Thurs. June 15, 2017: Tightening Deadlines and Ridiculous Request of the Day (RRD)

Personal Revolution Cover

Thursday, June 15, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Promotion starts today for “Personal Revolution”, a short mystery set in a town near Concord, MA, that takes place around Independence Day. It’s only 99 cents, available on Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, and more.

Blurb:
When a man is hanged from the oak tree in a Redcoat uniform at an historic house just before the Independence Day program, Glenda is determined to both solve the murder and protect the newly-opened museum. What she finds is much darker — and more personal — than she bargained.
(End blurb)

I hope you enjoy it. I’m playing with the idea of doing more with these characters.

Yesterday seems very far away, somehow. Maybe it was all those mass shootings, and the ridiculous and irresponsible way they were covered by the press.

What did I do yesterday? Sent out some pitches. Worked on the 30 second script. Did more research for the article that I hope to finish, polish, and get out the door today. Checked email incessantly to see if another pitch was accepted (haven’t heard back yet). Looked at a website that’s been fallow for the past few years, with an eye to starting up that platform again.

The Ridiculous Request of the Day was from an “author” who “generously offered” (his words) to pay me $350 to do a line edit on his “blockbuster” novel — that runs 120,000 words. Um, no. 120,000 words breaks down to 480 pages in Standard Manuscript Format, and I bet his wasn’t. Bet it’s single-spaced. Sweetie, $350 gets you to page 70, and I’m on the low end of the editing price range. It’s not “generous”. It’s not even a professional rate. Plus, I’m taking on very few of that type of editing client — more for scripts than for novels at this point, unless it’s at the top of my rate. Now, I am sympathetic to someone’s tight budget. But don’t boast it’s a “blockbuster” (because if it was, you’d be under contract to an agent and one of the Big 5). Look for an editor where appropriate to your budget, such as a grad student in English, who can both use the cash AND potentially use it for credit in an independent study.

On a happier note, “The Ramsey Chase”, the first Cornelia True/Roman Gray adventure, will be ready for re-release sooner than I expected. The cover design will be done soon, and I should have the galleys shortly for a final proof read.

However, that means that I have to have the opening of the second Cornelia True/Roman Gray adventure ready to pop into the back of it, have the darned thing outlined, and meet a deadline for its release!

Considering that I also have to get moving on the next Twinkle Tavern comic mystery, which needs to be ready to release by Labor Day, that’s a new (but positive) pressure. That will feature the characters from “Plot Bunnies” and release under the Ava Dunne name.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Cornelia and Roman. It’s a satirical fantasy/adventure series, involving time travel and an alternate universe that’s somewhat familiar and somewhat not. There’s a wry, arch tone to it that’s a blast to write. I have a lot of fun turning genre formula inside out with it, and making pointed social commentary. When first released, in 2008, it was kind of relevant; it’s even more relevant now.

We’re also in talks to set the re-release date for Playing the Angles (which used to be Assumption of Right, or, as I joked, When Bad Titles Attack). Early October is looking good, with The Spirit Repository then releasing in May of 2018. This means we have to make sure the cover is ready sometime in July. Since we’ve been having difficulty finding the right cover image, that worries me.

I should have mowed yesterday, but didn’t. So guess what I had to do first thing today? Yup, side yard needs it.

So, there were two mass shootings yesterday in the country, one on the East Coast, one on the West. The UPS shooting is hardly getting any coverage, because only ordinary people were hurt and/or killed. The one involving a Congressman, a lobbyist, and other political types is getting attention, because of the GOP’s propaganda machine. The two Capitol police personnel who put themselves in the line of fire are being mostly ignored, while politicians who weren’t even there are tearful about their own “narrow escape.” The press is covering it irresponsibly, as usual. The GOP is blaming the left, because the shooter volunteered on the Sanders campaign. Of course, the fact that the Narcissistic Sociopath repeatedly incited and encouraged violence during his campaign and actually called for Hillary Clinton’s assassination is being ignored. As is the fact that the GOP is the party who votes to allow the mentally ill access to guns (because they expect shooting victims to be outside their own party — yesterday shocked them because they think only unarmed liberals will be shot). Paul Ryan is being lauded for the speech he gave on the floor; people are saying it was wonderful. I disagree. For the man who is determined to make inhuman cuts to healthcare, Social Security, Medicare and food stamps to declare “We don’t shed our humanity when we enter the Chamber” is hypocrisy. It’s typical of Lyin’ Ryan, but it is still hypocrisy.

They all make me sick.

On that not-so-happy note, I need to go and mow, and then it’s back to the page, because, no matter what the external stresses, I have to keep showing up at the page and getting it done.

Don’t forget to hop over to the GDR site, where I have the mid-month check-in posted. I can’t believe we’re half way through June!

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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Sat. June 4, 2016: Writing and Longing

Saturday, June 04, 2016
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Yesterday was a blur. We were two short at work, so it was crazy/busy. But we handled it.

Plus, I had the details of the “Plot Bunnies” release. When I got home last night, I had to update the “Stories” page on this blog, and the various pages on the website. I have to put together a media kit for the piece, too, and get a press release out next week.

Meanwhile, I need to get going on the edits for “Personal Revolution”, and I need to think about getting another Topic Workbook out.

I started digging into the revisions on CHARISMA KILLINGS (new title still to be finalized with my agent). It feels right – I think I’ve got it on track. As long as I don’t get overwhelmed by the way I need to shuffle the pieces, I’ll be fine.

But I’m behind on the play, “Just a Drop”, and on SONGBOUND SISTERS, which I can’t drop, especially since I’m in the running for a grant for it. And INITIATE has been pulling very, very, VERY hard.

Of course, there are other demands on my time, and I’m hitting a point where I need to do another reassessment and get ruthless again. If it interferes with the writing instead of supports it, it has to go.

I’m also missing Scotland an awful lot. I’m missing it so badly it’s manifesting as physical pain. I need to find a way to get there next year or so. I’d just posted about it on Facebook and a writer friend plans to go to Scotland next July. So that’s something to plan toward. Ask and there it is!

Started thinking about an old friend this morning, and am trying to track him down. We lost touch even before I left NY – while I was still working on Broadway.

Once I’m done here, it’s back to the page. I’m eager for it, looking forward to it, craving it. There’s a lot to do, and the byword for the summer is “time management.”

I’m already over the summer people and wish they’d go away. I love the PLACE of the Cape, I feel connected to the land and sea, but it’s gotten too crowded. I need more quiet.

Lots to think about, but I also don’t want to make decisions when I’m feeling so unsettled. Once I get the strands of work sorted out and back in their grooves (so I can properly groove each day as I write), I will then be in a position to make rational decisions.

Have a great weekend.

Devon

Fri. June 3, 2016: “Plot Bunnies” Release

Plot Bunnies Cover 1

Friday, June 03, 2016
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Yesterday was a long day, but fine.

Once work was done, we settled on the cover for “Plot Bunnies”, gave it a final going-over – which meant a couple of last-minute revisions. Much easier in this format than in most manuscript galleys, where I wouldn’t have been able to change anything. But this was important, because I may well do more stories with these characters. I reworked the end scene, and fixed something early on that sets up a good deal of the when and why. I also came up with a series title: Twinkle Tavern Mysteries.

This morning, “Plot Bunnies”, under the Ava Dunne name, released via Smashwords. You can purchase a copy for only 99 cents here.

This has to do with the platform building I’m doing for the Ava Dunne name, so that if and when my agent sells the series she’s got, I’ve already got a foundation.

Now, I have to go into edits for “Personal Revolution”, because that has to go to galleys and be ready to go by the end of the month.

This morning, I managed to start getting the rewrite for CHARISMA on paper – new opening sequence. I like it, although I have to massage it a bit. It’s still first drafty. But it feels good to be actually putting words on paper again, after a week of percolating. I know where I’m headed and am looking forward to both the journey and the destination. I’m hoping for a solid writing weekend, even though it’s my Saturday “on” tomorrow.

We’re down two people at work, so I have no doubt it will be very busy. It already has been.

But I hope you enjoy “Plot Bunnies”. I’m very fond of the piece and its characters.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on June 3, 2016 at 9:09 am  Comments Off on Fri. June 3, 2016: “Plot Bunnies” Release  
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Thurs. June 2, 2016: The Nitpicky Part of Revisions

Thursday, June 02, 2016
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Long day yesterday. One of those days when everything takes longer to accomplish than you wish.

Home, and too wiped out to be much good. Re-configuring and re-configuring the opening of what used to be CHARISMA KILLINGS. I think I’ve hit on how I want to structure the first few chapters now; I just have to figure where I can drop the first body. I’d like to do it at the end of Chapter One, but it might be at the end of Chapter Two.

Photo shoot for the cover of “Plot Bunnies.” I’m not sure what we got works; I have to see the photos full size. We might have to go back tonight and try again. I want to do one more proof of the text, and then – off we go. It’s good to build the Ava Dunne platform a bit pre-CHARISMA KILLINGS. I’ll probably build a Facebook page for that name, too. Start establishing the presence a bit more.

Today will be a long day, too, not in hours, but in terms of what I have to get done. I’m hoping to get in a writing session tonight, but my eyes are bothering me, and so is my arm. So we’ll see where we are – I might have to get up extra early tomorrow.

I’m working on re-shifting some deadlines, and I’ll have to do some follow up on pieces that have been out without hearing anything; there are a few other pieces where it feels like they’ve been out forever, but, according to my log, it’s within the expected time frame.

I wrote a few words for the company of the radio play that broadcasts next week, thanking them and wishing them well. I hope they’re having fun with the play!

Digging in and going on.

Devon

Published in: on June 2, 2016 at 8:23 am  Comments Off on Thurs. June 2, 2016: The Nitpicky Part of Revisions  
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Thurs. May 26, 2016: Genre Dilemmas

Thursday, May 26, 2016
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Busy few days. I worked on Saturday, and there was a tag sale next door, so it was busy.

Front lawn is mowed; side lawn is mowed. I still have to mow the terraced back area and the meadow. The meadow, in particular, needs help. The grass is getting knee-high!

Sunday, I went to see a show a friend directed and choreographed. Her work was good. Unfortunately, the cast was tired; the tempos were slow, and, vocally, they were all over the place.

Over the past few writing days, I updated the Devon Ellington site, to add “Severance” to it. It’s available in the Premium catalog at Smashwords, which means it is also on Kobo, Nook, and will be on Amazon. There’s press going out for the release next week.

I also have a “Media Room” on the Devon Ellington site. The media kit for “Severance” is up, and so are the kits for the Jain Lazarus Adventures. I’ll work at keeping interview links and review links updated. There’s also some press for the “Severance” re-released going out this week.

The cover for the re-release of “Personal Revolution” is done and I like it a lot. The photo shoot for the cover of “Plot Bunnies” had to be postponed. I hope to get that done in the next few days, and then that will be ready to go. I have the galleys for “Plot Bunnies” — it needs a solid proofing, and then it’ll be ready to release in early June. “Personal Revolution” will release just before the 4th of July weekend, since that’s when it’s set. I’m waiting for the next round of edits/galleys on that.

I’ve done two more rounds of revisions for the short story “Won if By Sea”, and that will go out later this week. The characters are not particularly likeable, but they’re smart. Either it’s what this anthology wants, or it’s not, and then it will go off somewhere else.

I had an agent request a whole manuscript after liking the partial she requested, she read the entire manuscript in a couple of days and liked it; fingers crossed.

“Broken Links” is in rehearsal in Virginia, and will broadcast in early June. I’m looking forward to burning a CD and having a listening party in late June or early July.

On Tuesday, I finished the second draft of DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I enriched the setting, characters, and scenes quite a bit. The elation at finishing was dampened when I realized I’m way over the word count. A mystery like this cannot come in at 111K. It’s not appropriate for the genre. I’m going to have to cut a minimum of 20K, possibly more. There’s at least one subplot I’m going to cut out completely, and I’m going to have to make some other adjustments. I’m going to save that subplot and use it later in the series.

If I cut and shape to fit the traditional cozy mold, in the following books, I will have to force the characters into whitewashing their actions in a way that is untrue to where I see the series headed. That’s besides at least needing to cut 30K instead of 20K. My other choice is to go darker, more along the lines of Philip Craig’s mysteries set on Martha’s Vineyard or Jane Haddam’s mysteries set in Concord. I’d still have to cut quite a bit, but I could go deeper, darker, and keep my characters true to themselves. The books would still have an amateur sleuth, but they wouldn’t be cozy. I like to read those, but the market is narrowing to be either cozy or procedural. It’s a dilemma.

I made a few pages of notes, and I’m making notes where I see the next books going, especially in terms of the relationships between the characters. One of the secondary characters surprised me by pushing himself forward, and he’s important to the growth of my protagonist, so I’m going to go with it. Again, this means the book can’t fit into “cozy”, nor can it fit into “romance”, because my protagonist is not going to have a one-and-only identified in the first book and that’s that. She’s coming out of a hugely traumatic event in her life, and has to reawaken to her life slowly.

It’s a lot to think about; I’m making notes, but I’ve also put the draft away for a couple of weeks, so I can go back to it with more objectivity. Much of what I need to cut will get written up into the Series Bible — the background of various residents and the island. I fought making a map of the island, but I think I need to do so, just for my own use. I can add to it as the series grows.

Tuesday night, thinking about it all, I was horribly blue; but the more I think about the possibilities, the more optimistic I get that I can shape something that tells the story I want to tell without forcing itself into a formula that negates the story. Whether anyone will want to take a chance on it is something else, but at least I’ll have written the book I want to read (and am having trouble finding).

Wednesday, we had a staff development day out in Plymouth. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and lots of fun. I got sunburned, though.

Lots to do today, and we’re short-staffed. Tomorrow will be a long day, too, and then the weekend. I’ve got to finish the mowing, and I also need to dig into the play set in 17th century Italy, and get back on track with SONGBOUND SISTERS.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Devon

Sat. May 21, 2106: Release, Revision, Writing. Repeat.

Saturday, May 21, 2016
Full Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was a busy day. Lots to do, and I had a migraine by the end of it.

On the upside: “Severance”, the sci-fi/horror/western short, has re-released through Smashwords. You can buy it for 99 cents here. It’s been accepted as a “Premium” listing, which means it ships out to other retailers like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Amazon, et al.

I also got back the galleys for “Plot Bunnies”, which is the next to release (although we’re still working on the cover), and the cover for “Personal Revolution”, which will release just before the Fourth of July weekend, since that’s when it’s set.

“Broken Links” is in rehearsal in Virginia. I’m looking forward to hearing it when it broadcasts in June.

ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT will be renamed PLAYING THE ANGLES. I need to do another pass on that, and then it goes out on submission again – there have been a few indications of interest, and I look forward to the possibility of its re-release.

I’m also in talks about reviving Nina Bell – in other words, rewriting TAPESTRY, although keeping it set in the 1990s, and having the series progress through the turn into the 21st century. Most likely, those books would go out via Smashwords. It breaks too many genre rules for it to make good business sense for a traditional publisher.

I’m looking forward to digging back in to DEATH OF A CHOLERIC this weekend. I’m hoping I can finish this round of revisions within a week. Then I can get going on the submission materials while it marinates – the logline, the one paragraph blurb, the query letter template, the beginning of the outline and synopsis. Those will change, and, obviously, I can’t finalize those materials or my first 3 chapter, first 10 pages, et al files until I have a submission-ready draft.

I admit, it’s hard not to get caught up in starting to query while I’m prepping what I consider is the “submission-ready draft”, but the Universe just likes to bite you in the butt when you try that. If you are sending out queries, the manuscript has to be ready to submit. When you get a “yes, I’d like to see it”, you send it within 48 hours. You don’t tell an agent or an editor that you need X more months to finish. Until you’re established and on contract cycles, you need a polished draft ready before you start querying.

“Just a Drop” also needs serious attention. And I have to find my notes for SONGBOUND SISTERS to get back on track for that. HEART SNATCHER and INITIATE will just have to sneak in when there’s room.

I’m going to have to mow the lawn when I get home. I stopped at Auberchon’s for some more starter fluid from the mower, and they tried to sell me fluid for a grill. I told them no, it’s for the mower. They argued. I pointed out that grill fluid on the lawn mower would make it blow up, and just because I’m female doesn’t mean I’m an idiot when it comes to machines. Geez, Louise.

Looking forward to getting some mowing done so I can settle on the deck with a glass of wine and a manuscript. Looking forward to a writing weekend.

Oh, and I got an idea overnight for a short story, and got going on that this morning.  I was asked to submit to an anthology — but it has to be this coming week.  I’m having fun playing with these characters in this situation, but I need to research sailboats.

Enjoy!

Devon

Published in: on May 21, 2016 at 9:57 am  Comments Off on Sat. May 21, 2106: Release, Revision, Writing. Repeat.  
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Thurs. April 21, 2016: Shakespeare Joy

Thursday, April 21, 2016
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday wound up being a fun day. Got a lot done at work, including processing books, videos, and magazines, and then the amazing Neil McGarry performed a “Tribute To Shakespeare” that he created specifically for this event. It was beautiful and powerful and personal. It reminded me, yet again, why I love Shakespeare so much, and that I could work on Shakespeare for the rest of my life.

I also met some terrific people who attended the event, and we had a great conversation about creative projects.

Last night also gave me fuel for a piece I’ve been playing with, set against the background of the Scottish play.

Once home, I worked on the new version of “Severance”, the first of the shorts to be re-released, hopefully in mid-May. I tightened the text a bit. The voice is unique, and I didn’t want to make it too much like the voices of other first person characters, so I had to be careful.

I do like the piece. I’d always thought it was a one-off, but if it gets enough response, I might write another piece with Eidolinn and Riker.

I think “Plot Bunnies” will be the next one to re-release, in June.

Managed to get the major script material in for the Big Deal Deadline. I won’t hear anything about it until early August, but at least it’s out. It’s either what they want, or it’s not.

Didn’t have a chance to do any yard work this morning, but I did manage some work on Non-fiction #1.

I have a lot on my agenda today, but hopefully, I’ll get a chance to get most of it done. Then, more writing tonight. I don’t particularly like to write at night, but if that’s when it needs to be done, then that’s when it needs to be done.

At least the weather is lovely – I see more yard work and replanting in the future!

Published in: on April 21, 2016 at 8:20 am  Comments Off on Thurs. April 21, 2016: Shakespeare Joy  
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