Tues. June 20, 2017: Market Choice/Writing Choice

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy, foggy, muggy

Today, I’m going to spend some time on choosing the right market, and then backtrack to the daily details of my constant striving (and strife) to balance the freelance writing life.

Last week, I struggled over an article, but was ultimately satisfied I’d done good work and sent it to a new-to-me market that pays fast. I specifically crafted an article I hoped would hit their sweet spot because they pay fast. I don’t like their style or their content. I don’t like writing on spec (and in many cases, I won’t). But I didn’t expect the piece to take as long as it did to write and research, and, as I’ve said numerous times, I liked the fact that they pay fast.

I woke up this morning to a rejection.

I knew it was well-written, carefully proofread. The fact checking sheet was solid, with reliable sources. But they wanted more National Enquirer and less New Yorker. Basically, I hadn’t dumbed it down enough for their readership. I’d hoped I’d mimicked their style; I’d tried to mirror it as much as possible, without making myself throw up. I cared about the topic, and wanted to do it justice. I had hoped to find a balance between an interesting, well-written piece and the pandering they often do to their readership.

The market was the wrong choice for me. Does that mean I’m not “professional” enough to be able to write for them? Some would say yes. I say I wrote to the limit of pandering my gag reflex would allow, and hoped it would fit what they were looking for. It didn’t.

I should have stopped writing as soon as my gag reflex engaged. Hey, it would be great to detach myself from the content and not give a damn. Write whatever the market wants, take the money and run. Well, if I turn down corporate gigs for companies whose missions I believe are unethical, and they are offering me enough so I could buy a house in a year, and I still say no, why would I do the same for an okay-but-not-brilliant rate? There was only so far I could go.

I’ve worked hard on my author’s voice; I’ve worked hard so that when I ghost, I can mimic the “author’s” voice. I’ve worked hard building craft over a long period of years. Perhaps that means I should be able to bend the craft to fit any market; or perhaps I should just write for those markets I respect.

I liked the idea of the piece. In fact, I loved it — the topic was something I cared about. The research was interesting, and I was sorry I had to distill the piece down as much as I did to fit the market’s parameters.

The topic was part of the problem. Although it was, technically, in one of the arenas the publication claimed it wanted, it was something that would appeal more to the literate than the reality-show crowd.

Basically, I attempted it to appeal to a wider audience, when the market appeals to a narrow (and often narrow-minded) audience. Once I knew the idea was for a literate audience, I should have re-slanted it and aimed it at a different publication.

I followed the formatting guidelines exactly. I had the proofreading, the links, the format — exactly. But the content was off.

In my classes and in the Topic Workbooks, I harp on the necessity of following submission guidelines EXACTLY. An acquaintance of mine is handles submissions for a monthly publication; they get between 800-1000 submissions per week. 85% of them are pitched unread because they don’t follow submission guidelines. Of the other 15%, 75% are then rejected because of sloppy writing and lack of proofreading to such an extent that it would take the editors too long to fix the errors. Massive editing doesn’t fit the production schedule of the publication. 10% don’t fit the focus of the publication (probably a great many of the 85% that were rejected also did not fit the publication, but they never got that far). The remaining submissions make it to the editorial meeting for possible inclusion.

So, let’s say, that particular week, they got 1000 submissions. 850 are chucked out for not following guidelines. That leaves 150 — not too shabby. 75% of those are so badly written, they’re out. That’s 113 badly written pieces that are chucked, and another 15 that don’t fit. That leaves 22 possible pieces. Not bad.

This is when it gets really competitive. 22 viable pieces come in once a week for a limited number of slots free every month. 22 pieces a week x 4 weeks — 88 pieces per month when there are probably only 20-30 slots available.

The competition is keen.

From what my rejection letter stated, it looks like I at least made it to the round where it passed guidelines, format, and craft, but they felt it didn’t fit their focus. In other words, it was one of the 10% chucked out for not fitting the publication neatly enough. Which is a perfectly legitimate reason for it to be rejected.

I knew the finished article was a risk, because it wound up being more “literary” than I expected. At that point, I could have decided not to submit. But, I decided to take the risk, just in case they’d pick an occasional piece that was a bit more literary.

I wanted the money. Nothing wrong with that.

They didn’t want the piece. As is their right.

Now what?

I still like the piece. What I’m going to do is reformat it and re-slant it a bit. Some of the fact-check links that the original market demanded will be transformed into a sidebar for additional information. I’m going to re-shape some of it and add some of the content I liked, but knew I had to cut for the particular market (both word count and content restrictions). And I’ll pitch it to a different publication. A publication that wants more New Yorker than National Enquirer.

It also means that two other articles I have pending with this publication will probably be rejected for the same reason. In which case, I won’t keep submitting, quick pay or no, because my time is better spent working on pitches to publications that pay $1/word, where I like their content and they like mine.

It was a gamble that didn’t pay off. I submitted to a publication that left a bad taste in my mouth, whose work I don’t like, and I wasn’t willing to match enough of their writing style to get in. Some would say that means I’m not “professional” enough, not detached enough. Definitely not detached enough. Others would say I’m not a “hack”, and I shouldn’t have tried hack writing. I don’t happen to think there’s anything wrong with hack writing. Many a writer who went on to public works we still read was known as a hack in their own time, churning out stories for pulps, and articles and reviews for anyone who would pay them enough to keep a roof over their heads.

“Writing to market” is an important part of selling one’s work. Since this is my business, not my hobby, I better write material that sells. I better also choose my markets by what they actually publish, instead of what I think they should publish.

So, onward.

Yesterday was one of those days that no matter where I worked, the work didn’t flow well. My hyperaccusis/misophonia was bad (as it is when I’m under severe stress) and almost any sound caused pain.

I took my mom in to the doctor, and she had a biopsy. Fingers crossed it turns out well. I had trouble writing anything by the time we got back. I tried working at the library, but it was too noisy. I came home and did some research and noodled with a few ideas.

I sent off my requested revisions to my new editor, explaining nicely that if he wanted something first thing Monday, it needed to be on my desk before noon on Friday, not at 9 AM Sunday morning. If I get fired for that, so be it. They don’t pay enough for me to compromise my Day of Disconnect.

I will have quite a bit to say tomorrow on the Shakespeare idiocy that the ignorant and stupid are currently engaging in (since most of them seem to think he’s alive and can be bullied). But that’s another piece for another day.

Today, I have errands to run, and I’ll try to work at the library for a bit. I’m having trouble finishing the short stories that need to go out, but I just have to buckle down and do them. I have some more article pitches to send out, and others to work on and/or follow up.

And I can’t neglect the longer fiction, which has gotten the short shrift the last few weeks, replaced by articles that are on a quicker pay cycle.

Tomorrow, the weather’s supposed to be clear, so I have to get back to work mowing (the terrace is looking like a vacant lot again). I also have a project meeting way down the other end of the Cape that I’m looking forward to. I don’t want to get my hopes up, and it’s out of my usual client range, but I like the company, and I like the person I dealt with so far, so fingers crossed it will all be good.

Tomorrow is also the Solstice, and I have to get ready for that celebration. I’m not feeling much like celebrating, but it will make me feel better.

Back to the page.

Mon. June 19, 2017: Not on Weekends. Not for That Rate

Monday, June 19, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, humid, cool

Challenging weekend. A lot of stresses on the personal front, some annoyances on the professional front.

Saturday morning was difficult and discouraging, and exhausted me beyond expectation.

On the positive side, I managed to pull a metaphorical rabbit out of a hat and solve one pressing stress; but there are still a pile that need dealing with.

Also on the positive side, I finished reading Philip Margolin’s SLEIGHT OF HAND, which I thought was well done. I’d never read one of his books before; will definitely read more.

Also, over the weekend, read Barbara Ross’s first Clambake Mystery, CLAMMED UP. I liked it a lot. It’s not dumbed down, the way so many of these mysteries have become. The protagonist is smart & resourceful, I like the supporting characters, it kept me guessing for the right reasons. It’s set in Maine, in a fictional cover near Boothbay Harbor and Bath, two places in the state of which I’m very fond, and she got the emotional geography right. I’m looking forward to the other books in the series.

AND I read Abbi Waxman’s THE GARDEN OF SMALL BEGINNINGS, which I absolutely loved.

I’m playing with an idea, writing my way into it, to see if it’s viable. I’m wondering if it’s too similar to another idea with which I’ve been toying, although the characters are very different and the premises are, too. But the openings are similar, and I might have to change that. However, a character I planned to be the first body drop won’t comply; I’m trying to figure out how to make him the second body drop instead, but he’s balking. He has every intention of being an continuing character, should this be a series, and not as a ghost.

I usually have Sunday as my “day of disconnect”, where I don’t go online or use social media. Unfortunately, I had to check my email on Sunday morning. What I wanted wasn’t there, but a demand from the new editor for revisions was, and he wanted them by 9 AM Monday morning.

I said no.

First of all, he’s had three weeks to give me notes for revisions. That’s right. I turned in my assignment three weeks before deadline. So don’t email me revisions ON A WEEKEND and demand them first thing Monday morning. Not only are you not frigging paying me enough, I’m taking my mom to a medical appointment in the morning, so you’ll get them when you damn well get them. Also, the two month lag time between the deadline and payment isn’t sitting well with me. I resent it, and it’s making me drag my feet on the next assignment. I responded that I would have the revisions back at some point on Monday (and I am SO tempted to charge a rush fee), but it wouldn’t be by 9 AM. When I return the revisions, I will also point out that if he sends me revisions on Sunday, he WILL NOT receive them on Monday morning, because I won’t know about them until Monday morning. If you want them Monday morning, you get them to me before noon on Friday.

I did the revisions (the actual notes made sense; I resented the timing and lack of consideration of my time). I will finish up the current assignment and accept one more; if these frustrations continue, I will resign. They’re not paying enough for all this kerflamma, and not paying fast enough, which is even more important.

My anger was out of proportion to the situation, in some ways; perhaps it’s because I know I’m in the wrong situation. I need to let it go, resolve it, and move on.

Worked on another article that I want to get out in the next couple of days. This week is also my follow-up on queries where I haven’t yet received a response.

Worked on a short story that will go out the door later today, and will turn my attention to the longer short story that I want to get out this week. These are initially aimed at two publications where, should I open a positive relationship with them, there is the potential for paying work that is both steady and creative.

Took my mom to her medical appointment, and she had a biopsy. Fingers crossed nothing is serious.

Thurs. June 15, 2017: Tightening Deadlines and Ridiculous Request of the Day (RRD)

Personal Revolution Cover

Thursday, June 15, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Promotion starts today for “Personal Revolution”, a short mystery set in a town near Concord, MA, that takes place around Independence Day. It’s only 99 cents, available on Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, and more.

Blurb:
When a man is hanged from the oak tree in a Redcoat uniform at an historic house just before the Independence Day program, Glenda is determined to both solve the murder and protect the newly-opened museum. What she finds is much darker — and more personal — than she bargained.
(End blurb)

I hope you enjoy it. I’m playing with the idea of doing more with these characters.

Yesterday seems very far away, somehow. Maybe it was all those mass shootings, and the ridiculous and irresponsible way they were covered by the press.

What did I do yesterday? Sent out some pitches. Worked on the 30 second script. Did more research for the article that I hope to finish, polish, and get out the door today. Checked email incessantly to see if another pitch was accepted (haven’t heard back yet). Looked at a website that’s been fallow for the past few years, with an eye to starting up that platform again.

The Ridiculous Request of the Day was from an “author” who “generously offered” (his words) to pay me $350 to do a line edit on his “blockbuster” novel — that runs 120,000 words. Um, no. 120,000 words breaks down to 480 pages in Standard Manuscript Format, and I bet his wasn’t. Bet it’s single-spaced. Sweetie, $350 gets you to page 70, and I’m on the low end of the editing price range. It’s not “generous”. It’s not even a professional rate. Plus, I’m taking on very few of that type of editing client — more for scripts than for novels at this point, unless it’s at the top of my rate. Now, I am sympathetic to someone’s tight budget. But don’t boast it’s a “blockbuster” (because if it was, you’d be under contract to an agent and one of the Big 5). Look for an editor where appropriate to your budget, such as a grad student in English, who can both use the cash AND potentially use it for credit in an independent study.

On a happier note, “The Ramsey Chase”, the first Cornelia True/Roman Gray adventure, will be ready for re-release sooner than I expected. The cover design will be done soon, and I should have the galleys shortly for a final proof read.

However, that means that I have to have the opening of the second Cornelia True/Roman Gray adventure ready to pop into the back of it, have the darned thing outlined, and meet a deadline for its release!

Considering that I also have to get moving on the next Twinkle Tavern comic mystery, which needs to be ready to release by Labor Day, that’s a new (but positive) pressure. That will feature the characters from “Plot Bunnies” and release under the Ava Dunne name.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Cornelia and Roman. It’s a satirical fantasy/adventure series, involving time travel and an alternate universe that’s somewhat familiar and somewhat not. There’s a wry, arch tone to it that’s a blast to write. I have a lot of fun turning genre formula inside out with it, and making pointed social commentary. When first released, in 2008, it was kind of relevant; it’s even more relevant now.

We’re also in talks to set the re-release date for Playing the Angles (which used to be Assumption of Right, or, as I joked, When Bad Titles Attack). Early October is looking good, with The Spirit Repository then releasing in May of 2018. This means we have to make sure the cover is ready sometime in July. Since we’ve been having difficulty finding the right cover image, that worries me.

I should have mowed yesterday, but didn’t. So guess what I had to do first thing today? Yup, side yard needs it.

So, there were two mass shootings yesterday in the country, one on the East Coast, one on the West. The UPS shooting is hardly getting any coverage, because only ordinary people were hurt and/or killed. The one involving a Congressman, a lobbyist, and other political types is getting attention, because of the GOP’s propaganda machine. The two Capitol police personnel who put themselves in the line of fire are being mostly ignored, while politicians who weren’t even there are tearful about their own “narrow escape.” The press is covering it irresponsibly, as usual. The GOP is blaming the left, because the shooter volunteered on the Sanders campaign. Of course, the fact that the Narcissistic Sociopath repeatedly incited and encouraged violence during his campaign and actually called for Hillary Clinton’s assassination is being ignored. As is the fact that the GOP is the party who votes to allow the mentally ill access to guns (because they expect shooting victims to be outside their own party — yesterday shocked them because they think only unarmed liberals will be shot). Paul Ryan is being lauded for the speech he gave on the floor; people are saying it was wonderful. I disagree. For the man who is determined to make inhuman cuts to healthcare, Social Security, Medicare and food stamps to declare “We don’t shed our humanity when we enter the Chamber” is hypocrisy. It’s typical of Lyin’ Ryan, but it is still hypocrisy.

They all make me sick.

On that not-so-happy note, I need to go and mow, and then it’s back to the page, because, no matter what the external stresses, I have to keep showing up at the page and getting it done.

Don’t forget to hop over to the GDR site, where I have the mid-month check-in posted. I can’t believe we’re half way through June!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope your week’s off to a great start!

Fri. June 2, 2017: Reading, Writing, Recalibrating

Friday, June 2, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Got quite a bit done, including mowing the terraced back part of the yard yesterday, although the mower fought me the whole time. Today, I’m going to do the side yard and another part of the back near the deck; tomorrow, I’ll start on the meadow.

Didn’t get much writing done, which was frustrating. I’m trying to outline the piece inspired by the abandoned town, because I’m at a point where I need to set some plot markers, not just make it up as I go along. I’m having trouble answering some of the questions that are vital to structuring the rest of the plot. Until I can answer them, I’m moving forward blind, if I keep writing.

Play proposal was acknowledged by the organization. Now, it’s a waiting game. It’s either what they’re looking for, or it’s not.

Got a thoughtful, kind response from a novelist who I’d contacted for some information. It wasn’t writing-related, but something about which he has strong knowledge. We’d only met once, so it was a reach to contact him, and he was kind enough to respond. It was much appreciated.

Re-slanting a pitch for a different market.

I have to go and buy cat food today, because, well, cat food is necessary for everyone’s well-being! Have a few more errands to do, too, and want to do one more pass on the assignment for the new editor before I send it off.

Still searching for the right cover images for PLAYING THE ANGLES. So much cover art is so poorly done; if I’m going to do this, do these re-releases properly, I’m going to take my time and make sure all the elements for the re-release work. The editing, the cover art, the media kit, the marketing campaign.

Roughed out the outline for the Devon Ellington media kit. I’m not sure in what order to put it. Right now, I have the non-fiction, then the series/novels, then the shorts, then the anthologies, then retired info/”other”. Really, the only way I’ll know if it works is to put it together and read it for flow.

I’ve got the basic design for the Topic Workbook bookmark, and what I want to do for the blog bookmark, the DE work bookmark, and the Fearless Ink workbook; but I’m having trouble finding the right template.

It was warm enough and pleasant enough to have both lunch and dinner out on the deck yesterday; a nice change from the cold, wet weather.

I’m reading MISS TREADWAY AND THE FIELD OF STARS by Miranda Emmerson. I enjoy it. It’s literary fiction with mystery elements. Can’t tip all the way into mystery novel, because of the forays into many different characters that keep it from having the pace of a mystery or suspense novel. The third person omniscient narration, which moves from character to character within scenes doesn’t always work for me, but I like most of the characters, the plot, and the story.

This weekend, I want to work on the FIX IT GIRL revisions, the short radio play, and a short story. Also will prep some more article pitches to send out next week.

Never a dull moment. Which is a good thing!

June’s To Do List is up on the GDR site here.

So the Narcissistic Sociopath is pulling us out of the Paris Climate Accord. Playing to the stupid and ignorant, while making personal profit. Yet again. He’s supposed to be a public servant, yet he’s never done anything to serve anyone but himself. The fact that anyone is stupid enough to believe him is appalling. What a loathsome individual, and what an embarrassment to represent the country on a world stage. People keep saying, “this is not who we are.” Obviously, it’s what we’re becoming, or someone would DO something to remove the corrupt and the stupid. Yet no one is. The whole situation is revolting.

Have a great weekend!

Thurs. June 1, 2017: Adventures in Lowell

Thursday, June 1, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I forgot to post on Tuesday, so that post is below today’s. I was so under the gun on various things that it flew out of my mind.

Check out the article on using Claire Cook’s and Jeff Vandermeer’s books for my recalibration here.

Check out the wrap up for May on the GDR site; I’ll have the To Do list for June up soon.

Yesterday, I woke up at 2 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep, so by the time the alarm went off at 4:30, I was already up. I left by 5:30 and drove up to Lowell, where I had a meeting with an organization for whom I’d like to work. I liked them; we’ll see if I’m what they need right now. The logistics of working there would need some maneuvering.

But I liked the city better than I expected. I like the fact that, unlike here on Cape, they recognize that the arts are a viable profession.

Hit torrential rain coming back, and it was a bad drive. It was also frustrating, because so many people refused to put their headlights on in the rain and fog, even though it’s the law, if the windshield wipers are on, the headlights MUST be on. It was very hard to see other cars when I could barely see the end of my own, and they couldn’t be bothered to turn on their lights.

But I made it home, and I was in bed by 7 PM, and slept 12 hours. I feel better this morning, although I had a passel of errands, including two dump runs (one for garbage, one for cut grass and recycling), a Trader Joe’s run, and a run to CVS to get my mom’s medication. Now, I have to get some work done at the library, and then do yard work and then write and then . . .you get the idea.

Let’s hope June is a wonderful month!

Published in: on June 1, 2017 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thurs. May 25, 2017: Fixing and Creating

Thursday, May 25, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

So, yesterday, I fixed the mower by my damn self, with help from my neighbor. So much for the warranty on this chunk of garbage, and so much for the people who kept promising to show up to fix it. I bought a new spark plug for $3 at the hardware store, and my neighbor had the spark socket, and we did it. I don’t even have to wrestle with it anymore — it starts right up. I got about half the front mowed. It’s raining this morning, but as soon as it lets up, I’m going to finish the front and start the side. It’ll take me a few days to catch up on everything, but I’ll get there.

Received my first assignment from my new editor, and started on it. Sent off an article pitch; a different editor passed on a pitch I’d sent, so I sent off a new one today, and that one, slightly slanted, so someone else.

Wrestled the sample script pages. Cut them back, layered them some more, and they read much more subtly. I still have room in the page count, so I worked on a second scene. Then, I put all the pieces together, and the proposal went off this morning. Either it’s what this particular producer wants, or it’s not. Not much I can do about it now.

I shot off an email to an author I met once at the conference here on Cape to ask him to supply some emotional geography for the city in which I’ll have my meeting next week. Sounds wacky, but I’d rather get some insight from someone who knows the community than what’s up on a website somewhere. He may not have the time or inclination to answer, but nothing asked, nothing answered.

Worked on the short story; I’ve lost momentum and have to find it. I want to finish it, polish it this weekend, and send it out early next week. I also have to do a fresh read on WINNER TAKE ALL and get going on the next draft. I want to get the next draft of the screenplay done in the next couple of weeks; if it then passes muster, off it goes.

Having trouble finding the right images for the new cover for PLAYING THE ANGLES. I know I have a photograph that I took that would work for it, but darned if I can find it right now. I’m looking through the proof sheets for my camera disks. There’s a potential image I like, of stage lights on a bare stage, but I’m not sure. A bare stage with dramatic lighting doesn’t really communicate the story.

The new cover for CREATIVE STIMULUS went up, and works. Now that is in alignment with the other Topic Workbooks.

I’m working on the personal media kit that spans the different things I write, and it’s difficult. It’s much easier to write copy about the books and about other people than about myself. Believe it or not, I think I have to do a rough outline of the kit, so I can figure out the bits and pieces I want to include. Then I’ll work on each piece, trying to keep the same objective distance as when I put one together for someone else, and then arrange them until it has a good flow.

I should be able to start putting the changes into the next section of FIX IT GIRL today or tomorrow, too, and then move on the next section.

Prepping for my meeting next week; instead of worrying about anything beyond the actual meeting, I’m focusing on the meeting, and taking it from there.

Read Felicia Day’s memoir, which reads like a conversation with someone with whom one connects.

I got bitten by something working in the yard yesterday, right at the top of my tailbone. Not only is it an awkward place to treat, it hurts like hell. Not just discomfort, but actual pain.

It’s supposed to be a rainy weekend, so I hope that means it’ll be a productive one for writing!

Published in: on May 25, 2017 at 9:54 am  Comments Off on Thurs. May 25, 2017: Fixing and Creating  
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Tues. May 23, 2017: Personal Scale, Grand Scale

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy/sunny/cool

Yesterday was a day. The stress is getting to me. I’m getting tired of the platitudes people offer. This isn’t about attitude, this is about situation, trying to change the situation, and setting fresh boundaries. I realize people mouth platitudes because it makes THEM feel better (and has little to do with the person to whom it’s being offered), but, really, if you can’t offer useful action, just back off, please.

There have been times, over the last few weeks, where I’ve felt as though I was on the brink of collapse. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of that type of indulgence, so I have to carry on, no matter when I’m feeling.

Frustrated with the pages for the play proposal. They’re not doing what I want/need them to do. I’m running out of time, so I have to figure out how to make them work.

Played with some other ideas. One mixes two genres, fantasy and mystery. We’ll see. The other is a contemporary piece, set in, of all places, Washington DC. The focus of it won’t be political, although one can’t set something in DC without politics affecting it.

Read an early novel of a writer whose work I’ve read quite a bit of. I see the seeds of how far she’s come, but boy, that book needed an editor. Copy editing mistakes up the ying yang, inconsistencies, and so many exclamation points the characters all sound breathless. But the characters, dialogue, and plotting are all solid, and I can see how that one-off book set the foundation for her other books. It’s also wonderful to see how much she’s grown.

The attack in Manchester is awful. Words fail. I have to say, I’m not impressed with the reaction so far from Ariana Grande’s camp. Yes, it’s a shock, and yes, it’s devastating. But for the reports to merely say she’s “inconsolable” and she’s cancelled concerts because she “can’t perform” — honey, this isn’t about YOU. This is about the people who died or were injured, and their families. Of course upcoming concerts had to be cancelled, out of respect. On top of that, come out swinging. A strongly-worded statement against this type of attack, and providing actual HELP to the injured and families of the dead. Not platitudes. Not acting like this is about you. Not hiding in one’s room crying and being “inconsolable”. It’s time to show public strength and class, and be devastated in private. As an artist whose venue/work was chosen as the site of the attack, it’s necessary to be a warrior in response, not pose as another victim.

Errands to do today. I wish I could get the damn mower fixed so that the yard wouldn’t look like a vacant lot. Hopefully, by tomorrow. I’d like to get the yard handled over the upcoming holiday weekend.

Finally heard from the editor who supposedly hired me several weeks ago. Looks like I’ll be getting my first assignment in the next few days. I’m ready to dig in.

Doing research and getting price quotes on several fronts in order to implement the writing plan worked on last week. I have to keep reminding myself to break things down into manageable steps. Having some interesting discussions with distributors, and also with swag providers.

In the next few months, I’d like to do some general swag for Ink in My Coffee, the Devon Ellington site, and the Fearless Ink site. There’s also some generalized swag I can do for the Topic Workbooks. Then, I can do book-specific swags for releases.

I’m also in the process of doing a general Devon Ellington media kit, along with the media kits that are project-specific. I should probably do one for the Topic Workbooks as well.

It’s hard to keep everything balanced, since the marketing uses different parts of the brain than the writing or editing.

All I’m craving lately are fruits and vegetables. I can’t seem to get enough cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, peppers, and the like. Well, if I’m going to stress eat, better a cucumber than a doughnut, right? 😉

Getting some pages done on several projects in the exploratory stage, so that I can see which will catch fire and should be pursued. Researching the next part of the FIX IT GIRL, so I can get the changes into the next chapters on the revision. Working on the short story I’d like to get out the door sooner rather than later.

Feel like I need to sleep for about a week, but not an option.

Onward!

Published in: on May 23, 2017 at 9:17 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 23, 2017: Personal Scale, Grand Scale  
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Fri. May 19, 2017: Trying to Put It Into Play

Friday, May 19, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Took my mom to her medical appointment. Found more evidence on the CVS issue, and will turn everything over to the State’s Attorney General.

Finished reading a book by an author whose work I usually like, but this one had sloppy writing in it. Good plot, but one could tell that it was written fast. Sets up a new web of characters for more interconnected books, though.

Started implementing some of the things that were discussed on Wednesday. I have to make sure I break down the lists into do-able pieces, or I’ll get overwhelmed and won’t do anything.

Started working on some formatting changes for another outlet for the Topic Workbooks. The problem with those is that I can only work on them for a couple of hours at a stretch. It takes longer than I’d like to get the material done.

Re-read Arlene Kay’s SWANN DIVE. It’s the first of her Boston Uncommons Mysteries. Every time I re-read her books, I enjoy them more.

Still waiting for my first assignment from this supposed new gig.

Started going over some old short stories, both published and unpublished, to see if there are enough on any given theme for a collection. A collection of short stories is less important than getting on the novel carousel again, but it would be nice to get them out there. Some of them are more relevant now than when they were written.

Wrestling in the FIX IT GIRL revisions. There are a couple of B plot lines and red herrings I feel I should weave in to enrich the story; at the same time, I like the leanness and the pace. So I’m struggling with that. Can I keep a lean, fast pace, while just adding in a few tidbits here and there without it either slowing the piece down or it feeling like I’ve thrown things in there with no follow-up?

Getting some yard work done, but it’s difficult without a working mower.

Hopefully, I can have a solid writing weekend, and figure some more stuff out on my recalibration plan. I want to start implementing a few things, and then step back and look at it all again, make some decisions based on the new implementation, and so on and so forth.

Part of that is that, in the next few months, I want to get some general swag done for the constants: Ink in My Coffee, the Devon Ellington website, the Fearless Ink website, and maybe even the Topic Workbooks. Then, as more projects launch, I can add project-specific swag and mix and match for giveaways.

I also need to get rights back on a book where I suspect the contract expired ages ago. The publisher’s done diddly, in fact, new management wanted its authors to pay a monthly fee for promotion. I’d assumed they’d dropped me, but I found the book still on the website; never gotten any reports from them for years. So I have to dig up the contract, get the rights back, do some rewrites, and get it out in a better format.

I also have to figure out why I’m struggling to get back to NOT BY THE BOOK. It’s a good, tight story with fun characters.

Managed to handwrite a couple of pages on something this morning, but I’m still looking for those sample pages for the play proposal. I guess it won’t get out until early next week. I’ve got the proposal section done and the resume done, and I have the completed play done, but I have to find — and then type and polish — the sample pages to finish it.

Published in: on May 19, 2017 at 9:24 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 19, 2017: Trying to Put It Into Play  
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Wed. May 10, 2010: Research, Writing, Nasty Bookers, and Project Juggling

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

It still goes down into the 30s at night. We had to bring the tomato plants in.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise. Jamieson Wolf is a guest, and he talks about his new release LUST & LEMONADE.

Yesterday was kind of all over the place; grocery shopping; trying to get some work done at the library, but it was both noisy and full of the crazies.

I did some research for a handful of projects; figured out that an article I was working on actually needs to be broken down into two articles in order to keep a solid focus; wrote most of an outline for a new piece and the first ten pages of it, so I can figure out what it is and if it will work (so far, so good). I’m working on a proposal packet for a slot with a producer who wants to develop a new play. It’s a different way of working — I’m trying to develop enough of the idea to create an exciting package, while, at the same time, leaving enough room for collaboration. I usually put the proposal together with a finished, polished script, but that’s not what this theatre wants. Good to work differently. Keeps one from getting stale.

It was interesting reading the research book I’ve been reading the past few days. It feeds into three different projects, and I’d read a passage and think, “that will work with X” and a few pages later, “That will work for Y” and a few pages later, “I can use variants of that for X AND for Z.” Then, of course, I had to jot down notes in the various outlines referring to the research notes so I wouldn’t forget!

I’m in article mode now, and I had an idea for another spate of articles. Unfortunately, so far, the research I’ve done into the markets — the publications most geared to the topic — not only refuse to pay, they want their contributors to write numerous articles per month FOR FREE. I’m getting a little tired of the “Gimme Culture” instead of a sustainable Reciprocal Culture. Nope. Next. Bye. If I was starting out and looking to build my portfolio, maybe. But not at this stage in the game. So I have to dig a little deeper into other markets, and see what’s what.

I’ve been asked by two organizations I used to be associated with for marketing advice. I don’t mind throwing them a few ideas, but I’m not working for either one for free anymore. I put in my time. No matter how much I did or how much of my own work suffered, it was never enough; in fact, my thanks from one organization was metaphorical multiple slaps in the face, so, no. You get a short email with some ideas, and then it’s up to you, unless you plan on hiring me as a marketing consultant at my regular rate. In fact, I’m writing an article on just that topic. 😉

I’m working on a couple of other pitches to send out. I’m in negotiations for one particular gig which I think would be fun, and I have a meeting tomorrow about another one.

I’ve been working on FIX IT GIRL rewrites. Unlike some rewrites, I’m not putting all the changes into chapters every day. I find, with this, as I work on the hard copy of the first draft, I need to stop and research this detail and that detail and the other detail; expand, contract, restructure; get rid of sloppy writing. About every three chapters, I pull up the document and put in the new material. On the one hand, it’s slower; on the other hand, it means more goes into this draft, which means fewer drafts, because I’m not doing separate passes for separate elements.

I’ve done my prep to dig into the revisions of WINNER TAKE ALL. I’m hoping I can read through it this afternoon and get started. I already know one character/subplot I need to cut, and there are some other cuts, along with a new scene I need to add to have it make sense. As long as I can keep the script 120 pages (I’d like to get it down to 112-115), I’m okay. But 120 pages — where it is now — is the top of the limit. I want some more room in the draft, so I have to see what I can cut. There are a few scenes that could use some trimming. I want to raise the sense of danger for my protagonist in a couple of scenes, too. She sails through it all with a bit too much serenity. Yes, she’s smarter than most of those around her, but, as we all know, stupid people can be dangerous. Look at what’s going on in the country right now.

Speaking of which, Sally Yates was amazing in her testimony. Talk about someone with ethics, intelligence, and integrity. She put Ted Cruz in his place, that slimy piece of corrupt garbage. Then the Narcissistic Sociopath fires the FBI Director — on the advice of the corrupt, racist AG who supposedly had recused himself from the situation because he’s involved. Granted, Comey needed to go. There were two major conflicts/investigations going on with the elections last fall, one with each party. He made a partisan choice that affected the outcome. For that, he should have been sacked by November 10, and then prosecuted. For far too much of his recent testimony recently before Congress, he sounded like a whiny moron, not the head of a legitimate intelligence agency. But to be fired by the people he was investigating AT THIS POINT, is also suspicious. Nor should the people under investigation be allowed to appoint his successor until the investigation is complete. The level of corruption in this administration is astonishing.

It reminds me of the research material I’ve been reading, about the 1920s. Harding’s administration was pretty damn corrupt, too, and that ended in the Crash of 1929.

Re-reading Elizabeth George’s WRITE AWAY!, which is a book I assign to my writing students. The more I write, the more my process evolves away from hers. I don’t do the detailed character profiles she does — if I write down too much ABOUT a character before I write a piece, my subconscious believes I’ve already written the book and moves on. All I do is stare at a blank page. You can ask me anything about a character, any detail, and I know it, but I can’t write it all down. By trying her method, I lost what could have been a good book. Maybe someday, I’ll get it back, but so far, no luck. However, she has good points about knowing one’s setting and putting butt in chair and getting it done. I’ve always been on the fence about her books — some work for me better than others. I always loathed the character of Helen.

A little over a year ago, when I tried to book her as a speaker at the library for which I then worked, the person who handles her bookings quoted me a rate that would have wiped us out for nearly three years, and then was rude about us not booking her, although I politely explained the “why”. The booker berated us for having a small budget, for thinking a “name” author could be bothered with us, and for not being willing to go into debt to pay her anyway. By the way, we had plenty of name authors come in within our budget. Yes, have your “team” play the bad guys, but when they behave that way, don’t be surprised when it touches how people respond to your work. Now, every time I see a new release of hers, I remember how nasty her booker was, and, since I was already on the fence about the book, I pass. I respect what she’s achieved, but she is no longer on my “must read” pile. That could change, with time and distance, but that’s where I am right now. I do, however, respect and admire her work ethic. She gets things done. She does them well, and she makes a living from it. Good for her!

Tried re-reading a memoir of Paris, which is well done, but I wasn’t in the mood for the exploits of a young, drunken, male Aussie. So I went back to re-read Claire Cook’s IT’S NEVER TOO LATE. I met Claire two years ago at the Cape Cod Writer’s Conference, and we had some great chats. In fact, I’m going to dedicate TIE CUTTER to her. Her novels are a good pick-me-up when things look bleak. I also respect the way she gets things done, like Elizabeth George and Jayne Ann Krentz and just about every other writer making a go of it. She doesn’t whine or waste time in negativity. She writes her books, she respects her readers, she doesn’t bow to the changing winds. She’s comfortable in her own skin, and that’s always something to admire.

Tonight, I’m going to a reading in which my friend’s daughter has a part. I’m looking forward to it. I missed the last production she was in, and I want to support her and her mom.

At least there’s a lot of creativity going on!

Published in: on May 10, 2017 at 9:24 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 10, 2010: Research, Writing, Nasty Bookers, and Project Juggling  
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Tues. May 2, 2017: Nasty Weather, In and Out

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and mild

Yesterday just sucked. I’m going to have to file formal complaints against CVS for preying on my elderly mother and against AAA for not providing the services for which they charge. Not particularly surprising in either case, but again, time away from other things that need attention.

I rewrote the few pages of the new idea in first person from third, and that’s what it needed. Now, it’s falling into place and making sense. Amazing what the choice of right voice does.

Managed to rewrite the first three chapters (nearly 8K) of THE FIX-IT GIRL. I’m rather appalled at some of the poor writing. But then, the first draft of this book was written in 2005 — 12 years ago. The characters, story, research, energy are great. But there’s a lot of sloppy writing that my wonderful editors trained me out of in the interim, so there’s a lot that can be improved. That’s the point of a revision, isn’t it?

Today is a miserable day, and I wish I didn’t have to go out, but I do. I SHOULD go get cat food, but I might wait another day, when it’s not quite so miserable. But there are a couple of things that can’t be put off. I also have to be in touch with my Senators and Representatives on various issues. Our state AG is having a town hall tonight. Good chance to chat with her about some of what’s going on.

Sooner I get out there, sooner I can get back and get back to the page.

May’s To Do List is up on the GDR site. Check it out, and add yours!

Published in: on May 2, 2017 at 9:33 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 2, 2017: Nasty Weather, In and Out  
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May 1, 2017: Process and Planning

Monday, May 1, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Beltane
Rainy and cool

Busy weekend, but good one.

Finished the first draft of the screenplay WINNER TAKES ALL. It took me 19 days to write it from concept through first draft. It flowed well. I’ll have it marinate for about a week, and then hit revisions. The 6 pages/day schedule was good (although I usually averaged 10-13). I like the leaps of craft I’ve made in this. The storytelling is better, and that’s the point.

I had an idea for a new mystery on Friday and started playing with it. We’ll see if it goes anywhere. I wrote a few pages and it seemed distant. This morning, I woke up with the protagonist’s voice very strong in my head, and the realization it needs to be first person. However, I’m worried about yet another mystery of mine in the first person, although I feel Anna’s voice is quite distinct from either Sophie’s or Gin’s. We’ll see.

Disappointing response to a pitch that requested samples. Part of it was my misunderstanding the request, which is entirely on me; the rest of it is the person in charge not wanting/being able to evaluate a writing sample that wasn’t project specific. In my mind, if you look at a writer’s portfolio, you should be able to evaluate voice, style, craft, even if the sample wasn’t written specifically for you — that’s the point of a writing sample. To show breadth and depth, not to provide something for free to the publication. An editor should be able to read a piece and tell if the writer fits the publication. If said individual “can’t” because it’s not specific to that publication, the warning bells go off. It had potential to be a steady gig that could have been fun, but if the editor’s ability to evaluate is so narrow, I’m not a good fit for the publication. Next. I was going to try to fix the misunderstanding, but the more I consider it, the more my gut tells me that I’ve dodged (yet another) bullet.

Did some yard work, and planted some bee-friendly patches on the side of the house and in the stone circle. Arranged the deck, turning it into the Enchanted Garden for summer. There’s still a lot to do, but I’m out of shape, and only have the stamina to do a little bit every nice day. I’m going to have to start mowing this week.

Have an idea for a literary fiction/historical novel. Not sure if it will go anywhere. Again, the protagonist’s voice is strong, and quite different from the other voices. I will play with the ideas.

Made some research notes for FIX-IT GIRL — I start revisions on it today. I need to finish the Venice section on POWER OF WORDS, because I need to get those research books back, since I have oh-so-many other research books on the way out.

Rewatched THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR and liked it. I appreciate Matt Smith’s work more with some distance. When he first started, I missed David Tennant’s work so much, it was hard to connect to Matt Smith’s. They’re very different, but very good, and they were excellent together.

Watching the AGATHA RAISIN series. I am not a fan of the books, and the series doesn’t do it for me, either. There’s a mean-spiritedness in so much of it, and a lack of logic that thinks it’s funny, but just comes across as stupid. I like most of the actors, I love the locations, but I don’t like the tone.

Finished re-reading the Anthony Trollope biography. I’ve always admired his professional approach to his writing. He got up early every morning and wrote five pages, no matter what or where he was. 250 words per page, 1250 words a day. If he finished a novel within those five pages, he pulled out a fresh sheet of paper and started the next one. He got things done, without a lot of fuss and bother, or moaning.

The April wrap-up is on the GDR site, and May’s To Do list will be up tomorrow. The view on May looks very stressful from here — I hope I can get things sorted out to relieve some of the pressure. Otherwise, it will be a very difficult month.

I have some errands to run this morning, and then, this afternoon, I hope to dig back in to the writing. My To-Do list includes NOT BY THE BOOK, THE FIX-IT GIRL, POWER OF WORDS, “Seven of Swords”, and “Axe to Grind”, but I seriously doubt I can get work done on all of them today.

I’m worried I may have missed the window of opportunity for “Seven of Swords.” At the same time, I can’t send out a piece I know is sub-par. I have to try to fix it. I thought I had the key to fixing it, but it’s not quite working. I want to retain some of the ambiguity, but clean up the parts that are a hot mess. I haven’t hit that balance yet. I either over-explain or it’s overly ambiguous. I just have to keep at it until I get it right.

Like so many things.

Onward.

Thurs. April 27, 2017: Getting Back on the Query Wagon

Thursday, April 27, 2017
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Yesterday, I wrote three pitches and submitted them, and submitted a radio play. The play was acknowledged, and two of the three pitches got a positive response. Not a bad day’s work! That cheered me up — I was feeling rather down the past few days, between having a cold and everything else.

Admin work, and then I spent the afternoon making my final decisions on the contest entries. I send those off today — the contest will announce the winners on Monday.

Getting ready to start the next draft of the FIX-IT GIRL next week. I’m giving myself six weeks for it. Hopefully, I’ll have the first draft of WINNER TAKE ALL done over the weekend, or early next week.

Enjoying re-reading the Trollope biography. I’ve read some of his books; I’m debating whether I should re-read and go beyond what I’ve read.

I’m enjoying reading what I WANT to read for the moment, instead of what I HAVE to read. Important to keep that balance.

Balancing creating new fiction with revisions and writing/researching nonfiction is always a challenge. Each type of work takes a different thought process and different skills. The wonderful part is that it keeps one active and engaged, and it’s interesting to keep expanding one’s repertoire. But sometimes, one project pulls hard, while the others also demand attention, due to deadline.

Re-watched two of the DOCTOR WHO Christmas specials — THE DOCTOR, THE WIDOW, AND THE WARDROBE, and THE SNOWMEN — both from the reign of Matt Smith. They rank among my favorite episodes.

I wrote three more article pitches this morning, which go out today. I need to rework some requested samples this afternoon, do a few more script pages, and also dig in to the Venice section of POWER OF WORDS.

Never a dull moment, which is wonderful!

Published in: on April 27, 2017 at 9:23 am  Comments Off on Thurs. April 27, 2017: Getting Back on the Query Wagon  
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