Fri. May 11, 2012: Lilacs and Car Repairs


White lilac with moon in background

Friday, May 11, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Registration closes this evening for the Amazing Antagonists workshop tomorrow. So sign up NOW — or you miss out!

I have to mow, no way around it! The rain was terrific, but boy, does it make more mowing!

Yesterday was a mixed bag. Went to Plymouth to the mechanic to get the car serviced — and found out I had to get the back brakes replaced. Not an expense for which I was prepared, but it had to be done. Took awhile (although they were quicker than estimated), so we had lunch at a place called T-Bones. I didn’t expect much, and was pleasantly surprised. But the bill was a shock, and it means hustling more work in the next few weeks to make up for it — especially since all three cats go to the vet next week.

Came home, got final approval on materials from my pro bono client and sent them out to the media.

The National Marine Life Center is a finalist in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good Program. That means we could win a Highlander, which would allow reliable transportation for injured marine life, and then to release point after rehabilitation, and to continue the educational outreach. Please put May 26 in your calendar and vote for us on Facebook at www.100carsforgood.com between 10 AM and Midnight. Don’t worry — I’ll remind you! If we get enough votes — we win the car.

Couldn’t get into the Savvy Authors board at all to work with students, which was frustrating. I feel badly for them; however, if I only have time between hour X and hour Y and can’t get in, I can’t do my work.

My neighbor is already out mowing — guess I’ll have to get into my gardening clothes and go join him! 😉

Lots to do today, to make up for the hours lost yesterday, plus hustling new work. I’m looking forward to that break over Memorial Day Weekend!

Devon

Wed. May 9, 2012: Rain, Project Shifts, and New Circles


The tulip tree at my great uncle’s in Maine

Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Saturday’s the Amazing Antagonists Workshop, a day of creating fascinating, complex characters to be good obstacles for your protagonist. Sign up now — registration closes Friday night, so you can’t suddenly wake up Saturday morning and decide you want in!
Information and registration here.

Worked flat out all day yesterday, trying to get it all done, get the grocery shopping, bill paying, all that other stuff done along with the actual work so I can pay the bills! 😉 It was too wet to mow (aw), but hopefully, it will help both the grass seed and the anti-ant stuff I had to put down (yet again). And I’m doing the laundry rather piece-meal — a few loads here, a few loads there.

Designed and printed a new Fearless Ink business card. I really want to redesign the website, too. It’s a little too simple, and I think I’ll upload the portfolio, so there are samples.

Spent some time with students, sent back a bunch of assignments where I asked for two scenes and they submitted four or five. Two scenes means TWO scenes. And, when I’ve provided a tip sheet on what a scene IS and you ignore it — no, the assignment goes back. When I say you can’t use something from a current WIP, and I recognize the characters and the location from another class — it’s going back. There’s a reason the assignments are structured in a certain way and build in a certain way. I’m trying to get them to look at structure in a way that supports their overall work, so they’re very aware of the weight and balance of each scene and the importance of each scene in relation to the scenes around it, and don’t dilute their stories with needless wandering. Learn how to read and apply guidelines. It’ll help a lot of submissions being deleted unread when you submit!

Didn’t get as much of my own writing done as I would have liked, but I’ll make up for it today.

Drafted a PSA and a press release for my pro bono client; am waiting for the green light to get it out. Contacted an editor to find out when I’ll get the specs for an article they asked me to write — they forgot to send them or thought someone else was sending them or something. In any case, I never got them, and the deadline was last Monday. But they are holding the spot for me, and I’ll do it this week.

Two new assignments from Confidential Job #1, both of which look terrific, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into them.

Made the appointments to get the car serviced (tomorrow) and the cats to the vet next week. Yup. All three at once. Get it over with. Whew! That’ll be a chunk of change!

Attended an open house for the American Business Women’s Association over in Hyannis. I had a good time and met some interesting people. I’ve been to a couple of these type of events elsewhere, and it’s all corporate types gossiping about things that aren’t any of their business (well, that’s what gossip is, isn’t it?) This event was completely different. The participants were lively and interesting, representing a wide array of professions, and they could talk about a vast array of topics. One could have a conversation, not just blah, blah, blah, buy this, blah, blah, blah. I’m glad I went, and I’m interested in spending more time with them to find out what they’re about. I don’t know how much I can do that this summer — which is already booked to the gills between teaching and visitors and the Cape Cod Writers Conference and yoga and my own book deadlines. But it’s nice to know it’s there, and I may get more involved in the fall.

A potential client who talked big of course did not come through. Not at all surprising, and I’m relieved to be out of that one! If you’re trying to present yourself as progressive and ethically responsible, you better be able to back it up, and this one can’t. Doesn’t have the balls.

The positive result is that the project that this individual had blown a lot of hot air about how fabulous it was, how important participating in it was, and then backed out of because the individual can’t walk the talk, is taking a new direction that’s both more economically viable and will get us a broader, international audience. So it all worked out for the best.

A colleague of mine had a great episode central to his character on his TV show last night. He did an awesome job. So happy for him.

I’m going to yoga this morning, since I have to take in the car tomorrow to Plymouth. It always rains when I go to yoga!

Going to try to get a little bit of time on the page before yoga.

Devon

Mon. April 30, 2012: Beltane Eve

Monday, April 30, 2012
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Billy Root blogs about the importance of leaving a character on the set. Check it out.

And don’t forget the Amazing Antagonists Seminar on May 12. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and, if you’ve ever had doubts about the strength and importance of your antagonists, this class will help you a lot. More information and registration here.

Busy weekend, and I’m still trying to shake off the last of this flu. So far, not much luck.

I did not think I could pull it together for the Arbor Day Celebration, but I did, and I’m glad I did. It was lovely, and I got to meet some of the people with whom I’ll be dealing when I teach at the high school in May.

Worked outside, worked with students in the afternoon. The plumber came, fixed the problem in ten minutes, and was done. Phew!

Saturday morning, I spent about an hour and a half working to weed Mother’s Park with the Committee. It was fun, but I still get tired awfully fast. Had to then dash to an appointment in Harwich, which turned out to be a washout.

Came back and cleaned out the garage (first time in my life I’ve ever been able to say that). Unpacked about 20 boxes, put up shelves, organized things. Lots more room in there now! It looks good. And I can get at everything, which is helpful.

Wrapped up the One Story Many Voices class and caught up with my year-long students and private students. Worked on revisions and proposals.

Dump run on Sunday, getting rid of the recycling. Tried to do bottle return — I swear, they’re quick to charge the bottle deposit, but then try to make it impossible for you to return them and get the money back. Why is that? Because they hope you’ll give up and they can keep it, of course. I had to go to three different places before I found one where the machines were in service. Because, heaven forbid, the place where I BOUGHT them, where they CHARGED me, would have a working redemption center. Oh, they have the machines — but in the year and half I’ve lived here, they’ve been in working order exactly once.

Verizon Wireless are being dickheads, as usual. I’m so sick of these mega companies who think they are above the law. They’re NOT.

I have a lot of work on my plate today, along with yard work that has to get done, and errands and appointments. Setting as Character starts today, and it’s Beltane Eve.

Never a dull moment!

Devon

Thurs. April 12, 2012: Flurry of Paperwork

Thursday, April 12, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Lots of computer work yesterday, working with students, admin for Saturday’s workshop, polishing lectures, getting the pages ready for ebook conversion, admin in other areas of my life, gathering papers for taxes (I was more scattered than I should be this year keeping track of receipts, and I’m paying the price). The only day I have to finish my taxes is today. Tomorrow, I’m going out and I have to do the final prep for Saturday’s seminar; Saturday I’m teaching all day. I COULD have done them on Sunday, but here Monday is a holiday (Patriot’s Day) so the post office isn’t open. MA taxes aren’t due until Tuesday, but the Federal have to go out by Saturday. That means finishing them today.

We’re in the revision process in the year long (while working on the next novel), and the One Story Many Voices first stories were due yesterday. For some reason, it’s a shorter workshop this time around –3 weeks instead of the usual four, so I’ve done some rearrangement. The afternoon sprints in company are working well for me (heck, I wrote a little over 1800 words yesterday and I even like most of them). The revisions on Book 1 make Book 2 much easier.

I need to focus on taxes and the workshop for the next few days, and then get back to novel deadlines.

This is the last chance to sign up for the Dialogue Dilemmas and Solutions Workshop (and the only time it will be offered online this year), so please do so here.

Dates will be announced for Amazing Antagonists and Setting Up Your Submission System early next week, along with those registration pages.

I’ve got to run to yoga (I need it), but then it’s a frenzy of paper all day long!

Devon

Published in: on April 12, 2012 at 6:23 am  Comments (3)  
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Thurs. March 29, 2012: Final galleys out!

Thursday, March 28, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy, cool, rainy

We need the rain, so I’m not complaining!

Busy day yesterday, which included hitting the final “send” on the final galleys of HEX BREAKER (and, as usual, wanting to throw up, because I’m sure I missed something major). But that’s that. Worked on the media kit and the short story. Worked with students. Ran errands, etc.

Got to yoga this morning — it feels like ages since I’ve been in the Thursday morning class. It was good.

Now, I need to get some writing done, deal with students, put together notes for tonight’s meeting, make the recipe I’m bringing, and slide back into the world of one of my other books. I want to spend a lot of time on this weekend, do a big push, and get it out the door by early next week. I’ve got another story that’s almost ready to to out the door, too, for an April 3 deadline.

And don’t forget the Dialogue Dilemmas and Solutions seminar on April 14. If you want to work on dialogue, but only have a day instead of a month to spend time on it, this will give you a solid foundation.

Back to the page.

Devon

Mon. March 26, 2012: Home to Trees and Updates and Facebook

Monday, March 26, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I am home!

So glad!

First of all, I updated my Workshop page, so it actually has relevant information on upcoming workshops. I’d like you to pay special attention to a one-day online seminar I’m doing, called “Dialogue Dilemmas and Solutions”. If you’re just stepping your toe into dialogue, or you want some fresh perspectives, I hope you’ll join us — it’s a bargain at $20 AND you get an ebook of the lectures after. There’s more information here.

For all the complaining I’ve done about 1and1 over the years, I actually landed a couple of techs this time that gave me the help I needed to sort out kinks. It was much appreciated.

The Hex Breaker site has also been updated — check it out when you get a chance. I’ve put the books on a separate page from the short stories, and I think it’s cleaner.

I even (take a deep breath) put up a Facebook page for Annabel Aidan.

Still not sure how it works — I’m having trouble responding to people’s comments and going back to their pages and finding the “like” button or any button that lets me interact and thank them for stopping by. Obviously, I’ve got some learning to do. I will probably put up a page for the Jain Lazarus Adventures, too, at some point.

Worked on HEX BREAKER press stuff, worked on the short story that needs to be ready to go with the relaunch, dealt with student work, did some reading, did the work I was actually paid to do on the site, worked on the novel(s), worked on the new business plan — it was quite the weekend.

Today, I have to interview someone for an article, talk to an editor about another article, get out three proposals, finish a critique for a private student — oh, and 11 trees and 6 bushes showed up while I was away, so girl’s got some plantin’ to do! 😉

My eyes are really bothering me from all the computer work, but, oh well. This is the last week of Sensory Perceptions, and then I have a week before One Story, Many Voices starts, which is good, because the first week of April is where we set up the revision systems for the year-long intensive, and that’s going to be a damn intense week over there. I also start (as a student) a steampunk workshop on the 2nd.

Billy Root’s blog starts on April 1 — which should be a ton of fun, but also some work. I do love writing in his voice, though, so I think that will be a fun way to spread the work about HEX BREAKER.

I’ve also got a handful of short stories to polish and get out the door this week. Busy, busy!

But it’s a good busy.

I’m so happy to be home. I enjoyed my time in CT, but I missed the house, the cats, the yard. The magenta azalea is in bloom, the witch hazel is almost done (and therefore ready to repot), the lilacs are starting to get leaves and buds. The heather is just gorgeous, and soon it will be pansy time!

Meanwhile, I have 11 trees and 6 bushes that need some dirt . . .

Devon

Fri. March 23, 2012: A Mercury Retrograde Start to the Day

Friday, March 23, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was busy. Put my head down and worked all day. Confidential Job #1 offered me something fun in addition to my usual roster of assignments; I said yes. I’m thrilled that my editor thought of me for it. Caught up on student work. Discovered that ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT got a very good review here. Worked on the pre-release publicity for HEX BREAKER. Did the work I’m paid to do here on site. Worked on the materials for another project that will go live shortly.

I managed a nap, only to be woken by one of my least favorite noises on the planet — a leaf blower.

This morning was a typical Mercury Retrograde morning. Alarm went off early; I contemplated skipping yoga because I wanted more sleep. But I figured I’d feel better after yoga, so I got up and out of the house and headed to yoga. Only to find a note on the door stating it was cancelled. Okaaaaay. Stopped and got coffee and went to the beach I used to walk near the art deco amusement park instead. Sat down on a bench that was still wet from the overnight, but it was still nice out. Got an idea for a piece that I might be able to meld with some other ideas I’ve been tossing around. Maybe even with my horse-playing tarot reader character.

Decided I wanted a muffin on my way home and drove all kinds of places with no luck. You would have thought I was on the quest for Excalibur or something. It’s a muffin, people, not that hard. I could have made a batch in the time it took to track one down. Finally got one at the grocery store, got back to the job site, and ate it outside in the sun.

Spent the morning doing work on a project that doesn’t need my primary attention right now, but is so fascinating, I can’t stop. Am about to check in with students, then do some more writing, then do more student work later in the afternoon.

Word from home is that the maple tree, two holly trees, a hydrangea, Rose of Sharon, and Mountain Laurel arrived this morning — figures they’d arrive when I’m not there to plant them. Not sure what to do with the maple tree — since I’m renting, do I put it in a pot or donate it somewhere? Will have to see when I get home.

Did some work on the Jain Lazarus story that has to be ready to go with the release of HEX BREAKER. Need to do some rearranging on the site. Thought through some of the ongoing Jain Lazarus marketing stuff I need to do, and how I can cross-market along with ASSUMPTION, although they are two different worlds under two different names.

Got a few proposals to get out today, too. Got to just keep on it, right? That’s the only way to get everything where I need to be.

I’m looking forward to Memorial Day weekend, where we all have a few days off!

Devon

Tues. March 20, 2012:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Spring Equinox
Cloudy and pleasant

Yesterday was just a gorgeous day! Did a lot of work in the morning, with students, on HEART BINDER, and on the HEX BREAKER edits. I have one more scene on the latter that needs tweaking, and then, off it goes. The editor is pleased with the last round (phew, I was worried). I have to work on the updated front matter, so I can send that off, too.

Worked a bit on the new project, but didn’t get it uploaded. Still have to finish writing up Confidential Job #1, which has to go off today. Worked on a couple of proposals that will go out this week, and started an article that I have to get off today, which will go live on Thursday. Packed (since I leave tomorrow for the site job) — have to finish packing the writing bag. Percolated on the new Jain Lazarus story that has to be finished by next week, so it can be copyedited, designed, and ready to go along with the book release. The previous stories will also get snazzy new covers.

Ran some errands in the late morning. It was a gorgeous day, so, later in the afternoon, Imp and I packed up some work and went to Ashumet Holly Sanctuary. Well, first we went to Craigville Beach, which was gorgeous, but the breeze was too brisk to really get much done. So we tucked ourselves into the pitch pine grove at Ashumet for a couple of hours.

We met a friend for drinks and appetizers at Siena, then came home and relaxed. I got some other work done.

Today, I’m headed off to meditation, then it’s flat out work (since I’ll be on the road for most of tomorrow, and, while I’m able to juggle, I also have to do the job for which I’m paid to be on site).

The weather was absolutely wonderful yesterday — warm, breezy, truly felt like spring. I hope this doesn’t herald a hideously hot summer. My neighbor fertilized his lawn yesterday, but it seems just a tad too early for me. Because once I fertilize, it means I gotta mow! 😉

Off to meditation. I did the early morning Spring Equinox ritual; will plant some seeds later today in starter pots. May pumpkins flowering on the vine be a sign of wonderful things to come in this cycle!

Devon

Tues. March 6, 2012: Sunshine Sets the Mood

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was one of those days when everything takes longer than it should. Got my materials out for Confidential Job #1 — and the next assignment showed up at my door that afternoon! Ran an errand in the morning, then made arrangements to get the car fixed. Thought it would be a quick in-and-out, but you know how that goes, so I wound up missing my friend’s talk out in Dennis. He said it went well — 100 people showed up! He’s a great speaker, so I’m not surprised.

Had more errands to run in the afternoon, which included a button hunt. Something I miss about NY — the button shops in the garment district. However, I finally managed to get to Tumbleweed’s Quilts, which is right up the road. What a magnificent shop! They didn’t have the buttons I was looking for, but I found some gorgeous material — a kind of an underwatery batik that I’m hanging over the fireplace instead of a mirror (feng shui — needs to be fire and water to make steam for best results in that space). Yes, it’s cloth, so one could argue earth, but it represents water. I also found some other beautiful pieces there that I’m using for this and that, and some humorous Day of the Dead fabric that compliments my Day of the Dead decorations and tiles.

Then, it was to Dennis (about three hours after my friend’s talk) to Ladybug, a great little knitting shop, where I found the perfect buttons for the current project — they look like silver snail shells. It will look nice against the pale blue yarn. And I rummaged in the discount bins and found some good stuff.

Worked with students, started Sensory Perceptions, wound up 5 in 10, worked with the year-longs and the private students. Sent off the article due. Comcast is being a bunch of lying, cheating dickheads as usual, so I will have to deal with them — again — later today. On my way to meditation now — lovely day to go up to Cobb’s Hill. A little cold, but that’s okay. Trying to get my feet back under me after last week, and preparing for my mom’s surgery on Thursday. But the sun is shining, and I’m looking forward to a good day.

Devon

Published in: on March 6, 2012 at 7:30 am  Comments (3)  
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Mon. Feb. 27, 2012: Some Challenges, Some Rewards, Some Opportunities

Monday, February 27, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

Fascinating, challenging weekend. Friday, I shot myself in the creative foot by getting online too early to catch up with student work, and ruined my own creative part of the workday. The frustrations from that are on me, and I take responsibility for them. It is MY job to always put my own work first, and when I don’t and then get upset, I have only myself to blame.

However, I do not appreciate that students have been late (sometimes as much as 20 days late) and then dumped 100K on me all at once. There are not enough hours in the day to turn around 100K in a day or two, no matter what the price. And then, one of the students who has a pattern of lateness, procrastination, and time management problems got snarky with me. Publicly. Had to shut her down. Publicly. That cannot be condoned in the class.

My eyes are killing me. I’ve been using the chamomile compresses, but I need to add eyebright to the mix. Started using eye drops, too.

Took care of my mom, did four loads of laundry, got into the car to go to my lunch meeting and discovered one of my headlamps isn’t working. So I have to get that special-ordered and put in next week.

Fortunately, lunch was great. It’s with another writer, who also used to live in NY, and now lives locally. We like each other’s work, and just enjoy each other as people. We will both be teaching in a local program this spring, and brainstormed class ideas. She is opening the door to a potentially wonderful opportunity, and it’s up to me to rise to the occasion. I have to remember to be absolutely myself for it. We also talked about getting together once a month or so to support each other as we navigate the writing life.

We also talked a lot about the lack of commitment and follow-through so many people who say they want to write continue to show. When life gets tough, writers write though it. The writing is not what falls by the wayside. Because you don’t build a career – -in ANYTHING – -by making excuses not to do it. Writing is no different than biology or archaeology or finance or sports — put in the work, reap the rewards. Don’t, and you won’t succeed.

A local garden center contacted me to half-jokingly offer me a job. I nearly chucked the whole teaching thing and said yes! Pay would work out about the same, and at least the hours would be restricted!

This is definitely an interesting Saturn retrograde — but it’s doing what a Saturn retrograde is supposed to — making one redefine one’s life path.

Saturday, I finished this round of edits on HEX BREAKER. I’m excited about them. The editor encouraged me to open up some sections of the book in a new way. It’s going to help both this individual book and the whole series. I enjoy working with this editor a lot. I let the edits sit overnight, read it over on Sunday morning, and sent it off. I got the sweetest email from my editor this morning, saying how much she enjoys working with me. I got all misty! 😉

Saturday and Sunday I also worked hard to catch up with student work. One student lost track of what belongs where — hmm, let;s see, each exercise has the story number in it, and there are five stories – not brain surgery — and keeps saying she wants me to post a “key”. Babe, I’m not your personal administrative assistant. It was YOUR job to keep track during the class. You CHOSE not to when you fell behind. Go back, read through the exercises and figure it out. When I tell you there’s a story missing, don’t give me a link back to a story from a different exercise.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of other students working their butts off who are doing terrific work. THOSE are the ones who need the attention, not the ones who don’t do the work.

This morning, first thing, I had to get off some information for a potential Big New Opportunity. Scares the life out of me, but if it works, it will make my life easier for a long time, AND up my pay. This week, I also have to prepare some material so it’s ready to go if this initial material is positively received. I would rather have it ready than have to scramble at the last minute. I’ve got some meetings to prepare for this week, and some work for some freelance clients, along with getting back to some other manuscripts that need to get out in the next few weeks.

The Holiday Hocus-Pocus Workshop was a lot of fun. It was pretty easy-going and stress-free, more information-oriented than anything else. The participants seem to have generated a lot of fun ideas out of it. This is the last week of 5 in 10 — by next week, those that actually kept up with the work will have five short stories out on submission. Some will have more, if they did the optional exercises, so a couple of people will have nine stories ready to go. Next week, Sensory Perceptions starts.

I’ve got two manuscripts to get back to this week and whip into shape before my next round of edits comes through, so I better hop to it.

My treat for finishing my edits on time was Heather Blake’s IT TAKES A WITCH, the first in her new series. It’s both well-written and fun.

A contrast to another book, in the same genre, I read recently, where I really liked the characters and the humor, but there were so many flaws in the logic — setting appointments for specific dates and times, they passed and no mention was ever made of recognition or missing them or consequences, things put in different places than established without logic, etc.

Lots to do today, and this week, so I better get moving. If the weather holds, I’ll give myself a couple of hours’ break and do some yard work.

Devon

Published in: on February 27, 2012 at 9:01 am  Comments (3)  
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Feb. 22, 2012: Stockpiling the feast against the famine

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and wet

It rained last night, so everything glistens in the sun.

Meditation was good yesterday, but taking that time in the morning meant adding hours in to the back of the day, so I was working until 10 PM. That’s just the way this week will be — I have to finish the HEX BREAKER edits, keep up with my other writing, and teach three classes. I will enjoy the feast and stockpile against famine.

Speaking of teaching, the local writers’ center asked me to teach a day-long workshop in May for teens. I think that will be really fun, and I look forward to putting together something dynamic that gets their creative juices flowing far beyond the single day. From what I understand, these are bright, highly-motivated teens anyway, so they’re eager to jump in and DO. I’m pretty excited, and very honored that they asked.

I’ve got to finish tweaking another short story today and get it up for class — I went off on a tangent that did not work AT ALL — I discovered a lot about the characters, but now, I need to put something relevant on the page!

Also had some good pondering on HEART BINDER. So, even though I feel mired in so many “have-tos” this week, it’s still being a creative week.

I’m off to take my mom to a medical appointment now, and then, it’s back to the page.

Devon

HEX BREAKER: A Jain Lazarus Adventure
Coming soon from Solstice Publishing
http://hexbreaker.devonellingtonwork.com

ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT
Still available in print and digital editions from Champagne Books

Published in: on February 22, 2012 at 8:10 am  Comments (5)  
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012: Better Than Fiction


Sometimes the world looks better upside down

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was one of those truth-is-stranger-than-fiction days. It was pretty funny.

First of all, I went to sit with a new-to-me meditation group. They are absolutely lovely, and I hope I can make the Tuesday morning sit regularly. We were talking about all kinds of things, like deadlines and commitment and stuff. I mentioned that I tell my students there are two choices: Write. Don’t write. If you CHOOSE not to write, that’s what it is — a choice. Don’t make excuses about life or family or whatever. You’ve chosen not to write. You live with the consequences, and don’t expect everyone else to accommodate you and change THEIR choices because you CHOSE not to write. The old Devon class mantra: No excuses; no whining. They pointed out it’s very much in line with the teaching: Do or don’t do. I hadn’t thought about it in that context, but at least I know I’m working along principles that are not counter to the internal work I’m doing!

I admit to not being “of empty mind” while we sat. It was great — 20 minutes sitting, 10 minutes walking, 20 minutes sitting. But we were in a church on a hillside, and as we sat, I got a great opening line for a story with a character I’m currently working with in the story that’s been obsessing me lately (the long short story). I admit — I explored it for awhile and memorized it before I let the “thinking” part float away.

Then a van pulled up. A prison van with guys on work release. So they’re working all around us, and they don’t really know we’re meditating (although us seated on cushions and the silence might have been a clue). It was pretty funny. I added it into the story idea and then shamelessly eavesdropped on them.

Hey, there was enlightenment, I learned a lot, just not in the traditional way!

After the session, we leave, and the work release guys said hello. So we say hello back. I smiled and looked each one who spoke to me in the eye and returned the greeting. You would have thought I gave them some sort of gift. They just lit up. They were being perfectly pleasant — why should I be the same in return?

On top of that, as I drove through the cemetery behind the church to get back to the main road, I discovered this is THE cemetery the family in Maine (coming to visit in a few months) dubbed as the most important visit for them to the Cape — it’s filled with ancestors! I’d been looking for it, but hadn’t yet found it, and there it was! I’m going to have to go back in nicer weather and really walk it. No wonder it was “talking to me” and giving me ideas for stories!

I stopped at Nirvana, on the way back — one of the few coffee places around here where one can go and hang out while having a cup of coffee. And ran into people I knew!

The session left me feeling with a lot of optimism for the day. I drove to the Sandwich Library to drop off books, and wound up picking up more than I planned (that’s what happens when you go to a really, really good library). I circled around back to the hardware store and the grocery store and the wine store.

Came home and worked — got some work done with the students, but there were site issues and I kept getting kicked off with “fatal error” — as were some of the other students (always helpful to know it’s not just me). Worked on the edits for HEX BREAKER. Spun some ideas. Had a breakthrough on the obstacle for HEART-BINDER, which means I have to go back and add stuff into HEART-SNATCHER, so I made some notes and wrote a few snippets that I’ll type and add in as excerpts, so they’re ready when I hit revisions.

Took some time off the read Heather Webber’s first Lucy Valentine book, TRULY, MADLY. Loved it. It’s such fun, it’s well-written, the characters and settings are wonderful, it’s a good mystery. Yeah, I figured out the twist, but I usually do, and it didn’t bother me, because the way Lucy discovered it made perfect sense and didn’t make me feel like I was waiting for her to catch up. Instead, I couldn’t wait to see HOW she figured out the same thing I had. Webber has two other mystery series (and uses multiple names), so I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

I have a boatload of stuff to get done today, and I won’t make it to Writers’ Night Out. 😦
But, it needs to get done — I have a very long day tomorrow, and I need to clear a lot off the desk before then. That includes knocking out and polishing a couple of articles.

Back to the page.

Devon

Tues. Feb. 14, 2012: Valentine’s Day & Surprising/Disturbing Information

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold
Happy Valentine’s Day!

First of all, you are all my valentines, and I treasure each and every one of you. Thank you for being here.

Second, I’m over at Savvy Authors, blogging about spicing up your writing with Sensory Detail.

Busy day yesterday. Had to catch up on a lot of admin work, bills to pay, and I even got a few letters to old friends tucked in there. Not emails — letters. So that was nice. Worked with my students, worked on the HB edits, worked on my long short story (I’ve got a short story to knock out this week, too), worked on the outline for the second harpy book. Finished the assignment for Confidential Job #1, sent if off, and realized I thought it was due today, when it’s due on the 24th. Well, better early than late, right?

One of my students, who’s part of a writing team, brought me some disturbing news. It seems like WRITERS DIGEST MAGAZINE, who supposedly champions writers and is still the go-to source for people starting out, has partnered with a vanity press. Not only that, the vanity press is approached them, gave them a hard sell about not even trying the traditional publishing route, and they should PAY this organization to publish the book. I checked the website — yup, they’re “a Division” of WRITERS DIGEST.

This team has already completed the draft of a novel, is well into the second, and will probably be deep into a third novel by the end of the year-long class, WHILE keeping up with the short stories in 5 in 10 and even some additional stories they got inspired to write. In fact, one of the pieces they developed in class is already published.

They don’t need a vanity press.

That is so many ways of disgusting it made me want to froth at the mouth. WRITERS DIGEST is supposed to champion writers, guide them into making good business decisions. Instead, they’re lining their own pockets with desperate aspiring writers. This is a huge conflict of interest, and totally hypocritical on their part. We are professionals. We are PAID to work. We do not PAY to work. If you want to do it yourself, hire an editor, a designer, and get a good deal from a PRINTER. Not a POD, not a vanity publisher, but a printer who knows how to bind books. Order an actual print run and act as your own distributor. Instead of the $15/book POD places charge, you can charge $7 or $8 per copy and still have a profit margin of $4 or more per book. I know people who do it — the quality of their titles is great, and they’re in all the local bookstores. It’s a lot of legwork, but it’s truly THEIRS.

I’d stopped reading WD several years ago, because they only have articles for newbies, and they recycle their content about every 14 months or so. Pull out an issue from ten years ago, it’s not going to have much more new information than the current issue, just maybe some references changed for the digital marketing and a different byline. And the article from ten years ago will be much better written than the one in the current issue, nine times out of ten. There’s very little for a working writer except a few market listings and conference listings. But this? Talk about a combination of disappointment, anger, and a really bad taste in my mouth.

On a happier note, I ran errands, stocked up on cat food and groceries, and bought a jasmine plant. It was so pretty, I couldn’t resist. I had to repot it right away (it was potbound), but fingers crossed that it will be happy here. I’m on my way out now to meditation — there’s a Tuesday morning sit not to far away, and then it’s off to return books at the library and do a few more errands, before buckling down and concentrating on student work all afternoon, polishing some lectures, and writing my Writers Vineyard piece for Thursday. I got some tarot cards scanned to give my students some ideas, and have to get a few more of those done today. Working on the business plan, figuring where and how to tweak this and that, so it’s a case of working smart, not just hard.

Devon