Thurs. March 12, 2015: Post-Birthday Adjustments

Thursday, March 12, 2015
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and mild
Will

Busy few days, but good ones. I had Saturday off, so we ran errands. Those included going to Country Gardens and buying a primrose, a hyacinth, and a new aloe plant. And a yoga frog.

The books arrived for judging. I’m judging three categories: mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, and novella. Most of them came in print, but nearly a dozen of them, this year, came as digital files. I sorted them, double checked them against the submission sheet, and have questions on the whereabouts of a few. I got started on them.

Here are a few tips: If your title runs 17 words, it’s a blurb, not a title. They serve very different functions. No one’s going to remember an overly long title, and you won’t be able to hold their attention long enough to care.

Get a professional to edit, or, at the very least, proofread. When there are a dozen typos in the first five pages and the sentence structure makes no sense, you’re putting up a barrier between the reader and the story.

I realize we all have pieces we’d like to do “in our vision” based on someone else’s world, but if you’re going to do that, at least make it original enough so it doesn’t scream “fan fiction”. Changing names is not enough.

Start at the beginning of what’s interesting to the reader, not where you had to write your way in. You needed to write it. Your readers don’t need it. Learn about structure, so that when you deviate, it’s clear that it’s a choice that strengthens your work, not just ignorance or laziness.

Read William Goldman’s WHICH LIE DID I TELL? and ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE, both of as much or more value than attending film school. He talks about the realities of screenwriting. Although the industry is changing, many of the caveats are the same. And a well-written screenplay still requires the same structure and commitment. Film is a visual medium. Yes, you drive it with dialogue and character, but the visuals are important. That doesn’t mean a ton of description and camera angles — you don’t do the director’s and DP’s jobs for them. But it means thinking in terms of action as well as dialogue.

The more I work across formats, the more I realize the importance of understanding the format in which you’re telling your story. Prose is vitally different from stage play which is different from screenplay which is different from hour-long TV format which is different from half hour. Each has different needs. If you can’t meet those needs as a writer, you don’t get hired (or at least hired often).

Had lunch with a friend at the Dolphin in Barnstable on Monday, which was a lot of fun. We always have plenty to talk about. Ran into someone with whom I work at the library.

Finished watching Season 6 of WEST WING and started SEASON 7. Watched AUSTENLAND, which was a lot of fun, and PAGE EIGHT, the first Johnny Worricker (David Hare wrote and directed the whole trilogy), which I think is my favorite of the three.

Did the second and third drafts of the radio play, LIGHT BEHIND THE EYES. I still have to cut a page and a half. My instinct is to cut it out of the dance lesson scene and lose a beat where he talks about church. It worked the way I had the scene before, but with the beats I cut from the scene, I feel it weighs the scene down.

It goes off to readers today and sits for two weeks, then I do another pass, register it with the Guild, and send it off. It’s in BBC format, which takes up more room on the page than any of the US formats, hence the extra cuts, since the place to which I’m sending has strict page requirements.

I have to finish a student manuscript this weekend and tackle both the screenplay and BALTHAZAAR. I pick up the microfilm and microfiche machines on Monday, and then I’ll spend a good portion of next week with the Pinkerton case file films, researching the history play.

I have two Board meetings next week, library meetings, and a training session. It will be busy.

The snow is shrinking, which is better than melting into a big puddle of goop. The skylights on the deck are clear, and the street is almost down to asphalt. The town finally sent a truck to do some scraping on the ice ruts yesterday.

Yesterday was my birthday. I had the day off and was very self-indulgent, although the cats woke me early. I read a lot and ate too much. We had lunch at Siena, one of my favorite places, and then steak dinner. And, of course, chocolate mousse birthday cake. I’m in a much better place this year than I was last year, and I’m grateful. But there’s still a lot to do.

I have to get back into library mode for the rest of the week. Lots to do, and programs to promote, and the like.

It’s been warm enough to sit on the deck and read in the afternoons, which I love. We’re supposed to get another cold snap next week, but then, I hope we’re done with winter.

Devon

Mon. Aug. 6, 2012: The Conference Begins!

Monday, August 6, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and humid

I just lost Friday — I was running around trying to get everything done –after going to yoga on the beach in Yarmouth (which was tons of fun). But it was a busy, busy day. Saturday was all about preparing conference materials. Sunday was about clearing off deadlines in the morning.

In the afternoon, I headed over to the Conference Center. Dropped off my books — so much less stressful than at that conference last October! Checked in, yapped with the organizers — and then, two of my students showed up! One had come in from Vancouver, the other from LA. It was such fun! They got settled in their rooms, we had a drink to celebrate meeting after being online together for over a year. We joined the reception, meeting up with old and new faces, and our conversation group kept growing and including more and more — which is how it should be — inclusive. That’s what I love about this writers’ organization.

The President of the organization pulled me aside to talk about something that, if it goes through, would be exciting and an honor. I also met a library director who just moved libraries (she’d done a presentation last year I found helpful and we’d talked about doing something together) — and I may do an event or two with her, which would be such fun! We moved upstairs for the reception, which was lively and fun, and the President of the State Senate gave the opening address, emphasizing the importance of the arts to both the economy and humanity. We’re really lucky in our elected officials around here. They give a damn.

After the reception, my students and I headed out for dinner. We wanted to go to the Black Cat, but it was full; we headed to Siena — 40 minute wait. We wound up at Bobby Byrne’s in Mashpee, which was fine, and we had an awesome waitress — a real firecracker, tons of fun! More good food and great conversation. The three of us have a lot in common and never run out of things to say! Terrific women, and I feel lucky to have them in my life. And they brought me terrific gifts, which was just so sweet!

We stopped at the grocery store on the way back (they have refrigerators in their rooms), so they could stock up.

Home and to bed at a reasonable hour. The cats woke up up just after 4 because it was raining, the windows were open, and they were getting wet. I ran around closing windows and moving plants, and then couldn’t get back to sleep. Wrote thank you notes and followed up on yesterday’s conversations. I’ve got to finish an article and get it out, and also do another pass on my two-page synopsis for the harpy book before I go out the door for the conference.

I’m looking forward to a fun and busy week.

Devon

Tues. March 20, 2012:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Spring Equinox
Cloudy and pleasant

Yesterday was just a gorgeous day! Did a lot of work in the morning, with students, on HEART BINDER, and on the HEX BREAKER edits. I have one more scene on the latter that needs tweaking, and then, off it goes. The editor is pleased with the last round (phew, I was worried). I have to work on the updated front matter, so I can send that off, too.

Worked a bit on the new project, but didn’t get it uploaded. Still have to finish writing up Confidential Job #1, which has to go off today. Worked on a couple of proposals that will go out this week, and started an article that I have to get off today, which will go live on Thursday. Packed (since I leave tomorrow for the site job) — have to finish packing the writing bag. Percolated on the new Jain Lazarus story that has to be finished by next week, so it can be copyedited, designed, and ready to go along with the book release. The previous stories will also get snazzy new covers.

Ran some errands in the late morning. It was a gorgeous day, so, later in the afternoon, Imp and I packed up some work and went to Ashumet Holly Sanctuary. Well, first we went to Craigville Beach, which was gorgeous, but the breeze was too brisk to really get much done. So we tucked ourselves into the pitch pine grove at Ashumet for a couple of hours.

We met a friend for drinks and appetizers at Siena, then came home and relaxed. I got some other work done.

Today, I’m headed off to meditation, then it’s flat out work (since I’ll be on the road for most of tomorrow, and, while I’m able to juggle, I also have to do the job for which I’m paid to be on site).

The weather was absolutely wonderful yesterday — warm, breezy, truly felt like spring. I hope this doesn’t herald a hideously hot summer. My neighbor fertilized his lawn yesterday, but it seems just a tad too early for me. Because once I fertilize, it means I gotta mow! 😉

Off to meditation. I did the early morning Spring Equinox ritual; will plant some seeds later today in starter pots. May pumpkins flowering on the vine be a sign of wonderful things to come in this cycle!

Devon

Fri. March 16, 2012: Looking Forward to the Weekend (of Edits)


Crocus

Friday, March 16, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I overslept yesterday.

I MEANT to get up early and get some work done before leaving for Boston, but the alarm didn’t go off, and I overslept. But I still managed to get the coffee on before Costume Imp got up! 😉

Yesterday was the big field trip to the Boston Flower Show. Fourteen of us rented a van and were driven in. Coffee and cake set up on a table (with cloth) in the parking lot before we left — yeah, this group does it up right! 😉 We had enough time to wander around and “ooh” and “aah” over things, do some shopping, and go out for lunch. I’d remembered the pub as the Drunken Monk, but it’s the Whiskey Priest (yeah, I made the jokes, too), but we hopped one pub over to American Beer Company. Good food, good company, tons of fun. Back to do more shopping, vanned home (with treats in the van), home before dinner time.

I’ll have a full write-up on Gratitude and Growth tomorrow.

Imp Dog came by to visit and wanted to play. I actually played with him for awhile, and then tossed him an organic dog treat. He caught it, trotted over to the japonica bush, delicately dug a hole, dropped it in, and covered it up. Too funny!

Did some work with my students and some other work; caught up on more TORCHWOOD. There’s no doubt –it’s my favorite show.

Wednesday wound up being very busy — worked with students in the morning; seem to have a payment problem solved, but now there’s a new admin problem. I’ve got some other things in the works, so I have to buckle down to them over the weekend.

Costume Imp and I also found a magnificent grocery store in Mashpee called Roche Brothers. We were in heaven. And then we nipped over to Market Street Books, where we found some good stuff and had a lovely chat with Cynthia. I’m putting together a packet for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT and dropping it off today. We had a quick lunch at Siena (which is quickly becoming a favorite place of mine on the Cape) and then back to work.

The second round of edits for HEX BREAKER came through, and I’ve got a little less than a week to do them. I’m excited to get back to it, and get the marketing ball rolling for it. I expect it will come out in May, although I haven’t yet been given a firm date.

I’ve got some other writing to attend to, and need to figure out, over the weekend, how to recalculate my hours in a business-minded way to get it all done and make the money I not only need, but deserve and EARN, for my work. I’m about to turn down an invite from a magazine editor with whom I’ve worked for in the past (for a fee) who wants me to do something for free — that will, at the same time, make a profit for the company, but not for the writers involved. That would be a negative. Bad business decision, and it wouldn’t be a big enough “good will” gesture to make it worth while.

Gotta take a stand on these things, or I’ll keep winding up in the mess I was earlier in the week. I have a couple of carefully chosen pro bono clients, and that’s the extent of my unpaid work. When the plumber, the accountant, and the doctor work for “exposure” — so will I.

Devon