Sunday, October 31, 2004

Sunday, October 31, 2004
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mild and sunny

Happy Halloween!

Did you remember to turn your clocks back? I love this day – I enjoy the extra hour of sleep SOOOO much!

Difficult writing day. Some family tumult that needed to be dealt with, and I’m still exhausted, both physically and emotionally, from the past week.

Got some business stuff done, including two course proposals out to two new venues, and rewrote and sent off the wrap-up of the Breeders’ Cup article. My editor sent me an idea for another article, which I will pursue and hopefully have something worthwhile in two weeks or so. I want to finish the rewrite on the hockey article and submit it by the end of this week, and I need to contact Shane Sellers about his work to raise jockey weights, because I’d like to do an article on that.

I reconnected with my friends on the Thoroughbred Champions Forum – they’re a great group of people, and I feel badly that I haven’t spent as much time as I’d like with them. Hopefully, I can participate on a more regular basis. I always learn a lot from them, and enjoy their company:

I managed to rewrite issues 105 and 106 of The Widow’s Chamber and get them off. I’ve misplaced the research I did for issue 107 and can’t move forward on that until I find it. I did some research for the next few issues of Cutthroat Charlotte, but I haven’t been able to sit down and write them yet.

I read a submission for the KIC mag and liked it very much. I sent it to my reading partner for her opinion.

I want to do some more work on the tarot column today, and I also have to prepare for tonight’s festivities. All I really want to do is go to bed by about six tonight, but I’m sure once things get started, I’ll have a good time. After all, Halloween is only once a year! And today is so beautiful – unseasonably mild and just gorgeous. I wish I could have spent most of the day outside.

The computer is being difficult again – runtime errors, jumping Internet Explorer jams, and abnormal disconnects. I’ve kept track of the problems all month, put a monetary value on them, and I’m sending Microsoft an invoice tomorrow. I’m sick and tired of them not keeping up their part of the deal – selling a product that works. So I’m going to charge them for the physical, financial and emotional cost.

And I’m completely tied up in knots about Tuesday’s elections. I’m literally sick with worry.

A positive is that Hope Clark at Funds for Writers had a link in her newsletter about a Congressional Report Card -- which legislators support the arts. Most of the legislators in Massachusetts and in New York got high marks. That's a relief.


Saturday, October 30, 2004

Saturday, October 30, 2004
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mild and rainy

Up early to help my friend load her car at 7:30, and then we drove over to the vet to get her cats. The usually sweet one tried to tear everyone apart, and I went in to the room to hold her so she could be given her tranquilizer. She knows me, so it’s easier for me to hold her than for a strange tech person. The other cat, who’s usually nasty, simply isn’t speaking to anyone right now. She has her back to the world.

So, my friend got on the road for her move to Virginia by 8:30. I caught up on the rest of the errands that had been jettisoned yesterday (grocery shopping, et al). The air conditioner finally drained and I could finish cleaning it out and pack it. I got rid of a desk chair I’ve hated since Day One, yet I still felt guilty leaving it down in the basement by the trash bins. Maybe someone will give it a good home. There are stacks of papers that need to be sorted, but where’s the time?

My Breeders’ Cup article for today is up at FemmeFan:

In about ten minutes, I’ll start watching the races and take notes for the follow-up, which has to go to my editor tonight in order to go up on Tuesday.

Once that article is done tonight, I HAVE to spend some time on The Widow’s Chamber and Cutthroat Charlotte.

I’m exhausted, both physically and emotionally. And, although I only have three days at the show next week, I’m so tired I wish I didn’t have any.

I need to start tackling the business mailing this week, too.

I priced out postcards for the holidays. It’s cheaper if I buy a couple of boxes from Paper Direct ( Their quality is good, and so are their prices. The note cards are more than I want to pay – I can do better at some of the little stores around here – but the postcards are a better deal to buy at 200 per box than to run them off on the computer. I can get a template, so I can add a greeting or something, but I’ll handwrite the addresses and a few personal words. I’ll also get some holiday labels from Staples and put return address labels on them with either my address or the website address.

So, holiday cards are decided.

The overseas ones have to go out right after Thanksgiving, and I like to get the rest out during the first two weeks of December, so that’s why I’ve been planning.

I priced glass paint and stencils – I can do the Christmas painting project. The gifts will be of a good quality, and within my price range, and something totally personalized and handmade. Next week or so, I’ll head off to the local thrift shops and collect glassware. I haven’t found the stencil for dice that I wanted, but there’s a checkerboard stencil that I think I can convert into a dice stencil.

Providing I can keep Elsa out of the paint, it’ll work.

I made salt dough ornaments one year for the holidays (something like 200 of them, I had a big list that year). I spent more time washing paint off the cat than I spent painting the ornaments. She especially loved a Victorian rose colour (all over her stomach and paws and face), and there was the time she had a silver nose and blue whiskers.

Hopefully she’s outgrown her version of finger-painting by now.

Off to watch the BC races and write my article.


Friday, October 29, 2004

Friday, October 29, 2004
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I’ve lost yet another day of creative writing. Today is my mother’s 80th birthday, and I am determined that when she gets here tonight, we will have a merry evening. Also, I’m helping my friend and neighbor pack up and get everything ready for her move to Virginia tomorrow.

I don’t mind preparing a good birthday for my mother or helping my friend. I just wish I could find more hours in the day.

In addition, there were errands to be run, a sink to be unclogged, and WICKED was on THE VIEW today, so everything had to stop so I could watch my colleagues get a standing ovation in the studio. It is a year tomorrow that WICKED opened. I was a guest at the opening (the show I then worked on opened the night before and we had the following night off), and now I work on it. It’s work of which I’m proud, and a lovely group of people. Even though I’m in the process of leaving the business, I am honored to work with this group. And, of course, there are the preparations for the upcoming few days. Never made it to the grocery store, never made it to the art supply store, so tomorrow . . .

I was ready for a glass of wine by 2 p.m. So I had one.

Although these days have been a creative loss, I managed to get some business work done. I’ve caught up on a good bit of e-mail. Yesterday, I started work on a prospect list for a business mailing. There are plenty of things about which I know nothing – I am probably not the best person to write about air conditioning ducts. But I could write some great copy for an art gallery or a dressmaker or an historical society. So I’m putting together a package to target those areas. I did some work today for the KIC mag, and some planning for the possible road trip to do a workshop in Vidalia, GA next spring.

I worked on the first issue of Devon’s Random Newsletter, which I plan to send out next week. I was afraid I had nothing to say, but, as usual, I have plenty. I'm also going to include writing tips in every issue.

Shameless plug: If you haven’t yet signed up for it, send an e-mail to:

and sign up!!!

I also got out another mailing that needed to go out. So it wasn’t that I didn’t do ANY work, it’s just that I didn’t do any work on the fiction.

I visited the Upper East Side yesterday afternoon, and one of the fun things is t take the bus uptown and gaze into all the boutiques. There’s little I would buy – I can make most of the clothes, or get it at deep discount. Anything trendy, I can throw together on the sewing machine for 1/20th of the store cost. And, since it’s generally only around for a couple of months, then I don’t feel like I’ve wasted money.

If I didn’t have to look at price tags, I’d buy a few pieces from Chanel, from Giorgio Armani and from Tse. All three are timeless. And the workmanship is excellent. Why pay designer prices for things that are poorly constructed and come apart the first time you wear them? I go into a store, and I check linings, pattern matches, stitching. If the workmanship is shoddy, I don’t buy it. I have some Tse pieces, and they wear well – always a plus when you work in theatre and deal with animals (the four-legged kind, not the actors).

After wrestling with myself for weeks, I decided not to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year, although many people I know are doing it. I love the idea of writing a 75,000 word novel in a month. It’s only 2500 words a day, and that’s pretty much my output anyway.

But it means starting yet another project. And I need to work on the serials, work on the articles, my business plan, etc. And I have the Congress Corners cycle that’s occupying far too much of my brain, and The Other Project clamoring for attention and . . .

Ultimately, I had to ask myself, why do I want to do it this year?

I was not happy with my answer.

My answer was “Ego.”

Starting and finishing another project within the month while juggling everything else would stroke my ego. That’s it. I have enough projects in various stages that I don’t need to add another one right now. And I need my attention to be on high quality for the serials, the short stories, the articles, and putting the business plan into motion so that I can make the monthly financial goal I set for myself in 2005.

In other words, I would be writing for the wrong reasons, instead of for the love of the work.

So, this year, I am designating myself as a Cheerleader (hey, I never was one in school, I’ll make up for it now) for all of those who are doing it. I’m going to encourage, support and be happy for them.

This year, it’s not the right choice for me to participate as a writer. Perhaps next year, it will. And I want to make sure that I do it next year because I have a story aching to be told, and it’s a good time to let it all pour out. Not because I want to impress myself and stroke my own ego (don’t go there, people, I’m talking in literal terms here, not, ahem, rhetorical or metaphorical).

Making the decision and knowing in my gut that it’s the right one filled me with relief.

Now, if I can just get some creative work done. . . .


Thursday, October 28, 2004

Thursday, October 28, 2004
Last Day of the Full Moon (Blood Moon)
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

The Red Sox won the World Series! Congratulations to them!!!

Getting up at 5:30 AM to get to the early day work call wasn’t so bad. It’s staying up that’s the problem.

Next time at this week, we will know who is slated to be the next president of the United States. I’m worried about the election. There is so much at stake for everyone, especially the real working people who actually make the country work. I’m going to be a basket case next Tuesday, and by the end of it, either be relieved or have to rethink about what I have to do for the next four years of my life in order to survive.

Day work was fine, pretty laid back, as it usually is on a Wednesday morning. Everything gets done, it’s just that the pace isn’t too frantic, which suits me just fine. I picked up two additional days of day work for next week, and a show for the following week, so it should all be good. Three to four shifts a week gives me a good balance between the writing and the theatre.

The commute is getting me down, though. I do not commute well.

Came home and went with my neighbor to buy a new cat carrier for her move on Saturday. I need to get a new one for the twins (the two little cats who aren’t so little anymore), so it was good for me to price it out. But the bulletin board with adoptions always breaks my heart. I want to take them all home. There was even a cage with three little caramel coloured rats in it – and they were cute! However, I have no intention of bringing something into the house that the cats would torture.

I was once chosen by a Sun Conure in a pet shop. He kept saying to me, “Take home! Take home!”

“I can’t, I have cats,” I said.

“Get rid! Get rid!” The bird insisted.

Uh, no.

My new downstairs neighbor has taken to sitting on the stairs so she can talk to people as they go in and out. I want to be kind to her – I realize that she’s lonely – but she asks inappropriate questions that are none of her business and gossips in order to have connection with someone, anyone. I’m a very private person and I respect others’ privacy. There’s plenty I don’t put out in casual conversation, and I don’t engage in gossip about other people. I can engage in writerly curiosity without infringing on my neighbors’ privacy. And, since she lives under me, now I feel like she’s keeping track of every step I take through the apartment, every time I come in and out, and I resent it. I’m a quiet neighbor. I’m pleasant, but I there’s plenty I don’t discuss with people who aren’t close friends, and I don’t believe when I go in and out is anyone’s business. I don’t answer to anyone. I never even had a curfew growing up. If I got in too late, I still had to get up and go to school and face my responsibilities the next day. I’m certainly not going to start answering to a stranger now.

I want to be kind and compassionate, but she’s making it difficult.

Got quite a bit of work done on “Giving and Thanks.” I’d like to get it finished soon so that I can get started on the next story for Emerging Women Writers, which is due around Thanksgiving.

Also got an idea for a ghost story (not set in Congress Corners) that I’d like to get down before it vanishes (was that pun intended or not? – I’m not sure).

There was a lunar eclipse last night, which was pretty cool. The way the stars work fascinates me, as long as someone else does the math.

In writers’ group, we’re going to work on our Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions for 2005. This will work in tandem with my business plan, but be separate from it. Hopefully, we can all help each other achieve our goals by working together as well as doing our individual work.

Elsa was still pretty depressed yesterday, although she came out late at night. This morning, she seems more like her old self – in other words, she’s getting into things that she shouldn’t, so hopefully she is starting to get over Felicia’s death. She’s showing an interest in the world again. She was always the most curious and optimistic of the cats, so I hated to see her so unhappy.

The twins are racing through the apartment like a stampede of elephants, chasing each other.

I can’t wait until I have a house so they have more room to run.

Back to The Widow’s Chamber and Cutthroat Charlotte. I have to go into the city this afternoon to visit someone and then pick up my check.

I need to price out papers and some glass and glass paint. I want to make some of the Christmas presents this year, and I also want to design a holiday postcard to send out for business and print it myself, rather than having it done at Kinko’s. I want it to be a nice, simple design, on a good card stock, and I have to figure out how much it will cost – is it cost effective to do it myself, or does it make more sense to do it at Kinko’s?

I’m trying to get the rest of my mother’s birthday present pulled together, too. Too much to do and not enough hours in the day!


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Couldn’t do the weight training part of PT yesterday. My body just couldn’t do it. And, of course, the biggest problems have taken up residence in the shoulder I injured several years ago during the run of Miss Saigon. Well, let’s hope I progress through the week so it’s better. Today is mostly floor work, so hopefully I won’t get quite so frustrated.

My friend and neighbor got a job in Charlottesville, VA and starts next week, so I’m helping her get ready to go (as much as my back lets me). I’ll miss her a lot – she was always ready for adventure at the drop of a hat, and it was nice to someone to hang out with so close by. But this is a great job opportunity for her and she is so over NY. I’ll just have to go down and visit her.

Maybe I’ll DRIVE to and from Savannah, and stop in each direction.

Elsa has been terribly depressed since Felicia died. She stays under the sofa most of the time and doesn’t want to play or socialize. She has always been the ultimate optimist, so it’s hard to see her so unhappy. At least this morning, she came out during yoga. I was in the Bow pose and she came and started playing with my necklace. So much for the Bow pose, but at least she was more like herself.

Checked out writers’ guidelines on a bunch of lit mags. There were very few of them to whom I wanted to submit. The attitude of some of these publications is truly appalling. The smug superiority is especially ridiculous when there are numerous typographical and grammatical errors in the web pages, not to mention a singular lack of style.

Legends in their own minds.

Not people with whom I want to work.

I’m pleased about Emerging Women Writers taking “Dream Layers”, and I like their vibe. It also made it easier to get past a rude rejection from a publication in Oregon. I’d submitted an essay to them months ago. I’d received a reply about three months after submission, saying they were really busy and it would take awhile to get through the submissions. I sent them a follow-up with a change of e-mail address a few weeks ago. Nothing. So, several days ago, I sent a follow-up, stating they’d had the submission for months beyond the expressed time frame and were they still interested, or should I send it elsewhere? The response was that they were “too busy” to read all the submissions and yes, if I was going to be like that about it, I better try to submit elsewhere.

You know where they can shove that attitude! They don’t pay enough to make the hassle worthwhile. It’s a funny piece, and I’m happy to have the chance to submit it elsewhere.

“Giving and Thanks” is going full steam ahead. I’m on page 22 now, and it shows no sign of slowing down, so I guess it is a novella. I have no idea where this cycle of stories will lead. I’ll let them tell me. Lucifer Tempest was supposed to be a random homeless teen, but I’ve given him a connection to the O’Brien family that raises the stakes for all of them.

I was discussing the possible move to Massachusetts with a friend, and I couldn’t believe how negative she was. “You’ll never find work there”, “It’s unreasonably expensive”, blah, blah, blah. Guess what? If I want to live there, that’s where I’ll live. Considering how much I’ve always encouraged her quests, she could at least try to offer ideas for solutions instead of only presenting problems. I was really shocked. This is someone who pays hundreds of dollars for seminars to help her find her life’s path.

Guess she’s still looking.

Gotta make it an early night. I’m doing the early call at the show tomorrow and must be on a 7 AM train.

My poor pumpkin is already getting mushy and I doubt will make it to Halloween. And I want to make cupcakes for the holiday – not to mention I have to get my mother’s present together for her 80th birthday on Friday.


Monday, October 25, 2004

Monday, October 25, 2004
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy & cold

Emerging Women Writers accepted “Dream Layers” for their November issue and urged me to submit more. I’m excited. The Congress Corners, NY stories will go under the Ava Dunne pseudonym that I’m using for Periwinkle and Change on the Fly. It will be good to have a place to play around with the Congress Corners characters and build up that pseudonym a bit.

Worked on ten issues of Tapestry and sent off nine of them. Issue #59 is the end of what was the material in the original novel. That material changed quite a bit during the course of the series, but that arc is done now, and I can move Nina on to the fun stuff that I played with in some short stories, such as meeting up with the father and child on the run around Thanksgiving (perfect timing) and also the Edinburgh Festival Fringe story. Then, I’ll go into the arc where she finds out what happened to Jake, before going back into the next mystery, which takes place in a theatre.

I want to rewrite Issue 59, because right now it doesn’t carry enough punch to end the arc. If the Thanksgiving arc doesn’t take too long, maybe I’ll adapt “Ho, Ho, Heist” the short story, for that. Or maybe I’ll let that stand alone and submit it elsewhere.

Yoga was good this morning, but I ache a lot and I’m not looking forward to PT.

I am looking forward to making beef stew for dinner, thought.

Did some preliminary research for flights, etc. to Savannah in the spring. It’s much cheaper to go out of JFK and it’s also a direct flight, which saves me in time and aggravation. This is a good possibility. Maybe I can teach a workshop in Savannah that Friday night (I’d fly in that morning), do the Vidalia workshop on Saturday and have a nice brunch in Savannah on Sunday before heading home. There are still details to work out, but it’s a possibility. I haven’t been to Savannah since 1979, so I’d kind of like to see how it’s changed.

Lunch and then back to work on The Widow’s Chamber and Cutthroat Charlotte. I want to carve my pumpkin tonight, too, and do some work on both The Other Project and “Giving and Thanks.”


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Sunday, October 24, 2004
Waxing Moon
Neptune Direct
Uranus Retrograde
Chilly and cloudy

Okay, we’ve established that to be in constant pain really, REALLY sucks. Hopefully, today is my worst day and things will start getting better.

I think my trainer is right – I will hate him by the end of the week. But I’ll benefit from what he and I are doing, so truly, I’m just griping. He pointed out something valuable – when I work shows, I skip weight training because I do so much lifting during the show. But it’s important to stick to the fitness regimen and let it support the work instead of the work being a poor substitute for the fitness regimen. I’ve slipped back into bad habits again, such as poor posture and tilting my pelvis forward when I carry or stand instead of staying straight, and that’s put my body in vulnerable positions. He also warned me not to pull up or try to compensate for the injured area, but to move as naturally as I can; doing otherwise teaches the body to shift out of alignment, and causes a domino effect of problems. He also wants to build the abdominal muscles – he says that will support the back and leave me less vulnerable to future injury. He’s seen shows I worked on (I met him while researching the first hockey novel) and has been backstage. He knows what I do back there, and he reminded me that I have to train like an athlete and maintain that type of regimen if I want my body to hold up – whether I’m transitioning out of the business or not. Heavy baskets full of costumes and raked stages take a physical toll.

There was still a point where I said, “I expect you to drink at least a fifth of whiskey at my funereal since you’re the one who’s killing me!!!!” The man also took out about half of the items in my purse, saying it was too heavy and no, not to switch it to a tote bag – this is how much I was allowed to carry this week. The man messed with my handbag. I might have to kill him. (Kidding, sort of).

Men don’t understand that a typical woman can live out of her purse for at least a week. I’m not talking about socialites who only carry lipstick, a cell phone, and cocaine in their purses. I’m talking about a real woman with a REAL purse. If it’s a mother, bump that up to living out of it for a month.

Day work today was fine, if somewhat painful. I fixed a sleeve on a mob coat by weaving back the torn part and replacing the ribbon-and-lace that was ripped off skillfully enough so you can’t tell where it was ripped. Of course, I couldn’t lift the coat to put it back on the rack, but the repair got done.

They’re very understanding at the show. I’ll only do day work this week, and no shows.

RENT was a ton of fun yesterday. We figured I hadn’t worked the show since Christmas Eve last year – that’s almost ten months. But most of it came back, and the company is so, so lovely. An actor I dressed in another role is now one of the leads and he is wonderful. It was a pleasure.

Got some work done on both The Other Project and “Giving and Thanks.” “Giving and Thanks” is spinning strongly in my head right now with some interesting twists, so I’m going to focus on that tonight. I have a feeling it might end up as a novella rather than a short story.

Good yoga session this morning, but man, does PT hurt!

Because Halloween (Samhein) comes up next weekend, articles about Salem, MA are starting to appear. I didn’t realize there was a pirate museum there. I think this calls for a Salem field trip to research Cutthroat Charlotte.

I might teach a workshop in Georgia in spring. I’d fly in and out of Savannah and make a weekend of it. Must do some research. If it involves travel, I wanna!


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Saturday, October 23, 2004
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

So, there are a lot of lousy human beings in the world. But I’m fortunate that the majority of those that are actually in my life are pretty wonderful. And that’s what I need to focus on – those who are worth it.

Did an extra long yoga session this morning. Everything hurts, but I’m sure it would be much worse if I hadn’t done it. I’ll have P/T early this evening, when I get back from the matinee.

Caught up on e-mail and I have a little bit of time to concentrate on Widow’s Chamber before I have to catch the train for the city.

The cats are thundering through the apartment like a herd of water buffalo, playing Chase.

KIC has a submissions link – I’ll post it when I get home tonight.

I have to make it an early night tonight because I need to be on an 8 AM train for day work tomorrow.

My complimentary copy of the FenCon program arrived. They did a lovely job and it looks like it was a good conference. However, I wondered why my ad got zero response, and I now know. They redesigned the ad to make it more in line, I guess, with the conference. However good it is, it has very little to do with the piece. The ad I submitted was very simple, quirky and made me want to know more. The ad that was on the page was dark, almost gothic, and wouldn’t make me click on to see the free issue. They meant well, but they should have discussed it with me first. Also, the point of the ad graphic was to match the bookmark graphic, so one could reinforce the other. By changing the ad graphic, the bookmark had nothing to do with anything. No wonder people were confused.

The ad for the manuscript critique and coaching service is in the new Funds for Writers newsletter. I hope that gets a positive response.

I forgot to mention that I watched the PBS show Broadway: The Musical last week. It was well done. The history was great. And then to see shows that had been such an influence on me and helped me choose theatre as a career, such as A CHORUS LINE. And to see shows I worked and still work on, such as MISS SAIGON, RENT, and WICKED. It reminded me that the career to which I’ve dedicated myself, and which I still love, is pretty cool, and not too many people get to do it. Although I’m leaving technical theatre to concentrate on writing, I don’t regret doing it.

I’m glad that I took this tangent instead of having a best seller at twenty and then growing bitter. My writing at twenty had no life experience in it. Or, rather, typical twenty-year-old life experience and I wasn’t able to write about that experience with anything other than raw emotion at the time. And, frankly, most of that type of writing is boring unless you’re in the throes of the emotion yourself.

How many Bright Young Things burned out by twenty-five?

I’m glad that I’m growing into my talent when I have the maturity and common sense to know when to cut something that doesn’t work, when to say “no” to a deal that would benefit someone else while I do all the work, and when I have a wide range of experience and have dealt with a wide range of people so that everything is not depicted in a single way.

There are some writers who have the technical and emotional maturity at twenty. More power to them. I didn’t, but I’m happy to gain it now, and I plan to enjoy it!

And I can still see a documentary on the theatre and feel delight at being a part of such a unique and lovely world, full of creative, wonderfully crazy and accepting people.


Friday, October 22, 2004

Friday, October 22, 2004
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I was in a car accident this morning. I went grocery shopping. As I prepared to start the car to pull out, the person in the space behind me rocketed back and rear-ended me. The bumpers hit, so the car barely has a scratch. The guy said, “That’s what bumpers are for,” waved and drove off before I could get his license.

I had to go to the doctor. Because I was twisted to put my purse in the back and get on my seatbelt on at impact, my back, neck and shoulders are screwed up. I’m in a good bit of pain.

I can’t back out of tomorrow’s matinee at RENT, but I think I’ll have to call WICKED and tell them I can’t do shows next week. Day work shouldn’t be a problem, because I can be slow and carry one shirt at a time if I need to, but I can’t do the movement required in a show.

I’m going to work with a sports trainer next week to fix the problems. He told me I’m gonna hate his guts by the end of it, but I’ll be back in shape in a week, which is better than if I just followed doctor’s orders and did nothing.

I wrote an article on the Breeders’ Cup for Femmefan, revised issue 105 of Widow’s Chamber and wrote most of 106. That’s all I could do.

I stopped early to cook comfort food – a big pot of ratatouille (I love the recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook), mashed potatoes and rosemary chicken with parsnips.

And I made an unhappy discovery.

A few weeks ago, when a friend was visiting, she knocked over a glass that had a rooting plant. She said not to worry, she’d clean it up and, since she’s a friend and I trust her, I never thought another thing of it.

Today, I reach for a cookbook from that shelf and found it was growing mold. I’ve lost an entire shelf of out-of-print, first-edition cookbooks, including Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking and Martha Rose Shulman’s Supper Club Chez Martha Rose. I’m devastated, both because these cookbooks were picked up on my travels and each one has a personal meaning and story attached, and because my so-called friend lied. It would have taken five minutes to clean up the spill. And I’m mad at myself for trusting my friend and not double-checking. But aren’t you supposed to be able to trust your friends? Especially for something as simple as wiping up a spill with a paper towel?

Maybe it wouldn’t hit me so hard if I wasn’t in pain from the accident. But right now, I have very little faith in the human race. And just the thought of having an election in a little over a week is enough to send me over the edge.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Oct. 21 Part II

Wrote three episodes of Charlotte, revised four and sent them all off. Not a bad day’s work. Rory Calhoun is a more complex character than I expected, which makes him good foil for Charlotte. I was afraid that Ned Cannon or Phineas Drake would become too interesting and take the focus away from what will develop between Rory and Charlotte.

Wrote three episodes of The Widow’s Chamber. Revised three (including one I wrote a few days ago) and sent them off. I’ve run out of steam and need to rework Issue 105 a bit before sending it off. I want more detail in the fire on the other boat and the rescue efforts. But both Nora and Charlotte are moving strongly in the directions they should be. I’m giving them their heads and both ladies are smart enough to use them.

I’ll have to do some, um, unusual research for upcoming issues of Charlotte, but I’ll explain it when I get into it. Charlotte is much more explicit and rough than the other serials, because it’s fitting for both the time period and the profession.

I’ll stop for something to eat, then do some research for the horse racing article. I have to go into the city to pick up my check tonight, and then prepare for errands early and another strong writing day.

I’m glad I was able to write as much as I did today.

I’m physically aching and mentally exhausted, but it’s the right kind of exhaustion.


Thursday, October 21, 2004
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I have a reason to watch the World Series this year, because the Red Sox beat the Yankees last night for the pennant!

Now, baseball is not one of my sports of choice. I’m an ice hockey and thoroughbred racing fan. And as a New Yorker, I should root for the Yankees. But I was born outside of Boston, I think Fenway Park is one of the most wonderful and unique stadiums in the country, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the Red Sox. So I’m excited that they won, finally, and I wish them well in the World Series.

I ended up staying past day work and working the matinee yesterday. The actors are so lovely on the show. I truly enjoy them. And several of them have said they wished I was on the show full-time (along with the regular crew, not instead of the crew). It’s nice to work in that sort of welcoming, creative atmosphere.

The house I like in Dover Plains won’t work. The trains to New York only run every two hours. For a matinee day, the latest train I could take is at 8:30 in the morning for a 12:30 call. The 10:30 train doesn’t get there in time. To get home, my only option is the 11:52 PM, getting in at 1:51 AM. If I’m going to stay in New York, I’ll continue to work on Broadway at least part-time, and I have to be within a reasonable commuting distance. If I’m going to be out of range of the theatre, I want to be in Plymouth, MA.

Did two revisions on “Dream Layers” yesterday and another one this morning. I’ve submitted it. We’ll see. I’m worried that the last revision might have made it too tight. I was trying to make sure I fit it within the five-page guidelines and then, when I got ready to actually send it, I re-read the guidelines and it was five pages single-spaced. But I didn’t really want to put back anything that I cut. The story, as it stands, makes the point I wanted to make, about a coincidental meeting being a turning point directly for one character, indirectly for the other. I could fluff it out with more atmospheric description, but I think the sprinkles I put in are enough. I cut awkward wording and bits that were too heavy-handed. Let the characters, their words, what they’re not saying and their gestures tell the story. The last paragraph still isn’t perfect, but the last sentence reinforces the theme.

It’s not up to me any more. It’s up to the editor to decide if it fits in to the vision of the magazine.

Meanwhile, I did five or six pages on “Giving and Thanks”. I’m very pleased with what it’s doing. Some of the information was helpful in the revisions of “Dream Layers” and, should this editor like “Dream Layers”, I have an idea for next month’s issue that would also incorporate characters from this fictional town of Congress Corners, NY. It’s definitely a New York suburb, but it’s a mix of Rye and smaller towns further upstate. In other words, I’ve stretched the Long Island Sound shoreline a bit to fit it in. I don’t want to be constricted by this town. Originally, I thought about moving it across the county and sticking it on the Hudson River, but the beach imagery is important to many of the storylines involving the characters in this community, so I had to put it back here.

Maybe I’ll even incorporate Playland Amusement Park.

Am I going to have to put up pages on the website with historical/actual information the way I do with Widow’s Chamber and Cutthroat Charlotte? We’ll see.

It feels good to write some short stories again. As much as I try to craft the serial episodes so they are both satisfying on their own and parts of a larger whole, I miss the feeling of completion that actually finishing a submitting a short story gives me.

But the short form is much more difficult for me than the novel. I like the development process of both character and story, and I like the characters to be able to take tangents instead of driving hard towards a single resolution. While that is comforting and tidy, I don’t find it realistic. People are more complex, most of the time, and it’s their complexity and the variance within a single personality that I find interesting. Again, it’s a difference between character and caricature.

A friend who spent a day at a wool/sheep/yarn fair upstate brought back a large manila envelope of information. Some of it contains info on events I’d like to attend. Some of it inspires me to write articles. A lot of it inspires me to put together a direct mail piece to see if a few of them will hire me to re-write their information. There are some innovative, creative ideas out there and if they are communicated well, I think everyone’s business will increase. I have to let that percolate for awhile.

Today needs to be primarily about Charlotte, but also with some attention to Widow’s Chamber. And then some more work on The Other Project.

I also realized I haven’t missed the deadline for the pre-Breeders’ Cup article. That’s this Saturday. The BC is next Saturday.

Somewhere, I lost a week. Perhaps at sea with Charlotte.

So I better get offline and back into the 1700s. Liza O’Brien, the Aunts, and Congress Corners will just have to wait.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Tuesday, October 19 Part II

Day work was fine, in spite of having to slog up and across town through the rain. Manhattan has too many people in too small a space for me to bear it right now. I need room, space, AIR!!! Preferably air that isn’t polluted with bus fumes and SUVs. Plenty to do at work, with people out sick etc., but it all got done.

I did a few pages of The Other Project on the train. During my break I did the first draft of a new short story, “Dream Layers” that’s got an Oct. 25 deadline. I typed it when I got home tonight, which meant a first revision. I’ll let it sit now and take another look at it when I get back from day work tomorrow.

I like it. A lot.

The problem is that now these characters have opened their world to me and have a lot more to say. I started a second short story, right now called “Giving and Thanks” which is a Thanksgiving story with these characters. A lot of it hits close to the bone, inspired by my hometown, but then flies off on its own, as fiction should. This story will not be held by the word and page constraints that “Dream Layers” is. I won’t be able to pitch it to the same market, but that’s okay.

Charlotte is going well and perhaps I can get a little bit more done on it tonight. I’ll go to bed early – got to get up before six to be on a 7 AM train for a 9 AM call tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Had to toss the hockey article and start from scratch. Obviously, I missed the one deadline and I have to get it ready for next week’s. And I spent so much time worrying about the hockey article I didn’t do a pre-Breeder’s Cup article. Fortunately, it wasn’t contracted, but I’m annoyed at myself.

I submitted three short stories yesterday, so at least there’s a deadline I didn’t miss. I did some brainstorming about the KIC mag with the editor.

I set up a new follow-up system for my work. Although I keep a submissions log and I’m good about entering submissions, I don’t check it often enough to follow up when there’s no response well past the time frame set forth in the guidelines. I simply can’t have pieces hanging in limbo indefinitely, and I have to stay on top of them.

The new system is one of F/U files. There’s a file for each month. When I submit something, I print off a copy of the cover letter or query and place it in the file for the month in which I need to follow up.

If I mix everything together on the Deadlines Calendar, I’ll never keep track.

Was working on a short story idea that isn’t working, so I tossed it. Will try again. The original intent was too formless. It needs to have a focus and a point.

I grabbed a pad of paper to do some work and found fragments of other pieces in it from several years ago. I’ll put them in a file and if I’m ever stuck, go back and see if any of them are worth pursuing. The great thing about writing is that nothing is ever wasted.

I also want to spend more time with my mom in the next couple of weeks, both to help her through the grieving process for her friend and then to celebrate her 80th birthday.

Feng-shui’d a few things in the place that had gotten stuck. Hopefully, that will get some energy moving.

Trying to learn how to maintain the website and set up the new website. I find it difficult – it doesn’t come easily to me. But I’m determined to learn it. Fortunately, Colin is very patient.

One of the other domains is up for renewal. I couldn’t get anyone on the phone at Yahoo over the last six days to make sure it would be renewed on the correct credit card, so I e-mailed them. Of course, they couldn’t be bothered to respond. I’m so tired of people who don’t do their jobs.

Managed to write one episode of Cutthroat Charlotte this morning and start a second one. I have to catch a train soon, but at least I’ve accomplished something.

Today is the Buycott. Women are encouraged not to buy anything to protest the fact that, out of the Fortune 500 companies, only 8 have women CEOs.

It’s a tough situation. I don’t believe a woman should be hired because she’s a woman. The best person for each job should be hired for that job. And it’s tough – my contemporaries and I fought for years to break through glass ceilings, and now women hit high level jobs and then leave to have kids. Women absolutely should have a choice and if they want to and can afford to stay home to raise their kids, good for them. But the reality is that the work has to get done, and every time a woman quits a high level position because of her biological clock, she makes it more difficult for any other executive woman to be taken seriously. Whether it’s right or wrong, that’s the way it is. There’s got to be a way to make it beneficial for women to take leaves of absences for years at a time or work part-time without the company feeling screwed because they invested time and money in someone who simply walked away when it was convenient. Perhaps some sort of mentorship within companies should be formed. High level women executives mentor promising individuals coming up so that there’s someone to fill in when they take their family leave. And then that person mentors the next person, and so on. It shouldn’t be gender based, but the best fit in each individual situation.

Of course, so few companies show any sort of loyalty nowadays, you can’t blame many people of either gender for walking away. Loyalty has to work both ways.

There’s no easy solution.

And since I have no intention of spending my life in corporate America, other than freelance jobs, it’s not my direct problem. But it does affect my life.

And I’m still going to honor the Buycott.

Time to eat something and catch a train. I won’t mind being inside all day on a day like this.

I have to get a pumpkin to carve this week and I hear a rumour there’s a pumpkin shortage.

We’ll see.


Monday, October 18, 2004

Monday, October 18, 2004
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I fought a stomach bug yesterday. I didn’t say anything at the show – after all, I’m the swing and it’s my job to be healthy so I can cover when people are out. But it took more energy than it should to concentrate, and I felt disconnected from the show and my fellow workers, which is not a sensation I enjoy.

Caught up on some business work when I got home, but wasn’t able to focus on anything creative.

This is Cutthroat Charlotte week, but I still have to keep working on Widow’s Chamber in tandem.

This morning, I went with my mom to White Plains so she could renew her driver’s license. She will be eighty this year, and she was worried that they wouldn’t renew it. But she passed the eye test and she has a clean driving record – a couple of speeding tickets years ago which she paid and after which she went to a special education program put on by the local PD. But that’s it. So the license is renewed for 8 years.

The DMV is now high tech and runs fairly smoothly. We were in and out in about 40 minutes. Most of the people there are pleasant and efficient. I spotted three however, who were much more interested in personal conversations. In the space of time their peers processed 5-7 people, this trio processed 2. They chatted instead of hitting the button to bring up the next person. And the supervisors just walked back and forth behind them and did nothing. Not good. It’s disrespectful to the people who are sitting there and busting their asses.

The building also houses an Asian market. I picked up a few food items, and also a bagua mirror, which I’ve always wanted. Unfortunately, when I checked the feng shui books and sources online about placement, unilaterally opinion was that such mirror must NEVER be hung inside the house.

So it’s over the front door, deflecting negative energy away.

Took a scouting trip to the Westchester County airport with my friend, who’s flying out for a job interview in Virginia on Friday.

When I got back, my mom was very upset. She called a long-time friend of hers for a chat. The woman’s daughter picked up the phone. Her friend had died ten minutes previously. They’ve been friends for 60 years. And my mom is very sensitive to phenomenon like that. Plus, it makes her face her own mortality. I’m sad for her and will do all I can to cheer her up over the next few days. I’ve sent the cats on a mission to make her feel better.

So, big business got another tax cut, from The Government, eh? The administration, as usual, rewards the rich while possibly privatizing and plundering the social security of the elderly. This is not acceptable.

The businesses claim this will create more jobs. It hasn’t in the past four years. All that happens is that the executives give themselves a raise, prices go up, and more people are fired.

Tax cuts need to be directly tied in to a business’s growth. If a business creates x amount of jobs, it gets x% tax cut. If the business lays people off, it forfeits the tax cut. If it continues to lay people off, the business gets a tax INCREASE. The current system, which is giving the business the cut upfront, doesn’t’ work. They talk a good line about creating jobs, but they don’t DO it.

Worked on a proposal package for a job I want that’s up in Massachusetts. I’d like to work for them on part-time freelance basis. We’ll see if my proposal is impressive enough for them to hire me.

At least I sent it out.

I’m creating a new recipe tonight for pork medallions in a mushroom gravy, with red cabbage and mashed potatoes. Simple, but I want to experiment with the spices a bit to get a little more zip than just your basic mushroom gravy.

In the meantime, though, it’s back to the high seas with Charlotte.

Hey, Charlotte’s in the Atlantic Ocean and Nora is heading down the Mississippi. Can you tell I’m a Pisces with all this water stuff happening?

Oops. Had to delete a few lines there. Iris jumped into my lap and decided that she can write, too! Tap, tap, tap go the little paws on the keys. She’s very busy.

Everyone thinks they can write, don’t they?


Sunday, October 17, 2004

Sunday, October 17, 2004
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I didn’t sleep well last night, so I’m not at my best today, which does not bode well for the show. I can’t go on the computer before I try to sleep – too much running around my mind.

Worked on The Other Project yesterday and did a bunch of hockey research. The WHA2 website is “temporarily offline”, which is interesting, and all I could find for the Federal Hockey League was a message board, but not their home page. Early in the year, both had decent web presences. So I’m wondering if they’re not doing as well as they hoped (you think?).

Saw the Hartford Wolfpack vs. Philadelphia Phantoms (Hartford won). I hadn’t realized how desperate I was for a hockey fix.

Since my information requests haven’t been answered, I need to reslant the hockey article. Which is fine, but I’m late for the deadline and it will probably go up next week instead of this one.

Worked on a couple of proposals, spent more time than I meant to working on a brochure, did some organizing work, switched the slipcovers on the living room furniture from the summer cottons to the winter fleeces. And feel like I lost too much of the day.

I tried a fantastic new recipe last night, from Brooke Dojny’s The New England Cookbook. It’s chicken and sage in a cranberry-vinegar sauce. And it is amazing. It’s pleasantly tart without being sour. I didn’t completely stick to the recipe, but it worked anyway. That’s one to get copied in the recipe book I carry with me when I travel. I also created a tuna salad with olives and Asian chili-garlic paste for lunch that was pretty good. I have to write it down before I forget it.

I have to send off hard copies of articles that were e-mailed a few weeks ago, but they need the hard copies as well.

I wanted to get some writing done this morning before I have to catch the train for the show call, but I don’t know how much I can do. I’m feeling a real time crunch, probably more so because I’m overtired and everything takes longer than it should.

The good news is that I’ll be one of the Assistant Editors for the new KIC magazine, editing two of the sections. I’m looking forward to it.

Hopefully I can get some writing done on the train, and I won’t be too tired when I get home, so I can do a little more tonight. I have four days of theatre work next week, so I have to be very, very organized. And work through any fatigue I feel.


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Saturday, October 16, 2004
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I hit a milestone yesterday with The Widow’s Chamber. I wrote issue 102. That’s a full year’s worth of issues.

At this time last year, I was in tech for a Broadway play called Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. Tech is when you put all the elements together, and the hours are long and grueling. Although it was only a two character play, there was still a great deal to do.

A colleague sent me the ad for a new venture called Keep It Coming, that planned to revitalize serialized fiction.

I love serials and I always wanted to write one. I also love westerns and always wanted to write one. “Those who Know” insisted, for years, that there was no market for either.

And here was the ad.

The deadline for submissions was immediate. Late, late at night (or early morning, depending upon how you look at it), I wrote a proposal and e-mailed it off. “I’ll never get hired,” I said to myself. “I haven’t done enough research in the time period. The proposal’s off the top of my head. I’ll file away the idea and someday turn it into a novel.”

The Civil War is not my time period. The Revolutionary War is. The Revolutionary War always intrigued me, mostly because of the group of people brought together at that time, in that place, to write the Declaration of Independence.

I had once told documentary filmmaker Ken Burns how much I admired his work, especially since the Civil War wasn’t my time period. And I wasn’t pursuing it because so many people wrote about the Civil War that I didn’t have to. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you someday,” he joked.

Little did either one of us realize at the time what would come to pass.

So I sent off my proposal and did my zillion hours of tech and tried to keep my mind off it and prepare myself for the disappointment of rejection.

Only it wasn’t rejected. And then I had to actually sit down and start writing it.

As someone who was inspired by both Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to honor them both in this piece. And explore the different views on slavery, despite my own strong views that there is no justification for it. I found it interesting how both sides felt they proved their position by invoking the Constitution. I also found it interesting the span of time leading from the Declaration of Independence to the Civil War and then on to women receiving the right to vote, African-Americans receiving the right to vote, and the Civil Rights movement. It all incubated back before the American Revolution and exploded during the Civil War. But the Civil War didn’t resolve it. Sometimes I think it’s still not resolved. In fact, in the current political climate, we are heading back to pre Civil War mentality.

The Widow’s Chamber was accepted. I had a massive insecurity attack. Fortunately, the actor in the show was enthusiastic and interested and gave me the encouragement to go for it. And now it’s a year and 102 episodes later and still going strong.

I’m going to write the actor a long thank you note for his support and belief in me when I wasn’t sure I believed in myself. It meant a lot to me. He went from being a person whose work I always respected to someone I genuinely like and feel a life-long loyalty towards.

So here we are, with a year’s worth of The Widow’s Chamber under our belts and still going strong.

And Tapestry, Cutthroat Charlotte, and Angel Hunt.

And working with Kelli Ballard, who is a wonderful editor, publisher, and person. I feel so lucky that the work has caused our paths to cross.

One of the joys of Cutthroat Charlotte is that I’ll be able to parlay some of the pre-Revolutionary tidbits into it as well.

So work continues on WC, although I’m not as caught up as I’d like to be. Did some work on The Other Project. Caught up on e-mail. Researched some potential job and marketing sources.

My desk was such a pit that I cleared it off completely and reset it. Now it’s a good working space. And all the piles are on the floor.

So I have to discipline myself to spend a half hour or so going through piles every day, and eventually everything will be filed.

Got called in to cover for someone’s sick day tomorrow on the show. Not a problem. A few days per week works well.

The MTA plans to raise fares 14% without improving service or anything else. I can’t afford to work in Manhattan anymore. The fares are so out of control – and it’s not like we get service. Tens of thousands of people pay into the train network every day. The money isn’t going to the union workers (in spite of the spin the MTA puts on it). It’s not going in to service or cleanliness or efficiency. I want to know into whose pocket all those $$$ are going. And I want the executives removed and some competent people put in instead.

Three loads of laundry and two episodes of Cutthroat Charlotte so far today. The arc where they vote on Charlotte’s fate is going well. The pirate crew are revealing themselves to be true characters. I was afraid I’d fall into caricature, but I’m listening to these men and as long as I stay true to them and their motivations, I’ll be fine. It’s definitely fiction; it’s definitely not strictly sticking to the facts. But I’m hoping I’ll be able to communicate some emotional truths within a cracking good story.

Time to break for lunch and do some more work on Widow’s Chamber, Angel Hunt and a short-short story that’s niggled at me for a few days.


Friday, October 15, 2004

Friday, October 15, 2004
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and warm

I’m having trouble concentrating on writing work today. And I can’t afford to lose the day to . . .not writing.

I did the grocery shopping and re-grouted the tub so far this morning – isn’t a writer’s life glamorous?

Actually, I love to grocery shop. I love the possibilities in the store, and figuring out the meals. Since I love to cook, the grocery shopping is part of the inspiration.

Last night, when I got home from the city, I was starving. I was out of commercial pasta sauce, so I made up my own (for the first time) and liked it much better. I wish I’d taken notes, but it was a toss-together rather than a recipe exploration, so I didn’t. Hopefully, I can recreate it. In addition to the regular Italian-style herbs in the sauce – oregano, basil, et al, I like to put in just a touch of fresh rosemary.

I tossed my hat in the ring for a job that I’d like, but I’m worried the time needed will outweigh the results. We’ll see. If it’s meant to happen, it will. I also printed off some job listings near Boston. They’re writing gigs, and I’m going to see if I can do them partially off-site via telecommuting and partially onsite.

Did some on-line house hunting. Found two fabulous houses upstate and two equally fabulous houses near Plymouth. So my dilemma continues. Move? Stay? Huh?

I wrote three chapters of The Widow’s Chamber yesterday and need to do at least that much today.

I’m in a holding pattern waiting for replies to information requests for the hockey article. If I don’t get them by late this afternoon, I’ll have to change the slant of the piece, which is okay, but I’d rather stick to my original idea. Such is life.

Yesterday, I got an idea for a project that would require probably a three day per week commitment through March. I’m nuts to try to do it. It’s completely unique and the people I need to approach to pull it off will think I’m crazier than they already do. Which is why it might work. And it would be incredibly fun and worthwhile and everyone involved would benefit. I need to figure out how to structure the proposal and hit the different elements at the same time so it’s like an octopus of a proposal, because each element needs to feed off the other elements to be at its best.

A friend from the show will also teach in Valhalla in spring, so we’re going to do a joint press release. We’ll get more bang for the buck – well, the keyboard – by playing up the Broadway angle and tying it in to what we’re doing at the college.

I need to find some energy. I just want to curl up and nap. The sleeping cats are a bad influence on me.

A direct mail marketing brochure for a writer’s newsletter that I received yesterday actually gave me a few inspirations for proposals. The challenge is when to find time to do them. The lesson is always read your junk mail – as a writer, every bit is useful, even if it teaches you what NOT to do.

Maybe tackling revisions for those three episodes of WC will help get me back into the swing of things. My mind keeps wandering to pizza. I’m making pizza for dinner tonight. Which should be good. But it’s not even lunchtime, and I need to focus on writing FIRST. First write, then you can have the pizza. Pizza as reward for a productive day. The real reward is getting to MAKE the pizza.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Thursday, October 14, 2004
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

It’s raining and they’ve still got the leaf blowers going. It doesn’t matter that they pass the machines over the soggy leaves and nothing happens. They just need to carry the equipment and make the noise.

I’m still thrilled with the website. I’ve gotten a few hits and queries about various projects already. I submitted to search engines, and I need to do a release about the launch.

Polished and submitted the release for “The Literary Athlete.” The “Trailblazing” one still needs work.

I’m debating whether or not I should go after a job. It would be good experience and good for the resume, but I’m not sure the money would balance out the time factor, and I’m leery about taking on anything else right now. I have to think some more. My gut instinct is, of course, to go for it. But my head is telling me to behave more like a business person. Of course, if I wait too long, I’ll lose the opportunity. If I don’t get the job, I want it to be because someone more suited was hired, not because I was passive and let the opportunity slip by.

Working on The Widow’s Chamber. I’m trying to figure out which of two characters to wind into the San Antonio land deal. I have to think through the long-term possibilities of each option and see which one serves the story better. So far, they both seem like good options. Once the characters hit New Orleans, I think the piece will gallop to a head.

I’m also trying to weave in some Mississippi lore, about the flatboat handlers, the superstitions, and the legends of the Alligator Horse. Although flatboats were on their way out by the time the packets were popular, there were still a few, and I think it adds colour to the piece.

Did four pages on The Other Project last night and hope to do today’s pages on the train. The piece mystifies me. I truly have no idea where it’s going or why. It’s one of the more disjointed first drafts I’ve ever written.

The hockey article needs work. It’s fine for early drafts to read like a rant, but now it needs to have structure and reason behind the points I want to make. I’m also waiting on e-mail responses to some questions I sent out over the last few days. Hopefully, I’ll get it in time for the deadline. If not, I’ll restructure the article.

My mind is tired. I might do a long meditation session later this afternoon to rest it and get back on track.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

October 13, 2004 Part III

I am such a freak and I don’t care. I’m just thrilled with the new site. And it’s already getting a lot of positive feedback.

As far as today’s writing, not too much progress. I rewrote “The Literary Athlete” a final time and sent it off. I brainstormed with my editor about “Trailblazing”. I wrote the blurb for the one day seminar in March for GCE.

GCE is canceling the class this semester, which is fine. My gut reaction is that it’ll work out better this way. All four classes in Valhalla are a go for spring, and I have to get out the pitches for the weekend workshops.

Working on the hockey article for FemmeFan. I’d like to get it in tomorrow night or Friday morning. I want to do a series of articles – the first my (strong) opinion about the lockout and offering options, and then articles down the line with more information about said options.

I also need to start paying attention to Breeders’ Cup. It’s in two weeks, and I have to write articles for that.

The ad went off to Funds For Writers, and it will be featured in the Oct. 24 newsletter.

I did a manuscript critique.

I need to figure out what to do for dinner, and then maybe I’ll try to do some work on Angel Hunt. Or maybe I’ll watch the presidential debate and worry about moving to Canada.

Right now, though, I’m floating on air about the website.

Thank you, Colin!!!


Oct. 13 Part II

I am swooning over the redesign of the website:

Thanks so much to Colin Galbraith in Edinburgh. It’s so much better than I could have ever hoped.

What a difference a well-created site makes!

(dancing around the room with a glass of single malt whiskey)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004
New Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

The heat is on! Yippee! And when they turn on the heat in this place, they’re not kidding around!

The cats are delighted, though. They can curl up anywhere and be warm.

I’m getting a cold. Boo-hoo, whine, whine. I actually don’t feel THAT bad, just kind of achy and slow. And my ears keep clogging up. If I have to have a change-of-season cold, this is the week to do it, because I can stay home and take care of myself. It’s kind of nice not to get into that ‘Oh, my God, I don’t have time to be sick” frenzy and just go, “hey, I don’t feel good, where’s the soup? Oh, good, there’s the couch, guess I’ll take a nap. Hmm, maybe a bubble bath . . .”

Day work was fine. I worked out some plot lines for Angel Hunt, but I think they’re further along in the story than what I need for right now. At the show, they’ll teach me how to do the shoe call over the next few weeks – I mean, I know what a shoe is and how to polish one, but I’ll learn how to do the basic repairs and the specialty painting on the boots. It’s a good skill to add to the repertoire.

I’ll find out whether or not the class in Greenwich is a go today. I expect it will be cancelled. The woman who wanted private lessons left a message about editing, and I gave her suggestions where to find an editor for the manuscript. I do critique and coaching. Personally, I don’t think that writers should have someone else edit their manuscript before it’s purchased. The editor at the publishing company will edit – that’s the point. If you pay for an edit and then it has to be re-edited, I think it’s a waste of the writer’s money. That’s just one opinion.

Colin is teaching me how to get the website up. I am scared to death. My palms are sweating, my breathing’s odd and my stomach is in knots. It’s ridiculous. If something goes wrong, we just take it down and reload it. It’s not that big a deal. But it is to me because it’s such foreign territory.

But you’ve gotta face your fears and get through them, right? This is a good thing. And a big step for me.

And it makes sense that it’s happening on the day of the new moon and on the 13th of October.

Maybe I can get the other site up by Halloween, which would be appropriate.

Maybe I should concentrate on this one and getting my writing done first.

Only two pages of The Other Project yesterday. Just felt too icky to do more.


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Dark of the Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Revised and sent off an issue of Cutthroat Charlotte this morning. The episode turned out better than I thought, which is a good thing. Now I need to structure the vote. I’ve approached it from several different angles, but haven’t found the right one yet. They all feel false. I’ll think about it during day work today. Maybe some fresh inspiration will come through. I’m behind where I need to be, and need to get on the stick. Although this is The Widow’s Chamber week and I’m still not caught up on Angel Hunt.

People are pleased with their tarot readings. I’m glad they were helpful. I sit there and read what I see. When it’s flowing well, there’s a real physical sensation. But you never know how the person asking the question will respond. Sometimes the answer makes perfect sense. Sometimes the person asks a question and the tarot answers a different one that’s more important. Sometimes it’s something the person doesn’t want to hear. All I can do is read what’s there. Whatever my opinion is about a question, or my own thoughts, the cards say what they say, and it’s often quite different than the answer I expect. I still have a few more questions to tackle over the next few days, but the bulk of the readings are done. There’s enough variety in the questions so I can choose a topic for the first column and illustrate it with the questions. I have to ask Kelli if she wants photos of the spreads, so people can see what the cards look like in the reading.

I did the right thing by swapping free readings for the genesis of the column. Plenty of other readers would think I’m out of my mind for not charging. At the regular going rate of $45 for a half hour, $70 for an hour reading that the stores charge, that’s a good bit of cash. Of course, the store keeps a big chunk of the reading for booking it and providing the room. But doing it this way benefited both the people who asked the questions and me.

On top of it, this group of people respects what I do and won’t try to take advantage of it. How often have people wanted free readings on a daily or weekly basis, not accepting the fact that it’s not good to go to a reader more than once every six months? Readings take from between two weeks to six months to manifest. It’s not like going to the gym or going to therapy. There was one client at one of the stores in which I read in the city who wanted constant readings about the same questions. She’d book a half hour session, but expect me to spend an hour and a half with her. She refused to take any action to make anything come to pass, saying the Universe was “supposed” to take care of it all, and she lied about her questions. I finally told the store I wouldn’t read her any more.

Anyway, I’m glad I did the readings. It was positive for everyone involved, and that’s the whole point. The Universe has something to say, you find someone who can translate it into terms you understand, and then you go off and make your choices from the options laid out for you.

Nothing spooky or evil about it.

I’m tempted to do another rewrite of “The Literary Athlete” today, but I want it to just sit and I’ll do it tomorrow and send it off for Kelli’s opinion. This column can stay within the word count. The tarot column will run a bit long – I’ll warn Kelli and give her the sample column, and then we can discuss if there’s room for it as is, or if it needs to be restructured.

The cats are very busy this morning. Violet, who’s usually the best behaved of the bunch, is racing around like a flying squirrel, tossing placemats in the air, shredding paper towels and knocking books over. Well, even the Good Girl needs to let off steam sometimes.

Will try to get a bit more done on the serials before I have to leave for the train.

I want to find and buy a house soon. I miss my books and my dishes and the other stuff that’s sitting in storage.


Monday, October 11, 2004

Monday, October 11 Part II

I managed to write two drafts of “The Literary Athlete: Start Here”. I want it to sit for a day or two before I do another pass. The first draft was 88 words over the count. The second draft was only 11, and I think I can tighten it even more. The first draft had a repetition that seemed rhythmic as I wrote, but is . . .well . . .repetitive when you read it. So it had to go. The second draft gets to the point better, but I still think I can be even clearer.

Wrote two episodes of Angel Hunt. I want to write more today, but I think I’m written out.

Answered ten tarot questions as part of putting together the tarot column. I hadn’t planned on answering more than two or three today, but the reading flowed well, and when it’s going well, you don’t want to shut off the spigot. So I concentrated a good part of the afternoon on readings. They were interesting and surprising in a good way, and I can’t write about them here in detail because of client confidentiality.

RENT booked me for another matinee in November, so I’m doing one show a month there for the next few months, which is better than zero shows a month. I haven’t worked that show since the spring – I hope it comes back to me.

Did some research on demonology and on ceremonial ritual for Angel Hunt. Ceremonial ritual just makes my eyes cross. I respect that the people who do it find it powerful and wonderful and meaningful. But it seems like a lot of busywork to pull out what should already be natural and close to the surface. Where Ceremonials find all the props and the do-it-exactly-this-way-or-it-goes-boom brings them closer to their innate spirituality, I feel all that stuff would get in the way for me. It’s still interesting to learn how it all works. And how other paths contain meaning.

Colin is teaching me how to build a website – he’s redesigned the Devon Ellington site and it works a heck of a lot better than it did. Looks better, too. Now he’s teaching me how it all works and how I can create and maintain it. The man has the patience of a saint. I’m technologically impaired when it comes to my computer. I just have to get stubborn and keeping doing it until I learn the right way. What I lack in technological talent I will have to make up for in sheer hard work.

Because it was cold, I kept a pot simmering on the stove with cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, and lemon peel. Not only is the house warm and not so throat-chokingly dry, it also smells good.

The sun is going down and the cats are waking up. It’s going to be a busy night.

Off to write four pages of The Other Project and then call it a (writing) day.


Monday, October 11
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

What a beautiful fall day! Crisp, clear, and just right. It was great to go for a walk to get the paper this morning. Although a dead pigeon on the road made me sad. I know, I know, it’s “only” a pigeon or “only” a squirrel or “only” roadkill, but it still makes me sad.

Kicked the cats out of the bedroom at 3:30 this morning because they were way too busy for me to get any sleep. I then got a solid four hours of good sleep -- I think they’ve lost their bed privileges.

In spite of feeling unfocused yesterday, I managed to write a few more episodes of Angel Hunt and polish what I’d written. I submitted five episodes. And I did my four pages on The Other Project.

Lianna’s pretty tough on the two kids who called up something they couldn’t handle. One of the things I like about her character is that the angrier she gets, the more caustic she gets, and the funnier it all becomes. But, at the same time, some strong philosophical theories are brought forward without preaching. I’m happy with the piece and its direction. I thought I’d have to wind it up in February, but the way it’s going, I think I may renew that contract. And I have a feeling the two teenagers might play a more important part than I originally intended. They’re learning to choose to use their intelligence – and to deal with the consequences.

The Blog Directory ( and Blogwise ( have added this blog to their directories. I’ll give them a reciprocal link and take out the Blog Search Engine Link. They’ve told me for a month I was listed, and I’m still not. So goodbye to them. It’s gotta be a two-way street.

The press release for Cutthroat Charlotte is out:

I have to work on the press releases for the two columns and then I’ll be caught up for the moment. I’m wondering if I’ll ever feel as though I’m caught up for more than a moment? Probably not. I think it’s part of freelancing.

It’s been a few weeks now since the FenCon ad, and I can’t see that it sold any subscriptions. I’m glad I supported a new venture, but if it doesn’t sell subscriptions, it’s not the market to which I need to pitch, and I’ll have to find somewhere else to advertise. I wouldn’t know until I tried, right?

Caught up on e-mail. I’m having problems with a Microsoft Internet Explorer popping open – and then popping open several dozen windows so quickly it looks like winning a computer solitaire game, where the cards leap all over the screen. It jams up the system and I have to shut everything down and reboot.

I am so over Microsoft.

Back to work on the serials and the columns today. And the hockey article. It’s chilly enough that I wish they’d turn the heat on, but legally, they don’t have to until Oct. 14. So it’s another sweater and an extra pair of socks, and off I go.


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Sunday, October 10, 2004
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Partly sunny and cool

I’m tired and achy, and, as usually happens after a full day at the theatre, I’m having trouble focusing. It’s tough to switch between the theatre life and the writing life, and there are always hours where I feel like I don’t belong in either world and I’m simply drifting.

The grocery shopping got done yesterday and the air conditioner taken out and set to drain, storm windows put down, etc. I worked on the Cutthroat Charlotte press release, and, on my dinner break, wrote the four pages of The Other Project. It’s unfolding in a truly odd and interesting way. It’ll need massive rewrites down the line, but for now, I’m letting it direct me instead of the other way around. And it keeps surprising me. Four pages a day is not much, but, for this piece, just enough. I can get in a few good bits of what I want to say, open up possibilities, but not get so entangled that I can’t focus on the rest of the day.

Both shows went well, although I’m sore today from the physical aspects. I enjoy the actors I dress on the track so much. They’re talented performers and terrific people.

Trying to stay focused on Angel Hunt and having a hard time, although I know where I need to go with the next few episodes. But I’m overtired, so it’s difficult to concentrate. Also, I got a late start today. I wasn’t sure if I’d be called in to the show, so I couldn’t really start anything as I waited by the phone. Once the time I’d have to leave came and went with no word, I figured they didn’t need me. I wish they’d had the courtesy to let me know. I called in, four times, this morning to check, and only got the answering machine and no return call. There’s a point where it just has to stop being my problem.

Read the papers, played with the cats, worked on the press releases for my columns. The press release for the writing column is okay, although I’ll do another pass at it before I submit it. The press release for the tarot column sucks. Big time. The words lie flat on the paper like dead fish. There’s no sparkle, no verve. So I’ll have to completely rework it.

One of the most important things to learn is how to tell when you think something you write is bad because you’re feeling insecure, and when it really is bad. This release is bad, and if I don’t accept that and fix it, it’ll hurt what it’s supposed to promote.

And progress on that column is going well. I’ve already received far more questions than I can use, and the variety of questions gives me the option to have each quarter’s column have an actual focus.

Did some research for a hockey article I have to write this week. Submitted the blog to some blog directories.

Looked at some real estate listings online. There’s a truly goofy looking house in Katonah that intrigues me. I’d never thought of Katonah as a possibility, but the picture of the house caught my eye – bits and pieces of different types of architecture, a totally illogical layout – and there’s something about it . . . .I printed out the info and have to think about whether or not I want to go up and see it. There’s another house in Poughkeepsie that also looks promising. I get more for my money and the taxes are lower in Poughkeepsie.

I’ll know I’ve found my house when I walk in and it tells me it’s mine.

Wrote two episodes of Angel Hunt so far today, and have a whole lot more to write.

I splattered tuna juice all over myself when I prepared lunch. The cats love it, but I guess I’ll be doing laundry sooner than I expected.

I’m wondering if a short nap will help, or if I should just put on a Thelonius Monk CD and keep going.

Read Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment last night and today. Loved it. His work is amazing. There’s so much verbal dexterity and a true delight in language. And some of the best social and political satire I’ve ever read.


Saturday, October 09, 2004

Saturday, October 9, 2004
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

So much for a weekend of writing and puttering. Got a call as soon as I walked in the door last night asking if I could cover both shows today – the regular dresser is ill. I said sure. I’m always happy to back her up, I’m the only one who can lift the costumes on that track other than the regular dresser, and I can use the money.

Day work was fine yesterday, although I think three days per week is my limit. My mind was wandering yesterday. All the work got done, but not in any particular order.

I stopped at Mysterious Bookshop to find the missing Margaret Frazier books. No luck. They only had the ones I already have. Checked the Borders up on Park and 57th. Same deal, but I found some books my mother wanted and last year’s Terry Pratchett is now in paperback. And I now own it.

Assured the theatre when I got home that I’d come in today, cooked dinner, and wrote four pages on The Other Project. Fell asleep early instead of watching the Presidential debate. Well, saves everyone from having to listen to my opinion, right?

The chores that need to be done need to be done whether I have two shows or not. So I got up extra early this morning. Checked e-mail – all four courses are a go in spring in Valhalla – woo-hoo! I’m getting in tarot questions for the tarot column – will get to work on that in the upcoming week.

In a few minutes, I’ll go grocery shopping -- love that 24 hour Pathmark. It actually is open 24 hours, unlike the local A&P, which is open 24 hours, except when it’s not. Then I have to take my air conditioner out of the window and let it drain before I pack it up for the winter. I want to get a couple of issues of Angel Hunt done before I have to leave on the 10:46 AM train. And I’ll get home about 1 AM. I have a feeling I’ll have to do the show tomorrow, too.

Hopefully, I can get some writing done on the dinner break.

Ah, nothing like the constant balancing act in the life of a freelancer!

I love it.


Friday, October 08, 2004

Friday, October 8, 2004
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I can’t figure out if I’m simply overtired or coming down with something. I hope it’s the former, although I had plenty of sleep and still feel off.

Day work was fine yesterday. A friend is flying back to Michigan this weekend for a family event, and will also talk to his high school about working in theatre. This friend has truly blossomed over the past few years, since his first Broadway job back on Miss Saigon. It’s wonderful to watch someone grow into his best self. He’s got so much to offer the world, and he’s finally beginning to realize his own worth.

Another friend is leaving the show to take a job with New York City Ballet. I’ll miss him, but he loves the ballet, and that’s the direction he wants to take his career. I think it’s a terrific move for him, with lots of opportunity for growth, on both personal and professional levels.

Walked up to the new Time Warner Center up by Columbus Circle. I hadn’t yet been in there. It’s a big urban shopping mall, with a very strange vibe. It could be because there were several construction deaths and suicides over the past couple of years (jumpers). Very jittery vibe.

I searched the bookstore for two particular books I need, and couldn’t find them, and stuck my head into Williams-Sonoma, which is always dangerous. But I wasn’t in a shopping mood.

They were setting up for some sort of black-tie event on the second floor. A guy in a tux shoved a glass of Cristal into my hand as I passed. “You look like you need it,” he said.

“That bad?”

“No. You just look like a lady who should hold a glass of champagne.”

By the way, it was good champagne. Very good champagne.

I spent most of my break at the Coffee Pot (drinking tea). I wrote my four pages of The Other Project and got about a page on Amber Tiger.

I wrote an episode of Angel Hunt before I left for the train in the morning, so it was a decent writing day. I know where the next few episodes are going, and I plan to do a weird sort of cross pollination thing with the other serials. I’m not sure if I’m skilled enough to pull it off, but I’m going to try.

I wandered into the wrong theatre last night. I left the Coffee Pot, thinking about many things that had nothing to do with the show. Instead of going back to the Gershwin, I wandered back over to the Broadway, where I spent five years working on Miss Saigon. Force of habit. I finally went back to the Gershwin and swapped show stories with the supervisor and the assistant.

Another article about me was in another Greenwich paper yesterday. We’ll see if that boosts the class or not. We may well have to cancel it, which is fine. I suggested that we turn it into a one-day seminar instead. It will be what it is, and I can’t really worry about it one way or the other. If the class doesn’t fly, it’s because another opportunity is about to open up. So I’m not going to worry about it. It seems that student who didn’t want to pay for the class is now telling them that I’m working with her privately and she doesn’t have to pay for the class. I made it very clear to her I was not working with her for free. Her choices are to take the class in Greenwich, to take the class in Valhalla in spring, or to pay me my hourly rate.

I’m going to try to do some more work on Angel Hunt this morning before I leave for the theatre.

I’m looking forward to a weekend of writing and puttering around the apartment.