Tues. April 19, 2022: Stormy Weather

image courtesy of Andrei Kuleshov via pixabay.com

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Waning Moon

Rainy and cool

My brain wanted to take Friday off, although I had a good early morning writing session out on the front porch. But I slogged through a bunch of emails. There are some places to which I want to send an LOI, but it would have been stupid to send it on the Friday of a holiday weekend, so those go out today. I also have to find a way to get in touch with this mysterious garage who supposedly can fix my car but has no website in the 21st century. And mail my state quarterly taxes.

I did write, polish, and send off my book review before deadline. The only book they had to review was one I’m not qualified to review (it’s on early childhood education), so another thing on today’s list is to get back in touch and see what else has come in.

It was lovely and sunny, although cooler.

I turned around a script coverage, and decided to start my weekend.

Saturday, I rested and read a lot. I needed the time off. It was raining pretty hard most of the day, and I was glad not to have to go out. I’d hoped to walk down to the coffee shop opposite MassMOCA and give it a try, but that’s put off until it can actually be a pleasant walk.

I set up the ironing board and the craft paper and spent a couple of hours lifting wax out of various tablecloths and altar cloths. It takes a good bit of paper, and one has to work fast, so it doesn’t absorb through the paper and onto the iron. But I got it done, and then slowly started handwashing the fabrics. Some of the dyes from the candles will need to be taken out with the bleach pen, but most of it came out well.

Only people who haven’t worked in film and television think it has nothing to do with actual life skills.

Noodled some ideas in my head for various projects and let them percolate. Percolation time in necessary.

By Saturday afternoon, we brought in all the plants, because the temperature dropped hard and fast. Vacuumed, washed floors, changed beds, the usual Saturday housework.

Baked biscuits early Sunday morning. The weather kept cycled through accumulating snow to sun to rain to accumulating snow all day. I was glad to stay in.

Although we no longer celebrate Easter, my mom wanted baked ham for mid-day dinner, so that’s what I made. I thought it was too sweet (even though I hadn’t put anything on it). That’s the second disappointing ham we’ve had (Christmas ham was okay, but not brilliant), so I think/hope we’re done with it for a while. We have enough for some leftovers, and I’ll make a ham pot pie in a couple of days. I made soup with the bone, adding in garbanzo beans, onion, garlic, and spinach, so we’ll have that for a couple of lunches this week. I’d made chocolate mousse for dessert, so at least we had that.

Read a couple of Ngaio Marsh books, and an art mystery by Iain Pears set in Venice.

Unpacked a couple of boxes of decorations that had been in my office in the other house. Most of them have various new homes; some of them will be repacked into the box of decorations that we aren’t using right now. The “New Orleans Aunties” set of dolls I brought back from the Crescent City years ago now have their own shelf on the front porch, with their beads and the little chest of Crown Royal.

But mostly, I rested. I still feel the aftereffects of Shot 4.

Yesterday was a holiday here in the state, and I was damn well going to take it! It was sunny and cold.

I took some bills, including the federal quarterly taxes, and headed for the post office to mail them and buy stamps. Then, I headed over toward Mass MOCA, to try out the coffee shop. Which is no longer there, and the space now holds a Mexican restaurant. So, as far as I can tell, there’s no independent coffee shop in walking distance of the house. In a college town. Which makes no sense to me at all. Cumberland Farms and Burger King don’t cut it.

I’m not someone who goes out and buys a cup of coffee every day (I make excellent coffee at home), but sometimes, when I’m out and about, I like the option.

Makes me think I should bring up the espresso machine on the next trip to storage.

Picked up a few bits and bobs on the way home – some plant stakes, some hair elastics, some highlighters for the upcoming multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER. That type of thing.

It was warm enough to move the plants back out to the porch. I worked on contest entries out there, too. I also started oiling the porch furniture with the teak oil. I don’t have the room to spread everything out and do it all at once, so I’m doing one piece, letting it dry, then moving on. I got one of the Adirondack chairs done. I’m also cleaning and polishing the wooden sills around the windows, with another kind of oil. They are in desperate need of some TLC.

The tabletop fountain I ordered arrived, much more quickly than I expected. It’s simple, but nice. I set it up, put in the batteries, put in the water. It’s a little noisy for the size, but looks good and works well. I put a plate of crystals in front of it. And there’s the healing/meditation altar, inspired by the Twitter pal who said a blessing for me at St. Anthony’s Well last week.

The check arrived for the radio play in Minnesota. That was quick. We only talked about it a couple of days ago.

I saw an email from the potential client with whom I had the video conference last week. I fully expected it to be a “thanks, but no thanks.” Instead, it’s a contract and an NDA. I’ll read it and see if there are any points to negotiate before I sign, but it looks like I’ll be doing some freelancing for an agency. That will expand my parameters and skills a bit, no doubt.

I’ve been giving feedback on a friend’s synopsis for a TV pilot. It’s so good. I’m so excited for her. She’s entering it in a contest.

I’d been playing with the idea of taking a short trip this summer, to dip my toe back into the traveling waters, and even looked at flights. But with the inept Trump-appointed judge striking down the mask mandate on public transportation, that’s off. It also means it’s unlikely that I take the bus down to NYC for a quick museum trip, which I’d also hoped to do. It’s just not worth the risk. I’m glad the conference at which I’m teaching stayed virtual.

The storm woke me at 4 AM. In upstate NY, they were told to expect up to a foot of snow. Here, they keep changing their minds as to whether it’s snow or rain over the next few days. So far, just rain. I have to dash down to the post office to mail my state quarterly taxes today, but that’s my only foray out. I’d hoped to go to the laundromat, but not in this weather.

I have a lot of admin to handle today, and turn around the contract, check in with my editor to see if there are any new books to review, pitch to my Llewellyn editor for 2024. Work on the radio plays. Work on the Big Project. Turn around two scripts. Fight with Tracfone about my mom’s phone. Try to get in touch with the mechanic who supposedly can fix my car. Work on contest entries.

I’d better get going, hadn’t I? There’s a mid-month check in over on the GDR site. And I have a Dramatists Guild virtual event tonight (which I can actually do, since Knowledge Unicorns is on Easter break).

Have a good one!

Fri. March 23, 2018: Anticipating a Writing Weekend

Friday, March 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

So, Mercury is retrograde. In Aries. Ick.

Yesterday wasn’t as productive writing-wise as I wanted, but it was productive in other ways. I finished the book I had to review, and will polish the review and send it off today. I worked my way through several contest entries.

The big deal, for me, was that I figured why the contact form wasn’t coding in properly on my websites, and fixed it. Now the websites have contact forms, rather than stating my email or writing out the email so I’ll get a lot of spam.

I cleaned up my new mailboxes. I am in the process of unsubscribing from a bunch of stuff, on all my email accounts. There’s too much crap coming in.

I figured out how to reconfigure my menu bars so I can use drop-down features where appropriate.

I have three different WordPress books checked out from various libraries in the system. In order to figure this out, I had to read the relevant sections in all THREE and then do something slightly different, based on what I read. Because heaven forbid, any ONE of them should have had the complete, correct steps.

I worked on the newsletter. I worked on the updated media kit for TRACKING MEDUSA. I may do the cover reveal for SPIRIT REPOSITORY in the newsletter.

I got ahead on some blog posts.

I’m working on the Writer’s Rough Outline so I can distill it down to a synopsis and get the submission packet for the last big project out in the next couple of weeks. I have another project to get back out on submission, but I will wait until after Mercury goes direct. I want to do another pass on it and make some cuts.

I have a lot of errands to run this morning, then a meeting, and then I’m digging back to drafting the books that are waiting rather impatiently for attention.

And, of course work on the Writer’s Rough/synopsis.

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on March 23, 2018 at 9:31 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 23, 2018: Anticipating a Writing Weekend  
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Thurs. March 22,2018: Pitches, Process, and Disrespect

 Thursday, March 22, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Snowing

Yup, Mercury is retrograde, and, once again, I can’t hide under the covers for three weeks, gosh darn it.

We’re in our fourth nor’earter of the month (hence the reason this is going up late). I have storm fatigue. It’s not as bad as predicted, at least so far, but I’m still over it.

Long day onsite yesterday, but, for the most part, an interesting one.

MYTH & INTERPRETATION is chugging along. I’m gearing up to start RELICS & REQUIEM. I’m behind on that, and I need the first chapter polished and ready to go for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY’S release. NOT BY THE BOOK is getting some love, too.

I got two of the three pitch packets I wanted to get out before Mercury went retrograde out. The third requires more work. I have most of the pieces, but I don’t have the synopsis they want. It’s for a piece that’s yet to be written (although I wrote the first four chapters of it to get them out of my head a few years ago, and then put it aside for contracted work). I’d re-read the piece a few months ago and liked it a lot, but didn’t see a way to get it back into the schedule in the near future. It was more of a “someday” piece. But this opportunity came up, and, of all the ideas I’ve been playing with, this seemed like the best fit.

But they want a synopsis.

I have several ways I work on a book. Sometimes, characters start talking to me. I wind up outlining most of the book in what I call my Writer’s Rough Outline, and then write a few chapters to see if it’s viable, tweak the outline, polish the pages and then decide if it’s something I can sell on a pitch/sample, or if I need the whole thing written and polished. If it’s the latter, then it’s a case of deciding how to work it into the schedule. Right now, I’m scheduled tightly, and I have other potential pieces circling like planes stacked over LaGuardia.

Contracted, paid work comes first. After that, it’s whatever pulls hardest, which eventually becomes contracted, paid work.

The other way I work on a book is that characters start talking to me. I sit down and write my way into a piece, jotting notes along the way. Usually, it’s the first four chapters. Then, I stop and do a detailed Writer’s Rough Outline. That way, when I go back to it in order to work it into the schedule, I have the notes, the vision, and I’ve captured some of the energy of that first excitement.

With this particular piece, I wrote the first four chapters. I loved it, but it was during a time when I was overscheduled, so I put it away without writing the Writer’s Rough Outline.

I know I have some jotted notes. I remember the overall shape I want. But I need to sit down and work out the Writer’s Rough. From the Writer’s Rough, I need to distill and then polish a solid synopsis that works for the specific format/medium this outlet looks for.

That’s going to take a few weeks.

Fortunately, this pitch doesn’t have to go in on deadline. It gives me the room to do it well, but I still have to sit down and DO IT, rather than just letting it slide.

And I have to do it while working on contest entries, while keeping up with the books sent for review, while keeping up with client work, while anticipating the next round of edits for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, while staying on track with MYTH & INTERPRETATION and RELICS & REQUIEM.

Dropping any of these balls is not an option.

On a more wearying note, I had a rather nasty run-in yesterday. Someone wants me to co-author a book with her. No contract, no payment, no publisher lined up. All on spec. I told her that kind of work goes through my agent. She called me “stupid” and said I’d lost an opportunity.

I don’t consider working for free a lost opportunity.

This is my business, not my hobby. I am paid for what I do, especially when it’s work for someone else.

It would be stupid for me to accept something that will be a lot of work for no return, while putting aside my own work.

I was polite (although I didn’t want to be) and firm. It still left a bad taste in my mouth, especially about this individual. Unfortunately, it is not someone I can avoid interacting with in the future. Yet.

At every business networking event and far too many dinner parties, some yahoo comes up with the “oh, I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I don’t have time” or “I have a great idea for a book. You should write it and we’ll make a lot of money.” Both of those comments are complete and utter b.s.

First, there’s no such thing as “no time to write.” There’s writing. There’s not writing. We all have the same twenty-four hours in the day. It’s how we CHOOSE to use them that define us.

Second, writing is a business like anything else. Professionals aren’t going to put aside paying work for your vanity project.

I don’t meet a surgeon and say, “I’d love to start cutting people open, but I don’t have time” or “operate on me for free on YouTube and we’ll make a packet.” I don’t say to lawyers “I’ve always wanted to persuade a jury to see things my way, but I don’t have time.” It’s offensive.

So stop insulting writers.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get out and get a few things done later today. I need to do some work on the websites, work on the newsletter, and get out some LOIs.

Plus, of course, work on the fiction and the synopsis.

Never a dull moment, for which I am grateful.

 

Published in: on March 22, 2018 at 8:46 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 22,2018: Pitches, Process, and Disrespect  
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Thurs. Jan. 30, 2014: A Typical Writer’s Day

Thursday, January 30, 2014
Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I worked hard yesterday, but don’t feel like I got much done. Those days are frustrating.

I reworked a novella, prepping it for submission, and wrote the synopsis. I have another novella to rework and write a synopsis, and then I’m submitting both. Hopefully, I can get that squared away.

Working on the play, but it hasn’t quite gelled yet. Doubt it will be ready by tomorrow, which is when I wanted it ready.

Working on another screenplay, and did a revision on a teleplay — which means, yes, boys and girls, gotta write yet ANOTHER synopsis. I am caught in the Synopsis Forest.

Caught up with students, pitched jobs, caught up on email. Got two very nice responses from arts organizations with whom I’m interested in working, and hopefully, we can build solid working relationships over the next few months.

Heard back from the place where I did the test article (for pay — sign of a genuinely professional group). It will run on Feb. 2 — yes, I’ll remind everyone!

Read a well-written crime novel, CITY OF WOE by Christopher Ryan. Very well done AND unusual.

Need to catch up on schoolwork today, along with getting A LOT of writing done. I also want to finish the rough of the media kit I’m working on for the Marine Life Center.

Onward!

Published in: on January 30, 2014 at 9:04 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 30, 2014: A Typical Writer’s Day  
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Fri. Jan. 17, 2014: Mead and Muse

Friday, January 17, 2014
Last Day of the Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and foggy

According to the book 365 GODDESSES, today is Gunnleod’s day, the day of mead and muse. I kind of like that.

It’s also Ben Franklin’s birthday (I’m reading his biography).

Yesterday’s meeting wound up taking all morning, between meeting and presentations and peeking into the hospital to see how the turtles are doing. It was a good meeting, though. I did a bunch of pacing and muttering pertaining to the new play. The characters are forming, and I have the germ of the situation, but it’s still formulating.

Worked with students in the afternoon, got things set up for the new editing client and started on that project, and landed a try-out gig (paid) with another potential client — if we like each other, it will be a long-standing, regular gig. The negotiation process was a pleasure, so hopefully, that’s a good omen. Heard from another potential client that they can’t use me right now, but want to in the future, insisting they weren’t just blowing me off. So, we’ll see.

To bed early last night, very tired. Violet’s howling in the night and Iris having episodes wears me out.

Working on the novella this morning, before I get going on the book edit, the article, and a few press releases that need drafting. I also have a script synopsis to write, and the third television pilot comes up in the editing queue today.

Never a dull moment!

Devon

Published in: on January 17, 2014 at 8:36 am  Comments Off on Fri. Jan. 17, 2014: Mead and Muse  
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Mon. Jan. 13, 2014: Writing, Clients, Research, Award Shows

Monday, January 13, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Busy weekend. Still annoyed with two clients. One is now three weeks late in paying me — and this is our first project together. It may well be our last. Being “on vacation” and “out of town on business” is not an excuse. The payment date was not a surprise. It was in our written agreement. Make arrangements for the check to be mailed while you’re gone, or pay me electronically. I fulfilled my part of the contract — now you fulfill yours. The other client, the perpetual random payer — is now over a week late. I’m not delivering the final two articles on the contract until I’m paid, and, once I’m paid for those — I’m done. There’s a reason both these clients have a high writer turnover — they’re unreliable. You want to keep good people? Show them respect, and part of that is paying on time per the contract.

On a happier note, I finished the airship steampunk, revised it, and sent it out. I had enough material for a novel and had to strip/throw out a lot of ideas. I kept notes, in case I ever want to expand it. Hopefully the story doesn’t read as compressed. I’m worried that there’s not enough conflict in the climax, although I invented some interesting gear used in it.

Totally cooked by Friday night — I wrote synopses for three different scripts. And another teleplay comes up in the editing/revision queue today. Gotta get that packet ready for February!

Had a meeting with a fellow writer and friend –we’re going to encourage each other along writing our novels. She’s outlined what she wants to work on — I have to decide which of three possibilities I want to work on with her.

I also have to get back to work on THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, which I hope my new publisher will like. I have to find the full writer’s rough I did a few years ago.

I have some admin work to do today, and I also have a client meeting about an hour off-Cape. My materials are all together for that; I just have to give myself enough time to find the place and feel settled before the meeting starts.

Read a supposed thriller over the weekend which did not thrill me. Started another novel, whose premise excited me, but the author was one of those pretentious ones who uses dashes instead of quotation marks for dialogue AND writes in present tense. I lasted for ten pages and had to put it down. The structure did not support the novel. Since I wasn’t being paid to read it, I didn’t have to fight my way through it.

Found the letters from George Eliot to Harriet Beecher Stowe that I looked for in reference to the Charlotte Bronte conversation in a collection of Eliot’s letters. Copied out the relevant passages. Now, I want to read Harriet’s letters to see her side of it. So that project is developing.

Worked with students — I’m lucky to have a dedicated, committed batch this semester. They want it, and they’re willing to work for it, rather than making excuses.

Watched the Golden Globes last night, both for fun, and as background for a couple of projects that use award show scenes. Glad AMERICAN HUSTLE did well, but I feel that Jeremy Renner’s work is being unfairly overlooked. He went in a completely new direction for him, and I don’t feel the work is being properly appreciated.

Really pleased by the positive response to my short story “Catch Your Breath”. It encourages me to play more with contemporary literary fiction.

Off to get some writing done and then to the meeting.

Devon

Tues. Nov. 12: A Development Epiphany

Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Waxing Moon
Mercury Direct
Jupiter Retrograde
Sleeting and cold
sc

Busy weekend. Took some time off to read and gorge myself on episodes of the television series THE UNUSUALS on DVD. Outstanding writing and acting. Wish the show had lasted more than ten episodes.

A request for a partial of a novel I wasn’t expecting to send out until after the first of the year landed on my desk, so I rewrote and polished the chapters and wrote the synopsis (which was on the schedule for December) and got it out. When the request comes it, it has to go out within 48 hours, so if the materials aren’t ready, you do what you need to do to get them there.

Did some work in the development notebook, and fleshed out some of it as I typed. I figured out how to prevent my very charismatic supporting character from taking over Book 1 — his primary partner doesn’t get introduced until his book, which is Book 3. I’d planned to introduce her in this book, but it pulls too much focus of the characters I want to be the primary pair for this book. He still has an important role to play in this book and book two, but he doesn’t come front and center until book 3.

VISCERAL INVISIBLES, the screenplay, comes out of marination this week and goes into rewrites.

Worked with students, did some pitches, did yard work. So many bags of leaves in the garage I can’t get the car out. I’ll take them to the dump tomorrow. Rubbed teak oil onto the porch furniture, took it in, took in the last of the plants. Still a lot to do, but it’s getting done, slowly but surely.

Don’t forget to sign up for Organize Your Writing Life in 2014, by signing up here. It’s only 10 bucks and three hours on December 7, and gives you a year’s worth of organization, and tools to use well beyond.

Off to work.

Devon

Tues. Aug. 7, 2012: Conference Day 1

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cooler

It’s only Tuesday? So much has gone on, I feel like I’m living a week in every day.

The Conference is great. I got some work done yesterday morning before I left, work with students, etc. My first conference session was with C.E. Lawrence, for mystery/thriller. Great, great session. Plus, we both love Edinburgh, we both have theatre backgrounds, we both have long histories in New York. The class gave me a series of “aha” moments that will help me in my work. Today, I’m going to read the opening of the aviation piece, to see if what bugs me about it is what the others pick up on.

Met up with friends and had lunch at the cabana by the pool. The back of my chair got hit with a golf ball, so I stomped over to the links, waving it, demanding to know who nearly clocked me. No one would take responsibility, so I said, “Fine, you’re not getting it back.” I stuck it in my bag, brought it home, washed it, and the cats are playing with it.

Afternoon session was with Peter Drummey, of the MA Historical Society (I always get his title wrong, I keep calling him “director”, but I think it’s something else), on historical research. I’m like a kid in a candy store. I can get a Boston Public Library card, even though I live on the Cape. As a “citizen of Massachusetts” (that makes me feel so Revolutionary), I can access libraries and collections all over the state. I’m beside myself with excitement. Now, if I could send these selves to some of the collections simultaneously, imagine how much I could get done. Great session, and gives me so many ideas for my research for the aviation, whaling, astronomy, and mill girls projects.

Had to shoot out of that session like a bat out of hell, because it ran over, and we had to be at a reading in Sandwich at 3. We were only a few minutes late — Randall Peffer was reading from his new Civil War novel, SEAHAWK BURNING at Titcomb’s Books. Since one of my friends/students is studying with him, and I know him from both his work and writers’ center events, off we went. It was great fun, and we wound up sitting around chatting for a full hour past the time of the actual event.

I sent my friends off to the Beehive for dinner, while I raced back home. I had to grovel to the cats (who were mad at me for being gone all day), get some work done, and marinate the chicken for Wednesday’s dinner party.

Back to the conference center, for a talk by Joe Finder. He was engaging and hilarious — he really knows how to uplift his audience. I’m familiar with his name, but hadn’t yet read any of his work. I bought VANISHED. He signed it, and I had nothing of value to say at the signing table, so I simply said, “thank you.”

Met Gina Barreca on my way out, and didn’t realize until later that she wrote THEY USED TO CALL ME SNOW WHITE . . .BUT I DRIFTED, which is one of the books that got me through the 90s, along with KISS MY TIARA by Susan Jane Gilman, and were very important when I wrote my show WOMEN WITH AN EDGE. Which makes laughing and talking with her even more special.

Home, worked on the synopsis for HEART SNATCHER, could not get online to my students. Prepared my bag for today, and fell into bed.

Got up around 5:30. Tweaked the piece I’m going to read in the mystery class — moved around some description, cut some qualifiers, made a couple of things more specific. Hate reading work this raw, but if I’m going to find the right direction and learn the expectations in this genre, I need to take what I have and learn how to make it better. If I’m not willing to be bad, I can’t learn to be good.

I have to say, I love just being a student for this, and running around laughing, talking, and listening as much as possible. No pressure, just learning.

I have two cakes to bake before I leave, and I want to see if I can get into the forum to spend time with students. I better get moving!

Devon