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

Personal Revolution Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They all make me sick.

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

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

Wed. June 14, 2017: An Attempt To Bully Me Into Unpaid Work

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday wasn’t as productive as I would have liked. I got out some pitches; I did research for an article I’m writing (the whole thing is taking much longer than I would have liked).

I withdrew from a project that interested me, because we couldn’t come to terms on money. I have bills to pay; this is how I make my living. Just because I love what I do, doesn’t mean I don’t get paid for it. The person in charge of the project understood, and we parted on good terms.

On a different project, the producer who wanted me to write unpaid corporate spec scripts started arguing with me about it. I re-iterated that the samples of previously produced work, in the style and tone they claim they want, are enough for them to make a decision. The producer insisted it wasn’t; that they were getting “commercials”, which they didn’t want — they wanted fun scripts. I pointed out that the samples I gave them were specifically that — mission-specific entertainment, where actual information is wrapped in engaging stories and characters, NOT commercials. The team should READ those samples, and look at the two script concepts I pitched, and then decide whether or not to hire me. If I’m not the right person for the job, fine; we both move on.

The argument came back that the client isn’t willing to read “other people’s samples”, but only spec scripts pertinent to their product, and that I should write two of them, and that the client wanted to talk to me ON THE PHONE — not about the concept, but about why I should write for them for free.

I have yet to find a so-called business phone conversation of more than 90 seconds anything but a complete waste of time. Most phone calls are about the ego of the person insisting on the call, who either wants to talk through the noise in his own mind because he couldn’t be bothered to do proper prep, or simple, straight up ego because he likes the sound of his own voice so much. It interferes with my work and is a complete waste of my time. That is why I charge for phone time, in 15 minutes increments, like a lawyer. If you’re going to work my last nerve and waste my time and interfere with the progress on your project, it’s going to cost. The time is billed and paid upon completion of the phone call. That is non-negotiable. I also only accept phone calls on appointment. I have my voice mail set up NOT to take messages; I don’t return phone calls. If you insist on talking to me by phone, we set up an appointment via email. We talk in that designated time frame. Period.

A single useless phone call ruins an entire day of creative work, so I have very strict boundaries about phone time.

I set out my phone terms, and, of course, got more argument, about how I “owe” the client unpaid phone time.

Honey, I don’t “owe” your client anything. I’ve never met the client. I looked at the previous videos and thought they were crap — poor writing coupled with bad, vapid acting. Yeah, if you want to use “fun” videos to sell your product, you’ll have to do some major fixes, starting with the writing.

I’m not doing it for free. This is how I earn a living — writing.

Another big red flag: “If you do this, there’s the chance for more work down the pike.” Um, is that unpaid, too? Because that’s not something I need or want. Besides, that false carrot is one of the best-known ruses to get new-to-the-biz writers to do unpaid work. Granted, this “You should be grateful to work without compensation” is the norm for Cape Cod; however, this supposed client is supposedly in a major city, and therefore should know better.

The producer admitted that several writers that were interested in the gig had brought up concerns about writing product/project specific material on spec. I don’t know if every professional writer who pitched received the same kind of bullying attempt, or if, for some reason, I was singled out.

Again, the pressure was “They want to make sure you understand it’s not a commercial and we plan to shoot at the end of next week, so we’re in a time crunch.”

YOUR time crunch is NOT my problem; I already said the deadline was not an issue (it’s not; I’m a seasoned script writer, I’ve fed doctored script pages to a film set across the country during a shoot). If YOU READ MY SAMPLES, you’ll see that I understand what you want.

Read the samples. If you like the samples and the concepts I pitched, hire me. If you don’t, then move on to someone else. Or, you demand unpaid work. I say no. We both move on.

But this insistence that I wouldn’t even be considered without project-specific spec samples, and then arguing when I refuse to do them is ridiculous, unprofessional, and guarantees that, when I see your product advertised in the future, I associate it with unprofessional behavior and avoid it.

In the interim of all this back-and-forth, which wasted half my work day (and oh, I am SO tempted to bill for wasted time, but that’s going a bit too far even for me), I landed another assignment. A very short script, no argument about my regular rate, no phone time, all sorted out within two hours of the pitch.

I withdrew from consideration from the PIA potential gig, explaining that I was contracted on another job within the same time frame, and that’s the one I’ve accepted.

More argument, that it’s “not fair” I took another job when I was talking to them about their job, and they’re in a time crunch. I was tempted not to respond, but I did, pointing out that I hadn’t been contracted by them, and we were at an impasse. I was not going to write product-specific scripts on spec. I would only do so if hired, contracted, and the deposit paid, and every hour that they argued this instead of hiring a writer was an hour that made their time crunch tighter. Also, if we started from such different positions on what our working relationship should be, I could only see it degenerating; obviously, I am not the right person to work with them, so we say goodbye and move on to better partnerships for both of us.

MORE argument that they wanted a professional writer and liked my credentials, but wanted to see spec scripts on their product before they made a decision.

Those spec scripts aren’t coming from me, as I made clear over and over and over again. I didn’t even bother to reply.

Instead, I went to work on the job for which I was contracted, for which I had been paid a deposit, and made decent progress on it. It’s a 30-second spot, something with which I have a lot of experience, so it’s a case of writing visually and aurally, and then cutting down as many words as possible.

The afternoon was so hot I wasn’t much use. The cats were little fur puddles, and I split time between doing research for a project and working on my next assignment for my new editor. AND, the second part of the afternoon was listening to the Congressional Hearings — more about that later.

I didn’t get any work done on fiction yesterday, because I fell into the trap of working on nonfiction first thing in the morning instead of fiction, which requires a completely different headspace, and never worked my way back to the fiction.

A good reminder that:
–I must always work on fiction early in the day; sometimes I can work my way back to another fiction session later in the day, but only if I’ve launched the day with it;
–I must always do my own fiction, my daily 1K quota, FIRST, before I work on any other assignment, no matter what the deadline or the pay. Otherwise, it throws my creativity out of whack.

A new-to-me author followed me on Twitter (always fun to widen the author circle). I followed back. I immediately got a DM hawking his book. Unfollow. That’s not how you get me to buy your book. That’s how you get on my list of I Don’t Read Your Work. SOCIAL media is about building the relationship first, and then telling me about your book. And then, if we’ve been having pleasant interactions, heck yeah, I’ll buy it, because I believe in buying as many books as I can afford from my contemporaries. But if I’ve only just heard of you and you privately hit me up for money, that guarantees me striking you off ALL my lists.

If you only came here for the writing commentary, click away, because I’m about to talk about politics. This blog is about balancing life and writing; the poisonous political situation, unfortunately, affects my writing (negatively, for the most part).

Jeff Sessions was always unqualified to be Attorney General, and yesterday’s hearings solidified his incompetence. He repeatedly perjured himself, both in this hearing and in previous hearings. He “can’t remember” meetings that should be pretty memorable. He claims possible future executive privilege that hasn’t been invoked, which any first year law student knows is crap. He stonewalls, rambles, and attempts misdirection. He refuses to answer questions, putting him in contempt of Congress. To hell with Congress — he holds the American people in contempt, especially those who aren’t white men. I don’t believe, for one minute, that he attended a legitimate law school or has a legitimate law degree. It’s far more likely he sent away for it on the back of a matchbook. I expect the top law enforcement official in the country to be ethical, intelligent, capable of coherent and rational reasoning, able to discern fact from fiction, secular, tolerant, fair-minded, committed to justice and the Constitution, and well-spoken. Jeff Sessions is none of those things. He should have never been confirmed, and he needs to be removed.

Senator Kamala Harris was brilliant, and those old white men who keep trying to shush her should have their mouths duct-taped. She was a prosecutor. SHE should be our country’s Attorney General.

We have lovely thunderstorms last night, and it’s cooler. That means I need to get back to mowing today, along with working on fiction, working on my essay, and my article, getting out some more pitches, and following up on some more pitches that have been out for awhile.

I am desperate for a few days off, but I need to hit my earnings for the month. Then, hopefully, I can take Fourth of July days as a holiday and rest my brain and my soul.

Watch out — I’ll be promoting the Independence Day-themed short mystery “Personal Revolution” starting tomorrow.

Out to the mower, and then back to the page. A migraine is coming on, and it’s slowing me down.

Tues. May 30, 2017: Hamster on the Wheel

Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

It was kind of a lousy weekend here on Cape, weather-wise. That didn’t stop it from having a back-up trying to get off Cape yesterday from Orleans (the elbow of the Cape) all the way to the Sagamore Bridge. Three hours for a trip that should take about 45 minutes.

It’s going to be a challenging season.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, so you can see how I’m using books by Claire Cook and Jeff Vandermeer on this Recalibration journey.

With the mower now working again, I got some work done on the yard before the weather changed. I got the front and the side front yard mowed. I’d hoped to get the terraced back area done, so I could start on the meadow today, but no such luck. I’m hoping it will clear up a bit this afternoon, so I can start that.

I did my first assignment from my new editor. I don’t know how long my association will be with this publication. I have some issues with contract and payment terms. Either we’ll work them out, or we won’t, and I’ll leave. I’m no longer accepting situations that don’t work for me. Especially when there’s an unacceptable time iag in payment.

Heard back last night from another pitch I sent last week — the editor wants to buy the article. So I have to get that off to her as quickly as possibly (while writing something good).

I also need to do some follow up on other pitches.

Last night, I got an idea for two flash fiction stories, on the light-hearted side. I’d like to draft them, so I don’t lose the energy.

I worked on the story inspired by the photos of the abandoned Connecticut town I came across online. I got 49 pages written, in longhand, getting all the way into chapter four. So I think the idea is viable. I like working in longhand on this particular piece. I’m at a point where I need to stop and type up the first three chapters, and also where I need to stop and write my Writer’s Rough outline.

Trying to get back into the rhythm of NOT BY THE BOOK, and trying to sort out some things for the next section of FIX IT GIRL.

Worked my way through some research books. I have a big stack to take back to the library today. Hopefully, I can get done everything I need to get done in an hour or so, and then get back to the page.

I thought I had two deadlines today for radio scripts, but it turns out that one is actually the end of next month, and the other is in a window — I have a feeling I’ll get the latter (which is further along) out the door later this week. Here, I thought I’d have to drop one possibility, and push hard for the other one. Glad I don’t.

The most important thing this morning is to dig down and get the article done, then polish the piece for the other editor and send it off.

I won’t be posting here tomorrow — I’m off on an adventure. But I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say when I come back on Thursday!

Mon. May 15, 2017: Creative Juggling & The Need to Weigh Decisions

Monday, May 15, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

The lilacs are magnificent this year. I could just sit all day and breathe in the scent.

Busy writing weekend. On Friday, I managed to revised six chapters of THE FIX-IT GIRL and get the changes put into the manuscript. I also did 20 pages of revision on WINNER TAKE ALL.

I put changes into three more chapters of FIX IT GIRL, but didn’t get them into the manuscript.

Saturday, another 21 pages of revision on WINNER TAKE ALL. Two and a half pages of new material on the literary novel, five pages on a paranormal Victorian romance. Research.

I worked on the proposal packet for the new play, including sample pages. I wish I could submit ENEMY for development, but that’s not inherently in Boston, and the producer wants something where Boston is a character.

I also found a new-to-me market and came up with ideas for four short pieces for them. I roughed out all four, and now it’s a case of drafting them. They’re short — one is 800 words, one is 1000 words, and the other two can run between 3K and 7K. I figured out where to re-slant and re-send a pitch that I’d sent to a publication and they liked it, but had run something similar in the issue that was about to land. I’m hoping they’ll accept a different idea. I’d like to get all these pieces done and out the door this week, along with finding some markets for some other ideas.

I’m still waiting to receive my first assignment on this new gig I was supposedly hired on.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and pouring rain. I cut some lilacs (this is a wonderful year for lilacs on Cape), and made scrambled eggs with Canadian bacon for my mom.

I also wrote the first draft of the 800 word piece and did another 23 pages of revisions on the screenplay. I’m just beyond the half way point on it. This morning, I revised the 800-word piece, and it’s ready to send out.

Re-slanted a pitch, typed up a filler, and created another pitch and article outline.

I re-read Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS, which was interesting (I like her writing). I’m in the midst of reading another novel (by a different author) I found among my pile and hadn’t yet read — I’m on the fence about it. Parts of it I really like, and other parts feel a bit pretentious. Tried watching a new-to-me series, but it was juggling too many subplots with no explanations, taking spare dialogue too far, and I got exasperated. I don’t need everything explained (in fact, I prefer it not to), but this was beyond Mamet-ian. And British. Which didn’t quite work for me.

Heard from an old friend I didn’t think I’d hear from again. We have a lot of catching up to do. Drafted back my response. Found out another old pal is only about an hour and a half away — I’ll have to get in touch.

Did more Lavinia Fontana research. I have a feeling her father, Prospero, will be one of the top supporting characters in the play. He strikes me as quite an ambitious rascal.

This morning, I drafted just over 600 words of one of the 3K stories I’m working on this week. It’s taking on a more vibrant life of its own, which is a good thing, but it’s also not something I can just crank out, the way I’d hoped. But the quality will be better without the cranking, and the quality of the work is the ultimate test.

I need to make some decisions on what I want the trajectory to be for PLAYING THE ANGLES and the subsequent books from that circle of friends, and how I want to re-launch the Gwen Finnegan books. Simply sending them to a small publisher who only does POD doesn’t help me. The companies are too small to do adequate promotion, and the POD knocks me out of too many markets. Yet neither series really fits the current traditional publishing trends. They’re good stories, and people respond positively, but they intentionally break traditional formulas. Do I have the creativity, the stamina, and the resources to mount the carefully-plotted out marketing campaigns they would need? More importantly, am I able to keep up with the additional books in each series in a timely manner? Because feeding the monster is important. And Amazon, the Behemoth, is an important market force, but I have trouble with some of the ways they’re doing business. All of this has to be weighed and measured.

I hope this week will wind up being both creatively fulfilling AND financially rewarding. I need the two to balance. I’ve got my mid-month check-in up on the GDR site here.

Have a great week!

Published in: on May 15, 2017 at 9:04 am  Comments Off on Mon. May 15, 2017: Creative Juggling & The Need to Weigh Decisions  
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Wed. May 10, 2010: Research, Writing, Nasty Bookers, and Project Juggling

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

It still goes down into the 30s at night. We had to bring the tomato plants in.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise. Jamieson Wolf is a guest, and he talks about his new release LUST & LEMONADE.

Yesterday was kind of all over the place; grocery shopping; trying to get some work done at the library, but it was both noisy and full of the crazies.

I did some research for a handful of projects; figured out that an article I was working on actually needs to be broken down into two articles in order to keep a solid focus; wrote most of an outline for a new piece and the first ten pages of it, so I can figure out what it is and if it will work (so far, so good). I’m working on a proposal packet for a slot with a producer who wants to develop a new play. It’s a different way of working — I’m trying to develop enough of the idea to create an exciting package, while, at the same time, leaving enough room for collaboration. I usually put the proposal together with a finished, polished script, but that’s not what this theatre wants. Good to work differently. Keeps one from getting stale.

It was interesting reading the research book I’ve been reading the past few days. It feeds into three different projects, and I’d read a passage and think, “that will work with X” and a few pages later, “That will work for Y” and a few pages later, “I can use variants of that for X AND for Z.” Then, of course, I had to jot down notes in the various outlines referring to the research notes so I wouldn’t forget!

I’m in article mode now, and I had an idea for another spate of articles. Unfortunately, so far, the research I’ve done into the markets — the publications most geared to the topic — not only refuse to pay, they want their contributors to write numerous articles per month FOR FREE. I’m getting a little tired of the “Gimme Culture” instead of a sustainable Reciprocal Culture. Nope. Next. Bye. If I was starting out and looking to build my portfolio, maybe. But not at this stage in the game. So I have to dig a little deeper into other markets, and see what’s what.

I’ve been asked by two organizations I used to be associated with for marketing advice. I don’t mind throwing them a few ideas, but I’m not working for either one for free anymore. I put in my time. No matter how much I did or how much of my own work suffered, it was never enough; in fact, my thanks from one organization was metaphorical multiple slaps in the face, so, no. You get a short email with some ideas, and then it’s up to you, unless you plan on hiring me as a marketing consultant at my regular rate. In fact, I’m writing an article on just that topic. 😉

I’m working on a couple of other pitches to send out. I’m in negotiations for one particular gig which I think would be fun, and I have a meeting tomorrow about another one.

I’ve been working on FIX IT GIRL rewrites. Unlike some rewrites, I’m not putting all the changes into chapters every day. I find, with this, as I work on the hard copy of the first draft, I need to stop and research this detail and that detail and the other detail; expand, contract, restructure; get rid of sloppy writing. About every three chapters, I pull up the document and put in the new material. On the one hand, it’s slower; on the other hand, it means more goes into this draft, which means fewer drafts, because I’m not doing separate passes for separate elements.

I’ve done my prep to dig into the revisions of WINNER TAKE ALL. I’m hoping I can read through it this afternoon and get started. I already know one character/subplot I need to cut, and there are some other cuts, along with a new scene I need to add to have it make sense. As long as I can keep the script 120 pages (I’d like to get it down to 112-115), I’m okay. But 120 pages — where it is now — is the top of the limit. I want some more room in the draft, so I have to see what I can cut. There are a few scenes that could use some trimming. I want to raise the sense of danger for my protagonist in a couple of scenes, too. She sails through it all with a bit too much serenity. Yes, she’s smarter than most of those around her, but, as we all know, stupid people can be dangerous. Look at what’s going on in the country right now.

Speaking of which, Sally Yates was amazing in her testimony. Talk about someone with ethics, intelligence, and integrity. She put Ted Cruz in his place, that slimy piece of corrupt garbage. Then the Narcissistic Sociopath fires the FBI Director — on the advice of the corrupt, racist AG who supposedly had recused himself from the situation because he’s involved. Granted, Comey needed to go. There were two major conflicts/investigations going on with the elections last fall, one with each party. He made a partisan choice that affected the outcome. For that, he should have been sacked by November 10, and then prosecuted. For far too much of his recent testimony recently before Congress, he sounded like a whiny moron, not the head of a legitimate intelligence agency. But to be fired by the people he was investigating AT THIS POINT, is also suspicious. Nor should the people under investigation be allowed to appoint his successor until the investigation is complete. The level of corruption in this administration is astonishing.

It reminds me of the research material I’ve been reading, about the 1920s. Harding’s administration was pretty damn corrupt, too, and that ended in the Crash of 1929.

Re-reading Elizabeth George’s WRITE AWAY!, which is a book I assign to my writing students. The more I write, the more my process evolves away from hers. I don’t do the detailed character profiles she does — if I write down too much ABOUT a character before I write a piece, my subconscious believes I’ve already written the book and moves on. All I do is stare at a blank page. You can ask me anything about a character, any detail, and I know it, but I can’t write it all down. By trying her method, I lost what could have been a good book. Maybe someday, I’ll get it back, but so far, no luck. However, she has good points about knowing one’s setting and putting butt in chair and getting it done. I’ve always been on the fence about her books — some work for me better than others. I always loathed the character of Helen.

A little over a year ago, when I tried to book her as a speaker at the library for which I then worked, the person who handles her bookings quoted me a rate that would have wiped us out for nearly three years, and then was rude about us not booking her, although I politely explained the “why”. The booker berated us for having a small budget, for thinking a “name” author could be bothered with us, and for not being willing to go into debt to pay her anyway. By the way, we had plenty of name authors come in within our budget. Yes, have your “team” play the bad guys, but when they behave that way, don’t be surprised when it touches how people respond to your work. Now, every time I see a new release of hers, I remember how nasty her booker was, and, since I was already on the fence about the book, I pass. I respect what she’s achieved, but she is no longer on my “must read” pile. That could change, with time and distance, but that’s where I am right now. I do, however, respect and admire her work ethic. She gets things done. She does them well, and she makes a living from it. Good for her!

Tried re-reading a memoir of Paris, which is well done, but I wasn’t in the mood for the exploits of a young, drunken, male Aussie. So I went back to re-read Claire Cook’s IT’S NEVER TOO LATE. I met Claire two years ago at the Cape Cod Writer’s Conference, and we had some great chats. In fact, I’m going to dedicate TIE CUTTER to her. Her novels are a good pick-me-up when things look bleak. I also respect the way she gets things done, like Elizabeth George and Jayne Ann Krentz and just about every other writer making a go of it. She doesn’t whine or waste time in negativity. She writes her books, she respects her readers, she doesn’t bow to the changing winds. She’s comfortable in her own skin, and that’s always something to admire.

Tonight, I’m going to a reading in which my friend’s daughter has a part. I’m looking forward to it. I missed the last production she was in, and I want to support her and her mom.

At least there’s a lot of creativity going on!

Published in: on May 10, 2017 at 9:24 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 10, 2010: Research, Writing, Nasty Bookers, and Project Juggling  
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Mon. April 24, 2017: Digging In, Moving On

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

My lowest energy day of the month, always.

Busy weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to tackle the week!

Published in: on April 24, 2017 at 10:05 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 24, 2017: Digging In, Moving On  
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Tues. April 18, 2017: Creative Well Refilled & Overflowing

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Waning Moon
Venus Direct
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I gave myself the weekend off, a long weekend off, starting on Friday. I read, puttered, refilled the creative well.

It must have been a good choice, because yesterday, I wrote 13 pages on the screenplay, wrote the first third of a new, short radio play, and did most of the revision on a one act play that needs to go out this week.

I got through a big stack of research books (which have to go back to the library today), and did some work on the outline of the other new script. I’m still doing research on it. I’ve got about the first third outlined.

I tracked down and reconnected with an old friend from my off-Broadway days; looking forward to catching up with him.

Saturday was a big day of trauma, for the cats, anyway. I haven’t been able to land an appointment with the regular vet, and it’s time for the girls to get their rabies shots. The Rabies Clinic was in Sandwich, so I stuffed them in their carriers (an ordeal in itself) and off we went. Iris yowled non-stop, as usual. Tessa had fought so violently, I wasn’t sure what would happen when they tried to give her the shot.

But they were both very good. We were in and out in no time, shots updated, paperwork complete, back home.

Tessa was SO relieved. I realized she thought she was being dumped, poor thing. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to reassure her that wouldn’t happen, and she stuck close. Once a rescue, always some issues.

Iris had forgotten everything within fifteen minutes, of course, the little princess.

I HAVE to get some yard work done today. The neighbors have been puttering around, and I’ve been neglectful. I just have to stick to the schedule of doing even just a little bit on every reasonably nice day, and, eventually, it will all add up. I just don’t have the stamina to put in eight or ten hours at a time, nor do I want to give up that much writing time.

I didn’t work on any contest entries over the weekend — I wanted to read only what I WANTED to read — so I have to get back on it today. I want to get the contest wrapped up sooner, rather than later. There’s a much larger gap between the strong contenders and the rest of the pack this year. It’s been interesting to see how the entries evolve. Some writers, who enter on consecutive years, have grown beautifully. Others spin in their same mire, no improvement, no attempt at learning craft.

I’m just past the half way point on the script. Looking forward to digging back into it. The short radio script is trying to go in a different direction — looks like the antagonist is not who I expected, which, if I can surprise the audience in the same way, is a good thing. And I’m so relieved the one act is salvageable.

I’d written it and it got into a local reading series a few years ago, a place that was supposedly “safe space” for development. I wanted to take advantage of it. Of course, the other entrants were polished, sometimes produced scripts, honed over years, not early drafts, like mine was. That was fine; we all learned from each other (there were plenty of so-called “polished” drafts that needed a lot more work). What disillusioned me about that particular environment was that there was a REVIEWER there, and REVIEWS were printed in the newspaper. You don’t REVIEW works in development. That completely negates the point of having the development atmosphere safe space in which to experiment. I wasn’t attacked in the review or anything, but it pointed out that the script needed work, without giving any useful feedback. I already KNEW the script needed work; that’s why I was there in the first place.

When I set out my response to the organizer of the event, and my sense that the “safe space” we’d been promised had been violated — she never spoke to me again. Not even to explain why she invited a reviewer. I understand why she wanted publicity; but we should have been warned. Not blindsided. And, when unhappiness with the choice was brought up, an actual discussion (even if the result wasn’t what I wanted) was the correct response. So much for professionalism.

Anyway, the experience left a sour taste in my mouth about the play. I put it away and never looked at it again until this weekend. I’d planned to junk it. But, with the objectivity and with what I’ve learned in the last few years about craft, I can see flaws, and, more importantly, I see ways to FIX them. Ways to make it better. It still might (will) need more work, especially once actors are involved, but I think I can fix the things that made it veer off course originally and the last third turn into a giant mess. That’s the plan, anyway. We’ll see if it works. This draft might not work, either.

If it remains a mess, I won’t submit it. If I think there’s something worth working on, I will. If it’s used in the series (at a different theatre) and put on its feet, it gives me a chance to see what additional work it needs, or if I should put it on the compost heap permanently.

I’m going to write to another college friend (with whom I reconnected last summer) and see if he can help me untangle the problems I’m having with the Lavinia Fontana play. He’s always been good at figuring out where I’m focusing on the wrong thing, and get me pointed back in the right direction. I STILL haven’t found the dramatic catalyst yet, and pretty soon Research Time for this play is over and Writing Time has to start. I’m also going to contact curators at the Met in New York (my go-to for art questions, and see if they can point me in the right direction).

Need to get out a query to a company in Paris, and get another script off to Ireland, all in the next few weeks.

Busy. The RIGHT kind of busy.

April’s mid-month check-in is over on the GDR site. WordPress is refusing to add the link, which is irritating. It’s the midmonth post on http://goalsdreamsresolutions.wordpress.com (you can cut & paste the link, sorry for the inconvenience). I should have had a poetry essay ready for A Biblio Paradise, but I don’t. I wanted to do something on Shakespeare’s sonnets and got all caught up (as I always do), following this thread and that thread and the other thread, that the actual essay didn’t get done. The Adrienne Rich essay is still the latest one.

Have some issues to discuss with my senators and reps today. I have an idea for a couple of bills I’d like them to propose. Which means I have to write coherent proposals for them to propose. Never a dull moment.

Now — my day’s quota on the screenplay, and then out in the yard.

Published in: on April 18, 2017 at 10:28 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 18, 2017: Creative Well Refilled & Overflowing  
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Tues. April 11, 2017: Building the Writing, Building the Garden

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Full Moon
Venus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to see what I wrote about Adrienne Rich for National Poetry Month. The essays I’m writing for the month there are personal, rather than critical. It’s about my response and reaction to the material, not an objective examination of it.

Got some yard work done yesterday, but nowhere near enough. I’m out of shape. It will take much longer than I would like to get things back to rights. Plus, there’s a LOT of work to do, and I’m paying for not getting more done before the snows hit last winter.

Got a chunk of the terraced bed done, but there’s a lot more to do. Managed to get some of the invasives out, but some weird grasses also took up residence, and there’s stuff that has to be dug out that takes time and attention. The star juniper in the barrel out front died, so I have to yank that out. I think I’ll put flowers in it this year, and not worry about something permanent.

Got more plants out on the deck, and they’re happy.

Started the screenplay I outlined yesterday morning, and did 14 pages on it. The outline is a huge help, although I’m finding I have to get a few more things in earlier, and I’m combining action in some scenes to keep it lean.

I think I’m going to set the screenplay in 1937, although I’ll have to research a few things. I want it to be later than FIX-IT GIRL, but before the US gets into World War II.

Got some research done. Still hoping to find that catalyst to get the Lavinia Fontana play in gear. It’s frustrating — I have an idea of the characters, but I need a plot to galvanize things. I’m hoping studying the monograph on her patrons will help me find what I need.

Also need to do some research for an article I want to write this week. It may be my introduction to a new-to-me publication. The pay is a little lower than I’d like, but it’s been awhile since I did any articles, so maybe that would get me back into the swing of things. I need to do a bit more research — something I saw on the website yesterday troubled me; I need to dig a little further, and it may knock the publication off my list of possibilities.

So United dragged off a paid passenger because THEY overbooked. It’s time that we stop flying all the major US carriers and send them out of business. Flying used to be glamorous and fun; customer service used to matter. Not anymore. It’s simple: DON’T GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY. Even though trains, busses, and automobiles take longer, it will be worth it in the long run. Or use non-US carriers. It’s time to teach this “industry” that if they don’t treat their customers like they matter, they won’t have a business anymore. But the general public won’t have the guts to actually take action that will make changes. They’re too lazy. They’d rather pay through the nose to be treated like cattle than take a stand that gets results.

Today’s supposed to be an even nicer day than yesterday, so I’m hoping to do my errands quickly, get some good writing done, and then it’s back in the yard.

Published in: on April 12, 2017 at 11:20 am  Comments (1)  
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Thurs. Feb. 16, 2017: Getting Back to the Creative Groove

Thursday, February 16, 2017
Waning Moon
Snowy and cold

Not much to stay about yesterday. I wrote, I studied, I researched.

I’m in negotiations for several interesting projects; we’ll see how they go. I think I’m going to withdraw from consideration for one — it’s intriguing, but when I weigh in all the factors, I don’t think we’re the right fit for each other. Rather than finding that out when we’re committed, I think I should trust my instincts.

I also have two plays to get out this week — they’re written and polished, but there’s an opportunity, and I’m going to see if these particular plays are right for it.

Happy that the nominee for Labor Secretary withdrew his nomination. We don’t need someone accused of domestic abuse who doesn’t believe in minimum wage heading the Department of Labor.

You want to look back at a great Labor Secretary? Research Frances Perkins. She witnessed the Triangle Factory Fire (those of you who know me know why that tragedy is so important to me), and then, later, when she became Labor Secretary, she actually cared about people who work for a living and implemented policies for them, not just for the employers who are more interested in personal profit than a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

All of these Republicans who are blocking fair and independent investigations into the Russia connections and other security breaches — after relentless investigations into Clinton THAT FOUND NOTHING BECAUSE THERE WAS NOTHING TO FIND — all they’re doing is raising suspicion that they’re in on the fix and that they, too, are treasonous and need to be investigated. A lot of people need to be removed from their jobs in DC, and a lot of indictments need to be handed down.

I have to work on writing a paper for Constitutional Law in the next few days. It’s short — 500-750 words. But it has to be not just good, but great.

Never short of challenges, which is a good thing.

At least I’m getting my creative groove back. I think I’m ready to tackle the next chapter of SONGBOUND SISTERS later today (after I do some work on WORDS) and maybe even can get back to NOT BY THE BOOK this weekend.

Fingers crossed.

Monday is a holiday, so maybe it’ll be quiet and I can get a lot done.

Published in: on February 16, 2017 at 9:54 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 16, 2017: Getting Back to the Creative Groove  
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Tues. Oct. 4, 2016: Fictional Actions & Consequences

Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cool

Errands, research, writing yesterday. Didn’t get much done on the revisions. I was working on other stuff. Each of the projects on which I’m currently working requires such a different approach. It’s interesting to stretch my creativity in this way. “Process” has to grow and change along with the work. If everything is done the same way every time, it stunts growth.

Plus, I’m exploring a variety of characters and situations that interest me. Digging into the motivations and the possibilities.

The interesting thing about fiction is that, in order for it to work, characters have to be active. Too many people, in real life, are passive all the time, especially now that all they do is view the world through their electronic devices instead of actually living lives. It’s fun to push characters’ buttons and provoke them into action, and then explore the consequences of those actions.

Cleared out a bunch of research books and took them back to the library yesterday afternoon, and have another stack to take back today. I have a map of Vermont spread out in one spot, dealing with one project, and a map of Newport in another spot.

I have to reconfigure part of Chapter Three in the Victorian mystery, because where I have a catalytic event taking place doesn’t make sense in the actual geography of the place. I had misremembered distances and proportions. I’m glad I was in Newport a few weeks ago to jog my memory, or I would have really been in a mess. But figuring out WHERE to place this event so it can still happen and have the impact it needs to have in order to set in motion the next chain of events, which results in the first body drop, is an interesting challenge.

The Victorian mystery is not something that can be written fast, and I feel as though I’m working on multiple drafts at once. Instead of pushing all the way through the first draft as fast as possible, which I usually do, I write a section of dialogue and action, then figure out what I have to research to make it work, then research, then rewrite it with the proper period detail. It’s almost as though each scene or sequence has to be created as a short story in itself. Very different from the way I usually work, but interesting.

Many people would have done ALL the research first and then just written. I’ve done a good bit of research on the period, and on the particular months in which the piece take place, but I don’t really know what I need in detail until I figure out the plot points and character interactions, and they are growing and changing as the piece changes. My heroine breaks a lot of rules — and there’s a social and economic price to pay for that, which is what interests me in this particular set of stories and characters.

On top of that, the rain has finally stopped, which means I need to get to work putting the yard to bed for the winter.

I reworked one of my comic noir mysteries this morning; I need to send it off in the next few days. I’m very fond of this particular piece, and hope it finds a happy home.

I missed a grant deadline by one day — for some reason, I had it down as the 15th of October, and when I went to send off the materials today, it said the 3rd of October. Yesterday. I hate it when I do something stupid like that.

Oh, well, have to trust that I can find another, better opportunity. But I’m still kicking myself around the block.

Have a great week!

Devon

Published in: on October 4, 2016 at 9:14 am  Comments Off on Tues. Oct. 4, 2016: Fictional Actions & Consequences  
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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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Thurs. July 2, 2015: Tornado Warning Aftermath and Intensive Writing Prep

Thursday, July 2, 2015
Last Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday morning was definitely stressful, with the tornado warnings and all. When I got to work – only four miles away – they’d just noticed it got dark and was raining a lot! 😉

Then, someone sent me a photograph of a “rotation” from my town – and it was right over my neighbor’s garage! To say I freaked out when I saw the photo was an understatement.

Workday was stressful and seemed 85 hours long instead of 8 hours long. I got some stuff done, and I’m trying to do all the year-end wrap ups and pull together material needed for the ARIS reports, etc. I’m working on some book and DVD orders.

I did some of my own ordering for research purposes, and also for stuff I’m putting together for the Mermaid Ball.

I’m looking forward to the next six days away from work, focusing on my writing. Yes, I’ll have gardening to do and Canal Fest for the Marine Life Center on Saturday morning. But I can really focus on the writing.

The contemporary play is the priority – I’ve got to get a draft with which I’m happy done, since I’ll hear back on the proposal by the end of the month. Hopefully, that will get me back in the swing of the historical play, too.

I have house guests arriving at some point, but I’m not exactly sure when.

I started reading a cozy mystery last night, but put it down after ten pages. I wanted to slap the protagonist after three. When the protagonist is a self-righteous, rightwing ignoramous who dislikes and disrespects artists – you lose me as a reader, and I cross that author off my list.

Finished up some other research books, including a collection of Edmund Wilson’s essays that had an interesting piece on Dawn Powell.

There’s a lot to get done today, since it will be next Thursday before I’m back. So I better get to it!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend and a wonderful start to next week.

Devon

Published in: on July 2, 2015 at 8:11 am  Comments (2)  
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