Fri. Feb. 5, 2016: Wintry Writing Weekend

Friday, February 05, 2016
Waning Moon
Rainy, expecting snow, falling temps

Yesterday was busy, but hard to focus.

I’d hoped it would snow overnight and we’d have a snow day today, but it’s rain that will change over at some point during the day.

Up early this morning. Got about 750 words done on LAUGHTER RETURNED, and I’m actually happy with some of them, which is good. One of the supporting characters, who I’d planned as a bit of a British dandy sponging off the main characters has turned out to be a tough Western American. He’s got an agenda, intelligence – and more to offer than the original concept of the character, which I think will work better in the overall scheme of the book.

Background reading on another project. Originally, I planned to set in the 1950s, but the early 1920s seems to support more of what I want out of the piece.

I’d left my flash drive with what I needed for CHOLERIC in the other computer – glad to find it safe, and I’ll be more careful today, so I have what I need to work at home this weekend.

Finishing up some material for Monday’s NMLC board meeting, and hoping to finalize the ArtsWeek Boston panel. February’s book groups got a nice mention in today’s paper, so that’s good. Always good to see the PR’s hit properly.

The bulk of the next four days will be about writing, although I’m attending a friend’s event tomorrow afternoon in Sandwich, have to go over the bridge for some errands on Sunday, and over again on Monday for the board meeting (weather permitting).

But, overall, I’m looking at a reasonably productive weekend. I also plan to dig back into contest entries. I had a week off reading for the contest, so now I’m ready to go back. I much prefer getting the entries in batches, rather than 100+ books landing on the doorstep all at once.

I’m sorting through some possible opportunities, to see what it makes sense to accept, and what will throw the schedule so far off-course (without enough recompense to make it worth while) that I should decline. I’ll have my lawyer look at the contract extension before I sign it for the Jain Lazarus Adventures, and I’m in the process of getting the paperwork for the rights to the pieces I have with Amber Quill, so those can go on to their next lives.

On an exciting note, I’ve been asked to be on a judging panel for a high school radio writing contest in New York State. That will be lots of fun.

I’m also going to start preparing my talk for the March Writers Night Out and the handouts this weekend.

This weekend will be the good kind of busy! ;)

Devon

Wed. Jan. 20, 2016: AAA Fail

Wed. January 20, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy few days. I was exhausted when I got home from work on Saturday. Was not very productive. I’ve started on the books entered in the contest. The ones that are good are quite good; the ones that miss the mark do so in similar ways. They have too much unnecessary information dumped into scenes instead of integrated into them, lack logic, are poorly edited and/or copyedited. In a couple of cases, they are merely a re-telling of stories that hit the bestseller lists, with a few name and location changes, but trying to fit the formula so closely they don’t bring anything unique to the table. Those are simply poorly executed, pale imitations of books that worked. There are a few that have unique and interesting premises, but the writing is so awkward that they wind up not working. But I learn a lot from each book i read.

I’m also reading my friend’s manuscript. I’ve got some notes for her — this is her first foray into writing a novel. She usually writes biography.

Got a nice chunk of work done on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. It’s not chugging along as quickly as I would like, but I like what I’m doing, if that makes any sense.

Tried several ways to fix the short radio play. Finally found something that worked, and did a nice chunk of that on Tuesday morning. I’m close to finishing, and will be able to get it out on deadline.

Watched the second season of BROADCHURCH, which was well done, and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION, which is one of those movies that, in my opinion, was probably more fun to make than to watch. It’s a great tribute to the stunt choreographers, it’s beautifully shot, but I didn’t really care about anything.

Did a lot of laundry — it was New Year’s Eve the last time I did laundry, so it stacked up.

We had snow Sunday into Monday — not much, but just enough so I didn’t feel like running around on Monday. Tuesday morning, I was up early, and hit Country Gardens to get a load of wood. The car coughed when it started, but start it did, and I got there, loaded up, got home, unloaded.

We then loaded the garbage to take it to the dump — and the car wouldn’t start. I’ve suspected for awhile that a new battery was in my immediate future — this is still the original battery, and the car turns nine years old this year. It’s done very well.

So I call AAA, give them all the information, tell them I need a new battery (one of the services they now provide). The guy shows up pretty fast, but he won’t change the battery. He gives me a song and dance about how the car can’t be turned off once he’s jump started me, it’s something much more serious, and I have to take it straight to the dealer. I know my car — I know it’s the battery. But he’s insistent I need a complete electrical diagnostic and a whole bunch of other stuff. He said I didn’t want to “try” a new battery because it was $170 dollars at least — interesting, since the battery replacement service AAA claims to provide promises only $130.

I grab the Kindle and get in the now-running car and drive to the local dealer, rather than going to my regular mechanic in Plymouth (because I wasn’t sure I’d make it to Plymouth and didn’t want to break down on the way). I apologized at the dealership for coming in without an appointment and explained the situation. They figured I was right, and that we should try a new battery first. The diagnostic is an overnight thing, and let’s try the simple solution first.

It didn’t take them long to replace the battery and run a quick system check (without the elaborate overnight). Yeah, it was the battery. Of course, since I went to the dealer, it was MUCH more expensive than if the AAA guy had simply replaced it per my contract with AAA. But he didn’t want to bother, so he gave me sturm & drang and sent me to the dealer. The dealer was very nice and gave me a discount, but it was still more than I expected to have to shell out during these weeks. The dealer also told me that they’ve been getting a lot of these cases lately, where the tow driver gives them a story, jumps them, and sends them in, rather than actually doing what they were sent out to do.

Why am I paying for AAA again? I rejoined them a couple of years ago because the car is getting older and I wanted to feel secure in case something happened. This does not make me feel secure. If anything, it reminds me why I left AAA when I was a teenager, I broke down on the NY Thruway during July 4th, I had drunks shooting over the top of the car, I called them, they said there was nothing they could do, and they left me there. Not acceptable. You can bet they’re going to hear from me about it.

It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s an element of sexism involved — woman doesn’t know what’s wrong with the car, I can spin a story. I may not be a mechanic, but I know my car. It’s one of the reason I always go to Plymouth — because they don’t assume I’m an idiot.

So, not only did I have to pay more than I should have, but I lost a day set aside for getting things done. It didn’t take that long at the dealer (they were very nice to take me quickly), but it still added several hours to something that should have been a quick swap out of dead battery for new battery, and I was so exhausted by the time I got back, I couldn’t even think about driving over the bridge and dealing with errands.

Instead I spent the afternoon working on contest entries. So i didn’t completely lose the day, but what I hoped to get done will have to wait until next week, weather permitting.

We’re supposed to get slammed with a big storm next weekend. So I’ve got supplies set in, and we’ll see.

Today, I have a meeting for work in the morning, and then a long afternoon. There’s supposed to be a major upgrade on the software we use to check out and catalog, so we’ll see what fresh hell tomorrow brings.

More Mercury Retrograde — I heard back on a submission I’d made to a magazine. The story was rejected. Fine, it happens. However, it wasn’t the story that I sent. In fact, looking through my files (just to be sure), I don’t have any story with that name on my computer or flash drive. I remember sending a different story to that publication, and that’s the story that’s in the Submission log. So I’m seriously confused. I don’t know whether to say something or just write off the publication and not submit again.

I’m ready for Mercury to go direct!

I’m also deeply thankful to the car for getting me home safely with a load of wood in it, and not conking out until we were back in the garage!

Have a wonderful week, people!

Devon

Fri. Jan. 15, 2016: Early Morning Writing

Friday, January 15, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy day at work yesterday. I’m still on a different computer; mine isn’t fixed enough for me to trust it. Got a lot of PR done, notes typed up from meetings, that type of thing. Also putting together some programs for the spring.

I got a friend some contacts for research information she needed in London. I’ve gathered enough research on the immediate characters for the first historical play to get a start on it soon. The research books coming in will help me add ambiance and social/historical detail.

I’m booked to talk about scriptwriting for the March Writers Night Out. That should be fun. I’m already working on the handout.

A friend gave me a draft of her novel to read, before it goes out on submission. I’m excited about it, and plan to get started on it this weekend.

I’m enjoying the first entries for the contest. Working my way through them. I really like getting them in batches, rather than one huge batch at the end, with a more compressed time frame. This way, I feel I can really give each entry extra attention. I always review all the entries when I’ve read everything — to make sure the “yes” pile is still my “yes” pile, re-reading the “maybe” pile to see if they move into “yes” or “no”, and checking the “no” pile to make sure they are a firm “no”.

I woke up early this morning. Rather than tossing and turning, I got up and went to the desk. I have some ideas for the next section of TIE-CUTTER, and I have a new story starting to percolate that could well evolve into one of the stories I need for an end of April deadline. I think I’ve figured out how to fix the short radio play, and will tackle that this weekend, and, hopefully finish the draft.

But what I spent my time on, during my early morning writing session, was fixing the problems in the funeral chapter in DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. It’s got a lot more dynamic now, and makes more sense. That will help me get out of the corner I wrote myself into in the next chapter.

We’re getting to the meat of it now, although I see a few places where I have to go back in the next draft to salt in a few clues and red herrings. But, after a few days of frustration on CHOLERIC, I’m back on track. That feels good.

Today will be a long day. Tomorrow is my Saturday “on”, and then I have to get in another load of firewood. It’s a holiday weekend — not sure what the weather is going to be like, so I might push some errands back into next week.

I always feel better when the writing is going well.

Hop on over to Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions, and see how I’m doing for the mid-month check-in.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on January 15, 2016 at 9:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thurs. Jan. 14, 2016: Digging into 17th Century Italy

Thursday, January 14, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Gray and cold

Long, busy day yesterday. More problems with the work computer. An IT guy came in and put out the worst of the fires, but until he can come in and really do some serious work on it, I’m bouncing from pillar to post, which makes it difficult to work efficiently.

Day ended with a long meeting. Glad to get home, eat, knit a bit, and start the research on 17th century Italy for the next play.

I also think I might have cracked the problem on the short radio play. I’ll know for sure this weekend, when I can really dig into it.

Did a bit of work on TIE-CUTTER this morning, mostly structural. Not enough, but a little.

Facing another long day, but, hopefully, a productive evening with the research and writing. I feel like I have enough information to start the play in the next couple of weeks, filling in some of the atmosphere and social history as I go. I have a stack of research books headed my way, which is always hugely satisfying.

Have a great day!

Devon

Published in: on January 14, 2016 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Getting Back on the Writing Wagon

Wed. January 13, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy few days, but at least I feel like I’m starting to get my feet back under me. It’s still hard to shake off the exhaustion, which is a little worrying.

Friday was busy and a little scattered. Since my computer at work isn’t working, I’m bouncing around, trying to get things done. Sort of like I did when my computer was struck by lightening shortly after I started the job. I managed to get some cataloguing done, and get my report for the Board meeting done, get some emails and PR out.

Saturday was the Saturday “off” and I took advantage of it. Adapted “Light Behind the Eyes” radio play from BBC format to US format. It’s actually easier to write it in the BBC format and convert it to US than to write in the US and convert to BBC. It’s not just about doing a universal change in the document — much more nuanced and complicated than that. But now the US version is ready to be registered and then submitted.

Ran out to get some yarn. My mom and I are both knitting. I’m doing very simple projects, to get my confidence up again.

Wrote a chapter of DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I’m close to the halfway point.

Struggling with the short radio play. I either have to introduce an additional character earlier or make one of the current characters the murderer, and change the red herrings. While the wit works, there’s a structural problem, and I have to fix that or it will fall apart. Tried several things over several days; so far, nothing works.

Re-watched Season 1 of BROADCHURCH. I’d forgotten how sad it is. Love David Tennant’s work. The ending didn’t quite satisfy me, because it was too much out of left field, and seemed structured more for shock value than organically out of the character. Now, I want to watch the US version, and also the second season of BROADCHURCH. I’m interested to see where they go from here.

I’m delighted that 365 Women wants me to write TWO plays for 2016, on two very different women. I’m preparing to start research for the first, set in 17th Century Italy, immediately. I want that one out the door June 1, and the second one done by November 1. I’m adding them into the schedule, and tweaking my lists.

Up at 4:30 on Monday, to get everything done I needed to do so I could leave by 7 AM for my 8 AM meeting in Buzzard’s Bay. We had a long board meeting, but we got some work accomplished, and I have my list of what I need to get done between now and February’s board meeting. Typed up the minutes on Tuesday, so they’re all set. I’m still working on some language to help with the strategic plan. It’s ambitious, but I think it’s vital for us to be ambitious at this point.

Read BOBBED HAIR AND BATHTUB GIN by Marion Meade, which is very good. It’s a social history of how writers like Dorothy Parker, the Fitzgeralds, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edna Ferber, etc., crossed paths all over the world during the 20s.

An idea is percolating. It might actually be two ideas, but I’m hoping to find a way to meld them. The characters are talking to me — now, if I can only convince them to inhabit the same fictional world, it’ll be great!

I have an article over on the GDR site about “The Difference Between Giving Up and Letting Go.”

Wrote just over 1K on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC yesterday, and it was a struggle. There will be things I need to restructure and tear apart in the revisions, but for now, I need to get it down on paper.

The first submissions for the Indie Next Generation Book Awards arrived. I’ve sorted them and started on them. Always an exciting process. Every time I pick up an entry, I hope it’s wonderful.

Worked on TIE-CUTTER a bit this morning. I’m doing the section set in Iceland. There are some important things that have to happen in that setting for both plot and character development, but I have a feeling I’ll have to strip it way back in the revisions.

Also did some writing-related administrative work. Last year, I didn’t make enough pitches or submissions. Because I was so discouraged, I didn’t track the ones I made as carefully as I should have. I intend to remedy that this year — both by making more pitches and submissions, and keeping the records up to date.

Today will be a long day, but, hopefully, a good one. I’m waiting to hear back on a couple of pitches, so, fingers crossed.

Devon

Published in: on January 13, 2016 at 11:56 am  Comments Off on Getting Back on the Writing Wagon  
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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

Thurs. Jan. 7, 2016: Fighting Fatigue

Thursday, January 7, 2016
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

This is going to be a tough Mercury Retrograde. I am going to do my best to try and keep my mouth shut and my head down. My computer at work is fried — it’s been limping along for awhile, but it is done. No one is really understanding what anyone else is saying (I include myself in both the speaking and the hearing ends of that equation). I’d like to just stay in bed until the 25th, but the bed would probably break.

So I’m trying to tread as carefully as possible, and take a breath whenever something hits me the wrong way — which it’s doing about once every five minutes.

Three weeks of this is going to be exhausting.

It was tough to get anything done at work, because I had to keep moving computers. I got a few things done, but not everything I wanted. I got some writing done in the morning, but not as much as I wanted. Yes, there’s a pattern. I have an article to write this week, and the thought of it is just overwhelming, but I better get over it and down to it.

We had our holiday party at work last night. My Secret Santa was both generous and thoughtful. I am grateful.

The very last of the holiday decorations needs to be put away. I have some proposals to prepare, but I’m hesitant to send them out during the retrograde.

I was supposed to do something interesting in New Bedford this weekend, but I don’t think it’s going to work out. I don’t want to drive that far on a “maybe”. I think I’d be better off doing things at home, trying to get some rest (I’m mentally and physically exhausted), and get some writing done. There are deadlines coming up, and I want to make sure I’m not scrambling at the last minute.

I kind of feel like a dog chasing its tail right now, but sometimes, it happens.

Hope your year is starting off more smoothly!

Devon

Published in: on January 7, 2016 at 12:40 pm  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 7, 2016: Fighting Fatigue  
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Wed. Jan. 6, 2016: Starting Out the New Year Right!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Because, really, what better what to start off the New Year than with a Mercury Retrograde? Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

The holidays were good. Busy, busy, but good. I’m exhausted. I feel like I need about a month to sleep and do nothing.

That’s not an option, of course.

Ran around a bit when work closed at noon on New Year’s Eve. But, once settled at home, it was all good. Saw in the New Year with a good meal and prosecco. Up early on the Day for the Fire & Ice ritual, eggs benedict, more prosecco, and some good writing on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. Made the dips for the party.

Worked on Saturday, ran some errands, got in the liquor for the party, made more food. Also, rearranging the house. It looked really pretty. I’m going to sort and purge as I bring stuff back, so that the year doesn’t clutter again.

The party was Sunday afternoon. The right mix of people showed up. It was fun, and I’m glad that I did the party again — although it was a “Nine Ladies Dancing Party” instead of a “Twelfth Night” party. After two years of being snowed out, it was nice to have it again.

When people left, did a pile of dishes, put away as much as possible from the party. Collapsed into bed early. Woke up at 4 AM on Monday, and started taking down the holiday decorations. Twelve hours later, most of it was done. Not all, but most. There are still a few dribs and drabs to finish. But most of it is put away safely in the Christmas closet. I have to do the laundry and put away the fabric, and do a few more little things.

It snowed on Monday night into Tuesday. Not much, just enough to be pretty and slippery. I went over to a friend’s on Tuesday morning — a group of us gathered to help with a contest where the ball was dropped, and get it back on track. Although the people were great and I got a lot done, it reminded me why I am no longer a part of that group.

Knitting was fun last night. Turns out one of the women in the group lived near us in Westchester, and her mother-in-law is best friends with the mother of an actor I worked with both on and off-Broadway. Small world!

365 Women is pleased with “Confidence Confidant” and would like me to do another play this year. I sent them a pitch, so we’ll see. I have two unique women about whom I’d really like to write, so we’ll see what we come up with.

I also have to get back on track with BALTHAZAAR, CHOLERIC, TIE-CUTTER, and finish the short radio play.

The Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions Site will have more going on this year. Instead of just sharing lists, there will also be posts on getting and staying organized, and on motivation. So I hope you visit the site a few times a month, or set it so you get notifications when new posts come up.

I’m already starting to plan the garden for the coming spring. I am determined not to suffer from blossom rot again with my tomatoes!

This year, I’m trying to figure out how different parts of my creativity feed each other, and encourage that integration.

Hope you’re setting yourself up for a wonderful new year!

Devon

Published in: on January 6, 2016 at 11:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Wed. Nov. 18, 2015: Not Ready to Say Goodbye

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold
Frost

Today is my colleague’s funeral. I still can’t wrap my head around him being gone. It’s incomprehensible to me. I dread going to the service because I’m not ready to say goodbye.

Last weekend was a blur — grocery shopping, errands, paying bills. Eversource should really be called “Neversource.” They keep raising rates at ridiculous levels, but heaven forbid they give customer service — especially when they screw up. They are a company that’s grown too big to serve its customers and should be broken up, just like Ma Bell was. Ma Bell was actually a good company and most companies that rose in their wake — Comcast, Verizon, etc. – -have sucked.

Most of the writing I got done was on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. The story’s taking some good twists and turns. I’m setting up some interesting over-reaching arcs that can play out over several books without taking away interest in the central mystery of each book. I wanted to work on it yesterday morning, but got in so few words (due to a stressful situation that needed to be dealt with immediately), that they weren’t even worth counting. I’m hoping to have better luck today.

At yesterday’s Come Write In! session at the library (we had a nice group), I wrote 2002 words (in longhand) on THE TIE-CUTTER. I felt good about it, and it was fun to write in company.

Looking back on it, however, I realize that I rushed a couple of scenes and put them in narrative when they would have worked better as active, dialogue scenes. In the next draft, I’ll have to rework them. Olivia’s in Iceland now, and I have to put up the photos from my trip and get a feel for the place again. I couldn’t even remember place names properly without looking them up. Of course, even if I remembered, I would have had to look them up in order to spell them correctly!

The historical mystery is pulling at me, but I’ve written enough notes on it so I won’t lose it, and I’ve got to finish the historical play first anyway, because I have to upload it in mid-December.

The next few days will be long — lots to do at work, plus it’s my Saturday “on.” Next week, we move into the Thanksgiving holidays, and then it’s full force into Spectacle of the Trees. Not to mention my own holiday decorating and baking.

The past two days were filled with unmitigated and unnecessary stress due to someone trying to play God with me. It didn’t work, but the whole thing was very unpleasant. When someone feels powerless in their own life and then deliberately sets out to harm someone else in order to feel better, that is not okay. Not only do I refuse to be the one harmed, I refuse to let that individual harm anyone else.

Back to preparing myself, both mentally and physically, for a difficult day.

Devon

Published in: on November 18, 2015 at 5:12 pm  Comments Off on Wed. Nov. 18, 2015: Not Ready to Say Goodbye  
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Fri. Nov. 13, 2015: Sad News and Rebel 2 Writing

Friday, Nov. 13, 2015
Waxing Moon
Sunny and windy

Busy day yesterday. We had computer issues at work, which put us in a muddle all day, and limited what we could do. We did a lot of work on the tree.

When the computers finally came back up, we were short-handed, I was trying to catch up, and it was a challenge. But we got a good bit done. I couldn’t get anything catalogued, though; even though the circ computers worked, I couldn’t get Sierra up on my computer to receive books. I couldn’t commandeer a circ computer, because it was busy and they needed them.

I got some sad news in the afternoon – a colleague at the Marine Life Center unexpectedly passed away overnight. He’d just been at the Board meeting on Monday. It’s a shock. We’re all reeling. He was committed, dedicated, funny, and kind, and will be very, very missed.

I was exhausted by the time I got home. Dinner, reading. A novel that was highly recommended, but didn’t do it for me, and another one where the heroine is supposed to be goofy and sweet, but is, in reality, an idiot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a mystery, so I couldn’t even hope she’d be the next victim.

Overslept this morning, but managed a thousand words, on an outline for the piece that’s been niggling at me. Still, I wrote, so it’s going into Nano total as “Rebel 2”.

Weary and sad. The weekend will be busy, hopefully good busy. I need to run errands and do yard work and write.

I’m getting into my Nano Week 3 head a little early, where I resent anything that takes time from my writing. Oh, wait, I usually do that anyway. ;)

Have a great weekend.

Devon

Published in: on November 13, 2015 at 9:40 am  Comments (1)  
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Thurs. Nov. 12, 2015: Why, Yes, Writers DO Write

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Waxing Moon
Rainy and cool

The Energy Vampires are out. This always happens during Nano — those who like the idea of writing better than the actual writing. They love to talk about it, to pontificate about how one should or shouldn’t write, but they don’t actually get any words on paper. They’re always around, but during Nano, when hundreds of thousands of people are attempting to write in company — they can really feed.

I have very little to do on the forums this year because there are so many energy vampires. Hey, we all run into obstacles. I’m happy to help however I can. However, if you’re not going to show up to the page and do the work, there’s nothing I can do for you. Not only that, I’m not willing to spend time placating you when I could be putting that time and energy into my own writing. You want support? Earn it.

There’s also an article being passed around Facebook about what writers — I’m not sure if it’s “should” or “need” to stop saying, with the top one being “Writers write.” Well, of course “writers write” you dumbass, or nothing would ever GET WRITTEN. It’s another one of those pseudo-self-help pieces meant to placate wanna-bes, giving them a list of excuses for not writing.

In truth, there are no excuses. You choose to write. You choose not to write. If you choose not to write on enough successive days, weeks, months, years, you’re not a writer. I’m not an astronaut because I’d like to fly to the moon. I haven’t earned the right to call myself an astronaut. I don’t DO it. Writing is one of the few professions where wanna-bes can sit around with their thumbs up their asses making excuses for not doing it and still identify themselves as a member of the profession. Um, no.

I USED to work on Broadway. As a dresser. I no longer do that. Therefore, I am no longer a dresser. I WAS a dresser, I had a great career. But I am no longer a member of that profession.

Speaking of Broadway, that’s another one — people hear I worked on Broadway and say, “Oh, I want to work on Broadway one day.”

Actually, you don’t. If you did, if you even had any clue as to how much work it takes, you’d run screaming. Because if you REALLY WANTED it, you’d spend every free minute working in theatre. You would only accept part-time jobs with flexible hours that allow you to remain in theatre. You’d get enough regional credits under your belt and hone your craft so you could move to New York, start off-off Broadway, work your way up to off-Broadway, and maybe, just maybe, if you worked hard enough AND were good enough, you’d make it to Broadway.

You’re not willing to do that? You’re not willing to work nights, weekends, holidays, give up family events? You only want to work when it’s convenient? It won’t happen.

Same with writing. You need art. You need craft. You need work ethic. You need commitment.

I take tango lessons. I go to practicas and millings when I can. Tango is something I enjoy. It is a hobby. I am not a tango dancer. I dance when I can, and I’m learning — but I’m not a tango dancer. If and when I give up other things and commit to tango to the exclusion of other things and get my skills up to par, I will have the right to call myself a tango dancer. Right now, I don’t. It’s something I do on occasion, because I enjoy it. It’s not something I am.

We are more than our professions, of course. One hopes each of us is a unique, complex individual. But if we’re going to identify with a particular art or craft, we have to earn our way into it.

The ironic thing is that these articles to make wanna-be writers feel better about not writing is that SOMEONE WROTE THEM. If that someone is smart, that someone got paid. Right there it negates that we need to stop saying “writers write.” Obviously they do, or there wouldn’t be anything to read, not even a cereal box. Some of these writers even get paid for it. Some of these writers even participate in an entire, money-making industry to KEEP YOU FROM WRITING. They provide you lists of excuses and soothe you when you don’t wanna.

Can you think of any profession where you’d succeed if you only showed up and worked when you felt like it or it was convenient?

Show up and earn your way in, no matter what “it” is.

It’s also ridiculous that writers who write should even need to defend the fact that they participate in their profession, like professionals, to those who don’t.

Honestly, I can’t really remember last weekend. It seems very far away. I know I wrote a lot on Saturday and ran some errands. Sunday, I was up ridiculously early to pick up ornaments for the NMLC tree and finish putting the hardware on the gold starfish. I wrote a little, but not as much as I wanted to. Baked a lot.

I read a lot. Some of it was disappointing, mysteries where the protagonist is an idiot (not “goofily endearing”, but an idiot), and I kept hoping she’d be the next victim. Other pieces were very good.

Renee Rosen’s WHITE COLLAR GIRL is good. It takes place in Chicago in the 1950s. My parents lived there at that time — I had my mom read it, too, and she remembered some of the events in the book.

Board meeting early at NMLC, and then off to Plymouth to meet a friend from theatre days in New York who I haven’t seen since I left. It was great to catch up with her and maintain the friendship.

I’d gotten up at 4:30 that morning, to make sure I got some writing in.

Up early on Tuesday. Wrote on the classic project. Then went to the library for the Come Write In, but I was the only one there. Did about 1K on the rebel project, came home, and went to Spectacle of Trees meeting.

Came home and did some research.

Two more characters are yapping at me. Their story is interesting, so I might do a rough outline and see how I can fit it in.

I created a rough outline of deadlines, putting on paper what’s due when and what stage I need to be on various projects when. It’s realistic, but slower than I’d like. But that’s life. At least Nano’s gotten me into a better daily writing rhythm, although I still feel like I’m pushing too hard.

Woke up sick on Wednesday. Was going to take the entire day off writing, but by the afternoon, it hurt more not to write than to write, so I wrote, a whole chapter, just over 3K. On the classic.

I didn’t go to the Write In session, because I don’t want anyone to get sick.

I’m better this morning. I wrote just over 1200 words on the Classic this morning. Ideas are spinning in my head for the rebel, so I will try to do some tonight at home.

Will have a long day at work both today and tomorrow, and a busy weekend.

Two weeks from today is Thanksgiving. I can’t believe it!

Enjoy,

Devon

Published in: on November 12, 2015 at 10:13 am  Comments (2)  
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Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 11: Day Off

Today’s a good day to take a day off and play hard, especially if you’ve been keeping up with your word count.

In one of my previous Nano years, I planned Day 11 as a Day off, but I got nervous about getting behind (even though I was ahead), so I started a chapter the previous night, and did 1533 words, which counted to today’s word count. I hate stopping in the midst of a chapter, but I did. My two characters were tired and cranky and annoying each other and that’s where I left them. After all, I didn’t expect them to have this particular argument in this particular spot, but they did!

I love it when my characters surprise me. I love the joy of discovery inherent in writing. If I already knew every detail before I started, I couldn’t write the book. It would no longer interest me.

Don’t forget to back up your piece, or, if you’re writing in longhand, to start typing up chapters regularly. If I do the first draft longhand, I usually try to type up each chapter, or, at the most, every three chapters. That does become a bit of a “next draft” – make sure you don’t let it derail you.

I keep each chapter in a separate file, and each version of each chapter in a separate file, because in revisions, I rearrange sections. It’s much easier to do so when I can manipulate the chapters. I back up obsessively, and print out each day’s work as I write.

Come Write In! at Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St. Marstons Mills
Tuesdays 11-1 and Thursdays 2-4 during Nano.

Published in: on November 11, 2015 at 5:35 am  Comments Off on Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 11: Day Off  
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Tues. Nov. 3, 2015: Grief & Writing

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Waning Moon
Sunny and mild

Friday was a very sad day for us. Violet died in the afternoon. At least she died at home, where she was loved, and she wasn’t in pain. But we are all heartbroken. We took her body to an emergency care facility in Dennis, where they will take care of the remains.

She was a small, quiet cat, but the house feels empty without her. Iris and Tessa are looking for her. They miss her, too.

There was a lot of cleaning and scrubbing and disinfecting to do, of course. We were already exhausted from the last few days, and there was just nothing left in the tank.

Samhain was sad. It was difficult to pull it together, and I kept the ritual very simple.

On the plus side, the costumes the Trick-or-Treaters wore were delightful. Brought us some joy for a sad time.

Turned back the clocks to standard time. The cats, however, were still on their time, so I was up early anyway.

Sunday was the first day of Nano. I seriously considered quitting before it began. I wasn’t sure I have the heart to do it this month. I’m also tired of Nano and death being so closely associated, year after year. I’m going to be sad for awhile, and I don’t know how I can dig deep enough to work on the books.

But I did it, and felt better for it. I started DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, the cozy mystery set on a fictional island off the coast of Cape Cod. Yup, I stuck in another island near Martha’s Vineyard. Gave the steamship authority a couple of extra routes, too. I wrote the whole first chapter, 2833 words, and felt better.

I then did some work on TIE-CUTTER, getting ready to close out the section set in Hollywood. So my day’s total was 4269. Not a bad start.

The rest of the day was about taking down the Samhain decorations, but leaving up the Day of the Dead items. Again, I kept the ceremonies simple, because I’m just wiped out.

I also baked for the week: cranberry muffins for Monday’s meeting, double chocolate chunk for Tuesday’s Come Write In! session, and oatmeal cookies for Thursday’s session.

I’ve been reading Ted Hughes’s WINTER POLLEN. I know very little of his work. I’m of the generation that fetishized Sylvia Plath, put her on a pedestal, and demonized Ted Hughes. Unfair, but that’s how it was presented — he destroyed her genius, forcing her to have children and subsume her poetry to his, while he catted around. Reality was, of course, far more complicated. The older I got, the less patience I had with Sylvia. But I’d still read very little of Ted’s work.

His essays on Shakespeare are wonderful. I’m not sure I agree with his theories, but they’re interesting, and they certainly give me additional perspectives, next time I go back to the plays. It makes me eager to re-read the plays. I grow wary when I read his writing on Sylvia Plath’s work. He was in an impossible situation. Who knew her work better? Yet who had more reason to protect himself, and, supposedly, the rest of her family? Destroying her final journal — under that same guise of “protection”– is something I don’t think the world will ever forgive. I agree with that. Even if she lashed out at her children and he didn’t want them to read those moments of anger — and it would make sense to resent her children in the moment and write about it in her journal, using that to cure her — that anger or depression or whatever she poured into those final journals is vital to understanding her work. At the same time, I understand the desire to protect self and family (I don’t agree with it, but I understand it), and he’s got a point, that, at the time, she wasn’t the iconic figure she grew into. The sad part is, no matter how good her poetry was, or how much she was likely to improve as an artist, she probably wouldn’t have become the icon she is without her suicide. It’s an impossible, complex situation.

I think I would trust his writing about her work more if it wasn’t in the third person; if he didn’t refer to “her husband” when he meant himself. Again, I can understand the choice in the moment — to keep it sounding more objective. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come across that way. It comes across as cold, and as though the writer has something to hide.

The only one who knows the truth is Sylvia herself, and she only knows her own truth. His truth is different. The children’s truths are different. The rest of her family’s truths are different. They are all parts of the puzzle, and some of those parts are irrevocably missing.

From the outside, though, it remains fascinating. Disturbing, but fascinating.

Yesterday morning, I was up at five. I wrote Chapter Two of CHOLERIC, 2554 words. Difficult words, but words.

I left a little before eight to go to Buzzards Bay for a strategic planning meeting at the Marine Life Center. There’s too much “committee” and “subcommittee’ and yakking in my opinion. Work is not done in meetings; work is done in the space between meetings. I feel like we’re going around in circles, instead of moving forward.

Home, another stint on TIE-CUTTER. Brought my day’s total to 3990 and my full total to 8259, which is decent for two days’ work.

Took down the spider web curtains, put up the winter curtains, did four loads of laundry. Another simple ceremony (these are the days of the ceremonies for the dead). The sadness weighs me down and I can’t shake it. But I also have to give myself time.

We will adopt another cat, but not right away. We all have to adjust to life without Violet. After Thanksgiving, or maybe even after Christmas.

Of course, people keep offering cats now. ;)

Watching the DCI BANKS series. Very well done, although sometimes the second half of each episode feels rushed.

Up early this morning. Wrote Chapter Three of CHOLERIC, 3322 words. I was raring to continue into Chapter Four, but afraid I’d push too far. There’s a COME WRITE IN session at the library this morning, and I want to work on TIE CUTTER there, and have something left in the tank for CHOLERIC tomorrow. We’re getting to a big confrontation scene.

Once CWI is over, we’re doing a test run of the tree for Spectacle at the Library. So, yes, once again I’m going in on what’s supposed to be my day off. ;)

Busy day today. Tomorrow and the rest of the week will be long days, and I imagine that my word count will drop drastically. That’s why I’ve been pushing so hard up front.

Devon

Published in: on November 3, 2015 at 10:53 am  Comments (4)  
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