Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Full Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I am exhausted. I feel like there’s too much going on, and I just can’t keep up.

There was frost on the ground when I went for a run this morning!

Woke up at 3:30 with full-blown anxiety, which is very unusual for me. Couldn’t get back to sleep. Got up when the alarm went off at 4:45, did my yoga, was out the door for the run by 5:15. Did okay on my double circuit. Feel like I’m making a little progress. Great time to run on Wednesdays — very few people out.

Had to make a detour on the way home. A mallard drake was lost, and I was worried he’d get hit by a car, so I shooed him carefully across the road and through someone’s backyard back to the brook. If the people who live in the house woke up and saw me herding a duck before they had their first cup of coffee — poor things! But at least the duck is safe.

Didn’t get as much writing done as I wanted/needed to yesterday, which was very frustrating. Got the grocery shopping. Ran around to health food stores, trying to find the stuff I need for Elsa — ended up having to order it online.

The vet thinks Elsa’s blood work indicates a pretty serious infection. What we don’t know is the cause, which affects how it’s treated. I’m to stop the antibiotics and wean her off the steriod over the next couple of weeks, adding in a supplement. The antibiotics are treating the symptoms but not the cause and weakening her overall system, so when they’re stopped, she gets sicker faster and doesn’t respond to the next round of treatment. It still could be cancer — or it could be other things. But the steriod is buying her time, not solving the problem, and we need to root out the cause. She is a very sick little cat, in spite of seeming improvement.

On better health news, my mom is doing pretty well. Her bloodwork came back in good shape, and her doctor said I’m doing well feeding her with organic, healthy, whole foods, etc., and she’s in great shape for someone who’s 86. (I do all the cooking for her, and, when I’m not around, prepare meals she can just heat up). My cousin in Maine finished his chemo treatments last week. He’s tired, but he’s hanging in here. Hopefully, Elsa will be well enough soon so I can get up there for a few days. I’d take her with me, but the trip would be too much for her.

Today and tomorrow are do-it-or-lose-it days for the novella. Either I get it done and polished and out the door on Friday, or I lose this opportunity, and it will weigh me down as an unfinished project draining creativity. I really want to get back to ANGEL HUNT and CRAVE THE HUNT next week, so I better get in gear.

I got Elsa to sneeze on one swab, and will keep trying this morning, and then run the swabs up to the vet, and take care of paying for that, yesterday’s phone consult, and the radiology consult that still needs to happen with Cornell. While I certainly feel better about Smith Ridge than many of the other vet establishments around here, there’s still an emphasis on money that turns me off. Yes, they deserve to be paid, but I’m getting a little sick and tired of health care in this country, being people or pets, only going to those who have a lot of cash.

Since so many of our heath problems are caused by the actions of corporations who’ve created environmental and other health risks that make it necessary for so much health care in the first place, those corporations need to kick in.

Speaking of corrupt corporations, while I appreciate Congress posturing and scolding Goldman Sachs yesterday, unless there are actual consequences for the actions of these executives, and they are made an example of what will no longer be tolerated by either Congress or the public on any level, it’s all a lot of hot air. Executives who are found guilty of these frauds (no matter what the company) need to be incarcerated for a looooong time, banned from working in the financial industry ever again, and the profits they made stripped from them and put back into the budget deficits caused by their corruption. Anything less makes the Congressional hearings a joke. A slap on the wrist instead of strong action gives Wall Street the permission to do the same thing again. And they can’t be dealt with as entities. Individuals made these decisions and those INDIVIDUALS must be held responsible, and must make amends for the lives they destroyed.

This evening, I attend the 50th Anniversary celebration for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Stephen Colbert will read, and there will be a discussion. I think it will be wonderful.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 5:16 am  Comments (5)  
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Monday, April 26, 2010


Cornelia St., NYC

Monday, April 26, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Got up at 4:45 this morning so I could start my run at 5:20 instead of 6. Better, but I don’t know if I can get up that early 3x a week. I like running when it’s just starting to get light, though, and most people aren’t out yet. First circuit went well, but second circuit, my knee hurt and I limped most of it.

But I’m at my desk, ready to write, a little after 6 AM instead of after 7. Let’s hope I make good use of it.

Because I was a waste of food all weekend. Saturday, I went to my friend’s place, did laundry, had lunch, hung out on the deck. And came home early because I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Took a nap with the cats, got up, cooked and ate dinner. Zoned in front of the TV, but couldn’t tell you what was on. Went to bed early.

Up early Sunday for yoga, etc. Thought I’d get in a good writing day, but was incoherent on the page. Read a bit, but couldn’t settle on anything. I got out a few queries, but that was it.

Elsa is much better, but won’t sneeze. She’s ravenously hungry, though, eating about twice as much as usual. Since she lost a pound in a short period of time, I’m letting her eat as much as she wants. Iris — who’s on the verge of being overweight — is not amused that Elsa gets to eat so much and she doesn’t. I’m letting Violet eat more, too, since Violet is underweight. And Elsa’s lively and playful again, too, and getting into everything like a two year old. In other words, back to normal Elsa behaviour.

We’re done with the Baytril, thank goodness, because we both hate it. It bubbles when you give it to her, so it looks like she’s frothing at the mouth. Another week of Zenequin, and 3 more weeks of the steriod, unless the vet tells us something different tomorrow.

Have some ideas for some short stories. They’re in an interesting new direction for me, and very dark. Have to let them percolate for a bit. I might write one and switch it with something in progress for the deadline at the end of this week. We’ll see.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 5:18 am  Comments (7)  
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde (I knew something had to be!)
Cloudy and cool

I got up early to run (well, limp). I was out the door by 5:45 this morning, and it was still far too busy out there — recycling trucks, scavengers, lost drivers, etc., etc. Friday is just a lousy day to run. I either have to run on Saturday, and get out the door a little earlier, or, if I keep to Fridays, get out the door by 5:15 Which I seriously doubt will happen. Did a figure eight instead of a double circuit this morning.

Spent most of yesterday spring cleaning. Purged a bunch of stuff, restacked the books for projects and the TBR pile into crates near my desk, packed 8 boxes to go to storage later today.

Made notes on a few projects, but didn’t do any serious writing.

About to pack up Elsa to head to the integrated vet center. Think good thoughts for us.

Devon

Published in: on April 23, 2010 at 5:58 am  Comments (5)  
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010
Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

No running for me today, between the weather and the fact that walking is a challenge, much less running. Hopefully, it’ll be better for Monday.

Yesterday was an intense writing day. Most of it was spent on REDEMPTION KILL. Eddie’s been complaining that I’ve ignored him the past few weeks, and when a character as dark and complex as Eddie starts making noise, one better listen!

Did some work on the Chet Grey story, too. Nothing on what I was supposed to work on — I wonder why I’m having such trouble getting it out the door? I like the stories and the characters. I think part of me knows that the original submission call is not the right place, ultimately, for it. But I want to get it finished and out the door on time. If things don’t work out, it’ll go somewhere else. But just spinning in nearly-finished mode just drains energy from everything else.

I get to go home today, and I’m kind of looking forward to it, being in my own space, chaotic as it is. Elsa is worse again, so hopefully, I can get her to the vet this week.

I’ve got a busy week coming up — having to do a lot of busywork/admin work, deal with paperwork, get the novella out, get a couple of carloads of stuff to storage, make a research trip to the city for the urban fantasy, and have a flurry of meetings for “let’s work together someday” projects.

The meetings are fun, I totally don’t mind doing them. They result from crossing paths, either in person or online with someone who seems like a good creative partner, and you have a few meetings to see if you actually think you could work together — whether it’s on a play or an indie film or a web series or whatever. You brainstorm, you find out how you each work, and where it’s compatible and where it’s not.

Until there’s a contract in place and dates set for the actual project, I don’t take it too seriously or invest too much either creatively or emotionally, because about 90% of these never actually happen.

The meetings can be fun or frustrating, and I definitely like the testing-the-waters bit, but, until there’s a signed contract and money on the table, none of it is real, and I have to focus on the projects that actually pay the bills.

Which, by the way, I have to land a few more of the short turn-around ones in the coming weeks.

So, yeah, busy week coming up. It keeps feeling like Sunday, not Saturday, but it’s Saturday.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 17, 2010 at 8:17 am  Comments Off on Saturday, April 17, 2010  
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

I was up at 5:30, but decided not to run, a mixture of the rain, the coyotes,and the fact that I could barely put weight on my left knee yesterday. Nothing says “prey” like a limping target, right? If I feel better tomorrow, I might give it a shot later in the morning, not at dawn.

I did a little writing Wednesday night, after I scheduled the post — mostly outline work.

Yesterday morning, the cleaning crew came in, so I packed up and took off for the Greenwich Library, to do research for the Chet Grey story. I’ve wanted to do it for weeks now, and the story is at a standstill because of it.

It was a very intense few hours of reading about neurology, neuoplasticity, interior and exterior artificial “brains”, neurowarfare, biological and chemical warfare, and the development of the elite “warrior-athletes”, commonly labeled “Super Soldiers” in pop culture. My dad was a chemist, and wanted me to be a nuclear physicist. I forget, in between bouts of science reading, how quickly I take to it, and how natural a lot of it is for me. Truly good science writing is a joy. It’s inspirational on so many levels — quality of writing and quality of content. And it sometimes makes me wonder about the road not taken.

The research will serve far more than this Chet Grey story — which may well turn out to be a novella. It’s given me a few ideas for some straight-up sci-fi, and additional info to get past the “stuck” on a piece that started as a screenplay for Script Frenzy a few years ago, and then morphed into a novel.

I also picked up a nice stack of books at the library sale.

And Strand Books, bless ’em, already have some relevant books on their way to me. They are my go-to book resource.

At first, I was totally elated by the research, high on the possibilities, both in actual terms and in terms of fiction. However, as the day progressed, and the weight of the information really began to sink in, I was filled with a combination of hope and despair. I don’t believe that the governments and the private companies funding this work have the ethics to safeguard it. And, deep down, most people want to believe they do, but don’t and therefore ignore the fact all this even exists — hence the basis for best-selling espionage fiction. Anyway, it depressed the hell out of me. We can’t just have the intelligent in charge — even the most intelligent of people can get caught up in the excitement of discovery or of greed. We need people with strong ethics and a strong sense of social justice. The right wing nuts in this country have hijacked the term “social justice” to be a Bad Thing for America — when, in reality, the only “bad” about it is that it doesn’t let the corrupt have all the money and all the power. “Social justice” is a concept far removed from “socialism” — but then, most of the people who toss around that term have no idea what it really means, either. This country is not heading towards socialism, and socialism wouldn’t work here.

Basically, I think we’re all fucked at this point, no matter who’s in office, because there’s so much greed and so much corruption, corporations can do anything they want without consequence, and the ones who scream the loudest against it,the fake protesters, pretending to be grass roots, but, in reality, funded by the most corrupt and ethically-challenged individuals in this country, funded by the ones who want to maintain the status quo and just have all this distraction, the noise, the smoke and mirrors, so they can continue to economically and socially rape the country. The current administration hasn’t taken strong enough steps to turn back the previous regime’s corruption — and the Cheney years will go down in history as the most corrupt since post-civil war reconstruction — provided we have a world left in 200 years to read the history of this era. And, honestly, I’m beginning to doubt that we will.

But you know, with all that volcanic activity in Iceland, in addition to their economic collapse, I’m kind of glad I didn’t buy a place there a couple of years ago, when I was considering it!

I started reading one of the books I bought, something light to take my mind off it all, written by an author whose work I’ve enjoyed before. Not this time. The premise is good, the characters engaging, the execution doesn’t live up to it, and the writing is so sloppy I can barely get through it. Big disappointment.

Fortunately, I’m not friends with this person and don’t have to fumble to find something nice to say about the book, because chances are, we’ll never have to have a conversation about it!

The reading certainly made me look at last night’s episode of FRINGE with a different viewpoint. And, much as I enjoyed the scenes between the Walter Bishop character and the character played by Peter Weller, I still can’t get into the show. Part of it is Dunham’s unrelenting dourness. I understand, she’s really busy saving the world and all, and was experimented on as a child, but really, can’t she have a moment or two of pleasure, relaxation, or joy? This is nothing against the actress, she’s very good; I just disagree with the conception of the character. I also disagree with the show’s insistence (at least in the episodes I’ve seen), that everything in an alternate universe/alternate plane/whatever they’re calling it is negative and a threat. You know what? I bet they’re just trying to get through the day as much as we are, and with many of the same problems, corruptions, joys and sorrows. My philosophy differs on such a basic level that I can’t just accept and enter the world presented in the show.

I promised comments on the season finale of HUMAN TARGET, and here they are. First and foremost, I thought it was an excellent episode — the villains actually had personalities and posed a threat — finally! I was worried that the character of Katherine Walker would be a disappointment. We’ve heard so much about her all season. She was played by Amy Acker (whose work I liked a lot in both ANGEL and DOLLHOUSE), so the casting was a relief. And the creators made a smart choice — she wasn’t a Super anything. She was ordinary, and it was her very ordinariness and kindness that was Chance’s tipping point. Fantastic choice, and not one that’s usually made in this kind of show. There wasn’t enough of Jackie Earle Haley in the episode. Good fight scene with Mark Valley, and Haley gave my favorite delivery of any line in any show all season. The simplest line you can imagine: “Dude, it’s me” when Chance wonders how Guerrero found him that told us VOLUMES about their past, their relationship, their future. Perfect example of how the simplest of lines can have the biggest impact with brilliant delivery. The episode really needed to be two hours long, so we could have a bit more of the early Chance/Guerrero years, but if they come back next season, hopefully we’ll see. Something happened between them to make them intrinsically loyal to each other in a way they aren’t to anyone else. It might be better if we never know what that is; it might not measure up. I also loved the fact that Haley had the last line of the piece, about getting Winston back, and it’s the first chance we had to see that Guerrero not only gives a damn about Chance, but he also gives a damn about Winston. I also liked the fact that Katharine did not die in Chance’s arms. I was worried they’d go that route. Not doing so was the right choice, and it also opens up other possibilities.

Problems with the episode: Dog continuity. I’ve had trouble with it all season. They’ve got the dog, and don’t really utilize him properly. They keep sticking him in because they established him in the pilot, and they showed how Chance got him in this episode, but their use and continuity with him is shaky. Another problem: Winston’s phone. We see Chance steal it from his pocket early on to find the text with Katherine’s safe house address — another problem, I don’t believe the cops are that stupid to text Winston with the address — but, a few scenes later, Winston talks to Katherine and Chance on the cell phone. Katherine wouldn’t have answered her phone if she didn’t recognize Winston’s number, so how did Winston get the phone back? Another problem: Baptiste wasn’t hungry enough to prove he’s better than Chance. It was referred to briefly, but there wasn’t enough desperation and resentment there. Another problem: Towards the end, I don’t believe Guerrero wouldn’t take the old man out when he had the gun on him. I believe he wouldn’t shoot Chance earlier, and he went off the grid — that sets up a lot of their relationship. But when the old man shoots the guy who’s about to shoot Chance and Guerrero has the gun on him — I believe he’d have taken the shot (and succeeded) and he and Chance would have figured out where Winston is and how to retrieve him. I understand, in the overall arc, why it couldn’t happen, but it wasn’t logical or true to the characters in the moment.

I’m glad this wasn’t the pilot — it worked well as the season finale. If it is the SERIES finale as well, if the show doesn’t get renewed, at least we have enough information not to feel cheated. I hope it comes back. I’m interested to see where the creators take it in another season –whether I agree with those choices or not! 😉

I do miss being on set sometimes, but I’m where I need to be right now — writing — and, although I feel a little stuck, it’s the pressure I need to get me going in the right direction. Spending time on my own work rather than pouring that energy into other people’s work is where I need to be.

Got to go help my mom on something this morning, and then, it’s a day of writing. Will probably work on the Chet Grey story, make use of the research while it’s still fresh, but the bulk needs to be on the novella. The novella needs to be finished this weekend.

Back to the page. From neuroscience to 1889 in a heartbeat. I love being a writer!

Devon

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010
Day before Dark Moon
Partly cloudy and cool

Up at 5:30 and out for a run. Last week was a frustrating one for running; let’s hope things improve this week. So far, I still feel like I’m not making progress. But different bits are hurting every day, instead of the same bit hurting worse, so I guess that’s progress? And today is my least energetic day of the month — day before dark moon is my toughest day, as far as energy and focus.

Just for the record, when I say I’m going to a friend’s to “do laundry” — it’s not a euphemism. I actually haul my laundry to a friend’s place and use his machines, because I don’t like the ones downstairs that weren’t replaced after the flood. Whatever else we do while I’m over there is OUR business, but yeah, I’m also doing the laundry! 😉

Trying to rework a piece for a different publication. It’s pretty solid at just under 500 words — a nice, tight short. But the mag — which a former teacher of mine thinks this will be a perfect fit — likes their “shorts” to run at 1500-2000. So, I either pad this or send it in short and hope for the best (ignoring guidelines, never good), or write something else and find a different market for this. It could use a bit of fleshing out, so I’ll see where I end up with it.

Spent a lot of time working on the novella, which has to get out the door soon. It wants to be a novel, but to fit these guidelines, it can’t. I’ve already cut one character who simply slowed it all down. I may have to cut more, especially because, in the next draft, there are at least two scenes that have to be fleshed out a bit.

Worked on the urban fantasy. I need to figure out how to weave the B storylines into the A storyline.

Didn’t work much on my taxes, which means today is a big push.

Spent some time online doing research. Nothing like having to slog through unpleasant material.

Was sent a couple of submission calls that sound interesting. Don’t know if I can do the first, since it’s due at the end of this month, but may be able to participate in the second, which isn’t due until the end of May. I have to really think if i want to write in that genre again, and if I’d resurrect an old name or create a new one — I wouldn’t use any of the current pseudonyms.

Contacted by a client with whom I parted ways and made clear that I would not work under those conditions again, all light and sunny as though nothing had ever happened, planning for the next project. Say what? Are you on drugs on just delusional? When I’ve made it clear that even after Hell freezes over and pigs fly, I STILL won’t work for you again — it’s a solid “no.”

Got another contract almost sorted out. One more detail, and we’re good to go. So that will be sorted today.

Watched BARTON FINK (again) over the weekend. I love the art direction and production design of that film. It’s gorgeous. The content’s not bad either, of course, but the design always makes me forget everything else.

I’ve got a column to write, taxes to finish, business paperwork to get out (take that, scumbag landlords), and the novella to work on. Off to work on the urban fantasy now. I really want to start using the running time to work out plot points. I’m doing a lot of thinking as I run, but it’s not necessarily on the current WIP.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on April 12, 2010 at 6:02 am  Comments (5)  
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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

It was in the high 30’s (F) when I got up at 5:30 to run this morning. But it wasn’t storming, so running today was a better choice than running yesterday. Too many people out on a Saturday morning, though, even early. I like that time to be MINE. Just me and the street.

When I lived in Manhattan, I went out probably five nights a week after the show ended for the night — didn’t want to miss anything about living in the city, y’know? I loved coming in just before dawn, the light just starting, it was quiet — for the city, the garbage trucks hadn’t started their rounds, truly magic time.

Yesterday, I was pretty much a waste of food. Had a migraine, ran errands, grocery shopped. Finished chapter two of the urban fantasy. It needs work. It was written in fractured, short sessions, instead of longer ones, and it shows in the draft.

Had a bet with a friend regarding yesterday’s Apple Blossom. Zenyatta, my favorite horse, ridden by Mike Smith, my favorite jockey, was in it. She was my choice. I was so confident in her ability to win that I let my friend demand that, if she lost, I had to watch DAMNATION ALLEY. Why that? Isn’t that some film from, like, 1977? Because it’s a post-apocalyptic film and has people-eating cockroaches in it. I hate post-apocalyptic films –if we go boom! I want to be dead in the first pass — and I’m no fan of cockroaches, either.

Of course, if someone paid me a boatload of cash, I’d WRITE a post-apocalyptic film, skipping the cockroaches, and it would be unlike anything that’s ever been done. 😉

But — I WON this bet. Which means my friend has to pay up. And it’s GOOD, but it’s not something I’d post publicly! ;0

Plus, of course, I did some real betting and got some cash.

Good morning’s work on Chapter Three of the urban fantasy. The scenes between Louis and Edwina come the most easily, especially talking about life in the business (Louis is an actor). It’s kind of fun to write Edwina, who can’t stand actors — usually, if my protags are involved in the industry, they’re insiders, such as Jain from HEX BREAKER or Callie from REAL or Mia from POWER OF WORDS. Edwina’s an outsider, forced to observe the industry from the fringes because her client is an actor. It’s fun to play with that perspective — still keep it more realistic than most of the fiction that depicts the industry in tired cliches rather than how hard everyone works and how they have to pull together whether or not they get along.

Busy day today — have to pay bills and get a lot done, then head over to a friend’s tonight to do laundry, have dinner, and hang out.

Devon

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Waning Moon
Cloudy and warm

Got up at 5:30 and ran. Wednesday mornings are always the most crowded, for some reason. Did my double circuit, wish I was progressing more quickly, but I guess I just have to be patient.

Most of yesterday was caught up in receipts and dealing with tax prep. I kept all my receipts faithfully, but didn’t organize them once a week, like I usually do, so it’s a bit of a muddle. I’ve been better about it this year, that’s for sure. It’s complicated, because last year was a transition year between dual careers on Broadway and writing, and writing full-time, so it’s a little complicated. And this is the first year I’m doing the quarterly SE taxes, so it’s a great big mess. I spent about seven hours working on it yesterday. I’m helping my mom with her taxes today, and then I’ll probably spend most of the weekend working on mine again. Not only can I not afford paying someone to do it, the last time I had an “expert” do my taxes, it was all wrong and it took nearly 10 years to sort things out with the IRS.

I lit candles in memory and in hope for those miners in both China and West Virginia.

There’s something awfully satisfying about having my first 1000 words of the day done by 7:30 in the morning. The first writing session was on the urban fantasy, and I finished chapter one. I’m trying to decide whether to keep going, or switch projects to the novella, which needs some attention.

Opening night for FEMME FATALE went well, from what I hear. Totally sold out, and the audience didn’t figure out the murderer! That’s the way I like it. I look forward to seeing it after they settle into the roles a bit. (Yes, this is the company that doesn’t comp me).

Later this morning, I head off to Long Island for acupuncture. I need it!

If you haven’t made it over to A BIBLIO PARADISE for Gen Bailey’s release, go today and drop a comment, okay?

Back to the page. I also need to get some more pitches out this week. I didn’t get enough out while I was teaching.

Devon

Published in: on April 7, 2010 at 6:32 am  Comments (4)  
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010
Waning Moon
Sunny and warm

Woke up at four, but that was too early to get up. Went back to sleep, slept through the alarm, and was late going for the run. It was so light, and I felt so exposed. But I did my double circuit anyway. I prefer to go just as dawn breaks, experiencing the changeover from dark to morning. And there are fewer people and cars out, too. Although the guy running with his golden retriever on my last circuit was pretty funny. The dog. The guy was fine, but the dog, in typical golden retriever fashion, came over and was all, “You wanna run, right, right, right? Play? Play? Pet me, pet me, pet me? ‘Cause you wanna play, right, right, right?”

One of the struggles I have with POWER OF WORDS is that, no matter how strongly its story wants to be told, I don’t see where it will slot once it’s completed and polished. It’s going to be a damned hard sell, and I worry about spending time on it when there are other projects in the queue that are more likely to sell. Since this is how I make my living, I don’t just get to write whatever I feel like writing. I have to balance it with what brings in the money in a timely fashion. It’s finding a way to juggle the multiple projects without anything getting dropped that’s always the challenge, charting out the individual day to get it all in, and make sure there are enough short turn-around, quick-pay projects to keep the bills paid. If I try to ignore the project that’s calling loudest in order to work on something that’s ahead of it in line, the creativity freezes, the muse turns her back, and that’s it. NOTHING gets done. But unfinished projects drain creative energy, so putting something aside to work on something else is also counter-productive. They have to be worked on in tandem, and that becomes a challenge. Someday, I hope to get advances large enough to cover a few months’ bills and royalties coming in that are large enough and regular enough so I don’t have to worry about short-turn-around, quick-pay projects. If I want to take on something like that, I can. Frankly, working on a short story in the middle of a novel gives me energy, because I’ve got the momentum of completion on my side and I can funnel that back into the novel.

So I hear Matt Smith is awesome as the new Dr. Who. I loved David Tennant’s work — but then, I love most of his work. When we get the new DW episodes over here, I look forward to seeing what they do with it. Those of you in the UK, what do you think?

All kinds of technical difficulties on the workshop forum made the weekend particularly frustrating.

I need to take a breath this week and really think about whether or not I want to teach another workshop for this group again. I truly appreciate the students. I pushed them very hard, didn’t cut slack, and most of them rose to the challenge; but, overall, it has not been a positive experience, and cost me far too much in time, lost income, and creativity. Because the lost income influences the other two enormously, that’s been the biggest issue. What I was paid was out of proportion to the amount of time and energy necessary to make the workshop valuable. I’m not going to punish the students because of the situation and give them less than they signed up for because I made a mistake in the negotiation. Live and learn, right? Honestly, at this point, I’m ready to say I’m done with teaching ANYWHERE, but that’s not a rational decision, it’s coming out of a huge place of frustration and anger, much of which is my own fault. So, I’ll take a breath, try to negotiate some more safeguards, and make choices from there.

This past week in general was a test on several fronts. On two occasions, I chose to be gracious instead of confrontational. Not because I wanted to be a hypocrite, but because I felt erring on the side of politeness would get us all farther in the long run. I nearly bit my tongue bloody, but I got through it. Hopefully, the gamble will pay off.

I am just tired, tired, tired. It doesn’t matter how many hours I sleep, I’m still exhausted, because it’s about so much more than actual sleep.

I read Book 3 of CE Murphy’s Walker Papers series, COYOTE DREAMS. Again, I really liked it. Normally, the amount of narration she uses would drive me away from the books and make me cross my eyes and put it down. But she uses narration actively and specifically, even when there’s a lot of it. And, let’s face it, it’s the best way to communicate the shamanic journeys. She’s chosen the best and clearest way to tell her very interesting stories, and it works. I’m learning as much about craft as I am enjoying the books just to enjoy them. I also recommended them to the class. I want to track down books 2 & 4 now, and her other series.

The writing has not gone well these past two weeks, and that has to change. I’ve got deadlines coming up, and if the work I submit is crap, it won’t matter that I met the deadline. If I miss the deadline, I miss my shot. So, not only do I have to hit the deadline, it has to be GOOD.

On an up note, I got a request for a partial from an agent. I’m pleased, and I’d like to find a partner in the business aspect of all of this, but agents have to be so specialized nowadays that I despair on finding someone who will represent the whole package of the writing, not just a piece of it. I’m simply not going to stop writing in different genres. I’ll write in whatever genre serves a particular set of characters best. Nor do I want to stop writing plays — I love them too much. The theatre is my home, on many levels. I don’t want multiple agents — I want one person who believes in my work and my worth. That’s why, to this point, I’ve only worked with a lawyer. But I’ve got too much going on to deal with every nut and bolt myself — I need someone used to kicking in the doors and doing the negotiations so that I can get my work done.

Can I just say this is all way too much like dating until you find The One?

Because, really, I’d rather not be a Literary Polygamist (which is what I call having multiple agents). And, as in dating, there are plenty of agents with whom I interact regularly whom I really like and respect, and yet who I know are not the right match.

This week, I’ve got to deal with the scumbag landlords.

AND, my new play opens this week, which I kind of keep forgetting, because of everything else that comes up. I know, how could I possibly forget something like that? Just shows how much is going on. I hear it’s going well, although they had to cancel a preview because they “weren’t ready”, which concerns me. Yes, that’s common in production, to push back a preview, but it still always worries me.

Elsa felt well enough to play with the Easter eggs I brought back from Prague (those intricately decorated ones), so that’s a good sign. Of course, then I had to dig Easter eggs out from under all the furniture. But, if she’s getting better, it’s all worth it.

A batch of ideas hit me all at once, and I scribbled some notes. A few of them are, I think, short projects, and I can get them out relatively quickly. One of them is longer, and I’ve started a notebook for the research and the situations and the details I need to figure out before I can even start a Writer’s Rough, much less any pages. Gotta love Strand Books — they get something in that ties in with a current project, they get it out to me. I love them madly, and they are the Bookstore O’ My Dreams. I’m so lucky that I can spend time there, or, at the very least, order from them when I can’t get there in person!

Finished the material for Confidential Job #1. Will send off the notes today.

I am so looking forward to having tomorrow and Wednesday off!

I had a GREAT writing session this morning, set in Jain Lazarus’s world, but with a different set of characters (not Hillary, from the story that moved from San Antonio to Bath, ME, but really wants to be set in San Antonio). Obviously, I’m missing Jain’s world, but this book, although there’s a loose tie to the same organization, definitely stands on its own. The entire story came to me yesterday, after I overheard a remark spoken in an interview by an actor whose work I admire. I was going to write an article in response, supporting the information in the interview and going further, but It got me thinking. Instead of treating it in its original realm of non-fiction, why not push the possibilities into fiction? I did some research, Edwina started kicking my ass and telling me I damn well better pay attention, and the whole structure of the piece revealed itself. I made a lot of notes, and the first 1600 or so words flowed easily this morning.

I’ll go back to finish the work for Confidential Job #1 and then do some work on the novella. I’ve also got to finish prepping an interview that goes up on BIBLIO PARADISE tomorrow. And wind up the workshop.

It’s the first really good day of writing I’ve had in far too long. If I get everything done that I need to (which includes some errands), I’ll treat myself with another session on the Edwina piece.

Back to the page.

Devon

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010
Waning Moon
Sunny and warm

Got up at 5:30 to run. The moon was out — it was lovely. And so much lighter than just a week ago at this time — not just because of the moon, either. I don’t feel like I’m progressing quickly enough, but I’m trying to be patient. I did a double circuit, combo of running and walking. I had to stop at one point when the street cleaning vehicle went by and I wound up with a lungful of dirt. Oh joy, oh rapture, right?

Got a little bit of writing done, but not enough. I’m in the home stretch of the workshop now, and, as good as a lot of the work is, I’m ready for it to be over. It’s taking too much time and energy away from my own work, and the compensation isn’t high enough to make up for it. And next time, I’ll take a closer look at the calendar and not have it fall over a week that contains two major holidays such as Easter and Passover! In general, I have to put more safeguards in place when I teach. I’m glad the students are getting a lot out of it, but my own work must always come first.

Grocery shopping, bill paying, all that fun stuff. I have to figure out how to work some legal kerflamma with the scumbag landlords for next week, deal withe some other business, and get Elsa to the vet. She is not doing well.

I’ve got writing deadlines coming up, so I have to pull it together and focus. I’ve made good progress on the assignment for Confidential Job #1, and I want to finish it off early this weekend and get it out. I’ve also got to get laundry done, somehow. I shouldn’t complain — hauling it up and down four flights of stairs is still better than having to go to a laundromat. But when I do haul it down and can’t get a machine, I get cranky.

I’m reading a fantastic book: URBAN SHAMAN by C.E. Murphy. I read about half of it yesterday and hope to finish it today. If I continue to like it, I’ll go get the other two in the trilogy over the weekend. It always cheers me up enormously to read good writing. I don’t understand wanna-be writers who say that reading good writers “depresses” them.

I have to give the place a good spring cleaning. The dust from the apartment renovation on the floor below us is disgusting.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Devon

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 7:49 am  Comments (3)  
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010
Full moon
Rainy and cold

Got up at 5:30 in the morning to run. Misery. Not only have I backslid since Friday, but the driving rain, high wind, and partially flooded streets made it impossible to get in a good session. I was wet, cold, and cranky when I got back. And the brook’s very high — I may need to move the car in an hour or so.

Thank goodness we actually had hot water this morning, so I could take a hot shower when I got home.

I ran some errands on Saturday. I got a book on running. I seem to be doing most things correctly, although my stride is too short. I was worried about leaning forward, which causes all kinds of problems, so I’d shortened the stride, but it turns out that causes all sorts of other problems! I tried lengthening the stride today, without tilting forward — a challenge. But it does feel better, on those strides I manage to hit correctly. Also, I’m already getting up at 5:30 — I am not getting up an hour earlier to have a snack before I run! I am drinking juice as soon as I get up, so I don’t go out there dehydrated.

Bought another book, for fun, by a new-to-me author, and also got to work on the assignment for Confidential Job #1. It’s a challenge, not my favorite type of material, but that makes me better.

Spent a lot of time on the workshop on Saturday. The work that’s progressing progresses very well. But too many of them are ignoring my notes on grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and I find it disrespectful. I’ve also never had to repeat notes so often – with some of them, it’s like talking to wallpaper. By the third time I’ve told you to learn the difference between a possessive and a plural, you damn well better have bothered to do it, especially when I’ve told you where to find the information. And yet others completely absorb and grow. I suspect a good many of the former are simply cutting and pasting from old work, instead of creating new material as required by the class. Some, however, are finding new styles of writing they never thought they’d venture into and are excited at the prospect. What’s exciting for me is watching them grow as writers. Also, as much of a Dragon as I am about structure and as specific as I am in the requirements for the exercise, I don’t tell them what genre in which to write. So I’m getting to read some really interesting work in areas I might not normally read.

Sunday morning was lost. I got out some queries and a requested proposal packet. Then, when I switched to the little printer to print manuscript pages, it threw a hissy fit. MacGeorge responded by dumping the software for BOTH printers, and I couldn’t reload them.

Frantic call to Apple Care. My tech was a really nice woman. Even though it was another of “I’ve never seen this type of incident before”, she stuck with me, and together we figured it out. We figured where the big printer was hidden, and got it back where it was supposed to be. Turns out MacGeorge was suspicious that the little printer’s hissy fit might endanger the system as a whole, booted it out, and won’t let it reinstall because something is seriously wrong with the printer.

I’ll have to get on the phone with Canon. It will probably cost more to repair the small printer than to dump it. But I don’t think they have an equivalent of a Baby Bubble anymore, and that’s what I need for travel and for manuscript printing. I don’t believe that the MX860 is sturdy enough to cough up the amount of manuscript printing I do on a daily basis. It’s great for the submitted work, faxing, scanning, photos, copying. But I need something little I can cart around to do simple print jobs, and, at home, to just print manuscript pages. I’ve had bad experiences with HP, Lexmark, and Epson. I want to figure out what my options are with Canon. Also, I’m going to have to upgrade my OS to Snow Leopard soon, and the little printer isn’t compatible. The big one is — it came out the same weekend Snow Leopard did, the week I bought MacGeorge (who does not have Snow Leopard).

Spent many hours catching up with the workshop material. I’d planned to split it into a couple of shorter sessions throughout the day, but because of Printer Kerflamma, I couldn’t. And I’m not going to punish my students because I had technical difficulties. I expect them to be on time. I will also be on time.

Printed out the 86 or so pages of POWER OF WORDS. Sorted out some more logistical issues. Figured out how to break the overall piece down into several shorter books covering the lifespan of the story I want to tell, but each being a reasonable length and able to stand on its own. That takes a lot of pressure off — I was trying to compress events, but that left holes. Now I can tell each part of the story, and structure it in a way that’s not overwhelming. It is kind of unwieldy because of the sheer number of individual characters necessary to present the piece believably, and it’s written in a far more cinematic style than I usually use. I’m still head-jumping too much in the early sections. I need to pick a POV for each section and stick to it. That’s a note to myself for revisions. I’m not yet sure how many POVs I will use in the course of the piece — so far, there are three. I don’t want it to be too many, or it will get confusing, even if each section is clearly delineated. So I know I have to fix that, but the head-jumping is in sections in which I haven’t yet decided whose POV serves that section best. I have to see the overall balance, and then tweak as necessary, so it’s not skewed. It always throws me when I read a book and 85% is from one POV, with only a chapter or two from others.

The scene I wrote today is about 200 pages beyond where I am in the current draft, but it was fully formed, and I didn’t want to lose it. I suspect it’s the last scene in this particular book, so now I have something to write towards. I already have much of what will be book 2 outlined (since I thought it would be part of this volume).

There’s definitely an audience for this story, although selling it will be tough. I can’t get so wrapped up in it that I let other, more easily marketable (not to mention deadlined) projects fall by the wayside. Yet more restructuring of my time in the future.

I booked a part-week gig in mid-April at my favorite site. I love being there, because I’m in more of an oversight capacity and can do my own writing, as long as I’m physically present.

And no, I did not even look at my taxes this weekend. Oh, well.

Devon

PS The only comments I have to make regarding all these celebrity infidelities eating up media time are:
–if you’re going to mess with skanks and hos, don’t be surprised when they turn on you for profit.
–if you like sleeping with lots of different people, don’t get married.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010
Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

Got up at 5:30 and ran in the rain. Only did one circuit, not two, because conditions deteriorated so badly it was dangerous. But ran most of it, so it evened out. It was supposed to snow, so I guess we got off easy.

Tough day yesterday, enough said.

Got some decent work done on POWER OF WORDS, both yesterday and this morning. I’m still kind of mired in a logistics mess, but I’m trying to wade through it.

Off to get my car inspected for the annual sticker (so I’m not driving around illegally) and take care of a few other things, before I get back and try to catch up on the workshop.

I apologize — i have nothing to say today that’s worth listening to. The weekend is about writing, commenting on workshop exercises, and doing my taxes. Hopefully, I can get back to some deadlined work, but it’s not looking good.

Devon

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 6:45 am  Comments (5)  
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Waxing Moon
Sunny and pleasant

I spent NINE HOURS correcting exercises yesterday. I had nothing left in the tank for my own work, which simply can’t happen. I have more than double (close to triple) the amount of students I expected. I’m glad people are so enthusiastic, but with so many of them and only one of me, and each one submitting 2-3 pages for an exercise, it’s a lot.

The frustration is partially my fault. I don’t like to have things hanging over me. I wanted to comment on the exercises so they could apply the comments moving forward and to give them as much time for the next exercise as possible. I can switch from creation mode to comment mode, but I can’t switch back. So, not only did I spent nine hours commenting, but I couldn’t get back to my own work.

Therefore, I’m restructuring my day. I’ll write myself out on my deadline work first, and then switch gears into comments. It takes a whole different side of the brain, in a way, but a lot of energy. And people do put work into this, so they deserve my full attention on the posted piece.

The other workshop I’m going to teach for them is moved from August to January, which is what I’d originally asked for, and it works much better for me. There’s some amazing work being submitted in the class, and I honor the work and creativity that those people put in. But I’m spending way too much time dealing with grammar and punctuation issues (not just here, but in all the workshops in general) that are taught in the third grade. A pre-requisite of the course is to have a solid foundation in grammar, spelling, and structure. It is part of a writer’s JOB to get up to speed in these areas, and there’s plenty of material out there to help one do that. Although, frankly, if one can’t pass third grade level English requirements, one shouldn’t have been allowed to get to fourth grade, much less graduate from high school. A few mistakes are fine, but sometimes the student hasn’t bothered to proofread, which also drives me nuts. When the grammar, punctuation, and spelling make it impossible for me to follow the scene, there’s a problem. And when I say, “Go back and work on this, clean it up, here are the resources/books/links that will help you” and the next exercise contains all the same mistakes and it’s obvious that my notes were ignored and the person hasn’t bothered to learn the basics, I’m irate. I’m seriously considering making it a requirement to pass a structure test before taking a workshop. Because really, I’m not here to teach grammar school. I may institute a policy where I send it back if I find more than five errors. I get really angry when sloppy work is submitted. I find it disrespectful. I don’t want to hear whines about a lack of time — the student committed to the class. The student’s time management skills or lack thereof are not up to me, they are up to the student.

I also may have to think about limiting class size. That’s the norm for in-person workshops, but rarely done when teaching online. Either I have to limit class size, or jack my fee way up, which automatically limits class size, but then you lose some of your best students, because often the best ones are the ones scraping together their pennies to take the class. They’ve had to sacrifice the most to take the class, they want it the most, and they’re the most dedicated. I don’t want to deny them the opportunity because of cost. Having faced economic discrimination so often over the years (especially during Republican-run regimes), I don’t want to practice it. My time and work are worth a fee, but that balance has to be hit between people feeling that, because they’ve paid they better take it seriously and keeping it in reach of people who are struggling financially, but also talented and dedicated.

There’s definitely a learning process involved, especially when it comes to online teaching. On site is much easier, because the safeguards are already in place.

I got up at 5:30 this morning to run. I doubled my circuit from Monday and still wound up doing the loop twice. It was nice to be out that early, although a little eerie first time around. Down one particular block, the streetlights winked out as I passed, even though it was still dark. I felt like something out of a HARRY POTTER movie before Something Really Bad happens.

Lara, I have lots of trouble with my knees, especially the left one, which was permanently injured while hauling heavy clothes up and down stairs backstage on Broadway over the years. It’s one of the reasons I was so hesitant to start running, and I’m keeping an eye on it. I can’t do any type of squat exercises because that knee gives out. It’s another reason why I’m trying to pace myself and not overdo, especially at the beginning.

Hit the desk a little before 7, got some work done on POWER OF WORDS. The fixes I made in the sections up until now muck up the next bit, so I have to untangle it. I also have to do some research on the legalities of a teenager who emancipates from inept parents. Hopefully, I’ll also get to the library to do the research for the short story, and I have to go grocery shopping at some point, because right now, the cats’ cupboard is the only one that’s full.

Strand Books found some research books for two of my projects and they arrived yesterday. They take such good care of me. I truly treasure my relationship with them.

I have A LOT of exercises still to comment on — it looks like even more students are pouring into the class.

But first, I need to get back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 7:48 am  Comments (11)  
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