Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

VENUS DIRECT!!!!! (okay, at 7:16 PM, but I’m still doing a happy dance)

Sunny and beautiful

I’m definitely getting sucked in to the whole theatre thing again. I had a typical WARDROBE NIGHTMARE last night: in the middle of a show, I have to put on a swing who’s never been on, never rehearsed, much less measured or fitted for clothes, and there aren’t any clothes in the building that fit her. So we open a door under the stairs and find stock from who-knows-what-or where (hey, this is a dream, remember?). Since there’s no designer, supervisor, or stage manager to be found, we root around in the stock and make it up. And get her on stage before her next cue.

At least the dream had a resolution instead of just playing the same loop all over again.

As of this early morning moment, the actors are not on strike. There was a quote in one of the papers about how they were determined to keep working this week because of all the tourists in the city for the holiday. In other words, in order not to inconvenience anyone, they’ll work without a contract this week. Huh? This is the week that would have actually had an impact. While I’m glad they’re sort of extending the deadline and still talking – a good faith move, they’re not thinking practically about impact. If you’re going on strike, you’re supposed to inconvenience people. Whatever. I’ll be happy for the holiday pay on July 4th, in any event.

The thought of having to go in today and work eight shows this week is enough to make me cry. But, that’s the way it is, so get over it and make use of the time you have, not fret about the time you don’t. If I make use of the small pockets of time I DO have, I’ll be surprised by how much I can get done.

Oh, yeah, still haven’t been paid by the magazine – well over a month late, six weeks, depending upon which date you want to use as “acceptance”. So I sent another invoice with a late fee attached. I cut them much more slack than many other freelancers would have in the same situation. And they’ve now ruined it for legitimate start-ups, because I join the ranks of fellow freelancers who won’t work for a start-up, but will wait until a publication gets established.

Time to join the writers’ guild, union, whatever it is.

I got a swift e-mail response promising the check would be out this week. We’ll see.

Broke down and ordered the steamboat books and the costume books I need online. I don’t have the time to hunt them down in real life. This way, I’ll have them. Because I’m determined to get Nora onto that damn packet boat this week!

Managed to do most of Chapter 73 of The Widow’s Chamber. Now, I must run for the train and hope for the best for the rest of the day. I won’t have the chance to work on BTP until at least Thursday. Hopefully, I will have regained the thread by then.

Lots of happy people on the train in. When people are chattering and in a good mood, as they often are on a sunny day, it makes the journey much more pleasant. Now, if only those who insist on screaming into their cell phones would get it through their thick skulls that they are really BORING and no one’s interested in them, it would all be good.

In Grand Central, there was a photo shoot with some NY City cops. They were shy and excited. NY does have an immensely wonderful police department. Not every member is perfect, but, overall, they’re pretty amazing. There are some cities where I’d feel better in the hands of the criminals than the cops. I always feel better when I see an NYPD officer.

I stopped in Posman’s to get the EM Forster book I’ve wanted for awhile, Aspects of the Novel. I’ve re-read my favorite writing books so often that I can practically recite them. I need some new fuel.

Got my 2004 enormous desk blotter calendar at Office Depot. Didn’t want to cart it around Manhattan and back on the train, but since the ‘burbs have dumped theirs, I had no choice. And I need a big calendar so I can ink in my deadlines.

I stopped at Coliseum. They didn’t have the book I want to give a friend for her housewarming; but I did pick up Julia Cameron’s The Sound of Paper. For as many problems as I have with some of her theories, I keep buying her books, so she must be hitting on some chords somewhere. I also grabbed A Year in Our Gardens: Letters by Nancy Goodwin and Allen Lacy. I love anecdotal gardening books – the longing for a garden of my own. It looks like a lovely book in which to sink into after a long, tough day.

Ran into one of the actors in the elevator. Equity told them to be “on alert” and ready to walk out at any time. I told her, “I’m working in Rapunzel’s Tower today. Come find me if you hear anything and we’ll walk out together.” Strikewise, it’s the waiting that’s hard. I hate waiting for someone else to move so I can do what I need to do.

I call the third floor, where I do my Tuesday work “Rapunzel’s Tower” because it’s so far removed from everything else. It’s great, because I get quiet work time, and I can think about stories while I’m ironing, steaming, sewing, without having to make conversation.

I worked on the Halloween story on my break. It’s coming along nicely. The protagonist, Enid, has more humor than I originally envisioned, and it works. She had to develop a dark sense of humor to emerge from her abusive marriage.

Show was fine. An actress returned from a leave of absence to do a show at the Guthrie (where a friend of mine runs lights). Everyone was glad to see her. There was plenty of happy chaos. After all, it’s Tuesday, and people had a break from each other.

Far too many drunk young women on the train. One was throwing up in a garbage can on the platform up until the train left. There seem to be more out-of-control drunken young women around than ever. It’s a shame that they have to pay such a high price to pretend to have fun. I certainly paid it often enough at their age.

My traveling companion was an interesting British man. Every once in awhile, Fate throws someone intriguing your way, even if only for a train ride.


Monday, June 28, 2004

Monday, June 28, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Started sunny and beautiful; turned cloudy and muggy

Absolutely exhausted. But the chores need to be done, and things have to get accomplished. I stumbled to Staples, and was annoyed that they didn’t have everything I wanted. The clerk was very nice and went rooting around in the back, but they just didn’t have what I want. I’ll have to look elsewhere. But I did get folders and disks and disk holders, and spent far too much time reorganizing my disks. I have far too much of which I need to keep track. When I move into the house and set up my office, I will hire a temp to help me set up a good system for the first month or two. As it was, I spent far too much time in organizing my desk this morning, but at least now I can find the desk.

Also hit the Victoria’s Secret sale. Found what I wanted. The very young salesclerk tried to sell me their equivalent of a Wonderbra. When I refused, she said, “You know, you really oughta think about it, ‘cuz when you hit thirty, everything starts headin’ South.”

“I’m forty-two,” I said.

“Get out!”

“I am.”

“Get OUT. No WAY!”

“I’ll show you my driver’s license if you like.”

“My mom’s not even forty and she don’t look as good as you. How many times a week you go for Botox?”

“I don’t use Botox. I think Botox is disgusting and people who voluntarily inject botulism into themselves are idiots.”

“That’s all real?”


“Get OUT!”

In other words, it was an interesting morning.

New press release has hit:
It’s rather amusing.

I had to contact the NHL, because there’s something in the draft entry data that doesn’t make sense to me. I’m probably misreading it, and hopefully, they can straighten me out (since it’s the data from their site).

Llewellyn hired me to write for the 2006 calendar. I’ll be Miss November, and that article’s due Aug. 1. Quite a few things are due Aug. 1.

I started the BTP play today. Unfortunately, because I didn’t go with the full flush of momentum with it, it’s much more difficult that it should be. I got about one quarter of the way through the first scene (which, actually, the first act is one scene, and the second act will be two scenes). There’s a lot of good stuff in there, but it needs ever so much more research for details, and I’m so exhausted that I don’t have the stamina to do the extended hours of writing that I need/want to on the draft.

This is why I can’t be on someone else’s schedule. I need to be unscheduled, to work with the ebb and flow of my own creativity and biorhythms. It still means facing the page every day, but if I want to write from 2 AM – 2 PM instead of being forced to write from 6 AM – 10 AM because I have to catch a 10:19, that’s what I need to be able to do.

Five weeks. I just have to hold it together for five weeks and then, hopefully, I can go back to my own fluid schedule.

It’s frustrating on so many levels. The exhaustion is really what’s holding me back. It’s not that I don’t care about the show, because I do. It’s not that I don’t care about doing good work, because I do. But there is no way that I can give what I usually give to 8 shows a week and give the writing what it needs. Something has to give, and it has to be the show. Since I gave my word I would do the next month full time, I have to do good work while not putting an emotional investment into it. That’s next to impossible for me. Yet, if I’m going to hold energy in reserve for my writing, that’s what I need to do.

Cooked wild salmon for dinner (with shallots, rosemary, oregano, and garlic) along with mashed potatoes and fresh spinach. What a difference in the taste between wild salmon and farmed salmon. The taste of the wild salmon is sharper. And a good sauvignon blanc brought it out even more. Farmed salmon tastes bland in comparison.

The plan is to rest up a bit (after the dishes), then tackle a few more episodes of The Widow’s Chamber and maybe go back to BTP. I asked for an extension on the deadline for the Halloween story. I’m sure my editor will be shocked, because I hardly ever ask for an extension. If anything, I’m early.

If I wasn’t so damned exhausted all the time, I could get more done. But having to leave the house most days by 10 AM and getting home at 1 AM – those nine hours at home just aren’t enough to get it all done.


Sunday, June 27, 2004

Sunday, June 27, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and gorgeous

Is a residency at a writer’s colony necessary for me? I printed out the application for MacDowell Colony. It’s been a place to which I’ve wanted to apply for awhile. But do I really need a residency? I carve out my own time, and I like having my kitchen and the cats nearby. Yet the thought of spending several weeks in New Hampshire in a studio with my meals provided is also enticing. But do I want to go through the politics of it? I had such a horrible experience with the staff of Yaddo a few years ago (they told me I wasn’t famous enough or commercial enough to be worthy of a residency there) that I’m not sure I want to deal with the whole thing again. Yet my time at both Palenville and Dorset were wonderful. Do I want MacDowell because I truly think it’s the best place for me to work, or because I want the prestige of attending MacDowell? And how will I feel if they reject the application? Is there, perhaps, a better place for me to work? And, since I work well at home, do I really need to go somewhere else? If I do need to go somewhere else, what about renting an apartment-like space where I can do my own cooking? Since so much of my creative process is connected to cooking – which means the next five weeks of full show weeks will stifle that part of me – do I really want to be in a place where I can’t rattle around the kitchen any time I want?

I should probably ask the cards.

The BTP play is pressing on me. I have to spit out the first draft tonight or my head will explode. I tried to work on the hockey draft article, and kept getting interrupted by the BTP characters.

Sundays tend to be good writing days for me, but my prime hours will be spent in the matinee. How to deal with that frustration, and not punish those around me?

Today is a day where I feel as though I’m a wishbone being tugged at by two completely separate Muses, who find it quite amusing that each will only end up with a portion of me.

What a beautiful day! I would have loved to take my notebook and write in the park somewhere. However, there was a matinee to be done.

Too many people who work on the show are overtired and have no life outside of it. They get in snippy territorial fights with each other. It gets wearing. Stop whining, improve your attitude, and if you’re unhappy, get a job somewhere else. There’s a lack of professionalism among certain members of the crew that I find unacceptable. And it’s by those who have no life outside the building. However, that’s not my problem. Fortunately, a friend was working today and we could give each other Reality Checks. Therefore, no limbs were broken and neither one of us quit. We have the option to leave, because both of us have lives. Everyone has that option, but too many would rather stay in a negative situation and whine than take action and be responsible for their own lives. My patience and tolerance for those has always been low; at this point it’s non-existent.

Unfortunately, it sapped the energy for the BTP play. Hopefully, I can get that back later tonight, because I want to start it today. Waiting until tomorrow puts too much pressure on tomorrow. But we’ll see. I may just wait and do it after I run some errands in the morning and work straight through until Tuesday. An actors’ strike would be helpful right now, as long as it didn’t last too long. That’s sort of tongue-in-cheek, but not really. Do I want a strike? No, not really. Do I think what the actors are fighting for is both valid and important? Absolutely. In spite of what Management claims, the salaries of those who work a production (excluding overpriced stars) a very small percentage of a show. Management claims high ticket prices are caused by labor, but it’s a falsehood. And what they want to take away in this situation is ludicrous. Non-equity tours are as unfair to audience members as they are to professional theatre workers. The audience pays the same ticket price, but for inexperienced people not given the tools to do their best work.

Fortunately, Con Ed settled. I have to say, I chuckled when the Con Ed workers “rehearsed” picketing yesterday. Um, carry a sign, walk in a circle and chant. Not brain surgery!

I’m trying to analyze the data from the last six rounds of the NHL draft, and I’m a little disturbed because several names I thought would be in the first three rounds aren’t there AT ALL. Must do some digging.

Will try to recoup some energy to tackle BTP.


Saturday, June 26, 2004

Saturday, June 27, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hot, humid, rainy and then sunny and gorgeous

The train ride in to the city was interesting from a writer’s standpoint, but annoying from a human standpoint. The couple sitting opposite me was just hateful. They were having a tiff. I guess they’d spent some time with his friends. First of all, the woman treated the conductor like a servant: “Fetch me water”. Secondly, she whined like the spoiled, gold-digging brat she was, complaining about his friends, calling them racist (she was from India or Pakistan, I think), saying how dare they treat her like a “regular” person, and he owed her a lot of jewelry for agreeing to spend time with them. She didn’t want the guy to retain any friendships with any other female, saying it was inappropriate and an insult to their relationship for him to have conversations with other women – including cousins and friends he’s had all his life. My first reaction was to say to him, “dump the spoiled bitch”, but to hear his condescending responses made me dislike him as much as I disliked her. At least if they’re creating drama between them, the rest of the world doesn’t have to put up with their crap. And they were obviously exhibitionistic to some degree or they wouldn’t have had such a personal conversation on the train.

They are added to my file of characters to get murdered some day in some story.

The show went well, with only the usual little glitches that happen in live theatre. But, by the end of the night, I’m exhausted. I twisted my ankle during the show yesterday, and it bothered me a lot.

The train back was full of kids returning from an Incubus concert. Actually, they were much nicer, friendlier, and more positive than those returning from the Madonna concert the previous night. They were in genuinely friendly high spirits instead of being rude and nasty to people.

Overslept this morning – so tired I could barely drag myself to the kitchen to make coffee. Did four loads of laundry, caught up on e-mail, got the info to the Luna Jensen faction so that press release can go out. I have to run off masters for the blog postcard and update the serial cards in order for those mailings to go out.

I don’t know how I’m going to survive the next few weeks of eight shows/week and still keep up the writing. Somehow, I have to figure out a way to do it. But I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

The BTP play is torturing me like an abscess. If I can just hold it off until I get back from the matinee tomorrow, it can have my full attention all the way through Monday, and I can get a first draft on paper.

I managed to catch what would have been a major error, and herein lies another lesson about not trusting Internet research without fact checking. I used to be pretty savvy about dates, places, etc., having to do with the American Revolution. In the fifth grade, I did an enormous project on the Boston Massacre. I remembered it happening before the Boston Tea Party. Well, as the BTP characters grew and I had the idea of making a trilogy, I decided to hop on the internet and check dates. I hit the search engine, typed in what I wanted and hit “I feel lucky”. Guess the site paid the engine lots of $$, because it came right up – and had the Boston Massacre happening a year after the Tea Party. For the purposes of my play, this was wonderful – I didn’t remember it that way, but it worked. Anna and Stephen would meet in the BTP; Henry would get killed in the Massacre; and, after the war was over, Anna and Stephen would cross paths again.

Only, something niggled at me about the dates. And I checked them again, today. The Boston Tea Party happened three years after the Boston Massacre. The Massacre took place in March of 1770, and the Tea Party in December of 1773. So much for the internet site.

Now, I’d much rather have my history straight, but it screws up the character arcs of Anna and Stephen. It can’t be Henry who’s killed in the Massacre because I need him for the Tea Party. And I don’t want BTP to be the middle play of the cycle; I want it to be the first. So I won’t write a play about the Massacre, and have to come up with something else that happened – Paul Revere’s ride – no, too clichéd, been done too often – I’ll find something else interesting. So it’ll have to be Anna’s brother killed in the Massacre, not her husband, which will help fuel her hatred of the Redcoats, and raise the stakes between her and Stephen. I still haven’t figured out how to dispose of Henry, but since he’ll be alive for the entire BTP play, I don’t think I need to worry about it. Yet.

Always check internet information against an encyclopedia, dictionary, etc.!

In his book, Paul Collins scoffs at writers who claim their characters take over the book. He says it’s not possible. I must write to him and correct it – perhaps it is not possible in his process, but it most certainly is possible. I know because it happens to me. His book is fun, but he has no right to proclaim his views as the views of The True Writer. They are the views of One Writer. As my views are the views of One Writer (or is it Another Writer?). I must be doing something right, because I’m gaining publishing credits up the ying yang. And while I’m overtired enough to want to cut to the chase and simply say, “Bite me”, that’s really not what I want to communicate. The challenge of being a Writer: finding the best words to fit one’s meaning, in life as well as in work.

Got the press info out, fixed the masters for the blog postcard and The Widow’s Chamber new bookmarks and the The Widow’s Chamber cards. Also did a flyer for all the serials plus the blog on one piece. Those can go to the printer on Monday. Also got out a query for a project in which I’m interested.

The first three rounds of the NHL Draft were interesting. Most of the guys on my list have been picked; some guys who didn’t catch my interest on paper and on whom I previously hadn’t seen tape in my research impressed me in their interviews. I was annoyed that Robbie Schremp was picked so low in the first round, but I’m glad he’s going to Edmonton. I can see him as a future teammate of Raffi Torres (providing Raffi’s still there by the time Schremp makes the Big Club). I have a ton of information from my article that will have to be sorted and then fact checked.

This week will bring many long nights and/or early mornings, and very little sleep.

Con Ed may go on strike at midnight, which means I won’t be able to post for awhile. The actors may go on strike tomorrow night, which means I won’t be paid for awhile.

But I’ll still be writing.


Friday, June 25, 2004

Friday, June 25, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hot and humid; storms

One of my favorite things in life is grocery shopping. I love all the creative possibilities of wandering up and down the aisles, planning meals. I find it very relaxing.

And, of course, it’s necessary. It was especially necessary because the cupboards are growing bare, and I won’t be home much over the next month.

I agreed to be in full-time over the month of July on the show. Although it means I will live in a state of perpetual exhaustion, for the next five weeks and have to be ruthless to the extreme with my time, it’s the best way I can help a sick colleague, and it also will tide me through financially until the fall writing money comes in.

I just have to make sure I keep a positive attitude, work, take care of myself . . .and don’t get caught up in other people’s drama.

Show was fine last night. One of the leads completely split his pants during a swashbuckling scene, and everyone on stage tried to survive the scene until they could race off and howl with laughter. Live theatre – nothing like it on earth!

The audience was lively and lovely, clapping and cheering for everything. I have a feeling we’re at the point of getting repeat theatre goers – people who truly love the show and keep coming back, play the CD at home all the time, singing along. It’s nice. The show is worth it.

Finished the Dawn Powell biography. I want to start the Selected Letters, but Paul Collins’s Hay-on-Wye book called so loudly I had to start it first. It’s funny and delightful, and makes a good train read.

Started the Halloween story. My sense is that it will run around 3000 words. I hope that’s not too much – I can’t remember what the word count should be. Although I prefer to write the first draft of a short story in one sitting, I can’t do it that time. So I’m working on it scene-by-scene, writing each scene as en entity unto itself. In the revision process, I will smooth out the bridges between the scenes so that it’s all of a piece.

A friend is moving into a new apartment next week, and I want to put together a little house blessing box for her.

Rewrote chapters 69, 70, 71 and 72 of The Widow’s Chamber and sent them out. Chapter 71 is one of the best, funniest things I’ve ever written. The original intent was to add tension into the scene where Nora and Daisy rescue Alva Benning, the woman jailed for murdering her abusive husband. I decided to add a couple of drunks in the next cell to ratchet up the stakes and the tension. They were originally envisioned as disposable characters.

Well, Cletus and Elwood had other ideas, and they turned out to be two of the funniest characters ever to grace one of my pieces. It gives Nora a chance to show her intelligence in dealing with them, and the entire chapter is almost an homage to Terry Pratchett, although I’m nowhere near as clever as he is.

Cletus and Elwood will be back. They’re too endearing to lose.

Shows what happens when you let the characters lead and be their own people, instead of trying to force them into the outline.

I’m almost caught up to where I need to be by the end of this week with The Widow’s Chamber and now have to think ahead to next week. I’m still behind on Tapestry and Angel Hunt.

I’m frustrated because I can’t find the books I need for the steam boat section. I may have to search and have them shipped overnight.

The BTP is pressuring me to be written. It feels like an abscess ready to pop. If I can just hold it off until Sunday night, I’ll pull an all-nighter Sunday into Monday to get down the first draft.

Did some business (or “busy-ness”) catch up. Still need to get info to Luna Jensen so that press release can go out. Maybe I can write it on the train and get it out in the morning.

I have ideas for some trips I want to take over the next few years, but not sure how much planning I want to do. It’s been far too long since I was in Paris; I’d like to do a project in Finland; I miss Scotland terribly; I want to do my DC/Boston trip; Prince Edward Island is calling me. And, I’m wondering if it would behoove me to shut myself away in a writers’ colony for 2-3 weeks in order to work on some of the plays and the hockey books.

Doing 8 shows/week, I’m not getting enough solitude so that I can really hear what’s going on inside and make informed decisions. There’s too much noise everywhere.

Must try to get some more work done on the Halloween story, shower, eat, and get to the theatre.


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Thursday, June 24, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Thoroughly exhausted, both physically and mentally. The past few days have been too much about the show and too little about my work. I genuinely like these people, I genuinely enjoy the show, but I also have to make sure I don’t get caught in the daily-ness of it and use up too much energy that needs to be focused on my work.

I’m also very tired of the poor attitude of several people who work there. So sorry you’re tired, so sorry you don’t want to be there, but you don’t have the right to take it out on anyone else. It gets wearing.

And, I have to remember, that if it becomes a situation where there’s more bad than good, I can always leave.

Tuesday day work was three times the normal amount of work in the call, due to various things happening within the show. I did almost all of it, and left detailed notes for the regular dressers of what still needed to get done. The stench of dead mice in the walls of one stairwell is so pervasive I’m nauseous every time I have to go up and down the stairs.

At least I got a chance to do some mental work on the Halloween story due on July 1. I have my characters, I have their conflict, and I have the general arc of the story. Now I have to sit down and work on the details.

I ran errands on my way in to work on Tuesday – ordered the new cell phone battery, picked up some books I needed at Coliseum, and grabbed the last two issues of Poets and Writers magazine. The articles are good, and the ads give me ideas of new places where I can pitch my courses. It turns out that someone I knew in the Seattle grunge rock and roll scene when I lived there in the mid-eighties has just started a small, independent publishing company. I’ll have to let him know I review for New Pages.

Show on Tuesday was fine, and, since it was an earlier show, I got home before midnight, instead of after. But I was too tired to be particularly useful.

Wednesday out of the house early for two shows. A phrase in the Dawn Powell biography, “without promise of deliverance” strikes me as a good title for a short story, but I don’t know what it is. Yet. I don’t usually build stories from titles. We’ll see if I can find the characters that live under the umbrella of this title.

Matinee frustrating because of tired co-workers. Went off and had dinner on my own, at what used to be one of my favorite restaurants on Ninth Avenue, Route 66. They are the place that got me hooked on the beauties of a grilled chicken Caesar salad. I had one of my long time favorites – salmon linguine in a tomato cream sauce. Only they no longer use cream, so it was a watery tomato sauce that not only splattered over everything every time I used the utensil, but tasted lifeless. It certainly cost enough, and I was disappointed.

Evening show was okay, but, again, frustrating. I repeat, if you’re unhappy on the show, leave. Don’t take it out on everyone else. There are plenty of people who want to be there, and plenty of people who’d love to be on the show.

The train was filled with stupid drunken girls who’d seen the Madonna concert. Using “fuck” every other word and berating other people doesn’t make you a strong woman – it makes you an idiot. The worst of these little chickies was moaning how she couldn’t find a nice guy. Why would she, when she is vicious, vindictive and stupid? I know there are plenty of silly men who’d rather have vacuous than someone with some substance, but even most of them have a limit when it comes to vicious and vindictive. And, frankly, the men growing up ten, fifteen, twenty years behind me are much savvier when it comes to women then the men with whom I grew up. I think it’s because so many of them have been raised by single mothers. The younger guys seem to be more interested in intelligent, independent, fun women – in spite of the way it’s portrayed on “reality” television.

Even though I’m exhausted, it’s still hard not to sit up all night reading the Dawn Powell biography. It’s wonderful.

Today has to be a day of focused work.

I brainstormed yesterday with a good friend about the formation of the WHA and that I want to be involved with it.

“What do you want to do?” he asked.

“I’m not sure. That’s the problem. I don’t know what I should do.”

There was a slight pause. “Run it?” he suggested.

I only wish!

Got my hair cut – a nice, easy care cut for the summer that looks good, but won’t drive me nuts in upkeep.

Spent the morning tweaking Dixie Dust Rumours and got it out to the editor. Put a note on the calendar to do a follow up in February – this publisher warns to expect an eight month response time.

Received my new cell phone battery and it’s merrily charging.

Worked on the information for the July newsletter.

Still no check from the magazine. I’m sending a second request, including a late fee. Enough is enough.

My Llewellyn editor contracted me for three articles for another almanac – I think it’s 2006. I think all the 2005 articles are in, and I’m now working on 2006. They’re interesting pieces, some of which need research. But they’re not due until September 30, so I have some time.

The BTP play is percolating and about to explode. I need to write the first draft of a play in one sitting, so I have to block time where I don’t have to worry about running to catch a train for the show. I’m hoping that I can preserve enough energy during the Sunday matinee so that I’m ready to go on Sunday night and can pull an all-nighter into Monday, if need be.

Starting to work on the Halloween story. I’d like to get a first draft done today and tomorrow, so that I can do a revision after I write the first draft of BTP.

Time to eat dinner and catch the train for the theatre.


Monday, June 21, 2004

Monday, June 21
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and beautiful

I am so tired I’m practically walking into walls.

Not only do I eavesdrop, I stare at people’s books. What’s so exciting is the wide variety of reading material and the fact that few people in the New York area venture out without something the read. Whereas I never saw anyone hold a book much less read one in Houston, here the majority of people carry several.

Originally, BTP was supposed to be a one act, between Anna (the Patriot woman) and Stephen (the redcoat). However, it’s become important for Henry (Anna’s husband, who participates in the Boston Tea Party) to appear at the end of the section between Anna and Stephen. I want to explore the dynamic between Anna and Stephen, and then between Anna, Stephen and Henry, and then have Stephen leave and show the problems between Anna and Henry. Too bad the research book I’ve been reading about the Tea Party is so dry – some interesting political information, but still, the facts are presented lifelessly.

On my way in to the theatre on Saturday, I stopped in at Coliseum Books and picked up some of the books I wanted: Tim Page’s biography of Dawn Powell, his volume of her selected letters and All That Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South, which I thought would be helpful for The Widow’s Chamber and beyond. All from the remainder table. I haunt remainder tables.

Trailing the show was fine. Enough changed since I originally learned the track so that it would have been a problem for me to go in cold.

I had dinner with a friend on the show, and we went to a lovely little Afghan restaurant on Ninth Avenue. It was delicious, and we got a chance to catch up on our lives. He’s been doing a lot of work to change the things in his life that cause him pain and I applaud him for that.

The evening show was fine, although the basket ballet confuses me. There are times when I swap unmarked baskets for other unmarked baskets, and I’m wondering why I can’t keep my original unmarked baskets. However, I’m the swing, and it’s my job to preserve the track as created, not change it. So I do. And the principal I dressed is such a lovely woman (not to mention a terrific actress) that working with her is a pleasure.

Got home late, too tired to work, played with the cats and fell into bed. Got a copy of a magazine for which I wrote – but still no check.

Woke up on Sunday, morning chores (the dishes need to be done, the cats need to be fed, the litter boxes cleaned, no matter how busy it gets). Checked the race results, and rewrote and sent off “No Sure Things” for FemmeFan.

Caught the 10 AM train. Decided Andrew Jackson needed a rest, so took the Dawn Powell bio instead. I’m a big fan of her work. I have all her New York novels. They’re in storage – big surprise. I haven’t read her Ohio novels yet, but her biography makes me want to. I’ve read her diaries, and her thoughts, feelings, and experiences speak strongly to me. I feel she’s very underrated. Most people don’t understand that you can be sharply satiric yet still love your characters. That’s what she does.

The actress and I did a photo shoot with Amy Arbus in the early afternoon. She is Diane and Alan Arbus’s daughter. Her photography is exquisite, and she’s a lovely, lively, creative person. What a treat, to get to spend time with an artist who’s organized, creative, personable, focused, and friendly. There’s no falseness about her at all. I can’t wait for the book to come out – I definitely want a copy. What could have been stressful before a matinee turned out to be a lovely experience.

When we got back, I had to rush around doing my preset, but two other friends on the show had hung everything up for me, and all I had to do was organize it, which saved me about twenty minutes. The matinee went well, and then a group of us went to the Algonquin for drinks.

Can you imagine seven lively, interesting women having cocktails in the lobby of the Algonquin? It was fun. A great way to celebrate the Summer Solstice. We had a great time, chatting, catching up. There was some shop talk, but plenty of other subjects on which to range. Two of the women and I made a date to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in two weeks – there are two exhibits we’re all interested in, and if we don’t set a date, the weeks will fly by, the exhibits will close, and we will have missed them. So we set July 8 as our date. We’ll meet in the morning, wander around, have lunch in the sculpture garden, wander some more, and then come to the show.

I caught the 9:40 home, but was too tired to do more than chores.

Overslept this morning, stumbled around doing the morning chores. Drove to White Plains to Target. Actually, my first stop was at the bookstore, where I haunted the remainder shelves. I found a biography of Abigail Adams I’ve wanted for awhile, Dear Friend, and picked up a book on dragons and an encyclopedia of Feng Shui. That means my trip to Coliseum tomorrow only requires the Jefferson book, the John Paul Jones bio and the book about Hay-on-Wye.

It was such a gorgeous day, I wanted to play hooky and just drive around, but since this week I only have one day off, I had to be productive.

After the bookshop, it was Target for more storage bins and a new air conditioner. I actually need to buy two, but I only bought one today. And it was so heavy, and suddenly I was so wiped out that I left it in the trunk of the car.

I still had money in the meter, so I popped into Filene’s Basement. I tried on a few things, but only bought one shirt – a gorgeous navy and gray striped shirt, at 80% off.

Grocery store and wine store on the way home, then fell asleep for most of the afternoon. When it’s too difficult to formulate simple sentence structures in speech, it’s not going to happen on the page. Might as well sleep.

Checked out some houses online – found a few possibilities. I like looking online, because then I can eliminate some from the list, and don’t have to waste time onsite. I can only go and visit the ones I really think I’m interested in. I think it makes more sense to stay in NY State than to move to Plymouth right now. Maybe a Plymouth move in ten years or so. Although, once I buy a house, I’ll probably stay for good. I hate moving, and I’ve done enough of it over the years.

Polished one of the articles for N2arts, then wrote and revised the second and got both off. Sent off article ideas to my editor at Llewellyn.

My editor at Keep It Coming sent me my schedule for the serials, and, even though I’m behind where I want to be, I’m still ahead of what she needs for publications. So I can work steadily, but not stress.

If I don’t do laundry soon, it’s going to get a little scary around here.

One of my Dearly Beloved Friends, who lives in California, is upset that my cell phone’s not working (I have to order a new battery). He’s convinced I’ll be in the midst of a biochemical terrorist attack and he won’t be able to reach me. I tried to explain that if that happens, I won’t be using my cell phone because I’ll be busy doing things like breathing, but the fact that he can’t reach me whenever he wants has him all in a tizzy. The fact that I hardly ever answer my phone is a minor detail.

I’m ready to go back to bed. But there’s still an interview to do with Honolulu and serials to be written.

And I have to be on an early train tomorrow.

Still no check from the magazine.


Saturday, June 19, 2004

Saturday, June 19, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hot, humid, cloudy

The show was fine yesterday. It was hot and sticky getting to and from the theatre, but the show itself went smoothly.

I have to special order the new battery for my cell phone, but it shouldn’t take too long. In the meantime, my phone is useless.

Still no check for the feature articles. Soon it will be time to send a “second request” – containing a late fee.

One rejection for my query for Dixie Dust Rumours, but one request for the full manuscript! I will go over it one more time this weekend (probably on the train), see if there are any last minute tweaks, then print out a fresh copy and mail it to them on Monday.

Reading the Andrew Jackson bio, I got an idea for a play with Jackson, Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams as main characters. Guess what that’ll require? More research! I wonder if I can get my hands on transcripts of their actual debates?

A friend gave me a book catalogue, and I found plenty of useful volumes. I have to pare down my initial list of what I want down to what I need, but it will be helpful.

Woke up later than I’d have liked this morning. Managed to revise my racing article and send it off.

I saw an article in the Toronto Star about the NHL players who are considering throwing a “lock-out” party for New Year’s Eve and perhaps a tour of Canadian cities during the strike. I want in. I want to cover their exploits. I’ve taken down some relevant information, and now I have to formulate letters to the appropriate sources to be on their press lists and maybe get credentials.

A friend called to ask how the short story due July 1 is coming. Considering I forgot I had a story due July 1, I’d say it’s coming along a bit more slowly than I’d like.

Why is it that the minute I sit down to work, they turn on the mower and run it over asphalt?

So many other things to say, but, as usual, I’m running for the train. Two shows today – I’m back upstairs on a different principal track for the rest of the weekend, and, since the regular dresser is out tomorrow, I’m doing a photo shoot with the actress before the matinee, out of the building. Somebody somewhere will have to figure out when I get to do the preset – that track has to preset the entire first act at the top of the show in “Brigadoon” – the quick change booth appears and disappears during the course of the show. It’ll all work out. I’ll come back from the shoot and preset and they’ll just have to wait until I’m done, unless they want the show to crash and burn.


Friday, June 18, 2004

Friday, June 18, 2004
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hot and Humid

We’ve worked everything out at the show so that it works for everyone this weekend. I feel as though my request was respected, everyone is covered, and we can get back to work. I’m relieved. During the Saturday matinee, I will trail the person I’m covering that night, so I can re-familiarize myself with the show. Then I’ll do her show Saturday night and Sunday matinee. Someone will come in to the Women’s Ensemble for the matinee, and they’ve got someone to cover Saturday night and Sunday matinee. I’ll go back in to the Women’s Ensemble for all of next week, except for next Saturday, when I’ll be covering the NHL Draft. So it works for everybody, and no one feels screwed or disrespected or overwhelmed, which is how it should be.

Yesterday was a productive, if somewhat ironic day. I spent the late morning/early afternoon at the NY Public Library, where they have their own version of the Dewey Decimal system, so finding what you need is always an adventure. The irony is that the most helpful book I found is one I actually own but is tucked away in storage where I can’t get at it. Very frustrating.

However, I took a variety of notes – both historical and what the history inspires, mostly for The Widow’s Chamber. I didn’t find the clothing information I needed, but I found it this morning on the internet. Of course, all my costume books are in storage, too.

Public libraries are great except for the annoying, disruptive people. Believe it or not, the NY Library is much better than the Houston Library. In Houston, the staff spent their time talking full voice on their cell phones non-stop, and two guys at a table behind me spent well over an hour talking, again full voice, about why women should be beaten.

I have no doubt their karma will catch up with them quickly.

Yesterday, the annoyances were a man at another table who sat and stared at me for three hours (and no, I didn’t move. I was there first. I read my books and to hell with him). And a woman at a table behind me who had every item in her bag individually wrapped in noisy plastic bag, cleaned out her purse, ripped up bits of paper, and talked to herself the whole time.

I still got a lot done, and working on the fifth floor has fewer annoying people than on the ground floor or the second floor, where most of the aggressive crazy people flock. This reads without compassion. Our social services program needs complete overhaul, so that there aren’t any homeless, and so those who have mental difficulties have the proper care and a place to be. But I also have the right to inviolate space and quiet in a public library. I want my tax dollars to go to social services and education – not to a new football stadium for the NY Jets. They want a stadium, they can pay for the whole damn thing themselves.

After my session at the library, I wandered into Coliseum books. There are several books that will be helpful in my research on the sale table. As soon as my check clears, I will trot back and buy them. And these books are staying with me, not going into storage. Coliseum Books always makes me happy. Just walking in there makes me feel good, whether or not I end up buying anything. The staff is amazing. They know me by sight now, because I’m in there several times a week. They’re friendly, helpful, and they care about books. The staff always looks happy to be there. And I can ask about something completely obscure and they’ll figure out where it is – or, if they don’t have it, where to get it. Between Coliseum Books and Strand Books, I have two of the best bookstores in the country, if not the world, within commuting distance. As much as I want to move farther away from NY, I need to have access to those two bookstores (thank goodness for the internet, right?).

Union meeting was interesting. It’s always good to catch up with other people in the theatre community, find out what’s going on where, etc., and what’s going on throughout the industry. It was our last meeting before the summer break, so it was especially important. Actors’ Equity and the League are talking again, so there’s hope to avert a strike. I will remain cautiously optimistic. Should they go out, I’ll be on the picket line supporting them, but I hope it doesn’t happen. The musicians’ strike last year was difficult enough. And I mean that emotionally more than financially.

After the meeting, I grabbed a Happy Meal at McDonald’s (the cats will get the toy) and headed for the theatre. The show went well – I finally feel like I know what I’m doing, even with inconsistency all around me. And that’s helpful. I truly enjoy the company, which helps. They are a good group, both as far as talent, and as far as character.

My article for Femme Fan, “Racing Through Summer” looks good on the site. I feel better about it, but still plan to make the next article better.

I checked my e-mail to find that is interested in having me write two articles for them and, if we find we work well together, it could very well turn into an ongoing relationship, which would be great.

Another happy e-mail was the editor of the community paper asking for my social security number so he could put me into the payroll. I was pleasantly surprised – I’d figured I would be blown off for the check. But he’s right there with it. So that place rises in my estimation. Meanwhile, the slick magazine still hasn’t paid me. The magazine’s been out for nearly a month, and I was supposed to be paid within two weeks of acceptance. Live and learn.

Researched the next horse racing article, and also did some more background work for the NHL draft piece. There’s also something brewing at Madison Square Garden – I need to look into it more before I write about it – about Dolan insisting his commentators not praise visiting teams or criticize home teams. If these rumours are correct, he’s emasculating his commentators, in addition to ruining their credibility. I need to do some digging and try to get both sides of the story.

Got out a mailing. I still have to put together information for Luna Jensen’s next promo.

Did some decent work on the racing article for FemmeFan, and did the first draft of the Audition article for N2arts. Started the Creative Tools article for them, but ran out of steam.

Got absolutely nothing done on The Widow’s Chamber.

I heard back from my annuals editor – he likes the list of article ideas I pitched to him, but feels they are more suited towards a different almanac than the one he’s currently contracting. He’s going to hold the ideas over and we’ll discuss them again in the fall, but do I have anything for this one? I told him I’d think of some over the weekend and e-mail him a list of ideas on Monday. I’ve come up with a half a dozen, just pacing in the living room, and I have ideas of ideas, if that makes any sense, but I need to research them a bit.

There’s still another query letter I need to get out for a position in which I’m interested.

Caught up on some e-mail. I have to clean out my mailbox – it’s far too full. But that’s going to have to wait until Monday.

The Andrew Jackson biography is fascinating. He strikes me as one of those people one can admire from afar, but not want to be around on a daily basis. I want to research his wife, Rachel. Again, I was first exposed to her story as a child, in The Childhood of Famous Americans series, and now I want to know more. Toting around such an interesting book makes me look forward to the commute instead of dreading it.

Today’s hourglass is almost empty – must jump in the shower, cook dinner, and get on that train. Show tonight.


Thursday, June 17, 2004

Thursday, June 17, 2004
New Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Exhausted. And angry. Never a good combination.

Yesterday’s two show day was rough. It’s frustrating when there is so much inconsistency in a show that it feels like starting from scratch every time you enter the room. In twenty plus years of theatre, I’ve never felt that on any other show.

On top of that, I told them I didn’t want to do two separate tracks on Saturday – it’s too much and will be a big mess. Have me do one or the other. However, they are having me do exactly what I told them would be detrimental to the show to do, because it’s easier for them than picking up the telephone. They trained 85 damn swings in these tracks. It’s not my fault they’re incompetent and the good ones are unavailable.

I’m not one of the lazy ones. There are plenty of times I’ve done two different tracks in a show on the same day, sometimes two different shows in two different buildings. I know what I can do. When I make a request like that, it’s with a solid basis. And I expect my request to be respected. If it was a well-run, well set-up, consistent show – which it should be, nine months into the run – it wouldn’t be a problem. This one is a problem. Every show comes up with a rhythm. Because it’s live, there’s variation every performance, but there’s still an internal rhythm. This show has none, and it’s inexcusable. And unnecessary.

And this happens ONCE. I do not stay somewhere where I am not respected.

The important thing is to still do my show with my level of professionalism – to hell with the people who run around talking about how much they don’t care. If they don’t care, they shouldn’t be working on the show. It’s unfair to take out my anger on either the actors or anyone else working the show, so I make sure not to do so. The situation has been set, and I need to respond to it in the way that works the best for me. Every time I’ve tried to be cooperative and flexible with them, they push farther. I have a line, and once that line is crossed, there’s no turning back. I’ve given fair warning. What they don’t realize is that I don’t go back on my word. And when I’m done, I’m DONE. I’m like a cat. The ears go back, the hackles rise, and if you don’t heed the warning, you will get slashed.

Enough about the show.

I revised chapter 68 of The Widow’s Chamber before I left yesterday morning. I caught an error I made in an earlier episode and decided to refer to that earlier mistake (calling another character by the wrong name) as a character choice.

My cell phone battery died and won’t recharge. So I’ll have to buy a new one, at some point.

Highlights for Children didn’t give me the prize for a short story that I forgot I submitted. At least there’s no ego involved there, because I forgot about the submission. I think it’s in my submission log – will have to check when I have the five minutes to update the log. So now I can submit it elsewhere and take longer to write the story for next year’s contest. Considering I wrote the piece in two hours, I’d say taking extra time might be a good thing. (I found out about the deadline the day of the deadline). Looking at the story, I want to rework it a bit. I made cuts in it to fit word count, and I want to put back some of what I cut out, because the point of the story is the character’s anxiety at the gift she’s bringing to a classmate’s birthday party not being expensive enough, and I cut some of the sections that build that tension.

Candlewick rejected a query, but I have to look up for what. I think I queried them on two different projects, and since they simply jammed a form letter into the envelope, I have to look up for what.

An agent sent a rejection – must have been for the hockey book – which means they’ve had the query for over a year! I stopped querying agents on the book last fall, and had started that January. Not a big loss on my part, I’d say. If it takes a year to answer a query letter, that business practice does not give me confidence in their representational (not to mention organizational) abilities. It’s rather amusing.

I left the notebook with the notes for Ellie Jamieson on my desk, instead of carrying it with me. In other words, that notebook has now become the “Ellie Jamieson” notebook instead of one of the notebooks I carry with me at all times to jot down ideas (called the “Fragment” notebooks). Did some character work on Ellie’s two children, Zack and Zoë, and on Ellie’s ex-husband and his new wife, Belinda.

Standing on the train platform waiting for the NY train and watching the Acela race by (okay, it’s six hours late, but it’s racing to maybe make up the time?), makes me want to take a trip via said train down to Washington DC, haunt the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian for a few days, then head to Boston for a few days. Now, if I could find someone to pay me to take the trip, even better.

I want a garden with butterflies and lightening bugs.

Character work on the BTP. I want the British solider to have Scottish origins, which means I have to research the way the British military was set up in 1773 as far as allowing Scotsmen to hold rank. Or did they remain completely within their own brigades? Or are they called regiments? Time to use the dictionary. Were any Scottish regiments here in 1773? I know that there was a regiment of Scottish Highlanders in the Battle of New Orleans, but what about pre-Revolution? Maybe it’s actually a history of the Scottish military I need to research.

Maybe this time I should start with the encyclopedia.

I’m reading a biography of Andrew Jackson that’s giving me inspiration for The Widow’s Chamber in spite of being earlier than my time frame. I think I will have Cam Murdoch’s father a veteran of the Battle of New Orleans. His experience of the carnage changed him forever, and Cam’s outlook is definitely influenced by his father’s experience there.

It’s interesting that Jackson prosecuted whites who broke treaties with the Indians, yet also sat in Congress and spoke about the Indian problem.

The Legislators who met to discuss creating Tennessee as a state were offered a $2.50 per diem. They voted themselves a reduction to $1.50 in order to pay three positions not covered in the original set-up. If only we still had politicians like that, instead of Congress voting itself a hefty pay raise every year while everything else goes to hell without even the hand basket. Congress should not get a pay raise until NO ONE in this country is unemployed, homeless, or hungry.

I had to look up “bicameral legislature” – I was unfamiliar with the term. It means “having two legislative chambers” (Webster’s Seventh, p. 82). That’s what it sounded like in context, but I wanted to be sure. Not a term I think I’ll use – it wouldn’t slide trippingly off my tongue – or in this case, my pen.

Since the 1796 legislative session was not recorded, I wonder if I could read about it in personal letters of the time. Hmm. More research.

Nice Mexican dinner between shows, and did some work on a business plan to move into writing full time. The short version: over a three year period, I’d like the first year to earn 33% of my income from writing, the second year 66% of my income from writing, and the third year, 100% from writing, and I’ve picked what I want that 100% figure to be. I wanted a comfortable number, but not an unreachable goal. Now I have to go back and fill in some of the steps along the way, without trapping myself into timelines for publishing x or y project that will discourage me if they take longer to come to pass.

Worked a bit this morning on the next article for FemmeFan – I haven’t even had the chance to see if the other article went up on Tuesday. I can’t revise the next episodes of The Widow’s Chamber until I’ve completed today’s research. With any luck, over the weekend I can revise the remaining three episodes – which I think will stretch out to a couple more, and I’ll be set through next week. Then I’ll have to go back to Angel Hunt and Tapestry.

Monday, I have to figure out how to do the recording for Tapestry. July 13 is coming up quickly.

I want to find a lovely leather-bound set of the works of Jane Austen – including Sandition – to own and re-read frequently.

That’s really all I need to put myself in a better mood – a full day at Strand Books with about a $200 book budget.

But a few hours’ research at the library before the Union meeting and then the show should be a nice stopgap measure.

10 AM comes awfully quickly when you’ve gone to bed at 2 and there were chores to do, and the train is 10:26, so I better get going.


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Dark of the Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

On Monday, I was what I commonly call A Waste of Food.

In other words, I slept nearly all day. I ran a few errands, went to sleep, got up and cooked a meal (salmon poached with rosemary; eggplant sautéed in olive oil with scallion, cumin, and garlic; capellini in Alfredo sauce), and went back to bed. I was just wrecked.

Tuesday, I had to get up and function. All I had time for in the morning was to run a few errands and check e-mail. I decided to wear a bright blue dress instead of all the dark, backstage clothes, since I figured I’d only do day work and come home. I have matching little shoes – the shoes that inspired the opening line of Periwinkle, actually. But they’re not “city shoes” – in other words, because one slips into them, I’m always afraid I’ll lose one on the train platform or something. Plus, they’re not cushioned enough for me to spend five hours on concrete doing day work. So I skipped the cute shoes and went with comfortable running shoes. They looked okay, and were certainly more useful.

One of the things I enjoy about commuting in to New York is that New York women know how to dress. Whether it’s business or casual, a New York woman has a true sense of personal style. She doesn’t necessarily look like someone who stepped out of a magazine – it’s much more individual than that. Suburban women hit and miss and tourists – well, there are only so many tee shirts with silly sayings and cabbage rose floral print stretch pants one can stand to see in one day. I enjoy walking to and from the station looking at the way New Yorkers dress because it is inspiring. I’ll get an idea for a design or the way to accessorize, or, think, wow, those prints actually can work together. Much better than a magazine.

I’ve got several plain tee shirts I bought for about $2 each in various colours and then I sew on trim or buttons or some other design. Or I’ll add a satin ribbon along the side seam of a dress or maybe put a few beads on as decoration. It makes the piece individual. And if you feel good in something and look good in it, your confidence level rises and you’re more open to the good things in the world. I’m not talking about trying to copy models. I’m talking about finding a personal style.

For instance, I often wear dance clothing when I write – yoga pants, perhaps, and a Capezio shirt. Sometimes I’ll run errands in the clothes. They’re comfortable. The cut is flattering, the fit is nice without being tight or cutting, and I get compliments for my “writing clothes.”

If I dress sloppily, I don’t feel comfortable. I feel sloppy. It affects my attitude about myself which projects outward and affects others’ response towards me. It also affects my work, because I’m uncomfortable. So, yes, I have “writing clothes” – which are basically yoga or dance clothes, because they are comfortable.

Anyway, I used my train time to do character work for the Boston Tea Party play. That won’t be the title, but it’s set against the backdrop of the Boston Tea Party, so right now, I’m referring to it as the Boston Tea Party play or BTP. I’d roughed out some characters and situations a few months ago and done preliminary pages. I need to go deeper. I need to do some more research on the time. The last time I studied the Boston Tea Party was in the fifth grade, and I don’t remember that much.

So the train ride in to Manhattan was spent focusing on the BTP. I was surprised at how short the ride seemed today.

The great thing about steaming and ironing in day work is that you can focus on doing good work while still thinking. Most of the call, I spent doing character work for a new mystery – possibly a set of mysteries – set backstage at a Broadway show. I think I want several books to take place during the course of one long run. Having spent five years on Miss Saigon, I’ve experienced first hand how long runs affect the company, both positively and negatively. The focus will be on the daily nuts and bolts of backstage life.

Doing the character work, I realized that the characters retain combinations of characteristics of friends and people I’ve worked with, but are very much themselves, which is a good thing. In other words, this is not a roman a clef. They tend to be dull, in my opinion, anyway, because the writer is too tied to what actually happened to let the piece take off on its own.

I have my main character, Ellie. She’s divorced, with 17 year old twins who are about to enter their senior year of high school. She’s worked in the theatre her entire adult life (part of the reason her marriage broke up) and it’s not an easy way to raise kids on your own.

I realized that I need to plot this book very tightly and outline the whole thing, rather than my preferred method of blank paging. I also need to at least outline the fictional musical that is taking place onstage while all the storyline happens in the book. So, that’s a challenge. I did some work on the characters backstage, and on Ellie’s home life. I still haven’t decided if she’s going to live in Manhattan, but up around Inwood or Washington Heights, where it’s still livable, or have her in one of the boroughs. I don’t want her to live in New Jersey, which is where many of the tech people live with their families. And I’m not sure I want them in Westchester, either.

Big questions:
Who is murdered?
Why is the person murdered?
How is the person murdered? It needs to be creative and totally unique to the theatre. I’ll be prowling around the theatre now, trying to come up with interesting ways to murder people. I have to be careful how to speak so that I don’t upset anyone. I don’t want them to take it literally!

Also, how many murders should there be in the book? Do I want there to be three murders and Ellie the fourth attempt? Obviously, she has to survive or there’s no series.

The other question is, do I want the most unpleasant character I’ve created to be one of those murders, or do I want to save that character and keep the character as a nemesis for future books? The typical choice would be to kill her off in this book. But I don’t want to follow formula here. I want to expand.

I wrote about eight pages of notes on all this during my break. It will need weeks, perhaps months, to percolate.

And then, they asked me to stay and work the show, both for the night and all week. Which is fine, I’m happy to help, but means I have to be ruthless in my time away from the theatre, I have to pace myself, and also. ..well, I wore a bright blue dress instead of stage blacks! Fortunately, this particular track doesn’t call for me to actually be in legs of the wings, so there’s no chance of the audience getting a glimpse of turquoise wafting past. But I was teased heartily, and it was funny.

Several actors out, but no one dropped during the show, which is a good thing. My show went okay – after doing a different track all last week, it was like relearning again. But I got through it.

Bitter disappointment: my magazine pieces. The one piece is pretty decent – most of it is my work, shifted around, with the last few paragraphs reconstructed out of a variety of information scattered throughout the article, and it’s obvious that the tone is different. The second piece – the one cut by 9/10 is not only short, but inaccurate. So, not only have I yet to be paid, it’s not work I feel comfortable using as clips. And I have to talk to the people who spent so much time with me for the second piece. The overall slant of the publication is more “scene-geared” than I hoped it would be. In other words, I am not a good fit for it. I wish the situation had been handled differently, but it wasn’t. Trying to fix blame won’t solve anything. I admit to coming home, having a glass of wine, a good cry and a chat with a good friend who isn’t a writer, but did his best to soothe me because he knew I was miserable. I considered not admitting that in the blog, but what good is a blog on the “ups and downs of a writing life” if I’m not forthright about the downs? Some things that aren’t so happy in the life can be shrugged off. Others take longer. This is one of those.

At least I tried. I did some good work, I enjoyed the research and writing process, and I learned a lot, I found some new interests, I met some lovely people. Overall, it was a good experience. I feel as though I let down those who took time with me. But I also can use what I learned in other pieces and submit them to venues more suited to the type of work I do. So it’s not a total loss, although it is a disappointment.

And I’m sure I’ll feel a lot less disappointed once I receive my payment.

I pulled out my Jr. Encyclopedia to spend time with Chloroform. Unfortunately, it skips from “chipmunk” to “chlorine”. And, under “Anesthesia”, it talks about ether, but not chloroform. I guess they figure “Juniors” don’t need to know about chloroform.

Fortunately, my writing group pals found enough info for my section. It will end up being a paragraph or so and then come back during the River Road section, but it’s important info to have.

I’m going to check my e-mail and try to get a little revision done on Widow’s Chamber episodes before I leave for my two-show day.


Monday, June 14, 2004

Monday, June 14, 2004
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

Yesterday was quite a day, and I hope I don’t have another one like it again soon. It was just too much.

I woke up with everything hurting, from the physical demands of the show. I managed to get the morning chores done, check e-mail, read the Sunday papers, etc. I tried to post the blog, but, for some reason, Blogspot decided I didn’t exist and wouldn’t accept my password. I nearly missed the train, and was very upset.

Because of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, a walk that usually takes twenty minutes to the theatre took an hour. I’d hoped to spend some time at Coliseum Books on my way to the show, but they didn’t open until noon, so I couldn’t. Basically, every side trip on the way that I tried to cheer me up as I fought my way through the crowds backfired, and I was in a foul mood by the time I arrived. Plus, I carried the lemon sponge cake.

The matinee was a bit chaotic – two of the leads still out (one of whom is the woman who got sick during the show last night). Lots of shuffling and reshuffling in the matinee, as decisions were made during the show as to who did what where (which is all supposed to be figured out BEFORE the show so that presets can be done properly). The show is too tight and the personnel are stretched too thin for the presets to be reset while it’s running. We scrambled, but we got it done.

Dinner was potluck in the wardrobe room: John’s pizza, someone made salad, someone brought brownies, someone brought soda, I brought cake. It was fun. We ate and talked and chatted and relaxed. We only had an hour break, so it wasn’t worth trying to rush around and get food. It made much more sense to eat in.

Another of the leads was out for the evening show, so there were costumes to be switched (all my people were in, but I helped with the changeover). Then, during the performance, yet another lead got sick and we had to switch actors during intermission. I knew the track, so I could preset the second act while the regular dresser got the actress ready. That’s what the producers get for adding a ninth show on the week after the Tonys. Everyone was exhausted and stretched beyond belief, and getting sick. In addition, I wing two monkeys for the big reveal in the second act, and one of my monkeys never showed up. By the time the duet between the Wizard and Elpheba was finished, I had to tell the Stage Manager that even if the monkey showed up, there wasn’t enough time to get the wings on him before the reveal. He came upstairs after the scene while I de-winged my other monkey to apologize. It happens. People get overtired and lose track of what show we’re in and where we are in the show. And another of the actors slammed his spear into his foot by mistake. Everyone is just overtired. I only did seven shows this week, not nine, and I was fried.

A friend and I stopped at Cipriani for a drink on the way back to the train. The bartender (male) wore far too much mascara. There were a bunch of young tourists there. One girl in particular had had a few too many Cosmopolitans, trying to live the life of a Sex in the City girl. She kept wandering off, leaving her purse on the bar, in order to flirt with guys who were sort of cute but seemed amazingly vacuous. Believe me, NY is full of better men than those two, and chances are you won’t find them at a bar on a Sunday night at 11 PM. This is NY, for crying out loud, a city that doesn’t suffer fools gladly. That kind of behaviour will end up with death in a dumpster. Have a little common sense, people! The chances of her ending up as a character in a mystery (yes, the victim), are pretty high.

I know, I know. Always working.

I could barely keep my eyes open on the train. I didn’t want to fall asleep and end up in Stamford at 1 a.m. Not a good thing. So I forced myself to stay awake, stumbled home, and fell into bed.

I slept in until 8:30 this morning. Everything hurts. Things I forgot I have hurt.

Trying to focus on my work is difficult.

A friend from writer’s group told me she found the chloroform information in the encyclopedia. I look up from my desk, and there, on the shelf, in red and gold binding, is my 25 volume set of Britannica Junior from childhood. When I was little, all I wanted in this world was an encyclopedia. I thought encyclopedias were the greatest invention in the world, and I wanted to memorize all the information inside it. The A & P began offering the series at some point, I think it was $2.99 or $4.99 per volume a week with $20 of groceries or something like that. I remember how excited I was to get a new volume every week, and I’d sit and literally read it from cover to cover.

On the shelf below it, I have the 12 volume Audubon Nature Encyclopedia.

How could I not think to use them, now that I’m an adult? Certain information has changed, but plenty of things have remained the same.

I can’t believe I was that . . ..thoughtless? Ignorant?

On second thought, maybe I can. I’ve spent so much time obsessing about all the books that are in storage that I haven’t paid any attention to the books I have here, unless I’ve bought them recently.

That repetitive noise you hear is me banging my head against the wall.


Sunday, June 13, 2004
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day! Beautiful and sunny, a perfect temperature. I enjoyed the walk from Grand Central Station to the theatre so much! Everyone seemed to be in a good mood – which, when you’re wandering around in a city as crowded as Manhattan, is a good thing.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t managed to catch the beginnings of a migraine, and by the time I got to the theatre, it was full-blown. One of the other swings studies acupuncture, and she did some pressure point, cranial, and polarity work on me. It helped a lot, but it still hovered in the background all day.

The matinee was fine; I felt much more comfortable in the show.

I planned to have dinner with a friend to catch up on things. However, all this person wanted to do was bitch and moan about what’s wrong in her life. We’ve had the same conversation every time we talk for the past five years. But she won’t take one bit of action to change anything in her life. There’s always an excuse and nothing is ever her fault. I finally said, “Look, it’s a beautiful day and I don’t feel like dealing with your moaning. If there’s a specific problem and you want to brainstorm possible solutions, fine. But I’m not going to spend my dinner break listening to the same complaints I’ve listened to for five years. If you don’t like your life, change it.” She went off in a huff.

I had a fairly pleasant dinner at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants on 9th Ave. Unfortunately, a couple was there with two small children who did nothing but scream and fuss. That annoys me no end. There’s got to be some sort of compromise where restaurants can have family-friendly rooms – complete with child size chairs and portions – and other diners who want a quiet meal can also have their space.

My carry-along notebook was almost full and I went in search of another. It shouldn’t be that hard to find a notebook in NYC, but I couldn’t find one I wanted and then I was out of time to write anyway. Annoying.

I ran into an acquaintance on the street who’s working on THE BOY FROM OZ and is very happy there. Everything I’ve heard about working on that show is good.

At least I did an hour of writing before leaving for the show, so I don’t feel as though I lost the entire day.

And several friends from writer’s group pitched in and searched out resources for me on the history of chloroform. I ought to be able to revise those episodes and send them off tomorrow – with the correct information!

I talked to a friend about how frustrated I am on the show because every time I go in, so much has changed that I feel like I’m learning it all over again from scratch. I can’t get settled into it, the way I can with other shows. He pointed out that, because I’m in career transition, I’m overcompensating when I’m in the theatre, and putting much more pressure on myself than necessary. I’d never thought of that. He’s probably right – he usually is when it comes to my inner workings – whether it’s my work or myself.

Had some good “heart and soul” talk with another friend who works on the show – the importance of the inner work we do as people, and the necessity to push our comfort zones and keep expanding. Treat yourself with respect, and also treat those around you with respect. It causes a ripple effect that only makes things better.

As much as I love my work in the theatre – and I really do love it, hence the overcompensation – it is not my life anymore. My life is growing and changing. The demands my soul makes right now are very different than they were even three years ago. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to pour my energy into other people’s projects. I want to work on my own. I’ve spent years working on other people’s projects. I’ve learned a lot, but now I need to apply what I’ve learned. I sometimes wonder where my career would be if I’d been less enthusiastic about other people’s projects earlier in my career and demanded equal time for my own. But the past is the foundation for the present and future. There’s no time or energy for regrets, and much of what I’ve experienced I wouldn’t trade for anything. But it’s time to move forward.

The evening show was chaos. Lots of actors out, and reshuffling with swings. One of the members of the women’s ensemble had a zipper get stuck during the quick change. She had to be torn out of the skirt in the quick change. Later, she was sewn back into it for another scene, then cut out of it for the following change. On top of that, one of the leads became very ill during the show – to the point of not being able to make an entrance on time – and her standby had to go on during intermission. Her dresser had to take care of her, so I picked up cues she usually did because no one was there. We all made it work, but boy, where we tired by the end of the night.

Very glad to get home and crawl into bed around one thirty in the morning.

And, of course, up early today. I’m glad I baked the cake yesterday. I was too tired this morning.

My short story “Tears & Coffee”, under the Christy Miller pseudonym, is up on The Rose and Thorn for their summer issue:

It looks good. I’m pleased with it, and working with them was a very positive experience. They definitely deserved to be on the list of Writer’s Digest best sites.

The Rye Sound Shore Review published one of the horse racing articles. So that’s another clip.

I need to update my CV tomorrow and get some publicity info out to Luna Jensen for the next promotion.

As it is, I’m running late. Have to put on some lipstick, sprinkle powdered sugar on the cake and take off. Two shows today and then I can get some sleep.

After all, there’s a horse racing article to be written, and research to be done on the hockey pick and episodes for all three serials and . . .


Saturday, June 12, 2004

Saturday, June 12, 2004
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Very tired. And achy. Par for the course, when you’re hauling around heavy baskets of clothing, dashing up and down concrete stairs, and working on a raked stage. Got home late and didn’t get to sleep until nearly 2 a.m. The show didn’t flow as smoothly for me as I would like – switching from track to track is confusing, and it shouldn’t be. For some reason, I couldn’t turn off cues from other tracks, and I kept second-guessing myself. I’m annoyed. I know better.

Up before 7, morning chores, etc. Baked a lemon sponge cake for tomorrow. Read the papers, etc.

Now that Reagan’s funeral is over, maybe the All-Reagan All The Time news service will get a rest. I’m sorry for the family’s grief, but this week was excessive. And, no disrespect to the dead, but I remember the Reagan years, and they weren’t all sunshine and roses. Let the man rest in peace, and let his family get some rest.

The article with which I was unhappy last Thursday was accepted and will run Tuesday. I’m glad, but I also plan an improvement in my work for next week’s article.

Did some more research on the history of chloroform, but still don’t quite have the info I need.

Worked on Chapter 70 of The Widow’s Chamber. It will need massive rewrites, but the skeleton is there. I think the time it covers will end up being 70 & 71 – rescuing Alva Benning happened too easily and I need to build the tension. Because the device of her rescue is what reveals to Nora what Frank’s actual mission in life is, I’ve glossed over it and not made it an interesting story. I’ve used it as a bridge, when it needs to be an event with weight in and of itself. And then I deal with Daisy’s life as an actress, and I have to figure out how deeply I want to delve into that. I may have the episodes for the rest of the month contained within those two points.

And they’re still in damned Nashville – I haven’t managed to get them onto that steamboat yet. I have a feeling I will have 20 or 30 chapters on the steamboat at this rate. I hope I can get to the library on Monday and find some drawings of the interior of steamboats. I need to make copies and post them above the computer while I write those episodes. I’ve done some steamboat research, but I don’t feel confident enough in what I’ve done to make the episodes really flow. I’ve got a cast of interesting characters assembled for that part of the journey, but I need the inner workings of the actual boat in order to make it real. I haven’t dug deep enough into personal accounts of trips at that time in order to feel comfortable.

Maybe Thursday I’ll go into the city early, before the union meeting, and spend some time in the NY Public Library doing research. The libraries out here don’t have what I need.

At least I got in about an hour’s writing this morning. Will pull myself together and head for the theatre. Two show day today. I hope to have a nice, quiet dinner break at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants.

I’ve been reading a biography of Jane Austen. It makes me want to go back and re-read her books again, all at once. I did that during that horribly lonely summer in Seattle. It is one of my few happy memories from that portion of my life.


Friday, June 11, 2004

Friday, June 11, 2004
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

It took me three hours to answer my e-mail this morning. I couldn’t believe it. I thought maybe it was twenty or thirty minutes.

Show last night was fine. I’ll be moved back into dressing Principals for the rest of the week because another dresser has an illness in the family and I know her show quite well. So they’ll pull in another swing for the Women’s Ensemble and I’ll go back upstairs.

I had a hard time getting going this morning, but I managed to get a bit of grocery shopping done and some errands.

Now I barely have three hours left in which to write.

And those blasted leaf blowers are at work again. Argh.

On top of that I’m getting “run time error” and “abnormal program termination” approximately every five minutes. How much do I hate Microsoft?

Next large check, I’m going Mac.

Two more episodes of Angel Hunt. Polished all six episodes and sent them off. I’m happier with this sequence than anything I’ve written on the piece thus far. It’s taking some interesting turns. Some of the dialogue may be a bit philosophical – is there such a thing as a philosophical occult horror novel? Well, there is now. The basis of belief can be pretty scary.

Two episodes roughed out on The Widow’s Chamber. I thought could squeak by without research, but I had to go hunting for the history of bloomers and the history of chloroform. I'm not quite sure why bloomers and temperance go together, outside of the persona of Amelia Bloomer. It's not something that's relevant to this story, but I might investigate further for the future. I think I may be stretching the time line a bit with the use of chloroform in 1852 – although it was in use in Edinburgh in 1847, “discovered” in 1831, I’m not quite sure when it came into use in the States. I can always mea culpa in the notes on the website, but I’ll do some more digging. I’d like it to be as accurate as possible.

Need to take a nap so I’ll be able to do the show tonight.

Brain frying. Signing off now,


Thursday, June 10, 2004

Thursday, June 10, 2004
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Yes, folks, here it is. Yet another retrograde. They’re wearing me down.

In spite of last night’s exhaustion, I managed to do some work on a horse racing article. I still have to fact check it and polish it, but I hope to send it off before I leave for the theatre tonight.

Today, the work is just a slog. I’m not happy with the horse racing article I submitted. It has all the information, but it’s not “singing.” So far, I’ve done one episode of Angel Hunt, which is okay, but in order to be fully caught up, I need to do five more.

It’s one of those days when it’s work, pure and simple. The joy’s not there, the sense of discovery’s not there. It’s about getting words on paper and hoping I can polish them properly before the deadline. I’m terribly behind on the serials, with no one to blame but myself. I got behind with the Belmont, Stanley Cup Final and Tonys last weekend, and, since I wasn’t expecting to work theatre this week, I never caught up.

I want to concentrate on Angel Hunt today and The Widow’s Chamber tomorrow. That way, I can polish AH tomorrow, and the polish WC over the weekend. I don’t think I’m too far behind schedule on that one.

And, damn it, those stupid leaf blowers just started up again. I’m gonna hurt somebody if they don’t cut this out all day every day on a property that doesn’t have any leaves!!!!

Later: four episodes done on Angel Hunt. I’ll let them sit overnight and give them a polish tomorrow. I wanted to write six and get next week’s episodes done, too, but these four are solid, and I need to let the next episode percolate a bit more. I’m bringing in a twist earlier than I originally planned, and it’s taking an interesting tone. I still think I’m going to get slammed by horror reviewers because it doesn’t follow the tradition, but it’s very much of itself, and I have to stay true to its path, as my characters have to stay true to their own.

At least some of today’s work finally feels good.

Massive headache. Will rest for a bit before I cook an early dinner and head to NYC. The computer is doing nothing but giving me grief. It hasn’t worked properly since I did the upgrade to MSN9, which I had to do in order to access my e-mail.


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Wednesday, June 9, 2004
Waning Moon (Quarter Moon)
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde


On a positive note, I got out a query this morning before I had to leave for the theatre, and’s running an interview with me:

The interview’s getting a strong response, which is nice. I was worried, right after I did it, that my comments about grants came off as too bitter, but it’s okay.

That took the edge off not getting another freelance job for which I’d applied.

Wicked was fun – we laughed a lot. It’s a great group of people. I’ll be in the rest of the week to cover a women’s ensemble track. I hadn’t done the track since I first learned it several months ago, so it was a challenge to remember and also learn how it’s evolved. But it was fun.

And lots of horse racing fans in that company, so we got to dissect the Triple Crown.

I was still happy to get home after one show, though.

But too tired to write tonight.

I have to be very productive in the morning. I can work most of the day tomorrow and Friday, with shows at night both days, then two shows Saturday and two shows Sunday. Time to focus.

Which means, bedtime early tonight.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Tuesday, June 8, 2004
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Chiron Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup! What a game!!! Ruslan Fedontenko scored two goals and they held on. Martin St. Louis got hit with a stick in the last seconds of the game, and had blood streaming down his face as the clock ran out. Good thing he’s not a close personal friend, or I’d have had to go out on the ice and hurt somebody. Dave Andreychuk got to hoist the Cup after 22 years in the NHL and over 1000 games.

I was happy.

Still, however, I hurt for Calgary. I felt the worst for Miikka Kiprusoff, the goalie. He truly was spectacular during this whole run, and has become one of my favorite players. I look forward to seeing much more of him in the years to come. And I felt badly for Jarome Iginla and Craig Conroy, whose work I’ve come to like and respect during this post-season. I felt badly for all of them. They worked hard and well, but, unfortunately, it’s part of sports. The knowledge of how much they’ve achieved doesn’t dampen the pain they feel.

Roughed out the first half of a horse racing article for FemmeFan before I had to leave for the theatre. It was a beautiful day and not bad in the city. I almost enjoyed being in there again.

I picked up the current issue of The Hockey News to supplement the research I’m doing for the 2004 draft. I’ve got to pick my players to watch. I think I’ll add info on them to the Devon Ellington website.

I realized I pick my draft players the way I pick horses. I wonder if any of them would be offended by that. Will have to ask some of the hockey players with whom I stay in touch.

Wicked was fine. They asked me to come in and do the matinee tomorrow, so I will.

Came back to find out I didn’t make the cut for the radio scripting job. I’m seriously bummed. But another site is interested in having me review websites for them, and they pay, so that could be a good thing. Saw another possibility on a job board, but I’m too tired to pitch tonight. Will have to do it in the a.m. before I leave for the theatre.

I’m behind on the serials. I planned to work on them tomorrow. Too tired to do them tonight. Maybe I’ll get a second wind.

I have two other job pitches to prepare as well. Somehow, it will all get done. I’ll relax for awhile, then get fed up with the lousy programming on TV and go back to the computer.

No hockey for who knows how long. The Cup’s just been won and I’m already whining about lack of hockey.

I was going to bitch and moan about something, but I can’t remember what it is, so it couldn’t have been serious.

I’m so behind on Periwinkle it’s pathetic.

And I still have to figure out how to use the CD burner to do voice recording for the serial.

Somehow, it will all come together, and have a nice check (made out to me) attached.

In the meantime. . .