Inspiration from Place #UpbeatAuthors

Note: This was a previously-committed to post for the #upbeatauthors group. If you want to read about my response to Hurricane Harvey, it is the post above this one. I am not ignoring the suffering.

Trish Milburn‘s topic for the day is “Places that Inspire”. That covers a lot of ground. I can find ANY place I visit inspiring. I keep detailed travel journals when I go anywhere, and write up the details, especially sensory details. I collect maps and historical information. I collect contact information for chambers of commerce and tourism boards, so when I write about a place, I can go back and get the emotional geography correct.

Because setting is a character in my work (and I teach courses on it), it’s important to me to get the physical and emotional geography of a place correct. I’m pretty good at discerning when an author hasn’t visited a place and hasn’t done enough research to understand its unique feel/personality. Yes, it’s fiction, and it’s important to use imagination. But, if you are going to use a real place, or do what I call “stretching geography”, where you add the fictional places that support your story into a real environment, you need to get the physical and the sensory details right.

That’s a lecture for another day. 😉

For today, I am going to share with you some of the places that have inspired specific pieces of work. I’m having trouble posting photographs, but clicking through the links will get you all kinds of great images and information.

New York City
I grew up in a suburb of New York City, and spent plenty of time there. After a year of college elsewhere, I transferred back to NYU for film and television production, and then, after two years in San Francisco and a miserable year in Seattle, I moved back and worked my way up in theatre until I worked on Broadway. I loved the city, especially Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, the various New York Public Libraries, NYU itself, and all the neighborhoods. I lived through 9/11, in which 42 people I knew (firefighters, mostly, and cops, and people I’d gone to school with who worked in the towers). New York is an important part of my work.

It’s the primary setting for the Nina Bell Mysteries, which are in the 1990s, following a college graduate trying to build her life in the arts. She lives on E. 6th Street, and is an NYU alum, and works at theatres similar to the Public. I use my diaries from those years to make sure I have the geography right, and the events and how they affected those of us trying to ignore said events.

It’s where TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery starts and ends. The book starts in the Gramercy Park area, and has major events at the main New York Public Library and a chase scene inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
(The book re-releases in January 2018. Visit http://gwenfinneganmysteries.devonellingtonwork.com for more information).

PLAYING THE ANGLES, the first Coventina Circle mystery, releasing on October 2, takes places in various NYC locations, most of it in the Broadway neighborhood, since much of the action takes place backstage on a Broadway show. So that’s midtown. I used to live in the area, on the corner of 42nd St. and 8th Avenue, over a strip club which is now a comedy club, across from the Port Authority bus terminal, and a short walk to the Broadway theatres at which I worked. I’d regularly walk back from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so I could spend time in Central Park. ANGLES also has scenes in Greenwich Village and Morag’s Upper West Side apartment. The second book in the series, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY is mostly set in Greenwich village, around the publisher for whom Bonnie works, and the bookshop that Rupert owns, with forays to the Upper West Side and down to the Bowery. Most of the books in the series will have NYC locations, although I plan to get them out of the city at times! (http://www.coventinacircle.devonellingtonwork.com)

SAVASANA AT SEA, the first Nautical Namaste Mystery that releases in November, starts in New York City, at Union Square, where yoga studios have bloomed in the last few years. It also has locations at the cruise ship piers, and Sophie shares a brownstone in Brooklyn, inspired by one owned by a friend of mine.

I love the city deeply; I just don’t want to live there any more!

SCOTLAND
I have a deep love of Scotland. Two of my shows have been produced at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and I lived in Edinburgh for a month at a time with each. I’ve visited the city frequently, and travelled a good deal throughout the country: St. Andrews, Skye, the borders, but especially Ayrshire, where I’ve rented an apartment in Culzean Castle through the Scottish National Trust a couple of times.

The area is amazing — friendly people, beautiful scenery, great food. A basic conversation in passing can be the seed of a story.

A big chunk of TRACKING MEDUSA is set in a fictional town in Ayrshire, not far from Culzean, where Gwen and Justin confront Gwen’s past and discover the secrets of the Medusa statue.

Eastern and Western Scotland are very different from each other, in atmosphere, in geography, in sensory detail. The jet stream allows Culzean to grow tropical plants. The coast around St. Andrews can’t mistaken for the isle of Arran in the west. And the Highlands are a world unto themselves (not to mention that the signs are in Scots Gaelic first and sometimes English underneath). Someone from Glasgow speaks differently than someone from Edinburgh than someone from Skye. The cadence is difference, the timbre is different. Yes, there’s a “Scottish” accent different from English or Welsh or Irish, but there are also regional differences within it. Each one is delightful in its own way, but easy to pick up a false ring in a piece.

It’s very obvious when a writer sets something in Scotland and has never visited — it comes across more like a Rennfaire in upstate New York than genuinely in Scotland.

Northumbria
This is Hotspur Percy country, which is why I originally visited when I first graduated high school, and I keep coming back. The border shifted — it’s England, it’s Scotland, it’s England, it’s Scot– you get the idea.

Northumbrians have a thick north England accent, thicker than Yorkshire, but different from Scotland. They are very proud of their area.

My favorite places are Alnwick (now famous because the castle is used for Hogwarts) and Alnmouth. But my ultimate favorite is Lindisfarne, Holy Island, still cut off by the tide twice a day.

Lindisfarne has the ruins of a Priory, where illuminated manuscripts were created, and a castle. Two hotels, several pubs and shops, holiday cottages, a few people, a lot of sheep. When the tourists leave and the tide comes in, and it’s cut off, it’s magic.

I first learned about Lindisfarne when I was a kid, reading HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN magazine, when they had a story about monks saving the illuminated manuscripts. I vowed to visit, and did, right after high school. I can’t stay away. I have photographs that show the erosion of the ruins over the years.

A section of TRACKING MEDUSA is set there, at some of my favorite places, including the Abbey, the beach, and the kilns.

I’ve also visited the battle site of Otterburn. It was autumn when I was there; no one else around. I walked through the darkening woods, it got quieter and the birds stopped chirping. You could feel the weight of the dead. I had similar sensations when visiting Glencoe and Culloden in Scotland, but because Otterburn is smaller, more isolated, and more overgrown, it stayed with me more strongly.

Prague
Prague is an amazing city, centuries of history handled like they happened last week.

Locals sigh and talk about how nothing has been the same since The Battle of the White Mountain. I thought that was in WWII, and understood how it could still have an impact. Then I looked it up at it was in 1620! That gives you a good sense of the emotional geography of the place.

One also always has the sense of being watched. It’s not “Big Brother” or left over from Soviet occupation. It’s all the statues on the roofline that stare down at you.

I plan to use Prague as a setting for several pieces, but it’s in an upcoming serial novel about filming a television show, and part of the pilot is shot in Prague. There’s a lovely sequence on the Charles Bridge between Old Town and Mala Strana, because it’s so different on either side of the bridge.

Cape Cod
One of the reasons I moved here is because the place inspired me so much. My family’s visited since 1968. The National Seashore at Eastham and Race Point Beach in Provincetown are two big favorites, as is the Aschumet Sanctuary with all its holly trees, closer to where I actually live.

I’ve set a lot of pieces on Cape Cod. Morag’s family has a house here in PLAYING THE ANGLES. I’ve used it in quite a few short stories, and in an upcoming novel called THE TIE-CUTTER (Ayrshire, Scotland, is also heavily involved, as is Iceland).

Living here and visiting are very different, so I encourage any author who writes about the place to do more than a flying visit, if you expect me to believe your characters are more than summer people! No matter how many years I live here, I will always be a washashore, which is fine with me. It’s also a term I’d never heard in all the years I visited, but everyone made it clear to me once I moved in!

Any place can provide inspiration, if you look for it. Take time and get to know your home region. When you travel, don’t just post on social media and take video with your phone — experience the place directly, and then it will resonate in your writing.

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Wed. July 5, 2017: “Ramsey Chase” Cover Reveal & Gwen Finnegan Mysteries News!

Ransey Chase Cover 2 Small

“The Ramsey Chase” — The First Remarkable Adventure of Cornelia True and Roman Gray. Miss Cornelia True lives in Bodwin’s Ferry, a small seacoast town, with her sisters Arabella and Viola. Her life changes forever when Roman Gray, a “fixer” from the future and across the seas from the metropolis of Newest Yorkke, lands, naked, amongst Cornelia’s petunias due to a glitch in his Device. Together, they embark on a series of remarkable adventures. In “The Ramsey Chase”, Roman arrives hunting a time-travelling serial killer who preys on young women for their blood.

Yes, that’s the cover, and the story will release next Monday, July 10.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I took time off, not that it helped much when yesterday was stressful. I didn’t do most of what I’d planned.

I read a lot — the Helen Bevington books. Worked my way through a bunch of research books. I have about twenty books to return to the library today.

I also re-read the many, many pages on INITIATE, which will eventually become the series encompassing SCHOLAR, WRAIG NAIF, WRAIG MATURE, INITATE, and KNIGHTWITCH. There’s a lot of good stuff in there. I even found my notes and wrote more pages. Not a lot, but a few thousand words here and there.

I also re-read what I have of THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, the second Gwen Finnegan mystery. My friend Arlene Kay loved TRACKING MEDUSA, and has encouraged me to get Gwen back on the schedule. I’d stopped working on BALTHAZAAR when Amber Quill went under; there didn’t seem any point since TRACKING MEDUSA went out of print. I was also frustrated, because the first section of the book is important to the growth of Gwen and Justin’s relationship, but doesn’t really drive BALTHAZAAR.

I realized I could cut the part before they actually go on the treasure hunt and expand it, turning it into a novella that will run about 200 pages or so. It will cover the time between MEDUSA and BALTHAZAAR, introduce a character who is vital to the next two Gwen mysteries, and show that important growth arc in their relationship, without derailing BALTHAZAAR the way it did. Then, BALTHAZAAR can open IN THE STORY and not lose momentum. Better structural choice.

The title of the novella is MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and will be focused in and around New York City.

If I can work out the details for MEDUSA along the same lines as I’m doing for PLAYING THE ANGLES — digital release first, then a small traditional print run (not POD), it makes sense to get MEDUSA back on track for an early 2018 release, with the novella mid-year, and BALTHAZAAR a few months after that. At the same time, I don’t want to drop the ball on PLAYING THE ANGLES or the books that come after it. I have to see if it’s physically and mentally possible for me to juggle both those series while I’m also writing books that are more suited to traditional publishers and working on that angle of my career as well. I want and need to be working along several fronts.

I am sick and tired of publishers (and now, many agents), only committing to one book at a time, instead of making a worthwhile, longterm investment in a writer’s career. That model doesn’t work for me. So I need to reshape my career in the way that does. That is why having a good entertainment lawyer is so vital.

The proofing of “The Ramsey Chase” is done (although I’ll probably do one more proofread before I send it in. The cover’s at the top of the post — ta da! Cover reveal! I kind of love it. Blurbs, excerpts, et al, will release this week, and it drops next Monday, via Smashwords. It’s a short, and will be only 99 cents.

I do love the stories and characters; I’m just sick of the piece right now, with all the re-reading I had to do to prep it for release!

The file also contains the opening of the second Remarkable Adventure, “Miss Winston Apologizes”, which will release in November.

The media kit is almost done. Press goes out today (release was finished this morning).

Hopefully, plenty of you enjoyed “Personal Revolution” over the weekend.

The fireworks were ridiculous. Fireworks are an art form, and they are beautiful. Go watch the professionals. Do NOT put your entire neighborhood in danger because you are a dumbass. And yes, I trained in pyrotechnics when I worked rock and roll, so I know what I’m talking about. The majority of people who buy illegal fireworks and set them off are too stupid to properly work them, which is why THEY ARE ILLEGAL. And don’t for a second think I’ll contribute to your Go Fund Me Campaign when you lose a limb or an eye. Not to mention the fact that it terrifies pets and triggers PTSD in many veterans.

Every night, when it quieted down, I gathered up the frightened animals who took refuge under the deck or in our bushes, soothed them, fed them. They overnighted with us, and I got them back to their humans the next day.

I didn’t celebrate yesterday. It was impossible to celebrate “independence” when we have a sociopathic moron and his evil henchmen in charge, turning this place into an authoritarian, white supremacist, misogynistic theocracy.

I don’t have the To Do List up yet for July. I’m still trying to figure out my schedule. There’s a lot of pressure on me the next few weeks, especially with my mother’s surgery coming up. Once the late payments catch up, I can hit an even keel, but until everything’s caught up and I have enough work booked for the month, I’m going to be stressed.

I ate red meat last night — something I rarely do any more, and was miserable. It was good while I ate it, and I paid for hours after.

However, there was some good news: an actor for whom I’d written a monologue, and with whom I worked via Skype, landed a role in a series of the type that we’d always dreamed about him doing “someday”. He’s going to be fabulous. It’s wonderful to see that the talented kid has grown into such a terrific man. I feel like a proud momma! He pointed out that I’d been a friend during some tough times, when many people forgot about him. I’m thrilled for him. (And yes, completely content to stay in the background — I’m not going to run around trying to ride on his coattails).

Woke up feeling much more cheerful this morning, after a bad night thanks to the red meat. I have so much to do today that I will be overwhelmed if I don’t just deal with each piece at a time, and then move on to the next piece.

And I HAVE to get back to FIX-IT GIRL this week. I can’t keep the research books any longer. I also feel, since I started “Miss Winston”, I should keep going on it, although it’s not releasing until November. “Labor Intensive” has a closer deadline, and therefore should get attention first.

But first, mowing. The front yard looks raggedy. I wish I could learn to like it. The mowing, I mean, not the raggedy lawn!

Published in: on July 5, 2017 at 9:33 am  Comments Off on Wed. July 5, 2017: “Ramsey Chase” Cover Reveal & Gwen Finnegan Mysteries News!  
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Tues. Nov. 29, 2016: Figuring the Juggling

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
New Moon
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was busy. I wrote in the morning, and finished proofing TRACKING MEDUSA, getting it ready for re-release. It goes out today. Fingers crossed it lands with a good publisher soon.

I figured out where I went wrong on BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, so once MEDUSA is all set, I can get back to work on that. I cut the first 203 pages, because I figued out the story really starts on page 204. I need to work in flashback with Alec’s introduction, since he provides plenty of conflict with Justin, but, other than that, the story really starts much farther into it than I originally thought.

The afternoon was spent helping set up the Marine Life Center’s tree in Hyannis for Spectacle of Trees. I’m picking up a few things for it today, but we got a lot done on it.

I’m sorting through the last of the research, so I can finish this last scene on the play, then work on another pass and get it out the door by the end of the week. I still have to find a better title. The working title just doesn’t . . .work. I HAD a title, earlier this year, but I can’t remember it.

Better get going — I want to get some writing done this afternoon, and tonight is HobNob!

Devon

Published in: on November 29, 2016 at 10:33 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 29, 2016: Figuring the Juggling  
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Mon. Nov. 28, 2016: Writing Progress

Monday, November 28, 2016
Dark Moon
Sunny and cold

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Week.

I concentrated on letting the broken foot heal and on writing. The play about the 14th century pirate is nearly done and will go out at the end of the week. The proof of TRACKING MEDUSA will be done later today, and it will go out on resubmission tomorrow. Plus, I got some work done on a couple of other projects, including MURDER OF A MELANCHOLIC.

I need to do a couple of tweaks to the end of CHOLERIC, and then another batch of queries go out on that, too. Although I think that series will be a challenge for any thing that smacks of corporate structure, since the series breaks so many rules. But I wrote the book (and am developing the series) that I want to read, but can’t find anywhere.

I’ve studied structure, and I have craft, although I intend to keep honing the craft my entire career. When I break rules now, it’s by choice. Unless I’m being paid a VERY high for-hire fee, I’m going to write what I want and stand by it. I’m going to run my career the way I want to, not the way others tell me I “should.”

Participated in the Not Bannon postcard avalanche. It may not do any good, but it’s better than doing nothing.

This week is the set-up for Spectacle of Trees in Hyannis. I’m going to help decorate this afternoon, and we’ll see what the next few days holds for that.

Once the current play is out, I go back to JUST A DROP, because that’s due in a few weeks, and still needs a lot of work.

Tomorrow starts a new moon. Wouldn’t it be nice if, during that time, the Electoral College showed some guts and integrity? They won’t, however. They’re cowards, just like everyone else who is supposed to stand up for us.

Onward.

Devon

Published in: on November 28, 2016 at 10:11 am  Comments Off on Mon. Nov. 28, 2016: Writing Progress  
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Mon. Nov. 21, 2016: Writing Retreat

Monday, November 21, 2016
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

They say we’ll have some snow flurries today. So much for yard work! The weather was so damp and windy the past few days I didn’t get much done.

This will probably be the only time I blog this week, except for a holiday greeting on Thursday. This week is about the writing. I want to dive into it, and stay off most media for the bulk of the week. Check in just enough to make sure the Apocalypse hasn’t started early.

On top of everything else, I broke some bones in my foot on Saturday. The poor toe that keeps getting broken got it again; and also a bone lower down on the side of my foot. I didn’t even break it doing anything interesting. I was merely careless. Can’t even get a good story out of it!

Most of the weekend was spent working on the play about the 14th century female pirate. That’s been pulling at me harder than the 17th century poisoning ring in Italy. So I’m focusing on this one first, then going back to JUST A DROP. I hate the working title I have for this play, and have to come up with a better one. But I’m having fun with the characters, and letting them lead me, in the context, into some interesting places.

This will be only the fifth time in 44 years we have not gone to Maine for Thanksgiving: three years when I lived on the west coast, one year when I was working on Broadway and couldn’t get coverage (I usually had Thanksgiving off and worked Christmas), and this year. We’ve been too sick for too long to feel up to the trip, and with a broken right foot, I can’t go anyway.

Relieved that both DEATH OF A CHOLERIC and PLAYING THE ANGLES are out. I’m prepping TRACKING MEDUSA for resubmission.

I also want to get back to work on THE FIX-IT GIRL, finish the draft, then start revisions. I think it might need less work than some of my other pieces, although I have to decide how explicit I want the love scenes to be.

Mark December 17th on your calendar. I’m doing a holiday jingle party on Facebook with Angela Aarons and Tracy Kincaid. My slot is from 1 to 1:30 PM, EST. There will be giveaways and games, and all kinds of fun stuff.

Don’t worry, I’ll remind you!

Have a lovely holiday week, and I’ll check back in next week!

Devon

Published in: on November 21, 2016 at 9:30 am  Comments Off on Mon. Nov. 21, 2016: Writing Retreat  
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Fri. Nov. 18, 2016: Rolling the Writing Ball

Friday, Nov. 18, 2016
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cool

I forgot to post yesterday. I apologize. So this post combines both day’s thoughts.

Busy few days. Got some painting done, some yard work done (but I can’t stay ahead of the leaves).

DEATH OF A CHOLERIC was ready to go out on submission yesterday, but I had file compatibility problems, so it has to go out today instead. However, the completed revisions of PLAYING THE ANGLES went out, and will hopefully be picked up and re-issued soon. I’m going over TRACKING MEDUSA in a few days, and then that will go out the door in search of re-issue, too. HEART-SNATCHER is almost through revisions and will be ready to go on submission either before the end of the year, or just after the first of the year.

I love PLAYING THE ANGLES (what used to be ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT). It’s still one of my favorite books that I’ve written.

I think I’m going to do the Nina Bell books myself; they’re too quirky to make business sense for a traditional publisher. I need to do a new cover in the next few weeks for one of the shorts, and then work on the first Nina and the beginning of the second Nina so that I can release the first one in spring. It makes me laugh (uncomfortably) that a range of time I lived through could now be called “period”.

I found an older novel of mine, that needs about 100 more pages to complete, which I loved, but put away. It’s called THE FIX-IT GIRL, and is set in 1930s Hollywood. I read it yesterday. There’s a lot of good stuff there. I made notes on revisions, and I’ve got an idea of what to do with the last 100 pages. I think I can whip it into shape to be ready for submission by late winter or early spring.

I want to make sure I get through the backlog, and that everything out there is earning its keep!

Did some work on MURDER OF A MELANCHOLIC, and also on the sci-fi/fantasy/mystery. and the contemporary play. I need to get back to the contemporary intrigue/romance, and the two historical plays.

I have to stop eating red meat for awhile again; that seems to be what’s been making me sick lately. That happened a few years ago — I had to stop eating red meat for about six months. I’ve eaten too much of it since our company came in September (they were big fans of red meat), and now I’m paying the price. So, back to a lighter diet.

I’ve got to finish up some research on Gilded Age Newport in the next few days and get those books back to the library. I think I need to focus on plot and character for this draft, and then layer in historical detail in the next. I’ve got a decent idea of time and place, but the research is interfering with the story at this point. I need to write the story to see what I have, and then see what needs to change for it to make sense within its historical context, and where my character chooses to break the social norms. That’s one of the themes of the series — that she chooses to break convention, and then has to pay the price.

I’m hoping it clears up a bit in the coming hours, so I can get more yard work done. I mowed the front day before yesterday. It looked good for about five minutes until it filled with leaves again. I still need to do no-man’s land, the terrace, and the meadow, and then start raking the front.

However, I need to take the yard waste and recycling in as soon as the weather clears. It rained off and on yesterday. It’s miserable trying to unload the car and get it all the bins and on the yard waste piles in bad weather. But the garage is about to pop.

I think I’m done painting until spring, unless I paint some of the shells I’ve collected, with an eye to the holidays.

Onward.

Devon

Published in: on November 18, 2016 at 9:40 am  Comments Off on Fri. Nov. 18, 2016: Rolling the Writing Ball  
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Fri. Jan. 8, 2016: Revising the Writing Schedule and Goals

Friday, January 8, 2016
Dark Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Meeting in Hyannis yesterday morning. It was fine; at least I didn’t want to jab my eye with a fork, like I do at some of these meetings.

Back to work, tried to catch up. Computer isn’t working properly, so that makes it more difficult.

I got some sad news: Amber Quill, with whom I have half a dozen titles, is shutting its doors on March 30. LAKE JUSTICE, SEVERANCE, ELUSIVE PRAYERS, and TRACKING MEDUSA will cease to be available from them at that time. I wish I’d found out directly from THEM instead of through a second party, but, other than that, I’ve always been treated well by them. I loved my editor; they paid on time; they gave me good covers. They believed in their authors. I will miss being a part of the company.

So what does that mean for my writing?

Several different things.

I’m meeting with my advisors to decide what to do. There are still two months until the doors close, two months until rights revert back. Once rights revert back, unless I’m going the indie route, it doesn’t make sense to just shoot the titles straight out again. While it makes me nervous to have anything go out of print, at the same time, I need time to launch a re-release properly, wherever and however I decide to do it. I expect they will be out of print until at least September. If I go independent, I’m going to have to marshal massive marketing resources to make it worthwhile. Right now, that much marketing emphasis isn’t going to fit my schedule. I’m not convinced the independent route is the right choice for me. I prefer to work in a more traditional model right now.

I do realize that, when I’m ready to launch the series that started life as THE POWER OF WORDS (which now has multiple titles as it breaks down into multiple books), it is most likely I have to use the independent model, because it would be exceedingly difficult for a traditional publisher to put it out in the usual channels. It’s a strange monster – one I love, but one that would require the type of Gentleman (or Bluestocking) Publisher to take it on, a type of publisher who no longer exists.

I was in the throes of planning a big marketing campaign for everything over the next few months, which now will not include the titles that won’t be available, for obvious reasons.

I also had three books scheduled to go to Amber Quill this year, all Gwen Finnegan books: BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, SANDOVAL SECRET, and SHAKESPEARE’S BACON. It was a pressurized schedule, but I wanted to make sure I finished the Gwen Finnegan cycle quickly for them, with an eye to moving in some new directions, as inspired by last August’s conference, where Claire Cook gave me the push I needed to give what’s now TIE-CUTTER a shot, and Carole Bugge encouraged me to continue work on SONGBOUND SISTERS.

With those three books off the schedule, at least for the moment (which means I’ll work on them in and around other projects, without the pressure) it moves up SONGBIRD SISTERS and the aviation mystery set in the late 1940s that I’ve been playing with for a few years.

I do love Gwen and Justin, and I want to see their stories to completion, but a break may not be a bad thing. As I kept saying last year, struggling with BALTHAZAAR, I can do it fast or I can do it well. Both aren’t happening in tandem right now.

HEX BREAKER and OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, the Jain Lazarus books, are still with Solstice, and I’m not sure what’s next with them; we’re in a bit of a holding pattern.

I have several play scripts and radio scripts on the slate for the year, and some film and television scripts on which I worked last year, which go out on submission this year.

The focus will be more on writing, polishing, and submitting this year, building on the previous writing, but taking me in new directions that I’ve been interested in for the past few months. That’s a positive. It moves up the timeline for me, but it’s a positive. It takes a lot of the “write as fast as possible” pressure off me – something that’s bogged me down over the past couple of years and actually interfered with my productivity, instead of increasing it.

As saddened as I am by the news, I think it’s the push I need right now. My gut tells me this is a positive in the long run.

I’ll have a long day at work today, but, since I’m feeling run down, I pulled out of my commitments for this weekend. I have some work to do for Monday’s NMLC Board meeting, and I’m going to write. I want to finish the first draft of the short radio play that goes out at the end of the month, and I’ve been approached to adapt the historical play into a radio play. I’ll take a look at that to see if it makes sense. I use a good deal of sound in the play anyway, and I think if I make some changes to make it more aural than visual, it will work. I also need to get LIGHT BEHIND THE EYES into US radio format from BBC format, because I have a US market interested.

Plus, I want to stay on schedule with TIE-CUTTER and DEATH OF A CHOLERIC.

So I’ll have a solid writing weekend ahead of me.

This certainly didn’t happen the way I wanted it to, but I have a feeling that, in the long run, these changes will be positive.

I remain hugely grateful to Amber Quill for their support, belief in me, and everything they’ve done for me and for my writing over the years I spent with them. I wish all the partners well in their new ventures, and I hope we can all stay in touch and support each other’s work. Thank you, Amber Quill!

Have a great weekend, people.

Devon

Fri. Sept. 19, 2014: The Longing to Write

Friday, September 19, 2014
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I was discouraged about a variety of things when I got back home on Wednesday afternoon, along with just being damn tired. Did some work on INITIATE, read VIRTU. Went to bed early.

Up early yesterday, wrote a bit on INITIATE. Headed to work. Busy day. Got 40 books processed; the woman who covers them was in, so we got them either onto the shelves or out to fulfill holds. I still have a stack of DVDs to process. Wrote a proposal for the small library conference at the end of October. Did some promotion for our upcoming programs, including the Rights Roundtable on Monday night that kicks off Banned Books Week.

Yup, Banned Books week is next week, and this year’s focus is graphic novels. So grab a banned graphic novel and dig in! 😉

Updated the library website, contacted some people about programs. Busy day.

My editor wants another book as soon as I can write it. I still have some research for BALTHAZAAR before I can get back into it, and, of course, am consumed by INITIATE. But I have to give them something soon.

I also found out that I have a 5-cup Review of TRACKING MEDUSA over on Coffee Time Romance, and a 5-star review of the same book on Amazon. I loved and believed in the book for a long time before I found the right publisher, so I’m glad others are enjoying it, too. “Lake Justice” got a 3.5 out of 5, which is good, with the main criticism being it was too short – which is helpful! 😉 Maybe the next Bronwyn adventure will be longer. Maybe I should cough up a Bronwyn adventure soon while I’m working on the other books for my editor!

Home, very tired, glass of wine on the deck, then grocery and cat food shopping. Dinner, some work on INITIATE, then finished VIRTU. I’ve ordered the two remaining books in the quartet and should have them by next week. Can’t wait to dive into them. I just love this series. It’s very unique, lots of gorgeous writing. At times, I wonder why one choice or another was made, but then it all ties together. The world-building is spectacular. Not only am I enjoying them, I am learning from them.

Up early today. Worked on INITIATE. Tomorrow will be my first full day off in quite awhile, and I’m going to focus on INITIATE and on the garden. I’m supposed to read to kids at the Town Picnic on Sunday, but all I know is the time. I have no idea where I’m supposed to be or what I’m supposed to read. I’m half tempted to make something the hell up.

I have a proposal and a couple of reports to write today, along with everything else. Better get going. I’ll check in next week – there should be lots to tell from Banned Books Week!

And, of course, the Equinox is on Monday, so I’m in preparations for that.

A student who booked an editing intensive sent the materials in some weird format (I only accept .doc) and not in Standard Manuscript Format, and then wanted me to explain what that is. No. Don’t call yourself a writer if you don’t know SMF. Go look it the fuck up. I was very, VERY clear when we discussed the possibility of taking her on this semester that I ONLY accept SMF in .doc file format and anything else would remain unread. This has been an ongoing problem with this particular individual. I will not work on something that is not correctly formatted. Period. And if you’ve been in ANY of my classes, there is NO excuse not to know what SMF is, or to show the initiative to go look it up your damn self.

Devon

Published in: on September 19, 2014 at 9:05 am  Comments (3)  
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Tues. Aug. 12, 2014: Meetings and Programs and Balls, oh My!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Five meetings yesterday. It was a lot. Plus trying to reschedule some Writers Center stuff.

Stopped in at the library to discuss stuff that happened at the conference in relation to booking our programs. Went over to Books By the Sea — they are carrying copies of TRACKING MEDUSA, HEX BREAKER, OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, and ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT.

Home, grabbed some food, headed to Hyannis to Common Ground to meet with a student I’ll be working with in fall. I’ve accepted one in person and one on line — my private student slots for fall are FULL. Had a good meeting, we came up with a lesson plan.

Returned materials from the conference to Cotuit Library. Headed over the bridge to the Mermaid Ball meeting. The ball is next week — can’t believe it’s coming up so fast.

Home, worked on a review I have to write, fell into bed early.

Up early this morning, I have about 6 loads of laundry to get done. Wrote my first 1K of the day, and I’ll have to get some more done later on, along with pulling stuff for next week’s actor/dresser workshop and pulling materials for Mermaid Ball.

Back to the library this evening — Michael Blanding talks about his book, THE MAP THIEF!

Sad about Robin Williams. It’s always sad when a talent like that makes such a choice.

Devon

Published in: on August 12, 2014 at 8:17 am  Comments Off on Tues. Aug. 12, 2014: Meetings and Programs and Balls, oh My!  
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Thurs. July 31, 2014: Thank You, NMLC and Joseph Finder!

Thursday, July 31, 2014
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was a busy, but terrific day. To work in the morning, cleared a few things off my desk. National Marine Life Center did a presentation here, their Marine Medical Mystery, at 11 AM. It was awesome! It was a tween-focused program, and the kids were eager and enthusiastic — very participatory. Tons of fun. The program itself is exceptionally well done, and to have such enthusiasm takes it to the next level.

Once that was done, we struck (still using theatre terms, that’ll never change, will it?) and set up for the Joseph Finder event. Tables, chairs, food, drink, putting together the gift, etc. Finder was a keynote speaker at the Writers Conference a couple of years ago, and I knew he was a terrific speaker, so we were thrilled to get him here.

Books by the Sea was there with his books, and there was a solid turnout. He was, of course, a terrific speaker — intelligent, funny, insightful, precise, with great stories. Fortunately, he also had some strong boundaries, because one of our audience patrons made the inappropriate request that he read three of her screenplays. She is someone who only sees other people as a way to advance herself (rather than putting in the work that would advance her). I was furious, but he handled it with grace and charm, still holding firm to his boundaries.

Afterwards, we cleaned up and a couple of us sat around noshing and talking about structuring other programs. It was a good night, although we were all pretty tired by the time we wandered home at 9:30 at night.

I overslept a bit this morning, but managed to get in 1000 words on INITIATE, finishing chapter one, before I had to head back to the library.

Busy day today, and then I have to run around and do things like pick up cat food and cat litter (or I will have angry kitties). I want to get some more research done for BALTHAZAAR tonight. I don’t really like moving between several books, but right now, with this schedule, I have to. So I will adjust the creative process to fit.

The copies of TRACKING MEDUSA ordered in June finally arrived — so I’ll have copies for the Conference. Hopefully, copies will also arrive soon for Books By the Sea.

Onward.

Devon

Published in: on July 31, 2014 at 8:15 am  Comments Off on Thurs. July 31, 2014: Thank You, NMLC and Joseph Finder!  
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014: In the Writing Cave

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

I’m getting good about hunkering into the writing cave on Mondays, but that means I usually skip blogging. Sorry about that.

Friday was a busy day at the library. Good busy, but busy. And I’ll have the chance to get some advice from the Morgan Library when I’m in New York in September. Very excited and tremendously grateful that the individual I contacted is willing to take time with me.

Friday night was tiring. Saturday, I did some running around, and had to pop in at the library quickly. Managed to also work my way through a stack of research books, that I can now return. I wanted to work on the website, but the host was down. Tried to get some work done on the press kits for “Severance” and “Elusive Prayers”, but didn’t get very far.

Sunday was my disconnect day. Mostly reading, including SILKWORM on the Kindle. I like the Kindle much more than I expected.

Yesterday, I descended back into the writing cave, writing 32 pages on THE POWER OF WORDS. I’m back on that, while still juggling BALTHAZAAR, and wondering if I can write BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and DARK ANNIE’S SECRET simultaneously, since both of them deal with sunken treasure ships, albeit in very different situations, or if they’ll bleed into each other.

Finished the final galleys on “Elusive Prayers” and they’re about to go back out. Trying to decide if I should write Brother Joseph’s novella set in Iowa Territory or the Doc/Melody story next in that world. It also makes me long to go back to THE WIDOW’S CHAMBER and rewrite that as a novel in first person, adapting it from third person serial. And the next Bronwyn Rowan novella is percolating in my head.

Decided on the new title for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT (will reveal that when I do the cover reveal in autumn). Will add back in something that was cut, so that it serves as a better introduction for Bonnie in THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and then figure out how to get that book back on track. If the re-figured A of R is released under new title and cover in fall, I’d like REPOSITORY to release in the spring.

Can’t figure out which course to take at the conference in August.

Trying to find out where the copies of TRACKING MEDUSA, which were supposed to be here for the signing in late June, are. They still haven’t arrived. I need copies for the bookstore and for the bookstore at the conference.

I have some grocery shopping and bill paying to do today, and then — it’s back to writing, until I go to the Elisabeth Elo event tonight at the library.

Watched THE KING’S SPEECH again last night. Terrific film.

Have a great week!

Devon

Wed. July 9, 2014: Back To It

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Humid and ready to rain

I’ve been offline for a few days, for a much-needed break. I’m creatively exhausted right now, and need a chance to reinvigorate. The past few months have been at a ridiculous pace, and took their toll.

Thursday was a busy day at the library — people stocking up for the holiday weekend. That’s always fun — people who are excited about taking out books for the weekend, or for any other time. It’s one of my favorite things about the work — helping people find reading material that they enjoy and that engages in them. Also managed to get my desk cleared off for the first time since I was hired.

Exhausted Thursday night, and grateful that Friday was a holiday.

However, I was up at 5:30 on Friday morning. Since Hurricane Arthur was set to hit, we had to bring in all the plants from the deck and all the outdoor furniture and all the statuary, etc. We set down old sheets on the floor in the living room and the back bedroom and hauled everything in. We had to lock Iris in the downstairs bedroom and Violet and Tessa in my room, or we would have lost them, since we had to have doors to both outside and the garage propped open.

But we got everything in and then . . .waited. Most of the day was spent in humid suspended animation, waiting for the damn storm. I wrote a bit, read a lot, and battled the pre-storm headache. The storm didn’t hit until evening, and then I was glad I’d brought everything in.

Watched the Joss Whedon version of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, which was very clever.

Saturday, I took out some of the plants before I left for work. Since there were so many power outages, I was afraid the library’d been hit, and didn’t want my colleague there in a dark building on her own. So I went in early, the Exec Director went in early, our colleague was there, and the power was on. So it was all good. But it was busy, and there was no book delivery, which meant we couldn’t give people the books they’d ordered, and it was more chaotic than I’d hoped.

Came home, exhausted, and got the rest of the plants, furniture, statuary, etc., back out onto the deck. Read.

Sunday, I was out early and got us a Dunkin Donuts treat. Wrote a bit, then ran errands — had to do things like get the re-up cards for the phone. Looked at Kindles, and a few other things. We even went to the mall (oh, horrors) to get the phone cards and to pick up some things at Crabtree & Evelyn, where we had one of the nicest salespeople I’ve ever encountered. So nice, I’m letting the office know. Got a case for my phone, too.

Back home to read and write a bit. Juliet Blackwell’s newest, A VISION IN VELVET, arrived on Saturday, and I read it. I enjoy the Lily Ivory series.

Worked on the final round of edits for “Elusive Prayers”, which will go out to my editor today. Wrote the press release and the PSA for the Mermaid Ball.

Monday, up early and off to run errands in Falmouth. Stuck in traffic all day. Gave up after awhile, realizing it was going to take as long as it would take, and that was simply that. Getting upset wasn’t going to change anything.

Wrote a bit, came home long enough to make a black bean ful, and then headed to the Marine Life Center for the Mermaid Ball meeting. It took me an hour and a half. The meeting was the meeting, and, fortunately, coming home was quicker than getting there.

Watched FROST/NIXON — excellent. Fascinating interpretation of a period in history though which I lived.

Up early yesterday. Writing, but feeling burnt out. The weather didn’t help much, either. Went to Just Picked, where I found some good deals, but mostly was an uncreative lump, reading, and trying to replenish. I’m so tired that everything is a ridiculous amount of effort right now.

Up early this morning. Usual routine (which I’ve managed to keep up every morning, in spite of the exhaustion) of yoga, meditation, etc. Had a bad night — I had trouble sleeping and was fretful, for some reason. The last thing I need to do right now is borrow trouble. Getting some work done before I head to the library. I’m sure it will be a busy day — it always is when I come back from a few days away — and then we have a program meeting in the afternoon.

Onwards. I need to get back in the groove of BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, and it hasn’t quite clicked yet.

The copies of TRACKING MEDUSA that were supposed to be here for the signing, and then the bookstore haven’t arrived, but the copy that the library ordered is there. Go figure.

I settled on the new title for the re-release of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, and have to book the new cover artist. I’m getting print quotes. I hope to re-release it under the new imprint, title, and cover in October. Stay tuned.

That also means I have to get THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY back on track, because I won’t be releasing it through Champagne, I’ll do it through the new imprint.
I’ve got to get BALTHAZAAR back on track, get back to the ferry girl novel, do another pass on CHARISMA KILLINGS and submit that to an interested party ASAP, and do the next Bronwyn Rowan piece.

Yet I’m feeling about as creative as wilted lettuce.

I’m also tracking my activity/commitment with an organization with which I’m working to decide whether I will remain past my commitment (which ends next year) or not. If the financial ratio and the ratio of emotional give/receive do not balance better than they have in the past two years, I will withdraw when my commitment is complete. I would like to withdraw now, but it is unfair not to fulfill my commitment to the best of my ability, and not to spend a reasonable amount of time gathering actual data to review, rather than making a decision based solely on emotion.

Onward.

Devon

Mon. June 30, 2014: Go Direct Already, Mercury!

Monday, June 30, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny, warm, humid

Busy weekend.

Friday just sucked every possible way. I don’t even want to get into details, but I was furious by the time I left work, and had to reassess some of my goals and how best to get there. Hate it when Mercury and Saturn are retrograde at the same time.

Came home, and Tessa was like, “Mom, calm down. Play with the turquoise mouse. It’ll all be fine.”

Read a bit, wrote a bit, worked on the last three script episodes, finalized my PR materials for Saturday.

Friday night, we had coyotes in the yard. Woke us up at 2 AM, right up at the house. It’s a strongly bonded mated pair, and I think they’ve got little ones close by. They’re absolutely gorgeous animals — but they’re coyotes, and very close to the house. Tessa wasn’t phased at all, but the twins hid under the blankets. They were establishing territory — we heard them circle their two-mile patch for several hours. I don’t want them hurt, but I also don’t want them to hurt any person or animal in the neighborhood. If anything, I’m most worried that a neighbor will do something stupid and then officials will come in and hurt the animals. I’m hoping we can peacefully co-exist, but let’s face it — humans are stupid and arrogant, and it’s almost always the habitat that suffers.

Exhausted on Saturday, from lack of sleep. Sent off the last script episodes (will be happy when the final check arrives). Sent off some emails, took care of some business.

Headed home for lunch and to pack up the materials in the car, then over to Osterville Library’s tent for the AuthorPalooza event. There were 27 of us there, hosted by Books by the Sea. The copies of TRACKING MEDUSA didn’t arrive in time, but I had HEX BREAKER, OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, and ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT in print copies, and the sell sheet for the three digital releases, and the sell sheet for the Topic Workbooks. We were a fun, lively group. I got to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen in a long time, and meet some interesting new ones, AND talk to some of authors about the possibility of doing a program at the library. My boss came from the library after work, my friend from NMLC came, and it was, all in all, a fun afternoon. We were on the grass, so every time I got tired, I could slide out of my shoes and put my bare feet on the grass and re-energize.

Stopped at the liquor store on the way home and found an affordable bottle of blue raspberry vodka. Toss in a squirt of lemon juice, and I have my blue lemonade. Yummy!

Watched AMERICAN HUSTLE on Saturday night, on DVD. I’d seen it in the theatres when it came out, and now wanted to see it again. Enjoyed it thoroughly. It reinforced my sense that Jeremy Renner’s work wasn’t given the praise it deserved (although he didn’t maintain the Jersey accent consistently, which I hadn’t noticed the first time I watched it, but noticed here). What an amazing cast. In the interviews, the director talks about inconsistencies in characters and how that interests them, but my sense was that they were true to their cores, and then layered the inconsistencies onto that core to get what they wanted and needed.

Yesterday, I was going to do many things, but decided to stay true to my commitment to Disconnected Sundays. I did, however, turn around my edits for “Elusive Prayers”, which I will send off to my editor.

I also read Lauren Owen’s debut novel, THE QUICK. It’s getting a lot of hype, and the initial printing was 100,000 copies, so her publisher is very confident. I read the whole thing yesterday. Yes, it’s a great, big, fat book, but it held my attention. I absolutely loved the first 100 pages — especially her phrasing. I liked and admired almost all of the rest, and was frustrated by the last chapter, although I saw what was supposed to be the final twist coming about 150 pages before it did. It’s a literary horror novel, and there are vampires involved. Anything more would give away too much. It’s very well done, much better than most, but I’m rather vampired out at the moment. It’s definitely a novel I would go back and re-read in a couple of years (especially if I manage to avoid most vampire novels in the interim, which I doubt I can do). It’s definitely up there, for me, with DRACULA (the original Bram Stoker one) and Elizabeth Kostova’s THE HISTORIAN (which I loved).

Read a cozy mystery where the protagonist’s best friends were so unlikeable I kept hoping one or both would be the murderer’s next victim. No such luck. Also, there was only one body drop, and the protagonist was never in any actual peril. Boooring. That author’s off my list. Not reading more of her books for myself, nor am I ordering any for the library, nor will I recommend them for the Cozy Mystery Book Group that we hope to start in the autumn.

Re-reading Elizabeth Elo’s NORTH OF BOSTON, because she’s coming to talk at the library in July. It’s kind of a modern Boston Noir (very different from other types of noir).

The coyotes did a howl-by last night as they raced through the yard, but that was it.

I’ve got to mow today, send off some materials, and then run errands. Monday is errand day, after all.

Champagne Publishing and I have parted ways, as of today. The last few copies of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT are the last copies (it’s officially out of print), and it’s no longer available online. You can get the print copies that remain through Books by the Sea in Osterville (as of later this week — I have to drop them off when the copies of TRACKING MEDUSA arrive). Cotuit Library also has a copy in circulation. The rights have reverted back to me. I wait thirty days, then I’m commissioning a new cover, changing the title, changing a few things in the text back to my original vision, and it will be re-released, both in digital and paperback formats. I will keep you up-to-date as things happen.

I will be so happy when Mercury goes direct tomorrow.

Have a great week!

Devon