Mon. Oct. 23, 2017: Preparations for a Stressful Week

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Playing the Angles digital buy links

Monday, October 23, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I was wiped out by Friday afternoon. I read a good deal, and did some work on THE MARRIAGE GARDEN. Did some work for one of my clients, and solidified our next meeting. Also worked on the next book for review, and picked up my next assignment.

It was even nice enough to sit outside for awhile.

Saturday wound up being a hearth-and-home day. Five loads of laundry, scrubbed the house from top to bottom, changed the beds, etc. I mean, I change the sheets on the beds regularly, but it always seems like something worth celebrating!

Read a bit — two books by John Scalzi, FUZZY NATION and THE GOD ENGINES. Loved the first one. The second one was exceptionally well-written and made me think, but to say I “enjoyed” it is a stretch. Definitely “appreciated” it, but not sure I “enjoyed” it.

Sunday, finished the book I have to review. Will write up the review later today and send it off tomorrow. If the book was meant as a satire, it fell short.

Wrote nearly 3K on THE MARRIAGE GARDEN yesterday.

Did another proofread of SAVASANA galleys. Found a couple of typos, and decided I had to change a date in the opening chapter of DAVY JONES DHARMA for it all to make more sense.

I considered moving the “Cast of Characters” to the back of the tale, but a survey on Facebook suggested that most readers prefer the front, so it stays in the front.

In spite of my sense that participating in Nano this year is the wrong choice, there’s a part of me that wonders if that’s a good way to get NOT BY THE BOOK back on track. I only need another 44K on it. But with the release of SAVASANA and “Miss Wintston Apologizes” and the edits for TRACKING MEDUSA and finishing FIX IT GIRL and writing the Lavinia Fontana play and my two new clients, it feels like taking on too much.

Nano sings a siren song like the Lorelei.

(If you don’t know who Lorelei is, on the Rhine River, look it up).

Slow start today; I’m having trouble getting my act together. Did a grocery run this morning and forgot a couple of major things, so I guess I’ll be doing another run later on.

This is the week of my mother’s surgery, with her final pre-op appointment tomorrow, client meetings this week, and the surgery itself on Thursday. I’m trying to prepare myself both mentally and physically.

Hope you had a lovely weekend, and that it’s a good week for you.

 

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Wed. Oct. 4, 2017: Reasons I Should Not Do Nano

Playing The Angles Cover Sm
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Thank you to everyone who has purchased PLAYING THE ANGLES. I hope you’re loving it. I’m getting some wonderful feedback. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, a variety of digital links are here and the website is here.

Busy day — pitches, promo for PLAYING THE ANGLES, updating sites, research for articles, etc.

Finished writing a weird little short story — for me, very weird and out of my wheelhouse. But I like it. Have to type it up and polish it.

Got in the two reviews, and requested two more books to review.

Heard back from a pitch and have a meeting about it tomorrow afternoon, which will be fun. Looking forward to it.

Playing with an idea for a story, a way to channel current rage and frustrations. I started playing with it last night. Not only did I enjoy working the idea, but I felt better about things in general. It’s evolving away from the original inspiration into something much more complex and interesting, which is what a good bit of imagination partnered with craft does. I like even the unlikable characters, and it has a weird humor to it. It’s also out of my usual wheelhouse, which makes it an interesting challenge.

Added a challenging yoga sequence before last night’s meditation. I’m sore this morning, but slept better. Upped this morning’s yoga practice, too. Important to keep it fresh.

Of course, the Nano debate is coming up again, for me and for most writers I know. To Nano or not to Nano? Everyone, of course, has different reasons for doing or not doing Nano. I need to separate my ego at writing 50K in 30 days away from what’s on my schedule.

First and foremost, I know I can write 50K in 30 days. I proved that over 5 bouts of Nano, and, at this point, that’s basically a normal month, although usually spread over several projects.

Second, the Lavinia Fontana play has to take center stage as far as drafting, since it’s due to the producer by the end of the year.

Third, I’m promoting PLAYING THE ANGLES, and by November, will have to get back into finishing THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, so it can release in May.

Fourth, SAVASANA AT SEA releases on November 15, so I’ll be working on pre-release and release material for that WHILE still promoting PLAYING THE ANGLES.
Fifth, I’ll be working on the research and finishing the outline for DAVY JONES DHARMA, so I can start writing it after the first of the year, since it releases in November of 2018.

Sixth, “Miss Winston Apologizes”, the next Cornelia True/Roman Gray story is set to release in November. Which means writing the opening of the following story to go in the back matter.

Seventh, we still have to re-schedule the release of “Labor Intensive”, the next Twinkle Tavern short.

Eighth, the galleys for the re-release of TRACKING MEDUSA will be in full swing by then (since it releases in January) — which also means I’ll have to reshape the material for the opening of MYTH & INTERPRETATION (which drops next July) and the opening of THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE (which releases in January of 2019).

Ninth, I have article and review deadlines to keep the bills paid and a roof over my head.

Tenth, my mother will just have had surgery, and we don’t yet know the next steps.

Eleventh, FIX-IT GIRL has to go out on submission.

Twelfth, I have other original novels that got derailed with this new writing/release schedule that have to get back on track.

Those reasons are all in the “don’t do it this year” column.

In the “gosh I’m tempted column”:

I like riding the wave of creative energy. The air tingles with excitement;

The new novel I’m playing with wants attention; it would give me a chance to write a bit over 1600 words/day to see if it’s actually viable, or just a release valve for the moment;

I love the space where the local Nano group is meeting, and I’m tempted to go and write in community.

The Nano definition has gotten much looser in the last few years, but I still stick to the original definition.

“Doing” Nano means you start a new project on Nov. 1 and you write 50K in 30 days. If you’re not done with your first draft then, you keep going until you’re done, using the Nano momentum.

“Writing Along With” Nano means you’re working on something in progress. Some people use it to work on revisions. Personally, I find the first-draft energy generated by millions of people scribbling for a month too intense for anything but first-draft work.

So why not “Write With” on more than one project?

Technically, one isn’t supposed to work on a script — this NOVEL writing month. The Lavinia Fontana script must take priority. There used to be Script Frenzy in the spring, but I think that petered out. Plus, I can’t be held to a daily word count with Lavinia. She is bound and determined to do things her way, just like she did in life — serene and determined (which I’m seriously thinking of using as the title).

First-draft energy would mean either finishing THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY or using it to push DAVY JONES DHARMA (since I’m already immersed in the world of that series).

Or, it could be used to get NOT BY THE BOOK back on track. Since that’s only got a 55K word limit, it’s do-able.

Or I could use it to keep working on MARRIAGE GARDEN, but that’s developed a solid, innate rhythm, sometimes as much as 3K/day, and I don’t want to disrupt it.

Or, I could work on the first 50K of the new piece I’m noodling with — but DOING Nano would mean I can’t work on it between now and November 1, which just isn’t going to happen. I’m pretty sure this book will run to just under 100K.

Last time I “wrote along with” Nano, about two years ago, I was already working on TIE-CUTTER, but then I wanted to “do” Nano, too, so I started DEATH OF A CHOLERIC — and wrote the whole damn thing while writing daily on TIE-CUTTER, doing what I called “Tandem Nano.” CHOLERIC is out on submission; TIE-CUTTER was put aside to work on other projects, and will go back in the queue late next year.

On an emotional/ego level, I want to do it. On a practical level, it is going to work against me instead of for me. Which should make the decision easy.

We’ll see what happens come November 1.

Lots of fiddly things to do today, and then it’s back to the SAVASANA galleys, polishing the short story, and working on articles.

Back to the page.

I’m glad so many of you are loving PLAYING THE ANGLES! It means a lot to me.

Wed. Aug. 29, 2017: Short-Term and Long-Term Relief Planning, Balancing With Work

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cool

We’re getting the very outer grazings of Tropical Storm Irma. Not bad, especially not in perspective with what’s going on down south, but still worth paying attention to and not taking unnecessary risks.

The Narcissistic Sociopath lived up to his name yesterday on his visit to flood stricken areas. Not a word of comfort or support or empathy. He treated it like a campaign rally, going on about “crowd size.” Excuse me? And the tone-deaf wife, insensitive to the losses of those around them — the whole propaganda event was sickening.

Amy Siskind, with whom I often agree, especially as she documents how our civil rights are being methodically stripped away every day, said we shouldn’t criticize the wife because it reflects how we treat women in general. I disagree. You don’t get respect BECAUSE of your gender. You get basic respect as a human being, because every human being should get that, and build that WITH YOUR ACTIONS. Or you lose it WITH YOUR ACTIONS. The fact that too often women are objectified and criticized for their appearance or choices doesn’t mean that, simply because one is a woman, one can’t criticize or be criticized by another woman. The wife is in a position of leadership, and it is her JOB to behave with grace, class, and sensitivity towards ALL the people who live in or visit this country. She has done nothing, EVER, to earn respect, at least not from me. To say she’s “learning on the job” is crap — all First Ladies learn on the job, because there’s no other job quite like it. And yes, it is a job, and don’t give me that crap that she didn’t “choose” it. She didn’t walk away from it. She CHOSE to stay. Top offices are a package deal, and yes, there are politicians who have not gotten my vote because I thought their partners weren’t up to the job, and would, in fact, be a detriment. One person holds the elected office, but the couple is in it together.

And then, the Nashville Statement? Disgusting. Again, I was in Nashville several years ago to cover the NHL draft. Six days in Nashville was five days too many, as far as I was concerned. They were talking about secession and creating a country which recognized that slavery was a “good” thing. I still have the newspaper coverage tucked away in some file somewhere.

I’m trying to come up with a plan for long-term giving. I don’t have the financial resources right now to do a lot, but I’m doing what I can, and planning what I can do over the long-term, because the area will need help long-term. So far, with my due diligence, I’m focusing on food banks for people and the Texas SPCA and Pets Alive in Austin for animals. When the immediate need eases, I’ll focus on Habitat for Humanity for people. My friend, author Joelle Charbonneau, who always goes the extra mile for everyone, gave me information on Global Giving, so I’ll also do what I can with them.

I’m reading the material on why one shouldn’t give to the Red Cross. It disturbs me. I agree that the company that took over in the past few years isn’t transparent enough, especially with donations. I volunteered with the Red Cross in NYC during Desert Storm (I was a military case worker). I learned a lot, disagreed with some of their policies, but overall, had a great deal of respect with them at the time. As far as being helped by them, in my personal experience, I found them good at immediate, short-term assistance — such as when the building I lived in caught fire, and when my hometown flooded — but not structured to handle long-term issues. The Text and $10 goes to them option is, in my opinion, good in the short term, but for longer term help, I’m going to give elsewhere.

The phone scams for false charities are already in full swing. Half a dozen calls yesterday morning alone. I don’t give out my phone number, so how do they get it? Which corporation (of the few that have it — utility companies, etc.) is selling phone numbers? That needs to stop. I’m on every Do Not Call list there is. In any case, be careful, and don’t make donations by phone, unless you’re texting one to a vetted organization.

All of this has to balance with the writing, or I can’t keep a roof over my head.

Not much writing done yesterday, although I have to get back on track for that. I got out an article pitch and another pitch, so, hopefully, they’ll hit home. I need to do some research for a batch of LOIs to go out next week, when Mercury goes direct and after the holiday weekend.

I’ve gotten several questions as to when NOT BY THE BOOK will be ready to submit (some publishing people are interested), so that has to get back on the schedule, along with everything else.

August was a month away from the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions in the sense of not sticking to a list, but relevant due to the internal work.

Finished Alyssa Maxwell’s MURDER AT CHATEAU SUR MER, one of her Gilded Newport Mysteries. I love the series, and I love the growth of Emma Cross.

I have to figure out a new release date for “Labor Intensive”. Since it takes place on Labor Day Weekend, I don’t want it to be too far out, but I also don’t want to do a big promotion when people are drowning in Harvey.

I like the new covers for both “Labor Intensive” and “Plot Bunnies”. I think they fit the scope of the series better.

More ideas are coming in for the Picaroon Island series. I need to jot them down before I lose them. The ideas pouring in right now are for what would be the fifth book in the series. The first book is out on submission. Visiting Nantucket got me thinking about it again.

Next week, the first pre-pub push for PLAYING THE ANGLES goes out. Lots of juggling going on.

Not to mention that I really want to get SAVASANA AT SEA to my editor by mid-September.

I have one more pass at ANGLES to go, and that needs to happen this weekend.

Never a dull moment, which is good.

Tues. May 30, 2017: Hamster on the Wheel

Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

It was kind of a lousy weekend here on Cape, weather-wise. That didn’t stop it from having a back-up trying to get off Cape yesterday from Orleans (the elbow of the Cape) all the way to the Sagamore Bridge. Three hours for a trip that should take about 45 minutes.

It’s going to be a challenging season.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, so you can see how I’m using books by Claire Cook and Jeff Vandermeer on this Recalibration journey.

With the mower now working again, I got some work done on the yard before the weather changed. I got the front and the side front yard mowed. I’d hoped to get the terraced back area done, so I could start on the meadow today, but no such luck. I’m hoping it will clear up a bit this afternoon, so I can start that.

I did my first assignment from my new editor. I don’t know how long my association will be with this publication. I have some issues with contract and payment terms. Either we’ll work them out, or we won’t, and I’ll leave. I’m no longer accepting situations that don’t work for me. Especially when there’s an unacceptable time iag in payment.

Heard back last night from another pitch I sent last week — the editor wants to buy the article. So I have to get that off to her as quickly as possibly (while writing something good).

I also need to do some follow up on other pitches.

Last night, I got an idea for two flash fiction stories, on the light-hearted side. I’d like to draft them, so I don’t lose the energy.

I worked on the story inspired by the photos of the abandoned Connecticut town I came across online. I got 49 pages written, in longhand, getting all the way into chapter four. So I think the idea is viable. I like working in longhand on this particular piece. I’m at a point where I need to stop and type up the first three chapters, and also where I need to stop and write my Writer’s Rough outline.

Trying to get back into the rhythm of NOT BY THE BOOK, and trying to sort out some things for the next section of FIX IT GIRL.

Worked my way through some research books. I have a big stack to take back to the library today. Hopefully, I can get done everything I need to get done in an hour or so, and then get back to the page.

I thought I had two deadlines today for radio scripts, but it turns out that one is actually the end of next month, and the other is in a window — I have a feeling I’ll get the latter (which is further along) out the door later this week. Here, I thought I’d have to drop one possibility, and push hard for the other one. Glad I don’t.

The most important thing this morning is to dig down and get the article done, then polish the piece for the other editor and send it off.

I won’t be posting here tomorrow — I’m off on an adventure. But I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say when I come back on Thursday!

Published in: on June 1, 2017 at 10:48 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 30, 2017: Hamster on the Wheel  
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Mon. May 8, 2017: The Reading Groove Leads to the Writing Groove

Monday, May 8, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I gave myself the weekend off from writing, after revising another three chapters on THE FIX-IT GIRL. I’ve got just over 15K done on the second draft. I’m going along more slowly than I would like, but, at least, it’s going. It’s necessary, in order for the piece to be the best it can be.

Worked on outlines for the pseudo-Gothic and for the literary fiction novels.

But, for the most part, this weekend, I went on a reading marathon, reading only what I wanted to, nothing that I had to. I re-read TC Boyle’s EAST IS EAST. I forgot how brutal it was, especially the ending. I read the first Veronica Speedwell mystery by Deanna Rayburn, A CURIOUS BEGINNING, which I loved. That is quickly becoming one of my favorite series. Read two of Shelley Freydont’s Newport Gilded Age mysteries, A GILDED GRAVE and a GILDED CAGE. I like them, and I like her writing. They’re very different from Alyssa Maxwell’s mysteries set around the same time, also in Newport, and both series are well worth it.

On the non-fiction side, I read GHOSTING by Jennie Erdal, a memoir of her twenty plus years as a ghost writer for a particular individual. Interesting and somewhat depressing. I also re-read A BOOK AND A LOVE AFFAIR, by Helen Bevington. I’d read four of Bevington’s volumes of diaries/memoirs back in Rye. At some point, I bought a copy of this. I wanted to order the other three from the CLAMS libraries here and re-read them, too, but none of them are in the system, which is frustrating. I’ll have to go on Commonwealth Catalog, or, if that doesn’t work, go on ILL to get them.

Was berated by a so-called “publisher” who advertised for freelance contributors, but didn’t list rates. When I queried the rate, I was told that they don’t discuss money with new contributors; they want proof of “commitment” and “passion” first. Well, honey, I have a commitment and a passion for keeping a roof over my head, and I do so with my writing. If you aren’t up front about your rates, I can only assume that you either don’t pay at all, or you pay a pittance; professionals aren’t squeamish about stating what they pay. Cross that one off the list and move on. Another publication wants me to be a contributor –at 1/20th of my normal rate. I don’t think so. Next!

On a more positive note, I got a lovely letter from a company interested in one of my radio plays. The reader (who is also one of the company’s actors) loved the piece and will recommend it for next season. So, fingers crossed. There are still plenty of steps between interest and production, but it’s one of the nicest letters about my work I’ve ever received.

I have some pitches to write and send out this morning (to publications who pay appropriately and are open about their rates). Bills to pay — never fun, but always a relief when paid.

I hope I can get the mowing working again, because there’s grass that needs to be cut, and I can’t afford to buy a new mower if this one has bitten the dust permanently. I’ve gone back to using my Melita filter pot because my coffee pot died! A lawn mower is much more expensive.

Later on, I have to revise the next chapters of FIX-IT GIRL. WINNER TAKE ALL has had its percolation week; I’ll re-read that this afternoon and start my 20 pages-per-day revision on it tomorrow.

Working on an outline for an idea for a piece set in the 1890s that could be kind of fun, and hoping to write my way a bit into the literary fiction. I’m still trying to make some structural decisions on it; I hope that by writing my way into it for a bit, that will give me some answers.

I’d like to get back to NOT BY THE BOOK one of these days. I’m still on the fence about the radio adaptations — I’m not sure the time necessary to do the adaptation properly balances the money. Maybe it’s because I’m not excited enough about the material. Still debating.

Trying to get a few other things into motion, hoping they pay off (in every sense of the word) in the next few months.

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing.

May 1, 2017: Process and Planning

Monday, May 1, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Beltane
Rainy and cool

Busy weekend, but good one.

Finished the first draft of the screenplay WINNER TAKES ALL. It took me 19 days to write it from concept through first draft. It flowed well. I’ll have it marinate for about a week, and then hit revisions. The 6 pages/day schedule was good (although I usually averaged 10-13). I like the leaps of craft I’ve made in this. The storytelling is better, and that’s the point.

I had an idea for a new mystery on Friday and started playing with it. We’ll see if it goes anywhere. I wrote a few pages and it seemed distant. This morning, I woke up with the protagonist’s voice very strong in my head, and the realization it needs to be first person. However, I’m worried about yet another mystery of mine in the first person, although I feel Anna’s voice is quite distinct from either Sophie’s or Gin’s. We’ll see.

Disappointing response to a pitch that requested samples. Part of it was my misunderstanding the request, which is entirely on me; the rest of it is the person in charge not wanting/being able to evaluate a writing sample that wasn’t project specific. In my mind, if you look at a writer’s portfolio, you should be able to evaluate voice, style, craft, even if the sample wasn’t written specifically for you — that’s the point of a writing sample. To show breadth and depth, not to provide something for free to the publication. An editor should be able to read a piece and tell if the writer fits the publication. If said individual “can’t” because it’s not specific to that publication, the warning bells go off. It had potential to be a steady gig that could have been fun, but if the editor’s ability to evaluate is so narrow, I’m not a good fit for the publication. Next. I was going to try to fix the misunderstanding, but the more I consider it, the more my gut tells me that I’ve dodged (yet another) bullet.

Did some yard work, and planted some bee-friendly patches on the side of the house and in the stone circle. Arranged the deck, turning it into the Enchanted Garden for summer. There’s still a lot to do, but I’m out of shape, and only have the stamina to do a little bit every nice day. I’m going to have to start mowing this week.

Have an idea for a literary fiction/historical novel. Not sure if it will go anywhere. Again, the protagonist’s voice is strong, and quite different from the other voices. I will play with the ideas.

Made some research notes for FIX-IT GIRL — I start revisions on it today. I need to finish the Venice section on POWER OF WORDS, because I need to get those research books back, since I have oh-so-many other research books on the way out.

Rewatched THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR and liked it. I appreciate Matt Smith’s work more with some distance. When he first started, I missed David Tennant’s work so much, it was hard to connect to Matt Smith’s. They’re very different, but very good, and they were excellent together.

Watching the AGATHA RAISIN series. I am not a fan of the books, and the series doesn’t do it for me, either. There’s a mean-spiritedness in so much of it, and a lack of logic that thinks it’s funny, but just comes across as stupid. I like most of the actors, I love the locations, but I don’t like the tone.

Finished re-reading the Anthony Trollope biography. I’ve always admired his professional approach to his writing. He got up early every morning and wrote five pages, no matter what or where he was. 250 words per page, 1250 words a day. If he finished a novel within those five pages, he pulled out a fresh sheet of paper and started the next one. He got things done, without a lot of fuss and bother, or moaning.

The April wrap-up is on the GDR site, and May’s To Do list will be up tomorrow. The view on May looks very stressful from here — I hope I can get things sorted out to relieve some of the pressure. Otherwise, it will be a very difficult month.

I have some errands to run this morning, and then, this afternoon, I hope to dig back in to the writing. My To-Do list includes NOT BY THE BOOK, THE FIX-IT GIRL, POWER OF WORDS, “Seven of Swords”, and “Axe to Grind”, but I seriously doubt I can get work done on all of them today.

I’m worried I may have missed the window of opportunity for “Seven of Swords.” At the same time, I can’t send out a piece I know is sub-par. I have to try to fix it. I thought I had the key to fixing it, but it’s not quite working. I want to retain some of the ambiguity, but clean up the parts that are a hot mess. I haven’t hit that balance yet. I either over-explain or it’s overly ambiguous. I just have to keep at it until I get it right.

Like so many things.

Onward.

Mon. April 10, 2017: Creativity During Retrogrades

Monday, April 10, 2017
Full Moon
Venus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Spare me from the retrogrades! No such luck.

Busy weekend. I started the LA section on POWER OF WORDS, and did some work on the Orient Express section.

I did some further plotting for the revision of FIX-IT GIRL — I have to figure out where I need to put the new material, then write the first draft inserts, then I can go back and start a genuine revision. I’m keeping the ending where it is, on the train from LA to New York.

I did a lot of research, relevant to both projects: books on the studio system, books on various actors and directors, costume research. Also read Joe Eszterhas’s THE DEVIL’S GUIODE TO HOLLYWOOD: THE SCREENWRITER AS GOD. I don’t particularly like him or his work, although I respect what he’s accomplished. I don’t like the arrogant, swaggering persona he projects. I disagree with a lot of what he says — his contempt for many people in the business, and dislike of many manifestations of collaboration.

On the other hand, he has a point, and everything starts from the script. He believes one must fight for the script. I agree, to a point: I think a lot depends on the project. When the script originates with the writer — in other words, as he so often does, the writer writes the script from his own idea/something he wants to do and sells it — then, yes. Defend away, fight, be careful where you compromise. But when you’re brought in to write from an idea or a scenario or a treatment — then you’re hired to bring to life someone else’s vision, and I think you have to be more flexible. Of course, he loathes the idea of rewrites or script doctoring. Again, I understand his position, not messing with another writer’s work. But there are times when it’s the wrong writer for the project, or the notes have gotten things so muddy no one can see or think straight anymore.

Good for him that he’s earned the right not to be flexible, but I think there are plenty of cases where one has to be flexible. Especially when one is paying dues and building credits.

I disagree with many, many things in the book, but his actual advice on the process of writing — six script pages every day on the first draft, how to set work aside and go back and rewrite, that the “first draft” that is shown to anyone is really at least the third draft, writing every day and so forth and so on — that’s all great. It’s such a tiny part of the book — he knows he’ll sell more copies with the more controversial stuff about what he has fun with and/or loathes in the industry — but when he talks about the actual writing, he’s got good, useful stuff to say.

Read some Adrienne Rich poetry and prose, both in honor of National Poetry Month and in preparation for a piece on A Biblio Paradise, which will post tomorrow.

Have working title for the Lavinia Fontana play, but still don’t have the catalyst that will actually put the play into motion. More research required.

In the shower this morning, I had an idea for a new screenplay, set in the late 1930s, as the country comes out of the depression, but before the start of WWII. I’ll have to do some research for it, but I liked the idea — it plays against a lot of the noir ideas of the late 30s/early 40s, and some of their hypocrisies, and yes, the lead role is a woman. A very smart woman. Anyway, I sat down and wrote the outline already this morning, a quick paragraph for almost every scene — a couple of places where I need to figure out where the plant a couple of things.

So, I guess, between the errands and the yard work, and 1K on POWER OF WORDS and 1K on NOT BY THE BOOK and figuring out where to plant additional scenes in FIX-IT GIRL, I better get six pages of script done!

Published in: on April 10, 2017 at 10:00 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 10, 2017: Creativity During Retrogrades  
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Fri. March 31, 2017: Musing on Writing Dilemmas

Friday, March 31, 2017
Waxing Moon
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and foggy and cold

Morning was filled with errands. Errands always irritate me, because I feel like I should use the time to write, especially since morning is my prime writing time. But, around here, it makes so much more sense to get errands done early. So I write even EARLIER, and then run errands, and then come back and try to write some more.

Worked mostly on POWER OF WORDS. I got a research book I need on corporate espionage for NOT BY THE BOOK that I hope to devour this weekend, which will help me get back on track for that.

On POWER OF WORDS, I added some inserts — I’m honing the world building of the created world that the characters are filming.

I’m starting to wonder if it makes more sense to release the piece as a full-out serial, instead of as a serial novel. Chapters run between 20-30 pages. There’s no way, that I can see, of making it financially feasible. The contents of each book really need to be somewhere between $4.99 and $7.99 for it to make sense for readers. The mechanics of setting it up as a serial, releasing a chapter a week, seem overwhelming at the moment. For the shorter “sections” (what I’m calling the books, should they be so released), someone would pay for the whole thing, and then receive a chapter per week. At the end of each “book”, the individual would have the option to renew the subscription for the next one or not. One would hope it would build in popularity, but with people wanting to binge-watch and binge-stream and people bitching and moaning that they want the entire series finished before they read a first book — it may no longer be feasible.

There’s too much “I want it now!” rather than enjoying a piece and then looking forward to the next piece. People are greedy rather than grateful. It’s a gluttony of the spirit, not just of the flesh, as pretentious as that sounds.

While I love to binge read a whole series, there’s also something lovely about the anticipation. Although, I get just as frustrated as anyone else when the next book isn’t ready on time. I’m wrestling with that right now from one of my favorite series — her release date has changed several times over the years (instead of being consistent, which, to me, is important in a series). Her next book is going to be three or four months late. I’m sure she has a good reason. But, the greedy part of me DOESN’T CARE. I feel let down (and it’s more likely to be the fault of the publisher than the author, in this particular case, because she’s good about deadlines, et al).

In other words, I am not immune to this phenomenon.

Where does that leave POWER OF WORDS (or whatever I finally decide to call it)? I’m not sure. So why do I keep working on it, when it’s gotten so unwieldy and out of control?

Because it’s my creative utopia. The central characters know they’re creating something new and different. It’s difficult and exhausting, but the exhilaration exceeds the exhaustion. As they find the right creative home, and as they expand to the other creative possibilities, there are more conflicts (both in scheduling, creative approaches, and personal lives) and more opportunities.

There’s an ever-expanding cast of characters, although there is a core group on whose creativity things are focused. As I rewrite and hone sections, I spread out the balance a bit better. First drafting, certain sections tend to tilt one way or the other.

On a professional, financial, business sense, this project makes no sense at all. It is definitely a project of the heart, and I have to keep the more financially feasible projects on their burners, and keep all these plates spinning (while mixing metaphors) in order to have a career.

But there is SOMETHING here. I think I can find it, if I keep at it. I have no idea how long it will eventually be (too long). I have no idea into how many volumes I will eventually break it down. I do know that one of the central relationships, that I thought would be able to endure, won’t. Making it endure would be too much of a fairy tale, and not organic to the characters. They love each other, but there are certain drives in each of them that won’t allow them to stay together as romantic partners in an HEA, although for a good portion of the central part of the books, they will.

The balancing act, however, with this project and others, is difficult, and I often spend more of the workday on this than the other projects which also require attention.

I tried forcing myself to work on the other un-contracted (but with a better chance of moving into the “contracted” category) projects first and letting the work on POWER be my “reward”, but then all I wind up doing is staring at a blank page for something else, while my mind spins with what should be going on in POWER.

It could be considered a lack of discipline, or an over-abundance of passion. Take your pick.

However, when there’s a contracted, deadlined piece in the mix, no matter what I “want” to work on, the contracted, deadlined piece comes first. He who pays the most and has the tightest deadline gets the first attention. That’s what you have to do as a professional.

While inside, I’m wild to get back to POWER. This is a case where I need to trust in its process and led it lead me where it will. Meanwhile, I will also play with different business models for its eventual release, and see where the two converge. It’s not possible to use a traditional model — there’s no way it could keep what makes it special, and still be feasible for a traditional publisher to take a chance on it. It’s not even fair to ask/pitch/submit, because the necessary changes would destroy what I’m trying to do.

So I have to figure out something else. I don’t know if I’m clever enough to create a new model, but we will see what happens.

Sometimes, just to relieve some of the creative pressure, I adapt some of it to teleplay format, and that shows me places to tighten, cut, keep the text moving better. Although I can’t see this succeeding as a television show, either, due to the enormous cast. Still, a strong pilot would be useful in the portfolio as a writing sample. Not as something I’m actually trying to get done, but a sample.

I’ve been re-reading William Goldman’s ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE. I always learn something from that book. It also shows how much has changed in the business since the early 1980s — the advent of “reality” television, even some of the formatting techniques for a screenplay, the shortening of the screenplay, et al. Some things, such as endless, usually useless meetings, and the adage to “protect the star” in vehicles are the same, perhaps even more emphasized. But “No one really knows anything” is still true, as, I think, it is in any creative venture. You don’t know if something will hit until it hits, until it resonates with people, for whatever reason. And it may resonate for awhile, and then stop.

Great art — Shakespeare, Austen, the art of Michelangelo, the performances of Olivier — they sustain.

I wonder who will be considered our great artists? We certainly lack great statesmen.

At any rate, I have more errands to run today. We’re supposed to get yet another snowstorm tonight.

Tomorrow is April Fool’s Day. I loathe April Fool’s day. Far too many of the “jokes” come out of cruelty, not a joyful comedy.

Have a great weekend. I have a wrap-up over on the GDR site –– I did not live up to my own expectations as far as my “To Do” list there.

Onward.

Published in: on March 31, 2017 at 8:59 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 31, 2017: Musing on Writing Dilemmas  
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Fri. March 24, 2017: Creative Productivity

Friday, March 24, 2017
Waning Moon
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

We’re supposed to get a mix of rain and wet snow today. Ick.

Yesterday was fairly productive. Got some admin done, did some promotion for the Topic Workbooks. I’ve set up a page on the Devon Ellington website that’s dedicated to the Topic Workbooks here, and I’ll keep adding information on all of them until it’s all there.

I revised about a third of a new Topic Workbook, one that I hope to release in April. I’m updating it and adding new material. I want to deepen what’s there and give some really detailed, useful information.

I also did just over 1K on NOT BY THE BOOK. I’m not really back into its groove yet, but I’m confident if I keep showing up at the page every day, I’ll get there. I’ve got just over 10K on this first draft, and I need another 44K. For the target market, I need to keep it around 55K, which , since I’m holding the book in my head and keeping it active and lean, I ought to be able to do.

I did some research on an upcoming section of POWER OF WORDS. I might have to write the section set in Venice ahead of where it comes in the order of the story, simply because the research materials I ordered are here NOW, and I need to use them while I have them. I rarely like writing out of order (although I’m doing so more than usual on INITIATE), but here, it’s a case of making the best use of the research materials from the library while I have them.

I’m also figuring out the fashion stuff I need for the rest of THE FIX-IT GIRL, I hope to dig back into that early in April. I’d like to finish the first draft sometime in June, let it percolate, then go into serious revisions over late summer, getting it out on submission in early fall.

Reading an excellent contest entry. Not quite as good as the one that got a perfect score (this has to be docked a couple of points for mis-use of words, grammar errors, and length — it could use about 75 pages cut), but it’s a strong contender as one of the finalists in its category. I’m enjoying it, but, because it’s so darned long, it’s putting me behind where I want to be in my entry pace.

I’m starting a promotion for the digital short comic mystery “”Plot Bunnies” under the Ava Dunne name, since it’s Easter-themed and Easter’s coming up. Seems like a good time to promote! It’s available digitally on Smashwords here.

I have paperwork and other admin to deal with this weekend, along with, I hope, a lot of writing, and maybe even getting some yard work done. I’m feeling emotionally exhausted and stressed by several things right now, so I’m counting on showing up at the page every day, my yoga and medication practices to keep me balanced and able to move forward and deal with what needs to be dealt with.

I have several choice words for other things going on in the world, but I’ll save them until after the weekend. I want to see how a few things play out first! 😉

Have a great weekend.

It would be so nice if we actually moved into spring by next week!

Published in: on March 24, 2017 at 9:04 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 24, 2017: Creative Productivity  
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Thurs. March 23, 2017: Processing (and Activating) Process

Thursday, March 23, 2017
Waning Moon
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy day yesterday. I had lots of admin work to do and situations to handle, so I did.

I wrote about six pages. That’s not bad, but since there were so many days when I wrote so much more each these last few months, it felt like I was behind.

Re-read and did some editing on several projects, and I’m getting back into NOT BY THE BOOK, which is good, because that needs to get back on track.

Worked on contest entries — reading another darn good one, which is always invigorating. Truly, each time I pick up a new entry, I want to fall in love with it. I WANT them to be good, I WANT them to succeed on every level. It’s not possible to have too many good books out there.

Working on promotions for the Topic Workbooks, mostly on social media. I’m trying timed promotions on specific outlets one at a time, to see which are the most successful. I’m sure “what works” will regularly change up!

Discouraged about a few things, and trying to keep my spirits up. I’m trying to gear up to work on some short stories, but not feeling inspired in that direction. If I’m not excited by a piece, there’s no way I can infuse it with enough passion to engage a reader, so I’ve put aside several potential short stories I planned to work on.

It’s important to get NOT BY THE BOOK back on track, because it’s a fun piece and I’ve also got a target market in my sights; same with SONGBOUND SISTERS (which will need more time and careful attention), and HEART THIEF.

While, of course, working on the never-ending POWER OF WORDS, which is how I blow off steam and keep steady. I’m figuring POWER OF WORDS (and the actual books it eventually breaks down into) needs about another three years before it’s ready for publication. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. It’s not going to be earning its keep for awhile — but I think, once it does get out there, it will intrigue people who are interested in the process of creating, and how it’s done collaboratively (and sometimes combatively), and how one goes off to create alone, and then brings it forward to meld it with other collaborators, to make it work better.

The never-ending first draft is the skeleton, and not active enough. As I rework sections (which often happens as I’m moving forward — it’s a process unlike any other I’ve ever used for a book or series), it gets more active, more invigorating, more engaging. The process about making process active is interesting.

Have to take my mom for a medical check, and then run some errands. This afternoon, I have a meeting a few towns over, and then, it’s back to the page.

I had to cancel my weekend plans, which is disappointing, but that’s life.

Onward, with pen in hand.

Published in: on March 23, 2017 at 9:19 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 23, 2017: Processing (and Activating) Process  
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Wed. March 1, 2017: Whuppity Scourry

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Waxing Moon
Rainy and mild

Today is Whuppity Scourry — go through the house banging a pot with a wooden spoon to get out the stuck energy in preparation for spring!

It’s also Ash Wednesday, for those who mark it.

Check out my To Do list for March on the GDR site.

My hope is that the renewal of creativity I’ve felt with POWER OF WORDS will translate to the other projects that also need some attention. I’m going to try to spread the attention around a little bit more.

Yesterday, I wrote a lot on POWER. Yes, the series and the books in the series are in the process of a new name; but, for this massive first draft that encompasses all of them, I’m calling them by the original working title. I envision four books at first, with the potential for more. I want all four books to be ready to launch at once, so readers can move from one to the other, and read these years in these characters’ journeys together as a piece.

I also wrote a few pages on a new screenplay. A couple of characters started talking to me, and I wanted to make sure that I got down what they had to say. It’s a contemporary piece, an action/comedy with a bit of romance in it. It’s kind of fun.

Ran some errands. Tried to work at the library, but it was too noisy to get anything done. Having a migraine didn’t help.

Came home, wrote some more, did some edits, and then headed off to the monthly HobNob meeting at Kelly’s on Main in Hyannis. We had a good group — it was nice to see some regulars I hadn’t seen in a long time. There were some new people, there too, with interesting stories, but one or two of them kept trying to make the whole event about them personally, talking while others had the floor, interrupting, taking the conversation away from the quieter people back to themselves, where the point of the group is to support each other collaboratively. It could just be initial nerves at being part of a new group. We’ll see.

Woke up around 1 AM with a terrible pain in my foot. It was swollen and inflamed — no idea why. I got up, put witch hazel on, and took some Echinacea, which kicked in about 20 minutes later. The swelling went down and I could get back to sleep. It’s better this morning, but still have no idea what brought that on.

Today, I go back to NOT BY THE BOOK, and try to get back on track with that. Whereas POWER is a long term project — I’m figuring another year, maybe two before it can successfully launch and start earning its keep — NOT BY THE BOOK is an easier, more traditional sell. I need to hunker down, get the first draft done, put it aside for a few weeks, get revisions done, and get it off to my agent.

I’ve got a couple of plays to get out into the world; hopefully, I can do that today and didn’t miss the deadlines.

I have little to say about the speech to Congress last night. The fact that Swamp Thing didn’t froth at the mouth the way he usually does doesn’t make him “presidential.” Also, our arguments aren’t “trivial” — fighting for civil rights, basic human decency, and the Constitution is not “trivial.”

For those who don’t see the big deal about Kellyanne Conway lounging with her feet up on the couch in the Oval office — it’s not her dorm room, and she’s not there to hang out. She’s supposed to be a professional (of course, she’s not, but she pretends), and she’s in a place that deserves classy behavior (something of which she repeatedly proved incapable). The gesture, in itself, isn’t a “big deal” other than it is yet another demonstration of her disrespect of the Office and the Constitution. She shouldn’t be anywhere near that building.

Always, always, back to the page.

Published in: on March 1, 2017 at 10:13 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 1, 2017: Whuppity Scourry  
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Tues. Feb. 28, 2017: Creative Leaps

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was about a lot of writing, and not much else, although I had a few errands and a meeting.

Hop on over to the GDR site for the February wrap-up. I totaled how much I’ve written this month, and, between the work on POWER OF WORDS and the adaptations, it’s about 100K. Not bad at all.

I have to turn my focus, in March, more evenly to SONGBOUND SISTERS and to NOT BY THE BOOK, since they will be quicker sale than what POWER has evolved into, but, after several months of struggling creatively, I’m glad to be getting back on track.

I had a horrible migraine yesterday, which slowed me down. It was better when I woke up, but it’s coming back.

I wrote a few pages this morning on a contemporary action comedy screenplay. The characters started talking to me yesterday, and I just want to get enough down not to lose it.

Errands, writing, research, and HobNob tonight.

And then it’s March. Wow. This year’s speeding by. It will be ever so much better when we remove sociopaths from the administration.

Onward.

Published in: on February 28, 2017 at 10:13 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 28, 2017: Creative Leaps  
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Thurs. Feb. 16, 2017: Getting Back to the Creative Groove

Thursday, February 16, 2017
Waning Moon
Snowy and cold

Not much to stay about yesterday. I wrote, I studied, I researched.

I’m in negotiations for several interesting projects; we’ll see how they go. I think I’m going to withdraw from consideration for one — it’s intriguing, but when I weigh in all the factors, I don’t think we’re the right fit for each other. Rather than finding that out when we’re committed, I think I should trust my instincts.

I also have two plays to get out this week — they’re written and polished, but there’s an opportunity, and I’m going to see if these particular plays are right for it.

Happy that the nominee for Labor Secretary withdrew his nomination. We don’t need someone accused of domestic abuse who doesn’t believe in minimum wage heading the Department of Labor.

You want to look back at a great Labor Secretary? Research Frances Perkins. She witnessed the Triangle Factory Fire (those of you who know me know why that tragedy is so important to me), and then, later, when she became Labor Secretary, she actually cared about people who work for a living and implemented policies for them, not just for the employers who are more interested in personal profit than a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

All of these Republicans who are blocking fair and independent investigations into the Russia connections and other security breaches — after relentless investigations into Clinton THAT FOUND NOTHING BECAUSE THERE WAS NOTHING TO FIND — all they’re doing is raising suspicion that they’re in on the fix and that they, too, are treasonous and need to be investigated. A lot of people need to be removed from their jobs in DC, and a lot of indictments need to be handed down.

I have to work on writing a paper for Constitutional Law in the next few days. It’s short — 500-750 words. But it has to be not just good, but great.

Never short of challenges, which is a good thing.

At least I’m getting my creative groove back. I think I’m ready to tackle the next chapter of SONGBOUND SISTERS later today (after I do some work on WORDS) and maybe even can get back to NOT BY THE BOOK this weekend.

Fingers crossed.

Monday is a holiday, so maybe it’ll be quiet and I can get a lot done.

Published in: on February 16, 2017 at 9:54 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 16, 2017: Getting Back to the Creative Groove  
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