Fri. Sept. 27, 2013: Weird Day

Friday, September 27, 2013
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

It’s definitely autumn.

Here’s information about the National Marine Life Center as a finalist in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good program. We really, really, REALLY need to replace our marine life ambulance — this car would be a lifesaver. I’ll remind you on Oct. 7 to vote, but here’s the preliminary information.

Weird day yesterday. A project’s been cancelled, through no one’s fault, but just unfortunate circumstances getting in the way. It happens.

Started a short story yesterday for an anthology call, but need to do some research. Read a stack of short scripts and did notes on them. Had a negotiation on a project on which I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and will be henceforth called “Confidential Job #2”, should I land it. It sounds like a lot of fun. When I pitched, I thought it was a reach, but they got back to me right away, so who knows?

Worked with students, worked on the grant proposal and turning around a press release.

Not happy with any of my personal writing yesterday. Felt too scattered.

This morning, got out a press release. Did a little bit of work on Project D. Have to do some work on Confidential Job #2 for the next step.

It’s chilly, I have company coming in from the UK next week, and I think I’ll decorate for Samhain this weekend, a little early — because I can!

Oh, I meant to give my opinions of some of the new shows this week.

BLACKLIST: I enjoy James Spader’s work, but not sold on the rest of it. Chickie, supposedly a highly trained agent, lets the bad guy stab and torture her husband in front of her and cries, then stabs Red in the neck with a pen or stylus or whatever it was when he tells it like it is? Don’t buy it. Plus, I bet I know the “big secret” and I don’t yet care enough to be impressed. So I flipped over to:

HOSTAGES: great chemistry between Dylan McDermott and Toni Colette, but I suspect the creative team is messing with us to mess with us.

AGENTS OF SHIELD: an actor I loved working with on a TV show in NY was the guest star, and he rocked. I was so happy to see him in a fun role. I realize it was a guest spot, but I hope they bring him back. Like the humor, am willing to give it a few episodes to see how the chemistry develops.

REVOLUTION is back, and I was frustrated with the first episode. It works when the ensemble is together — it’s their moment-to-moment chemistry in scenes that stands out. When they’re split up, it’s simply irritating.

My two cents.

Have a great weekend.

Need A Vacation, But No Break in Sight

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Worked with students yesterday, did some schoolwork, worked on proposal. Cut the essay by 2/3 and got it to my editor with 3 words’ wiggle room. It was a challenge, but it still holds together well, and is yet another example of how much one can cut.

It’s not the amount of words that gets the point across, it’s the specific words you choose.

Realized I pitched for a job I don’t really want, so I hope they’re not calling me. Ripped out the last vestiges of the tomato plants — there’s still some basil I can harvest. Cooked the last of the eggplants and tomatoes last night — yum. Went to the library. Forgot to look for the books I meant to get as research for a long article, but I’ll be back there before the end of the week, so that will be fine. Read a mystery by someone whose first book in the series I liked, but this was illogical and flat. Made some business decisions I didn’t want to make, but had to do in order to keep the money flowing in on time.

Today, I have to work with students, put up some more lectures, polish lectures for Saturday’s class (The First Three Pages: A Dynamic Opening — information here), work on the proposal, work on the edits for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, get started on two papers, and a couple of articles (so that the money is actually coming in to pay the bills).

I have to say, the whining on some of the course forums is working on my last nerve. We are studying with Ivy League professors — it’s not supposed to be easy, and we are supposed to meet deadlines when those deadlines are set. The workload is clearly stated for each class, and it’s in HOURS, not MINUTES. Deadlines and expectations are clearly stated early on. Welcome to the real world, asshats, where there are actual consequences when you don’t manage your time! And guess what? Saying you didn’t get an email alert is no excuse not to know what’s going on — it makes me froth at the mouth when online students say this in MY classes (especially, since on DAY ONE, they are told not to rely on them, but to check the fucking forum regularly), and it’s no excuse on these Coursera forums, either.

You see this in class situations, and then you realize why so many of the clients behave as badly as they do. But it sure as heck makes you appreciate the good ones! 😉

Things that make my head explode #84: When detailed conversations and scheduling held over weeks are suddenly news to some of the parties involved.

Things that make my head explode #85: When things gone over in class and then needed to be put into practice in the real world are suddenly treated like this is the first time anyone’s ever heard of them.

It’s that old adage: Your disorganization is not my emergency.

Your time is not more valuable than mine, and I am not readjusting everything to suit you, unless you’re paying me a boatload of money so to do.

Especially not right now, when, between now and early December, 18-20 hour days seven days a week are the norm. I am not cleaning up anyone else’s mess because they weren’t paying attention. I’ve got to build some down time in there somewhere or I will lose what’s left of my mind (and trust me, there’s not much left), but I don’t see how right now.

Tried to relax last night by watching REVOLUTION, but the logistical gaps bothered me. There’s no power, no windmills, no water wheels, but suddenly there’s a steam train? The scenes between Rachel and Bass have gotten too repetitive. I understood it the first time, I would have lived with it structurally three times, but now it’s five or six, and it’s overkill. Miles & Tom finally had a good scene together, and a lot of the moment-to-moment work is very good. But the things that are not working for me are starting to have more weight than what is working. Which is a shame, because I can see echoes of the themes in the Sustainability course, the World History Course, and even the Mythology course, which I find interesting.

Okay, I have to let go of my general frustration with the world today and focus on the work that needs to get done.

Devon

Tuesday, Oct. 2: Slow Start, Slow Internet, Lots of Work

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

CE Lawrence is a terrific thriller writer (and a great teacher). Lawrence was also kind enough to be a guest today on A Biblio Paradise here. Drop by and leave a comment!

Got a few hours of focused work done in the morning. Picked up my friend from the train station at 1 o’clock. We had a good catch-up chat on the deck, out in the sunshine, cooked dinner, chatting all the time, and she caught an evening train back. We hadn’t seen each other in two years, since before I moved, but we’ve kept in touch and picked up where we left off. It was great.

Found out that the person set to join me here on site wasn’t coming yesterday after all, but would arrive today. Gives me more uninterrupted work time, for which I’m grateful.

Have to do a rewrite for an editor — we thought we were on the same page, only to find out we’re on different pages! Not a big deal, just re-angle it a bit.

The cover is coming along for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK — I’m looking forward to it. And the DEATH SPARKLES anthology is moving towards its release date.

Watched REVOLUTION — had some interesting backstories and complexities. Even though I’d figured out some of the Miles/Lance backstory, there were some good layers. But I’ve still got to ask — why no windmills? Why no waterwheels?

I have to get going on this week’s schoolwork and writing assignments, along with the writing that pays the bills. I feel like I got a slow start this morning, but I hope to pick up speed. The internet connection is so damn slow, I can’t be efficient. Very frustrating.

Devon

Mon. Oct. 1, 2012: Great Start to a Busy Week!

Monday, October 1, 2012
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy weekend.

As I posted late Friday night, I was pleased with the reading of my play. I saw (and heard) where I can make it better, and the feedback from both the actors and the audience was helpful. And it was nice to have some friendly faces in the audience!

Saturday morning, I hit the road, by 8 AM, as planned. Traffic going south was awful. I stopped in Mystic to pick up some truffles (since I hadn’t made it to Cape Cod Chocolatier before I left, I stopped at Munson’s, instead). I arrived safely in CT, and was absolutely exhausted (I was too wound up after the reading to sleep well).

Got settled in, tried to get set up for the week’s work. Discovered that the Cablevision connection is much weaker and wonkier than the Comcast connection. You know it’s bad when I’m praising Comcast. The videos I need for my schoolwork come in fits and spurts, not smoothly streaming. Frustrating — a time eater as well as hard to follow. A 19 minute video took nearly an hour and half to watch. Considering I have six hours’ worth of video to watch between the three classes this week, plus finish the rough drafts of both Sustainability Projects, write another Sustainability paper and write my first paper for — gosh darn, I can’t remember if it’s World History of the Mythology class — one of them — I have my hands full.

Read a mystery that frustrated me — the protagonist was such an idiot, I almost hoped the murderer would get her. “Who did it” and why the Who actually Did It made no sense. And the author created a paranormal mystery, yet obviously has utter contempt for the paranormal elements. A waste of time. Won’t be reading anything by that one again!

Re- watched the scene in REVOLUTION that bothered me so much last Monday — yup, still bothers me, and for the same reasons. Won’t get to see tonight’s episode, because I’m busy, so I’ll have to catch up when I get home.

A doe calmly ate her dinner in the yard Saturday evening, not in the least bit disturbed by proximity to others. I kept the dog away from her until she was done.

The dog woke me a little before 1 AM, barking at something — but I couldn’t find whatever upset her. She then woke me up a little after 5 AM, needing to go out.

Lots in the NY TIMES, including pages and pages on the life of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, its publisher, who died on Friday. Sunday’s edition had many of the elements that make the NY TIMES one of the best papers in the world. It’s not the best with every article every day, but it’s damn good, and everything I read in it on Sunday supported that.

Watched my school work videos — as long and as frustrating at it was. Wrote my paper for the week for Sustainability on learning how to value energy if/when it’s affordable, without losing the impetus to conserve.

One of the many things I love about the three classes is that the professors encourage us in critical thinking — approaching a theory from different angles, poking it with a stick, and fact-checking, not just accepting sound bytes or a single source.

Drove to White Plains, to the Asian grocery store (since I can’t find one on Cape Cod), and stocked up on all kinds of things I haven’t been able to find. White Plains itself was dirty, crowded, and full of rude people. If I hadn’t been so delighted by the contents of the market, I would have left immediately. But I got some delightful things, including another bagua mirror for the BACK door (I have one on the front door).

On the way back, I stopped at a favorite store when I lived here that has no branch up near me — and they had Christmas cards on sale, so I stocked up! I have enough Christmas Cards for the season — now I have to put together the postage and the presents! 😉

Shortly after I got back to my base camp for the week, we had a hail storm. Very bizarre.

Spent most of the evening finishing up the week’s work for the World History class. Watched the season premiere of ONCE UPON A TIME — I thought they tried to stuff an awful lot of plot into the first episode. Watched the season premiere of THE GOOD WIFE — nice to see so many familiar Broadway faces in the cast.

This morning, I sent off some information for an interview, did some follow-up from the play reading, and worked on a short story. I have to do a polish on an article and get it out the door in the morning, and then batch some ideas to another editor.

This afternoon will be busy — an old friend is stopping by, someone I haven’t seen since I moved. And someone else will be on site for the next few days, so I’ll have to adjust where I do my work — considering how much of it I’ve got to do! I better get going, lots to do, and, as always, limited time.

Devon

Wed. Sept. 26, 2012: Tough Love & New Opportunities


Hard to pack and unpack when Violet’s sleeping on the bag. Tessa, nearby, enjoying the sun.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mild and showers

Yesterday didn’t turn out to be as productive as I wished; I was a bit under the weather. However, I made like a squirrel and did a major grocery shop at Market Basket (filling two grocery carts), so I’m in pretty well-stocked with staple food for the next few months.

I made a pot roast for dinner, something I haven’t done in about a year.

The paradoxal life of a writer: create a sword fight scene with multiple casualties and then go make pot roast.

Got some writing done, got some work done on my classes.

One of my students just sold a short story she worked on in class — I’m thrilled for her! It will be published next spring, and I’ll make sure to post more information when it releases. She’s an excellent writer, and this story, in particular, was riveting.

Regarding the whole NFL ref debacle: I have NO sympathy. The NFL locked out the refs. The players and the coaches should have refused to play, and the fans should stop spending money on the teams until this is resolved. The fact that no other entity in the game supported the refs and now they’re all whining — you brought this on yourselves, you greedy dumbasses.

Regarding the NHL issues: I am firmly on the side of the players. They already took a 24% pay cut. I sure as hell couldn’t afford that, could YOU? It’s not about the actual dollar figures, it’s about percentage ratios to what owners and the people who actually make the sport happen.

Brandy, you’re right, there are several things about REVOLUTION that bother me, in the fact that they are asking me to suspend disbelief in logic. The power’s been off for 15 years. Where are the windmills? Windmills existed before electricity. Where are the water wheels? They existed before electricity. There is “power” outside of electrical power, and so far, that’s not being dealt with. Someone brought up that you could build a battery out of a potato — why isn’t anyone doing that. They are asking us to suspend a lot of logic — I hope they are building into those issues. I’m still willing to take the journey, because of the things I do like about the show, but I’m aware of these unexplained lapses. At this point, I’m trusting them to deliver on the “whys”.

My acquaintance’s show was on last night, season premiere. Writing was stale, plot convoluted. I hope it finds its feet soon. It feels tired.

A newspaper to whom I pitched wants samples — very cool, I’d like to land an ongoing gig with them.

I’m putting stuff together for next week, when I’m working in CT — getting the stuff together I need for them, and also the extra stuff I need to bring with me for my own work.

Off I go, back to the page!

Devon

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Tues. Sept. 25, 2012: Writing, Dissection, and Process

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy work day yesterday. Some library this-n-that done, I’m almost caught up with the tarot students, I started on this week’s work in the Sustainability Course, the World History Course, and the Greek/Roman Mythology course. The dynamics in each class are fascinating to me — the tone set by the professors, the way students interact, the types of people drawn to each class with their stories — but then, I’m a writer. I’m going to go beyond the surface of the course and get into both the interpersonal dynamics of the material and of the people around me. That’s what I do.

Very dangerous, knowing a writer. Everything is material. But that’s part of why it’s so great to BE a writer! 😉

Speaking of writers, I hope you’ll hop on over to A BIBLIO PARADISE today and drop a comment for my colleague and fellow Cape Cod author, Steven Marini. He’s a guest on the blog.

Got through some more submissions, some of which were much better. I’ve got two more stacks to get through this week. Got out my material for Confidential Job #1. Pitched for a job that I don’t think will be a good fit, not in content, but in time frame, and I don’t think it will work out. Of course, I realized that after I hit send.

I also had an absolutely mortifying egg-on-face few moments — I’m a guest on a bunch of different blogs to promote both ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT and HEX BREAKER (and, then, soon, I’ll be appearing to promote DEATH SPARKLES and OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK). I keep track of what’s due when and where, and I wrote several of them in the last few days. Well, I thought I was late on one, scrambled, and hit send — to realize I’d sent it to the wrong person! Mortified. Absolutely mortified. I pulled it back, apologized profusely (I’d sent her everything she needed for my appearance) and then sent it off to the right person (who is very happy with it). Everything worked out, and everyone was cool about it, but I was still upset with myself. There’s a reason I’ve set up systems and organized things, and that’s so I can stay on top of multiple projects. When I make a careless mistake, I’m angry at myself.

My own work suffered yesterday, so today, I have to make up for it. I also have to do a major grocery shop over at Market Basket in Sandwich, which just makes me happy.

The furnace guy was here yesterday, cleaned the furnace and the ductwork, everything is great. Considering that it was 39 degrees this morning, and the heat’s kicked in for the past few weeks, I’m glad.

Watched REVOLUTION last night. (Spoiler alert). They came out with a bang, and now we’re getting into the episodes that both reveal and set up the future complexities. I had some frustrations — I need to watch again the scene after Charlie killed two men and she’s trying to wrap her head around it. I feel like there was a missed opportunity — Miles could have made it clear that you hope you never “get used” to killing (it’s obvious that, although he kills when he has to, he doesn’t enjoy it); he could have dismissed her concerns; he could have pretended to dismiss her concerns as a combination of not really knowing how to deal with her and also as a bit of misplaced “tough love” because he knows she’ll have to do a lot more killing before this is done (besides, she killed someone or several someones in the first episode when she and her friends came to help him in the Big Fight Scene in Episode 1. It’s not her first kill, although it’s the first of this type of kill). Instead, it didn’t really commit to any of the above. The actors had to work too hard in that scene — the problem, I felt, was in the material and in the direction. It wasn’t layered; it was messy. That meant the actors had to work harder to try to pull it off, and the work showed, instead of it being organic. That’s not a failure on the actors’ parts — they did what they could with the material, and the writing needed to be both crisper and more layered, and the direction needed to be more specific in that scene.

Why does this moment bother me? Because it could have been a pivotal point of connection and understanding in the relationship between Charlie and Miles. The actors reached for it, but the material, in this case, didn’t give them the support it should have. You’ve got to hand it to Billy Burke — when he’s in a scene with someone, he’s totally there. A lesser actor would have hung his scene partner out to dry in order to look better, and he did not. Those are the actors you want on your project, the ones who give and receive in a scene, rather than take. Giancarlo Esposito had a lot of wonderful small moments in his scenes, too — a more insecure, self-involved actor would have used some of those moments to chew scenery or wipe the floor with his fellow actors. He doesn’t need to, and he’s far more effective doing what he’s doing. I can’t wait until Esposito and Burke have scenes together. As a writer, while it’s frustrating to see that flawed material in something that’s on network (but not a surprise), it’s also interesting to break it down and figure out what could have made the material stronger, and yet still fit into the constraints of the production (the need for scenes to be truncated for commercial breaks). As someone who worked so closely with actors for so many years, watching performances grow and change night-to-night, show-to-show, sometimes on a daily basis, I feel for the actors, and I’m always fascinated by the development of material.

So, why am I going on and on about beats and scenes in a television series that, truly, has nothing to do with me? That whole dissection experience made me a little resentful that I’m not even included in a rehearsal for my play’s reading on Friday, and that the director hasn’t even spoken to me about the material. If I was in the rehearsal room and heard the actors speak the words, I could make tweaks for it to flow more naturally before the performance, which is going to make everyone look better. I don’t believe every word is gold simply because it drips from my pen. I believe in making the words better. Part of that is being in the rehearsal process. Because I will not be pleased if the director or actors take it on themselves to change lines without discussing it with me first (there’s a reason Dramatists Guild contracts don’t allow that). There’s a difference between riffing and improvising off material and just paraphrasing or changing it. The first two, in the right hands, can take the material to the next level. The third and fourth, almost all the time, takes all the air out of material. That would be a sign of both huge ego and huge disrespect on their parts, none of which are unusual in this business. What will really kill the material if the actors take a lot of self-involved pauses you could drive trucks through. It’s written to a very specific rhythm, the rapid-fire 1940s noir patter. Friday will be interesting. It could be amazing, or it could be a disaster. Either way, I know I’ll be taking a lot of notes, and subjecting myself and the pages to the same type of dissection that I do above.

On a happier note, I was thrilled that Damian Lewis won the Emmy for HOMELAND. In my opinion, he’s one of the top actors out there, again, with a lot of quiet, detailed work, and it’s about time he got recognition.

Alright, enough musing — time to get back to the pages and get my own creative work done. I’ve got a book to finish.

Devon

Wed. Sept. 19, 2012: New Article Up & Television Musings

Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and warm

In spite of the migraine, I had a very good day of edits on OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. I’m starting to feel good about the book and how it sets up the rest of the series, as well as standing on its own.

Also did some notes to shut up a character who’s been yapping at me the past few days, in a built world. I’ll be writing from a male POV, I think, this time,which will be fun.

Got work done on the opening of the marine life mystery.

Re-sent some invoices — I want to wind up completely with one client and be done, buh-bye, and the other wants more work from me, but the payments have to be on time, or it simply won’t happen.

My article on “The Renaissance Writer” is up on WOW-Women on Writing here. It was a lot of fun to write, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Didn’t get enough housecleaning done yesterday, so I’ll have to make up for it today.

Planning on staying in today, writing, writing, writing.

Forgot to mention that I watched the pilot of REVOLUTION on Monday. I hadn’t particularly liked the promos –to me, they came across as jumping on THE HUNGER GAMES bandwagon. But Billy Burke has one of the leads, and I like his work (although I had no idea he was involved in the TWILIGHT franchise, because I haven’t bothered with the movies). I also wanted to see Giancarlo Esposito’s work — I liked him a lot in both BREAKING BAD and ONCE UPON A TIME.

I was pleasantly surprised. I LOVE the production design — sets, costumes, et al. The attention to detail is great. Again, though, I’m glad not to be doing wardrobe on it, because they’re outside a lot! Continuity with dirt is not easy! It uses archetypes from the Hero’s Journey nicely, although I hope they deal with the fact that one of the lead characters is a young woman. The heroine’s journey is, by nature, different. The writing was much better than I expected, and I thought the actors committed fully in a really wonderful way. One of the reasons I like Billy Burke’s work so much is that he is such an active listener. He is unafraid of stillness, and he listens completely and responds to what is actually said and done in the moment. He does that in interviews, too — there’s never a sense that he’s skipping ahead, thinking about what HE will say next. He’s very much a partner in whatever scene he’s in, not trying to take all the focus with the underlying, “Look at ME!” that so many actors (especially in leading TV roles) insist on. I’m interested in seeing how the show evolves.
However, if it starts messing with the audience just to mess with them, the way I felt LOST often did — I’m outta there.

Going back to the active listening and partnership in a scene, I’m already struggling to continue watching a different show that an acquaintance of mine is on. I like HIS work a lot, and he’s good at the give-and-take, but he’s a second lead and the two lead actors are very much in the “I’m the show’s star” mode in a way I feel hurts the overall show. Sometimes it’s the number of close-ups; sometimes it’s screen time; sometimes it’s not letting one of the other actors have a moment that makes more logical and organic sense. I continue to watch because my acquaintance and I dissect every episode after, in terms of writing and character development, and I’m loyal to him; but I’m finding it more and more difficult to watch.

Okay, I need to get back to the page and get a bunch of other things done today, too. We had a bad storm last night — we didn’t have too much damage, other than overwhelmed plants.

Back to work!

Devon