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

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Pressed mold bottle vase, made in July’s workshop

Thursday, August 12, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Hot, humid, cloudy

Would it please storm already?

Yesterday was quite the roller coaster.

Had a GREAT session of work on ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT — I’ve found “the” excerpt I want to use for marketing, came up with the logline and the back cover blurb, massaged the bio, came up with a few things I want to discuss with the editor that I think can be improved. I hope to have everything out by tomorrow.

i stopped by the studio to see if my other pieces were ready — only one little pinch pot was, so I retrieved that. The rest of the stuff is set to come out of the kiln today or tomorrow.

Worked in the storage unit. I figured that six boxes would take me two hours, and that would be enough in this heat. But I managed to work my way through ten boxes in about an hour and a half — a whole line, which was even better. I purged a few bags of stuff, I found some stuff to wash and give to the donation box, and I found lots of treasures, things I forgot I had, including some lovely jewelry, candles, candleholders, even egg cups. I’m a freak for egg cups — I love them, and every time I see them for sale or in a thrift shop or a tag sale, I buy them. I also found some books I’m hauling back, including my Edinburgh Street Finder, very helpful when I’m writing something set in Edinburgh and have forgotten which street is called what, or, when I know how to get somewhere, but don’t have street names, I can look it up. Ten boxes became three boxes of sorted, organized material, which is how it should be.

On the downside, there was some dry rot in a few things that needed to be thrown out, and, at one point, I got a snoutful of it. It was like having cement fill up my lungs, and I couldn’t breathe. Think I’ll be using a mask from now on. These boxes were packed in 2001.

It was such a roll I may go back tomorrow and do another set of boxes. I have between 50-80 boxes marked “MISC”, which means, when I packed up 13 years of my life in 6 days when I gave up my apartment in Manhattan, I didn’t have time to sort through it, just filled boxes. Most of the boxes in storage are really well marked with room and contents, but I hit a point where I ran out of time.

After, I went to a friend’s place to clean up and have dinner.

When I came home, I found the screen on the fire escape raised. The window was locked, so no one managed to get in, but it was disconcerting, to say the least. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I photographed it, then called the non-emergency number from the police. The desk sergeant suggested that I check with the landlord first — whether they think they have to tell us what’s going on or not, they do, and if their answer is unsatisfactory, or that they did not have reason or raise the screen, I should file a police report. And when I talk to them, I should tell them that I’ve already checked with the police and what they advised. I shot an email off to the landlord, and received both an apology (the “memo” detailing the work is going out today — two weeks after it started) and that the workers swear they didn’t raise the screen.

So I’m guessing I’m going to spend some time over at the PD today.

I also realized that, while the old screens locked, these new ones don’t. A little disturbing, since I like to sleep with the window open at night, and can’t open the bedroom window that’s not over the fire escape because of the air conditioner. I’m going to have to find a way to rig the screen so it can’t be opened from the outside. Yes, if someone really wants to get in, they’d cut it, but why make it easy?

And, of course, the apartment is absolutely filthy from all the brick dust. I could vaccuum and wash floors five times a day and it wouldn’t make a difference. I also find it interesting, that, although they’ve got three scaffoldings up the side of the building, they are only actually working right outside the windows of the long-term tenants the landlord wants out. For nearly two weeks, ten hours a day.

You can’t leave because they’ll wreck something; you can’t stay and hear yourself think. It’s ridiculous.

Anyway, I have some errands to run and bills to pay today, and then I hope to get the marketing materials/cover art paperwork finished for the book, and do some more work on the lectures.

I’m booked for a site job for a couple of days next week, but the one I had for 10 days at the end of September may cancel because the person had a severe accident and may not be out of town after all. Oh, well, that gives me an extra ten days to go house hunting.

To Debra, who commented yesterday– I’m really, really proud of you. You’re worth far more than a content mill, and that sewage whirlpool would suck you dry very quickly. There’s a huge market for articles and information from someone with your experience and insight right now — I bet AARP would hire you to write articles in a heartbeat, along with some of the other big healthcare mags and holsitc mags. I know the transition sucks because you work a kazillion hours, but once you make the shift to being paid what your writing is worth, it makes up for it in financials, professional regard, and self-esteem.

Devon

Published in: on August 12, 2010 at 7:05 am  Comments (5)  
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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010
Day before dark moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cooler

The humidity finally broke overnight, and it feels a little better today.

Although yesterday and today are supposed to be the worst astrological days (and we don’t see this configuration again for 500 years or so, hoorah), it felt as though the knots loosened a bit yesterday, so perhaps, in my individual transits, it hit a few days earlier. Let’s hope — I’ll still be cautious.

The “workmen” were more careful, but they’re definitely targeting the apartments of the long-term tenants, to make it as unpleasant as possible. The clouds of brick dust floating around were rather disgusting. I closed the windows early on. But it was still gross in the heat and humidity not to be able to run the air conditioner. There were times when I did anyway, because the dust seemed a better choice — until I started coughing so badly I had to turn it off.

I stayed quiet yesterday, mostly reading. I finished Juliet Blackwell’s A CAST-OFF COVEN, which was tremendous fun, and I’m reading CE Murphy’s WALKING DEAD, which is excellent, too.

I forgot to mention that, on Thursday, I came up with a new herbal mixture for cleaning. Well, I can use the herbs for several things, but I also steeped them in boiling water, cooled the mixture, strained it, and put it in a big jug to use as the rinse after I wash with Murphy’s Oil soap. It’s strong enough to clean, but since I used the herbs steeped rather than oils, it doesn’t strip away finishes. It’s got enough antiseptic herbs, etc., to not only get rid of dirt, but get rid of germs or anything else icky that may tiptoe its way inside. I’m pretty happy with it, but I’ve also been careful to mark the containers as “do not ingest” — it looks a bit like iced tea, but a few of the herbs in there do not agree with the digestive system, let’s just say. I’m going to use some of it on the windows, as well. I’m fortunate, too, in that it smells great, although that wasn’t the most important element. The cleansing was the most important, and the good smell is just an added bonus. I notated as I worked, and copied the recipe in a safe place, so I can make more as necessary. A gallon of the stuff should last about 3 months, even with washing the floors a few times a week.

Elsa has made slow, but steady improvement over the past week. I wrote a polite email to the vet, asking for a refill on the Nalpoxtrene (you would have all been so proud of me), and he responded with 3 refills. I’m going to call the pharmacy today to make sure they’ve sent it out, and we should be in decent shape for the next few months. Elsa is eating mcuh better, and the Reiki helps a lot with the acid reflux, making it possible for her to eat. I’ve stripped away almost all the other medications — I’m alternating the Vitamin B and the olive leaf, and weaning her off the steroid. In about a week and a half, she’ll only be on the Vitaman B/olive leaf cycle, the Nalpoxtrene, and the Reiki. She especially likes the tummy massage in the Reiki, and that seems to help the most. She helped me clean out cabinets the other day and “supervised” the workmen yesterday, sitting in the window, so one can tell she’s feeling better. When she didn’t like what they were doing, she would tap on the window and meow at them, scolding them until they changed their behavior. It was pretty funny to see burly workmen being bossed around by an eight-pound cat.

Hauled stuff to storage. Tried to get a walking cast and the clerk at the local drugstore told me, in a completely condescending tone, that “people get them from their doctors; there’s no need to carry them” — his attitude that, if you don’t have insurance, you don’t deserve one. Bite me.

I’ll head to the family-run private pharmacy across town in the next few days — the place that helped Elsa so much when the vet ignored us. They have all kinds of stuff, and, if it’s not in stock, they’ll get it for me. Since I’ve been staying quiet and resting it, and wrapping it in herb-soaked cloths, it’s dong better.

I’m spending most of the day at a friend’s, working over there, catching up on laundry, etc. I think it’s going to be quiet around here today, so it’s safe to go somewhere else for a few hours.

Tomorrow, I’ll work at home — it should be quiet and reasonably temperate. I want to finish the notes on ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, make decisions about the excerpts, and notes on the new book. I also want to finish typing/sorting my notes on the lectures for the books, get out a newsletter (finally), and start deconstructing the film. And then we’ll see what next week brings.

Didn’t have a good writing session this morning, but it happens sometimes. Will bring the work with me to my friend’s place and see if I can get more done there.

Have a good weekend.

Devon

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Elsa thinks decorating is exhausting!

Sunday, December 13, 2009
Waning Moon
Sleet and cold

We’ve had heat the past few days (amazing, the super goes away, there’s a substitute, and we have heat. Unfortunately, there’s no hot water this morning. Urgh.

Yesterday was a pretty decent day. Got a lot of errands done, including dropping stuff off where my Mom is staying, going to Michael’s yet again, going to White Plains. I wanted to get something for my cousin’s son at the Metropolitan Museum of Art store, which had an outpost in WP in Spring — and has since closed. I had a fit. I’d parked at the Target complex and sprinted the X blocks to the other mall (with the really expensive parking in the really scary lot, which is why I parked at Target), only to find no store.

Most people seem to be panic-shopping. Inventories are low, lots of empty shelves, and people are grabbing whatever’s there. Uh, no thanks. I went into one store, asked for something I wanted, and the sales person said, “Well, we don’t have that, so you’ll just have to settle for something else.”

My response? “No, actually, I’ll go spend my money somewhere else. Buh-bye” and walked out.

Restoration Hardware’s keeping their shelves stocked — the store looks gorgeous. They also had the most business — the line wound all around the store, and they’re being really NICE to their customers — and customers are buying.

Sprinted back to Target, ran into Target, picked up two things I needed, and dashed through the express check out. I managed to get into my car and pull out of my spot on the moment my meter ran out. Phew!

I was going to go to Home Goods, since I was already all the way in White Plains, but couldn’t face it.

Ran some more errands, including to the liquor store. Stopped into AI Friedman’s, which is gorgeous. They didn’t have what I needed today, but I’ll definitely hit the after-Christmas clearance. Michael’s is just letting the empty shelves sit, which looks awful, and putting up a few Valentine’s Day things. Uh, no. Even the most dedicated crafters I know are still trying to make Christmas happen.

Went to Home Depot, wondering if I should buy another artificial tree to replace the little one we have. It’s looking a bit sad, both listing and listless. I have a huge tree in storage, but it’s 8 feet tall AND 8 feet wide, and there’s just no room in the apartment for it. The trees that would fit in the space look as sad as the one we’ve got.

I stood there, feeling a bit overwhelmed, and this little girl (about 3 or 4) walks up to me. She’s sucking a lollipop. She pulls it out of her mouth and says, “You look sad. Would you like some of my lollipop? It’s cherry.”

Her father is with her, dying a million deaths.

I couldn’t help but laugh. I thanked her and said, no, but I’d had a long day, and now it was much better. I wound up going to the garden section and buying a basket of decorated greenery and a two foot live tree in a pot (the latter was less than $8!) and haulign them home. The little tree fits in the window, and I put some tiny decorations on it. The basket is on the coffee table.

It was around 2:30 before I could even start the decorating. There’s a lot half done, all the ornaments I brought in from storage are out of boxes, although not necessarily in their final spots. I have to bring the empty boxes back to storage this morning, because there’s no place to put anything with all the boxes. But what’s up looks pretty darned cute. I will post pictures over the coming days.

At 1:30 this morning, Iris stepped on my EYE and launched with her back foot on a jump. Do you have any idea how much that hurts? There was no blood, but it really, really hurts. I’m using the rest of the eye drops I bought in Prague. If it seems infected or there’s any change in vision, I’ll go to the eye doctor. I’m hoping I’ll just be sore and uncomfortable for a few days.

Good writing session this morning, off to storage now, and then yet ANOTHER stop at Michael’s for one more garland (if they have it) and some floral wire. I’ve been using ornament hangers wound together — just break down and get the floral wire, already! I had to buy wire cutters when I disconnected the old land line. The right tools make all the difference.

The cats love the new faux “sofa” I built out of boxes of stuff I can’t yet put in storage because it needs to be sorted. I covered the contraption with festive fabric and lots of pillows. All three cats have their favorite spots, although Violet also likes to sleep in the chair covered in a fleece throw where one of the stuffed reindeer currently resides.

More eyedrops, then off to storage before the sleet gets any nastier.

I thought Christmas was THIS week, but it’s NEXT week — gives me another day or two to get out the cards.

Have a great Sunday!

Devon

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I had to really work yesterday not to be a whiny pain in the ass. I was cranky and cold all day.

Workshops were fine; you can see where some people took on too much for the course of the week and are rushing through. Nothing they can’t sit down and flesh out when they sit down and breathe for a minute. But part of my job is to be a taskmaster, and that’s what I’m doing.

Got the fans to storage. Got my cappuccino maker out — it needs a good, solid cleaning AND I have to replace the pot that broke, but I’m glad to have it home.

Had my headphones on nearly all day because of the noise. They’ve redone the front steps with a slippery fake slate and removed the handrails. Won’t that be fun in ice and snow, especially since they don’t shovel and/or sand properly? They’re redoing the pavement with brick pavers, which doesn’t make any sense in bad weather, or for professional women who wear heels, the brick looks like crap with the slate steps up to the sections (in addition to being a completely different color and texture from the brick of the building), AND there was no need to cut down all the trees to do any of this.

Quite a few people in the building have filed complaints with the Health Department about the lack of heat. Since today is the 15th, where they are even MORE required by law to keep the temperature reasonable, today I start my log and file it with DHCR on the first of every month. Dates, times, temperature, when it went up because I cooked, when they actually bothered to put heat on. And state clearly that I will NOT allow anyone to enter and plant a “sensor.”

We had a little heat over night, but they turned if off at 9 AM, as they do every weekday morning all winter.

Speaking of which, so many people talked about banana bread on Twitter that I had to bake some. Yummy.

I got some good work done on redesigning the websites — especially the Jain Lazarus site, which will be simply awesome. I’m having trouble settling on a graphic for Fearless Ink. I’m trying to balance something that really speaks to the purpose of the site and is very much “me” with something that looks professional without being corporate. I know what I want for Devon and I even found something I can use for Cerridwen — but the Fearless Ink is a challenge. Mostly because I need to design a logo, and I can’t seem to settle on what I want.

I posted a question in a conference forum and was told to buy a book to figure out my “mission.” I KNOW my frigging mission — I make a living at it, for eff’s sake –I’m a freelance writer who can write anything that needs to be written, for a decent price. What I need is help brainstorming a graphic! I can’t use anything from iStock because it’s a logo (and I didn’t find what I wanted there anyway). I can’t use anything from clip art, because it’s a logo. I’ve either got to draw it myself or take a photograph and see what I can do in “effects” — but if I don’t know what I want, I don’t know what to shoot.

Hey, I warned you I was cranky! Seriously, when I ask for advice and someone tries to part me from money instead of answering the question, I get annoyed. Recommend the book all you want IN ADDITION to answering the question, but answer the question!

Today, I plan to just sit tight and alternate between working on my own writing and teach the workshop. I have GOT to get back to that NYFA application. The good thing about working on the application and the residency applications is that it’s making me articulate focus on specific projects next year, instead of working on whatever catches my interest.

The first Nor’easter of the season is supposed to hit, starting with severe rain tonight, and we’re under flood watch again. I’m boiling water and checked the batteries, so, in case power goes out and everything goes kerplooey, we can hang in there. I’ll move the car up the hill later in the day.

I just had to delete a whole paragraph Violet typed when I got up for a minute. I don’t know what it said — it was in some mysterious feline dialect — but she is highly offended that I deleted it.

Devon

Thursday, September 3, 2009

IMG_0491
New York Botanical Garden

Thursday, September 3, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I’m delighted to say that the session with Apple’s Super Tech yesterday went very well. She really knew her stuff, she understood the problems I tried to explain, even though I don’t have the technological language. Not only could she dig into the innards, figure out the problems, and talk me through the fixes, she could explain what went wrong, why it went wrong, and teach me trouble-shooting tips for the future. She also taught me how to utilize Time Machine more efficiently, and it’ s not the “all or nothing” transfer the way it was presented to me at the store. She taught me how to dig in there, find what I want, and get it out without setting off a chain reaction.

The computer’s running like new now (except with all my files intact). If it keeps up, I’ll be happy.

Of course, one of the biggest problems was caused by something that downloaded as part of the latest Word (as in Microsoft) update! Gee, now there’s a surprise! But we beat it into submission and it’s behaving.

What I’d like to know is why this couldn’t have been set up two weeks ago? Why did I have two weeks of hoop jumping after the multiple visits to the Genius Bar failed?

Stop&Shop called me with a list of excuses for the virus hijacking their site, trying to blame ME for getting a virus from their site, and, again, refusing any responsibility. Sorry, you’re responsible for keeping a secure site for your customers. And when there’s a complaint, at least pretend you’re going to try to do something about it. Don’t blame the customer.

Diane, you’re right about the Czech Republic not switching over until 2012 (thank you to my source — you know who you are). I mentioned it to the currency exchange, and, lo and behold, I can pick up my currency tomorrow.

I went to storage and rooted through paperwork yesterday. I found some of what I need. I also started sorting through my “misc.” boxes. Because I only had a few days to pack up 13 years of my life when I gave up the Manhattan apartment, there were times when I couldn’t sort as I packed, just stuffed things in boxes and marked them “Misc.” So now I’m going through those 4 or 5 dozen boxes and sorting them.

I found some really cool stuff, some of which will be great in the house. I found some stuff I could throw away. I found notes for some projects. I found some of the paperwork I needed. I found books — but still not those three books for which I’ve been looking for months! I found fabric and clothes and yarn, and sorted them. I found an excptionally ugly rose and black houndstooth print sweater. Really? I don’t think I ever wore it. It must have been given to me by someone who disliked me.

I washed it and placed it on a rack, set in the bathtub (only place there’s room) to dry. Violet is complaining. I’m not sure if she thinks the sweater is as ugly as I do, or if it offends her sense of order to have a sweater in the bathtub.

I brought home some of the clothes, washed them, and am sorting them into what to keep and what to give away. I found a gorgeous, vintage black velvet dress. I wore it to a Broadway opening and never wore it again. Unfortunately, I was underweight when I wore it, and I’ll never get into it again. The dedicated workouts have changed the shape of my body — for the better, but especially in the upper body, it just doesn’t fit.

So I took it over to my neighbor, who’s got a petite build, told her the story behind the dress, and asked if she or her daughter could use it. She was thrilled. Her high school reunion is coming up next month, she lost her job, and wasn’t sure what to wear. She’s got gorgeous shoes to go with it — now she’s all set! I’m so thrilled the dress has a good home and can be enjoyed.

I also found a pair of kick-ass green silk pumps with gold bedazzling that I bought for a performance piece in which I actually appeared. I got them for $6 at the Goodwill. They are brand new, designer, and GORGEOUS. They’re going back on the active shoe rack. There’s also a matching green suede evening bag.

I love shopping in my storage unit!

I ran around to three different Staples trying to find the right flashcard for my camera and none of them have it. Because I need to look at it, and because I’m using a rewards certificate that will also include some other stuff I need to see before I buy, I have to get everything in-store rather than order online. Besides, I should be able to walk into a store and get something as simple as the correct flashcard and the correct pen refill.

A friend contacted me yesterday and asked a favor. He likes my research/investigative doggedness and asked me to track down some info for him tonight, so I’ll do it. I’ll have to use some ingenuity and maybe even diplomacy (oh, horrors) to get it. It’ll be a challenge.

I’m off on an adventure today, and have to schedule it so that I’m back in time to do the favor for my friend.

Tried a new recipe for apple muffins this morning. It’s not as good as my favorite one — too dry, and, even with additional cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace added, still didn’t have enough flavor. Sigh. I mean, it was okay. But it wasn’t GREAT. And I wanted great.

Decent morning’s work on AMENDS. Finished the scene before the scene with the Alzheimer’s afflicted character, that sets up the cliffhanger in this chapter.

Off I go.

Devon

AMENDS — first draft: 19,312 words out of est. 75,000
25.74%

IMG_0497
Violet does not like ugly sweaters in the bathtub. Perhaps if she sits on the desk, someone will do something about it!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Humid and cloudy

GRRR! 5:30 in the morning, I am awakened by leaf blowers. You know how much I hate leaf blowers. And our city code forbids the use of leaf blowers from May-September, and always at 5:30 AM. So I stomp down to pitch a fit and call the cops — and it’s city public works trucks using them! You can bet City Hall is going to get an earful. Not acceptable.

My wrist is in bad shape. I put too much pressure on it yesterday — two carloads of stuff into storage. Heavy stuff. For those of you with driveways and garages, it may not seem like a big deal, but remember I’m in a third floor walk-up, and have to not only navigate the stairs, but cross a large courtyard to the street and/or parking lot, carrying the stuff. No dollies or anything else. So, filling the car with 18 boxes (which is what the car can hold) means 36 trips up and down the 3 flights of stairs. Once I get to the storage facility, it’s fine, because I load everything onto dollies and roll them right in to the unit; I’m now on the ground floor.

There’s more room in the living room, though. And I managed to save the old couch from the 1950’s. For awhile there, it looked like it was beyond salvation — on one side, the wooden pegs have come loose, and the elastic struts underneath suffered dry rot. But I stripped the struts out, stripped it all down to just the wooden frame, which is still great with a little TLC, washed it. I’m going to get some wood glue and maybe some new pegs and put it back together again, and then put it in storage during the furniture swap. When I move, I’ll make a new bottom cushion and back cushion with upholstery foam and create covers for them in whatever fabric I want — it’s a nice piece of furniture in a unique style. The back corners already have angle braces. I can add some in the front corners, and then I don’t need the struts. It had wooden supports placed every few feet. So it will all be good.

But now I have a six foot wooden couch frame upended in the corner of the living room until the furniture swap happens!

The cats are having a fit!

I’m also reaching a point of lots of stuff stacked, because until the bookcases and the bureau come in, I have no place to put the clothes and books that are going IN them. There’s a bit of chaos going on.

Wasn’t able to get all the client projects cleared up, so I’ll finish them today and probably start the writing retreat tomorrow. I think, for the remainder of this particular Jupiter Retrograde, I have to block off Thursdays as just for hearth-and-home. For whatever reason, it’s got a strong influence on me, and I better just go with it.

As far as the wrist goes, I can’t see a doctor because I have no insurance (get that damned health reform bill done, Congress! All of you who voted to bail out AIG and the banks– who shouldn’t have been rewarded for their bad decisions with taxpayer money– if you can afford that, you can afford to reform health care, so stop dragging your feet. And stop calling it “socialized medicine” when it’s not and you have no clue as to the actual definition of the term. “Socialized medicine” is a very specific set of procedures, none of which I’ve seen included in any drafts of the current health care bill possibilities. If you can’t learn about that which you speak, shut the eff up. Don’t regurgitate inaccurate talking points), and my acupuncturist is out of town until fall. I’m going to take some ibuprofen, wrap it, brace it if I have to, and hope for the best. Only turning or heavy lifting bothered it yesterday — EVERYTHING bothers it today. I discovered that I can’t turn on the ignition using my left hand, so driving will be interesting.

Of course, when I had insurance, the usual round was: Go the the doctor; get sent to another doctor; get sent to a third doctor who sends me for X-rays. Go back to one of the three doctors who shrugs and writes a prescription for narcotic pain killers that I’m not going to take anyway, and I probably won’t even fill the prescription. Yeah, that’s “health care.” And it would be nice if any of the doctors and the X-ray people would actually talk to each other and have the same information.

Aside: the absolutely useless insurance company our union forced us to switch to (before I lost my insurance entirely), which isn’t accepted by most doctors or clinics in this area –is owned by the same parent company that owns U-Haul. That explains a lot! There are just so many bad jokes I could make, and I’m not going to go there . . .

I’ve got some errands to run this morning, then finish off the client work, and then descend into my weekend writing retreat. I am so looking forward to it.

Czech lessons are going slowly, but I’m plodding away at it. I always have trouble with a language when I’m not immersed in the country. For instance, I can’t speak French in NY, but once I’m in Montreal, it comes back pretty quickly. I certainly don’t consider myself fluent, but I can get by. And that’s what I’m hoping with Czech — if I work steadily from now until I leave in mid-September, hopefully enough will stick so I can get by.

Decent morning’s writing, in spite of the unpleasant wake up. I look forward to a productive writing weekend, in spite of the wrist. I’m eager to get back to the page. I’ve had too much practical lately, and not enough creative.

Devon

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
New Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and humid

Yesterday turned out to be really busy, but flew past. I had a lot of business stuff to catch up on, which is a good thing, and I got out a requested partial on one project and a batch of queries on another. I found some interesting submissions listings that I will work on over the next few weeks, and did some work on the brochure.

In the afternoon, I took a load of stuff to storage, repacked some of the boxes that needed a little help, and reorganized things a bit. I can’t find the lamp I wanted, which is frustrating, but oh, well.

Some books arrived, one of which is LIBRARIES IN THE ANCIENT WORLD, which I need as research for a project. The other is REBORN, the first volume of Susan Sontag’s journals and notebooks. I was never a big fan of hers — to me, she always seemed far too impressed with her own intellect, quite judgmental, and demanded a level of adoration from her admirers that I found off-putting. Our paths crossed a few times, and, while I certainly can’t claim to know her, even as an acquaintance, the fleeting in-person impressions I had of her were not very positive. And yet, her journals are fascinating. I definitely have more respect for her and her work through reading them, while still convinced that we would not have gotten along well, had we spent a lot of time together!

I had a decent writing session this morning — not brilliant, but decent. I found a lot of the “great house” brochures and photos from my various trips, and I’ve got them handy for research. Of course, I keep getting distracted by happy memories! I’ve got some more business correspondence to get out today, some more groundwork for Prague, and I start my attempts to learn some rudimentary Czech today. I’ve also got some client work to do, another load of boxes to take to storage (darting between the raindrops) and more to pack. Oh, yeah, and grocery shopping. That’s kind of important!

We’re supposed to get a lot of rain in a short time, so I’ll be checking the brook regularly. I hope to have a productive morning, so that I can have a fairly quiet afternoon.

I did my weight training work out last night, so I’m getting back on track with the evening workouts again. Boy, missing a whole week’s worth was bad. It’s amazing how quickly one back-slides.

The morning glory vines reach almost to the ceiling, and the tomato plants are nearly five feet tall — no little tomatoes, though. The plants are gorgeous, so I don’t really mind, but I don’t think I get enough sun with a northern exposure.

The telephone forwarding problem seems to be solved, although it would have been nice for the person who caused it to apologize for the inconvenience. Dru, I never even thought about the fact we’d be charged for those minutes. Thanks. I will write a formal letter stating I want the minutes credited back.

Iris is running up and down the living room, playing with one of her favorite balls. It’s really cute. Oh, now she’s brought it to me and is meowing — I’m supposed to throw it so we can play “fetch.”

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on July 21, 2009 at 7:55 am  Comments (3)  
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Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I love the warm, pleasant days and the cool nights we’ve had. I haven’t even put in the air conditioner yet! Love that.

Finished consolidating the storage units yesterday. I still have some repacking to do in there and re-organization. And then I can bring in a bunch of stuff from the apartment, and buy myself some breathing room. Since the unit is close and large enough to get at things without having to take it all out because the thing you need is always at the back — I can actually use it as an extra, very large closet for stuff I don’t need every day.

Worked on client projects and Confidential Job #1 yesterday. The latter present some interesting challenges.

I’ve been good about keeping up the yoga this week, but with all the box moving, I’m skipping the weights. I think it would be too much.

Interesting contrast between two actors: i received a really nice email from a well-known actor with whom I’ve never worked, but we were both working on Broadway at the same time last year/early this year. We ran into each other in the neighborhood, as one does, had a few conversations, joked around, etc. He came to see the show on which I worked and I happened to be there that night, and he’s kept in touch with one of the actors with whom I worked closely and am still in touch with regularly, which is how he got my contact info. He’s in town to promote his new movie and just dropped me an email to say hey, he was thinking of me and hoped all is well. Classy, which is typical of him. We’re not going to get together, but it’s a nice gesture on his part, and it keeps two professionals who respect each other in touch, so if we get the chance to work together someday, we’ve maintained a rapport. On the other hand, another actor with whom I worked very closely last year, and with whom I’ve been in sporadic touch (whenever he needed something), was in town for an entire week last week. Not only did he not contact me at all (we couldn’t have coordinated our schedules, I’m sure, but it would have been polite to say hi), I found out he was in town when he twittered about hanging out with someone about whom he complained frequently to me while we worked together. Déclassé to the max. Fortunately, I think it’s funny rather than getting upset about it, and I will work it into something someday. Inspiration comes in many forms! And it’s always great to create a fictional situation of poetic justice or envision the karmic return. Like I always say: EVERYTHING is material! 😉 And, if and when I have the opportunity to choose which one to work with, guess which one I’ll choose? The classy one, of course.

This morning’s writing session was better. I hope I’m starting to turn the corner. if you just keep digging, eventually you dig your way out the other side.

I’m taking my mom to the train station this morning — she’s off to NYC for the weekend. I’ve got some errands to run, and then more client work and I want to wrap up Confidential Job #1. I will be glad to get that one out the door!

The weekend is about packing, writing, and reading. Now that I’ve brought all these books home from storage (in anticipation of the bookcases I’m bringing out when I do the furniture swap in a couple of weeks), I want to read them! 😉 Nothing like shopping in your own bookcase, right? I might get to go out of town for the second half of next week, which would be great, if I can coordinate everything and get the cat sitter to stay with the beasts.

Violet seems fine today, thank goodness. I told her yesterday she might have to go to the vet, and it was amazing how quickly she stopped sneezing! I’m keeping a close eye on her for the next few days, but I hope it was just that there was extra dust from the storage work and everything is fine.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Nina Bell lately (the protag of TAPESTRY, “Tumble”, “Too Much Mistletoe”, etc.). Those pieces were set when she was just starting her life in NY in the mid-1990s. I really do want to write FINDING JAKE, set in that same time period, where she finds out once and for all what happened to the boyfriend who got her into so much trouble in TAPESTRY, was shot, and she doesn’t know if he’s alive or dead. But I’ve also wondered what would happen if I wrote about her life in the 21st century. Do I need to write the adventures in the interim to see what happened? Or can I imagine her in the present and then, maybe somewhere down the line, fill in? Would she have grown up, settled down with more than her philodendron Esmerelda, or gotten more eccentric? Would she have stayed in theatre? In New York? Are Tom and Zach still in her life?

It’s something to think about while packing.

Oh, and for the hypocritical politicians, a bit of clarification on definitions: When you pay or are paid for sex, it’s called PROS-titution, not RES-titution. Just saying.

Anyway, I’ve got some correspondence to get out today and then it’s off to errand land before getting back to work. Have a great weekend, all!

Devon

Published in: on July 10, 2009 at 6:38 am  Comments (2)  
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Really good day working in the storage unit yesterday. I moved about 40 boxes of dishes and over 100 boxes of books — and still can’t find the two books I really need! Today, I just have to move out the annoying little stuff in odd shapes and figure out how to stash it, and the units are consolidated. Even better, there’s room to maneuver in the big unit. Since I plan to load a bunch of stuff in from the apartment to get some breathing space, that’s a good thing.

In the afternoon, we went over to Target and bought bins — 4 extra large and two little — all I could fit into the back of the car, so I can start packing stuff up in the apartment this weekend that I want to haul to storage.

Worked on client projects in the afternoon, too. I’m going to send off a couple late this afternoon, and get an extension on the project for Confidential Job #1 until tomorrow.

Another lousy writing session this morning. It’s just going to be tough until it’s not. And I just have to keep at it.

IMG_0576
I think I have to take Violet to the vet I think she’s got a respiratory infection now — it’s as though she’s trying to sneeze, but it doesn’t come out. I’ll watch her for another day — maybe it’s the dust I’m bringing back from working in the unit and moving all that stuff up from the city, where it sat for years — I know I’m coughing and sneezing and my eyes are itchy. And, of course, the never-ending construction in the building that they’re trying to make the tenants pay for, even though ti’s for fantasy future tenants and doesn’t benefit us. It’ll be a challenge to give her medication. Elsa considers medication “treats”; Violet is convinced I’m trying to murder her. I don’t know why she’s so upset about it; it’s not like anything bad ever happened in her little kitty life since I got her, and she was only 4 weeks old when I got her and her sister; I hand-raised them. But she firmly believes medicine is awful and fights like crazy. Fortunately, this will be only the second time in her nine years she’s ever needed any. Poor Violet!

Back to finish the storage unit and then work on client projects. Got a few bills to pay, too. I’m hoping I can settle into a more productive writing routine next week.

Sorry I don’t have more of interest to talk about, especially on the writing front! Hopefully, that will change soon!

Devon

Published in: on July 9, 2009 at 6:22 am  Comments (3)  
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Partly sunny and pleasant

Supposedly we had horrible storms and hail all night. I slept through it; never heard a thing. The cats woke me up at 5 AM (so not cool), but it wasn’t because of storms. And I have an hilarious “bad kitties’ photo to post later this week. Little stinkers!

Spent about three hours working in the unit yesterday; got a lot done, started getting the medium-sized unit folded in. I found quite a few books I needed, and carted those home, and tossed quite a bit of stuff. Since I can’t leave the garbage there, I had to haul it back in my car and dispose of it here. I don’t know when the big move is yet, but I’m getting the energy and momentum going for it.

Ran a few errands. Did some client work in the afternoon. The assignment for Confidential Job #1 is a bit more complex than I expected, so I’m a bit behind. But I’ll catch up today. Client work, discussions with editors, pulled a couple of listings for possible pitches, but didn’t have the time to actually pitch them (guess I didn’t want them enough).

Did not watch the Michael Jackson memorial. I enjoyed his music growing up, I’m sorry he’s dead, but I didn’t know him, never worked with him, and it doesn’t have a lot of personal impact. I wish they’d stop carting his casket around and let the poor man rest in peace. I feel for his family and the friends who actually knew him and loved him, especially his kids. I have nothing but contempt for the so-called “friends” who were “too upset” to attend. This isn’t about you, bitches; you should have put aside your egos, pulled it together, and shown the man some public respect. With “friends” like that . . .

Cooked salmon in a sesame-ginger teriyaki sauce and put today’s pork chops in the maple chipotle marinade so they could soak all night. I have to go grocery shopping today after I spend a few hours working in the storage unit, and I need to make my list. I’m also going to do a rough inventory of everything, so that when I relocate I have an idea of what’s where.

Talked to a friend to make plans for dinner next week — we haven’t seen each other in awhile and want to catch up.

Lousy writing session this morning. I’m just going to have to navigate rough waters for a bit.

Watched the premiere of WAREHOUSE 13 last night. I thought most of it was clever. I had a few structural problems with it, although, for the most part, I liked the writing and the casting. Cross-cutting Artie in the warehouse hunting down the portrait with the building investigative MTV-byte-length scenes, in my opinion was a mis-use of comic relief — it dissipated tension/suspense instead of building it. And it was unclear why the professor brought back the book with the comb — it sounded as though he was ordered to do so, but if the comb is where the power lies, it doesn’t make sense he would just “happen” to find it and bring it back. It’s kind of a chicken-egg question that was ignored and never logically explained. I could conjecture, but I wanted to KNOW. It may well have been a scene that was shot and then cut. I also wanted more character development in the guest roles. I know one has to establish the leads and the core quickly, but give them interesting CHARACTERS to play off of each week, not just odd SITUATIONS. Although the nod to the RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK warehouse situation did make me giggle. And the Sci-Fi channel now calls itself “SyFy”? Really? Barf. It’s not a “hip, cool re-name”. It’s stupid. It makes me not want to spend time on the channel because I feel as though those making the decisions are insulting my intelligence. Yeah, i know they do that anyway, especially with their Saturday movies which are so poorly written and executed that they’re laughable, excruciating, and unwatchable (I think I’ve lasted maybe four minutes on a couple of them, and less on most), but some of the series are actually pretty good. However, this re-name pushes me away from the channel rather than drawing me towards it because the name alone means I can’t trust the content.

Okay, I’m going to get some more work done on the assignment for Confidential Job #1 before heading back to storage.

The problem with having a subscription to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC is that they also publish fantastic books. And they have sales. Yes, I succumbed.

Devon

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Full Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and pleasant

So, I’m sore in places I forgot I had. I meant to only go and reorganize the large unit, but we were on a roll, and wound up consolidating the smallest unit into it. I’ve got some things to be re-boxed this morning (the boxes are breaking), and I want to find an accessible area to stack the “Misc.” boxes so I can go through them and purge over the next few months, but we got a lot done. And today, after the re-boxing, I want to get at least 1/3 of the medium unit folded in.

I found a bunch of stuff I forgot I had. Some I brought back to the apartment (mostly books, a few dishes, a table). Some boxes I just labelled better so when I need something or when I unpack after the relocation, I’ll have an easier time of it.

I’m still looking for a few books I haven’t managed to locate, but found some that I need. So it’s all good.

The furniture I want to swap out is all stacked in the front corner of the unit for easy access. I’m sorting the stuff that has to go to the electronics recycling and the stuff I want to put up on Freecycle.

It’s quite a long process — a lifetime’s worth of stuff — but it’ll be worth it to get it sorted, organized, and purged BEFORE the big move. Why pay movers to cart stuff to a different state if I’m only going to throw it out once I get there?

Came home, exhausted, picked up Chinese food on the way from my favorite place. Rested a bit, then did some client work and started the assignment for Confidential Job #1, but didn’t get very far. I was distracted by a book called COBWEBS AND CREAM TEAS, about working at Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk. I rented the Mustard Pot cottage on that property several years ago, and love the estate. The people who work there are delightful, and the whole place has a warm, loving atmosphere.

The photo is The Mustard Pot, where I stayed. If you click the Felbrigg Hall link above, you’ll see the actual main house and grounds.

mustard pot2

I’ll have to make up for not working on the assignment today, since it’s due tomorrow.

I’m talking to an editor about an article, and a second editor contacted me about some sportswriting; however, the latter is ignoring questions as to frequency of assignment, length of assignment, and, most important, pay. If those questions are not answered, I will tell him to forget it.

The only computer workshop I need to take this month is on a day I can’t go. Oh, well.

Lousy writing session this morning. It’s taking me awhile to find my rhythm again. But I just keep pushing through, and, eventually, I’ll get there. I’m experiencing the part of being a full-time writer that’s not so much fun — facing the page when there is zero inspiration available, and all I’ve got to fall back on is craft. The only way to conquer it is to work through it and not give up because it’s a little more difficult or because I “don’t feel like it.” That’s what separates the pros, who CAN make a living writing from the wanna-bes — we do it eve on the rough days.

The Jupiter Retrograde is having a heavy effect on me this time around — I’m sorting out everything I can when it comes to house and home, and not taking any prisoners! Well, if there’s going to be a retrograde, I might as well use it POSITIVELY, right?

I’m going to attempt a little more work on the page this morning, and then it’s back to storage. I need to get the medium size unit sorted and consolidated by the end of the week.

Devon

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Waning Moon
Rainy and cold

The whole coping thing is getting me down. Because I’m exhausted, and I’d like to have a few days where I don’t cope, but that isn’t going to happen any time soon. I knew I hit a rough patch when I got weepy in the grocery store around all the Thanksgiving fixings.

Busy day. Hauled a bunch of stuff out of storage, purged, repacked, consolidated. I have several boxes to take back today. Found some books I was looking for, including the letters between Edith Wharton and Henry James; I’m reading Hermione Lee’s Edith Wharton bio. Then, one of my Bookmooch books arrived – about Henry James! Perfect! I can wallow in that whole literary era.

Stopped by the mechanic and had him teach me all about changing the oil, checking the air pressure in the tires, and adjusting it. It’s stuff I need to know, not rely on others to always do for me, and I never learned how to do it on this car. Now I know. Now I can cope.

Cooked an enormous beef stew, enough to feed a slew of relatives in Maine later this week, because, with all the death stuff and the Thanksgiving planning, let’s face it, everyone’s exhausted. Baked three batches of brownies – the quick ones, not the cappuccino ones that take three hours to make! One batch is for the neighbor hosting a dinner tonight which I can’t attend; one is for the big dinner in Maine on Thursday, and the other is for us, because there was too much batter and not enough pans, so I used a wonky pan and it’s a sad-looking little batch, but it sure tastes good.

Found a bunch of yarn in one of the purged boxes; untangled that and re-rolled it, with help from the cats. Found a bunch of material, some of it a half-finished, really pretty skirt, so all that’s been washed.

Dealt with a bunch of business stuff.

Worked on the assignment from Confidential Job #1.

Got some more of the materials I need for the massive Holiday Gift making extravaganza that will begin this weekend. I just need one more thing, that I will pick up in Maine on Wednesday, and I’m good to go. Got the materials for my cousin’s present that I have to put together before I leave for Maine. Found a great deal on some holiday cards and bought enough so I don’t have to stress, and can get the overseas cards out this coming weekend. Christmas is happening this year, I am just being extremely creative about giving people cool, unusual stuff while keeping to a miniscule budget.

Still no check from that editor. I’m a fit to be tied, to use an old-fashioned expression.

Trying to figure out which of the blossoming story ideas are short forms, and which are novels.

Trying to figure out where I’ll hustle for work when I get back from Maine, because I have to make up the shortfall caused by the deadbeat clients.

Got a couple more press releases to get out.

It’s a lot.

Good morning’s work on the mystery. I uploaded the whole file, verified it, and got my winner’s certificate. I can’t download the badges for some reason – hopefully, it reproduced properly here. Because I’d kind of like to gloat for a few days. Okay, it didn’t work. I’ll just have to get over it, won’t I?

You won’t hear from me until Saturday morning, because I’m headed up to Maine for the big dinner/tribute.

Have a great holiday.

Devon

Untitled Helena Francis Mystery – 58,180 words out of 50,000 (Nano goal)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
58 / 50
(116.0%)

Untitled Helena Francis Mystery – 58,180 words out of 75,000 (total goal)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
58 / 75
(77.3%)
Published in: on November 25, 2008 at 7:39 am  Comments (13)  
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