Monday, February 28, 2005

Monday, February 28, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

About 12 inches of snowfall are predicted today. I’m not sure if I believe them – they’re wrong more than they’re right – but it’s definitely going to storm. I can feel it.

The Oscar party was fun last night. I stayed up and out far too late, but it was fun to catch up with people. I remember the first time I attended the actual Tony Awards – I think I got home at 5:30 in the morning the next day. The Oscars themselves were okay – pretty tame, but not in a bad way. Chris Rock was an excellent host, especially in his comments about Bush. I also thought the riff on Russell Crowe was funny.

Not to take anything away from the deserving winners, but I wish Finding Neverland garnered more attention. It’s such an exquisite, delicate piece.

This is the last day of February, and it’s time to evaluate:

“Love in a Wok” short story
60 pages of Ransagh (and beyond)
Lindisfarne article – although I’ve chosen to market it elsewhere, rather than keep rewriting it on spec
Edo/Japan research
Battle of Camlann research
Ink in My Potting Soil
Completed Glam Hearts
“Trailblazing” second column
Worked on the non-fiction proposal
Worked on the marketing ideas

In Progress:
Direct mail for serials – hated what I had and am doing more work on it. Why send out something that’s bad?
Articles – didn’t get four of them done, but have several partially done
Rework travel articles – although I did some market research
Gwenhyfach research – so far, the only hits I get online are from my own blog (which is pretty funny). I’ll have to dig in libraries.
F/U on Vietnam project – did a bit, but not enough

Not Done:
Any of the query letters for the picture books or the middle grade book
Re-read Clear the Slot – coward!
Ink in My Kitchen
Cerridwen’s Cottage website
Library Letters
Writers’ conference queries – this was something I chose to drop
Update – coward!
Copywriting direct mail
Assassin story for contest – something had to go, and this was expendable

Above and Beyond Expectations:
Ransagh – both the writing and the typing. I did about 80 more pages than I expected.
Additional non-fiction proposal – this one will take at least 6 months to complete
Additional article requests – they’re pitched and accepted; now they have to be written.
The sample for the video game scripting job
Visited the Christo exhibit
The Oliver/Allison notes
Query letters to various job postings that sounded interesting

Classes moved off-campus
Sturbridge workshop cancelled.
Too much time spent sick
Rejection for the video game scripting job

Classes moved off-campus – it turned out to work better for all involved.
Simple Pleasures of the Kitchen
Spring Almanacs
Finishing Glam Hearts
Huge leap in Ransagh
Plants growing
“Creative Roadmap” in RWA newsletter
PR job for my friend’s music company
Caught up on serials

Cuba Pocket Guide by Fred Mawer – this guidebook was one of my best research tools for the pirate serial.

The Merchant’s Partner by Michel Jecks – excellent medieval mystery with an ex-Templar knight as one of the protagonists.

The Celts by Juliette Wood (inc.) – for research

Heroes of the Dawn (inc.). – for research

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (inc.) – complex and fascinating novel that deserved an undivided attention I have not been able to give.

A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf – some of her musings on her process.

A Century of Pioneering by Sister Jane Frances Heaney (inc). – for research. I’m dipping into it for what I need immediately, although I need to read it cover to cover to really understand the purpose of the order.

Yeats: The Man and the Mask by Richard Ellman (inc.) – started it, but the research had to take priority.

The World of Christopher Marlowe by David Riggs (inc.) – fascinating and complex, opening up the time and sensibilities that influenced the man’s writing. Recommend it be read in tandem with Will in the World.

Although there were things that needed to be dropped from the to-do list, achievements still outweighed disappointments.

I have to spend more time and attention on the business writing or I won’t get my income to the level it needs to reach this year. While spending less time in the theatre was tough financially, it gave me time and energy to focus more on the writing. Let’s hope I’ve started some momentum that will continue to grow over the next few months. I also have to be more on top of query letters. I’m not querying enough, and that causes negative fallout (as in, lack of income) in the months further down the line.

Tomorrow, I will post March’s to-do list, which is shorter than February’s. I need to narrow my focus on a couple of things and push them harder, rather than trying to do a little bit of everything.

However, this month I completed 14 out of 32 items on the list, with 5 more still in progress. 10 items were not done. 19-10 is decent, but I won’t achieve my goals if I don’t push the business side harder.

I’m thrilled with the way Ransagh progresses. I have no intention of trying to suppress the work on that for any reason – I want to ride this wave as long as I can, because there’s something special in it. I didn’t do many new pages yesterday – five or six, I think. I hit a problem where, earlier in the piece, I was on a roll and left certain things to be “figured out later.” Well, yesterday I hit Later and still hadn’t figured them out, so I had to go back and do that. I typed up Chapter Five and did a massive, massive rewrite on Chapters Four and Five, which now feed in to what’s happening.

I definitely have to finish all three books of the trilogy before I could even think of submitting queries about them to anyone. They have to be structured too tightly, while appearing spontaneous, and I won’t be able to smooth it all out until I’m done with the entire piece.

Finished the tarot column yesterday, finally. This time was a real struggle. But I focused down on to two particular points, and now I can focus on another element of using tarot in the creative process for the next column.

Today is about Widow’s Chamber and Ransagh. I’m close to where I need to be on WC, and then need to push past it this week to get caught up into March.

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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sunday, February 27, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I spent almost the entire day yesterday on Ransagh. I’m sure that does not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been reading the blog for the past few weeks. That’s the project that’s pulling me the strongest. I worked out some kinks, fixed some sections earlier in the piece, did some more research on Manx terminology, etc., etc., etc.

That means I have to play catch up today on other things, but that’s okay. The piece is giving me a chance to explore a variety of belief systems and personal interaction on a scale that I have not been able to do before. Whatever the fate of the piece, it’s turned me into a more challenging and aware writer.

I spent way too much time at the party last night, but it was fun. We didn’t watch much of the awards themselves. I’m sure they were fun to attend, but didn’t broadcast well. We caught up on what’s going on – we’d all met when we were interns on other people’s projects with IFP years ago and kept sporadically in touch. We put on some music and danced. And then we watched Rescue Me.

I think Rescue Me is the best show on television. The writing and acting and depth of the show set the bar so high that I don’t think there’s another show out there which even comes close. I can watch the episodes over and over and over again and learn something new every time. It’s put together with dedication and passion and honesty and harshness. It is breathtaking and brilliant.

Working on Ransagh yesterday, I came across some music I hadn’t played in ages and found the perfect match to go with the book: Jim Sutherland’s music (specifically “Flick it Up and Catch It”) and Shooglenlifty. I’m going to hunt down more of their music and use it to drive certain sections of the piece. The CD is about ten years old, but I can’t remember when or where I got it.

I also played Elvendrums’ CD The Dragon and Mary J. Blige as I got ready to go out, but that had nothing to do with writing.

So, lots of writing to get done today before I get ready for yet another party.

I saw my friend on The Good Vibrations piece that ran last night – along with several other people with whom I’ve worked in the past. I thought the documentary came off quite well and gave a pretty good look at what goes on backstage. The editing, in particular, was excellent, the way they edited the clips to the music. And my friend was as articulate, intelligent, and funny as always – plus, he looks great on camera!

To work, to work. I have to be social tonight. And there’s a lot to get done before I can socialize with a clear conscience.

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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Saturday, February 26, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I got a little over 12 pages total done on Ransagh last night. They’ve paused in their journey so Raisa can gather some information, and they get to split up and do different things for a bit. Shawndor is showing some cracks, which is necessary at this point, and Kenelm’s learning more and more how narrow his worldview has been, and how, as paradoxical as it sounds, sheltered his life as a knight was to this point. He’s learning how to behave as an independently thinking man, rather than a stereotypical knight. Growing pains, at his age! It also gives the younger members of the group a chance to explore and get into some humorous trouble. I originally planned for this section to run about five pages, but I think it will run more like thirty. I’m on page 216 of the written manuscript. Yeah, it’s a trilogy – they still have three more elements through which to evolve once they’re done with the East!

I need to run some errands this morning, and then it’s back to polishing articles and working on Widow’s Chamber.

I’m not much of a party girl, but I’m kind of looking forward to the viewing parties this weekend. I don’t see these people very often any more – our lives have gone in such different directions. But we still genuinely like each other, so it’s nice to catch up.

I better get to work so that I can play tonight with a clear conscience!

For a free issue of any of the above issues, click the appropriate link and download.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Feb. 25 Part II

I polished and sent the remaining issues of Charlotte. I’m caught up on three of the four serials, and have enough breathing space in order to spend the next week and change concentrating on Widow’s Chamber. I don’t think I’ll be able to wrap up the entire arc, but I should make good progress on it.

Seven new pages of Ransagh, with the possibility of more tonight after class. Also typed Chapter Four – boy, there is some seriously bad writing in there. Thank goodness for rewrites! Had to go back and do an insert in Chapter Two, because I realized there is a gaping hole that won’t make sense when I reach the final section of the trilogy. So the pothole is filled with princes – you’ll have to read it to see what that means – and the problem is solved.

Still need to do some more work on the tarot column, but I’m feeling better about it.

I’m looking forward to watching Jane Hansen’s New York tomorrow night – a close friend is the Production Stage Manager for a new Broadway show called Good Vibrations which is about to open, and the TV show will follow them through the day before opening. Actually, now that I’m somewhat caught up writing wise, I’ll be able to watch the segment at a friend’s party celebrating the Independent Spirit Awards tomorrow night, and then go to an Oscar party on Sunday.

About time I did some socializing! :)

In tomorrow’s entry, I’ll share my research on the Battle of Camlann and the Edo period in Japan. Two more items scratched off the To-Do List.


Friday, February 25, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

We didn’t have anywhere near the kind of snow they predicted – I think we had only about 5 inches. It looks great, and the roads are already cleaned up. Now, they’re saying we’ll have another major storm Monday into Tuesday.

I’m not going to hold my breath.

I have to thank my friend and colleague Eileen (Musings and Considerations . . .) for her take on Wednesday night’s episode of Lost. I was so focused on the things that didn’t work for me in the episode that I failed to mention all the beautiful, human moments that were scattered throughout. Hop on over to her blog and read her post for the episode, “Why I Love Lost” -- she’s got some excellent observations. And I thank her for reminding me of the need not to get so bogged down in one area of thought about the show that I forget all the other wonderful details.

I wrote one full episode of Charlotte that’s almost ready to go and roughed out three additional episodes. I hope I can get them polished and sent today, so that I can turn my attention back to Widow’s Chamber.

Struggling with the tarot column, mostly due to focus. I’m trying to say too much in too small a space. I need to split it into more than one column and restructure. I want to get that out today.

Working on the hockey article. I’ve heard a bunch of different rumours and I have to fact check. Usually, the fact-checking takes longer than anything else.

I did twelve pages on Ransagh yesterday. They’re done with the North and headed East. They encountered a group of pilgrims I wasn’t expecting and that allowed for some interesting theosophical conversation. That section makes a point, but hopefully I’ve wrapped it in lively enough dialogue so it doesn’t come across as heavy-handed. We’ll see. They’ve met the angel with the broken wing, and he’s causing much more friction within the group than I expected.

Even though I have an overall idea of the ground I want to cover in each section – both in a literal and a metaphorical sense, where to pay homage to mythology and archetype and where to play against it – the characters are rich enough to keep surprising me. My work on the piece every day is a joy.

Even if it was the only piece to which I gave my attention right now, I don’t think it could progress faster than it is. It has set its own pace. And the discovery is exciting.

I looked at my “To Do” list from this month’s GDR, and I’m reasonably satisfied. If I can get out some query letters this weekend, I’ll be content. I need to streamline my query process. For some reason, I think I’m making it much more complicated than it needs to be, but I’m not sure how to fix it.

I’m not feeling particularly talented today, but hopefully, as I get into the work, I’ll also get out of my own way and get down to it.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Thursday, February 24, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday, the meteorologists said it wouldn’t be much of a storm; suddenly, they’re saying it’ll be one of the biggest of the winter. Go figure.

Whatever. I’m tucked inside safe and warm today. If it’s bad tonight, we’ll reschedule class. No point in anyone putting themselves in danger. The assignment will be to create the time and space where ever they are during those hours at the time.

I’m deeply saddened that the remains of 1,161 of the missing from the collapse of the World Trade Center will not be identified. The Medical Examiner’s office has been amazing and certainly achieved far more than anyone could have hoped. But the sorrow . . .I cried for quite awhile. We will never get over 9/11. We will merely learn to live with it. And those who didn’t live through it and didn’t lose anyone better stop the scoffing. I’m sick and tired of people saying New Yorkers and Washingtonians should “get over it”. If you didn’t live through it, you don’t know what it was like. Anymore than I could know what it was like to live through the Oklahoma City bombing or the tsunami. And I sure don’t expect those survivors to “get over it.” I want to help them learn to live with it, because that’s the best we can do. And just when you think you’re handling it, something else comes along that brings it all back. It doesn’t get easier – you simply become more adept at handling the fallout.

Lost was disappointing last night. Once again, the flashbacks were too heavy-handed in conjunction with the island scenes, although the scene between Jin and his father was lovely. The rest of it – far too predictable, and I kept saying, “will you get on with it, already?” I was also angry at the way Kate’s character was handled – not at the actress, but what she had to do. There is no way Kate would have turned away from Sun after Sun revealed she could speak English. Not in the friendship that the previous episodes established. It was a chokingly discordant moment. If it is a true indication of Kate’s character, that means she’s chosen the men over the women, and the women would do well to distrust her even more than some of the men do. I felt the moment was completely out of character for her. She’s shown too much compassion for other people’s failings in previous episodes to behave that way towards Sun at that moment.

Going back to the Jack-Sawyer connection from last week – Sawyer’s realization that it was Jack’s father he met in the bar sent up a red flag for me. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I could see several directions in which the show could go, many of them unsatisfying. His realization sent up a red flag for me in one of the ways I hope the show will not go. I don’t want to start any rumours, so I won’t detail what I see coming. I hope I’m proven wrong, and if and when the moment passes, I hope I can admit, “I was afraid x, y, z would happen and that would have upset me, but I was wrong.” I want to be wrong in this case.

West Wing was a little uneven last night, but ultimately, satisfying. Toby has always been incredibly complex and committed. It was good to see that CJ and Leo can accept him for who he is, no matter what. It was good to have an episode focus on Toby again, and the way he channels any personal anguish into the bigger picture. The ensemble cast on that show is simply stunning. Studying West Wing should be a prerequisite in every acting program.

Tying West Wing to Lost for a minute – I’ve watched West Wing reruns on cable whenever I could to catch up – one thing about working 8 shows/week is you don’t see TV for years. Terry O’Quinn’s work on West Wing is every bit as strong and grounded and honest as it is on Lost. The characters are markedly different, but the integrity is there 100%.

Class was good. We’re working on Thomas Mallon’s A Book of One’s Own, and the different types of diaries – the Chroniclers and the Travelers chapters in this session. I think my diaries combine all the different aspects Mallon talks about – sometimes I’m a chronicler, sometimes I’m a traveler, sometimes I’m an apologist, sometimes I’m a pilgrim. It depends on what I’m doing and where I am. That’s why Progoff’s approach to diaries doesn’t work for me – his way leaves me feeling fragmented, and the point of a diary, in my opinion, is put one’s whole life into perspective. Mallon’s tome is a wonderful book – anyone who’s interested in diaries should read it. Everything I’ve ever read of Mallon’s is worth reading.

A neighbor lent me the tape of last night’s Crossing Jordan, where the medical examiners tried to identify all the remains in a plane crash. Seeing that on the same day that the Medical Examiners announced closing the attempts to identify the World Trade Center victims just set me off again. So it was an emotional night.

Twelve new pages on Ransagh. Interesting conversations come up between the characters as to what drives them, and what they believe. Scenes popped into my head during breakfast this morning, and I hope to have a chance to write them down later today.

I want to finish the tarot column today, work on the hockey article, and finish up the outstanding episodes of Charlotte. My appetite’s come back a little, so here’s hoping.

There’s an interesting job I came across on the site. It pays well; I’m just not sure if I can pull it together to do a package.

I’ll work on the grant package as well – I’d like to get it out by Saturday, or Monday the latest.

And I’m prepared for the storm.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Feb. 23 Part III

Had to update some virus software. The first run-through took 3 hours and found a bunch of icky junk Microsoft swore they fixed with a patch. So much for Microsoft. Big surprise. Got rid of the muck, hopefully haven’t hurt my system, and am re-running the scan just to double check.

I decided that, rather than beating myself about not being creative today, I’ll read the Marlowe book (which is quite inspiring by the way, especially read so soon after Will in the World) and focus on Ransagh. After class tonight, I’ll watch the tape of Lost and West Wing.

I picked up four shows over next weekend, so I’ll double next Wednesday’s class and cancel next Friday’s. That’s another plus about moving the classes off-campus – I have more flexibility.

Isn’t that usually the case when less money is involved?

Plus, working on Ransagh will cheer me up.

Found a great site for pirate lore:

Dead Men Tell No Tales

And ordered the transcript from Anne and Mary’s trials. By the time it gets here, I’ll be far enough along in Charlotte to need it.

Finding a good book always helps.

I might pull out some of my books on painting and photography this afternoon and use them to replenish.

When you fall into the abyss, if there’s no rope, you just hack handholds in the rock and climb back out.


P.S. Ink in My Potting Soil
The Culantro’s come up!!!

Feb. 23 Part II

In answer to Lara’s question, no, Godot never showed up.

I’ve got a bad case of the blues and can’t get anything creative done. No matter how hard I work, I feel like for every step forward, I’m taking two steps backward. It’s very, very, very frustrating.

I’m sure that not feeling well, having a bad reaction to antibiotics and losing my appetite all contribute – I’m like a horse, if I’m off my feed, it’s bad.

I hate feeling like this and get impatient with myself, but none of my usual tricks to beat the blues are working. Oh, well.

Sometimes, it’s just rough. All part of the process.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Day work was fine yesterday. The supervisor heads off to Toronto today because they’re putting the tour in there for the first stop. I can’t imagine touring this show. It’s so complicated. Fortunately, it’s not my problem.

Caught up with some friends, came home and pretty much went straight back to bed. Still feeling less than stellar today.

Waiting for the exterminator, which is kind of like waiting for Godot. I’ve got some errands to run once I’m sure he’s blown off yet another appointment, and then, hopefully, I can be semi-productive today.

I’m trying to decide how to order the next episodes of The Widow’s Chamber. I have to do some research so that I get the ball sequence right. It’s pivotal to the rest of the piece, so what happens during that evening is of outmost importance. I want to make sure I get both the action and the details right.

And I want to do more work on Ransagh. What can I say? I’m hooked!

Ah! A truck pulled up! Could it be my mysterious Godot with pesticide?

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

The medication is healing the infection, but makes me nauseous. Can’t win. And, no matter how rotten I feel today, I have to go in for day work. Oh, well. Such is life. I’ll be home in the late afternoon and will crawl directly into bed. Again.

I was the tie-breaker judge for a play contest. Unfortunately, I thought both plays were awful. Very poorly executed. I made my feelings about them clear, but, since I had to pick one, I picked the one with the slightly more original premise. I’d hoped both would be lively, original and fun. What a disappointment!

I managed to get a total of ten new pages on Ransagh done and three issues of Widow’s Chamber written, revised, and out. I’m trying to balance the action and the drama in Ransagh with humour – each character has a distinct sense of humour and, as happens, it comes out at odd times. For awhile, I was worried that Kenelm (who should be the male character in the forefront of the piece, balancing Raisa) would be pushed back by Shawndor, but he’s holding his own. Shawndor came into the piece a good three sections before I expected him to, and has dominated a good part of it. Yet the dynamic between him and Raisa and Kenelm is important to their progress.

History channel has a series called Digging for the Truth, and last night’s episode was about knights and the Holy Grail. There was some good information there, but I disagreed with both the focus and the conclusion. Also, Josh, the narrator, wore the same clothes on all of his travels – as someone who works wardrobe and has worked continuity, that bothered me. He couldn’t have trotted around France, traveled to the Middle East, gone back to France, hopped to Germany, and come full circle on the same day in the same clothes. Yes, they flatter him, but would someone please be in charge of wardrobe? It was distracting. However, there was some interesting information in there that I can follow further and apply to some of my writing. Even if it means going in the opposite direction from what was presented.

In Widow’s Chamber, I’ve wrapped up a storyline started in an inn before they got to Nashville – Madame Fontaine merely has to tell her side of it and they’re done. I’ve brought Cam Murdock back into the story, which is important to Nora’s future. Matthew Darby may think he can take over as the leading man in this piece, but that’s Cam’s job! :)

Mercy’s storyline is wrapped up, are Frederick and Lottie’s. The ball will set up Aspasia’s future in a new direction, although she’s going to have a few surprises when we get to the ending. Jarlath has been downright monosyllabic since he showed up, and he’s going to have to start talking soon or away he goes!

I’m far enough ahead on both Tapestry and Angel Hunt that I can focus on Widow’s Chamber and Charlotte for the next few weeks and get as far ahead on them as I should be.

An editor is pushing me to do a rewrite on spec – with yet another change of direction. She said she’ll only look at articles until the end of the month, and that’s it. I’m seriously considering sending her a polite but firm e-mail telling her that since I’ve had so much paying work come in on tight deadline, I have not been able to do the numerous changes of direction she requests, because paying work must take priority over spec. There are markets that would take the piece as written and pay me ten times what she’s offered. Maybe, when she starts looking at articles again, she’ll actually know what she wants, and we won’t have this constant, “that’s not what I really want” from her and “that’s what you have in guidelines” from me, followed by, “well, I’ve changed the guidelines” from her.

My other option is to take one more pass at it tomorrow; if I can do it in an hour, I’ll resend. Otherwise, I’ll pull it.

Tomorrow will also be the big push to finish the grant. I might as well go for it. If I don’t at least try, I certainly won’t get it.

Anytime my head and stomach want to stop arguing with the rest of my body will be just fine with me.

Off to the train.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Monday, February 21, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Snowing and cold

We’ve gotten about five inches of snow so far, and it’s continuing. Good thing it’s President’s Day, so most people are off. Of course, they want to scramble to the malls to spend money they don’t have, but that’s a whole other story.

I did eleven new pages of Ransagh yesterday and typed Chapter Three. They’re in the mountains, and about to finish up their adventures in the North before heading East. I’m 168 pages in to the piece, which is a good half way point. I’d rather have three shorter, tighter books than one behemoth. Also, I still have to write the Prophecies and the Cowrie Songs, and that’ll take up some space. I came up with more ideas for the East section, and jotted them down so I won’t lose them. East was always the most difficult – I had plenty of ideas for the other directions, but wasn’t sure what to do in the East. And it’s straightened itself out now, which is a relief.

And then I came down with an infection that I get occasionally, so that was about it for me for the rest of the day, unfortunately. I got my prescription refilled and started it. Since I rarely take medication, it only took about two hours to kick in. Unfortunately, it makes me drowsy, so I was rather useless.

By six o’clock, I gave up, crawled into bed and tried to find a movie. There was way too much depressing crap badly written and badly acted. It made me feel worse.

I finally found The Wedding Singer, which I’d never seen, and that was kind of fun.

I’m not making many plans for the work today. I wrote three pages of Ransagh, and I’m going to try to get something done on The Widow’s Chamber. I want to dig up the notebook from my research trip last year, so I can get it right. I’m reading about the Ursulines, but it’s not a well-written book, and, since it was written by a nun inside the order, it’s interesting how delicately she dances around church politics.

I dipped into the Marlowe book yesterday and it is fantastic. I read in the paper that there’s a new novel out about Marlowe. I’ll have to get it.

Slow and steady, word by word, and maybe it won’t be a lost day.

But at least it’s pretty outside!

Ink in My Potting Soil
One single, tiny shoot of thyme is peering out. It’s so cute!

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Sunday, February 20, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I’m sorry the hockey season is cancelled, but glad that the players didn’t cave. Any person who actually works for a living would have to be revolted and insulted by the NHL proposals that have come across the table over the last few months. Get over your prejudice against people who earn more than you do – take out the numbers and actually read the proposals. You’d have to be an idiot to agree to them.

The owners broke the sport and now they want to punish the players. Bettman wants to break the Players’ Association. None of this is about the good of the sport. It’s about ego.

Watch for my article on how I think it needs to be restructured! :)

Yesterday, for me, was all about Ransagh. Okay, so I got an issue of Tapestry done. But most of the day was devoted to Ransagh. I wrote twelve new pages – they are done with the Amazons and about to meet the Lady of the Beasts.

I also broke my own rule and typed the first two chapters. The way the piece is growing, I have to keep the various threads taut. Searching through well over 150 pages of handwritten manuscript to check details is too hard. I’m merely typing what’s on the page, and putting the inserts where they’re supposed to be. I’m not doing any revision yet. Although I see a few places where I started off in one direction and then went elsewhere without going back and fixing it. There’s a lot of work to be done.

What surprised and pleased me when I read back over the material was that I couldn’t put it down. I am creating the piece I always wanted to read and could never find in the bookstore. Whether anyone else will want to read it is not something I can worry about right now. I simply need to write it.

I finally found my pad of paper with all the publishing house lists I needed. Now I can get back to writing query letters.

When I get the new Writers’ Market, I take a few days and sit down with it. I make a list of projects that need homes and, as I read the WM cover to cover, I take notes. Unfortunately, I’d lost that set of notes, but I’ve now found them and can get back on track.

I want to finish up a few episodes of Charlotte today to catch up and then turn my attention to the hockey article, a couple of articles I’m writing for my friend Michelle’s newsletters, the story for EWW, and the grant proposal.

I sat up last night and fretted about whether or not to go for the grant proposal. It’s a good sized chunk of change, but I hate writing grants and I hate the whole process of grants. I don’t fit into anyone else’s box. I can’t be contained in a form. And I resent trying to fit what I do into someone else’s ideas of what I should do.

At the same time, there are plenty of people who work in the grant-giving world who are looking for something that’s a bit different. They can see past the boxes. You simply never know if you’re applying to one of those organizations.

But, if I don’t at least try, I truly don’t have a chance at it. I’ve got everything needed for the grant – except the envelope in which to mail it. It’s merely a case of putting it all together in one place. I think I’ll use the first chapter of the hockey novel, Clear the Slot, as the material.

Of course, by the time I actually send out the grant, I may have changed my mind.

I also need to work on the story for the coffee company and decide whether or not to submit something to the Chicago Tribune contest.

I guess I have to make some decisions today! I’d rather write Ransagh.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Saturday, February 19, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Copies of one of the almanacs for which I write (as Cerridwen Iris Shea) arrived yesterday. They look terrific. I’ll have to let my editor know, and also ask him when he wants the pitches for 2007 (we just wrapped up 2006). I’ve been writing for the Llewellyn annuals for about ten years now! My articles are “Recycling Personal Energy” – basically about how handle bad days without spewing all over everybody else – and “Shopping Spirits” about ethical shopping.

In this day and age of unethical behemoths, we have to know where our money’s going. Sure, we need bargains. But I’ll drive a hundred miles out of my way (and I have) to avoid shopping at one particular store because of the way they mistreat their workers (in spite of their new ad campaign), their policies of censorship, and the fact that I have no intention of spending my hard-earned money at a place whose founders would just as soon burn me at the stake. Literally.

I was happy to find out that one of the companies that wants me to write for them – a coffee company – is a fair trade company. More on that later.

Keep It Coming is running an interview I did with them a few months back:

Apologies to Colin – the interview was done well before you designed my site – since I had no idea it was being run again, I didn’t have the opportunity to update it.

It’s only up until Wed., so read it while you can! Shameless plug! :)

Emerging Women Writers is going to mention something about Simple Pleasures of the Kitchen – and I’ll give them a short story as Christiane to go along with it!

I miss Harriet, Leonard, Martine, and William from Glam Hearts!

I ran some copies of the direct mail for the serials and I hate it. It needs more tweaking. The test copy I ran on scrap paper didn’t look bad, but on the good paper – it needs more work. Oh, well, recycle those copies and start over. Urgh.

At least I’m working on it.

12 pages of Ransagh yesterday. I slipped right back into its world. So Thursday was only a temporary setback. I have a feeling, however, that this book (or, I should say, these books, since it’s pretty obvious that it will be a trilogy), will take up most of this year.

Now I have to figure out how to fit Periwinkle into the schedule. I know that will sell, so it has to get done. I just have to figure out how.

I can’t put Ransagh aside because it’s pulling me too hard.

It’s something to think about as I structure March.

Two new characters, Oliver and Alison started yapping at me last night. I’m going to jot a few notes, and then they’re just going to have to wait their turn!

The classes are going well. My students never cease to amaze me. I think we’re doing better off-campus because the work we’re doing comes from their deep desire to follow this path.

In “Writers and Journals” we finished The Hidden Writer – the chapters on Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, the chapter on May Sarton, and the chapter on Anais Nin.

Nin is someone that I feel most people outgrow. She lived her entire life as an intricate web of illusions, all under the façade of “truth”. Her diaries were as much of a fictional construct in some portions as the rest of her life. One can learn a great deal from her, I think, but then one has to go on. If you read the seven volumes of her edited diaries and then the so-called “unexpurgated” diaries and Deirdre Blair’s terrific biography (all of which I have), you see that she repeats the same patterns in her life over and over and over and never moves beyond them. Her illusion of herself was as important to herself as presenting it to the world. She wrote what she wanted to be and then tried to live it, instead of the other way around.

Some of these techniques are useful to the modern person – whether or not you’re a writer and no matter the gender. Visualize what you want and then become it. You can write your way into the life you want – that’s certainly what I’m trying to do – yet you can do it without the amount of fabrication that she created.

For instance: I publish under various names. Does that mean I’m lying to people? I don’t think so. I don’t deny who I am. No matter which name someone might meet me as, whether in person or on the page, I don’t pretend I’m someone else. That’s a bit too fractured for me. Each name has a distinct writing voice, but they are all me and I’m open about what work is mine. If I write something and I don’t want to connect it to any of my other writing, I simply don’t do any marketing for that name.

I used to do that when I wrote erotica. Not because I was embarrassed – I most certainly was not – but because there are some real whackos out there and, in some cases, it became an issue of safety.

Mostly, I write under different names because it affords me the freedom to write whatever I want wherever I want. Too often, when I worked for a publishing house, I sat in on the weekly meetings with editorial and marketing and perfectly good material was rejected because the marketing department “didn’t know how to market this.” In my opinion, then they should have been fired, and people who were creative enough to market it should be hired. But that’s not the way it works. And, unfortunately, writers have been forced to spend far too much time marketing their work –which they should NOT have to do – and it leaves them too little time to write it. And without the writing in the first place, there isn’t anything to market.

I do spend time envisioning the life I want to lead. For awhile, I tried keeping an “Alternate Diary” – in other words, I’d write about days that I wished had happened, instead of what actually happened. This book was carefully labeled.

But I didn’t get far with it. There’s not much I would change in my life, actually. I’d like more financial stability and I want my books to be published. There’s no such thing as financial stability during a career transition, and the books have to be written before they can get published, and that’s what I’m working on.

However, the time spent daydreaming about the life I want has certainly spurred me to practical considerations, pursuing job listings, etc., and also in defining the kind of house for which I’m looking. I want the house I purchase to have my ideal writing space. It’s one of the reasons it’s taking me so long to find it – I won’t settle. It took me awhile to figure out where I want to live. Now I have to find the space best suited to my life and my goals. I’ll know it when I walk into it. It will be mine from the first moment I step over the threshold.

Books waiting for my attention:
The Celts by Juliette Wood
Heroes of the Dawn
Splintered Bones
by Carolyn Haines
A Moorland Hanging by Michael Jecks
Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis
A Century of Pioneering: The Ursuline Nuns in New Orleans by Sister Jane Frances Heaney
Yeats: The Man and the Masks by Richard Ellman
The World of Christopher Marlowe by David Riggs
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

I’ve started the latter, upon recommendation. It’s a fascinating, intriguing, sprawling book. I’m not sure I enjoy it, exactly, but it’s compelling.

I’ve very excited by the Marlowe book.

However, before I can indulge myself with any reading, even in the guise of research, there are serials which need attending, articles to be finished, and a story to be written as Christiane Van de Velde.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Friday, February 18, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

My producer accepted Glam Hearts. What a relief! And how wonderful that he sat down to give it the first read as soon as he got it! There will be revisions and tweaks, of course – that’s part of the process. But what a relief!

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew quite fond of the script and the characters, and it was hard to send my “baby” out into the world.

Completely wrung out by the time I had to work on Ransagh in class last night and it did not go well. My brain simply felt as though it was filled with mashed potatoes. No butter, no salt, just too much starch. There was not a single creative neuron firing. Not even a decadent pastry could get me going!

This morning was about errands and bill-paying and going to Staples yet again. I’ve already gone through three reams of paper in about two weeks, not to mention I seem to be devouring a box of gel pens per week. Fortunately, the gel pens were on sale, and so was the paper. I also found the paper I want to use for the direct mail for the serials. The mailing will go out piece-meal (or should I say “piece-mail”?).

I traveled from store to store trying to find note cards I like. I have a stack of notes that need to be handwritten. I’m fussy about paper – and I couldn’t find anything I liked. If I liked the design, I didn’t like the paper it was printed on. If I liked the paper, the design was too cutesy for my taste. I couldn’t find the hue of paper I prefer that would allow me to create my own.

Time to go to a museum store and stock up. They usually have the best cards, and often they are on sale.

I need to spend time on articles today, before turning my attention back to the serials. I may take a quick nap after lunch – yesterday really wore me out.

I was all set to launch an article about the lost NHL season when I got word that a group of players and managers are working to cancel the cancellation. More power to them, and I’ll sit on the article until I hear more.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Feb. 17 Part III

I’m about ready to fall over with exhaustion. Six serial episodes written, revised, and sent. Two each of Tapestry, Cutthroat Charlotte, and Widow’s Chamber.

Tapestry is starting a fun arc where Nina’s hired to work on a benefit for a Foundation. Since I used to be a Foundation Administrator and run benefits, I can have some fun with that arc.

Charlotte and Rory plan to marry and Calico Jack’s just given them their own ship in Charlotte. They’re putting together a new crew and getting ready to set off on their own.

Madame Fontaine has finally agreed to meet Nora. Once Nora meets her, she’s in for a shock. Madame Fontaine is connected to something that happened to Nora before she even reached Nashville.

It’s all good, but I’m exhausted, and I still have a class tonight which means facing Ransagh . . .


Feb. 17 Part II

Glam Hearts went through another revision this morning, and now it’s off.

I’m exhausted.

This is the nerve wracking part. Will they like it? Even though they had sample scenes and an outline before hiring me, will our visions coincide? It’s always a nail biter.

But I can’t obsess about it. Charlotte, Widow’s Chamber, and Tapestry all need my attention over the next few days. I also have to finish my tarot column and do some other work for the magazine.

I better get to it.

It’s hard to let these characters go. I’m very fond of them, with all their little quirks and eccentricities. They are people with whom I enjoy spending time, and I hope the listeners will feel the same way.

Simple Pleasures of the Kitchen is getting a good response. I’m glad. It’s great to be part of a happy book.

Some lunch, then back to work.


Thursday, February 17, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Ink in My Potting Soil
The cress and all three pots of wildflowers have sprouted – early! I’m so excited. They are adorable, tiny plants. I’m fussing over them and trying to make sure the cats don’t mistake the shoots for a sweet snack.

Arthur Miller died last week, and I still haven’t written about it. His death affects me deeply. His work is one of the reasons I went into the theatre in the first place – he was fascinated by human nature. He was also intelligent and lived his life with integrity – such as not naming names during the McCarthy era.

I was fortunate enough to work with him about a dozen years ago, on a play here in New York. I admired his work and adored him as a person. He had the most vitality, the strongest life force, of anyone I’ve ever met. Because I work in theatre and have worked in film, etc., people always wonder about the celebrities with whom I’ve worked, and ask me, “Who’s the sexiest man you ever met?” For the past dozen years, I’ve answered, “Arthur Miller.” And it’s absolutely true. The personal dynamism and charisma of the man was inescapable when you were in the same room with him. He cared as deeply about the individuals as about “humanity” in general, which is rare. And he had a fantastic sense of humour.

He also encouraged my writing. Even though I was “the wardrobe girl” and didn’t talk about my writing openly at the time, he found out about it (he liked to do a bit of – he called it “research”, I called it “snooping”). I’d gotten away from writing for publication for quite a few years due to various factors, and I was only starting to take myself seriously again and consider actively trying to publish, etc. I’d started writing plays because actresses with whom I worked couldn’t find good monologues for auditions – so I’d write them. I’d written a short story called “Beyond the Light” – an odd, kind of futuristic, metaphysical piece. I had it in my bag at the theatre. I think I’d gone straight to the theatre after working at the library all day or something. I certainly had no intention of letting him know about it. Why Miller was digging through my bag, I don’t even want to know, but he found the unmarked folder and read the story. He encouraged me to publish it – and encouraged me to write full time. It’s taken a long while for me to feel ready to do that, but his word of wisdom, his opinions, and his continued encouragement whenever our paths crossed over the years meant and continue to mean a great deal to me.

“Beyond the Light” was published in a well-regarded literary magazine a few months later. It was the first paid sale of my return to writing.

Last night being Wednesday night, I indulged myself in Lost and The West Wing. Both were excellent. Last night’s episode of Lost was, for me, the first time that the back story flowed seamlessly with the current story. The dynamic between Kate and Sawyer is the strongest in the show, in my opinion, both due to the performances of Evangeline Lily and Josh Holloway, and the fact that their scenes have the best writing.

That points out one of the best part about writing work that actors get to speak and perform – when you have the right actor in the right role, the three dimensional aspect takes the work to a higher level. I don’t know how far ahead the writers work, or how much interaction they have with the actors, although they must see tape of the show. When you start to see the actors bring their dimensions to the role, you can write with that in mind, and that collaboration brings the entire project to the next level.

If they’d only write Jack’s role better, we’d be back on track with the whole piece. The scene with Jack and Sawyer had much more rhythm and interest than the scenes between Jack and Kate do. And there’s an ease between Kate and Sawyer that makes them a more interesting match than Kate and Jack. That needs to be addressed, if the creators want the audience to root for Kate and Jack. Right now, their attraction doesn’t feel natural. There has to be more developed between them so that their pairing makes the most sense in performance rather than just on paper.

I had my scene between Charlie and Sayid and there was a good scene between Sayid and Sawyer. I did Holloway a disservice in the beginning: I was prepared not to respect his work, simply because he worked as a model. Having worked with models, I have an extremely low opinion of most of them. I even briefly dated a male model for about two weeks – he was nice enough in his own narcissistic way, but dumb as a post and I couldn’t stand it. When I run auditions and I see “model” on a resume, that person has to work twice as hard to convince me there’s something more there than surface. Holloway’s won me over. Week after week, he steps up to the plate and makes whatever the creative team throws at him look easy. Good for him! And, my apologies for breaking my own rule and making an assumption. We all know what the first syllable of “assumption” describes – the type of person who makes an assumption!

West Wing was great tonight. I love watching the way the campaigns are coming together. I wasn’t thrilled that the character of Amy was back – I never could stand the character, although I think Mary Louise Parker does a great job in the role. I appreciate that, with Jimmy Smits’s character, they are creating the type of idealistic politician who cares about his constituency that we all wish actually existed. That’s very similar to the reasons why Bartlett was voted into office at the start of the show, and why people respond to him. Bartlett is the type of president that intelligent, humanistic, ethical people want in office.

Jimmy Smits is another actor who makes it all look effortless. He’s a master of detail – the arch of an eyebrow, the way he slides out of his coat or tosses a cup of coffee into a canister. Nothing is wasted. I can’t wait to see more between his character and Alan Alda’s character later in the season.

There’s a pretty short list of people with whom I’m still eager to work and haven’t yet, and he’s high up on that list.

Glam Hearts was read aloud by actual working actors, and then came another cutting, honing, polishing. It reads well and I’m happy with it. I caught some typos I need to fix today, but I think last night’s polish and all the work done on it yesterday have put it where it needs the eye of my editor and my producer. It’s a sweet, gentle, witty piece. I think it will do well aurally, as long as the actors work with pace. If . . .they . . .speak . . .slowly . . .because . . .it’s . .. aural, we’ll be dead in the water. I also have the character plot (what characters are in which scenes, as a spread sheet, for ease in scheduling production – years of production management make it instinctive to include that), the character descriptions, scene list. I was specific about music and sound. So we’re in good shape and I’ll get it to them a few days before deadline.

It’s hard to let go. I love the piece. So now I have to let go in order to get some distance.

Okay, more work on that, and then I have to get back to the serials.

Since the hockey season was cancelled (like that was a surprise), I’m going to do an article for FemmeFan about restructuring professional hockey in North America –MY WAY. First on the agenda – Bettman needs to go. We need to have a hockey commissioner who is a lifelong hockey fanatic, and someone who actually cares about the sport more than about breaking the Players’ Association.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, please click the appropriate link and download.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and mild

If you should happen to wander past a bookstore and go inside . . .

If you should then happen to see a book with a lovely cover entitled Simple Pleasures of the Kitchen, edited by Susannah Seton and published by Conari Press . . .

If you should happen to purchase that book . . .

And then read that book . . .

There are several essays in the book by Christiane Van de Velde . . .

And that’s ME!!! :)

Yes, that’s one of the other names under which I publish, in honor of two of my ancestors.

Copies of the book arrived yesterday (along with payment). The book is truly lovely and it’s so exciting to hold it in my hand. Somehow, the thrill of picking up the first printed copy of your work never diminishes – each “first” copy is equally exciting. What’s even better is that it’s a warm, loving volume that I can read and enjoy, not just have sitting on my shelf because my work’s included in it.

Off to write a note to the editor, and then back to the next polish of Glam Hearts . . .

Lots more to say, but that’s what’s important for now.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Just a quick entry before I leave for the city. I’m going in early because I want to go to Central Park to see “The Gates” – the Christo-Jeanne Claude exhibit that’s only up for two weeks. I want to see if it lives up to the hype. Besides, I like saffron.

The jackasses are now sanding the floors in the apartment next door and hitting the walls hard enough that dishes are falling off the shelves. I have to quickly move everything before I leave. Thank goodness I’m going to be gone today or I’d be incapacitated for a week.

I’m very excited about the next polish on Glam Hearts. The site launched yesterday, with the first story – which just happens to have been written by the woman who is my editor for Glam Hearts. Check it out:

I’m looking forward to my piece going up.

For a free episode of any of the above issues, click the appropriate link and download.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Feb. 14 Part IV

The snow’s turned to rain. :(

Ink in My Potting Soil
The wheat grass I planted on Imbolc for the cats is sprouting. Hopefully, I can keep the cats out of it until there’s enough of it to be of use.

According to the calendar, today is another good day on which to plant. So I planted Creeping Thyme and three pots of a Northern Lights Wildflower mix. The Thyme should germinate between Feb. 28 and March 7. The Wildflowers should germinate between Feb. 24 and March 14.

I hover over the Culantro and the Cress daily, hoping they’ll germinate early and fussing at them.

I have to buy some more soil this week. I’m almost out. Saturday is supposed to be another good planting day, and I want to use it also to repot. The ivy, some of the kalachoe and some of the other plants have outgrown their pots over the past year, and I want to get them settled into new pots for spring.

Ink in My Kitchen
While I haven’t worked on any of the ancestral recipes, I have been mucking around in the kitchen. I served a lovely dish of peas and zucchini (from Deborah Madison’s The Savory Way) along with tortellini filled with mushroom and cheese in Alfredo sauce the other night. I also made Marion Cunningham’s raw apple muffins, which have been a favorite of mine for years. I usually mix about five different varieties of apples. However, this time I only had a bag of Red Delicious, so I used those and cut back a bit on the sugar. They turned out perfectly.

I’m working on a meatloaf recipe. It’s nice and moist, but for the next go-round, I can be a bit more aggressive with the spices. Always better to err on the side of caution with spices, I think, and add them in slowly.

Tonight, I’m going to make a chicken Creole. Yes, I’m still sulking that my trip to New Orleans was cancelled! :)

Back to writing:
The painters downstairs brought a boom box and put on very loud, very insulting rap music.

So I took Maidens of the Celtic Harp and cranked it.

The Harps won. :)

I had to do much more revision on the Charlotte episodes than I thought I would. I threw out quite a bit; I rearranged it. I also had to go back and create another episode – which meant renumbering and trying to keep track of the timeline. So I’ve finished off the original arc where Charlotte chooses this life and gets her nickname. I jumped ahead for an episode to 1782, and now I’m going to 1719, where Charlotte gets her own ship. She’ll have a few adventures and I’ve gotten her away from Calico Jack, Anne Bonney and Mary Read before they get captured and put on trial (as, historically, they did). Also, by setting Charlotte and her crew out on their own, I can escape some of the historical confines. I’ve rearranged some events anyway so they suit the course of the story better – a few months’ tweaking here and there, nothing too major. But I want to give them even more freedom.

I got a short-short called “Love in a Wok” polished and sent in to a contest. I wasn’t sure I’d get it done in time. Going short is always more difficult for me than going long.

I’m going to try to do some more work on Charlotte before I leave to teach.

Not a bad writing day.

I took a break from Glam Hearts to get some distance from it. I’ll do a couple more passes at it tomorrow and Wed. I’m worried that, because it’s gentle and witty and very much in the old style of radio for the ear instead of more modern forced conflict that it won’t be what they want.

Basically, I’m worried that I’ve blown it, although I feel very good about the actual script, if that makes any sense at all.


Feb. 14 Part III

It’s snowing!!!

I sit here, researching the Bahaman island of Eleuthera for the next section of Charlotte while the snowflakes dance outside the window.

I love it!


Feb. 14 Part II

For some reason, whatever stupid Microsoft told the Blogger program, after a certain point in the previous entry, I could no longer separate paragraphs or add any more lines to the entry. Nor would it hold the other coding, nor will the entry allow me to edit it.

As usual, Microsoft bites.

Now, let’s see if I can get some work done.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Monday, February 14, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy/snowy and cold

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Well, I’m back from a few days’ retreat. Actually, I need about a week for it to do any good.

As is true with many people who suffer from migraines, there are certain things that trigger them and cause incapacitation. Unlike many, if I cut out coffee, red wine and chocolate, the headaches get worse. Which is a good thing, since I’m not willing to eliminate those three items from my life. If I have them in moderation, I have fewer migraines.

However, repetitive machine noise (a sander, a jackhammer, a leaf blower) will send me over the edge and incapacitate me for days. It literally feels like someone beating up on me.

While I’m not hypersensitive to light – if anything, I crave it more with a headache, which is unusual -- I’m also hypersensitive to certain scents.

Since not only did they sand floors in the empty apartments in our building, but painted and polyurethened, by the time I went on retreat, I was a basket case. The workers had no care for the impact they had on the building – either noise-wise or air-wise. They took no safety precautions either for themselves or the tenants in the building. The air was so thick with dust that it was like walking through a brownish fog to go up and down the stairs. Even now, there is a good ¼ inch of dust settled on steps, rails, sills, everything. It literally felt like breathing glass shards.

Now, I don’t expect the world to stop because of me. But I’ve asked over and over and over again in writing that they let me know when something like this is happening so that I can make arrangements to be elsewhere. Just communicate so I can make an informed decision. That way, people do what they need to do and I remove myself from situations that make me seriously ill.

In other words, had I known they were going to do this on Friday, I would have rescheduled and left on Thursday night. As it was, I lost all of Friday and all of Saturday. I don’t have that time to lose. I’m on deadline.

Saturday I was a complete and utter basket case. I couldn’t do much yoga, I couldn’t do breath work, I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t do anything.

I also had to move retreat locations because the place in which I was staying . . .was doing renovations. Now, why would a retreat center accept reservations in the middle of renovations? And then act like my desire for quiet – which is why you go to a retreat center in the first place – was silly? I made them refund my money and booked in someplace else.

And I wasn’t very inspirational in Friday’s class. I’ve switched the reading matter around so that we’re reading The Hidden Writer first. The chapters were the Prologue, the chapter on Marjory Fleming and Isabella Keith, and the chapter on Sophia Tolstoy.

I’ve mentioned before how reading the both of the Tolstoys’ diaries has made it impossible for me to read Leo Tolstoy’s work because the diaries cause me to loathe him in the extreme.

Which of course, brings up the question – does Genius have the right to behave however it wants and mistreat people? The Younger Me said, “Yes.” Where I am in my life now, I say, “No.”

No one has the right to chew people up and spit people out and defend it as fueling for the person’s “genius.”

And usually, the ones who treat people the worst don’t even have the most talent. It’s certainly true in theatre. The best actors tend to be the best with which to work. The more difficult an actor is to work with, the more mundane the talent. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between, and none of the exceptions I’ve encountered are blazing talents.

What about those who choose to be muses, discarded muses, and get into these passive/aggressive or dominant/submissive relationships? Well, that is their choice.

I no longer make that choice. As I will not subvert my own work in order to pour all my energy and attention into someone else’s work, nor do I expect someone else to do the same for me.

To communicate the human experience accurately, we need to be able to both fly with the angels and get the laundry done. Women have always done it. With more women choosing to go into the workplace and more men choosing to stay home, it’s gotten less gender specific. But, in a relationship, too often one party is looked as the Important One – be it the Creative One or the Breadwinner or whatever – and the other party is looked upon as the Drudge. Oh, excuse me, Helpmeet.

In the Twenty-First Century, the work needs to be split more evenly. Gee, I’m real sorry you had a hard day at the office, honey. But guess what? I put in 14 hours here at home as well with my writing – which is just as important as your job. And I cooked dinner, which means you do the dishes. And I did the laundry, which means you take out the garbage. So sorry you’re tired. So am I. Tomorrow we’ll get take out.

And anyone who doesn’t pull his weight will find the locks changed and his belongings on the porch so fast his head’ll spin. I will do 50% of the chores. Not 51% and certainly not 80 – 100%. And you damn well knew that going in, so don’t think I’ll get all dewy and misty eyed because we’re now living in the same space and you can slack off. Not going to happen on my watch. You want a housekeeper? Hire one!
Isn’t that a lovely thought for Valentine’s Day? :)
I cheated and went online over the weekend. I checked some e-mail but tried to keep out of discussions, etc., unless it was an emergency. I did catch up on some of the blogs I read regularly. It’s like having tea with a friend, and I don’t want to give it up. I spent too much time looking at real estate listings, but then, I’ve got a major house hunting weekend coming up, so I wanted to get a few more ideas.
Although I also spent far too much time looking at listings in New Orleans, I’ve come to the conclusion that, realistically, I simply don’t spend enough time there to buy a place. It makes more sense for me to do short-term furnished rentals. The Garden District has some good ones. As much as I love my time in Vieux Carre, if I’m going down there for a few months to write, it makes more sense for me to be in the slower-paced, quieter Garden District.
Once I was able to focus again, most of my time was spent on revising Glamourous Hearts. Harriet’s got two good monologues in the piece, and Leonard’s got a good one, too. I still need to smooth out some bridge scenes (scenes between sections, not scenes set on or about actual bridges, in case anyone wondered) and I might rearrange bits of it. In a couple of days, I think I will have gone as far as I can without input from my producer and my editor.
I’ve thrown scenes out and written new ones. I’ve moved scenes around. I’ve setup jokes that run through a few scenes and come back. The characters are witty and intelligent, and it’s a gentle comedy. It’s not a sturm and drung emotional wring-out. Hopefully, the producer will like it for what it is and not try to make it fit the traditional “romance” category. I like the piece. It still needs polish, but that’s what the next few days are for. But it’s a piece that will entertain with interesting characters and they use references contemporary to their time without making a big deal out of it, yet not being too obscure. I think I’ve struck a decent balance.
The site itself is set to launch today with their first piece (written by someone else):
So check it out if you get a chance.
I did some work on Ransagh, although not as much as I’d like. I couldn’t flip between the world of Ransagh and 1921 very easily, and the script has to be the first priority. Worked on the tarot column and on Charlotte – I hope to whip a group of episodes into shape and send them off this morning. Tapestry week starts today, but I want to get the monkeys marked Charlotte and Widow’s Chamber off my back first. Then I’ll focus on Nina, et al. If I remember correctly, I’m about to start a new arc – I’ve got the benefit arc and the Chicago arc, and then we’re off to Edinburgh. I want the Benefit arc and the Chicago arc to each run about 10-12 episodes.
My dear, sweet S.O. who is working out of town right now is distressed because his gift hasn’t arrived. I told him not to worry – I have no insecurities that need to be bought off, and it’ll get here when it gets here. The important stuff in our relationship can’t be delivered by the postman. There have been relationships were not receiving a gift on this day would have made me insecure, but not this time around. And, sometimes, the gift makes the insecurities worse, because, deep down, you know it’s coming from the wrong place. As in, it’s an obligation, not something freely given. And who wants that? This time around, we treat each other well all the time, and it makes a big difference.
The idiots doing the apartment renovations have already set off the smoke alarm once this morning, with all the additional dust they are stirring up. Yes, that’s how much debris they put into the air – enough to set off a smoke alarm. I have a wet towel stuffed across the bottom of the door to keep the dust from getting in here.
At least they’re being quiet.
Back to work. I wish I had a full week on retreat. A weekend wasn’t enough.
For some stupid reason, the entry no longer lets me return and start a new paragraph.

Friday, February 11, 2005

February 11, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Not a flake of snow. They warned us about a winter storm warning and . . .nothing. Oh, well, it’s a pretty day and I might even get outside to see some of it!

Did some revision work on Glam Hearts. I think the scene where Leonard has his flashback to the war might be too intense for the piece, but I’m going to leave it in anyway and let the editor cut it if she wants. It’s simple, well-written (at the risk of sounding pompous) and, in just a few words, communicates a great deal about coming home from war a changed man.

I’m excited to get to work on the new tack of Charlotte. The decision to jump time is absolutely right.

I’m debating about whether or not to apply for a major grant. The due date is March 1. When I looked at the packet, I thought “No Way”, but it turns out that, out of a 26 page packet, only 2 pages are the actual applications. The rest are instructions. I have the materials – it would simply be a matter of assembling them. I have to call them because the line for “pen name” is too small to fit all of mine, and I’ll be sending material under several names.

That’s the problem with applications – my life does not fit into anyone else’s boxes.

Worked on two non-fiction proposals. One of them is in good shape. I need to do some research for the back-up materials, but I think it will be ready to start sending out by the beginning of March. The other is still at the brainstorming stage, and will need more time for that. Also, for the second project, I need to be much more computer savvy than I currently am.

I’m going to do press releases for a friend who runs a music company, which will be great. I can’t wait. And I pitched myself to another company in hopes of doing some press release work for them, too.

I didn’t get the job for which I wrote the test scenes. They sent me a nice e-mail. They’ve gone with someone a bit more conservative. I sent them an e-mail thanking them for their time and asking them to keep me in mind for other projects or if the writer they hired doesn’t work out. When the game comes out, I’ll rent it so I can see which direction they took with the script.

While it’s disappointing, it also means I can fully concentrate on my other deadlines (I would have had to start the job immediately), and I can now market myself to other companies (that pay more) because I now know how to do it. So it all worked out for the best.

Off to write a lot today. Because after tonight’s class, I start a retreat weekend, and it’s highly unlikely that there will be a blog entry until Monday morning.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Feb. 10 Part II

I was almost useless as a writer today. I couldn’t focus on the work. I caught up on business, but I wasn’t creative. It’s as though I’ve pulled a creative muscle and my brain is limping. Hopefully, the weekend will restore me.

The decision to make the leap with Charlotte means I have to throw out most of this week’s work on it. Not such a big loss – it wasn’t working properly, and the characters had grown quite annoyed with me. I think I’ll finish up the episode after she gains her moniker, then switch back to 1782, then have a humorous reminiscence, then jump ahead about a year. I’ll do an arc in 1719 for a few episodes, and then jump ahead to Anne and Mary’s trial. It’ll mean some massive research – hopefully I won’t need to do it for the episodes due this week.

Ink in My Potting Soil
According to my lunar calendar, today is a good planting day. So I planted the Culantro and the Cress.

The Culantro should take 14-21 days to germinate, and be ready to harvest 50-60 days from that. So lovely little shoots should start peeping up anywhere from Feb. 24 – March 3. And it should be ready to harvest 50-60 days beyond that.

The Cress is supposed to sprout in 10 -14 days, which means showing its little heads from the 20-24. And then harvest 7-10 days beyond that, which mean I could be having high tea with cress sandwiches by the end of the month.

Better not get ahead of myself here! :)

Back to Writing:
Time and Space to Write met early today, due to weather concerns. They told us it would rain all day and then we’d get 3-5 inches of snow. The rest of New England is supposed to get a foot. Of course, as of this writing, not a flake has been seen.

In any case, all my students stuck to their 15 minutes of writing a day, with no skipping. I’m proud of them. And I told them to up it to 30 minutes a day this week. I promised it would not double every week.

I managed to write 10 pages of Ransagh during that time. They’ve journeyed through the dragon’s lair, been given a few whimsical and very strange items that I won’t give away here, and are on their way to retrieve Jory from the Amazons. Since I am quite pro-Amazon (they got an unfair, bad rep over the centuries, thanks to male historians), there will be as many turning of annoying mythologies inside out in this section as there are in the others.

I’m pretty sure this will be more than one book. I wanted it to be one, but they are nowhere near done with their adventures in the North and we’re on page 123. Since they have all four directions and the center to evolve through, it’s going to be more than one book. I was worried that I didn’t have enough for a trilogy, which would fit in the theme, but now I’m pretty sure that I do. Beginning, North and East will be Book One, South and West will be Book Two, and Center will be Book Three. Even with the massive cuts I’m sure I’ll have to do in the rewrites, I think I’ll wind up with three books. Especially since I still have to write the Prophecies and the Cowrie Songs. I realized I can’t write any of them until I know how it all comes out.

Goddess forbid I should stick to an outline! :)

I do have sections outlined, but there are so many archetypical veins to mine along the way that I don’t want to be boxed in. By anything. The characters are evolving sequence by sequence. They’re refusing to be sucked into clichés, and they’re being true to themselves in addition to learning and growing from each situation into which they’re being thrust.

What the hell do I know? It’s not my genre and I’m making it up as I go along.

Although I have to admit that when I say it’s “not my genre”, I end up doing better at it than when it’s something I think is my genre.

Just shut up and write already!

Unfortunately, ideas for yet another non-fiction project – a long-term one – have started boiling in my brain. It would need some serious planning, and I doubt I could launch it until fall or maybe next winter. But it would be a good resource for working writers. Not for beginners, but for people committed to this vocation. It would fill a void, so I might just have to, slowly, in my spare (?) time, work on the planning and funding of it.

First and foremost, I need to finish research for the other non-fiction proposal and write that up and start sending it out. Then I can start thinking about this one.

Now, finally, the noise has quieted around me – can you imagine how hard it was to work with them renovating a kitchen next door and trying to carry a refrigerator up three flights of stairs? They dropped it several times and the beast literally kept sliding down the staircase. The cats had a fit.

But it’s quiet now. So Scott Joplin goes back on the CD player. I will overcome my urge to take all my CDs out of their unit and rearrange them, and turn my full attention to Glamourous Hearts.


Thursday, February 10, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy; temperatures dropping

Very, very tired and having trouble getting going today.

As I mentioned yesterday, I got the test scenes off. Now it’s anxiety time. What I need to do is simply let it go. I had a good time doing the scenes, and I learned how to write for a new area in which I’d never even thought to look for work. Now that I know I can do it, I can market myself to similar companies whether or not this particular job goes through. And, I didn’t hold back or write conservatively – I pushed the genre as far as it could go. And that’s a good thing.

But I barely made my train – a later train than I’d usually take for a matinee. And then, of course, disgusting Metro North was late, as usual. It was a beautiful, mild sunny day! What’s their excuse this time?

The matinee was tough yesterday. All the cues were done properly and on time, but I was overtired and my responses weren’t as quick as I like them. And, I just didn’t want to be there.

I was late for my class; it’s small and intimate, and will be fun, but last night’s students were shy and I was overtired, so I wasn’t at my best. We did wander off-topic and start discussing Yeats and Blake. In all my years in and around the creative arts, I’ve managed to not read either one (although Yeats has often been quoted to me and I enjoy the writing). I figured I’d get around to their work “someday”. Maybe I should think about making it more concrete. Both of them have come up at least a dozen times in the past month – that has to mean something. Remember, in my life, I don’t believe in coincidence.

I’m re-reading Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary. Although I always enjoy it, I’m not finding it as creatively fuelling as I usually do. Although I appreciate her enthusiasm as she writes Orlando, The Waves, and The Years. I totally relate!

Watched Lost and West Wing on tape when I got home. Thank goodness Kate joined the trap set for Ethan. She spent her few scenes earlier in the show looking upset, and if the writers copped out by leaving her out of something that the Kate we’ve grown to know and admire on this show would participate in, I would have been seriously upset. I find that the character of Jack is the weakest written. Matthew Fox is doing the best he can, but the writers have made him a two-dimensional Good Leader with a layer of inorganic torment (I felt his back story was badly handled). His best scenes are with Sawyer, when they’re in their pissing contests over Kate. The whole section at the end last night, where Jack asks Charlie why he did it didn’t ring true. The Jack that we’re supposed to believe would have known and understood. Sayid would have also understood, and I feel it would have worked better to have that scene be a confrontation between Charlie and Sayid, where Sayid gets why Charlie did it, but tries to make him understand why they needed Ethan alive. Although I’m glad he’s dead, and I felt the foreshadowing of Charlie’s was heavy-handed. Monaghan pulled it off, but he had to work harder at than usual, and it certainly was no surprise. When Jack dropped the gun, I literally counted the beats until the shots rang out.

I don’t trust the creative team of this show anymore, although I genuinely like the actors and much of the writing. The reason I stopped watching Alias is I felt they broke my trust too often, and I feel that’s what they’re preparing to do here. I can see five or six possibilities of ways for them to mess with the viewers. One of those has actual integrity to the characters they’ve made us care about. I bet you anything they pick several of the other possibilities and then try to backtrack.

As a writer, watching the development of this particular series is fascinating, which is why I spend so much time musing over it in the blog. I’m learning the technicalities of what ends up working for me emotionally as a viewer in this format, and that’s very important. And because of the way this show is set up, it’s much easier and more interesting to deconstruct than many of other shows on the air.

Overtired and suffering from the adrenalin let down after getting those scenes turned around in about a day, I did what any self-respecting woman does with part of her advance: I bought shoes.

Two pairs in pink, because I couldn’t decide between them. Now, those who know me will wonder, because I don’t wear pink. But, one of these pairs I’ve had my eye on for a few weeks, and finally gave in. They’re pale, almost a cream, and look like a ballet flat, with just the tiniest bit of heel. The others are a dark rose, with pointed toes, openwork, a silver buckle, and a slightly higher heel. I don’t wear high heels because I can’t walk in them. Both pairs of shoes are enormously comfortable and will go with both skirts and pants, so there you are. Every time I wear them, I’ll think, “Glam Hearts paid for these shoes.”

I’m looking through the pattern magazines, planning the clothes I want to make for spring and summer. Adding some sewing in and around the writing will help keep me from spending too much time staring at the screen, tiring both body and brain.

The Charleston CD arrived, to help boost the rewrites of Glam Hearts. 27 variations of the Charleston. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that there is absolutely no need to listen to 27 variations of the Charleston, and I think I’ll go back to Scott Joplin and Bessie Smith.

I’ve come to realize that I’ve hit the end of a story arc with Charlotte and within the next few episodes I want to fast-forward ahead about six months to begin the next one. I’m debating whether or not I need to return to 1782 – the entire piece is set up as a flashback – so that gives me the necessary mobility. When you sit with someone and reminisce, you don’t discuss every single detail. You only discuss the highlights. Phew! Glad I realized that one! :)

Glam Hearts first and then Charlotte.

For a sample issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Wednesday, February 9, 2005
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Chinese Lunar New Year: Year of the Rooster

Ash Wednesday


The day call was fine yesterday, although it felt like venturing into an alien landscape. Someone had a personal emergency, so I ended up working the show last night and I’ll do the matinee today.

One of the actresses I dress shot a guest role on All My Children a few weeks ago, and it was aired today. She came off very well. You can tell she’s a theatre actress. Blew the regulars right out of the water. Of course, if the actors had decent dialogue with which to work, it would help. However, soaps aren’t about reality – which is one reason people watch them. So, to look for logic and method and all the things that make a stage play or a novel or a screenplay work in this format simply creates frustration and disappointment. Each soap is a world unto itself, with its own rules and ways of doing things.

Hey, soaps keep a lot of people employed and a lot of people entertained, so good for them.

Spent my dinner break with a friend, which was a nice change of pace. It’s always good to catch up, and I don’t socialize that much.

One of the sound guys used to live in Baltimore and gave me even more ideas for my outing with Michelle in March. It better not snow that day – I really want to go!

I’m also planning a trip to Valley Forge, PA in April. It’ll just be a day trip, both to do some research and visit another writer friend.

Worked on the test scenes until nearly 3 AM. The scenes themselves are fine and work well. I’m going over the top, which could knock me out of contention, but the material has to have a strong, stylistic point of view. I can’t be wishy-washy about it. If I’m going to do this, I have to go for it, 100%. So I am.

What’s frustrating is that the files were sent to me as .xls files. They want me to make changes within the document. I can open it and read it, but my software won’t actually allow me to work within it. So I have to take everything and recreate it in their ridiculous columnar format. I understand that they want to see the changes on a spreadsheet, but that’s no way to deal with a script. I’m sending them two sets of files, once I have it all set up. One set is in the format they want. The other is in standard script format, so that they can read it through for flow.

Plus, my computer won’t let me set it up in a columnar or table format that will work for this particular document – PLUS it keeps capitalizing the first letter of every new line three and four times, even though I took off the auto-whatever.

I hate the way this software wastes my time. With a Mac, you tell it something once, and it does what you want. Microsoft keeps arguing, line by line. It should have taken 20 minutes to format one scene. It took an hour and a half.

I’m exhausted, and I don’t see how I can get the other two scenes done before I have to leave for the theatre. But I have to, because they need the scenes today, and, with the time different, they have to go out before I leave.

I’ll figure it out. I’ll simply be cranky about it.

I’m telling you, parchment and quill pen is the way to go.

Better get back to my scenes.

Whether or not I land this particular gig, it opens up a whole new arena for me that I’d like to pursue. I feel like these characters have welcomed me, and are pleased that I’m helping them express themselves.

I hope I get the job.

For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.