Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowing
New Year’s Eve

“First Feet”, the Jain Lazarus adventure, unfortunately, won’t be up today. Due to computer glitches which, because I have to leave, I can’t fix this morning, it probably won’t go up until Friday, January 2. My apologies. It’s got a lot more comedy than “The Possession of Nattie Filmore” – I think you’ll enjoy it. It will be a free download once it’s up, and it deals with the New Year’s tradition of “first footing” – but I can’t get it up today.

Buckle up, bunnies. Saturn went retrograde today, to kick your butt into the new year. If you continue to make the same mistakes and refuse to learn life lessons in the coming months, you will get your butt kicked.

Every time Saturn goes retrograde, I get an “offer” from a former job making it sound like they’re doing me this huge favor by taking me back.

Only, I’ve learned, thanks to Saturn, that it’s no good for me to keep putting myself into the situation, and I’m sticking to “no” as my answer.

I had a GREAT day yesterday. I got the cake in to the show safely. I received gifts from my colleagues. We exchanged greetings.

Costume Imp met me at the theatre. On the spur of the moment, we decided to visit the Angel Tree up at the Met – the tree I keep talking about and putting into my stories! We took the bus up Madison Avenue and got into the Met.

It was packed. And, because they’re “renovating” nearly a third of their galleries, there was no flow. So we were trapped in the Metropolitan Museum of Art for hours, always coming up against dead ends, not being able to GET OUT.

It was very frustrating, and it was STUPID on their part, to shut things down like that during their busiest season. Ever hear of planning, people? The Met should know better. It’s not like they’ve never done this before.

On top of it, they’ve renovated the Hatshepsut exhibit, taken out her sphinx, put it in the Temple of Dendur – without a plaque – and crammed her room so they could use the second room for the jewelry of some PRINCESS. The arrangement felt completely wrong and I felt bad for my pal Hattie.

Not to mention it screws up the way I wrote the chase scene in TRACKING MEDUSA. I’ll have to put an author’s note in the book when it’s published. Because I like the way it used to flow, and the way the scene worked, and I’m not changing it because the museum makes “improvements” that aren’t really improvements.

By accident, we landed in the Asian wing, and the Shoan room and tea gardens are beautiful. Only we couldn’t get out. We finally managed to find the Love and Art in the Italian Renaissance exhibit. With all the beautiful art for that period, why does the representative poster show Cupid giving Venus a golden shower through a laurel wreath?

When we finally escaped the museum (we had to stand in line to GET OUT), we hurried down E. 83rd St. to a place that is now on my favorite reasons to visit the Upper East Side (and there are very few of those): Vosges Haut Chocolate.

Yes, a chocolate shop. Our original intent upon meeting was to catch up over hot chocolate. Well, we caught up over HAUTE hot chocolate, a “Pariseienne” as it was called, which is dark drinking chocolate mixed with steamed milk, served in a flute.

Heaven. Complete and utter heaven.

And our server was adorable, too.

After we took our time recovering from the Met debacle over Chocolat Parisienne, we wandered down Madison Avenue. These boutiques expect people to come in a drop obscene amounts of money on their clothes. Unfortunately, the current designs are appallingly ugly, and there was obviously no thought put into the windows to create an enticing display. You can be creative and create a beautiful window without spending money if you use CREATIVITY. Unfortunately, most of these high-end boutiques lack that. I won’t be sad as they continue to close.

We stopped at the bookstore and got books. I bought Terry Pratchett’s MAKING MONEY and Elizabeth Bear’s HELL AND EARTH, which juxtaposes Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth with Queen Mab. I can’t wait.

Home a little after six, did some work, had computer problems, packed.

They said it would snow all night and be done by noon. It didn’t start until 8:30 this morning. So I’m packing up things now and trying to get out of the storm before noon.

Fingers crossed.

I’ll be offline until the 2nd – hopefully, by the time you hear from me again, I’ll have the link up to the “First Feet” download. Again, my apologies.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Devon

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Waxing Moon
Sunny, windy, and cold

I’m about to hit the “send” button on the final (for now) revision of OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. That’s always terrifying, for some reason.

I had a good weekend of work. The site jobs between which I bounced back and forth were busy, but also fun. And I got a LOT of writing done – another complete revision and polish on OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, the Jain Lazarus’ New Year’s story, a partial outline for something I’ve nicknamed “The Lucy Gothic” until I can think of a better name for it, and about 1700 words on that. I need to write my way into it for a bit before I can finish the outline.

OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK is now 65K, which means I took my editor’s advice to expand the piece and added about 10K. It’s much deeper and sharper, and also gives more information about both Wyatt’s past and Jain’s past, and how they tie into their future together. I did something in the final revision (before the polish) I’ve never done before – I worked backwards, starting with the last chapter, and revising chapter-by-chapter, from back to front. It made a huge, positive difference, and caused me to catch a bunch of things I missed in the previous revisions by working continually front-to-back. It’s a technique I’ll employ in novels during late revisions from now on.

I feel good about the book (although I’d keep rewriting it for the next ten years, given the chance); Wyatt, Jain and the gang are amongst my favorite characters ever, and I’m still nervous about hitting the “send” button.

We had a few dodgy moments last night, as I neared the end of the final polish and the computer started going wonky again. If I lost all that work, I’d have gone ballistic. Fortunately, I made it through to the end, made several back-ups and stashed them safely, and, by midnight, it was done.

Out it goes today.

The enhanced productivity I had this weekend made me realize how much time I fritter away in my home office, and I have to figure out a way to cut back on it. The work completed in three and a half days on site equaled about a week’s worth or more that I get done at the home office. And here I thought I was such an efficient time manager. Always room for improvement, I guess. And I’m determined to improve.

I’ve got to frost the cake for the show and get that done, then transport the cake into Manhattan on the train and get it to the theatre intact. I’m meeting Costume Imp there for a quick catch-up before I head back to prepare for tomorrow, and he heads home to prepare for the next leg of his tour.

I’m so deep into the world of Jain and Wyatt, and so deep into the unique world of the Lucy Gothic that dealing with actual reality is a shock.

When I get back, I’ve got to do more work on an article that’s due (I’m having a hell of a time with the file), get the Jain Lazarus New Year’s story into the computer and up, and pack for the New Year’s escapade. I’m going to a different location this year, and, although yoga will be a huge part of it, I’m in charge of the food. Mostly because I’ve eaten the cooking by the others included, and, well, I’d rather be in charge of the food. I found a good price on a duck yesterday, so that’s the big meal for New Year’s Day, and I’ll poach salmon fillets in a white wine and mustard sauce for the Eve, along with a variety of h’ors d’oeuvres.

In any case, I’ve got to get this cake frosted and head into Manhattan. I hope you had a lovely weekend.

Devon

Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008
Dark Moon
Cloudy and mild

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas Day. Today, in some parts of the world, it’s known as “Boxing Day”. When I was little, I always wondered why they’d take a day off to box! Of course, the real meaning is boxing up things to give to charity, but when I was little, I thought it was all about the sport!

It took nearly an hour to wrestle the turkey into submission. Why or why do they embed plastic crap in the meat? Getting it out is always a challenge. Anyway, I got it out, I got the bird stuffed (yes, I still put stuffing IN the turkey, I’m an experienced enough cook to know how to do that without making anyone sick), and in it went.

The cats were wild, playing with their stockings and their catnip. It was hilarious.

Talked to lots of family and friends.

Missed my grandmother a lot. Although it’s been quite a few years since she spent the Christmas holidays with us, when she was able to, she’d come down the day before Christmas or so and stay for four or five days, and we always had a lively time of it. Even though she hasn’t been with us for several years, because she was still alive and around and we could talk to her on Christmas, we missed her, but not like yesterday, when we couldn’t even talk to her. So that made the day a little bittersweet. We’re using her china, we’re telling her stories, we’re grateful for the years we had together, but we still miss her.

As we took apart the turkey leftovers, Elsa tried to make off with a turkey leg bone that was so large she had to drag it across the floor. Thank goodness we caught her before she got it to her stash under the sofa. Can you imagine those consequences? Yuck.

I made great progress on the revision of OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. One more pass at it for a final polish, and it’s ready to go. I’ll make the end of year deadline. Whew. The revisions have made it a much stronger book.

This computer continues to run like the junk heap it is. It will be amazing if I can keep it barely running until I can replace it. I am sick of Dell, sick of Microsoft, sick of companies getting away with substandard products.

I’m headed out to bounce between two site jobs for the next few days. I doubt I’ll have much, if any, internet access, so don’t expect to hear from me until the 30th of December.

Feel free to post your 2008 wrap up over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions Site. On January 2, we start posting what we want to achieve for January and how to get there. My vision for the site isn’t just posting lists and check-ins, but generating active discussion.

I’ll check back in next Tuesday. Have a great weekend, everyone. The moon turns to new tomorrow, and I don’t know about you, but I am ready for a fresh start!

Devon

Published in: on December 26, 2008 at 11:11 am  Comments (6)  
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

christmas-2008-0241

Thursday, December 25, 2008
Waning Moon
Sunny and mild
Christmas Day

It is way too warm here for Christmas. Wow. Maybe the ice around the car will melt, though – again, yesterday, I practically needed my skates, although I managed to get in and out of the lot safely.

I had a certificate for DSW that expired yesterday, so I dashed over in the morning to check things out at the store – and ran into several other women I know from the area doing just the same thing! It was pretty funny! I came away with a beautiful pair of chocolate brown patent leather pumps by Bandalino. Even with the heel, they’re wonderfully comfortable – and this coming from someone who rarely wears shoes anymore! But I wore them for the festivities last night, will probably wear them today, and they go with the New Year’s outfit, so it’s all good.

I had a quiet, but busy Christmas Eve. We celebrate the main portion of the holiday on the Eve, so it was a flurry. The cats LOVE to help with the unwrapping of the gifts, running around with the ribbons and playing in the paper. It’s like having a trio of toddlers, but it’s so much fun. There might not have been quantity this year, but there was certainly quality – everything was carefully thought out and lovely. And a friend sent me something she made — a spiced tea mix – that’s one of the best things I’ve ever had. Love it, love it, love it – thanks, Michelle! We drank it out the Friendly Village china cups along with some of my homemade sugar cookies, and it was perfect.

The dinner turned out well – the pork roast was perfect, prepared with a mixture of Julia Child’s dry rub spice marinade and the roasted apple grilling sauce put out by Stonewall Kitchen. I’m a huge fan of Stonewall Kitchen products – their prices are reasonable (though not cheap) and their quality is superior. The red cabbage was great, the baked potatoes took forever to get soft enough – but got there eventually. And I’ve decided that one of my favorite side dishes is steamed green beans covered with hollandaise sauce. Yum! The plum pudding was perfect for dessert.

I sat down and read A Christmas Carol in a volume of Dickens I have that was published in 1885, handed down from my grandmother, handed down in her family, or given by a friend of the family or something – in any case, I have a set of Dickens published in 1885, and the Christmas Books, containing A Christmas Carol is one of them. I’d forgotten how funny some of Dickens writing in that piece is – it’s been so watered down in subsequent editions and productions what we see has very little bite to it. In addition to making some pretty pointed social commentary (a lot of which is relevant to the Bush administration), he’s also very funny.

I tired to read some of the other books in the “Christmas Books” section, but maybe I was just tired or something, because I found myself thinking, “there’s a reason we’ve never heard of them.”

Still, Dickens wrote a great deal, he wrote quickly for money, and his work was serialized – one can learn a lot from him.

I’m going to jump in the shower now and then make pancakes for breakfast. Then, I’ve got to stuff the turkey and get it into the oven – it’s an eighteen pounder! Today’s big meal is roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas, and, for dessert, a Yule log. No, I didn’t make it myself – I still don’t have the courage to attempt Buche de Noel!

Christmas Day is always quiet around here – mostly about talking to family and friends, eating a lot, and reading the books unwrapped the night before! And of course, the stockings. I’ll try to get some more work done on the revisions, and finish packing for tomorrow.

Have a lovely holiday. If you haven’t downloaded my free Christmas story, Holiday Wish List, featuring the popular Congress Corners characters, feel free to hop over to the Ava Dunne page and do so. It’s my gift to you, and will be available until Twelfth Night.

Have a lovely holiday.

Devon

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

holiday-wish-list

Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Day before the Dark Moon
Christmas Eve
Rainy and mild

Yes, it’s here and it’s ready – my holiday gift to you, a new Congress Corners story called “Holiday Wish List”. It’s a free download on the Ava Dunne page of the Devon Ellington website. It will only be available until Twelfth Night, so enjoy it while you can! There’s an excerpt at the bottom of this page.

I’m warning you, it’s a mushy Christmas tale, so if you’re not into that kind of piece, skip it.

Hey, you can always buy TOO MUCH MISTLETOE, if you haven’t yet, and get something a little more comic and edgy, right? You can get TOO MUCH MISTLETOE here.

I had a pretty good writing day, although massive computer problems meant I didn’t actually finish “Holiday Wish List” until after midnight. Yeah, it was supposed to be 1500 words and it’s about 8500 – so you’re getting a long short story!

I cannot wait to get rid of this crappy computer and get my Mac in February. If I can just coax this one along for a few more months . . .

Couldn’t get my car out, so that’s on the agenda for today. It’s thawed quite a bit and it’s raining, so I ought to be able to manage it.

Hopefully, it won’t now flood! I’ll traipse down every few hours to keep an eye on the brook!

I’ve got to get to the grocery store for just a few more things. I’m serving a pork roast tonight, with red cabbage, baked potatoes, and green beans in hollandaise sauce. And we’re having plum pudding for dessert.

Have a lovely holiday!

Devon

Excerpt from “Holiday Wish List” ©2008 Ava Dunne:

Why, oh why did Cassio have to go and ruin a perfectly wonderful, romantic Christmas with an engagement ring?

But maybe it wasn’t an engagement ring. Maybe it was just . . .a ring.

Believe that and I’ve got a bridge you can get cheap in Brooklyn, she said to herself.

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to interfere, but are you all right?”

Doris blinked away tears and looked up into a pair of kind, very dark blue eyes. “Uh, yes, I’m sorry, I’m being silly.” She took a good look at the man. He was tall, lean, handsome in an untraditional way. His thick, fair hair had a bit of a wave to it, almost touching his collar, and his eyes were a blue so deep they were almost purple. He wore a well-tailored charcoal gray coat with black gloves and a deeper gray scarf. By the lines around his eyes, she figured him to be in his late thirties or maybe early forties. If she was looking, she’d be looking at him, he had such an air of self-possession and intelligence about him.

“The holidays can get stressful. American?” He sat on the bench beside her.

“Originally.” Doris was naturally cautious.

“Me, too, although I like to think of the world as my home.” He gave a rueful smile. “Never could stay in one place for long. Though I admit, sometimes around the holidays, it makes me feel . . .” he paused, searching for the words, “nostalgic.”

“For the type of old-home, picture perfect Christmases that never happened?” Doris couldn’t resist asking.

You can download the full story from the Ava Dunne page here.

Published in: on December 24, 2008 at 9:08 am  Comments (7)  
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was pretty much a lost day, since I was crippled by a migraine, so I have to make up for it today. I had to run some errands yesterday, and had a terrible time getting my car back into the parking spot. The lot is like a sheet of ice. Heaven forbid the scumbags who get a monthly fee for the parking slots actually do anything like, oh, put salt or sand on it.

Anyway, the car slid and is now at an angle. I can’t get any traction to straighten it out and I’m afraid of hitting the car beside me if I try to move it. So I either have to skitter down today with boiling water (you try keeping a kettle hot enough to go down three flights of stairs and then two blocks to the lot in single digit weather and still be able to melt ice), kitty litter and a shovel to try to melt the ice behind the car long enough to back the car out safely and get it back in, or wait until it thaws and rains tomorrow and the ice washes away. I can’t risk hurting both my car and the car in the slot beside me. She can get her car out if she maneuvers straight back, but I can’t go anywhere on the ice unless she’s out of her spot.

I have some presents to wrap, but that’s it. I got to the bookstore yesterday for the last gifts for my mom. I was delighted to see that the bookstore was PACKED. Granted, it’s a small space, but the line wound the entire length of the store, and the poor clerks couldn’t keep up.

The Congress Corners story is almost done, and, if Nitro PDF deigns to work later today, I ought to be able to get it ready for the free download tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

Slow progress on OFDW revision, but we’re getting there.

I’m packed for the site jobs the coming weekend. I still have to pack my writing bag and the food, but everything else is done. I have one or two more things to pick up at the store, and yes, it’s almost time to bake bread again. I can’t tell if the homemade loaves are just smaller or if we eat more because they’re better.

If I join Costco, I’ll probably buy the 20 pound bags of flour. It makes more sense.

Hope you’re all having a good few days sliding into the holidays.

Devon

Published in: on December 23, 2008 at 10:12 am  Comments (6)  
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Time for the 2008 Wrap ups for Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions. Drop by the site and, in the comments, leave your own musings looking back on 2008.

And then come over to A Biblio Paradise and check out Karina Fabian’s wonderful new story.

The shows yesterday were a lot of fun. It was great to be with everyone again.

Back home late, and the cats were wild, doing their Wildebeests thundering across the Savannah routine – at midnight. Thanks goodness we are well-carpeted.

Slow start this morning, and fighting with U-Haul Chelsea, who employs the rudest, most incompetent people on the face of the planet. I really want to get enough money to move the rest of my stuff out of the remaining storage unit. I am tired of their incompetence, false accusations, and harassment. Of course, the head office could not care less and can’t even be bothered to respond to complaints.

There are enough competent people out of work that companies can and should fire the incompetent and hire people who are actually grateful to have a job and able to do the job.

I have so much to do today, and I’m so upset from the U-Haul encounter – I need to calm down and get focused. I also have a blasting headache.

Not a good start to the week.

Devon

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 10:05 am  Comments (8)  
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008
Waning Moon
Winter Solstice
First Day of Hanukah
Snowing

Yes, it’s snowing again. We’re supposed to get another 4-6 inches today. It took me two hours to shovel the car out yesterday, but I did it and I’m glad, Two small shovelings of about two hours each is easier than trying to shovel about 14 inches of snow and ice at once. I’ll have to go out as soon as it stops, because the temperature is set to drop waaay down tonight, and it’ll all be ice.

Needless to say, I didn’t do errands.

The up side was that all the working out/yoga I’ve done steadily over the last few months is paying off. I’m a little sore, but after two hours of steady shoveling, I was barely breathing hard – a vast improvement over last year, when three shovelfuls of snow just about buried me! I may not be hauling around forty pound costumes anymore, but my overall stamina and strength has improved. And I really like the new twice-weekly workout circuit I started this past week, even though it really kicks my ass. I’m now doing yoga twice a day as well – a longer session in the morning, a shorter session at night – and it’s making a difference.

The cats were a bad influence on me yesterday – curled up, sleeping. So I gave myself the day off, because I really couldn’t afford not to. I’m still struggling with whatever it was that made me sick right after Thanksgiving – haven’t completely kicked it.

Got a little bit of writing done yesterday, and have a lot more planned for today. Also got a pitch out yesterday, for something that would be fairly steady work, for at least a few months. Got the details for the jobs starting at the end of the coming week sorted – now, I just have to pack both my clothes (it will be COLD on site) and my writing bag.

A new story emerged fully formed in my head this morning – well, it probably percolated overnight. I think I’ll do some work on it today, just enough to get it to shut up. It won’t be able to come out until the NEXT holiday season (yes, it’s holiday-themed), but I’d like to get the first draft done while I’m on fire about it.

I’ve tried to do my GDR wrap-up for 2008, but everything shifted so much this year that what I set out at the beginning of last year mostly isn’t relevant. I may just toss last year’s goals, et al, and start fresh with this year’s.

Whoops – just got the call. Have to go in for two shows today. Guess I won’t be doing much except the show after all.

Devon

Published in: on December 21, 2008 at 10:20 am  Comments (6)  
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008
Waning Moon
Snowy and cold

I’m doing a wrap-up on A Biblio Paradise today, so cruise on over if you get a chance.
These past couple of weeks, hosting the diverse authors met through the Infinite Worlds of Fantasy group have been fascinating.

It snowed most of the day yesterday. I think we’ve got about eight inches of snow, which has quickly turned to ice. I’m not looking forward to digging out the car later today, but, since we’re supposed to get another big storm starting this afternoon, I better do it.

It’s beautiful, though, and I did some errands on foot yesterday in it, practically dancing down the main street of town, which people found amusing. I wouldn’t have been so delighted if I’d had to drive in it, but maneuvering on foot wasn’t bad.

Did some more work on the Aunt Doris/Cassio story. It’s been so long since I was in the world of Congress Corners, I’m having a bit of trouble getting its rhythm. I’m getting there, though, and one doesn’t need to have read the previous stories in order to enjoy this one. It stands alone. I’m determined to keep it SHORT, and I want to have it ready for Christmas Eve.

A film company for whom I do some work occasionally sent me both a poster and the DVD of a piece on which I’d done some work last year – it was sweet of them to include me, since what I did was for-hire and not credited (but paid).

Started re-reading Beverley Nichols’s book MERRY HALL. He was a well-known writer in the 1940s – and a bit before and after. He’s one of those people with whom I don’t think I would have gotten along in person, but I enjoy his garden writing. The book makes me laugh out loud, and the cats stare at me as though I’ve lost my mind.

Baked more bread yesterday – another loaf of rye and a loaf of Vineyard Portuguese Sweet Bread – one of the few white breads I still eat. The latter is from THE NEW ENGLAD COOKBOOK, and my favorite bread recipe ever – it’s a sweet, light, soft white bread that isn’t like wet cardboard, the way store-bought whites are. I used to buy it from the family-owned Portuguese bakeries on the Cape all the time, and I was thrilled to find the recipe in this book.

I got my column done and out yesterday. The focus today, once I’ve got the car dug out, is to work on the article that’s due and spend a lot of time on the revisions.

I find I miss the mystery, which is a good thing – I look forward to going back to it once OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK is finished and with the publisher, alternating the work on that and on the third Jain Lazarus, which I will start shortly after the new year – this one will be from Billy’s point of view, and take place mostly in Scotland.

That’s pretty much it. I’m staying as tucked in as possible during the bad weather. When the roads are clear enough, I have one more gift to get for my mom, but everything else is done and out. I can focus on writing and then enjoy the holiday, and then go off to my site work.

I’ve refrained from physically packing, because it’s a week until I leave, but I’m mentally packing – bet you anything that I pack on the day before Christmas Eve, because I always like to have everything packed far in advance, and just leave the writing bag to pack for the night before.

The Jain Lazarus New Year’s story is almost complete in my head, so as soon as I finish the Aunt Doris/Cassio Christmas story, I can actually put the New Year’s story on paper.

Back to the page.

Devon

Friday, December 19, 2008

2stacys-christmas-blogfest-0815

Friday, December 19, 2008
Waning Moon
Stormy

Come on over to A Biblio Paradise to read our last interview in the Infinite World of Fantasy Authors Guest Weeks, with Nikki Sinclaire. I learned so much about her process.

We’re supposed to get up to a foot of snow today. I’m glad I don’t have to go anywhere!

I baked bread yesterday – a rye bread recipe I got from THE NEW BASICS, which is a great cookbook.

Brandy, thanks for telling me about Verizon Wireless’s policy to support military families – I’m glad to hear it. That will factor in to staying with them as my wireless provider or not. We had a few bad months awhile back, but, lately, they’ve been more reliable.

Got some writing done, great progress on the Aunt Doris/Cassio Christmas story.

Had some business correspondence to do yesterday (unpleasant) and some more unpleasant correspondence to deal with today.

Lots to do today, and not much time in which to do it, so I’d better get going. I’m sorry I don’t have much interesting stuff to say – there’s plenty that’s “in process”, but little that can be discussed at this point. Oh, well.

I’ll probably spend a lot of time watching storm coverage. If any of you are traveling over the next few days . . .I’m sending you good thoughts!

Devon
christmas-play-06-008

Elsa loves to play in the wrapping paper!

Published in: on December 19, 2008 at 8:50 am  Comments (6)  
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

2stacys-christmas-blogfest-0814

Thursday, December 18, 2008
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

Come on over to A Biblio Paradise today and learn all about erotica writer Tula Neal and her work – she’s got some fascinating characters and premises.

Tired, tired, tired.

I created an icing/glaze for the spice cakes yesterday – I took the recipe for the cappuccino glaze I used in the brownies a few weeks back, but instead of using coffee, I used vanilla, and I upped the heavy cream a bit. It worked. Glazed the cakes, let them set, put together the platters, and spent the afternoon delivering them. I’m glad that everyone was so delighted by the platters, and several people (such as our mechanic) were thrilled and surprised to be thought of with baked goods at the holidays.

Of course, last night, on the news, a “concierge” that the news team consulted as an “expert” claims that the ONLY acceptable gift to anyone who’s provided a service is cash. I disagree, and my experience today during my rounds reinforces that disagreement.

Anyway, it was a really fun afternoon. I didn’t think I’d get anywhere near as enthusiastic a response as I did. The truth is that handmade gifts and gifts of food ARE appreciated. Personally, no matter what my economic status in any particular year, I know how much I love receiving handmade gifts, and I truly enjoy making something – be it foodie or crafty – that’s geared to someone’s individual interests and tastes.

I make sure that I shop at local stores that not only give me good prices but treat their employees well and give back to the community, so I’m supporting the type of store owner who makes a positive difference, and we all win.

Speaking of a positive difference, there was a lovely story on the news the other night about how Sears supports its employees who deploy with the military – paying the difference between the military pay and their salaries, maintaining their benefits and merit increases, and keeping the jobs open for them when they return – even in these difficult economic times. Now, I haven’t shopped at Sears for years – there isn’t one readily available around here, so, frankly, I don’t think about it that often. But you can be sure they are back on my list – if they carry something I need, I’ll spend some money there so that they can continue this program. Not that my few dollars make that much of a difference, but hopefully, running the news story and bringing people’s attention to their policies will make enough people shop there, continue to shop there or try them out so that they can continue these programs. Every dollar we spend and every place we choose to spend it makes a statement and can make a difference. Especially in difficult economic times, it is vitally important to support stores that reflect your values. I definitely buy less – a lot less – lately – but I’m a lot more aware of where I buy it.

Now that the holiday preparations are done, the mail sent, the gifts delivered, I am diving back into the rabbit hole of writing for the next couple of weeks to clear off all my deadlines. I plan to blog regularly until Christmas, but then it will be intermittent until after the new year; not only do I have deadlines for year’s end, but I also am working on site bouncing between two different jobs between Christmas and New Year’s. I’m also going on retreat for New Year’s Eve and Day. I’ve done that for several years now; this time, I’m going to a different place, and I’m very excited. If you email me, there will be a slower response time than usual. I’m also working on my new brochure and a new target list, so that the first week of the new year, I can get off a big mailing.

I’ll read blogs intermittently, but I’m staying off most forums until after the new year – I’m sick and tired of threads and threads and threads full of excuses for not writing or people who expect published writers to do the work for them when these unpublished writers aren’t even willing to search the threads for the answers to questions that are asked every week or two. We all have to start somewhere and questions are important, but do a little research people, before you demand that working writers put aside their own writing to answer – for the forty-seventh time – the same old questions. And then, when a working writer is kind enough to answer – don’t argue and don’t make excuses. No one is forcing you to TAKE the advice, it’s up to you, but at least be gracious when your questions are answered.

I need a few newbie-free weeks.

We’re supposed to get up to a foot of snow tomorrow, so I’m off, in a little while, to the grocery store (again) to get in milk and eggs, and then I’ll bake bread later – I’m on my off-store-bought-bread bit again, it all tastes like soft cardboard to me, so I’m going to make my own for the next few weeks. Flour’s on sale right now, with holiday baking so prevalent, so I’ll stock up and then bake bread every few days. The bread around here is over priced ($4/loaf and up) and has no taste. The local bakery prices are a bit higher than that — $6/loaf and up – but at least there’s taste there, so I might treat myself to some of their bread occasionally. But the stuff in the grocery store lately is flat and tasteless and overly sweet. So I think I’ll skip it for awhile.

Back to the page.

Devon

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Violet guards a gift.

This photo is actually from 2006, but it’s really cute, so I’m re-posting it.

Published in: on December 18, 2008 at 9:18 am  Comments (11)  
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Waning Moon
Snowy and cold

Come visit with Janet Lee Walters, a writer who moves between genres with ease and charm, and is today’s guest on A BIBLIO PARADISE. She brings up some excellent points about the versatility in writing for e-publishers.

I am tired. I baked my first batch of small space cakes – and they stuck to the pan, in spite of the pans being greased thoroughly. So they were all destroyed. Instead of crying, I crumbled the bits, put them in a tin, and I’ll make trifle with them, layering cake with fruit and whipped cream. When in doubt, make trifle, right?

Anyway, I figured out a way to grease the pans (which are, by the way, “no-stick” pans – yeah, tell me another fairy tale, only make this one GOOD, okay?). Gotta love PAM – it still works the best. The day was interspersed with three trips to the grocery store, but by the end of the day, I had makes 12 more small spice cakes, two batches of brownies, a batch of rolled sugar cookies, and a batch of tollhouse cookies.

Today, I make the glaze for the cakes, put the platters together, and I’d like to get them OUT, although, due to the weather, I have a feeling I’ll put it off until tomorrow.

More packages of goodies arrived, so it’s filling up around the tree and the fridge is about to pop open, which is just the way I like it.

I finished the cards last night. I have to hunt down a few addresses, but I’ll get out everything I can today. I’ve got a couple of packages to still get out, one large spice cake to bake and decorate, and I am DONE.

Which means I can concentrate on the writing that was back-burnered for the last few days.

I’d like to sleep for about a week, but that’s not an option.

Back to the page. The column is written in my head, but now I have to get it down on paper. And I’ve still got an article to get done this week, and I wanted to finish the revisions on OFDW before the holidays.

Didn’t I vow last December to make sure I had no deadlines THIS December? Didn’t work out so well, did it?

To answer ellix’s question about finding work, I go out there and hunt it down. I research companies with whom I think I’d be a good match, or which interest me, and send them proposals. I get to know local businesses and know their needs, and create pitches. I do my homework, my groundwork, and I come up with inventive ways to convince companies they can’t live without me. Companies who use bidding sites, in my opinion, are more interested in keeping costs down than getting the best writer. I’m interested in working for companies that respect my skills and will pay appropriately. I’m not going to find that on a listing site, even a legitimate one. I’m going to find those by doing the legwork myself.

Devon

Published in: on December 17, 2008 at 8:15 am  Comments (8)  
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2stacys-christmas-blogfest-0812

Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Waning Moon
Sleet and cold

My guest today on A Biblio Paradise is Adrianne Brennan. She writes a series, but also has shorter stories and novellas that feed into the series, featuring various characters. Hop on over and check her out.

Can you say Murphy’s Law? Because that’s what yesterday was, a true Murphy’s Law day, all around.

First of all, I had a lot of work spread over the kitchen table. Iris lived up to her nickname of Princess Hellion by jumping up on the table (which she knows is forbidden) and knocking over a full cup of coffee. Not only did I have to scramble to save all the paperwork, the table was decorated for the holidays, so the decorations had to be rescued, and both tablecloths were soaked with coffee. Normally, I use dark cloths, but, for the holidays, the top cloth is cream, gold, and green, and the under cloth is a white tablecloth from my great-grandmother that is at least one hundred years old.

That was my main concern. I can’t use bleach on fabric that old, so I soaked and soaked and soaked it in gentle detergent and hot, hot, hot water, and I think it’s all come out. I’ll iron it today and put it back on. The coffee actually came out of that cloth better than the over cloth. Gotta love those antique linens!

I got the first batch of cards and letters out to the post office (I had to drive over to the next town because our post office keeps odd hours and has lines out the door). On the way back, I stopped and picked up some of the stuff I need for Christmas – including scoring an eighteen pound turkey for only $12 – from an honorable local store! THAT was a bright spot in the day, let me tell you.

I came home, got everything put away, worked on the handmade gifts for a few hours. I had trouble with the bobbin for awhile on the sewing machine – turns out that particular bobbin was faulty, so I had to use a different one. Whoever thought that plastic bobbins were a good idea should be smacked. They suck. I love all the things my current machine does, but I wish it was built to use metal bobbins, like my very first machine. They’re much better than the plastic. And, let’s face it, the plastic bobbins were created and machines forced to use them because the companies made more profit – it has nothing to do with serving the customer.

Anyway, after some trial and error, I got the first batch of gifts done. I wrapped the overseas packages, filled out the customs forms, headed back to Purchase to the post office, and got those out.

Had to stop at the store again to pick up a few things I forgot for the baking.

Confidential Job #2 already paid me for my work – gotta love it. THAT’s the way I like to work.

Tossed out my column – it sucked, and I’m going to do a better topic and rewrite it today. I’ve also got an article to get out this week.

Didn’t get as much done as I wanted on the revisions, so I have to work on that today. I’ve also got to finish S-Z on the US cards and get them out, pack up the rest of the packages and send them out, and send out the prizes from Stacy’s Christmas Blogfest.

AND, I’m doing the test run on the cake baking. I think I’ll do the dough for the sugar cookies and let it sit, then roll them out and actually bake them tomorrow. A bunch of people in the area are getting small, decorated spice cakes flanked with sugar cookies.

So that’s the plan for the day. I should pitch some jobs – still have bills that need to be paid before the holidays – but I don’t know if that’ll happen today. I’ve also been asked to do some political work, and I have to read through the details and the time frame. I’m interested in the opportunity, but don’t know if I can take it on right now. If I can do it the first or second week of January, I’ll say yes; if they need it done before the end of the year, I have to pass.

Slow going on the writing this morning, but I hope it’ll pick back up later in the day. I need to get some more work done on the Aunt Doris/Cassio piece. I’ve restructured it a few times and still don’t have it quite right. I think I’m going to set it in Paris rather than Bermuda, though. Doesn’t Christmas in Paris sound like fun?

Devon

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Iris, AKA “Princess Hellion” is unconcerned that she caused so much chaos.