Wednesday, june 17, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Finally! A glimpse of the sun!

I’ve got some ideas on approaches to writing if you DON’T want to be a full-time writer, but still want to write, over on the SDR blog.

I’m not exactly sure if I’m fighting a little bug or what. I don’t feel awful, I don’t even really feel sick, I just feel . . .off somehow. I didn’t have an appetite on Monday, which was cause for concern — I’m like a horse, if I’m off my feed, it’s not good. But I didn’t feel BAD — just fatigued and unfocused and rundown and sort of like something was a little wrong, but I wasn’t sure what. And let’s face it, not eating much for a day is no big deal.

I had a good appetite yesterday. For lunch, I prepared curried egg salad with carmelized onions from Monica Bhide’s MODERN SPICE cookbook. I met her via Twitter The recipe was featured on a site where she was a guest last week. I’d always planned to buy the cookbook because I enjoy her comments so much, but now that I know how outstanding the recipes, are, it’s moved up the list. The egg salad is outstanding. It’s going in my travel book of recipes I take with me when I rent a place with a kitchen.

Grocery shopping early in the morning — lots of fresh produce, which is always good. I’m experimenting with a lot of new-to-me recipes this week, so I had a list. Usually, I walk around and price things and then create menus, but this week, I did list-first, price-later. It came out a little more expensive, but still within budget.

Cleared off some client projects in the afternoon and worked on the write-up for Confidential Job #1. I had to remind myself to approach it the same way I would any assignment for them.

I should have pulled more stuff off the PC, but couldn’t face turning it on. So I stuck to work on the Mac.

Had trouble with 1and1 again. Their last fix lasted a week, which is longer than anything in the past few months, but it’s still not good enough. I’ll work doubly hard to catch up on admin for Fearless Ink in the next few weeks, move that site first, then work on moving the others. I need a web host with a server that actually SERVES. To be down nearly every day from 11 AM – 3PM is just not acceptable. And I shouldn’t have to jump through hoops and have to go through 13 steps every few hours in order to be able to access anything. I hate the thought of losing the Cerridwen’s Cottage template, because I think it’s perfect and gorgeous and all the rest, but it needs to be done. And moving the Devon site and its subdomains will be a bitch. I don’t see what other choice I have. I love the plan, the price point, etc. at 1and 1. I don’t like being limited in the amount of pages I can use the sitebuilder to build, or subdomains I can build with them (I can HAVE as many subdomains as I want, but I can only use the site builder to build a total of 5 domains/subdomains without doubling my cost). But I’m having problems almost every day. I need reliability. and 1and1 doesn’t give it.

I’ll get a better idea of it all once I take the iWeb workshop next week.

Skipped dinner last night (the appetite was gone again) and went to bed ridiculously early. I embodied the definition of “sleeping like a log” — I don’t think I moved all the night. The cats had fits this morning when we opened the last can of cat food. They won’t believe I’m going to Trader Joe’s for more until I actually bring it back and unpack it.

I’m going to polish the assignment for Confidential Job #1 today and send it off, do some other client work, do some work on a few proposals and on the residency packet, and maybe do some marketing. I’m not feeling very creative today, so I don’t know how much fiction I’ll get done, although there’s plenty of percolation going on.

Maybe I’ll pull some more stuff off the PC. If the sun stays out, I’m going to try to get out in it for a bit today, too. One of the books I ordered for my trip, PRAGUE: A CULTURAL HISTORY, arrived yesterday. Maybe I’ll take it to a park somewhere and read for awhile outside.

Lots of organizational stuff to get done over the next few weeks, and I have to figure out how to configure it with the creative stuff. I don’t want to lose too much momentum on the fiction.

Devon

Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 7:26 am  Comments (6)  

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Dreary and cool

Stop by Diane Parkin’s blog today and read her interview with me (“The Evolution of Dixie and Jenny”), and visit Hywela Lyn’s blog for another stop on the DIXIE DUST tour!

Thanks to both of you for being such lovely and gracious hosts.

There was so much hail in New Jersey yesterday that people were out (in their shorts) with snow shovels!

For some reason, I couldn’t shake off my fatigue and lethargy yesterday. I scanned the job boards. There was some good material, but it was site work, and too far away for me. Still, it was nice to see a better quality of work up there.

Worked on the DIXIE DUST postcard mailing. The first list is almost complete and ready. As soon as I’ve got the second wave compiled, that should go out in a week or so.

Designed the postcard for Fearless Ink. It’s a first wave post-card, going out as part of a mass-mailing, different than the targeted list with the brochure. I also have to design a second card, that’s the follow-up card to the targeted mailing. I need to find scored, colored postcard stock. Any ideas? All the colored stock I’ve found is unscored. Me with a paper cutter and three curious cats? Now that’s an accident waiting to happen. I’d rather used scored cards.

Struggled with the write up for Confidential Job #1. I know what I want to say, but I’m not saying it well.

Worked on client projects, but it was slower going than I expected, and not because of the projects, but because my brain felt unfocused, so eventually I put it aside. My clients deserve SHARP focus.

I’m getting caught up on my filing and excavating my desk. Once the PC is done, I’ll have a desk back so I can work — right now, I use the Macbok on the part of the desk that used to house the PC keyboard, while the old monitor dominates the desk. I think I’ll put the monitor up on Freecycle eventually, with a bunch of other things, remove the hard drive, and then take the tower to the next county electronics recycling day. My old PC in storage also needs to go. Now that I know HOW to remove a hard drive, it’s not such a big deal. Plus, since I won’t need the damned thing once the transfer is complete, I don’t have to stress about screwing something up.

Pulled off a bunch more stuff from the PC, converted short stories from floppies, etc. The PC crashed every 6 or 7 minutes and took approx. 18-22 minutes to reboot. I HATE it. I can’t wait to be done with Dell for good. What a piece of crap. Not to mention that the older Microsoft programs can’t even be read by the newer ones. If I thought about all the lost time and productivity over the past years, because I never bit the bullet and got a Mac before this year, I could just kill myself. It’s amazing I ever managed to get ANYTHING out to a publisher or an editor.

By 3:30, I was feeling pretty lousy, and cancelled out of that evening’s workshop. It’ll come around again in a month or so, so I haven’t lost my opportunity forever. I had a quiet night, eating lots of vegetables, drinking juice, going to bed early. I feel a little better this morning, but still not all that sharp. I figure if I don’t push too hard for the next few days, I should get my feet back under me and be fine. Everything really starts to accelerate next week, so slowing down a bit this week and building up my reserves makes sense.

I have a big grocery shopping trip today (possibly to Trader Joe’s as well as to the usual store. I’m trying some great recipes this week, and I’m very excited.

I plan to clear some client projects off my desk this afternoon, and then spend a few days this week focused primarily on my fiction.

I worry that I’m spending so much time on re-organization and admin and workshops and all that, but, if I do it now, and reconfigure my workspace and my files and everything, it will streamline the rest of the year and help me be more productive.

Oh, and Chase Bank gets yet another Middle Finger Award. Yeah, like that’s a surprise.

Anyway, I better get going. I want to get a lot done early in the day and then rest. in spite of feeling under the weather last night, I pushed through my workout, and, once I was done, I was glad I did. During it, I wasn’t so sure, but it was the right choice.

Before I go to DC next week, I’m going to upload all the photos on the camera so far to the computer, just in case something goes wonky through one of the security areas. i fI lose the photos from the day, I’ll be sad, but I’ll deal. But if I lose everything I’ve put on the card so far, I’ll be very upset. So I’ll back it up first.

I’m going to Target in the next week or so. I need more bins, and, as I finish with the boxes of floppies, I’ll stash them in a bin and take them to storage. More room for the stuff I actually use! There’s going to be a lot of cleaning out of things over the next few months!

The fix Canon sent me for the little printer worked, and I printed out what I have of CRAVE THE HUNT, the Billy Root piece, so I can get back to it this week. I hadn’t realized how much I’d written. This will be the biggest book of the series so far. It’s kind of a turning point for several characters, so it makes sense.

Back to the page.

Devon

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and mild

It’s STILL raining. Sigh. I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning, but the cats were hungry, and they couldn’t open the cans themselves, so I had to. Believe me, they tried! They got into the cupboard, pulled down a can, and were rolling it around on the kitchen floor.

I thought yesterday was the dark moon and today was the new moon, but I was wrong. That’s next weekend. Hmmm — dark moon on the Summer Solstice — weird!

Anyway, I caffeinated myself thoroughly and got to my Sunday morning Mac workshop on time. I’d dreamt I was working on the computer all night, so I felt as though I hadn’t slept. AND I did some work on the Matty book before I left. I have to pause with it, re-read what I’ve got so far, and outline the rest. I’ve hit the point where I’m not weaving the additional plotline that supports the theme in well enough — I’m focused on the theme — and I’m tripping myself up.

The class was really good. Four of us, and I learned a bunch of very basic stuff (It was “Getting Started With Your Mac”) and found out how I’m making certain tasks unnecessarily complicated. I’m still hitting a wall with certain things in Safari and with Mail. They make total sense in class, but I’m having trouble applying them. I”m still in PC-mode and tripping myself up.

Came home, skipped the ironing, and concentrated on the job for Confidential Job #1. I finished the reading portion, and let it percolate all evening; I’ll write it up today and send it to my editor. It was blessedly quiet around here, for once.

I feel like I’ve hit information overload, workshop-wise. I’m taking another workshop tonight, and then not another one until next week. It will give me a chance to process what I’ve learned in the past weeks, and see if I can apply it properly.

If you’re working on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions with us this year, I’ve got a new post up on the site. You can jump in at any point, so don’t feel that, if you didn’t start in January, you can’t play until next year. All are welcome all year round!

I tried applying some of the stuff I learned in the workshop. I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I have a terrible time with the Mail software. It does what I want/need it to do if I access it through Mobile Me (although not with any bells or whistles), but not through Mail. It’s synched, so it should be fine, but . . .I don’t get it. I got into such a muddle, where I couldn’t even force a quit, even after watching the video tutorials, that I had to call AppleCare. The guy was really nice. He taught me how to shut down a program (if a program is open, the computer won’t shut down, unlike a PC, where shutting it down closes the program) even when the Quit function isn’t behaving. Then we re-booted and tried to figure out where I went wrong. It was another case of, “I’ve never heard of that happening; let’s figure it out”. What we finally figured out is that I was asking the software to do something above and beyond its programming, and it got confused. The tech thought it would be really cool if the program COULD do it, but, right now, it can’t. Then, we tried to figure out some of my other problems. Most of them are kinda-sorta solved, but the mail program still frustrates me thoroughly.

I did some reading just for me last night, Hermione Lee’s Edith Wharton biography, which was nice. It’ s huge, but now that I’ve visited The Mount, I want to read it. I bought it when it was first published; i just never had a chance to read it.

Quiet evening. I’m not going grocery shopping until tomorrow, so I’m kind of scrounging around the cupboards.

Up early this morning. Did a bit of work on the Matty book and getting back to the serial (finally). I’ll finish Confidential Job #1 and work on some client projects, then do some reading of friends’ books so I can come up with good questions for A BIBLIO PARADISE. More work on the Dixie Dust Mailing, and starting to set up some readings/appearances around here. I also need to do some follow up on a few projects, and go over the letter of decline to a potential client — sorry, hon, no project-specific samples for free as an audition for your “shortlist”. Either make the decision from my samples or pay me a specifically negotiated rate for these samples. It’s just bad business for me to do anything else.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on June 15, 2009 at 6:42 am  Comments (4)  

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Supposed to be sunny, but who knows?

I’m typing this Saturday night and scheduling it to post Sunday morning, because, you guessed it, I’m at yet another Mac workshop this morning, this one in White Plains.

I hit the ground running early yesterday — checked to make sure the article posted on Sole Struck, worked on a refusal letter to a client — the terms aren’t acceptable, and I’m trying to say so politely.

I made the 9AM meeting with the Congresswoman. It was great to meet her, her staff was great, and I think I was the only person who was there to do more than simply howl. I thanked her for the help her office gave me on something awhile back, asked her to keep the screws on the banking industry (because the Big Banks are still determined to screw the customers), and we had a brief discussion on health care. When I mentioned I was coming down to the rally, she suggested I stop by her office, I’ll clear it with the staff, let the union people I’m travelling with know, and peel off from our other lobbyng duties in the afternoon so to do.

Since the meeting was right near D’Agostino’s, Ipopped into to pick up my favorite Silver Palate dressing. I’d hoped they had my favorite Scottish smoked salmon pate, but no such luck. Hoped to stop at a small, local sewing store to pick up bobbins and thread, but they weren’t open. Continued to a library sale, where I picked up some books for my mom and a research book I need for a gig I’m pitching. I also picked up some background research for a column I pitched yesterday about eco-friendly living, and for a column I’m about to pitch about holistic life choices for artists.

Continued on to check out a yoga studio I’d heard about — the website looks good, the prices are scale for this area. I came in to find a disgruntled staff, no easily accesable information about class schedules, etc. (I’m sorry but a frustrated sigh with an eye roll and “You can’t look it up on the web?” is NOT the kind of response that’s going to entice me to become a customer), and it was filled with small, screaming, sticky toddlers, all of whom took one look at me and Knew Better. They may have been small and sticky, but they were smarter than their parents. I turned to leave and Ms. Eye Roll-Sigher said, “You’re just walking out?” I turned and said, “I”m looking for a sanctuary, not Gymboree.”

So, that’s two local yoga studios on my “When Pigs Fly” list. The other one wouldn’t let me take a drop-in class, even paying cash — although that’s listed on their schedule, without me giving them my credit card info for “monthly billing.” When I explained that there would be months where I’m travelling and wouldn’t be taking classes, and only wanted to be charged for classes I actually took, I was told, “That’s not how we do things.” Well, guess what, bubblelah? I’m not going to be one of your customers, so at this point, it’s moot. In Massachussetts,they’re actually happy to see you and they want to show you around and have you take time to get to know the studio. Here in Westchester, they act like they’re doing you a favor by allowing you to take a paid class.

Anyway, after that debacle, I headed back home, hoping again to stop at the sewing store, but there was a Lexus SUV trying to crawl up my tail pipe, and I couldn’t pull over to park. Sigh. I’ll probably just drive to Hartsdale sometime next week to the place where I bought the machine to get the bobbins, bring the skirt, and match the thread properly.

Back home, spent about two hours doing receipts. I’m usually good about keeping receipts logged and current, but I haven’t done ANY this year. Two hours got a lot of it done, and now I have a bunch of stuff to file today, so it’s all good.

Off to Stamford in bad traffic and rain for the workshop. Traffic was a nightmare and it started to rain again (note to self: begin Ark construction; design invites). I got there early because I had questions about the iPod Touch, which were answered in a minute, because the people who work at Apple are actually helpful and tell you the truth. Then I wandered around the mall (I’m allergic to them — they give me headaches and make me sneeze). I stopped in at Brookstone to look for international power adaptors/convertors. Heaven forbid the Czech Republic be on the same type of current as anyone else — they’re on 230 (WTF?????). Anyway, when I buy the iPod Touch, I’ll meander two doors down and the guy there will outfit me with the correct adaptor so I can take it to Prague and synch with Mobile Me and online and photos and all the rest. I’ll probably just buy the whole international adaptor pack and ask for a cheat sheet, so no matter where I go, I can take my Stuff.

Anyway, the workshop was great, although I’ll have to play with the stuff we learned about Leopard, and Snow Damn Leopard’s already been released. Now, come on, people, I JUST bought my Mac and there’s already a new system? I’ll go see the snow leopards at the Bronx Zoo, but do I really need them in my computer? And I learned how to clean up what’s become a very cluttered desktop. There were only two of us, so we got to ask lots of questions, and Rebecca’s a great teacher, so it was a terrific class.

I am so getting an external hard drive so I can use Time Machine every week.

Came home, turned on MacGeorge, started to apply some of what I learned in class. It’s so nice to have things actually WORK. I’m still getting used to it.

Received a DVD in the mail of my play (TILL DEATH DO THEY PART), so I can watch that sometime in the next week or so. This was shot when the original cast was still together, before the performance I saw. I’m nervous, but excited to watch it.

Wrote some thank you notes, did some follow-up, ordered some books, and hung out in the evening

As I mentioned earlier, while you read this, i’ll be at yet another Mac workshop in White Plains. Eventually, I will have taken every imaginable workshop and know how to use CORRECTLY what’s in my computer, instead of puling out stuff and trying to learn it as I need it.

Worked out. I’m going to intensify my workouts to gain stamina for the next couple of months and get myself a good headspace.

When I get back from the workshop, I have to do a pile of ironing, catch up on receipts, work on the DIXIE DUST mailing, and spend most of the day on Confidential Job #1.

Have a good one!

Devon

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Partly sunny and warm

It’s the 13th of the month, so it means it’s time for some more Sole Struck Fashions. Hop on over. It’s the first of a two-part article on Signature Scents.

Yesterday wasn’t as productive as I would have liked on the writing front, but a lot of practical stuff got done, and that’s a good thing. And I wrote two articles, which is decent.

My union sent around an invitation to join the health care reform rally in DC on June 25th. Unions from all over the area are going down to participate. I signed up. It means getting up at 3:30 in the morning, driving to the city to be there by the 5:30 AM meeting time, traveling by bus to DC, participating in the rally, doing the lobbying thing, and then traveling by bus back to New York. I figure I’ll get home around midnight or so. But, as one of the 47 million uninsured in this country, it’s important to do my part to make the necessary changes so that, should I get sick, I’m not left to die somewhere on the street, as I’ve been under the previous administration’s policies.

The challenge here is not the day in DC, but the fact that I have to cover the NHL draft in Montreal starting the next day.

It’s going to be an adventure, and by the end of the weekend, I’ll be cranky and tired. But the NHL draft always invigorates me.

Speaking of the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins played a wonderful game last night and won the Stanley Cup. Good for them! And it makes my friend Lori very happy on her anniversary, no less! I’m happy for the Penguins — this is a team that people thought would go bankrupt just a few years ago. Kudos to Mario Lemieux for keeping the faith, digging deeper, and turning the team around. Malkin and Fleury have been in the group of players I’ve watched since they were drafted, so I’m happy for them. And I’m delighted for Dan Bylsma, the coach, — he’s a terrific human being, and was very kind and helpful when I researched my books.

Of course, I was rooting for the Detroit Red Wings, one of my favorite teams, and for Mike Babcock, who I think is one of the best coaches in all sports today. I hurt for them when they lost, although I admit relief that it wasn’t a shut out! A bitter way for them to end their season, but I have no doubt they will return to win more Cups in the future. The Red Wings is one of the best-run teams in sports (so it makes sense they’d hire one of the best coaches in sports).

I’m off to meet with my Congresswoman, and then I’ve got a bunch of errands, and then it’s off to CT for another Mac class, this time about Leopard. Since I don’t even know what Leopard is, it makes sense I’m taking a class about it, right?

Spent a lot of time getting ducks in a row for the next couple of months. A lot is going on, and I’ll have to be very disciplined and ruthless about my writing time. It will definitely be cut for a bit, but the stuff that’s come up is necessary in order to ensure I have more time and more productivity in the future. I need to be really flexible and not focused on “lists” for the next few months, because I’ve got to be able to adjust my schedule daily in order to make everything work and keep moving forward in a positive manner.

So it’s all busy, but it’s all good.

Enjoy the weekend, all, and back to the page for me!

Devon

Published in: on June 13, 2009 at 6:43 am  Comments (2)  

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Yeah, it’s STILL raining. I hope that means we’ll have lots of gorgeous flowers when it finally lets up.

Speaking of gorgeous flowers, my morning glories are blooming! Imagine! In a north-facing window! Beautiful! Hopefully, the moonflowers will bloom, too.

Hop on over to FEMMEFAN to read my Belmont Stakes wrap-up.

And if you haven’t read my interview with Kim Smith, please drop by here and leave a comment!

Yesterday was caught up in business, and I didn’t get much other stuff done. I helped my mom with a bunch of stuff. We stopped at our favorite Chinese restaurant on the way home and got some take out. The food is always excellent, and the prices are great. AND they’re really nice.

The issues with 1and1 seem to be cleared up, at least for the moment. Let’s hope they remain so. And Canon sent me the fixes for both printers, so that seems to be resolved. Many thanks to both of them. We think that, with the big printer, someone else’s wireless crossed communication with my printer, and my printer was printing from someone else’s computer. We hope that’s now fixed. I don’t have wi-fi, I don’t have my printer set up for wi-fi, but . . .

I’m a little behind where I’d like to be on client projects, although no deadlines are in jeopardy. I have to reshuffle a couple of projects over the next few days, but everything will get done. And I need to get back to my own fiction. I’m behind where I’d like to be on that, although, again, no deadlines are in jeopardy.

I’ve got some more business to take care of today, and if all goes well with that, the next few weeks will be crazy. Most of it will be great, some of it will be frustrating, it will be exhausting, but the outcome should be quite good.

I don’t plan to be online very much today. I’m a little cranky because someone broke the city code and woke me with a leaf blower (yes, in the middle of the rain) at 6:15 this morning. And ran it for 45 minutes. Leaf blowers are banned entirely by the city code from May 1 – either September 1 or October 1. So I have to put in a call to City Hall. I don’t care what day of the year it is — I should NEVER be woken up by a leaf blower at 6:15 in the morning.

I think leaf blowers should be banned anyway, all the time, especially around here. All they do is kick up dust,dirt, and noise pollution. The guys who run them just walk around pointing them randomly at the asphalt. I have yet to see them ever use them on LEAVES. And as far as leaves go? Use a damn rake! Much more eco-friendly. I understand if it’s the Town Park and there are acres and acres of leaves in the fall — but handkerchief-sized yards don’t need them, especially when they’re not used properly.

Come by Sole Struck Fashions tomorrow. It’ll be my monthly post.

I didn’t do anything particularly interesting that can be discussed on the blog. Sorry.

I’ll put in a good day’s work today. Tomorrow, I’m up early, because I have a meeting with a Congressional Representative at 9 AM. And I have another Mac class in CT at 2 PM. I’m going to go a little early and play with the iPod touch and ask some questions. I’m not actually going to BUY it tomorrow, but at least I’ll do my research, so when I’m ready, it’s just a case of the cash changing hands. I can Tweet from it, so soon — none of you will be safe!

I have another Mac workshop on Sunday morning, and one on Monday night. Then I think I’m done for about a week. Yeah. I’ll have taken nine workshops in a month. And I’ll know how to use my computer! These are the free workshops Apple offers. They’re incredibly helpful. I feel like I should bake them all brownies or something.

Speaking of brownies, I baked some for myself yesterday afternoon. Just because there must always be something chocolate in this house. It’s a requirement.

It’s supposed to clear up this afternoon. I’m going to run over and check the brook in a bit, and determine whether or not I need to move the car. Hopefully, I don’t.

I got my confirmation yesterday — I am officially a member of Broad Universe! Woo-hoo! I can’t wait to get involved supporting my fellow fantasy and science-fiction writers. And my renewal from PEN arrived, along with the new membership card. I’m delighted. I need to talk to them about the plans for the Laura Ling/Euna Lee situation, and also about Prague.

Slow day on the Matty book. The Lucy Gothic is starting to pull at me again, but I’ve got other projects to complete before I can get back to it.

Have a great day!

Devon

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Raining and cool

The Mobile Me workshop in Stamford, CT, was an adventure. I got out of the house as planned, the traffic was intense, but moving, and got to the address in plenty of time. Only, there is no such address. There’s a big old mall. I found one area of parking that was open — and it’s 1/6th of the price of the parking in White Plains, for a longer period of time! Paid for parking, and tried to figure out how to get INTO the Mall and TO the Apple Store, because the mall doesn’t officially open until between 9 and 10 AM depending upon the store, and the gates were still locked.

Walked all the way AROUND the outside of a mall — those of you familiar with malls know what a pain THAT is. No entrance where the “address” is supposedly located. You’d think someone would have mentioned all this in the directions!

I found a security guard and explained my dilemma. He unlocked the gate for me, and told me how to get to the elevators inside that would carry me up over the gates to the fourth floor, which was open, and where the Apple store was located.

Walking around empty malls is a creepy experience.

But, he gave good directions, I followed them without overthinking, and there I was. Turns out I wasn’t late after all, and I explained my confusion. She promised to mention it to someone who could update the directions on the website.

There were only two of us in the class, which was nice, and we got to PLAY. I am shocked by how much Mobile Me can do, and I now understand why the guy who sold me MacGeorge was so adamant that I purchase it. If I had an iPhone, I could basically run my entire business from it in the car. I don’t even need to have the laptop with me. If I’m out without MacGeorge, and I need to access my manuscripts, I can go to a library or an internet cafe or a friend’s computer and do so. Now, the trick, of course, it to make sure what I need to work on is also saved in Word on my “cloud” so I can open them on a PC. I’ll be able to upload my photos while I travel to my “cloud”,which then syncs it with the iPhoto on my hard drive. It’s amazing. I can access my address book and my calendar and all that from anywhere. It truly puts freedom into freelancing.

Also, with iDisk, one doesn’t need a flash drive. Of course, because I’m paranoid, I’ll still use flash drives to store finished work and keep them catalogued or stick them in a safety deposit box or something eccentric like that.

(I was wondering what an “iDisk” was — now I know)!

Again, I had a FANTASTIC teacher, and she’s going to teach the workshop I will attend on Saturday afternoon. I can’t wait!

I got to play with the iPhone, so now, of course, I want one! However, I’ve been burned by AT&T before, and really don’t want them as my carrier. So I’m not going to dash out and buy one.

Also, looking at the specs on the iPod touch, it looks like it can do many of the same things as the iPhone — Mobile Me, Safari, photos, music, etc. — I just can’t talk on it. So I might be fine, at least in the short term, with an iPod touch. I was going to get an iPod anyway at some point in the next few months. Since I hate talking on the phone anyway, there’s nothing wrong with keeping the phone with which I’m comfortable when I have to talk and using the iPod for everything else.

Wandered through the enormous B&N, looking at computer books, considering buying a book on web design or HTML or Java Scripting or something, but it was all too overwhelming. I better walk before I run.

Came home, caught up on some email, etc., worked on client projects, tried to actually apply what I learned in the workshop (I bumbled a bit, but I’m getting there).

I did get some work on the Matty book before class, but not as much as I’d like.

Trying to catch up on the reading for the upcoming interviews I’m doing on A Biblio Paradise. Come on over there today to see the interview with Kim Smith. I interview her about her current release, AVENGING ANGEL, but she also has a new book releasing today, A WILL TO LOVE, and we get to talk about that a bit, too. Congratulations, Kim!

I had a good morning on the Matty book today I redesigned the floor plan of the house a bit, and now it makes more sense for what needs to happen INSIDE it. I’m going to try to get a lot done in the early hours of the morning, because I have to help my mom with some business later in the morning. I’ll get back to client projects this afternoon, I’ve got a couple of pitches to get out, and try to catch up on those missed hours.

I’m a little tired of the rain, but hopefully it won’t flood, and sometime, we’ll see the sun.

Most of the next two days will be focused on the work for Confidential Job #1. It’s far more complex than I originally thought, but in a good way, and I am so, so honored that they chose me for this particular assignment.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on June 11, 2009 at 7:59 am  Comments (6)  

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday, June 10. 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I wrote this last night and scheduled it to post because I signed up to take a Mac workshop in Stamford, CT that starts at 8:30 in the morning. Am I nuts? Rhetorical question. But it’s a Mobile Me workshop, and i just look at the program and go WTF? so It’s necessary. And I didn’t see it scheduled in White Plains. So I’m driving to another damned state to take it.

I finally finished the Belmont article and sent it off. I had facts to check and vet research to perform before I could send it off with a clear conscience.

Spent way too much time on Twitter, caught up on email, worked on client projects, worked on interview stuff, and, most importantly, printed postcards. The HEX BREAKER postcard didn’t print the way I wanted, so I had to adjust the design. I also had to figure out how to feed the paper. Then, the Canon Pixma 860,which is supposed to be this kickass printer, went rogue — it stared printing documents that weren’t in the cue — ON the postcard paper,wasting both paper and ink. Then it started eating the paper. Then it lied to me about the ink levels. I was a fit to be tied and sent QUITE the email to Canon. They’ve always been awesome, and the print quality on this printer is outstanding, but it doesn’t do as it’s told.

It can bite me, okay? Well, it sort of did

We finally reached a truce.

The postcards, both for HEX BREAKER and DIXIE DUST look fantastic. But I have to go buy more ink, like, today.

But I can send the HEX BREAKER postcards out and stat the DIXIE DUST mailing.

That was basically my day.

Hopefully, I had a good morning on the Matty book, even though I had to get up earlier than the cats to get it done before I left for class.

When I get back, I have to go the post office, the bank, and get back to the page. I have to finish a client project, too. I have no idea when I’ll get online today.

Enjoy your day. And hop over to A Biblio Paradise to read the review of Kim Smith’s mystery, AVENGING ANGEL.

Devon

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Severe Thunderstorms

Oh, my gosh, yesterday was just one of those days when I hated everybody and everything got on my nerves. So I kept as low and quiet as possible. There’s no reason I needed to take it out on anybody else.

Oh yeah, and Chase Bank gets yet another Middle Finger Award. Don’t ask. Between Chase Bank and UHaul, I’m up to my earlobes in assholes. Pardon the language, but it’s the best description.

The morning was eaten up by errands all over the place and well into CT. But I got a good deal on my postcard paper. I have to get the HEX BREAKER post cards out to the woman who wants to put them into the goody bags by tomorrow morning.

I struggled with the Belmont wrap article, for no good reasons. I should have just bitten the bullet and finished the whole thing on Saturday night, wiped as I was. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, the story of racing — and oh, so many other things, right?

Everything was much harder and I had to fight through much more resistance than I should have. Sometimes you have those days, and then you can breathe a sigh of relief when they’re over.

I forgot to mention that I went to the local farmers’ market on Sunday morning. I got very fresh sugar snap peas, which were lovely when tossed in some toasted sesame oil with cilantro. Also bought a delightful cherry pie. Elsa, however, managed to sit on a piece of that cherry pie — don’t ask. Do you know how hard it is to get cherry pie off a cat?

I did a lot of client work yesterday afternoon, and also worked on re-designing the ebooks. The new designs look really good, if I say so myself. The postcards are done, and I’ll figure out how to print them properly today (so that the text on the back is aligned correctly with the photos on the front).

Worked on the interview with my friend Kim Smith. I plan to post either a combo review/interview tomorrow, or the review tomorrow and the interview on Thursday. Stay tuned.

Started my friend Colin’s book STELLA last night. I really like it, but by the time I got to it, I had a raging headache and my eyes were overtired, so I couldn’t read as much as I wanted. I may end up printing it out and reading it on the page.

I’m getting spoiled with the Mac — unless I need to be connected to the internet, I can work anywhere. Moving around the space throughout the day keeps my brain fresh.

Good morning’s work on the Matty book. I have to stop and reconfigure the house design — the way I have the house set up in the book isn’t working. Urgh. Time to draw a floorplan.

I keep getting caught up in admin stuff and client projects, and the writing is suffering. I have to devote almost the whole day today to business correspondence and admin, but then I have to reconfigure my time for the rest of the week so the writing gets back in balance.

We’re having terrible thunderstorms and lightening today. I have to keep dashing downstairs to check the brook, and I doubt I’ll be online much. The cats don’t like the noise and the flashing lights. It really does sound like angels bowling above us — only in the APARTMENT above us, not somewhere up in the sky! 😉

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on June 9, 2009 at 8:35 am  Comments (5)  
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Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and warm

I don’t know how I’m ever going to get my act together today. I’m overtired and unfocused. But I have to — lots to do.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the praise you’ve showered on me for “The Retriever” in Books for Monsters. And for the suggestions to expand it into a book. I just may do that. If you want to see more of my work there, let the editor know!

Friday was reasonably productive. I cleared a bunch of stuff off my desk, got some writing done, worked on redesigning the ebooks — there are two possible ways to do it, and I’m going to see which one is more efficient and use that method. I finally got to start my friend Kim Smith’s book AVENGING ANGEL, which is a really fun mystery.

There were actually a half a dozen jobs on the boards Friday that I thought were worth pitching. And I’m working on a residency proposal. I don’t think I’m quite “literary” enough a writer for them, so I’m trying to play my other strengths. There’s also a contest I might enter — it seems fun.

Not much sleep Friday night into Saturday morning. A domestic disturbance in another apartment woke me around 1 AM — it settled down quickly; I don’t know if someone called the cops or what. Then, around 4:30, the cats and I were woken up by snarling and growling, but it sure didn’t sound like anything we’d ever heard before. The creature was in the tree outside the window — I couldn’t see what it was, but the cats believed it was a threat. Their eyes were enormous, the fur bristled, backs arched, tails low and waving, and they were growling and hissing right back. I shut the window, because a screen felt way too flimsy between us. It wasn’t a cat, it wasn’t a dog (obviously — it was in a tree), it wasn’t a skunk or a raccoon. I don’t know if possums make noise — we occasionally have them around here. I HOPE it’s not a fisher. If fishers have invaded the neighborhood, we’re all screwed. If I can get a good look at it and it IS a fisher, I’ll have to call some nature authority to come and deal with it, or no cat, small dog, squirrel, chipmunk, skunk, or small child is safe. The ones in Maine are VICIOUS. I didn’t smell the odor I normally associate with fishers, so I hope it’s not one of those.

But then, the cats decided that, since we were up anyway, it must be time for breakfast. Uh, no. But they are extraordinarily persistent, and it was well before six when they won. I’m seriously outnumbered.

I was in NO mood for a big day of racing. I managed to get a polish done on a submission and got it off before I had to turn my attention to the horses. The weather was gorgeous — low seventies with a breeze, unlike last year, when it was in the 90’s and disgustingly humid. It was a hit and miss day for me in my picks. I’m not quite sure how I wound up ahead by a little, but I did. I did not pick Summer Bird, the winner. He ran a great race, but I’m still not getting on his band wagon. What interests me in the whole thing is how this year’s Triple Crown affects the trainers of Mine That Bird and Summer Bird (half-brothers, sired by Birdstone). Both trainers weren’t well-known outside of their home tracks, and I’m interested in following their careers.

I also got a ton of inspiration for DEAD MAN’S STALL.

Sunday, I gave myself most of the day off. Did some catch-up. I have to make a decision about 1 and 1 before the end of the summer. They gave me a credit for the problems, as I asked, but the problem isn’t being solved. I missed a job opportunity yesterday because it was time sensitive, created in the email (because I didn’t have time to do it elsewhere and cut and paste), and the server error not only didn’t send it, but dumped the email without saving it as a draft or anything else. I now have a reliable computer. I need to expand that to a reliable web host. I understand that there are sometimes problems, but every day for the past two months and change? And at least three times a week for the four to five months prior. I love the components in the package and the price point, but if it doesn’t work when I need it to, it’s useless.

I finished some half-read books that needed attention — two that were quite disappointing — but learned from both of them. I finished my friend Kim’s book and sent off the interview questions for her appearance on A BIBLIO PARADISE. I bought my friend Colin’s book STELLA, and spent some time congratulating him on the Eternal Press loop.

Some new client projects came in, which I will start today.

I went to the Tony Award viewing party in the evening and it was great. I thought Neil Patrick Harris did a good job as a host, although they had the announcer on the God mike too often at times where he should have handled duties. I’m thrilled that HAIR won Best Revival, although I expected WEST SIDE STORY to win. The three “Billys” in Billy Elliot shared the award, which was great, and, in general, it was a delightful evening. I thought they showcased some great numbers, although the sound problems and the sound mix drove me nuts. In the course of a live show, everyone deals with each other much more constantly and intimately than in film or television, so everyone who works on a production is much more fully and emotionally invested. I think last night’s production communicated that investment better than many prior years. Tony Award night always makes me remember why I got into the business in the first place, and grateful for the long career I’ve had there. I don’t miss being backstage every night anymore, but I’m very grateful for the years I had back there.

The cats got me up early (big surprise). Nice morning’s work on the Matty book. Need to get back to the serial and to DEAD MAN’S STALL, and to finish, polish, and send the Belmont wrap-up article. Must do some stuff for my mom, design another postcard for a giveaway, do some work for the Prague trip, and the client work.

Busy day — better get to it!

Devon

Racing Ink — Belmont Stakes Day

Regular “Ink” daily post below:

Racing Ink — Belmont Stakes Day, June 6, 2009

As I predicted, Rachel Alexandra is not running on Belmont Day. But the race will be exciting, and here are my picks for the whole card:

Race 1:
Inger Management across the board with Justin P. as a long shot show bet.

Race 2:
Speight of Hand across the board and Just Ben.

Race 3:
I like Bimini a lot here, so I’ll probably bet him across the board. I’m surprised at Molten Lava’s long odds — if he looks good in the paddock, I’ll toss him in to show, and pick a place horse at the paddock, possibly Wanted Alive.

Race 4:
Spurred, trained by David Donk, across the board. Slam Dunk, trained by Graham Motion to place, and Radical Sabbatical, trained by Barclay Tagg, to show. Since this is a turf race, and I like the way all these trainers prep their horses on the turf, I’m choosing trainer as the top factor.

Race 5:
Another turf race and another Donk horse, So It Goes, across the board. Christophe Clemente’s horse, Western Influence, has surprisingly long odds at 10-1 as of this writing. If he looks good, I’ll put him in a show spot. I’ll pick one more horse at the paddock. If the race moves off the turf, I’ll also toss in Overextended.

Race 6 — The True North Stakes:
This is always a fun race. I’ll take Benny the Bull across the board. I’ve always liked both Silver Edition and Desert Key, so I’ll look at them. Fabulous Strike’s odds seem too short to me, but I’ll take a look at the horse and see if he’s on his toes tomorrow.

Race 7 — Just a Game Stakes:
For fillies and mares, so of course, I can’t wait. AND it’s on the turf. Caribbean Sunset, the Clement horse, across the board. With a name like I Lost My Choo, how can I resist to at least try her in the show spot. I’ll take a look at Forever Together, Modern Look, and My Princess Jess and make my place spot choice.

Race 8 — Woody Stephens Stakes:
Munnings, Hull, and Regal Ransom across the board and as a boxed trifecta. Hello Broadway is my longshot show pick.

Race 9 — Acorn Stakes;
For the fillies. Honestly, I do not have a clue which horse I’ll pick. I’d like to put Funny Moon in there somewhere, but I will wait until I see them to decide.

Race 10 — Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap Stakes:
This is a turf race with a lot of GREAT horses in it. I’m throwing Better Talk Now in there — he’s ten years old, he’s been good to me, I’m going to support him. Wesley, who I’ve championed all season, no matter where he turns up, is also in the mix. I also want to consider Court Vision, Cowboy Cal, and Cosmonaut. I’m surprised by Champes Elysees’s long odds. The choices in this field are tough.

Race 11 — Belmont Stakes
The Big Race of the Day. I’m going with Mine That Bird across the board. Summer Bird has more experience as a sprinter, so I’m surprised to see him in such a long race, and I’ll pass. I still don’t think Dunkirk will have his mental game in place until Saratoga, but I do like the horse, so I’ll also take him across the board. Chocolate Candy for place and show, although Mike Smith’s not on him this time. Flying Private ran much better in both the Derby (correction: This should read “Preakness”, not “Derby”) and the Preakness than I expected. I still think he’ll be at his best at Saratoga, but I’ll also put place and show bets on him here. I will pick a longshot horse in the post parade.

Race 12:
A very short race (6f) after a really long one. There should be some good value for money here. I’ll go with Storm Hope and Brave Soul, with Rock and Rune as my longshot show bet. If Afrikaner gets in, he’ll at least get place money. If Graceful Afleet gets in, I’ll toss some cash his way, too.

Race 13:
Another crowded race with value for money. Manchild and Golden Guska are my top two, with Skybay and One Lucky Date as my longshot picks. If the race moves off the turf and Wanda’s Double gets in, he’ll be my top choice.

Hop on over to FemmeFan next week to read my wrap-up article!

Happy Racing!

Don’t know how to bet a horse? Read my article here for my rather odd point of view!

Published in: on June 5, 2009 at 8:27 am  Comments (3)  
Tags:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and warm

Yesterday was mostly about design. I did some promo work, but the bulk of the day was spent applying what I learned in the iPhoto and iPages workshops this week. I did a lot of work on the new Fearless Ink brochure. I need to hone the text, but it’s designed and the graphics are there. I managed to pull the old graphics I used in Windows, scan them, have the Canon printer send them to my email as a jpg and download them into iPhoto, so I can use them in design. I’m going to see if I can somehow do that with the moonlight-over-water graphic I use for my main business card (which is in a very old PrintMaster Gold program) and do the same thing. I COULD get BootCamp and run Windows simultaneously, but I really want to get away from Windows, except for using Word For Mac when I have to. The Mac system integrates much better and is more useful for my needs.

I also worked on the Jain Lazarus brochure — again, I need to hone text. I know I wrote text for all these — I bet it’s still on the old PC.

I started redesigning the ebooks. I’m trying two different methods, and whichever one is more efficient will be my first choice moving forward. I can design fun and eye-catching covers, create good-looking page designs, and set up the booklets so that they look better and read better. I’m going to redesign all of them, and then upload them at once.

And then, all of a sudden, it was dinnertime! I was tired, but not frustrated — even though there are some things that worked in the workshops that I couldn’t duplicate. Most of it has to do with transferring material that was in Word, rather than creating it in iPages. Although Word for Mac runs better than Word ran on the PC, it’s still Microsoft, and still doesn’t really want to integrate with anything else and has to be coaxed. I get there eventually, and, once I’m creating everything in Pages, it will be better. I figure it will take about six months to really transition things and feel comfortable moving between the older work in Word and the new material.

I can save into word and convert into PDF without using programs like the nightmare Nitro PDF — which didn’t even let me convert photos and covers.

For me, this system works much better.

Now, my big question for the DIXIE DUST RUMORS postcards is — glossy or matte? What do YOU think? Leave a comment below!

Confidential Job #1 has honored me enormously. The next assignment deals with the work of an iconic figure who was very central during the time I grew up. And they chose ME. Because of the confidentiality agreement, I can’t go into details, but I’m thrilled.

Got a little reading done, but not enough. I’ve got several books stacked up to read over the weekend and into next week, so I can send out interview questions for A BIBLIO PARADISE. And Colin’s book comes out on Sunday — I can’t wait to buy it, read him, and host him on his blog tour!

Lots of admin work to do today, along with some writing and some redesign work. I need to get follow-up done on the March pitches. I’ve got at least one pitch to get out, and start a proposal for a residency I’d like to land.

I’d like to get more writing done over the next few days, but I’ve also got to get out the DIXIE DUST mailing and another round of press materials. All good, just very busy.

Great morning’s work on the Matty book. The serial suffered the past week, and I need to get back to it.

The weekend will be busy — The Belmont Stakes are tomorrow, and I’m going to a Tony Awards party on Sunday.

My picks for Belmont will be up on RACING INK here later this morning.

Back to the page.

Devon

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and mild

IMG_0006

I put this photo in just because I could. It’s the beach/boardwalk about a mile from my apartment.

Books for Monsters released ahead of schedule. They’ve run my action/adventure tale “The Retriever”, set in London. You can read it here.

Hop on over to the SDR blog and check out my piece “Revision is More Than Spell Check.” It points out some of the most common mistakes writers miss when they do what they call “revision”, which, more often than not, is just running a piece through spell check.

Went to Costco to pick up a few things, did the grocery shopping, worked on client projects yesterday.

I left early for White Plains to sign up for Apple’s One-on-One program — only to discover that I’m not eligible! You have to purchase it WITH the computer, or within a fourteen day window. I blew it. It’s only my fault — I remember the guy who sold me the computer telling me about it, but I was on information overload at that point and it didn’t sink in. Plus, being used to the tactics of Dell and Microsoft, where they’re constantly trying to get as much money out of you as possible without giving you what you actually want and need — I was suspicious. I was heart-broken when I found out I couldn’t sign up. The poor guy who broke the news to me was afraid I’d weep all over his shoes. But I didn’t. Further discussion indicates that the program is too structured to fit my needs anyway, and not as individualized as i want, plus you can’t make up lessons. So, if I was away for a week, too bad for me. You can’t really complain, at that price point, but I need something more individualized. So I have to find someone I can hire outside of one of the programs whenever I need to learn something, and I’ll take as many of the free workshops at the store as I can.

The iPages workshop was FANTASTIC. There were only two of us, so we managed to get in-depth, and I learned so much. I’m delightfully shocked by the versatility of iPages. It makes Word look like a behemoth dinosaur dying in the tar pits. When I came home, I designed the postcard for DIXIE DUST RUMORS, taking what I learned from the iPhoto workshop and the iPages workshop, and got it done in TEN MINUTES. It’s never taken me less than several hours in Microsoft, mostly because the various programs didn’t do what I needed and wouldn’t talk to each other. I’m astonished. The “Inspector” function lets me do and integrate just about anything. I still really don’t understand “Alpha”, but the teacher swore by it, and I’ll figure it out.

I want to tweak the text a bit, but that has nothing to do with the programs.

We worked on newsletters — Devon’s Random Newsletter will be even better next month. And envelopes. And a whole bunch of other stuff.

I started the Jain Lazarus brochure, and i’ll work on the Fearless Ink brochure today — I need to import some graphics from the PC, because I want to use the old graphics, but they’re from XP and not in Word for Mac. So I guess I’ll learn how to do that today.

When I got home, I played with MobileMe. I still don’t really get it, but at least I can use it better.

I also designed a proposal for something I call Apple Flex, an individual lesson program on several tiers, and pitched it to Apple’s corporate office. Nothing may come of it, but at least I was pro-active.

I can’t take any workshops this weekend, because of the Belmont Stakes and the Tony Awards, but maybe next week, I’ll do some more. The basic Mac workshop would be a huge help, I think. I still only know about 5% of what this system can do. And I don’t understand the Safari browser AT ALL. I use Firefox — especially since I can’t get into my websites via Safari.

I had a great morning’s work on the Matty book, and I’m getting ready to work on a pitch, a proposal, and get back to the serial.

Back to the page.

Devon