Thurs. May 11, 2017: All Types of Theatre and Creativity

Thursday, May 11, 2017
Last Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny/cloudy and cold

Yesterday wasn’t quite as productive as I hoped. The library was fairly quiet, so I got a good chunk of necessary work done there, finally, thank goodness.

I got caught up in a book and spent too much time reading, but I’m glad I did. I spent most of the day fighting a migraine, and could only do creative work in short spurts. For some reason, reading doesn’t bother my headache as much as, well, thinking.

I did some research for this morning’s meeting, so that I can feel properly prepared. It looks like I’ve landed a steady reviewing gig again that will start in the next few days; we’re trying each other out to see if we’re a good match.

I did some work on the play proposal. So much of it is thinking work, planning work. I need to know the shape of it for myself before I can effectively communicate it.

Angry and frustrated with the way the GOP is deliberately dismantling everything good about this country, and letting a Narcissistic Sociopath play Emperor and sell us out.

Burned my forearm badly on the steam from the roasting pan. I’ve got ointment and the whole thing gauzed up to protect from infection. I keep aloe in the kitchen, and applying that right away helped a lot, but I’m in for a few uncomfortable days.

Went to see a reading of THE CRUCIBLE last night at Cotuit Center for the Arts. My friend’s daughter had one of the major roles. The reading was much better than I expected — the actors committed and gave it their all. My friend’s daughter was good in a role that required quite a few reversals over the course of the piece. The play never gets old, never gets tired. It is particularly relevant with what’s going on right now. And, while it reflects the error of McCarthyism, is also reminds us how often religion is perverted in this country to justify injustice.

Ran into someone with whom I’d served on a board for a couple of years. Either he genuinely didn’t recognize me when I greeted him, or he chose to be rude. Not my problem, but it’s very telling about this area, and it’s growing lack of basic courtesy. I lived up to my standards for myself; what other people do is up to them.

Still fighting the migraine, but trying to be productive before this morning’s meeting. I hope it goes well. There are a lot of variables to make it a viable option for me.

One of the organizations I sent some asked-for advice (with 24 hours of the requests, I might add) was pleased, grateful, and thanked me. The other, an organization with whom I worked much more closely for many more years, has, of course, not. Fuel for the article, right?

I have to finish up with some of the Lavinia Fontana research material this weekend, because they have to go back. Time to get my head out of 1930s Hollywood, 1920s Maine, 1890s New York, and back into the Italian Renaissance.

The meeting went well; now for follow-up and prepping for other meetings. Good to be busy, especially when it’s creative!

Fri. Jan. 13, 2017: Lucky Day & Retreat!

Friday, January 13, 2017
Last Day of Full Moon
Sunny and mild

Yesterday was rather a useless writing day — yet another one.

I managed to get started on the contest entries, though. That’s always a good thing.

I’m also in the early stages of negotiations for an interesting project in New Bedford — that would happen when it’s unlikely snow will derail me! Fingers crossed I’m what they’re looking for.

I decided, this morning, that, once I go offline after posting things, I’m offline until Tuesday. I’m giving myself a writing/yoga retreat for a few days. I want to work for a few days without distraction.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

May you take Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday to contemplate the positive change he created in the world and see how you can contribute to it.

Published in: on January 13, 2017 at 11:19 am  Comments Off on Fri. Jan. 13, 2017: Lucky Day & Retreat!  
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Wed. Jan. 4, 2017: Writing a Better Reality, Reviews, Contract Controversy

Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold
Tenth Day of Christmas

Not a good dream last night, which means October will be rough. Oh, well. Maybe I can figure it out in time to make it smoother.

Yesterday, I was basically a waste of food. I got a lot done administratively, but not creatively. I felt about as creative as wilted lettuce. I managed to get in some MOBY DICK rehearsal, but the writing did not go well.

Which means I have to make up for it today.

I was so frustrated yesterday with reading. I’m so tired of dipshit, dumbed-down protagonists who can’t handle more than a half a glass of wine — white, no less! — without getting “sleepy”, put people’s lives in danger because they’re “too tired” to make a simple phone call, don’t learn from their mistakes, and, live in narrow-minded towns where you wish a serial killer would come in and wipe out a good portion of the population.

I want strong, intelligent, sassy, resourceful protagonists with a solid learning curve. I want to see diverse communities that are actually working together to build a better world. There’s plenty of drama in that, and plenty of obstacles.

By narrowing the formula, making it more and more restrictive, the big publishers are giving their readers permission to laugh AT protagonists instead of WITH them, and to say it’s “normal” to live in communities full of beastly people who hate anyone different. Basically, publishers are encouraging everything the Narcissistic Sociopath stands for, and telling people it’s okay to be narrow-minded and hateful.

It’s not.

People learn more from fiction than nonfiction. If we want a better world, it has to first start appearing in our fiction.

Simon & Schuster gave that disgusting, hateful What’s-His-Face a quarter of a million dollar book contract. Now, saying that S&S “shouldn’t” publish him is a form of censorship. If we are going to have free speech, that extends to speech with which we disagree. What we can do — unless we’re paid reviewers — is to refuse to purchase the book, if we want to send a message to the publisher. I won’t buy the book — I’ve heard what that creep has to say, and I both disagree and have no intention of lining his wallet.

I don’t know why anyone is surprised that S&S gave him a contract. Years ago, when I worked in publishing, in the industry, the nickname was “Shyster & Shyster”. That’s how they were referred to at book events or in the bar. They were known for having less than stellar contracts and treating their staff worse than other companies. Again, that was years ago; I think all staffs in publishing houses are suffering now.

Corporations can’t create art, which is why we need a renaissance of small publishers. Not necessarily self/indie publishers, unless those authors have the craft or are willing to pay the money for actual, talented editors (some do, and some put out excellent work). But small, old-school publishers who love books and give individual attention to every release on their list. Books need a chance to grow an audience, not rely on “pre-sales”. It wasn’t until I worked in a library until I realized how much all these “lists” are manipulated. Books need to grown an audience over time.

Do you even remember last week’s bestseller list? Can you recite it from memory? When was the last time you LIKED, really LIKED something that got a lot of buzz? I thought ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE and GIRL ON A TRAIN were well done and interesting. But the majority of books on the majority of lists haven’t resonated with me in the last several years. In fact, several of them have been beyond disappointing, they lack so much craft you wonder how they got their in the first place.

Market manipulation.

So how do you find good books? People whose opinions you trust. Readers tend to congregate with other readers. Librarians who actually read. I was shocked, once I worked in a library, when some of my colleagues claimed not to have “time” to read. Part of the job, people, especially with so many hours cut back. Reliable review publications who PAY THEIR REVIEWERS and where the reviews show a sense of craft, skill, and good writing, not just a book report. Preferably written by people who have an understanding of good writing and good storytelling. An actual, critical review is a honed skill. Everyone has an opinion and a right to their opinion. But an actual REVIEW, that is useful on more than one level, goes far beyond that.

A publication which charges authors for reviews can’t be trusted. Before you take a review seriously, find out if the review was bought, or if it’s an honest review.

At least one review publication has stated they will not review books put out by S&S in 2017. That is their right. They get to choose to whom they give space. Is it the fault of the other authors in the stable that S&S offered the contract? Of course not. I don’t get to tell my publishers and editors who else to publish. I’m an employee.

If the situation is so intolerable I can’t stand it, I get to leave, if I choose. But I don’t get to dictate who they do and don’t publish.

The way to put pressure on the publisher is not to buy the book.

Some people will do that by not buying ANYTHING by the publisher. I think it’s more effective if you simply refuse to put your money on the particular volume that you don’t like. Encourage them to publish books by ethical, insightful authors who do their research. Buy fiction that makes the world a better place. Reject the hatemongers.

I have to admit that I put a book back on the shelf the other day that I considered buying. It was non-fiction; I was not particularly familiar with the author or the author’s credentials. The publisher was S&S. I put the book back because I don’t trust that S&S will have done any fact-checking. Until I know more about the author, and whether the author actually deals in facts and reliable sources, I’m not going to shell out for the book.

That is MY choice. I get to practice conscientious consumerism — which, once I get the GDR file rewritten and up, you will see is one of my resolutions for this year.

If the knee-jerk response is that a publisher “can’t” publish something — well, eventually, someone will say they “can’t” publish something YOU agree with, too. It has to be a level playing field. Freedom of speech, whether you agree or not. When you don’t agree, come up with a reasoned argument backed by facts and evidence, and also practice conscientious consumerism. Free speech is different than incitement and hate mongering. Incitement and hate mongering are the abuse of free speech “Free” speech comes with responsibility, and the knowledge that words have weight and power, so you must choose your words wisely and practice your freedom responsibly. “Free” has far more layers than “I can do and say anything I want”. It also has consequences.  The speaker/writer must take responsibility instead of simply stating, “I can say whatever I want.”  It’s a sticky wicket — if you support the First Amendment, you must support the right of those with whom you disagree to have their say.  Where that becomes hate speech/incitement is an ever-changing line.   If you silence someone else, then someone will try to silence you in turn.  What you can do is not support hate speech and refuse to be incited.

I will not purchase that book. If I am paid by a legitimate publication to review it, I will read it and give my honest opinion on it. Since I rarely review non-fiction for the publications for whom I work, I doubt that will happen. However, without reading the book, I also cannot engage in reasoned debate about it once it comes out. If it becomes a central issue in my writing or personal life, I will have to read it. But I sure as heck won’t spend my hard-earned money on it. I will use the resources of the library — the sanctuary where ALL diverse reading is encouraged without judgment. If the book does not become a debate central to my work and life, I will ignore it and concentrate on publications that are.

There are plenty of things I WANT to read that are relevant to my life.

On a happier note, “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall” got a five star review yesterday, which was very much appreciated. The things the reviewer criticized and wanted more of were all valid, and things that I felt, too, and the fact that the piece merited five stars anyway was gratifying.

I got a late start today. I better get going, or I’ll never catch up.

I started, this morning, a wonderful book:  GOLD WEB by Vicky Delany. Grabbed me from the first paragraph, as a book should. I’m a big fan of her Constable Molly Smith books. If you haven’t read that series, I highly recommend it. This is not part of it — this is an historical mystery in the Klondike. But it’s damn good.

Devon

Published in: on January 4, 2017 at 11:36 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 4, 2017: Writing a Better Reality, Reviews, Contract Controversy  
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Jan. 27, 2016: Creative Flow

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Waning Moon
Mercury Direct (as of the 25th)
Rainy and mild

We had a nice big snowstorm on Saturday into Sunday — 15 inches. So much for the idiots who said it would be 3-5. We dug out with the help of our neighbor, but stayed tucked inside for most of the day.

I mostly read, working my way through contest entries, reading my friend’s manuscript, doing research. I outlined a new book, and wrote 11 pages on it, so the characters would stop bugging me.

I re-read the work I’ve done on RED WIDOW, and really like it. I need to find a way to work that piece back into the queue.

I worked on the short radio play. Tried a bunch of things that didn’t work, and finally found what did. The play is finished, polished, proofed, and will go out today. The deadline is Monday, so I’m happy to get it in a bit early. It’s a lot of fun. I’ll have to convert it to BBC format, and get back to converting “Confidence Confidant” into both BBC and US format for radio.

I came across GLAMOROUS HEARTS — that’s a lot of fun, and I think I’ll do something with that in the coming months. I’m finding all kinds of interesting stuff as I go through my boxes.

I did some work on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, but not as much as I’d like. I feel like I’m behind where I should be, to meet the mid-February deadline for a first draft.

Last night, just moments after I finished the play, I attended the monthly HobNob. It was lots of fun, nice crowd at the Cotuit Center for the Arts. Carl Lopes was our speaker — his work is wonderful. We had a lovely conversation. I also met actor Neil McGarry — I like his one man CHRISTMAS CAROL, and we talked about all kinds of theatre stuff, and the possibility that he’ll do some Shakespeare for the library in April. All in all, a creative evening.

Picked up my mother at knitting. Only got about two rows done, but that’s life.

The radio play goes out today. I turn my main focus back to DEATH OF A CHOLERIC then, and I think, this weekend, I’ll also have the chance to start working on the next play, set in 17th Century Italy.

I will have a long day at work, but I want to get a couple of panels finalized, and get us into ArtsWeek Boston before the deadline.

I can’t believe January is almost done!

I have an article on answering when opportunity knocks over on the GDR site. I hope you check it out.

Devon

Published in: on January 27, 2016 at 10:32 am  Comments Off on Jan. 27, 2016: Creative Flow  
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Research and Reading

Thursday, January 21, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

A blizzard during a full moon Mercury retrograde. What could go wrong? Yes, that was sarcasm.

Meeting all morning yesterday. Lots of information, good group of people, which is always helpful. My computer at work still isn’t working properly (the guy was out again — it worked for fifteen minutes after he left, and then — same old). Worked on some programming stuff, caught up on email, had to work the desk in the afternoon.

I have most of the research books I need to start the play set in 17th century Italy — I will dive into them and start note taking this weekend. I also plan to finish reading my friend’s manuscript and type up the notes. Plus, of course, finish the radio play, and keep working on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, to meet my self-imposed deadline.

I’m gathering research for another project, set in the Berkshires. Actually, I might be able to use the research for more than one project, which is always good. I’ve got some submissions to prepare over the weekend — I might even get one or two of them out before the weekend, if everything works. With Mercury retrograde, I doubt it, but fingers crossed.

I also need to work on a potential submission for an art exhibit. I have to think about it. I’m not sure I can get my hands on what I want and need for the visual element, but I’m going to try. Again, it’s a stretch, and my piece might not be accepted — but I need to stretch. I’ve been avoiding it, on the one hand, since I heard about it last week; on the other, it’s been percolating. So we’ll see.

I’m working my way through the contest entries. The first batch of ebooks is coming in now, to supplement the print. I’m nearly through the stack of print mysteries, and then I will turn my attention to novella, then to fantasy, then to ebooks, and by then, the second deadline will have passed, and the final batch should be in. There aren’t a lot of “maybes” this year so far — they are either fully in the “yes” pile that will need to be winnowed down or the “no” pile, because the craft and storytelling just isn’t there. Previous years have had more that were right on the cusp — some problems, but, depending on the entire batch of submissions, a stronger possibility to move into the “yes” pile. This year’s strong entries are STRONG, and those winnowed out will be so by a point or two on the scale. Truly enjoyable reading. Several new-to-me authors that I plan to keep reading.

Once I’ve read everything, each entry gets a second look. Then the weighing and comparison starts. I want to make sure each entry gets full attention and a fair deal.

Washington DC and New York are hunkering down for a blizzard. Local weather people are just dithering, which is highly annoying. I’d like to at least have an idea of range of possibility. “I dunno” two days before the storm is NOT acceptable.

Today will be a long day — big upgrade to the system used for books. I’m sure it will take most of the morning to get everything back online.

I’m almost looking forward to the possibility of being snowed in. Not the shoveling part, but the can’t-go-anywhere-so-stay-home-read-and-write part.

Have a great day!

Devon

Published in: on January 21, 2016 at 10:39 am  Comments Off on Research and Reading  
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Fri. Jan. 15, 2016: Early Morning Writing

Friday, January 15, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy day at work yesterday. I’m still on a different computer; mine isn’t fixed enough for me to trust it. Got a lot of PR done, notes typed up from meetings, that type of thing. Also putting together some programs for the spring.

I got a friend some contacts for research information she needed in London. I’ve gathered enough research on the immediate characters for the first historical play to get a start on it soon. The research books coming in will help me add ambiance and social/historical detail.

I’m booked to talk about scriptwriting for the March Writers Night Out. That should be fun. I’m already working on the handout.

A friend gave me a draft of her novel to read, before it goes out on submission. I’m excited about it, and plan to get started on it this weekend.

I’m enjoying the first entries for the contest. Working my way through them. I really like getting them in batches, rather than one huge batch at the end, with a more compressed time frame. This way, I feel I can really give each entry extra attention. I always review all the entries when I’ve read everything — to make sure the “yes” pile is still my “yes” pile, re-reading the “maybe” pile to see if they move into “yes” or “no”, and checking the “no” pile to make sure they are a firm “no”.

I woke up early this morning. Rather than tossing and turning, I got up and went to the desk. I have some ideas for the next section of TIE-CUTTER, and I have a new story starting to percolate that could well evolve into one of the stories I need for an end of April deadline. I think I’ve figured out how to fix the short radio play, and will tackle that this weekend, and, hopefully finish the draft.

But what I spent my time on, during my early morning writing session, was fixing the problems in the funeral chapter in DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. It’s got a lot more dynamic now, and makes more sense. That will help me get out of the corner I wrote myself into in the next chapter.

We’re getting to the meat of it now, although I see a few places where I have to go back in the next draft to salt in a few clues and red herrings. But, after a few days of frustration on CHOLERIC, I’m back on track. That feels good.

Today will be a long day. Tomorrow is my Saturday “on”, and then I have to get in another load of firewood. It’s a holiday weekend — not sure what the weather is going to be like, so I might push some errands back into next week.

I always feel better when the writing is going well.

Hop on over to Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions, and see how I’m doing for the mid-month check-in.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on January 15, 2016 at 9:50 am  Comments Off on Fri. Jan. 15, 2016: Early Morning Writing  
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Fri. Nov. 13, 2015: Sad News and Rebel 2 Writing

Friday, Nov. 13, 2015
Waxing Moon
Sunny and windy

Busy day yesterday. We had computer issues at work, which put us in a muddle all day, and limited what we could do. We did a lot of work on the tree.

When the computers finally came back up, we were short-handed, I was trying to catch up, and it was a challenge. But we got a good bit done. I couldn’t get anything catalogued, though; even though the circ computers worked, I couldn’t get Sierra up on my computer to receive books. I couldn’t commandeer a circ computer, because it was busy and they needed them.

I got some sad news in the afternoon – a colleague at the Marine Life Center unexpectedly passed away overnight. He’d just been at the Board meeting on Monday. It’s a shock. We’re all reeling. He was committed, dedicated, funny, and kind, and will be very, very missed.

I was exhausted by the time I got home. Dinner, reading. A novel that was highly recommended, but didn’t do it for me, and another one where the heroine is supposed to be goofy and sweet, but is, in reality, an idiot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a mystery, so I couldn’t even hope she’d be the next victim.

Overslept this morning, but managed a thousand words, on an outline for the piece that’s been niggling at me. Still, I wrote, so it’s going into Nano total as “Rebel 2”.

Weary and sad. The weekend will be busy, hopefully good busy. I need to run errands and do yard work and write.

I’m getting into my Nano Week 3 head a little early, where I resent anything that takes time from my writing. Oh, wait, I usually do that anyway. 😉

Have a great weekend.

Devon

Published in: on November 13, 2015 at 9:40 am  Comments (1)  
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Thurs. Aug. 13, 2015: Project Percolation

Thursday, August 13, 2015
Dark Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and beautiful

Yesterday was busy, on many levels, juggling many things. I’m holding the progress made at the Conference close, and not letting it get destroyed.

Got some reading and writing done last night; got some writing done this morning, and finished the mask for the ball, along with the first coat of fixative. Will do the inside tonight. Polish on hands and feet tomorrow, and I’m all set.

The short story is almost written in my head, so getting it on paper this weekend should be lots of fun. For some reason, I’m finding it easier to write short pieces in my head first and then practically “dictate them to myself”.

Also threw out some questions on FB & Twitter to my followers – I’m going to do a fun holiday download piece and asked what they wanted – mystery? Comedy? Fantasy? Romance? Mix? Old characters? New characters? The answers were surprising and fun, and give me lots with which to run. And run I will.

Instead of the usual, wait until the last minute, I’m going to build this piece slowly, starting next week (with the new moon). That will give me time to edit, revise, format, and have a truly fun gift for my readers.

Which advice have I used? You’ll have to read the piece to find out! 😉

Also doing some work on revising the Goals Dreams Resolution site and my various websites.

Have a great day!

TOMORROW is the Mermaid Masquerade Ball. Will I see YOU there? Will we recognize each other if we’re both there? Stay tuned! 😉

Devon

Published in: on August 13, 2015 at 8:52 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Aug. 13, 2015: Project Percolation  
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Friday, July 10, 2015: Interlude Before Rest

Friday, July 10, 2015
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and cooler

Yesterday was busy. We had a meeting to plan Spectacle of the Trees (in-house), and there were eight cartons of books going out and six cartons coming in. That kept us busy for awhile!

The painters only got the taping done, but not the painting, so we’ll have to close on the 22nd for them to actually paint.

Processed books, DVDs, periodicals. Finished my report for the BOT. Set up for tango, although I wasn’t feeling well enough to actually go.

Went home, relaxed for a bit, got some reading done. Watched the movie 5 FLIGHTS UP, which was kind of cute, but I kept getting ahead of it.

Up early, usual yoga/meditation routine. Made some notes on the contemporary theatre piece. Ran errands on the way to work.

Today will be another long day. I’m back on bedrest for the weekend. The mowing is caught up, so, hopefully, that won’t be an issue.

Next week will be quite the busy week, so I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done this weekend!

Have a great one.

Devon

Published in: on July 10, 2015 at 8:22 am  Comments Off on Friday, July 10, 2015: Interlude Before Rest  
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July 1, 2015: Writing, Good Conversation, and Tornado Warnings

Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and tornado warnings

I cut myself a break over the past few days and gave myself a chance to refill the creative well.

Saturday, I worked my four-hour stint. It was busy, and we were happy to lock the door and get out of there. There was an event at the building next door, and even though there were clear signs where to park, the attendees took our patrons’ half dozen spots, even when asked not to.

Relaxed on the deck Saturday afternoon. Sunday, I was wiped out. Read, relaxed, let the stories percolate. I tried to write a bit, but it was ready to be on the page yet; it was still forming.

Sunday night, headed back to Liberty Hall to pick up the Chicken BBQ dinners (they’re good to us, I’ll buy their chicken dinners a few times a year — give-and-take). It was great, but I overate! It was weird to walk into the Hall and know every person sitting down to the meal, and everyone in the kitchen. I’m used to far more anonymity. But it will be useful to use in a story one day.

The weather was vile on Sunday, so I couldn’t work outside.

Read two mediocre mysteries and started one so poorly written that I stopped reading it. Read another novel, THE FORGOTTEN SEAMSTRESS, by Liz Trenow, which was quite lovely.

Did a good bit of research on several projects. It’s going to feed in nicely to them, enrich the environment in which these stories and characters take place.

I was disappointed at the viciousness people displayed toward EL James in her Twitter chat. Her books don’t work for me, for a variety of reasons (as a writer, as a woman, as a feminist). However, plenty of people enjoy them, she’s successful, good for her. It’s hard to make a living in this business. While in the abstract, some of the snarky questions had elements of humor, the overall nastiness of the whole endeavor was disheartening. I was especially disappointed that other writers — most of whom have nowhere near her sales numbers — were positively gleeful that she’d been attacked. If you don’t like someone’s writing, don’t read it, don’t spend your money n it. If you’re a reviewer and it’s your job to comment on it, and you dislike it, that’s one thing (although there are so few qualified reviewers at this point, even that’s in question). But this envy, the jealousy of her success is truly unfortunate. I’m sure she will recover and continue laughing all the way to the bank, and I realize it says more about those who attacked her than about her, but it was disappointing. For people to defend it by saying, “Well, that’s what you get for going on Twitter”, um, no. I’ve found plenty of classy, supportive, intelligent people on Twitter, and landed some of my best freelance assignments on Twitter. I choose not to deal with the stupid, the ignorant, and the nasty on Twitter, much as I cut as many as possible out from my life in general.

The episode was definitely food for thought as I consider how I want to reshape the way I position my work and myself in the world. Not because I’m worried about the same kind of attack (although I’d sure love those dollars), but because I’ve always believed, especially for writers, that the work is public, but the individual is private. In fact, I believe a certain amount of privacy is necessary in order to incubate the work properly.

Speaking of writing, the past few days’ work on BALTHAZAAR is sub-par, and I’m very disappointed in myself. I have to get past this obstacle and move forward on the piece as a whole. Knowing that my editor (whom I adore) is retiring is part of what interfered with the work –suffering from separation anxiety. Now, I need to get over it, and get back to work.

I got some work done for the Marine Life Center and for the Writers Center, too, over the past few days, so things are firing on several cylinders. And I got the grocery shopping done, which was of vital importance! 😉

Tuesday was a lovely, sunny, warm day. The kind of summer day that reminds you why you put up with the summer people on Cape Cod.

I got the last part of the meadow mowed in the morning. It was looking more like an African savannah rather than a Cape Cod backyard, but now it’s under control. The yarrow’s coming in nicely. The chamomile I planted in the front several years ago is now coming up by the back stairs, waving at me. I’ll be moving that to the border in the terrace. The clematis and morning glories are in bloom, as are the geraniums and the gloxinia and the Stella D’oro llilies, with the shasta daisies getting ready to pop. Herbs, tomatoes, lettuce, et al, all doing well. The cherry bush I though was dead and stuck in a bucket has recovered. I’ve given away its pot, so I have to figure how to plant the poor thing. Its twin, who is in the ground, has also recovered.

Lunch with a colleague who is also a friend, over in Sandwich. We got some chatting done, sorting out life stuff, and also some business done.

Home, hung out on the deck in the sun with books and cats, enjoying the reason I live on Cape Cod and not somewhere else.

Out to the Artist HobNob. This month, it was at Pain D’Avignon, out by the airport. We were at tables outside, in the lovely weather, and, if you’re from New York or lived near Westchester Airport (as I am/did), the planes going over weren’t much of a distraction. We had a great, lively table of people. What I love about these monthly nights is that it’s all about working artists inspiring each other (instead of some other events, where wanna-be artists whine and make excuses about why they’re not creating). I knew one person at the table, and everyone at the table is someone I hope to spend more time with, and continue sharing information and inspiration with. The food was great, the wine was good, the company wonderful. A truly lovely evening.

It was nice to have actual conversations with people.

It also seems to have moved me past the obstacles in BALTHAZAAR. This morning’s writing session was better.

I’d promised dinner for a friend, trying a new-to-me recipe for chicken and zucchini, in a sauce out of onion, garlic, celery, white wine, sage, bay leaf, clove, and cinnamon. It was excellent.

It’s summer, which means I’m making batches of lime-and-cilantro mayonnaise (which also contains sour cream). I quadruple the recipe whenever I make it, because it’s so good and I use it for oh, so many things.

It will be a long day at work (and the weather’s supposed to be awful today). Full moon, so ritual tonight. We’ll have another full moon on July 31, just before one of the most important days in my personal calendar. Tomorrow will also be a long day, but no tango tomorrow night. I will come home and sit on the deck with my feet up!

Update: In the time between writing this and being able to post it, we got an emergency alert to get into the basement, because there was rotation in Falmouth (although nothing touched down). We grabbed the cats, cat food, important papers, some water, the radio, and went into the basement. It was awful. We could feel the house shaking from the thunderstorms and the rain was torrential. Once we got the all clear, we came up, but were asked to stay off the roads for another fifteen/twenty minutes. I’d texted work, but no one got it and, even though work is only four miles from home, the storm hadn’t been anywhere near as bad there. So I’m trying t recover from that. Hoping I don’t have to do that anytime soon again. Not fun.

After tomorrow, due to a combination of the holiday, my work schedule, and painting being done at work, I’m away from the library for six days. It’ll be a good, well-needed break for me. I have yard work to do on nice days, and Canal Fest in Buzzards Bay on the Fourth. I know, oh horrors, I have to go over the bridge on a WEEKEND!

But I’m hoping to spend the bulk of the time writing — the historical play, the contemporary play, BALTHAZAAR being the main focus, but I may jot down the short stories just to make space in my head. The vintage theatre piece is taking shape nicely, too. Getting that first chapter down helped enormously. Researching 1938 makes me realize that was a good choice as a starting point for the book and the series. I also realized that, in the theatre piece set in Maine, where my characters have to go to Mobile to retrieve some other characters, I’m going to take them to New Orleans to catch their collective breaths. That’s still several chapters down the road in that piece, but it solves some of the logistical problems (both physical and emotional) that keeping them in Mobile over that adjustment period caused.

So, after tomorrow, I will be offline until July 9th, which will be good for everyone involved! I’ll have plenty to say when I get back, I’m sure!

Hop over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site — I’ve got my mid-year assessment up.

If we don’t get our “morning coffee” chat tomorrow, I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend (my American friends) and just a darn wonderful weekend (for everyone else).

Devon

Published in: on July 1, 2015 at 10:10 am  Comments (2)  
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Wed. June 24, 2015: Blasting Through the Solstice

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy few days. By Friday afternoon, I was cooked. We moved books over to Liberty Hall for the book sale. We were short handed, so in between, I had to handle the desk myself in the afternoon. By the time I locked up on Friday afternoon, I was wiped out.

Tried to relax on the deck, but it was hard. Got some reading done — I’ve read a few books of a fairly well done cozy series, except the female protagonist of the pair makes really stupid mistakes. It’s one thing for an intelligent character to make a mistake based on mis-information or mis-interpretation of information. It’s quite different to make a mistake when you know better — and keep making that type of mistake, more than once per book and in multiple books. It shows a character who doesn’t learn, and that’s not someone with whom I choose to spend time. Even though a lot of the writing is lively, that is such a huge character flaw and shows a lack of growth that I can’t accept in characters I spend time with.

Next!

Cats loved having house guests. They got even more spoiled than before.

Prepped for the wedding Friday night and some of Saturday morning. Also got some research done on Saturday morning, and spent time with houseguests.

The day was gorgeous and the wedding was wonderful. It was at a church in Cotuit –the place was packed. The wedding was full of joy and laughter and beauty — the best of what one of those public rituals should be.

The party was fun, although I only stayed a couple of hours. I was worn out.

Tried to sleep in a bit on Sunday, fed the guests, got them on their way. The weather was dreadful — storms, thunder, lightening, pelting rain. Caught rainwater to use for plants. Spent most of the day doing research.

I’ve got two plays to work on, and I don’t want to lose momentum for BALTHAZAAR. There’s another idea percolating — I’m working with characters and situations, but I don’t quite have it yet. It would be contemporary.

And there’s another idea that’s taking shape, form, character, that would start in 1938. If it works, it has the potential to go all the way to present day. The backdrop is, of course, theatre, and it combines some of the other ideas and research I’ve done over several years, trying to find the right format.

Believe it or not, Agnes DeMille’s biography of Martha Graham provided the missing piece of inspiration to pull those years of playing with ideas together, and I did ten pages of notes for the overview and, specifically, for the first story.

Something else that is interesting about DeMille’s biography of Graham is that it is as much about DeMille as Graham! It shouldn’t be titled MARTHA GRAHAM, it should be MARTHA GRAHAM FROM AGNES DEMILLE’S PERSPECTIVE.

Read SPINSTER: MAKING A LIFE OF ONE’S OWN by Kate Bolick. The writing is good, and while there is a lot I like about it, I disagree that she’s “making a life of one’s own.” Yes, she remains unmarried. But she’s a serial dater, always involved in a relationship, always dating frenetically, as though she has to prove that, although she remains unmarried, she is still attractive and desired. She has no idea what it means to be alone — especially since she’s always running to her therapist. She’s unmarried, yes, but solitude is something she avoids. Being home alone one night to read a book and enjoying it is not “being alone”. It’s having a night off.

Read MUSE by Jonathan Galassi. Liked a lot of it, loved a lot of the writing and phrasing. However, stylistically, it was too narrative for my taste. It was like reading a book-long profile in THE NEW YORKER. I don’t want to hear ABOUT all these interesting people — I want to learn about them through active scenes. So, while I enjoyed the book and the writing a lot, I didn’t love it.

Lovely Summer Solstice celebration that will hopefully ground me well for the next cycle. I can’t believe the days are starting to get shorter! In a week or so, we’ll really notice.

Monday was an excellent writing day: 16 pages (just over one chapter ) of the mystery set on Cape Cod in 1938. The reading I’d done over the weekend fed the story and characters. While this mystery follows formula in some ways, it unfolds a little differently and a little more slowly than the current fashion. The title tells you the type of character who will meet a bad end, but, for the first couple of chapters, there are several possibilities. Also, setting the book in this time period, while Europe is in turmoil and America tried to stay out of it, sets up interesting conflicts between the more insular world the characters inhabit and how world events affect it — and how they try to fight it. It’s also a good way to explore various prejudices. I’d originally planned to start the book in the Midwest (my protagonist is from a small town outside Chicago) and have her receive a letter that is the catalyst to moving to New York. However, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to start building the relationships during a summer stock season on Cape Cod to set the stage (so to speak) for her break with her hometown and childhood sweetheart in active scenes. In other words, this first book will be here, on Cape Cod, before she makes the move to New York. She’ll move to New York in Book Two. I’m also taking some time to develop the first murder victim. I want the reader to know the individual and feel genuine sorrow at the death. It fits more the formula of some of the books written in the actual era, instead of starting in the midst of everything or giving us background we don’t need. Every scene has relevance to the plot, even the ones that won’t seem to until the murderer is revealed.

When I’d written myself out, I got gas for the car and the mower (prices have gone up AGAIN — I’m tired of the way gas prices are manipulated). I mowed the side yard and part of the front, although a big new crop of dandelions sprang up almost immediately.

The cats missed the house guests.

Read Barbara Delinsky’s LAKE NEWS last night. I enjoy her writing.

Up early Tuesday. I have more mowing and repotting to do today, hopefully before the next storm hits, but I also want to get some work done on both BALTHAZAAR and the 1938 mystery.

I’ve also been doing background reading for the one hour pilot. The research reinforces the more jaded view that people basically suck.

However, it was an excellent writing day on BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, a total of 22 pages, finishing up one chapter and writing another completely. I was exhausted by the end of it, but it was worth it. I have the research books spread out all around me, and I keep referring back and forth. The constant fact-checking slowed me down, and I still have some more to do when I do the next draft, but I was able to at least make this first one work.

Bad storms came through, with both tornado watches and warnings. The cats were upset and all sat in my lap. We were lucky here, though: thunder, lightening, heavy rain (which we needed). But no tornadoes.

Tried to read a mystery on the Kindle with an interesting premise, but the author or copyeditor didn’t know the difference between a regular plural and a possessive plural, so, after four pages’ worth of mistakes, I gave up. That’s third grade level English, and there’s no excuse for those types of errors in a published book. Read another book on Kindle that was pleasant, but no great shakes. Needed brain candy, but, ultimately, that one left me unsatisfied, too.

Upped the yoga practice to more intensity. I want to try adding another yoga session at night. I used to do that, when I first moved here, and yoga twice a day was great — in the morning, it focuses me and gets me ready for the day; at night, it unwinds me.

Today will be a very long day at the library. We’re short-handed today, and there’s something that needs my full attention that HAS to get done (I started it, but the rest of the information won’t have arrived until today). That means I’ll be putting in extra hours, after the building is closed. I’m working tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday, and then I have Sunday and Monday for intense writing. Tuesday, next week, I have appointments.

Worked on BALTHAZAAR again this morning, before I left for the library, but after the intensity of the past few days, it didn’t feel like enough. It was a solid 1500 words, though, so I shouldn’t kick myself about it. There are so many great stories-within-the-story in BALTHAZAAR that I’m tempted to do some chapters set back in pirate days. However, as a reader, I don’t like that convention — having the reader get far ahead of the protagonists — and it doesn’t fit with the way I’ve set up the structure of chapters in the series. Maybe a tie-in novel set there in the future? Or would it be too much like CUTTHROAT CHARLOTTE? I don’t think so, but one never knows. We’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll do a book with Balthazaar, Sybilla, and Charity as the focus, rather than the catalyst, at some point in the future.

The weather, however, is gorgeous, and a wonderful reminder of why I live here.

I have a bad headache which I hope won’t develop into a migraine.

Have a great week!

Devon

Published in: on June 24, 2015 at 10:29 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 24, 2015: Blasting Through the Solstice  
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Wed. March 25, 2015: Coming Off a Good Writing Weekend

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and a little warmer

Busy times. I went flat out on Friday, working on ComCat practice in the morning, and writing press releases and PSAs all afternoon. I had a raging migraine by the time I got home.

Saturday was my Saturday “off” from work. I tried to get the headache under control, and I worked on contest entries. There was some good stuff in there.

On Sunday, I finished the student manuscript that’s taken me so long. It’s a relief to get it off my desk, and now the student needs to understand and apply the edits.

I didn’t mean to, but got caught up in the serial novel, what used to be THE POWER OF WORDS. I wrote a new opening for the first book, INSPIRED INCUBATION (yeah, that title’s got to go, even though it’s better than the original title). I like it better.

The advice is to start as far in to the story as possible. I actually backed up a couple of scenes from where I started the book originally, BUT (and the “but” is important), even though it’s chronologically earlier, it’s a more active point in the story, on both physical and emotional levels. That lets me slide into the material that was the original opening (with some cuts) in a way that makes more sense.

I started working on the rewrites for what used to be the second section of the first book, but is now the second book, COLLABORATIVE BIRTH. I still kind of like that title — it fits what the book is about. There are some pretty extensive rewrites, as there were in the first book, but it pulls together much better.

All of Monday was about COLLABORATIVE BIRTH, except for a quick trip to send off the student’s manuscript, turn down a job that was flattering, but I knew in my gut was not the right choice for me, and take the recycling to the dump. Yes, I lead a glamorous life! 😉

I finished the section set on Cape Cod, which only needed some minor tweaking, and then started the section set in Prague — which needed to be ripped apart and rebuilt.

Yesterday, I did a little bit of work on COLLABORATIVE BIRTH, then turned on the Dukane (which is the microfilm machine), and started on the Pinkerton Detective reels borrowed from the University of Indiana for the historical play. Wow. Just wow.

It took me six hours to read one reel, and I got 16 pages’ worth of notes out of it. Some are relevant to the historical play. Some will go into the novel that will cover more than the play possibly could.

It’s also awesome to have the machine at home, and be able to take my time with it, instead of worrying that I’ll overrun whatever time I booked in someone else’s facility.

I also finished rewriting the Prague section of the book, which means I’ve done a serious 165 pages of revisions in the past few days.

I also baked for Thursday’s Pub Serve meeting. Feeding representatives from all the libraries, so it better be good! 😉

Watched NOW YOU SEE ME last night. I’ve watched it probably a dozen times before, and I always find something new to enjoy. It’s a clever, well-done, smart movie with a great cast. I don’t think people really knew what to do with it when it first came out, but I love it.

I’m in at work a little early today, because I have to leave at 5 instead of 6 to head to the National Marine Life Center for their annual meeting. A gasoline truck crashed at the Bourne Rotary this morning, dumping 12,000 gallons into the road, some of which got into the canal. Hopefully, the Bourne Bridge will be accessible by evening. Right now it’s closed for the clean-up. Hopefully, the ecological impact can be somewhat contained.

Tomorrow is PubServe in the morning, then I’m at work in the afternoon, and have Tango at night. Friday and Saturday are at work; probably busy.

The snow packs are shrinking. I’d like to start cleaning up the yard. Although there are big, melted patches out there, there are still snow banks that prevent me from getting from the house to the sections of the yard that need cleaning up.

But the four o’clocks are starting to come up inside. I have to do some more planting early next week, or nothing will come up until Christmas.

Have a great week!

Devon

Published in: on March 25, 2015 at 8:43 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 25, 2015: Coming Off a Good Writing Weekend  
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Wed. Feb. 18, 2015: Sneaking Between Storms

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
New Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, snowy, cold
Snow Fatigue

I don’t see how we’ll get the snow melted and gone until sometime in July.

Saturday was fine. It was my Saturday “on” at the library. It wasn’t as hectic as I expected, although it was busy enough for me to spend the bulk of my time on the desk.

Read a couple of books, which were a disappointment, including one highly regarded one which I put down by page 2, because it’s written in the present tense, and I felt like the author kept yelling, “Look at ME! Look at ME!” instead of telling me the story.

Started snowing in the evening, so I tucked in and watched more of STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP. So much I like about that show, but it did dip and get uneven there for awhile.

Had stopped snowing on Sunday when I woke up at 5:30, and it was that lovely quiet. By 6:30, it started again.

Read Norman Lear’s autobiography, which was interesting. I worked with his daughter Maggie at MCC in the late 80s/early 90s, and we had a retreat up at the place in Vermont. I have very fond memories of it. I was disturbed by the fact that 9/11 was not mentioned in the book at all. He lived through it; he’s a social activist. How could it not even get a mention? Especially when it affected us so deeply?

I finished the galleys for KILLER QUINTET and reformatted the pilot of THE BROWNSTONE to the specific guidelines to which I’m submitting.

Started shovelling; got about 3/4 of the driveway done. Got the rest done on Monday morning — about 8 more inches, total, had fallen over the weekend. Of course, as soon as I jumped in the shower, the plow came by and blocked the bottom of my cleared driveway again. At least the plows showed up this time, and they’ve scraped the ruts down in the street, so it’s about 5 inches of pure ice, with just a little bit of ruttage, and easier to get traction.

Headed to the library. Although we were closed for President’s Day, some of us came in to set up for the book sale. I could only stay for about two hours, because I had a meeting on a potential project. THAT was a total waste of time — the person I met with basically likes to hear himself talk, and it won’t go anywhere. I repeated several times that when there’s money on the table and a contract, we can get into specifics, but this is my business, not my hobby, and I’m not working for free, especially not on something that doesn’t have the pieces in place. I’ve learned the hard way from blowhards like this — you get the pieces in play and THEN I will write something beyond a one-page synopsis.

Ron Perlman’s memoir was a lot of fun. I’ve always liked his work. Tried to read a novel, and it was awful, so I put it down.

Got an idea for an hour-long pilot. Wrote a few opening scenes, and I like it. I have to do some research for it, but I think it will make a solid sample.

Not happy with where I am in the radio play. I have to rethink some of it. I might over-write and then cut — usually that works better than under-writing and then padding.

Watching Season 4 of WEST WING.

Had hoped I could do some errands on Tuesday morning before the snow started, but it started at 8 AM and everything I needed to reach didn’t open until 9, so I stayed home. Did some more tweaking to THE BROWNSTONE pilot — there was one character I’d sorely underwritten, and I added a quick scene that makes it more balanced. Now I have to stop fiddling with it, or I’ll hit the point of diminishing return.

Wrote up the minutes from the last Writers’ Center board meeting, and a press release and a set of guidelines I promised them. I’m missing some information, and the press release has to go out this week, so if the person who is supposed to supply to me doesn’t, we don’t get the information into the magazines. Deadlines are deadlines. It’s very tough to do what I’m assigned to do on time, and then not get the rest. But my term is up in October.

Read a couple of mediocre novels and was disappointed. Got an idea for a screenplay — I’ve been playing with the premise for awhile, but suddenly the missing piece clicked into place. so I can write a synopsis, and then do the script — after I finish the radio plays for Ireland and Paris. The one I want to do for Paris is percolating.

Had a false start on a chapter for BALTHAZAAR. Need to get back to that. I have to get that done and out before doing another pass on CLEAR THE SLOT and getting THAT done and out.

Nice fire in the fireplace last night, and a good glass of wine. Of course, it was wine o’clock by 2:30 — either that or sob into the ice melt.

Today will be a long day at the library, but, hopefully a good one. I’ve got a couple of press releases to write, and some finagling to do on March programs. I’ve got more research books coming in.

The microfiche/film that I thought I was getting from Harvard that was shipped on January 21 and still hasn’t shown up — turns out Harvard didn’t send it after all. They wanted to charge a lot of money — not that money ever came up into the multiple emails going back and forth when I asked if they’d do an interlibrary loan in the first place. Turns out it’s coming in from the University of Indiana — bless ’em! They sent it to the distribution center in Quincy, rather than directly to our library, so it’s in snowbank somewhere. But they’re cool about it, and will give me a month with it once it arrives.

So here’s Harvard only, about 70 miles away, and they’re less cooperative with a fellow citizen of the Commonwealth than both the Library of Congress and a midwestern university. Go figure. Seriously, it would have taken less time and been less frustrating to go to DC for a week.

Hop on over to the GDR site, and see my updates for mid-February. Stay safe and warm — we’re supposed to get more snow today.

Devon