Sunday, May 30, 2004

Sunday, May 30, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde




Since I don’t feel particularly inspired today, I sent out query letters instead. Seven for Dixie Dust Rumours and five for Jill Moves. Hopefully, they’ll spark some interest. I haven’t yet figured out how to streamline my query process – in other words, I can’t get the computer to do what I want it to do. Queries take so much time that I find I need to do them in small batches. Nothing would make me happier than to prepare a full list of queries and send them out thirty or forty at a time, so that they aren’t hovering over me. But the process of printing the letters and the envelopes and filling out the submission tracking forms I have . . .it takes a long, long time. I wonder if Quicken would, well, quicken the process. Because, as usual, Microsoft is useless. And their help function is less than useless.

Last night’s hockey game was exciting. Iginla and Lecavalier got into a fight in the first period, which was surprising. Lecavalier only got into two fights all season. He was determined to raise the morale of his team. And both guys were class acts in the interviews when journalists tried to get them to diss each other. They are both class acts, and aren’t manipulated by the media, thank goodness. They’re too smart. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay lost anyway, 3-0. Fedotenko’s cheek was ripped open at one point – I would be surprised if the Calgary player holding him back did not get a suspension. The way the guy gripped him, Fedotenko couldn’t put up his arms to protect his face and slammed into the boards. I don’t mind serious checking, but I do mind holding someone so he can’t protect himself. I have a lot of respect for Robyn Regehr, but didn’t like the way this play came down. I don’t know if it all happened so fast he couldn’t let go of Fedotenko or what. Whatever happened, I didn’t like it. I also think the Lightening players had difficulty with the altitude – I wish they’d had another day to get adjusted. I’m still not sure for whom to root in the series. It’ll go at least five. I want it to go seven games.

Damien Cox, a columnist for the Toronto Star, and one of my favorite sports writers, disagrees:

http://www.waymoresports.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1085868609040&call_pageid=1044442959412&col=1044442957278

I’m concerned about the possible strike/lockout. Since Gary Bettman lost my respect in Nashville last June with his anti-labor comments, I have little hope that there will be a resolution that’s both swift and fair.

New information suggests that Pat Tillman may have been killed by Friendly Fire in Afghanistan. I can’t even imagine how devastating that must be to his family.

I’m glad this is an election year and people can let their feelings be known. I hope everyone of voting age turns out to vote. Whether voters agree with me or not, I always want them to at least vote. It’s so important. And I hope the voting system is fixed so that those votes are actually counted, unlike what happened four years ago. I ended a friendship once with someone who refused to register to vote because she didn’t feel like serving jury duty. Jury duty is part of one’s responsibility as a citizen. If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain if you don’t like the way something is run. And, as far as jury duty goes, I’ve served jury duty three times on three different types of cases: civil (personal injury); criminal (murder); and Grand Jury (narcotics); as well as testifying in a theft trial. Each time I’ve learned a lot, and, in spite of the theatrics that take place in a courtroom, it’s given me confidence in the way the justice system is set up. Plenty of celebrity trials have made me feel otherwise, but the trials in which I have personally been involved have given me hope.

I didn’t mean for this to be a political rant, but, oh well.

Wrote up an interview questionnaire and contacted several people I want to interview for a new article. And, for once, I’m going to agree with those who tell me what I “should” write and get to work researching a non-fiction book. Don’t know which byline it will carry yet, but it will be about something for which I have both knowledge and passion (don’t worry – it’s not politics)!

Tried to read a book because I wanted to and got twitchy. So I wrote an article about it, personifying the guilt as the “Writing Dominatrix.” I’ve had perfectly productive days leading up to today, so there’s no reason to feel guilty.

For dinner, I roasted chicken with a mixture of herbs and spices. It’s based on a Patricia Wells recipe. However, I couldn’t find my chervil and that made me churlish. And then I thought some mustard would go well with the lemon, the thyme, and the tarragon. And, well, it evolved into its own identity that had very little to do with what Ms. Wells suggested. But it was delicious. And, fortunately, I took notes as I improvised. The mashed potatoes set it off perfectly, as did the cucumber, tomato and onion salad. I’m disappointed in the white wine I last bought – a Beringer Chenin Blanc. I’ve never had good luck with Beringer wine. At least tonight, very chilled, it was bland enough to offset the bite of the herb mixture. It might work with very spicy Asian or Mexican recipes. But I find it barely drinkable. I’m spoiled by the recent French sauvignon blancs I’ve been drinking. They’re not expensive, but they go with absolutely everything.

Devon
http://www.keepitcoming.net/widows-chamber.html
http://www.keepitcoming.net/tapestry.html





Saturday, May 29, 2004

Saturday, May 29, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde



Finally, some sunshine. Although it didn’t help me get up any earlier. I had a series of short, strange dreams – all of which I lost as soon as I woke up, and I think I’m grateful for it. But it was difficult to get going this morning.

Had to have my photo taken for the Greenwich HS brochure. From now on, I will flat out refuse publicity photos. No one needs to know what I look like. One of the reasons I like pseudonyms is because I value my anonymity. In this age of over marketed hype, it’s even more important to me. I don’t want fame. I want a good reputation and to earn enough money so that I don’t have to worry. Fame is a monkey I’m not willing to carry on my back. I’ve seen it destroy too many people. I’m not interested in being famous any more than I’m interested in famous people.

Picked up a few things at the store which I forgot yesterday, visited Home Depot – typical Memorial Day weekend stuff. Will have a traditional dinner of hamburgers, etc. tonight. I don’t eat meat that often anymore, but this week, I certainly have.

Played around with some article ideas. Not sure how I want to frame them or where I want to query. They need more time to percolate.

Checked out a new sports magazine, wondering if I could write for it. I don’t think we’re a good fit. It’s for serious athletes who spend every waking moment working out when they’re not in their day jobs. There’s nothing wrong with that. I simply believe there are other writers better suited to that market than I am.

Got an idea for a story from a newspaper article about the murder of a young Julliard student. I have to play with it a bit more – I’m one of those writers who needs to protect ideas in the incubation stage. Not sure yet if it’s a short story or a longer piece. I’d like it to be a short story, but it will be whatever it is.

I have an interesting dilemma with Tapestry. Originally I had Jake, Nina’s sort-of ex-boyfriend, killed by a hit man about halfway through the book. This is a very savvy hit man who decides not to kill Nina because he thinks she’ll be useful later on. Anyway, as I’ve reworked the piece for the serial, I realize that Jake needs to stay alive. Yet the hit man is vital to that sequence, as is his skill. So I’m not quite sure how to create a distraction for the hit man that allows Jake to survive. While I won’t use him in this particular arc, that was the original draft of Tapestry, I will use him, say fifty episodes or so in the future.

In the original draft, there is no reason why she’d fall for this guy. As I’m doing the rewrite, he’s more of a fulfilled character. Probably my own maturity and some time away from the manuscript as much as anything else. While I may kill him off several hundred episodes down the line, maybe I won’t. I just have to figure out how to give him a reprieve in the next section.

It requires thought and planning.

I’ll never forget attending a writer’s conference in Omaha, Nebraska a few years ago. A big group of us went out to dinner at a steakhouse. The wine flowed freely and we ate enormous steaks. We talked loudly and avidly about murder techniques, waving our steak knives around and frightening the other patrons.

Nowadays, we’d probably get arrested.

Two episodes of Tapestry done and out while I contemplate how to rescue Jake.

Three short articles roughed out, and in desperate need of rewrites.

Three short stories rewritten and submitted.

A list of short stories in front of me of whom I’m quite fond. Unfortunately, they don’t fit into any categories, and I’m not sure where I could possibly submit them.

I need to do more research into international markets.

Back to The Widow’s Chamber.

Rewrote and polished the four episodes, did some fact checking, and off they went. I only have to worry about Angel Hunt this week, and, of course, Periwinkle and query letters and . . .

But for now, I will cook dinner for my friends and then we’ll watch Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.






Friday, May 28, 2004

Friday, May 28, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde


The horse racing article sprang from my head this morning, as fully formed as Athena sprang from Zeus’s head. Finished it, rewrote it, proofed it, fact checked it, proofed it again, and got it to the editor, who was pleased. It’s short and sweet, with some very good writing. Hopefully, this series will give me some strong clips that I can use to get further work sports writing work.

Now, I have to hunker down and get back to work on The Widow’s Chamber.

Later:
Four episodes of The Widow’s Chamber. It’s going well and I don’t want to lose momentum, so I may focus on that the whole weekend and get this arc completed. I want to get the characters out of Nashville and onto the steamboat down the Mississippi. The sequence pertaining to Alva Benning’s rescue is important because it sets up what Frank really does for a living and ties into the political concerns of the time.

I got Daisy Montagu’s voice back, which is a relief. I think she was just sulking because she hasn’t been front and center for the last set of episodes. Ainthe, on the other hand, will run away with the entire piece if I’m not careful. I was worried that Nora had gotten a bit reactive instead of proactive, but she’s hitting her stride.

Busy afternoon. Got an ad for the Manuscript Critique stuff up on Craig’s List. Hope that gets some bites over the weekend. Did another critique as well.

Baked a lemon sponge cake – one of my favorite recipes. It came out perfectly – as light as could be and just the right combination of sweet and tart. I concocted an excellent marinade for beef out of soy sauce, chili and garlic paste and tahini. Excellent.

Did some research on children’s games for The Widow’s Chamber. Couldn’t find what I wanted, so I’ll have the boys play marbles. Since they’ve been popular for over 2000 years, I can’t go wrong.

Got a rejection to a query for Dixie Dust Rumours. But it was personal, well –written and thoughtful. She obviously had someone actually read the query before the rejection. Oh, well. Five more queries will go out tomorrow.

I’m reading a book on scarab divination that will go up on the Cerrdwen’s Cottage site. It’s well done.

I’ve got a good bit more to do on the text for the Devon Ellington site, and I’m relived that an e-pal from About.com’s Freelance Writing has offered to answer questions.

Smarty Jones is on the cover of ESPN Magazine. Go, Smarty!

An E-pal, Angela, from iVillage has linked her blog (also on this host) to mine. I’m glad that some of my posts have inspired her and given her a deeper understanding of her own work. It’s always helpful to have companions on the journey! Several of the group over at iVillage have started blogs on blogspot, and I think reading each other’s thoughts is helping us as we answer questions and have discussions on the board. There are several that I stop in and read every few days. One of them is Angela’s, which is called Roses and Brambles. (In case I don’t link it properly, try http://rosesandbrambles.blogspot.com). Its’ quite inspirational.

Still no check from the magazine. Guess I’ll have to call them after all. I hate having to track down money. It’s one of the obstacles I have to overcome to fully realize my financial potential in this career.

Worked out some notes for the denouement for The Widow’s Chamber. I’m afraid I’m touching on melodrama for some of it, but if I can pull it off properly, showing how badly both women and slaves were treated at this time, in spite of plenty of simpering and pretending to put women on a pedestal, I’ll have done my job properly – without preaching. It breaks the rules to introduce the ultimate villain so late in the game, but the readers are discovering the pieces to the puzzle as Nora is, so I’m staying true to the piece.

Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final was good last night. Tampa Bay won this one, 4-1. You know me – I want it to go the full seven games, and now I’m at least assured of five. Martin St. Louis’s grit and passion are tremendous (Tampa), and Jarome Iginla -- boy, do we miss a lot by not getting more coverage of Calgary! Many things about the lousy hockey coverage in the US have got to change. Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa) has matured beautifully this season. I didn’t think much of him last season. I admired his talent, but he seemed too interested in pretty plays and scoring. As he’s matured into more of a team-oriented guy and more of a physical player, his entire game matured. He’s more interesting to watch and more unpredictable. Which means he’s contributing more – in both small ways that aren’t noticed much by the media and big ways, which are. I wasn’t sure he had it in him, and I’m glad to be proven wrong. For the past two years, I’ve been singing the praises of St. Louis to anyone who’ll listen – and anyone who won’t, either. I’m thrilled he made it to the Final this year. I feel completely cheated that this is the first year I’ve really been exposed to Iginla’s talent. Many players to whom I spoke about hockey doing research for Clear the Slot urged me to contact Iginla. I never did. And now I regret it. Another lesson: Always take a hockey player’s advice. He (or she) knows what he (or she) is talking about!

Have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend!

Devon
http://www.keepitcoming.net/widows-chamber.html
http://www.keepitcoming.net/tapestry.html








Thursday, May 27, 2004

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde




I behaved like a small child yesterday, and I’m proud of it. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix arrived yesterday afternoon, and I sat up until nearly 3 AM reading it. I read the entire book. All 870 pages of it. Cheering for JK Rowlings all the way. She deserves every bit of acclaim she gets for this series. The imagination, playfulness, and soul of these books are delightful, in the true sense of “delight.”

What a terrific way to spend the day. Just what I needed – to lose myself completely in a book.

I’d gotten a bit of work done on the horse racing article, an article on gratitude (where I got stuck looking for the right gardening analogy – I want dandelions, but they’ve got a bad rap. But dandelions make me happy), an ad for some of the writing services, and a manuscript critique. I liked the piece a lot – when it goes through a few rewrites, it’s going to be an excellent book.

And the rest of the day was about Harry Potter.

Around one a.m., there was a terrific thunderstorm, with lightening and rain. I like thunderstorms, but the cats were less than amused, and they all sat in the chair with me.

I’m struggling with the racing article due tomorrow – mostly because the joy has gone out of it for me. What a shame. But I have a commitment, and I will see it through.

What’s a larger concern is that I’ve lost Daisy Montagu’s voice in The Widow’s Chamber. I’ve completely lost her cadence. I need to work on that this weekend. She’s about to come into prominence again. It’s very frustrating, and it’s difficult not to panic.

Devon
http://www.keepitcoming.net/widows-chamber.html
http://www.keepitcoming.net/tapestry.html



Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde




Difficult to get going today. I’m spending time looking at market listings instead of doing the writing I need to do.

Yesterday was okay. Didn’t get much writing done, because my day was eaten up at the theatre. As usual, there was enormous resistance getting there. I found myself walking more and more slowly as I approached the building. And there’s nothing wrong with the work. I enjoy it. The costumes are beautiful, and I learn from the details every week. It’s amazing how much difference a ribbon on a seam line, or the right kind of button makes. Now, these buttons are tiny – vest buttons – yet the detail of the button speaks volumes about the character wearing it, and it translates across to the audience.

It’s in the details. That’s something to remember in writing. So often, especially when I’m feeling under time pressure, I talk about something instead of showing it with a few well-chosen details. I usually catch it and fix it in the rewrite – which is why it’s so important for me to start a deadlined project early enough so I can put it away for a few days and do a good rewrite with a fresh eye.

By the end of the afternoon, I was exhausted – my lower back and knees hurt from hours of standing on concrete and walking up and down concrete stairs. The lighting is less than wonderful for beading and doing close stitching. Plus, the wrist bothered me, although I had it wrapped and was trying to go easy on it. Of course, it’s my right wrist and I’m right handed. But it was just a bit sore and tired – not anywhere near as bad as it could have been. And, at the end of the afternoon, I had the chance to socialize with friends and colleagues, which is always fun. It’s a good show, and I’m sure it will walk away with several Tony Awards in June. It deserves them.

In other words, there’s no excuse for the resistance I feel going to work, except that since I’m transitioning out of theatre, I want it to happen quickly instead of slowly. And yet, I don’t want to lose my ties there, especially to many of the wonderful people I met over the years.

Sight Unseen opened at Manhattan Theatre Club on Broadway. I dressed the show several years ago, when it was off-Broadway. Adam Arkin brought me in with him, when he moved to it after The Extra Man closed, and Laura Linney was still in it, preparing to leave. Now Laura is playing the role Magaret Colin played. The show was a wonderful experience –we were downtown at the Orpheum, and the cast and crew were a delight. We laughed a lot together. We played a lot together. Some of my happiest memories are connected with that theatre and that show. I plan to use some of those memories down the line as inspiration with Nina Bell, the protagonist of Tapestry.

So perhaps I’m feeling nostalgic today.

It’s a cool, rainy day. The cats are happily sleeping – one gray one blends right into the gray blanket.

Greenwich HS Continuing Education called to set the dates for the Dialogue Workshop – it will start Oct 18 and end Nov. 22. Perfect. I’m looking forward to it.

Now, if I can just concentrate on what I need to accomplish today: finish the Preakness/Belmont article, work on some short internet pieces, do the first draft of this week’s episodes of The Widow’s Chamber, and get some work done on Periwinkle.

The first game of the 2004 Stanley Cup final between Calgary and Tampa Bay was great yesterday. Calgary won, 4-1. I’m not sure who I want to win the Cup. I just know I want it to go a full seven games.


Devon
http://www.keepitcoming.net/widows-chamber.html
http://www.keepitcoming.net/tapestry.html

Monday, May 24, 2004

Monday, May 24, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde




It started out as a bad day, but maybe things are turning around.

I spent seven hours trying to fix the computer last night and today. Finally, Felicia – the cat – figured out what none of the techs had. For some reason, the e-mail program decided it was no longer compatible with the system and I had to install an upgrade. I’m learning how to maneuver it, and I’m not sure I’m happy with it, but at least it works. I was ready for a nervous breakdown before noon. And how did my rocket scientist of a cat figure it out? Felicia yanked the unopened disk out from a pile on my desk and tossed it into my lap. She'd had it with my frustration. She wanted her lunch.

An article rejection, but I have another market to which I can send it out immediately.

Worked on press release info to send to the Luna Jensen faction, and those went out today, mostly focusing on Tapestry.

My eyes hurt. I should be working on the Preakness/Belmont article, but I can barely stand to view the screen. The wrist is bothering me, too. I had to modify some of the yoga postures this morning, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to do the weight training.

My friend G. came up with a great idea for arts-in-educations programs with theatre professionals. I’m looking forward to her proposal.

One of my proposals was accepted by Greenwich High School’s Continuing Education program, and I start teaching there in the fall. I’m looking forward to it! I had to come up with a subtitle for the course. I hope it’s not too corny.

Re-worked one of the rejected articles into an essay and submitted it. It works much better with the personal slant than the “how-to”, and this is a case where I’m glad it got rejected in its original form. Sent a query about another article – hope to hear back from it soon. I’m tossing around some ideas for a couple of short articles. My eyes hurt too much to work a lot here, and I have to save a bit of vision to deal with things like needles, thread, and beading tomorrow.

Health magazine is having a Feel Great fair in Newport, RI at the end of August. I really want to go. It sounds like a great day. I wonder if there’s something I could donate about my writing for give-away? Hmm. Have to think about it. They talk about having sponsor booths. It sounds like it’ll be fun, especially if it’s a nice day. I’m sure I could get a few good writing ideas out of it. Both fiction and non-fiction. I need to do some more investigating. And figure out who would be fun to haul along on this escapade.


Devon
http://www.keepitcoming.net/widows-chamber.html
http://www.keepitcoming.net/tapestry.html

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Sunday, May 23, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde


Not the happiest start to the day – rejection from Glimmer Train. A nice rejection, a personal rejection rather than a form letter. But still a rejection. And, in addition, I’m fighting with my storage unit center – again. We battle every month about payments. Either they over charge me or they lose the payments. I spend hours sorting things out and sending them written evidence, copies of payments, etc. And they ignore it. As soon as I can afford it, I want to move my belongings somewhere else. I’m frustrated, and it’s left me unable to concentrate properly on my work.

The hockey game last night was great. Tampa Bay beat Philadelphia. I felt bad for the Flyers, because they worked hard. And it would have been nice to have Smarty Jones and the Flyers both win. But I am thrilled for Martin St. Louis of the Lightening. He’s one of my favorite players. And, over this season, my admiration for Dave Andreychuk has grown. Class acts, all the way. It will be interesting to see how the Final with Calgary plays out.

Purge won the Peter Pan yesterday, beating the other Belmont contenders. However, Purge is not scheduled to enter the Belmont, since Smarty Jones beat him twice already in other races. Gary Stevens is committed to ride in the UK, so it looks like Pat Valenzula will ride Rock Hard Ten. I’m just going to keep my mouth shut on that one.

Trying to figure out where to submit several of my stories that are rather uncategorizable. And there are some partial manuscripts which I would like to finish. Some of the older stories that I recently re-read need to be “retired”. They were good exercises, but not worth sending out.

This week, I’m going to have to make some calls to “remind” several editors that they owe me money. I hate those calls. It’s my least favorite part of the business. But I need the money, I did the work, and I ought to be paid on time.

I need to do more research and keep a list of publications that pay on acceptance. Those need to be the ones to which I submit first. This paying upon publication or later – one place pays me fourteen months after my submission – is a little ridiculous. It’s not like the landlord and utilities companies and the credit card companies allow that sort of lapse time. So why do writers?

I’m tired of the work today, and not getting any joy out of it. I’m sitting here, getting a headache, and stressing about my storage. Mostly about the books – I have well over 100 boxes of books in one unit, and I find that I need many of them. Only I can’t get at them. I’ve spent years picking up remainder books and books at yard sales and thrift shops on obscure, historical topics. And now that I need them, I can’t get at them.

Oh, yeah, sitting here whining’s going to help. Shut up the computer, damn it, and DO something!!!

I spent the afternoon back out in Old Greenwich. Families were out on the waterway in boats, or working in their yards, or playing with dogs. My friend’s dogs were hilarious – they would have played all day. So we played until we were all worn out. Unfortunately, while playing tug-of-war with one of them, I sprained my wrist. Not badly, but it’s going to hurt for awhile. Hopefully, it won’t affect my day call on Tuesday. Yes, it hurts to type, but, oh well.

Drank ginger ale instead of wine today, and not just because of the sun. In the mood I was in, I’d have drunk the whole bottle, and a hang over wasn’t going to solve anything.

Came home to discover my e-mail’s not working. Sent the company a couple of e-mails – this has happened far too often over the last few weeks, and, every time I can’t get into my e-mail for a few days, I lose money. I want them to credit me three months’ free service for all the hell they’ve put me through. Why is EVERY company that deals with the Internet and computers so arrogant and appalling when it comes to customer service?

Working on rough drafts for some press releases that need to get done. I need to do another push to get more new subscribers for the serials. Every few months, subscriptions plateau, and then it’s time for another push. Maybe I can write a couple of quick articles I could sell to ezines, focusing on aspects of the work.

I need to get the gear together so I can record the serials and do these radio broadcasts. I’ve always had good luck with radio.

I also want to sit down and come up with a one year, three year, five year and ten year plan for my writing.

But first, I’d like to get some sleep. There’s housework to be done tomorrow, along with the writing. Today is done, and I don't have to live it again. I'm ready for a new day.


Devon
http://www.keepitcoming.net/widows-chamber.html
http://www.keepitcoming.net/tapestry.html



Saturday, May 22, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde




Not a bad start to the weekend. I treated myself by scrambling eggs with a little bit of onion, dill, salt, pepper, cream, and smoked salmon. It’s one of my favorite breakfasts. It always makes me feel special. I haven’t cooked much the past few days, and that’s probably added to my general malaise. Cooking inspires me.

I stayed up far too late last night finished Sara George’s novel. I had a slow start today, but wouldn’t have traded that time for anything.

Four episodes of Angel Hunt today – finally! That gets me through this week’s episodes and next week’s. I also did next week’s episodes for Tapestry. So it’s just The Widow’s Chamber left to do for next week.

Angel Hunt is always easier to write in four-episode chunks, which means I sit down and do it about every two weeks. It doesn’t flow in shorter spurts.

I need to keep an eye on the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont this afternoon. It’s an important prep race for the Belmont, and I need to finish the Preakness/Belmont article tomorrow. Looks like Azeri will run against the boys – including Funny Cide – in the Met Mile on Memorial Day – and I’ll be there! It’ll be fun. Azeri is an awesome horse. I know she had a bad day right before the Derby, but I’m sure she’ll do better now.

I’m trying to decide which of the dozen or so Belmont parties to which I’ve been invited I should attend. I should go to the track to watch history in the making, but with over 100,000 people expected, I would lose my mind. I don’t do well in crowds. I’ll attend one of the parties and watch it on a big screen. And take lots of notes, so I can complete my article.

Found a couple of potential markets for my work. Now I just have to figure out which pieces in search of a home are suitable to which market. It’s like matchmaking, or setting up a blind date. You hope no one gets hurt.

A phone call from a friend, and, on impulse (and invitation), I spent the afternoon in Old Greenwich. We sat on the deck, the green grass rolling down to the gray green water, reading back issues of The New Yorker , drinking wine, and playing with the two big black dogs. I’d brought a notebook, but took the afternoon off from actual writing.

Fixed chicken with rosemary, tarragon, and parsley for dinner. I always feel better when I take the time to cook. Taking notes as I make up recipes has become important. Far too often, I’ve improvised, it’s turned out well, and then I can’t remember what I did.

Although I did my full weight training regimen yesterday, I did a light one today. I was in the mood for it.

I’m tempted to pitch some article ideas for a gambling magazine, especially on horse racing. I’m concerned, however; I have friends in the business who own, who train, and, especially, who ride. When I wrote my internet handicapping column a few years ago, I made a pact with them – I never asked for tips. I always read the charts, looked at the horses, and made my own decisions. Sometimes, I’d ask them questions after a race, but never before – other than making a phone call before a big race to wish someone luck. They never asked me who I picked for the column, and never got angry if I didn’t pick their horse. And that’s the way it would continue. But would anyone believe that? My concern is that, if the articles do well and gain an audience, could it hurt my friends? Would they be suspected of giving me inside information, even though they didn’t? I’ll ask a few of them, over the next few days. If it looks like it could hurt them in any way, I’ll pass on the pitch. The money wouldn’t be enough to retire on, but I could get some nice, steady paid work out of it. It would be nice, but not crucial. And, since I haven’t even pitched my ideas yet, there’s no guarantee I’d even be hired. So many people assume racing is corrupt that I wouldn’t want to put any of my friends and acquaintances in a position that could even seem compromising to their integrity. Because all of them have a lot of integrity.



Saturday, May 22, 2004

Friday, May 21, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde




The Philadelphia Flyers have forced a Game 7. Good for them. As a fan, I want every round to go seven games, because I want to watch a lot of good hockey. Many a player has rolled his eyes at me for that comment.

It looked like Tampa would win the Eastern Conference final, but with only 1:49 left in regulation, Keith Primeau scored the tying goal. And then, with only 1:42 left in the first overtime, Simon Gagne scored the winning goal. They transformed from a group of talented men into a joyous group of boys. It was a beautiful thing, and I can’t wait to watch Game 7 tomorrow.

Trivia: I was a Candystriper, working in the hospital, on the day Andre Roy of the Tampa Bay Lightening was born there.

I felt like a grinder today. The words did not flow. Every single one of them was a fight. I only got a half a chapter of Periwinkle done – I mean, come on now, I’ve promised Charlie his own book, what more does he want? Katie’s not suited to him anyway.

I did research and wrote up twenty chapters’ worth of notes for the Widow’s Chamber pages on the website.

I need to do some work on Angel Hunt.

And I don’t feel like doing a darned thing.

I want some interesting mail to come. Like a check. I’m really tired of the mail never getting here until 5 or 6 PM. The post office is only two blocks away, for crying out loud. And do they have to use leaf blowers around the building every single day? Repetitive machine noise drives me crazy (yeah, I know, it’s a short drive), and, no matter what time I sit down at my desk, as soon as the screen lights up, there go the blowers. And more than once a day. If you’re going to annoy me at 8:30 AM, then again at 10 and at 2:30, do you really have to come back with that machine at 4? It’s not like there’s a whole lot of landscaping around here!

In other words, when the writing’s not going well, every damn thing annoys me.

And my language deteriorates.

Devon
http://www.keepitcoming.net/widows-chamber.html
http://www.keepitcoming.net/tapestry.html



Thursday, May 20, 2004

Thursday, May 20, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde




Charlie Zablowski is getting his own novel. That’s the only way I can keep him from hijacking Periwinkle. He’s very necessary to the chapter(s) he inhabits in Periwinkle, but I can’t have him take over the book. And he has so much to say, he needs a book of his own. As he says, “I earn my happiness.”

I got into Manhattan yesterday early enough to wander through Coliseum Books. Coliseum is one of my favorite bookstores. When I worked on Miss Saigon at the Broadway Theatre, it was located on W. 57th St. I used to go in there on my dinner break on two show days, wander around and buy books. I was heartbroken when it closed, and delighted when it reopened on W. 42 St. I’ve spent many hours in the café, reading and writing. In fact, when I worked semi-regularly at Rent, I would purposely come in an hour early simply to have time to hang out in Coliseum.

I can get lost in their “Belles Lettres” section and their “Travel” section for days.

One of my favorite stops is the $1 remainder table. And today I hit the jackpot – three novels, one of which is by one of my favorite British poets, Jackie Kay.

I had a wonderful time at Gypsy last night. Not only did I run into one of my closest friends, P – someone to whom I’ve owed a phone call for about a month and put it off due to guilt from not calling promptly, which continued to escalate – but it was great to see the company one last time. P – who is one of my most Trusted Readers – is going to be traveling for work over the next month or so. When he gets back, there’ll be plenty of material for him to read. And it was fun to catch up with friends and colleagues. I’ve worked with some of these people over the course of several shows by this point. And I’ve met some new people who are wonderful and have made a positive difference in my life. These are people I will always think of with affection. They matter to me. I am delighted I had the opportunity to catch up and say hello and goodbye to everyone before the show closes on the 30th. I also find it interesting how many of my theatre friends are preparing for a career change.

In addition to simple exhaustion and knowing that my life’s work is leading me elsewhere, I am unhappy at the direction in which the business is headed. Producers and general managers rarely work their way up in the business anymore. They don’t understand how a show runs backstage, night after night. Most importantly, many of them don’t care. You’re not dealing simply with numbers here. It’s about people and the dynamic not only between cast and crew backstage, but between cast and audience. Without a genuine love of the art and craft and without caring to learn it, one cannot be a truly successful theatre entrepreneur – no matter how the numbers are rearranged to make you look good. And, of course, there are always labor issues. Bluntly, I believe it is more important to make sure your company has excellent health care than to spend thousands of dollars redecorating a star’s dressing room. Management blames the unions for the high cost of running a show, but, during the musician’s negotiations last year, the numbers were run and, if I remember correctly, salaries add up to only 13% of a show’s budget (not counting overpriced stars). The attitude of management during our last contract negotiations disgusted me. They truly think we should be paying them for the privilege of working in dusty basements through holidays, bad weather, and illness. It’s out of balance. Perhaps it always was, but I’m more aware of it now. I love the art and craft of the theatre, but I don’t love the internal politics and management issues. By serving on my union’s negotiating committee, and genuinely trying to work to help the entire union (which is quite a different negotiating skill from the type I use to negotiate a personal contract), I feel I’ve made a contribution, and I’ve given thanks for everything the union has done for me. I haven’t just shown up for the calls and cashed the checks. I fulfilled a responsibility. Now, as I make the career transition out of it, I’ve left something positive behind. And, because I can’t change the entire industry (nor should a single individual do so), it’s time for me to remove myself from a situation where I am no longer overwhelmingly happy.

Yes, I do believe we have the right to be overwhelmingly happy in our work. And I don’t think we need to stay in the same line of work for our entire lives. Mary Catherine Bateson, in her book Composing a Life, compares life to a symphony, with different sections that build on each other to create the whole. I think it’s a beautiful analogy.

An argument today with a friend left me feeling blue. I want to make sure I’ve really listened to the other person’s side of the issue and am not merely reacting out of anger or misunderstanding. I have to watch my tongue, remembering this is a Venus retrograde, and navigating relationships is more difficult than usual. It’s a complicated situation – and inappropriate to discuss here, but it’s left me feeling out of sorts and not particularly in the mood to write.

Which is too damn bad, because there are still deadlines to meet.

Calgary beat San Jose and will travel to the Final. I didn’t make it home in time to catch any of the game, but I’m pleased for Calgary. I have a great deal of respect for Daryl Sutter, and he’s more than earned this trip in quest of the Cup.

Re-reading Dixie Dust Rumours to see if it needs another rewrite – since I’m sending out queries, it needs to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. I actually like it better now than when I finished the last rewrite. There’s some good work in there. The characters and situations stand, and I hope I can generate a publisher’s interest.

Tapestry will start its life on the radio on July 13, and my interview is scheduled for July 27. Hopefully, this weekend, I can figure out how to work the darned voice mechanism on the computer so I can record the CDs. Guess I won’t be sending in a resume to work on Dracula – it starts in June, and I wouldn’t be able to do the interview in July.

I decided to rework yesterday’s rejected article away from the “how-to” aspect and focus more on the anecdotal side of it and submit it elsewhere. I have a few ideas – all of which pay much more than the original market would have – so hopefully, I can pull it off.

I saw an ad for a Writer’s Ezine that wants columnists – regular columnists who “don’t need to be reminded by editors about deadlines” -- I might be somewhat paraphrasing here, in spite of the quote marks – they want a decent word count – and they don’t pay a damn thing. Do they actually think a professional writer is going to do something like that for free? Ads like that are just insulting.

I’m reading a lovely novel (one of the ones from yesterday’s Coliseum score). It’s called The Journal of Mrs. Pepys: Portrait of a Marriage by Sara George. It’s a novel about Elizabeth Pepys’s side of the marriage. As someone who loved Clare Tomalin’s Pepys biography, someone who’s both read and taught Samuel Pepys’s journals, I was eager to read this novel. And it’s lovely. It’s rather ridiculous to find it on the remainder table (although I’m glad I did). It’s a beautiful, beautiful piece and makes me want to read more of Ms. George’s writing.

Good books are so exciting!

It was such a lovely day that I walked through town and spent a few hours sitting under an oak tree on the Village Green in front of the Library. The architects did a good job with the library expansion – it fits in with the original building seamlessly. The smell of recently cut grass cleared my head, and it was just warm enough to be comfortable, but cool enough to need a light jacket. I like to read outside the library as much as I do inside.

Because I was such a waste of food, creatively, I decided to cook a good meal. I love to cook – some of my best ideas come to me when I’m chopping vegetables or stirring a good, pungent pasta sauce. Plus, a good meal with a nice glass of wine always makes me feel better about both myself and the world.

I need to write more food articles. I’m terrible at restaurant reviews – they come out sounding like soft-core pornography – but I love to cook and I ought to be able to communicate that properly. Plus, I’m a good cook.

Did some intense work on the material for the Devon Ellington website. I want to get that thing launched – soon! Writing up the notes and sources for The Widow’s Chamber is what’s taking a lot of time. I wish the damn Site Builder hadn’t dumped all the notes I made as I wrote the thing.

Retiring now to watch hockey.

Of course, that means tomorrow I have to write two chapters of Periwinkle, or I’ll be behind again.

Devon
http://www.keepitcoming.net/widows-chamber.html
http://www.keepitcoming.net/tapestry.html




Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
New Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Venus Retrograde



I need to invest in a Manx dictionary. Manx was the language spoken in Cornwall. I believe the last known person to speak it died twenty or thirty years ago. But whenever I need an unusual word or series of words to use in Angel Hunt, I find the right word (or words) in the Manx dictionary. So I might as well own one.

Not much of a writing day yesterday. I sent formal notice to Fayth magazine stating that if, indeed, publication ceased, and all rights reverted back to me for both the article and the column, including the title of the column. The article I can sell elsewhere. The column would need a major reworking, but I’d still like to try to sell it somewhere.

The need to get the websites up and running grows and grows. I have to put aside time to figure it out this weekend. I also have to figure out how to get the voice recording mechanism in my computer to work so that I can do the recording for the serials. Should I bring in actors for the characters? I should. However, I don’t want to do that without paying them and I’m in no position to do that right now, so I’ll read it myself. I do well on radio, and I have to remember that.

I have to rewrite bios excluding Fayth. Some of the bios that include it are already on press, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m sorry the publication folded. I’m also not going to waste time wondering if the reason given is the real reason. It doesn’t matter in the bigger picture. I hope the publisher and editor works through the problems and wish her well in the future. I’m not happy with the way it all shook out, but it’s a part of the journey for all of us. Getting into recrimination debates won’t serve any of us.

Managed to get a bit of work done on Periwinkle – not enough, but at least I didn’t feel as though the entire day was lost.

Started my regular Tuesday Broadway daywork call. I know the clothes, which helps. Hopefully, I did everything correctly. It’s one thing to come in and look at something and think it needs work. But unless you work with the clothes every day and know specific trouble spots, things are missed. I told them to let me know if they needed me to do anything differently next week. It took the full five hours – there’s a lot of detail work to do. I’m sure I’ll become more efficient as I do it over time. Right now, I’m still walking in and out of dressing rooms and wasting time looking for things. Once I figure out a system, I can speed up what I’m doing and also devote more time to details.

New York City simply does not feel like home anymore. Traversing through Grand Central station on my way in felt like traveling to a new place, but without the excitement. It saddens me.

Visited with a few people on the show before I left, caught an express train home and made it back in time to watch the Flyers-Lightening hockey game. Tampa Bay won, 3-2. Interesting game – one can tell the players are getting personal. Passion and tempers run high, which means mistakes are also made. And mistakes are what win and lose the game at this point in the series.

I should have worked on query letters last night. But I didn’t. I was too tired. Not an acceptable excuse, but that’s what I did. And I have to figure out what shoes will work better on the concrete floors for five hours. I thought I had the right soles, but my legs and back still hurt, so I have to try something else.

I was delighted to find the books (ordered with the gift certificate from being named Editor’s Choice for May by Wild Child) at the door – Faith of a Writer by Joyce Carol Oates and The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. The latter looks like it will be helpful in The Widow’s Chamber.

Extra stretchy yoga session this morning to make up for yesterday’s kinks. Wednesday is usually a weight-training day for me, but since I’ll be hauling baskets of clothes up and down four flights of stairs all night tonight at Gypsy, I may skip today’s workout. The baskets I haul are heavier than my weights.

While using Google to research, a press release for this blog turned up! It made me laugh. I’m glad it’s out there, and I hope it’s helping people. It certainly helps me to write it.

Polished two short articles on writing and submitted them this morning. I need to get back to Periwinkle – I don’t know why I drag my feet to get to it every day. Once I’m in it, I’m fine. It’s getting there that’s the problem. That’s what happens when you break your schedule – it gets easier and easier to let it slide, but more and more difficult to go back to it.

Polished the query for Dixie Dust Rumours and sent out five of them. The amount of time it takes to set up the letters, set up the submission log, print the envelopes – there must be a way to streamline it. Maybe I should pre-print a hundred or so return envelopes some day when I’m avoiding the writing I’m supposed to be doing. Like today.

Fourteen “abnormal run time” errors on my word processing program today. Very annoying. If I want the damn thing to run 24/7, it should do so. That’s what I paid for.

I hope tonight’s Calgary-San Jose hockey game goes into enough overtimes so I can catch the end of it when I get back from Gypsy.

Wrote a chapter of Periwinkle. I’m very happy with it. It’s definitely the strongest chapter in the book so far, with some interesting characters inspired by those I observed in my favorite Montauk diner. One of the characters really stepped up in the chapter, and, if I’m not careful, will play a much bigger part in the novel than he’s supposed to. I haven’t named him yet – my way of trying to retain some control over the material, but I think his name will be Charlie. Heck, I don’t think it. I know it. It should be something more exotic sounding, but he’s told me his name is Charlie. Even though it doesn’t come up in this chapter, it will in a future one. Nothing like blank-paging, is there?

This chapter could almost stand alone as a short story, but I’m not sure how that works – if that would hurt the future of the novel, or what. It’s not something where I could go in and make small tweaks in order to make it different enough to be a story – these people are who they are and I have to honor them as such. Possibly not the wisest business decision I could make, but there it is.

My editor from Keep It Coming teased me today – she’s soliciting holiday short stories, and I said I’d give it a go for the Halloween and the Christmas stories, but that they’d go under two different names. The way I phrased it, I was talking about myself in the third person – and she’s starting to think of them as individuals. Which is good, because their voices and genres are very different. Another friend suggested that my pseudonyms interview each other!

Well, there’s a blow – one of the writing articles already rejected. The editor liked the piece, but felt she had enough material for the next few months and that it wasn’t really what her site focuses on now. My instinct is to shoot it out immediately somewhere else, but I think I’ll sit on it overnight, see what sort of tweaking it needs, and find a higher –paying market rather than one that’s lateral.

I may try to do a couple of pages on the fantastical novel, but I still need to shower and re-read my notes for tonight’s show.

It would have been so nice to leave for tonight with an acceptance! Oh, well.

Devon
http://www.keepitcoming.net/widows-chamber.html
http://www.keepitcoming.net/tapestry.html


Monday, May 17, 2004

Monday, May 17, 2004
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and humid



Cranky day where I need to get some perspective. I’d like to blame it on two more planets going retrograde, but I doubt that’s the real reason. I am simply burning out. I’m trying to juggle many projects so that I can pay my bills, and I’m not replenishing the creative well. I’m cranky and headachy a good portion of the time, but I can’t walk away from the computer and relax because of the pressure of multiple deadlines.

The radio gig for the serials keeps getting more and more complicated. Now we are supposed to pre-record our own serials – oh, and we all have recording studios at home? It annoys me. Renting studio time and doing this better have a big payoff as far as new subscribers. I need to figure out a way to build the subscription base. Getting up the website with the historical information seems like the best bet. Working two days this week in the theatre – how much of an excuse will that be not to finish the site? But maybe the change of pace will fuel me creatively.

Past few days were quite busy, writing-wise. Wrote the first draft of two short articles this morning. Over the weekend, I polished two articles for Llewellyn, the article for Fayth and the first column for Fayth. All those are submitted. I answered some fact-checking questions for Hamptons Family Life, so, hopefully, a check is forthcoming from them. I enjoy working with a fact checker. It makes me feel more secure. I’d rather have someone catch a mistake or misunderstanding than have it go into print.

I need to do this week’s episodes for the serials.

The exciting news of the weekend was Smarty Jones winning the Preakness by 11 ½ lengths. It was spectacular! Rock Hard Ten, the horse who came in second, is also a magnificent horse and I can’t wait to see him run again, but I want Smarty Jones to win the Triple Crown! So far, only Smarty Jones, Seattle Slew and Majestic Prince – the horse who got me hooked on racing – have won both the Derby and the Preakness as undefeated horses. Seattle Slew went on to win the Triple Crown. Majestic Prince did not. I want a Triple Crown winner very much, but after the disappointments of the last few years, I’m afraid to hope for one. But Smarty Jones is an unusual horse, and I’d love to see him do it.

I guess I am doing the Preakness and Belmont articles. Much to my surprise, my Derby article ran in the local paper where we had all the drama about word count (or lack thereof) a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t in the issue we’d originally talked about, but it ran – I guess they lost something they expected in the previous week’s issue and had the chance to run it. Oh, well. I’ll finish out my commitment, and they can print or not print the articles, and then I’m done with that publication. The clip on the Derby will serve me well, so it wasn’t a total loss, but it was a less than stellar experience.

I’m far behind on Periwinkle and need to catch up this week. And a new novel is digging through my brain and demanding attention. It’s not a fantasy novel, but it’s fantastical. And it has to do with horses and racing in a weird way.

The computer hasn’t been behaving well – especially the printer, which has gone back to refusing to print what and when asked, but turning itself on in the middle of the night to randomly print documents I’ve never seen before. HGTV had a piece on a computerized kitchen of the future last night. But it’s a Microsoft operating system, so it wouldn’t work properly 90% of the time anyway, so what’s the point? I’ve been sending at least a half dozen error messages to Microsoft EVERY DAY for the past week, and there’s not even a response. Dumbest thing I ever did was go Microsoft in the beginning instead of Mac. It has cost me enormously, both financially and emotionally. We are not a good match.

I am definitely no fun to be around today. I better shut up, get some perspective and get back to writing. Maybe if I have a few good hours at the desk, I’ll feel better. I should feel good about those two rough drafts this morning, and they simply left me even more frustrated. One of those days, I guess.

Later:
Okay, day’s getting better. Two episodes of Tapestry, done and off. Turns out I’d written ahead on The Widow’s Chamber, so all those episodes needed were a polish. Worked on Angel Hunt, but didn’t finish it. Wrote a chapter of Periwinkle. I don’t understand why I’ve fallen so far behind on that one. Once I actually sat down to it, it flowed well. I’m a month behind on it, and I have no excuse.

I did some business – filled out an informational sheet for an upcoming interview, submitted Tapestry to search engines, worked on some other less creative work. I still have to get out a stack of library letters and work on the queries for Dixie Dust Rumours. Those need to go out this week.

Heard from the Eastchester Arts Council – my proposal is “on file”, which means I’ll never hear from them. Oh, well.

I wrote the first chapter of the fantastical novel. And, I got The Tingle. Ooh, that looks slightly obscene up there on the screen, but that’s not at all what I mean. Sometimes, when you work on a project, and you don’t know where it’s going, but you know that something special is happening. There’s no logic involved. You’re working completely off of intuition. And that’s what’s happening here. It is a completely unique piece, unlike anything I’ve ever done before, and it can’t really fit into anyone else’s category. So I’ll just have to ride it and see where we end up.

Bad news: I got an e-mail from the editor/publisher of Fayth that the magazine will be scrapped due to a long illness and subsequent death in the family. Supposedly, the situation has been going on for months. I’m sorry for the loss, but if this was a long-term issue, why weren’t the writers told about it ahead of time? Why wait and pull the plug after the submissions are in? I want to be compassionate, but I’m angry. I certainly need the money from that gig, and it was so specialized it’s not as though I can turn around and resell the work elsewhere. I feel like the editor wasn’t upfront with us. Several other freelancers with whom I chatted think it’s a scam – the person got cold feet or ran out of money or something and made up the story of family illness. Since the publication deals with spiritual issues, I hope that’s not the case, or the karmic return will be especially nasty.

Well, this is all part of the business. I have to accept it, move on, and be a bit more cautious in the future. The least she could do is pay us all a nominal kill fee.

Dwelling on the anger and festering bitterness won’t help. It’s not as though there’s nothing else to work on, right?

That’s Devon, signing off for tonight.
(I kept typing “singing”, but trust me, you don’t want to hear me sing).

http://www.keepitcoming.net/widows-chamber.html
http://www.keepitcoming.net/tapestry.html

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2004
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Hot and humid




The state of the world is so depressing, and I feel so helpless to do anything that might, even in the slightest way, be helpful, that I’m burying myself in my writing.

I don’t do well in hot weather anyway, and I’m overtired from trying to figure out what to do first. When I stop, I start thinking about the war and it gets worse. The only way I can make a difference is with my vote in November, and you can be damn sure that’s what I’m going to do.

The last few days of writing were quite productive. I wrote for episodes of The Widow’s Chamber and two episodes of Tapestry on Monday. I am so far behind on Periwinkle that it’s pathetic. I wrote something else on Monday, but I can’t remember what it is – oh yes, an essay about traveling with a friend’s dog – or was that something I wrote and submitted over the weekend? I can’t remember. It’s all one long day.

Writing on the Run asked for permission to retain and use one of my short pieces, which I granted. I like their new site, and I’m pleased they want me to be a part of it.

Wild Child has another monologue up and will put yet a fourth one up in June. They also voted me the May “Editor’s Choice”. Not only is that an honor, it means a gift certificate on Amazon.com –which I instantly spent, treating myself to Joyce Carol Oates’s Faith of a Writer and a book I’ve wanted for the past couple of years, The Madwoman in the Attic. I probably should have bought something on steamboats, but hey. I wanted to treat myself.

Yesterday was one of those fascinating research days that comes up occasionally. I finally made it over to the Westchester Archives to do the research on Playland. More specifically, in search of the women in the photograph I saw at the Playland Boardwalk Museum last summer.

I read through all the folders, and searched through about 3000 photographs. I didn’t find the photograph I wanted, although I did request copies of some other fascinating ones.

The jackpot was in an article by Charles W. Wood, published in the 1928 of AMUSEMENT PARK MANAGEMENT Magazine – where he names all four of the prop painters. I thought there were five in the photo, but the article names four. So that means the photo is from 1928. And now I have names.

When I came home, I started searching the names. One woman’s name came up on an art site with a picture of a painting, and the same name came up as the author of a book about driving the Alaska Highway in 1947. If she was a young woman painting in Rye in 1928, she could very well have driven through Alaska in 1947. I want to order the book and see if, perhaps, it is the same woman.

The other breakthrough came on another name on the list – I found the same name in the acknowledgements of a book by a writer/speaker/therapist. I visited the writer’s website and her biographical details made me think that there was a possibility that my painter might have been the friend thanked. I e-mailed her – she e-mailed me back saying the friend was, indeed, a painter, and gave me the phone number of the woman’s son.

Could it be? This is too exciting!

I decided that, instead of calling, I would write a letter. It’s less intrusive and it gives me the chance to decide what to say. How do I explain my fascination with the photo? I want to know what it was like to be a prop painter at the opening of Playland. And I also hope that all four women led happy lives. They were so radiant in the photograph – I want that captured moment of happiness to be only one moment in four lifetimes’ full of joy.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Friday, May 6, 2004
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Hot and humid



I used Feng Shui as a reason to procrastinate today. I decided it was time to Feng Shui my desk. It’s much cleaner now, which should inspire me. Only now I trip over the papers that were on my desk but are now on the floor that I haven’t yet filed. Now I probably need to Feng Shui the rug.

This week was another roller roaster. The down was the series of articles on the Triple Crown. Although I’d repeatedly emphasized to the editor in our conversation that what we discussed was LONG (ah, yeah, let’s see, you want 130 years of Derby history, 132 years of Preakness history, tips on betting, tips on what to look for in a horse, specifics on the races -- that doesn’t happen in 500 words!) and he never gave me a word count, all of a sudden, when I submitted the article, he told me that he doesn’t run articles that long. And he conveniently “forgot” our initial conversation. I cut it down to his specifications, called him back as he asked and . . .nothing. Had I been given the space limitations at the beginning – as I asked – I would have suggested a different slant to suit the space. Without the process, the whole point of the article is lost, and any amateur who’s never been to a race before who thinks he can write about horse racing – and does, every year – could have coughed this up. Oh, well. All this for a crappy local paper which wouldn’t have paid me what I’m worth anyway. That’s what I get for feeling sentimental about the town. Not again. I’d write for the publication, sure . . .for a LOT of money.

Unfortunately, because the articles are timely and specific to the races, I can’t use them anywhere else. I can use some of the history and betting tips, but not the info specific to the race. And, had I thought like a business person and sold to one of my regular markets, I’d be on the receiving end of a check for a couple of thousand dollars by now.

My mistake. Let’s hope I learned.

On the upside, I did a polish on two feature articles for a new magazine. I think the issue will be put to bed this week, which means I should be paid in about two weeks. I’m eager to see the finished product. It seems like a class act, and they’d like me to write more. I hope this is the beginning of a long and mutually productive relationship.

I’m horribly behind on Periwinkle and need to use the weekend to catch up. I got everything done for Tapestry and Angel Hunt. I need to fact check The Widow’s Chamber and will go on to next week’s episodes and submit over the weekend.

I served as a judge for a short story contest. That was fascinating! The quality of the writing varied quite a bit, although most ideas were fresh and well-presented. One story in particular stood out (thank goodness – made my job easier). The others were good, but needed a few more drafts before they were really there. I wonder what the other judges thought. It will be interesting to see which story actually wins it. We all read the material separately, and there’s no group discussion. It’s good in that we can’t influence each other and it’s bad because debating over the pieces would be a terrific experience.

Although I got my course proposals in on time, the college pushed back their deadline because the printer was going on maternity leave!!!! Urgh. So I don’t get to teach until next spring. But they are interested in my courses, which is exciting, and in July we will sort out the schedule. I’m looking forward to it. One of the positive traits I inherited from my father is the ability to teach and get students excited about the work. My dad was one of the best teachers ever. He taught chemistry in Illinois, and everyone only wanted to be in his classes.

At the encouragement of several writer friends, I also decided to go into the coaching business. I wish I was coaching hockey, but that would be scary for everyone. Instead, I’ll be a writing coach. I designed a new business card and a brochure. Now I have to figure out where to advertise. I want to help people regain their confidence in their skills.

Why do epiphanies always happen at three a.m.? I received a long lecture from an old buddy on why I “couldn’t” be a writer. Uh, beg pardon, but I AM a writer. I may not be a famous writer, I may not be a rich writer, but I am a writer. This is someone who would put his life on the line for me, and I couldn’t understand what the heck was going on. Then, I realized (at 3 a.m., of course), that, although he genuinely wants what’s best for me, I am also doing what he wants to be doing. And it’s his problem, not mine. I went right back to sleep after that, and woke up the next morning without feeling gutted.

I accepted one day a week of work on a Broadway show, which will mean a bit of steady money coming in without taking too much time away from my writing. It also allows me time to hang out with friends in the city, since I avoid going in unless I absolutely have to.

I crossed paths with two very attractive men this week. Both times, it was as I staggered out in the morning to get the paper, which meant I was invisible to them. Well, not really, they were both friendly, but it was hardly the best impression I could make. Anyway, I’m going to write one short story about each of them –gentle comedies. Don’t quite know what the heck I’ll do with them once I’ve written them, but I’ll worry about that later.

Wrote an essay about traveling with a friend’s dog and submitted it to a dog-oriented paper in Oregon.

There are too many horrible things happening in the world right now, and I wish I could do something about it. I can’t watch the news before bed or I have trouble sleeping. In fact, the other night, I dreamed that I saw a man slit his own throat. There’s a story in there somewhere, or maybe I can use it in Angel Hunt. I don’t want to turn away because something is unpleasant, because who the hell am I to turn away when people are dying and suffering all over the world? It’s a question I cannot answer.

Does the writing help? I know it helps me. When I doubt the worth of my work, I remember the letter forwarded to me a year after we performed a play I wrote called Roadkill in Australia. It was a letter from a young woman. She planned to kill herself, and attending the play was part of her Last Night on Earth. She was so inspired by the play, with its message directly stated: “If you don’t like your life, go out and change it. Don’t come whining to me. I’m too busy trying to change my own life” that she sought the help she needed, and here she was, a year later, living the life she’d always wanted.

I may not be able to do much, but at least the work mattered, when it counted, to one person.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

SUNDAY, MAY 2, 2004
Waxing Moon
Mercury Direct
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Rainy & muggy



What a week!!! I can’t believe I neglected the blog all week.

On the downside, I’ve been battling a crippling migraine since last Tuesday. I am taking whatever I can to take enough of the edge off so that I can work. It takes far too much energy to be in this much pain.

On the upside, my local paper agreed to my pitch to write a series of articles about the Triple Crown. I’m thrilled. I spent most of the week researching the article and analyzing the horses’ past performances. I realized how much I miss my handicapping column. Although for the work involved, if I wrote another such column, it would need to be for a nice chunk of change.

I worked on the new book. My goal was one chapter per day, and, unfortunately, I fell woefully short of that. I’m going to try to regain my momentum in the coming week, although I have to concentrate on the tarot column (which is roughed out) and a couple of other articles.

Chiron’s gone retrograde. I can’t remember what that means, but I doubt it’s pretty.

Once Mercury turned direct, I finally got hold of the person I needed to interview as the final piece of the Montauk Lighthouse puzzle. What a fascinating conversation! This is someone with whom I plan to keep in touch, and I want to see more of her work. She’s a fascinating artist. Today I will rework parts of the article to include that information.

I also worked on the tarot book, and decided not to send it to the first publisher on my list for two reasons: the submissions guidelines read so rudely and demand a disk with submission – which is something I don’t send until there’s a signed contract – and the books this publisher has produced over the last few months are veering towards the, well, cheesy. I feel that the publisher is going for sensation and promoting some unethical views, and I’m not sure I want to be associated with it. But, first I need to finish the book, and then worry about the publisher. Plenty of publishers are in this market now, and I need to find the right match.

I worked on the serials, and survived a horrible system crash. I figured out to fix it myself, because I was on deadline and I couldn’t reach tech support. Exactly why am I paying for this service contract?

Playoff hockey was exciting all week, with Toronto’s comeback, the strong fight between Detroit and Calgary, and Colorado fighting off elimination by San Jose.

And in the Derby? Well, although some of the horses I liked didn’t do well, I hit the exacta with Smarty Jones and Lion Heart. I’m delighted that Imperialism came in third – a horse trained by a twenty-one year old woman. I can hardly wait for the Preakness.

I submitted three more essays to the Simple Pleasures of the Kitchen collection, and two of them were accepted. So I have five essays in the book, which will be released next February. Those are under the Christiane Van de Velde name.

I submitted some more material to Wild Child, a publication that’s been very supportive, and a final piece to Glimmer Train. One of these days, I’ll crack GT.

I managed to polish my course proposals for Westchester Community College, and hope I get the opportunity to teach there in fall. I don’t think I’d fit into a full-time tenure track, but to come in and teach a few courses and then leave fits my personality, and I think the unusual courses I offered would be good for the students.

In the coming week, I have my serial episodes to write, the book chapters to catch up on, book reviews to complete, and several articles to finish.

It’s all good, but it will be even better when some checks come in.

I considered a temporary return to erotica writing for some quick cash. But reading through the guidelines was a reality check. The rates have dropped severely, and the money is simply not worth the time required.

Back to fighting the migraine, trying to get a head start on the week’s work, and preparing to watch playoff hockey this afternoon. Friday was sports heaven – Horse racing all afternoon and ice hockey all night!