Wed. May 3, 2017: Project Juggling

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde (goes direct today)
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Thank goodness Mercury goes retrograde this afternoon. This go-round has been rough.

Yesterday, I was under the weather; I ran some errands and did some research necessary for the revisions of the next chapters in THE FIX-IT GIRL.

The grass in the front is long and lush and beautiful. I’ll mow it, probably tomorrow. My neighbors keep their lawns in a buzz cut, but I like to strengthen the roots and have it a little longer, the way my friend at Mass Audubon said was healthier.

Read Deanna Rayburn’s A PERILOUS UNDERTAKING yesterday — so good I read it straight through, couldn’t put it down. It’s her second Veronica Speedwell mystery, and it’s a lot of fun.

Gave myself the day off from most writing yesterday. I felt so lousy that I knew I’d have to toss it all anyway.

Did some research on art colonies in New England — most of the books about the art colonies are so poorly done. There’s an excellent book on Yaddo that I keep checking out, but the others are all dull. I may have to re-read TC Boyle’s EAST IS EAST, which is a satire set at an art colony. Although it’s very different from what I’m doing, it still might be fun to re-read.

Playing with ideas for two more pieces. One is a literary fiction novel, set just after World War I. The bulk of it would be in Maine, with forays into New York, Boston, and England. The other is a pseudo-Gothic, with elements of comedy, mystery, and romance, set in Cornwall. We’ll see where they go.

Heard back from an editor I pitched last week — he’d like some samples. So, off they go today, and, fingers crossed. I need to start another article in the next couple of days, an opinion piece that I’d like to get out next week.

I’m still struggling with “Seven of Swords”. I don’t seem to be fixing the problem with my tweaks, but prolonging it. Very frustrating.

Enjoying a terrific book on Manet’s life and work in 500 images. His paintings, like Edward Hopper’s, often give me ideas for short stories.

There’s finally sunshine. When the puddles dry up, maybe I can get some more yard work done. The yard work will be ongoing until the next snow!

Attorney General Maura Healey held a town hall last night. We are lucky to have her. She is far more active and involved with people than her predecessor. She takes a stand, and she gets things done.

Did about 1K on the Venice section of POWER OF WORDS, and four pages of the pseudo-Gothic outline. Not a bad start for the day.

I have to finish the complaint paperwork regarding AAA and CVS today. Those have to be filed this week.

Never a dull moment, which I guess is a good thing.

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May 1, 2017: Process and Planning

Monday, May 1, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Beltane
Rainy and cool

Busy weekend, but good one.

Finished the first draft of the screenplay WINNER TAKES ALL. It took me 19 days to write it from concept through first draft. It flowed well. I’ll have it marinate for about a week, and then hit revisions. The 6 pages/day schedule was good (although I usually averaged 10-13). I like the leaps of craft I’ve made in this. The storytelling is better, and that’s the point.

I had an idea for a new mystery on Friday and started playing with it. We’ll see if it goes anywhere. I wrote a few pages and it seemed distant. This morning, I woke up with the protagonist’s voice very strong in my head, and the realization it needs to be first person. However, I’m worried about yet another mystery of mine in the first person, although I feel Anna’s voice is quite distinct from either Sophie’s or Gin’s. We’ll see.

Disappointing response to a pitch that requested samples. Part of it was my misunderstanding the request, which is entirely on me; the rest of it is the person in charge not wanting/being able to evaluate a writing sample that wasn’t project specific. In my mind, if you look at a writer’s portfolio, you should be able to evaluate voice, style, craft, even if the sample wasn’t written specifically for you — that’s the point of a writing sample. To show breadth and depth, not to provide something for free to the publication. An editor should be able to read a piece and tell if the writer fits the publication. If said individual “can’t” because it’s not specific to that publication, the warning bells go off. It had potential to be a steady gig that could have been fun, but if the editor’s ability to evaluate is so narrow, I’m not a good fit for the publication. Next. I was going to try to fix the misunderstanding, but the more I consider it, the more my gut tells me that I’ve dodged (yet another) bullet.

Did some yard work, and planted some bee-friendly patches on the side of the house and in the stone circle. Arranged the deck, turning it into the Enchanted Garden for summer. There’s still a lot to do, but I’m out of shape, and only have the stamina to do a little bit every nice day. I’m going to have to start mowing this week.

Have an idea for a literary fiction/historical novel. Not sure if it will go anywhere. Again, the protagonist’s voice is strong, and quite different from the other voices. I will play with the ideas.

Made some research notes for FIX-IT GIRL — I start revisions on it today. I need to finish the Venice section on POWER OF WORDS, because I need to get those research books back, since I have oh-so-many other research books on the way out.

Rewatched THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR and liked it. I appreciate Matt Smith’s work more with some distance. When he first started, I missed David Tennant’s work so much, it was hard to connect to Matt Smith’s. They’re very different, but very good, and they were excellent together.

Watching the AGATHA RAISIN series. I am not a fan of the books, and the series doesn’t do it for me, either. There’s a mean-spiritedness in so much of it, and a lack of logic that thinks it’s funny, but just comes across as stupid. I like most of the actors, I love the locations, but I don’t like the tone.

Finished re-reading the Anthony Trollope biography. I’ve always admired his professional approach to his writing. He got up early every morning and wrote five pages, no matter what or where he was. 250 words per page, 1250 words a day. If he finished a novel within those five pages, he pulled out a fresh sheet of paper and started the next one. He got things done, without a lot of fuss and bother, or moaning.

The April wrap-up is on the GDR site, and May’s To Do list will be up tomorrow. The view on May looks very stressful from here — I hope I can get things sorted out to relieve some of the pressure. Otherwise, it will be a very difficult month.

I have some errands to run this morning, and then, this afternoon, I hope to dig back in to the writing. My To-Do list includes NOT BY THE BOOK, THE FIX-IT GIRL, POWER OF WORDS, “Seven of Swords”, and “Axe to Grind”, but I seriously doubt I can get work done on all of them today.

I’m worried I may have missed the window of opportunity for “Seven of Swords.” At the same time, I can’t send out a piece I know is sub-par. I have to try to fix it. I thought I had the key to fixing it, but it’s not quite working. I want to retain some of the ambiguity, but clean up the parts that are a hot mess. I haven’t hit that balance yet. I either over-explain or it’s overly ambiguous. I just have to keep at it until I get it right.

Like so many things.

Onward.

Monday, March 4, 2013: Release Day for the Second Jain Lazarus Adventure!

Old-FashionedDetectiveWork_HiRes

Monday, March 4, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Lots to discuss today!

First and foremost, OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK releases today! Woo-hoo! I’m still waiting for the Buy Link from Solstice, but there’s a great interview with me on Cynthia Woolf’s blog, and there’s an excerpt and more information on Billy Root’s blog. Stop by one or both and say hey!

“Prolonged Engagement: Developing the Series” workshop runs this week and should be lots of fun. I’m very excited about it.

AND, I’m teaching a one-day QUERY CLINIC on March 23, where you can bring in query letters from your various projects and we shape them, line-by-line, along with learning how to assemble the parts of a strong letter. More info here.

Busy weekend. On Friday, just before 5 PM, I got some great news from my agent! She’s very excited about a project I pitched her a few weeks ago, made some suggestions, and wants to go forward asap. That puts pressure on me I wasn’t expecting until the fall, at least as far adding an extra project to the mix, and means I have to reshuffle back some of the projects I was working on. My GDRS for March have to be re-worked. But I’m very excited!

Friday night was the staged reading of my new play, SEVEN OF SWORDS, which is not a comedy! I was on the bill with three other short plays, so we were a solid evening — what fun to share the bill with them. I liked my director a lot, and thoroughly enjoyed the work of all the actors, including the ones in my piece. I got some interesting feedback to shape the piece in the next draft. It was a good night, but I was exhausted.

I was up early-early on Saturday morning. I worked on some revisions for MUDER “SEALS” THE DEAL, then I rewrote the first three chapters of the piece per my agent’s suggestions and wrote Chapter Four, which came in just over 3K. I worked with students, and did the final polish on the lectures for the workshop.

Busy day, but fulfilling.

Sunday, I was up early, putting in and printing out the revisions in the script. Then, I packed the car and headed off to the Marine Life Center for rehearsal — we blocked Acts II & III, then went over to the venue to look at the space and a drink and chat. It was fun.

Today is release day for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, so I have to do the work associated with that. I have to write Chapter 5 of the other project, attend a funeral, and give the actors the cuts I made last night in the script when I got home.

Oh, and do some work that pays the bills! 😉

Busy, busy!

Devon

Fri. March 1, 2013: Stress and Prep

Friday, March 1, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Not feeling well. Managed to get some work done yesterday and go to my meeting, but feeling pretty bad. A lot of it is stress-induced.

Managed to write another article. I wanted to let it sit overnight, before editing and sending it out.

I’m supposed to be on Nadia Kim’s blog today — I checked this morning and don’t see it up yet, so I will check back later on and post the link.

Tonight, my play SEVEN OF SWORDS will be read as part of the Play With Your Food series at Tilden Arts Center. I’m looking forward to it, and to the other plays with whom I’m on the bill!

I’ve got a minor rewrite to do on MURDER “SEALS” THE DEAL and a lot of writing to do today and tomorrow, along with prepping for Sunday’s rehearsal and doing a final polish on Prolonged Engagement: Developing the Series. Registration closes today at 5 PM, and it’s the only time the course will be offered this year, so don’t miss it! March 4-8. Full information here.

Colin — you’re right — it’s wonderful to see actors bring the words to life, and the characters evolve.

Lots to do today, and not much time, so I better get going!

Devon

Mon. Feb. 25, 2013: Rehearsals Begin on a Full Moon

NMLC_Murder_Seals_the_Deal_LR-1

Monday, February 25, 2013
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Snowy and cold

We had more snow overnight, but it was a coating, no big deal. I like snow a lot, but even I am getting a little weary of it.

Busy weekend working on casting the final role in the show and setting up the rehearsal schedule. I met some really interesting people during this process, and I think it is opening up some doors for collaborative projects down the road. We have our first meeting/read-through tonight.

Read the materials for the next assignment from Confidential Job #1 and have to do the write-up today. Drafted an article last night, which I will type up and edit today, and hopefully get out the door. Turned around a client project in 24 hours — much faster than I thought, but a block of time opened, and I seized it. The client had paid me FULLY in advance, not just half, so it was worth it to quicken the promised turnaround time.

Creative Stimulus Cover

CREATIVE STIMULUS has released — a new workbook a little more comprehensive than the regular “Topic Workbooks” — this one combines updated material and exercises from the “5 in 10” workshop, the “Sensory Perceptions” Workbook, the “Writing Rituals” booklet and the infamous Tip Sheets, all in one place. It’s $6.99, over on Smashwords.

OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK drops next Monday — I’m looking forward to it, and am doing quite a few guest blogs in the coming weeks to promote the release.

This is the last week to sign up for “Prolonged Engagement: Developing the Series”. Putting together the materials for this class has been terrific. I’m very excited about it. More information on how to register here.

Read Anna Devere Smith’s LETTERS TO A YOUNG ARTIST. Terrific book for artists at any stages of their careers. Developing an idea based on some of Manet’s Paris cafe paintings. Reading a book called CREATIVE TIME AND SPACE: MAKING ROOM FOR MAKING ART, which is also very interesting.

I can take on one more full manuscript critique and/or edit or 3-5 short projects for a slot, but it must be booked this week. Please contact fearlessinkworkshops at gmail dot com for more information on rates and to set it up. Once I get deep into rehearsal, I cannot take on any more projects until the show is done.

My other show, SEVEN OF SWORDS, will be read this Friday at Tilden Art Center. That should be interesting. It’s definitely not a comedy, and it’s a raw piece that could go in several different directions.

I have to get a proposal for an arts festival out today or tomorrow — I have to figure out what I want to do for it.

Great morning’s session on the Dickensian steampunk.

That’s kind of where things stand, going into this week. I hope you have a good one!

Devon

Fri. Feb. 8, 2013: Hunkering Down for the Blizzard

NMLC_Murder_Seals_the_Deal_LR-1

Friday, February 8, 2013
Day before Dark Moon
Blizzard Coming!

I was very stressed out yesterday, trying to get everything done. Originally, I was supposed to hit the road this morning to go to CT, and then come back Saturday. Well, it was pretty obvious I wasn’t going to go anywhere on Saturday, much less get back home, so I figured I’d stay down there until Sunday. Fortunately, the trip’s been postponed.

I’d much rather ride out a blizzard safely at home, with the cats, then be on the road, or, even if I outran the storm, somewhere other than home.

It means doing some work through the weekend in preparation for the auditions on Monday that I planned to do Monday morning, but that’s okay.

Worked as fast as I could yesterday morning, got my students all set up for next week, etc. Annoyed with a late-paying client, especially since this is someone who got in just under the wire on a special deal.

Had a great conversation with my director for SEVEN OF SWORDS. I’m excited about the whole thing!

Good meeting at NMLC — everyone’s excited about the play.

I’m hunkering down for the storm — plan to do lots of reading and writing this weekend!

Stay safe!

Devon

Last day to sign up for “Journal into Fiction”, Feb. 11-15. Information and registration here.

Sign up for “Prolonged Engagement: Developing the Series”, March 4-8, here.

Cape Cod/South Shore actors, come audition for MURDER “SEALS” THE DEAL Mon. & Wed. Feb. 11 & 13, 5:30-7:30 PM. Details here.

Wed. Feb. 6, 2013: Snow and Writing

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

Got quite a bit of work done yesterday. I think SEVEN OF SWORDS is in decent shape, finally. I’m going to give it one more read this morning, and then send it off. Worked with students. I’m polishing the “Journal into Fiction” lectures and exercises — I had to cut some of the material out, because there was too much for a week-long class.

Had to turn something around quickly for one of my other editors, and sent out a few LOIs. Some paperwork came in for another confidential gig that the editor on Confidential Job #1 recommended me for, so that’s all good. The lunch meeting was good, although Beech Tree Cantina, where we wanted to meet, turned out to be closed. Um, it couldn’t have been on the landing page of the website? Especially with all the advertising they’ve been doing? There were a bunch of us, standing outside the door in the snow, totally confused.

We wound up at Rendezvous, the new crepe place. It was really good, with a nice atmosphere. Definitely a place to which I’d go back.

Roasted a chicken for dinner, did some reading, watched my friend’s show — some of the writing was a little heavy-handed, but he had some good scenes, and we dissected the episode, as we usually do after it airs.

Started re-reading POWER OF WORDS, which has been pulling at me lately. It’s such a sprawl — I think it’s really a serial novel about the making of a series. There’s no way I can stay true to its characters and themes and turn it into something that’s a more traditional novel. It’s going to be four novels’ worth of material just to get them through shooting the first season. But I think the dynamics of the individuals, and the creative nuts-and-bolts will be interesting to readers. Well, I need to write it at least through the first season’s shoot, and maybe partially into the second, and then decide what I want to do with it. I also re-read MODERN CREATION MYTHS the other day, and it holds together much better than I expected. I wrote the first draft material in script form (knowing it couldn’t stay a script), and I can see how to open it back out into prose. I think I will complete the draft as a script, though, because that’s giving me the dynamic. When I adapt it into prose, I’ll have to go much deeper into POV.

Did some of my fantasy/sci fi schoolwork yesterday (lectures). Really interesting insights into the Grimm tales.

I need to clear a lot off my desk today, because tomorrow is a busy day, most of it out of the house.

Devon

You can still sign up for “Journal into Fiction”, Feb. 11-14, learning how to transform journal entries into viable fiction. Information and registration here.

Cape Cod/South Shore Actors: Come audition for MURDER ‘SEALS’ THE DEAL, Feb 11 & 13, callbacks Feb. 15. Information and breakdown here.

Tues. Feb. 5, 2013: The Minimum Doesn’t Cut It

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

Marian Lanouette is my guest over on A Biblio Paradise, interviewed about her Jake Carrington series. Stop on by and drop a comment!

The February To-Do List is up on the GDR site. Short month, a lot to do.

I’m frustrated with a few people today, but venting isn’t going to do any good. Let’s just say I hate it when they waste my time, and I’m going to have to make changes to make sure that they don’t in the future.

Worked with students, finished an editing job, got out some pitches, ran errands, went grocery shopping, worked on SEVEN OF SWORDS. I’m almost there, I’ve almost unlocked what I want to fix in it. I’m hoping to get it finished and out the door this morning before my lunch meeting.

Finished Louise Penny’s BURY YOUR DEAD yesterday, and it was so well done and so tragic (in the large sense), that I was in tears by the end of it. The way she had characters re-live a traumatic event, through flashbacks throughout, is not something most people could pull off. But she did it effectively. Part of that is because she is a master of her craft. She understands structure, and therefore, when she goes against the expectations, she has the craft behind her to pull it off. Writers earlier in their careers, who can’t be bothered to learn structure, try this same type of maneuver, and most of them fail miserably. And it’s because they can’t be bothered to learn structure. It’s blatantly obvious when a skilled writer deviates from tradition and pulls it off, and an unskilled writer can’t be bothered.

It always amazes me when people say they want to learn how to do something– be it writing or anything else — and then can’t be bothered to learn the skills required for it. And then they’re surprised when they don’t succeed. If all you ever put in to something is the minimum, you won’t get more out of it.

Better get back to work — I need to clear a lot off my desk before I leave.

Devon

You can still sign up for “Journal into Fiction”, from Feb. 11-15. Transform journal entries into viable fiction. Registration and information here.

If you’re based on the Cape and/or South Shore, come try out of MURDER “SEALS” THE DEAL, Feb. 11 & 13, with callbacks the 15th. Detailed information here.

Mon. Feb. 4, 2013: Workshops and Rewrites

Monday, February 4, 2013
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

We had snow both Saturday and last night. Not bad, just a dusting. It’s pretty.

Imbolc was good on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to spring.

The January Wrap-Up is up over on Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions. I still have to post February’s To-Do List. The webhost’s server was down yesterday, which was very frustrating.

Gorged myself on Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache series over the weekend. I really like the books, and I’m eager for her next release in August. She is the only contemporary author I can think of who can effectively use third person omniscient and it doesn’t feel jarring.

Caught up on classwork. I decided to give the Astrobiology quiz a shot (I planned to audit, not take it for credit), but I got 9.50 out of a possible 10.00, so I just might give it a shot. It’s interesting to see how the Astrobiology course echoes material learned in Sustainability, Philosophy, and the two other astronomy courses. Did the reading for the SF/Fantasy class — Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the Lucy Chase 1882 version. Interesting to re-read them with an adult perspective, and also, realize how many of them have been filtered and changed through others’ visions and how little I remembered of the actual tales. The Philosophy class is interesting, and I’m curious to see what direction it goes it. It does prove why the Right wants to cut education funding — because education encourages independent thought, and that means questioning special interests and fundamentalists.

Finished the article for my editor and sent it off. I have to get some press out for the play today and putting us in the events calendars. I’ve been working on the revision of the other play, SEVEN OF SWORDS, which I have to finish today. The first 2/3 hold together better than I expected, but the last third needs focus. I’ve been playing with different possibilities, so now I have to sit down and apply them. Writing one of the other short stories in my head, and have to sit down and finish another story today. Plus, some scenes from a different piece are bugging me; I want to note them so I don’t lose them, and then schedule them in the queue.

I need to finish up work for an editing client, and “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects” starts today. I also have to put finishing touches on the handbook for “Sensory Perceptions.”

You can still sign up for “Journal into Fiction” next week, here. And, also next week, if you’re an actor based on Cape Cod/South Shore, the audition details for the play are here.

Better get going – today’s busy!

Devon

Tues. Jan. 29, 2013: Breaking Down and Rebuilding

Tuesday, January 28, 2013
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Snowy and cold

My guest over on A Biblio Paradise today is Margaret Fieland, talking about character development. She worked on this book and these characters in class a few years back — I’m happy it found a good home.

Brandy, to answer your question, I write in several places. I use the more ritualistic elements sometimes if I’m having trouble getting started. Most days, I just sit at the desk, power up the computer, and write. Or, if I’d rather start with a project I’m doing in longhand, I’ll write in longhand. I like my current office and my desk — in a corner, where I can look out the window at a pretty front yard. Sometimes, I write at the dining table or in a big chair in the living room. When the weather is nice, I like to write outside on the covered deck. I used to light a candle at the start of a writing session and extinguish it when I was done, but now, that I spend most of the day writing, and I’m switching between projects, that no longer serves me. I have objects around me that are meaningful and/or whimsical, so I can look up and feel good.

And, by the way, you ARE very creative. Creativity manifests in different ways. You’re creative in the way you live your life, create such a loving home for your family and the cats, the compassion you give to the world. Not a lot of people can do that.

Had to do a lot of admin work yesterday, and also do things like go grocery shopping, load in cat food, pick up books from the library. My library card always makes me feel rich — as long as I can use the library, borrow from the library, I feel an abundance in my life.

Some more good news: My play, “Seven of Swords”, has been accepted for the spring series of PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD, and will be given a staged reading on March 1. It’s much darker than the piece I’m writing for the Marine Life Center –and needs a rewrite done this week.

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by my deadlines. I have a story that has to go out by Thursday, one that has to release on Friday (or Saturday — I just realized Imbolc is Saturday, not Friday), the Marine Life play finished today, and the other play revised by the weekend. At the same time, I’m grateful for the feast of opportunities.

Two more assignments arrived from Confidential Job #1 yesterday, and they look AWESOME. I can’t wait to dig into them. And one of my editors picked this week (of course) to send me an extra assignment that needs to be turned around in the next few days. I love that he pitches me extra work whenever he can, it’s again — part of the feast.

This is where the challenge comes in. When you’re presented with opportunities in your chosen profession, you have to step up or lose them. Those who step up advance; those who don’t — don’t. It’s not supposed to be easy.

Got the second act of MURDER SEALS THE DEAL in a much better place, which meant ripping apart the third act, and then realizing that, while I’d put in some good red herrings for the audience, I’d never given them the clue to the real murderer. That’s not fair — the audience has to have a fair shot at figuring out who did it and why. I’ve dropped enough clues about the “why”, but the who isn’t hidden in plain sight enough. No matter how witty it is, unless it’s structurally satisfying and fair to the audience, the piece will fail. So, that’s my main focus for the day.

Better get back to it.

Devon

You can still sign up for “The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects” from Feb. 4-6 here.
Bring in up to 5 projects you’ve put aside, and we’ll figure out which ones are viable, and which ones need to be laid to rest permanently in a way to let you move forward with your work. Registration closes on February 2.