Tues. Sept. 27, 2022: Walking the Project Talk

image courtesy of Rafal Chudoba via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy, mild, humid

Pour yourself a favorite beverage and settle in for a natter. This weekend had a lot going on.

I’ve posted the questions to help you create and plan your 2023 over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site.

I managed to get them up early this year. I don’t know about you, but I already have the urge to plan next year, process this year, and build on it. We’ll ponder the questions between now and the end of the year, and then post what we’re comfortable sharing in January over on the GDR site.

Friday felt like a lost day, even though it wasn’t. I mean, I did stuff, it just wasn’t what I’d hoped to get done. I scheduled the episode ad postings on the LEGERDEMAIN site to release all the way through October. I still have to add some content to the site before I’m comfortable with it going live, but that should happen this week, so next week, I can start promoting the site.

Newsletter subscribers will get the link early, when the newsletter goes out later this week. Have you subscribed to my quarterly newsletter yet? If not, you can do so here.

I did some work on the Topic Workbook graphic, and I’m still not happy with it. I need to play some more. I also started the media kit for the Topic Workbook, and I’m pondering the media kit for LEGERDEMAIN.

I looked at running ads on Amazon for LEGERDEMAIN, and the prices are just way out of my budget at the moment.

I ordered a set of signed books by an author whose work I adore for a friend I think would really love them. I bought them directly from the author, and she already shipped them to my friend, and I am so excited.

I covered two scripts in the afternoon. I should have done three, but I was just too tired. And, when I cover the script, I want to give good, focused attention to the writer. That is the respect each writer deserves.

Canva won’t let me design a bookmark that’s horizontal instead of vertical, and I don’t like the way the verticals look. However, the print store I want to try out lets me design horizontally on their site, and I think I will do that. I will initially order a small batch; if they look good, I’ll order more. I may have them do my direct mail postcards, too, if I can ever get a design on those I can stand.

The Fresh Grass Music Festival was over at MassMOCA this weekend. Can you say super-spreader much? Especially now that Rochelle Wollensky of the CDC has gone full genocidal eugenics on the country. She needs to be removed. And yes, I contacted both my Senators and my Representative yesterday so to do.

But the upside of the music festival is that, at night, when the wind is right, I can hear some of it. Which is kind of cool. The venue is only 5 blocks away, so it makes sense.

Had kind of a slow start Saturday morning. We ended up putting on the heat on Friday – I’m already cringing, because not only has the gas company jacked up my bill over the summer, here in this state, they are telling us to expect a 64% increase. My income hasn’t increased 64%, so why are they allowed to do this?

Yes, that was another set of contacts to the Senators and Reps, on both federal and state levels.

I did not go to the market, or even the grocery store, because with all these people in for the festival, ewww, germy strangers probably not masking shedding virus. Nope.

Played with some ideas for upcoming Ink-Dipped Advice posts, and hope to write them up and schedule them to post this week.

I’ve basically given up on all the short stories I’d hoped to write the second half of September. I need to focus on other work first. Some of the ideas I might still play with and write, and look for other markets. But I can’t look at Sept. 30 deadlines for anything right now, other than already contracted work.

I did rough out a short story outline that was inspired by a call to submission, but they wanted flash fiction and this will be 3-5K. But I love the idea, and it will be fun to spin out.

So, yeah, not given up on the short stories, just on the deadlined submission calls!

It’s been dipping down into the low 40’s,/high 30’s F at night, so it’s time to take in the plants. We took in a bunch, some inside for good, some to the front porch. I will go into that in detail on Thursday’s garden post.

Once that was done, the light was good enough so that I could sew the October-themed curtain for the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell. Willa, who hardly ever comes on the couch, sat along the back of it, alternating watching me sew and looking out the window. I did this, too, by hand.

In the afternoon, I turned around the script coverage.

After that, I downloaded the scriptwriting software DramaQueen (the company is based out of Germany). Right now, I can’t make the time to sit with Scrivener. I’ve tried Trelby and hated it. Eventually, I will invest in Final Draft again, but not right now.

It was kind of a PITA to download, but I have no doubt that’s more about my computer than their software. Once it was downloaded, though, and I started playing with it, it worked well.

I imported VISCERAL INVISIBLES into the software and started working on the new draft of that. This will be the 7th draft. Because I’m going to keep at it until it’s right before I submit. The import was wonky from PDF, but just fine out of .doc, so that’s good to know. The software wonked some of the formatting, but not badly, and it’s very easy to adjust with the highlight and tabs.  I later realized it was because I hadn’t used the standard Courier format, but whatever it was I drafted in, so when it converted to the correct format, some of it wonked.

So far, so good.

I rewrote the first 23 or so pages. I’m rearranging a few things, and deepening a few things. That’s what this draft is about. And then I’ll do another pass, and make cuts. According to the software, the page count is 120. However, I think some of that is format wonk, since none of my drafts were ever that long, page-wise. Once I do the rewrites and fix the wonks, I will check the page count (I expect it’s around 115) and then cut, because it needs to hit the sweet spot for the genre, and not be more than 110. So I’ll tighten and cut until I get there.

I knew I had another script I wanted to import – but I couldn’t find it on any of my drives. I nearly panicked, until I realized I’d sent it to my friend Paula for critique a couple of years back. I went back into the emails, found the attachment, downloaded it, and converted it to .doc. I tried importing the PDF version, but it wonked again, so I imported the .doc, and it looks okay.

On the fence about importing STALEMATE DEATH. It might be worthwhile for the portfolio, but I doubt it would go out often. I think it’s just about served its purpose. There’s also the pilot of THE BROWNSTONE and of TALENT. Those need to be reworked, and maybe put into the portfolio. I will use and apply what I’ve learned as a script analyst these past couple of years to make my own scripts stronger.

The one I really need to concentrate on this winter is the pilot for THE WOMEN’S PRECINCT. That’s the one I’m truly excited about, and need to get back to.

I also found a script roster of loglines and information on scripts that all sound good, but according to the document they are written and I look at them and don’t remember some of them. So I’m not sure if that’s a document I wrote as an exercise, or if there’s more spelunking to do in old flash drives.

All of the above is a combination of leaning into the energies of the retrogrades, which is about going back and reworking or finishing older projects, rather than starting something new. This is something I talk about and share techniques for in THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS.

Unfinished projects drain energy. I need to clear the decks to make room for new work. To do that, I have to decide which projects to revive, get into the schedule, and finish; which projects to put in stasis, because it doesn’t make creative or financial sense to deal with them right now; and which ones I need to retire.

That will make room for the new work. It’s also using the information and energy of the retrogrades as something positive, rather than using the retrogrades as an excuse.

I’ve made a rough plan for the marketing of the Topic Workbooks (and including 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS with Nano coming up soon) for October through December. If I can ever get the danged graphic right, I can upload and schedule that. I also figured out the next couple of months of the LEGERDEMAIN campaign, more than just the episode-specific ads. So all of that has to get uploaded and scheduled in the next couple of weeks, in an around all the other stuff.

I also saw that I need to update the buy links on several Topic Workbooks. I thought I’d kept up with that, and am annoyed with myself that I did not.

DramaQueen has several levels of software, but I think I’ll be okay with sticking with the free version. Anyway, so far, so good.

I’ve dumped all the “project management software” programs with which I experimented. None of them have the range I need. I do better with the old-fashioned desk blotter calendar and colored markers. I’ve also kept up with the Work Wins Daily Journal Challenge set out by a colleague. I’m learning that some of the categories he set up don’t work for me. That’s going to be the first October blog post for Ink-Dipped Advice – what I learned from this challenge, and what I’m changing to suit my needs. So much of all these tools and platforms and systems is about compartmentalizing instead of making it holistic. For what I do, that’s detrimental to my productivity, my creativity, and my mental health.

Sunday, I was up at a reasonable time and baked biscuits.

I’d hoped to get the history of Legerdemain written and up on the website, but I don’t know what made me think I could create two thousand years’ worth of a country’s history in a couple of hours. So that’s taking longer than I planned.

In the afternoon, I switched over to plotting and working on my Writers’ Rough outline for the Retro Mystery. I had to keep stopping to look things up, which was frustrating, but better to have that happen now and jot down those details, than to get stuck when I have to draft at speed in November.

So neither project was finished, which left me frustrated.

I created an ad for 30 Tips for 30 Days, and got it uploaded/scheduled through October. November needs a slightly different take; I will either upload/schedule half the month today and half tomorrow, or all today and December tomorrow. Probably half today/half tomorrow and then December on Wednesday. Each month needs a slightly different slant, and there’s a lot to do this week.

I actually did a To Do list for the week, which sets my teeth on edge. To Do lists make me feel constrained, and then I sabotage myself, but there was simply too much for me to be able to look at the calendar and get it done. Urgh.

Read a book on Sunday by a well-known author which came highly recommended, and I was left with “meh.” I am glad to see the author try to tackle social inequity, racism, and domestic abuse in a genre that usually ignores it. But in so doing, she flattened out her central protagonists to make sure they were righteous, and that didn’t quite work. But at least she’s trying, in this genre, which is more than most attempt or fight to do.

Up at a reasonable hour on Monday morning. Good journal, yoga, meditation, and tarot sessions. Came up with a mantra for my intent for the week: “I thrive in situations where my work is respected. I remove myself from situations where it is not.” I will use that this week.

Posted the blogs, posted in the Marketing Game, made the social media rounds. Drafted Episode 42 of LEGERDEMAIN, which came in just under 1300 words, and was more fun than I expected.

Did the rounds of the library, the grocery store, the liquor store.

Adapted Chapter 4 of the third draft of ANGEL HUNT into 7 serial episodes, and smoothed out a few things. The chapter was 6500 words. So that was a lot of words handled, all told, yesterday.

Turned around 3 script coverages. One is missing a piece, and I sent in the information. I read what I had, and commented; I just need the missing piece to finish it.

Made turkey Bolognese for dinner, a different recipe than I’ve used before; I like it a lot.

Tired. Tired, tired, tired.

Woke up 2 minutes before the alarm went off, did the morning routine, and was out the door before 6 AM and over to the laundromat when it opened. Back by about 7:30. Still have to finish folding the sheets and put them away.

I did a few chapters of the multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER. The book is good. I just wish publishers and agents weren’t so determined to ignore the pandemic and racism, which are two very important themes in the book.

I’m going to work on Episode 43 of LEGERDEMAIN. I have to be at the TV station across town by 11 AM, so I have to pull myself together for that. But I’m looking forward to seeing the facility and percolating ideas.

Williams College music department has tightened up the COVID protocols for their performances – proof of vaccinations and masking are again required. So maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to go and listen to some music over the coming months!

There’s a big push in the area to get everyone boosted with the bivalent formula. They’re setting up a lot of free clinics all over the place this week. That, too, makes me feel better. You can tell the tourists have left, because almost everyone in the grocery store yesterday masked.

Off to folding laundry and back to the page.

Episode 19 of LEGERDEMAIN drops today. Enjoy!

Have a good one, friends!

Mon. Aug. 11, 2014: Excited by The Wonderful Conference!

Monday, August 11, 2014
Last Day of Full Moon
Sunny and cool

Wow. The last few days have been intense.

Thursday, I worked at the library until 2 PM. It was busy — I wanted to make sure I got everything done (since I’m not back “in the office” until this Wed.) and not leave anyone holding the bag or cleaning up a mess I left. So I worked ahead on anything that I could think of being needed, such as the report for tonight’s Board meeting. I also processed a big stack of books that arrived from Ingram. Another box from Ingram arrived as soon as I was done, but I pretended it wasn’t there — and it might not have been mine, anyway. I also processed some videos that arrived from Amazon. I wanted to make sure as much as possible could get on the shelves while I was gone.

I left at 2 PM and headed for the Conference center. I checked in and found out that a fellow board member had a family emergency, so I agreed to cover the things he was supposed to take care of. I unloaded the car, got the library exhibit table set up, then got my own books checked in to the bookshop, then helped out at the cocktail reception.

As usual, we started at a table with two people and kept expanding. My rule of thumb is, “pull up a chair, join us; there’s always room for one more.” That way, no one feels left out, excluded, and people who are there for the first time and don’t know anyone get to meet people, and people who know other people get to meet new people. So that was fun.

My boss from the library joined us for the introduction ceremony upstairs. I announced the writing contest winners (one of them was even there, which was great), and all the instructors were introduced. We ran into someone with whom we’re going to put together a great panel for the library, and a group of us headed downstairs to the bar to catch up. It was fun and noisy, and we got out of there late.

Up early on Friday. Wrote a bit of 1000 words on INITIATE. Cooked for the incoming guests. Finished cleaning up. Ran to the store for the last few things.

Did a roundtable with my friend, Kevin Symmons, at the conference on inspiration –we had a good time with it, and the participants seemed to enjoy it, too. Then came the class I was taking, a screenwriting class. Since it covered the basics, I was worried that I might not be pushed hard enough. But the teacher was good (Chantalle Aimee Osman — if you ever get a chance to study with her, jump at it) and I found points where, because I move from format to format, I’ve gotten sloppy. There are certain areas where I need to sharpen what I do when I’m in screenplay format, in order to take it to the next level.

I’m also going to have to bite the bullet and invest in either Final Draft or Movie Magic, once I have the new Macbook. I’m very anti-formatting software, because I think it makes people rely on the software instead of learning the craft, but it is now the industry standard, and if I want to work in the industry, I need to suck up and deal.

Ran home after class to deal with a few things and get my company settled. Part of the company is a very old yellow lab that my Mom has taken care of since he was a puppy. He’s sweet, but not very bright.

The cats are horrified.

Raced back to the conference. Had rehearsal with the executive director for a skit I stepped into. Had a drink in the bar with some fellow panelists and the terrific novelist Gary Braver. I was on a panel moderated by Arlene Kay, along with Kevin Symmons and David Litwack. What a pleasure! We were talking about our journeys and how we keep writing on tough days, and things like that. It was a lot of fun. We then kicked off the reading sessions.

I knew about two paragraphs in that I picked the wrong scene — you can feel the energy in the room. But I was stuck by then, so I pushed through. Live and learn, right? Should have stuck to the scenes in the media kit! The readings were good — quite varied, and a better quality, overall, than some of the other years.

Went back down to the bar, had a drink with friends and colleagues, got in a bit after midnight. Chatted with the company. Fell into bed, trying to learn lines. Got a text from an actor for whom I just wrote a monologue — he’s on set for a new film and was in between set-ups.

Actor: What are you doing?
Me: Learning lines for Gutenberg.
Actor: Who’s Gutenberg?
Me: Use Google.
Few minutes silence, then another text.
Actor: How are you going to play a guy from the 1400s?
Me: I have no fucking idea.

Up early on Saturday. Wrote about 1100 words on INITIATE. Tessa is still furious with me because there’s a DOG in the house. Got the company safely off to the Nantucket ferry — although the dog stays with us. Tessa puffed up so big that she couldn’t dive under the bed, and had to deflate before she could fit. The cats were just starting to calm down, and then my neighbor decided to cut down a tree next door. Of course, that was my fault, too, as far as the cats were concerned. A DOG and all that NOISE. I’m unhappy, because I don’t think perfectly healthy trees should be cut down, but it’s not on my property, so I have no say in the matter.

Called the joke shop, talked to Chris –sounded like they had what I needed. Drove in to Hyannis, Chris got me all set up with the beard.

Back to the conference. Picked up my costume. Another excellent screenwriting session. Home. Tried on the costume, complete with beard. Cats took one look and dived under the bed. Ran lines a few times. Got out of costume. Took a nap.

Woke up, showered, dressed in a killer blue silk sheath dress, fishnets, and heels, pinning up my hair. If I’m going to play I bearded guy from the fifteenth century in an academic robe, I am going to look HOT for the banquet!

Got caught in Craigville beach traffic on the way back to the conference. Had my window down, had the music on. This shirtless surfer dude leans into the open window, sees the fishnets and says, “So, what’re you doin’ tonight?”

Me: Playing Gutenberg.
Dude: Huh?
Me: What, you don’t get into a little role playing sometime?

He had no idea how to respond to that!

The keynote was a roundtable with author Rishi Reddi and Alicia Anstead, who’s the editor of THE WRITER magazine. We all read Rishi’s story “Karma” and it was a discussion, led by Alicia. It was interesting, and a lot of fun. At times, I worried that over-analyzing it might take away some of the power and emotional beauty of the story, but Alicia is very good at what she does and knew how to keep it from getting pretentious or ponderous. Rishi’s writing is just gorgeous. The piece was the “One Story” that was read last year by the entire city of Boston as part of the Boston Book Festival.

Then, we paraded into dinner. I was lucky enough to be at the table with Rishi, Alicia, Michelle Hoover, and Karen Day (two more wonderful authors), along with others. We had a lively, fun discussion that ran the gamut of topics. I can’t wait for the new novels by Rishi, Michelle, and Karen.

Between the main course and dessert, I disappeared, and, with the help of Matthew, one of our scholarship students (whose work I really liked, and who already knew, from the previous days, that I am completely out of my mind), got into costume. Nancy and I did the skit. I couldn’t let my dislike of performance inhibit me. Nancy wrote an arrogant, self-assured character, and I had to go with it and over it — so I went for it, over the top, high camp. The audience loved it. I still wish Jim had been able to do it — he’s such a good actor, he would have brought a lot to the role. But I managed to get away with it. However, it was a prime example of why I spent my life BACKstage, instead of ONstage.

Scrambled out of costume, let my hair down (literally this time, not just figuratively), and had dessert. Stopped at the beach on the way home because it was such a beautiful night, hung out with some people playing music and dancing. Got home about one.

From silk sheath to panda pajamas in a matter of minutes.

Up early on Sunday, wrote about 1100 words on INITIATE. At the conference a little before 10 AM to help at the desk. At noon, I broke down the library exhibit table, loaded the car. As classes ended, I loaded the easels into the car, since we will use them for Mermaid Ball. Got the unsold books back from the bookstore — I sold some, and people kept asking me to sign copies, which was nice. Had a rash from the fake beard around my nose and my upper lip, though.

Took my final screenwriting session. We wrote tag lines and log lines. I created a tagline and used the logline from STALEMATE DEATH. Fortunately, the teacher liked both, although she thought I should put back a line I’d cut from the logline, so I did. If I hadn’t been able to walk my talk, in the experiences I’d shared in class, it would have been bad!

Bolted down a tuna melt in the bar, and came back to help break down the rest of the conference and load it into the truck. They had enough people to unload, so I got to go straight home. Drinks on the deck, dinner. Repacked the books that will go to Books by the Sea today, read a bit, but was too tired to concentrate, so I went to bed early.

Up early this morning. Wrote 1000 words on INITIATE. Tessa is getting braver, and even coming downstairs to be with me when I write, but she is still not happy there’s a dog in the house. Violet just stares at the dog, and he stares back, totally intimidated. Iris sidles by him. It’s funny.

Long day today — have to go in to the library to settle some dates; have to drop stuff off at Cotuit Library. Have to get my books to Books By the Sea. Have an appointment in Hyannis with a new student (we’re meeting at Uncommon Ground). Have a Mermaid Ball meeting tonight. Need to do follow-up on the conference (already had to do some business this morning). Need to finish two book reviews, and prep the cozy mystery group and do more research for BALTHAZAAR.

Busy day much?

All I want to do is sleep! No chance for that, not until tonight.

It was a great week. I’m glad I stuck to my guns and wrote every day, or I’d be feeling lousy today.

I hope the momentum carries the students into new work. Too often, the members are all excited during the conference, and by the time the Writers Night Out sessions start again, most of them sit around the table making excuses about why they’re not writing.

Which just drives me nuts. Which, I realize, is often a very short drive.

Back to the book reviews, and then I’m on the road for pretty much the rest of the day. I’ve already drunk a whole pot of coffee. It’s not helping.

But it was a great conference. In spite of the exhaustion, I want to use the energy and the momentum positively into the coming months, on a writing level, on a Board-Member-of-the-Center level, and on a programming level for the library.

After today, however, full focus MUST shift to the Mermaid Ball, which is at the end of next week.

Devon