Wed. June 1, 2016: Diagramming a Series for Structure

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Busy weekend, but not with a lot to show for it.

Saturday was my Saturday “off” from the library. I ran around doing errands, and got the terraced back area mowed. It desperately needed it! Sunday, I worked on the meadow, but only got about ¼ of it done.

Sunday afternoon, I was lucky enough to see the amazing Neil McGarry in MY NAME IS ASHER LEV at Cape Rep in Brewster. It was a beautiful space, and a wonderfully done show. The entire cast was terrific, and the direction was superb. It was easily the best thing I’ve seen since I lived on Cape.

Monday and Tuesday rained, so I couldn’t work outside. I wasn’t feeling well, so I didn’t get as much done inside as I would have liked, either. My lunch date was cancelled yesterday, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, since I felt so bad, and I missed both the Mermaid Ball meeting and the Artist HobNob.

I did a lot of mental work on the rewrite of what’s been THE CHARISMA KILLINGS, but will shortly have a new title. I figured out the new opening, and how that affects the rest of the plot and red herrings and incorporates the other suggestions. I didn’t get a lot of words on paper, but I’ve got a good sense of direction for this revision. It didn’t LOOK like a lot of work got done, but it’s the part of the process that, unless you are an artist or writer, you don’t really understand, and it’s difficult to explain. I ran the response ideas past my agent and she liked them, and we’re working on both a new series title and new book titles.

I also worked on ideas for CHOLERIC’s revision. The contrast between the two series is interesting. Although they are both mysteries, the tone is very different for each. I broke down some of Philip Craig’s Martha’s Vineyard mysteries, because they are closer in tone to what I’m going for that something in CHARISMA’S subgenre. I was surprised by several things: the conservative tone of the books, which I hadn’t really noticed when I originally read them in the 90s and which I do not like now; and the number of characters, which I like A LOT.

I dislike books with too few characters. Even in a small community, you run into a lot of people, and keep crossing paths with people. If a writer doesn’t differentiate characters well enough, that’s one thing, or substitutes character quirks for actual character. Neither of those work for me. But if a reader’s too stupid to keep track of more than six characters, well, that’s not the reader for whom I’m writing, period. And I’m a little tired of all these content producers, across different mediums, claiming they want “diverse” characters, when in reality, they want the mention of different skin tones, but they want the characters to act like white people.

The exercise is very illuminating. I’m also doing it with Jane Langton’s Homer Kelly books.

I also took the opportunity of not feeling well and having little left over energy to re-read Sharon Shinn’s entire TWELVE HOUSES series. I’m nearly done with all five books. I love them more each time I re-read them. MYSTIC AND RIDER is still one of the books in my Top Ten list, and I still think it’s one of the best opening chapters I’ve ever read. I still sob at portions of THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE. I liked DARK MOON DEFENDER better this time around, and still love READER AND RAELYNX. I’m about half way through FORTUNE AND FATE.

I have to respect her decision to end the series when she feels she should, but I would love more in this world. I love all these characters a lot.

Back to work today; will be a long day, and then I have to tackle actually getting words on the page. I have a feeling, over the next few months, I’ll be writing both first thing in the morning, and adding another session at night.

Hope you had a great weekend.

Devon

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy weekend.

Saturday’s job went well. I got everything done and had time to work on some writing, too. The environment was peaceful and conducive to creative work. One piece on which I’m working has a “piece with in a piece” and have to figure out the internal logistics in order to write the actual story. I did get home around midnight, though, so getting up at 6 AM on Sunday wasn’t fun.

Up early, out the door, to CT, picked up my Mom, back here (because I live across the street from the train station, so it makes sense to use this one. On the train into the city — it was actually on time, nearly unheard of in the annals of Metro North.

Up to the hotel where my friends are staying, and we met up with them and their great kids. My mom hadn’t seen them in twenty yearns, and for me, it was even longer. I hadn’t realized it was that long, because we always talk on the phone every Christmas. It was lovely to see them and catch up. I have an open invitation to come to Rio, so I very well may take them up on it next year — I can start putting aside some money every paycheck for the “Rio Fund”. 😉

One of the friends runs the first cat-only vet practice in Brazil, so, of course, we talked cats. They have a few cats in their homes, and her practice, next door, is exclusively cats, so to say she’s a “cat person” is putting it mildly. He works for a good company in Brazil — he used to actually work on the oil rigs, but now he’s back on land. We met when we lived next door to each other in a residence club, when I first moved to San Francisco, a VERY long time ago! 😉 And have stayed friends ever since.

It was great to see each other again and catch up. And the kids are great — his daughters are 12 and 4. The older daughter brought a friend over, and his nephew, about eight, was also there. All of them are very bright, self-motivated, and don’t expect the world to entertain them The four year old is more computer-savvy than I am, which is a little scary. They’re in NY for a few days, and then headed to Disney World. I know of very few American children in that age range (unless I had a strong hand in bringing them up, the way I did with most of my godkids), who would have behaved as well and handled a first trip to NYC with such sophistication, and yet still been kids.

The contrast was even stronger on the train back, where there were far too many badly behaved, spoiled suburban children running wild on the train and their parents not paying any attention, or thinking it’s “cute.”

But before we headed back on the train, we stopped at Borders and used our gift cards! I bought quite the stack of books, and didn’t get everything on my list, because I was distracted by other books that looked really interesting!

I bought Yasmine Galenorn’s newest, BONE MAGIC (of course, I’m a big fan of the series). Sharon Shinn has a new book out in the Twelve Houses series, FORTUNE AND FATE, so I had to get that (her first book in the series, MYSTIC AND RIDER, continues to be one of my favorite books across the board). I picked up Monica Ferris’s THAI DIE, a mystery that I’m worried is what I call a “gimmick” mystery (it has a counted cross stitch pattern in the back), but the story sounds intriguing enough that I bought it anyway. Nicole Peeler’s TEMPEST RISING looks good, so I added that to the pile. That’s a case where the cover design completely drew me in — Sharon Tancredi’s illustration is completely unique, especially from the other books shelved around it. So many of the cover designs are so similar — all dark with the heroine in stilettos and a bustier, could we please have a RANGE of fashion choices, thank you very much, and some color? Yes, the covers are often appropriate for individual books, and, for instance, I think Yasmine’s covers are great and unique, but when shelves and shelves of covers on books by different authors with unique voices all look the same, I don’t want to buy any of them– but the colors and the artwork on this were completely unique. And the story sounds good, so I bought it. I also bought Deanna Rayburn’s SILENT IN THE GRAVE, and Karen Harper’s MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE.

A good afternoon’s shopping! 😉

There was one kid on the train, though, who didn’t fit into the “spoiled suburban brat” mode. He was about nine years old, doing card tricks. His mother was at her wits’ end — I bet he’s been saying, “Pick a card” 24/7 for WEEKS. So I let him ply his tricks on me, and he’s actually very good. I gave him a few suggestions on presentation (he takes direction well), his mother had a break, and we had fun. I’ll have to use a character inspired by him in something.

Quiet evening at home. Watched the premiere of CHUCK and was disappointed. To me, it seems meandering, repetitive, and scattered, and lost a lot of its charm. They’re spending waaaaay too much time on the friends in the store — they’s supposed to be B story-line comic relief, and they’re getting equal screen time, and it doesn’t work for me.

I have to comment on the whole Jay Leno debacle. So many mistakes were made all the way around, and, instead of fixing the issue, NBC is closing its eyes, sticking its fingers in the ears and singing, “La, La, La” at the top of its lungs. People want scripted shows in the 10 PM slot. Period. I specifically did not watch the new Leno show, which I understand was basically a re-hash of the old Leno show, but in an earlier time slot, because, as someone who’s worked in the industry, NBC could get away with 5 hours’ less of produced, scripted shows by putting him on, and I protest that, both as someone who makes my living in the industry, and as an audience member. I’d stopped watching Jay awhile back, because the segments like “Jay walking” infuriate me. Why is he rewarding people for being uniformed morons by putting them on TV?

Yes, it costs a lot of money to produce a good scripted show, and to produce it well. But it’s worth it. I definitely have my problems with LOST, but it’s well-scripted and well-produced, and has been a gold mine for ABC. As usual, the network is trying to cut costs the wrong way. Having worked on several NBC shows, unless they’re up against a producer who pushes back, they’re always trying to nickel and dime. All the networks do, which is why it’s so important that the exec producer on a show has clout and is a hardass and pushes back at the network, and trains the producers under him or her on various shows to be the same. The networks don’t care about quality most of the time (example — reality shows). They only look at numbers and gossip about the network. If they widened their view a bit, they’d end up making more money over a period of time.

Okay, it’s back to the page for me for a few hours. I should take another load of decorations to storage and run some errands. Not yet sure if that’s on the agenda. Depends on the writing and what I feel like doing. I’ve also GOT to get a new phone sooner rather than later, although I hesitate to get it during Mercury Retrograde. I’ve also got a lot of correspondence to handle this week, and continue attempting to pull off emails from 1and1.

Ick.

Devon