Wed. May 3, 2017: Project Juggling

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde (goes direct today)
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Thank goodness Mercury goes retrograde this afternoon. This go-round has been rough.

Yesterday, I was under the weather; I ran some errands and did some research necessary for the revisions of the next chapters in THE FIX-IT GIRL.

The grass in the front is long and lush and beautiful. I’ll mow it, probably tomorrow. My neighbors keep their lawns in a buzz cut, but I like to strengthen the roots and have it a little longer, the way my friend at Mass Audubon said was healthier.

Read Deanna Rayburn’s A PERILOUS UNDERTAKING yesterday — so good I read it straight through, couldn’t put it down. It’s her second Veronica Speedwell mystery, and it’s a lot of fun.

Gave myself the day off from most writing yesterday. I felt so lousy that I knew I’d have to toss it all anyway.

Did some research on art colonies in New England — most of the books about the art colonies are so poorly done. There’s an excellent book on Yaddo that I keep checking out, but the others are all dull. I may have to re-read TC Boyle’s EAST IS EAST, which is a satire set at an art colony. Although it’s very different from what I’m doing, it still might be fun to re-read.

Playing with ideas for two more pieces. One is a literary fiction novel, set just after World War I. The bulk of it would be in Maine, with forays into New York, Boston, and England. The other is a pseudo-Gothic, with elements of comedy, mystery, and romance, set in Cornwall. We’ll see where they go.

Heard back from an editor I pitched last week — he’d like some samples. So, off they go today, and, fingers crossed. I need to start another article in the next couple of days, an opinion piece that I’d like to get out next week.

I’m still struggling with “Seven of Swords”. I don’t seem to be fixing the problem with my tweaks, but prolonging it. Very frustrating.

Enjoying a terrific book on Manet’s life and work in 500 images. His paintings, like Edward Hopper’s, often give me ideas for short stories.

There’s finally sunshine. When the puddles dry up, maybe I can get some more yard work done. The yard work will be ongoing until the next snow!

Attorney General Maura Healey held a town hall last night. We are lucky to have her. She is far more active and involved with people than her predecessor. She takes a stand, and she gets things done.

Did about 1K on the Venice section of POWER OF WORDS, and four pages of the pseudo-Gothic outline. Not a bad start for the day.

I have to finish the complaint paperwork regarding AAA and CVS today. Those have to be filed this week.

Never a dull moment, which I guess is a good thing.

Published in: on May 3, 2017 at 9:43 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 3, 2017: Project Juggling  
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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 24, 2017: Digging In, Moving On

Monday, April 24, 2017
Waning Moon (Day Before Dark Moon)
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

My lowest energy day of the month, always.

Busy weekend.

I should be used to the deterioration of basic human courtesy around here, but it still surprises me. I remember, when we first moved here, I was so wonderfully surprised because people were “nice.” Well, Trumptattitude has taken over, ever since the election, and you can tell those who voted for them, because they now feel free to be their worst selves all the time. They’re the rudest, the worst drivers, the ones who take without conscience. Just like the one they follow. No patience with that. They need to go crawl back under their rocks.

Friday, I got some admin work done, some research done, and then worked my way through contest entries. Finished my third print category, and got to work on the digital entries. The weather was lousy, so it was nice to be able to stay tucked inside and get paid to read.

Ten script pages done on Friday and six pages on Saturday for WINNER TAKE ALL. I’m galloping toward the climax. Gave myself Sunday off from writing.

Saturday was Earth Day, and also the March for Science. Important. Unfortunately, as I feared, the march out here in Falmouth was poorly organized. If you want a successful event, you have to plan for parking and porta-potties. Never got close enough to check out the porta-potty situation, because they hadn’t made any arrangements for attendees to park. The attitude was “oh, there are public lots”. Well, at the best of times, in winter, parking is nearly impossible in Falmouth. In season, it’s a nightmare. For something like a rally? MAKE ARRANGEMENTS WITH THE TOWN SO PEOPLE HAVE A PLACE TO PARK. Make arrangements with public transportation. Or you won’t get the attendance you want. It’s not brain surgery. They estimated a crowd of 600, which is decent, but no wonder there wasn’t any parking!

It is, however, typical of Cape Cod. There isn’t enough parking anywhere, and people ignore it, and then are shocked when they lose business or attendance. The lack of a learning curve around here is one of the reasons I find it frustrating.

Worked and worked and WORKED to fix the problems in “Seven of Swords.” I don’t want to lose all the ambiguity, but when ambiguity=mess, there need to be some clarifications. I sometimes wonder if the play CAN be fixed, or if I should just retire it into a drawer and be done with it.

Finished the Orient Express section on POWER OF WORDS. Now, to deal with the section set in Venice.

I want to travel to Venice probably more than anywhere else in the world right now.

Except, maybe, Bologna, for the Lavinia Fontana play.

Dug in all weekend and finished the contest entries. Now, in the next few days, I’ll go over them and make my choices in each category, finish the admin, and send the information to the organizers, so they can announce the winners on May 1. Read a couple of entries that came close — there was nothing, technically, wrong with them, but they lacked sparkle. They served the genre, they were serviceable stories, but they didn’t stand out against the best of the batch.

My reward for finishing was to re-read a novel I’d read back in 1989 that I’d loved; unfortunately, as I reread it now, I’m impatient with it. Rather a disappointment.

Switched out the winter curtains to lace curtains for summer downstairs — big difference in light. Switched out some of the fabric. Did a few loads of laundry. The amaryllis (which bloomed last July) has decided it’s time to bloom again. Go figure.

Admin work to do this morning, and, hopefully, some yard work in the afternoon. I wrote eight pages on the screenplay: later, I’ll tackle the one act and the short radio play. I’m still not convinced that I’m the right person to adapt the short stories for radio, but I’ll play with them a bit this week and then make my decision.

What I’d like to do is go back to bed and sleep all day, but, after days of rain, it’s far too nice a day so to do.

Time to tackle the week!

Published in: on April 24, 2017 at 10:05 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 24, 2017: Digging In, Moving On  
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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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Thurs. March 16, 2017: Between Storms

Thursday, March 16, 2017
Waning Moon
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Somehow, Monday’s post vanished. Not quite sure how that happened. So there’s lots of catching up to do.

It was a cold weekend; I stayed in and wrote most of the time. The rest of the books arrived for the contest, so I also worked on contest entries.

Re-watched the first two LIBRARIAN movies. I hadn’t thought much of them before, and that still holds. The series is much better.

Friday, we had about six inches of snow. It was a day snug inside. Hard to shovel, though, because it froze — had to count on the sun’s help.

Another storm was expected to hit Monday into Tuesday– blizzard. .

Saturday was my birthday. Kept it a nice, quiet day. I don’t do well with birthdays — my own, that is. I was grateful for many good wishes from friends and colleagues, and tried to keep it a quiet, even-keeled day.

Ran around doing errands Monday morning, making sure everything was done before the storm hits. Then, we’ll hunker down and emerge later in the week.

Still a little stunned at the rudeness of a distant acquaintance who nagged for a favor and then couldn’t even say thank you. Well, cross that person off the list and move on. No room for that behavior. Someone takes time out of their work to help with yours, especially someone with more experience/credits? Say “thank you”, even if it’s not what you wanted to hear. Stop leading with your ego, and you might actually learn something.

I can’t believe the Equinox is coming up soon! Although the days are getting longer (I dislike springing ahead — I’m exhausted for weeks).

Fortunately, Tuesday’s storm started as snow, then changed over to hail, then rain. Otherwise, we would have been hammered, the way Western Mass and Maine were hammered.

Unfortunately, one of the scrub pines in the backyard splintered and is teetering. A forty-foot tree being held off the ground by two companion oaks. I was scared to death. Called the landlord, who called the Tree Frogs. The landlord came over and checked it out — he’s convinced that, even if it crashes down, it won’t hit the neighbor’s house behind us, although it might hit the side neighbor’s fence. I warned the neighbors, and told them we were getting it taken down as soon as we could get someone in. They were much more nonchalant about it than I am.

The Tree Frog guy came yesterday to check on it. He swears it’s not going anywhere, and isn’t an emergency. It’s going to be a challenge to get to the tree and get it down, so who knows when they’ll get here.

As of this morning, it’s still sort of up — but we’re getting more storms this weekend, and it worries me.

I’ve been watching travel documentaries and doing research. My protagonist in POWER OF WORDS is going to Venice for the holiday break, (Paris first, then Venice via Orient Express), and I want to make sure I get the emotional geography as correct as the physical geography. The emotional geography of Paris is still imprinted from my own experience, but I need to get Venice right.

Also, she’s climbed a few echelons of recognizability and creativity, so even though she thinks she can travel anonymously, she really can’t.

I’m also doing research on the Hollywood studio system. Part of it is for POWER OF WORDS, where an impresario is setting up a modern-style studio system, melding the best of what worked in the old system — a creative home base and resources — with the more individualized creative styles that artists want and need. Part of it is because I’m reworking THE FIX-IT GIRL and finishing it, with an eye to getting it out on submission at some point this year, and I need to get my details right.

I’m still researching the Italian Renaissance. There’s information on what Lavinia Fontana did, but not really on who she was. I haven’t found that pivotal moment that will make good drama. I found many for Kate Warne; I found those moments with both Giulia Tofana and Jeanne de Clisson. But I haven’t yet found it for Lavinia. So I keep digging.

I hope to spend most of the day writing and working on contest entries. I also have to get going on my spring cleaning.

I have hope that spring will eventually arrive!

Published in: on March 16, 2017 at 9:17 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 16, 2017: Between Storms  
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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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Fri. Jan. 8, 2016: Revising the Writing Schedule and Goals

Friday, January 8, 2016
Dark Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Meeting in Hyannis yesterday morning. It was fine; at least I didn’t want to jab my eye with a fork, like I do at some of these meetings.

Back to work, tried to catch up. Computer isn’t working properly, so that makes it more difficult.

I got some sad news: Amber Quill, with whom I have half a dozen titles, is shutting its doors on March 30. LAKE JUSTICE, SEVERANCE, ELUSIVE PRAYERS, and TRACKING MEDUSA will cease to be available from them at that time. I wish I’d found out directly from THEM instead of through a second party, but, other than that, I’ve always been treated well by them. I loved my editor; they paid on time; they gave me good covers. They believed in their authors. I will miss being a part of the company.

So what does that mean for my writing?

Several different things.

I’m meeting with my advisors to decide what to do. There are still two months until the doors close, two months until rights revert back. Once rights revert back, unless I’m going the indie route, it doesn’t make sense to just shoot the titles straight out again. While it makes me nervous to have anything go out of print, at the same time, I need time to launch a re-release properly, wherever and however I decide to do it. I expect they will be out of print until at least September. If I go independent, I’m going to have to marshal massive marketing resources to make it worthwhile. Right now, that much marketing emphasis isn’t going to fit my schedule. I’m not convinced the independent route is the right choice for me. I prefer to work in a more traditional model right now.

I do realize that, when I’m ready to launch the series that started life as THE POWER OF WORDS (which now has multiple titles as it breaks down into multiple books), it is most likely I have to use the independent model, because it would be exceedingly difficult for a traditional publisher to put it out in the usual channels. It’s a strange monster – one I love, but one that would require the type of Gentleman (or Bluestocking) Publisher to take it on, a type of publisher who no longer exists.

I was in the throes of planning a big marketing campaign for everything over the next few months, which now will not include the titles that won’t be available, for obvious reasons.

I also had three books scheduled to go to Amber Quill this year, all Gwen Finnegan books: BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, SANDOVAL SECRET, and SHAKESPEARE’S BACON. It was a pressurized schedule, but I wanted to make sure I finished the Gwen Finnegan cycle quickly for them, with an eye to moving in some new directions, as inspired by last August’s conference, where Claire Cook gave me the push I needed to give what’s now TIE-CUTTER a shot, and Carole Bugge encouraged me to continue work on SONGBOUND SISTERS.

With those three books off the schedule, at least for the moment (which means I’ll work on them in and around other projects, without the pressure) it moves up SONGBIRD SISTERS and the aviation mystery set in the late 1940s that I’ve been playing with for a few years.

I do love Gwen and Justin, and I want to see their stories to completion, but a break may not be a bad thing. As I kept saying last year, struggling with BALTHAZAAR, I can do it fast or I can do it well. Both aren’t happening in tandem right now.

HEX BREAKER and OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, the Jain Lazarus books, are still with Solstice, and I’m not sure what’s next with them; we’re in a bit of a holding pattern.

I have several play scripts and radio scripts on the slate for the year, and some film and television scripts on which I worked last year, which go out on submission this year.

The focus will be more on writing, polishing, and submitting this year, building on the previous writing, but taking me in new directions that I’ve been interested in for the past few months. That’s a positive. It moves up the timeline for me, but it’s a positive. It takes a lot of the “write as fast as possible” pressure off me – something that’s bogged me down over the past couple of years and actually interfered with my productivity, instead of increasing it.

As saddened as I am by the news, I think it’s the push I need right now. My gut tells me this is a positive in the long run.

I’ll have a long day at work today, but, since I’m feeling run down, I pulled out of my commitments for this weekend. I have some work to do for Monday’s NMLC Board meeting, and I’m going to write. I want to finish the first draft of the short radio play that goes out at the end of the month, and I’ve been approached to adapt the historical play into a radio play. I’ll take a look at that to see if it makes sense. I use a good deal of sound in the play anyway, and I think if I make some changes to make it more aural than visual, it will work. I also need to get LIGHT BEHIND THE EYES into US radio format from BBC format, because I have a US market interested.

Plus, I want to stay on schedule with TIE-CUTTER and DEATH OF A CHOLERIC.

So I’ll have a solid writing weekend ahead of me.

This certainly didn’t happen the way I wanted it to, but I have a feeling that, in the long run, these changes will be positive.

I remain hugely grateful to Amber Quill for their support, belief in me, and everything they’ve done for me and for my writing over the years I spent with them. I wish all the partners well in their new ventures, and I hope we can all stay in touch and support each other’s work. Thank you, Amber Quill!

Have a great weekend, people.

Devon

Wed. Dec. 31, 2014: Out with the Old Year, in With the New

Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I took the last few days OFF, really off, just doing what I wanted to, and not worrying about “have to”. I worked Saturday, then came home and relaxed. Read a lot. Percolated on a few things, but it was because I wanted to, not because I had to. Had nothing left in the tank, and felt like I had to replenish a bit, especially before the turn of the year.

Did some work on POWER OF WORDS (which will be retitled before it ventures out into the world). It holds up better than I expected, and there’s some really good stuff in it. I’d like to finish it and get it out there (under a better title).

Yesterday, I got the car inspected for 2015, and then ran errands: CVS, Petsmart, Stop N Shop, then over to Wareham. Got a new globe for the little red lamp — finally found one that fits it. I was looking for some dress pants and dress skirts, for work. Hated everything — the drape and measurements don’t work for me, I don’t like most of the fabrics and patterns. I have a feeling that I’ll wind up making a muslin mock-up of my “perfect” pants, and then use it as the master pattern to make a few pairs of my own — once I find a store from where I can get good fabric. Let’s face it, JoAnn’s doesn’t cut it (no pun intended). I’ve got several good skirt patterns and some nice fabric for those, so I’ll get to it on those soon. If I don’t rush, and really take time with the workmanship and the details, I’ll be able to concoct some classic pieces that will work for years.

I did find two dresses I really liked, and two sweaters. They look good on me, were on sale, and I bought them. I haven’t bought any clothes in ages, so I didn’t feel guilty.

The restaurants in Wareham all smelled of grilling hamburgers; stopped on the way home at Market Basket to pick up a few outstanding items, and also grabbed a couple of hamburger patties. Had a late lunch/early dinner. My cooking is better than a lot of restaurants (except some of the really fancy ones), so it made more sense to just get the ingredients and eat at home.

Finished watching the second season of HOUSE OF CARDS. The production is brilliantly done, but it’s still a depressing look at politics. Yes, it’s fiction, but there’s a lot of emotional truth in it.

Got everything prepared for tonight. Beds changed, food in, will do laundry as soon as I get back from work, bayberry candle for tonight, jasmine candle for tomorrow at dawn. Quiet night at home, lots of yoga, meditation, planning for the New Year, and good food. 2014 was definitely better than 2013, but it had more than its share of ups and downs. I want 2015 to be more focused and productive, on many levels.

I wish you a joyful start to the New Year, and I’ll see you in the next cycle!

Blessings,

Devon

Published in: on December 31, 2014 at 9:08 am  Comments (3)  
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Mon. July 21, 2014: Chaotic Start to the Week

Monday, July 21, 2014
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool
 

Friday was busy at the library, complicated by the fact that I don’t have a working computer at the moment, and different computers have different programs, so I migrated between six different computers over the course of the day, trying to get things done.

I also had to keep my phone on all day, because Iris was quite sick in the morning, and I was worried I’d have to rush her to the vet at a moment’s notice. But, she got better as the day wore on. I suspect it’s a bad reaction to the flea/tick medicine.

After work, my boss and I headed to Centerville Library, to support the dedication of the new addition. I hadn’t seen the whole thing yet — it’s gorgeous. The Community Room is huge, great for events, would be great for yoga. The bookstore is also magnificent. The renovation’s beautiful, and worth every penny. There was champagne, and there were h’ors d’oervres. Everything was lovely. Got to see some of the staff I’ve known since I moved to Centerville, and introduce my boss around. The director from Hyannis was also there, and I got to meet her, along with some other locals. It was good that we were there, supporting a fellow library. I was surprised and a bit dismayed that more library personnel from other libraries weren’t there.

We came back to the house for martinis on the deck, and then headed back to the Mills, where a sports auction was going on in Liberty Hall, the door take to benefit the library. I wound up bidding on (and getting) a wicker chair for my mom and some minor league hockey pins for myself.

Home, tired, unwound a bit. Saturday was my “on” day at the library, so I was up early and over there. Still no working computer for me, so I floated around to other computers, trying to complete paperwork and place some orders.

When I got back from the library, I cleaned, repaired, and sanded down the wicker chair. The caned seat needed to be fixed, and some of the wicker was coming unspun, so I fixed all of that. The frame is a good, sturdy wood. It’s been painted quite a few things, under the white — red, hot pink, and green.

Did some research for upcoming projects, got some reading in. Thoroughly enjoyed Ilona Andrews CLEAN SWEEP. Lori Roy’s UNTIL SHE COMES HOME is both claustrophobic and disturbing, but in a good way. Elizabeth Adler’s SAILING TO CAPRI was fun.

Watched COMPANY MEN — excellent movie. Didn’t get enough attention when it came out. What a terrific cast — Ben Affleck, Rosemarie DeWitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, Kevin Costner, and great supporting actors as well. Really well done, but John Wells only does excellent work.

Slept in on Sunday. It was raining off and on, so I couldn’t mow. But I did head to Home Depot. Don’t like shopping there, but I hoped to replace a lamp globe I broke and pick up paint for the chair. The staff was disgustingly unhelpful with the lamp globe. Not only did they not know how to help, they didn’t care. I found the paint though — called “Spa Blue”. Painted the bottom of the chair. Took most of the day to dry.

Had to fix my bed frame and do stuff around the house. Also cooked some Sichuan Noodles and steamed vegetables in a ginger soy sauce for tonight’s meeting.

Planned to go to a climate change lecture, but something happened and the lecturer was delayed indefinitely, and I couldn’t wait around.

Got some research and other work done, then watched PEACE, LOVE, AND MISUNDERSTANDING, which was a lot of fun.

Up early this morning. Couldn’t find the flash drive with all my work on it. Drove to the library and found it in one of the public computers I’d been using on Saturday. This is what happens when I’m constantly interrupted. Came back, started to paint the front of the chair, ran out of paint, went back to Home Depot (only because it was the only place open that early), got more paint, finished painting the chair. It’s drying.

The writing plan for this morning is on POWER OF WORDS and BALTHAZAAR TREASURE. I have to nip out to one of the libraries to get a few things done, and then pick up a cushion at Christmas Tree Shops for the chair. I need to finish a review for my editor, work on some media kits, and then head to Buzzards Bay for a Mermaid Ball Meeting tonight.

Did about 1500 words on POWER OF WORDS. Have to nail down the writer’s rough on BALTHAZAAR. I’m going in circles every time I sit down to write. Book 3 is almost fully formed, but book 2 is not. It’s frustrating, because somewhere I HAVE a detailed writer’s rough, but I can’t find it in any of the files or the drives. So I have to start over.

Have a great week!

Devon