Tues. Feb. 14, 2012: Valentine’s Day & Surprising/Disturbing Information

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold
Happy Valentine’s Day!

First of all, you are all my valentines, and I treasure each and every one of you. Thank you for being here.

Second, I’m over at Savvy Authors, blogging about spicing up your writing with Sensory Detail.

Busy day yesterday. Had to catch up on a lot of admin work, bills to pay, and I even got a few letters to old friends tucked in there. Not emails — letters. So that was nice. Worked with my students, worked on the HB edits, worked on my long short story (I’ve got a short story to knock out this week, too), worked on the outline for the second harpy book. Finished the assignment for Confidential Job #1, sent if off, and realized I thought it was due today, when it’s due on the 24th. Well, better early than late, right?

One of my students, who’s part of a writing team, brought me some disturbing news. It seems like WRITERS DIGEST MAGAZINE, who supposedly champions writers and is still the go-to source for people starting out, has partnered with a vanity press. Not only that, the vanity press is approached them, gave them a hard sell about not even trying the traditional publishing route, and they should PAY this organization to publish the book. I checked the website — yup, they’re “a Division” of WRITERS DIGEST.

This team has already completed the draft of a novel, is well into the second, and will probably be deep into a third novel by the end of the year-long class, WHILE keeping up with the short stories in 5 in 10 and even some additional stories they got inspired to write. In fact, one of the pieces they developed in class is already published.

They don’t need a vanity press.

That is so many ways of disgusting it made me want to froth at the mouth. WRITERS DIGEST is supposed to champion writers, guide them into making good business decisions. Instead, they’re lining their own pockets with desperate aspiring writers. This is a huge conflict of interest, and totally hypocritical on their part. We are professionals. We are PAID to work. We do not PAY to work. If you want to do it yourself, hire an editor, a designer, and get a good deal from a PRINTER. Not a POD, not a vanity publisher, but a printer who knows how to bind books. Order an actual print run and act as your own distributor. Instead of the $15/book POD places charge, you can charge $7 or $8 per copy and still have a profit margin of $4 or more per book. I know people who do it — the quality of their titles is great, and they’re in all the local bookstores. It’s a lot of legwork, but it’s truly THEIRS.

I’d stopped reading WD several years ago, because they only have articles for newbies, and they recycle their content about every 14 months or so. Pull out an issue from ten years ago, it’s not going to have much more new information than the current issue, just maybe some references changed for the digital marketing and a different byline. And the article from ten years ago will be much better written than the one in the current issue, nine times out of ten. There’s very little for a working writer except a few market listings and conference listings. But this? Talk about a combination of disappointment, anger, and a really bad taste in my mouth.

On a happier note, I ran errands, stocked up on cat food and groceries, and bought a jasmine plant. It was so pretty, I couldn’t resist. I had to repot it right away (it was potbound), but fingers crossed that it will be happy here. I’m on my way out now to meditation — there’s a Tuesday morning sit not to far away, and then it’s off to return books at the library and do a few more errands, before buckling down and concentrating on student work all afternoon, polishing some lectures, and writing my Writers Vineyard piece for Thursday. I got some tarot cards scanned to give my students some ideas, and have to get a few more of those done today. Working on the business plan, figuring where and how to tweak this and that, so it’s a case of working smart, not just hard.

Devon

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Wed. Jan. 11, 2012: Prompt Playground Webinar Tonight!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Tonight is the Prompt Playground Webinar, from 8-10 pm. I hope you’ll join us — we’re going to play, writing 2 and 3 minute exercises, and then seeing where to take them from there. It’ll be fun!

Yesterday was not fun. Comcast screwed me big time, and it took six hours to sort it out. It doesn’t help that they have offshore call centers, and the “representatives” believe since they’re in other countries, they can do whatever they want, and are not answerable to US law. Imagine my surprise (yes, that’s sarcasm), when I checked with the MA Department of Telecommunications and Cable and discovered how many laws Comcast is breaking. It means two weeks’ worth of gathering 14 months’ of documentation, but it’s worth filing with the half dozen agencies that need to know about this crap. Good thing I write everything down. By the time I get all the info sorted, I’ll be sending a binder to each of the agencies with the relevant documentation. Seriously, it’s that bad.

I didn’t think Mitt Romney was all that bad until his “victory speech” last night in New Hampshire, where he promised to protect corporate special interests and turn us into a fascist military dictatorship. I stand corrected — he’s as bad as the rest of that batshit crazy field.

Very excited by the quality of work in the 5 in 10 class. The first pieces are really good. Let’s hope it sets the bar high for the rest of the class, and that they continue to meet the challenges. Got cat food and cat litter in, too, yesterday, and had a decent meeting last night — I want to type up the notes while they’re still fresh and then get going on some stuff I’ve got to get done before next month’s meeting.

This morning, I’m doing post-holiday loads of laundry — holiday fabric, the guest sheets and towels, etc. I finally converted the buffet table back down to the work table and am slowing moving the stuff that had to be stashed in my room to make space for partygoers back to where it needs to be.

I feel better, but my voice is still not where it should be. I’m putting myself on “vocal rest” all day so I’ve got something for the webinar tonight.

Back to the page — in addition to classwork, I’ve got two novels I have to move back and forth between, due to deadlines, and a novella. Plus, I’ve got to prepare some marketing materials to get out next week, and some more packets for reading groups.

The cats are having trouble adjusting to just one human to do their bidding, down from the amount of people in and out during the holidays. Oh, well.

Never a dull moment. And that’s a good thing!

Devon Ellington

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and cool
Veterans’ Day

Already have one load in the dryer and one in the washer of the four loads that need to get done today. I have to vacuum. I have to tidy up the living room and my office. I need to get some housework done today. I’ve been working so hard that it’s fallen by the wayside.

Yoga was great yesterday morning. Big class — nearly double the size as usual, but lots of fun. The teacher helped me with a problem I’ve been having with my left hip — which is usually the good hip. It’s much better and I’m going to keep doing those poses daily to keep it that way!

Pretty much just flat out worked yesterday. Just a couple more days on the Harry Potter workshop, and I’m done with deconstructions. I’m ready. They’re starting to interact on this one, and at least they really KNOW the material, but the ratio of prep time to payment just doesn’t make sense.

Knocked out an article due for Savvy Authors and have to change the date for a live chat, because it conflicts with something I’m doing with Cape Cod Writers’ Association.
I need to do some edits in a book before I send it out — I’ve decided that the prologue isn’t really a prologue, it’s the first chapter, so that means re-jiggling everything. Time-consuming, but necessary for it to go out. I’ve also got to get back to THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, which is the big plan for next week.

Everything had to stop mid-afternoon, because I did a test run of the lasagna I need to take to Maine in two weeks. There are usually about 60 people for Thanksgiving dinner, and everyone helps out. I always make a desert for the main dinner, but the last few years, it’s become my job to make the dinner for 6-12 people on Wednesday night. They’re the ones most involved in the planning and set-up of the space, and it takes some of the pressure off them. The request, this year, was for lasagna. I’ve only made it once before, about six years ago, and it was a disaster.

I tried it again, this time from a recipe in NEW BASICS. It was awesome! Truly, a wonderful recipe. So, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I’ll cook all day — I’ve got two cakes to make (lemon for the Thanksgiving dinner, a pound cake for the Wednesday night dinner) and the lasagna. The latter is time intensive and labor intensive, but it’s worth it. I’ll prepare the elements for a salad and bring them up with me in separate bags, and mix the salad just before dinner.

This morning, I make an apple spice cake (different from the bread I often make). It turned out really well, but it would be too heavy paired with the lasagna.

If the weather dries up and I can get the lawnmower to cooperate, I need to get started on the back. The front is full of leaves again (they rained down more heavily than yesterday’s rain), but the front has had its last mow of the season, so it’s only raking from here on in.

The book is going well. A sequence I thought might be a tangent is turning out to be essential to the book. However, that means I have to end the first book of the trilogy earlier than I planned, or cut a few subplots that have become very important to the main plot.

I probably need to write the first draft of all three books and then see where it makes sense to end each one. I’m just over 70K, so I’m running out of words for book 1. For once, I’m happy with the job I did in complex plotting, but I still have to keep a reasonable word count.

Onward.

And don’t forget to take a few moments to give thanks to our Veterans.

Devon

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I was trying to clear some admin work off my desk when the phone rang. It was the VW place — my car was ready a week early! I was so excited that I dropped everything and dashed over. I’ve got my Blue Bunny back, working pretty well, and they even washed it! So that’s a relief.

It also means that I can do the whole stretch of the different jobs down in CT, while my mom stays up here with the cats.

Again, time to adjust the mental focus.

It means missing some stuff I hoped to do up here next week, including the writers’ group dinner, and I’ll have to pack some more books, but it will give me a nice block of isolated writing time (even though I’m moving between two sites). I’ll be car-less for five days, and not in walking distance of anything, so I have to plan carefully, but it’s all good.

It also means I have to repack the clothes. I need 11 days’ worth instead of 3.

Dealt with trying to get my own health insurance before the window closes and it was nothing short of a nightmare. I’d been given the incorrect information about how to apply back in December, and the window may close before I’m processed. If that’s the case, they can go (you get the idea). I’m not paying a fine for being misinformed.

Anyway, I filled out the paperwork — my life does not fit into their forms.

On a positive side, I ordered seeds and plants last night. Finally, something to write about in the garden journal other than “it snowed again”. So I’ll have to get on that.

More brainstorming on a neat project with a writer friend, and Savvy Authors booked the workshop I tossed at them for March: “Unstick Your Book.” Participants get to bring in a WIP (usually I make them write fresh material for class), and, in very individual terms, we are going to find out where they’re stuck, why they’re stuck,and get it unstuck, so they can finish. Because that’s the point — not to get them to write the same stuff the same way, but to make them look at the individual work in a new way, from a fresh angle, and make it the best it can be. It’s not about writing it as I would write it, but how to make it work best within their own visions. Because it’s not about me — it’s about the work. Details are here. The need for something like this came up in discussions in other workshops, so I thought, why not create it? People are already signing up, and it gives me some work for March, which is a relief. The Dialogue Workshop, in September, is also filling up, which is great. It’s an Advanced Workshop, different from the two week one I’m teaching for RWA in April, and builds on what we’ve done in other dialogue workshops at Savvy.

So that’s all good, and bills will be paid, but I didn’t get much writing done.

Watched the season finale of HUMAN TARGET last night, which may be the series finale. Got my Jackie Earle Haley fix, which is always a good thing, and last night was a shining example of how good actors can find ways to make scenes and moments work, even in a big mess. The first third angered me so much, my reaction was, “Did this show even HAVE a showrunner this season?” But again, I’m not in there, the poor showrunner might have been browbeaten and undercut by producers and/or network execs who are running around trying to justify their salaries. I don’t want to pin it on the wrong person. But the first third of the piece was a giant mess — the lapses of logic were as big as black holes in the Universe, the writing and situation was untrue to the characters without reason — if they’re going to be that sloppy, there needs to be a reason. They’re not stupid or careless, and that’s how they were portrayed without a foundation. The way the first third was structured was disrespectful to the actors, who’ve busted their asses for two seasons getting the audience to care, and to the audience. Julia could have never tracked down Guerrero unless he wanted to be found, (and, if that’s what he did to bring her out into the open, it needed to be addressed) and he’s way too smart to have been conned by her. The way the show’s misused the character of Ames as the season progressed is just pathetic — she started out as strong, smart, funny, and a real potential protege for Guerrero, and, as the season progressed, they turned her into a shallow, self-absorbed, whiny creature who’s WEAK. She couldn’t survive the life she had or with these guys if she was weak. The scenes in the car with Guerrero weren’t comic relief – they were painful, although Haley was valiant about trying to pull something out of the mess, and he gave his scene partner much more than many other actors would in that situation. The boxes of files brought in marked “Guerrero”, where the villains learned about his pressure point? Make no sense in what’s been set up over the past two seasons — the point has been made more than once that he shifts identities and stays under the radar. He’s got a reputation, well-earned, but he doesn’t leave a paper trail. There wouldn’t BE any files, other than a page or two of unconnected police reports on mysterious deaths or disappearances in far-reaching areas (And yes, I have a way that they could have gotten the same piece of information they needed for the plot point — that would have fit the logic of the world that was set up the past two seasons).

Fortunately, it got better and tighter as the hour progressed (felt like that part was written by a different person or people). It was nice to see Ilsa more active, the rooftop scene was good and set groundwork for the Julia character to return at some point (she did a good job, she’d be worth a return). It was good to see Guerrero do what we’ve come to believe he does best — move like smoke, while taking out an entire team of opponents, and the choice of making most of the violence off-screen makes him even stronger and scarier. His final scene in the episode was beautifully done, perfectly played, fairly well-staged, effective. We hear how often he’s taken no prisoners — now we saw it. It was important to the overall character arc, because there have been times this season when they’ve tried to dilute his character, and it’s only been Haley’s abilities that have kept the character’s integrity intact.

If this is the series finale, it ended on a good breath of hope for all the characters (except Ames, of course, who never got a final scene, but she’s been an afterthought for most of the season). If the show gets picked up next season (with some different people in charge, I hope), it gives them a good jumping off point.

Shooting a one-hour drama — especially with action scenes — is a huge undertaking, I’ve been there, I know. Everyone’s pushed past their limit, especially towards the end of the season, and especially when ratings aren’t what one hoped, with enormous detail, scheduling, budget, etc. They could have kept the overall structure, the action, the locations, etc. — all they had to do was inject some more logic into the writing — logic supported by what they established over two seasons, and it would have been outstanding instead of just “okay, this is a serviceable finale.”

Again, this is just my personal response to the material and the way it’s handled. It’s ONE opinion, not THE opinion.

Continued reading AN EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF ORDINARY DAYS. What a beautiful book. I’m putting together the reading list for my year-long intensive, and that book will definitely be on the list.

Did not sleep well. The cats were impossible last night. Kicked them out of the bedroom, and then they tried to dig a hole in the carpet under the door. Had to let them back in — I don’t know why they were in such a tizzy, but there was no sleep to be had. Roadkill is in better shape than I am this morning.

Lots to do today, including going to the dump — ahem, “transfer station” — I don’t want garbage sitting around the house while I’m working out of town. Gotta make room for the new garbage! 😉 Seriously, we don’t generate much garbage, about 80% of it is recycling, and only have to go to the dump once a month or once every six weeks.

Hoping I can catch a nap this afternoon for a bit. Almost all packed — a few things need to get into the writing bag, but clothes and books are all packed. 12 books for 10 days — that should be about right. Gives “book bag” a whole new meaning!

Got to get some info to one of my editors so she can arrange a press pass for me at some local hockey games. Errands, etc. Still haven’t found those 200+ pages of notes for POWER OF WORDS, which is disconcerting. It took me weeks to sort out the character arcs, the arcs that the actor characters play, the show-within-the-book arcs, the plot arcs, and all the scheduling. I’d hate to have to start from scratch. It’s just odd that the notes wouldn’t be with the manuscript. I’m usually more careful than that — but then, it was an unusual situation. It’s got to be here somewhere, and it won’t be unearthed until I return.

The book, essay, and short story need to take center stage — especially since the latter two are due on the 15th.

Back to the page.

Devon

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Busy weekend, but first of all, hop on over to the Savvy Authors’ Blog and read my piece on “Character, not Caricature”.

I hope you sign up for the deconstruction workshop on Stephanie Plum in January, the One Story, Many Voices workshop in January, and then, from mid-April to Mid-May, the Setting as Character Workshop. The latter two have limited enrollment, because of the intensity of assignments. The Plum workshop can fit in as many as want to take it.

The weekend — Saturday was busy. The breakfast at the National Marine Life Center was a lot of fun, I met a lot of great people, and the progress they’ve made in the past real is truly wonderful! They’re doing an amazing job, and once the center is complete and fully functional, it will make a huge positive difference in marine wildlife around here. They’re up for a $250,000 Pepsi Challenge grant, so if you could vote for them as often as possible (you can only vote once a day, but you can vote every day in the calendar month), it would help them get the grant and hook up the next part of the facility.

Came back, did some unpacking in the afternoon. It seems no matter how much I unpack, there’s no change, and it gets discouraging.

Decided, on Friday night, that I didn’t like where my bed was situated, behind the door. I started to feel claustrophobic. However, my head is in the North, (northeast, actually) which is the best way for me to sleep. But I moved it to the opposite site of the room, so my head is northwest now. The cats like it better, the room feels overall better, but I didn’t sleep well on Friday night into Saturday at all.

Read the papers Sunday morning, then planned to spend a couple of hours working on my room, which turned out to be the bulk of the day. Of course, a lot of it was spent rearranging the closets, so you can’t really see much impact on the room itself. However, I couldn’t unpack boxes in my room until I took out and unpacked the boxes in my closet which didn’t belong in the closet, but were stashed in there because I was afraid they’d go astray during the moving process.

Also managed to get a few loads of laundry done.

Got dressed up, went to the neighbor’s open house across the street. The little Westie no longer lives there — had to go to another home because of separation anxiety, poor thing! The Scottie is still there, and very cute. Met a bunch of the neighbors, who are all very nice, and each has their own unique qualities. They seemed relieved when I said we planned to be here for at least two years — I wonder if other renters moved in and out quickly? Anyway, I met the two women who live in the house on the corner, with the absolutely amazing yard, and they are happy to give me advice come summer. They also recommended a vet, and there’s a no-kill shelter close by they work with, and I may get my next cat there instead of the other shelter. We’ll see — it’ll be at least mid-January, to give these two a chance to settle in more, and for me to put away the decorations. New cat + many decorations is just an accident waiting to happen.

There’s a serial arsonist on the loose in the area. He (assuming it’s male) seems to be targeting people he thinks are rich, so we should be okay. This house is really cute, sweet, and loved, but it’s hardly a McMansion or in the throes of a multi-million dollar renovation. Still, it’s disturbing — a house in Sandwich was torched, a house in Barnstable was torched, and, last night, a lovely historic inn in Yarmouth that just went under renovation. I’ll have to be vigilant and set up some extra protections.

There’s an enormous black something sitting on the shed at the far end of the yard across the street. It’s much too big to be a cat (unless it’s like, a panther, and I doubt there’s be a panther sitting on someone’s shed washing its face), so I’m assuming it’s yet another Very Large Dog. It’s too far for me to see, but whatever it is, it’s calm and feels it’s on its home turf.

No one knows who owns Imp-dog. I told them my sense is he sneaks out without his owner’s knowledge. I’m hoping I can get close enough, eventually, to read his tags.

They told me, however, who’s most likely to be tossing the beer cans on the lawn. It seems there are some renters around the corner who think, because they’re renting, it doesn’t matter what they do in the neighborhood. They give renters a bad name.

Bad storm last night, but I slept better anyway, and the basement remains dry, so that’s good. The house definitely passed the “squishy test.”

Weird dreams last night (head in the West), but they might turn into an interesting story.

I want to spend some time on the page before I go back to the Search for an Ethical Insurance Broker so I can get these plates switched out and be in compliance with the law. In addition to just being angry at Allstate for not knowing the regulations in the state and not caring to find out, I have no confidence that, if, heaven forbid, anything happened, they would make good on the policy. Yes, they have in the past, but we had an individual dealing with it, not an outsourced 800 number where the person on the other end has no reason to care. (An Allstate commercial came on last night when we were watching TV and we started yelling at it).

Had a lovely conversation with someone for whom I worked who booked me for a week in February and another week in May. That will be fun. There will be some organization necessary on the cat front here, but we’ll figure it out, and it’s one of my favorite gigs, so I’m happy they still want me.

Also got a call from the family in Maine –we’re going to nip up for the big Christmas Day dinner. We’ve never been able to spend Christmas with them, because of distance and I was usually working on either Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or both, depending upon the show schedule. We do our big celebration on Christmas Eve anyway, and then just stockings on Christmas Day morning. We’ll nip up for the meal and come back the same day.

And the neighbors are all good about keeping an eye on each other’s houses without getting into each other’s business, so we just tell each other our schedules and keep an eye out. A utility truck and a jumpsuit do not credentials make! Not in this neighborhood! 😉

Watched Carrie Fisher’s WISHFUL DRINKING on HBO last night. It’s well done, very well done, in fact, but more bitter than I expected.

Off I go. Maybe I can get some of the kitchen boxes in the garage unpacked today, so that I have everything I need for the party. And I have to finish writing cards and packing gifts. I kind of got stuck mid-N.

Devon

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Violet keeps an eye on things

Saturday, August 14, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Free Muse Online Writers’ Conference registration closes tomorrow, so if you want to participate, or take either my Dialogue Workshop or my Story-Building Workshop, register before tomorrow. The Dialogue Workshop has a limited amount of spots available, and once they’re full, that’s it. I simply can’t correct 50-70 exercises per day and give each student my full attention — especially when students are late turning in exercises, don’t follow the instructions, etc. So, the Dialogue has a limited amount of participants. The Story-Building does not this time, because it’s my first time teaching it at Muse.

Dialogue Workshop Taught by Devon Ellington
Learn how to craft character-cohesive dialogue that moves along the story. Explore methods of cutting, crafting, and creating conversation that sparkles on the page and in the ear, and works in the context of the overall piece. This is an intensive, hands-on workshop, with daily assignments. Participants are expected to have a solid grasp of grammar, spelling, proofreading, and structure, and the ability to process comments, apply them moving forward, and keep up with assignments rather than doing them in a batch. Daily assignments will build on each other. Newly created work is required in the class; please do not use something from a WIP or that is used for another class. It will trip you up as we build from assignment to assignment. Anyone is welcome to read and follow along on the assignments, but daily participation is limited to 30 students. If you sign up, please meet the commitment, or give up your slot within the first day so another interested participant can take it.

Story Building Workshop
Spend the week with Devon Ellington building your story scene-by-scene — but not in the way you’d expect! Learn to integrate the elements of plot, story, and character with dialogue, description, and action to create a complete draft of a short story over the course of the week. There will be intense, daily assignments with specific guidelines to delve into the day’s purpose. Please do not use previously written material in the class.

Registration for the Muse Online Conference is HERE. You may have to send a separate email once you’re registered to the “contact” address in order to sign up for the Dialogue Workshop. Sorry it’s so late going up, but there was a glitch on their end and my information wasn’t up until I mentioned it yesterday.

Even if you don’t sign up for my workshops, there are a lot of great workshops happening. I particularly recommend Karina Fabian’s World-building Workshop.

Now, onto Savvy Authors. The links are up for the deconstruction workshops. If you want to join the workshop to deconstruct a fantasy romance and learn how to apply it to your own writing, you can sign up here, and if you want to deconstruct a steampunk film and learn to apply the techniques to your own writing, you can sign up here. The fees are very reasonable for both members and non-members. And there’s no homework in the deconstruction workshops! You just have to read the book or watch the film before it starts.

Now, on to other stuff:

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Great writing session in the morning on the Willowspring Grove novel. I’m thinking about it a lot in between writing sessions, which is good. I’m averaging between 1500-2000 words per session, and I’m 86 pages in so far. i have to start putting them into the computer, or I’ll get too far behind.

I got out some of the backlog of short stories, and got out a stack of queries, all good. Decided not to submit to one particular publication — the way they wanted me to reformat out of standard manuscript format to their house format would have taken me so long that, even if they accepted the story, they didn’t pay enough to cover the time. There’s a reason it’s called ‘standard manuscript format” — the writer formats it once, professionally, and it should be acceptable to any professional publication. I can understand stipulating .doc or .rtf or even .pdf, but to expect writers to spend hours reformatting from market to market is a waste of time, except, maybe, for the desperate-to-be-published. it’s hoop-jumping, power-playing, and I’ve noticed that the markets that pay the least expect the most amount of hoop jumping.

NEXT!

Spent a few hours in storage. Consolidated 20 boxes into 8, bagged a bunch of stuff I’ll drop off as donations, tossed a lot of stuff that needed to be tossed. It feels good.

Plotting the next Annabel Aidan, whose working title is THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. Will start the actual writing on Monday. The central character will be Bonnie, who we meet briefly in ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. Amanda and Phineas will have important secondary roles, and then they will be the focus of the third book. It’s not really a series, as each book stands alone with its own set of protagonists, but they are in the same paranormal, romantically suspenseful version of Manhattan, and they wander in and out of each other’s books.

Dinner with friends last night, which was fun. And, I managed to see just a tiny bit of the meteor shower last night — one quick sprint across the sky. Very exciting. I’d been so disappointed the previous night because I couldn’t see anything due to cloud cover.

Today, I’m writing in the morning, trying to get some organizational stuff done, then off to a friend’s in the afternoon. Tomorrow should be all about the writing. Because come Monday, my daily output has to either double or triple amongst the different projects, and I have to stay on top of everything else. The next few weeks/month will be very busy, not the least of which is getting the house-and-home situation sorted.

Devon

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010
Full Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and hot

It was hotter and more humid than predicted, but oh, well. Got out a batch of queries and five pitches, which was pretty decent. One of them is based in London, although I’d telecommute — it would be very cool to land that one. And it pays pretty well, too. Spent time with the cat next door, both morning and afternoon. Finished the wonderful Pepys biography by Claire Tomalin and went back to Joyce Carol Oates’s diary. Received my next assignment from Confidential Job #1. Made some notes on the Solstice Mystery.

Savvy Authors sent me the post for my Ons Story, Many Voices Workshop. Problem is, they’d promoted it as starting in August, only we’d moved it to January. We got it sorted, but I had a few minutes where I nearly had a heart attack, wondering how I was going to manage it with the time I’m booked to spend on the road, if we HAD to move it back to August, and also if I was crazy and had somehow written it down wrong.

But the paper trail was there, my calendar was right, and it’s sorted for January. That workshop is very unique because we start with a flash fiction story that’s literary fiction and then move it from genre to genre throughout the month, using the protocols of each genre to tweak it and explore it. By the end, you’ve either settled on a genre in which to expand the piece, or you have a handful of short stories in different genres. It’s not an easy workshop, by any means, but it’s really cool. I created it several years ago, when I was looking for something like this and couldn’t find it. So far, the students have loved it.

It’s January, it’s a long way down the road, but I hope to see a lot of you there. When it’s properly posted, I’ll put up the link.

I had some unpleasant business to deal with on my mother’s account. Some of it was handled; some will continue over the weekend and into next week. And I have to figure out my dates down in DC for some meetings, in the fall, but around the teaching jobs. I’m getting excited about going to Philly for a gig in a few weeks – not only will the work be tons of fun, and I’ll also have time to write, but I’ll get to hang out with some writer pals.

Today will be busy: writing, looking after the cat next door, sorting out some correspondence, clearing off the desk, taking a carload of stuff to storage, picking up some stuff from a couple of stores, maybe getting over to Target or Home Goods to replace the wine glasses I accidentally broke the other day (a bandaged hand is slowing me down). I want to get most of it done sooner rather than later, because it’s going to be a hot one. It never cooled down the way they promised yesterday.

Elsa improved quite a bit yesterday, and she seems even better today. She’s really working at getting better, and I’m doing everything I can to help her.

Not that we’ve heard back from the vet or anything since I contacted him on TUESDAY.

Back to the page.

Devon

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and HOT

First of all, my wrap-up article on Belmont Stakes day is here. Enjoy.

Second, I have some teaching gigs I’m going to mention now, and then remind you about as they draw closer.

In fall and into winter, I’m doing three deconstruction seminars. Each runs for a week, analyzing structure and character development.

September 13-19: Fantasy/romance

September 20-26: Steampunk film

November 29-December 5: Paranormal mystery

These are all online through Savvy Authors, and I will direct you to the blurb and registration and fees once that’s all sorted.

I’m also teaching two workshops at The Muse Online Conference this year: My ever-popular Dialogue Workshop and also a Story-Building Workshop. Registration is limited and will close on August 15 for the conference in general. More importantly, my workshop is limited to the first 30 people who sign up; in previous years, something like 150 people have signed up, with 50+ posting each day, and it’s just too much for me to give feedback as intensively as is necessary for the workshop to a large group of students, especially those who ignore the directions in the exercise or who take on too much and don’t keep up with the work. If I can make the commitment of time and energy, I expect the same from the students.

The Muse Conference is free. If you’ve never participated, I suggest that you try it this year. It’s terrific. I’ve developed three novels and a collection of short stories in it over the years. There are some really great teachers this year. If either Karina Fabian or Christine Amsden are teaching world-building workshops, take them. They are amazing.

The conference runs from October 11-17, but, as I said, registration closes on August 15.

I’m also teaching One Story, Many Voices online over the month of January 2011 at Savvy Authors, and several workshops for the RWA in 2011, but I’ll post information closer to registration dates.

Yesterday was a pretty good, calm day. I spent time in the morning hanging out with the nieighbor’s cat, who first pinned me against the door when I came in, and, once he’d eaten, sat in my lap for the rest of the time. He’s 16 pounds, so that’s a lot of cat in the lap!

Drove to LI for my acupuncture appointment. Lots of traffic, but it moved and I gave myself plenty of time so I wouldn’t stress out. Started plotting the story that the “spiritual” center inspired while I drove. Acupuncture was great. Turns out the painful hip was a half inch out of alignment. She was surprised I could even walk around from the pain. I guess I just sort of got used to it. Anyway, she untangled me, got my neck back in the right spot, too, and unwound my back. Wow. What a difference.

But I had to rest for the remainder of the day (once I drove home). I can do most yoga, except for one sequence, but no running or weight training for two weeks, to make sure the body gets used to being in proper alignment. I’m definitely a little sore today, but always checking to make sure I’m not askew.

On the way home, I stopped at the wine store. Two older “businessmen” in cheap suits were hanging out in the store. One of them said to me, “Don’t you think it’s time you got a boob job?” And I said, “Don’t you think it’s time you got a personality job?” The proprietor was mortified — I go there a lot, and people there are always nice. Figures. The old, out-of-work, down-at-heel drunks are true gentlemen, and the older white guy in the business suit is the sleaze bag.

Anyway, hung out with the cat some more, wrote up the notes I’d come up with as I drove (always interesting to see how far a piece evolves from the original kernel of the idea — it’s already mutated a lot). Rested the hip.

The night was terrifying — bad thunder storms and a bolt of lightening struck right outside the bedroom window. It came down white, hit the asphalt and turned into an orange fire ball that sounded like an explosion. Cats flew in all directions, and I could feel the tingle of the electricity.

No running this morning, just some light stretching. Will do yoga later. It’s hot and humid. Will hang out with the neighbor’s cat early, then check in the afternoon to see if he needs the air on. Plan to write, read, and generally take it easier.

Sorted things out with my editor. I think we’ll be okay for the next few months. We’ll see how it works out. I have a loyalty to my editor, but there will come a point where I have to say, “enough.”

I’m invited to the opening of my pottery teacher’s new exhibit in two weeks. I’m looking forward to it. The pottery class I’m taking (with a different instructor) starts next week, and I’m looking forward to it.

Elsa is worse, unfortunately, and I am very worried.

Back to the page.

Devon

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010
New Moon
The Ides of March
Rainy and mild

The brook’s holding, and, in fact, I moved my car back to my regular parking slot last night. Fingers crossed.

I log on to my account yesterday and discover 600 emails from January that had never come through until yesterday. SIX HUNDRED. Bite me, 1and1.com! Talk about one of the worst webhosts EVER. I spent several hours trying to sort it all out.

Some of the emails were work-related (though most of those come to a different account). I lost some freelance jobs, but I may have salvaged one or two.

To say that I am livid is an understatement.

Then, I asked support how to do something, since I have a trackpad, not a mouse — and they said I can’t. So, I went to the Apple site — of course I can do it. In fact, it’s much easier on a Mac. I can now create the new folders they told me couldn’t be created. And I spent several hours sorting hundreds more emails that couldn’t be properly sorted since the Webmail 2.0 wreaked havoc. I’m not entirely caught up, but I’m close.

I set up a Gmail account for the newsletter. It’s trying to pull the address book. So far, no luck. It’s like my new host told me, when they investigated doing a full transfer, including folders — 1and1 is set up so one can’t. They like to hold their customers hostage.

Thunder, lightening, rain, sirens. Not my favorite way to spend the day, while I’m frantically trying to salvage some income.

On the upside, I managed to land two teaching jobs in the salvage frenzy. I’m teaching my Dialogue workshop for two weeks starting on March 22, and then, in August, I’m teaching “One Story, Many Voices” for a month, both for Savvy Authors. Having the workshop spread over a longer period of time means I can go more in-depth with the students, and I’m looking forward to it. Here’s the link to the workshop about to start. If any of you are interested, I hope you’ll join in!

I spent the bulk of the day tweaking the workshop for this particular venue, updating tipsheets, checklists, welcome messages, etc.

I’m wondering if I should do Script Frenzy in April this year, since I have so many plays to write, or if the pace would hurt the quality of the work. I’ve now got FIVE plays to write instead of three, plus the drama that I started, plus marketing the plays whose rights reverted.

I just loathe the Daylight Savings Time switchover (or, as Tori put it so well, “Daylight Stupid Time”). It takes me weeks to readjust to that lost hour.

Today, I’ve got pitches and queries to get out, the newsletter to work on, and the plays.

I had a good morning session of POWER OF WORDS, but I need to do some more logistics planning. It’s a very complex piece.

Devon