Fri. Oct. 20, 2017: Glad A Tough Week Comes to a Close

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Playing the Angles

Friday, October 20, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday morning was stressful; dealing with the Best Buy fiasco, trying to get back on track with the work.

I desperately needed the noon yoga class. It was great — the teacher is wonderful. A fellow Hob-Nobber was there, and I had a great conversation with another woman who also absolutely loved the class. I hope I can go to the teacher’s crystal sound meditation session in November.

Came home and worked on the next book for review. Mixed feelings about it.

A new editor and I are going through an adjustment process. We’ll see if we can make it work. I may depart in the next few months.

Dragging in the reading of a book I wanted to read for pleasure. Only, sadly, it’s not a pleasure. I don’t respect a protagonist who doesn’t pass on information or take action because she’s “tired” or “hungry”, and then someone dies, or evidence is destroyed. That means the protag is directly responsible for the death (not that those protags ever have a prick of conscience). In my universe, I’d want her karma to even it out by her being the next victim, because she’s too much of a fucking moron for me to respect her as a protagonist. I see more and more of this lamentable excuse to create inorganic plot complications in a way that makes me loathe the protagonist.

I might just skip to the end to see if I’m right about the murderer (I usually am), and then call it a day with this author.

I picked the book because I was interested in the location. That part is rendered pretty well; too bad the rest of the book is so annoying.

I contacted the “staffing service” that I felt pulled a bait-and-switch on me a few weeks ago, getting me in under false pretext, making me fill out all that paperwork, talking about the job in financial terms that were nearly 1K/week less than the listing, and promising to set up a meeting for said job — and I never heard from them again. I decided to behave the way I believe is professional, which was to contact them and tell them that, since I had never heard about the actual meeting set up or anything else, I assumed I was no longer in the running for that “job”, and that my situation had changed. My availability has changed, and I’m only available for freelance or short-term clients that required little on-site time, and it is a X rate. I received a somewhat polite response, thanking me and telling me that, in 25 years of doing HR, this was the only client she ever had looking for a writer! Hmm, and how does she think all those materials are created that those businesses she deals with use? I was right; they are a bait-and-switch, typical Cape Cod scam. Try to get in qualified people, then convince them to work shit jobs at even worse shit rates. Next!

Need to get back on track, writing-wise this weekend. I’m way too far behind on several projects.

Hopefully, I can also nail down the new design for A Biblio Paradise. I’m sure I’m making far too big a deal out of it. Just make a decision and do it, for goodness sake!

It’s supposed to be a nice weekend, so I can put up the outdoor decorations, and also do some more yard work. I swear there are a pair of squirrels sitting in one particular tree practicing their throws by aiming acorns at my head!

Gathering some material for an upcoming meeting with one client (a week from Monday, but I want to send the material ahead of time), and next week, I start with another new client, who will be a regular several-days-a-week writing and marketing gig for the next few months.

Working on replacing the gig I’ve been so unhappy with the past few months with something that works better for both of us, so I can ease out of that one.

Getting out some pitches for a few more one-offs to fill in here and there and round out the roster.

While doing all this, I have to keep promoting PLAYING THE ANGLES, keep the release of SAVASANA on track, finish the edits for TRACKING MEDUSA and get that to my editor, and get the digital shorts back on track. I’ve got “Miss Winston Apologizes” coming up, and I have to get the release of “Labor Intensive” done.

Heap on top of that finishing the last few chapters of THE FIX-IT GIRL and getting it out on submission, writing the Lavinia Fontana play, and getting the manuscripts that were derailed back on track.

Not to mention finish THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, so that can go to the editor after the holidays.

Deadline pressure much?

Somehow, it will all get done.

The focus of both my physical and emotional energy next week will be my mother’s surgery. I posted on Facebook yesterday how I couldn’t believe how many so-called “well-meaning” people said things like “well, she’s old, you can’t expect her to survive the surgery.” Excuse me? Not helpful. Not comforting. It’s not being “honest”, it’s being cruel.

May YOUR weekend be filled with kindness.

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Thurs. Oct. 19, 2017: Best Buy’s Third Strike — Detailed

Thursday, October 19, 2017
New Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Yesterday ran the gamut.

The morning sucked. My phone had pinged at me all night, and then, when I actually needed to check it in the morning — black screen of death.

The damn thing is four months old.

I don’t drop it or throw it. I don’t get it wet.

I went back to Best Buy, where I’d bought it, and where the woman who sold it to me had been so helpful. She was there, but her (male, white, condescending) manager “helped” me instead.

Help. Yeah, right.

He told me it was the operating system, and there was nothing they could do. I could either send it back under warranty and be without a phone for the WEEKS it would take, or I could buy another phone, only that one would be double what I paid for this one, plus an SD card for storage, which was double again. Oh, and I shouldn’t expect the phone to work for more than six months, and “you get what you pay for.” Then, he DARED me to find a better deal.

This was Best Buy’s third strike. This is the third phone in three years I’ve bought from them that’s lasted a year or less.

Actual customer service would have been to walk ten feet to the rack with these phones, swap it out, and send the defective phone in to the manufacturer, who would replace it with a fresh phone and balance out the inventory.

Customer service is working within the customer’s budget, not humiliating them because they ARE on a budget. Customer service is making things right, not smirking and saying that you don’t deserve a working device because you can’t afford the more expensive ones.

Also, if these phones have such a limited time span, it needs to be clearly marked ON THE BOX, and it needs to be made clear upon the sale. Anything less is fraud. Or, better yet, don’t sell the product, and leave it for the gas stations that sell burner phones.

Let me also point out that the other customer in the store with me got her phone replaced after she admitted it was broken because she threw it against the wall, and her service had been disconnected for non-payment. They just swapped it out and re-established her service.

I walked out.

I was practically in tears by then.

I was just going to leave and, I don’t know what. But then I figured, hell, my carrier is AT&T, I’ll go talk to them. So I walked a few hundred feet in the mall (I hate malls), to AT&T. I figured I’d look, price, clear my head.

The guy at AT&T was also male, young, African American, and not at all condescending. Great sense of humor, listened to me, responded to what I had to say, didn’t make me feel like I was less deserving of service because I wasn’t rich. I explained the situation and apologized for being so upset. He understood, and the first phone he picked up to show me was not only the next generation up from my phone, but was less expensive than the one that died. The SD card was less than half of what Best Buy had quoted me for the exact same size and make card.

I explained about being a freelancer on a budget. He said he totally understood, and he set me up WITHIN MY BUDGET (which was stretched tight anyway, since I hadn’t counted on having to shell out for yet another damn phone this month, with my mom’s medical costs and all). I told him as soon as I could afford it, I was going to suck it up and get an iPhone. He told me there are iPhones on my current plan, and the price is less than half of what I expected or I’d been quoted elsewhere. And it’s not just a deal for the week — I can come back in two, three months when I’ve got the cash put aside, and he’ll get me set up.

He couldn’t pull my information from one phone to the other because the phone wouldn’t turn on, but, other than about four photographs, I have everything else WRITTEN DOWN. It’ll take me awhile to put in my contacts again, but I’ll deal. I might even be able to transfer them from two phones back.

He gave me the information for the warranty — because I’m damn well going to demand satisfaction on a phone that died after four months.

I had contacted Best Buy and tweeted them before I left for the store. I got a response to the tweet stating they hoped everything was resolved. When I tweeted back that it wasn’t, with some of the details . . .no response. Not surprising at all.

Their nickname is “Worst Buy” for a reason. I have friends who work in management with them in Michigan who have high standards, and I doubt, had they been in charge of this store, I would have faced the same bad experience. But they are where they are, and I am where I am, so, sadly, buh-bye Best Buy for me.

I’m learning the new phone, and I don’t entirely trust it, but at least I have a working phone. Yes, I had to cough up some cash, but it was half of what Best Buy intended to part me from, and the guy at AT&T both gave me customer service and didn’t try to shame me into spending more than I could afford. It still puts me in a bad position for the rest of the month, with my mom’s surgery coming up, but I’ll deal.

So that was my morning. You better believe Best Buy corporate, AT&T corporate, and the consumer protection agencies (including AG Maura Healey) are going to hear about this. In addition to me not ever setting foot or spending another dime at Best Buy again (and yes, when I make these claims, I follow through).

I went home to calm down a bit, and then headed out for a meeting with a potential client. We hit it off, both as people, and because I like and respect what she does. She hired me on the spot, and we start working together next week.

So that was on the plus side.

I got very little writing or promotion or anything else done yesterday, since the time put aside for that was eaten by dealing with dolts.

Today is a lovely day. I’ve got some work to do at the library, and then yoga, and then, this afternoon, both writing and starting the next book for review. I’m putting together some information for another client, doing more promo on ANGLES. This weekend, I have to do another proofreading pass at SAVASANA, so it can go into pre-order, and next week, the media kit needs to be finished and the initial press releases go out.

I’d also like the redesign for BIBLIO PARADISE to happen today, if I can pull it off. I need to upload some author spotlights and schedule them for release.

While I’m both physically and emotionally exhausted, I’m excited to work with these new clients, and looking forward to settling in with my own writing. Next week will be difficult, with my mom’s pre-op appointment and then surgery; but we will get through it.

Enjoy the day!

Wed. Oct. 18, 2017: Best Buy Fails Again

Wed. Oct. 18, 2017
Dark Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Best Buy fails yet again. My phone died this morning, so I am technologically crippled right now. Four months old, and the black screen of death. I don’t drop it; it doesn’t get wet. This is the third phone in three years that they’ve sold me that barely worked. This is their third strike. So, before an important client meeting, I have to hightail it over to the store and try to convince them to fix the problem — because I’m sure as hell not putting another cent into anything from their company. This is not acceptable.

Especially since the damn phone pinged me all night with this alert and that alert, and then, when I actually needed to check my email this morning, the screen went black. When I plug it in to charge it, the orange light goes on instead of the green, and the screen only stays black.

Yesterday afternoon was about getting new prescriptions for my mom and dealing with the upcoming surgery.

I managed to finish John Scalzi’s THE HUMAN DIVISION, and started a Carolyn Hart book set in Bermuda.

I wrote up some notes and ideas from the client meeting, and prepared for today’s client meeting.

But not a lot of creative work done.

THE MARRIAGE GARDEN is percolating. I’m giving the characters their heads for the moment, but I may have to change things back to the original plot. New developments have changed their decisions, and it’s a case of do those developments change their futures completely, or wind up bringing them back around to each other? I don’t yet have the answer. It’s a first draft, so I don’t yet have to, but I have to keep in mind what will, ultimately, be satisfying. I may not know that until I’ve finished the draft, set it aside, and then start tearing it apart again.

So, today will be difficult and stressful. I have to lay down the law at Best Buy and then get it together for my client meeting. This afternoon, I have to get back to creative work.

I’m looking forward to yoga tomorrow.

Onward.

Published in: on October 18, 2017 at 8:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tues. Oct. 17, 2017: Things are Moving Along!

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Playing the Angles

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Day Before Dark Moon

Neptune Retrograde

Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and beautiful

Yesterday seems far away. Stressful day, with the medical appointments, and then trying to get work done. Got some done, but not enough.

Looking at templates for a major re-design of A BIBLIO PARADISE, because I’ve got some exciting guest authors in the next couple of months, and I want a bolder, more eye-catching look. My hesitation is that the current template is “retired”, so if I don’t like the new one, I can’t switch back. I need to be confident about the switch.

Didn’t get much writing done, which I hope to fix later in the week. I’ve got a couple of short story ideas percolating (as in, they damn well better be SHORT and under 1K) that I need to get down, and the “blowing off steam” piece needs attention because, hell, I need to blow off steam with all the trouble in the world that could easily be avoided if intelligent people were making decisions.

Had an excellent meeting for a project that’s local and something I totally believe in. We’re going to have a few meetings/consultations and see what we can build. I’m looking forward to it.

Most of this week and next week is focused on my mom’s medical needs, so I will try to read and write and create around it. I need to upgrade the memory card on my phone, too. Four months and it’s already used up — and it was double my previous phone’s memory. These forced updates that eat memory and prevent you from doing what you want are just a ploy to force you to spend more money.

Need to do more promo for ANGLES and do another proofreading pass on the SAVASANA galleys.

Somehow, it will all get done, and it’s enriching work, so it’s worth it.

Also, it’s a beautiful fall day here! I intend to enjoy it.

 

Published in: on October 17, 2017 at 11:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Mon. Oct. 16, 2017: Stressful Weekend, but Good Writing

Monday, October 16, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Late posting today, due to more medical appointments for my mom.

I’m so angry at the insurance company. After telling me everything was fine, they contact me late on Friday afternoon with an encrypted message I can’t open — so I don’t know if there’s a problem. And they refuse to send it in a way I can access and read it, and refuse to give me the information that’s in it. So I don’t know if we’re on track or there’s a problem. That is not “customer service.” That is unethical, inhumane crap. And, because it was Friday, after a certain point, they simply ignored my contact.

In spite of all that chaos, I did another proofread of SAVASANA AT SEA. Caught another set of errors. I’m convinced the copy editor and I fixed some of them last go-round, but they didn’t save. So, in they go again. I got in the fixes on Saturday, and am sending this draft off today. Let’s see what we find this go-round. I need to get it up for pre-order and get the media kit finished.

I polished and sent off my article; I was paid by the end of the weekend.

I also did a couple of interviews connected to PLAYING THE ANGLES. Will let you know, as soon as the links go live. Every copy sold, every review that appears, makes a big difference.

The weather was vile on Saturday. I wrote 2700 words on THE MARRIAGE GARDEN. It’s taking some interesting twists and turns. It might decide to wind up in a different direction than I planned. Or maybe it will circle back to the original ending after some tangents. I’m letting this draft lead me, instead of the other way around.

I spent most of the afternoon immersed in books on Renaissance artists, as background for the Lavinia Fontana play. The book on TITIAN’S WOMEN also gave me material I will wind up using in THE MARRIAGE GARDEN.

I also baked my favorite chocolate walnut butter bread — yum, yum! And, for dinner, it was maple-coriander-marinated pork chops, that had marinated overnight. Pretty darned good, too.

Sunday, more work on THE MARRIAGE GARDEN. I couldn’t seem to stop work on it. By the end of the weekend, I’d written nearly 10K.

Worked on new material for A Biblio Paradise, which will go up shortly, and the mid-month check in for the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site.

Finished the book for review, and it was excellent. Best I’ve read for this particular publication since I’ve worked for them. Wrote and polished the review this morning; it will go off today, and then I start reading the next book in the queue.

Read REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi. Definitely a “ha-ha-ow” book, that makes you think and rethink multiple realities and their consequences, especially if you’re a writer.

I have a couple of meetings in the mornings during these next few days, so, chances are, I will post late.

Here’s hoping my copy editor and I finally caught ALL the typos in SAVASANA!

Back to the page.

 

Fri. Oct. 13, 2017: Lucky Friday & Trying to Make Sense of Things

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Playing the Angles available now!

Friday, October 13, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I love Friday the 13th!

Yesterday was difficult, but ultimately worked out. I realize yesterday’s blog was focused on the feigned outrage in the entertainment industry rather than on the writing life, but it affects my writing life, and affected my work life for decades.

Difficult few days; not happy with the writing progress. Plenty of pitching. Frustrated at the usual lack of professionalism here in this area.

Absolutely horrified by the wildfires in California. I spent a great deal of time in Santa Rosa and Calistoga and Sonoma when I lived in San Francisco. How can we help? Not just with the physical rebuilding, but how can we help the trauma of those who’ve lost everything? For the lives, both human and animal, that are being consumed?

And what’s this about giving Puerto Rico “loans” to rebuild while awarding “grants” to Florida and Texas? Oh, yeah, Puerto Rico isn’t white. I’m tired of this racist government.

The world is falling apart, and those in DC just laugh and grift more to line their own pockets. It’s disgusting.

Sold an article yesterday on the basis of its pitch. Wrote it, will give it a polish, and it goes out today. Waiting to hear back on a couple of other things.

Fighting with the insurance company again about my mother’s upcoming surgery. I sent a fax from the library. The machine at the library had the wrong date, so the insurance company THREW THE FAX AWAY. Didn’t look at the contents or the signature or the fact that it came out of their fax machine on the right date. Not only that, they couldn’t be bothered to let me know, so if I hadn’t nagged them about where the answer was, I wouldn’t have known, the paperwork wouldn’t have been done, and we would have been screwed when we showed up for the surgery.

The insurance industry is the biggest fucking scam in this country. Again, let me re-iterate that one of my first temp jobs, many years ago, was typing jewelry policies for an insurance company. They were delivered to my desk via handtruck, several hundred at a time. This was in the days before computers, when I used an IBM Selectric.

The agents who worked around me had, posted above each desk, the direction, “Always Say No the First Time.” They were instructed to refuse EVERY claim the first time it was sent in. They were told not even to read it, just to say no. The theory behind it was that 75% of the people refused wouldn’t fight it, and the company would save millions of dollars a year. Only if a claimant challenged the refusal would anyone bother to read it. How is that legal or ethical? It’s not. That’s yet another reason why all insurance companies should be non-profits. CEOs of insurance companies should not be making millions of dollars a year and bonuses off of other people’s misfortunes, especially when their sole purpose is to refuse claims.

The entire industry needs to be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up.

That won’t happen in this corrupt administration.

Pleased that this next book I’m reading for review is very, very good. Probably the best I’ve had to review from this publication since I started working for them.

Got my next round of proofs back on SAVASANA AT SEA. Will have to go over them again this weekend. I’m so grateful to my copy editor!

Need to do more promo on PLAYING THE ANGLES and start the promo for SAVASANA. Have a very long list of other things that “have” to be done as well.

Playing with a story idea that’s more blowing off steam than anything else. But, if it releases stress, it’s worth taking some time over. I like the idea and the characters and situation — it makes me feel like there ARE solutions to all the horrible things happening in the world. Solutions that don’t just benefit the corrupt, racist grifters at the top.

I’m feeling a little more optimistic today than I have the past few days. Hope I can ride the wave and make some good things happen.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thurs. Oct. 12, 2017: Feigned Outrage Hypocrisy

Thursday, October 11, 2107
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I have to say that I’m sick and tired of the feigned outrage at Harvey Weinstein’s behavior. I don’t condone it at all; however, having worked in the business during the time he rose to power I know, first-hand, how he — and plenty of other people in power — were enabled and how most in the industry looked the other way. For decades. Many of those same individuals are now pretending to be shocked and outraged. Not because they are, but because it’s fashionable so to do.

When someone behaves this way in the entertainment industry, it’s not a secret. It is known by others who work in the business. You are warned not to be alone with the person, not to have meetings in hotel rooms or suites; make sure it’s in their office WITH OTHER STAFF AROUND, or in restaurants or hotel lobbies.

This can be difficult, because, especially in creative work, there are perfectly legitimate meetings that one wants to have in private — not because something predatory is going on, but because you want and need the freedom to get up and act out portions of the work. Pacing, muttering, running dialogue, brainstorming — none of those things can happen in public. It can happen in an office meeting; it can happen in a rehearsal studio. Often, very often, depending on schedules, it happens in hotel rooms or in residences. That doesn’t mean there’s the intent for anything beyond the work.

You have to know who you’re dealing with.

Also, the profession is a very tactile one. People are physically affectionate with each other. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s sexual. It’s also important for everyone to be sensitive to what everyone else is comfortable with, and adjust one’s behavior so that EVERYONE is comfortable.

As a crew member, I had less to worry about on this level than actors do. Actors, regardless of gender, are vulnerable to more explicit overtures. As a wardrobe person, there were plenty of times when an actor was expecting a producer or a director in the dressing room and asked me to stay because he or she was uncomfortable being alone with that particular individual. Often, I’d busy myself in the background, making a repair on the costume. Basically, my job was similar to a Victorian-era chaperone. If the situation escalated to the point where the actor was uncomfortable, I made the choice to intervene in a passive-aggressive way (creating a task that physically put me between the individual and the actor) or an active way (saying I felt the behavior was inappropriate). I’ve done both. Sometimes, the individual would ask me to leave. Some actors would then speak up and say they were more comfortable with me in the room; others would throw me a terrified look, and it was up to me to say I would not leave, and I’d have to gauge the risk of whether or not to say why. Either way, it put my job at risk, but that is another reason why unions and their protections are so important. This was regardless of the actor’s gender; Both men and women have to deal with that, and they have to deal with it FROM both men and women.

In fact, during the late 1990s, predatory behavior from women was encouraged on some fronts as “leveling the playing field” and “acting like a man in a man’s world.” Um, no. Predatory behavior is predatory behavior.

As a wardrobe person, I rarely had to worry about inappropriate behavior FROM an actor. After all, you’re dealing with them in their underwear or less in the dressing room. There has to be implicit trust both ways. You are the actor’s first line of defense against the world. On the rare occasions when an actor did something that made me uncomfortable, I said, “That makes me uncomfortable.” I never encountered an actor who didn’t immediately apologize and the behavior was adjusted. We moved on without a problem. There were rare times when an actor I knew well approached me because another crew member made him or her uncomfortable, and then I pulled that person aside to deal with it. Usually, that was not the crew member’s intent and the behavior was adjusted. There was only one instance in nearly 30 years of backstage work where it had to go to a supervisor and the person was reassigned with warning, and that individual was more reserved in the future. Often, there is no malicious intent, and it’s a case of crossed wires. When that’s the case, being honest about comfort levels usually fixes the problem, and both sides can move on without suspicion. Open communication, actual listening, and behavioral adjustments solved the problem when it was a misunderstanding, and not a campaign of power or seduction. Sometimes, words or actions or intent are mis-interpreted. If you speak up right away, respectfully and diplomatically (but with directness), you can stop it from escalating in many instances.

Relationships/affairs, et al do happen in these environments. People are attracted to each other, especially in a high stress, creatively focused situation. People act on those attractions. Sometimes it’s only for the run of the show or the time it takes to film. Sometimes, the relationship is more substantial. The difference is whether both parties want it, or one party feels coerced and like he/she doesn’t have a choice because of the power structure. Or when one party says “no” and it’s not respected.

Predatory producers and directors don’t usually hit on crew. If something develops, it’s usually mutual. Plus, producers and directors are usually too busy with the actors to pay much attention to the crew.

If another crew member made me uncomfortable, I’d first talk to them directly about it. If the behavior didn’t change, I went to my supervisor. In fact, in most cases, when I ran interference for an actor with someone higher in the food chain, I also let my supervisor know. I was lucky with most of my supervisors; while we sometimes disagreed on certain protocols or issues, as far as protecting their people, most supervisors were dedicated. As I was, when I was a supervisor.

As a supervisor, if I needed to intervene and talk to the parties directly involved, I did. If that didn’t work, I talked to someone higher up in the food chain. It was unlikely that I would talk to someone, get a “yes ma’am” apology, and the behavior would continue unchecked; it’s difficult to keep secrets backstage. It’s easier on a film set, but, still, there’s always somebody who knows what’s going on. Plus, if I had to talk to someone, I’d then pay close attention to the behavior from that point out. I also kept logs: dates, times, when someone spoke to me, etc. If it could be resolved without going into official reports, it was; if the problem continued, I had the logs and could then put it into the report, along with the steps taken to try to resolve it before it was reported up the food chain. There have also been times when something struck me as uncomfortable, and I’ve asked the person about it and been told, “oh, no, I’m fine with it. We’re just playing.” Every situation is different, and the people directly involved have to make the decisions, be listened to, and the mutual choices respected.

As a writer, I had to deal with what would now be called “sexual harassment” much more directly. Most meetings with producers, agents, directors, assistants, et al, were fine. You connect or you don’t — and connection is so important on a creative project. You’re comfortable with each other or you’re not. You feel you can work together or not. As a writer, particularly in a competitive business, you are constantly tested on your boundaries — how far are you willing to compromise to get film or TV money? And it’s not just the money, but it can get your career on a track to more money, and also, seeing your project come to life? Creatively, it often has to do with how much you’re willing to change your vision to the ideas those who might pay you want. We’ve all heard about the meetings with the ridiculous notes, where the writer has to decide whether to keep going or bow out. If you haven’t read William Goldman or John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion’s experiences in Hollywood.

But sometimes, sometimes, the demand is for more. Usually, it’s just a suggestion. You try to ignore it or brush it off. I found the best way to deal with it was to make a joke of it and try to move on. If the individual has integrity and was just testing the waters, he/she laughs at the joke, drops the pressure, and you both move on to the work. If not, the pressure intensifies. That’s when you have to decide where your boundary is and when you’re willing to walk away. You walk away knowing that this individual, who is in a position of economic power over you, can derail your career.

If and when it gets physical, you decide how to respond. I always found flinging an ashtray useful. More difficult now, in these no-smoking days. When I was first starting out and afraid to speak up, it was more likely to go farther and have physical consequences. Also, I was younger and cuter. But, as I fought to build my self-esteem, and was more and more determined that “no means no,” the decision to walk away or speak up or get physical in self-defense was easier and easier.

Agents need to step up in this whole issue. Agents and casting directors KNOW who is predatory. Agents — whose job it is to protect their clients — need to do just that. If you don’t send your clients out to predatory creatives, they won’t have the talent pool to pull off their projects. If you speak up when one of your clients complains about inappropriate behavior, and if the agent pool as a whole spoke up, there would be less of it. However, for far too long, this behavior has been considered part of the industry. For how many decades have there been jokes about the casting couch or about chasing the actress around the desk? These stories come from actual experience. It doesn’t make it right, and it is definitely time for it to stop.

But the enablers of these predatory individuals HAVE to step up and be part of the solution, because they sure as hell have been part of the problem for decades.

At the same time, a lot of this particular “sensitivity training” is a joke. I worked for a TV show on a major network, while I still lived in New York. All the productions in the studio were shut down for a morning (putting us all behind schedule, meaning we’d be working until at least 1 AM that day, probably 3 AM, after a 6:30 AM start), to be herded into one of the sound stages set up for “sexual harassment sensitivity training.”

It was one of the stupidest mornings that I ever spent. Maybe it would have worked on third graders as an anti-bullying campaign. But it had very little to do with the reality of adults working on a set. It was also insulting to our collective intelligence. When we left the session, all of us walked out of there saying the most inappropriate and insensitive things we could think of, and pretended to make grabs at each other. It was all out of an attempt to break our frustration with humor, and no one in my group of people was offended by anyone else’s remarks or behavior IN THAT MOMENT. We were also a group, on our show at least, that was already good about communicating, and, frankly, on our schedule, too damn tired to harass each other seriously.

However, on another show on the same network that I left (for other reasons), I heard that there were problems with a couple of young actors regularly getting drunk in their trailers and being inappropriate with wardrobe personnel, PAs, etc. The show was cancelled (due to low ratings) and I don’t think any charges were ever filed; but most people I knew refused jobs from there out if those actors were involved. I might add that none of those actors made a big name for themselves.

The worst of this was before 2000. It’s been better since then, but there’s still a long way to go. In fact, in my upcoming novel THE FIX IT GIRL, set in Hollywood in the early 1930s, it deals with some of the issues women in the business faced.

As far as the Donna Karan controversy in her defense of Weinstein, again, there are layers, and there’s my personal opinion. On the one hand, good for her for sticking up for her friend. Your friends are your friends, and you have to decide where to draw the lines when it’s proven they do something you find reprehensible. Where can you say, “I think that was awful, you need to get help/change your behavior/make amends/be punished” and where do you throw in the towel? That has to be on personal weighing what the accusation is, what the proof is, and your direct experience with that individual, not the current media pressure. It has to be an individual decision, and, either way, the decision has consequences.

However, saying that some women “ask” for it rightly infuriates the mob. Let me be clear that I know of instances where so-called victims cried wolf in order to cause harm and take revenge. When I was in college for a year down south, where the bulk of my contemporaries were openly there to earn their “M-R-S” degrees, one of the girls (and I use “girl” not “woman” deliberately) who was in the suite across the bathroom from me openly talked about how she was going to falsely tell her ex-boyfriend she’d been attacked because then he’d feel sorry for her and get back together. Her mistake was that the ex in question was now currently dating ME. I’ve heard an actress declare that she was angry at not getting cast in a role, so she was going to tell people the director didn’t cast her because she wouldn’t sleep with him, even though he’d never made an overture. (There are cases where this is true and someone isn’t cast because they won’t play casting couch; but this was not one of them).

These instances are very, very rare. Unfortunately, in addition to destroying an innocent person’s reputation, a “victim” making a false accusation means the next 1000 true accusations won’t be taken seriously, because the false victim has just validated the “blame the victim” faction. That needs to change. Accusations need to be taken seriously and investigated. And when numerous people speak up against the same individual, it has to be taken seriously.

Plus, especially in the entertainment industry, in EVERY industry, the enablers need to stop enabling the behavior.

What’s also interesting/disturbing is that many of these predators don’t NEED to be predators. Their position alone means dozens of willing partners fling themselves at these individuals regularly. What is it about their psychology that makes them pressure those who say no?

I don’t know Donna Karan. I know, working in wardrobe, some of her pieces were used by costume designers. I liked some of her designs; I felt they were overpriced. She talks a lot about living a “yogic” lifestyle — organic, compassionate, et al — yet I feel her actions often betray that, especially when it comes to her price points. So I’m not surprised at her choice of words — which, to me, is counter to a “yogic” lifestyle. I’ve crossed paths with Weinstein over the years, but I don’t know him. I was way too far down on the food chain to be of any interest to him, which was fine with me. I just heard stories and was warned not to be alone with him.

While perceptions and standards of behavior are changing, again, predators are well-known. There’s often the “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” or the “well, that’s just the way he/she is, you need to deal with it.” So, all of this feigned outrage now that a power player’s been caught out and is paying the price is hypocrisy. We’ll see if anything actually changes.

After all, look who the GOP put in the White House, and how they are systematically waging a war against women on every front of civil and reproductive rights. I was talking to someone who is reading a book about abolition and pre-Civil War rights, who pointed out that we are being rolled back to those laws, against both women and non-whites.

I also want to point out that, in my personal experience, it was far worse as a temp in corporate environments, as I worked my way up to full-time theatre work. How often did I have to physically fend off drunken corporate types? How often did they go out to lunch, come back drunk, and get grabby? How many companies did I work in where “secretaries” did the actual work while handsy execs practiced golf swings in their offices? There were plenty of times when I had to physically defend myself. I’m not talking about slapping someone’s hand away AFTER I’d repeatedly told them to stop. I’m talking punch-in-the-jaw or knee-in-the-groin. It happened FAR more often to me in the corporate environment than in the entertainment environment.

And, when I reported it, well, too bad for me. If I went to HR in the company itself, “your services were no longer required. Why can’t you just go along with it? No one wants a troublemaker.” If I reported it to my temp agency — the good agencies moved me immediately to a different assignment. But, too often, I was told, “we don’t want to upset the client. Just stay quiet and work through it.”

Um, no. I walked out of several temp jobs and away from several agencies because they condoned and enabled the clients’ sexual harassment. I considered it a form of pimping. Sorry, not interested in being a prostitute.

This culture has to change. With the current administration in charge, I don’t think it will. There will be the occasional public sacrifices (“take one for the team”), but actual legislation will make things worse. It wouldn’t surprise me if this particular administration passed legislation legalizing rape.

It needs to change. Which means WE need to be the ones to change it. On legislative and personal levels.

 

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Wed. Oct. 11, 2017: I WILL This to be a Better Day

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Playing the Angles

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cooler

Yesterday was just one of those days that one is happy is done. Dozens of frustrations and incompetent people adding up to annoyance.

But it’s done, it’s over, and today will be better. I will MAKE it better.

Got out some pitches, heard back from a few places in the negative. Was supposed to have a meeting scheduled for today, but the person never bothered to get back to me as promised, responded when I asked, or let me know that the meeting had to be postponed. That individual better not think I will jump if suddenly that party decides the meeting should happen today. Some basic courtesy and professionalism is appreciated. Of course, that’s another strike against this potential gig. I already feel it was a bit of bait-and-switch. The signs point more and more to potential nightmare.

I’m working on the survey for working writers, which I think will be interesting both for those taking it and for me. I’m not yet sure how I’ll use the information, possibly as a basis for an article.

Matched the copy edit errors I caught with those my copy editor caught on SAVASANA. Of course, she caught more. Thank goodness. Put in all the fixes, and the manuscript goes off today for another proofread.

Then, I can turn my attention to the fixes I need to do on the edition of SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM for the new distributor.

I also have to prep the other workbooks for new distribution, and figure out when to schedule in the new ones.

I did a little bit of work on MARRIAGE GARDEN, but couldn’t concentrate.

I have to take a look at the BBC version of the radio play LIGHT BEHIND THE EYES, and maybe do some tweaks for a potential market over there.

Some promo on PLAYING THE ANGLES (it never feels like enough, does it?) and on the Topic Workbooks.

Started reading one of the two new books I need to review. I like it a lot, which is a relief. So far, anyway, it’s very well done.

Finished reading a memoir of a mucky-muck in the art world. The book is well-written, but I don’t think I’d have liked the person very much. Happy to admire his skills from afar.

I have some new article ideas to pitch to several publications, more promo to do, some permissions to hunt down for quotes I want to use in an article, and follow-ups.

I took twenty research books back to the library yesterday. Smaller stack today; small stack tomorrow, but big books. All in prep for the next slew of books coming in.

Also, have to clean out the garage while it’s still warm enough; give everything a good scrub, so that, as I bring in plants for the winter, they have a clean, safe place to sit until next spring. Might make bread later on, too.

Hoping I’ll be able to tackle the FIX IT GIRL section today and tomorrow. The end of the book is fairly close — maybe seven chapters? But this section is tricky to rewrite. Then, off it goes on submission. Long journey for this book, but worth it. My protagonist makes some choices that might shock some readers — which is why it falls into literary/historical rather than a genre with a tighter formula.

By next week, I hope to get back to the TRACKING MEDUSA edits. I need to get that out so we can turn around the galleys before the holiday madness.

Still trying to figure out when we can reschedule the release of “Labor Intensive”. That’s negatively affecting the Digital Delights schedule in general. I don’t want to take away from PLAYING THE ANGLES or SAVASANA AT SEA sales.

Also need to finish the media kit for SAVASANA AT SEA. I need to figure out one more excerpt, do the press release, and finish the Q & A, and then it can go out.

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing.

 

Tues. Oct. 10, 2017: Not Enough Weekend, Too Many Responsibilities

 

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Playing the Angles

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Finally, some sun, after a string of rainy, humid, icky days. Remnants of Hurricane Nate yesterday. Again, I’m grateful it was just a few hours of heavy rain and wind, and not worse.

Read through the SAVASANA galleys. I made notes — six pages’ worth of notes of copy editing errors that I caught. Now, I pull up the document (I proofread on the Kindle, I catch more), and I compare my notes to my copy editor’s notes. And then I make the fixes. I’d hoped to have it done by today, but it was just too much.

Picked up my next two reviewing assignments, but haven’t had a chance to start them yet. Hope to fix that today.

Managed to work my way through about twenty research books, pulling what I need, noting citations, etc. I have stacks of books and videos to return today.

Did some work on the outline of DAVY JONES DHARMA.

Most of my writing was on THE MARRIAGE GARDEN, although that was not the original intent for the weekend. But it was flowing, and I didn’t want to get in the way. I wrote about 10K on it. I’m already well in to the second notebook, and nearly finished with Willow’s first section This book is going to take at least three years before it’s submittable, maybe longer. But then, literary fiction often takes longer than genre fiction because it’s a different type of storytelling. It needs a different type of structure. The story and characters definitely affect me, differently than most of my other work. Hopefully, it will have the same effect on the reader.

Lots of cooking all weekend, making up some new recipes, plus old favorites like the raw apple muffins from THE BREAKFAST BOOK, and moussaka from THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL COOKBOOK. I’m baking my favorite chocolate walnut butter bread later today, and tonight is stuffed eggplant from a Moosewood recipe.

I have so much to do today and this week that I’m overwhelmed. All I can do is break it down and do one bit at a time. I’m waiting to hear if and when I have a project meeting tomorrow, I have to follow up on a few things, and I have some pitches to get out.

I didn’t work on the short stories or the essay this weekend, so I have to spread them over the next few days, in and around everything else, and get them done. Same with the next section of FIX IT GIRL.

My mom had one of her pre-op appointments this morning, so there’s that to juggle, too.

Somehow, it will all work out. I’m not sure how, yet, but somehow, I have to figure it out and MAKE it work.

Being off social media more than on it helped. I miss being on Twitter, especially, but I don’t miss the added stress.

I’m percolating a couple of pieces that are getting ready to be written, and I have to fact-check some names and dates in order to write the opening scene of the Lavinia Fontana play.

I couldn’t do any yard work this weekend, in the lousy weather, so that’s stacking up, too.

Onward, and back to the page.

 

Fri. Oct. 6, 2017: Busy Day Segues into Writing Weekend

Friday, Oct. 6, 2017
Last Day of Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was a good busy. Two short stories and some pitches out.

Yoga at the library. I liked the class a lot — I’ve studied with this teacher before. I had a chance to work on alignments. The alignments in my personal practice have gotten sloppy.

On the frustrating level, my FOUR MONTH OLD PHONE is already giving me grief. It’s all such a scam — forcing updates, then forcing one to buy more storage. Also, this phone won’t let me delete apps I don’t want. Not happy at all.

Came home, showered, changed, and went to my meeting. The person who set it up in response to my pitch did not give me information that was vital to this meeting, and then didn’t even meet with me. I don’t like bait-and-switch, so that put me on my guard. Talking with the person who DID speak with me opens some new possibilities. We’ll see. I’m delivering some requested information.

Read John Scalzi’s LOCK IN. So far, it’s my favorite of his, with OLD MAN’S WAR a close second.

This weekend is about finishing the SAVASANA galleys, working on FIX IT GIRL revisions, writing the first scene of the Lavinia Fontana play, and working on a short story and an essay. So much for a weekend!

Speaking of weekends, in a moment of shameless self-promotion, the weekend is the perfect time to read PLAYING THE ANGLES. Buy links here.

And have a good weekend, even if you don’t read my book! 😉
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Thurs. Oct. 5, 2017: The Good Kind of Busy

Thursday, October 5, 2017
Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy/sunny/mild

Yesterday seems so long ago, somehow!

Got out a few pitches, prepared for today’s meeting. Polished the short story, and it goes out today. Worked on promotion for PLAYING THE ANGLES.

Worked on the galleys of SAVASANA AT SEA — about halfway through. Again, I’m mortified by the copy editing errors. And deeply grateful for my copy editor.

Finished reading John Scalzi’s COLLAPSING EMPIRE. I liked it a lot, but felt it ended on a cliffhanger. Not sure if this is part of a series? Anyway, in the acknowledgements, he talks about the stress of the 2016 election. Amazing how things have gone downhill from there.

As usual, I get most of my best gig leads from Twitter — two were sent on to me by contacts that look really, really cool; one of them I already pitched to; the other, I need to read the guidelines thoroughly, but I think I have something that might fit. Very exciting.

The opening of the Lavinia Fontana play is taking shape in my head. Soon, I’ll be ready to put it on the page.

I’m late posting today; went grocery shopping early this morning, the rounds of the four stores I frequent, all in one swoop. I keep the prices and quality for each in my head, and then can juggle and create recipes and menus by what looks good and what’s at a good price.

I LOVE grocery shopping.

I also love cooking and creating menus with what I buy.

I’m at the library later this morning working, because I want to stay for the yoga class. Then, I’ll just have time to run home, shower, change, and make my meeting.

Today is one of those busy days, but I love it!

Back to the page.

Don’t forget to get your copy of PLAYING THE ANGLES!

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Wed. Oct. 4, 2017: Reasons I Should Not Do Nano

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Thank you to everyone who has purchased PLAYING THE ANGLES. I hope you’re loving it. I’m getting some wonderful feedback. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, a variety of digital links are here and the website is here.

Busy day — pitches, promo for PLAYING THE ANGLES, updating sites, research for articles, etc.

Finished writing a weird little short story — for me, very weird and out of my wheelhouse. But I like it. Have to type it up and polish it.

Got in the two reviews, and requested two more books to review.

Heard back from a pitch and have a meeting about it tomorrow afternoon, which will be fun. Looking forward to it.

Playing with an idea for a story, a way to channel current rage and frustrations. I started playing with it last night. Not only did I enjoy working the idea, but I felt better about things in general. It’s evolving away from the original inspiration into something much more complex and interesting, which is what a good bit of imagination partnered with craft does. I like even the unlikable characters, and it has a weird humor to it. It’s also out of my usual wheelhouse, which makes it an interesting challenge.

Added a challenging yoga sequence before last night’s meditation. I’m sore this morning, but slept better. Upped this morning’s yoga practice, too. Important to keep it fresh.

Of course, the Nano debate is coming up again, for me and for most writers I know. To Nano or not to Nano? Everyone, of course, has different reasons for doing or not doing Nano. I need to separate my ego at writing 50K in 30 days away from what’s on my schedule.

First and foremost, I know I can write 50K in 30 days. I proved that over 5 bouts of Nano, and, at this point, that’s basically a normal month, although usually spread over several projects.

Second, the Lavinia Fontana play has to take center stage as far as drafting, since it’s due to the producer by the end of the year.

Third, I’m promoting PLAYING THE ANGLES, and by November, will have to get back into finishing THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, so it can release in May.

Fourth, SAVASANA AT SEA releases on November 15, so I’ll be working on pre-release and release material for that WHILE still promoting PLAYING THE ANGLES.
Fifth, I’ll be working on the research and finishing the outline for DAVY JONES DHARMA, so I can start writing it after the first of the year, since it releases in November of 2018.

Sixth, “Miss Winston Apologizes”, the next Cornelia True/Roman Gray story is set to release in November. Which means writing the opening of the following story to go in the back matter.

Seventh, we still have to re-schedule the release of “Labor Intensive”, the next Twinkle Tavern short.

Eighth, the galleys for the re-release of TRACKING MEDUSA will be in full swing by then (since it releases in January) — which also means I’ll have to reshape the material for the opening of MYTH & INTERPRETATION (which drops next July) and the opening of THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE (which releases in January of 2019).

Ninth, I have article and review deadlines to keep the bills paid and a roof over my head.

Tenth, my mother will just have had surgery, and we don’t yet know the next steps.

Eleventh, FIX-IT GIRL has to go out on submission.

Twelfth, I have other original novels that got derailed with this new writing/release schedule that have to get back on track.

Those reasons are all in the “don’t do it this year” column.

In the “gosh I’m tempted column”:

I like riding the wave of creative energy. The air tingles with excitement;

The new novel I’m playing with wants attention; it would give me a chance to write a bit over 1600 words/day to see if it’s actually viable, or just a release valve for the moment;

I love the space where the local Nano group is meeting, and I’m tempted to go and write in community.

The Nano definition has gotten much looser in the last few years, but I still stick to the original definition.

“Doing” Nano means you start a new project on Nov. 1 and you write 50K in 30 days. If you’re not done with your first draft then, you keep going until you’re done, using the Nano momentum.

“Writing Along With” Nano means you’re working on something in progress. Some people use it to work on revisions. Personally, I find the first-draft energy generated by millions of people scribbling for a month too intense for anything but first-draft work.

So why not “Write With” on more than one project?

Technically, one isn’t supposed to work on a script — this NOVEL writing month. The Lavinia Fontana script must take priority. There used to be Script Frenzy in the spring, but I think that petered out. Plus, I can’t be held to a daily word count with Lavinia. She is bound and determined to do things her way, just like she did in life — serene and determined (which I’m seriously thinking of using as the title).

First-draft energy would mean either finishing THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY or using it to push DAVY JONES DHARMA (since I’m already immersed in the world of that series).

Or, it could be used to get NOT BY THE BOOK back on track. Since that’s only got a 55K word limit, it’s do-able.

Or I could use it to keep working on MARRIAGE GARDEN, but that’s developed a solid, innate rhythm, sometimes as much as 3K/day, and I don’t want to disrupt it.

Or, I could work on the first 50K of the new piece I’m noodling with — but DOING Nano would mean I can’t work on it between now and November 1, which just isn’t going to happen. I’m pretty sure this book will run to just under 100K.

Last time I “wrote along with” Nano, about two years ago, I was already working on TIE-CUTTER, but then I wanted to “do” Nano, too, so I started DEATH OF A CHOLERIC — and wrote the whole damn thing while writing daily on TIE-CUTTER, doing what I called “Tandem Nano.” CHOLERIC is out on submission; TIE-CUTTER was put aside to work on other projects, and will go back in the queue late next year.

On an emotional/ego level, I want to do it. On a practical level, it is going to work against me instead of for me. Which should make the decision easy.

We’ll see what happens come November 1.

Lots of fiddly things to do today, and then it’s back to the SAVASANA galleys, polishing the short story, and working on articles.

Back to the page.

I’m glad so many of you are loving PLAYING THE ANGLES! It means a lot to me.

Tues. Oct. 3, 2017: Releases, Writing, Worrying

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Plenty of links today. First, check out the piece about PLAYING THE ANGLES over on A Biblio Paradise. Don’t forget to order your copy in any of the various digital formats. Links here.

Second, my October To Do list is up on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site. I’ll also post questions to think about between now and the end of the year shortly.

Yesterday, I did promotion for PLAYING THE ANGLES. I also got some new material up on the Nautical Namaste website. I’ll be linking and promoting that site in a few weeks, when SAVASANA AT SEA becomes available for pre-order. Right now, I want to focus on PLAYING THE ANGLES.

Sent out some pitches, did some follow-up on pieces. Sent out two short stories, which had come back from other markets. It’s always a dance, finding the right partner for a piece.

Finished both books I have to review, and the reviews will go out today. My new editor told me I hadn’t acknowledged receipt of the books — but I had, weeks ago, when I received them. I always do. I HATE the “dashboard” system they have us working in.

Started working on the galleys for SAVASANA AT SEA. There are lots of little, fiddly things the copy editor and I have both caught. Also, although some grammatical choices are technically correct according to the style guide we’re using, they look awful on the Kindle. In some cases, the fix is as simple as using Chicago Manual of Style rather than Strunk; in other instances, I’d rather change how I communicate the material. There are a few places where the copy editor and I are working together to see what is correct and still looks and feels right.

I haven’t even had the chance to work on the galleys of SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM.

Got a weird idea for what I hope will be a flash fiction piece and wrote about 400 words on it. It’s an odd little piece. It will take time and shaping, but I like the premise. Now I have to add in the craft.

The mass shooting in Las Vegas is both heart-breaking and infuriating. It could have been prevented. Again, the GOP doesn’t care how many people die, as long as it’s those who don’t buy them off. The NRA isn’t about responsible gun ownership, it’s about profit. I have never heard the NRA or anyone who boasts about their association with them, talk about RESPONSIBLE gun ownership. There’s just a lot of chest thumping and “Me have right to own guns.” In fact, most of the people I have met who scream about their right to own guns lack the IQ, in my opinion, to be allowed such ownership.

Every member of Congress who votes against responsible, common-sense gun laws should be prosecuted AS AN INDIVIDUAL for every murder that results in their legislation. They can’t be allowed to hide behind their jobs or use tax payer dollars for defense or if and when they are convicted. The only way it will change is when it costs them more to vote against pro-gun legislation than for it. Because Congress, especially the members of the GOP, don’t care about individual lives. They care about personal profit. They demonstrate this over and over again, with every vote. So make it cost them.

John Scalzi wrote a beautiful piece on his blog about how difficult it is to work amidst all this chaos. You can find it here. I read it at 3:30 this morning, when I couldn’t sleep, and it helps.

Of course, the current administration is anti-art. They WANT us not to be able to create. Artists are the biggest threat to autocracy that there is, because good art makes people see and understand the world beyond themselves.

Keep making art.

Back to the page.