Thurs. Jan.10, 2019: Focus on Writing

Thursday, January 10, 2019
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was a long, damn day onsite with a client. It was a good day, a productive day, but a long one. I couldn’t face cooking when I came home, so I picked up a pizza on the way.

And I’m still trying to take down decorations!

Put in my responses for the notes on the radio play. Called out the comments I felt were sexist — they’re not happening. But most of the other ones make sense, and I will implement them in the new draft. Of course, this company uses a format completely different from any other radio format I’ve ever worked in, but hey, gaining an additional tool is always valuable.

Got the next book I need to review. And the first shipment of books for the contest arrived. I’m excited to dig into them. They look good. Every time I pick up a book, either to review or for a contest, I want to fall in love with it. Doesn’t always happen, but I’m always excited and optimistic.

Tried adding the exercise bicycle to the fitness routine. I’d tried it a few years ago, and it caused so much pain in my knees, hips, and back that I stopped. But I need more elements in the routine, so I’m trying again. Just a short stint, but I was in pain a good portion of the night and this morning. I’ll give it a week of daily attempts; if it doesn’t feel better, I’ll stop.

Meanwhile, my 94-year-old mother does 20 minutes every day of the week on the bike! That’s her preferred form of exercise.

I’ve stuck to the weight training, though, and that feels good. I even upped the repetitions on one of the lifts. I’ve also added plank position every day back into the yoga sequence. I hate it, but I need it for the core. So I’ll deal.

I have some admin work to do today, and some LOIs to get out. Hopefully, a pitch for an article, and also work on a conference proposal I want to send out tomorrow. I also have a detailed proposal to go to my representatives on the federal level about the government shutdown. This crap has to stop, and if Mitch McConnell won’t do his job and let votes come to the floor, then remove Mitch McConnell. Even if it’s unprecedented. This administration has set the precedent that rules don’t count.

On today’s writing agenda: THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, start revisions on the radio play, and work on the first of the monologues. And write ahead on some blog posts. I’m going to introduce a Reader Expansion Challenge on A Biblio Paradise next week.

On the life agenda: Get the rest of the decorations down from the tree. Fix the printer, if possible.

Have a great Thursday!

 

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Tues. Nov. 6, 2018: A Vital Election Day

Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Dark Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and mild
Election Day

This is the most important election of my lifetime. I’m worried. Worried, worried, worried.

Hop on over to the GDR site. I have the October wrap-up, November To-Do List, and the questions for 2019 up. The approach to the 2019 questions is different, hoping to create a different perspective on it, rather than running the same treadmill every year.

It was a busy weekend.

Had a lot of fun meeting a new colleague for coffee on Friday at Washashore Bakery in Mashpee. It was great to have a real, far-ranging conversation, and I hope we get to do it again.

The weekend’s work on DAVY JONES DHARMA was frustrating. I’m struggling, and I don’t have time to struggle, because I’m on deadline.

I worked on the revision of HEART SNATCHER, as part of the Women Write Change project. I restored the prologue. Fine, plenty of people don’t like prologues. In this case, the prologue works for the book. So I put it back in. Fixed it, but put it back in. Revised the first four chapters. The draft is tightening, which is a good thing. I’d cut a little too much before, and had to put some back, but I fixed and tightened it.

Did some work on the Gambit Colony website materials. As soon as BALTHAZAAR goes into galleys, I have to get the final drafts of those books ready to go to the editor.

The cover ideas we talked through for the Justice by Harpy trilogy are really cool. I’m excited to see the drafts.

Managed to get the outdoor decorations in before the bad weather, but it was Saturday before I got the indoor decorations down, everything packed away, and switched out the curtains. No more spiderweb curtains. We have the heavy winter drapes up in the living room. But, in my office, we hung the vintage 1940 green striped curtains that used to hang in the bedroom in Rye. They look good.

Damn neighbors spent most of the weekend leaf blowing. It was ridiculous on Saturday — it was raining and we had high winds. But heaven forbid the one dumbass at the top of the street not leafblow for at least an hour EVERY DAY. Granted, she does it so she can wander up and down the street spying on everyone.

And Sunday morning, the machines started before 9 AM. They should be banned on Sundays. Completely. And people should only be allowed to leaf blow for 20 minutes once a week.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and it’s lovely. It’s such a great treat every month.

Drafting PREVENTATIVE MEASURES, the new novel dealing with gun violence and the opiod crisis, is going well. By Sunday lunchtime, I had 27 pages in longhand.

Read the book for review, and worked on the review, which went out yesterday.

The shooting at the yoga center in Tallahassee was upsetting. Both because it was a yoga studio, and because I lived in Tallahassee my first year of college. I need to somehow weave my response into PREVENTATIVE MEASURES.

Yesterday, worked with a client, did some grocery shopping, and then went to a meditation for peace at my yoga studio, which was their response to the shooting.

Voted early this morning. It’s always a good experience in this neck of the woods. The polling place was packed. I drove several people, and will drive some more from the neighborhood later this afternoon.

I’m invited to a party tonight to watch results. I’ll have to see if I feel like I can bear being around other people, or if I just want to hunker down at home.

Turned down a freelance gig because the way the client wants to work is so counter to the way I work that I’m not the right fit for her business. I can’t be productive or creative within her parameters; there are plenty who will.

Digging into DHARMA for a big push this week. I love the story, so it doesn’t make sense that I’m struggling. By next week, I have to start pushing again on BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, too.

At the same time, I don’t want to lose momentum on HEART SNATCHER or PREVENTATIVE MEASURES.

I just have to dig deeper and get it all done.

But worry about tonight’s results makes everything else pale.

Onward.

Thurs. Sept. 20, 2018: And The Busy Continues (but it’s Good Busy)

Thursday, September 20, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny/rainy alternates

Still busy coordinating my part of the awards ceremony on Tuesday. Came in to the client site for a few hours, because there are things I need here that I don’t have with me. Something like this is always filled with dozens of tiny details.

Later today, I have to do some more on DAVY JONES DHARMA and start digging into the edits for RELICS & REQUIEM.

I have a feeling I’ll be onsite tomorrow, too, but it’s all good. My client asked me to accept the award for her, and I’ll be wearing one of her designs.

I’ll be mainly focused on the revisions for RELICS this weekend, along with working on calendar articles and getting out a review on a book that I was hired to review — and that I really like.

Hopefully, I can also get some more work done on the basement clean out. It’s been raining so badly the last few days that I can’t use the deck as a staging area.

I’m a guest over on Ari Meghlen’s blog, talking about creative organization — please click over and leave a comment!

While all this is going on, I’m also coming to some interesting conclusions personally and about what I want to focus on next year — and where. It will be interesting to see how I make it happen. I’ll talk about it publicly when I make some decisions.

Onward and back to the page.

Published in: on September 20, 2018 at 10:42 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Sept. 20, 2018: And The Busy Continues (but it’s Good Busy)  
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Fri. March 23, 2018: Anticipating a Writing Weekend

Friday, March 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

So, Mercury is retrograde. In Aries. Ick.

Yesterday wasn’t as productive writing-wise as I wanted, but it was productive in other ways. I finished the book I had to review, and will polish the review and send it off today. I worked my way through several contest entries.

The big deal, for me, was that I figured why the contact form wasn’t coding in properly on my websites, and fixed it. Now the websites have contact forms, rather than stating my email or writing out the email so I’ll get a lot of spam.

I cleaned up my new mailboxes. I am in the process of unsubscribing from a bunch of stuff, on all my email accounts. There’s too much crap coming in.

I figured out how to reconfigure my menu bars so I can use drop-down features where appropriate.

I have three different WordPress books checked out from various libraries in the system. In order to figure this out, I had to read the relevant sections in all THREE and then do something slightly different, based on what I read. Because heaven forbid, any ONE of them should have had the complete, correct steps.

I worked on the newsletter. I worked on the updated media kit for TRACKING MEDUSA. I may do the cover reveal for SPIRIT REPOSITORY in the newsletter.

I got ahead on some blog posts.

I’m working on the Writer’s Rough Outline so I can distill it down to a synopsis and get the submission packet for the last big project out in the next couple of weeks. I have another project to get back out on submission, but I will wait until after Mercury goes direct. I want to do another pass on it and make some cuts.

I have a lot of errands to run this morning, then a meeting, and then I’m digging back to drafting the books that are waiting rather impatiently for attention.

And, of course work on the Writer’s Rough/synopsis.

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on March 23, 2018 at 9:31 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 23, 2018: Anticipating a Writing Weekend  
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Thurs. Jan. 18, 2018: Pushing Through Illness

Thursday, January 18, 2018
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cold

Still sick. I feel a little better (although I sound worse). My friend Jenn Mattern suggested oil of oregano and tart cherry juice, and that made a big difference. But it still lingers and slows me down. I’m too sick to go to yoga today, which makes me sad (although I keep up my practice at home).

It’s also slowed me down on SPIRIT REPOSITORY. I know what I’m going to write, but it’s harder getting the words on the page.

It was busy on-site with the client, but I got a lot done. My colleagues were worried I’d be upset about a thoughtless gesture; I decided not to be. It’s not that big a deal, although it’s telling in the bigger picture, and is reflective of how much more self-involved people are here than they are in the arts in New York. It amazes me how city dwellers are always portrayed as being selfish and isolated, when it’s really much worse away from cities.

I also have to rework my review. A few weeks ago, I got an email from my editor, citing new guidelines and rates. Okay, fine, I implemented them, I tried to upload my review, and it wouldn’t take. So I emailed her to ask why, and was told that those guidelines aren’t for the division for which I write. So why send them to writers for whom it doesn’t apply? Makes no sense to me. And annoys me, because I’d followed the new guidelines perfectly. Whatever. Back to the page on that one.

The Fearless Ink redesign is nearly done. I’m happy with it. I need to tweak some text, and then we move. I have just over a week to build the other six sites, which scares me, since it took me nearly two weeks to build this one. I’m hoping I get faster as I get more fluent and confident in the web language.

I also have to remember that these sites are living entities. They’ll grow and change all the time, because the content will grow and change. So, while I want to feel good about each site BEFORE it goes live, there are still tweaks I need to do to each one as it does.

I’m terrified of the move of the Devon Ellington Work domain and all the subdomains connected to the different series. I’m probably making it a much bigger deal than it is, but after years of lies and misinformation from my previous web host, I’m finding it difficult to fully trust the new one. In spite of the fact that they’ve been so clear in explanations, so helpful, and completely reliable in this first re-design and move. I need to get out of my own way and just do it.

I’m in talks to go to contract to write again for a series of publications for whom I wrote for many years. I’d stopped because I felt I’d said all I had to say; now I have more to say, and they’re delighted I want to come back. We’re going to talk contract specifics in early April. This is for 2020 — we work two years ahead. But I’m pleased to be back with them.

A writer friend just landed a contract with a great traditional publishing house! As soon as she makes it official, I’ll share. I am so happy for her! She deserves it — she’s an excellent writer, puts in the work, and it’s finally paying off! As I said, when she makes the formal announcement, I’ll celebrate her here with more details. She shot me an email about it last night. Happy dance for her!

Reading contest entries. They run the gamut. The top choices are going to be very competitive. There are some other entries where the author’s message is important and relevant, but the execution is so poor that they’re knocked out of contention. You don’t get a prize just for showing up or because you’re writing about an important issue — you also have to have the craft to communicate it with power.

I started reading a WONDERFUL book last night, in between all the other stuff I have to read. This is something I WANT to read, and I came across its existence reading about it in another book. It’s called POET’S PUB by Eric Linklater, and was one of the original ten books that launched the Penguin line. It’s a delight. I borrowed it through the Commonwealth Catalog from another library off Cape; I’m going to have to hunt down my own copy. I must own this book.

Taking my mom to get her blood pressure checked, sending off the revised review, working on the web redesigns for a couple of hours. Then home to rest and recover, do some client work, and dig back in to THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. I also have another book review due next week, so I’ll dig into that either tonight or tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I need to buy cat food, or there will be consequences!

Onward.

Wed. Oct. 11, 2017: I WILL This to be a Better Day

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Playing the Angles

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cooler

Yesterday was just one of those days that one is happy is done. Dozens of frustrations and incompetent people adding up to annoyance.

But it’s done, it’s over, and today will be better. I will MAKE it better.

Got out some pitches, heard back from a few places in the negative. Was supposed to have a meeting scheduled for today, but the person never bothered to get back to me as promised, responded when I asked, or let me know that the meeting had to be postponed. That individual better not think I will jump if suddenly that party decides the meeting should happen today. Some basic courtesy and professionalism is appreciated. Of course, that’s another strike against this potential gig. I already feel it was a bit of bait-and-switch. The signs point more and more to potential nightmare.

I’m working on the survey for working writers, which I think will be interesting both for those taking it and for me. I’m not yet sure how I’ll use the information, possibly as a basis for an article.

Matched the copy edit errors I caught with those my copy editor caught on SAVASANA. Of course, she caught more. Thank goodness. Put in all the fixes, and the manuscript goes off today for another proofread.

Then, I can turn my attention to the fixes I need to do on the edition of SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM for the new distributor.

I also have to prep the other workbooks for new distribution, and figure out when to schedule in the new ones.

I did a little bit of work on MARRIAGE GARDEN, but couldn’t concentrate.

I have to take a look at the BBC version of the radio play LIGHT BEHIND THE EYES, and maybe do some tweaks for a potential market over there.

Some promo on PLAYING THE ANGLES (it never feels like enough, does it?) and on the Topic Workbooks.

Started reading one of the two new books I need to review. I like it a lot, which is a relief. So far, anyway, it’s very well done.

Finished reading a memoir of a mucky-muck in the art world. The book is well-written, but I don’t think I’d have liked the person very much. Happy to admire his skills from afar.

I have some new article ideas to pitch to several publications, more promo to do, some permissions to hunt down for quotes I want to use in an article, and follow-ups.

I took twenty research books back to the library yesterday. Smaller stack today; small stack tomorrow, but big books. All in prep for the next slew of books coming in.

Also, have to clean out the garage while it’s still warm enough; give everything a good scrub, so that, as I bring in plants for the winter, they have a clean, safe place to sit until next spring. Might make bread later on, too.

Hoping I’ll be able to tackle the FIX IT GIRL section today and tomorrow. The end of the book is fairly close — maybe seven chapters? But this section is tricky to rewrite. Then, off it goes on submission. Long journey for this book, but worth it. My protagonist makes some choices that might shock some readers — which is why it falls into literary/historical rather than a genre with a tighter formula.

By next week, I hope to get back to the TRACKING MEDUSA edits. I need to get that out so we can turn around the galleys before the holiday madness.

Still trying to figure out when we can reschedule the release of “Labor Intensive”. That’s negatively affecting the Digital Delights schedule in general. I don’t want to take away from PLAYING THE ANGLES or SAVASANA AT SEA sales.

Also need to finish the media kit for SAVASANA AT SEA. I need to figure out one more excerpt, do the press release, and finish the Q & A, and then it can go out.

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing.

 

Tues. July 18, 2017: Trying to Tread Water

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy, foggy, hot, humid

I wish I could say everything worked out yesterday and today is brilliant, but no such luck. The life stuff is still crushing me.

However, I got a review and two short stories out, along with a couple of pitches. I prepped some more pitches that will go out this morning.

The only thing left to do on the PLAYING THE ANGLES cover is to see if I want to add in the image I’m using to tie together the entire series, or if I’ll only use it on the website. I have to add some links into the media kit, and then that’s done. I did a few chapters on the galleys. Mostly, it’s tightening the writing, replacing some vague language with sharper, more specific. Unlike print galleys, where, by this stage it’s about correcting errors and maintaining consistency, because it’s being prepped for digital formatting, I have more room to fix problems. Then this will be used as the basis for the print edition galleys, which means I have to get it right NOW, and the print galleys are only about minor, final changes.

Polished the big article that’s going out today. Tried to set up some project appointments, but the other party was vague, which is frustrating, because I don’t have time for vague right now. I need definites.

Tried to read a mystery, but the protagonist was so annoying that I stopped. I sort of liked a book by this author in a different series, but this book turned me off completely.

Being on the second day of a migraine isn’t helping.

This morning, I did some trimming and pruning in the front yard. I have a lot of admin work to do today, and then more writing and edits. I also got notes from my editor on the review I sent in. I resent the fact that this is the third review I’ve done and I’ve yet to be paid for the first one.

I need something good to break my way.

Digging down and moving on.

Published in: on July 18, 2017 at 9:48 am  Comments Off on Tues. July 18, 2017: Trying to Tread Water  
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Mon. April 3, 2017: Difference Between Review and Evaluation

Monday, April 3, 2017
Waxing Moon
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

This will probably be the only sunny morning we have all week. So much for getting any yard work done!

I can’t believe another weekend flew past. I did some work on POWER OF WORDS. I did research for NOT BY THE BOOK on corporate espionage. The research was very depressing, especially in light of everything going on in the world today. It makes me glad I turned my back on corporate work (except for the temp jobs until I earned my way into full-time theatre work) as early as I did.

I did a lot of work on contest entries. I finished the preliminary read of the print books in one of the categories I’m judging, and moved on to the next one. Once I’m done with all the print entries, I do the digital entries; then I go back and take another look at both the “yes” and the “maybe” piles in each category. I re-read, if necessary. It’s usually just a case of a point or two difference in the top contenders, and I want to make sure I weigh everything fairly. It’s a lot of work. I put in A LOT of time. Which is why I only take paid gigs of this kind at this point.

Although I turned down a paid judging gig a few weeks ago; I’d done it last year, and not been happy with it. The pay was low, and they dragged their feet paying (it was per entry). The entries were the weakest I’ve ever read in ANY contest. Most of them were first-draft quality, and shouldn’t have been entered ANYWHERE, much less called themselves published books. But to me, the unethical part of it was this: The entrants were told, when they paid the entrance fee, that they would get reviews they could post as part of the contest. BUT THE ORGANIZERS DIDN’T TELL THE JUDGES. Instead, we were given a 92-word limit to evaluate the manuscript. First of all, a thorough manuscript evaluation often runs for pages (when you do it correctly). Second, there’s a difference in the way one critiques if it’s for publication, or if it’s a private edit/evaluation letter to a writer. Third, if I’d been told that the entrants expected to have a usable review (often for material that needed far more work), I wouldn’t have agreed in the first place, because that’s just WRONG, in my opinion. Reviews and evaluations are two entirely different animals. They come at different parts of the process.

To me, one of the most important aspects is that: AUTHORS DO NOT PAY FOR LEGITIMATE REVIEWS. That includes not paying the publication for the review (several publications have lost their status, in the eyes of the industry and of librarians, because they now charge for reviews, which makes them suspect). The publication pays the reviewer. The reviewer’s ONLY obligation is to do as fair and thorough a review based on the quality of the work.

In addition to the dozens of requests I get daily to review books by individual authors for free (there are plenty of authors whose work I’ll read and host on BIBLIO PARADISE, and I’m not paid for that, but I usually have some sort of relationship with them first, even if I’m hosting fellow authors from the same publishing house, or authors I’ve met in my travels), I get frequent requests from authors who want to pay me for a review. And I say no.

While the bulk of the reviews I do are paid, I am paid BY THE PUBLICATION. The author (or the publisher) sends a request w/media kit to the publication. The review editor decides if it’s suitable for review by the publication. If yes, the book goes in to the publication and is then assigned to the reviewer. The reviewer reads the book (I usually read it at least twice, sometimes three times) within the two week period of assignment, and writes a review. It goes back to the publication. It is fact-checked (all references have to have attribution), and edited. Then it goes into the publication queue. I usually invoice the publisher for every three or four books reviewed, and I’m paid within two to three weeks of invoice, depending on where I fall in their accounting cycle.

Being paid by the author throws it out of balance. The author needs a good review to post. By paying a reviewer directly, it takes away the objectivity — the author is paying for a service. Let’s face it, no matter how much they claim to want “an honest review”, they want a GOOD review.

And, as I said, a REVIEW is different than an EVALUATION. An evaluation (for which I DO accept money from an individual author) is done prior to a book’s publication, often prior to its acceptance. It’s about story, structure, and all the things that need to be fixed BEFORE publication, and, most importantly, BEFORE it goes out for review.

An EVALUATION helps make the book better (one hopes) BEFORE it is sent out in the world to rise or fall on its merits. A REVIEW is the judgment of whether it meets the standards set for engaging, strong, POLISHED work.

Evaluations are critiques; reviews are the criticism of the finished work. Each type of read/comment comes at a different stage in the process. Both are valuable, but for different reasons.

Reviewing is a specific skill, whether it’s literary, art, music, theatre, etc. A reviewer MUST know the protocols of the medium in which he/she is reviewing. It’s not just about “liking” or “not liking” something, although that is one of the many factors. It is an understanding of genre, craft, and the finished piece.

Genuine reviewers/critics, who knew what they were doing (even if the result wasn’t always what people hoped for) are: Kenneth Tynan, Frank Rich (believe me, I have many a bone to pick with him), John Simon (likewise), Pauline Kael, Virginia Woolf (read her COMMON READERS — they’re a revelation), David Denby, Edmund Wilson, George Jean Nathan, Mel Gussow, Walter Kerr, Brooks Atkinson. If you want to learn about the genuine art of this skill, read their work.

What some random reader posts on Amazon or Goodreads, complete with spelling errors, may help, as part of sheer bulk, get you higher in their matrix, but it’s not actually useful to your craft. Of course the opinions of individual readers matter. However, reviews are different than opinions (although they include opinions) and are an art form unto themselves.

I do very little reviewing anymore. Part of it is that, far too often, the word count is so small (often less than 300 words), it’s difficult to do the book justice. Part of it is that most publication don’t pay a whole lot, and, in order to genuinely write a well-crafted piece, I need to read the book being reviewed several times, I need to read the writer’s other work (unless it’s a debut novel), I need to be able to pull other references within the genre. That takes time. What most publications pay covers about 15 minutes, when it’s more likely to take the equivalent of 25-30 hours or more to do it truly well. Often more. When you read Virginia Woolf’s diary, and you see how long she took to do a review, and how much work, time, and thought she put into it, it suddenly makes sense, and you see how this modern model causes more harm than help to authors.

I judge fewer contests, too. I also, now, have learned to ask more questions about the expectations, before I say yes. It’s not that I think I’m so brilliant, or know so much more than everyone else or that my own work is perfect; it’s that I want to make sure the organizers are dealing with both the judges and the entrants with integrity.

Hop on over to the GDR site. I have a very simple list for April. There are things that need to be dealt with that prevent me from loading the list as much as I’d like.

Tomorrow, I’ll have an essay up on BIBLIO PARADISE about my first re-read for National Poetry Month, Susan G. Wooldridge’s POEMCRAZY.

Have a great week!

Published in: on April 3, 2017 at 9:25 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 3, 2017: Difference Between Review and Evaluation  
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Mon. Feb. 24, 2014: A Writing and Researching Weekend

Monday, February 24, 2014
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Good news! My western novella, ELUSIVE PRAYERS, has been accepted by Amber Quill Press. This is a tie-in novella to my previous WIDOW’S CHAMBER serial. It had been accepted by the WC publisher, who went out of business on release day. I’ve rewritten it substantially in the interim, and it will now come out in late July. Re-working it, I liked the characters, situation, and depth of research, so I’m excited.

I have four releases coming out between the end of March and the end of July. So I’m pretty excited. It means I’ll be gearing up for some serious PR soon — watch out! 😉

Busy weekend. Friday was frustrating, but I got through it. Saturday, I worked on the novel I’m going to write in tandem with a friend who’s also working on a novel. We’re brainstorming and exchanging chapters, which is fun. I’ve read her outline and the first three chapters; she’s now got my initial fragment, my character notes, and the ideas for some major turning point scenes that I have to flesh out into my Writer’s Rough. In two weeks, I’m going to give her the first chapter. That’s longer than I usually take to write a chapter (I usually have to cough up one or nearly one a day), but this is a different kind of book and is not on a contract schedule.

I also wound up my course work for the Environmental Law and Policy Class. Got 100% on my final quiz, and 100% on my research exercise. I love, love, loved this class, and definitely want to get more involved in this type of work. It also made me understand some of the policies in place at the National Marine Life Center more completely.

I did some reading over the weekend. My next two books for review arrived, and I’m excited to dig into them. I started a couple of novels from the library, was frustrated with them, returned them. I read one novel I really enjoyed, THE TWISTED THREAD, by Charlotte Bacon. I wanted to shoot her an email to let her know how much I enjoyed it, but couldn’t find contact information online, and realized how spoiled we’ve all become at being able to locate anyone we want instantly! Good for her for not playing the always-available game!

Did a lot of research for the Sparkle & Tarnish series on Victorian dining. Since food plays a big part in the books, I want to make sure I get it right. I found THE SECRET GARDEN COOKBOOK filled with lovely historical tidbits, and I’m reading FANNIE’S LAST SUPPER, about a chef researching and recreating a meal from Fannie Farmer’s 1896 cookbook.

The current Garrett POV chapter I’m working on in TRUE HOME is set in Boston in 1886, so I’ve also been doing extensive research on geography, et al, of the time in order to properly write the chapter. Now, I have to cross-check some information, because I’d like to use some food info that is in books about Boston at the time, only I want to use them in NY chapters, but have to find out if similar places were in existence in NY at the time.

I see a trip to the Massachusetts Historical Society in the not-so-distant future for a day’s research.

Saturday night, I stayed up way too late watching NOW YOU SEE ME. The movie got lukewarm reviews, so I wasn’t expecting much, and I was pleasantly surprised. I liked it a lot. I figured out the big twist, but then, that’s what I do. I understand structure, and that choice made the most sense within the structure and the clues dropped in. I watched it again on Sunday, to pick up some details I’d missed.

Sunday, I researched, wrote, and scheduled articles for the wine blog all the way into mid-March. Took a break for more research, and then spent the afternoon at the Osterville Library, at a talk by author Paul Kemprecos, who writes a detective series set in this area, and also wrote several books with Clive Cussler. A colleague from the Writers Center was there, and they had a nice spread of wine, cheese, etc. It was a fun, lively afternoon.

Watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics — pretty, but I didn’t have the context for much of the symbolism. Although I appreciated the tribute to writers, the performance didn’t make much sense, and where were the women writers?

This will be a very stressful week for me, not to mention that I have to finish the revisions of the play.

Got an intriguing job offer that I need to investigate more closely. I think it would be fascinating, if we can work out the time/money part of it.

The expected overnight storm missed us, and now they’ve downgraded Wednesday’s storm from a foot of snow to only four inches. Phew!

Back to the page.

Devon

Fri. Feb. 21, 2014: Trying to Stay Steady

Friday, February 21, 2014
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Ran some errands in the morning, got back before snow. Pitched for some jobs — there are two that I really want. I can only accept one of them, so we’ll see which one comes through. Whichever one comes through will be the “right” one.

Was unhappy with my writing.

Finished a book for review; wrote and polished the review. Sent it off this morning, along with the invoice.

I have a post up on Adventures in Vineland, if you’re interested.

Worked with students, and have to adjust some upcoming exercises.

Need to dig down into some writing today, and write, flat out, all weekend.

That’s pretty much it. We keep getting hit with storm after storm after storm, as everyone is, and trying to make the best of it.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on February 21, 2014 at 8:56 am  Comments (2)  
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Thurs. Feb. 13, 2014: Thoughts on Reviews and Literary Criticism

Thursday, February 13, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Stormy

We’re getting slammed by another storm, so I’m just going to tuck inside today.

Decent workday yesterday. I kind of felt like I dithered a bit, but got more done than I expected. I’m doing some research on history of police procedure, so that the Sparkle and Tarnish books have a jumping off point with what was typical and what was fresh, rooted in the reality of the time. Also compiling lists of popular authors and best sellers of the day, since literacy is such an important theme in the books.

Wrote a review, polished it, and sent it off to my editor. Had mixed feelings about the book, and tried to make the review fair, praising what I felt worked, but also pointing out where I felt it went off track — but in a diplomatic way. I don’t like reading snarky reviews (even if I agree with the technical elements), and I try not to write them. If I truly despise an author’s work, I suggest that it be assigned to someone else, who will give them a fair reading. Every writer pours a lot into a book, and every book deserves a fair shot at a balanced review.

There are some authors whose work I can’t stand. There are authors I don’t like personally, but like their work — again, the review has to be based on the work, not any personal bias. There are authors I like personally, but I don’t care for their work. In the best of all possible worlds, I truly enjoy the writing, and then meet the author and discover the author is as delightful as the writing. But, if at any point I’m assigned a book to review and don’t feel I can be fair, I ask the editor to reassign it. In twenty plus years of reviewing, I think that’s only happened twice.

I am always grateful when someone enjoys one of my books and leaves a comment. When something doesn’t work, I am interested to know that, too, and why, provided it is presented well. If it’s just an attack, without form or substance leading back to the elements of the writing itself, it is meaningless. It’s still unpleasant, but one has to shrug and move on. Not everyone is going to like everything. Authors need room to try new things that don’t always work. If something doesn’t work, it’s helpful to get comments on what didn’t work and why. I can take useful comments and apply them to other work (provided they align with my vision or convince me to look at something in a new way), and make the next books better. It is not helpful to get attacks. There’s a huge difference, and social media doesn’t always discern between a genuine review or criticism and an attack.

The people who run around attacking the books of authors they don’t like — why? If you don’t like an author or an author’s work, why are you reading it, much less reviewing it? There are thousands of books that will give you pleasure, so why read something that makes you unhappy or angry? Yes, you have to read a book thoroughly in order to be qualified to comment on it. But if one or two don’t work for you — move on. There are certain authors out there, with long, best-selling track records that attract some readers who slam a book and say, “I’ll never read anything by so-and-so again because she did THIS” and, six books later, they’ve said the same thing on every book. If you know you don’t like the author and the series, don’t read any more! Read something you LIKE! It’s unhealthy to lock oneself in a dance of negativity like that.

With the lack of credential filtering on many review sites, any “reviewer” with a personal axe to grind can do so publicly and hurt the author. That’s just wrong. Also, if a review is badly written and filled with errors, I discount it. Reviewing is a particular skill. Criticism — genuine, literary criticism (which is different from “critique”) — is an art form that, sadly, is going by the wayside. Well-written literary criticism can open up a book in a whole new way, both in light of the book itself and in the context in the cannon — within the author’s body of work, within the genre, within literature as a whole. Well-written literary criticism is wonderful. Yes, some of it is nasty, which I don’t always like. But the genuine criticism, well-done, opens new vistas into a work.

Okay, enough about that. Time to get a bunch of WRITING done.

Published in: on February 13, 2014 at 9:05 am  Comments (3)  
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Tues. Feb. 11, 2014: Example of a Positive Workday

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was a very good workday. I worked on the novella in draft, I finished an editing pass on the other novella (and will do one more, layering in more sensory detail). My publisher and I agreed on the title for the sci-fi horror western. I worked on the play.

I also landed two new clients on two short projects. One is completely turned around (and paid). The other, I did my first pass and sent it back to the client for response, and it will go back and forth over the next couple of days (deposit paid). Both clients were a pleasure to deal with and had high quality work. Helped make the workday joyful.

Finished one of the books sent for review. The first half was great and it took a turn about midway through that was disappointing. Will write and send the review later today.

Started reading a book just because I want to, and I really like it. If I continue to like it, I will mention it as “Recommended Reading”.

I started on the week’s work for the Environmental Law and Policy class. Love it. We’re getting assigned a research project, which I’m eager to start.

Watched the Olympics, of course. Speed skating and skiing events.

My knee is healing nicely; my back is slower. But it’s healing, and yesterday’s snowfall wasn’t much, so the shoveling didn’t kill me. But we’re supposed to get slammed again all day Thursday. The very thought of it just makes me tired.

Devon

Published in: on February 11, 2014 at 8:48 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 11, 2014: Example of a Positive Workday  
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Tues. Jan. 7, 2014: Working and Offers

Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and c-c-cold

I’ve got an essay on choosing the first and last books of the year over on A Biblio Paradise. Check it out!

Yesterday, I worked flat out. I caught up on admin, pitched for some jobs, worked with students, wrote a book review, polished a feature article pitch and queried it, did some background for the new play, and for a feature article. Also mailed a package, did a library run, got in some cat food, and baked a cake for the neighbor who dug me out in the snowstorm last week.

This morning, I found an interesting offer in my inbox, and have started negotiations. If we can work out a few details, I’ll have some good news soon. If not, I’ll be disappointed, but move on.

I need to work on the airship steampunk story today, and get going on the revisions for the half hour teleplay, work with students, etc.

Hopefully, I won’t have to go out — it’s bitterly cold, and I’d rather stay safe inside.

Devon

Published in: on January 7, 2014 at 8:33 am  Comments Off on Tues. Jan. 7, 2014: Working and Offers  
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