Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool
Boston Marathon
Patriots Day

I got my second round of revisions done and off to my editor on Saturday morning, along with the front matter. She’s going over it again early this week, and then, it’s off to the copy editor! From there, I await the final galleys — shiver, shiver! Whenever I hit the “send” on final galleys, I always want to throw up, because I’m sure I’ve missed something Really Important.

Did a library run, some errands, etc. The box of irises arrived from White Flower Farm (Wednesday’s Gratitude and Growth will have more on that).

Wound up the workshop. Two weeks of shouting into the abyss complete. I have to accept my portion of the responsibility in what didn’t work. Hopefully, I learned from my mistakes this time around and can apply it moving forward. I was the wrong teacher and it was the wrong format for this particular group. It happens. Fortunately, I am the right teacher in the right environment for a lot of people. I know I should focus on that, but it always takes awhile to get over something like this. Holding onto the anger, frustration, and disappointment doesn’t do anyone any good, and it goes beyond just a simple “oh, it’s Mercury Retrograde.” Let’s face it, if you can’t commit to two weeks of making writing a priority, how are you going to have a career?

The bulk of my teaching experiences are positive, but a trusted friend is right — I need to adjust certain things, especially the amount of time I put in as equated with the money. If these classes were being taught in person, they would be $425 and up. Online, they are considerably less, but I’m putting in the same, or even more time and energy, than I would in person. For instance, this last class took between four and six hours per day, plus the additional admin work the formatting problems brought up and trying to keep track of who still had material due. So I spent more than 84 hours on this class. I’m not being paid even a fraction of my hourly rate when you break it down like that. Turning around 15K or more in exercises with relevant comments takes time, and I’d even cut the word count on most of the exercises. Usually, classes take two hours or a little over per day, which is reasonable. I look at classes taught by some of the others, where material is posted (sometimes the entire course is posted the first day) and there’s only about 20 minutes of interaction a day. As a student in a class like that, I don’t get a whole lot out of it. I want my students to walk away from my classes with a short story that’s close to submission ready or a chunk of a novel that is in good shape. I want them to have something tangible they honed in class AND a set of skills they can apply to most of their writing moving forward. All of our time is valuable, and when students are willing to put in the time to hone the work, they leave the class with a feeling of accomplishment and more confidence, along with a piece of actual, almost submission-ready work. Students who do not put in the time or make excuses or ignore the notes do not. I want the students who do the work to have the best and most complete experience possible, while not getting drained by the small percentage one winds up with in class who suck the life out of everyone. I don’t want the students to have less of an experience because of the time factor on my part. There’s an imbalance there, and it’s up to me to address it and get back in balance in a way that’s positive for both myself and my students.

I enjoy teaching, especially when my students go on and publish and succeed, but I need to re-think where and how I accept bookings, factor in price more than I have, and, where appropriate (such as for advanced classes), institute an application process. Also, after the current teaching commitments expire at the end of Summer 2012, I may take a break and not teach for awhile.

Read the manuscript I promised my friend I’d read, and sent back comments. Enjoyed it very, very much, and was honored to be a Trusted Reader. Had to catch up with my Senators and my Rep, who actually represented my interests in a recent Congressional vote. Wanted to thank them and brainstorm a few more ideas. Before 9 AM on Saturday, 15 minutes after I’d sent off the email, one of the offices got back to me, wanting the proposal, so had to work on that.

Dealt with someone trying to stir shit to both get attention and cause trouble. I have a very low tolerance for the self-involved and manipulative. I just don’t have the time and patience for it.

In other words, it was a rough weekend! 😉

I have a few days before the next workshop starts, the Setting as Character one. I’m going to tweak the exercises a bit. But most of these next few days will be spent writing SPIRIT REPOSITORY, working on edits for ANGEL HUNT, and figuring out what I want to say in my new freelance brochure. The sooner I get that done and start that mailing, the sooner I pick up new clients.

My preferred clients are always small historical societies and non-profits. Again, I have to make sure I keep in balance the money and the work. A lot of these places can’t pay much, and, again, if I take them on, I have to make sure the ratios stay in balance for both sides.

I wrote a query and sent off the pitch for an article to a well-paying publication; let’s hope they pick it up. If they don’t, I have a half a dozen other pubs that pay just as well to whom I can pitch it. I may actually write some of it while the idea is still fresh. I got another idea for a different topic in the same field of interest that I will write up and pitch today to another publication in the field. And I’ve got to finish and polish the proposal package for my Senators. It’s a relationship, not a monologue for either side. That’s the only way one can effectively practice democracy. I was fortunate in New York to be represented, in both houses of Congress, by people who welcomed my ideas, listened to me, took my views under advisement, and sometimes even used my material in their legislative battles. It seems I am in a similar situation here, which is good.

I bet you dollars to doughnuts I get called in for jury duty this summer here! I get called regularly, and I’ve been put on a case every single time I’ve been called. Which is fine.

Watched GAME OF THRONES last night. I have mixed feelings about it. I adore the production design. It is gorgeous. They use Ireland and Malta to create alternate worlds in a beautiful way. The costume design is exquisite. However, I am so happy that I am not a wardrobe person on that show — continuity must be a nightmare. The crew is outstanding, because the continuity in last night’s episode was very, very good. My problem with the show is the direction (as in, the director’s work, not the way the story is headed). It. Feels. Very. Heavy. Every. Word. And. Scene. Is. Important. They’re very aware they’re Making an Epic, instead of just living the piece and letting it BE epic. That falls on the director.

The exception, and the actor who absolutely blazes through the piece with dynamics and layers is Peter Dinklage. I really like his work anyway — if I see his name in the credits, I know I can count on a complex and nuanced performance. He’s got a surprise for the audience in every scene and delivers it, and moves through the piece with an ease and a fluidity that the other actors haven’t yet mastered. Even Sean Bean’s a bit stodgy in this (and I’m a big fan of his work) — although, to be fair, that costume probably weights about forty pounds, and that’ll slow you down. Some of the camera angle choices also left me with a “what the hell are they thinking?” feeling. Other choices were gorgeous.

By the way, I’m fully expecting Sean Bean’s character to get killed off this season, since he’s already cast in the new Ashley Judd series. Although, given the size of the cast and the screen time given to each story, something might be worked out schedule-wise. I haven’t read the books, and I don’t know how closely the series plans to follow the books. If the director lets the actors stop taking everything so seriously and encourages dynamics instead of the current monotone, it could be good. Also, HBO lived up to its reputation for a particular style of sex scene, and I’m wondering if the scenes in the pilot were kept true to what was in the book or where written by a man who’s bad at writing sex scenes and that’s why they were all the same, no matter who participated, or were demanded in that position by HBO. I understand the choice not to make any of them about love or romance, but at least have a little variety, the way actual humans do! There was one scene with a hint of something else, but again — obviously written by a man in a way insulting to women. If you’re going to claim you have strong female characters, it needs to follow through in ALL aspects of their lives. Jane Espenson, whose work I adore, wrote one of this season’s upcoming episodes, and I have high hopes for it.

Of course, so far, all the reviews I’ve read so far, written by men, love it.

Mixed feelings. May watch the second episode, if it fits into my schedule. If I can find out which episode is Espenson’s ahead of time, I’ll make sure I watch that one.

Back to the page today.

And I really, really, REALLY want to spend some time in the yard today! A shrub to the left of the house has burst into deep magenta blooms. I have no idea what it is, but it’s pretty!

It’s Patriots Day AND the Boston Marathon today, both of which are a really big deal here.

Devon

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Friday, January 15, 2010


I wish I was on Cape Cod

Friday, January 15, 2010
New Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT (thank goodness)
Stormy and milder

If you want to donate to Haitian Relief, make sure it’s via a reputable organization. Your State Attorney General’s website should have information on all organizations registered in the state, and crosscheck with the BBB, and with CharityWatch.org. The ones I feel will be most useful in this case are The Red Cross (although I’m still mad at them in this area for ignoring the law allowing pets into shelters after the floods here in 2007), UNICEF, and Doctors Without Borders. When the initial relief effort eases and rebuilding begins, I’m sure Habitat for Humanity will get involved.

Working on stuff for the webhost move. Moving three domains and numerous subdomains and all the various “stuff” is a pain and it’s lower than my neck. It will be worth it once it’s done, but a hassle to get there.

Once I figure out how to get my damned mail off the webmail onto my hard drive, Fearless Ink is ready to move. Much as I hate to lose the design for Cerridwen’s Cottage, that will be an easy one to move, so that may go next, with the main Devon site and its subdomains going last.

The vet is pleased with Elsa’s progress, and she got all her shots updated. The LIE and the Cross Island Expressway were nightmares in both directions, but the Hutchinson Parkway was okay, so it worked out. There were lots of small, yappy dogs in the waiting room. Elsa likes dogs (after all, she wants a dachshund AND a mastiff), but when four of them tried to make friends at the same time, pawing at her carrier, it was a bit much. She gave a growl, and they were so shocked, they all sat down. And then she settled back and started purring.

However, somehow, when we put the carrier together in the examining room after her visit, something went wrong. When I took the carrier out of the car in the building parking lot, it fell apart. Bits snapped off, the door came off, it was a mess. Fortunately, it was Elsa and not one of the twins, or they’d have run into the street and been killed. As the carrier disintegrated around her, she jumped onto my chest and hung on. I was wearing the big LL Bean coat I bought back when I was doing TV location shoots a few years ago, so there was plenty to hang on to. I gathered the scraps of the carrier in one hand, supported her with the other arm, and we got back inside, all intact except for the carrier. I don’t quite understand — it’s a fairly new carrier, but it’s like the plastic got brittle and it’s falling apart.

Sigh. Guess I’m headed out to get new carriers.

Thank goodness Elsa’s instinct was to grab onto me instead of running. Iris and Violet would have bolted, and I’d never have found them.

Elsa’s got all her shots and certificates and tags. She could travel to Canada or France. Of course, I have to get my passport renewed first! I’m a big believer in always having a valid passport handy, and mine expires in August. Since they now hassle you if it expires within six months of a trip, and I may be going to Canada a few times this year, I have to mail in my renewal in the next couple of weeks.

Packed up some more decorations, percolated the next chapter of the steampunk, sent out a query for a project, and a few follow-ups on other stuff. There are two publications I may query in the next couple of days — they pay decently, and I’ve got some article ideas.

I read Nicole Peeler’s TEMPEST RISING and liked it. It’s a fresh take on the genre, I love that some of it’s set in Maine and some just outside Quebec (both areas of which I’m rather fond). I like the characters, the story, the new take on old myths. It stays out of cliche, and when it refers to a cliche, it turns it inside out. Wonderful contrast to the previous book I read.

And now I’m reading Deanna Raybourn’s SILENT IN THE GRAVE, which I just love. The writing’s gorgeous, the characters are great, I like the plot and the setting, and enjoy the fact that the protag comes from a large, unconventional but ultimately loving family. It was hard to put it aside once I’d started,but there was stuff that had to get done. So I used chapters as carrots — if I completed X task, I could read one chapter (of course, I always read at least two, but you get the picture).

Today, I’m carting more stuff to storage, checking on my mom (the acupuncture helped her A LOT –as in, she can move around again and walk). In fact, I’m taking her shoe shopping so she can use the gift card I gave her. And I just might treat myself to something, too. Although I still haven’t had a chance to wear the gray Liz Claiborne boots I bought the last time I went there — to buy the gift card!

As the saying goes — how many pairs of shoes should a woman own? One more than she already has!

So, I got a rejection from a query I sent out — but it’s NOT FOR MY BOOK. No, I’m not going to correct them. I’m crossing them off the list for any further submissions. That kind of carelessness is not acceptable. We would not be a good fit. I’m tempted to send them a snarky response pointing it out, but it’s not worth it.

Had a great first morning’s writing session on the steampunk. THAT’s the way it’s supposed to go! 😉

Back to the page for a few hours before I head out.

Devon

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Late blogging start to the day, with some left over rants from yesterday.

The city’s summer ban on leaf blowers is done, so all these effing morons are walking around aiming leaf blowers at the pavement, even though there’s not a fallen leaf to be found. Leaf blowers should be banned entirely – they are smelly, noisy, ruin the quality of life, kick up dirt and germs everywhere. Use a frigging rake, people, or, on pavement, a broom!

I blew a potential job on Wednesday because I was careless. I have no one to blame but myself. I was frustrated because God forbid 1and1, my stupid webhost, could keep my mail open long enough for me to write an email pitch and actually send it. Why am I paying these people again? At least two or three hours per day, either the webmail or the websites aren’t working properly. I shouldn’t be booted off my mail after 3 minutes.

Anyway, I was in the process of sending and re-sending a batch of pitches and queries. This one particular job is something for which I’m totally qualified. Unfortunately, after I hit “send”, I realized that I was supposed to send the samples WITH the pitch; I’d stated that “samples will be sent upon request”. There’s no one to blame for that but myself, and I blew it. Don’t follow directions; don’t get the gig. That’s the way it works.

Got a couple of queries out yesterday (this time I followed the directions), so, hopefully, I’ll see some bites. I’m not scheduled at the show next week, I’m waiting for some checks, so I need to land some other stuff with short turnaround and quick payment. The job boards have really sucked lately, so I have to be more creative in my approach – which is next to impossible when I’m working shows. So, even though the wisdom is that, when you’re in the midst of a lot of work, you should pitch for more, when I’m working shows and putting in 14 hour days at the theatre, it doesn’t happen. There’s not enough brain power left for anything except the show and the writing that’s already on my plate. So, what I’m trying to do is get pitches out BEFORE I spend chunks of time at the show, in order to book jobs for AFTER I’m done.

I wrote my articles yesterday. One went out; the other I’m giving a final read and then sending out, too. I have to print out some information for the Tenants’ Organization. They’re having a meeting tonight; I’m working, but I’ve put together some info for them.

I’ve got some interesting opportunities in the works – the challenge will be scheduling them, and, at the same time, keeping enough short turnaround/immediate payment work going to keep the bills paid.

Show was fine yesterday; I had two swings on, but it was all good. People were happy to see me. I like being there, but it’s always a weird adjustment back and forth, and I’ve got a lot of writing to work out, so it’s a case of feeling slightly like a split personality.

I’m interviewing an actor/songwriter before the show tonight – that should be fun.

The work on ANGEL HUNT has slowed down considerably because it’s all new material, and I’m trying to match the style and tone, and still keep it moving. And I’ve got to sort out the other stuff – I’ve got the opening for Billy’s book (from the Jain Lazarus stories) finally straight in my head, but now I need to write it down.

I’ve got three manuscripts stacked in the submission queue, but I have to time the mailing properly.

At least I’m getting things finished. Every time I go back to an unfinished manuscript and finish it, I feel like an enormous weight was lifted.

Unfinished work drains creativity.

Back to the page.

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:


Hex Breaker
by Devon Ellington. A Jain Lazarus Adventure. Hex Breaker Jain Lazarus joins the crew of a cursed film, hoping to put to rest what was stirred up before more people die and the film is lost. Tough, practical Detective Wyatt East becomes her unlikely ally and lover on an adventure fighting zombies, ceremonial magicians, the town wife-beater, the messenger of the gods, and their own pasts.
$4.00 ebook/ $6.00 on CD from Firedrakes Weyr Publishing.
Visit the site for the Jain Lazarus adventures.


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 September 19, 2008 at 9:38 am  Comments (7)  
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