways. I’m learning a lot, both in where I can grow, and what doesn’t work, which is good. And I’m challenging some of my processes, which is also good. Uncomfortable at times, but good.

I should do some work on The Big Project. I’m feeling a little scattered now, so I’ll probably spend time on the conference board and try to get back to it later.

I STILL haven’t heard from the editor about the deadline for the two articles I’m supposed to write, and I asked about a week ago. Well, without a firm deadline, I’ll do them when I get around to them. I asked THE DAY I was hired. It takes 60 seconds to write a response.

Urgh.

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:

NEW!Sensory Perceptions: Techniques to Improve Your Writing Through the Six Senses by Devon Ellington. Use the six senses to take your writing to the next level via a series of sense-specific exercises. By the end of seven weeks, you complete seven short stories!. $1.29 USD. Here.


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 October 14, 2008 at 8:22 am  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I moved the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions to their own blog. Stop by, work on the questions, and, in the coming months, we can post our progress, to-do lists, brainstorming ideas, etc.

PJ – yes, “The Big Project” is a code for a massive project that could be the start of a long-term, creatively fulfilling and possibly lucrative association if it all works. If it works and the contracts are properly signed, sealed, and delivered, I’ll be able to reveal more!

I did some work on ANGEL HUNT yesterday – great to be back with Lianna, Lachlan, Gaston, Zeke, et al and galloping towards the finish line of this draft. Zeke is one of the most deliciously twisted villains I’ve ever written, and quite different from any I’ve read, too. He is uniquely, remarkably himself. You can’t help but love him, even when he’s out to kill ya!

Tossed out chapter two of the western and rewrote it, so now it works (better), and managed to hack out a good chunk of chapter four. The word count isn’t raised that much, in spite of all the work, but, oh well. Printed out the first three chapters because, well, I’m paranoid. And Mercury’s retrograde.

So, building scum has decided “no one” needs hot water between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM, or after midnight, the same way they decided “no one” deserved heat those same hours last winter. Yeah, it’s illegal. But since when has it stopped them?

Time to file more legal paperwork.

Sigh.

The live chat time has been changed – I’m lucky I happened to see a posting, because I didn’t get an email about it, and I would have been there at the wrong time. It’s at 9 PM EST – sorry to the overseas friends who’d like to participate, I certainly don’t expect you to be hanging around at 3 AM your time.

It’s 9 PM EST. Go to the FireDrakes Weyr site and enter the conference room, and we’ll talk.

The computer was persnickety last night and I was ready to smash it with an axe, not a smart solution, but it would have made me feel better in the moment. How much do I loathe Microsoft? Let me count the ways. Only none of us have that much time or patience. Bill Gates, you owe me a new computer THAT WORKS, instead of one that’s built to fail so I keep having to pour money into the black hole that is Microsoft.

Got a nice chunk of the Big Project done this morning. I want to work on the western and ANGEL HUNT a bit today, do some transcription, and also work on the ebook and the ghost story. Too much to do, too few hours in the day, but boy, do I get a lot done when I’m only on my schedule and not someone else’s!

Back to the page.

Devon

Angel Hunt — 104,028 words out of est. 125,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
104 / 125
(83.2%)

Western Novella – 8,988 words out of est. 30,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
8 / 30
(26.7%)

The Big Project – 7,848 words out of est. 75,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
7 / 75
(9.3%)
Published in: on October 7, 2008 at 8:51 am  Comments (6)  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,