Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday, April 29, 2005
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Show was fine yesterday. Just sort of coasted through it. I realized that I simply don’t like some of the people with whom I’m working. I can work with them just fine, and I have no problem being cordial and professional. But some of them aren’t people with whom I would choose to spend time. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just the way it is.

Read an engaging book yesterday – Jennifer Crusie’s Crazy For You. It’s more than just a light romance – it’s got some real substance to it. I worried about the rescued dog who was in continual danger (which is what the author wanted me to do). I feel that anyone who harms either a child or an animal is irredeemable, so when a character in a book is cruel to an animal, I get almost as angry as I would in real life. And I don’t date men who don’t like or claim to be allergic to animals.

Every time there’s been a guy in my life and the beasts haven’t like him – they’ve been one hundred percent right. So if they don’t like him – out he goes.

Fortunately, my current SO is even mushier over the household critters than I am.

Bags are packed, laundry came out of the dryer, the apartment is in decent –though not brilliant – shape. The winter covers (fleece throws I made) are off the furniture and the summer covers (batik and sarong-like material) are on. I still have some stuff to put away when I get home tonight, but, for the most part, I’m ready to go.

Serials are caught up, articles are submitted. I have to update my calendar with the new Llewellyn deadlines (sent back one of my contracts yesterday) and get to work on them when I return. My deadline’s June 1 – but I also have to send out a set of proposals for 2007 next week for three almanacs and two calendars.

I’m doing some research for an idea I have for the Maryland residency. Again, I’m a bit annoyed that it’s now two weeks and they haven’t answered my questions. So I’ll craft them a very tight proposal along the way that I see this working. It will be quite different than what they’re used to – rather along the lines of Moon Tribe Tales, but a compressed process. And we’ll see. Either I will get it or I won’t.

Sent a thank-you and follow-up to the prospect who’s interested in working with me a few months down the line and promised to keep in touch.

Ideas for two new pieces, with interesting, fun characters. I’m making notes and then they have to wait their turn. There are too many other projects demanding attention, and I want to write “The End” a few more times before beginning anything new. Half-finished projects drain a good deal of creative energy due to the guilt and worry associated with them. Finishing has become a priority for me this year. Over the next few years I want to either finish or jettison everything stacked up in my files.

I will leave in a few minutes to help set up Lemonade in Eden:

Yes, the event is tonight. If you’re in Manhattan and are looking for something fun to do, stop by.

I will be offline for the next few days, working on something, and not computer accessible. I ought to have some amusing stories when I return.

The April end-of-month wrap-up and the May To-Do list will have to wait until I get back and catch up.

April’s been a pretty good month in most respect, although a bit rough emotionally sometimes. I’m looking forward to the summer.

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

Thursday, April 28, 2005

April 28 Part II

I am physically and emotionally exhausted. The show kicked my ass this week. The track I’m in drains me emotionally much more than physically. I’d rather deal with the oversized coats any day.

Ran errands, readied bills to be paid tomorrow. Managed a quick walk on the beach (it cleared up for a few hours). The workers are busy getting everything ready for summer.

A local nursery spent the day in our courtyard, replacing the enormous tree ripped out a few months ago and doing some other planting. Not only were the workers exceptionally pleasant, the work is good.

Reworked and polished the pre-Derby article and got it off. It should publish on Tuesday. Right now, Bandini and Noble Causeway are my favorites. Bandini’s a son of one of my favorite horses of all time, Fusaichi Pegasus. I’d love it if he took home the entire Triple Crown. When Fusaichi Pegasus behaved in the post parade at the Preakness, I know he was too bored to win that day. He’d lost interest in the process by then, and wasn’t getting the type of attention he craved. I still think he could have swept the Triple Crown with slightly different handling. But he didn’t, and let’s hope one of his progeny does so.

Got a positive response from one of my direct mail prospects. Hopefully, we’ll get to work together soon.

I’m so tired that I don’t know how I am going to pull out another show. But I have to.

At least it’s payday. And everything’s ready for the trip . . .except the apartment.


Thursday, April 28, 2005
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Survival was about the best I could do on the show yesterday. There’s far too much ingratitude right now within the company towards the fact it’s a hit show and these people are making a living in their chosen profession. There a few people who are being negative and vile and it’s inappropriate to the context of the piece. There are also a few people who simply don’t think before speaking or acting. It takes a toll on everyone. It’s a shame, because it’s a wonderful show, and, in spite of a rocky patch right now (which every long run hits numerous times), the majority of people involved are great. It’s just more difficult, on many levels, than it needs to be.

Went to Island Burger for dinner and then to the Coffee Pot to try and write. Nothing. New York, which has been an inspiration and a driving force for most of my life, drains me instead of energizes me now. And it makes me sad. There’s a real sense of loss.

Change is good, and I’m glad that my life is moving in new directions, but I miss the sense of anything-is-possible that fuels the city. Economics have gotten so rough – thanks to both the Federal and State governments, who are determined to take as much from New Yorkers as possible without giving them anything in return – it’s no longer a livable city unless you have a Trust Fund. The problems in Albany that directly affect our lives are appalling. The Albany-based problems aren’t just awful for people in the city – the entire state is in a mess, and if it’s not fixed soon, I think the state’s just going to implode.

I miss “my” city – the city of Tapestry. And that city no longer exists.

On a personal level, no matter how difficult it is to survive in New York (and it’s always difficult – that’s why there’s the saying, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” -- it’s true), New York always felt limitless and it made me feel limitless. Now, it feels limiting.

And that triggers both the call to action and the sense of grief for the loss of the part of my life that defined me for so many years. That friction between the need to move forward and the sense of what’s left behind . . .

Being in the throes of a transition is always painful. You can’t get a true sense of the entire experience until living through it, digesting it, and then looking back. So I’m somewhere in the middle of the murk right now, trying to find a flashlight or a rope or something that will give me a clue.

My life in New York and my career in the theatre – for which I’m grateful and for which I realize many people would kill for – have set a firm foundation for the next phase of my life. Or, to borrow from Mary Catherine Bateson’s Composing a Life, for the next movement in my life’s symphony.

I’m still writing it, though, and will be for awhile. And, as in any writing process, sometimes it doesn’t go so smoothly.

Read another light-hearted chick lit yesterday. Won’t mention title or author, because I wasn’t that thrilled with it. It fell into many of the clichés that annoy me in the genre. The level of self –loathing was awful. To physically describe the first-person narrator twice in the first seven pages – instead of letting us discover the physical details through dialogue or action – put me off at the get-go. To continue to batter the self-loathing of the protagonist into the reader for the entire book didn’t work at all for me. I don’t find self-loathing amusing, and it certainly wasn’t handled with clever satire in this case. Some of the plot was good, though predictable. Much of the dialogue was excellent. But . . .I don’t think I’ll be reading any more by this author. While I understand what was being communicated, I feel it could have been done in a much more clever and unique way.

The writer’s got a half dozen books out in this genre, and is listed as a “best-selling author” (without details of which list or lists). Good for her. But it’s not something I enjoy as a reader or a writer. Reading about her – I think we’d get along well as people. But I don’t like her work.

Thank goodness there are so many different tastes and room for so many different writers and writing!

I’ve got to do some more housecleaning, and I’ve got to do more work on Widow’s Chamber and Charlotte. Along with a million other things to get ready for the show and the coming week. My back is spasming. Oh, well. I have to do some work with a yoga teacher to find specific poses for precisely what’s bothering me.

I’ll get to see my friends who recently moved to Maine and opened a café when I go to see the family in a few weeks. I can’t wait – I miss them!

I heard back from one of the Cape Cod research centers – they are happy to continue answering questions for however many stories I write about the “Impressions” characters.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Tired. Day work was okay. Show was fine, although the details of it have evolved in the six months since I last did the track, so it was like re-learning it. That gets frustrating. Little things change over the course of time, and the person doing it every day simply integrates it. But when a swing comes in who hasn’t done it in six months, it’s a jolt. Plus, with split tracks and people out and stage management late on the sheets . . .urgh. But we got through it and we even had fun, so it’s all good.

I had a nice dinner at one of my favorite restaurants on Ninth Avenue, called Vinyl. The menus are in actual record covers, and the food is good, leaning to the side of healthy without being annoying. I had some lovely mashed potatoes, a chicken quesidilla and a nice, light pinot grigio. A relaxing way to spend my break. The staff there’s very friendly and efficient without making one feel rushed.

If a restaurant tries to rush me through the meal, I don’t go back – and I make sure to mention it in the review. One should be able to relax and enjoy a nice meal, or just linger through an afternoon with a book, a drink and a snack. This emphasis on volume turn-over guarantees me not returning to a place or recommending it. So, while it’s understandable, given the obscene rents in New York, that places want and need a high turnover, there’s a way to do it without removing half-finished plates, refusing to refill water glasses and slapping the check on the table when the entrée arrives. Believe it or not, I’ve eaten in some of those restaurants. I’ve also walked out of a few of them.

I needed some light reading, and I found exactly what I needed with Robyn Sisman’s Summer in the City. It was good to read a chick lit novel that actually had a plot and a storyline beyond the usual formula – which tends to be the heroine being a neurotic mess that’s meant to be endearing, but is, in actuality, annoying. This novel, on the other hand, had a pair of protagonists given equal time, who were not perfect, but smart, resourceful, compassionate, and funny. It made me want to read one of her other novels, Weekend in Paris – I’ll see if I can pick it up over the next few days.

In the acknowledgements, she does thank one of my least favorite people on the planet, but hey, different people get along with different people, right?

The positive response for “Impressions” continues to grow, and I’m doing my research for the future stories. I seem to have communicated my love for the place well – both people who’ve never been there and people who are passionate about the area have written to me to tell me how much the piece meant to them and how I captured the sense of place.

Hopefully, the two conservation centers will continue to answer my questions – it can only help them if more people grow interested in their mission. I’ll pick up some flora and fauna guides over the next few weeks.

Today will be a long day, but I’m going to try and pace myself. I don’t want to blow out during the matinee and have nothing left for the evening show. And I can’t wear myself out so thoroughly this week that I’m exhausted for the trip.

The runaway bison on the Maryland tennis court made me laugh.

I’m going to try to work on Charlotte for a bit before dashing for the train.

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

April 26 Part II

I’m taking Ransagh with me to work on the train and on dinner breaks (instead of making dinner plans with friends).

I have such a strong sense of missing these characters, especially Kenelm. It’s as strong as missing certain people about whom I care deeply, but who are not around right now for various reasons. Kenelm’s purpose in the beginning was to be a foil for Raisa – sort of a sidekick, but not quite. As the concept of the piece grows, about male and female characters having equal growth during the quest, he’s truly fought to be who he is – a very human, less than perfect knight who is still loyal, committed and capable of growth.

It turns out that I miss Kenelm the most out of all of the characters.

That certainly sheds some interesting light on the piece as a whole.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I returned the rental car this morning – and I’m sad to hear that Ford plans to discontinue the Taurus – typical, they create an excellent car and then don’t make it any more. Since when did cars become like shades of lipstick?

The repairs on my car will be expensive enough to put a serious strain on me, and I have to do some juggling. But the estimate’s less than I feared, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’m in the city for most of the next few days anyway, so it doesn’t make sense for me to have a rental car merely sitting in a parking spot.

I’m trying to figure out ideas for novella tie-ins. So far, I’m considering:

--Cletus and Elwood’s trip from Nashville to New Orleans;
--One of Daisy’s escapades when she was still actress “Phoebe Richmond” before the start of this piece (I might be able to work Luther into the piece);
--How Daniel ended up an orphan;
--The actual story of Daniel’s grandfather in Washington, DC during the war of 1812;
--Some of Charlie’s naval adventures;
--Dudley working on the railroad out west;
--Arthur prospecting for gold;
--Luther’s exploits as a gambler;
--Frank’s experiences ferrying slaves to freedom;
--Eliza Colby’s experiences running the inn on her own while her husband is off driving;
--James and his family in San Antonio;

All of these are referred to in passing in the Widow’s Chamber, and it might be interesting to investigate some of them more deeply. Some of them would require an awful lot of research; some of them might require just a bit more to add on to the research I’ve done.

Nothing like doing several days of research and then it ends up merely as a passing reference in a sentence!

The story idea triggered by the bridge almost-jumper is percolating. It will probably end up being a rather dark comedy.

I need to do some more work on Widow’s Chamber and Charlotte today before I go – which means I need to shut up here and get to work.

Day work and a show tonight, two shows tomorrow, and a show Thursday – plus I have to finish getting ready for guests. And get the pre-Derby article finished.

Not quite sure how it’s going to happen, but if I don’t get started, it won’t.

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

Monday, April 25, 2005

April 25 Part IV

Instead of doing what I should be doing, I spent the evening revising one of my favorite older stories, “To Die For” and did some housecleaning (finally).

The Tappan Zee Bridge was closed for hours this afternoon into the evening as they retrieved some guy who’d climbed up into the span and was talking to a bunch of people on his cell phone before his jump. He talked long enough so that they caught him.

That paragraph reads unsympathetically, and it’s not meant to. It’s just . . .can’t people EVER get off their effing cell phones? On the one hand, one is glad that it saved his life – he wanted to be talked out of jumping – although I’m sure the thousands of people who couldn’t get where they needed to go over the five hours it took to get it sorted secretly wish he’d jumped and gotten it over with.

The whole situation just makes those wheels start turning, and there’s this idea that’s got a weak spark somewhere in the back of my brain . . .What if . . .?


April 25 Part III

You might as well spread me with butter and serve me on a plate, because I am toast.

Tiring day.

On the upside, the rental Taurus drives like a dream. It has just over 100 miles on it – a brand-new, 2005 model! I don’t think I’ve ever driven a car with such low mileage – even cars I’ve bought new! It drives beautifully and it accelerates just the way I like it on the highway. The downside? Horrible blind spots on both sides and the way the steering wheel is positioned, I can’t read the speedometer. I have to either scrunch way down in the seat and peer through it, or stretch up and peer over and down.

Took my mom to the doctor; picked her up and she rode along to deliver the basket to Connecticut. Of course, being directionally challenged and, today, map-less, I made a wrong turn, but I found the place anyway. I’m looking forward to helping them set up the event on Friday:

To White Plains – hated all the lamps in stock – they looked better in the photos than in life. Grabbed lunch at Atlanta Bread Company – yum! Over to Port Chester, to Linens ‘N Things – lousy lamps there, too. Over to Home Depot—no luck there, either. But, finally, I remembered to buy the bulbs I needed!

To the beach, for a short walk until it started sprinkling. It’s been raining on and off all day. But when it’s not raining, the sky’s a lovely shade of blue.

Wrote the new blurbs for the serials and got the info about them out for the artists. My request to keep the current artwork for Cutthroat Charlotte was granted – thanks, Michelle – I like the logo you created and we get to keep it as cover art!

Asked my editor some questions about the novella tie-ins – mostly to do with word counts and rights. I can do several tied to Widow’s Chamber – something with Cletus and Elwood; one with one of Daisy’s experiences as an actress (working as an actress at that time was TOUGH); some of Daniel’s back story – there are plenty of tangents. I just have to figure out what’s worth doing. For Charlotte, I can do the section I skipped – where Charlotte decides between suitors. I didn’t detail it in the actual serial because I wanted to jump ahead, although Anne refers to it in a flashback. I don’t know if I’ll do anything for Tapestry, but will probably do a ghost story for Angel Hunt.

Maybe I can work on some first drafts while I’m on the road over the next few weeks.

We’ll see.

Cletus and Elwood, the drunks from the Nashville jail sequence in Widow’s Chamber, have such a loyal following! It would be fun to do something with them.

A lot of this will depend on the rights.

I’m pleased and surprised at what a wonderful response “Impressions” is getting at Emerging Women Writers. Sometimes I worry because, since 9/11, my writing is more about the way I want the world to be than pointing out what’s wrong with it. I did my time with the Angry Young Woman work and the cycle of plays we jokingly refer to as “The Suicide Plays”. It’s almost as though 9/11 made me talk less about what’s wrong with the world, but both actually myself and in my fiction do more about it.

I can’t tell you how many discussions I’ve had with editors of lit mags who say, “I want fiction that hurts. I want to see the pain.”

Well, you know what? Life hurts a damn lot, and I’m much more interested in the people who find a way to move beyond it and create positive futures for themselves and the world around them.

“Impressions”, “Dogs on Beach”, the Congress Corners stories – there’s a gentleness to them, but the characters don’t have perfect lives, they know it . . .and they’re doing something about it. They had their pity party and their wallow before we meet them, and now they’re taking action. They’re not paralyzed by pain – they use pain as a catalyst, not an excuse.

I’m glad that readers are connecting to that and responding as positively as they are. So, somewhere, there’s a connection forged between writer and reader, and isn’t that why we do this?


April 25 Part II

Car update:
It’s not as bad as I feared. One strut was damaged and the other needs to be replaced due to wear. In a weird way, it was better for it to happen now – the struts had enough wear so they would have snapped during the trip to DC next weekend. I’d much rather have it fixed by my regular mechanic.

The rental is also a Ford, but a Taurus rather than an Escort. Same colour – silver – but fatter and longer. It rides beautifully and has a good sound system.

I can drive anything from a Mini Cooper to a truck, but I’m most comfortable with Volkswagons. But this car is fine – in fact, the guy from the rental place was at the garage when I took my car in, and the Boss told him to drive me right over and hook me up with the rental car. One of the perks of living in a somewhat small community, where people know each other and work together.

Got a beautiful compliment on “Impressions” from someone familiar with the region.

I’ll e-mail the two Cape research facilities with questions later today so I can get the background for the next stories.

Now, off to pick up my mom from the doctor and then get the basket up to CT.


Monday, April 25, 2005
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

The car’s in the shop, and I’m waiting to hear what the damage is and how much. It’s making me nervous. I can’t afford a huge repair bill. But I have to have a working car. It’s not like living in Manhattan, where I didn’t need one. I need it out here – especially with two road trips coming up in the next two weeks.

I’ve got a rental car for the day. I need to drive my mom to the doctor, get the auction basket up to CT, and run some errands in White Plains.

Oh, yeah, and maybe get some writing done, since I’ll be at the show for the next few days.

Packed for next weekend’s trip. Yeah, I’m a freak. I pack a week ahead of time. I can’t stand packing the day of or the night before a trip. I want everything ready, so that I can concentrate on the other stuff I need to do.

Did a load of hand laundry – silks and cashmeres. I take very little to dry cleaning. Perk about working wardrobe on Broadway – I know how to clean things.

I should try to write for the next hour or so before taking my mom to the doctor, but I just may be too jittery.

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

Sunday, April 24, 2005

April 24 Part III

So the evening’s quickly going to hell without even the handbasket.

I got in the car to drive to the beach and it’s making a funny, clinking noise. So I turned around and come back.

I have a lot of driving to do tomorrow, not to mention next week, so it means I have to take the car in first thing to the mechanic and then rent one, at least for tomorrow.


Most likely, it happened a couple of days ago, when I was forced into a deep, jagged pothole when a bastard driving an SUV while talking on his cell phone crossed the yellow line and came at me head-on.

I hiked up the road to photograph the pothole, etc. Don’t know if it’ll do any good for insurance, but . . .and then the gnats began to bite and it began to rain again. . .

And someone fixed the handle on the section door – only now it’s jammed so that the key won’t turn. So I’m still going the prairie dog route.



April 24 Part II

Three new episodes of Widow’s Chamber written, polished and sent. Also, re-sent all the issues needed for the most recent subscriptions, plus the month ahead issues.

I just have to write the new issues ahead for WC and Charlotte and I’m caught up. This was supposed to be Charlotte week, but I didn’t polish any episodes. I focused on Widow’s Chamber. Next week is Widow’s Chamber week, so I’ll work on both simultaneously.

While cooking dinner (pasta with meat in tomato/cream sauce), I mulled over how connected I felt to the characters in the story I read today – completely forgetting that I’d spent the whole day on Widow’s Chamber! Liking one’s work is a good thing, unless one loses perspective.

Coordinated basket drop off – I will drive it up to Connecticut tomorrow. Plus, there’s a lamp I really want on sale at Target, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll remember to buy light bulbs!

I’m hoping to catch my beach walk today before sunset. I like April/May, when the evenings are long and soft.


Sunday, April 24, 2005
Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Lunar Eclipse
Cloudy and humid

A small plane crashed just a couple of miles away from here yesterday, near Westchester County Airport. The emergency services units were amazing in the rapidity of their response. Unfortunately, both the pilot and the student pilot in the plane were killed.

The plane was owned by a company on my Prospect List which I contacted a couple of weeks ago. The two people killed were both connected to the company. My condolences to everyone involved.

The basket’s done, and now we’re trying to coordinate delivery. I have it wrapped in cellophane, but it obscures the contents too much and doesn’t look as good as when the basket is open. But how to protect the contents?

I’m working on simple and more complicated logos for my sites. I want to get the prototypes for the T-shirts and the Tote bags done in the next few weeks. I considered just doing everything through Café Press, but I can’t to work the Exchange Project through them, and the only background colour for shirts is white. I think I’m better off at least starting it on my own. I have e-mails out to T-shirt manufacturers to see if I can get discounts, or if anyone participating in the project can get discounts so it counts as either bulk or wholesale, even if the quantities aren’t huge.

Nancy Drew turns 75 this week. As I’ve mentioned before, the books meant a lot to me growing up. So did many of the other series, such as Beverly Gray (my favorite) and the Penny Parker books written by Mildred Wirt Benson, who wrote the first Nancy Drew books as Carolyn Keene. I like Penny because she can be a real brat and doesn’t toe the socially acceptable line. Yet her intelligence and compassion win out in the end.

One of my favorite blogs is Shane Nickerson’s, Nickerblog:

It’s become a daily addiction. Through his blog, which I found via Wil Wheaton’s blog, I’ve also been exposed to some of his work, which I like a lot. It’s always great to find people whose work means something to you. He’s a wonderful writer with a delightfully conversational style.

I also admire the ease with which he lives and works in LA. Not that he’s not working his butt off, because he is. He works hard and gets solid results. But I hate LA (although I’ve had some wonderful times there and can only hope the photos have been destroyed) – it seems like another planet to me. I’m prickly and edgy and embody all the negative stereotypes of a New Yorker whenever I’m there. I try to spend as little time there as possible. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve had out there, being told how much they “love” (right!) my writing but don’t know what to do with me because I don’t fit into a niche (that’s right, and I’m not likely to start), but if I moved out there, I’d be hired in no time. “You have to be around, in our faces, available at a moment’s notice.” Honey, there’s e-mail and fax -- I can live wherever I damn well please. And LA does not please me.

Well, hell, I’m not going to pick up and move 3000 miles across the country to a place that encourages me to have a nervous breakdown in the first fifteen minutes without a signed contract and a check that’s cleared.

It takes a hell of a lot of money to get me on the plane to Los Angeles, and it takes even more money to convince me to get off the plane.

More power to those who are happy out there!

So many people applied for the teen mentoring opportunity, it’s doubtful they’ll need me. At least I offered. When the time and place are right, it will all fall into place.

I’m having bad spasms in my lower back – hopefully some yoga later today will unknot it. Didn’t get any work done on the serials yesterday, so I have to make up for it today. In addition to three full days at the theatre this week and Lemonade in Eden on Friday, I have to be ready to leave town at 6AM Saturday. It’s going to be a hell of a week.

Oh, and the door handle to get out of the apartment building came off in my hand this morning. Jammed it back on so I could get out – but now the key won’t work to get back in, and I had to come in through another section and travel through the basement to come up in my own section like a prairie dog.

The clouds look like they’re clearing slightly – I might dash out to walk on the beach. The magnolia trees and some other white trees (not dogwood, but I don’t know what they are) are in bloom. It’s beautiful.

Let’s hope for a productive day today or I am screwed.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2005

April 23 Part II

Bear with me while I whimper a little bit.

I spent the morning avoiding repacking the basket. I don’t have time for organic inspiration. I need to get the darned thing done.

I forgot to eat, which always puts me in a sour mood.

On the positive side, the press release about the 150-episode milestone for Widow’s Chamber is up:

and I ran the print version and the envelopes to get that mailing out. I also ran the envelopes for the newsletter mailing.

Since I don’t have my address lists in a database that actually does me any good, I have to type each envelope. Finally – at the second-to-last envelope, of course – I figured out a more time-efficient way to do it for the future – until I get the proper database – a page of labels for each name. I mean, for the salts, I run pages of labels – so why not run a page of labels for each name on my lists and then, when I do a mailing, I simply peel of the label and stick it on the envelope. When I get towards the end of a page, I print up a new page.

Why didn’t I think of that before?

So, now, egg salad with tarragon, chervil and mustard will make it all better and then I can tackle the afternoon’s work.

Of course, instead of getting tidier, my living room is more chaotic than ever.

And I better check the brook. I’m worried about flooding.



Saturday, April 23, 2005
Almost-Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I can’t believe how tired I am. I also can’t believe I lost the whole day yesterday due to errands! Picked up my checks at two theatres ten blocks apart from each other; did the banking; got back out here; ran around getting the rest of the items for the basket – and then, the basket I wanted to use broke, because the weight of the salts was too much! In desperation, I bought a steel planter, but that wasn’t right, so drove out to Larchmont to one of my favorite shops and found a reasonably priced, sturdy, lovely oval basket.

So I need to repack everything.

Had to make another batch of Rosemerta Abundance Salts, because the one decanter is so enormous that the batch I made (which makes about 18 jars’ worth) barely half-filled it. Yesterday was an okay day to make bath salts, not the best possible one.

Made up the 39 sample bags of salts (13 bags of each type: healing, abundance, and romance), made all the labels, put everything together, ran the cards and flyers. Put that whole package together. Finally found some really nice raffia to go inside the basket.

Re-sent 40 issues of the serials out. It felt like 400, but, to be fair, it was only 40. My editor frantically needed some of the issues – even though she’d sent me a confirmation that she received them well over a week ago. Everything is caught up and ahead except Widow’s Chamber, and I owe a few get-ahead issues of Charlotte.

I’m going to write a proposal for an Artist-in-Residence program in Maryland. It’s due on June 1. I sent questions to be answered so I can craft the best possible proposal – it’s been nearly a week and they haven’t responded, which sets off warning bells.

Hope Clarke, of Funds for Writers, asked for writers interested in mentoring teens, and I offered. I wish I’d had a mentor growing up. I had to muddle through it all by myself. I’m still muddling. But maybe I can help someone else.

My “mentors” were Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe – who still often serve as muses. Emily Dickinson hovers around the fringes there, shaking her head at my uselessness at writing poetry. But those three writers had the most influence on my life since I was about six years old (I wrote my first piece at age 6 – it’s still in a family scrapbook somewhere). And, of course, Shakespeare. I picked up paperbacks of Hamlet and Macbeth in the 2 for $1 bin at Woolworth’s (remember Woolworth’s? I miss them) here in town. I was immediately hooked on Shakespeare for life. I was eight, in the second grade. Of course, I appreciate them much more now, but the rhythm of the language drew me in then.

If I’d had a mentor, would I have stopped writing for a ten-year period in my twenties? In other words, am I where I’m supposed to be, or am I ten years behind?

Everything happens for a reason. I have to trust in that and move forward, not look back. Because, looking back for anything except material isn’t going to help.

"Impressions" is getting a wonderful response. Maybe I can do more with these characters. Cape Cod and its unique environmental aspects are so much a part of my soul that it would be lovely to communicate it through fiction. And not as a device, but as an entity unto itself.

I look around the room at the stuff stacked everywhere (much of it having to do with Friday’s event) that I have no idea how I’ll pull it all together for company next week.

One step at time, I guess, one step at a time.

Today’s priorities: Widow’s Chamber, Charlotte, and finishing the horse racing article once today’s races are complete.

Ransagh is calling again.

About time.

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

Friday, April 22, 2005

Friday, April 22, 2005
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Happy Earth Day!

Take a few minutes today to do something to benefit the planet. Maybe we can start a positive ripple!

“Impressions” is up on Emerging Women Writers:

I’m fond of this piece. And I’m thrilled that a piece set against Salt Marsh Conservancy is published on Earth Day! The Cape Cod town in which I’ve set the piece is fictional, but the information about the landscape is not.

I might do more with these characters and get further into the work up that’s being done up there. I found two great research centers up there to answer my questions.

As a reader, I know I absorb this type of information better within a context of people and story, rather than reading a report. As a writer, if I can flavor my work with the passions of the characters, that makes it easier to relate to them. I don’t want it to become overwhelming or preachy, but when your life is taken up trying to save the environment, it affects the way a character responds to everything. Fortunately, the environmentalists I’ve met up on the Cape tend to have that slightly wacky Cape Cod sense of humour, which makes them endearing as well as interesting.

In spite of all the summer people, there’s still often a sense of isolation on the Cape (personalized in Ally in this piece). The past few years (the Bush years) have not been kind to the Cape, and there’s a great deal of economic struggle. And when economics are tight, the developers swoop in like vultures with promises that their newest paving plan will help the economy. Unfortunately, if you destroy the reason people come to the Cape in the first place, in the long-term, there’s nothing to draw them.

I’ve gone to the Cape since I was six years old, and I’ve watched it grow and change, and the cycles of prosperity and recession. I have many fond memories of visiting P-town as a child in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when struggling artists could still afford to live there, people painted on the pier, and, the strongest impression I have from that time is the kindness of everyone with whom we came into contact. The world might be crazy, life could be very difficult – especially in winter or during storms – but everyone was in it together.

When I go to Montauk, I crave the same feeling I always got – and still get – on the Cape, and I’m disappointed when it’s not there. Montauk definitely has its own energy, and I like it very much, but the Cape is totally unique.

Worked on some more prospects for the direct mailing. Started house cleaning.

I need to run a mass of errands today, and then finish the basket for Lemonade in Eden this weekend.

Remember, if you’re around, it’ll be a unique and inspiring event:

I miss the “Impressions” characters already, but as they say, in typical Cape fashion, “get the chores done and then we can catch up.”

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

Thursday, April 21, 2005

April 21 Part IV

The next revision cut a half a page. I still need to cut about a half page. Not sure where yet. Maybe I’ll let the story sit for a day.

The genesis of the piece was driving past a man working with some land surveying equipment and his eyes being so blue that I got distracted and nearly drove into a ditch. That was the inspiration for Jared.

That was on my way to the beach, and I walked around the beach, mulling it over, playing with other people’s dogs, thinking it would be an amusing premise for a piece.

But the Congress Corners stories are set in this area, as are the Dogs on Beach stories, as will the Boardwalk Beauties piece. Enough already!

So, where would I set it? What area of the country do I enjoy that I haven’t written about much? I’ve written about some of Massachusetts, but not about the marshlands on the Cape. And I’m interested salt marsh conservancy, so why not combine it? So I wrote the story, and then I did some digging, and found out there’s a whole lot to the conservancy that I can’t completely use in this piece, but I can touch on it and . . . “Impressions” came to be.

And I’m keeping the title.


April 21 Part III

Worked through three more drafts of “Impressions”. I need to make some more cuts, still. And, I either need to twist it so it fits the title better (and I like the title), or change the title. Because the story’s not really about impressions at all, but about home. Although, Cilla’s first impression of the place is why she chucked her life in NY and moved to the Cape. If I make a slight word change in the last few lines, where she talks about why she comes here . . .that could hook it around. I already cut the first paragraph, which I decided I hated because it didn’t match the tone of the piece. The new first paragraph talks about impressions and if I bring it back again at the end . . .it just might work.

Back to another draft.


April 21 Part II

Two issues of The Widow’s Chamber out, including Episode 150. This serial has run for 17 months, one of the original serials for the Keep It Coming Site.

I feel like I’m back in the groove with it, which is a relief.

However, I’m also ready for a break – time for lunch and then to focus on some of the other writing that needs to get done.

But – Issue 150! 634 manuscript pages. I’m going to savor the feeling of having something tangible for seventeen months’ worth of work.


Thursday, April 21, 2005
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

So much for rain all day! It’s definitely cooler, but it’s bright and sunny. I’m not sure if I’ll make it to the beach today, but it looks like a lovely day.

If you want to keep up with what’s going on, First Amendment-wise, here’s an interesting site:

On the agenda today are several things: The Widow’s Chamber, Cutthroat Charlotte, more work on “Impressions”, some business-related writing, and maybe some work on Periwinkle and/or Ransagh.

Plus housecleaning.

I swear, the paperwork reproduces at night when I’m not looking. No matter how much I put away, the next morning, there are stacks of it again everywhere.

The dilemma with Charlotte, as I’m approaching the arc dealing with the trial of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, is how to best use the trial transcript. The copy I have is a published, copyrighted version, so I have to use it as the basis for the dialogue, while making sure I don’t lift sections to avoid plagiarism. Yet, I also have to use the correct terminology and protocol for the time. It’s a challenge.

Off to do some research on Cape Cod marshes. I’ve been there frequently, but I need some nuts-and-bolts real info. I need flora and fauna info. I bet my Petersen’s Field Guide to the Birds is in storage, gosh darn it.

Angel Hunt was finally moved out of the Horror category and into the Fantasy category.

How many times did I go out yesterday and I still forgot light bulbs?


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

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

April 20 Part III

The kitchen drain is slightly better, but I think I’ll have to attack it with baking soda and lime tomorrow.

Took friends up on a spontaneous invitation. They wanted me to look over some items they’re interested in bidding on at Sotheby’s. Okaaay. I told them to skip the paintings and the jewelry and bid on the castle in Spain. Yeah, sure, it would be cool to own a Kandinsky, but shouldn’t it be a Kandinsky you like?

Ended up writing the first draft of a short story, “Impressions”, while sitting on their deck. The bones are there, the characters are there, but it needs more work. I need to do more research on the marshlands of Cape Cod to truly integrate the sense of place. As usual, place is another character in the piece.

On the way home, got an idea for another story from some firemen. Nearly ended up accepting a date, too, until I remembered I’m not available (oops).

I dated a fireman once, for a few months. Really sweet guy. But he needed a stay-at-home girl in his life, not a world-traveling woman. Call me a zebra, call me a leopard, but I don’t change those traveling stripes or spots. They’re too much of who I am.

Now, for a glass of wine and some relaxation . . .


April 20 Part II

One episode of the western polished and sent. Caught up on e-mail (which took awhile). Discussed a marketing plan with some colleagues and got some good feedback. Got the information so I can plot the course to pick up the overseas company at the end of the month (I have to drive to DC). Drove to Larchmont to retrieve my lovely lamp – they did such a great job. Too bad I’m out of light bulbs (and too darned lazy to go out again).

The lamp shop has the most beautiful antique cash register. I oohed and aahhed over it, and the guy admitted they put it back in because the computerized drawer kept getting broken into and the cash register was much more secure!

A new café called Water Color opened – it looks lovely, and I want to try it out in the next few weeks. Maybe I’ll even write about it!

The beach was packed again, and I didn’t stay long. Mulled over some story ideas. I have a cast of characters talking, and I have to sort out who belongs in which piece. I tried to stuff them all into one, but they’re balking. I picked up the makings of Caesar salad for lunch on my way home.

It’s hot and sticky today and looks like it wants to rain.

I want to get back to my writing, but my kitchen drain smells like something died in there, so I guess I have to investigate that before I do anything else. I questioned the cats – did they catch something and stuff it down the drain? – but they’ve taken the Fifth.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and warm

I can’t believe I’m up this early. Too much on my mind, I guess.

Yesterday was the 10th Anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. What can one say about it? How can one help those who lived through it heal? How can we make sure nothing like this ever happens again?

Unfortunately, I have no answers.

A new Pope was elected yesterday. John Ratzinger, who will be known as Benedict XVI. He seems a complicated man of contrasts. He wants to remain a hardline traditionalist, yet also work for humanitarian causes. Is that possible? His defense of fundamentalists concerns me. If someone chooses to be a fundamentalist, that’s their right and their choice. Unfortunately, most of them are determined to thrust their beliefs on those around them, which they do not have the right to do. It’s the My-Way-is-the-Right-Way syndrome, and it’s too often used as justification for centuries of cruelty. I don’t believe that if someone is gay, the person is either evil or going to hell. And I deeply believe that women must have equal rights in any church. A woman has the innate right to lead prayer, to bless and hand out the bread and wine, and to lead believers. Women carry life within them – you can’t get much closer to divine energy than that!

While I do think traditions are important in religion, religion also needs to evolve, and that’s going to be a difficult balance for Catholics to find. And inequality is unacceptable in any religion – hence my refusal to participate in organized religion.

I believe faith and religion are two different things. Faith is one’s personal, actual, daily way of living with the Divine. Religion has become (perhaps it always was this way) a way to control, judge and demean large groups of people, claiming to do so in the name of whatever God the religion claims to serve. I know many people who have a deep faith, yet refuse to be manipulated by “religion” because so often it is hypocritical. Those are the truly spiritual people. Some of them belong or even work in the realm of organized religion. Many have found their path via other ways.

It was interesting to watch Benedict greet the crowd. He walked on to the balcony, pleased and honored. And then, as he looked down at the large crowd, cheering him and relieved that they have a leader, he realized the enormity of what he has to do. It moved from being an abstract, intellectual knowledge to something he could feel. Watching him gain the realization experientially instead of intellectually was fascinating.

Day work was fine, although long. I was exhausted by the end of it. I’m picking up a few more shows, and a week at the end of June, but I’m not doing the double calls anymore. It doesn’t serve either call well. It’s not the amount of time, but the fact that, because things have to come out of the laundry and off the dry cleaning rack, and certain things happen at certain times at the same time, that there really need to be two separate people doing the calls. They understand. I helped out in a pinch, but it’s not something that can continue to happen without having a negative impact on the clothes and therefore, the show. While I appreciate the pay for a double call, and I work my butt off to do both as thoroughly as I can, I’d rather see the calls get done properly.

I sent off a request to the publisher mentioned in the last entry, comparing my figures with the publisher’s figures. Let’s see where that goes. Wonder how long that will take to straighten out?

Trying to decide, project-wise, what is the most productive – on all levels – of the projects I’m juggling. Does it make more sense to focus on one or two outside of the serials? But I have to be able to get out work in order to generate income, and often that means working on multiple projects. But do I then jettison the projects most important to me that are not yet income-generating? If I do that, I grow resentful.

I have to find a way to spend less time and energy on the serials – the work put in is no longer paying off on any level. The frustration is outweighing the benefits. I hope this is temporary – after all, on a long-running show, there are periods of time where the way someone else breathes is annoying. I’m hoping that’s what this is, and I’ll be frustrated for a bit, and then get back into sync. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities the serials afforded me, and the first two years of a new venture are always the toughest. But right now, the situation with the serials it out of balance to the rest of my life, and I have to rebalance. And that might mean making some difficult decisions. Ego and misplaced loyalty have to be put aside, and the entire situation in the long term as well as the short term needs to be considered in a rational, clear-eyed way.

I’m reading French Women Don’t Get Fat and it’s not at all what I expected. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but not a lifestyle book. I enjoy it, but, had I investigated it a bit further before buying it, I probably would have skimmed through it and not bought it. I do much of what the author talks about anyway, and she’s got some good ideas.

I have to do some major cleaning over the next few days. Company’s coming in from overseas at the end of next week, and there are too many piles of papers around. I have to sort and toss and file, and, in general, get the place ready for outside eyes.

I wish for a few months of peace and calm, for both myself and everyone around me. I need it in order to regain my equilibrium.

The cats are screaming for their breakfast. I will feed them. If they ever learn how to open the cans themselves, I’m in big trouble!

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

Monday, April 18, 2005

April 18 Part III

Tonight is the anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride, prior to the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the official start of the American Revolution in 1775.

I just deleted three different comments on that fact. Perhaps it is better for them to stay deleted right now! Although, if the current administration doesn’t stop the downward economic spiral and continues to protect the huge corporations while punishing the regular people struggling to make a living, and continues to encourage the gap to widen between the enormously rich and the rest of reality as they’ve done since last November . . .people get desperate. We watch them snap every day on the evening news. With unemployment rising as CEOs receive obscene raises after firing workers, with workers getting dumped from unemployment rolls in order for the figures to look as though they’re lessening, when, in reality, people are literally disappearing, with social services being cut while politicians vote themselves raises, yet there isn’t even toilet paper in our schools, not to mention pen and paper and kids are being taught in converted janitorial closets . . .and you wonder why people snap?

Someday, I will write my Revolutionary War piece. Growing up, that time period was my area of expertise. Unfortunately, much of it has floated out of my head. I bet I still have notebooks full of research for term papers somewhere.

The conclave started today to elect the new Pope. The process fascinates me. I’m glad they swear to keep it secret. That doesn’t make sense, since I’m so fascinated, but I like to imagine what could be going on in there!

Received a statement from one of my publishers. I have to go over it with a fine tooth comb. I keep my own records and compare them to the statement – this payment is 1/6th of what it should be, according to the facts and figures I’ve kept over the time period. I am so sick and tired of having to re-do other people’s work and clean up after them. Urgh. This battle will not be fun.

So much for getting any creative work done.

And tomorrow, I’m doing a double day call.

Ah, well, French Women Don’t Get Fat and the Vietnamese cookbook Lemongrass and Lime arrived tonight, so I will go off and sulk with them.


April 18 Part II

Lost most of the morning working on computer problems, as usual. I seem to have the fax component working now – but only via the printer itself, not through the computer. And, since it scans the fax before sending it, I don’t understand why it won’t scan photos.

I seem to be able to send outgoing, but not receive. I’m confused.

I also deleted all my AOL crap, because it was interfering with the way everything else in my system worked. It’s still a little wonky, and some of my stuff isn’t coming through, but I think it’s better.

Took a walk on the beach and played with other people’s dogs.

Over the past few days, I read two more of Michael Jecks’s books: A Moorland Hanging and The Crediton Killings. I enjoy the way the series is developing. He’s working, I think, on his twentieth or twenty-second book in the series, and I’ve only read the first four, so I have some catching up to do. The last one saddened me at the end. That’s not a criticism of the book – it was so well done that the brutality of mankind towards each other was simply pointed out once again and saddened me.

Many of the modern mysteries end up making the reader feel better because things are wound up at the end. There’s definitely a need to comfort readers like that sometimes, but there is also a need for what Jecks does, looking at the bigger picture.

Polished and sent two more episodes of The Widow’s Chamber. Cletus and Elwood are baaaack! And, of course, interrupted Nora and Cam at an inopportune moment! I just love those two. By Wednesday, I’ll be working on the ball sequence – I’ve written around it enough and now I have to cough it up.

Made a gentle update on the “News” section of the website – and didn’t even need to ask Colin any panicked questions! I’m learning slowly, but I’m learning.

I need to get stamps this week and get the newsletter out.

I got an explanation and assurances about the late payment, and I am somewhat mollified. That’s the major part of what I needed – communication. Now, providing the money is forthcoming in a reasonable amount of time, I will be somewhat okay. There are still other things bothering me, but some of them are my problem and not my editor’s.

I wondered about the Shakespeare serial and the whaling saga and the Revolutionary War one and I just don’t know. I’m not at a point where I can make those types of decisions right now. I need to work on what I’m working on now.

I need to spend more time on Periwinkle and Ransagh and make a decision about the characters from “Dogs on Beach”. Meanwhile, the characters of Congress Corners are tapping their feet (if they were in a row they could be a dance line) and saying, “What about us? You promised us a story a month and you still haven’t finished the Thanksgiving novella!”

The novella format needs to make a comeback, and not merely as an e-book. Novellas need to be sold at newsstands and train stations and bus depots and gas stations for $1 or $1.99 so that a commuter can pick one up and read it on the train.

So sayeth I. But how to do-eth? :)


Monday, April 18, 2005
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and warm

What a beautiful spring day! I want to go out and play!!!

The show was fine yesterday. I was back in the track I usually do and it went smoothly.

But I was tired by the end of it, and annoyed at the train service – or lack thereof. Metro North has got to be one of the worst-run systems in the country. The prices keep going up; the service goes down; the trains are filthy. They’re getting a ton of money for the rail yard rights due to the new Jets stadium. Instead of giving their inept executives more five figure raises plus housing allowances, how about putting the money back into the trains and rolling back the fare increases, which should never have been allowed in the first place?

I sent a series of questions to one of my editors, including asking when my payment would arrive (it’s already late). All questions were answered except the payment question, which was ignored. Interesting. I’m going to have to go back to the contract and point out a few things. I get VERY tetchy about someone dragging their feet on payment. This is my business, not my hobby. If I sign a contract with delivery dates and payment dates, I hold up my end and I expect the other party to do so as well.

Sat down with the big calendar yesterday afternoon and figured out the four serials, and where they will be by the end of each contract. I don’t think I can do Charlotte justice by ending it in July – I’ll probably extend for one more six month period. But I think I can wrap up everything else by the time my contracts expire in the fall. If I end those three serials and then have Charlotte go until early next year, I think I will have done everything I can do.

What about the two other serial ideas I have? The one set in Shakespeare’s time, and the whaling family saga?

Frankly, I don’t know. I need some time and distance from the pressure of turning out this much work for something that’s become very frustrating over the past few months. I want to mount a good marketing campaign over the summer – even if I stop writing new episodes, there are still over a year’s worth of episodes to keep new subscribers happy.

At least now I feel as though I have several options, and I don’t feel as cornered as I felt yesterday.

This week is Charlotte week, but I also have to keep working on Widow’s Chamber. I have to polish at least two more issue of Widow’s Chamber today. I need to go back to my schedule of episodes rather than the one I’m being sent every month, because my schedule keeps up with the original flow of narrative.

I also plan to go out and play on the beach a bit (I got my walk in yesterday, but the beach was so packed, I couldn’t hear myself think).

I hope Hereafter hires me to write another script. I’m eager to do more work with them.

And I want to get out some more pitches and queries this week. Plus, I have to complete work on the basket for Lemonade in Eden:

If you’re around on April 29, stop by!

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

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Sunday, April 17, 2005
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I’m exhausted.

Yesterday, doing a track I followed a year ago and never did alone was interesting, to say the least. It went okay. I had a few little glitches in the matinee, and a bigger one in the second show, which was due to a misunderstanding and something not being where I was told it was, so I ended up with the wrong piece, but I found the right piece (which had fallen down and wedged itself weirdly) and it all worked out. Everyone got onstage when they should.

My eyes hadn’t adjusted to the new glasses, and I couldn’t read any of the labels in the costumes, which also complicated things.

For the evening show, the other dresser was also a swing. She hadn’t done many performances there, but she’s very good and we clicked right into a smooth working rhythm. It’s nice to find someone with whom you can do that. I hope we get to work together more. When the chips were down, we both just rolled up our sleeves, got to it and figured it out. Always a good thing.

I missed my first train, and took the later one, and then was up far too long trying to unwind.

An exciting thing is that a dancer with whom I work on one of the shows is on the cover of the June issue of Yoga Journal! I’m very happy for her.

I’m tired today, and hoping I can pull up enough energy to do another show tonight. Thankfully, I’m off for the matinee.

It’s getting more and more difficult to divert the creative energy towards shows. There used to be an internal switch – about three or four hours before a performance, the switch would go off and the adrenalin would start pumping and the focus would move towards the show. Now, I’m scribbling until the last possible minute, and often working on the train, and it’s a huge jolt to walk into the door of the theatre. I still love the work, but I don’t have 400% of myself to give to both the writing and the theatre. And the writing has to come first.

It’s something I’ve mentioned before: I’ve spent a lot of years putting my primary creative energy into other people’s projects, and now it’s time to take what I’ve learned and focus on my own.

I also have to sit down and do some real planning for the serials. I have some serious decisions to make about how much longer I want them to run, and whether or not I want to renew my contracts this fall. There are some things that are starting to rankle. I’m not sure if it’s something that can be worked out in frank discussion with the editor, or if I’ve simply gone as far as I can go, on several levels, with these pieces and it’s time to move on. It’s not a decision that can be made in a day, or even a week. It’s something that has to be mulled over, worked out on paper . . .and I have to trust my instincts. I don’t want to make a decision I’ll regret simply because certain aspects frustrate me right now. But I also don’t want to lock myself into something that’s going to sap so much energy that I can’t do anything else. I want to make an intelligent, informed decision, not let things simmer until they explode.

Just what I need. Multiple crossroads.

I’m going to try to dash out and do a quick walk on the beach, then more work on Widow’s Chamber and then off to the show.

Lots to think about. Perhaps all the travel I have scheduled for May will help. A change of scenery usually does.


Saturday, April 16, 2005

Saturday, April 16, 2005
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I’ve already had a day and it’s barely started.

My glasses broke.

To anyone who isn’t completely dependent on their glasses, it might not seem like a big deal. But I can’t do anything without them. I have them taped for now and will race to the nearest vision center here as soon as it opens. If I can’t get them rigged so they’re secure, I can’t do the shows today, and I have not only a two-show day, but the matinee is a track I’ve only trailed, never actually done on my own before.

Why don’t I have a spare pair? Because my prescription is so intense and the lenses so expensive that I can only afford one pair.

Anyway, needless to say, no writing will get done this morning. I managed to get three loads of laundry washed, dried and put away, and see to the basic morning chores.

I was invited out to dinner between shows, but the location is too far from the theatre in which I’m working today without me spending the entire break in transit. I’d rather eat closer to the theatre and relax.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the day improves!

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

Friday, April 15, 2005

April 15 Part II

Today is the first day I feel like myself since the attacks on September 11, 2001. The growth and change I’ve experienced since 9/11 is still with me, but the sense of drive, of who I am, and, importantly, why I am flickered again for the first time in over three years.

I’ve changed a lot, and not always for the better. But there’s a piece of the original me that’s still left.

So there’s still hope.

Ink in My Kitchen:
I had a request for the Julia Child marinade. It’s a dry spice marinade – you can keep it in a tightly closed jar for a good long time.

The recipe is from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom by Julia Child. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000, hardcover, p. 49:

Dry Spice Marinade for pork products, goose and duck:

Blend the following ground spices in a crew-topped jar and use ½ teaspoon per pound of meat. For about 1 ¼ cups: 2 Tablespoons each of clove, mace, nutmeg, paprika, thyme, and imported bay; 1 Tablespoon each of allspice, cinnamon, and savory; and 5 Tablespoons white peppercorns.

Devon’s note: I did not blend them in the jar. I used my mortar and pestle. But I store the mixture in a mason jar. It’s darned good!

Tonight’s dinner was a combination of lobster ravioli with spinach/ricotta tortellini in Alfredo Sauce. With cherry pie for dessert.

I am determined to learn how to make a good pie crust this year.

Writing, etc.:
Going in to the city was interesting, as far as character observation.

One guy, sitting a few seats down, yapped into his cell phone the whole time. Get over yourself. You’re not that interesting. Keep your voice down. He had a fairly deep voice that might have been pleasant, had it not contained both a nasal twang and a slightly condescending sneer coloring everything he said.

Across from me, a mother sat with her young girl, reading to her from Anne of Green Gables.

I loved it.

I am a HUGE Lucy Maud Montgomery fan. I have all the “Anne” books in hardcover from childhood, and picked up the “Emily” books a few years ago at a yard sale. I troll second hand bookstores and will start looking on eBay again for her other books and copies of biographies and her published diaries. And yes, one day I plan to visit Prince Edward Island (I also know some hockey players from that area).

Of course, I am also the one who figured my allowance during childhood by how many Nancy Drew books I could buy in a given week.

I am obsessed with the juvenile mystery fiction from the turn of the century until about the mid 1960s: Vicki Barr, Beverly Gray, Ruth Fielding, Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls, Judy Bolton, Cherry Barton, Sue Ames . . .reaching back even to series like the Adventure Girls, and Marjorie Dean.

Ruth Fielding was an especially good role model, because there she was, in the early 1900s, married, with a career in Hollywood, and having kids. She truly “had it all”.

At a second hand bookstore in Concord, MA, I once picked up a copy of Ruth Fielding and the Gypsies, published in 1915 for $5. I bought it as much for the inscription as because I didn’t have it.

The inscription reads: “Presented to Helen Wood for perfect attendance. Fall Term 1925. Alina R. Weed. Teacher.”

I love the inscription as much as I love the contents of the book.

Took a walk on the beach and received more inspiration. It also reminds me – the differences remind me, if that makes any sense – of the waterfront at Plymouth, MA. Since that’s the area to which I plan to move, it’s a good thing.

I’m glad I came back to this town four years ago. I had unresolved baggage about my growing up years. I think – I hope – I’ve accepted it for what it is and now I can remember this area with fondness.

I have to do both shows at Rent tomorrow – but one track for the mat, and then switch tracks at night. Should be, um, interesting.

Went grocery shopping – I love grocery shopping, I am such a freak!

Submitted an article to a newspaper in the Virgin Islands – I’d like to write for them regularly, but am not sure what to write. I sent them something humorous that might serve them, just to get my name in front of them, and then we can talk more details later.

Also saw an ad for an artist-in-residence position for a few months in Maryland next year. I have a half a dozen ideas that might work, so I e-mailed them for more information. That way, I can narrow it down and send the best possible proposal packet.

Working on the short story that was inspired by Lili’s photo (Greener Pastures, linked at right). She sent me the full –size – and what she cropped out was something I’d added in to the story without knowing she’d cropped it out. (Cue: Twilight Zone music).

Anyway, I have to get some more work done on the western tonight and early tomorrow morning. Someone won a contest at KIC, and picked Tapestry (the mystery) as the prize, which is very flattering. Yeah, I had to re-send the issues! :)

Vince and Annie want some attention and the characters from Ransagh are saying, “um, excuse me, you left us in a castle owned by vampires and some shape shifters just entered and you’re doing . . .what? Step AWAY from the dogs and get us OUT of this mess!”


Friday, April 15, 2005
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I have a new story up, “History Lesson”, as Christy Miller:

It’s got the same cast of characters as “Dogs on Beach”, which Emerging Women Writers published last month.

I like these characters and want to do more with them. I have a third story, “The Purchase”, which needs some editing. And it kind of ends on a cliffhanger – either that, or it has to be even longer.

Got a new subscriber for the pirate serial, so I had to re-send a month’s worth of issues. I’m delighted someone else has found the piece and is interested in it. I hope my editor keeps all these new issues, so I don’t have to keep re-sending and re-sending and re-sending. There are some sets of issues that I’ve re-sent for every set of subscriptions. Since my subscription list is, thankfully, growing, that adds up. I understand that subscriptions are at different places, but once I’ve sent them, keep them already. Don’t make me do every individual set of subscriptions! My job is to write them.

Every minute spent re-sending is a minute lost writing, and, frankly, I don’t have that many minutes.

Get over it, already!

On a happier note, today is my friend Colin’s moving day. I wish him and his family a great deal of joy, health and abundance in their new home.

I have to run in to the city for some errands. I’d planned to go to the Post Office, but there’s a line around the block with people mailing their taxes. I’m annoying and smug because mine went off two days ago. So I might wait with postal errands until tomorrow.

It’s a lovely day and I look forward to dashing around. I’ll look forward even more to getting back home and writing. I want to do some more work on the western today – I think I’ll have Cam pick Nora up at Marie Leveau’s and have them run into Cletus and Elwood on the way back to the lodgings.

Yes, Cletus and Elwood, the two drunks filled with malapropisms from Nashville, are back, by popular demand!! And now they’re in New Orleans. The piece is going to get pretty intense after the ball as we push through to the end, and Cletus and Elwood will provide much needed comic relief.

On top of that, they will play an important part in the denouement.

Stay tuned!

Off to the train.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2005

April 14 Part II

Finally, a productive day.

After the Glam Hearts edits went off, I turned my attention back to the serials. Another episode of Widow’s Chamber off, as well as three issues of Cutthroat Charlotte polished and sent.

A walk on the beach generated more ideas, especially watching the dogs play. I took lots of pictures.

A pair of Canadian geese have nested on the rocks out in the Sound. The workers who were painting the “Keep Off” sign on the rocks themselves tried to shoo them away, but the Gander wasn’t having it. After all, his lady is sitting on eggs. He chased the guy away and I told them, in no uncertain terms, to back off. If anything happens to that pair, someone will have to answer to me and it won’t be pretty!

When I came back, I submitted my short story “History Lesson”, which has the same ensemble of characters as “Dogs on Beach” to a magazine. Keep your fingers crossed.

Also printed the newsletter and got Batch A of the copywriting letters out. Researched some of the prospects on the Batch B list.

Spoke to another editor at Llewellyn to find out when she wanted calendar ideas. First of July. That’s on my calendar – I’m already playing with ideas.

Ink in My Kitchen:
Pork chops cooked in Julia Child’s wonderful spice marinade. Because they are so spicy, the mashed potatoes have to be creamy and floating in butter, and the peas as simple as possible.

I think I’m done with work for the day and will relax.


Thursday, April 14, 2005
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Got a bit of a later start than I planned today, but I needed the sleep. I was tired after making all those bath salts! :)

Ink in My Kitchen
Baked a Cranberry-Walnut Tea Bread from The New England Cookbook. It’s very good. Every recipe I’ve tried out of that book is excellent.

Back to Writing:
I finished the Glam Hearts edits and sent the final version. During the last proof, I found several errors that none of us caught earlier, so I fixed them. Cut a few more lines, fixed an historical reference that took me awhile to sort out over the past weeks.

As excited as I am for the piece to be produced, it’s still hard to let it go. Part of me is saying, “But I want to be in the rehearsals! But I want to be there when they record!”

However, I just have to wait until the final product. I will post details of the launch when I have them.

Back to Widow’s Chamber now, and then on to more business writing. And I need to work on the new pages for both websites. I’m going to work on text first, and then slowly code them over the next week or so. I’d rather upload everything all at once. First the DE site, then the CC site.

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

April 13 Part II

Got an issue of the western off and have to get more prepped.

Drove to Larchmont and dropped off the lamp. The guy in the store was excited to work on it – it’s a type of lamp you can’t find any more, a real collector’s piece. The price is reasonable and it’s worth it, to me, to have it fixed by someone who truly knows what he’s doing – and the fact that he’s excited by the actual lamp is a plus.

Stopped at CVS to get some of the materials I needed to make the bath salts. Next door to the CVS was a gourmet food store – I can never resist a food store! Even if I don’t buy anything, I have to take a look.

The items in the store that I could find elsewhere, I could also find elsewhere at a better price. However, there were also items that are difficult to get around here, and those were priced reasonably. I bought some cornmeal and two kinds of preserves.

Got the fixings for the salts (I have the essential oils already in my stock) and I was ready to go.

Stopped at the beach on the way back to take a walk on the beach and Playland’s boardwalk. It was a beautiful day, although the wind was chilly. The waters were choppy, so no one was out fishing on the pier. Two of the tiny white dogs who were there yesterday were there again – their human walks very fast and those little legs have to scurry to keep up! I got more ideas for several stories, and they are rolling around inside my head.

Came home and made three batches of bath salts: healing, abundance, and romance. I decided I wasn’t satisfied with my recipes for the two latter salts, so I threw them out and created new ones. I think they will do well at Lemonade in Eden.

For more information on the event, visit:

I won’t stay for the actual performance, but I’m putting together a basket with subscriptions and toys for the serials, a tarot consultation, and the three types of bath salts. The basket will be auctioned off. During the day, I’m coming in to help decorate the Cookie Tree of Life.

If you’re in New York on April 29, I hope you’ll come down and check out the event. It should be a lot of fun.

Now, back to Glam Hearts.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and mild

I’m late getting the blog up today. And I have a million things to do.

I’m having trouble getting at the most recent issues of the western – which I need to get out ASAP. But I’ll figure it out. I think one of the disks got corrupted somehow – there are only a few episodes on it I need (it’s always the ones you need, isn’t it?) – I may just rekey them onto a new disk and send them off. I need to move ahead on the pirate serial. I thought I was caught up, but I need to do a couple more issues.

My producer accepted the changes for Glam Hearts and I need to get the final out to him today.

Yesterday was a long darned day. I managed to do the double call, but was exhausted. There’s just no way I could give both areas the strong attention they needed. But all the major repairs got done, the dry cleaning was restored, the pressing and steaming done, so . . .

I didn’t have to step into the play cold, thank goodness, because I was so tired by the end of the work call there’s no way I could have learned a new show.

I did my taxes this morning. I’ve learned enough over the past few years, thanks to the IRS answering questions and helping me sort out the years of mistakes the so-called professional tax preparers made, so that I can do them and do them well by myself. I know what I can and can’t deduct. When I do incorporate as a sole proprietor business (which will happen in the next 3-5 years), they get to baby-sit me as I learn how to fill out those forms, too. Clinton did a good job when he restructured the organization to be more helpful. And when my life does not fit into one of their little boxes, I can call them and we can figure out together how it works.

I keep track of my receipts and paperwork all year, so when I do sit down and do the taxes, it’s simply a matter of using the calculator and filling in the form. I’m not running around looking for documentation.

Too many story ideas battling for position in my head. I need to get far enough ahead on the western and the pirate so I can relax and focus on the other stuff.

Today, the Glam Hearts final is the priority.

I also have to drive to Larchmont to drop off a lamp for repair. And it’s such a beautiful day, I want to walk on the beach.

Business stuff to do as well for the copywriting mailing and the newsletter, but I’m trying to keep it all balanced.

A friend is coming to town in July – she’ll see the show and I’ll get to show her around and she can see what it’s like back there. I’m psyched!

But now . .. to focus. The New Orleans stuff is flowing better, and I think it’s because I’m getting the rhythm of the place back into my body. New Orleans has a rhythm that’s completely unique, and that’s such a big part of being there. Without communicating that sense of place, it could be anywhere. And it’s not. It’s New Orleans.

If it didn’t get so darned hot down there, I’d move to New Orleans.

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT!!!
Sunny and cool

I’m so glad that Mercury is direct. Maybe I can untangle a few things now.

Took a walk on the beach yesterday, and along the boardwalk at Playland. I love Playland Amusement Park – an art deco gem from the late 1920’s. The place itself has such an atmosphere and such a character. It’s alive, even in the winter. It is whimsical and beautiful and just a little odd, which is probably why I’m so fond of it.

I mulled over ideas for both the Congress Corners stories and the set of characters from the Dogs on Beach stories.

Also, two stories are forming in my head about the Riders of the Apocalypse. They’re very different in shape and style. It will be interesting.

The horse racing article isn’t any good, so I’m going to keep working on it and submit a good version after Saturday’s races.

Sent off the Glam Hearts rewrites and am waiting for approval so I can incorporate the revisions into the script and send them a clean copy.

Ran some errands, but lost most of the afternoon because I had to resend serial episodes. Resent 24 issues, then got an e-mail requesting issues I’d resent and which were confirmed last week. I’m getting a little frustrated.

I also need to do another marketing push for the serials. I’ve hit the point where I’m working too hard for too little return. I’m also hesitant to court new subscribers until my publisher’s computer problems are resolved.

I realized that I don’t want to put a lot of money into “stuff” for them – such as tote bags or mugs or whatever – because the serials are transient. Even though the western is over a year and a half old – eventually, it will stop. I do want to get some merchandise made up for the website, which will remain constant, but I need to figure out a low cost way to promote the serials that doesn’t leave me with a box of useless knickknacks in a year or so.

But it’s tempting because I know how much I love “stuff”. I think my best bet is to make up more bookmarks and find places in which to leave them. AND get the radio mailing and the library mailings out this month. The radio letter is very good, and I’ve done the research on quite a few stations. It’s just a case of getting it out, along with the newsletter and the copywriting direct mail. Maybe, if I focus on that for the next two days, I can get it all out and breathe a sigh of relief.

I have to leave early for the theatre – double call day – so I’m not able to post links today. I’ll try to do it tomorrow, in between errands and taxes and writing.

I feel as though I’m standing in front of a wall of stuff that needs to be done and I have no idea how I’ll sort it all out. Well, one bit at a time. That’s all I can do.

I regret agreeing to the double call. There’s no way I can do justice to what needs to be done in the women’s ensemble room and the principal rooms within the time allotted. But, I wanted to help my friend who had to leave to be with her sick mother. All I can do is what I can do.

And hope for the best.

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

Monday, April 11, 2005

Monday, April 11, 2005
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Saturday into Sunday I had a very disturbing dream that someone with whom I work on the show shot me. With a gun. As far as I know, there’s no animosity between us, so it was an odd dream.

My friend’s mother is very ill and she has to head up to be with her. I’m covering her day work as well as my own on Tuesday (which means a double call) and I’m on standby for a few days at her show (she works on a play) in case they can’t get anyone to fill in. If that’s the case, I’ll be going in to the play cold – no training – and doing it just from the notes. I’m more than happy to do it if it helps. Hopefully, they’ll find someone to cover the full week and I won’t need to.

My neck, shoulders, lower back, knees, ankles and the soles of my feet all hurt. My feet hurt so badly on Friday night that I was in tears by the time I came home – any bit of pressure was excruciating. Forty minutes in the footbath helped. I put gel insoles in my shoes for Saturday – and blew them out in a single day. That’s how badly a pounding my feet take on a two-show day.

The show was fine yesterday. The party was good – I got to see several people I haven’t seen in ages, exchanged some e-mail addresses. There are two dancers in particular, with whom I worked on the Follies revival a few years ago. They are so great, and I’d love to create a show around them. We’re going to go out to dinner in about a month and talk about it.

It’s been great to do so much physical work in the past week, but the writing is pulling me again. I could feel myself drifting during the show, starting to listen more to the characters in my head than to what’s going on onstage. For a few days, I thought how easy it would be to slip back into working on Broadway fulltime – I’m good at it, I like it, it pays decently. But it’s not where I should be. To borrow from Mary Catherine Bateson’s analogy of life as a symphony, this movement of my life is coming to a close.

I need to be writing full time. And I won’t do it until I do it, if that makes any sense at all.

Got back in time to watch Grey’s Anatomy, which I like more and more every week. The writing and acting are excellent. They cast the show so well.

Exhausted, but the ideas are flowing, and I hope I have a few good, solid days of writing this week. I need them.

I’ll post some links in the next few days to sites of friends and colleagues, and some info on the event, Lemonade in Eden, in which I’ll be participating at the end of the month.

Right now, I need to polish two episodes of Widow’s Chamber, finish the horse racing article, and finish the rewrites on Glam Hearts.

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