Fri. Nov. 26, 2021: Day After Thanksgiving

image courtesy of Element5 Digital via Unsplash.com

Today is about leftovers and starting the Yule decorating.

I don’t do Black Friday, so no stressful shopping during a pandemic for me.

Monday will be the Intent post, so settle in for a long-ass post on Tuesday to catch up!

Have a good one!

Published in: on November 26, 2021 at 10:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Thurs. Nov. 25, 2021: Happy Thanksgiving!

image courtesy of Joanna Kosinka via Unspalsh.com

Happy American Thanksgiving to all who celebrate! Have a beautiful day!

Published in: on November 25, 2021 at 10:35 am  Comments (1)  

Wed. Nov. 24, 2021: Holiday Meal Prep

image courtesy of Sarah Chai via pexels.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

After yesterday’s quota on CAST IRON MURDER was met, I headed for the post office to mail the two packages (one overseas, one domestic that I wanted to arrive during Chanukah). The overseas rate has gone way up, but it’s the only package, so I’m not worried. The domestic package rate has gone up somewhat, but along what I expected.

Then, off to the library, to drop off and pick up books. To Big Y, for a few last-minute items.

Home, unpacked, and worked on script coverage. I was done about midafternoon. I have one more to read/write up before the holiday, but I was just too tired. Each script deserves my ability to concentrate and respond at top capability.

Leftovers for dinner. I’m trying to clean out the fridge to make room for turkey leftovers!

Pondering how I want to change things for next year, as far as work schedule, the way the workload is spread out, etc. I’m on the right track; I need to make a few decisions about where to put my focus and energy. I need to figure out the roster of projects I need/want to get done, and how to juggle them so I don’t burn out and can truly enjoy each of them.

I want to go back to Sundays (or at least one day a week) being disconnected from social media, email, etc. I want to use that day for yoga, meditation, projects I WANT to do, rather than things I feel I HAVE to get done before the next week starts. I want to shift some of my focus, copywriting-wise in the next few months, with a bigger emphasis on certain areas, while pulling back in others. I like the flexibility I have now, and I like taking what Americans consider a long-ish break in the middle of the day, even if it means working later at night.

Went to bed early. Tessa woke me up at 4:10. I moved to the bed in the sewing room, and she settled down, happy. Then Willa and Charlotte came to check in, and I gave up and got up.

Headed for the laundromat early, and got everything done in about an hour and a half. I was the only one there. Sometimes it’s creepy, but today, it wasn’t.

I worked on the outline for the second HEARTHSTONE book (the series started with CAST IRON MURDER). I’m calling that book THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, at least for the moment. Outlining is something I can do at the laundromat, because the hum of the machines gives the writing an underlying beat, and I can still be aware of what’s going on around me. If I’m deep in scene work, I’m not alert enough to my surroundings.

I realized I have to seed a couple of things in CAST IRON MURDER for it to make sense in KRINGLE CALAMTIY, so when I go back in a couple of months to revise CIM, I’ll seed them in. Unless I put them in as inserts in this draft. I forgot to write a scene in CIM that’s kind of important to set something up for the end of the book, so I’ll go back and do that this weekend. When I go back and revise, I have to clean up some timeline stuff; it’s too vague the way it is right now.

Made some notes on the project with which I’ve been playing. It’s still mostly world-building and character relationship notes, although I’m starting to feel more than see how the first three major arcs will go.

When I came back, after breakfast, I wrote 2951 words on CAST IRON MURDER. I realized about two pages of this chapter needed to be the end of the previous chapter, not the opening of this one, so I moved them back into that chapter, and then this chapter made more sense. I need to smooth out a bit of logic, which I can do once I’ve added the insert scenes.

One more chapter (and insert scenes) and I’m done with this draft.

Since it’s not a contracted, deadlined project, I can then put it aside to rest and marinate for two months, before I start working on revisions.

And get back to my contracted, deadlined projects.

I hope to do the revision of “A Rare Medium” early next week, and get that in before deadline. I’m hoping to start the Marie Corelli play this weekend.

I got through about 500 emails this morning. I’m trying to get (and keep) the email situation under control.

I’m a little concerned, because the COVID numbers are going up again here, and Pittsfield is back in the red zone. Since we were shopping in Pittsfield last weekend, I’m monitoring us.

I have one more script to cover, and I’m done for the holidays. I’m debating reading another couple of scripts Saturday/Sunday, in case the COVID booster knocks me out Monday/Tuesday. I’ll see how I feel on the weekend. My brain needs the break.

I’ve got some baking to do this afternoon – cheddar and apple turnovers, an apple/ginger cake, and possibly the chocolate walnut butter bread. Or I might do the bread over the weekend.

Tomorrow morning, I make the stuffing and put the turkey in the oven. I’m serving it with traditional mashed potatoes and homemade turkey giblet gravy, peas, and I’m doing my carrot-parsnip dish in mushroom sauce. I have a bottle of local hard cider from Berkshire Cider Project that I bought specifically for the meal.

Friday, we start the winter holiday decorating, and work on the domestic cards. Sunday is already the First of Advent and the beginning of Chanukah. At the very least, I need to get the Advent table up.

Yes, there will be photos, especially since this is the first time we’re decorating this space, and it will be very different from the past ten years in the Cape house!

Monday, I get my COVID booster in the morning, mixing Pfizer with my previous Moderna shots. Hopefully, I won’t have strong side effects. My mom had 3 Pfizers, with barely any side effects, except sore arm and fatigue. My first two Moderna shots kicked my ass.

Have a lovely weekend, my friends. Enjoy the holiday. Rest, eat, enjoy.

Tues. Nov. 23, 2021: Goals Create New Goals

image courtesy of Carla Luca de Tena via Unsplash.com

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

It was a good weekend. I wrote about most of Friday on Friday, because the post went up so late. The afternoon was about client work, following up on information I had promised, etc.

I did some percolating on this, that, and many others while on the acupressure mat, and spent a good bit of time on the script coverages.

I was annoyed when an email landed in my inbox around 7 PM from the CEO of a company with whom I had less than pleasant pre-interview experience a few months back. I had refused to write project-specific samples or take “assessments” without being paid, and had sent my contract. These tests were a requirement to even be considered for an interview, which is a waste of my time, since the initial conversation either backs up or negates the initial research I did on the company, and I certainly won’t take a test to have a preliminary conversation. The CEO had gotten nasty in response to me sending my contract for tests and samples, and I’d said we weren’t a good fit, bye.

So he emails me on Friday about an open position to which he thinks I should apply. I reminded him about our previous, less-than-pleasant exchanges, and asked if he needed my contract for tests/samples again.

His reply was that he figured I’d be over that “conceit” by now and need the work. He also wanted the tests/samples turned around that night. After contacting me at 7 PM on a Friday.

Nope.

I told him we were not a good fit, and not to contact me again.

Up early on Saturday. 2512 words on CAST IRON MURDER, which got me just over the 50K mark.

I did it. I wrote 50K focused on one project. In 20 days. Without feeling like it would kill me. It’s done a lot to help me regain my confidence in my ability to sustain on a long project, which is what I need for some projects coming up.

Once I was done with those words, and got a script coverage out, we got in the car in search of holiday gifts, down Pittsfield way. We got almost everything – we have one more gift to get one of my mother’s friends, and I have two more gifts to get for my friends, but I know where I can get one of them, so that’s all good. It was another beautiful, sunny day, although a bit chilly.

We did hit up Target on the way down, to stock up on cleaning supplies to get us through the winter. More because we don’t know what the weather will be like than being worried about “supply chain shortages” which only the big box stores seem to have. Target was an absolute zoo. But we got everything we needed.

Everywhere we went, it was busy. But people were in a good mood, polite, and followed masking/distancing protocols. Several people mentioned how happy they were that the weather was good, and they could get their shopping done now, and not worry about it on Black Friday and into December.

It was a good day.

I turned around another script coverage in the late afternoon/early evening, so that I could have all of Sunday off script coverage. I read a monologue written by a friend, which she’d asked me to critique, and I loved it. It’s such a strong piece.

Sunday was a day of rest. Well, once I did my 2161 words on CAST IRON MURDER.

I stayed off email. Other than posting two photos, I stayed off social media. I need to get back to having Sunday as my “day of disconnect” for both mental and physical health.

I did dash out, early in the morning, to pick up the turkey. I also got some raspberry rugelach, from a bakery out of Brooklyn. Since Chanukah starts Thanksgiving weekend, all those goodies are available, too.

Played with the cats a lot. Made my favorite orange rye bread recipe. Instead of making half the batch as rolls and half as a loaf, I made all rolls. We like that recipe better as rolls. They came out perfectly. Also made chocolate mousse.

We’re trying to finish off all the leftovers, so there’s room in the fridge for the Thanksgiving leftovers.

Finished reading BURY ME WHEN I’M DEAD by Cheryl A. Head, part of her mystery series set in Detroit (although this had a good chunk of it also in Alabama). It is an excellent book, plot-wise, character-wise, pace-wise, setting, all of it.

Read the fifth book in a mystery series I’d enjoyed enormously up to this point. This book was still fun. However, the jokes repeat from book to book, and are getting stale. And the lack of character growth is beginning to bug me.

I didn’t get any of the domestic holiday cards done over the weekend, which made me disappointed in myself, but I was wiped out. I just don’t have the energy I had even ten years ago.

Tessa got me up early on Monday morning. I got in 2495 words on CAST IRON MURDER.

My mom wrapped gifts for overseas and to send friends in time for their Chanukah celebrations. Tessa decided to “help” with the wrapping paper and the ribbons and the craft paper used to pack the packages.

So, of course, it took much longer than it would have otherwise.

By the time the three of us were finished, the weather had turned, and I decided I wasn’t going out.

I tried to catch up on email, worked on script coverage.

I’m playing with an idea for a new project. It came together out of some ideas that have rattled around for a bit, looking for a home; instead of separate homes, some of them can fit into the same created world, in a format in which I used to write a lot, and miss terribly. The characters are coming fast and furiously, the world is creating itself in my head. I took some ideas I heard from people about “I wish I could find a story with this” and incorporated those in. I started jotting “a few” notes, and am up to seven pages. They’re coming out in a mishmash, all over the place. I’m going to start typing them up soon, so I can start focusing them. The initial draft should take me about three months to do, if I apply what I gained from this Nano period.

I did some research on the markets and the outlet I have my eye on, and I like what I found. I don’t want to keep all my eggs in one basket, publishing-wise. It’s too risky.

I need to be working to revive an old project that’s getting new life in it, too, but I will let that percolate over the holiday weekend.

Started reading Jenn McKinlay’s new book, KILLER RESEARCH. I’ve read that whole series, and I like Jenn a lot. I’ve interviewed her for articles here and there.

Charlotte woke me a little after one a.m., because she wanted attention. She got some, and we went back to sleep. Tessa started in at 4:33. I moved to the bed in the sewing room, and she settled down. Then Charlotte joined me for more attention; after a few minutes, she left and started crinkling paper in one of the Chewy boxes.

I gave up and got out of bed.

2431 words on CAST IRON MURDER. I think I have two to three more chapters, and I’m done with this draft. It’ll be too short for what I want, but it’s a good foundation, and it gives me room to layer on some details without getting overblown.

Made French toast this morning, and it came out well. From a recipe I brought back from one of my New Orleans trips.

I have to run all the errands I didn’t do yesterday, then get back and finish some script coverage.

I think a lot of the college kids already left for the holiday. Quieter and emptier than usual.

I’m glad I’m not travelling this weekend. I don’t have either the physical or emotional energy to travel in company like that, and, no doubt, the COVID numbers will spike again in two weeks.

I’m glad we’re staying home, and I’m glad I’m getting my booster next Monday.

Mon. Nov. 22, 2021: Intent for the Week — Gratitude

image courtesy of Rodnae Productions via pexels.com

This week contains American Thanksgiving, and is a reminder to be thankful and filled with gratitude for all that is good in my life.

With so many horrible things happening in the world, it’s dififcult to remember gratitude for even the small joys, but it’s also important.

Putting the intention out there invites the universe to challenge my intent for gratitude, so let’s hope the challenges this week are minimal. I really want a calm, pleasant week!

Even though I hit 50K on the National Novel Writing Month wordcount this weekend, I am continuing to do my daily words, because I want to finish the novel by the end of the year.

What’s your intent for the week?

Published in: on November 22, 2021 at 10:17 am  Comments (2)  

Fri. Nov. 19, 2021: Road Trip!

image courtesy of Marta Wave via pexels.com

Friday, November 19, 2021

Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Sorry this is posted so late, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Yesterday was a lot of fun. After meditation and my daily word quota, we got in the car and headed down to Great Barrington. It’s a town I’ve always enjoyed, even before I moved to the area.

The weather was sunny and gorgeous, and it went all the way into the sixties, temperature-wise, so that was fun. Grab the beautiful weather whenever possible, right?

We stopped at a thrift shop, where I found a beautiful teapot and matching plate, with peacocks on them. Lovely. The pattern is just gorgeous. I got a lovely Santa & reindeer music box, another wooden Santa for the collection, a small festive tray, and a small ceramic bowl that looks like a partner to the one I made in pottery class years ago.

We went to the BookLoft, where I found some cool, fun gifts. (I mean, that was the purpose of the trip, our holiday gift shopping). We also stopped at an Asian market, where I was excited to get wonton wrappers and spring roll wrappers. Finally, a place where I can get the ingredients for my Asian recipes. The woman at the store was really nice, too, and we had a lively conversation about making dumplings.

We stopped in Stockbridge, on the way back. I wanted to show my mom the Red Lion Inn, because it’s so famous. I love some of their furnishings. The gift shop and the General Store down the street didn’t have what we were looking for, unfortunately, nor did the stores we hit up in Lee and Lenox.

We stopped at a couple of places in Pittsfield, but mostly didn’t find what we were looking for, although I did get the notebooks for my 2022 handwritten journal. Stopped for a few groceries, too, on the way home.

Walked out of two of the stores that had mask policies posted for staff and customers, but the staff had their masks down around their chins. Nope. Not spending my money there. If you’re not following protocols, especially with lots of customers around.

Once home, we hauled our stuff up the stairs, and then I ordered a pizza from the small, independent place that’s a few blocks down the street on Ashland. It was a pain in the butt to get set up at Allhungry, but the pizza arrived faster than projected, and it was delicious. Will definitely order from them again. And it was big enough to have leftovers. Leftover pizza is always a good thing.

I’d gotten a good chunk of work done in the morning, before meditation and after my word quota, so I only had about four hours’ worth of work to do when I got back to it around 5 PM.

But I was definitely tired when I fell into bed.

The lunar eclipse wacky energy was all over the place.

Pet peeve: Pagan men who jump on a social media thread that has nothing to do with them and mansplain. Even worse than the usual irritating white boy bros who do it. Pagan men should know better! Considered retorting or blocking or whatever, but it wasn’t worth the energy.  Just ignored it. Always good to know who to avoid, though.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. We’re taking all of next week off, beause, as they said, who’s going to be serious about homework a coupla days before Thanksgiving? One of the parents is stepping in to run the session on the 30th, since I have my COVID booster on the 29th. I’ll be glad to get it; the numbers in this state are back up to where they were in February.

The alarm this morning got me up at 5. I tried to roll over for a few more minutes, but Charlotte and Tessa were having none of it. Got up, fed everybody, did my yoga, got in about 1400 words on CAST IRON MURDER before I had to get ready to leave the house for the coffee meetup.

Of course, the directions from Google Maps had nothing to do with the actual streets, so I had to stop at a Cumberland Farms, where they were nice enough to help me figure out how to get there from here.

“There” is Beaver Mills, one of the old industrial mill buildings that’s in the process of conversion, and the meetup was at The Studio at Beaver Mill, which used to be Frog Lotus Yoga Studio (and it makes me sad that they closed, because I’d hoped to start taking class with them when it was safe). The Studio is now a rental space for rehearsals, performances, events, etc.

The guy who owns and runs it is the founder of Rhythm Monster, which is an organization devoted to the cultures of drumming through drumming.

And I think Rhythm Monster might be one of the missing pieces for a big, international, long-term project that I’m trying to put together again, now that enough people are getting vaccinated to make it viable.

So I need to get in touch with my primary collaborator about that, and I also need to sit and do some serious thinking about the focus of the project in the next few weeks.

Anyway, I had a great time at the meeting, and my fellow attendees were all interesting, too: from the organization, from the Historical Society, a city councilor, a critic, and someone from the college, who wants to form closer relationships with businesses in the city.

The next meeting is in December, in Great Barrington. If the weather holds, I want to go.

Once I left the Mill, I drove over to Williamstown to Wild Oats, because I had to get the essentials (eggs, wine, coffee). Then, I hit up the post office to mail my overseas cards and get some more overseas stamps, and catch up on What is Happening. The temperature was dropping rapidly as I made my way around town doing my errands, and I wondered if it would snow.

After the post office, it was up to the library, to drop off/pick up books and catch up with the librarians.

Got home, and back to the page, to finish my work on CAST IRON MURDER for the day. 2739 words, bringing me over the 47K mark. And I still have two pages of outline notes, so I think I’m okay.

I’ve got some email to get through, then a break on the acupressure mat, then it’s back to work. I have a feeling I won’t have an early finish today. I do plan to work through the weekend, with Thanksgiving coming up next week, and then my booster. So I’ll push this weekend, even though I’m tired (and even though I have to at least start writing the domestic holiday cards).

We do have to do some more gift-hunting this weekend, and I also have to pick up the turkey, so there’s a bunch of stuff to juggle.

But I have to build in some time to percolate on this project.

It’s so exciting to be around people of all disciplines who are doing things!

Have a great weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Thurs. Nov. 18, 2021: Early Morning Arias

photo courtesy of Isabella Mendes via pexels.com Note: This is not my Tessa, although this cat looks very much like Tessa.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

There’s a post about how the environment is changing over on Gratitude and Growth.

Got my words in yesterday, then switched over to script coverage, and worked on that. Remote Chat was a lot of fun, too.

I managed to book my COVID booster appointment for the Monday after Thanksgiving. It’s Pfizer, so I hope it doesn’t take me down the way the Moderna shots did. I mean, it’s definitely worth it, but I can’t afford to lose a week of work right now.

Ordered cat litter, got in some reading for fun.

Did a crockpot chicken that was really good.

Willa was dancing around in the evening, up and down on the kitty condo, running up and down the hall. I rolled one of balls with bells in it, so she had something to chase and play with. Charlotte later used the condo, too, so at least they’re in it, although they still prefer the Chewy box to anything else, and I left it for them, instead of breaking it down.

Tessa woke me up at 4, singing her version of opera. I moved into the sewing room. She started again, then realized I was there, stopped, and curled up on the couch. Willa came to check on me, and make sure I was still alive, and then Charlotte came to see where I’d gone. Then Tessa and Charlotte started fussing at each other. It was 5 by then, so I got up.

Got in my words on CAST IRON MURDER early, 2339 words. 50K is in sight, as is the end of the book. Although I want it to be around 72K, this draft will come in shorter, and then I’ll layer in the subtext and sensory details in the next draft.

Meditation this morning, and then we’re hoping to go to Great Barrington (if the weather holds). It looks like it wants to storm any minute, but the reports keep saying it will be on “partly” cloudy until this afternoon, and then rain. I’m seeing more than “partly” but go figure.

When we get back, I have coverage to write up, and more scripts to read. I’m going to work through the weekend, so I can take next weekend off. Although I’m wondering if I should work Saturday and Sunday, in case the booster wipes me out for a few days next week.

One day at a time, that’s all I can do.

I have a few things to pick up over the weekend for Thanksgiving (like the turkey), but we are mostly set.

Wed. Nov. 17, 2021: Online Cooking Class (And Some Writing)

image courtesy of Daria Shevstova via Pexels.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was actually a lot of fun.

After I hit my word count quota, I went to Big Y to get the ingredients for the evening’s cooking class. There were a few snow flurries in the air as I came and went, but nothing major, and it didn’t stick.

I came home, went through email, worked on script coverages. We did an early session of Knowledge Unicorns, which went well.

As I set out my ingredients in preparation for the class, I realized I’d somehow missed seeing that spinach and pine nuts were part of the ingredient list. Instead of spinach (for the turkey tarts), I decided to use celery (I mean, I didn’t even have kale I could have swapped in for it. Not having kale on hand in the Berkshires is a form of blasphemy). I’ve substituted walnuts for pine nuts in pesto before, so I decided to do that.

The class itself as part of the NYU Alumni Supper Club series, and our instructor was Chef Cherrie of ChefTorial. She was working out of her kitchen in a small town near Manitoba, our host was on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls; it was fun. That’s what I love about online events. People can participate from all over the world (we even had one person attending from Hong Kong).

NYU has always been at the forefront of virtual conferencing. When I was at NYU on work-study, back in the early 1980’s, I worked for the Interactive Telecommunication Department and Alternate Media Center (and had to say that entire name every time I answered the phone). We had one of the first ever virtual Christmas parties between our NYU office and China (I think it was Shanghai). It was a ton of fun, and a little whacky.

Anyway, back to the class. We had fun cooking and doing “Sociable!” (not sure if I should explain what that is, but trust me, it’s fun). Charlotte sat on a kitchen chair in front of the screen for the first part, but she wasn’t getting enough attention, so she left. Willa took up the post, absolutely fascinated to watch the tutorial on the laptop (which I’d set up in the kitchen), and her new fascination with watching me cook.

The three recipes were sweet potato toasts with maple-walnut-goat cheese topping; turkey tarts filled with ricotta, cream cheese, spinach (well, celery for me), and cranberries; sweet pea pesto on toasted ciabatta.

I got into life-or-death battles trying to get the ricotta and the cream cheese open, and got cheese all over the kitchen. At that point, Willa fled back into my mother’s room, where she could sit on the bed and watch from a safe distance.

Tessa stayed out of it.

I would have never thought of lining a muffin pan cup with a slice of turkey, filling it, and baking it. But it works!

All three recipes were outstanding. The Chef and host were terrific, and the other people were a lot of fun. I posted photos of the dishes as they were finished on Instagram. The photos are pretty lame; I didn’t do any styling or real arrangement, it was just shoot and go, because we were moving pretty fast.

The food was good, but the kitchen was a disaster area by the time I was done. It took longer to clean up than it took to cook.

I was wiped out by the end of it, but it was a good tired. I definitely want to do more Supper Club events with NYU Alumni, and they have a Cooking Club, too, that the host will send me information about.

And we definitely have leftovers.

I overslept this morning. Tessa was not amused, since she’d been trying to wake me up since who-knows-when. But my mom got up early to feed the little monsters.

I put chicken and vegetables into the slow cooker, and that’s tonight’s dinner. Because after cooking so much last night, a slow cooker meal seems like a good idea.

I also made a frittata for breakfast.  With the supply chain issues meaning frozen vegetables are in short supply, and the canned goods on which I stocked up during the early part of the pandemic needing to be used up, I’d used a can of mixed vegetables to go with a dish a few days ago.

They were disgusting.

I mean, I knew they wouldn’t be great, but I don’t remember them being this disgusting.

Needless to say, we had leftovers. I hate wasting food, so I decided to hide their grossness in a frittata, by adding in leftover basil and parsley from last night’s ingredients, and then cutting up some fresh grape tomatoes, mixing it in with the eggs, shredding some cheese to go into it, and some salt and pepper.

Frittata is a tasty way to get rid of leftovers I don’t know what to do with. Eggs, cheese, and herbs can hide a lot of less-than-wonderful leftovers.

Anyway, it was a huge frittata, but it was delicious. I still can’t judge properly when it’s set enough to flip, so it usually ends up looking like a gigantic mess, but it tastes good. With leftover ciabatta, too.

I was late hitting today’s word count on CAST IRON MURDER, which was 2661. The story took a completely unexpected turn that was not in the outline, but works well, so I rolled with it.

This brings me over 42K for the month. I only have 8K more for the Nano quota, and I’m over halfway from where I need to be for the full book. This draft will be lean. In the second draft, I’m going to expand some carefully chosen descriptive detail, to support that Lorraine, as a cook, sees a lot of the world through food colors, textures, and flavors. That can all be layered on top of the basic story, so if I come in a little lean on word count in this draft, I have room to play without getting overblown and info-dumpy.

I’ll be teaching TWO classes at the Cape Cod Writers Center Conference next August, and the Executive Director and I are working out the details. I’ll share them when I have them.

Remote Chat today, which will be tons of fun. I have script coverage to do, and some other things to take care of.

If the weather holds over the next few days, there will, I hope, be a day of local adventure, which will also be fun to share. If the weather sucks, I’ll stay home and write.

Have a good one!

Tues. Nov. 16, 2021: Juggling Manuscripts

image courtesy of Mochammad Algi vis Pexels.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I enjoyed the weekend, which is a good thing.

Friday was a bit of a slog. It started absolutely bucketing down rain, monsooning harder than it ever has since we lived here. I guess I should be grateful it wasn’t snow. But there was no way in hell I was going to go out in that.

Got through a bunch of emails, sent out some LOIs. Did my script coverage. Both read and wrote up the last script of the week (I was going to read Friday, write Saturday, but decided I needed a whole day off). So I worked until 8:30 at night, but at least I got it all cleared off my desk.

I was exhausted, and fell into bed early.

Charlotte started nuzzling me a little after 5 AM on Saturday, and then Tessa began singing the song of her people, so I got up to feed them.

2783 words on CAST IRON MURDER, and they went kind of well.

It was a lovely autumn day, so I grabbed the letters for the post office and the books that had to go back to the library, and headed out. As safe as I feel around here, most of the time, I’m still aware that it’s a city, and I still keep the awareness high of everything going on around me, and keep up with what I learned to survive living in NYC.

Such as: always carry a small compact with a mirror with you. You can “check your makeup” when you’re really checking to see who’s behind you. In a pinch, you can smash the mirror and use the shards as weapons (thereby putting the seven years’ bad luck of a smashed mirror onto your attacker, not keeping it).

Fortunately, I have yet to use that here, but I’m ready, if necessary.

I also feel often safer here than on Cape, because I’m not being harassed by that asshat Trump supporter with the tricked-up pickup and the American flags trying to run me off the road because I’m a woman driving on my own in a blue car, and must therefore be a femi-Nazi libtard and deserve to be driven into a ditch. Or a telephone pole. Nope. Don’t miss him at all.

Anyway, dropped off the mail at the post office. The clerks with whom I usually exchange information aren’t working on Saturdays, so I left without finding out the latest happenings.

Up the street to the library, to drop off and pick up books. One of the librarians suggested a book she really liked, so I added it to the stack, and got some books off the Free Discard table.

When I got home, it was so lovely that we headed to the car and drove up to Windsor Lake, to enjoy being outside while we still can. Explored some more of the lake. It’s a small lake, gouged into the side of a mountain in a residential area, but it’s lovely. I look forward to spending as much time as possible there.

By the time we got back, the clouds were moving in, and soon, it started raining again. So I’m glad we had the time outside.

Read for fun all afternoon. Finished one book and read another which had been recommended to me. They didn’t work for me, although the plotting is clever and well-thought out. I’m not fond of hapless protagonists, unless they grow and change, and this one didn’t, over the course of the two books I read. Also, “witch” was used as a derogatory more than once, by characters I’m supposed to like, without consequences, and that’s a non-negotiable line for me. Don’t pretend you’re an inclusive author when you refer to other women and an entire belief system in that derogatory way. You’re a fucking hypocrite. Any author publishing after 2000 can’t use the excuse that it’s a phrase “everybody uses.” No, hon, it’s a phrase those supporting white privilege status quo use. If a writer uses it in a book published after 2000, a line goes through the name, they are off my list. Writers can and should write whatever they want. But when they personally spit in my face, they can’t expect me to support their books, either by buying them or by praising them. There was a lot of maintaining the status quo white privilege in both books, which turned me off. When an author tries to create a protagonist that does that, while still pretending the protagonist is tolerant and accepting, it rarely works. While a lot of that comes from pressure from traditional publishers, editors, and agents, it’s rarely written with enough skill to work.

Done with that author.

As soon as Charlotte and I started drifting off to sleep on Saturday night, Tessa started wailing. I got up, sat with her while she had a snack, and we had a little chat about the human need to sleep through the night.

She started in again, for a few minutes around 5 on Sunday morning, but I didn’t get up until about six.

There was a brilliantly red sky for the sunrise, which made me figure we were in for some weather.

Baked biscuits in the morning. The American kind, not the British kind.

Wrote 2643 words on CAST IRON MURDER. Just over 100 were an insert on yesterday’s chapter; I realized I hadn’t planted the first part of a clue, so I had to go back and do that, or an upcoming scene won’t make sense.

In the outline for the second book in the series I’ve been working on, I originally planned to kill off the husband of this book’s murder victim, because he’s annoying. However, as I’ve been writing CAST IRON MURDER, he’s evolving into an interesting enough character, and I’ve invested enough in his development, that I’m thinking he might be fun to keep around as a character one can love to hate, who sometimes has redeemable moments. So now I have to come up with a new victim for the second book, and decide if that victim was the intended victim, or if the victim was killed by accident, because the murderer though it was this other character. For a while, I thought it would be the wrong person who initially got killed, and then the right person (because I can’t have a single body drop in the next book, I need at least two), but I’m rethinking the whole plot.

Something to ponder the next time I go to the laundromat and work on the outline.

If it makes more sense to kill this guy off, even though I’ve invested in him, that’s what I’ll do. But if it makes an interesting story to keep him around for a few more books before I kill him off, maybe I’ll do that.

I like having options.

I’m on page nine of my twelve-page outline for CAST IRON MURDER, and worried I’m running out of plot while only being a bit over a third of the way through my projected word count. Fortunately, the sequence in which my characters are currently engaged will take at least two, possibly three chapters.

CAST IRON MURDER definitely has passages that make it a “not quite cozy” rather than a cozy, because the book deals with race, and has references to sexuality and sexual choices in it, although I expect most of the sex will happen behind closed doors, once the protagonist falls for someone.

I find the terms “clean cozy” and “clean romance” rather vomit-inducing, because it suggests that all sex is somehow “dirty” and “unclean” and I disagree with that delineation. People can have all the different kinds of fun they want in their sex lives, and if they chose to call it “dirty” or “nasty” or whatever, that’s up to them. But to define books as “clean” meaning the characters are chaste and sexless not by choice but by publisher or reader demand is way too evangelical and censored for my taste. Also, I find a lot of those books unbelievable, because if people are in a healthy, romantic relationship, it often involves a healthy sex life, and to pretend that part of their lives doesn’t exist is unhealthy. There are plenty of stories where the tone makes more sense for the details of the sex lives not to be portrayed, but to deny the characters even have sex lives, unless a character has chosen celibacy or is ace (and let’s face it, dealing honestly with an ace character would make the readers who like to bully and  censor cozies take up arms, too) is a turnoff for me. Some writers can pull it off with great skill, but there are plenty of authors who, in my opinion, don’t. I’m also sick of militant reader groups trying to bully authors. Read whatever you want. Don’t bully authors into writing the way you want them to write. You can support or not support an author by where you place your money. But telling them how to write the books is not okay. You want to read a certain kind of book and can’t find it? Write it your damn self. Learn what it takes to actually write a book, instead of bullying those who already do.

So I keep trying different authors, and I keep crossing authors off my future TBR list when what they do does not work for me. And sometimes, an author’s books will work for multiple books until, suddenly, it takes a turn, and it doesn’t anymore.

Writers have the right to write whatever they want (or whatever they choose to write, because they’re being paid appropriately). I have the right not to read it. As anyone who finds my books and stories don’t work for them has the right not to read mine.

That doesn’t mean I’ll publicly trash them, unless they start a public fight with me. But I’ll stop reading them, or buying their books or recommending them in the various forms in which I recommend books.

At one point on Sunday afternoon, I was lying on the couch, with Tessa purring beside me. Charlotte jumped into my lap. For a minute, they considered fighting, but then they decided not to. Charlotte settled on my lap, Tessa stayed beside me. I figured 30 seconds to a minute of peace, but we stayed there nearly an hour, until Tessa decided she wanted her dinner. Progress.

Up early Monday, thanks to Tessa, but got a lot done. We were supposed to have snow flurries, so I planned not to leave the house. Didn’t see any; if they were around, they didn’t stick.

Wrote 2770 words on CAST IRON MURDER, and even liked a decent percentage of them.

Had to reformat some of my comic script samples, because somehow, they managed to wonk, in both .doc and PDF formats, and I needed to send those samples to a potential client. So that took up more time than I wanted.

Once those were fixed and out the door, I turned my attention back to “A Rare Medium. I had just one more scene to write on it, and it was taking some interesting turns.

I stopped long enough to make roasted parsnip and apple soup. It’s a Kripalu recipe, by Chef Jeremy Rock Smith. I had a difference of opinion with the immersion blender, and the blender won, leaving the kitchen a mess, so I didn’t take any photographs, but the soup tastes good.

After lunch, I went back to work on the script for a bit, took a quick break on the acupressure mat, and then got back to work. I finished the draft just after 4. Later than I’d hoped, but it felt so good to get it done. Now, it can sit for a week or two before I do revisions, and I’ll still get it in by deadline.

Finished the leftover meatloaf for dinner.

I took a basic astrology class from The Sisters Enchanted in the evening. I needed to brush up on basics, and see where I had gone off track in the layering of the houses with the birth chart with the planets, and then, of course, the transits/retrogrades go over the top. They didn’t add in the transits, but the rest was a good basic refresher of those first three layers.

I remember when I had a professional astrologer read my chart in NYC years ago, a one-hour session took three hours, because she found my chart so complex and interesting.

Another project for winter: untangling my birth chart for a better understanding.

Of course, the astrology books are in storage, and I can’t get at them until spring.

Anyway, TSE has a four-month astrology program that would be interesting, but it’s out of my budget right now. Not that I think they should lower their prices; they’re running a business, deserve to be paid, and charge a fair price. But that doesn’t keep it from being out of my budget at the moment. Which is fine, when the time is right, I’ll take it.

Why does astrology matter? Isn’t it just woo-woo b.s.? It’s often used that way. But it’s information that can help see patterns and make smarter choices. Too many people use astrology as an excuse for their bad behavior. Their chart says X, Y, Z, so they’re not responsible for their behavior, which is a load of crap. Others use it as a reason not to do anything, not to make decisions, because it’s all “fixed” which is also crap.

What it does is give information as to tendencies in behavior and reactive patterns, based on influences and stresses in the chart. If I keep having a response to a set of stressors (which are also affected by environmental and nurturance factors), I can look at my chart and see influences for those stressors. Then, when I feel them, I can stop, take a breath, realize that this is a reactive pattern that does not serve me, and make a smarter choice in my behavior and responses. And, in areas that support positive explorations and choices, I can lean into the support of those influences.

It’s information, to be used or ignored.

There’s also a lot of math involved, which makes me cringe, but hey, the stars and planets have a lot to do with math and science.

I wanted to bask in the afterglow of class, but because I’d spent so much time on the book and the play, I still had script coverage to write up. Got that done. I was about to sign off for the night when I got in an irritating email about something that I thought had been resolved.

Instead of reacting angrily in the moment, I closed out for the night. I will prepare a professional, considered response today and send it during business hours.

Because boundaries, and working to break negative patterns.

Had trouble falling asleep last night, even though tired, and then dreamed of hotels. I’m pretty sure this hotel complex has been in previous dreams. Whatever.

Up at 5, woke up on my own, just before Tessa began singing her morning opera scales.

2378 words on CAST IRON MURDER, and I even like some of them.

I’m dashing out to the grocery store soon, because it looks like we’re getting in some weather, and I want to be done before it hits. I’m taking a cooking class online tonight, via NYU Alumni, and I need to get the ingredients.

More script coverage when I get back, email, LOIs, and then on to the next play.

Peace, friends, and catch you tomorrow.

Mon. Nov. 15, 2021: Intent for the Week — Stay The Course

image courtesy of Jean van der Meulen via pexels.com

This week is about staying the course for me. With the Nano words, with the yoga/meditation practices, with the freelance work.

There’s no substitute for showing up and doing the work. That’s how you get where you need to go.

What’s your intent this week?

Published in: on November 15, 2021 at 8:29 am  Comments (2)  

Fri. Nov. 12, 2021: Rain (At Least It’s Not Snow)

image courtesy of Sam Willis via pexels.com

Friday, November 12, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Neptune Retrograde

Rainy and mild

Raining pretty hard this morning, so I’ll put off the trip to the post office and the library until tomorrow.

Yesterday, I stayed in and worked. I’d hoped to get enough cleared off my desk by lunchtime so I could go to the lake in the afternoon, but it was already getting cloudy, so I skipped the lake.

Got in my Nano words, got out some LOIs, checked on my Nano Buddies, caught up on some email, did some research for a project, wrote up script coverages. Wrote the thank you notes to the people at all the different agencies who helped sort out my mother’s insurance and medication stuff. It was quite a stack by the time I was done. Pretty soon, I have to do the annual Freshening of the Websites, and I need to print up my new business cards for Fearless Ink. I don’t think I have any with the new logo on it.

My Ipsy bag arrived, with lots of good stuff for the month.

Read a new book by an author whose previous work I really enjoyed. This is in a different genre than the other work I’ve read. It hits the genre expectations, is more inclusive than typical in the genre, and the writing’s fine, but there’s a fire missing in it that was there in this author’s other work. I’m annoyed with myself for not loving it, but I don’t. Of course, it’s in a genre in which I don’t read much because the genre parameters often annoy me, but I wanted to see what the author would do. I want to love it, but I just don’t.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. The kids are getting vaccination appointments.

Cape Cod’s virus numbers are way up. Which is not surprising at all.  Vermont’s are, too, which is surprising, since they have such a high vaccination rate. I guess that’s it for us in Vermont until the spring. I got an email from the Credit Union that an employee tested positive at one of the branches (not the one I frequent), and the branch is closed for deep cleaning, and everyone with whom that employee was in contact will be tracked down so they can be warned and tested. I’ve noticed some sloppiness about masking lately around here, especially in CVS, where the customers tend to pull their masks down to lean over the counter and talk to the pharmacists. Because those customers are morons. If I do get sick, I’ll have caught it at CVS.

We have one more out-and-about trip planned, late next week, to do a sweep of a bunch of small artisan stores to get the gifts we need to ship. Then, we’re done for the holidays and for the winter, and it’s just the grocery store and the library until spring. Although I’m not at the point where I’m back to decontaminating all the groceries when I come back from shopping, I think I’ll start jumping in the shower and decontaminating myself again. I’d just gotten back into the habit of only the morning shower. So I guess I’m adding in an extra one on grocery days. Can’t take the risk, with numbers going up.

And I’ll get my booster as soon as it’s allowed.

Willa wanted to play last night. Charlotte was willing to play with her, only they were playing by different sets of rules and ended up in a fight. Tessa glared at them from the chair, glad to be out of it. Poor Charlotte’s feelings were hurt. It’s not her fault she didn’t understand Willa’s rules for the game. Charlotte doesn’t really understand playing, except with her catnip banana. We’re working on that.

Read two scripts last night, which I will write up today. Only one to read tonight, and I’ll write it up tomorrow, and then not read again until Sunday. This pay period closes Monday, so I can read Sunday, write it up Monday, and make my nut for the pay period. Several monthly bills are going up, and I need to make sure I hit at least my target, if not a little more. Plus, I want to ease up between Christmas and New Year’s, although I doubt I can take that week completely off.

Slept in until 6. Tessa fussed at 4:23, but I ignored her. My mom got up to feed the cats just before 6 and Charlotte started headbutting me at 6.

2689 words on CAST IRON MURDER. Tough first 400 or so, and then it flowed well. I plan to write every day this weekend on it, not to lose the flow. If I can get more than 50K done by the end of the month, and then finish the draft by the end of the year, that will be a good way to get back on track with the other projects, too.

I’m writing the overseas cards this weekend, so we can mail them just before American Thanksgiving. Not taking any chances on them not showing up until, say Valentine’s Day.

Have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side. Hopefully, I can get some more unpacking done.

Thurs. Nov. 11, 2021: Getting over a Grumpy Pants Day

Image courtesy of Sandy Millar via Unsplash.com (not one of my cats)

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Veterans’ Day

Yesterday was a Day of Grumpy Pants for me. There’s a much happier post this morning over on Gratitude and Growth, celebrating what’s lovely around here.

Once I got the Nano words done, I cleaned out about 300 emails (still have a lot to do). But at least that was progress.

There’s a new post over on Ink-Dipped Advice, because I have just HAD it with these companies and organizations who shout how great their work culture is, and then expect/demand unpaid labor as part of the interview process or as a condition of interview. The fact that LinkedIn has jumped on that bandwagon is even more enraging.

Yet another reason to despise LinkedIn.

Went to the library to drop off/pick up books. The librarian on duty apologized that books keep coming in as soon as I walk out the door. I reassured her that she has no control over what time the delivery van gets there, and I’m right up the street, so it’s not a big deal for me to head to the library a few times a week. In fact, I enjoy it.

From the library, I went to CVS to see what was going on about my mother’s insurance/medication. I’d gotten conflicting emails the day before on what was going on.  While I had to stand in multiple lines for well over an hour to sort it out, everything is sorted, and, honoring my mom’s payment of her deductible, in spite of Tufts being asshats, the co-pay was zero, for all three medications. We’ll have to start again in January, with the next deductible co-pays, but I’ll take it for now.

I didn’t really mind standing in the various lines for so long, because the pharmacists were actually listening and helping the customers. And they were giving out flu shots in the moment. Anyone checking out was offered a flu shot, right then and there.

What a difference from the CVS in Centerville, where any question was met with, “No, we can’t do that” before one even finished asking (unless one paid cash under the table), and any time a shot was scheduled, they’d make excuses not to do it, or, if they did it, act like it was the biggest inconvenience they could imagine and it ruined their whole day.

So, yeah, I’ll stand in the lines and not get impatient, because these pharmacists are actually helping people.

But I missed Remote Chat, which yes, I missed. I’m fond of that group.

Did some reading for fun after lunch, and then buckled down and wrote up my script coverages. Paused to make turkey meatloaf and get that into the over. After dinner, I read two more scripts, which I hope to write up this morning; if the weather holds, I’d like to spend some time at the lake this afternoon.

Charlotte is so happy playing and sleeping in the Chewy box that I don’t have the heart to break it down and put it away yet.

Like we don’t have top quality cat beds in every room, as well as the cats allowed on couches, chairs, beds. And that big ass kitty condo.

But, if it makes Charlotte happy . . .

They let me sleep until 5:35 this morning, which was a gift.

Got 2442 words written on CAST IRON MURDER. Hard to get into it today, but once I was past the 600-word mark, it got easier. I passed 26K in the 50K for the month, so I’m on track. I’m a little over a third of the word count I think the full book will have. Getting there, as long as I can keep it up.

Meditation group online was great this morning. Charlotte spent the first half on my lap (because, hey, ZOOM, and she loves the sound of the teacher’s voice). The second half, she spent on her favorite table spot next to my desk, looking out of the window at the falling leaves. Which, since the teacher talked about trees and leaves today, was kind of funny.

Planning to write up the script coverages, and then see if I can get a little more work done before lunch, to clear some more off my desk. If the weather holds, I want to go to the lake. If it turns, I’ll start the books for review, before reading today’s script quota.

Most things are closed and quiet for Veterans’ Day. I will do my Ceremony of Thanks tonight, after Knowledge Unicorns.

And on we go.

Wed. Nov. 10, 2021: Cats and Keyboards

photo by Ruca Souza via pexels.com. Tessa used to sit like this when I wrote, when she was a kitten.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Rainy and cool

We didn’t get the snow predicted for this week, but it is raining. Better than snow, right? At least until around Christmas/Yule. Then, I’ll be wanting snow!

People are moving through their day here in parkas and shorts. Go figure.

Did three script coverages yesterday afternoon and read two more scripts, which I will write up today.

Did some reading for fun.

Will find out today if my mother’s insurance/medication issues are really cleared up. I got a letter that I can keep my insurance, so I just have to find new doctors here. Health care in this country just sucks. Well, the actual care I got last year was excellent, most of the time, but the paperwork and hoop jumping surrounding it sucks.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. The kids under twelve are starting to get their shots. Hopefully, they will all get their first dose before Thanksgiving, and their second dose before Christmas. Then we’ll have to decide if they’re all going to be kept out of in-person learning until the school year ends, or if it makes sense for some of them to go back. But first, we’re getting them all vaccinated.

When I tried to schedule my booster late last week and early this week, I was told I’m too young and healthy to get one, but now it seems the FDA may allow anyone over 18 to get a booster soon. Since we can mix and match, I’m going to get the Pfizer booster, and hopefully not lose another week, like I did with both Moderna shots.

The crockpot pork chops were okay, but the vegetables I put in with them didn’t cook properly. Not sure why.

Planning to make a roasted parsnip and apple soup later on (another Kripalu recipe). I have to go to the library to switch out books, and then over to CVS, to see if I can actually pick up (and afford) my mother’s medication.

Remote Chat is today, and I’m looking forward to that. I’m hoping I can balance the coverages I have to write up with work on “A Rare Medium.” And I need to start the books for review.

The unpacking has fallen by the wayside lately. I need to get back on top of that, too.

Wrote 2290 words on CAST IRON MURDER this morning. Bit of a struggle. But I got them done. It sets a positive tone for the rest of the day.

Charlotte and Tessa fussed at each other last night, and I had to get out of bed to referee. Then, Charlotte threw up and tried to hide, so I took the time to comfort her. From her behavior whenever she throws up, I think she used to be punished for it, so I’m trying to teach her that she doesn’t get punished here (although I’d prefer if she didn’t throw up on the bed).

Charlotte woke me a little before 3, but I rolled over and went back to sleep. Tessa started in a little before 5. I can deal with getting up at 5. It gives me a chance to get some writing done in longhand before I start work on CAST IRON MURDER. How I start a draft is how I need to write a draft; if I start a first draft in longhand, I need to do the whole draft in longhand, not switch back and forth. If I start a draft on the computer, like I did for CAST IRON MURDER, I need to do the draft on the computer, not some of it in longhand and some on computer. Not logical, but hey, it works. Sort of.

Off to deal with the day. Have a good one!

I have to leave a Charlotte-sized space on the small table next to my computer desk, because Charlotte likes to sit there and look out of the window. Hey, if it makes her happy, I can make sure the space is there. However, now Charlotte tries sitting in my lap while I type, which we have to figure out so I can actually, you know, type.

Tessa has been impossible this morning. Zooming around the apartment, yelling her head off. She wants the porch door open (it’s still too cold). She wants to play – well, she wants to watch me dance toys around for her amusement). She wants company.

Willa, meanwhile, figures it’s a rainy day, and only good for staying in bed. Good for Willa.