Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cooler

Last day of May. And the last day before The Situation will ratchet up yet again. Urgh.

Check out my newest exercise on The Scruffy Dog Review Blog.

I was pathetic yesterday. I didn’t feel too badly when I first got to the city; ran some errands, got to the theatre on time. Did my work, and, as the day went on, felt progressively worse and worse and worse. I practically staggered back to the train and was a mess by the time I actually got on the train. The fetid smells on the platform and lack of ventilation didn’t help, either.

I also had no interest in food, which was a bad sign (I’m like a horse that way). The fever was back up, and I was just miserable. Kept drinking fluids to try to flush as much through the system as possible. Finally broke the fever around 7:30, ate some soup, and watched a documentary on the Piltdown Man Hoax – which feeds right into my treasure hunt story. I’m going to drop in a mention of the hoax in a conversation between Nick and Eliza – the two main characters – that will lock in to something further down the story. And I had an idea about Aunt Agatha’s library – now I wish I could remember it.

A colleague on a writer’s forum gave me some interesting tidbits about Venice and Rome (she’s visited – very helpful). So Real is getting back on track.

I want to spend some time on the writing exercise and the ghost story today (since I only have two weeks to write and revise it, I can’t wait one and half to do the first draft).

And I want to do work on Real.

Six to ten pages per day is a good, steady clip for me. Sometimes, it’s on one project; sometimes it’s spread out over several, depending upon deadlines. But six to ten pages is the comfortable pace. Some days, I can push harder, but the following day, I tend to do fewer.

The more stress I’m under, the more percolation time I need. So, right now, three weeks of doing nothing in Tahiti sounds very good.

At least some of the characters in Real get to go to Tahiti for a few days!

I also saw the season premiere of Rescue Me, which I continue to believe is one of the best shows ever created. They pack more into a single hour than most shows do in an entire season.

Not only is the writing brilliant, so is most of the casting. You can’t mistake any of these actors for anyone else.

One of the disturbing things I’ve noticed, channel surfing the past few days while I’ve been sick, is the plethora of twenty-something young actors, all with sun streaked, spiky haircuts, perhaps a tattoo or two, high cheekbones, etc., who are completely interchangeable. I thought it was the same actor working a lot, and then, reading the credits, I realized they were all different guys. That’s disturbing. I’m sure the material has a lot to do with it, but the lack of individuality in many of these roles is creepy.

I thought I had problems with plot, but watching some of these movies over the past few nights, where they make absolutely no sense and have no coherence, makes me look like a damned plot genius!

The writing won’t get done on its own, so I better get to it.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

I have a bad cold and am miserable. Well, I’m well enough to whine again, so it can’t be that bad.

The Memorial Day ceremony on the village green was lovely – a combination of all ages, tributes to soldiers, winning essays on liberty and its responsibilities from high school students, my colleague receiving his award for his community/volunteer work.

I ran a fever, and slipped away as quickly as possible afterwards; I don’t want anyone to get sick because of me.

It also makes me realize how differently people approach community work. I’m not sure how to phrase it, because I don’t want it to sound like criticism – simply different points of view. I think it’s great and well-deserved that my colleague received the award. He does a great deal for the community. And he always makes sure the community knows how much he’s doing. When I do my volunteer work, I strive to remain anonymous. I strive to remain anonymous in many things, but, for me, volunteer work needs to be something freely given, without strings or fanfare. Just a different way of looking at it.

Because I had a fever, my mind wandered in all sorts of interesting ways. I jotted some of them down; whether or not anything will come of the jottings remains to be seen.

Came back, got out of the dressy clothes, back into comfy clothes, and spent a quiet afternoon. I did some work on Real, but not enough. They’re done with Venice and in Rome now. I’m about to write Callie’s bout with the flu, but wasn’t feeling quite well enough to write about her queasiness. To this day, whenever I re-read/try to edit the section where T.J. has a hangover in Clear the Slot, I feel like I’ve got the hangover. Guess I did something right! At any rate, Sam’s experienced the Spanish Steps and the Coliseum, and tossed a coin into the Trevi Fountain to guarantee he returns. He’s fallen in love with Rome, much more so than Venice or Florence.

I researched Prague, trying to find some additional information along with what I’ve got, and the questions I’ve asked people who worked there. And then, I find this great interview given by Heath Ledger regarding The Brothers Grimm, where he goes into detail about the dichotomy and paradoxes he noticed while shooting there. It gave me all sorts of ideas – not about actual events – those I’ve got – but about the emotional context of the city. Another bit of serendipity.

I also wrote eight pages’ worth of notes on a treasure hunt piece. I’ve always wanted to write one of those. I’ve outlined (yes, oh horrors, I’m doing an outline along the lines of Terry Brooks’s suggestions) the first third. I have one set of sheets where I’m making notes of scenes as they come into my head, snippets of dialogue, etc. Then, I go to the other set of notes and put them in order. I’m tired of almost all treasure hunts leading to a pyramid in the desert after a trip through the arctic (and, hey, when they’re all carrying one bag, where do they get all those clothes?). This is a piece that wants to be a screenplay, but needs to be a novel. Which means I have to learn from my friend Chaz’s book, and his eye to sensory detail.

Mapped out a bit more of the ghost story. I’m getting a better feel for the antagonist, although he’s reluctant to reveal much about himself. Normally, I’d just write some pages about what I know. But, this is a short story with a word count – I can’t wait 100 pages to find out enough about him. I need to know earlier so that I can set things up in the first few pages. I’m still trying to settle on a name for the female protagonist. I know all about her, but not her name. I know the male protagonist will be Nate. He’s been the most forthcoming in the entire process. Originally, I wanted to call him Ethan, but he said, “No, my name is Nate.” Okay, then.

Wrote up the next few weeks’ worth of writing exercises for the Dog Blog. I’m getting very excited about them. I cheated and looked back at some of what I’ve written – I didn’t revise it yet, because there’s more to do, but re-read it. I’ve got some interesting stuff. It still needs work, but it’s interesting, and none of it are pieces I might have ever gotten around to writing, had I not had the structure of these exercises.

So, looking back on yesterday, I guess I got quite a bit of writing done. It didn’t feel that way.

Callings is very interesting. It talks about synchronicity, and of, course, there was synchronicity in the sections I read. There was one about dreams, which made sense. And the section I’m still in is the one on illness. It does make sense, but I’m still not satisfied with the solutions (although one of the points in the book is not to be too solution-oriented).

I know why I have a cold. On a practical level, I ride the train with a bunch of rude, spoiled yuppies who sneeze wetly at everyone around them. It’s pretty disgusting. On a metaphorical level, the Situation is making me sick, and has filled me with toxins. A cold is the body’s way of removing toxins. So, while I try (and often fail) to expel the toxins on a spiritual level in my daily meditation (thank you to the love and support of the group over at 100 Days), my body’s taking charge of getting rid of the physical components.

I feel trapped, because I know what I need to do, but I don’t see the way to do it yet. I feel like I’ve done too much re-acting, simply to survive over the past few months, when my instinct is to be pro-active.

Off to the theatre. I just want to get in, do my work, and get back home. I feel a bit better today, although my head is stuffed with cotton wool and my nose runs like a river. I broke down and took Nyquil last night; I’ll take some Sudafed with me today, in case I need it. Sudafed works well for me – I only take it once or twice a year, when I really need it. So, when I do take it, it works. I’ve let the symptoms take their course for two days. Today, I need to cover them so I can function.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Monday, May 29, 2006
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy, warm, humid
Memorial Day

Today we honor those who gave their lives in combat.

This is the 21st century. We should have moved beyond war by now.

I’m sick, and didn’t get any writing done yesterday. I think it’s just a bit of a summer cold – scratchy throat, mild temperature – but it’s still an inconvenience. I’m taking my vitamins and my herbs and letting it run its course yesterday and today. If I need to take something to get through work tomorrow, I will, but I’m hoping that, if I keep fairly quiet, it’ll take care of itself. I don’t feel well enough to whine (never a good sign), and I don’t feel like eating (not a good sign either). I’m making an attempt to eat regularly, because the body can’t fight without fuel.

I went to Connecticut for a little while, sat on the deck and read. First, I read the papers; then I read Chaz’s book, Bridge of Dreams. I’m assuming it’s the first of a series, since I still had many questions at the end of it, and wanted to know what happens next to the characters who are still alive. The book is so rich in detail and texture that I feel as though I have to read it again. Chaz is a wonderful writer no matter what he writes (check out his blog, “The Idle Solitary”, linked to the right), and I’m delighted that this book’s been released in the US.

The ghost story is mostly mapped out in my head, except for the antagonist, who remains shadowy (no pun intended). I’ve got to get a handle on him, because, in this three-way character conflict, if he’s not an equal leg of the triangle, everything will collapse.

The cats are racing around, playing chase, tails fluffed to enormous brushes. I have to eat something – I’m going to the town’s Memorial Day event at 9:30 to see a fellow sufferer in The Situation receive an award for his community service.

I hope to spend the rest of the day quietly, reading and writing.

And maybe, sleeping, if that’s what my body needs, in order to heal.


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sunday, May 28, 2006
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Partly sunny and mild

Did not sleep well. Someone did a series of calls and hang-ups around one a.m,, and that disrupted the sleep pattern, and I couldn’t get back. Also, more depressing news about The Situation.

Fractured day, yesterday, but interesting.

Put in an email request to the Arizona Department of Tourism for information to research the setting for the ghost story. Time given to expect delivery: 5 weeks. First of all, that’s ridiculous – pull off the request from the internet and scrawl it on already-prepared packets. Second of all, five weeks does me no good. My deadline is in two.

Trip to a small local branch of a chain to look for Arizona books. Not only did they have nothing I needed, the clerk was incredibly rude to an elderly man looking for an art book as a graduation gift. She motioned him to the back of the store. When he returned and asked for help, her response was, “I’m on the phone.” Since she’d been speaking loudly on the phone, I knew for a fact it wasn’t a business call. Damn bitch is being paid to help customers, not discuss her personal life during business hours on the phone.

I walked out.

I won’t be shopping there again.

Got some info at the library – plus found a plethora of fascinating books on other topics on nearby shelves. Good thing I didn’t have my library card with me or I’d have come home with at least 30 large hardbacks.

Stopped at the local independent bookstore because the owner’s been sighing that business is slow. Well, it looked pretty brisk to me. I was there for less than a half hour, and a dozen purchases were rung up. I bought The Mermaid Chair, a book I’ve wanted for a while, and a book called Callings, about doing what you’re meant to do in life, rather than what you think you ought to do.

I’m doing it, for the most part, anyway, but I need a bit more motivation and inspiration right now, with The Situation bearing down on me.

Ran into a neighbor who’d locked his keys in the vestibule – I unlocked the door for him to retrieve them – and found out he went to college in the area of Arizona about which I’m to write! He’s putting together some pictures and history for me to look at while I write.

Nothing like serendipity!

Tossed out some more pitches for writing jobs, read a bit, paced a bit, played some music. I can’t quite find the right music for Real. Capercaillie worked well the previous day. (even though I wasn’t writing about Scotland). Drum music is too rhythmic and makes me want to pace, rather than sit down and write. Mozart’s putting me to sleep. Patty Larkin always gives me ideas for other short stories. I tried Clannad, Iron Horse, and Old Blind Dogs. They were okay, but nothing’s quite right. Maybe jazz? Or jazz funk?

Typed some of the earlier sections of Real to get back into its earlier rhythm. I’m pleased to see how far Sam’s come over the course of 100 pages. By opening himself up to a genuine creative process, experiencing it rather than talking about it, and being removed from the intricacies of being a young, hot twenty-something actor in California, he’s forced to discover what his creative process actually is. And having to play scenes with classically trained actors from the US and Britain, it forces him to either be better or get fired.

Ordered some of the books I saw in the library from Strand. I’ll need them in the long term, so I might as well buy them.

I wrote about 11 new pages on Real. They’re almost finished in Venice, with the nasty person they fired for drugging Sam trying to cause scandal. Prague’s next.

I admit I envy Callie, one of the protagonists of Real. She’s scheduling her projects and signing her contracts and talking about creative process and actually getting to do it. I write about the next project she plans to work on, and I think, “Hey! I want to do that one!”

And so it goes.

Callings is an interesting book. I need to work through it slowly. I’m not sure I agree with all of its points, but it brings up interesting questions. What I want to know is, does it simply bring up questions, or does it also offer tools towards solutions? Anyone can ask questions. It’s solving them that’s the real challenge. Too many so-called mental health “specialists” bring up all the questions, leave the patients out to dry without the tools to solve them, write a prescription, encourage the patient’s dependency, and make sure enough people keep coming back at $180 a pop to put the kids through college, buy a bigger house, take those Hamptons vacations, etc. In my opinion, the sign of a true healer in this profession is someone whose patients actually get well and move on; not those who stay for 15 years. I can think of one well-known entertainment person with whom I’ve worked who’s been in therapy for over 30 years. Let me tell you: he should get a refund.

Today, I want to read my friend Chaz’s book, Bridge of Dreams.

I’ve roughed out the ghost story in my head. I have a clear vision of the two protagonists. The antagonist is still in the shadows, and I need to know him better before I write. Maybe he’ll stop by for coffee and deign to reveal something I can use in the story. I can always threaten to kill him off if he doesn’t behave.

Off to a friend’s in Connecticut today, for a day of reading and writing on the deck of an enormous house.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Saturday, May 27, 2006
New Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Could it be that the article in the local paper was The Other Side’s only volley for the weekend? I finally started to relax around 6 PM last night, and, once the adrenalin washed away, was asleep by 9. Pretty pathetic, but it was the first good night’s sleep I’ve had since March 1.

Yesterday was a pretty good day for Real. I didn’t do as much work on the suicide scene in Florence. Right now, my interest is in the main characters’ reaction to the suicide, rather than the actual suicide. I’m going to keep it to a few graphic, textural details sprinkled in, but the psychological impact on the characters with whom the reader makes this journey is what’s important – and why the incident is in the book.

I did about 10 new pages, and now they’re in Venice.

Another happy note: one of my Llewellyn editors emailed me to ask me for pitches for one of the 2008 annuals. I’m going to work on pitches for all of them this weekend and have them waiting on my editors’ desks first thing on Tuesday; I have an idea to pitch to another very high-profile magazine that would not only be a good writing credit, but would have a positive impact on a lot of people’s lives; and, I’ve been asked to submit to a ghost story anthology. I have two weeks to create a ghost story set on the Mogollan Rim area of Arizona, up to 7500 words. I’m figuring it will be around 3000. And I’m off today to research Arizona. I have an idea for the main characters and the situation. Hopefully, I can pull it off.

So I’ve got to balance all that with steady work on Real. Although I can’t finish the book this weekend, it’ll be in pretty good shape. I can’t dither about losing 6 days (and approximately 120 pages’ worth of work). I have to move forward, not replay the same old problems and get stuck in them.

I’m hoping for a quiet and productive weekend, before the hell starts up again next week.

Also, repotted some plants this morning, and planted some morning glories and moonflowers. Hope they come up.

I need a few days of peace and rejuvenation. It’s awful – being afraid to enjoy a few hours for fear something worse waits around the corner.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday, May 26, 2006
Dark of the Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and humid

Bad writing day yesterday. Again, everything was about The Situation, which really annoys me. On top of it, supposedly an article that’s very pro-The Other Side today. I read it and didn’t find it any big deal. Other people feel strongly about responding, and if that’s how they feel, that’s what they should do.

Hopefully, this is their only volley for the weekend, and I can get some work done.

I’m glad I had people over last night – we got a lot done in a relaxing environment.

I hate feeling as though I have to stay on edge, at attention, so to speak, worried about if something will happen and what it will be. This is no way to live.

My nautical books are beckoning to me. Perhaps, in and around the work, I can get some reading done for the whaling saga. I’ve been remiss in that research. I still don’t even know where I want to set it – probably in New England, but an article in The New York Times a few weeks ago discussed Mark Twain’s travels to Hawaii and the whaling community there.

I can’t set the entire piece in Hawaii, but perhaps one of Harriet and Obediah’s children can base himself out there in the course of the book. Since I’m planning to hit the Maui Writers’ Conference in 2007, I can even do my research there. (Harriet and Obediah are the heads of the whaling clan in the novel-to-be).

Regarding Real: I need to rework some of the tactile details of the suicide off the Campanile in Florence (splat! it ain’t pretty!), and then maybe I can get them out of Florence and over to Venice.

And, I so want to read my friend Chaz’s book, Bridge of Dreams, this weekend. As always, with Chaz’s writing, I have to set aside a chunk of time. Once I start one of his books, I don’t want to put it down until I’m done.

Think good thoughts for me for the weekend.

And everyone enjoy the holiday.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thursday, May 25, 2006
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

Decent writing day yesterday. Not brilliant, but not terrible. Only nine pages forward, but plenty of inserts and fixes. So it’s closer to 15 or 20 pages of new material scattered about. Turned out I didn’t have to fix the Lindisfarne section – the information needed to be planted a bit ahead, in the Portugal section. I just have to put my head down and push hard this weekend, and see how far I can get. I doubt I can finish it – it would mean writing 45 pages per day between now and Monday, and there’s no physical or psychological way I can do that. But I’ll just do the best I can and let it take its shape.

The advice from Terry Brooks on plot and character and Elizabeth George’s advice on landscape are pertinent to the current work.

I don’t agree with Ms. George’s system of character analysis. I can’t stand writing down everything about a character. Yet, you can ask me any question about any part of the character’s life and I can answer it. I do KNOW it, but if I write too much down ahead of time, I find the characters flatten. It’s interior knowledge rather than exterior knowledge.

Writing down bits of plots and scenes helps because then I don’t forget them.

I do understand Brooks’s point: the more work you do upfront (i.e, outlines), the less work you have to do in revision.

Went out with an acquaintance last night to a fascinating café a few towns over for a few drinks, good conversation, and live music.

Got back in time to see the Lost finale. It was very well written and well performed. My favorite character, Desmond, got the bulk of the good stuff in this episode, and it was also fairly well balanced among the other characters. It answered more questions than last year, so left the audience feeling less cheated than it did at the end of last season. It also posed interesting new questions. And I still don’t believe everything, even what is supposedly “answered.”

May I just compliment their wardrobe department? Continuity on that show must be a nightmare, and they do it well. Thank goodness it’s not me trying to match all those sweat stains and blood stains to the photos!

Will I watch next season? Depends. It depends on my work schedule – if I’m back working 8 shows/week or on set of another TV show, obviously, I won’t. If the network jerks around the audience again next season like it did this season, doling out an episode or two at a time, I’ll only watch the first episode and the last of the season.

More escalation in The Situation. However, I hope I don’t have to be up round the clock for the remainder of the weekend.

I have writing to do.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Check out today’s exercise on The Scruffy Dog Review Blog. I talk a bit about the stories I’ve crafted over these weeks of exercises. To my surprise and pleasure, they show promise. And, by the end of it, after revisions, I’ll have several stories that can go out on submission.

Caught up on the SDR submissions, and now I’m on my leave. Hopefully, everything will be sorted out over the summer, and I can go back. When I opened the mailbox, I was concerned; however 99% of the mail was spam, so it got deleted.

Will finish my column for July in the next week or so and send it off.

Spent a lot of time while working yesterday, deep in thought about Real. I realized (no pun intended), that I missed setting up a big bit of plot in the Lindisfarne section, so I have to go back and fix that. Then, I’ll fix Monaco and Florence. I have a feeling that’s as far as I’ll get today.

I finished re-reading Terry Brooks’s Sometimes the Magic Works, which I have to say, is one of the best books on writing that I’ve ever read. It feels like a conversation with him, and so much he had to say directly touches on things with which I’m currently grappling.

The biggest hurdle in dealing with The Situation is the bone-crushing, soul-sucking depression that comes from dealing with someone (or, in this case, a group of someones) whose agenda is to create as much harm on as many levels as possible for personal profit. Depression, anger, exhaustion – all of that happens all the time. Frankly, the woo-woos who float around and say you “choose” your response are full of shit. When someone’s threatening you and your family, you do what you have to in order to protect them. When someone takes away your choices with intent to harm, rolling over only means you’ll be crushed.

The doubt creeps in after the anger and depression and exhaustion have done their work. Doubt as far as “well, if I was really a writer, I’d be able to write even though I haven’t slept in two days and am trying to prevent so-and-so from causing harm”.

That’s crap, too. As a good friend pointed out, I’ve been writing this entire time. I haven’t been working on Real, but I’ve spent five to seven hours every day generating the necessary paperwork to deal with The Situation.

Just because it’s not fiction doesn’t mean it isn’t writing.

My friend B. asked me, the other day on the rooftop garden of the Met, “What do you want?”

What I want is to live in my stable home (as in secure, not a horse stall) and write my books without being disturbed. Travel when I want, do my research, but, basically, just not have to deal with any political or other crap and do my thing without interference. I think that’s what most writers want.

I’ll come out to deal with the business end when I have to. I’ll do the PR and the glad handing and all that. But I have no interest in the spotlight. Spotlight the work if you want. But leave me alone to do my work.

There are a few obstacles in getting there, many of which right now are caused by The Situation, and I just have to find ways to overcome them or get around them or tunnel under them or otherwise remove them.

Anyway, Terry Brooks seems to have it well in hand, and his book is very helpful.

I also treated myself to Elizabeth George’s book, Write Away, which comes highly recommended.

I’m saving my friend Chaz’s new book, Bridge of Dreams, as a weekend treat when I’ve made good progress on Real.

I’m about to contact an editor I know at The Writer magazine not with a pitch, but with a request to include more articles for working writers. All the writing magazines gear issue after issue after issue to those starting out. I don’t feel like I can grow with any of them. I’m publishing regularly and making the transition to full time writing. I need stimulation and inspiration, too. The writing magazines bore me nine issues out of ten, because they only deal with where I was five years ago. Not where I am now or where I’m headed. Yeah, interviews with top-selling writers are good. But give some guidance and inspiration to those who aren’t dreaming, but are in the process of doing. Those who are writing NOW, not someday, or start twelve books and never “have time” to write.

Got to get to Staples this morning – I’m running low on supplies. And I have to come up with a couple of new paragraphs for the newsletter for my pro bono client. That has to go out by noon.

I’m reading an interesting story of ex-pat life in Florence. There are bits and pieces I can use to create the atmosphere for the Florence section, but I have to remember that coming in to a city to shoot for three days with a film is vastly different than getting involved in the internal ex-pat politicking. I need to flavor it, season it, but not overwhelm it. Heck, they’re working ridiculous hours, they have no time for anything else. Even though they’re in Florence, and one character is tempted to stay up for three days (they’re shooting nights) in order to sightsee.

Crash and burn, anyone?

Like I didn’t do that all through my twenties.

And I want most of the next week to be about Real.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I ended up having to write a five page report with back-up materials yesterday, which kind of shot my entire day. I had no get up and go anyway, so it was something to concentrate on, and at least it wasn’t an entirely lost day.

I also got my Preakness wrap-up article done, which should be published today or tomorrow.

I got my payment from Espresso Fiction, along with some really great feedback. From people who’ve never read my work, no less! I had a terrific experience with them. I shot a note off to the editor, thanking her, telling her it was a great experience, and promising to submit more work in the future. I didn’t realize they are based in Australia – nice to be part of an international publication!

Some of the stories that I’m doing for the SDR writing exercises may well fit the bill.

Barbaro update: He made it through the night. He’s flirting with mares. He’s acting like a typical colt. As long as they can keep him free from infection and laminitis, he has a decent shot at survival. The hospital has a site that posts daily updates, which is great.

I got some correspondence done, but not enough. I’m so behind on everything. I just have to attack it piece by piece.

The loss of six writing days on Real is a blow. I was in a good position to finish the first draft by the weekend. Now, it’s doubtful. However, if I sit around and dither, nothing will get done and I’ll be in even worse shape. Part of me wants to forge forward. However, with this piece, I believe that unless I rip apart the Monaco and Florence sections and fix them, I’m screwed. There’s too much interpersonal development that has to happen in each section in order to build the next section properly. There will be plenty to revise, but so much has to be done right in the first draft that I can’t just skip over it and come back later.

So, I have to re-tackle Monaco and Florence before I can deal with Venice, Rome, and get them to Prague.

And, I have SDR submissions to read and comment on tonight. I want to get them done, so I’m not holding anything back. My next column’s coming along pretty well.

Off to the theatre today. I was so hopeful last Tuesday at this time. Real was chugging along. I was re-reading Terry Brooks’s book on writing, Sometimes the Magic Works, which I think is a brilliant book, and I thought maybe everything would be okay.

Let’s hope I don’t return tonight to find yet another crisis.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday, May 22, 2006
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Can you even begin to imagine what it is like to jump every time the phone rings, or every time you hear footsteps coming towards the door? Wondering what fresh hell is being delivered, what new threat? You’d think we lived in a third world dictatorship. That’s what the last six months have been like, and it’s not letting up any time soon.

On a happier note, Barbaro came out of the six hours of surgery well. It’s still only 50-50. The next ten days will be crucial. He could get an infection. He could get laminitis. He’s nowhere near in the clear yet.

But he’s still alive. And every day he survives and thrives is a victory.

Yesterday, because it was a nice day early on, we decided to take a walk on the beach. Unfortunately, the Walk for Cystic Fibrosis was just getting under way, so we couldn’t. So we went over to the Nature Center to take a walk there. They were preparing for their annual Strawberry Festival, but we parked off to the side and tramped around the refuge. I took lots of pictures of the ruins of a stone house – it’s a great setting for a YA mystery. We even saw a deer eating its breakfast, completely unconcerned that we were so close.

Today, we’re bracing for the next problem. I suspect it will hit us Friday at 5 PM, to ruin the holiday weekend; but, you never know. They could strike earlier.

Reading Gail Godwin’s journals, getting annoyed at her complete dependence upon having men dance attendance on her all the time, I try to remember what I was like, emotionally, in my early twenties. Pretty much a mess. I was constantly struggling to balance what I needed in my life – creativity – with what I wanted – a good relationship.

And the guys were usually shown the door in pretty short order. Because, inevitably, no matter how much they were attracted to my independence, the minute we were in the bounds of a “relationship”, I was expected to adapt into his life. It wasn’t about meeting halfway, about mutual compromise. It was about me changing.


Anyone who tries to compete with the writing will lose. He will be kicked to the curb. Because the right partner will know he doesn’t need to compete. He won’t be threatened by the writing.

And I’m not willing to settle for less.

I have no interest in being a housewife. I am not going to sit at home running the house while the husband goes out and works and does whatever the hell he wants. And coming home expecting me to cater to him because he “worked” all day. Having worked in well over 170 corporations in my temp days, 99.9% of so-called executives call it working when they trash women around the copy machine, talk on the phone, make golf dates, drink too much at lunch, and play solitaire on the computer. That’s not work. That’s being paid to waste time. If couples find that works for them, fine. It works for them. It does not work for me, and I won’t do it.

You want a housekeeper? Hire one. I have stuff to do. I have books to be written, trips to be taken, experiences to experience.

But I also don’t expect to go out and have everything paid for by the guy. I remember sitting at a charity event, working the table, and the girl (and I use the word “girl” deliberately) working with me told me she never takes money with her when she goes out to a bar or a night on the town, because there’s always some guy around who’ll pay.

I think that’s just wrong.

Even if he makes his money by wasting time in an office, that doesn’t mean it’s right to grift him out of it for drinks and dinner.

I’m lucky that my ex-SO was more interested in partnership than in roles. I’m sorry our circumstances have forced us apart. Because anything less than both parties working to support each other’s dreams is not acceptable.

I started earning my way when I was eleven years old. Eleven. I’ve worked my whole life. I got good grades, earned scholarships, and performed work study so I could make it through an Ivy League school. I fought my way into a career – entertainment -- that many people daydream about, but only 1% of those who enter it ever make a living. And now I’m fighting to make the transition to write full time. Nobody, NOBODY is going to tell me when or if I have to vacuum, and demand dinner when he gets home.

Especially not if I’m on deadline.

Today, I want to get back to Real, finish my article for FemmeFan, get some more paperwork done in connection to The Situation, and get some of those resumes out. And catch up on my work for SDR before my LOA begins.

I’m behind yet again because we had a power failure last night. Even when the power returned, the computer didn’t work.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sunday, May 21, 2006
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

I’ve had a hell of a week.

Tuesday seemed to hold promise. Work was fine. I caught up with colleagues, got more information on Rome and Florence. I looked forward to coming home and rewriting the Monaco and Florentine sections of Real, in order to move forward. I figured that, over the course of the week, I could rewrite those sections, move forward with Venice and Rome, and maybe, just maybe get them to Prague.

No such luck.

I came home to find a note on the door escalating The Situation even farther. Of course, it was carefully orchestrated so that we got it when it was too late to contact the state agencies that would have intervened; and it dictated the latest abuse would begin at 9 AM the following morning.

So we said no.

Signs went up on doors, letters out to lawyers. Faxes to sit on the desks of the appropriate state agencies first thing in the morning.

And three of us stayed on site to make sure, physically, the rights were not violated, no matter what The Other Side claimed. The police was informed, and ready to intervene, should it be necessary.

We got through to the state, and the state backed us up. They strongly informed The Other Side where they’d crossed a line, and of the consequences. And I wrote everything up per the state’s instructions, so we could get it out to everyone within a few hours.

Not only that, The Other Side’s hired guns refused to identify themselves or show credentials to prove that they were actually professionals in the area in which the Other Side claimed.

For three days.

It grew rather quiet, so we have no doubt they are regrouping for the next attack.

And the person whose job it is to be the leader here went MIA with no explanation. Not good for morale. But the rest of us stepped up and worked as a collective and got it done.

At one point, I had been up for fifty hours.

On top of that, my grandmother got very, very sick, and it seemed she would not survive the weekend. She is in her nineties. And now needs a pacemaker. At first, she refused; now, she seems to have come around to the idea. I’m not sure when the surgery will happen – sometime this week. And I’m on call to head up there and take care of her whenever I’m needed.

I was able to get a few hours of relief on Thursday, and head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to attend the Hatshepsut exhibit and gather information for an article. I went with my museum buddy, B. The exhibit was beautifully done. However, everything in the upstairs exhibit consisted of pieces with which we were familiar from the Egyptian wing. Only this time, they were re-mixed in this exhibition to spotlight the female king. Yes, that’s right – she was Queen, but then took the title of King. And, twenty years after her death, her successor tried to erase her from the histories.

We had lunch in the rooftop garden, enjoying the May sunshine and the view of Manhattan. I took my notes, gathered my information, and bought far too many books in the Met’s bookshop (one of the best in New York). They had wonderful books on Prague, Florence, etc., so, of course, I grabbed them for my research for Real.

I also bought a replica of the “Egyptian Horse”, a piece I visit every time I come to the museum. The original piece is from 1400 B.C., and was a whip handle. I’ve eyed the replica for two years in the gift shop, but couldn’t justify the price. Today – and only today – it was 50% off.

I bought it. And it sits in front of my horse racing books in the bookshelf.

Came home, rendezvoused with my compatriots on patrol. Quiet day – we knew they were up to something.

Friday morning, I hit the local patisserie to get breakfast for my companions, and we had a strategy meeting. We were around all day, ready to act, but, again, it was quiet.

I have no doubt they will come up with a fresh hell next week – probably orchestrated to hit late on Friday, the start of the holiday weekend, to ruin it for everyone.

I was too wrecked from lack of sleep, tensions from dealing with The Other Side and worry over my grandmother’s illness to work on my article notes or to do any other writing. I had to be in a constant state of readiness – prepared to act at a moment’s notice.

We have no idea what will come next; but it’s bound to be ugly.

As if that wasn’t enough, a spoiled brat on one of the writers’ forums scolded the other members for not responding to something she posted as fast as she wanted. Needless to say, under the pressures I was under, including a lack of sleep, I was not in the least bit sympathetic or diplomatic. In addition to the point of the forum being supportive and giving everyone the room to float in and out at will, several people make their living by doing critiques. In my case, the people who pay me get first crack at my attention. Then come my friends – my fellow writers who I know I can count on in a crisis and who can count on me, beyond simple grammar and sentence structure. We’ve built up a trusting relationship over time. Of course I’ll read whatever they need/ask me to read, and I’ll do it as fast as I can.

Then, if and when I have time, certain acquaintances will get my time. At this point, I do free critique only if I have an ongoing relationship with someone, and they’ve earned it. Otherwise, hey, this is my rate, and when we come to an agreement, I’ll do it.

Friday night was the last episode of the series on which I’ve worked all season. It has not been picked up by the network, all over and done. I taped it, so I’ll have it for posterity (I seriously doubt it’ll ever turn up in reruns). And it was a good episode. If previous episodes had hit the notes this one hit, I think we’d have had a chance. But a series needs time to find its rhythm, and networks rarely give shows that chance anymore. If it’s not a breakout in three episodes, it’s gone. We were lucky that all thirteen aired.

I’m grateful for the experience. And I mourn the ending of the show. It ended on a lovely, graceful, hopeful note. Classy, and I would expect nothing less from this particular production company.

Saturday, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. Really awful.

The good news was that my grandmother finally agreed to get a pacemaker.

The bad news was Barbaro’s horrible accident in the Preakness Stakes. At this point, they don’t even know if they can save his life.

I’m sure he would have won. He was so ready for this race – so ready that he forced open the gate when he was loaded, before the race started. He didn’t hurt himself then – he was reloaded without any problem. But, about a sixteenth of a mile in, he broke his ankle, and, in the next few hundred yards it took his jockey to pull him up, broke it again.

Thank God his jockey was Edgar Prado, who always puts the good of the horse first. Thank God he trusted Edgar enough to let him jump off and let the ambulance workers, etc., help him. I’ve watched several injured horses panic and cause further damage, which meant euthanization.

Barbaro’s been transported to the best hospital there is, and undergoes surgery today. I’m hoping for the best.

It was a bittersweet victory for Bernadini, the horse who won, and who won beautifully. Bernadini is an excellent horse (my pick for the exacta, with Barbaro).

But any time a horse is seriously injured like that, the horror of it permeates even a well-earned victory.

I’m taking a leave of absence as an associate editor for The Scruffy Dog Review. I’ll still write my column; I’ll still do the weekly blog (what should have gone up last Wednesday will go up today). But, after I read the latest batch of submissions, I have to take a break. I’m dragging everyone else down, because I can’t keep up with the work. I literally have to spend 6-8 hours per day dealing with The Situation here, and it will only get worse.

A bright spot is that my friend Chaz’s book arrived, and I look forward to reading it in the next week or so. I’m also reading Gail Godwin’s The Making of a Writer: Journals 1961-1963. I highly recommend it for anyone who loves writing or reading. She dissects her process in an interesting way. I’ve enjoyed most of her writing for years, and it’s interesting to see how the original inspirations, as noted in her journals, translate to her fiction. The only thing that gets on my last nerve, thus far, is the way she uses people, especially men. However, she doesn’t sugarcoat it, so perhaps I should be grateful for her honesty?

The question mark at the end of the sentence is deliberate. I was brought up NOT to use people, so I have little tolerance for those who do. I wonder how this knowledge/opinion will affect the way I read her work from now on.

I’m going to roast a chicken for dinner and try to pretend things are normal, at least for a few hours. I gave myself today off.

Tomorrow, I have a stack of paperwork to get through, and I must get back to Real. My characters are understanding about this week’s defection, which makes me even more eager to return.

Also, later tonight, I have to write my Preakness wrap up article.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and warm

Yesterday was pretty much a lost day. I was out of sorts and didn’t feel like doing anything.

I did, however, manage to cough up three short articles and get them out; one’s already come back with a small edit, which I did this morning and returned.

It’s official – the television show on which I worked this past season was cancelled by the network. I suspected it would be, but was still hopeful. And, without it, I’m still in mourning. It was a great group of people, and I will be sorry not to be around them regularly in the fall. I wish what we shot was actually what ended up on screen – this is a piece I feel was butchered in post, which is usually where a lot of creation comes in.

Ironically, my last paycheck from the show also arrived yesterday.

So, I’m mourning, and then I have to get going and find other work. I’ll miss that television money terribly. On a long day with overtime, I could earn in one day what I earned in nearly a week of theatre.

The pilot I worked on last fall, just before I landed the series gig, was picked up as a series order, but pushed back to midseason. They’re shooting now, so they’ll have a chance to get the entire season shot before it ever airs. It will be interesting to watch the pilot, on which I worked, and then the actual series, handled by a different team.

As a crew member, it’s much easier to just show up, do the gig and go home, because you have the department heads and creative team (if they’re any good) shielding you from the politicking so you can do your job without interference. I don’t know how the creative team can be creative with all the crap that goes down. That’s where having an excellent producer comes in handy. A truly good producer is involved in the creative element, yet trusts his creative team and protects the vision they all (hopefully) share. At the same time, he or she is a master people-handler, so that the moneylenders feel included, but aren’t given enough access to completely destroy the creative product. Which, nine times out of ten, they hurt it anyway, even with a good producer. The producer has to run interference and do damage control more than anything else.

I did a mountain of paperwork in reference to the Situation and am nowhere near finished. I wish I could stay home and do more today, but let’s not kid ourselves, I still wouldn’t finish. I’d just wander around being pointless.

I’m pretty sure I have to cancel this weekend’s trip to Massachusetts and Maine, since the area is underwater. Even if the roads were clear, by traveling, we’d get in the way of Emergency Services personnel. We’re better off staying here – where it well may flood today. My grandmother will be very disappointed, and, with the Situation escalating as badly as it is, I have no idea when I can get back up there again.

I did a couple of pages on Real, which were a struggle. I’ve messed up the Florence section. I got the geography right, I’ve got the plot right, but there’s no sense of place, so I have to go back and make the location a character – which is the reason you shoot on location in the first place. I still haven’t fixed the Monaco bit, either. Usually, I’d just move on and not worry; in this case, I’m wondering if I have to fix it before I move on, since I seem to have hit a pothole in the creative process.

I started reading a biography of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I had no idea she was related to the Beechers, and that Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catherine Beecher, and Isabella Beecher Hooker were her aunts. Talk about a family that was brilliant and dysfunctional on enormous levels all at once. Shows how organized religion can warp even intelligent people.

Speaking of organized religion, I don’t understand why there’s so much fuss about The Da Vinci Code, book and movie. If someone is secure in personal beliefs, that person doesn't have to yell and scream "blasphemy." The person can sit down and calmly discuss the beliefs and offer reasons and proof, not just "the Bible says so" and "that's the way it is." The book is fiction, for crying out loud, and it’s talking about theories that have floated around for hundreds of years. Few of the ideas in the book are new. Well over twenty years ago there was a flood of information on all of this, when Holy Blood Holly Grail and The Gnostic Gospels got a lot of attention. And, if you go back and read some of historical documents used in both of the above, it’s far more interesting than the fiction. Whether one believes it or not is a personal choice, based on a combination of belief and historical perspective. I didn’t think the book was that good, although I’m interested in how it translates to film, and I think it was really amazing and wonderful that they shot in the Louvre. I read the book on a plane to Houston a few years ago. It was a decent plane read, but I was ahead of it the entire time (probably because I’d read the research materials over twenty years ago) and knew where it was going, and wasn’t that surprised or impressed with how it got there. I’m glad that the author’s made enough money from it to do whatever the heck he wants from now on, more power to him. But there are plenty of books out there that I find more powerful, on many levels. It’s a piece of fiction, the author has the right to his point of view, people are fascinated. I wonder how many people who are fussing about blasphemy even read it? It’s that always the case, though? Those who howl loudest are the ones with the least information and the least interest in doing the homework to find out if there’s actually a basis for the howls. Mind set of a herd of sheep.

The History Channel has an interesting documentary on it all, with extremely articulate and intelligent historians and theologians discussing both points of view. I was heartened to see that they found a strong balance for both points of view, instead of simply searching out raving lunatics for one side or the other. The points where history and fiction split are always interesting. And no one charged anyone with being “wrong” or “blasphemous” – it was simply, “here’s historical evidence, here’s my interpretation based on this, this, and this. This is of the time, this is a more modern viewpoint. Here’s where they are similar; here’s where they diverge.”

That sort of balanced presentation and discussion is what’s needed, because it gets people thinking and talking on their own, and hunting down pieces of history that interest them. In that vein, I think the fuss over book and movie is quite positive.

I better go eat something or I will be one cranky person at the theatre.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Monday, May 15, 2006
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

A little under the weather.

To clarify my comments yesterday, about the person who ranted against Mother’s Day: I have no problem that she shared her personal experience. The line was crossed when she stated that it shouldn’t be a holiday, N O ONE should celebrate it, and we should be ashamed to celebrate when she had an abusive mother. That’s what I think is inappropriate. I, for one, have a wonderful mother. I try to celebrate her every day, but, being human, I don’t always succeed. Putting aside a special day to celebrate her contributions to my life and so many others is entirely appropriate.

One can choose not to celebrate, should one wish to do so. One CANNOT tell others they don’t have the RIGHT to celebrate positive relationships in their lives, because such relationships are lacking in one’s own life.

Lots of writing to do – many business letters to get out, and two articles, and work on Real. I don’t feel like doing any of it, but it won’t get done on its own.

A French Affair was a perfectly pleasant romp. But the author broke my trust towards the end of the book. It’s a memoir of his life with his wife and three daughters in France. Everything’s been perking along, little adventures, misunderstandings, etc. And, suddenly, sort of in passing, he mentions his wife had an affair, he went to NY to teach and hooked up with a chick from the Bronx (typical Englishman, can’t be alone for five minutes). Well, it happened, fine, not my life, not my business. But to just sort of drop a reference in at the end was like slapping me in the face. It made me feel that the entire book up to this point was fiction, or, at the very least, creative nonfiction, with heavy emphasis on “creative”. A marriage doesn’t disintegrate in a paragraph. It happens over time. If you’re going to write non-fiction about that period in your life, there has to be some reference to growing stress. It certainly gave the title a double meaning – and if that was the case, then the situation itself should have been faced, not shrugged off in a paragraph. Even if the author didn’t want the book to be about the breakup of his marriage, if he’s going to write about that part of his life, it warrants more than a few sentences. I’d spent several hours truly enjoying the book, but was left with a sour taste.

Lots of flooding in New England. I’m supposed to head for Maine later in the week – hope the roads are passable. And I hope the flooding’s not as bad as predicted, for the sake of those who have to deal with it.

We’re supposed to get more rain all day today. I hope the brook doesn’t overflow. I’m going out now to do my few errands, and then batten down the hatches here and get to work. Hopefully, I’ll feel better as the day progresses.

It’s definitely triggered by the stress of The Situation. I’d like to know when the state will gets its thumb out of its ass and start enforcing the law.

Preakness on Saturday. Looks like the field will only be six. It’s assumed Barbaro will win. I WANT him to win, but this is horse racing, and one can’t ASSUME anything.

Hey, is anyone else sick to death of all the shooting and killing going on in the season finales? West Wing’s series finale, last night, was the only classy one I’ve seen this season at all. Everything else is, “it’s sweeps, X’s contract is up, let’s kill/maim/harm as many people in the season finale as possible.”

Blah. The TV’s getting turned off earlier and earlier every night. I was even disappointed with Grey’s Anatomy last night. There’s a difference between escalating drama and hysterical melodrama. Unfortunately, GA crossed the line into the latter last night and lost me. I’ve always loathed Desperate Housewives, so I don’t even know what’s going on there.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sunday, May 14, 2006
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Happy Mother’s Day!

And thanks to mothers all over the world, for all their contributions on every level.

Last Mother’s Day, on one of the forums I frequent, one of the members posted an angry rant against mother’s day, because this person had a bad relationship with the mother. The poster berated everyone else for celebrating the holiday. It really pissed me off. Hey, I’m sorry your life didn’t turn out the way you wanted to. But that does NOT mean you have the right to ruin the celebrations of those who were blessed with great moms, those who are great moms, or anyone else. Get a new therapist, baby, because obviously the one you’re with is taking your money and not doing you any good!

Speaking of forums, on another forum, there’s a poster who drops in once every few weeks. This poster’s job is to write a newsletter. A paid job. Yet this poster “can’t” figure out what to do every issue. The poster asks for “help”, but what the poster really asks for is that we do the work this person is paid to do and then she passes it off as her own.

Uh, no. I get paid to write newsletters, and I’m not going to write your newsletter so you can get paid. Everyone gets stuck once in awhile, and then you brainstorm. But to just ask people to provide the material is plain wrong.

Mid-day meeting for the ongoing pro bono project was fun, and I only have to do one article for this issue. Of course, the challenge is that I have to stuff about five pages’ worth of material in 250 words! Guess I’ll just have to be succinct!

Have to finish the pre-Preakness article and get that out. And work on the exercise for Wednesday.

I started a new blog yesterday, called A Biblio Paradise. I want a repository for my essays on books, book buying, and bookstores, and will do a Reader’s Journal entry occasionally when I want to discuss a book in depth. There just isn’t room to stuff everything into this blog.

I wrote an essay on “Bookbuying Ramblings” to which I hope other booklovers will relate!

I imagine the setting as the library in Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk (which I actually recreated in Real, only I stuffed the Felbrigg library into Culzean castle, which is the inspiration for the castle in the first section of Real. Of course, I don’t call it Culzean, because I wanted to rearrange the rooms and the grounds a bit, so I kind of stretched the Ayrshire coast and stuffed another castle with expansive grounds in it).

Worked on Real yesterday. Did the Monaco sequence, which needs a lot of work. I didn’t want to get bogged down in too many backstage technical details; unfortunately, I didn’t put in enough and now it doesn’t make sense. They’re in Florence now. That sequence will be quick, and it’s on to Venice for a longer stint, and a quick two day shoot in Rome, where Callie comes down with the flu.

I realized I have to go back and deal with the fact that, when a major (or even not-so-major) film company turns up in any of these places to shoot, there are always receptions, etc. so the town officials can meet and mingle with the creative team and the crew. Especially when special concessions have been made for the shoot. I don’t want the receptions to get repetitive, but I have to deal with it. Also, during the company moves from place to place, I drop in dialogue scenes to move character arcs forward – this way, we see them physically moving from point to point, and get a sense of the growing relationships amongst the company. Cordelia’s fallen for Gavin (which surprised me – she is, after all, supposed to take a trip around the world as soon as the shoot is done). Cordelia keeps surprising me, and, if I’m not careful, will hijack the book. She may have to get her own further down the line.

I can hear Charlie Zablowski from Periwinkle say, “You promised me that, too, and you haven’t even finished Periwinkle yet.”


So JK Rowling’s put a moratorium on people sending her paper. She mentioned, in an interview, that she ran out of paper while she was writing (she still does early drafts in longhand) and had trouble running from store to store to buy paper. Well, honey, how about just saying “thank you”? And how about donating whatever you don’t need to a school that really needs it? I admire Rowling enormously, but, in this situation, I think she should and could have been more gracious. Part of the reason her writing works is that each individual feels personally invested while reading her books. Therefore, if she voices a frustration or a problem, many individuals are going to feel personally invested in helping her find a solution. I understand, when you’re in the throes of writing, it’s annoying and you have to set boundaries. Especially at the size of the response. But it comes with the territory. She is now an internationally best selling author with an almost cult-like following. It’s part of the gig.

Off to create a celebratory day for my mother, with presents, an elaborately cooked meal, and, of course, books.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Saturday, May 13, 2006
Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and warm

Hard to see the full moon through full cloudbanks.

The realization of my lack of mathematical dexterity turned me into Madame Crankypants yesterday afternoon. I left my characters in Marseilles eating bouillabaisse in a tiny restaurant off the beaten path (well, Sam couldn’t each much as he’s still recovering from having his stomach pumped), while I sulked.

I’m also in Queryland Kerflamma. I have a couple of projects I should be querying, but I haven’t done the proper research. The letters are fine, but I need to sit down and figure the best matches (my A list, B list, C list) and get going.

I always start with my A list – which consists of the recipients I both think are the best suited and with whom I want to work. B list consists of places/people I think would be good, but I’m not 100% sure about. C list are the stretches – not because I think they’re too important a house for my work (those guys get on the A list), but because my piece is a bit out of what they usually do and the slant has to be unique enough to interest them.

I like to send queries out in batches of ten. I’ve also started coding the return envelopes, so I can look at it and know for which project I’m getting a reply. Unfortunately, the majority of form responses can’t be bothered with the courtesy of including the title name. Now, the little unpaid intern who’s stuffing the envelopes can take the extra 30 seconds to scrawl the name of the title on the rejection. But they don’t. And I often query more than one project at a time.

I need to sit down and make a spreadsheet of full-length projects, similar to my submission log, so I can see what is at what stage. What needs another glance? What’s waiting for edit? (I have to say, those are starting to stack up and they make me nervous). What’s unfinished? (too many of those, and they need to be dealt with; they drain too much energy). And what needs to be queried? It’s not going to telepathically sell itself. The queries need to go out. These pages need to earn their keep!

I sulked in England with Ethel for awhile, then rejoined my Real ensemble in Marseilles. They hadn’t missed me at all. Did several more pages. They’re in the countryside now, and will shortly embark on a private train to Monaco.

Watched the TV show on which I worked last night. It was the episode we kept reshooting, as late as last week. Next week, is the two hour season finale. Depending upon what the network unveils at their Monday presentation at Radio City Music Hall, it could also be the series finale. Also, since part of this episode was shot several months ago, before several actors received hair style changes, the hair continuity was off within the overall arc of the season, and it drove me nuts. It shouldn’t, because it’s not my department, but it did.

The Evil One again took action to disrupt everyone’s peace and, most especially, the weekend. Why the law waits to stop him is beyond me. It will probably end up the way it always does – he will have to cause someone’s actual death before the lawmakers pay any attention. And it shouldn’t have to go that far.

Oh, and UPS screwed up again. I’d ordered a gift for Mother’s Day. Yesterday, I received a note that delivery was attempted (obviously not very hard, since I worked from home), and that they would try again between 2-5 PM on Friday. I was working, again, all afternoon. No doorbell, no buzzer, no nothing.

At 11 PM, the cats start pawing at the front door. I open the door, and there’s the box. Only it’s damaged and been retaped. I open the box and find items missing. I called Harry & David, from whom I ordered. They’re replacing it immediately (won’t be here in time for tomorrow, but they’re replacing it with no problem). They also suggested something I hadn’t even thought of -- that I dispose of the fruit, in case it’s been tampered with. Great.

In any case, I photographed the box and its damage this morning, and will forward the photos to H&D, so they can use them when they deal with UPS. I didn’t even bother to contact UPS. The last time they messed up, their response was, “You’re not a business. What do you expect?”

Which is why, when it’s up to me, I do not use UPS.

Today will be a fractured day, but I’m going to do as much work as I can. At least I’ve gotten the Mother’s Day gifts wrapped.

On this sticky, rainy, dark day, it will be a pleasure to escape to Provence with my characters. And yes, for the purposes of the piece, it is currently sunny there. It rained during the Giverny section (nothing like seeing Monet’s inspiration glistening with silvery raindrops), but now, the sun is out.

Don’t worry. It’ll rain for at least part of the time in Prague.


Friday, May 12, 2006

May 12 Part II

I keep forgetting to mention things.

I keep forgetting to mention how lovely the Italian Tourist Bureau was, the other day, giving me street maps of Venice, Florence, and Rome, and the information I need for those sections of the book. And the Czech Tourist Bureau has been lovely, too, sending me links to photo galleries, and sending me via mail the information. I wish I could get to Prague for that section of the book and do on-site research, but until the Situation is resolved, I’m not going very far.

I am, however, contacting actors I know who may have shot there to see what they can tell me, or if they can put me in touch with friends of theirs who shot there. It’s the atmospheric details that make the difference.

I’m reading a lovely book I picked up in a second hand bookshop in the UK a few years ago called England: My Adventure by Ethel Mannin. It was published in 1972, and, at that time, she’d been a writer for 50 years and the entire frontspiece has a list of several dozen books by her, all in small type to fit them on the page.

I feel very uneducated. I’d never heard of her before.

I ordered my friend Chaz Brenchley’s newest book, Bridge of Dreams, which is only published in the US, not the UK. I can’t wait to read it. I love his writing.

I’ve forgotten what else I’ve forgotten, but that’ll do for now.

Real – First draft (longhand) – 40,750 words
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
40 / 100

Which makes me realize my math is totally off. If I expect it to hit 100,000 words, that’s 400 pages, not 300 pages, and I’m not yet half way. :(

300 pages is only 75,000 words, and I don’t think that’s enough.

And there goes my schedule.

But maybe I can compromise and hit 90,000? That would be 360 pages.

And then, of course, especially on a first draft, who gives a damn about page count? Just write the damn book first and then figure out how to tweak it to fit someone else’s specs.


Friday, May 12, 2006
Almost Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and warm

Major rainstorms and flooding predicted all day, so I’m just going to sit tight.

Today’s Circadian Poem: “Mother Sister” by Brenda Braene.

Did a lot of business-y stuff yesterday, and didn’t get to the fiction until 3 pm. Did a bit of work on Real – the section in the Tuillieries wasn’t as complicated as I thought (and I managed to work in the round pool with the little wooden boats). Sam’s in the hospital now, Sonia’s been arrested for giving him an overdose of a date-rape drug (yes, even though it’s usually the other way around, who’s trying to dope up whom, there’s a reason here – don’t worry, I did my research), Jim was fired for being an ass and Gavin hired to replace him, and I’m about to shift them all down to Marseilles.

The network didn’t run a single promotional spot for tonight’s episode – I’m pretty sure it’s over for us. I’d expected it, but grew hopeful when I was on set last week, because they put so much care and attention into the reshoots and the finale. I haven’t read the trades yet this morning (I overslept), so I don’t know if anything’s yet been announced.

Oh, well. In some ways, it makes the upcoming decisions easier.

Couldn’t work in long stretches because my right eye is bothering me. Not sure if it’s eye strain or what, but I can only work for short spurts, either writing or reading, and then I have to rest.

Managed to excavate part of my desk, which is helpful. I rather dread what’s stacked up on the other side. I hope it’s not folders full of missed opportunity.

Watched the television episode last night to see the actor my colleague wants us to work with on a project. The show’s been running for years, and I have no emotional investment in the characters so it was hard to catch up. I found the show very PC, and I felt the particular actor I was watching had been dropped in to appeal to a demographic instead of being a well-rounded character. Also, in this episode, he was mostly re-active instead of active, so I don’t have a good sense of what he can do. I’m fine with the possibility of working together – I just didn’t see anything in that episode that made me particularly excited, one way or the other. Besides, until there are contracts and money on the table, it’s all a hypothesis.

Oh, and the people I had that silly talk with on “the coast” last weekend called the actor they’d claimed was involved but wasn’t, to tell him I was now involved. Of course, he immediately called me, and we had a chat about how neither one of us is confirmed, and the more they pull this kind of crap, the higher our prices go.

NBC fired a producer, claiming the producer’d plagiarized a phrase from The West Wing and used it in the Kentucky Derby profile of Michael Matz. The phrase is an innocuous statement and repetition of a sentence that could be applied to dozens of situations and has probably been said over a million times in daily conversation. Now, people are getting out of whack with the whole plagiarism thing. There are words and phrases used in daily conversation. They are repeated by hundreds, sometimes thousands or millions of people. You can’t make up something entirely new all the time. It’s one thing to lift unique phrases and entire paragraphs; it’s quite another to use a regular arrangement of words that happens in normal conversation. I mean, come on, what was it we were taught in our writing classes? There are only 17 plots and you have to keep finding ways to make them fresh?

Some of the “writing clothes” I ordered for summer arrived. (I am not someone who can write in my pajamas – I tend to wear comfortable, but nice-looking clothes to write in – in case I need to dash out for something quickly, I don’t need to change, but, at the same time, I’m comfortable). All three pairs of capris are great. The shirt doesn’t feel good and doesn’t fit properly. The color’s great, but that’s it. It’s not worth it to me to alter it, so I’m going to send it back and cancel the ones on backorder.

Shirt-wise, I should just buy the cotton I want and make my own. Shirts are a piece of cake, and with just a bit of tailoring, will be perfect. The question is, will I actually ever get around to it, or will it just sit in a bin all summer, waiting? I don’t have an answer for that.

So I’d better get Sam out of the hospital and on the way to Marseilles.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and mild

The Derby Wrap-Up article is here:

NBC was supposed to release its fall schedule yesterday – and didn’t. So I still don’t know if the series has been picked up or not, and if I’m looking for an interim job or something more long term. I just have to do what I need to do, and if it works out with them, great; if not, fine. I know what I want to do, but the prospect of another season on the series was so financially tempting, there’s no way I could turn it down.

Yesterday was all about Real. 18 pages, slightly over my goal. I’m just past the half way point in estimated page count, and about to hit the halfway turning point in the story, so it seems to align the way I’d hoped. It was slow going – I got the characters to the various destinations from Lindisfarne – Portugal, Amsterdam, Majorca – and then brought them back together in Paris for the current section. Then, I had to spread out all my Paris street maps and other information to move them around properly, and reacquaint myself with the geography (and the beauty) of Giverny. I didn’t want it to become a travelogue – but I wanted to drop sensory details into the locations so that the reader can get a sense of it without finding it a distraction. Let’s face it, when you’re on location, you’re overtired, stressed, fighting to stay on schedule. It’s hard to know where you are, but when something is breathtaking, you hope you notice. For Sam’s day off wander through Paris, instead of having him hit the tourist sites, I had him intend to, then get put off by the lines at the Louvre. He wanders around and ends up at Notre Dame and on Ile de la Cité for most of the day, then wanders over to student-friendly bars near the Sorbonne.

Today, I have to figure out the sequence shot in the Tuilleries, another character performs a malicious act that lands Sam in the hospital, and I have to move everyone on to Marseilles.

That should keep me busy!

Also have to catch up on all the paperwork I didn’t get done yesterday, which include a stack of business letters and resumes. I might do those first.

I gave myself a very quiet, yoga-filled night last night. I need it. The Situation’s causing a lot of stress, and will continue to do so. Especially since those who are supposed to be handling it are pussyfooting around instead of taking definitive action, and I’m quickly losing respect.

I need to type the two short stories I’ve written so far for the writing exercises, and work on this week’s exercise.

I’m slowly able to access the host email accounts that I couldn’t – they’re doing an upgrade and fixing some of the problems. One account has 1700 emails in it. Hopefully (?) most of them are spam and can be quickly deleted. Hopefully, I haven’t lost any jobs because of this.

We’re supposed to have a few days of heavy rain. I hope the brook doesn’t overflow.

Down to business.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Part IV of the Exercise is up at the Scruffy Dog Review Blog.

Today’s Circadian Poem: “Bitter/Sweet” by Wren Fallon.

Work was fine yesterday. Chatted and caught up with some people I hadn’t seen in awhile.

Worked on Real on the train. Not as many pages as I wanted, but I was barely coherent when I came home. I don’t know if there’s a lack of oxygen in the building or what, but four hours of day work can wipe me out more than twelve hours on set. And it’s not that demanding. I don’t get it.

Anyway, I wrote a few pages, including an insert to a previous scene – and just, as I’m typing, I remember another insert I need to add, when they shoot the scene riding over the Scottish countryside for the film within the book. Also, a new character, Cordelia, snuck into the book and, according to the protagonist, she’ll be around for awhile. It took me awhile to figure out her purpose, but I now realize that she and another young female character are going to be the contrast/comparison of constructive ambition versus destructive ambition, and how the protagonist deals with it.

I have a couple of errands to run in the morning, a stack of letters and resumes to shoot out, but I hope that the bulk of the day will be spent on Real. I re-figured how much I need to write each day to meet my ambitious goal – not sure I can hit it by the end of next week. I may, as originally suspected, need until the end of the month to finish the first draft. But, then I’ll be in good shape whether we go to contract or not. If we go to contract, I can do another draft quickly and work on something else while I wait for comments; if we don’t, I can keep working on it until I feel it’s ready to go out. As I mentioned a few days ago, I have a kick-ass cover letter for it.

I’ve fretted over the name to use for it. It’s different that the other pieces I’ve worked on – while it’s basically adult contemporary fiction, it could also be shelved, possibly, in romance (although it’s more about the growing relationship between the two main characters rather than the romance novel formula). It’s not the bright, funny voice of Ava Dunne; it’s not the more serious tone of Christy Miller; it’s not domestic enough for Christiane Van de Velde. It’s not otherworldly enough for Cerridwen Iris Shea. It’s inappropriate for the two YA names I’m juggling. It’s not really along the lines of what I consider the tone of the Devon Ellington work.

But do I really want to create yet another name? I don’t want to get too fractured. I don’t want to spread out too much. I’m experimenting here, and will probably not do another piece in this tone, unless I choose to revisit these characters sometime in the future. I’m looking at this pretty much as a one-off. And isn’t part of being a writer stretching and trying new things? If you look at Virginia Woolf’s body of work, she reinvented the wheel from scratch just about every time. Now, I am certainly no Virginia Woolf, but I like the idea of different types of work. And the Devon Ellington name encompasses several different types – mystery, historical, non-fiction, sports, humor.

And then I remembered The Fix-It Girl, which is waiting in the wings, wondering when I’ll ever get back to it. When I left Mavis and Arnie, they were on their way to New York, Mavis having quit her studio job in LA to strike out on her own. Yes, it’s set in the 1930s. But it’s still a behind-the-scenes look at the entertainment industry. The tone of that book is very different from this one, but it is also different from everything else. However, the backdrop of entertainment might be enough of a connection to convince the uncreative marketing decision makers to mention both in the same breath.

I don’t think the audience will care much under which name it appears. For instance, I spoke to an acquaintance of mine in the hockey realm, fretting about using the same name from this book as I’m using on the four hockey novels. He thought about it and said, “I don’t really notice the name of the writer. I pick up a book if it looks interesting or if someone I know tells me it’s good. Or if you write it. I know you use a bunch of names, so whatever you write, just tell me what it is and I’ll go get it.”

He’s got a point.

I also appreciate that he wants to buy my books so that he contributes to my income. His position is that, “Hey, you contribute to my salary by coming to games. Why shouldn’t I do the same by buying your books?”

How do I pick books?

I have a list of authors whose work I’ve read over the years; whenever I hear of a new book, I go out and get it. I buy/read the work of friends and colleagues.

Plus, I do a lot of browsing. And, when I’m browsing, I don’t go by the author name. I go by the title – does it sound interesting? Or the cover. Although, I have to say, a cover I don’t like is more likely to turn me off a book than on to it. And then, I pick up the book, read a bit about it, skip the blurbs (I HATE blurbs. I’m more likely to put a book back if there’s a blurb by a writer I don’t like on it), and open it to read a few paragraphs.

Of course, the problem with browsing in a bookstore is that I always walk out with more than just one book.

Speaking of books, I’m reading a fascinating novel by Caleb Carr called The Italian Secretary. Holmes and Watson and Mycroft Holmes are the main characters, and it takes place in Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. I loved Carr’s novel The Alienist and read it back to back with EL Doctrow’s novel in the same time period, The Waterworks (I highly recommend reading these two novels together – I read them in one day apiece). This novel is fascinating. I don’t want to get into it too much, but I read it until I fell asleep last night out of sheer exhaustion, and am hiding it from myself today until I get my writing quota done.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

What do you want?

That’s the big question, right? In all the chaos of the past few months, and with the television show wrapping and me not sure I want to go back into 8 show/week Broadway schedule, I’ve had to sit down and seriously think about it.

What I want is to be able to work on my books and my other writing.

I want large swaths of uninterrupted work time, preferably in the library/study of my house.

I want to live away from the chaos, and, especially, be far, far away from the Evil One – yet I want him to have consequences for the actions against all the people’s he’s harmed.

The question becomes: How do I get there?

And that’s where I’m getting fouled up. Because The Situation is taking the bulk of my time and energy, there’s very little left to put into the transition. If I don’t fight back in The Situation, I’ll end up in even worse shape.

So I’m on this shore. I see my goal on that shore. And I have to figure out how to build the boat, learn how to sail, and then deal with the pirates along the way.

Aboslutely nothing done on Real yesterday, which was frustrating. I spent hours in the law library, until my head was spinning and the print blurred, and nothing made sense. The one book I really, really, really needed, on Torts, had been stolen – just a few days ago! Gosh darn it! I wrote notes until I ran out of paper (I’d only brought one pad). Now I have to consolidate them, figure them out, pull out what’s relevant, and type it up in coherent form.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. I figure I have a couple of hundred hours of research still to do.

Worked on several drafts of the pro bono gig, with my colleagues on it. I think we’ve done good work, but we can’t get bogged down in endless revision. It needs to go out NOW. Not in a week. NOW.

Procrastinators drive me nuts. I certainly do my share, but not when other people’s well-being is at stake. I tend to procrastinate when the only one who pays the price is me.

Got to run in to the city early. I have to stop at the Italian Tourist Bureau in Rockefeller Center to get info on Venice and Rome for the sections of Real set there. The Czech Tourist Board is sending me info on Prague. No word yet from Holland.

I’ve got a packed day, I’m way behind on Real and damn well better start catching up, and none of this will happen on its own.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Monday, May 08, 2006
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and pleasant

Today’s Circadian Poem: “Summer Senses” by Cornelia Howe.

Worked hard on Real yesterday, but I’m still behind. Only eight pages. I kept getting interrupted because of escalations in The Situation. But, it’s still eight pages more than I had the day before, so I’ve got to keep going. If you count the figuring-out stuff I had to do, it’s far more than eight pages. I got stuck in logistics, and had to sit down and chart them out in order to write the next bit. They’re on Lindisfarne now, and about to go to Amsterdam.

The editor to whom I sent the pages let me know that there should be a decision as to whether or not we go to contract in about two weeks. Since that’s right before Memorial Day, I assume it will be more like three. I’m going to keep working on Real – I don’t want to lose the momentum – but I’m not turning in any more until I have a decision.

Wrote my Derby wrap-up for FemmeFan, and have a stack of job opportunities that need to be chased in the next couple of days. I wrote something else, too, but I can’t remember what it was.

Submitted “Pauvre Bob”, one of my favorite stories, to the anthology. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it fits in.

Had a completely useless conversation with “the coast” – someone who wanted me to write a script from outline – no problem. Kept throwing out names about interested celebrities. Of course, I’d worked with one of them before and had called up the guy and asked him about the project – he’d never even heard of these producers, much less agreed to do the project. Typical LA. And, they wanted me to work on spec. No. This is my business, not my hobby. I’m not just out of film school, looking for my first break. You love my work so much? So much that I won’t even get a screen credit at the end of the day? This is how much it costs. Get the first payment and a contract on my desk and we have something to talk about. Other than that, sayonara baby. If you’re that serious, start coughing up the cash.

And then, what do I do? Work on pro bono project. Difference is – the former can afford to pay me and chooses not to; the latter can’t, but always tries to do something to let me know that my work is appreciated.

Another long meeting about The Situation. Things are only going to get worse over the next few months. Not looking forward to it.

Off to spend the morning at the law library, doing some research. Then, it’s back to Real, trying to catch up on my goal, and working on the writing exercise for Wednesday.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunday, May 7, 2006
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby by six and a half lengths! What a fantastic race! I was delighted with him, every time I got a look at him. He was completely calm and focused – and then, once he won, he played the crowd for all it was worth. Not only is he a talented horse, he is a smart horse. I hope he’s come out of the race well and will go for the next two legs of the Triple Crown.

I’ll do my wrap up article today, so I don’t want to give too much away, but I have quite a few opinions on the race!

The whole day was interesting. I actually bet very little. I hadn’t done my homework. But I just enjoyed beautiful, stunning athletes doing their thing.

Today needs to be all about writing. I’m far, far behind where I wanted to be on Real, and I need to catch up as much as possible. I also want to do the writing exercise due on Wednesday – most of the column is done, but I have to do the writing exercise. If I’m going to present the exercises, I have to be prepared to do them. Without excuses.

I really need a break. From everything except my own work. I find myself getting absolutely enraged out of all proportion by what I see as others’ lack of commitment or excuses for not working for/and or attaining what they claim to want out of their lives. And you know what? It’s none of my damn business. I have plenty to work on in my own life, especially in regard to making sure I win in The Situation, and that my own writing gets back on the track I want. If others fall by the wayside, it’s their loss, not mine. We all have the same amount of time in a day. It’s how we choose to use that time that differentiates us.

I’ve been invited to contribute to a new anthology. It sounds like tons of fun. I have to decide if I’m going to revise something I already have, or if I’m going to send something new. Part of that, I’m sure, will be determined by deadline pressures, and what other work comes up.

Since the television show is getting ready to wrap for the season (and maybe for good), I have to hustle for other work.

But I’m still annoyed that the (theatre) show called me yesterday, far too close to call time for me to be able to get there, asking me to come in and run a show – when I very specifically already told them I was out of town working yesterday (yes, covering the Derby is work, even though it’s fun). I’ve had the conversation ad nauseum with them for over two years now, making it clear how long it takes me to commute in, and that, in a last minute emergency, they have to call someone who’s already in the city. Plus, if I’m already committed to some other gig (especially when the work at this one is so sporadic), I will NOT drop it and come running to them. He who pays me the most and books me first gets my commitment. Period. I was regularly screwed out of income for the first year and a half due to a misplaced sense of loyalty, and I’m not going to play that game.

I need to get to the bookstore this week for photo books of both Amsterdam and Prague for Real. I haven’t been to Amsterdam since the 1970s, and I’m sure it’s changed. I need to reacquaint myself with its geography. I’ve never been to Prague, and, much as I’d like to drop everything and go there to research that section of Real, I can’t do it within my deadline. So I have to do some damned good research. I’m also going to try to track down colleagues or friends of colleagues who’ve shot there and get a sense of atmosphere from them.

Enough bitching and moaning. Time to get some work done.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Saturday, May 6, 2005
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Partly sunny and warm

Happy Derby Day! This afternoon is the Kentucky Derby – I’m looking forward to it.

Yesterday’s shoot went well. We did yet more reshoots of an episode that hasn’t aired yet, plus worked on the season finale. It ran relatively smoothly, and I actually got out earlier in the evening as opposed to working until dawn the following day. So I was happy.

I’m pretty sure that’s my last day on the show, although I may get called in to help with the wrap. I worked a full season on this television show, learned a lot, and found I like the work more than I thought I would.

The Creative Brat was still struggling to be heard all the time, and that was a problem for me, although I think I covered well enough not to let it affect my work.

On my lunch break (at 5 PM), I wandered into Chinatown (since we shot by the courts), and ate in a noodle shop on a small side street. I was the only white girl in there (they took one look at me and gave me a fork, which is good, because I’m hopeless with chopsticks). It was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten – absolute heaven.

Finished reading Alice Hoffman’s Blue Diary. I love her work, but this book left me feeling frustrated. When the protagonist finally opens the diary and reads it, I wanted to know the contents, I wanted to get to know the dead girl through her diary, not be held back by the author to simply watch the protagonist’s response to reading words I couldn’t experience first hand. Also, switching from third POV through two distinct character perspectives (in different chapters) to the chapters told in first person rattled me. Once I was into each chapter, it was fine, and I went with the voice, but the first pages of the switch were jarring.

Went grocery shopping this morning, but the liquor store wasn’t open yet, so I have to go back for some wine. I’m making my infamous devilled eggs for the Derby party, although I hope to also get some more work done on Real before the party.

I’d like to sleep, but that’s not an option right now.

Oh, on Thursday, the actor I was supposed to check out on ER -- wasn’t in that week’s episode. Typical. He’s in next week’s episode. Not sure if I’m going to be able to watch.

The timer rang – time to finish the eggs.

Enjoy the Derby!


Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday, May 5, 2006
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

At 3 a.m. this morning, when they finished yesterday’s shoot, they called me to give me my in-time for this morning. I had trouble going back to sleep, and, when I did, I had nightmares. When I woke up, I thought I should write them down, because they seemed relevant, but they fled before I could.

Yesterday was nowhere near the productive day I needed, due to The Situation. I had to do paperwork, and help some of the other tenants with their paperwork.

I wish the Karma Dogs would hurry up and bring things back in balance. I’m getting tired of living like this, and my mother’s ready for a nervous breakdown.

I managed to type two more chapters of Real, and sent the hard copies of the first five chapters to the editor (I’m not calling her “my editor” until there’s a signed contract). It’s not quite 100 pages, but if, five chapters in, the reader’s not hooked, a) I haven’t done by job and b) it’s not going to happen. Especially not with a book like this.

I haven’t decided which name to use with this one, because the tone is different from the established names, so I have the title and the byline reads, “(Pseudonym Undecided) and then my legal name.

Book first, name later.

Didn’t manage to do any new pages, so I’m way behind on the page count I wished for this week. I won’t be writing much today, since I’m on set – just whatever I can manage on the train or on my lunch break – and chances are, I’ll be so exhausted by then, I’ll simply sit and eat. Derby’s tomorrow. FemmeFan still hasn’t published this week’s edition, which means my Derby article isn’t up yet.

And I haven’t had time this week to do Racing Ink.

Racing Ink (abridged version):

Derby: My two favorite horses are Jazil and Point Determined (son of one of my favorites, Point Given). I believe Point Determined will be at his best in the Belmont, but I’d like to see him do well here, too. Barbaro is my third choice, because I love the horse’s personality. All three across the board, plus mix-and-match exactas and trifectas.

Bob and John’s up there for fourth, but might throw some show money at him. Especially if it’s raining.

I’m skipping the favorites, Brother Derek and Lawyer Ron.

I think the possible upset horses are Sweetnorthernsaint and Steppenwolfer, so I’ll throw some money their way.

I’m going to throw a few bucks at Flashy Bull, who made it in after all, both because he’s a long shot, and because he’s ridden by Mike Smith.

Haven’t handicapped today’s card, because I’ll be on set and can’t watch anyway. A quick scan of today and I’ll go for:

Venetian Sunset in the 4th.
Performing Diva in the 5th.
Andromeda’s Hero to place in the 6th.
Sweet Symphony in the 8th.
Sacred Light in the 9th.
Bushfire and Itty Bitty Pretty in the 10th (the Oaks).
Arradoul, Celestial Princess and High Priestess in that order in the 11th.

Off to set.