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.

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Tues. June 12, 2018: A Happy Weekend

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

That was quite a weekend!

I mowed the center front yard Friday morning, with the reel push mower. This time, it worked better, and the yard looks darned good, if I say so! Saturday, I did the side and No Man’s Land. It needs some weed whacking, but it looks much better.

The newsletter went out on Friday, with the cover reveal for MYTH & INTERPRETATION. I’ll do the public cover reveal later this week here, on the Gwen Finnegan website, on Facebook, on Twitter.

I started working on the media kit for MYTH and the one that will encompass the whole series. The latter will be updated each time a book is released.

I’m getting into the groove for RELICS & REQUIEM. Answered some of the “why” questions for myself, which will help me move the plot along smoothly. I need to do some tweaks in the outline, and then settle in for the ride. But I’ve got a good steady pace on it, about 1800-2000 words a day. Under what I’d like it to be, but decent.

I dug into the revisions for MYTH & INTERPRETATION. Made a few more connections, expanded some themes, cut some distractions. I’m happy with the way it’s going.

We started watching THE CROWN, which is interesting. Matt Smith does a wonderful job. I didn’t know about the fatal, coal-induced fog in the mid 1950s that triggered Britian’s Clear Air Act. It triggered the idea for a mystery.

It also infuriated me that Scott Pruitt wants to bring the United States back to worse than this, all as he continues to grift from the taxpayers.

Read Meg Wolitzer’s THE FEMALE PERSUASION. Absolutely loved it. I fall between the ages of Faith and Greer, so my experiences overlapped with some of each, and I could relate to both of them. The book is so well done. Hits on specifics, while making it feel universal, as all the best books do.

Did some work on THE POWER OF WORDS. I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ve hit on a series title that might actually work, along with titles for the first two books. I’m drafting what will be book four, although I’ve written part of book five already.

Realized that I can’t move forward on THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS until I add in that chapter I need earlier. It ties in too much to what’s going on now. I’m touching on some of the human trafficking themes in this book, but if there’s a second Cuanoir Port novel, I think that human trafficking will be its central focus. This needs to be about the intervention of foreign powers and fighting it (sound familiar)? If I try to put everything into the book, it will get unfocused.

Not enough work on the anti-gun violence play. Not happy with how I’ve handled the opening.

Saturday, I finished my daily writing quota early enough to feel good about participating in Worldwide Knit in Public Day. My mom and I were invited to join the group at Salt Yarn Studios in Dennis. They’d put aside some yarn I liked, so I was there to pick it up as well as participate.

My mom already finished the back of the top I designed from the yarn with which I’d fallen in love the last time we were there. She started on the front. I started on a crochet project — because I prefer crocheting to knitting, and I’m better at it.

I also fell in love with some other yarn and bought it, because, well, YARN.

One of the women who works in the store loves reading on her Kindle. She was excited to meet an author. I gave her information on the books, and she’s going to read through the sites and the blurbs and find what interests her. So that was fun.

We were outside, in the garden, overlooking Rt. 6A, in our chairs, with our yarn, working and chatting. It was a nice group of people, and passers-by stopped to find out what we were doing, ask questions, be included.

What a different vibe than the knitting group in a neighboring town that we participated in a few years ago, where they ignored newcomers and only said snide, gossipy, judgmental things about everyone else. This was much more of what I want from a group knitting experience. Not to mention the mango Bellinis and watermelon!

On the way home, I planned to stop and pick up a prepared meal because I didn’t feel like cooking. I stopped at a local market and the shelves were practically bare! Guess plenty of other people didn’t feel like cooking, either. We wound up picking up a pizza.

Absolutely thrilled that Justify won the Belmont. Thrilled for the horse. Thrilled for Mike Smith, who I think is one of the best people on the planet. If it wasn’t for him, I would have never gotten the use back in my shoulder after it was dislocated. Not to mention the many other acts of kindness and friendship over the years. I also love that he won the 13th Triple Crown.

I love how Justify wired the race, how his stride remained smooth throughout. It was a thing of beauty. He went from unraced to Triple Crown winner in 112 days. Pretty darn spectacular.

I was filled with gratitude that Saturday was such a happy day. Those are too rare lately.

And Sunday was the Tony Awards! I was so proud of the Broadway/theatre communities and how they are working for positive change.

Client work yesterday, today, and tomorrow onsite. More flexiiblity later in the week. I can’t believe it’s nearly mid-June. That means I’ll have to post the mid-month check in for the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site by the end of the week.

There’s a big announcement regarding the Jain Lazarus Adventures coming out soon. Stay tuned!

 

Mon. June 12, 2017: Rev Up for a Creative Week

Monday, June 12, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

It took me awhile on Friday, to recover from the disappointment of the meeting. I spent the weekend composing my letter withdrawing from consideration. The more I worked on it, the angrier I got. I haven’t worked my way into a strong union, as a labor negotiator, and an advocate for fair pay for work to be told I wouldn’t be paid for hours worked, but only on the whim of the people with whom I dealt. That’s not a job; it’s a scam. I don’t care how they try to wrap it in legitimacy. It was my understanding, as of last December, it was also illegal.

On the upside, the finished, polished article I submitted, was accepted and paid within two hours.

I read a thriller which was, unfortunately, not thrilling. I was 20 chapters ahead of the protagonists by Chapter three.

Saturday was a combination of house-keeping: changing the beds, mowing the meadow, doing laundry, et al — and writing.

I wrote 20 more script pages, and a short story which will go out either today or tomorrow, depending on how much polishing it needs. I also did some outlining on a new script idea — I have a great group of characters, but I haven’t settled on a solid plot/story for them yet.

Tapwrit won the Belmont Stakes, with Irish War Cry second. They were a boxed exacta for me, so good for me. Too bad I didn’t get a chance to bet on the race. I didn’t realize until I moved here how important OTB was to my life — and my income.

Sunday, I gave myself off from writing. I worked on the next book I have to review, and I read some research books that will cover several projects.

I also obtained an exercise bicycle, off of Craigslist. It’s wonderful, and MCA Sport, with a timer and everything. It’s my mom’s favorite form of exercise, but we’re both going to do a session every morning and every night. I’ve lost some weight the last few weeks, but I’m still out of shape, even with a daily yoga practice. I hope adding in the cycling will help.

It was nice enough to eat lunch on the deck all weekend, and also take some of my work out there and work outside, in the nice weather.

Congrats to the Pittsburgh Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup! Second year in a row. Good for them!

And the Tony Awards were last night. Always a great night for the theatre. The producers and the network regard is as one big commercial to draw in ticket sales, but to the rest of us in the business, it’s far more than that.

Upped my meditation practice, too, adding in a night meditation session. I can already feel the difference, after just a few days. So, I will continue.

This morning, I’m drafting some pitches to go out later in the day, paying some bills, working on a couple more articles. I already mowed the lawn.

I hope I can get the “have-tos” done in a reasonable amount of time and switch back to the more creative “want-tos.”

Hope your week’s off to a great start!

Published in: on June 12, 2017 at 10:12 am  Comments Off on Mon. June 12, 2017: Rev Up for a Creative Week  
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Wed. June 15, 2016: Running on Fumes

Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Saturday seems like a long time ago. I spent most of the days between Saturday and today writing. Some of it was outlining, because what happens a couple of books down affects how situations and characters are set up in what I’m writing now. I was happy to be deep in the work, but it’s exhausting.

Monday morning, I had a Board meeting in Buzzards Bay, then found a couple of dresses for upcoming events. I’d reached the dress shop early, so I sat in the car and wrote until it was open.

Yesterday, I wrote a complex chapter – it’s a long chapter, it took all day. It wrung out my characters both physically and emotionally, but it sets the stage, especially for one character, for the rest of his life. I was wiped out by the end of the day, too. I think readers will love it – I hope so, anyway.

It was quite the weekend, apart from writing: Creator won the Belmont Stakes, the Pittsburgh Penguins won Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the Tony Awards were on. I got so emotional during the Tonys – this year, in particular, they showed how art can change the world for the better. Especially in wake of the horrific mass shooting in Orlando.

The only reason to purchase the type of weapon currently called “assault” is to kill a human being. You can’t hunt food with it. It is NOT for protection. It is a choice to commit pre-meditated murder, even if the target has not yet been chosen. There is no place for them in a civilized society. But any society that takes Donald Trump seriously isn’t civilized.

A situation I believed was resolved reared its ugly head again. Not only was the wound re-opened (metaphorically), I discovered it festered. It will need to be drained and cauterized. I thought I was at peace with the whole thing, but I’m not.

Not a good start to the week, which will be extremely busy, but I hope I can find blocks of time to descend into the writing and make progress. I’m exhausted, on many levels, and feel like I’m out of resources.

Devon

Published in: on June 15, 2016 at 9:16 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 15, 2016: Running on Fumes  
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Mon. June 9, 2014: Belmont, Tony Awards, and Stomach Virus

Monday, June 9, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Foggy and muggy

Busy weekend. Busy but good day at the library on Friday. We had a power failure twenty minutes before closing time. Brief, but enough to totally freak the computers out. Came home, cooked, tried to relax a bit, did some work. Agreed to participate in a big local author signing event, which should be fun.

Worked at the library on Saturday. Good day, again busy. Came home and watched Belmont Stakes day. I was disappointed that California Chrome lost, but not particularly surprised. I felt bad for the poor horse. Not only did he come out of it bleeding (he hurt his foot early on), he didn’t understand why his people were upset. He was calm before and during the race, but got anxious when his people were unhappy. He was like, “I ran around really fast in a circle, just like you asked. Why are you mad at me?”

I was disappointed in the owner’s outburst. I understand the anger and disappointment in the heat of the moment, but the Triple Crown is not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be won by the freak horses like Secretariat. Yes, three races in five weeks is hard. Yes, the fact that the people who make the rules allow fresh, rested horses in the race makes it an unfair playing field, to some extent. But then be mad at those who make the rules, not at the horse who wins. To call Tomalist and his people “cowards”? No. Strategists, maybe. Cowards, no. And this guy’s behavior allows the snobs to sniff and say that’s why they don’t like it when “regular” guys think they can enter the race. The owner positioned himself, during the PR madness surrounding the races, to represent more than himself. HE took on and accepted that mantle. That man did not represent me. Of course he’s angry and disappointed, but grace under pressure would have been a better choice.

Sunday, I worked in the yard — mowing (still not done), and got some plants at the garden stores — flowers, veggies, etc. Started putting in them in.

The Tony Awards were last night. Hugh Jackman demonstrated, once again, why he is the most beloved man on Broadway. He was a fantastic host. Great mix of humor, skill, intelligence. It was a fun show, and I was delighted for the winners.

Came down with a nasty stomach virus in the night. I am miserable. I had to cut short the international Skype rehearsal early, early this morning, because I was too sick to function. JUST what you want to happen when you start a new working partnership. But my actor was very sweet and wanted to know if there was someone he could call to come and take care of me.

I have so much that HAS to get done TODAY. Can’t be put off because I’m sick. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’ll have to figure it out. A couple of things I can move, but there’s a list that can’t be moved.

The edits for ELUSIVE PRAYERS also landed on my desk this morning. I have another round of edits to get going on.

Yesterday, I stayed true to my “one day a week unplugged” (except for watching the Tony Awards). I desperately needed it, but it means getting sick today puts me far behind.

I’m going to try to go to bed for a few hours, and then see if I can get back on track.

Bad timing. 😦

Devon

Fri. June 6, 2014: Workshops and Summits and Crows

Friday, June 6, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Busy day. Got out my next script episode before I headed to the library.

I’m starting to get some ideas on how to make Thursday mornings run more smoothly; hope to be able to implement them in the coming weeks. The printer at work is just — if it wasn’t littering, I’d drop-kick it into the canal. It prints; it doesn’t; it grabs six sheets; it doesn’t grab any sheets. And so forth and so on. Something that should take thirty seconds winds up taking 45 minutes. That has to stop — beyond my situation. How can we walk our talks on sustainability when our only printer options are printers that the companies make disposable, out of cheap-ass plastic parts so we have to replace them every couple of years and they can’t be fully recycled? The technology industry has to change how they manufacture — which means kicking out the overpriced CEOS and top executives who think more about their own pockets than a sustainable future for all of us.

Had to leave just after noon to get to a workshop in Chatham. The weather was awful. Hard to drive. But I got there (almost on time). The library is gorgeous out there, but parking is a nightmare. I wound up parking blocks away in front of some person’s house, and dashing through the rain.

I was NOT happy with the workshop. I’d hoped for a workshop on resources to help hunt down information to answer people’s questions. Let’s face it — librarians are the ultimate detectives. Instead, the presentation focused on how to stand when you talk to a patron and promoted an attitude of indentured servitude rather than being a professional partner in a hunt with a patron. I found it quite insulting to all of our intelligence.

I headed back to my library, finished out the day, dashed home, threw together some mac and cheese, bolted it down, dashed back out to the Community College for the Environmental Summit. I couldn’t attend the full Cape Coastal Conference this year, but I did manage to fit in the summit. I ran into some friends in the parking lot, and caught up with some people I’d met at last year’s conference when we got inside. They served us a full dinner we got in there (hmm, let’s see, did I overeat last night? Uh, yes) and then it was an interesting, interactive discussion with the purpose of getting the 29 non-profits that attended (and some that did not) to work together, sharing information and working towards common purposes, instead of everyone working in isolation. Yes, I signed up to help work on what I do best — create engaging narrative around actual information.

Afterwards, a couple of us went out to the bar at The Dolphin, in Barnstable, to continue the conversation, which was fun. One of my frustrations here is I don’t have a local hangout, so I’m trying places to see which place suits me best.

I rewrote the monologue for the actor this morning — we have several roads we can travel down next. I think the section on the loss of a particular relationship is too ordinary and what he’s usually played, so I have a couple of sections we could replace it with in that that explores loss of parent, sibling, mentor, etc., that might make it more unique. So that’s off.

So tired I could just fall over, but it’ll be a busy day at the library. Hope to come back tonight and relax. Have GOT to mow the meadow tomorrow afternoon when I get back from the library, because the grass is VERY high. While it’s good for the environment, and my grass now definitely had the chance to grow strong roots, I think my neighbors would like me to neaten it up a bit.

My murder of crows who hang out in the yard had a fit about something this morning. One of the smaller ones ended up coming up on the deck and hiding under one of the tables. I think he’d been attacked by something else, and the rest of the conclave was very, very upset. I got their attention (they shut up and listen when I call out to them and clap my hands) so we could get it sorted out — not sure what attacked the crow, but it’s out of the yard for now. He let me get close enough to him to watch him walk. He limped for a few steps, then flew a bit, then walked a little bit more, gaining strength, and flew off. So I guess I don’t have to bundle him up and take him to Cape Wildlife before work. He seems okay.

Off to work.

Final race of the Triple Crown tomorrow — go California Chrome! And Tony Awards on Sunday — my people! 😉

Devon

Published in: on June 6, 2014 at 7:34 am  Comments Off on Fri. June 6, 2014: Workshops and Summits and Crows  
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Thurs. June 5, 2014: Happy Tired and Workshops

Thursday, June 5, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Felt like I’d put in a full day before I even got to the library yesterday. Had a lot of stuff to haul in for the workshop — it was quite comical.

Busy day pre-workshop — got in a lot of books, and it was all the admin that has to happen to get a book out of the box and onto the shelf — setting up the record, putting on barcodes, stamping, spine labels, etc. I’m very excited by some of our new arrivals.

The workshop itself was fun — staff, volunteers, and some people from other libraries, and the one who administers the grant. Lots of info, lively discussion. The great thing about this group is that they were genuinely interested in the CRAFT that goes behind the books on the shelves. So often, especially now, when you speak to a group that’s primarily writers instead of readers, they wriggle impatiently through the craft part and the only questions they’re interested in is how they get an agent and get published without having to bother to learn the actual craft and Write WELL. The dynamic in this discussion was terrific. I might get to do it at other libraries, too.

Came home, exhausted. Tried to work on the script, but I didn’t like what I was doing. Did a rough draft of the monologue.

Booked a fun workshop for the library in August, in which I will be a co-participant. Costume Imp will be here and we’re doing it together. Details to follow!

This morning, I have to finish and send out the script episode and deal with some admin work before heading back to the library. It will be a busy morning — I have some press releases to get out — and then I’m in Chatham for a librarian workshop this afternoon, head back to the library for an hour or so, and then head off to the College to participate in an Environmental Summit. I couldn’t go to the full Cape Coastal Conference this year, because it fell on workdays, but the summit is in the evening, specifically geared to nonprofits working together, so I’m excited. I’m going on behalf of the Marine Life Center.

Pretty soon, the galleys from “Severance” will land on my desk, and my editor’s already working on the edits for “Elusive Prayers.”

I’m excited for both the Belmont Stakes and the Tony Awards this weekend. I want California Chrome to win — the sport needs another Triple Crown winner, it’s been long enough, and this guy has the talent AND the self-possession to do it. However, Belmont is famous for long-shot upsets. I’ve certainly cashed in on enough of them through the years. So we’ll see. I’m cautiously optimistic. Now that I’ve had a few years’ break from the dozen or so years covering the Triple Crown as a journalist, I can really ENJOY it again. And the Tony Award Show is the most fun of the award shows, with the strongest sense of community.

Off we go, to get it all done!

Devon

Mon. June 10, 2013: Head Down, Working

Monday, June 10, 2013
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

This cough is annoying me. It’s stuck in my throat (I’m grateful it hasn’t moved into my lungs), but my whole body is sore from coughing. I’m taking medicine, it only works sporadically.

It definitely affected my productivity this weekend, which was bad, because I had to dig down and work on the proposal my agent needs today.

I also finished some material for Confidential Job #1, which I have to write up today, completed my classwork for the Archaeology class and the Climate Literacy Class, took quizzes in both classes, and wrote and turned in my first paper for the Archaeology class.

I read Joelle Charbonneau’s newest release, the YA (or maybe it’s now called “New Adult”) dystopian novel, THE TESTING. In spite of it being written in present tense (which drives me nuts), I couldn’t put it down. She did an outstanding job with it, and I’m looking forward to the other two books in the trilogy.

I managed to get the front lawn mowed before the rain started on Friday. Did a few loads of laundry over the weekend, and yesterday, when it was sunny, I weeded the terraced bed and then hand washed the big living room drapes and hung them out to dry in the sun.

Tried fighting my cough, and fought to keep enough energy going to keep working. I felt like absolute, exhausted crap. But a deadline is a deadline, an opportunity is an opportunity, and I can’t have a shot at a contract if I don’t meet the challenges and opportunities offered.

The Belmont Stakes was on Saturday. Palace Malice, ridden by my pal Mike Smith (I’ve known him since I started covering racing) won, and I was thrilled for them. It was a great race.

The Tony Awards were last night, and the show was terrific. Neil Patrick Harris is a terrific host — his wit is razor-sharp. I was delighted to celebrate the success of many with whom I worked over the years, and it made me proud to be an alum of that community. I worked the Tonys once and attended two other times — not once did I make it home from the parties before dawn! Always great fun.

This morning, I’m polishing up my proposal and getting it onto my agent’s desk. My “Supporting Characters” workshop starts at RWA — I managed to log into the board, but haven’t been able to post anything yet. Also have a review and an article to write, and then it’s back to my writing schedule.
To the page!

Devon

Published in: on June 10, 2013 at 8:37 am  Comments Off on Mon. June 10, 2013: Head Down, Working  
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Fri. June 7, 2013: Coughing Zombie With Lawnmower

IMG_1306
Violet with the “special” dice

Friday, June 7, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I can’t believe I’ve had to put the big winter quilts back on the bed the last two days. It’s downright chilly!

Yesterday, I went to yoga, and then, had I been an art installation, my title would have been “Coughing Zombie with Lawnmower”. I had to mow the front before this weekend’s rains hit (courtesy of Tropical Storm Andrea), but I felt like utter crap. I got it done, but that was about it for me; managed to work with students and deal with some business stuff, but not much. Nothing in the tank.

Had to cancel out of the evening’s meeting — I knew I wasn’t on my game, nor was I feeling well enough to drive over the bridge and back.

Material for Confidential Job #1 is a slog.

Worked with students. Need to implement a new policy — too many people are booking slots and then flaking out, which wastes my time AND costs me money. So, a nonrefundable deposit will now be due upon the booking. If you flake, you don’t get it back, and I’m not totally financially screwed for the time I put aside that you can’t bother to keep your commitment; if you act like a professional and do what you say you’re going to do, the deposit is credited towards the final payment. I’m done with the irresponsible bullshit from wanna-bes.

That’s one of the things my college mentor and I discussed in NY — I asked him how he can keep up his excitement and joy in the teaching. I’m lucky in my current crop of private students, because they step up, but so often, in the bigger classes, the students just suck the life out of the class, because they can’t be bothered to do the work. My mentor can still find it exciting because of the stringent vetting process NYU has before letting people in to programs — they have to PROVE they DESERVE to be there, not that they just think it might be kinda cool to take that type of class. Plus, because it’s so expensive, they have to really WANT to be there in order to shell out the dough.

Speaking of classes, I’m teaching at RWA for the next two weeks, my “Supporting Characters” class, starting Monday. Here’s the link. If you have problems registering, I CAN’T FIX IT. I AM NOT THE ADMINISTRATOR. Contact them directly.

Had a great conversation with my agent yesterday. Something landed on her desk that she thought I would be perfect for. It’s something I would LOVE to do, so I’m putting together a proposal this weekend, and she’s going to look at it Monday, we’ll make what tweaks are needed, and off it goes to the requesting editor.

Today, I’ve got some correspondence to do, an article to finish, another one to send off, the partial to get to that other requesting editor, a review to write, and schoolwork to finish.

I wrote my archaeology paper in my head yesterday and will get it on paper today. I started the material for the Climate Literacy paper due next week. I also have to get to a couple of libraries to pick up materials on hold for me.

Better get going — the storm is supposed to hit this afternoon and be bad all weekend. I hope the Belmont Stakes isn’t a washout tomorrow, and then the Tony Awards are on Sunday!

Devon

Mon. June 11, 2012: Busy Start to the Week

Monday, June 11, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy, busy, busy weekend. Worked hard all day Friday, trying to stay on top of things, get out all the promo stuff, etc., etc. Working in the garden. It took most of the weekend to get the meadow mowed. We’re still having trouble with trespassers. I’ve got to get out there and confront them and tell them that next time, I’m calling the cops. The lack of respect by these particular neighbors is appalling. But what do you expect from people who tie a sex doll dressed in a bikini to a tree and leave it there for months?

Got a stack of books out of Sturgis Library — what a great place. We are so lucky with our libraries around here.

Anyway, the scratch of I’ll Have Another in the Belmont caused all kinds of chaos. Something about that whole situation feels off to me. On top of that, they had the horse lead the post parade for the race, which was so incredibly unfair to the horse — he didn’t understand why he wasn’t being warmed up and sent to the gate, the way he’s used to. Badly handled all the way around, in my opinion. Union Rags finally had a good day, and paid off for his loyal fans, though.

Stanley Cup game at night — NJ Devils vs. LA Kings. NJ staved off elimination. Let’s see what happens next.

Last night was the Tony Award Presentation. Reminds me of why I went into the business in the first place, and, just a little, made me miss it. There’s nothing like working at or attending the Tony Awards. It’s the most fun of any of them, because it’s truly a community, not just a bunch of strangers preening in front of each other. I watched a lot of people I’ve worked with over the years, and texted with friends on the show. Fun. After the Awards, of course, we all did the party circuit, winding up eating breakfast in a 24-hour diner as the sun came up, still in our fancy clothes. Tons of fun.

Wrote a bunch, read a lot this weekend, but most of the weekend was just for ME. I needed that. I’m gearing up for the Tarot Workshop this weekend – hope it goes well. Haven’t done one of those in person in a long time. Tessa was outside with me a lot yesterday, in her crate, enjoying the sun, the fresh air, and the company. Read some disappointing books (those always make you think, “how the hell did they ever find an agent or a publisher?”) and read some good ones, including an interesting book by Nancy Thayer and two unique, charming books by Sarah Addison Allen.

I’ve got a ghost writing quote to get off today, some more PR for a client, and two blog posts to write. Plus, hopefully some of the places to which I’ve pitched will respond positively, and I’ll have to get out some more pitches.

Billy Root’s blog comes up later today, and I’m putting the finishing touches on “Town Crier” for release later this week. Better hop to it!

Devon

Taste of the Tarot is for artists in all media interested in the art and archetype of the cards. Learn how to do basic readings and use the cards for inspiration and to push through blocks. Sat. June 16, 2-5 PM, $60, Three Fish and a Ram Community Art Center, Mashpee. More information here.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard

Monday June 13, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Friday was all about the house. The Fire/Health Dept. inspection took all of ten minutes, and the guy was twenty minutes early. When does that happen? Good thing I was ready!

Right after lunch, the owner came to help me do stuff around the house, and teach me what I didn’t know. We put a washer into the hoses so they don’t sputter. We walked the property lines, so now I actually know what they are! We discussed the downed limbs and the broken limb of what turns out to be an “autumn olive” — it seems to be repairing itself, so we’re not worried. The three windows I couldn’t switch from storm to screen are now done. The two sets of back doors now have the screens in place. The screen door from the front door is bent, so we’re not putting it in. He’s going to schedule a plumber to fix the downstairs toilet, and, at some point this summer, someone’s going to come to clean the furnace. We also worked on the dryer.

So I think we’re set now!

After he left, I planted the petunias, dusty miller, and coleus in the urn — it looks great.

Finished Juliet Blackwell’s HEXES AND HEMLINES, which I really liked, and Laurie R. King’s A GRAVE TALENT, which I liked in a different way. Also read Jennifer Crusie’s TRUST ME ON THIS, which was fun.

Sat on the deck reading for awhile in the evening, wrestled the freshly painted bookcase upstairs, and will fill it today. It looks really good. It’s a little too damp to paint today, I think (rain predicted), so I might have to wait until tomorrow to start painting the bureau and the other two small bookcases.

Writing-wise, I gave myself the weekend off. I start writing with my students on Monday, for Write in Company. I need to read the material for Confidential Job #1 and do some work for the Mermaid Ball.

Saturday, up early, yoga, meditation, tended the garden, and of course it immediately started raining. My neighbor mowed his lawn in the rain. Whatever. I’d rather not rust out my blades. Ran some errands, but spent mostly a quiet afternoon at home. Signed up to bake cookies for an event benefitting the local library & museum. They needed only one more person, and I’d been considering it since I saw the sign-up, so why not? I’m good at baking & it’s for a good cause.

Read Laurie R. King’s THE ART OF DETECTION. It’s from the same series as A GRAVE TALENT, with TALENT being the first book and DETECTION being the most recent. The latter is twelve years later in the characters’ histories from the first, yet I didn’t feel lost. Hopefully, via the various libraries, I can get them all and then read them to fill in. DETECTION is also interesting because the murder victim is a Sherlock Holmes enthusiastic and King’s other series focuses on Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. One doesn’t often get the chance to call crime fiction “elegant”, but I definitely felt that King’s writing was elegant. She tells a good story, her characters have depth, her settings are wonderful, not a word is wasted, and the tone is . . . elegant without being artificial. That’s the only way I can describe it.

Covered the Belmont Stakes via live stream. Just as they’re going to the post, a stranger POUNDS on the door — doesn’t knock, POUNDS. I think there’s something wrong, and the dimwit is there to SELL me something — something about opening a new carpet cleaning business. I take a flyer, explain this is a bad time because I’m covering the horse race. He snatched the flyer back, saying,”I’m taking this, because I only have a limited number” and storms off. NOT the way to get me enthusiastic about your new business you’re trying to build, asshole.

Worked on my Triple Crown article. Did some work for the Mermaid Ball. Dealt with the month’s bills (ick) including my quarterly taxes, which were fine. Had the money put aside, had the paperwork, not a big deal. Some of the other stuff sets my teeth on edge, but the quarterlies are much easier than the once-a-year stuff. Big perk of freelancing.

Rearranged the books in my room — moved the things I want in the freshly painted bookcase there, unpacked two boxes of my grandmother’s leather-bound books for the other bookcase. We’re getting there.

Sunday — up early, yoga, meditation. Since it was pouring with rain, I didn’t have to water the garden! Got in the papers, had a leisurely morning.

Repotted some plants, including the Big King Eggplant and the mints guarding the front door into new pots and got them settled. Managed to plant the sunflowers, but ran out of soil before I could do the zinnias. Another trip for more soil (sigh).

Reading Henning Mannkell’s ONE STEP BEHIND. He definitely inhabits the same Sweden as Larsson, although the tone is a bit quieter and sadder, without that fiery undertone of frustration at lack of social justice, just a weary awareness of it. Amazing how different the different translators make it sound. Larsson’s translator used much more Americanized language, while Mannkell’s is very British. Makes me wish I could read Swedish, so I could read both authors in their native languages.

Watched the Tony Awards, and was delighted by how many of my former colleagues were on stage! And some of them won! I thought the show was well done. Last year, it focused too much on the Hollywood invaders — this year, it was about the theatre people again, and the show was both better and more fun. Neil Patrick Harris was a great host, and his number with Hugh Jackman was hilarious (as were the opening and closing numbers — the latter of which had been written during the show).

The Tony Awards makes me miss the joy of working on Broadway, but really, thinking about it later, I know I made the right decision to leave. To work on Broadway, you need to use all your time and all your heart — I did that for years, and now there are other things I want to do and experience.

Up early this morning. Because of all the rain, I didn’t have to haul out the hose. I’ve got a bunch of business correspondence to get out, work on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, two articles, some research for the Ball, a trip to the dump, baking for Wednesday’s event (no one’s given me any information, there’s no information on who to contact — it’s a little late, I’m not going to start baking at midnight). So I’ll bake whatever I damn well please! 😉 At least it won’t be too hot to bake — the heat kicked on. And I’ve got to do laundry and get the house in shape for Costume Imp’s arrival tomorrow.

My class starts this morning, for the next two weeks of intensive writing. I need it as much as the students!

Back to the page.

Devon

ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, available from Champagne Books.
Annabel Aidan’s webpage here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Pretty decent weekend, actually. Elsa made solid progress, both Saturday and Sunday. I’m trying to ease up on some of the medications as she steadies. I think part of the reason she backslid was she was being overmedicated. As we clear up certain symptoms (and, hopefully, the causes), I’m changing dosages, stopping cycles, and adding different things to fight the other problems. Eventually, I want her symptom-free, so then we can rebuild her immune system and she won’t get sick again. The antibiotics really caused serious damage to her system. Imagine what it’s doing to humans, all this over=prescribing of antibiotics, if this is what happens to cats! I had a vet in the city who said you could predict human illness by watching which illnesses grew prevalent among the companion animal population.

Saturday sucked as far as being a writing day, but I soldiered on. I watched the US-England World Cup Soccer game on Saturday afternoon, which I thought was kind of “eh” although I think our goalie, Tim Howard, is pretty awesome. I still find ice hockey more exciting. I’m not well enough versed on it all to write intelligently about it, so maybe in four years, if the US gets into it again, I’ll be positioned so to do. This time, I’m just watching to watch. Saturday night, there was nothing on TV and my hip was giving me a lot of trouble, so I did two hours of yoga and a good, long meditation.

Sunday, I spent some time at the farmer’s market, getting in good stuff, and had a much better writing day. The radishes, the cilantro, the strawberries — heaven!

I read a book by someone who’s work I’ve read for more than twenty years. I used to love her writing and her quirky, off-the-wall characters, but hadn’t read anything of hers in a long time. The writing’s still often beautiful, but the characters aren’t as interesting. And, she tried to write a politically astute book without doing the research and getting the solid facts on which to base it, so it didn’t work. If you’re going to write that kind of book, you need to know the facts inside out, whether the point of view condones or refutes those facts. But if there aren’t any facts on which to build it, you just look lazy and ignorant, and that’s how it came across. I was very disappointed, and expected more from her — certainly more intelligence. The characters don’t have to come across as rocket scientists, but the author shouldn’t come across as not very bright. When you want to put across your point of view, you have to have a delicate touch, not ram it down your readers’ throats. When you’re trying to explore an opposing point of view, you have to be even more thorough in research and fact-checking than when it’s a viewpoint with which you’re familiar and support.

Decent writing day yesterday — finished Chapter 14 of POWER OF WORDS. it’s weak, but at least there’s something there to work on.
Elsa was well enough so I could attend a Tony Awards party last night. For the most part, i thought it was well done, although there were sound problems in the first section that were simply unacceptable. The mix was bad, the wrong mics were on and off — either the sound guy really screwed up OR (and this is a strong possibility) the PSM was calling cues wrong, and it was the sound guy who wound looking like the jerk. I was happy to see that, in one of the categories, I had worked with four of the five nominees. I also got to see friends of mine perform a number from a show I hope to see in the coming weeks. I vehemently disagreed with some of the choice of winners, but it’s an exciting night and I’m not going to publicly trash anyone in my industry here, no matter what I think, especially not on a night that’s filled with so much joy. And, every year, the Tony Awards reminds me how proud I am of the work we do on Broadway, and how grateful I am for the years I’ve spent there. And I can say I’m thrilled for all the awards won by RED — it’s a fantastic play.

Home late, up early, out for a run a little after five. It was so humid I had a tough time. Oh, well, at least I was out and moving. Now, it’s back to the page. I want to start Chapter 15 of POWER OF WORDS, finish an article, and work on transforming Act I of BEHIND THE MAN from interactive to proscenium. I also need to figure out where to put the act break. As an interactive piece, it’s a three act. For proscenium production, it needs to be a two act. Which means I have to create a cliffhanger somewhere in what is currently the middle of the second act.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on June 14, 2010 at 5:03 am  Comments (3)  
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Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I was up and out the door so early that I’m back at my desk by 5:30 this morning, showered and all! If I keep getting out there earlier and earlier, I will have run the night before!

But it was great — no one around, a periwinkle sky. Lovely.

After the Solstice, when the days start getting shorter, I’ll have to adjust, because I have no intention of running in full dark. And Solstice is not the “start of summer” — it’s midsummer.

Elsa showed some real improvement yesterday. I hope it’s solid progress, not just momentary. She’s eating well again, and there’s a minimum of sniffling. She’s back on the Candida cleanse and the hydrocortisone, along with the ParaClenz I found for her and the digestive enzyme, but that’s it. If she continues to progress for about a week, I’ll try to add the olive leaf back in as a liquid, and ask the vet what we should do next about the nasal infection. But first, I want to build up her strength and make sure she’s not getting nauseous. All the BHI medications make her nauseous, including the anti-nausea, so I’m not forcing them on her.

Worked on POWER OF WORDS yesterday, and napped most of the afternoon. Went to my friend’s place for dinner — she lives upcounty on the Hudson River. We haven’t actually seen each other in awhile, and there was a lot of catching up, including on the backstage goings on. So that’s all good.

Driving back on the Taconic Parkway at night is a nightmare, though. Lack of visibility plus a high rate of crazy people makes it a challenge. Got home safely, though. Elsa had taught my mom the routine — let her know what she was supposed to do when while I was gone, and was all perky and happy when I got back. We both slept through the night well, and she’s eating well this morning. I’m trying a gluten-free organic cat food, and she seems to respond well. I wonder if part of the problem is she’s developed a sensitivity to wheat?

Going to do some writing, and then, maybe nap this afternoon, if the construction noise isn’t too bad.

I’m hoping for a quiet weekend, and that Elsa is well enough on Sunday so I can go to a Tony Awards party.

Devon

Published in: on June 11, 2010 at 4:51 am  Comments (4)  
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