Wed. Aug. 29, 2018

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Blisteringly hot & humid

Hop on over to the Fearless Ink Site for the latest on Ink-Dipped Advice.

I’ve been onsite with a client the last few days, doing studio/design work. She leaves for Thailand early in September and needs to get this done. It’s interesting work, the way she designs clothes, and very different from costume design in theatre.

I’m re-reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s TENDER IS THE NIGHT and wallowing in the beauty of the language. Which is weird, because when one breaks down certain sections of it, it shouldn’t work. But when you put it together, it does.

Since I’m reading EVERYONE WAS SO YOUNG, which deals with the inspiration for TENDER IS THE NIGHT, it’s an interesting juxtaposition.

Ari Meghlen invited me to guest on her blog (it will go up next year) and I said yes. I also invited her onto Biblio Paradise. I need to get the next few dozen posts on that sorted this week.

Working on the calendar articles. The first book for my new reviewing gig arrived, and I really like it. I hope to finish it this weekend and get the review out early next week. Worked on the newsletter, which will go out early next week.

Shameless promotional note: If you haven’t signed up for my quarterly newsletter yet, you can do so here.

This newsletter has a triple cover reveal: RELICS & REQUIEM, DAVY JONES DHARMA, and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

Pushing for the end of this draft of RELICS. Behind where I need to be on DHARMA. But BALTHAZAAR is where it should be, and CRAVE THE HUNT needs to get back into the mix once RELICS is in galleys and the next draft of DHARMA is done.

Right now, the goal is a minimum of 2500 words/day on RELICS (more if I can) and 1K on DHARMA, but that doesn’t always happen.

Getting more comfortable on Tumblr; loving Ello; joined Triberr, and we’ll see how that goes. I’m ready to give up on Vero — if I’m having trouble with even the sign-up, a client less IT fluent won’t like it at all. Their support people have been lovely, but the problem’s not solved. We’re going on a week here. And it’s just about signing up and my email address (that I use a dozen times a day) coming up in the sign-up as invalid. It’s not.

I have to start rehearsing the material for the Ptown Book Festival Reading and put together a flyer/handout for it.

Discussions on the Jain Lazarus covers with that cover designer. The cover I want to go back to was not by that designer — paint me mortified! I have to figure out what to do about OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. CRAVE THE HUNT is more important now.

We got the new subdomain for the new series set up and WordPress on it. Now, I have to take it offline so we can build privately. The first three books in the series are in good shape. The cover for the first is great; we have to tweak the second a bit. The fourth book is almost ready; the fifth is partially done, and the sixth outlined and has to get back into the writing roster. How the next few books in the other series stay on track and what goes on with CRAVE THE HUNT will decide a lot about the schedule for this series.

It’s a juggling act.

The cleanout of the basement is going more slowly than I’d like. The heat and humidity has a negative effect.

Last night was our last session of Savasana/Sukasana/Reiki for the season. It’s been a beautiful experience, and I am glad I made it to every session.

Today, I’m with a client for most of the day, and then I hope to get more basement cleaning done. The humidity/heat is set to break either tomorrow or Friday, so maybe I’ll have a productive weekend.

Back to the page.

Wed. Jan. 4, 2017: Writing a Better Reality, Reviews, Contract Controversy

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

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

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

Which means I have to make up for it today.

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

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

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

It’s not.

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

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

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

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

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

Market manipulation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devon

Published in: on January 4, 2017 at 11:36 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 4, 2017: Writing a Better Reality, Reviews, Contract Controversy  
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Mon. Oct. 14, 2013: Hard working Weekend and THE TOWN

Monday, October 14, 2013
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Weekend of hard work. Lots of pitches. Lots of supposed clients who want work for nothing, which isn’t going to happen, because I have bills to pay, and I’m not a twenty two year old just starting out. Lots of scams out there asking for project specific samples, then telling people they didn’t get the job, but using the samples so they wind up with piecemeal work on the entire job and not paying anything. May those scammers have their karma rebound quickly on them.

Watched THE TOWN again — I’d seen it when it first came out, but wanted to see it again. I’d forgotten just how good it is, especially Jeremy Renner’s performance as Jem. The unconditional loyalty he has, especially for Dougie, is one of the things I connected most strongly to in the piece, although all of his work, and much of everybody’s work is beautifully detailed. That moment where Dougie asks for his help with no questions asked, and Jem just looks at him & says, “Whose car we takin’?” That moment, those inflections, what was going on his eyes, just defined their whole relationship. So simple, and so much there. Perfection. So many other actors would have made it unnecessarily complicated and diluted the power of the moment, but not Renner.

Read a couple of books, but nothing stood out. Wrote and polished a review, sent it to my editor. Worked on my neuro-ethics homework (love that class) and the human genome homework (bit of a slog).

Wrote a few chapters on the novella. Finished the section set at the Santa Anita Park racetrack, and now I’ve got them in the San Gabriel mountains. Realized I have to seed in a subplot.

Outlined a screenplay, and realized the scenes that are more interesting to me – -the ones that were the inspiration for the piece — need to be moved into the final act — I’ve got them, in the outline, at the top of the second act, and it doesn’t really work. I have to work out an important “why” for my female protagonist. My male protagonist seems like a pretty straightforward guy (although he’s got more going on than initially apparent), but my female protag is hiding something from me, that, as the writer, I need to know in order for the piece to work, and it’s not something that I can discover within in the writing. So I’ll be pondering that.

Did some yard work — lots to do to rake and put the yard to bed for the winter.

Onward.

Devon

Mon. June 24, 2013: Preparing for a Busy Week

IMG_1348
Foxglove

Monday, June 24, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Foggy, muggy, cool

Friday was spent catching up on work, getting material out to my new editor, working with students, and trying to get everything done. Because I’d worked at the library and in longhand while the computer was down, I wasn’t as far behind as I might have been otherwise. I also had to mow — running theme in my life lately, it seems! Also landed a new editing client, whose work I start today, as soon as the deposit and the manuscript come through.

It was also the Summer Solstice, which meant the Summer Solstice Ceremony, which was lovely, especially coming up to this year’s Super Moon.

Saturday was spent working in the garden, doing my classwork, and attending two gallery openings. I’m having a great time in Archaeology class, but frustrated in the Climate Literacy class.

The first gallery opening was at Tao Water Gallery, in W. Barnstable. It was a show about Cape Cod, featuring Cape Cod artists. It was wonderful. Much better than a similarly-themed show the Cape Cod Museum of Art put on last year, both in content and in curation. The place was packed, and people were excited.

After that show, I hopped in the car, fought my way across the bridge, and drove to New Bedford for the Gallery X opening. The National Marine Life Center has an exhibit in the downstairs gallery, and I wanted to be there to support them.

It was very well done and lots of fun. It was also gratifying to see photographs and the progression of all the great work the organization has done in the last few years. Townsend, the seal who was the inspiration for Sammy in my play, MURDER “SEALS” THE DEAL, will be released this Thursday at 6 PM at Scusset Beach — if you can get there, I hope you’ll join us.

Home and tired.

Sunday was mostly taking it slow, and working on the Dickensian Steampunk. I thought I’d done more work on it than I had — guess most of it was in my head! 😉

Read the wonderful Gaslamp Fantasy anthology QUEEN VICTORIA’S BOOK OF SPELLS, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Great stuff, and plenty of new-to-me authors that I’ll check out further.

I’ve accumulated several Amazon gift cards (including winning one on the Solstice) — so it’s time to place my order!

Wrote and submitted my paper for Climate Literacy yesterday — it feels a bit disjointed. I think I tried to cover too much ground in the space allowed. Oh, well. Everything is notated and I included photographs.

An editing test for a company landed on my desk this morning — I’d sent them a pitch a couple of months ago. They want it turned around in a day. We’ll see –first I have to do the rest of the contracted work! Also got interview questions I need to turn around, need to polish an article and get it out, work with the private students, and wrap up the class for RWA. AND, I need to make a library run, to both Centerville and Sturgis libraries later.

I better get moving.

Devon