Mon. Dec. 5, 2016: Resting the Foot & Writing the Play

Monday, December 5, 2016
Waxing Moon
Rainy/Snowy/cold

I had to rest my foot most of the weekend. I paid for the vanity of four-inch heels on Thursday night. But it was worth it.

I’m binge-reading Vicky Delany’s Constable Molly Smith books and really like them. So well written! They’re set in British Columbia, and I like the sense of place I get from them, as much as I enjoy the characters.

Playing with ideas, seeing what works and doesn’t. Finishing the play about the 14th Century pirate, and trying to find a better title.

Reading PISTOLS AND PETTICOATS, a research book that I decided I needed to own, and therefore ordered, I got an idea for a pilot script/series that I will then adapt to books. I wrote the first thirteen pages, and like it a lot. If I can keep the novels nice and lean, but inspired by a lot of the real detail, I think I’ll have something worthwhile.

Did some work on the TAPESTRY revisions. It needs a big re-envisioning, not just tweaking, before it’s ready to go out. I hope I can get it done by mid-January.

The focus right now, however, needs to be on the two plays that need to go out, and on the short story that’s due at the end of the month. I have another invitation to submit to an anthology, but that’s not due for a few months. It’s up my alley, so I’m percolating ideas.

I should be decorating, but I don’t feel like it. I ‘m lacking holiday spirit this year. But it may well be the last holiday in this house, so I want to make the most of it. I’m just so weary, and I have so little hope for the future in this country.

The weather is lousy today. I want to focus on writing and decorating.

Tomorrow is my shift at Spectacle of Trees, representing the Marine Life Center. So I’ll write in the morning, and spend the afternoon there. Saturday is the big drawing, Sunday is the clean-up, Monday the ticket count.

Somewhere in all of this, I need to write holiday cards and do my baking!

Somehow, it will all get done. Although I’d rather stay in bed until about 2020. Although I doubt we’ll have a country left by then.

On a positive, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been successfully blocked through Native lands, at least for the moment. I hope this isn’t a ploy to get everyone to clear out and then they start up again. At least there’s one victory to give us hope.

Back to the page. Tomorrow morning, I have to run errands before my shift at Spectacle starts, and I have to write. Wednesday morning, the first play has to go out.

Tonight is St. Nicholas night — put out your shoe!

Onward!

Devon

Published in: on December 5, 2016 at 10:03 am  Comments Off on Mon. Dec. 5, 2016: Resting the Foot & Writing the Play  
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Fri. Dec. 2, 2016: Redefining How I Want to Handle My Writing Career

Friday, December 2, 2016
Waxing Moon
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday, I got some errands done and then started on the rewrite of TAPESTRY, which needs to be done in mid-January. I had forgotten how much fun that book is; definitely quirky and breaks formula a lot. Some of it I can make work; some will have to be rewritten, because there are logistical problems. I’ve tweaked the frame of the piece a bit, which I think works better, but kept the action in the mid-1990s.

I’m also starting a binge read of the books by Vicki Delany. I read her Constable Molly Smith novel NEGATIVE IMAGE and really liked it, so I’ve ordered everything else I can find by her from the library. And then, yes, I’ll be BUYING her work, because I believe in supporting living authors with my dollars. Dead ones, not so much. It’s not my job to support their descendants. Living authors — we all need to support each other to make sure we can continue writing.

It took awhile to get gussied up for the Spectacle of Trees party, but it was worth it. Used every Broadway wardrobe trick in the book on myself, and it worked. The party was a lot of fun, the wreaths went for good sums of money. I helped clean up, got home, and got right into my jammies. We needed something sparkly and joyful after the month we’ve lived through. And I got the sweetest thank you from the event organizers this morning for all my extra help.

The last of the books I need to finish the play arrived, so I can dig into that either later today or tomorrow. I want the play (with a new title, I hope), out the door by next Tuesday. Then, the attention goes back to JUST A DROP, and also to the short story I have to submit for inclusion in the anthology.

Yet my mind is churning with creative ideas; I want to keep WIPs on track, so that there’s material ready to launch as other pieces fall into place, especially where the various series are concerned; I want to revise, polish, and get out some of the projects I put aside out of frustration, but which have potential.

It’s about finding the right people to partner with, not just trying to change material to please them. If I’m going to do the latter, it’ll be a for-hire contract with a big paycheck up front; if it’s going to be MY vision, then I need to be true to it and not compromise on elements that dilute the work. The work needs to be as strong and unique as possible, and that’s what will enchant the reader.

If all I do is try to conform to formula, it will dilute my unique, quirky characters and stories, go against the themes I’m trying to explore, and not engage the readers I want to engage. Readers who only enjoy tight formulas and want the comfort of knowing the ending when they start the book aren’t the readers who will respond to the themes, characters, and situations I write anyway. Rather than trying to please them, it’s far more important to please myself (within the context of always improving my craft).

Every book or story I write needs to be better than the previous one, on a craft level and every other level. If I don’t like the other books an agent represents, it’s probably not the right agent for me; same thing with a publisher.

I’ve been truly lucky in most of my editors with my published work. They’ve understood what I was trying to achieve and guided me to make the material stronger without losing what makes it unique. I am so grateful to my editors.

I want the security of a traditional publisher with a recognizable name, only that security doesn’t exist any more. I watch the authors I like reading best dropped from their Big Five contracts, and authors whose work I don’t like (because they’re bland, lack craft, and, in some cases, the protagonists are bigoted, racist fools, and not because the author is trying to communicate that’s a negative) being heavily promoted.

The books I enjoy are, for the most part, coming out of small presses and, in some cases, independently published. Indie publishing is always hit and miss, because so many of those books are so published because the author lacks the craft to land an agent or a traditional contract. Yet, more and more ARE well-crafted, and have more interesting characters and situations and a broader context than that coming out of traditional houses.

Small presses are great because they are small, and they’re willing to take chances on the unusual. If you find the right small press with which to click, everything is possible. Of course, because they are small, even if you, as an individual, do your part, if every other author in the stable isn’t holding up their end, the publisher can burn out.

There’s a difference between incorporating notes/feedback into a manuscript to make it the best it can be, and changing it to fit someone else’s formula. If all they like and all they can sell is X, and I’d rather do Y, then I have to have enough savvy to realize that when they want it to conform to X, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s to make it better. It’s to make it fit. I don’t have to fit, if I’m willing to put in the thought, time, and effort, to do something else. It means not signing with them, but so what? The advances have gone down considerably in most cases, and few traditional houses are putting effort into promoting anything that doesn’t have to do with manipulating the so-called “best seller ” lists.

It wasn’t until I worked in a library that I realized just how much manipulation goes into those lists, and how little has to do with the actual worth of a book.

All of that has to be taken into consideration as I make my decisions in the coming months. I also want to redefine how I promote my work. I don’t WANT to do the same thing everyone else does — there’s a saturation of desperate promotion that works for very few. Instead, I want to craft campaigns that are as unique and quirky as the material I’m promoting.

The next couple of years should be interesting, craft-and-career-wise.

In the meantime — I have a play to finish!

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on December 2, 2016 at 10:14 am  Comments Off on Fri. Dec. 2, 2016: Redefining How I Want to Handle My Writing Career  
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Sat. May 21, 2106: Release, Revision, Writing. Repeat.

Saturday, May 21, 2016
Full Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was a busy day. Lots to do, and I had a migraine by the end of it.

On the upside: “Severance”, the sci-fi/horror/western short, has re-released through Smashwords. You can buy it for 99 cents here. It’s been accepted as a “Premium” listing, which means it ships out to other retailers like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Amazon, et al.

I also got back the galleys for “Plot Bunnies”, which is the next to release (although we’re still working on the cover), and the cover for “Personal Revolution”, which will release just before the Fourth of July weekend, since that’s when it’s set.

“Broken Links” is in rehearsal in Virginia. I’m looking forward to hearing it when it broadcasts in June.

ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT will be renamed PLAYING THE ANGLES. I need to do another pass on that, and then it goes out on submission again – there have been a few indications of interest, and I look forward to the possibility of its re-release.

I’m also in talks about reviving Nina Bell – in other words, rewriting TAPESTRY, although keeping it set in the 1990s, and having the series progress through the turn into the 21st century. Most likely, those books would go out via Smashwords. It breaks too many genre rules for it to make good business sense for a traditional publisher.

I’m looking forward to digging back in to DEATH OF A CHOLERIC this weekend. I’m hoping I can finish this round of revisions within a week. Then I can get going on the submission materials while it marinates – the logline, the one paragraph blurb, the query letter template, the beginning of the outline and synopsis. Those will change, and, obviously, I can’t finalize those materials or my first 3 chapter, first 10 pages, et al files until I have a submission-ready draft.

I admit, it’s hard not to get caught up in starting to query while I’m prepping what I consider is the “submission-ready draft”, but the Universe just likes to bite you in the butt when you try that. If you are sending out queries, the manuscript has to be ready to submit. When you get a “yes, I’d like to see it”, you send it within 48 hours. You don’t tell an agent or an editor that you need X more months to finish. Until you’re established and on contract cycles, you need a polished draft ready before you start querying.

“Just a Drop” also needs serious attention. And I have to find my notes for SONGBOUND SISTERS to get back on track for that. HEART SNATCHER and INITIATE will just have to sneak in when there’s room.

I’m going to have to mow the lawn when I get home. I stopped at Auberchon’s for some more starter fluid from the mower, and they tried to sell me fluid for a grill. I told them no, it’s for the mower. They argued. I pointed out that grill fluid on the lawn mower would make it blow up, and just because I’m female doesn’t mean I’m an idiot when it comes to machines. Geez, Louise.

Looking forward to getting some mowing done so I can settle on the deck with a glass of wine and a manuscript. Looking forward to a writing weekend.

Oh, and I got an idea overnight for a short story, and got going on that this morning.  I was asked to submit to an anthology — but it has to be this coming week.  I’m having fun playing with these characters in this situation, but I need to research sailboats.

Enjoy!

Devon

Published in: on May 21, 2016 at 9:57 am  Comments Off on Sat. May 21, 2106: Release, Revision, Writing. Repeat.  
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Monday, July 4, 2011


A cork tree, Heritage Museum and Gardens

Monday, July 4, 2011
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and humid
American Independence Day

As you can see, I’ve tweaked the sidebar. The small writing booklets are gone — Payloadz is more trouble than its worth; in addition to poor or no customer service, they wound up keeping 80% or more of each booklet. Not an acceptable arrangement. I’m combining the booklets into a new book and adding some additional material. I plan to have it ready for purchase, probably via Amazon Kindle, in the fall, and am researching the cost of spiral-bound copies to bring to conferences and classes. I’ll keep you posted.

I cleaned up some of the blog links — got rid of ones where people have stopped posting, stopped by and said hello on a bunch I hadn’t visited in awhile. Nice to catch up. I added The Writers Vineyard, where I now post monthly, and I hope that will be one of your regular stops.

I’ve also taken down the Nina Bell story. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with the Nina Bell stories — she’s got a lot to say, but how best to get the stories out there? And do I want to write FINDING JAKE, setting it fifteen or twenty years after TAPESTRY? I have to think about it.

I wound up not going to the Powwow, unfortunately– I’ll put it on my “must do” list for next year. 30,000 other people managed to get there, so I doubt they missed me! I ran some errands on Saturday, including getting another cubic foot of potting soil and picking up a pie. Got more gas for the mower, and mowed the front. Costume Imp’s right — it runs much easier without the death grip on it, but it’s still difficult to maneuver on the uneven ground. I did a lot of deadheading and weeding, all around the house, and cut back stuff that’s popped and faded. Planted zinnias and, because I think Bessie’s brood ate the flowers on the pumpkins and zucchini, planted some more pumpkins — this time in a pot. Put the teeny, tiny tomato plants in the big pots outside with the basil and the marigolds. We’ll see what happens.

I did a bunch of research and worked on the lectures for the upcoming classes. I finished the July newsletter and got that out on Sunday morning.

The line at Dunkin’ Donuts on Sunday was right out the door. Yeah, it’s summer on the Cape.

There are all kinds of fireworks going off, some legit, some morons who don’t know their asses from their elbows and may lose both if they’re not careful. Having trained in pyrotechnics during my time in theatre, I have only contempt for people who act like setting off a firecracker is the same as lighting a candle. If you don’t have the knowledge, and, more important, the RESPECT for the piece, it will take no prisoners.

Violet is absolutely turning herself inside out with terror from the noise and the vibrations. Iris just puts her paws over her ears and goes back to sleep. The Hounds of the Baskervilles are very upset — it hurts their sensitive ears.

We got to eat the first strawberries from our hanging baskets — the Seascape variety, no less! They are delicious, so full of flavor. I don’t think we’ll get 25-50 quarts this summer, but we will enjoy whatever ones we have!

Got out a couple of short stories on submission, and got some other work done. Got some decent work done on SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and simply don’t understand why the progress is so slow. It’s not a bad book, the pace is decent, and I’m struggling to sit down every morning and get my minimum done on it. But it needs to get out the door, so butt goes in seat, until it gets done.

Did some work on the outline of the new book, and then realized that I have to rename the character, because she doesn’t like her first name, and her last name is the same as a character in a book that will go out on submission in fall. Since the books are both set on the Cape, unless I plan to have them related to each other, this isn’t going to work. I want this book to have a rather wry, light tone, with a hint of brittle humor without breaking, but it seems to want to go in another direction. I hope I can set up character and situation so humor emerges organically; if I try to “write funny”, it will be leaden and awful. I planned out how I want the bitchy manger to meet her untimely end, and why, and tied it to a murder at the same location in the 1950’s, in the earlier history of the same complex, so we’ve got the whole generational thing going on. I’ll have to work with some timeline stuff, but it gives me the chance to play with summer stock on the Cape in the 1950’s. Originally, I’d wanted to do a series about a summer stock theatre, starting it in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s, bringing it forward to contemporary times. But this way, I get to put that and the contemporary times side-by-side. I think the contrasts and compliments will be interesting, instead of breaking each thing into its own book. Bitchy Manager actually gets a nicer end than what I originally envisioned, but it serves the book better and hey, she’s still dead! 😉 I think I’ll actually title the chapters with when they take place, so that I can write scenes set in the 1950’s as well as in contemporary times. I know I’ve got books about the straw hat circuit that I haven’t unpacked yet, and I have two whole shelves in the storage room just waiting for them . . .

Yes, I’m writing about theatre again. What can I say? Backstage is ripe for stories, and writing them is easier than going back and keeping those hours! 😉

Had a breakthrough on the adaptation of GLAMOROUS HEARTS, which is back on the schedule. I think it can do very well as darkly comic novel. I’ll need to do research, but I’ve got most of the research on the 1920’s New York part, and I’m close enough to Newport, with enough resources, to be able to fill that in. WHEN that will get done, I’m not quite sure — maybe allow myself to do a scene at a time as a reward whenever I get a good, solid chunk done of THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY.

Today, I have quite a bit to do, writing-wise, and I want to make sure I complete the material for Confidential Job #1. I get to go back to yoga tomorrow morning — I’m absolutely hungry for it.

But today, holiday or not, I have to put my head down and get some work done.

Devon


ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT available from Champagne Books and Amazon Kindle.
Annabel Aidan webpage here.

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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