Thurs. Nov. 16, 2017: Writing, Releases, Posts on Sites

Savasana at Sea Cover Choice 1

Savasana at Sea is on sale. Buy it here.
Thursday, November 16, 2017

Day before Dark Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Busy couple of days.

Hop on over to Kemmyrk, where I talk about The Night of Hecate that’s celebrated tonight.

Hop on over to the GDR site to see how I’m getting along with my November To Do List.

I’ve also decided to put the questions for 2018 on a separate page for the site, at least for now. That way, people don’t have to search for it. Take a look here.

I’m delighted that SAVASANA AT SEA has released (under the Ava Dunne name), and I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it. There’s a lot for cozy readers to enjoy, but it does break cozy formula in certain places, so be warned!

Books & the Bear is running a Twitter promotion for SAVASANA today. I’m curious and interested in how that will translate into sales.

The good thing about juggling three series that are so very different from each other is that I skew the marketing a bit for each, and it gives me the chance to try different things. I can see what works best for me, and what doesn’t.

Not doing Nano was the right choice for me this year. I hope everyone who’d doing it is having a wonderful time, but if I’d let my ego rule and committed and dug in, I would have been miserable. I’m working with two new clients, SAVASANA released’ I’m still promoting PLAYING THE ANGLES; I’m finishing SERENE AND DETERMINED, so it can go off to NY on deadline in December; I’m doing the edits for TRACKING MEDUSA, so that can release on time; I’m working on “Miss Winston Apologizes” and the pushed back release of “Labor Intensive”; We’re talking new covers for some of the holiday shorts.

It also means, as soon as TRACKING MEDUSA and SERENE AND DETERMINED go out the door, that I have to get back to THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, DAVY JONES DHARMA, MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

Thank goodness for outlines and series bibles, or I’d be lost!

All this while I’m playing with THE MARRIAGE GARDEN, the novel on aging, and trying to get NOT BY THE BOOK back on track (which I think I’m going to move to January just to take some pressure off).

It’s a busy time. But it’s the right kind of busy, so I’m going to enjoy it.

Yesterday was a good day’s work onsite with the client, and finding a good website design/tutor contact for another client. Productive day.

I’m reading Jenn McKinlay’s Hat Shop mysteries, which are fun. As I read them, I’m passing them on to my mom to read as she recuperates. They cheer her up. So does the knitting.

Today, my mom goes back to the surgeon, so they can make sure the foot is healing properly. She is sick and tired of the long healing process, and the fact there’s still so much she can’t do.

I’ve also got to take the recycling to the dump, and I have yoga, and I have to get out a guest post to someone who is kind enough to host me, and finish uploading and scheduling next week’s post for A Biblio Paradise.

I’m hoping, over the weekend, to do some yard work. Mine is the only yard that still has leaves in it. Atmospheric, right? I at least want to get the front tidied up, and then I can work on the back as I can.

But, most of all, I need to get the first act of the Lavinia Fontana play finished, so I can tackle Act II next week, do another revision, and get it out the door the first week of December.

Onward!

 

PLAYING THE ANGLES available here.

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

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Tues. Oct. 31, 2017: Samhain

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Samhain/Halloween

Pretty intense few days.

Hop on over to Biblio Paradise to see its new look and please, drop a commment!

Hop on over to the GDR site to see the October wrap-up.

Hop on over to Kemmyrk, the blog tied to the Cerridwen Iris Shea work, to read a few ruminations.

The bulk of the weekend was the aftermath of my mom’s surgery. She’s doing really well, don’t get me wrong. She only took the Tylenol the first day — says she doesn’t need it now. But there’s a lot of post-op care to make sure the foot and the place under her collarbone where the skin was grafted heal properly. Plus, she’s exhausted, which makes sense, since surgery is a big trauma on the body.

Then, I’m exhausted, and I feel guilty about it, because I didn’t go through surgery.

But I feel what I feel, so I acknowledge it and try to let it go, while continuing on.

Friday I was wiped out. I did some research for yesterday’s meeting. I sent off my next review. But that was the extent of getting any writing done. I couldn’t focus.

I also have notes on multiple projects that I have to sort out and put into folders, or I’ll lose them and not have them when I need them.

There was a glitch with the car insurance, but it turned out the agent gave me the wrong information, and we got it all sorted out, thank goodness.

We watched season 3 of BROADCHURCH the past few days. Wow. Just wow.

Saturday, I had to run more errands, and then, finally, that check I’ve been waiting for arrived. That was a big relief. So, on that level, things are sorted out.

Started reading Hillary Clinton’s WHAT HAPPENED. It’s an exceptionally well-written book. I don’t know why that surprised me. Maybe because Tony Blair’s memoir, and so man other political tomes I’ve read weren’t? Over the decades, there have been times when I’ve disagreed with her, but so far, I agree with most of what she says in the book. And it would have been so nice to have a qualified, intelligent human being in the office instead of a narcissistic sociopath.
Also read a translation of Marc Levy’s PS FROM PARIS. I hadn’t read any of his work before. It’s joyful and surprising and wonderful. Loved the book, and am now eager to read more. It also makes me want to get my French back up to speed so that I could read it in its original language (although Sam Taylor’s translation was excellent).

ALSO read Louise Penny’s GLASS HOUSES. The Gamache series is intriguing. Penny is one of the few authors who I feel can pull off third person omniscient, although there was too much head-hopping in this book, and it wasn’t as smooth as usual. But her explorations into people and their motivations interest me.

One of my rocking horse statues broke while I was using the central vaccuum. It got caught in the hose — very frustrating. It will take me several weeks to put it back together properly — filling the cracks, getting the pieces to fit just right, layering it back on, then sanding down the fixative and doing some paint touch-ups.

Tessa is far too curious, and I’m worried she’ll get glue all over her.

We had quite the storm Sunday night into Monday. Lots of people without power, still, even. We were lucky — it flickered at 4 in the morning, but then came back on.

Yesterday was spent with clients — one for the bulk of the day, then came home to change my mother’s wound dressings, and then the other for a couple of hours. Two very different projects, but both terrific, engaging, and let me be creative. I’m very grateful.

Today is Samhain, a big day on my personal calendar. I have lots of running around in the morning (buying things like candy and cat food). Hopefully, we’ll have some trick or treaters tonight — the house is all dolled up!

Then, of course, the big ritual. Today is the end of the agricultural year, and tomorrow starts the new one. We’ve harvested the last of the tomatoes and herbs. Now, I still have to finish putting the yard to bed, and soon, we’ll take in the rest of the plants that overwinter inside or in the garage, and the deck furniture. And rake leaves forever, and cut back the beds.

Next spring, I either have to buy a new mower or hire someone in.

Lots and lots and LOTS of errands, et al to do today, then handing out candy tonight and then . . .ritual. The next few nights will be taken up with ceremonies for the dead — there’s an article about that over on Cerridwen’s Cottage.

I won’t post here tomorrow, but the November To-Do list will be up over on the GDR site.

I keep promising myself that I will NOT do Nano because of my deadlines, only stand at the sidelines, cheering others on. We’ll see what happens when November 1 hits. I’m definitely wavering. My ego is at war with my practicality. Because that’s what it is for me this year — ego. I want the satisfaction of another Nano win. It has nothing to do with the realities of what I HAVE to get done this month. And there’s no room for that type of ego in my life right now.

I got a little bit of MARRIAGE GARDEN done yesterday and today. I need to do a big push on THE FIX IT GIRL the rest of this week.

Back to the page.

Wed. Nov. 2, 2016: Listening to Your Work

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cool

Ran errands yesterday morning, including discovering the location of Cape Cod Coffee, which was fun. Had an unfortunate lunch at a highly regarded place that was highly mediocre.

Worked on the revisions of CHOLERIC in the afternoon. Then realized, in the middle of the night, that I made a huge logistical error, so I have to go back six chapters and fix it, and carry it through. So much for making progress! But I’d much rather discover it NOW than once the piece is on submission.

People seem to be happily sailing into Nano this year, and I’m glad. I’m also at peace with not doing it myself. For me, it was the right decision this year.

One of the biggest challenges is learning how to respect the innate rhythm each novel naturally has, while still keeping on track schedule-wise. Before contract, it’s not to hard, since one’s deadlines are one’s own, and you can adjust as necessary. Within a contract, it’s more challenging. You have to stay true to the book’s integrity, but also meet the schedule of the dozens of people who are depending on you to get it done within a finite space of time, so they can do their jobs.

That’s where listening becomes so important. Listening to the team with whom you’re working, of course (and getting EVERYTHING in writing). But also, listening to the book. If you start going off the mark, tonally or in pace, you’ll hear it. That comes with experience.

I read a very disappointing true crime book yesterday. It was written by a supposedly award-winning journalist, but I didn’t see much journalism in it. It was a partisan rant with very little factual evidence set out, sloppy writing, and little to no journalism, much less investigative journalism. Although, looking at for whom the writer supposedly was a “journalist” before, I’m not surprised.

Lots to do today, on many different fronts. I got the outside Samhain decorations put away yesterday. Celebrated Day of the Dead last night, and more ceremonies for the dead. The rest of the decor is packed today, although I still have more ceremonies over the next few nights. Also have to wash out the empty pots, scrub down the deck furniture, oil it, and let it dry before putting it away. I’ll have to repaint one of the plant stands, too, and do quite a bit more yard work before the first snow falls. Bits and pieces, doing it all in bits and pieces, gets it done.

The plays are percolating; hopefully, they will be in shape to put down on paper soon.

Devon

Published in: on November 2, 2016 at 9:04 am  Comments Off on Wed. Nov. 2, 2016: Listening to Your Work  
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Tues. Oct. 25, 2016: Writing, Traveling, Interviewing, Nano Musings

Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

I haven’t meant to abandon the blog the past few days. A lot is going on, and only some of it can be discussed. As someone who loathes it when people tease, on social media or on websites, “I have news, but can’t tell you”, I haven’t wanted to post anything until it was a sure thing.

Week before last, things were in huge turmoil; some of it was sorted out by the beginning of last week, but then I had to play catch-up on a variety of life chores. That got done early in the week.

Midweek, I had to take the obligatory workshop at the Career Center — I chose one on how to use one’s age to one’s advantage. I was pleasantly surprised to find a talented group of people in the room, including one person who, once we started talking, it felt as though we’d known each other for years.

Immediately after the workshop, I headed to the Berkshires. I attended a networking function in Springfield on the way, which was interesting. We booked into the Black Swan Inn again, in Lee. This time, my phone worked perfectly — good thing I switched carriers — but the Kindle wouldn’t connect to the inn’s internet. So that was frustrating.

But we had a lovely dinner in Mint, the Indian restaurant in the hotel, and then watched the final debate. I don’t see how anyone could be “undecided” at this point. You’re either voting for someone who is rational, even if you don’t like her or always agree with her; or someone who is an insane narcissist.

The lower profile races are very interesting. And we’ve got some pretty important questions on our ballot as well. The great thing about being an Independent voter is that I feel no guilt about voting for the individual I believe will do the best job, no matter what the party. This is especially true in the local races, where I’ve taken the time to know the candidates. I switched my choice on one race, because the incumbent, while not perfect, is doing his best under almost impossible circumstances and making progress, while the challenger whines, in a high-pitched voice. Sorry, no whiners for me.

Thursday morning, I got to visit the Book Loft in Great Barrington. It’s been mentioned as a “best bookshop” online and in a book of essays about writers’ favorite bookshops. I can see why. Great space, wonderful selection, nice staff. Yes, I bought a few things there — how could I not?

I like Great Barrington a lot. I like the vibe there.

I had some meetings in the late morning and early afternoon, which went well, and then we drove to Sturbridge, and booked into one of my favorite places to stay in the entire U.S.

It’s called the Publick House and Historic Inn. The main building is an old, historic inn and tavern. And then they have the funky 1950’s style lodge in the back, which is where we stayed. The last time I stayed there everything was decorated in red toile — wallpaper, curtains, bed spreads. Considering how much I loathe toile, I had to laugh when I walked in. They’d redecorated — walls are now a warm beige, and the only toile is the curtains! But the rooms are large, comfortable, and reasonably priced. And the food is terrific. We had chicken potpies that were the best I’ve ever tasted.

Terrible fog the next morning delayed the return, but, finally, it was get on the road or be stuck in Friday traffic, so we got on the road. Once we broke past the traffic, it wasn’t a bad ride back to the Cape.

The cats were very happy to see us!

Unfortunately, the writing suffered, and I lost the rhythm on the two projects that had been going so well. I need to get back into the groove on them.

Over the weekend, I mainly focused on the revisions for DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. They are going very well, and I see the light at the end of the tunnel. This revision is nearly done; I’ll let it marinate for a bit while I work on submission materials, do another pass, and I hope to have it out sometime in November or December.

I had an important meeting yesterday morning, and got everything dealing with that sorted out, but it wore me out. I managed to get some work done in the garden in the afternoon.

Most of the front is decorated for Samhain, but I have to put up the orange lights and carve the pumpkins.

Last night, my poor neighbors! All of a sudden, we see a slew of fire trucks outside their house. I went over to see if they were okay, if they needed to bring their dogs over out of the commotion, or all needed a place to stay. The bricks in their chimney were staying hot, even after the embers burned down, so the fire department was going to have to remove bricks from the chimney to find what caused the hotspot. Will need some massive repair work, but it’s better than having fire between the walls. We are so lucky in our fire department here.

I have to get the car re-registered today, get a LOT of writing done, and check some links on the back matter for the free download of “The Possession of Nattie Fillmore.” Yes, it will be available for download from Oct. 28 – Oct. 31. I’m thinking of adding in a coupon for “Just Jump in and Fly” to be available for the first couple of days in November. That has to get all sorted out.

I got a lovely email from someone who just read ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, loved it, and wanted more copies. Unfortunately, I’ve sold through on everything I had left when it went out of print, but I’m in the process of tweaking it for re-release as PLAYING THE ANGLES. But I’m thrilled that it still holds up and people love it. It’s one of my favorite books, and I was disappointed when it went out of print. The title didn’t help, I’m sure! I’m about a fifth of the way through the revisions on that, and I have a list of potential places for re-release, if I don’t release it myself.

I’m behind on the plays, and I’m behind on the two projects that I have to get drafted by the end of the year. I think I will skip Nano this year, although I’ll probably “write along with” Nano, even if I don’t do it.

It always feels weird doing it, but not doing it also feels weird. However, if I DO it, I feel I should DO it, which means starting a new project on the first of November and writing 50K, not working on something I already started. But I’ve got several projects I HAVE to juggle right now, that I don’t think starting something new would be useful. It would muddy the waters. Yet the book I started during Nano last year, DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, has now gone through multiple drafts and is almost ready for submission, so last year it served a purpose.

I was also put off by the forums last year. I found many of the moderators rude, and the posters spent too much time either whining or talking about how they were so great no one understood them and that’s why they self-published. In previous years, I found the forums a fun, energizing break. Last year, they were draining and annoying.

I think most writers should try Nano at least once in their lives — and finish it, writing 50K in 30 days. It’s not that hard — 6 pages a day. What it does is get one into the daily writing/quota rhythm. It does focus on quantity over quality, but, especially early on, as you search for your voice and your rhythm, you won’t find it unless you get into a daily writing rhythm, and Nano is a good catalyst for that.

Right now, though, I don’t feel it serves me. I have to focus on pieces that already have established their own rhythms, and meet pre-existing deadlines that are separate from Nano. I also need to put together some good marketing for my books for the holidays. It would probably be a good idea to put out a newsletter again one of these days.

So there it is — a nice long catch-up before I get going on a busy day and what is sure to be a busy week!

I’ve got an Artists HobNob Event tonight, which should be tons of fun. Can’t wait to see everyone again.
Have a great week! I’ll remind everyone on Friday about the free download, and it will also be on Facebook and Twitter.

Devon

Published in: on October 25, 2016 at 9:13 am  Comments Off on Tues. Oct. 25, 2016: Writing, Traveling, Interviewing, Nano Musings  
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Tues. Sept. 27, 2016: Threads of Words

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Busy times, and difficult to keep up here. Much of my focus right now is on the revisions for DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. In the notes I made over the weekend, there are plans to cut quite a few characters and several secondary plot lines. I’m going to weave them into the series later on. I’ve revised about nine chapters over the past few days.

However, in order for certain procedural things to make sense, I also have to add two or three characters and fix a few things. I also want to go darker with this draft. When I started writing the first draft last year, I was thinking in terms of cozy. The more I wrote, the more I realized I don’t want to go in that direction, or be limited by that formula. I want a darker, more political, realistic mystery.

There’s a large ensemble cast because that’s what I like, as both a writer and a reader. Be it agent, editor, or reader, if someone does not like large casts, “can’t keep track” of more than six people — well, we are not a good match! 😉 Move along, nothing to read here!

I’ve also been working on the full-length version of CONFIDENCE CONFIDANT. I’m not particularly happy with the work there. Especially in one scene, between Amelia and Nathan while Nathan’s in jail. I’ve written as text what needs to be subtext. I’m glad I wrote it, but now I need to rip it all out, and figure out the words that they CAN say to cover the unsaid. Otherwise, it’s just melodramatic and blatant. I’ve got time constraints on this, so I have to figure it out sooner, rather than later.

I’m having the annual Nano dilemma — do I do it this year, or not? Last year, I did it, because That Place where I worked was hosting write-ins. I felt I should participate, and I was in a writing rut. I did the Tandem Nano — working on a piece already in progress and starting the first draft of CHOLERIC. Last year, that worked. This year, I’m preparing CHOLERIC for submission and have other deadlines and other distractions. I’m worried that my ego will get in the way of both practicality and good work.

I already know I can write 50K in 30 days. I proved it over and over again. I don’t need to prove anything. What I need to do is focus on style and language to go with the stories, to polish and hone and make my work sparkle in my unique voice. At this point in my development, I don’t think Nano helps with it. It’s great to encourage words on paper every day, but I already do that. So should I use Nano to write book 2 in either the Sophie Batchelder series or the Picaroon Island series? It’s tempting, but again, it throws my schedule off even more — and my writing is way off schedule with what happened this summer. While I realize the necessity of flexible scheduling to make the most of unexpected opportunities, I also don’t want to put aside work that’s in a groove to start something on an arbitrary date (unless I’m being paid a sweet amount of money so to do).

I’ve been catching up on the second season of GOTHAM. I’m disappointed. The production design is stunning, but I find the whole thing overwrought.

The debate last night ridiculous. The possibility that the raving, lunatic, oversized toddler could get anywhere near the nuclear codes is terrifying. Yet, people will continue to vote for him. Because you can’t fix stupid, and two generations of the GOP defunding education worked.

Gave me some good ideas for the series in which CHOLERIC is the first book, though. There’s a lot of politics in the mystery — on purpose — and it’s not something I’m willing to dilute.

We’re getting some much needed rain, and I had to put on the heat yesterday. We’re finally into autumn, my favorite season. I have a lot of work to do in order to put the yard to bed for the winter. I have a lot of work to do on many fronts, and I’m tired of dealing with idiots and assholes.

But at least I get to HobNob tonight! I haven’t seen those friends and colleagues all summer, and I’ve missed them.

Hope you are all having a wonderful week.

Devon

Published in: on September 27, 2016 at 8:46 am  Comments Off on Tues. Sept. 27, 2016: Threads of Words  
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Thurs. Dec. 3, 2015: Running on Fumes

Thursday, December 03, 2015
Waning Moon
Foggy and mild

Thank Goodness I finished Nano before Thanksgiving, or I’d have had a nervous breakdown!

Thanksgiving was good – we stayed in Ogonquit, even got to walk the beach, and then headed up to Gray for the dinner with 46 people – none of whom are Trump supporters, thank goodness.

The hotel was lovely, we managed to avoid traffic, and, all in all, had a terrific time.

The cats were upset – they still miss Violet, and I think they were worried we weren’t coming back. A good part of the weekend was spent soothing them.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving was my Saturday “on” at work, so that was busy. Sunday, I was trying to get the decorating going – I’d started Friday, and was just too tired on Saturday after work to get anything done.

Monday, we hit Spectacle of Trees flat out. Loaded up the car at the library, headed over to the JFK Museum. Bounced between helping with the library tree and the Marine Life Center tree – although, to give credit where credit is due, I didn’t do much on the Marine Life Center tree. They had it down!

Ran some errands for the trees, came home, tried to get some decorating done. If I never see another twinkle light, it will be too soon. Well, until next year, anyway!

First thing Tuesday was a dump run, and then over to the museum to consult on the tree before heading to yet another funeral – for the mother of a fellow NMLC Board member. Several of us went together. It was a lovely service, with beautiful, fun remembrances by family members.

Then, I headed to Target, running more errands for Spectacle – and back to the museum to drop things off.

Home for a quick bite, then took my mother to the knitting group, where she had a good time, while I tried to get some other work done –Including fighting with TMobile. The card I bought to refill the phone couldn’t be read – the PIN was too faint – and they didn’t want to credit me, although I had both the serial number from the card and the activation code from the purchase site. It took over an hour to get it sorted out, and then it was a mess again the next morning, and I had to fight again. I’m tired of these customer service reps who lie when they get tired of dealing with a situation. Fix the damn problem, or pass me on to a supervisor, as you are required to do BY LAW. Too bad you’re outsourced elsewhere – you have to abide by US LAW.

I bought this phone when my TMobile phone died because I could switch carriers, so that’s what I’ll do in January. Fresh start for the new year.

Wednesday morning, dropped off both wreaths for tonight’s VIP Reception at the Hyannisport Club. Then headed to the JFK Museum, helped fluff both trees. We had lunch at the British Beer Company – surprisingly good – and back to work, where we were exhausted. The adrenalin faded, and we were melting over the furniture. There was a Development Committee meeting until the end of the day, but we were all fried by then.

Home. Baked the gingerbread and the lemon tea cakes for today’s Victorian Tea. Dinner, and to bed early. Baked scones this morning and hit the ground running – four events today. Just thinking about it makes me tired.

Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season!

Devon

Published in: on December 3, 2015 at 11:37 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Dec. 3, 2015: Running on Fumes  
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Post Nano Tip: Dec. 2: What You Learned

You might not be able to answer this yet. You might be too tired, and not have enough distance. But it’s worth evaluating your Nano experience.

What did you learn about yourself and your writing?

If one of your writing obstacles is not scheduling daily time to write, did the parameters of Nano help you do that?

Were you too ambitious? Did you make it too easy on yourself?

Are you happy with getting down words on paper? Remember, this is a FIRST DRAFT. It’s not submission-ready. Nor will it be submission-ready if you do a single pass and then run it through spell check.

If you’re not finished, you need to keep up a daily pace, with scheduled days off, until you’re done.

If you finished within Nano, and WHEN you finish outside of Nano, you need to put the draft aside for a long enough period so you can get some objectivity.

Genuine revisions mean you re-envision your novel. It’s about more than just fixing typos and putting in the proper punctuation and smoothing out discrepancies. It’s about restructuring, if necessary. Cutting scenes, characters, chapters, if necessary. Following trails you abandoned originally, because they serve the overall piece better. Adding scenes, if necessary. Re-shaping. Making every sentence sing.

That takes time and commitment. It’s a totally different headspace than is needed to create a first draft.

I prefer to draft in the morning and edit a different project in the afternoon. That way, I can give my full attention to a project in the form in which it needs attention.

What do I believe I learned this Nano?

I learned that 1667+ words a day is not, for the most part, a natural pace for me. I worked on two very, very different projects. Their natural pace was either around 1400 words a day, or around 2000 words a day, depending on whether it was a good day or a mediocre day.

Working on two different projects (minimum) is the norm for me. So the fact that I moved between the two projects wasn’t an obstacle, for the most part. It was a positive in that, when I felt tired or stuck on one, I could move to the other, and keep going. It made it easier to reach the 50K. The downside was that I sometimes I felt I lost focus.

I was worried that, because both novels are in first person, I would muddy the voices. Fortunately, both the characters and genres are different enough that I didn’t. But sometimes I felt I was copping out by moving from one to the other.

However, I still got a great deal of work done on both. The words counted didn’t even include all the character tracking sheets and research I had to stop and do on the way.

I was also inspired to write an outline for a third project, which I did not count in Nano, an historical novel with touches of romance and mystery. I admit, I was tempted to call it “Rebel 2” and work on it. I wrote an outline and basic character relationships – mostly so my protagonists would shut up and let me write the other pieces. But it wasn’t part of my word count.

Another helpful thing I did was sit down with my roster of projects and set deadlines into the future. Some are dictated by my publishing schedule; others I fit in and around those contracts. I am frustrated with the amount of time given for each book, feeling I am not working fast enough; however, it is a realistic schedule to make sure each book is GOOD enough.

The quality is more important than the quantity.

That seems counter to Nano, which focuses on quantity, but it’s actually an outgrowth.

The other helpful thing about this year’s Nano was that I used it to break poor writing habits I’d fallen into over the preceding months. Again, this sounds counter to Nano. But I had been lazy – writing at odd moments or skipping too many days in a row and then binge writing. Nano got me back on a daily writing quota schedule.

I didn’t spend much time on forums this year, which had been one of my great joys in previous years. I got to hang out with other writers in my region, which was nice. Our ML was terrific, and our group was both fun and supportive. I didn’t enjoy myself on the general forums, mostly because I’m at a different place in my writing life than most of them are. I have different obstacles and concerns. I’ve also gone from having low tolerance for whiners to zero tolerance for whiners, and a necessary part of forum interaction is giving people a place to whine.

I need to be around people DOING, not whining, or planning. DOING. Active, not passive. Anything else is too energy-depleting for me right now.

So there were a lot of positives in the past month.

Will I do it again?

Every December, I swear I won’t. However, I won’t really know until November 1 of next year.

I hope you had a wonderful experience and that you keep writing.

Devon

Published in: on December 2, 2015 at 5:41 am  Comments Off on Post Nano Tip: Dec. 2: What You Learned  
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Wed. Oct. 28, 2015: The Writing’s Natural Pace

Wednesday, October 29, 2015
Day After Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy few days. I was tired by the time I got back home on Saturday, but the awards presentation for the photography contest was fun, and the winners were so delighted! That’s the kind of thing that’s fun to do.

Got some good writing done on Sunday and Monday. On Monday, the tree guys came to prune the big maple in the back, the one that was damaged in the bad weather last winter. Of course, I looked my absolute worst, because I didn’t expect anyone to come by the house! And, right after that, my Town Councilor stopped by to say hi. Oh, well, if you’re not going to call ahead . . .

Got the orange lights up in the yard for this weekend. They’re really cute. Also got most of the plants on the deck put away for the winter. The ones I’m overwintering are in the garage, on the side where they’ll get some sun and get watered every week. The annuals are out of the pots and the pots stacked on the far side of the garage, where I can use them next year. We had our first frost over the weekend. There are still a few plants who need some more outside time, including one tomato plant valiantly promising another handful of tomatoes. I couldn’t believe how many tomatoes we found on the plants we took out.

TIE-CUTTER is plugging along very well. I’m sure I’ll have to do some massive cuts in it, but that’s okay. Right now, I’m writing the first draft to see what I have. The pace is a slow, steady, 1000-15000 words a day, which is a good pace. There’s some fun stuff and it, and a few scenes where I think I can really push it.

As I look at the material for SONGBOUND SISTERS, the natural pace of that — the writing pace, not the pace of the story — is much slower. In other words, it would be detrimental to use that as a Nano project (apologies to the writers in the group where it was birthed who are eager to read the rest of it). I wouldn’t be able to meet my own goals with it, and pushing it faster than it wants to would hurt the piece, be frustrating, and cause it to be put aside until who-knows-when. It’s natural pace seems to be about 3-4 pages per day (750-1000 words) — still respectable, but I find I need to pace and mutter each scene to myself before I actually sit down and write it. It’s a very visceral, textural, aural piece (sound is important), and it requires me to adjust my so-called process to serve it properly. Which is fine; it’s just not something I can do for Nano.

Honoring a piece’s natural rhythm is very important in the writing of it. The writing rhythm is different from the actual pace of the story, but it order for character, plot, story, and themes to be properly served in the piece, I have to honor its natural rhythm.

So, for Nano, I’m going to work at TIE-CUTTER’s natural pace, being a “rebel”. I might or might not work on the first draft of the mystery that’s forming in my head — it’s kind of a comic, fun piece, one that I believe would serve its first draft written quickly. SONGBIRD SISTERS will need to wait, probably until January. Writing it in winter appeals to me.

And, somewhere in there, I have to finish the historical play and get BALTHAZAAR back on track.

While meeting my other commitments.

Not sure how to do that yet, so I’m just going to go day by day.

I keep trying to tell myself, “so, if you don’t hit 50K, so what?” Unfortunately, it would matter to me, because, to me, it would mean I was unable to meet my own expectation of myself, and do what I needed to do to meet the deadline. The fact that it’s my deadline and not someone else’s doesn’t matter — a deadline is a deadline. Whatever anyone else does or does not do is up to them, but for me, if I say I’m going to hit 50K –even if it’s spread across projects as a “rebel” — then I damn well do whatever needs to be done to hit 50K. Some days that may mean adding in late night writing sessions along with early morning ones. It won’t be the first time.

Showing up at the page, even on the days you don’t want to, is so important. I have to trust that if I keep showing up and work to meeting my daily goal, that the work will come.

Today’s Nano prep tip is in the post below. It gives some tips on whether to outline or blank page (because I really, REALLY hate the term “pantser”).

Onward.

Devon

Published in: on October 28, 2015 at 9:04 am  Comments (2)  
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Fri. Oct. 23, 2015: Nano and Ultron

Friday, October 23, 2015
Waxing Moon
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was a busy day. On the plus side, I got a lot of books and DVDs processed, and got things moving for the awards presentation for the photography contest tomorrow. There were plenty of minuses, too, which I won’t get into.

The first Nano Prep tip is up on the blog in the post below this one – it’s about using blogs and journals in your work.

My further Nano dilemma as to whether I should stay with TIE-CUTTER or start something new was made even more complicated when I came up with a fun title for the piece, the backstories of the characters fell into place, and plot pieces fell into place. I have a fun, contemporary mystery set to go.

I want to make sure, if I try working on both in tandem, that it’s not about ego, but about actually flowing with good work.

I also can’t blow the deadline for the play that’s due.

Either I can manage my time to handle all the projects, or I have to put off the projects that aren’t due.

There’s some other stuff going on that I’m trying to juggle, and I’m trying to line up some interesting career ducks. We will see what happens.

Watched AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON last night. Spoiler alert. I was disappointed. I liked it better than I expected to like it, but it still didn’t hit where I felt it should hit. There some funny throwaway lines and good short scenes between actors. The action sequences are too long. The whole thing about Hawkeye suddenly having this wife and kids and bringing everyone home to his “safe house” didn’t ring true, and his wife’s role was underwritten and too much 1950s housewife. I understand they were going for contrast, but it would have made more sense, in their universe, if they’d arrived and she’d EITHER have been, “Oh, honey, by the way, while you were destroying Johannesburg, the kids and I saved Cleveland” OR, if you really wanted to go homestead, have them have handled some major farm crisis while he was gone – gotten in the entire harvest in spite of a storm or an earthquake or something. Just having them there wasn’t enough. I liked the way the Black Widow was an accepted part of the family as his friend, and that his wife and kids obviously adored her, too. I was worried the creators would negate the bond that was established between Hawkeye and Black Widow in the first film. I missed Tom Hiddleston’s Loki – his scenes with everyone are such a delight, and he was missed. I didn’t feel the foundation was enough in the science before going off into speculation, and I felt the editing cuts were too abrupt in the actors’ scenes – even with the throwaway lines, the cut was just a beat too soon – and lingered too much on the destruction. I also missed both Jane and Pepper, even with the one-line explanations given for their absences. It didn’t live up to its potential, in my opinion. And the “bonus features”? First of all, there’s only one, and all it is a short piece where they jabber that it’s cool to work in locations all over the world and that makes the movie bigger. And. . .?

Woke up tired and cranky. Had bad dreams, never a good sign. Dashed to the store first thing to get what I need so I can bake tonight for tomorrow’s presentation.

Will have a long day at work today, and then four hours tomorrow (including the ceremony), and then away from that work for three days, while I concentrate on writing. And reading. And research! 😉

Have a wonderful weekend!

Devon

Published in: on October 23, 2015 at 8:59 am  Comments Off on Fri. Oct. 23, 2015: Nano and Ultron  
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Fri. Nov. 1, 2013: Busy Docket & Why Nano No Longer Serves My Vision

November 1, 2013
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Dia de Muertos
Windy and raw

It was nice to have a day away from the daily work routine. There was plenty to do (like grocery shopping and library), and I had to get online a few times to deal with things I needed for today’s work.

Spent most of the time doing the work I do for Samhain, which was good, and I’m ready for the wheel to turn. This last one was rough, and I want it to improve for the next cycle.

We didn’t have a lot of trick or treaters last night, which was a disappointment, in a way, but the ones that showed up at the door were awfully creative! We have a lot of leftover candy (uh, oh).

Trying to sort out the projects that need attention and prioritize them, along with juggling the contracted work coming in.

I’m not doing Nano. I’m glad I did it for the four years that I did it, and I got some good work out of it. However, I already write more than 50K in a month (or I couldn’t pay the bills), so it no longer serves a purpose.

I’m also sick and tired of the huge lack of commitment and the attitude so many have that “Nano” means doing anything they want. If you “do” Nano, you START a new project today and write at least 50K during the month. If you bring in something you’re already working on or do revisions, you are not following the parameters of Nano — you are writing WITH Nano, and siphoning off everyone else’s creative energy (like a vampire), but you are NOT “doing” Nano. You are “writing with” Nano, but you’re not within its guidelines.

And for those who drop out — if you can’t commit to your creative life for a month, you won’t be able to commit for a lifetime.

I think the premise of Nano is wonderful, but too much self-serving, poor-work-habit-enabling crap has grown up around it in the last years, and it no longer serves my vision for my career. So I don’t do it.

I wish everyone who does it well, though — PROVIDED THEY DON’T QUIT. If you quit. for whatever reason, I have no time or patience for you.

I’m going to the theatre this weekend — looking forward to hanging out with friends.

Got a lot on today’s docket, so I better get going. And the next few nights are taken up with ceremonies for the Dead, so it’ll be a slew of late nights for me.

Devon

Published in: on November 1, 2013 at 7:50 am  Comments (1)  
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Disk 3 Excerpts 006_2_2
Montauk, NY

Friday, September 11, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto DIRECT
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

A sad day for everyone, but especially for those who lost people in the 9/11 attacks eight years ago. I encountered a woman in the post office yesterday who was having a hard time — she lost two daughters that day. Everyone in the facility did what they could to comfort her, but this time of year will always be tough for her.

On the news yesterday, they were blabbing that no one pays attention to 9/11 anymore and it no longer holds meaning. Of course, every single individual they interviewed was a tourist, not someone who lived here or lost someone. Those who did have chosen their own ways to mourn, out of the spotlight.

And, to me, the most important and moving moments of the day are the reading of the names.

I think I’ve mentioned a few times how worried I’ve been about some of the bridges and overpasses in the area, to the extent that I avoid some of them and I’ve called in my concerns a few times. Well, a lot of construction workers have been around, with those green-and-white Recovery Act stickers. On my errands the other day, I walked under the I-95 overpass, which had worried me and where debris had fallen several times. They’ve been working there, and one of the guys pointed out the new plates fastening the sections back together and the new supports. Very cool. I actually drove over it a few hours later, and it feels much better. Now THAT’s the way I want my tax dollars to work! Not bailing out corporate executives, but putting people back to work on projects that actually keep people safe and make a difference.

A video clip both highly entertaining and somewhat ironic was broadcast last night. I thought it was sadly hilarious. Some of these anti-education, anti-health care wing nuts were waving around signs calling people “Morans.” I’m assuming they meat “morONs”; they can’t even be bothered to spell their message correctly. You wanna see a moron? Look in the mirror, sign-waver! I sure as heck know a lot of wonderful people in the clan of MorAN and I’d be PROUD to be lumped in with them! 😉

I had to pull clips of my work off a site that’s going dark today — just what I needed right before I leave, especially since it won’t print the articles cleanly without superimposing text on other text (I could then scan the clips back in and create PDFs in my clip file) or print/save as PDFs or even copy and paste. No luck with any of them. While I appreciate that means no one could co-opt the work, it makes it a damned sight harder to have usable clips, and I’d rather not lose three years’ worth of clips. I asked a few people and put the word out on Twitter. We came up with a few possible solutions. I tried them all, so I should have the clips saved several ways! Whew.

Also found some interesting possible prospects. I hate to pitch right before I leave, but I’ll be upfront about my schedule. If it knocks me out, then that’s the way it is; if they like my work enough and we can work around each other’s schedules, I think it would be fun.

I’m happy with my decision to skip Nano this year. I think it’s great and I encourage people to participate, and do it more than one year, because one can learn so much each year. But this year, I’m juggling deadlines and publishers and I’m getting my toe into the foreign rights waters and the websites are undergoing a massive overhaul and all the rest, so for me, this year, it would be the wrong choice. I may do it sometime again in the future. I’ll be cheerleading all my friends and colleagues from the sidelines. No challenges, no Nano, just focusing on clearing up unfinished projects, getting the backlog out, and landing better and higher-paying gigs.

I plateau’d there for awhile, and it’s time for the next leap.

I’m reconfiguring what I want to do and what I need to do in order to pay the bills, and getting them more in tandem with each other. And because I want to take some interesting creative risks next year, I have to figure out how the months around the months in which I take those risks will pay for everything. And still be open to new opportunities.

The plus side of the economic problems is that it proved I was right to remain the Anti-Niche. Except for February, which was a scary month, I managed to make steady gains in clients and income every month by being able to do a wide variety of writing. I miss the Broadway money, but I don’t miss the work in the way I thought I would. I miss some of the individuals, but not the politics of backstage. Income will be frighteningly low for September because I’m not here for a good bit of it, and more will go out then comes in. However, the content of the time away will pay off, both literally and figuratively for years to come. The trade-off’s worth it.

My mom went to the doctor yesterday, and she’s having thyroid problems. Then, she cut her leg this morning, which is a little worrisome. I’m going to cook all weekend and prepare meals she can heat up while I”m gone (because I know she won’t eat properly if I don’t). She’s looking after the cats, so they have their second-favorite human on the planet with them, catering to their every whim.

I did three loads of laundry yesterday and I’m going to do some ironing today and maybe even pack. I have to find the jeans i want to wear on the plane, and pick up a few things at the drug store, but, other than that, I think we’re okay.

It’s in the 40’s here today, and rainy. The cats are much perkier in the cooker weather. I certainly slept better. Autumn is my favorite season.

I’ve got most of my holiday cards sorted out and worked on the Christmas list, so I can tackle that when I get back and get things done ahead of time.

I have my eye on yet another sofa. I’ve got to stop buying sofas or I’m going to need a 16 room house just for the sofas. As comfortable as that red microsuede is when it’s unfolded into a bed, it’s far too small and low for an adult human to actually sit on. It’s the most expensive cat bed I’ve ever bought.

I’m at a stopping point with AMENDS. I tried to push through, but without sorting out what I’ve got and plotting the middle, it’s merely getting muddled. I’ll read it over before I leave and let it percolate while I’m gone.

Errands, pitching, ironing, packing today.

Devon
IMG_0431
Violet on the most expensive cat bed I’ve ever bought.

Published in: on September 11, 2009 at 7:41 am  Comments (6)  
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Not a great writing day yesterday. I had a bad headache, and I was trying to hustle work to make up for the lost gigs. Never fun, especially when you’re not in the mood for it.

Thanks, Avid Writer, for your kind words of encouragement. Sometimes people who don’t do what we do and don’t get it just work my last nerve.

PJ, you can prep as much for Nano as you want, as long as you don’t start writing the actual book until November 1. Outlines, character studies, scene work, snippets of dialogue, whatever you want. I usually have a pretty good idea of my characters and then do a scene-by-scene outline before I start. Last year, during the Muse Online Conference, I developed two novels in two different world-building workshops, and one pulled more strongly than the other, so that’s the one I went with for Nano, and boy, it just flew. I had to stop myself from writing every day because I could have easily spent 12-14 hours just on the book. It was a great feeling, but there were other things that had to be dealt with throughout the month, so I had to make myself stop at specific points each day, and sometimes it was from sheer physical exhaustion.

I enjoyed the photo shoot. I took one set of pictures at the local nature center and some additional photos at the beach and town park. Of course, the photo I took on the spur of the moment will most likely be the cover for “The Possession of Nattie Filmore” – provided I can figure out how to layer text over the photo, since I don’t have Photoshop. Does anyone know if I can make the photo the “background” of the page and then add the text over it? Techno-phobes like me want to know!

I worked on the ebook, which I really need to finish and get up this weekend, before the conference starts.

I pitched for a job, but they went with someone else. At least they had the courtesy to let me know!

I put together the email for my N3s, which goes out as soon as I post this.

I’m getting together with Costume Imp this afternoon, for a quick few hours of fun before he heads back out on tour. That will be fun. Always good to scatter in some playtime with the serious worktime.

I had a good morning’s session on The Big Project. I was afraid I’d lose my rhythm with it, but I haven’t.

Thought a lot about ANGEL HUNT, and am doing my research for the western.

You won’t believe this: Elsa figured out how to work the pedal trashcan. I got one with a foot pedal because she likes to hunt through the garbage for things like pork bones and bring them into the bed. So, for the past few years, she’s been stymied. Last night, I heard rummaging in the kitchen. She had both of her back feet on the pedal, the top was up, and she leaned over the can . . .rummaging for pork bones, since we had pork chops last night. I had to weigh down the lid with a heavy cooking pot!

Back to the page for a couple more hours before I leave for the city.

Devon

The Big Project – 12,880 words out of est. 75,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
12 / 75
(16.0%)
Published in: on October 11, 2008 at 8:51 am  Comments (4)  
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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Don’t forget: Live chat tonight, 9 PM EST on the FireDrakes Weyr site. Enter the site and click on “Conference room.”

I had no idea that my post “Life Experience Enhances Writing” was up at Mystic-Lit, but it is. So hop on over and check it out.

Hey, Colby, the wordcounter I use is Zokutu Word meter. It crashes pretty often, but I can’t get anything from Writertopia to work for me, I’m too technologically impaired.

I worked on ANGEL HUNT. I did a lovely, fast-paced chunk of it and then realized I had it in the wrong chapter. I had to move it to a different chapter and put something else into the chapter in which I worked. Argh. Oh, well, better to figure it out now than when it’s at the galley stage, right? But boy, did it flow, and I hated to leave it when I wrote myself out. The final chapters are spinning in my head, both simpler and more complex than I originally envisioned. It’s a much more layered novel than it was as a serial. I’m passionate and excited about it.

I didn’t get any work done on the western, although one of the research books I’d requested via BookMooch arrived: THE FRONTIER WORLD OF DOC HOLLIDAY, which I can’t wait to read.

I did, however, write two short stories. I wanted to write more – I need to write six – but I ran out of steam after two.

I had a good morning’s work on The Big Project today. I have to remember that it’s a big project, and I can unspool some elements a little bit more slowly than, say, in the western.

I’ve definitely got one N3 for the Nano process, and someone else has approached me. This second person sounds like a good match, too, but I have some concerns, so we’re going to talk more in depth. So even if I don’t do a traditional Nano, I’ll do some mentoring. I have to say, I’ve met some really cool people this year in the area to which I plan to relocate, just by happenstance, which to me, means the Universe is taking a hand in it all. Now I just have to figure out what those opportunities are that are being offered, and take action. Because the Universe doesn’t like it when you slap away an opportunity offered, especially if it was what you asked for, or if you just sit there and dither instead of grabbing it and seeing where it leads.

Back to the page. I love these unstructured days. The writing truly is like working and strengthening muscles – the more I write, the easier it becomes to write more. Think about that when you claim you want to write but “don’t have time” or are “too tired” and then wonder why it’s so hard to get back in the groove. If you keep writing in spurts, or just when you “feel like it”, you can’t sustain a career and you’ll always be someone who write on the side rather than a full time writer. So you have to make a conscious choice if you want this to be your passionate vocation or your hobby. And, trust me, there’s nothing wrong with loving your job, especially if you’re a writer.

Devon

Angel Hunt – 107,787 words out of est. 125,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
108 / 125
(86.2%)

The Big Project – 8,964 words out of est. 75,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
8 / 75
(10.7%)

Devon’s Bookstore:


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 8, 2008 at 8:38 am  Comments (11)  
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