Have a blessed and wonderful day!
Back tomorrow with all the news!
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Cloudy and cold
We’re battening down for our first Nor’easter of the season. I’m glad we’re safely tucked in here, and not in the process of moving, like we were at this time last year!
Today is my mother’s 87th birthday! Happy birthday! She had a BAG of books waiting for her on the table this morning. Yup — I went to the bookstore yesterday, bought a bag, and filled it with books! That and the cheesecake she requested are her favorite birthday treats.
In honor of her birthday, today’s essay on A BIBLIO PARADISE celebrates Sharon Shinn, one of our favorite authors. And, if you haven’t left a comment to welcome Mary Abshire, I hope you’ll do so, scrolling down to the previous day’s post.
Yesterday was busy, and this morning was busy. I keep rewriting the pivotal scene in the harpy book. Just going to keep hacking at it until I get it right. I’m closer, I’m almost close enough where I’ll have enough sorted out so I can move on without seriously tripping myself up further down the line. I wrote between 3-4,000 words. And tossed them all out. All of them, including “and” and “the.”
We went to Falmouth yesterday — got some of the ornaments I’m donating to a charity tree, bought new pillows for my bed, got some long-sleeved shirts for winter yoga! Set up the grow light and the tomatoes, et al, are happy. The Big King eggplant is practically spitting a harvest of eggplants at us. I’m not complaining.
This morning, since we’re supposed to have horribly strong storm winds, I hosed down the patio furniture (instead of the thorough scrubbing I planned to do next week), took in the rest of the pots I’d washed and the iron plant stand, pulled back the potted plants that will stay out all winter (the hollies, the tiny oak, the witch hazel, the lilac which will stay through the first big frost and then get moved to the garage to go dormant. As soon as the furniture dries, I’ll take it in, rub it with teak oil, and put it where it’s going for the winter. The bench is going at the end of my mom’s bed, the tables will hold flowers, and the chairs will be folded up and stored in the garage. I’d hoped to do part of the Samhain celebration on the deck, but I don’t think that’s going to work this year.
Baked banana bread. Will spend time with my students. I have a class to wrap up this weekend.
Am getting a little restless with an organization with whom I have a fairly good and long-term relationship. I feel that, for the percentage of the fee they keep to administrate, they should be problem-solving, not expecting ME to problem solve for them. I”m there to show up and do my job, NOT administrate. I was moaning to a friend who said, “You’re outgrowing them, that’s all. They run things the way they run them, and you keep evolving, as you should.”
That was a good perspective and a good articulation to hear. It fits in with the restlessness I feel, only I hadn’t looked at it from that perspective –a perspective that will help me make decisions without getting frustrated.
My buddy Costume Imp had to cancel his trip to London this week and pack up and move his stuff and his cats quickly because of an ongoing mold problem in the apartment that his scumbag landlords simply ignored. Poor thing! But he’s in a better situation, and I’m sure he will have a great holiday season now.
Because, yeah, the “Holiday Season” has begun — from now through Twelfth Night, we’re all going full out!
Friday, October 28, 2011
Cold and sunny
I hope you’ll give a very warm welcome to Mary Abshire, my guest on A Biblio Paradise today. She’s talking about the fourth novel in her series, called LOVE CONQUERS ALL EVIL. Stop by and give her some comment love!
It’s anything but warm here. Parts of Mass have snow already. Boston might get 2-5 inches over the weekend. Supposedly, we’re not getting any on the Cape, but there are some icy roads this morning, and it’s darned cold.
I was out of the house yesterday at 7:30 AM and didn’t get back until 2 PM. Yoga was fun — different teacher, but she was really good. Circled back just long enough to get my mom and take her to the eye doctor. The appointment took nearly two hours, and I’d brought my materials from Confidential Job #1 (assignment due today) and worked during her appointment. She will be prepped for her surgery just before Christmas, and probably have it the week between Christmas and New Year’s. The doctor was great, the staff was great, and she’s a lot less anxious about it then she was.
Plus, she passed a vision test so she could get a restricted driver’s license. She hadn’t been able to get her full license when we moved, and it depressed her a lot. But she passed the special screening, the doctor gave us the paperwork, and we headed to the DMV (sorry, called RMV here). She got her MA license, and was registered to vote. All in time for her 87th birthday, which is tomorrow! It’s lifted her spirits a lot. Once she’s had the surgery done on both eyes, we can go and update her license. We’re lucky, here. The people who work at the RMV are both efficient and pleasant. How often does one have that experience?
I found a good pumpkin at a garden center in Yarmouth, and it wasn’t very expensive. I’d visited this huge “pumpkin patch” on the lawn of a local church — hundreds of pumpkins, it looked great. Unfortunately, when you got up close and personal, a lot of the pumpkins were already rotting or had holes. This center had some really great ones, at a fair price. The kitten is fascinated!
Spent the rest of the afternoon finishing up Confidential Job #1. I will do the write-up and get it out this morning. Spent the evening on student work. Didn’t get to bed until nearly midnight, which means I woke up with eye strain and a stress headache this morning.
I need to reconfigure my time. I’m only spending about an hour and a half to two hours WRITING every day. The point of being here and creating my own schedule is to be able to spend five to six hours writing fiction, and then building the freelance assignments around that. I’ve hit a point where I need to look at my time management, my energy biorhythms, and readjust.
I’ve hit a point in the book where I have a pivotal chapter — where the two main characters are partially lying to each other because they don’t trust each other in spite of their attraction. I have to sort out what and how much they reveal to each other, and it’s not something I can blast through with placeholders and come back and fix. What happens in this particular scene informs the rest of the plot revelations. I’ve rewritten the crucial scene six different ways so far, and STILL don’t have it right.
So I’ll just keep at it until I do. Word-count wise, I’m fine in terms of deadline. I just hate hitting these bumps in the road, trying every trick I know, and still not finding my way through it.
Time to try some new tricks!
No room in the basket
Thursday, October 27, 2011
When this posts, it’ll still be dark out!
I’m scheduling this to post early, because I’m up at 5-ish to work on the harpy book before I head off to yoga and then head back home to get my mom to her eye doctor appointment and then circle back to work with my students and . . .you get the idea.
In addition to student work, I busted my ass the past two days getting the garden settled and the plants settled in the house. Looks like a fricking greenhouse in here! Some of them will die back soon (I’ve got grow lights on the tomatoes, because I am NOT losing more than a dozen tomatoes. Even though the guy at the hardware store told me I could only get a grow light bulb from a “young friend growing marijuana” I found one at a garden center. Besides, my eggplants and strawberries think it’s June). Some of them are still outside — for instance, the lilac needs a nip of frost to know it’s time to sleep. The hollies stay out all winter. I’m hoping to keep the herbs alive inside, because now I’m spoiled and like fresh herbs when I cook.
Yup, took two damn days.
Last night was totally fun — a dinner with the Cape Cod Writers’ Association. Met great people, including a local columnist whose work I read, the owner of a local boosktore, a mystery writer, and a woman just starting out who was actually open to opinions and possibilities, instead of thinking she had all the answers! I met a bunch of other people, too, and caught up with some old pals, and will be part of a table at a book fair in Plymouth in December (where I hope to sell more books). So it’s all good. I was tired, but happy when I got home. The kitten was delighted to see me and danced around my ankles.
Speaking of delight, yesterday’s Midnight Enchantments essay is about a first reading of Tim Powers’s LAST CALL and today’s deals with Jeri Ready-Smith’s unique series about vampire deejays. I hope you’ll check them out.
It’s supposed to snow in Western Mass today, and maybe other areas this weekend. Hmm, guess I should have mowed the lawn this week, too!
Oh, well, all I can do is the best I can do.
And the writing MUST come first! I’m a third of the way through the new book, and don’t want to lose momentum.
I’m running late and preparing for incoming bad weather, some of it pretty cold. Got to get stuff to the dump and bring in the rest of the plants. Will catch up later . . .running, running, running — isn’t there a song about that?
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Sunny and cold
I had to re-title my essay on Sir Terry Pratchett’s popular character of Death for A Biblio Paradise — my original title might have hit the internet as an incorrect report on the man’s condition. Anyway, I hope you’ll hop on over and give it a read. Another example for the need to use specific, clear language when one writes.
Worked hard to catch up with my students. Had to crack the whip over some of them in the year long, because they’re starting to drift and get behind. January 31, when they have to have their first draft DONE, isn’t all that far away.
The owner’s still working on the roof. Hey, I’m happy to have it fixed, and he’s not using power tools, so the sounds of the work don’t bother me at all. Got all 125 tulip bulbs in yesterday afternoon. My fantasy of a bed of tulips far in the back remains a fantasy — I’d need heavy machinery to dig. The spade hits too much rock. Oh, well. They’re in the terraced bed, and a strip down the side of the house in No Man’s Land, and two beds near the bottom of the driveway (high enough so Idiot Boy doesn’t drive over them when he maneuvers in and out of his garage and onto my yard — that’s why the owner’s daughter sunk a boulder at the bottom of the driveway — she was sick and tired of him not respecting the yard), and two patches of tulips in the beds across the front of the house. We’ll see what comes up. If most of them come up, it should be quite pretty.
The eggplants and green peppers are still doing well, so I transplanted them to pots and will bring them inside. The six foot tall eggplant inside (our Big King) is producing more eggplants, so who am I to tell it that growing season’s past? And our tomatoes are doing well. I may have to get a grow light and move them inside to mature.
Deadheaded the mums — the ones we put in the ground have all faded, which is a disappointment. I’d hoped they would last through Samhain. But that’s the way it goes. We’ll see what happens next year.
I’m sore from all the digging, and the TV is out today. Comcast, in all its “wisdom” (there, now, don’t choke) made an “upgrade” that knocked out service. Typical of those morons. As long as the internet keeps working, though, right? I don’t watch that much TV anyway.
I watched the premiere of ONCE UPON A TIME on Sunday night, though, and liked it better than I expected. I’m interested to see how they develop it. The actors are having fun, and that comes across nicely.
Decent morning’s work on the book. Re-shaping the outline as the book’s thematic structure becomes clearer. I’m pretty sure it’s a trilogy, and will move the end of book 1 a little further into the story instead of where I ended the first third of the outline. Will run some errands, do some more work with students, work on the assignment for Confidential Job #1, and then see if I can get some more writing in later. Maybe not on this book, maybe on something else, but I’m not spending enough of each day actually WRITING, and the whole point of doing this is to WRITE.
Today’s word count: 1081
Total word count: 38,309
Monday, October 24, 2011
Day before Dark Moon
Sunny and crisp
Playing catch-up on oh-so-many levels. Friday, I was sick and frustrated and just over it all. I left after lunch and hit Sturbridge around 3-ish. I checked in to the Publick House Inn — I had a deal to get a good rate. Unfortunately, I could only get one night, because the next day, they had a wedding and the entire place was booked. But one night was better than nothing, so I took it.
I wasn’t in the main, historic building. I was in the outbuildings, more like Catskill motel rooms than anything else. My room was fine, although have you ever seen so much toile in your life? And I’m not a fan of toile. Fortunately, I thought it was hilarious, and the tiny balcony was nice, too.
I settled in, ran some errands, had someone come up to fix the heat which wouldn’t turn on. I had dinner in the tavern, enjoying myself and eavesdropping shamelessly. I even jotted down some notes on a cocktail napkin to use in the presentation the next day. I had the roast duck in a cranberry glaze with sausage stuffing and sweet potatoes, paired with a wonderful Argentinean wine. Very good.
I worked on my presentation a bit, but went to bed early, because I felt like crap. Someone from the conference had called while I was on the road, but the message felt more like they were worried I’d make a scene, rather than trying to make things right.
Up at 5:30 the next morning, yoga, shower, ran through the presentation again, packed the car, checked out, had breakfast at the inn. A group of people were whining about the very good coffee — I walked out before I bitch-slapped the whole group silly. These people were idiots. They didn’t seen the coffee made in front of them; therefore, because it came out of an urn, they were going to bitch about it.
I’d woken up with a hacking cough and NO voice — was a little worried, but some slippery elm at least got me croaking again.
It took me a little less than an hour to drive to the conference. The color’s more advanced in Western Mass than there on the Cape. It was lovely. There were people to help me unload, which was great. I parked ‘round the back, close to where my actual presentation room was, which later made re-loading the car much easier.
Met Corrina Lawson, with whom I’ve been tweeting for months. She is SO wonderful. I mean, she’s always been wonderful on Twitter, but she’s even more fun in person. Terrific person. Unfortunately, we were presenting at the same time, so we couldn’t attend each other’s sessions!
Keynote speaker was great, again emphasizing the need to sit down and do the work. First session was good, but I had to excuse myself a couple of times when I felt a coughing fit come on. I didn’t want to be distracting, and it was less distracting to slip out of the room and cough up a lung in the ladies’ room than do it in session.
My own session was fun. I barely sat down — I was walking around, using the props. I hadn’t trusted them to supply me with the easel and the pad of paper, so I got my own pad of paper and pre-wrote bits I wanted to display. They did come through (I know, I was shocked, too), but I already had my stuff, so that’s what we used. They got their handouts, I made them WRITE in class. And what they wrote was good. They embraced the exercises and the energy of the presentation. And bore with my failing voice, which lasted for the session, and then got weaker and weaker. Sold some books, answered a lot of questions. Had help reloading the car.
I think people had a good time — most of the presentations were panels with Q&A. They were great, but mine was really different, which I think was a good contrast. This was more interactive and made them apply what we discussed in the moment, rather than them thinking about it and maybe using it “someday.”
Lunch was fun — buffet style, soups and salads (good quality), small tables, real linens and silverware. Very nice spread. We had lots of fun, lively discussion at the table.
I managed to connect with the student who’d brought me into the conference and we got some of the frustrations sorted. I still think they should have come up with a SOLUTION instead of just shrugging when they found out about the series of fuck-ups, but whatever. I HAVE a solution for next year, which I will send them, and I’m resentful because it’s not my job. It’s my job to provide what is asked and do a kick-ass presentation, not fix THEIR fuck-ups. But, as a B’way pal said, “We’re in production. That’s what we DO. Solve problems. People who aren’t in production can’t see that there’s more than one possibility. That’s why they’re NOT in production.” Well, putting on a conference is being in production, as far as I’m concerned.
Anyway, I lasted through one more speaker, and then I knew I was fading fast, hacking up not just lungs but all kinds of additional organs, and just miserable. I excused myself, got in the car, and drove all the way back to the Cape.
I was in my own bed before 8 PM.
Granted, I caught myself going 90 mph. I was thinking, “Wow, people are really slow today” and then looked at the speedometer. Oops. I’m usually more careful than that.
I stayed pretty quiet, yesterday, although I observed an hilarious exchange between two guys, probably in their fifties, in the parking lot, when I went out to get the Sunday papers:
Guy 1: I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m the guy who runs past your house every morning.
Guy 2: Yeah, I’m standing there smoking a cigarette and you’re running. Don’t think I don’t get the irony.
Now that’s the seed of another short story!
Also, as I was resting in bed, got a couple of scenes flashing through my head. Scribbled them down and wound up with an outline. Will have to put it in the queue. Also ordered some books, including Corinna’s DINAH OF SENECA. Because that’s by a small publisher, too, and heaven forbid the conference’s “bookstore manager” bother to carry it for the conference. The bookstore manager who was “too sick” to attend. Riiiight. She’d have been a lot sicker if I’d gotten my hands on her, that’s for sure.
Struggled to get back into the harpy book this morning, but I finally got there.
They’re working on the roof again, I have to catch up with students, work on Confidential Job #1, and the tulip bulbs HAVE to go in today.
Today’s word count: 1,180
Total word count: 37,228
Conference went well — for everyone, not just my little piece of it. Some sorting out of frustrations was done. My voice BARELY held up — I woke up this morning with a hacking cough and oncoming larynigitis, but I managed to get through until about mid-afternoon before one could no longer understand me.
I made the students WRITE in class (of course I did), and I was really pleased and impressed how they embraced the exercises and rolled with them under pressure.
I will have some photos and details on Momday — including the room I stayed in, which had more toile one place than I’ve ever seen in my life (and I don’t like toile).
On the radio, on the way home, was a news story about a family cleaning out a dead relative’s storage unit and finding the remains of what police think are the remains of a woman who went missing in 1983. Oh, the possibilities for fiction here . . .got my wheels going . . .
to bed now to get better.
More on Monday.
If this post goes up, it means I went to the Conference, even though, close to departure time on Friday, it was made clear to me that all I was getting was meaningless bullshit, and no one was going to make anything right.
We will see if there’s any good to get out of it. And for those of you who wonder why I’m public about it, well, I tried to sort things out with the people in charge, who just ignore whatever they don’t want to deal with, lie by omission, give half-truths and there-theres.
How much do you want to bet some of the other presenters are being paid? In addition to have minions fetch and carry, and have their books sold properly in the store?
Karma wins out. The Universe puts things back in balance in a far more entertaining way than I ever could.
Anyway, in the meantime, check out the essay on A Biblio Paradise about why real women love urban fantasy women.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Chilly and sunny
Jump on over to A Biblio Paradise to read about one of my favorite characters, Diana Tregarde!
The Write Angles conference fucked me. There is no diplomatic or other way to put it. They were not truthful or complete in their information, and now I’m stuck doing things I told them early on I wouldn’t, and out nearly a thousand dollars in books and conference materials when they haven’t kept up their end of the deal. Because I am published by smaller publishers such as Champagne and SmartPop, and not Random House or HarperCollins, I’m suddenly being treated like am amateur self-published wanna-be — although they still expect me to do a professional presentation FOR FREE. This conference was going to be my give-back-to-the-writing community, the pro bono thing I can only afford to do once a year. I do this for a living, people. I am one of the few who doesn’t have a day job. Even authors who sell through major publishers like Jackie Kessler have day jobs. I do not.
The bookstore even REFUSED to carry my books. It’s not just that they didn’t bother to order them (as I was told)– they refused to carry my books. So, if I want to sell any of them, I have to haul them around like a carny barker on my own — which I told them up front I wouldn’t do. If they wanted me there WITH BOOKS, I expected THEM to handle the sales. When they said they “messed up” the ordering, and I got the books in time, it was my understanding — and I stated it clearly — that I would drop off the books with the person designated at the bookstore. If I wasn’t considered “legitimate” because I’m not with a big NY publisher — I needed to be TOLD that early enough to make an informed decision. How hard is it to say, “If you’re not with a Big Trade Publisher, you’re responsible for your own books and sales”? If that’s your policy, that’s your policy. Don’t hide it. Be clear and honest about it. Don’t set up a network of lies and then spring it on me the night before. Not acceptable. I’m not set up to handle a cash box and credit cards and checks and make change. Nor should I have to be. That’s THEIR job.
It’s not that I think I’m so important or famous. I’m not. Just be honest so I can make an informed decision, which wills serve us ALL better.
So now I’m out over a grand with books and conference materials before I even start, for a gig where I’m not even being paid.
I’m very tempted to say “fuck you” right back at them and cancel, but leaving a hole in their program doesn’t serve a purpose for me, either. I have made my displeasure known. For crying out loud, I was doing panels at conferences in the US and the UK before I was a full-time writer and I wasn’t treated like this.
They still might find a way to make it right. Somehow, I doubt it. Which is a shame, because I’ve been looking forward to this since the spring. And I worked really hard to create a fun, 55-minute session the touches on the major elements in the month-long class.
This has thrown a monkey wrench into my morning writing.
And this, after a horrible night. I finally went to CVS last night because I needed something for the cold. They made a suggestion. I took their “nighttime relief” medication. In two hours, I was so sick, I thought I was going to have to call the EMTS and head for the emergency room. It exponentially worsened the symptoms I had and created new ones. And then — although it’s supposed to make you sleep — I was as wired as if I had four pots of coffee.
I finally got up and whipped up one of my herbal remedies, which defeated the chemicals and I could do things, like, well, breathe again and not feel like I was having a heart attack (and I didn’t even know how badly the conference was fucking me then).
I’m going back when the pharmacy opens to get my money back and get something I know works. Does Contact still do their tiny time pills? They were always helpful.
So I’m sicker than I was before, had no sleep, have a long drive, am losing my voice, and have to teach somewhere that fucked me.
Not shaping up to be a great weekend!
I keep thinking something good must come out of all of this, but damned if I know what it is yet.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Sunny and warm
It rained almost all day and night yesterday — which means the lawn needs mowing again! Isn’t that always the way?
Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to get introduced to another of my favorite characters, CE Murphy’s Joanne Walker.
Rested as much as I could, once I caught up on student work and dealt with the rest of it. Scaling the Wall puzzles me. It’s a small class, but instead of taking advantage of that, making use of the fact I can give each individual more attention, the majority of the students don’t do one iota more than the minimum requested. A lot of the work is good, but when there’s an opportunity for additional feedback and exercises and the rest, one would think that people serious about their writing would take advantage of it. I made it very clear at the beginning that the more work one is willing to put in, the more one gets out. It always amazes me when people think books write themselves.
It’s very simple. You sit down and you write. No excuses. You get the words down on paper, you look at the story from every possible angle, you rearrange them so they are strong and pretty, and you submit them. Not brain surgery. Dedication and craft. Which are sorely lacking in about 80% of the people who claim they want to write.
Have to finish packing and do a final polish on the presentation for the weekend. It will be fun to be around other writers this weekend, and also have some time away from the normal routine.
Couldn’t go to yoga this morning, because I didn’t want to share the germs, but I’m feeling well enough to be cranky, so I must be on the mend!
Good morning’s work on the book. Happy with the chapter, but some additional work made me realize I need to layer in a clue.
Furious at what happened at the wild animal sanctuary in Ohio. They “didn’t have a choice” in slaughtering those animals. BULLSHIT. There is always a choice. I bet that incompetent boob of a sheriff (who probably landed his job as a political favor) has a dick about a centimeter long and felt like a Great White Hunter, oh, so important, giving the order for the slaughter. There were plenty of other options, and if I know what they are, certainly so-called professionals could have come up with them. It is unacceptable, irresponsible, and immoral. And may forces of Justice much higher than any legal court take karmic action on these assholes very, very soon. May it be both poetic and painful for them.
Today’s word count: 1584
Total word count: 36,048
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Rainy and cool
Hop on over to the Midnight Enchantments series on A BIBLIO PARADISE so that you can celebrate Michelle Miles’s contribution to the ENTANGLED anthology.
Still sick. Resting as much as possible, letting it take its course, hoping at least I don’t lose my voice by the time I have to teach on Saturday. Everything is ready for the conference; I just have to load it into the car.
Working with my students, resting, trying to keep up, but not doing enough marketing. That will have to change next week.
Happy with the way the book’s going. I want to work on it all the time, which is where I should be at this point. I’m getting more and more convinced it’s a trilogy, not a single book. The threads that would have to be cut to make it one book include my readers’ favorite characters and subplots, so it makes more sense to figure out natural stopping points in the story that will allow each segment to stand on its own, while feeding into the larger arcs.
Furnace man fixed the furnace yesterday, and the owner came by with new CO detectors. So, all is good.
Today is supposed to be nasty, so I plan to take it as easy as possible, rest a lot, and get well.
Today’s word count: 1238
Total word count: 34,464
Tessa loves the windows.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Cloudy and cold
I’m sick. Nothing major, just a cold and a sore throat. But, with the conference up this weekend, I’m focused on taking care of myself the next few days. I don’t feel that bad, but all I want to do is sleep.
So that’s what I did for most of yesterday, once I’d done the “have-tos”. Getting cat food into the house was a “have to”.
Today’s installment of Midnight Enchantments over on Biblio Paradise is an essay on Harry Dresden. Hop over and check it out.
The furnace guy is supposed to be here any minute; I’m doing some student work, and then I’m going back to bed.
Boring post, but that’s the way it goes sometimes! Rough day at the page, but I got a little bit done.
Today’s word count: 960
Total word count: 33,226