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  Leave a Comment  
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Mon. Nov. 14, 2016: No Holiday Weekend For Me! Writing!

Monday, November 14, 2016
Full Moon
Sunny and cold

I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend. It sure wasn’t a holiday for me.

On Thursday, I started the fifth draft of DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I finished it on Saturday. It’s still got a higher word count than I hoped, but under the absolute “no way in hell” count it had before.

But I’m happy with it. I wrote the book I wanted to read and couldn’t find.

I have a few sentences to tweak, but it’s ready for submission. I wrote the blurb, the query template, and the synopsis. I didn’t even mind writing the synopsis this time, and liked the outcome. I must still be feverish. 😉

But doing all that means I didn’t get JUST A DROP done. Actually, the play about the female pirate (due the same day as JUST A DROP) is pulling me fairly hard. So I might do that one first — I think that will be a one act, and JUST A DROP is definitely full length.

However, the opening of a new play — not connected to any of my deadlines — came to me and I hurried to scribble it down. The working title is IDEAS AND IDENTITY. While that reflect the theme of the play, I think I have to come up with a better title! The rest of the play is percolating — I hope I can keep up!

I got some yard work done — although not enough. Never enough, is it? I painted some more planters and two more tables. The problem with painting is that one thing looks great, and everything else looks dingy, so you keep going.

Most of the pots are put away; most of the outdoor furniture is oiled and put away. I have a few more bits and bobs to do this week, and one more shelf to paint, and then, other than mowing and raking, we are set for the winter.

I have every intention of enjoying the last holiday before the Apocalypse!

Today, I start the mowing, do some more painting, work on MURDER OF A MELANCHOLIC (it takes place over Christmas, and I always write better about a season when I’m in it), work on the fantasy novel that came in a dream, and the plays. Plus, I have more edits to do on PLAYING THE ANGLES, so that, too can go out this week.

I made cranberry walnut bread first thing this morning. Hopefully, that’s a positive, productive omen for the coming week. And there’s an amazing full moon tonight. I intend to take advantage of it!

I went back to keeping the phone/social media/email, etc. turned off on Sunday, and it was great. I’d cheated the last few weeks. But the quiet time was wonderful. I want to hold a day of silence each week as long as I can. It lets me refill the creative well, and tap into creativity that gets tamped down by the constant noise.

Have a wonderful week.

Devon

Published in: on November 14, 2016 at 9:53 am  Comments Off on Mon. Nov. 14, 2016: No Holiday Weekend For Me! Writing!  
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Thurs. Nov. 3, 2016: Learning from What Doesn’t Work

Thursday, November 3, 2016
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and mild

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs, winning the World Series! Great job to the team, and kudos to the fans who stuck by them no matter what.

Ran some errands, did some yard work, and worked on the revisions of CHOLERIC. I’m getting weighed down by procedural details that are peripheral to the main action, but if I get them wrong, it throws off the piece. The reader will feel something’s not right, and then distrust the rest of it. Even in fiction, the trust of the reader and the foundation of fact on which to build the fiction is important. I have some questions out to experts to make sure I can smooth things out, but that’s holding up my progress.

Got a few pages done on MELANCHOLIC, too, but I have to get back to the other projects. I’m firmly in “edit head”, though. I couldn’t get this done if I was worried about Nano.

More editing, yard work, painting, etc. on today’s agenda. I got most of the Samhain decorations packed, but I forgot to take down the curtains, so I’ll have to do it today. I have a ton of laundry backed up that needs attention, too.

Read a novel last night that was interesting from a world-building point of view, but the protag’s love interest was such a moron, I kept hoping she would either get killed, or the protag would wise up and dump her. However, they ended up together. He was overly flawed, too, so I guess it’s better that they got and stayed together, rather than either of them being inflicted on anyone else. But it left me dissatisfied. Also, the pace was uneven, and the different points of view were unbalanced. From a structural standpoint, it was a good lesson, but as a reader, I was disappointed.

Last night’s Ceremony for the Dead was for children; tonight’s is for pets; tomorrow is for those who have no one to mourn for them. This week is always challenging from both an emotional and a stamina standpoint.

But the writing goes on.

Devon

Published in: on November 3, 2016 at 9:22 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Nov. 3, 2016: Learning from What Doesn’t Work  
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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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Mon. July 11, 2016: Loving the New Horizons

Monday, July 11, 2016
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Busy times! But good ones.

I sent off the revised book per the agents request on Friday morning. By Sunday morning, she contacted me to tell me she loved it. Whew! When all the paperwork is done, I’ll be able to reveal more. I can share that there’s a new series title, a new book title, and I renamed all of the first six books in the series overview to reflect that.

Once I got the book sent out, I packed up my poor little Macbook and took it to iCape Solutions, where they actually HAD a solution I could afford and live with. MacGeorge is running much better now. Phew! I was so afraid I’d have to run to Staples and buy a cheap PC laptop until I could afford to replace MacGeorge. Love me the folks at iCape Solutions. They actually solve things!

Then, I turned my attention back to the radio plays and to INITIATE. And to a bunch of errands and other things that needed my attention. I’m not satisfied with the radio plays yet. I’m thrilled with the way INITIATE is shaping up. I’m so in love with these characters and the scope of this playground.

I had a meeting on Saturday afternoon that will either turn into something or it won’t. If it does, it will be six weeks of fun and work; if not, I move on to something else.

Sunday, I met a friend for coffee and we caught up. Plans that had been made in misery wound up as a celebration. It was fun.

I treated myself to some books. I bought Juliet Blackwell’s newest A TOXIC TROUSSEAU. I like her Lily Ivory mysteries. I managed to scrounge around and locate the last copy in the store!

Errands and paperwork today, an adventure in Boston tomorrow.

And so it goes!

Devon

Published in: on July 11, 2016 at 10:31 am  Comments Off on Mon. July 11, 2016: Loving the New Horizons  
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Wed. June 1, 2016: Diagramming a Series for Structure

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Busy weekend, but not with a lot to show for it.

Saturday was my Saturday “off” from the library. I ran around doing errands, and got the terraced back area mowed. It desperately needed it! Sunday, I worked on the meadow, but only got about ¼ of it done.

Sunday afternoon, I was lucky enough to see the amazing Neil McGarry in MY NAME IS ASHER LEV at Cape Rep in Brewster. It was a beautiful space, and a wonderfully done show. The entire cast was terrific, and the direction was superb. It was easily the best thing I’ve seen since I lived on Cape.

Monday and Tuesday rained, so I couldn’t work outside. I wasn’t feeling well, so I didn’t get as much done inside as I would have liked, either. My lunch date was cancelled yesterday, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, since I felt so bad, and I missed both the Mermaid Ball meeting and the Artist HobNob.

I did a lot of mental work on the rewrite of what’s been THE CHARISMA KILLINGS, but will shortly have a new title. I figured out the new opening, and how that affects the rest of the plot and red herrings and incorporates the other suggestions. I didn’t get a lot of words on paper, but I’ve got a good sense of direction for this revision. It didn’t LOOK like a lot of work got done, but it’s the part of the process that, unless you are an artist or writer, you don’t really understand, and it’s difficult to explain. I ran the response ideas past my agent and she liked them, and we’re working on both a new series title and new book titles.

I also worked on ideas for CHOLERIC’s revision. The contrast between the two series is interesting. Although they are both mysteries, the tone is very different for each. I broke down some of Philip Craig’s Martha’s Vineyard mysteries, because they are closer in tone to what I’m going for that something in CHARISMA’S subgenre. I was surprised by several things: the conservative tone of the books, which I hadn’t really noticed when I originally read them in the 90s and which I do not like now; and the number of characters, which I like A LOT.

I dislike books with too few characters. Even in a small community, you run into a lot of people, and keep crossing paths with people. If a writer doesn’t differentiate characters well enough, that’s one thing, or substitutes character quirks for actual character. Neither of those work for me. But if a reader’s too stupid to keep track of more than six characters, well, that’s not the reader for whom I’m writing, period. And I’m a little tired of all these content producers, across different mediums, claiming they want “diverse” characters, when in reality, they want the mention of different skin tones, but they want the characters to act like white people.

The exercise is very illuminating. I’m also doing it with Jane Langton’s Homer Kelly books.

I also took the opportunity of not feeling well and having little left over energy to re-read Sharon Shinn’s entire TWELVE HOUSES series. I’m nearly done with all five books. I love them more each time I re-read them. MYSTIC AND RIDER is still one of the books in my Top Ten list, and I still think it’s one of the best opening chapters I’ve ever read. I still sob at portions of THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE. I liked DARK MOON DEFENDER better this time around, and still love READER AND RAELYNX. I’m about half way through FORTUNE AND FATE.

I have to respect her decision to end the series when she feels she should, but I would love more in this world. I love all these characters a lot.

Back to work today; will be a long day, and then I have to tackle actually getting words on the page. I have a feeling, over the next few months, I’ll be writing both first thing in the morning, and adding another session at night.

Hope you had a great weekend.

Devon

Wed. May 11, 2016: Back from Vacation!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Waxing Moon
Jupiter direct (as of the 9th)
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I was on vacation. It was nice to have time off, although I didn’t get as much rest as I hoped. And it’s nice that one of the retrogrades has gone direct.

It rained almost the entire time, except for the past two days. That made things a bit more complicated, but I kind of like rain — gives one the chance to be a little more quiet.

I spent the first part of my vacation in the Berkshires, at Kripalu. I was looking forward to it enormously — which was probably one reason I was so disappointed. They no longer enforce the “electronic devices only in the Wifi lounge” policy. People were on their cell phones EVERYWHERE, even right under the signs that asked them not to. The Sunroom, which is supposed to be for quiet contemplation, was turned into an office by a group of people — laptops, file folders, bag lunches. They texted in the meditation room; they were on their phones in the silent dining room. People are now smoking outside (it used to be no smoking anywhere on the grounds). Not only is it contradictory to their stated mission (which makes them hypocrites), but it makes them any nameless, overpriced resort out there. There was NO WHERE on the entire property where one could go for quiet contemplation. Not acceptable.

I enjoyed some interested workshops, but it didn’t make up for the fact that there was nowhere to go to be quiet. The point of an R&R retreat is to have “rest” and “relaxation”. I got neither –and, at those prices, I expected both.

My favorite program was given by the chef — the food is still outstanding. I learned a lot I could take back with me and use. I met some great people, including a lovely woman from Syracuse who is a graphic designer.

I stayed at the Black Swan Inn — right across Laurel Lake from the Edith Wharton house. It’s a lovely hotel. I had a fantastic room with one of the most comfortable beds in which I’ve ever slept. Unfortunately, T-Mobile has no coverage in the Berkshires, so my cell phone was useless. The landline in my room didn’t work. My Kindle worked, on the hotel’s wifi, so I emailed a neighbor and asked him to contact home and let them know I got in safely.

Ironic — more electronically disconnected at the Inn than at Kripalu!

Once home, I focused on the writing. I’m just past the halfway mark on the DEATH OF A CHOLERIC rewrites. I believe the book will need one more round of revisions before it’s ready to send out. I also got a lot of work done on Nonfiction #1. And, I’ve started purging things — from the office, and then I’ll tackle all those unpacked boxes in the basement. It’s slow going, but at least there’s progress.

We’re also preparing for company to come in from Europe this weekend. Four people, so the little red house will be packed to the gills!

I’d put down fertilizer and grass seed before I left, on the front lawn. The daily rain did its thing while I was gone. I finally got the terraced back area mowed and fertilized, and got the front mowed again. I’d put in some creeping phlox at the bottom of the driveway, which is cheerful. I got a new, long hose for the front, so I’ve got long hoses both front and back to keep everything properly watered. I still have to rake out some beds and weed them, and I have to get in topsoil for the circular bed in No Man’s Land, so I can plant the bee/hummingbird plants.

I replanted most of the tomatoes, the peas, and the cucumber yesterday, and started zucchini, kale, and beans yesterday.

The mower’s being a pain in the butt — I’m fighting it so much to get it started that I barely have any energy left to actually mow! I still have to mow the meadow, and yank out some stuff that’s invaded.

I’d love another week to just read and sleep, but no such luck. It’s back to work today. I’m sure there are piles on my desk, and I have a program this upcoming weekend. I have a lot of PR to get out for upcoming programs.

The food is figured out when the guests arrive — I’ll be doing a lot of cooking as well as everything else.

I’ve been really careful in the revisions of DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I’m only revising three chapters per day, and then reading the next day’s material for revision. That way, I don’t burn out, and I can keep a good overall eye on the piece, instead of getting bogged down in the same types of things that bogged down the draft. In general, I’ve used a much slower pace on this book, and I like it. The quality of work is better. The drafting was still 1K/day, but the rest of it — I’m letting it marinate in between drafts, and I’m pacing the revisions in a way that allows for better work.

Work on “just a Drop” is much slower than I would like, and I won’t get a chance to work on it with guests this weekend, but that’s life. Still trying to figure out how to fit the revisions of HEART SNATCHER back in, without throwing the entire schedule off.

I feel like I’ve already put in a full day before going to work — in the garden before 6 AM, working on Nonfiction #1, and then working on revision chapters before heading to work. Ah, the life of a writer!

Hope you’re having a wonderful spring!

Devon

Published in: on May 11, 2016 at 12:47 pm  Comments Off on Wed. May 11, 2016: Back from Vacation!  
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Wed. April 1, 2015: Where Fools Leap

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold
April Fool’s Day

At least it didn’t snow last night, as threatened.

I’m not a fan of the way April Fool’s Day has evolved. My understanding of its original purpose is to show the ridiculousness in “establishment” and authority. Unfortunately, too many of the so-called pranks pulled on this day aren’t funny; they’re mean. There’s an undercurrent of hostility.

Busy few days off. I was immersed in COLLABORATIVE BIRTH. Rewrote nearly 300 pages. That included tearing apart and rewriting the Prague section AGAIN — but hey, keep at it until it’s right. Running a draft through spell check or auto crit is not an edit OR a revision — it’s running words through a tool. Both editing and revision are far more complex than that.

Rewrote the New Mexico section, which needs more re-structuring because of what I did in the Prague section. A couple of characters stepped forward more strongly than I expected, but, for the moment, I’m going with it.

The world of the novel(s) goes from fairly simple and protected to wider and wider as their work gets more noticed and more attention. It’s got a large cast of characters, which won’t work for some readers, but is necessary in order for the piece to make sense. I’ve read plenty of books that pretend to be behind-the-scenes looks at theatre or film or television, with a character of six or ten, and it’s simply not the way it works. No matter what you do on a production, you deal with a large number of different, determined people every single day.

Did a ridiculous amount of grocery shopping, but hopefully that means all I’ll have to buy over the next couple of weeks is milk, bread, eggs. Got some new summer clothes — I seem to be drawn to varying shades of blue and aqua this year.

The snow is melting, which means yard work can start this weekend (if it doesn’t rain). I managed to drag the downed tree limbs out of the front yard and stash them in the back. The crocuses are up, and some tulips, hyacinth, and glory-of-the-snow are fighting the good fight to emerge. Pretty soon, I can rake the beds and get things started for planting.

I have a LOT of work to do in the back yard, since I didn’t prepare it properly in the fall. So I’m paying the price now.

Went to Country Gardens. Bought a six-pack each of Boston, Salad Bowl, and Bibb Lettuces, and a six pack of Brussels sprouts. That gives me a head start on those. I don’t really like Brussels sprouts, but the plants are pretty, so if they form properly, I’ll eat them. Bought tomato seeds, but haven’t started them yet (yes, I know it’s late), and morning glory and moonflower seeds that I will start on the next planting day.

Baked lemon cupcakes for tomorrow night’s Tango session. I’ll frost them tonight.

Finished watching the first season of MISS FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES, out of Australia. The production design is gorgeous, and the writing and acting are superb. I hope to watch the second season this week.

Also re-watched GAME CHANGE, which is a well-done film.

Dithering about the final cuts on the radio play LIGHT BEHIND THE EYES, but those have to be done in the next few days, and it has to go out as soon as I can get it finalized and registered. Then, I have to do the American version, and also get started on the radio play that’s going to the Parisian company.

Reading THE WRITERS by Miranda J. Banks, about the formation of the Writers Guild. Very inspiring.

I haven’t written about the plane crash in the French Alps, because I’ve been listening, in horror, as everyone else has. It’s important that people aren’t stigmatized by something like depression. However, being ill does NOT give an individual the right to murder 149 other people. Or any person, other than himself. Period.

The next three days at the library will be busy, and then I have a lot of writing, research, and gardening to do over next weekend.

I’m almost afraid to hope that it’s actually spring.

Devon

Published in: on April 1, 2015 at 9:09 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 1, 2015: Where Fools Leap  
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Wed. July 10, 2013: Epiphany with Music

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Humid, sticky, icky

Yesterday was a busy workday, with interruptions. Had to mow the front (it was getting frightening). In true Mercury Retrograde fashion, I ran out of gas halfway through (thought I had enough) and had to go get more.

Prepped for the jazz concert. Did some more work. Helped out at the jazz concert.

It was a ton of fun. I’ll be putting up photos on the appropriate blog soon. We doused each other in bug spray, served lemonade at intermission, and, in general, had a good time.

During one of the Big Band numbers, when people were dancing, I suddenly had an epiphany on my revision. Funny how that works!

Speaking of revisions, in addition to the Revision Workshop July 12-15, I’m offering a “Develop Your Idea” workshop July 15-17, where you’ll learn how to develop an idea, how to pick a format, and how to handle an idea that hits you when you’re on deadline with something else. If you take BOTH workshops, you get a special combined deal of only $50 for both. So sign up now! Info here.

This week is my week to look after Mother’s Park, so off I went, first thing in the morning. Collected trash, deadheaded roses and lilies, did some weeding.

Now, it’s back to work. The air is so thick that it’s hard to breathe.

There’s A LOT on my plate, and I don’t feel up to it, but too bad for me. Better get going!

Devon

Thurs. May 16, 2013: Revisions Continue

Thursday, May 16, 2013
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Pushed through on revisions yesterday. Realized I put too much emphasis on something that will be a subplot in a future book, but have to cut it back in this book. Came up with a couple of other tweaks I have to layer in. Prepped the next five chapters, and have to work on them today. That will leave the final two chapters, the revised synopsis and back matter for tomorrow.

Mowed the terraced back area yesterday. It looks good. I guess the first mow of the season is always a bit of a shock to the ground, and then the second one starts to look good. I have to do the front soon, but it looks like it wants to rain, so I don’t dare start.

Took the clippings to the dump. Ran library errands at two libraries. Got all the pots back out this morning. Got my next assignments from Confidential Job #1.

Yoga was great this morning. Now, I’ll work with students and get back to work on the revisions.

In my Annabel persona, I talk about “Stepping up to the Plate” on The Writers Vineyard.

Reading Joan Anderson’s A YEAR BY THE SEA and Susan Bender’s EVERYDAY SACRED.

Onward.

Devon

Mon. May 13, 2013: All About the Book

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Tessa enjoys the sun

Monday, May 13, 2013
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Had to take in the tomatoes,etc. last night. It’s in the 30s overnight for the next few days. Brrr.

I’ve tackled the first ten chapters of the CHARISMA KILLINGS revision. Ripped them apart, moved around story lines and subplots, got some more “detecting” in there, planted some more red herrings.

As I’m doing the revisions, I’m also setting up the Series Bible. Normally, I don’t do that until a piece is in final galleys, but, since this is the first book in the series, I’m doing it early, and I’ll make tweaks as the book progresses through production.

Worked in the garden, worked on the book. That defined my weekend.

Celebrated Mother’s Day by giving my mom a cheesecake (what she wanted most) and cooking her a steak.

Re-reading Susan Witting Albert’s TOGETHER, ALONE.

We had some heavy rain over the weekend. I’ve gotten into the habit of putting out buckets on the porch steps to capture some of the water and use it in the garden. I have enough containers for 26 gallons — makes a difference when you’re gardening. And the grass! We could genuinely see it GROW over the course of the weekend. No pause in the mowing for me!

Lots of admin and other stuff to do today, including pitching some ideas to one of my former editors who is interested in having me work for her again.

And, of course, the book. Right now, everything is about the book.

Devon

Published in: on May 13, 2013 at 7:03 am  Comments Off on Mon. May 13, 2013: All About the Book  
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Thurs. May 9, 2013: The Damp and Cranky Day

Thursday, May 9, 2013
New Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Foggy and cool

Yesterday was quite the experience!

Got some work done in the morning, on the blogs, with students, pitching, etc. Decided I had to get out into the yard before the rain started. Mowed the front, set down some grass seed.

Went downstairs to turn on the garden faucets so I could hook up the hoses. A new turny-thing (yeah, I’m a college graduate, can you tell by the vocabulary?) was put in last fall, when I couldn’t get the water to turn off. Anyway, I turn it on and . . .get soaked. So does a corner of the basement. Water gushing everywhere except out through the spigot into the garden.

I shut it off, called the landlord, called the plumber. Went back out and hauled buckets of water to saturate the new grass seed (felt like a pioneer woman — hey, they had to do this every day without running water), and then replanted the tomatoes, the cucumbers, the kale, and put some kale and lettuce into the veggie bed. Planted some cosmos in about three or four beds, where I thought they’d look pretty.

Also went to war on those icky little bugs. They tried to go after the tomatoes, cucumbers, and sage. I wasn’t having it.

Plumber arrived. Turns out a pipe had split and needed to be replaced. These guys are great — they have everything in the truck. It’s not like in NY, where they don’t show up for a week, shake their heads and talk about ordering a part, and then you’re lucky to ever see them again. This company gets in there and fixes the problem.

And then I had to mop up, set up fans, run the dehumidifier, etc.

I couldn’t go to the Mermaid Ball meeting after all, so I made pizza instead and attacked the revision of CHARISMA KILLINGS. Made some good progress. The pass is about catching errors and inconsistencies, tying plot elements together, making sure I have enough mystery and revelation, and developing subplots.

This morning’s yoga class was great. Stopped at the beach and the library on the way home, and now, I’m attacking my work for a few hours, because I’m going to help a friend in the afternoon. Then, it’ll be back to more revisions. I also finished material for Confidential Job #1 and have to write it up.

To the page!

Devon

Published in: on May 9, 2013 at 9:58 am  Comments (1)  
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Wed. May 8, 2013: A Harsh Reality of a Writer’s Life

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Wednesday May 8, 2013
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I have a post up on Gratitude and Growth about the ups and downs of the latest plantings. I hope you stop by and leave a comment.

I’m going to talk today a bit about the harsh reality of an author’s life, and the unrealistic expectations of part-time writers or non-writers put onto a writer.

I’m glad everyone enjoys the manuscript prep tips. Daily mailings like this take a LOT of time to put together, so it can only be something done sporadically. Because writing is my business and not my hobby, and how I pay the bills, what’s offered for free needs to generate enough new business to pay for more similar “events”. If it winds up being financially successful as well as building good will, I can do more. If people don’t buy my books and recommend my services, and it doesn’t generate new income, then I have to do something else that will INSTEAD of being able to put together another event like this. It’s that simple. Use the tips; land slots with publishers or magazines (I’ve created the tips because I genuinely want other writers to succeed — when one of us does well, it helps ALL of us); recommend my work as something that helped along the way, which will then generate new business for me, so I can afford to take the hours it requires to put together another event like this, offering a series of free useful things. Recommend my books (the novels and the Topic Workbooks) IF you like them and find them helpful. The income from book sales help pay the bills.

The time it takes to put together something like the daily mailing is the equivalent to writing about three chapters, and then the time it takes to do the daily mailing is the equivalent of about two pages’ worth of time each day. All of that is time away from my own, income-generating work. If it’s not my own work that’s put aside, it means it’s time away from a freelance writing or proofreading gig that will pay the electric bill for the month or get in that week’s groceries.

“Free” to you has cost to me — beyond just the time it takes to put together and the time away from my own work. It directly affects the bills. Eventually, it has to even out, or I can’t do it.

Would I write anyway with a “day job”? I did for many years, earning the right to be a full-time writer. When I left Broadway to be a full-time writer, I’d hit the crossroads where I could no longer do both. I HAD to make a decision. I chose writing. The harder of the two choices, but it also means I have to make more ruthless decisions and make sure I can pay my bills working at my PROFESSION.

That is the reality of a professional writer’s life. We pay the bills with our work, the same way the lawyer, the accountant, and the plumber do. That’s why it’s so important for those who label themselves “writer” to limit how much they write for “exposure” (when National Grid lets me pay my bills with “exposure”, I’ll be able to write for “exposure”), AND writers need to stop working for content mills, turning out dozens of articles a week for pennies and/or maybe/someday pay-per-click payments.

I want to write stories that people love and respond to. But if they don’t buy my books, I have to find another way to make a living. That doesn’t mean I’ll get a day job and write at night. It means I change careers. If people request a class, and I take the time to put it together and schedule it, it means I have turned down other paying work. If people then don’t sign up for the class, I’ve still put in that time and lost that other work, and now I have to hustle OTHER work to pay the bills — I don’t have the time or the financial cushion to re-schedule the class when it’s “convenient” — because, nine times out of ten, the people who wail the loudest about wanting/needing the class still won’t sign up for it, because they don’t want it badly enough to rearrange their schedules to do it. It’s not a priority for them. It’s something they’ll do if they have nothing better to do, including paint toe nails and watch reality TV. They don’t really want to be in a writing class that makes them actually, well, WRITE. It means the material is not in demand — therefore, there is no reason for me to offer it. That’s the way it works. I am the sole breadwinner in the family. I don’t have a husband or a trust fund to pay the bills. It’s all on ME.

If you like an author’s work — any author’s work, not just mine — go out there and buy books and post Amazon reviews and talk about the books on social media, so that said author can land another contract and write more books. Because if the author has to go get a job at McDonald’s or something else — to change careers — chances are, the other books won’t get written. Or, they might, but instead of being able to write a book a year or a book every two years, it might be a book every three or five, and few publishers and agents are going to invest in someone who can’t turn out regular content (yet too many publishers still don’t do their share in partnering with their authors to make sure the sales figures are high). We’re all on tight budgets — don’t cause yourself harm, or spend more than you can afford. But do whatever is in your power to encourage the people making the decisions to keep hiring the authors.

That’s reality.

Back to yesterday:

Many thanks to Donna Alward, who I met at the Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference. She writes at an amazing rate, working for one of the Harlequin lines, and also has a series of novellas out with Samhain. I happened to run across her on Twitter yesterday morning, when I was poking around not doing what I needed to do. She challenged us to an hour-long sprint 1K in one hour. I jumped at the chance. I did just over 1600 words in just under an hour, finishing the fourth chapter of LEADING OPPORTUNITIES. This is from Elliot’s, my male protag’s, POV, and it took some interesting turns. I like him a lot more than I originally envisioned. I mean, of course, my heroine has to adore him, but in the initial planning, he was a bit more of a dick than he is now. There’s still room for him to grow, but he’s more receptive to his surroundings (and still, loyal to a fault).

Worked with students, got some pitches out. Then, it was off to the Marine Life Center, and from there, on to New Bedford, to Gallery X, where the Marine Life Center may partner with the gallery for an exhibit in mid-June. The space is exciting. I wish I had the capacity at this point to create a piece for the exhibit. I’d love to do some soft sculpture, but I don’t think I can make it the priority it would need to be in order to get it done on time. I might do a mixed media words-and-image piece.

We then had lunch at No Problemo, which was really good. All in all, a lovely day.

On the way home, I started percolating on the new play — I have to submit ten pages by the end of the month — I realized that my initial opening and images are a different play than the original theme I intended. I need to separate those out and decide which play I’m writing NOW.

Spent some time reading on the deck. Both Tessa and Iris were in the enclosure. Iris has decided she’s missing out by staying inside, so now she wants to come out, as long as Tessa is close by (even though they stay as far apart as possible in the enclosure). I applied flea and tick medicine to all of them, so we’re covered in that arena.

Today, I have to work in the yard before the rain starts, do my 1K on LEADING OPPORTUNITIES, work on the non-fiction, work on the adaptation, and start ripping apart the book I finished on Sunday for revisions (I have only about 10 days to get this revision done). Early this evening, I have a Mermaid Ball meeting at the Marine Life Center.

So I better get going!

Devon