Wednesday, January 2, 2019: Hit The Ground Running and Hitting Back at Those Who Denigrate Artists

Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Time to hit the ground running. I have a few thoughts on that, over on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Friday wore me out. I had to take the car in (which wasn’t as bad as I feared). I spent time with a client, then had some running around to do.

I was also still spinning ideas for the online brainstorming session I had with Jackie Kessler, Deanna Rayburn, and Erin Cronican on new material for WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST.

WOMEN WITH AN EDGE is a show with legs. Some of the material is evergreen; some is dated. It’s time for another show along the same lines that deal with topics relevant now. I have a few places I can test material, although there’s not a theatre on Cape who’d have the guts to produce the piece. Too right-wing around here.

But we brainstormed pages of notes, and I’ve taken it further. I threw some ideas into the Women Write Change forum as well on Monday, so I’m sure that will generate more ideas.

I want to write the first couple of monologues this week.

Saturday was unseasonably warm. I had another run to the store (because there’s always one more thing). We got the garbage to the dump (and the guys got their cookies).

I started playing with some more ideas. Because ideas come in batches. So it’s important to take notes, date the notes, and then figure what’s pulling hardest and where to put what.

Sunday I managed fourteen pages on an idea with which I’m playing — I think it will work. My two main protagonists are deliciously more complicated and manipulative than I originally envisioned. It will be interesting to see how they play off each other. A missing music composition is a big part of the story, too.

Worked on the proposal for the play set in Renaissance Venice. With that, and the anti-gun violence play, and the two women authors play, and WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST, that’s four stage plays and three novels releasing this year. Minimum.

We’re pushing the Jain Lazarus re-release back to 2020. It doesn’t make sense to do it this year. That way, in 2020, the third Gwen-Justin book releases, the third Nautical Namaste releases, the fifth Coventina Circle releases — along with the first three Jain Lazarus. Those are all outlined — it’s a case of writing/revising.

This year, I’m scrambling to get BALTHAZAAR and DHARMA out on schedule — last year was just too much. GRAVE REACH will be in good shape in a few months, and ready for edits. And we’re still trying to figure out if the Justice by Harpy trilogy can come out this year.

Plus, I want to make room to have at least one stand-alone a year.

I’m posting this on Monday, so I have no idea what my Eve and Day will be. I’m determined to make them good. I’m determined not to teeter at the edge of the abyss I usually find myself on every New Year’s Eve.

I have worlds to build.

Social media has just been depressing lately. I know I need it for the books and the writing. I enjoy genuine interaction, and I’ve met some great people.

But there’s too much viciousness. And too much whining.

You want to be a full time artist? Then you have to rearrange your life and put the work first. You can’t do it all and have it all. If you want to be a part-time artist in order to have a more balanced life, fine, go ahead. But don’t whine at those of us who made the choices and put in the work about “not having time to write.” You are CHOOSING not to write. You are CHOOSING other elements in your life over the writing. And they are your choices. So own them.

I’m also tired of being attacked for earning money from my work. Loving my work does not forfeit my right to earn a living at it — provided I’m willing to put in the work. I am. I do.

Those who aren’t willing to put in the work or believe getting paid for art and craft is “selling out” can go to hell. Because I have stuff to do and can’t be bothered.

And all these attacks on artists as not being smart or who shouldn’t have opinions or participate in political activism? Those who make their living in the arts tend to be smarter and more committed than those around them, or they couldn’t do it.

If you think artists are stupid, if you attack them for being intelligent, articulate, and committed to building a better world, yeah, you can go to hell, too.

I have no time for these jealous, petty morons. People who attack artists generally do so out of spite, because they hate that artists have the talent and the skills and the work ethic, and, most importantly, the COURAGE to put it all on the line.

I’m not arguing with them. I’m not “debating” with them. Let those who are only in it to cause trouble and spread spite twist in the wind.

I have art to create. I have work to do. I have a world to change, one story at a time.

 

Published in: on January 2, 2019 at 6:15 am  Comments Off on Wednesday, January 2, 2019: Hit The Ground Running and Hitting Back at Those Who Denigrate Artists  
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Thurs. Dec. 20, 2018: Enter the Holiday Stretch

IMG_0392

Thursday, December 20, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

I’m in the process of winding up year-end work with various clients. Some of it are permanent wraps on projects that are done, and I’ll be replacing them with new projects/clients in the coming weeks. Some are just getting things cleared up as much as possible before this holiday, and then I’ll be doing some work in between and then we start again in January.

By next year at this time, I want to arrange my life so I can completely take off from Solstice until right after the New Year. I need that time and space on multiple levels.

Got the exterior decorations up outside, including fixing some of the light strands. One is beyond help, but I had enough without it. Another, I had to make a quick trip to the hardware store to pick up a few things. The old white men were giving me sage, negative advice on what I “couldn’t” do, because, after all, I’m just a little woman, and couldn’t possibly know anything about electricity.

Honey, I started my career in lighting for rock ‘n roll. I can do things with a splicer, electrical tape, and pliers that you can only dream of.

Anyway, I got most of the lights working again. One set needs a bit more attention, but I was losing the light, and I need to be able to see.

Today, I’m running around finishing the cookie platter deliveries (even over the bridge). I did a big grocery shop, so I have the food for the Solstice, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day. I’ll deal with the New Year’s meals next week.

I’m playing tomorrow by ear, because of the weather. We’re supposed to get a big storm (rain, not snow). I’m supposed to take in the car and do a few other things (like get in some more liquor), but I might hunker down, celebrate Solstice, and then get the car in over the weekend. I also have a few more stocking stuffers to get, but for the most part, I’m in decent shape. I have to wrap. Which means I also need more tape.

Next year, I’m going to buy fabric and either silk or velvet ribbon, use pinking shears to cut, and wrap everything in fabric.

I will sweep the fireplace and lay the fire for tomorrow night today, though. I want to make sure all I have to do when it goes dark is strike the match, and then it starts.

I have writing and cooking and reading and some friends coming in for the weekend and holiday, so we’ll be brainstorming the next three plays I plan to work on. I’ll need to hit the ground running on them after the first of the year – with at least three books on the roster for next year (more, if something that’s written is picked up and needs editing), and some travel and appearances and other life stuff, I’ll have to plan my time carefully to write three plays along with everything else.

But they’re good ideas, and they won’t leave me alone until I fulfill them. I just have to fix a few structural things in the rest of my life so to do.

Have a lovely holiday, and I’ll see you on the other side!

Published in: on December 20, 2018 at 11:33 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Dec. 20, 2018: Enter the Holiday Stretch  
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Wed. Dec. 19, 2018: Regain the Balance By Writing

Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Hop over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the final business post of the year.

Yesterday was challenging. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. Today will be as well. I will just have to make like a hockey player and dig deeper.

By the end of the work day, I was very discouraged and disheartened. Change will happen, not as fast as I want it to, but it will. I have to be patient and smart. But it was one of those situations where I wanted to just sit down and cry, only there was no guarantee I’d stop any time in the foreseeable future.

Behind on where I want to be with deliveries and finishing the cards. I’m close to the end of the cards, but I’ve been so wiped out when I get home that I’m practically babbling.

Working on THE LINGERIE TRAIL and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and starting to get back to fixing the problems in DAVY JONES DHARMA.

I’m brainstorming an idea that’s been rolling around in my head for years, which is demanding attention. It’s most likely to be a play, with two infamous female writers at the center of it. That’s all I’m going to say for now. Doing some brainstorming in the Women Write Change forum.

I’m not going to work on the anti-gun violence play until after the holidays. There’s too much going on for me to go deep enough, and then be able to come back and deal with life stuff that needs handling. I’ll need to block off some quiet, depth time. But I am working on the proposal for the play I want to write about Canaletto’s sisters.

Also toying with the idea of a novella (? Not sure there’s enough for a novel) about a charming guy who entices women he meets online to support his expensive lifestyle, and how he gets his comeuppance. If it remains as light and comic as the initial notes, I’ll keep it as an Ava Dunne piece; if it goes darker, it’ll go out under the Devon Ellington byline. I probably won’t get to it until about spring anyway.

Yeah, I can hear you guys from here, telling me of course it will go dark. Because, hey, who’s got a trilogy coming out next year called “Justice by Harpy”?

I might just surprise you all!

Or not.

I’ll trust the characters to lead me to the best format.

I have a lot to do over the next few days, but I’m also looking forward to Winter Solstice on Friday, full moon Saturday, and celebrating a (hopefully) quiet Eve and Day early next week.

I love those moments at the beginning of the Winter Solstice ritual, where the house goes to full dark. Then we light the fire in the fireplace, and then light all the candles, and then put on all the twinkle lights. It really does make me feel like things will turn for the better.

I need rest, which is different than sleep.

But before then, I need to get things done.

Hopefully, yoga is on tomorrow. I need to be back in class.

I need some good writing time this week – which I will get in, around the Solstice and Christmas prep and some friends coming in with whom I’ll brainstorm the new plays.

 

Published in: on December 19, 2018 at 6:57 am  Comments Off on Wed. Dec. 19, 2018: Regain the Balance By Writing  
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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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Tues. Oct. 11, 2106: The Satisfaction of A Solid Writing Weekend

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cool

Busy weekend, even though it was a holiday weekend. The traffic was insane.

I managed to get a lot of writing done, on the two projects on which I’m switching off. Since I started them last Thursday (this is Day 6), I’ve written just over 10K on one of them, and I’ll pass 10K today on the other. My goal is to write a minimum of 1K on each of them every day. So far, I’ve managed to go beyond that on both, although yesterday, it wasn’t much beyond both, because I wasn’t in the mood to write.

But I showed up at the page, and did it anyway, because that is what writers do. Once I got started, it was okay, although it didn’t flow as well as it had the previous days. Today, I felt like I was back in the groove.

I also worked on the revisions of DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I have to put some changes into chapters, and rewrite the next batch of chapters. I also managed to come up with the logline and paragraph description, although I will have to make some tweaks. But I want it to be ready to go out after one more pass.

I’ve also been tweaking PLAYING THE ANGLES, which is the new title of what was once ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. I’m also thinking about putting it out under the Devon Ellington name instead of the Annabel Aidan name. When I’m done with this revision, I’ll have to see which voice resonates, and then I’ll know which name to use as the byline.

I should be doing promotion for “The Possession of Nattie Filmore”, but with all this political chaos, I feel it’s shallow to go around hawking my writing. Yet that’s how I pay the bills and keep a roof over my head. So it’s a dilemma — how to do it in a way where I don’t go against what I feel is right and important. If I don’t walk my talk, I’m just as bad as the politicians.

Did some work on the Victorian mystery as well. The first draft is slow, because I’m researching as I write. I’m wondering if I should just blurt out the first draft, focusing on plot and character, and then go back and add in the period detail. Yet, so far, I’ve found the detail affects both plot and character a good deal, which is why I’m researching and writing simultaneously.

I’m behind on the plays, of course, which is worrisome, since I’m running out of time on those. Somehow, I’ll have to get them in.

I need more hours in the day, more hours where I can focus. There’s a certain point where my brain just gets tired, and I’m written out.

I’m also under pressure from this other annoying situation. Nothing like people actively working to sabotage you because they are both incompetent and nasty. It will get resolved; it’s just a shame that it has to be such an unpleasant process. But I am not going to back down and give up what I earned.

I’m also under pressure because a family friend is trying to manipulate me into taking on a job for someone who already stiffed me once, and with whom I said I wouldn’t work again. I told this family friend I would not put myself in that position again, yet he told the person I was waiting to hear from them. Then I get an incoherent email full of demands, but no actual proposal or payment offer. That would be a no, on many levels. I’m angry at this so-called “friend” for putting me in this position when I was very clear I wouldn’t do it.

So the writing is going well, but there are other pressures. Aren’t there always?

I have a lot of work ahead of me to put the garden to bed, and I’m tackling it a bit at a time.

Have a great week!

Devon

Mon. Sept. 19, 2016: Getting Back to a Writing Rhythm

Monday, September 19, 2016
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and humid

We finally have some much-needed rain!

Saturday, we were up and out very early, headed to Providence. We dropped our friend off, then headed down to Newport. It was a gorgeous day.

The International Boat Show was in Newport. The place was packed! And I happened to walk into a store, and there was my fellow Sister-in-Crime, Alyssa Maxwell, doing a book signing for her Gilded Age mystery series set in Newport! I knew her work, of course, but we’d never met before. It was great to have a chat, meet, and I bought and she signed the book I didn’t have! 😉

We met friends for lunch at the Red Parrot (lots of choices, but a bit disappointing). I did some geographical research for the Victorian mystery.

Exhausted by the time we got home, and the cold came back full force. To bed early.

Sunday, I gave myself the day off, mostly reading and doing a few errands.

Today, it’s back to the page, once I’ve done some errands. I need to start opening out CONFIDENCE CONFIDANT (I need to submit the full length within the next few weeks), and work on the other projects I’m juggling. I’m also starting the next round of edits on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, and preparing for another trip later in the week.

Busy, busy, but good busy.

I think I know what’s coming next for the characters in “Lake Justice” – so I’ll have to get that going soon. I want to pair three shorts for the “Lake Justice” characters – one set in a ski resort, and the other set on an island in Maine. That will make a good set of stories to put together with the re-released “Lake Justice.”

I also want to do another Twinkle Tavern series mystery – probably a novella.

Somehow, I have to figure out how to fit them in with the projects I’m juggling, including the plays and CHOLERIC and SONGBOUND.

But it’s a good dilemma to have!

I will be very relieved when Mercury goes direct in a few days – and the Equinox is coming up!

Devon

Wed. Jan. 14, 2015: The Joy of the Process

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy few days. Most of it was spent writing. I wrote nearly three chapters and did a rough outline of a book so the characters would stop yapping at me; now, that book has to find a place in the queue. There are other books which take precedence.

Most of the weekend was spent on the Burns/Woolf tribute. I tore it apart and re-structured it, and I’m finally content with it. There are piles of books with bookmarks and papers in them, marking quotes I wanted to use, and pages of notes scattered around. It was very satisfying. I love to research and find connections and put things together. Finding the connection from Burns to Emerson and then from Emerson to Woolf delighted me.

I had to cut a lot of material — it simply can’t all fit into a single, short presentation. It’s structured like a conversation; hopefully, I’ve now gotten the flow right.

I got cranky on Friday because someone nagged me. I’m writing a piece — for free — for the site. I was booked months ago. I’m working on the piece. It’s due next week. No problem. Getting an email whining that you haven’t heard from me and you need the materials is not going to get them to you faster. Instead, it puts you at the bottom of the list. I have the deadline. You’ll have the material by the deadline. I’d planned to get it in a few days earlier, but guess what? Not happening now, because you treated me like an incompetent flake. I’m a professional and a grown up. (Even though digging in my heels is an adolescent response — yes, I’m aware of the irony). I don’t need babysitting. Don’t call it “follow up” when it’s nagging. If you wanted it before the deadline, you should have given me an earlier deadline. BACK OFF. Especially since I’m not being paid. Last time I’ll be dealing with those people.

It snowed yesterday. The forecast was for flurries. It flurried all day. I had to rush out to Sturgis library to pick up two Virginia Woolf books. I know I’ve got them packed away somewhere, but couldn’t easily put my hands on them. I figured Sturgis was the most likely to have them on the shelf, and they did, exactly where I needed them. In and out in a few minutes. Love that!

In spite of not having those two particular books, I managed to use quite a few books I’ve picked up over the years — the ones that people always say, “Why did you buy those? You’ll never use them!” Well, I used 17 of them. So there! The fact that I didn’t need them for a dozen years is beside the point.

The whole concept of “if you haven’t used it in a year, throw it out” is a bullshit promotion advertisers and “life coaches” use to get people to get rid of things so that they have to buy more. Yes, you should clean out clutter, stuff that’s broken, that you’re SURE you’ll never use again. But when you’re a writer and you accumulate a lot of books — especially non-fiction — almost every nonfiction book I’ve ever bought has served more than one project. It may be years between those projects — and no, you CAN’T find “everything” on the internet or even in libraries. My personal library is worthwhile.

I have to go back and finish the edits on KILLER QUINTET today and tomorrow and get that back to my editor. I have to rewrite a few passages, and I’ve been percolating on them as I do things like dishes and laundry.

Then, I start the radio drama, while I’m researching the historical play and getting back into the groove on BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

I’ve started the research on the historical. I read what I could about my main character — not much information. I found out she’s buried in her former employer’s family plot near Chicago, and that the base of operations for the company was in Chicago. The email I sent to the cemetery bounced back, so I’ll have to try again. Maybe I’ll do an old-fashioned letter!

But, I found out that the company’s papers were donated to the Library of Congress. So I dug around on the Library’s website, and found the catalog of what I need. I contacted the reference librarian to see if I could get permission to come down and access the files on site. I can (which means a trip down there in the near future); however, some of what I need can be accessed through Interlibrary Loan and some of the micofiche has copies at Harvard Library. I don’t know if any of the Cape libraries even HAVE microfiche readers any more, but if they do, I can get the materials through ILL and use them here. That will make my time in the actual Library of Congress more efficient.

Additionally, I found some books that might be helpful, and the Circulation Director and I are using them to test out the state’s updated interlibrary loan system. AND I found some books on the subject at my beloved Strand Bookstore, ordered them, and they’ve shipped. I’ m very excited!!!

I’ll detail the experience of discovering and gathering the information and how I’m using it in the play over the next few months. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I’m looking forward to it.

Devon

Wed. May 22, 2013: Trying to Clear the Desk

IMG_1101
The beach down the street

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Want to see how my garden grows? Hop over to Gratitude and Growth to check out the new photos.

Monday, I worked flat out, and was exhausted. Part of that is a new playwrighting opportunity dropped into my lap, and I worked on the proposal. I have to proofread and tweak it today, and get it out. Then, I have to massage a different playwrighting proposal and get that off my desk, too.

Got material out for Confidential Job #1, and got my next assignments. Working on my appointments for the trip next week. Having trouble settling back into the Cape Cod theatre novel. Did some work on the adaptation. Roughed out a few articles, a couple of which I need to get off my desk this week. Pitched. Followed up. Worked with students. Got some reading done. Sketched out ideas for a couple of short stories. Did five loads of laundry. Worked in the yard — the meadow is finally mowed.

My heart hurts for the people in Oklahoma devastated by the tornado. I remember, back in the 70s, they talked about coming up with chemicals that planes could spray into hurricanes and tornados to make them dissipate (something that was being worked on). Whatever happened to that? Did it not work? Did it lose funding? Did they realize the chemicals would kill more people than the weather?

Started my schoolwork for the Climate Literacy class I’m taking over the next ten weeks, from two professors at the University of British Columbia. A LOT of information (and maybe they can answer some of the above questions). But I think it will be a fascinating class, and certification in this and the one I got in Sustainability last fall certainly make me more hire-able in the eco-friendly fields.

Meeting last night was good. I have work to do in connection with that — again, most of which has to get done before I leave on my trip next week. I have a feeling I’ll be working flat out all weekend. I’ll sleep on the bus, right?

Lots to do and not a lot of hours — Mermaid Ball meeting in Buzzards Bay late this afternoon.

Better hop to it.

Devon

Thurs. Feb. 28, 2013: Rehearsals Begin!

Thursday, February 28, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Yesterday was a flurry of many things. I wrote, edited, and sent off another article. I worked with students. I cleared out the living room and set up for the rehearsal. I worked on the script, so I was properly prepared for rehearsal.

The rehearsal went well. The actors are enthusiastic and good in the roles. I feel like a huge burden’s been lifted off me, and I can concentrate on the actual play instead of the admin around the play. I need to do some tweaking on the script, which I will do tomorrow. We got Act 1 blocked, which is good. We’re blocking Act II & III on Sunday afternoon.

I also had to do some errands, including some stuff for my other play, which goes up as a reading tomorrow night.

I’ve got to do a lot this morning, before I head out for a meeting in the early afternoon. The migraine is still there, although better. And I overslept this morning, missing yoga. But I needed the rest.

Better get going — there’s a lot to do! Plus, I have to find an important prop in the basement — I know it’s down there somewhere, but those are a lot of boxes!

Devon

Registration closes tomorrow for “Prolonged Engagement: Developing the Series”, running March 4-8. Don’t miss it! Information and registration here.

Published in: on February 28, 2013 at 8:26 am  Comments (2)  
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Wrote quite a bit yesterday, and did work for the Mermaid Ball. Took my mother to the doctor. There are a few things where we need to be cautious, and I’m worried.

I’m deep in the writing, and it’s always a little disorienting to look up and realize I’m sitting in my office and not the world of the book. I added some material to the Prague section, but the details of what makes Prague PRAGUE need to be layered in. I did add in a comic scene about the statues on the tops of the buildings, which helps but I need more sensory detail. Each location has to be very rich in what makes it unique. Each location has to work like an additional character, because that’s why one shoots on location — for that additional something. And, when one location is substituted for another, due to budget or contract constraints, it doesn’t always work.

Got some good news — a producer is interested in doing another production of one of my plays. Once all the details are ironed out, I will post the information. It was produced in New York last spring; it will be nice to have another production.

Watched TORCHWOOD last night — liked this episode better than last week’s, but it’s still a little heavy-handed for me this season. It brings up some interesting issues, though. Dichen Lachman was on it (love her work), and there was one small featured role, David, that brought some good comic relief in the midst of it all. Unfortunately, every time Barrowman and Myles aren’t on screen, I’m impatient for them to get back, which is unfortunate. But I’m interested to see how these episodes unroll.

I need to do some work in the garden today, do more work for the Ball, and write.

Devon


ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT available from Champagne Books and Amazon Kindle.
Annabel Aidan webpage here.

Published in: on July 16, 2011 at 6:26 am  Comments (3)  
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Yesterday was just a big honking waste of time all the way around. Of course, ALLSTATE never came through on anything they promised, and I couldn’t get hold of anyone who knew anything about the regulations in MA or cared to find someone who did. Trust me, you are NOT in good hands with ALLSTATE if you’re in MA, because they don’t know what they’re doing and don’t care. They were great in NY, but I suspect it is because we were with the same individual for over 30 years, and he knew the ins and outs of their completely customer unfriendly system. Well, next week, it will be the Commissioner of Insurance’s problem — and, Lori, you’re right, the Attorney General should know about it, too. Since it affects two states, I’ll let both the NY and MA AG’s office know about these illegal practices. They are, literally, breaking the law, and, in this state, there’s no wiggle room with that. They’re not in a grey area. I realize this is the first year they’ve done business in the state, but they should be well-versed in the regulations BEFORE they come in, and if they don’t know something, they should care enough to find out, not just shrug and ignore it, which is what is happening on every phone call.

More paperwork. Headdesk. But it has to be done. The reason these companies can get away with this crap is that too many people whine “I don’t have time” to file a complaint. Those in the position to do something can’t unless they know about it. Take the time to file. Every time you don’t, you’re not just screwing yourself, but every other person who does business with an unethical company.

So I did some research on other agents in the area, I’m looking for recommendations, and on Monday morning, we’ll see. I hope to walk into an individual’s office and get it all sorted, and get the renter’s insurance sorted, too.

I’m trying to find a doctor for my mom, which is difficult, because oh, so many of those listed in the directory as “accepting new patients” suddenly remember they don’t when you call. And, in spite of a request for enough refills on her daily medication from her former doctor, done in writing, well before we moved, her former doctor can’t even give the courtesy of a response, much less actually do her job, and the people who work in the office simply don’t care. I worked in doctors’ offices for many years, I know the challenges, the exhaustion, and the paperwork, but it is the staff’s job to keep on top of it and make sure the doctor has the information, and then nag the doctor until it gets done. I’m sure we’ll find a much better, nicer practice here, but finding it is the challenge.

Had a lovely email exchange with an agency in the state who helps people without health care find health care that they can afford. I can only enroll somewhere after Jan. 1, but at least I’m doing the research. I was surprised because each email was answered, in complete and coherent detail, in ten minutes. I like the whole “marketplace” thing (part of the legislation the Republicans got rid of in health care reform), where you can compare rates and policy details in one place and find the best one for your actual needs, instead of having to fill out the forms for each company BEFORE they tell you how much anything costs, which is how it was done in NY. Once you do, you find you can’t afford it anyway, so you’ve lost 40 minutes to an hour with each company and gotten nowhere. And then they call you every day demanding that you enroll, getting more and more aggressive, even when you tell them to take their policy and stuff it. This system is much better for the customer, which is why the health care companies fought so hard against it.

United Healthcare responded to my blast at their incompetence and lack of “providing” (they threatened my mother rather than giving guidance in the move from state to state). Of course, it took far too long on the phone, again, but it seems to be all sorted out, and it looks like her healthcare costs are going down here in MA, too, which is good, since social security is frozen — thanks, Republicans, give your rich buddies a tax break and screw the old people — and, in NY, her health care costs were set to go waaaay up come Jan. 1. That whole Part D b.s. that Bush forced the old people into — she had to pay 4X more each month to be a part of it then her medication actually cost.

Like I said, the entire insurance industry needs to be gutted and rebuilt from the ground up. And the first step is to ban lobbyists. Get rid of the profession entirely. If an individual CEO has a concern and wants to talk his/her representative about it as all of us have a right so to do, great, but none of this paying people to harangue Congress and pay off individuals in the government.

It’s going to be a heck of a Mercury Retrograde. Can I just stay home, please?

Also think I found an ethical mechanic in Plymouth who comes highly recommended. Had a nice conversation, and he invited me to stop by and talk in person, so I could get a sense of him and his business. That’s the way to get me to do business with you!

Had to talk to the gas company because I haven’t received any bills, couldn’t sign in to the web site to see how much I owed, etc., etc. They were lovely and helpful, and we got it sorted. Turns out they were sending the bills to the right street address, but in the wrong town — the town that shares the name of the county, because my little town is so little it’s not in their system. So we got it sorted, and I paid the bill that’s on the website, and I think we’re set.

I STILL don’t have a working pin from Citizen’s Bank. And it’s been about six weeks since I opened my account. Far too much like Chase for me. It takes a MONTH for them to send a new pin? Not acceptable.

Stopped at the “package store” down the street on Rt. 28 to get some wine — picked up a nice California merlot, and they just started carrying my favorite Argentinean malbec. The man who runs it is lovely, with a great sense of humor. The man in front of me left his wallet on the counter, and was delighted when I dashed after him to return it.

I actually fell asleep for part of the afternoon, and then worked on cards (when I wasn’t on the phone dealing with all this unnecessary crap). I got through the L’s, which is decent.

Went to bed ridiculously early and woke with a raging migraine. However, I’m set to go to a VIP breakfast in Buzzards Bay for the National Marine Life Center, an organization of which I’m very fond, so I’m going to pull it together, take some Excedrin and deal. I may stop at the grocery store to pick up a chicken to roast tonight. I’m figuring out the guest list for the party and Costume Imp and I are figuring out what to make. It will be small and very casual, but still, I haven’t entertained in awhile, and I won’t be unpacked, so it’s a little nerve-wracking. However, I used to be known for my monthly dinner for 20, so I can get over it and deal.

There’s a guy looking to start a small theatre in the area, performing in a variety of venues, and the three plays I wrote for the small company on Long Island sound like they’re along the lines of what he wants, so I’m going to contact him on Monday and see if he wants to take a look at anything. I don’t want to work on the productions themselves — I’m not doing backstage work right now, and certainly not for free — but we’ll see what he needs, what I need, and if we can meet in the middle.

Also have to get a manuscript out to a potential publisher this weekend. I’ve got another round of queries to prep on another project, but they won’t go out until after the first of the year. It would be nice to get a newsletter out, too.

I’m polishing the exercises for ONE STORY, MANY VOICES, and getting to work on the Stephanie Plum lectures.

I made a big decision: I’m not baking cookies as gifts this year. The thought of having to bake batches and batches and sort them and pack them is just overwhelming. I may try some new recipes just for us, but, for the neighbors, etc., I’m going to take a spice cake recipe and make some small loaves, wrap them properly, and give them instead. It’s a single recipe, it’s unique, and it’s less stressful.

I’m invited to a neighbor’s open house tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll go — I’ve already got the hostess gift. I need to do some cleaning. I’m starting to realize just how much work it is to keep a house clean, even a small one. But at least I don’t have layers of toxic materials to scrub off the sills every day, and the plants are much happier here where there’s actual oxygen!

Violet is settling in to house living. Iris has not yet — maybe if she hadn’t ignored the whole packing process, it wouldn’t have been such a shock when we actually moved. I still have to find a vet for them.

Back to the page for awhile. I’m going to let the guidelines for the anthology call percolate a bit, but unless I’m whomped upside the head with huge inspiration, I think I’ll have to let it go. There’s just too much on my plate. I still haven’t heard from my editor about the revisions on the book due January 1, and I’m getting a little worried. So, on Monday, I’ll have to talk to my publisher. I can’t get a set of notes for revisions on Christmas Eve. That just won’t work.

I want to finish the cards and packing the gifts this weekend, and I have to give the house a good scrub. I’d also like to get started on the cake-baking. I’ve got the menu settled for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. I’m still debating about the Solstice. I’ve been invited to three different Solstice events, but I think I want to celebrate it quietly in my own home. I’ve got the menu for New Year’s Eve sorted, and for breakfast New Year’s Day, but still dithering about the big meal on New Year’s Day.

I’d really just like to go to bed for about a week! 😉

Devon

Wednesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hot, humid, sunny, sticky

The humidity wasn’t a problem yesterday until later in the day, although the heat soared. Today, I doubt we’ll be that lucky. Now they’re saying we’ll break 100. That’s pretty rare around here.

I wanted to put studio time in, but the website wasn’t updated, and no one answered the phone, so it was a pretty good bet they were closed.

I got out a couple of queries for the plays. I finished the draft changing BEHIND THE MAN from a three-act interactive piece to a two-act proscenium piece. I expanded it a bit in Act I and have to add some more in Act II — it’s still a little short. And I need to work on the new material. It’s not yet seamlessly integrated with the other material.

I started the same transformation on THE MATILDA MURDERS. My dilemma there is that one of the jokes in the interactive version is that all the characters interact/acknowledge the audience except Nate, and he starts to wonder if he’s crazy or if they’re crazy. I’ve been trying to make that work in the two-act structure, but it doesn’t. I may have to lose that whole element. That makes the gap between the three-act and two-act versions wider, which is a good thing, but means I have to come up with extra business to replace the business I’m cutting, and, again, make the play longer.

It’s a fascinating process.

Finished Susan Turnbull’s ALMOST FRENCH. In many ways, it works better for me than Elizabeth Gilbert’s overpraised EAT, PRAY, LOVE. Don’t get me wrong — I think Gilbert’s writing is beautiful. But, to me, she went on this incredible journey and ended up in the same place she started. The man was a different individual and the location was different, but she hadn’t really made progress. The entire focus of her existence was still on a man. Yes, she spent time on her own, but one never got a sense that she developed as an individual. It was always in how she related to the men on her journey. And then, the second book of hers that came out a few months ago, is a justification as to why she agreed to marry this new guy after swearing she’d never get married again. Don’t plan to read it. It’s none of my business. It’s her life, not mine. I don’t care what she does, and if she wants to change her mind, that’s up to her. But she’s doing it publicly, and in my opinion, she’s being well-paid to be a hypocrite. It doesn’t matter on a personal level because we are not a part of each other’s lives. I think it’s great she’s a success, good for her, it’s hard to make a living in this business. So, she found out her “ethics” on the matter of remarriage weren’t all that strong when push came to shove and she’d have to make actual compromises for her supposed “principles.” I don’t need to spend my hard-earned money reading her justification. Turnbull, on the other hand, although she comes to Paris because she’s fallen in love with a guy, actually builds a life AND a partnership, and, for all the growth and change she manages during the six years before her marriage, she also stays true to an essential core of herself, even when she makes mistakes, even when it’s not always pretty, even if she’s not always right. And I really like and respect that about both her and her book. She doesn’t make excuses or justifications. She simply IS. She’s doing the best she can, she’s learning along the way, and she’s taking joy in the journey. For a memoir, there’s not a whole lot of naval-gazing going on, and yet she has a wonderful journey of self-discovery.

Roughed out two comedy sketches, one political, one more universal, about scumbag landlords. They still need work — the political one needs more zap leading to the end, and it’s very vicious. I may need to dial down the viciousness, yet still be witty enough to get my point across. But they were fun to write. I want to write two more, polish them, and that will be my first bunch sent to the comedy group.

Started reading Adriana Trigani’s LUCIA, LUCIA, which is a lovely novel. I’m throughly enjoying it. Although most of it is set in the Greenwich Village of the 1950’s, enough of it remained when I went to NYU in the 80’s to enjoy the landmarks. Some of them are still there, but NYU is rapidly buying up all the lovely historical buildings, ripping them down, and building soulless dormitories. I’m sometimes embarrassed to be an NYU alum; it used to mean something, one could take pride in it, but now — they’ve been such poor stewards of the grace and history of the Village for the past twenty years that it’s disgusting.

Will try to get some writing done and read at least a bit of the play sent over by my acquaintance before it gets too hot to work and I have to shut off the computer. We have to “conserve power” — either the air can be on or the TV or the computer. Let’s see, now, Con Ed raises our fees by 17% every year, but can’t provide the power we need. Something’s not only twisted about that, but fraudulent. Their JOB, their reason for existence, is to provide the power we need because we’re paying for it. Fingers crossed they don’t screw us like they usually do — there’s no place I can take the cats to cool down if the power goes out.

No studio time for me today. It’s not even 7:30 in the morning, and I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I do not do well in heat and humidity. I am a Winter Girl all the way!

Elsa is hanging in there. She’s not making huge progress, but she’s eating better and interacting more and making decisions. She’s not backsliding, although the heat and humidity are tough on her, too. Still waiting to hear back from the vet about her new medication. Getting a little tired of having to wait at least a week every time I make contact.

Stay cool, stay hydrated.

I’m going back to the page.

Devon

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010
Waxing Moon
Sunny and pleasant
Ostara

I adapted my tipsheet as an article. When it goes up, I’ll post the link. I also researched, wrote, and sent the questions for my next Biblio Paradise guest. That should be fun. I did some email admin, cleaning up accounts, catching up on old mail that fell through the cracks or needed follow-up, and making sure that things were properly entered into the Submission and Pitch Logs. I wrote a guest blog post as promised.

I had problems with a client trying to pull a manipulative power play. I dug in, although it stressed me out and pretty much ruined the afternoon’s work. I had a lousy session on POWER OF WORDS, I beat back the Doubt Demons with the Karma Fairy Wand (a prop from a show I co-wrote a few years ago — it’s out of foam, one end spiked, the other end with a star and glitter), and I did a dream analysis as a favor for an acquaintance of a colleague.

No wonder I’ve been feeling resistance on finishing the plays! My producer contacted me and told me that, after FEMME FATALE closes, she and her husband and closing up shop and moving to Florida. They hope to start another company there. If it happens, and she wants more from me, great. If not, that’s life. But somehow, somewhere, I knew, and that’s why I was struggling. At least she told me before I nearly killed myself trying to finish two plays for her next week while I’m teaching. It’s a big hit to my income as of next season — but it also gives me time to find something that hopefully pays better to replace them. I can put aside these partial plays for the moment, concentrate on other work, and even the drama, VINDICATION. I can still market the plays whose rights reverted back to me — and now I can market them in this area as well, since there won’t be any conflict of interest. In the short term, it’s a disappointment; in the long-term, it will all be good. After a few months, I can go back to the partials and write them with more freedom, since I”m not bound by the interactive and flexible staging elements I’ve had to use when writing for her.

I’m starting to get into CAPRICA and enjoy it more. I love the way they’ve built the world. Tamara and Sam are my favorite characters (and actors) in it. However, if Zoe actually killed the dog in last night’s episode, I would have turned it off permanently. I don’t care how many people are killed in a piece, but you start murdering pets and I’m gone. That’s my line, and once it’s crossed, that’s it for me.

I came up with some good ideas for POWER OF WORDS in the shower this morning, had a great morning’s work on the short story, and am eager to get back to the steampunk, since I can now put aside the stress of the plays.

Today, it’s about getting out some queries, working on POWER OF WORDS and the steampunk, and doing some more admin work. Already this morning, I wrote about 1500 words on the short story, tweaked an author bio for a friend, and answered some questions about the workshop that starts on Monday.

Today will be a GOOD day.

And happy Ostara!

Devon