Fri. Feb. 28, 2014: Contest Judging and Mercury Direct

Friday, February 28, 2014
Dark Moon
Mercury Direct as of 9 AM EST (but can still wonk things until tomorrow)
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Decent work day yesterday. I’m very close on the play, which is a relief. I think I finally found the key to making it work.

Stop by Adventures in Vineland to see what I’ve been drinking, and what did and did not get done in February on the GDR site.

Ran some errands, dropped off books, picked up books, did some research, got some more work done on TRUE HOME and adapting the second episode of TALENT.

Wrote a kick-ass LOI that will go out with the script packets next week.

Did a bunch of pitches and LOIs; got some good responses immediately. Looking back at my pitch log, February’s responses were much higher than January’s, and the places to which I sent LOIs because I was interested had a much higher rate of positive response than any job postings. On the downside, as usual, there were still too many “writers” looking for “editors” who expect professional level work done for free. No. This is my business, not my hobby.

Happy that I have two more acceptances from my publisher; now that Mercury is going direct, I can actually sign the contracts.

Wrote, edited, polished, and submitted a review for a book I really enjoyed. My editor’s already shipped out my next batch.

Also, the books arrived via UPS for the first of the three contests I’m judging this spring. He had to use the dolly to get them to the house. One box was 50 lbs, the other 32 lbs. So exciting to open them!

The cover designs ALL look good this year. Really nice work.

Once the boxes were opened, I sorted the books into categories (I’m judging three categories for this contest). Then, I took the packing list to cross check what I’m supposed to have with what was actually in the box. Some of the missing ones are still to ship; some will be submitted electronically. I wrote up the list and sent it to Contest Central, to make sure our lists matched. Contest Central sent me the ebooks last night, and we matched lists again. The other books will be shipped shortly, and then we’ll finalize lists. The books are boxed in categories, with their judging sheets, ready to read.

I started in on the reading last night. Every time I pick up an entrant’s book, I want to fall in love with it. It doesn’t always happen, but I always start filled with optimism. I WANT these writers to succeed.

As I finish each book, I put it in one of three piles for its category: The Yes Pile, The No Pile, The Maybe Pile. If it’s submitted electronically, I put my notes for that book in the particular pile, so it gets the same amount of attention as the print books. Once I’ve completed the category, I go through each pile again, re-reading the notes, seeing how I still feel about each book, now that I’ve read everything in that category. As I read them, each book must stand or fall on its own. Once they’ve all been read, I have to weigh them against each other. Sometimes it means re-reading sections. Then, I go through The Maybe Pile yet again, making a final decision as to whether a book in it goes into Yes or No. The Maybe Pile is now empty.

Then, I go through The Yes Pile as many times as I need to, deciding which I think is the strongest book in the category, and which I feel are the four runners-up. That’s the list I submit.

I do this for each category. The writers poured their hearts and souls into their books, and I want every book to have a fair shot.

Busy weekend, lots of writing to get done, so I better get moving. We are going to be slammed with another major storm Sunday/Monday. Enough already!

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on February 28, 2014 at 9:25 am  Comments Off on Fri. Feb. 28, 2014: Contest Judging and Mercury Direct  
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Thurs. Feb. 27, 2014: More Satisfying Writing

Thursday, February 27, 2014
Day before Dark Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Wound up having a decent writing day yesterday. Got some good work done on both the play and TRUE HOME. Did a few pitches, had some nice feedback, so we’ll see.

Read the other book sent for review and loved it. This batch was terrific. Wrote, edited, polished the review and sent it off to my editor this morning.

The shipment for one of the contests I’m judging should arrive today. I’m very excited.

I have a lot of writing to do over the next few days, but at least I’m starting to feel like I’m getting back into the groove with it. We go into rehearsal for the play soon, and I’ll be dealing with that. And the upcoming releases, AND working on a couple of novels in tandem AND finishing up the screenplay packet that has to go out next week.

I have to be very, very organized for the next couple of months.

Back to work!

Published in: on February 27, 2014 at 8:27 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. Feb. 24, 2014: A Writing and Researching Weekend

Monday, February 24, 2014
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Good news! My western novella, ELUSIVE PRAYERS, has been accepted by Amber Quill Press. This is a tie-in novella to my previous WIDOW’S CHAMBER serial. It had been accepted by the WC publisher, who went out of business on release day. I’ve rewritten it substantially in the interim, and it will now come out in late July. Re-working it, I liked the characters, situation, and depth of research, so I’m excited.

I have four releases coming out between the end of March and the end of July. So I’m pretty excited. It means I’ll be gearing up for some serious PR soon — watch out! 😉

Busy weekend. Friday was frustrating, but I got through it. Saturday, I worked on the novel I’m going to write in tandem with a friend who’s also working on a novel. We’re brainstorming and exchanging chapters, which is fun. I’ve read her outline and the first three chapters; she’s now got my initial fragment, my character notes, and the ideas for some major turning point scenes that I have to flesh out into my Writer’s Rough. In two weeks, I’m going to give her the first chapter. That’s longer than I usually take to write a chapter (I usually have to cough up one or nearly one a day), but this is a different kind of book and is not on a contract schedule.

I also wound up my course work for the Environmental Law and Policy Class. Got 100% on my final quiz, and 100% on my research exercise. I love, love, loved this class, and definitely want to get more involved in this type of work. It also made me understand some of the policies in place at the National Marine Life Center more completely.

I did some reading over the weekend. My next two books for review arrived, and I’m excited to dig into them. I started a couple of novels from the library, was frustrated with them, returned them. I read one novel I really enjoyed, THE TWISTED THREAD, by Charlotte Bacon. I wanted to shoot her an email to let her know how much I enjoyed it, but couldn’t find contact information online, and realized how spoiled we’ve all become at being able to locate anyone we want instantly! Good for her for not playing the always-available game!

Did a lot of research for the Sparkle & Tarnish series on Victorian dining. Since food plays a big part in the books, I want to make sure I get it right. I found THE SECRET GARDEN COOKBOOK filled with lovely historical tidbits, and I’m reading FANNIE’S LAST SUPPER, about a chef researching and recreating a meal from Fannie Farmer’s 1896 cookbook.

The current Garrett POV chapter I’m working on in TRUE HOME is set in Boston in 1886, so I’ve also been doing extensive research on geography, et al, of the time in order to properly write the chapter. Now, I have to cross-check some information, because I’d like to use some food info that is in books about Boston at the time, only I want to use them in NY chapters, but have to find out if similar places were in existence in NY at the time.

I see a trip to the Massachusetts Historical Society in the not-so-distant future for a day’s research.

Saturday night, I stayed up way too late watching NOW YOU SEE ME. The movie got lukewarm reviews, so I wasn’t expecting much, and I was pleasantly surprised. I liked it a lot. I figured out the big twist, but then, that’s what I do. I understand structure, and that choice made the most sense within the structure and the clues dropped in. I watched it again on Sunday, to pick up some details I’d missed.

Sunday, I researched, wrote, and scheduled articles for the wine blog all the way into mid-March. Took a break for more research, and then spent the afternoon at the Osterville Library, at a talk by author Paul Kemprecos, who writes a detective series set in this area, and also wrote several books with Clive Cussler. A colleague from the Writers Center was there, and they had a nice spread of wine, cheese, etc. It was a fun, lively afternoon.

Watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics — pretty, but I didn’t have the context for much of the symbolism. Although I appreciated the tribute to writers, the performance didn’t make much sense, and where were the women writers?

This will be a very stressful week for me, not to mention that I have to finish the revisions of the play.

Got an intriguing job offer that I need to investigate more closely. I think it would be fascinating, if we can work out the time/money part of it.

The expected overnight storm missed us, and now they’ve downgraded Wednesday’s storm from a foot of snow to only four inches. Phew!

Back to the page.

Devon

Jan. 2, 2014: Hit the Ground Writing!

Thursday, January 2, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cold, snowstorm, preparing for blizzard

Yup, we’re supposed to have a blizzard over the next 30 hours. Batten down the hatches!

Hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions blog to see the To-Do List for January. Quite a bit on my plate, but I’m optimistic.

It was nice to sign off early on New Year’s Eve and do a mini yoga/meditation retreat. I also got to read Val McDermid’s book CROSS AND BURN — excellent.

Salmon pasta with broccoli for dinner, and then a quiet New Year’s Eve, welcoming in 2014. I’m ready for a fresh start!

Up early on the Day, yoga, meditation, and some other rituals that make the start of the new year fun.

Polished and uploaded the first two weeks’ worth of assignments for the Editing Intensive, which starts on Monday, watched the Tournament of Roses Parade, started the JK Rowling book under her pseudonym, THE CUCKOO’S CALLING. It’s quite good. I didn’t like CASUAL VACANCY, her other adult novel. It was well-written, but I didn’t like or respect any of the characters. This book is both well-written, and there are characters to whom I can connect. Makes all the difference.

Started reading George Eliot’s ADAM BEDE. I’m reading the Estes and Lautier edition, published in 1887 (that is not a typo, that’s the edition). I’m turning pages very carefully and feel almost as though I should wear white gloves when I read.

Also did a nice chunk of work on TRUE HOME, about ten pages’ worth, finishing chapter five (from Ella’s POV) and starting chapter six (from Garrett’s).

I have some interesting offers in my inbox. I have to mull over the pros and cons and check some dates. I’ll have to say no to several of them, but I want to make sure I pick the opportunities that are most in alignment with what I want long-term and truest to myself.

Lots to do today, before the storm hits, so I better hop to it!

Happy New Year, all!

Devon

Mon. Dec. 30, 2013: How I Develop Material & Juggle Projects

Monday, December 30, 2013
Day before Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Friday was busy, busy, busy. Took the leaves and the recycling to the dump. The place was so busy! But it’s heartwarming to see how dedicated people are to recycling in this area.

Picked up a few groceries, ran some books back to Wheldon Library (and, of course, got out some more), picked up something waiting for me at Sturgis Library, and then headed back. Got out some job pitches, worked with students.

Set up the development notebook for the Stowe-Eliot-Bronte project, even though I’m not really sure what it is yet. Ordered some books for it via the library network. Wrote up the passage that got the wheels turning in the first place, sourced it, and copied out the bibliographic notes.

Dug out the Hedrick biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Using the index, I tried to cross-check the info from the Eliot bio, and didn’t find confirmation. So I’ll be re-reading the entire biography — which will give me plenty of background for the piece in general. Asked a friend who knows a lot about the Brontes if she’d ever heard the reference. Found the Rugoff biography of the Beecher clan, and there’s a reference to the same incident, but not enough to hang my hat on. I hope getting my hands on the volumes of letters will give me what I need!

My friend and colleague Nancy Rubin Stuart’s wonderful book DEFIANT BRIDES was named a Best Book of 2013! I’m so thrilled for her. It’s an amazing book, and well-deserved recognition.

Saturday, I finished and printed out the pilot episode of a one-hour drama. It’s in the editing queue. I started the third teleplay for this packet, an adaptation of one of my novels. Got some good work done on it and fell in love with my characters all over again.

Unfortunately, I was also under the weather, sneezing and coughing, although I didn’t feel that bad. I felt much worse by Sunday, where I ended up fighting some sort of stomach upset. Don’t know why — I’ve been the least self-indulgent during this holiday season that I’ve been in years. Irritating.

Read Donna Leon’s THE GOLDEN EGG, one of her Venetian mysteries, which I love. Also started Kim Edwards’s THE LAKE OF DREAMS, which is quite good, and got some reading done on the Stowe bio. Treated myself to a chapter in an excellent art history tome as background for a different project.

Got some good work done on TRUE HOME, the initial novel in the Sparkle & Tarnish series. I love the way it’s developing. I’m working very differently with this project — developing a section, writing a few chapters, typing them, adapting them to script. The amount of research is enormous, and I’m looking forward to layering in a lot more detail.

I spent hours with Gilded Age Mansion house plans over the weekend, and am about to design their NYC mansion, remembering that they’ve taken over a mansion that was originally built several years earlier by an eccentric, and then having their architect modify it for the Gilded Age. As always the librarians at the New York Historical Society, the New York Public Library, and the JP Morgan Library have gone out of their way to be helpful, and will all be thanked in the Acknowledgements.

Speaking of Acknowledgements, I start keeping a list as soon as I need to ask someone for something when I’m researching a book. Every time someone is helpful, I add that individual to the list, so by the time the book is ready to go through the production process, it’s all there, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting anyone. Again, something I learned the hard way by not keeping track during the writing and then screwing up and forgetting people when the manuscript went to press.

Hey, if you can learn from my mistakes, they’ll have been worth it!

Still a little queasy this morning, but have a lot to do. I have an editing intensive workshop starting on the 6th, and I need to polish up the exercises. Those students are getting a lot for their money, but they’ll also have to put in a lot of work!

I want to wait and run my errands tomorrow, but I will have to run down to Centerville Library later today to drop off/pick up some books. Yes, I go to one of the local libraries ALMOST every day.

I want to get some work done on the novellas, the teleplay, and the airship steampunk piece. I need to get back into the latter — I’ve lost my momentum in it, and that’s a shame. I need to find those threads again and get back on track.

Day before the dark moon is always my lowest-energy day of the month. I’d like to crawl back into bed, but that is not an option.

I can’t believe 2013 is nearly over. It’s been challenging, and I’m ready for a better year next go-round!

Devon