Tues. Nov. 20, 2018: Writing, Reconstruction, Announcements

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend. I was lucky enough to focus on the writing.

I finished the 4th draft of HEART SNATCHER on Sunday morning, after spending part of Friday and most of Saturday on it. I wound up cutting seven chapters, doing a lot of tightening. It’s now back down within an acceptable range for genre, although I’d like it to be even leaner.

But I love Max and Valerie, and what they’re dealing with. The characters are well-developed, the plot moves.

I made some changes in the first third of HEART BINDER, the second book in the trilogy, and then went over the outline for books two and three, and made some changes to support the revisions in book 1.

I also found a place where I need to add a few words of description to an object that makes an appearance in Book 1 and then becomes vital to the plot in Books 2 &3.

I wrote another chapter on HEART BINDER on Sunday afternoon.

I’ll send HEART SNATCHER to my editor after the Thanksgiving holiday. I want it to marinate, so to speak, for a few days, and then I’ll do one more pass before I send it off. She liked the synopsis and sample chapters, and in the current climate of a toxic administration, it’s relevant.

Along with the discussions I’ve been having with editor and publisher, we are moving the release of DAVY JONES DHARMA into February, rather than December. I can’t get it into the shape I want by the end of this week. I need to tear it apart and reconstruct it. The contract schedule this year was just too tight for me.

From a marketing standpoint, it makes more sense to release a book set on a cruise ship in February, during the height of cruise season, so that all works.

THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE is on track, and retains its late January release date.

We may push back the re-release of the Jain Lazarus Adventures, and the future of the Gambit Colony series is up in the air, as far as when it will release.

That’s all dependant, of course, if the publisher wants the Justice by Harpy trilogy. If not, we still have to rearrange some of the schedule, so that each book we release is the best I can make it, within the time frame, and the time frame is realistic so it doesn’t suck.

I’m also at that weird stage I hit with certain books, where I don’t like to be physically separated from the manuscript.

Got a few pages done on the suicidal veteran piece.

Friday night, there was an NBC news piece about teaching kids to triage each other in active school shootings. Right, because the adults refuse common sense gun legislation.

But that got me thinking about the anti-gun violence play. I wrote a new opening, and I have the notes for a new closing. They will echo each other, without boring repetition (if I do it properly). Instead of writing this play linearly, the way I usually do — start at the beginning, write it through, and then revise — I’m writing it from both ends to the middle. It’s a variation on a technique I learned in a playwrighting workshop I took with the National Theatre when one of my plays was done at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

I found out about the deadline to submit the application on the last day. I went to the Fringe office to apply. A scene had to accompany the application, so I sat down and wrote one. When I turned it in, they asked me to wait. A few minutes later, the instructor said, “You wrote this just now? It’s not part of something else?”

I said, “No. I can’t use anything from the piece that’s running, because it would hurt both processes.”

He looked at me and said, “You’re in.”

It’s one of the best classes I ever took in my life, and I still use what I learned.

Anyway, I rewrote the opening scene. I sent it off to my UK actor pal (the one who told me to get out of my own way in the reading). He’s one of the few who sees an early draft of anything; he’s both supportive and critical. I asked him what it needed. His reply: “To be on stage. Now.”

So I’m on the right track.

Yard work suffered this weekend, but too damn bad. I was so sick and tired of all the damn leaf blowers. It’s autumn in New England. Leaves fall down. The lawn doesn’t have to be immaculate every moment.

It was a Twitter pal’s birthday yesterday. I sent him good wishes; but, because I wasn’t close enough to buy him a drink in person, I went to a local bar where veterans hang out (he’s a veteran) and anonymously bought a round for a table of them in his honor. I left before the bartender could point me out. Because none of this is about me.

The rest of this week’s posts are placeholders and good wishes for the holidays. The next post with teeth in it is next Monday, the Upbeat Authors post wondering if authors can have friends, since everything is material.

Back to the page.

Published in: on November 20, 2018 at 6:05 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 20, 2018: Writing, Reconstruction, Announcements  
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Mon. April 9, 2018: Positive Response to Rejection #UpbeatAuthors

Today’s #UpbeatAuthors topic is “how to deal with rejection in a positive way.”

Since the group consists of authors, and many of our supporters are fellow authors and artists, we deal with rejection often.

It doesn’t do any good to hear “it’s not personal.” Our art requires us to reveal our depths, our souls, so yes, it is personal. I have a theory on the whole myth of “it’s not personal, it’s business” is one of the reasons we’re in such a big cultural and political mess — because we’ve allowed that myth to dehumanize us.

But that’s a post for another day.

When we send in a submission and it’s rejected, it hurts. In that moment, we are not able to see that it is a blessing in disguise. It feels awful.

We’re afraid to feel bad. The moment we feel bad or uncomfortable, we hide from it, we swallow something or smoke something or do whatever we can to avoid it.

What we need to do is to face it down.

After we have our pity party, of course. I have timed pity parties, where I’m allowed to wallow. For a manuscript rejection or something like that, I give myself fifteen minutes. That doesn’t mean I won’t have twinges beyond that, but I give myself a good fifteen minute wallow.

There are, of course, bigger life issues that get more time, such as the break-up of a long-term relationship, but a manuscript gets a 15-minute wallow.

Then, I go off and do something I enjoy, something that gives me pleasure. I do not believe in “guilty pleasures.” I do not feel guilt for what gives me pleasure.

The pleasure helps even out the pain of the rejection, and then I move on from there.

When it comes to agents, editors, and publishers, I remind myself and my colleagues that it’s not finding ANY match; it’s finding the RIGHT match. You want a team who is genuinely excited by and supportive of your work. You want a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work — yes, authors and artists DESERVE to earn a living, once they’ve mastered the craft and layered on the art and the energy.

It’s kind of like dating. You don’t expect to find your soul mate the first time out. Some do, and good for them. But usually, you have to date around a bit until you find the right match.

You learn something from every rejection, once you get past that icky feeling and the blow to your self-esteem. Are there specifics? In the case of a manuscript, did you get notes that make sense on the why?

I’ve had manuscripts rejected and received notes that, at first, I, in turn, rejected. But when I got back on an even keel again, and really looked at them, I realized they were correct. I might not have followed them exactly, but they helped me build a better book.

I’ve had manuscripts rejected because I refused to make certain changes. Often, I tried to make the changes, and I knew, deep down, that it hurt the book and took the life out of it. That’s okay. The editor was right to reject it, because it didn’t fit the company’s vision. I was right not to change the book in way that I knew did not serve the work. They will contract work better suited to them; I found a publisher who loved what I was trying to do and made it better.

The important thing to remember in rejection is not to lash out immediately. Be cordial. That’s different from polite. I always warn people that when I turn “cordial” they should back away slowly and then run. Because when I’m “cordial” I am angry.

You feel what you feel. Anger, hurt, confusion. Your feelings are legitimate. It’s how you CHOOSE to ACT on them that makes a difference.

Once you’ve gotten past the first anger and hurt, dissect the rejection. Is it a situation where you can learn something and improve on it? Be it a manuscript or a behavior pattern. Sometimes, people are right to call us out on bad behavior. If we have acted in a way that causes harm to someone else, they have the right to refuse to be harmed. They have the right to reject us.

We have the right to reject someone who causes us harm, too. I often joke about “excommunicating X from my universe” — only it’s not a joke. If someone is toxic, and refuses to respect my needs, my boundaries, they are gone. If someone undermines my writing, they are gone. Doesn’t matter if they’re related to me or not. They are gone.

If I refuse to respect someone else’s boundaries and needs, they have the right to remove me from their universe, too.

If someone has wronged you or you wronged someone else, genuinely listen to what caused the pain. If it’s something you are willing to change, to make right, do so. If you’re at an impasse, be honest, part with as much dignity and kindness as you can, and move on.

For example, if someone feels “wronged” or “pained” by the amount of time I spend on my writing, that is not someone who can stay closely involved in my life. My commitment to my work, the time and passion I spend on it, is not going to change. I make time for people in my life; but I will not give up writing because someone in my life needs proof they are more important than the writing. The people who are more important know it and don’t need the proof. Therefore, they don’t try to sabotage the writing.

One-to-one scorekeeping rarely ends well for anyone, but every relationship has to have a modicum of reciprocity.

Positive response to rejection? Be cordial; be kind if possible; remove yourself from the situation until you can have a clearer, more objective perspective.

It will improve the quality of your life on many levels.

Published in: on April 9, 2018 at 5:50 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 9, 2018: Positive Response to Rejection #UpbeatAuthors  
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Hot, humid, rainy

It’s so humid that it feels like I’m trying to breathe underwater. Ick.

Drove to Stamford to use a gift card at the bookstore. That was fun. There was also a lovely farmer’s market in the lot beside the bookstore’s. Got some absolutely wonderful produce, still sun-kissed from the gardens. Which contributed to a delightful lunch with a friend.

Called the acupuncturist recommended to me by the woman in my pottery class. She picked up the phone herself; my acquaintance had talked to her about me, so she was expecting my call. We discussed Elsa for awhile, and she actually has an opening this morning, so, off we go.

Elsa thought we were going immediately, and tried to get into the carrier as soon as I was off the phone!

I really don’t think the new medication is helping her much. So, we’ll see what happens here. At the very least, this practitioner can make her more comfortable, even if there’s not much more we can do for her. And quality of life is more important than length. Of course I want Elsa around for a long, long time, but I also don’t want to torture her. When she’s ready to go, she will let me know. She’s made it pretty darned clear she’s not ready yet — she actually was the dominant cat yesterday, for the first time since we lost Felicia several years ago, bossing the twins around.

Read the second book in that series I’ve been reading. It was much tighter, better plotted, better written. If it wrapped up the story, the first book would have been unnecessary, and it could have all been the second book and been just fine. I read the first chapter of the third book, and it’s not grabbing me. So, we’ll see. If I come across it next time I’m in the bookstore, I might pick it up But I’m in no rush.

I also got Yasmine Galenorn’s newest release, NIGHT MYST, the first book of her new series, and I’m reading that and enjoying it very much.

It’s raining and gross outside. Not the kind of weather I want to haul Elsa around in, especially since the directions don’t really make sense to me, but we’ll see. Somehow, it will all work out. And, if it helps Elsa, it’s worth it.

Good first writing session this morning, about 1200 words. Will try to get a little more done before I have to pack up Elsa and go.

Considered applying for an editing job yesterday, but I don’t want to put that much energy into someone else’s work right now. The business writing and articles are fine, because it’s mine, even if I’m doing it to attract customers to someone else’s work. But working on someone else’s creative work — other than reading the piece for my friend — just not in that headspace right now, and why set myself up for a job I won’t enjoy at this point?

Would like to do some more adaptation on the plays so that I can work on query letters and start pitching them in August.

Well, I’ve been assigned an editor for my new book and sent the paperwork for marketing and cover art — but I’ve not signed the contract, so I’m not yet making any announcements. Guess we’re going forward, though, on what I hope will prove to be an exciting new venture. It also means I have to get started on the next book for them – and re-read this manuscript so that I can come up with blurbs, teasers, etc. I want to get that all turned around in the next few days. And it means the photo shoot needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Today is the 38th anniversary of my father’s death.

Devon

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

It’s official: I signed a contract with Firedrakes Weyr Publishing this morning for HEX BREAKER. Stay tuned for release dates, cover art, and more.

I heard back from the producer who was interested in THE MATILDA MURDERS. She likes it a lot, but asked for some revisions, mostly due to the site requirements. Not a problem – I’ll get on it. And now I can dive into FEMME FATALE and SIDEKICK, knowing those site requirements.

Whew! Happy!

I received an interesting question the other day that I’m answering on the blog. The questioner asked if I do a lot of paid blogging jobs, and, if not, didn’t I think it would be a great fit?

This blog is MINE, not owned by some corporation. I consider it part of my business in writing, but also as a way to keep in contact with people all over the world, and shed a bit of light on one writer’s creative process and how I try to make that balance and fit in to the business of writing. While I’m not getting a salary for INK, I’ve landed some really cool gigs from people who found me through the blog, and, when you break down that money, it comes out to a decent amount connected to the blog. I also don’t want to put advertising on this blog (other than talking about other people’s stuff I like or having Devon’s Bookstore below) because I want this to be a restful place, not a place blaring with ads. In fact, I’ve dropped several blogs recently because I feel like all they want is my money, not mutual interaction. I know some people who have advertising on their personal blogs, but, honestly, for a buck twenty-five a month, I don’t think it’s worth it.

Most of the paid blogging jobs I’ve come across thus far have had three drawbacks, which make them poor fits for me:

–Low pay. I’m sorry, $5/post is insulting, even if it’s only about 200 words. Especially if I have to do research. It simply is not a wise use of my time. Even $10-$15/post is pretty slim. Some blog sites pay by the month with the chance of revenue share as well. However, if I toss out the revenue carrot and divide the number of posts by the fee, it often still works out to $5 or $10/post. Again, not worth the time and effort.

–Too many posts expected. A lot of sites want 1-2 posts per day. That’s reasonable for some topics, a little too much for others. Not every topic can sustain 30 posts per month. Some sites want even more. As a writer, I think it’s too much content expected, again, for often low pay. As a reader, if a blog has too many posts per day, I drop it because I don’t have that kind of time to spend on it, again, especially if it’s just trying to sell me something. It gives me a headache.

–I don’t want to be that tied down. Some blogs let you write ahead and schedule posting. Others don’t. I travel a lot, both for writing and pleasure. Although I’ll have a laptop soon, I don’t have one now, and, frankly, when I’m on the road immersed in a project, I’m not going to split my focus with something else. So that means I’m not as good a fit for a daily blogging gig as someone who works from home all the time without a lot of traveling.

I admire people who can sustain daily paid blog gigs well. I simply haven’t yet found the right gig for me, nor am I convinced it’s out there. Since the heritage recipe blog gig fell through, a couple of years ago, I’ve looked at several other blog gigs, but applied for very few. 1-2 posts a week I think is sane. 1-2 posts a day simply does not work in the way my life is currently set up, or in the overall vision for my writing career. I’d rather spend that time writing fiction. Blogging is not “easy money”. It takes dedication and skill. And when a company is paying you to present a product or a point of view, it’s different than when you’re speaking from the heart. So there are all sorts of aspects to factor in when considering a blogging job.

So, the photo call yesterday was . . .an adventure. Tuesday I stood on the curb in Chelsea with costumes and ironing board; yesterday, I did the same thing in front of the New York Stock Exchange. My life’s so glamorous. Yeah.

We had a good car to get up there – Ford Esplanade, which meant the ironing board fit in the back. But we were in one of the most security-conscious buildings downtown, full of government offices and no arrangements had been made for us – I just took my garment bags and plowed on through – the guard told me to open my bags and I said, “You open them. My hands are full.” It was that kind of day. We’re in a space under construction, with so much dust I was a Banshee With a Lint Brush all afternoon – and they tell us we can’t plug in. Now, we had a steamer, an iron, and hair and make-up had all their stuff that needed electricity. So they hand us a box of extension cords and we figure out how to run power out of sockets in the ceililng.

I’m telling ya, the glamour of Broadway.

The people for whom we were doing the shoot were very nice, and it’s for a good cause; it’s simply that there was a breakdown in communication as to what both sides needed, the time frame, etc. We got through it, we laughed a lot, and the photos are going to look good. I’m glad we had the actors and crew we had on it – I can think of both actors and crew from other shows on which I’ve worked that would have made it a nightmare. But we all had a sense of humor about it.

Hey, Jackie Kessler – the only mirror we had for the entire, six-person, in-costume photo shoot was the “Love Your Inner Demon” mirror you sent me when your last book came out. The purse-sized one. Thank goodness I always carry it with me!

Two Photo Shoots from Hell in one week. That’s a record for me.

We went to dinner at an excellent new Thai place on W. 49th St. The owner and chef hangs out in the front, you place your order, and she goes back inside and cooks it up. Everything’s fresh and delicious, and it’s very reasonably priced.

I agreed to work a show Saturday night, right before I leave for the Cape. Am I crazy? Yes, that was a rhetorical question.

Got home at midnight, checked the email and got my good news on the novella and the play. Now I’m going to have to come up with promotional “stuff” once we get a release date set. You guys will all have to help me with the marketing campaign!

Errands to run this morning, putting together the birthday present for one of my actors, then I have to finish the pre-Belmont article and work on the anthology story. Bet you dollars to doughnuts I’ll hit the “send” button tomorrow moments before I leave for the show.

Sigh.

I’m also meeting with a journalist – I’m the one being interviewed this time – and the Cable Guy is supposed to turn up to install everything so I get my channels back. I mean, please, they took away Sci-Fi and A&E – how’s a girl supposed to get by?

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on May 30, 2008 at 8:03 am  Comments (13)  
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