Thurs. Aug. 24, 2017: Getting Motivated Again

Thursday, August 24, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I had trouble getting going yesterday. Eventually, I did, and sent off the edits for PLAYING THE ANGLES. Got a couple of pitches out. Heard back from an LOI I’d sent to a company that sounded interesting, but I don’t think we’re the right match.

Read a JD Robb novella, featuring Eve Dallas. Those are the science fiction/mystery/romance novels Nora Roberts writes. I enjoyed it; I’d read more. I like how she works with elements of all three genres. Structurally, I found it very strong, and I like the characters.

Got some work done on “Labor Intensive”, but not enough. That piece has to be ready to go next week, and I’m dragging my feet. I have to buckle down and get it done. I need to do some work on the essays, and get both FIX-IT GIRL and SAVASANA AT SEA revisions back on track.

One of the elements I’ve found most time-consuming in preparing these manuscripts is the back matter — excerpts from other books, additional material relevant to the books, etc. I enjoy writing and researching and sharing these materials, but it takes time, which means it has to be carefully built into the schedule.

I’m feeling creatively drained and fallow right now, without the usual stories and characters buzzing around in my head. Those are the stretches were one has to lean on craft first, and hope the creativity comes out of that. The foundation in craft is vital for a sustainable writing career. It also makes me very grateful for tools like my Writers Rough Outlines. They keep me on track, even on the rough days.

Alyssa Maxwell (a fellow Sister-in-Crime who writes the mysteries set in Newport) recommended the Hattie Darvish books written by Anna Loan-Wilsey. Hattie is a private secretary, earning her living, so each book is in a different location and different professional setting. I started with the first book in the series, A LACK OF TEMPERANCE. She’s very good with historical detail, makes it come alive well.

Several things are in limbo right now, and I’m trying to get things ready for my mother’s upcoming surgery. It’s in October, but there’s a great deal to be done before then, especially since she’s in her nineties, and any surgery can have difficult consequences.

Plenty to do today — research-wise and writing-wise.

One of the many good things about the trip to Nantucket is that it solidified my decision to set the whaling mysteries in New Bedford. I wasn’t sure which location I should pick, although I leaned toward New Bedford. What I need to serve the story makes more sense to put in New Bedford than on Nantucket, although, with its importance in the whaling industry, I’m sure there will at least be scenes set there.

Setting is so important to me, in what I read and what I write. Yes, the fictional elements of a setting are important, but they need to be grounded in reality if it’s in a real place or near a real place, and has to be believable as that area, not generic “small town” or “coast town” or “Southern town” or “English village” or whatever.

As I’ve spoken and taught for years, emotional geography matters.

In September, I really need to get to work writing the Lavinia Fontana play (it’s due in December). Some of the scenes are starting to take shape in my mind, but I still lack the throughline. I have themes, but not yet a plot. I’m character-building, and I may write one or two of the scenes to see how I can get a plot to emerge. The social structure of Bologna, especially amongst the noblewomen, will be an important part of that, and how Lavinia navigates that, with the burden of being the primary breadwinner for a large family, and the fact that she was constantly pregnant. It didn’t slow down her painting, though.

I feel like I’m using so much creative energy with the writing that pays the bills, it’s much more difficult to find the energy for the percolating time I need. The fiction and the non-fiction usually feed each other well, but, right now, I’m creatively weary and I don’t have the luxury of taking a break. X amount has to go out regularly, so X amount of dollars come in.

Smashwords has started paying monthly. Honestly, I prefer quarterly and/or twice-a-year payments for royalties.

In any case, I need to dig down and get back to work.

Buzz is starting to build for Nano again. With a book releasing in November, I don’t think this is a good year to do it. I might “write along with” Nano, riding the energy wave to finish THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, but I don’t think I should “do” Nano, as in starting a new book on November 1. I have to say, though, the tandem Nano I did two years ago was a good thing, winding up with DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, and a good chunk done on THE TIE-CUTTER (which has to go back on the schedule soon).

Preparing for the weekend, lots of reading and writing needs to happen (I have a reviewing assignment I need to finish), plus it’s toxic disposal day at the dump, so I can get rid of used batteries, light bulbs, aerosol cans, etc.

And, of course, I need to catch up on mowing. I’m sure you can all feel the eye roll, even though you can’t see it. 😉

Back to the page.

Published in: on August 24, 2017 at 9:22 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Aug. 24, 2017: Getting Motivated Again  
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Wed. Jan. 25, 2017: Meetings & Negotiations & National Parks

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Waning Moon
Rainy and mild

Yesterday morning was about contract negotiations on two projects. We’ll see. At this point, either the terms will be accepted, or they won’t. I’m fine with either. I’m not willing to sign something detrimental to my interests. I’d rather walk away.

Got some work done on the short story. I feel good about what’s there, and where it’s going. It was nice to get in some solid writing time.

Drove to New Bedford in the afternoon for my meeting. Drive wasn’t bad, although the fog was thick and it was raining. I need to replace my windshield wipers. I don’t understand the idiots who’ll drive in that weather, refusing to put on their lights. It’s the law to have one’s lights on in this weather; would be nice if it was enforced. It would prevent a lot of accidents.

The meeting went very well. I have some materials to put together by tomorrow and we have to negotiate money. Hopefully, it will work.

On the way back, I plotted out a new play, and worked on the outline last night. It’s a rather bleak, dystopian piece. In other words, contemporary.

Had my orientation for Constitutional Law. I really like the professor. While I believe the class will be challenging, I think it will be worth it.

Picked up Chinese food on the way home, and worked on contest entries. The last couple have been very good.

Love watching WEST WING, but it makes an even starker contrast to what we’re facing.

Kudos to the National Park Service and the employees who are standing up to climate change facts being censored. The Park Service reports to the PEOPLE, who pay for them.

I have a lot of work to do today, along with errands and a lunch mid-Cape. I’ve been invited to an early morning coffee tomorrow morning by a networking organization. I’m tempted to go, but it’s during my best writing time, so I hesitate.

The White House is still ignoring the devastation caused by the tornadoes this weekend. In the states who voted for him. That is not okay. Too busy abusing executive order power and gagging federal agencies.

Published in: on January 25, 2017 at 10:10 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 25, 2017: Meetings & Negotiations & National Parks  
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Wed. May 29, 2013: The Challenge of The Travel

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and humid

Yesterday was certainly a challenge!

The morning started well, although I felt a wrench at being away from the garden this week. The irises are about to open. They are my favorite flower. I think they’ll have come and gone by the time I get back. The terraced back needs mowing, and I’m worried that the ants will get the upper hand while I’m gone.

But everything will rub along without me — plants were doing that for thousands of years before people started to garden!

I opened my email to find out that I’ve been contracted for 14 short articles (yes, paid) over the next seven months. I’ll do the first one next week, when I get back. I also finished and pitched another article to a different publication. Not a bad way to start the week!

The drive to Providence wasn’t bad, except for the construction work around New Bedford. If it’s the left lane that’s closed, why is that the only one moving? Because the travellers in that lane are pushy bastards, that’s why. If everyone let one person get ahead of time, and six people didn’t force their ways forward, causing the other lane to come to a grinding halt, we’d all get where we needed to go on time.

Megabus late in Providence. Turns out, the bus coming from NY broke down in CT, so they had to send another bus. However, the bus they sent was a single decker, and the Providence-NY bus was sold out as a double decker. Not everyone could get on the bus — some had to wait for another bus they were sending. Um, why didn’t anyone check the manifest for the trip BEFORE sending out a bus? We do make reservations ahead of time. There’s no reason to act surprised that there’s a line of people waiting.

Needless to say, I was on that first bus. 😉

Once we got rolling, it was okay. I ate the lunch I packed (simple– hard boiled egg, carrots, celery, radishes, a gigantic chocolate bar). I read Joelle Charbonnau’s END ME A TENOR, which was a lot of fun. I’m meeting her for a drink tonight, so I wanted to read at least something of hers!

The wifi on the bus didn’t work, and people were even having problems with cell phones, so at least it was quiet!

The problems happened from Bridgeport to New York. Should have taken maybe an hour and a half for that stretch. It took a little over three. The traffic was just backed up, it was raining and miserable.

I was glad that I packed the rain gear I wore in Iceland a few years back. It’s a light windbreaker that folds into its own pocket.

Once we disembarked in NY, we were in the midst of rush hour. Taking the escalator down into Penn Station, watching all the people scuttle around, was like descending into a colony of cockroaches. Reminded me of one of the reasons I no longer live here and have to deal with the commute.

Got the Metro Card — actually, I refilled the one I used when I was down here for Costume Imp’s birthday. Turns out they now charge you $1 for a new card, but credit you an extra $1.50 (three quarters of a ride? Huh?) if you refill. I opted for the refill.

I got the C train — I even got a seat! Headed out to Brooklyn. Humped the luggage in the rain through Ft. Greene to the place I’m staying. Imp left the key at the diner around the corner. Retrieved the key, hauled my luggage up the steps of the brownstone, and then up the steps INSIDE — tall ceilings, lots of steps.

It’s a wonderful place — and it’s the location I based the Ft. Greene brownstone in which Sophie, Fawn, and Bianca live for THE CHARISMA KILLINGS.

Greeted the animals, handed out the toys I brought, gave out pettings. The Puerto Rican street cat decided maybe I should give her some extra attention, and even climbed on the bed with me a few times. She wasn’t sure what to do next — she’s not a cuddler — but it was funny. Imp’s cats were delighted to see me and tried to convince me they haven’t been fed in at least three days. Riiiight.

Went back to the diner and had a roast chicken dinner. Yummy. Chatted with the housemates for a bit, read, waited for Imp to get back from the ballet. He had to haul out to Long Island for a photo shoot for HARPER’S BAZAAR, and had trouble getting back to the city in time for his show, too.

But we caught up, played with the cats, he lent me three more of Joelle’s books to read (and one of Pauline Gadge’s). And I lent him END ME A TENOR.

Slept like a log. I did wake up at 3 AM — like I have for the past few weeks — but got over it, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

I’m showered and dressed (although the makeup has yet to be applied). Did yoga. The younger of the two huskies and the Puerto Rican Street cat have wandered in and out a few times. Had my first cup of coffee. My run-around day bag is packed — promo materials, notebook, camera, in-case book to read, all the directions and appointments for the day.

Going to do some work with students and then a few email things — the editor of the publication to which I pitched wants to see the article, so I need to polish it and get it out. A proofreading job to which I applied says they want me, but the terms sound slimy — they want to pay by KB instead of by word or page, which sounds weird to me, and a few other things made the red flags go up.

Will foray out to get some breakfast soon, get some stuff done, and then I’m headed out for the day’s appointments, including the Indie Next Generation Book Awards at the Harvard Club tonight. I better get going!

Devon

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

IMG_1071

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s reality.

Back to yesterday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I better get going!

Devon

Tues. March 7: New Books and Old Exhaustion

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

KC Sprayberry is my guest today on Biblio Paradise, talking about mixed up words and her new release, SOFTLY SAY GOODBYE. Please stop by and drop a comment!

Forced myself not to think about the book yesterday, although it was hard. Sent an update to my agent. Tried to work on the non-fiction book, but the material, for some reason, mystified me. I have to get back into that groove.

Did a little over 1K on the next book in the queue (LEADING OPPORTUNITIES), and a few pages on the adaptation. Worked with students. Pitched a few projects. Ran some errands. Read (for work) on the deck. Did some work in the yard.

Emotionally, I’m very tired, as well as physically.

Supposed to go to New Bedford today to check out a gallery space, but not sure what time we’re leaving or where we’re meeting, so I’m just going to keep working until someone lets me know!

Pitched a few projects this morning, and had my morning stroll around the property, then reading AN EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF ORDINARY DAYS. I find that book very nourishing.

The tips are going out on time every day, which is fun. Hopefully, the recipients are enjoying them.

Back to the page, to see how much I can get done before it’s time to head out.

Devon