Mon. July 9, 2018: Say “Yes” — #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, July 9, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde

 

There’s a saying I’ve heard about both opportunity and the Muse: that when it knocks, you better answer or it will move on to someone else.

I believe that.

Of course, there are those who will insist they are “offering” you an “opportunity” to try to get them to work for free while they do nothing. Laugh and walk away. That is not something you to which you want to say “yes.”

But say “yes” to new experiences that are out of your comfort zone, but that you might enjoy. I did that with Argentine Tango – I said “yes” to taking classes for a few months. Not only did I have the chance to do something I hadn’t done in years – dance – I met new people, learned about a world-wide community, and gathered material for at least three new books. I even put a tango scene into my radio play “Light Behind the Eyes” which was produced this past March.

I said “yes” to attending my very first Bouchercon way back in the mid-1990s, and that was the catalyst to writing novels again. I said “yes” to my very first Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which led me to an invitation to participate in the Adelaide Festival Fringe, which meant I got to go to Australia, something I’d always wanted to do. And I got to go there as a working artist.

In Australia, I said “yes” to a local networking meeting someone I’d met in passing invited me to, which led me to saying “yes” to a curator for the library, who invited me to see an illuminated manuscript, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen in my life. I said “yes” to doing a promo on a local radio show – which got such a positive response that I wound up co-hosting the show while we were at festival. I said “yes” to an invitation to an art gallery opening, where I was exposed to stunning work by Aboriginal artists depicting the sections in Australia where the ozone layers are burned all the way through. I said “yes” to an invitation to join a group of Aborginal women artists for their morning coffee – a rare honor, since they didn’t mingle with the other festival participants often – and learned a whole new way of communicating and relating.

I said “yes” the first time I was invited, in my first theatre lighting class in college, to working on the crew of a show – and that, eventually, led me to my career on Broadway.

I said “yes” in high school, when I was starting to learn cello, but they needed more viola players and asked me to switch. And I learned the viola (not that I remember it after all these years, but still . . .)

I said “yes” when I was just getting back into thoroughbred racing to work on a benefit to help racetrack workers have access to childcare and ended up with lifelong friends among trainers, jockeys, backstretch workers, which led me to pitch (and accept) a job covering the Triple Crown for thirteen years, and go to races in England and Scotland.

I said “yes” when given the opportunity to write about ice hockey and spent months with a minor league time; I said “yes” when given the opportunity to cover America’s Cup and learned about sailing and those beautiful old Newport yachts (even though I can’t swim). I said “yes” to covering Highland Games and local sports and lighthouses and restaurants and anything else that sounded interesting.

I can’t even count the times I’ve said “yes” – because I say “yes” more than I say “no” – especially if it means a new experience. I trust my gut – if something seems off about the offer, or I figure it’s dangerous in the wrong way, I decline.

But I trust my gut, and saying “yes” means I had opportunities and experiences many others around me haven’t. I ask questions. I’m interested in the world. So when someone offers me a chance to do something unique, especially by someone who is passionate about their interests, I try to say “yes” and then enjoy it!

 

Advertisements

Mon. June 18, 2018: Follow Your Dreams — A Personal Story #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, June 18, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

I’ve lived my life by that motto.

I knew I wanted to be a writer by the time I was six years old. I published in school magazines and newspapers. As a teen, I wrote plays, and I did press releases and other articles for local and regional newspapers about the high school music groups with which I was associated.

In college, I got away from the writing (although I wrote plenty of awful poetry) when I committed to theatre. I graduated high school early, tested my way out of freshman year, and entered Florida State University in Tallahassee mid-year. I took a stage lighting class. I was supposed to put in 20 hours of lab work in the theatre during the semester. I put 20 hours in my first week and never left the building until I transferred to NYU’s film and television program a year later. I got terrific experience at FSU, and even picked up a few side rock and roll gigs.

I transferred to NYU and got into the film department. My first day in film school, I met the guy who still, all these decades later, is one of my closest friends. But, because I was practical and a problem-solver, I wound up more on the production management level than the writing level. I had two brilliant professors, who encouraged me, and with whom I’m still in contact. One was my screenwriting professor, and I wish I’d studied more with him. I still use what I learned from him, in screenwriting, playwrighting, radio writing, and novels.

I picked up theatre jobs here and there. In other words, I started earning my living in the arts when I was 18. Any non-arts job I ever had was only temporary, and in between shows, for the cash. I knew I wasn’t suited to an office job or anything the fearful call “a real job.” Honey — working in the arts is about giving EVERYTHING and leaving it out there. It’s far more real than ANY office job. So shut the eff up.

When I graduated from NYU, I moved to the west coast for three years to work in regional theatre. I knew I needed experiences outside of New York. I loved it, but I also knew that if I was going to realize my dream of working on Broadway, I had to be in New York. While I was west, I spent some time in LA and knew it wasn’t for me.

I came back east, initially to help with a family issue, for two months. I immediately landed a stage management job and worked my way up in the off-off-off-off Broadway community. (I had worked as a stage manager and production manager in San Francisco, and as a props person in Seattle). I switched to wardrobe (as a stage manager in small SF companies, I’d often both stage managed and handled quick changes). I worked my way from off-off-off Broadway to off-off Broadway and then to off-Broadway. I did some work in New York as a stage manager and an associate production manager, for the Pearl Theatre and for Manhattan Class Company. I did wardrobe for the Vineyard, and then spent several seasons at Manhattan Theatre Club, which led to open-ended runs rather than repertory.

While I was still working off-off Broadway, I spent three years working during the day for an art book publisher. I learned an enormous amount that has served my writing career well, working both sides of the table. I worked in the development offices of the Neuberger Museum and the Guggenheim Museum. At the latter, I spent my lunch hour walking the museum, immersing myself in the art. I worked part-time for five years for the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, when it was so small the staff consisted of the Executive Director and me, putting on seminars and support groups and roundtables and award shows. I learned so much.

It was at Manhattan Theatre Club where I had the honor of working with Arthur Miller and Athol Fugard within the same six months. I’d started writing again. Even though I was the wardrobe girl, Athol respected that I wrote, that I was starting to define myself as a writer. He invited me to sit in on rehearsals any time I wanted, to ask any questions I wanted. I did, and I learned an amazing amount from him. He directed what he wrote, but he kept his writing self and his directing self separate.

On the first day of rehearsal, in his opening remarks, he said, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the writer is dead in this process. There will be no revisions during rehearsal. The bad news is that I promised him you chaps would speak every line exactly as written.”

I loved it. He demanded respect for the words. No paraphrasing (which American actors tend to do more than any other actors, claiming to be “in the moment” when, in reality, most of them simply haven’t bothered to take the time to memorize).

I worked with Arthur Miller within the same six months (their plays were produced one after the other in the season). I adored him. He was one of the most vibrant, vital, intelligent people I ever met. He used to hang out in the wardrobe room during the show sometimes.

At the time, I was getting back into writing. Monologues for actresses with whom I worked, who couldn’t find good monologues for auditions. Who landed the job every time they used something I wrote for them. I was also working on a short story, for a themed competition.

I wrote the first draft on butcher paper in between cues in the wardrobe room. I typed it up and worked on revisions between cues (there were long periods where I didn’t have any quick changes with my actors). I hid the pages in the room, but Arthur found them one evening when I was on the deck doing quick changes.

I was mortified when I returned to the room and found him reading the pages. He was Arthur Miller! I was, well, me.

He looked up and said, “This is good. What are you doing working backstage?”

“I like it. Plus, you know, I like to do things like eat. I have to pay the rent.”

“You need to write full time. You’ll never be the writer you can be, find your full potential, until you rely on it to pay the bills.”

David Mamet told me something very similar when we worked together.

Arthur gave me some suggestions on the text. He never treated me like “less than” because he was Arthur Miller and I was a wardrobe girl scribbling in a corner. He always treated me like a colleague. We kept in touch until his death, and he always pushed me to do better, be more — and only write.

It was quite a few years before I had the courage to only write — and it was AFTER I’d accomplished my dream of working on Broadway.

The monologues I wrote expanded to plays, the plays that would take me to fringe festivals in both Edinburgh and Australia. I found my work got a much stronger reception in Europe than in the US. It wasn’t angsty enough for the American audiences at the time; there was too much sharp humor.

I landed at the Public Theatre and worked with one of my idols, Hal Prince. Another person at the top of his craft who liked and respected everyone with whom he worked. The assistant designers at the Public were working on Broadway and took me with them when the show at the Public closed.

I found myself learning how to be a swing dresser on Broadway, on the production of MISS SAIGON, and in the union. Each series of cues a dresser performs during the course of the show is called a “track.” If you read my novel PLAYING THE ANGLES, set backstage on a Broadway show, my protagonist Morag is a Broadway dresser.

MISS SAIGON had 13 tracks. I learned them in 26 performances. You follow the dresser once to learn it; the dresser follows you as you do it. Within three months, after swinging every track on the show multiple times, the lead actresses who played Kim requested me when their regular dresser took another job. I stayed with the show for five years, until it closed.

It was an amazing, creative group. We wrote plays, songs, other performances, and all went to each others’ shows. Which took place at midnight, in various venues around the city. We put on our own shows, and hung out with the cast & crew of other shows like SNL at KGB. We did The Easter Bonnet Competition and Gypsy of the Year and Broadway Bares to raise money for AIDs and breast cancer. I worked the Tony Awards once and attended it twice over my years on Broadway.

I think I had four shows I wrote produced during that time, in small venues. Dozens of monologues and short pieces. A few short stories published. MISS SAIGON closed and I worked on other shows at other theatres: RENT, GYPSY (the Bernadette Peters version), FOLLIES, 42ND ST, SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS (with Mark Hamill, who became one of my favorite people ever), URINETOWN, and then as a swing on the first 3 1/2 years of WICKED.

I loved it, but I knew I was aging out. Physically, it was getting tougher and tougher. Mentally, I was struggling to get the writing done and work full time on Broadway. They’re not kidding when they say, “The theatre is a jealous mistress.”

By this point, I was also day-playing on television shows shooting in New York. For the money. I could earn in one day on set when I earned in a week on Broadway. I liked it. I learned so, so much. But I didn’t love it the way I loved Broadway. I’m better suited to theatre production than television production. Which is a shame, from a financial standpoint.

I was also writing about sports for various publications. I covered horse racing and ice hockey. Thirteen years’ worth of Triple Crown races; traveled with a minor league hockey team for eight months as background for a book. Covered America’s Cup races and learned about sailing, although I can’t even swim.

By this point, the first Jain Lazarus Adventures were out, ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, DIXIE DUST RUMORS, and a bunch of short stories and anthologies. I was writing for calendars and almanacs. I was doing marketing writing for companies. I was writing and teaching and working on novels and trying to build a writing career as the publishing world changed. I hit a point where I had to make a decision. I had to decide if I would stop writing or if I would give up Broadway.

I knew I couldn’t continue physically on Broadway much longer — heavy costumes, raked stages, blowing out my knees running up and down concrete steps carrying stacks of clothes.

I chose writing.

SPRING AWAKENING was my last show as a swing on Broadway. The last event I worked was a staged reading of ALL ABOUT EVE, which had a plethora of people I loved working with involved, AND I got to bow out by working with Jennifer Tilly, Keri Russell, Peter Gallagher, Annette Bening, Angela Lansbury, Zoe Caldwell, and more. It was a great way to leave the business. I’d heard so many stories about how wonderful Peter Gallagher is, and thought, “No one can be that great” — he IS that great, and even better. I’ve never laughed as much with anyone as I did with Jennifer Tilly, and I loved working with Keri Russell (we had five quick changes in a staged reading, which means walking around holding scripts).

I moved away from New York to write. There are challenges. I live in a place that is a prime example of how trickle-down economy does not work. I live in place that, if you’re a working artist who visits, they fall all over you, but if you chose to LIVE here, you’re considered a failure and should get a “real” job. Honey, this is a real job. Granted, most of the clients who pay me well are remote, but I’m working a real job. I’m writing material that helps businesses grow and spread their message. I’m writing books that I love. I’m writing plays and radio plays that invigorate people.

I have always made the choices to do what I love. To fight for what I want, to refuse to compromise and be forced into work I hate. I have made plenty of personal compromises along the way.

Every single one of them has been worth it.

Just because I love what I do does not mean I don’t deserve to be paid for it. Loving my work does not mean I don’t deserve to earn a living at it. I do. And nothing less is acceptable.

Those who don’t have the courage to follow their dreams often try to punish those of us who do.

They are not worth our time or our energy.

Do what you love. Follow your dreams. Make them your reality.

Monday, May 14, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors The Next Step on the Ladder

black-and-white-construction-ladder-54335

Photo courtesy Khimish Sharma, via Pexels.com

Monday, May 14, 2018
Dark of the Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

 

My first response to that is, “Which ladder?” I have various limbs on various ladders. I write in different genres, under different names, in a variety of formats: prose, theatre, television, film, radio. Journalism. Essays. Marketing writing. Reviewing.

I do very little editing for private clients now, because the time/money ratio doesn’t work for me, too many would-be writers default on payments (when they’re not trying to lowball me down to a fraction of my rate), and I need the primary focus to be on my own work. When I edit, I am generally hired by the publishing house to work for something under contract that has passed particular gate-keeping standards.

I am with more than one publisher. One of them, who has signed several projects, is small, just starting out. We are taking a risk on each other. Among the reasons I was excited to work with them was that they pay small advances, don’t demand their writers acquiesce to a boiler-plate contract AND, instead of POD, they do small print runs. The print runs are after a certain digital threshhold is reached, but the POD model was not working for me, so I wanted to try this. I am still with another publisher who is doing the POD model, and I have submissions out to several other publishers, who work on a mix of models, so we’ll see what happens. I also liked them because the editor with whom I’m working constantly pushes me to be better. And that is my goal — that every book I write is better, in both craft and art, than the previous books.

About a year ago, I sat down with a lawyer, an agent, an editor, and a marketing advisor, and we came up with a plan. I was unhappy and frustrated with the way things were going in my career. I knew I wasn’t writing what the Big Five wanted; I wanted to explore some things that they are currently giving lip service to, but not following through on, and I wanted to do it in my way. We were not a good fit at the time. I knew I was going to part from an agent I’d been working with for several months, because we were not a good fit. When we got together, she was excited by my work and my voice; but the more we worked together, the more she wanted to dilute it and take out what made it unique. She kept telling me my themes and issues were “too hard for the typical reader.” In other words, she wanted me to dumb things down, and I didn’t want to do that. Also, she only wanted to commit to a book at a time, and I need an agent who is interested in long-term career planning. She has since signed a friend of mine, and they’re doing great together. I’m happy for both of them; they are the right fit. We were not.

As far as the marketing writing went, I wanted to have the confidence to say “No” to the lowballers locally and reach farther afield. The interesting thing is that as soon as I did that, I landed two clients locally with whom I work well, WHILE also reaching beyond the bridge for clients who pay better.

We took four or five days together, and I took about twenty pages of notes. We crafted a plan. Some of that we followed; some of that has fallen by the wayside for various reasons.

I re-stated my commitment not to “niche” — to me, that’s a death toll for a creative life. Far too many people who “advise” freelancers sneer and call what I do a “generalist.” I prefer to call it being a “Renaissance Writer” and I’ve written on this topic for both WOW-Women on Writing and Write Naked!

I wanted to get back into article writing, which fell by the wayside for a bit. I started pitching again, and I did pretty well, but that seems to be one of the things that falls away first. Since I enjoy articles — every part from the pitch through the research through the writing and the polish, especially working with a good editor — I need to get back on track with that.

One of the big changes I made was in the way I do pitch letters. Instead of trying to frame what I do to sound like what they want, I’m more specific in the elements I think will appeal and more specific in where our paths diverge. I’m more myself in the cover letter — while still structuring it the way I find works — hook, one paragraph summary, technical info, bio, why this market. And the results are good.

This year and next, I’m on a brutal contract schedule. I’d spent a couple of years working on different types of material, on working on craft. Now, with a commitment to more than one series, I am sitting down and writing the books.

Last year, PLAYING THE ANGLES was re-released, as the first of the Coventina Circle paranormal romantic suspense novels (in its original incarnation, it was a stand-alone). The second book in the series, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, just released, and the third, RELICS & REQUIEM, will come out in October of this year, with the fourth, GRAVE REACH, coming out in May of 2019. So that’s a tight schedule.

Last year, the first Nautical Namaste mystery, SAVASANA AT SEA (as Ava Dunne) released. It’s a not-quite-cozy mystery series, whose protagonist is a yoga instructor on a cruise ship. Only one of those books comes out a year! But the next one, DAVY JONES DHARMA, is due in early December this year.

TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery, re-released this past January. As I worked on the second book, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, I realized that there was a chunk of it that slowed down the plot. Yet the information was necessary to where my characters were in their emotional lives and how they’d built their day-to-day relationships. Flashbacks and info-dump conversations wouldn’t work; so my editor and I decided to pull out those chapters, flesh them out into a “between-the-books” novella, now called MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and put that out this summer. BALTHAZAAR is still scheduled to come out in January of 2019, and that is now back on track, the pace and content correct.

In the meantime, I had three terrific opportunities. One was to pitch a serial. Those of you who’ve known me for several years know that I used to write four serials in four genres under two names for 18 months a few years back. A total of 8000 words a month. I love writing serials, and I miss it. I had the chance to pitch to a company that specializes in serials.

I pitched a fantasy/adventure novel. I’d written the first four chapters a couple of years ago and put it aside for scheduling reasons. But, when I had this opportunity, I wrote a few more chapters, and outlined what would be the book-length arc of this serial. I fell in love with it all over again. If it’s picked up, it goes back in the schedule; if not, it will be back-burnered again.

I also had two other ideas, stand-alones, that I played with, on and off for a couple of years, writing my way in the first few chapters, then making notes for my Writers’ Rough. On impulse, I polished pitches and tossed them into a Twitter pitch day for a specific company. Editors liked both; so I’m working on some additional chapters, polishing them, and sending them out by deadline this month. Again, if the editors want the full manuscript, they go back into the schedule sooner rather than later; if not, they are back-burnered until next year, when my contract schedule isn’t quite as demanding.

As I said above, I have a couple of other pieces out on submission; if they are contracted, they will be worked in. I also have a serial novel — which is different than a novel broken down as a serial. This is a set of novels that are all of a piece. It follows the filming of a television series over several seasons. Not a series, in the sense that each stands alone and progresses. These novels all fit together like puzzle pieces. One of my publishers has expressed interest in looking at it when the first five or so puzzle pieces are ready. When will that be? I don’t know.

I also made a commitment to do more script work again. I’m taking this year off from stage plays (I wrote four in three years for 365 Women). But one of my radio plays will be produced later this month, and I want to submit some screenplays I’ve polished.

Along with all this, I will pitch to higher-paying clients and higher-paying article markets. Gotta keep a roof over my head, and if I don’t keep up the writing pace I can’t. This is my profession, not my hobby. I am paid to write. That IS my day job. While my book sales have jumped considerably since I moved webhosts and redesigned my websites, I still need the marketing writing and article writing for income. Plus, I enjoy it.

So, my “next step” is building on the foundation of the series on which I currently write; continuing to expand the publication contracts with other publishers at higher-paying tiers, and book higher-paid marketing and article gigs.

I’ve found a process that works for me as far as the new ideas — because, as we all know, new ideas come in batches. I write my way in for a few chapters, then sit down and do a Writer’s Rough Outline. That way, whenever I can actually sit down and WRITE the book, I can drop into its world. The Writer’s Rough outline captures the initial energy of the idea, and then, as I work, I can develop the structure and the craft.

In the coming weeks, we will sit down again and assess how this last year played out. What worked, what didn’t. Where I lost focus, and what I dropped because it didn’t work. And we will craft a plan for the coming year that will guide me toward the “next step on the ladder.”

I don’t want fame. I worked in theatre and film for too many years and see how it can hurt creativity and general life; that is not what I want. I do want financial stability, and to be paid fairly for my work. There is no reason not to be paid well doing work I love. My profession is writing. I will not let ANYONE decide that it’s a cute lil hobby and I don’t deserve to be paid a living wage. I will dig in and do it, and earn my living. It will be a mix and match of projects and styles and tangents, but writing is my profession. When I decided I wanted to work on Broadway, I didn’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of achieving that goal. Now that I’m writing full-time, I feel the same way.

My next step is increased earnings and visibility for my work. It is also participating in the community of writers who love what they do and are committed to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work across the board, no matter what the profession. It is refusing to “dumb it down” or change what I write because people I don’t respect threaten not to buy what I write. The great thing about writing is that there are plenty of authors writing in plenty of styles and genres, so there’s something for everyone. It’s fine if someone doesn’t connect with my work — there are wonderful authors out there with whom they WILL connect. But threatening me and demanding I change what I write is not going to work.

Artists have a responsibility. I believe that responsibility is to bear witness to the world, to expand people’s vision of the world, but also to create better worlds and help us find ways to reach those better worlds inclusively and fairly. A better world needs social and economic justice. By respecting our own value, our own worth, we set the tone.

For more inspiration on valuing your work, please visit Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page blog. It’s great all the time, but May is Writers Worth Month. It’s especially great now.

 

Mon. April 23, 2018: Listen To Your Heart #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, April 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

If  you’re looking for a hearts-and-flowers inspiration post on this topic, move along. This post is about determination, focus, will power, and passion.

If I didn’t listen to my heart, I wouldn’t have had the career in theatre that made me so happy, and I wouldn’t be a writer.

I started writing at age 6. I knew I loved theatre not much after that.

Of course, people told me it would be a “nice hobby” but I needed to get “a real job.”

What did I do?

I started landing paying gigs in theatre and rock ‘n roll when I was 18. I worked my way through college, between work-study and gigs. My college degree is in film and television production, from NYU, but I worked in theatre. I moved to the west coast for a few years to work regionals. I came back, and worked my way up from off-off-off-church-basement theatre to Broadway.

Because NO ONE was going to tell me that what I did was not “a real job.”

Anyone who doesn’t think working in the arts isn’t “a real job” has never worked in the arts. Cubicle dwellers wouldn’t last a week. You have to be fit physically, mentally, and emotionally. You have to be smart, able to think on your feet, a problem solver, have a quick learning curve, and able to work with all kinds of people. You learn that the nastiest people in the business are usually the most mediocre talents, and if you remain cordial and professional, they’ll nasty themselves out of a job and you’ll go on to work with better.

You have to love the work beyond measure. You have to be willing to give up nights, weekends, holidays, because your work is what others want when they play. You have to be ruthless. You have to be kind.

You have to love it.

Writing is much the same way. I wrote as much as I could through the theatre and film work. Production is all-consuming, but so is writing. When I had time to write, I sat down and I damn well WROTE.

If my show call at the theatre was 6:30, and I didn’t have day work or a special event with one of the actors, or spend my dark day from theatre on a television production, I was at my desk by 8 AM and I wrote until 4:30. A switch went off in my head at 4:30, and then I went into “show head” where, until I walked out of the theatre, the show was the only thing that occupied my world. Now that I’ve aged out of working in production and am writing full-time, I keep a similar schedule, although I’m usually at my desk by 7 AM. But 4:30 is no longer “show head.” Now, it’s cocktail hour! 😉

Focus, skills, learning curve, passion.

I can’t tell you how often over the years people told me I’d never “make it.” Of course, their version of “making it” had to do with fame and magazine covers and reality television.

My version of “making it” is to do good work with people I respect that expands people’s understanding of the world through the arts.

I worked hard, I continually learned, I loved what I did. I grew personally and professionally. Most important, by listening to my heart, I didn’t let the bitter, angry people who didn’t have the guts to go for it derail me from my dreams.

Listen to your heart.

Go for it.

 

Published in: on April 23, 2018 at 5:44 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 23, 2018: Listen To Your Heart #UpbeatAuthors  
Tags: , , , , ,

Tues. Jan. 17, 2017: Reading, Figuring, Negotiation

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise and take a look at “The Joy of Re-Reading.” Maybe it will inspire you to re-read some of your favorites.

Well, the weekend wasn’t as relaxing or productive as I hoped.

There was news happening, such as Swamp Thing Elect’s attack on John Lewis — right before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Typical of a self-centered Swamp Thing to attack someone vital to this country’s civil rights.

Not to mention that Biloxi, MS is now calling it “Great Americans Day”. That is not the name of the holiday, and you don’t get to change its name just because you’re a racist representing other racists.

Ringling Brothers’ Circus is closing after 146 years. Feld blames animal rights activists, and I call bullslhit on that. There are circuses without animal acts (such as Big Apple) who are doing fine without them. As someone who pitched to them several years ago to be part of their marketing department, I had a plan that would have brought them into the 21st Century while still paying tribute to their history and the history of “circus.” (Regular readers know I have several circus-themed projects in development — I have a good handle on the history). They weren’t interested. To their credit, they also didn’t start hiring third-rate reality celebutards to get them more attention. Am I saying that if they’d hired me they’d still be viable? No, because I’m sure other people pitched even better plans. But they weren’t willing to take big enough risks.

Sent off some material to a theatre that seems interested in working with me. We’ll see.

Did some more research for a pitch to a different theatre. I’d like to do the particular project I’ve been researching, so I sent off the pitch. Fingers crossed. It would mean six months of immersion in a period of time I’m interested in, but don’t know much about except peripherally. It would mean six months of immersion in beauty (as well as drama), which I could use right now.

I also re-thought another long-term project, which means one of my deadlines that was at the end of this month is now at the beginning of March, and then the next at the beginning of June, and so forth, every 12 weeks for the next two years, instead of every 6 weeks for a year. That will allow each of those pieces to be more in depth and more polished.

Because the point of honing one’s craft is that every piece one writes is better than the earlier ones.

Read Gail Godwin’s PUBLISHING: A MEMOIR, and recommended it to a friend who’s been going through a rough time. I didn’t realize how many publishers and editors she had — although she found the right agent early on and they stuck by each other. The right agent is so important. And difficult to find.

I used to read a lot of Godwin’s work, and really liked it. Until the religion overshadowed things like plot, character, and story, and then she lost me. I haven’t read the last few books, but I think I will try them. I also want to find the early ones, the ones I liked so much, that are packed away somewhere downstairs, and re-read them.

I don’t trust people who say they never re-read. A good book gives you fresh gifts every time you enter it. The “don’t have time” argument is just another bullshit excuse. There’s no such thing as “having” time for anything. You make the time for things that matter, and you ignore the rest.

Playing with a few things writing-wise, but it wasn’t anywhere near the productive writing weekend I needed it to be. I’m way, way behind where I need to be and frustrated.

I managed to write 14 pages on a piece on Saturday, but it wasn’t one of the pieces I should be working on. However, it was important in its own way, and I learned from it.

Read Miles Morland’s MILES AWAY: A WALK ACROSS FRANCE, which was fun.

There was an absolutely amazing event on Sunday at the New York Public Library, hosted by PEN America. It was the Louder Together Event, for writers to express the importance of protecting and fighting for free speech. There were people I knew there; people I didn’t know before but admired; new-to-me people who I now know. Writers of all kinds: novelists, poets, short story writers, essayists, translators, journalists (I’m talking REAL journalists who work stories, not news readers), and, most importantly to me, perhaps: playwrights. Because live theatre is a huge arena of change, because it is experiential rather than theoretical. Heroines of mine such as Anna Devere Smith and Eve Ensler spoke. I have always felt a great honor and a great responsibility as a member of PEN — it was strengthened on Sunday.

I was disappointed not to see any familiar faces from where I now live — Cape Cod. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and think they went to the sister rally held in Boston. However, I seriously doubt it. May I be proven wrong!

Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr., day, and a holiday. I took it as such. A contract offer came through — why it was sent to me instead of to my agent puzzles me. Negotiations will start this week, and it will be settled one way or the other.

I have a lot of lost ground to make up on both NOT BY THE BOOK and SONGBOUND SISTERS, although I’m feeling more confident in SONGBOUND SISTERS. Its natural rhythm is a bit slower than I’m used to; since it is yet to be contracted, I have the luxury of working with the book’s natural rhythm.

I started reading ITALIAN WAYS: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo by Tim Parks. He says something that resonates even more strongly in 2017 than in 2013, when the book was written: “In America the lack of investment in train travel speaks eloquently of a country always ready to appear righteous but pathologically averse to surrendering car and plane for a more eco-friendly, community-conscious form of mobility.” (p. viii, Preface).

Today, in addition to catching up on writing, I have a Very Long List of administrative tasks. Gotta keep up with them or they become overwhelming.

If the contract negotiations end positively later this week or early next week, there will be press releases to get out. Ditto if the play set in the Renaissance I pitched is commissioned. So, I have to be ready to jump on either of those instantly, should they come to pass.

I’m also working on a new marketing plan for the Topic Workbooks.

It’s always feast or famine; if even a handful of the opportunism work out, I’m entering a feast cycle, which will be good. I’ll need to step up to the plate and deliver. And adjust the uncontracted work so it still moves forward (because today’s uncontracted work is tomorrow’s contracted work) without sabotaging the contracted work.

It’s all about protecting the work while keeping one’s commitments, and knowing how to shift. And being able to work on more than one thing. Very few writers have the luxury any more, of being able to work on one project at a time. They should honor their agents and editors when they do.

Have a great week!

Tues. Sept. 6, 2016: On to New Adventures

Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and mild

Dealing with Tropical Storm Hermine. Not too bad, considering, at least so far. We desperately need the rain.

The season ended on Saturday night with a nice, big house. Cleaned up, turned in my keys, drove away without looking back. I’ve come down with a cold now, which is a little annoying, but that’s life. It figures, goes along with the release of the stress.

Spent most of Sunday sleeping, with a little reading involved, and a lot of yesterday reading.

As usual, I’m juggling multiple writing projects. I’m bogged down in INITIATE, with the logic of the upcoming sequence, but I hope to break through that in the next few days.

The Victorian mystery is coming along, although I have to enrich it with period detail. Plot and character are humming along, but I have to add the atmosphere. I’m looking forward to an upcoming trip to Newport for research.

I also had an idea for another piece, a fantasy novel with strong political overtones. On Friday, I wrote thirty pages on it, and I’ve been reworking it ever since. The characters, theme, and the start of the plot work, but I need to go deeper into motivations. And I have some other characters yapping at me for attention, so I’ll write myself in a few pages, and then see where I am with it. I need to get the characters down; the plot is loosely based on historical events in Northumberland, but I’m putting it into a fantasy setting.

Of course, I still have two plays to finish and the next round of edits on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC to get done. I hope to sit down and start reading that later this afternoon. And, I need to get back into SONGBOUND SISTERS. I’m behind where I want to be on that.

I’ve run into more people than I imagined from That Other Place. While I’ve been pleasant and polite, I’m still very angry about the whole situation. However, it’s not worth the energy. I landed in another job, in my field, and did it well, even if it was seasonal/temporary. Why people who knew me from Before are surprised that I can thrive in my native environment, a situation that’s far more positive than the one in which I was in for two years, is beyond me. And that fact that none of my former colleagues ever contacted me to see how I was doing . . .says more about them than about me.

My time is better spent on new projects. Those people and that place no longer exist in my universe. I have a life to lead, books to write, plays to create, projects to work on. The decisions I make moving forward are to support my creative work, not to fit anyone else’s convenience or agenda. There are far too many people around here who don’t have the talent or the skill, but have a misplaced sense of entitlement that others should do their work for them, clean up their mess, or a combination. I don’t intend to be that person, the janitor to their messes. I have my own work to do. Not only do I intend to do it, I intend to do it well.

I’m excited by the new projects. My agent has submitted the new mystery series. We’ll see what happens. I don’t expect to hear anything until October or November. By then, I hope to have DEATH OF A CHOLERIC out on submission, and a few other pieces close to ready to go.

I need to do an inventory of short stories to see what needs to go where. I don’t intend anything to sit around gathering dust!

I love September, and I love autumn. I intend to make this a good one!

Devon

Published in: on September 6, 2016 at 9:02 am  Comments Off on Tues. Sept. 6, 2016: On to New Adventures  
Tags: , ,

Fri. March 27, 2015: Inspiration and World Theatre Day

Friday, March 27, 2015
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold
WORLD THEATRE DAY

Busy day yesterday, with PubServe meeting in the morning. Everyone liked the baked goods, which is always satisfying!

Busy afternoon at the library, trying to catch up on everything on the desk that didn’t get done in the morning! Also, prepping for World Theatre Day – getting posters made, doing a display, etc. Interacting with international theatres – who seem more involved than US theatres. Good thing I can get by even in my ill-used, high school French! 😉 Seriously, it’s been a joy to interact with other theatres all over the world, who have a passion through creating positive change in performance. Theatre is given a much higher purpose of place in other countries.

Why do we need theatre? Why is it so different from prose or film? Because nothing can replace the live experience, the exchange of energy between performer and audience. You can do a show eight times a week for years, but every single performance is different and can never be exactly replicated because it is LIVE. There is a deep satisfaction, from the soul, in a good piece of theatre, both on a performance and an audience level. Nothing else comes close. I

Ran home, ate too much, and then headed back for Tango. I had fun, but I also had trouble catching on during the lesson. I don’t know why I was having trouble – I overcomplicated things, and I was fighting years of dance training. Instead of a simple pivot, my legs wanted to go into fourth position. It was hard to listen to the leader’s body, rather than relying on a count. I have to think of this as a different style rather than thinking of it as “unlearning” and relearning”.

Came home, and had an idea, inspired by World Theatre Day, to rewrite one of the Prague chapters in COLLABORATIVE BIRTH. Up too late, but it was worth it.

Dreamed additional rewrites (hopefully, I won’t lose the thread). Overslept, and had to scramble to get ready for work.

Today will be busy at the library. I’m going to write tonight. Tomorrow’s my day “on”, so I’ll be working in the mid-day.

The rest of the days will be tied up in writing, doing the last pass on the radio play (which goes out next week), and do the microfilm research. I also have to do some basic things, like laundry and getting in cat food and cat litter.

Today, during World Theatre Day, we’ve got radio plays running all day (I brought in my CDs). Hoping that having the radio play rhythms running in the background will keep me on track for the next radio plays coming up.

Have a great weekend.

Devon

Published in: on March 27, 2015 at 9:22 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 27, 2015: Inspiration and World Theatre Day  
Tags: , , , , ,

Mon. April 23, 2012: Energizing Writing Weekend

Monday, April 23, 2012
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

A terrific writing weekend — now, if it can only spill over into the week!

First of all, I’ve got an essay up on Cape Cod Women Online, “The Leap Over the Canal” about moving to the Cape. It’s got both book covers in it, and I’m thrilled with the way it turned out. The two book covers look really nice together — I may do that for a mailing.

Second, Billy Root blogs about what it feels like to be an actor — a nice little behind-the-scenes taste. I hope you’ll stop by — and maybe even drop a comment. I’m very happy with the way this piece turned out.

I can’t remember all the way back to Friday, but I know it was busy. I know that I did about 1700 words in the sprint with the students, and I picked up violets and holly cuttings from a friend (we couldn’t dig up the whole tree–the root system’s too deep). It was a gorgeous day, and we drove around for a bit, exploring new-to-us back roads that will make life easier when the tourists clutter the main roads in the summer.

Got the proposal that was due out on time; now the waiting begins. Set up a meeting for tomorrow on the theatre projects.

Worked with my students in the evening.

Saturday, I rewrote a half a dozen short stories (some of them massively) and sent them out. Slowly, but surely, I’m catching up on the backlog. I worked with my students.

Sunday, I decided to leisurely start something I thought was due mid-May (a first chapter and an outline), so I wouldn’t have to rush. I re-read the submission materials request and realized — it’s due TODAY. Mid-May is if you make it past the initial round.

Okaaay. Butt in chair, kick the brain into gear. I’d played with the idea, so I had a good sense of where I wanted to go with it. As I worked it, however, I realized that I’d focused on the wrong character as the primary male protagonist. So I tweaked it, and suddenly the whole book opened out. The chapter worked better than it had initially (I’d worked on it a few weeks ago, before I even got the request). The synopsis, which I’d loosely sorted in my head, came together beautifully. I’ve got a solid piece now, and I’m happy with it. Revised the chapter a few times, tightened the synopsis, and out it went. I feel good about it. Even if this particular place decides not to take it, I’ve got something solid I can work on and sell elsewhere.

Started percolating on some non-fiction proposals I want to get out in the next few weeks. I re-read Michael Larsen’s book on proposals. I kind of do most of that anyway when I put together a proposal package, but re-reading it made me more aware of the steps, and the order.

I skipped the Green Drinks event — the weather was vile, and I was in that fragile state of percolation/creation that can be derailed at the slightest wrong prod. So I stayed home and worked. And seeded the lawn right before the rain.

Read Sonia Singh’s novel GHOST, INTERRUPTED, which was really fun, and started Jane Haddam’s WANTING SHEILA DEAD, which I’m thoroughly enjoying.

Long day ahead of me at the desk. I hope I can use some of that positive momentum I achieved this weekend to propel me through the week. It was heaven to spend the bulk of the day on my own writing.

However, I’ve also got some business and PR stuff to attend to today.

Better hop to it!

Devon

Don’t forget the next two one-day seminars! Amazing Antagonists on May 12 and Setting Up Your Submission System on June 2.

Thurs. Jan. 19, 2012: Even the Cat is Busy


Tessa

Thursday, January 19, 2012
Waning Moon
Still dark out

It’s supposed to be pretty stormy tonight into tomorrow, some snow, but not a lot. I’ll know what today’s weather is like in a bit when I leave for yoga.

Owner came to work on the wall yesterday. I got as much done as I could — a lecture on the writer’s need to remember he is a business person AND an artist, and that the two don’t cancel each other out, plus critiquing the latest 5 in 10 stories. With 32 in the class, and the lengths now in the just over 1K range, that’s 32K minimum for me to read, twice a week, which takes awhile.

Worked on my short stories. Not happy with the progress on either novel these past two weeks.

Went to a library one town over. Got out a book I need as research for the current assignment for Confidential Job #1, and some books that just looked interesting. Happens when I’m around books. On the sale shelf was an enormous, brand-new Monet book. The sign said $1 for sale shelf items, but I figured this book must have been left there by mistake. Nope. It was for sale and it was $1. I bought it. When I got home, the flap was still on — original price $75. Now THAT’s a sale! I’d love to do a collection of short stories inspired by his paintings of women by the sea or walking through gardens. There’s an optional assignment for the class next month to do a short story based on a painting — I’m going to use Hopper’s painting of a woman in a theatre lobby — but the plates in these books give me more ideas. I’d love to do a collection of short stories based on the work of each painter. A few years ago, a poet put out a volume of poems inspired by Hopper’s work. I’ve got it here somewhere — not unpacked yet.

I’ve got two sets of interview questions to get out for future guests on the book blog.

Last night was the Writers’ Night Out dinner. It was at a nice restaurant in Yarmouth. Sat with a memoirist I’d met at an earlier event, and met some new-to-me people who were very interesting, too. I like that the conversations at these events is always wide-ranging. So often at these types of events, conversation focuses on desperation of not being published (and that’s usually because the ones who want to be published aren’t actually using the butt glue and getting any writing done). Here, writers are writing, but they’re also doing all kinds of interesting things and can talk about them. The balance is better and the attitude is healthier.

The speaker was interesting, and I got to toss a few ideas around with him after the event. I also got to talk to my friend, who wants to get together for our next meeting on the theatre piece, and the Center’s director, who’s interested in having me speak at one of the breakfast meetings, which I think would be tons of fun.

When I came back, I discovered that Miss Tessa Houdini, the kitten, had not only found a way to get the dishwasher door open, she’d filled up the dishwasher. And not with dishes, but with pieces of paper and cat toys. Well, she sees me filling it up, so she figured she should “help out”. It was hilarious. The papers were in the slots for dishes and the cat toys were in the cutlery holders. She is extremely organized. And she was very, very proud of herself. The other two cats were running around howling. Typical evening, in other words. Tessa has Stuff To Do, while the other two act like the sky is falling.

Trouble getting up this morning — wanted to stay in bed. But I hauled myself out, and I’m trying to get a bit of writing done before I head to yoga. More work on the wall later this morning, must push through the student work, get further on Confidential Job #1’s assignment, get some paperwork filed, mail a signed copy of a book for a friend, and then, tonight, I’m attending a women’s health lecture.

Holiday Hocus Pocus will be a fun class. Even though it only runs a week, students will have a year’s worth of resources by the end of it, and notes that will serve them, probably, for the next five to ten.

I gave some students advice yesterday about “batch outlining” — outlining several projects in the space of a few days, and then working one’s way through, project by project. I think I might need to take some of my own advice. I’m a little derailed in my own schedule of the projects that need to get done and out this year, and I need to get back on track.

You know the drill: 1000 words a day, at least 5 days a week. Such is the life of a working writer. And most of the time, you damn well better be doing more than 1K/day, and it better be on more than one project, if you expect to keep a roof over your head.

To the page, and then to yoga.

Devon

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Yesterday was just a big honking waste of time all the way around. Of course, ALLSTATE never came through on anything they promised, and I couldn’t get hold of anyone who knew anything about the regulations in MA or cared to find someone who did. Trust me, you are NOT in good hands with ALLSTATE if you’re in MA, because they don’t know what they’re doing and don’t care. They were great in NY, but I suspect it is because we were with the same individual for over 30 years, and he knew the ins and outs of their completely customer unfriendly system. Well, next week, it will be the Commissioner of Insurance’s problem — and, Lori, you’re right, the Attorney General should know about it, too. Since it affects two states, I’ll let both the NY and MA AG’s office know about these illegal practices. They are, literally, breaking the law, and, in this state, there’s no wiggle room with that. They’re not in a grey area. I realize this is the first year they’ve done business in the state, but they should be well-versed in the regulations BEFORE they come in, and if they don’t know something, they should care enough to find out, not just shrug and ignore it, which is what is happening on every phone call.

More paperwork. Headdesk. But it has to be done. The reason these companies can get away with this crap is that too many people whine “I don’t have time” to file a complaint. Those in the position to do something can’t unless they know about it. Take the time to file. Every time you don’t, you’re not just screwing yourself, but every other person who does business with an unethical company.

So I did some research on other agents in the area, I’m looking for recommendations, and on Monday morning, we’ll see. I hope to walk into an individual’s office and get it all sorted, and get the renter’s insurance sorted, too.

I’m trying to find a doctor for my mom, which is difficult, because oh, so many of those listed in the directory as “accepting new patients” suddenly remember they don’t when you call. And, in spite of a request for enough refills on her daily medication from her former doctor, done in writing, well before we moved, her former doctor can’t even give the courtesy of a response, much less actually do her job, and the people who work in the office simply don’t care. I worked in doctors’ offices for many years, I know the challenges, the exhaustion, and the paperwork, but it is the staff’s job to keep on top of it and make sure the doctor has the information, and then nag the doctor until it gets done. I’m sure we’ll find a much better, nicer practice here, but finding it is the challenge.

Had a lovely email exchange with an agency in the state who helps people without health care find health care that they can afford. I can only enroll somewhere after Jan. 1, but at least I’m doing the research. I was surprised because each email was answered, in complete and coherent detail, in ten minutes. I like the whole “marketplace” thing (part of the legislation the Republicans got rid of in health care reform), where you can compare rates and policy details in one place and find the best one for your actual needs, instead of having to fill out the forms for each company BEFORE they tell you how much anything costs, which is how it was done in NY. Once you do, you find you can’t afford it anyway, so you’ve lost 40 minutes to an hour with each company and gotten nowhere. And then they call you every day demanding that you enroll, getting more and more aggressive, even when you tell them to take their policy and stuff it. This system is much better for the customer, which is why the health care companies fought so hard against it.

United Healthcare responded to my blast at their incompetence and lack of “providing” (they threatened my mother rather than giving guidance in the move from state to state). Of course, it took far too long on the phone, again, but it seems to be all sorted out, and it looks like her healthcare costs are going down here in MA, too, which is good, since social security is frozen — thanks, Republicans, give your rich buddies a tax break and screw the old people — and, in NY, her health care costs were set to go waaaay up come Jan. 1. That whole Part D b.s. that Bush forced the old people into — she had to pay 4X more each month to be a part of it then her medication actually cost.

Like I said, the entire insurance industry needs to be gutted and rebuilt from the ground up. And the first step is to ban lobbyists. Get rid of the profession entirely. If an individual CEO has a concern and wants to talk his/her representative about it as all of us have a right so to do, great, but none of this paying people to harangue Congress and pay off individuals in the government.

It’s going to be a heck of a Mercury Retrograde. Can I just stay home, please?

Also think I found an ethical mechanic in Plymouth who comes highly recommended. Had a nice conversation, and he invited me to stop by and talk in person, so I could get a sense of him and his business. That’s the way to get me to do business with you!

Had to talk to the gas company because I haven’t received any bills, couldn’t sign in to the web site to see how much I owed, etc., etc. They were lovely and helpful, and we got it sorted. Turns out they were sending the bills to the right street address, but in the wrong town — the town that shares the name of the county, because my little town is so little it’s not in their system. So we got it sorted, and I paid the bill that’s on the website, and I think we’re set.

I STILL don’t have a working pin from Citizen’s Bank. And it’s been about six weeks since I opened my account. Far too much like Chase for me. It takes a MONTH for them to send a new pin? Not acceptable.

Stopped at the “package store” down the street on Rt. 28 to get some wine — picked up a nice California merlot, and they just started carrying my favorite Argentinean malbec. The man who runs it is lovely, with a great sense of humor. The man in front of me left his wallet on the counter, and was delighted when I dashed after him to return it.

I actually fell asleep for part of the afternoon, and then worked on cards (when I wasn’t on the phone dealing with all this unnecessary crap). I got through the L’s, which is decent.

Went to bed ridiculously early and woke with a raging migraine. However, I’m set to go to a VIP breakfast in Buzzards Bay for the National Marine Life Center, an organization of which I’m very fond, so I’m going to pull it together, take some Excedrin and deal. I may stop at the grocery store to pick up a chicken to roast tonight. I’m figuring out the guest list for the party and Costume Imp and I are figuring out what to make. It will be small and very casual, but still, I haven’t entertained in awhile, and I won’t be unpacked, so it’s a little nerve-wracking. However, I used to be known for my monthly dinner for 20, so I can get over it and deal.

There’s a guy looking to start a small theatre in the area, performing in a variety of venues, and the three plays I wrote for the small company on Long Island sound like they’re along the lines of what he wants, so I’m going to contact him on Monday and see if he wants to take a look at anything. I don’t want to work on the productions themselves — I’m not doing backstage work right now, and certainly not for free — but we’ll see what he needs, what I need, and if we can meet in the middle.

Also have to get a manuscript out to a potential publisher this weekend. I’ve got another round of queries to prep on another project, but they won’t go out until after the first of the year. It would be nice to get a newsletter out, too.

I’m polishing the exercises for ONE STORY, MANY VOICES, and getting to work on the Stephanie Plum lectures.

I made a big decision: I’m not baking cookies as gifts this year. The thought of having to bake batches and batches and sort them and pack them is just overwhelming. I may try some new recipes just for us, but, for the neighbors, etc., I’m going to take a spice cake recipe and make some small loaves, wrap them properly, and give them instead. It’s a single recipe, it’s unique, and it’s less stressful.

I’m invited to a neighbor’s open house tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll go — I’ve already got the hostess gift. I need to do some cleaning. I’m starting to realize just how much work it is to keep a house clean, even a small one. But at least I don’t have layers of toxic materials to scrub off the sills every day, and the plants are much happier here where there’s actual oxygen!

Violet is settling in to house living. Iris has not yet — maybe if she hadn’t ignored the whole packing process, it wouldn’t have been such a shock when we actually moved. I still have to find a vet for them.

Back to the page for awhile. I’m going to let the guidelines for the anthology call percolate a bit, but unless I’m whomped upside the head with huge inspiration, I think I’ll have to let it go. There’s just too much on my plate. I still haven’t heard from my editor about the revisions on the book due January 1, and I’m getting a little worried. So, on Monday, I’ll have to talk to my publisher. I can’t get a set of notes for revisions on Christmas Eve. That just won’t work.

I want to finish the cards and packing the gifts this weekend, and I have to give the house a good scrub. I’d also like to get started on the cake-baking. I’ve got the menu settled for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. I’m still debating about the Solstice. I’ve been invited to three different Solstice events, but I think I want to celebrate it quietly in my own home. I’ve got the menu for New Year’s Eve sorted, and for breakfast New Year’s Day, but still dithering about the big meal on New Year’s Day.

I’d really just like to go to bed for about a week! 😉

Devon

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Didn’t get much writing done yesterday. The exterminator, of course, never showed up (because my landlord is an idiot), but I talked to the super and got it sorted for next month. It wasn’t the super’s fault and no harm done, really, except me waiting around doing other stuff.

Picked up the olive leaf, licorice root and some oils at the pharmacy. Read a bit. Tended to Elsa.

Left at 3:30 to drive to Babylon, which is out on Long Island, to see my play. I’d never been there before, and I know what a nightmare driving on the Island is just about any time. So I left really early in order not to get stressed due to traffic.

As expected, the drive was a total nightmare. I think the fastest speed I could ever hit was about 30 mph. It took a full two hours to drive 55 miles. I took the Hutch over the Whitestone Bridge to the Cross Island to the Southern State. I’d never taken the Southern State before — I’d hoped it would be less of a pain than the LIE, but it was packed. Because it runs parallel to the southern line of beaches — Jones Beach, Westbury (which used to have a lot of concerts and a music fair), the ferries to Fire Island, etc. — it was packed.

Still, we got there early. There was a small park down the street from the restaurant. We walked around that. There was also a nearby shopping center. Visited the fabric store — disappointing. This chain used to have good value at good prices. The prices are no longer very good and everything looks cheap. I can do better in the garment district (well, of course, but still . . .) Went to a few other stores. Didn’t see anything I wanted. Everything felt dirty and out of place and depressed and the attitudes of the people working there was unacceptable. So I didn’t spend any money there!

Headed back to the restaurant, a lovely place called Gemelli’s. The food was great and so was the service. We had a real old-school waiter — very funny. We even danced before the dessert course! Hey, have you ever been dipped by someone holding a pot full of coffee? It’s an experience!

The show went very well. I was truly pleased. The producer played the lead (which I wrote with her in mind, although she didn’t know it), and she was terrific. One of the other characters had been cast and directed very differently than I originally envisioned — but he was pitch perfect, and I told him so after the show. Really loved his choices. The rest of the cast was solid, too, and I really got a chance to enjoy the whole thing. The producer gave me my last royalties and we said our goodbyes — she relocates on Tuesday.

Drive home was challenging. The Southern State was still a packed nightmare. What the hell are all those people doing out at 11 PM on a Thursday night? There was even more traffic headed east — I think a lot of people are only working four day weeks this summer (whether by choice or not) and heading out on Thursday nights instead of at noon on Fridays, the way they used to. Once I got back to the Cross Island, it was better, and the Hutch was fine coming back up. But boy, was I glad to be home. I didn’t get to bed until well after one.

Elsa woke me up at 3 with her sneezing, but I went back to sleep. I got up a little after six. I couldn’t run because my hip’s in such bad shape I can barely walk. I will tell the acupuncturist on Tuesday to attack with, oh, I don’t know, maybe an ice pick or a knitting needle! 😉 I’ll take some anti-inflammatory later, do some yoga stretches, and then ice it.

The next few days are planned for intense writing, mostly on the ANGEL HUNT revisions, but on a few other things, too. It’s supposed to be hot and dry today, then hot and humid for the next few days, so I may wrestle the air conditioner into the window today before it gets too awful. I also have to do laundry. And work on a few big proposals. I will probably pack up and work elsewhere if need be, but I’m not answering emails or dealing with any other freelance business until at least Wednesday next week, possibly Thursday, if I wind up going out of town on Wednesday — I’m going out of town either Wed. or Thurs. next week, depending on the weather. I do plan to keep up the regular blogging schedule, since I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about reviions!

Elsa seems a little better — here’s hoping she continues to improve and doesn’t backslide in the heat and humidity. That’s one of the reasons I want to put in the air conditioner — so she can have a cool space. Yes, I run the air for the cat more than myself. What can I say?

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on June 18, 2010 at 6:32 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and milder

It’s supposed to get up into the thirties today, which is positively balmly compared to the weather we’ve been having lately. But hey, it’s January, and I prefer seasons, so that’s that.

Finished the revision on THE MATILDA MURDERS yesterday and got it off to my producer. Hope she likes it.. I’m having trouble with the logo file, which has delayed sending out the press release for the play that’s running.

Didn’t get much done in the afternoon, because the rewrite wore me out. I need to get a start on CHANNELING JIM MORRISON today and clear off some other business. I caught up on some email and other stuff. I’m kind of hesitant to start CJM because today’s the only day I can work on it until next week, and, for me, the first draft of plays need to be written in one swath. I don’t think I can manage a full-length in one day. I set up some of the stuff for the Jenny Storm name. I’ll put up a page on the DE site at some point next week, and, next week, I’m also doing a photo shoot for the icon connected to that name (the way the coffee cup, books and pen are the DE icon).

February’s site work schedule keeps shifting around. It’s a mess. I need to clone myself to get it all done, and, at the same time, I can’t afford (in every sense of the word) giving up any of these jobs. So I just have to be very, very, very organized.

A BOOK OF ONE’S OWN is wonderfully enjoyable, as always. No matter how often I read it (and I read it about once a year), I always learn something new. That’s what a good book does – it gives you more each time you return.

Yesterday was a tough day in regards to missing my grandmother. I have to remind myself that grief is a process. Unfortunately, we’re supposed to just have the funeral/memorial service/whatever and “move on”, instead of letting the process play out. We have to remember that it takes time and there’s a roller coaster of emotion involved in loss, and honor that.

On top of that, I listened to Saturn Retrograde (and my instincts) in regard to someone with whom I’ve considered working for the past couple of weeks. He pulled a trouble-making stunt yesterday that, while not aimed directly at me, proved to me we are not a good creative match. I’m disappointed, but I’m glad I trusted my instincts and took some “getting to know you” time to find out this is NOT someone with whom I want to work, rather than getting deep into a project and finding out at a point where I might be tempted to grit my teeth and just get through it. This isn’t something that can be negotiated and good middle ground found – we approach work and life from two very different points of view, which could either create a wonderful dynamic or a toxic one. My gut tells me that this would wind up being toxic, and I certainly don’t need to go down that road again. The payoff isn’t worth it. I have no interest in spending a lot of creative time with someone who has such a cruel streak. I don’t find cruelty funny.

I’m delighted that Hillary Clinton was confirmed as Secretary of State. Last February, a friend and I were talking about what we thought would be the best of all possibilities. She was a huge Clinton supporter; I hadn’t made up my mind completely between Obama and Clinton, although I leaned towards Obama, and I said I’d love to see Obama as President and Clinton as Secretary of State. I got my wish.

And kudos to NYS Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Not only did he put the screws into AIG when they tried to spend the TARP money on more resorts, he’s forced United Healthcare to cough up for overcharging their customers. I believe Oxford is involved in this as well, and Aetna settled to avoid a thorough investigation. Cuomo and his office are really good at getting things done for the people of New York.

I’ve got another blog post up on the SDR blog. This one’s about the importance of silence. Enjoy.

I’ve got to get back to the page and figure out which pages I need to face today. And then I have to pack for the weekend’s site job. I leave in the morning.

Devon

Published in: on January 22, 2009 at 7:41 am  Comments (7)  
Tags: , ,

Inauguration Day — Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and snowy
Inauguration Day

Today is an exciting day on so many levels. Finally, we have someone with intelligence and integrity who actually plans to LEAD the country, honor the Constitution, and listen to its citizens. Do I unilaterally agree with him all the time? Of course not. No one will. But I respect his intelligence, his commitment, and the fact that he will listen to multiple points of view and make an informed decision. The greed and ignorance and corruption can’t be flushed out in a day, but it will happen. Even better, there are millions of people willing to do their part, because he believes that the country as a whole will benefit. This is in direct contrast to the past eight years, where people were punished for working hard, and the only reason to work hard was for the benefit of a few, imitating the feudal system of the Middle Ages. I think Obama’s way forward is much more positive than the only other choice open to the people, should the previous regime’s stance have continued, which was revolution in the streets.

It’s interesting that this happens during a Saturn Retrograde, which is about learning life lessons and implementing the new knowledge. I wish it wasn’t happening during a fourth quarter moon, but perhaps it symbolizes all that still needs to be banished in Washington by this new administration.

I’m one of the people hosting a Watching Party for the inauguration. Of course, I’m in charge of the food! 😉 It’s all very simple: beef empanadas with sour cream and salsa as an appetizer; chicken tortellini in a homemade alfredo sauce with spinach on the side (now that I’ve learned how to make alfredo sauce, which takes very little time and so much better than jar sauce I don’t know if I can ever go back), and cheesecake for dessert.

So how about those folks at Spirit Airlines, huh? They cancel a group of passengers from one of their flights, put them on US Air flight 1549, and then, when the plane goes down and the passengers need to change their return flights, TRY TO CHARGE THEM FOR THE CHANGE. To call them buttheads is an understatement. However, it is typical of that airline. I used to fly frequently. I flew Spirit Air exactly ONCE. I’d use any other form of transportation, including walking, rather than set foot on one of their planes again. It was the worst flying experience of my life, and every single employee I encountered along the way was both rude and incompetent.

Just for the record, Air France is my favorite airline. Every experience I’ve had with them has been great. Icelandair is great once you’re ON the plane, but the whole getting on it is a bit of a pain.

Sunday was a writing day. I’m frustrated on THE MATILDA MURDERS, because it’s not working. I’m writing plenty – but what I’m writing isn’t working. So I’ve put it aside for a few days and hopefully can attack it with fresh eyes.

I spent most of Sunday working on The Lucy Gothic. I finished chapter three, wrote chapter four, and started chapter five. I have to type chapters three and four, but at least they’re written. I will try to put an hour or so into that this morning before finishing the lunch preparations.

Let’s face it, there’s too much to celebrate, and not much writing will get done today!

Yesterday, I was up at 4:30 (I bet some of the cast members from the previous night’s show weren’t even home yet), on a 6:19 train to the city. Because it was a holiday Monday, the streets were relatively quiet when I got in; I love the city like that. The sense of calm, of stillness, of potential. I trudged across to the theatre, with a Very Large Cup of Coffee, and joined the rest of the wardrobe crew to pack out the show. The stage crew has the bulk of the week to strip the theatre, but we had to get everything done in one day. We did, of course, because our supervisor organized us well, and we’re a good team. On top of that, we managed to have a lot of fun together, our last time together on this show in this configuration.

It was an odd sensation, walking out of the stage door at the end of the day and realizing it could well be the last time I walk through a Broadway stage door as a member of a crew. If this was my last Broadway show as a crew member, it was a good way to leave.

My friend and I walked back to Grand Central through the falling snow and took our respective trains home. I poured a nice glass of wine and took a long, hot soak in my infamous bath salts designed to help muscle fatigue. Hey, if I’m going to make them, I should use some for myself occasionally and not just give them all away, right?

I had a quiet evening. Because the day was filled with physical activity, I skipped my evening weight training session – I was afraid that was putting too much strain on already tired muscles. I did a yoga sequence to boost immunity instead (since I’d been on the train with a slew of sneezing, coughing individuals) and my usual nightly calming sequence.

Back to the page for a little while today, and then I’m going to revel in the possibility that this country is headed back towards the actions and ideals on which is was built.

Devon