Saturday, September 5, 2009

A view from Eastham, MA

Saturday, September 5, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Nine days until Prague!

Yesterday was busy — out of the house early, up to Stamford. Visited the currency exchange — got the first four days’ worth of my budget in Czech krona. So there’s a start! Also got some more British pounds sterling, since we’ve got that 4-hour layover in Heathrow.

Went to the bookstore and got my fourth plane book: Italo Calvino’s IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER. I can’t wait to read it. But I have to wait until I head for the airport! 😉

I bought some books for my mom. She loves the writing of Mary Balogh, so we’re getting all of her books.

I seem to have fixed the power cord problem with extensive jiggling.

Visited the Staples in Stamford — no luck on the memory card for the camera. I don’t want 16GB — I want 2 GB, and not the tiny card, but the one that actually fits my camera. The card will only hold the photos from this trip. I keep the memory cards — in addition to backing up the photos on them, I also work directly from the cards. I don’t erase them and re-use them. That is my choice. I shouldn’t have to change the way I work because a store doesn’t feel like carrying what I need.

Drove to Larchmont, to that Staples. It’s on the site of what used to be a VW dealership when we first moved to NY in 1968. It’s now a fantastic Staples — not only is it huge, but the employees are helpful and friendly. They had what I needed, they helped me double check the reference just to be sure, and they had most of the other stuff I needed, too (although not the pen refills I need). Most importantly, they were pleasant and helpful. So they will now be my first choice of Staples around here, instead of going up the street to the one that never has anything or all the way to CT.

There was also a fantastic organic market in the same plaza, so I stocked up on a few things!

I started reading the novel PRAGUE and put it aside. It takes place in Budapest, and while that is part of the novel’s irony, I am not in the mood for irony right now; I wanted to read something set in Prague. I found myself muttering about it on every page and not doing the novel justice, so I’ve put it aside until I get back.

I tried to fact check something for an article that needs to go out with English Heritage, who runs the property. And got an email telling me it takes 21 days to check this fact. WTF? They can’t look it up or forward the email to the site? Puh-leeze. I’m going to see if I can get better information via the Northumbrian Tourist Authority. They’ve been very helpful in the past. And the National Trust usually gets back to me within 48 hours. Update: Lindisfarne Priory got in touch with me directly to answer my question — exactly what I needed. Article will go out this morning. Phew!

The CD version of DIXIE DUST RUMORS arrived, so now I’ve got something for people to have in hand when I give readings.

I’ve got to work on the guest blog posts this weekend, write my Sole Struck article, and get out at least one more essay.

I had a great morning’s work on AMENDS today. I wrote the scene with the Alzheimer’s sufferer. It’s true to life and there’s sadness there, but it doesn’t divert the themes and intent of the book.

I hope to get more work done on it today.

I received my first royalty check from PERFECTLY PLUM!, the anthology in which my essay appeared a couple of years ago. It’s earned out its advance, and we got some royalties! Love that.

If you’re a fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and haven’t yet checked it out, I hope you do.

My play, THE MATILDA MURDERS opens the day before I leave for Prague, so I won’t get to see it until I get back.

NYFA’s funding cycle covers both fiction and playwriting this year, so I will probably apply for both. I’m going through my work to decide what to submit for that, and what to submit for the residency in Maine next summer. I’m also working on another proposal for an overseas residency. I don’t think I’ve got the serious lit/academic credentials they usually go for, but I’m trying to shape the proposal to make that a strength.

A friend of mine suggested that if I’m serious about ex-patriating (which, if the US doesn’t stop its ridiculous, destructive downslide to the hard right that I hoped would cease with last year’s election but hasn’t, I certainly am), I should consider Switzerland. Honestly, I’d never even thought of Switzerland. I haven’t thought about Switzerland since I visited in the early 1970’s, except when I re-read Noel Coward’s autobiography.

The Democratic Party Platform: All have the right to equality and social justi–ooh, shiny!

The GOP Party Platform: ME, ME, ME! Die, suckers!

We need more legitimate parties than just those two. For all the chaos in the UK, at least they have a variety of valid viewpoints.

Which is why I am not affiliated with either of the above parties.

The only thing I remember about Switzerland is mountains, mountain passes, and riding a paddle boat on Lake Zurich and the paddles broke. So we waved and waved, and people waved back, thinking we were being friendly, until some Scandinavians with rope in their rucksacks figured it out, tossed us a line and towed us back in. I remember the floral clock in Geneva and the bears in Berne. And that’s about it.

I hope to get a lot of work done on AMENDS this weekend, and also learn at least a few more phrases of Czech. I’m tired of preparing — I just want to get on the plane and have the experience.

Of course, the fact that Mercury is in retrograde for the entire trip should add some, uh, interesting twists!


AMENDS: First draft: 20,937 words out of est. 75,000
Another view of Eastham, MA

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

If you haven’t read about last week’s trip, there’s a nice, long post about it below.

I can’t believe it’s another Monday. Last week just flew past. We had frost last night, but, because it’s after May 15, the scumbag landlords didn’t give us heat. A hot water bottle is a beautiful thing.

Yesterday was busy, but it feels like I didn’t get much done. I polished and sent the Preakness Wrap-up article to my editor. I went over the final corrections on DIXIE DUST — the book should release any minute. In fact, at least one person’s bought a copy, which shouldn’t be available yet — and has a copy with errors. I expressed my concern to my publisher.

I spent a couple of hours converting/pulling old floppies/documents from the PC to flashdrives. I realized it makes more sense to convert them before I save them,and only put the latest Word version on the flashdrive. I still have multiple drafts on the flashdrive, in some cases, but not the old files that I can’t open. I found some stuff I didn’t know I had — some of it will be retired; some of it will be rewritten and sent out into the world.

I want to take what I learned from DIXIE DUST and apply it to the next horse racing YA, tentatively titled DEAD MAN’S STALL, which I plan to set in Saratoga, and also to the partially-written YA with an ice hockey player as its protagonist. I still haven’t heard anything about OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK’s new release date, and it’s affecting how I work on CRAVE THE HUNT, which it shouldn’t. I need to reshuffle this summer’s projects and re-prioritize, and not get derailed by other people’s issues.

I have a new assignment for Confidential Job #1, some client projects due this week, follow-up on previous pitches, and I have to figure out which in-process writing needs the most attention. I also have a manuscript to finish critiquing for a friend this week, and several books to read so I can host the authors on A BIBLIO PARADISE.

And some business correspondence. There’s a lot to get done before Memorial Day weekend rolls around at the end of this week.

Took a final look at FEMME FATALE this morning, and sent it to my producer. I don’t want to hold it until BLOOD SOUP is done. That puts too much pressure on BLOOD SOUP. THE MATILDA MURDERS is set to open in September, so that’s great, and there’s been a request for an additional performance of TILL DEATH DO THEY PART in August. All good.

I’m doing the follow-up on the February pitches. I sent a few polite follow-up requests to places from which I haven’t heard back, and withdrew a column pitch from one publication and several article ideas from another, because they have not responded to either the pitches of the follow-ups. I can’t have things hanging around in limbo indefinitely — everything needs to be earning money. And since everything I write eventually finds a home somewhere, I don’t need to sit and wait until someone “gets around to” a response. I am more than generous in granting response time, and if you can’t be bothered, well, there are those who can, and they’ll get my work. One publication was a disappointment, because I’ve written several articles for them in the past. But they are too erratic with their communication, and I can’t put in the work and then have pieces tied up indefinitely. It’s not good business on my end. So, I’m working my way down the list. The lack of courtesy irks me more than a rejection would. It’s fine to tell me the piece doesn’t fit. It’s not fine not to respond to the initial query or to the follow-up.

Have to get the press mailing out for DIXIE DUST as soon as I’ve got the okay and the direct purchase link. If you want to read a couple of excepts, hop on over to the Jenny Storm webpage. I’ve also got a full media kit I can send out, and the press release for the book is here.

Better get back to work.