Monday, August 31, 2009

The statue in front of the National Museum of Dance, Saratoga Springs, NY

Monday, August 31, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy, muggy, cooler

I can’t believe it’s nearly September. Two weeks from today, I’m headed to Prague. Language-wise, I am so not ready, but everything else seems pretty organized.

Yesterday was mostly a writing day. AMENDS has a good natural writing rhythm. I write a few pages, I wander off and do something else, I write a few pages, I wander off and do something else. All good.

I did the write-up for Confidential Job #1. I’m going to proof it and add the page numbers for fact-checking, and then send it off. Then I have to bundle up the invoice information and find a computer with IE on it so I can invoice, probably at the Greenwich Library. Pain in the —-.

And Apple better cough up a solution today. My patience has ended.

There’s a very important article on Shiloh Walker’s site about piracy and ebooks. I hope you check it out. The article articulates the problem very well.

Brandy, you are incredibly talented in so many areas — and not just household management and child-rearing, which are pretty impressive skills in themselves. You’re well-read and articulate, you can do all kinds of crafts, and you have a way with animals, especially cats. You have a wealth of kindness and compassion, and you’re not afraid to share it. All of those are rare and wonderful traits in this day and age.

I found a residency for which I want to apply for next summer, thanks to Hope Clark’s site. It’s an island off the coast of Maine, not a fancy, resort-style retreat, but something where I can actually get a lot of uninterrupted work time in a natural setting. I’m going to apply when I get back from Prague.

I decided I’m going to get my hair cut sometime this week instead of waiting until next week and letting everything pile up just before I leave. I’ve let it grown for seven or eight months now — I haven’t had hair this long in about 15 years. And it’s all coming off, back to my usual short hair, which will be easier to deal with when traveling.

My phone’s not holding a charge for more than a minute (okay, I’m exaggerating, a couple of hours), and I can’t get another battery for it, but it’s a waste of time and money to get it upgraded before I head to Prague. I’ll switch out the phones when I get back.

I have a few pitches to get out to magazines this week, and I want to get a draft of an article done and out to an editor before I leave, so she can look at it and consider changes while I’m gone. I need to do some follow-up on some information for which I asked in order to write it all up.

I’ve got another short article to tweak and get off, hopefully with some photos. I’m hesitant to pitch for any freelance jobs before I go, because the turnaround time will be while I’m gone.

Planning continues for the DC trip in November, and, in and among the various gigs in October, I want to squeeze in another overnight to Saratoga and Lenox.

I have to stay very calm and organized over the next few weeks, and my tolerance for crap is at zero. Should be interesting.

Good morning’s work on AMENDS. The characters are far more complex than I originally envisioned, which is a good thing. I’m going to start typing up the chapters as I write them, and save them on the flash drive, in case this computer goes kaplooey again. I’m tired of being treated like the dumb little errand girl by Apple. I am the customer and they need to fix the problem they caused.


AMENDS: first draft: 15,812 words out of est. 75,000
A lovely place to watch the world go by in Saratoga Springs, NY

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New York Botanical Garden

Sunday, August 30, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

It’s starting to smell like autumn.

Danny passed us by without much impact, which is a good thing. And I can use all that boiled water!

The CNN website hit a new low yesterday. They’ve lost my trust anyway over the past few years, as far as not finding them a reliable resource. Yesterday, however, they took tasteless and tacky to a new level.

They’ve got the coverage of the Senator Edward Kennedy funeral streaming, and, under it, an ad from a life insurance company picturing a casket and saying, “Don’t wait until it’s too late!”

Yes, I emailed them and told them what I thought.

I didn’t spend the day glued to the funeral. I honored the Senator (who, even though I didn’t always agree with him, had a huge, direct, and personal impact on my life, mostly positive) in my own way. I saw a bit of the end, at Arlington. As usual, the Kennedys handled things with grace and panache.

Let’s hope the right wing-nut lie-mongers shut up for at least a few days. Not that they’re capable of respecting anything other than the dollars for which they shill paid by large corporations masquerading as citizens.

Now, as everyone walks away from Arlington, is where the real sense of missing begins. I remember when my father died — there was a sense of unreality from the news through the funeral arrangements through the wake and even the service. It wasn’t until walking away from the grave site that it really began to sink in. All the preparations and the people kept him immediate. The emptiness came later.

I’m re-reading a book called CALLINGS by Gregg Levoy. A friend recommended it a few years ago — it’s about creating an authentic life, doing what you’re meant to do, and recognizing the false call from the true call, and most importantly, taking action rather than making excuses. I read it quickly that first time. I’m reading it more slowly this time, and enjoying even the parts I don’t necessarily agree with.

I love his reference to TS Eliot’s quote about measuring our lives in coffee spoons (very relevant, in my case). I also agree with the way he says that one has to plunge fully into one’s calling: “A part-time effort, a sorta-kinda commitment, an untested promise, won’t suffice.” (p. 11). That’s how I feel about my writing.

It’s a very interesting book. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels at the moment, I recommend it. Even the parts that don’t necessarily work for you will get you thinking in new ways, and help you find what does work.

Ordered holiday cards from the National Wildlife Federation yesterday — special sale. I hope National Geographic offers some cards soon, and then I’ll be all set. I’m percolating another holiday story — a couple of them actually. If I’m going to do them WELL, they need to be written now, so I have time to revise them, design them, and print them in time to go out with the cards.

Got some good work done on AMENDS. It’s got an interesting shape. I couldn’t figure out where to set it for the longest time. The incident that inspired the book’s murder and the location of that incident took place here, but suburban NY didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to stick it on the Cape, and I just set stories in VT and around Concord, MA.

So I thought about putting it in Western MA, farther west even than Wyatt East’s domain in the Jain Lazarus Adventures, all the way in the Berkshires. I’ve got another piece percolating that I want to set in that region, but I don’t think they’ll conflict.

So that’s where AMENDS is set.

I figure it will run somewhere between 65K and 90K.

Had a lot of trouble with 1and1 again. I looked at some other hosts; everyone seems to get mixed reviews. I don’t know if I’m better off staying with the devil I know. At least until I get the computer stuff sorted out and don’t lose all my iWeb files again.

My contacts and client lists vanished from my Address Book — AGAIN — which means I have to re-enter them. Over it! I want Apple to stop wasting everyone’s time and actually DO something.

Finished reading the material for Confidential Job #1 and will write it up today, send it off tomorrow,and find a computer from which I can invoice them.

Did some notes on one of the holiday stories. Figured out what I want to try to make for the holidays. I will do a few prototypes in early October. If it works, I can get everything made and wrapped early; if not, it gives me time to come up with something else, so I’m not scrambling, like I did last year.

I figured out that I’ve saved $1200 so far this year by shopping as Costco on items I would have had to buy in that time period anyway.

A site on which I’d like to be a contributor is not going to work out. I’d be willing to compromise on the money (or lack thereof) to a point, but the insistence on running a photograph, not the icon, makes it a no-go. What I do or don’t look like has NOTHING to do with the quality of my writing, and, as someone who publishes under multiple names, a photograph hurts me rather than helps me. If clients who pay a ton of money have no problem with the no-photographs clause, clients who don’t should be even more flexible. Obviously, it’s not the right fit, and there are better fits for both of us somewhere else.

Need to get deeper into Prague Prep — the trip is coming up awfully quickly. It would be nice if those who were invited to guest blog and didn’t want to/couldn’t at least had the courtesy to decline and respond to my follow-up emails instead of ignoring them. Oh, well, the sooner you learn about someone discourteous, the sooner you can remove them from your life, right? I’m seriously starting to think everyone should be required to pass an etiquette class before they’re allowed out in the world! 😉


AMENDS, first draft: 13,750 words out of est. 75,000

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sunrise at Saratoga

Saturday, August 29, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy, humid, cool

So far, so good as far as the brook holding. I boiled plenty of water, have all the supplies in, and keep watching the brook every few hours to see if I need to move the car. But now Tropical Depression Danny is losing steam (and water), so we might just get out of this intact.

I was woken up by a crying cat. I was all set to scold my beasts, when I realized that they were all staring at me, but none of them was yelling. It was a cat outside.

It was before 6 AM.

So I pulled on some clothes and hauled my weary ass out of bed and down all those flights of stairs and outside to make sure no one was hurt.

It was the little gray and white cat who belongs to someone who rented one of the basement apartments. Which are now being called “garden apartments” and shouldn’t have been renovated, much less rented out because WHEN the next flood hits, those residents will lose everything.

Anyway, Missy was sitting in front of the window, trying to get in, and no one was letting her in. She didn’t want a treat, she wanted to go inside her own home. I don’t have a key, and I surely couldn’t try to open a stranger’s window (which is locked anyway). I let her into the basement, so she could find her own front door, but be out of the rain. She was furious that I didn’t OPEN said front door. I tried to explain I couldn’t, but she wasn’t having it, and swanned outside again, in a huff.

While I was out, I checked the brook, which was low, thank goodness.

I looked up at my window, and saw three little fuzzy faces peering down, wondering what was going on with the unhappy cat.

The saying is true: Dogs have masters; cats have staff. Missy wanted a more competent staff this morning, and fired me.

I’m getting really frustrated with Apple. There’s all this phone tag and no solution. I sent another long, detailed email, and got a message saying “We prefer to handle this by phone.” Well, you’re NOT handling this by phone, you’re dragging it out. I’m tired of being talked at and there’s still no solution. I expect better from Apple. I sent them another long, detailed email — no holds barred. Mobile Me has been an utter waste of money so far — it doesn’t integrate the way they claim it does, and, as I said in my email, by the time I leave for Prague, it has to work flawlessly.

And I re-emphasize: If I was a man, this would have been solved, really truly SOLVED — not all this bullshit “talk therapy” they’re trying, instead of actually solving the problem, which is that they sold me a lemon — the FIRST time I walked through the door.

On happier notes, I did a lot of work on Confidential Job #1 yesterday, and I’m pretty sure I can finish it this weekend, send it off and invoice it on Monday. Of course, to invoice, I have to drive to the Greenwich Library and send it from there, via IE, since I can’t run IE on this machine, and their online invoicing ONLY accepts IE. I’m really tempted to charge them for time and mileage.

I had a second good writing session on AMENDS yesterday afternoon, and another equally good one this morning.

If I felt more confident about this computer, I’d be typing up the chapters as I finished them.

I have a few short pieces to get out, and I pitched a few markets yesterday. One is really exciting — I might be able to sell them some stuff written in and about Prague. If I can get an article about some other spot done before I go, so they get an idea of my style, that would be great. I also offered them clips, so we’ll see.

Found some more markets — I should be able to get my entire backlog of projects out before I leave.

I’m truly over the writers who defend their decision to write for mill content sites, accepting subpar wages and claiming that it’s “easier” to get work, it’s “reliable” and they’re making good money. At $15/article, you can’t maintain the pace you need to pay bills and quality and originality. Because if you COULD, you’d be working for publications that pay real money.

So instead of trying to educate and encourage these people, I’m over them. You say you “can’t” find any work in this economy, you “can’t” get hired anywhere else? Maybe it’s because you’re not good enough.

If you hone your skills in a class and work for some legitimate clients, you’ll get hired at a living wage. IF you’re willing to do the legwork to land the clients.

If you’re not, then, yeah, you’re only worth $15/article, and most legitimate employers who see a mill content site on your resume won’t hire you.

That’s the reality. Grow up and grow a pair.

I better get back to the page — I’ve got the chance for some truly uninterrupted writing time this weekend, and I want to take full advantage of it!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

The Adelphi Hotel, Saratoga Springs, NY.

I was in the Query Zone yesterday afternoon. I think I got out about a dozen queries. Hopefully, they all find their mark. I also got some pitches out to potential clients.

Got some client projects cleared off, have another to finish today. Got a lot of work done on the assignment for Confidential Job #1. I think I can finish it and submit it (and the invoice) by Monday. I’d like to get the check before I leave for Prague.

Spoke to my currency exchange person. Hard to get Czech kronas because they’re about to switch to Euros, only haven’t set a date. Some businesses take euros, some kronas. Oy.

With our luck and Merc retrograde, we’ll arrive on the Big Day. Whatever, right?

Sent off some photos I promised. Have to burn a CD of the Botanical Garden photos for my friend — I didn’t realize I took so many!
Racetrack in the morning.

Dealt with some nasty emails from people who tried to censor my Twitters — the usual crap — attacking my values, my lifestyle, tarot, the desire for health care reform, etc. If you don’t like what I say and how I say it, unfollow me, don’t read the blog, whatever. If you want to enter into actual discussion, fine, but don’t demand that I change what I write to please you, because I’m not gonna. Even if you offered money — which, of course, you don’t, because you’re a bully, not an entrepreneur, who tries to force his own twisted beliefs on everyone else. I will not be censored.

Let me put it this way — if one of us is set for Eternal Damnation, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be YOU.

And if and when I’m up before a Big Kahuna of the Afterlife who wants some answers about my choices, I’ll give ‘em.

National Museum of Dance, Saratoga Springs, NY

Had a great morning’s work on AMENDS. Slid right back into it as though I’d never been away from it, which is great. I know the premise and the ending, but I haven’t outlined this one. I’m discovering it as I go, which is a nice switch.

I find I don’t need outlines as much when I’m working with material set in contemporary, more realistic settings than in created worlds or historical fiction. Good to know. Of course, the next time around, I’ll probably have to outline. I needed an outline for the Helena Francis mystery — which still needs a title, by the way. But I don’t need an outline for this one. As I’ve often said, every novel is a bit like reinventing the wheel.

Paid some bills. Now I have to run some errands and then make sure the car is on higher ground before Tropical Storm Danny hits. We’re on flood watch. Again.

So I guess I’ll boil some water while I’m at it, just in case. We have plenty of supplies. I just have to get some more coffee!

Back to work.

The grounds of the Gideon Putnam Hotel, Saratoga Springs, NY

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

That was an intense two days. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post photos soon.

I was out of the house before 6 AM on Tuesday, and on the road. It was nice to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge as the sky just barely lightened — although the bridge is past its expiration date, and construction crews are desperately trying to keep it safe, considering how many thousands of people use it every day.

Traffic was heavy and steady all the way up I-87. Most of the Mobil stations are now Sunoco stations, and my gas card is a Mobil card, so I would up paying cash at one point to get in a few extra gallons, and then stopping at the next Mobil station I found to fill the tank. Still, gas is 20 cents per gallon cheaper upstate than down here. (And 30 cents cheaper around Lenox, MA).

The traffic going south on I-87, the other side, was just a total nightmare. It was a parking lot, barely crawling along at 15 mph from the bridge all the way up past Albany. So I decided I would not be returning that way.

I got into Saratoga early, so , of course, I hit Mrs. London’s for an almond croissant and a cup of coffee. I got a table by the window so I could watch the world go by — it’s completely different in the summer, with the tourists and the racegoers, than it is the rest of the year. The difference in vibe, and the tensions it causes is one of the things I want to explore in DEAD MAN’S STALL.

It’s a little different this year, due to the economy. The “playas” — guys who wear too much jewelry and too much cologne, chain smoke, have Botoxed bottle blondes in skimpy clothes hanging off their arms, throw money around, act like they’re big time horse better (but their choices rarely win), and generally behave badly, aren’t out in force this year. The economy’s kept them away.

There was a lot less tension around without them.

I spent a few minutes wondering what differences my life would contain had I accepted the acceptance to Skidmore College and studied in Saratoga, rather than going to Florida State for a year, where I made my commitment to theatre, and then transferring to NYU for film production. Would I have wound up on Broadway? Would I have gone into dance administration? Would I have started writing full-time earlier? Writing would always have been a part of it, but I’m curious about this particular road not taken.

I stopped to sigh over the amazing Adelphi Hotel. I love this place — I wish I owned it. It’s a stunningly beautiful Victorian Inn.

Magic Moon was closed so early in the morning, so I couldn’t go there. And the newsstand seems to be gone — so I went to Stewart’s to get the papers. Drove to Lowe’s, down on the other end of town. We don’t have a Lowe’s around here, and I love it. I had a list of stuff that one can’t get in Home Depot that one can get in Lowe’s, so I stocked up.

Then I headed over to the park. My first stop was the National Museum of Dance. They were having computer problems and didn’t want to handwrite a receipt, but I made them do it anyway. They are required by law to provide a receipt, whether they feel like writing one out or not.

The Museum itself is quite lovely. There’s a big Broadway section, which was interesting because most of the focus was on dancers with whom I’ve worked. I thought it was well done. There was also the Hall of Fame, very well done, and a section on things like the Ziegfeld Follies, the Ballet Russes, etc. I took a lot of photographs of the costumes. And, because it’s dance, the focus is on the feet — tables and tables and tables of shoes. I also photographed the label in one of Peter Martins’s costumes, because it’s made by the same shop which does a lot of the work for the Broadway shows I’ve done.

After the museum, I headed up to the Gideon Putnam Hotel to help set up for the Gala. I was pleased to see a lot more volunteers there than in previous years – and this batch actually got to work. They weren’t spoiled girlfriends and spouses of money people, they were actually interested in the event and its purpose. It was a pretty merry group, and we had a good time setting up.

The friend who’s the head of it and I headed back to her place after, to work on the computer. I wish I’d brought up MacGeorge — even limping, he’d have been quicker to set everything up on than the PC. My friend’s getting tired of the PC rearranging files all the time and not telling her where they are. Typical PC.

Anyway, we coaxed it into doing what we needed, we did some event scripting for the evening (a friend who attended texted me last night and said, “You wrote what X said, didn’t you? I could tell. He wouldn’t have been able to speak in complete sentences otherwise, and no one around here writes with both grammatical correctness AND a personal tone.”)

I had a chance to attend the Bruce Springsteen concert, and, much as I adore Bruce, I wasn’t about to cancel out on my friends.

I tossed my dress on and slipped into the cute shoes and drove back over to Union Street, where two of my friends just happen to be living in the same building — one friend bought an apartment there, the other is renting for the duration of the race meet. It’s a lovely historical landmark from 1886, with a graceful front porch, where we all met.

We went to an English pub on the other side of town called The Local, where we had some excellent food and drink and great conversation. I didn’t go with anything English — I had fish tacos, which were excellent. Then we went over to Congress Park, where there was an outdoor concert — good musicians, but they were playing what I call “70’s Lounge Music.” It was pretty funny. There were lots of dogs in attendance, so I got to make new canine friends.

I was also bitten my mosquitos, and the bites started giving me trouble. We passed one of the many natural sulfur springs, for which Saratoga became famous in the 19th Century. They’re disgusting to drink, but I splashed some of the water on the bites. It felt strange, but in about ten minutes, the redness and the itch stopped.

Good to know.

We wandered up the street to Uncommon Grounds for gelato and coffee, sitting outside, watching the Saratoga night life pass us by. More bikers than usual are in town this summer, but they were really funny and interesting.

Wandered back past Magic Moon — which was closed for the night. And headed back home. I stayed with one of my friends, one her sofa bed. It’s a lovely little apartment. It was so quiet that I had a hard time getting to sleep, but I finally did.

I woke up without the alarm around 5 AM, and met my other friend on the porch just before 6:30 (did my yoga and everything)! Packed the car, and we walked up Union Street to the track. He signed me in for a guest pass for the day, and we headed to the Oklahoma training track first for the works, then, at the break, over to the main track, where we met up with some of the Thorofan leaders. They are a new group, started by fans of the sport, who want to improve the overall sport. They have chapters all over the country, under a national umbrella, and are affiliating with tracks. Several of their members were among those volunteering for the gala. I was very impressed with everyone I met — genuine love for the sport and interested in both making the sport better and safer and drawing in more fans to keep the industry healthy. I’m going to do an article on them for FEMMEFAN.

Headed back up to the Gideon Putnam to help set up and arrange the items for the auction. The space looked lovely and cheerful and fun — a nice change from a lot of the more serious, formal fundraisers in town.

Put in a few hours there. I didn’t feel so guilty leaving, because plenty of volunteers came in. I knew it would be great this year.

I stopped by another friend’s house, but she wasn’t home, and I wasn’t able to arrange to see two other friends, so I hit the road. I took Route 50 down to Ballston Spa. It’s a cute town, but nothing particularly compelled me to stop, and I wasn’t in the mood to visit The National Bottle Museum today, so I kept going. I enjoyed the farms in Malta, and got back on I-87 going south — not fun.

At Albany, I picked up I-90 headed east, which shortly becomes the Mass Turnpike. As soon as I got on it, I relaxed. There was hardly any traffic, the day was gorgeous, low humidity, and about ten degrees cooler than New York.

I got off the first exit from the Pike and headed north through Lee to Lenox. Found a parking spot right away, bought the papers, went around the corner to The Haven, and that’s where I had lunch (curried chicken sandwich), and a meeting with a potential client up there. I’d really like to do more work in that area. It’s so laid back, friendly, and literate.

Stopped at the wine store and found a bottle of outstanding Argentinean Malbec on sale, so I bought it.

Hit the road again, taking 20 down to 8 down to the Merritt — only took me two and a half hours to get home. And, until Waterbury, there were only about a dozen cars on the road. From Waterbury down, there was a lot of traffic, but it moved well. So much more delightful than taking I-87 down!

I took a quick peek at 14 acres of land for sale on Laurel Lake — the same lake Edith Wharton’s property overlooks. I’d rather have a house already built, though, even if it needs work. But it’s awfully tempting to purchase the land so it can’t be developed.

Very tired when I got home. The cats were glad to see me. I didn’t unpack much. Ate, and went to bed early. Slept for 11 hours.

I had trouble getting going this morning. I skipped the morning yoga, which I know I will regret. I’ve got thank you notes to write, photos to download, follow-ups to do, email to catch up on. I have some client work to get to, and a follow-up on yesterday’s meeting. I need to do some more work on an article, and send questions to some other sources, and the formulate the interview questions for the Thorofan interview.

I have plenty of stuff percolating for both DEAD MAN’S STILL and the revision of SHALLID. I am eager to get back to AMENDS. I hope to talk to Apple today — I’ve finally got MacGeorge running the way I want it to, and I’m wondering if I should stick to the devil I know.

It’s hard to get back to “reality”, so I need to take another look at everything and see how I can move my reality — which is still better than most people’s, since I don’t work in an office on someone else’s schedule — to align it even more with the best of the past few days.

I am deeply saddened by Senator Edward Kennedy’s death. His work had an enormous and direct impact on my life. I’m mildly acquainted with the next generation of Kennedys, via various work-related encounters. Some of his actions angered me enormously — no matter how much good he’s done, it can’t erase Chappaquiddick. But he was passionate about social justice (most of the current politicians are far more interested in corporate welfare than the good of individual citizens or they wouldn’t allow the banks to continue their daily acts of economic violence against the citizens) and he was completely unique. He was a true Yankee individualist. I am tempted to go to Boston, where he will lie in State today and tomorrow — if I didn’t have to worry about Hurricane Danny, I probably would attempt it. But, much as I respected Senator Kennedy, getting caught in a hurricane is too much of a risk right now. I don’t want to be on the road in weather like that. So I will light a candle to his memory and honor him in my own way.

Back to work. There’s a lot to think about.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
No idea; writing this Mon. night

By the time you read this, I should be on the road to Saratoga.

While I’m gone, if you like this blog, how about nominating me as one of the Best 25 Blogs for writers here?

Or, of course, nominate any writing blog you think is really good!

Busy Monday. Trader Joe’s, Staples — they STILL didn’t restock the glossy postcard paper near me, so I had to drive well into CT for crying out loud, and they didn’t have glossy paper either, so I settled for matte. Whatever. They’re postcards. They also don’t sell the refills for my great Pentel pens — although they sell the pens. What’s up with that? Not a happy camper.

Did paperwork. Packed. Ironed. Put everything together for the trip. Missed the call from Apple — I was only away from the phone for 10 minutes.

Did some mapping, so I have a clue where I’m going. Finalized some arrangements. Busy day, but good busy. Didn’t get a chance to get back to AMENDS, and it’s eating at me, so I hope to sneak in a few pages here and there between events.

Will return soon


PS Threw an extra pair of shoes into my bag. Just in case.

Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 1:36 am  Comments (3)  
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cooler

I didn’t blog yesterday. Oh, well. I only had the computer on for a few minutes in the evening to shoot out a client project. Since I’m working out of town tomorrow and Wednesday, I wanted to make sure everything was off my desk before I left.

Of course, more came in last night, but that has to wait until Thursday or Friday. I am fully booked today.

Most of yesterday was spent in the car, dashing around. We went to Target, in search of more bins. They’re sold out of the ones I like, but I got one of the faux leather totes to stick in the corner by my desk for important stuff, and a few small, flat bins for small items that will fit under the bookcase. The cats are not amused — they consider the tote their new cat lounging area, and the newly cleaned up area under the bookcase a hidey-hole. They keep pushing/pulling the bins out. I wanted to get some fabric bins to set in a row in front of the bookcase, with different projects in different bins. That way, everything is all together, and when I’m done with a project and it goes to press, I can file the bin and use it for something new. But everything Target had was fuschia, and that’s not really me. The faux leather milk crate-types are okay, but too expensive. I’m also worried that any of these bins aren’t sturdy enough to hold the amount of research books I use for different projects. The plastic crates are sturdy enough, but, design-wise, don’t look good. The steel mesh crates are great, but only for files, not for books. I can’t just keep stacking stuff all over the floor, and there’s not room for hollow ottomans — which would be a good design choice, but I can’t spend that kind of money to have an ottoman for every project I’m juggling, nor do I have the room!

So I’ll keep looking.

We also looked at a couch that looked good in the photos, but in person, there are design elements you don’t see which make it too unwieldy and take up too much room in the space available.

I re-measured the front door. With the new frame, it’s now FOUR INCHES narrower than before, so pretty much any furniture can’t go through it any more. Very frustrating. Even if you take off the door, there’s a narrow metal inset — at least one of the dimensions on a piece has to be less than 30 inches in order to wrestle it through.

We also went to Barnes & Noble, where I got the travel mat I wanted — sticky on one side, soft on the other, folds up small enough to fit into my carry-on. Because if the Merc Ret hits us full force and we are stuck somewhere for more hours than we’re supposed to, I am rolling out the yoga mat in the airport lounge. Don’t think I won’t! And Costume Imp can hide in the bar, pretending he doesn’t know me!

Also picked up a journal book for the Prague trip.

Got some groceries, came back, messed around with rearranging stuff. Got frustrared, so got back in the car, and we headed back to White Plains, to a plaza to which we’d never been. There’s a Home Goods there. I’ve never been to Home Goods — the commercials are so tacky, I avoided the place. Yet the actual merchandise isn’t bad, and the prices are pretty good. I got some ideas for future stuff — yeah, it might not be there then, but I’ll deal. They didn’t have what I needed/wanted today. They had some nice bins, but not enough of the same pattern for me to invest. But I got some ideas.

We visited a huge outlet shoe store — some cute stuff, but nothing I couldn’t live without right now, although I’ll definitely go back. And another B&N, where I got Karen Marie Moning’s DARKFEVER as the third of my plane books. It came highly recommended by people I trust. I wanted more of a mix of genres, but everything I’ve got so far is dark/urban fantasy. Maybe I can pick up something at the airport that’s different. I’ll definitely grab stuff at Heathrow in either direction that I can’t get in the US.

Went to K-Mart to see if they had any decent bins. I rarely shop at K-Mart, although the one in Hyannis is huge, neat, clean,and friendly. This one was not, and I won’t go back. Plus, they didn’t have anything I wanted or needed, and everyone was in a bad mood, with far too many screaming/badly behaved children. Uh, no.

Stopped in at Pier 1. They have some gorgeous reading chairs, but until I do the furniture swap and have the room, I can’t buy anything. I also really like their painted cabinets, but the truth is that I can pick up something at a thrift shop, strip it down, and, using stencils, paint it myself, and then it will truly be one-of-a-kind.

In other words, not a good shopping day!

Came back, got started on the assignment for Confidential Job #1 — which is awesome, this time around, and finished up some client work to send off.

It was so ookey and rainy and awful. But it didn’t flood, thank goodness. Today seems a little better, and since I’m headed to Saratoga tomorrow, it should be beautiful.

I had a GREAT morning’s work on AMENDS, and can’t wait to get back to do some more later in the day. I’ve got to get to Trader Joe’s to restock the cat food and a few other things, get in some more of Elsa’s special food so she can be properly fed while I’m away (the change in diet would horrify many “experts”, but she has improved enormously in just a few days and a real old-school vet thinks I’m doing absolutely the right thing).

I still have to pack for Saratoga — I can’t believe that I’m waiting until the day before! Instead of getting caught up in the whole changing-clothes-six-times-a-day, I’m bringng a single small duffle, my mat bag, and some writing.

I’m wearing the clothes in which to help set up, I have a dress and cute shoes that will have to take me through dinner and whatever we wind up doing after. I’m taking something in which to sleep, and then, the next day’s clothes have to work for the morning works at the track (at 5:30 AM!), set-up , and the other couple of things I have to do before I head back downstate. I keep debating if I should toss in a few more pairs of cute shoes, but really, I think my Timberland sneakers for running around (they look good as well as being comfortable) and the one pair of cute turquoise shoes to go with the turquoise dress are just going to have to do.

I hope to take some notes for DEAD MAN’S STALL. I also used bits of Saratoga to inspire the setting for SHALLID. I’ll probably run around a bit and take some more photographs.

If I can steal some time between events to write a page here and there, at a cafe, or on the grounds of the Gideon Putnam between setting up for the gala and dinner, I will do so. So I’m taking a small writing bag with my notebook, my journal, and AMENDS.

I’m not taking the computer because, until I get things sorted with Apple, I don’t know if I can trust it; plus, there’ll be no time to hook up. I’m better off with notebook and pen. I AM taking the iPod, so if I can tweet along the journey, I will. I’ll probably tuck in a book, just in case.

Off to Trader Joe’s, and then back to spend some more time on the assignment for Confidential Job #1, and AMENDS. The death row animal shelter scene was hard to write, but important for the overall course of the story, and tells us a lot about the main character.


Published in: on August 24, 2009 at 7:53 am  Comments (3)  
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

Bad storms yesterday into today. The beaches are closed, due to the rip currents connected with Hurricane Bill. And we’re on flood watch. I’ve got some errands to run this morning, and then I’m moving the car to higher ground.

Yesterday was busy — multiple trips to Staples, picking up more ink at Costco, session with Canon Tech support because the big printer and the computer weren’t speaking to each other properly to print postcards. The Staples closest to me is now officially sold out of glossy postcard stock. Designed postcards and business cards for the blog — yes, it’s useful to have business cards for this blog. I haven’t yet redesigned my personal business cards, because I like my previous design, only it’s in a program that’s incompatible with the Mac and I haven’t yet been able to import the graphic properly in order to tweak if for the card. But I will.

I got nearly 400 postcards printed, several hundred cards, a series of certificates, and signed some copies of the HEX BREAKER CD. And packed the envelopes. I’m on my way to the post office this morning to get them out.

I also turned around an emergency rush job for the client — he offered, without prompting, to triple my usual rush free (anything that has to be turned around in less than three business days gets a rush fee tacked on to it). He needed it done in a matter of hours, and therefore tripled the fee. He was especially desperate because he’d gone with a cheaper-priced writer (who works for mill content sites) who mucked it up royally, and he had tens of thousands of dollars on the line. I let the fee say, “I told you so” rather than saying it myself. If you hire someone who writes for mill content sites or bidding sites, that’s the quality you’re going to get. You get what you pay for. He was ecstatic with the copy I came up with. We’ll see if he’s learned.

I got a royalty check from a special performance of one of the plays. Royalties make me all warm and fuzzy.

I’m working a benefit in Saratoga for part of next week, so most of my focus turns to that. I’ve got a client project to get done, and then I can’t do any work for this client next week. The arrangements fell into place pretty nicely this year — I’m packing a lot into one single trip. I’ve also got to finish up a feature article for a publication.

And spend more time on my own writing.

And do some more prep for Prague — that’s coming up in just a few short weeks.

The next assignment came in for Confidential Job #1 and it looks awesome. Can’t wait to dive into it. I have to do a quick turnaround on that. I want to be able to invoice them and receive the check before Prague.

Great morning’s work on AMENDS. Yes, it’s too long to fit in quotes anymore. I’m about to write a scene about an animal shelter’s Death Row, which is as upsetting to write as it is to read, but it’s vital to the story.

Driving back from my final trip to Staples yesterday, I turned a corner and it was as though someone threw a blanket over the sun. In an instant, it went from bright sunshine to a deluge.

Off to do my errands and get back to the page.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hot and humid

Yesterday was so much fun! I really enjoyed it.

Got a few things done in the morning, then went to a CT site for a few hours to make sure things were moving along as they should be.

Headed up to Ossining in the late morning. Picked up my friend and we headed back down-county to the NY Botanical Garden. Can I say that the directions on the website suck? The directions had very little to do with the roads we needed to get there. They had some of the big stretches right, but there were small stretches on other roads that they didn’t bother to include. And, since you need the smaller roads to connect to the bigger roads — it was frustrating.

But we got there It was hot, it was humid, but the Edible Garden exhibit was pretty wonderful. Things are in bloom now, everything’s lush and gorgeous. We walked around, took a lot of pictures, and pretty much had the whole garden to ourselves. My favorites were the pools with the lotus and lily pads. (No, that wasn’t part of the Edible exhibit).

We had lunch n the garden cafe and browsed the store, and, all in all, had a nice afternoon.

My friend headed to her Broadway gig. I was stuck in traffic part of the way home. Once I cleared the Bronx, it wasn’t too bad, but getting out of the Bronx was a challenge.

I had dinner back in CT, then headed home. The heat really took a lot out of me. I managed a light weight training session last night, but not much else.

The temperature numbers are lower, but the humidity is stuck between the front moving in from the West, the Great Lakes, and Hurricane Bill, moving in from the East. So it’s oppressive and nothing moves.

I had a great morning’s writing session on “Amends”. I’m really happy with the way it’s developing. The humor’s a little off-beat, but there’s also action and character development and conflict, so I like the way it’s growing.

I’ve got some errands to run this morning, and then I have to print out postcards and get some mailings done.

Hopefully, the Apple personnel and I will talk this afternoon and we’ll actually have some sort of solution. I know I’ve been hard to reach, but I have to make up for the clients and work lost last week due to the computer problems. I want information, not just phone tag.

I’m quite angry about the release of the only man convicted in the Lockerbie bombing by Scotland on “compassionate grounds.” Especially since Libya then slapped the US in the face by staging a hero’s welcome. This man was CONVICTED — it’s not like maybe someone thought he had something to do with it. He was CONVICTED of participating in the murder of 270 people. I was in Lockerbie on September 9, 2001 — two days before 9/11 — it was an incredibly moving experience.

I am deeply disappointed in the Scottish government, and I’m sure there were plenty of political machinations we’ll never know about that had absolutely nothing to do with “compassion”. Some mucky-muck, somewhere, is receiving a personal gain at the expense of those who died.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009
New Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hot and humid

I frittered away far too much time yesterday. I got writing done, I got client projects done, I did some prep for Prague, but it wasn’t anywhere near what I hoped to get done.

I received a call from Apple’s executive office, but I wasn’t there to take the call. So I had two messages to leave in return. At least there are people who are finally taking the situation seriously. However, as I made it very clear, I’m talked out and tech’d out. I’m not going back to the store for another round of crap. So leave me some actual information in the message.

And Verizon — I’m going to have to file a complaint against them. They won’t give me the information for the final billing cycle/change of service. They want me to create an new online account to access the information. I told them, no, send it to me via email or in writing — since no one can be bothered to pick up the phone. I am NOT creating a new account for a company when I’ve stopped doing business with them because their customer service is non-existent and they keep trying to do bait-and-switch. I’m stuck with them as my wireless provider for two more years, but it’s now been over a week since the change was implemented in the internet and landline, and they’re ignoring it. I’m not paying for services I’ve cancelled, well after my initial contract with them is fulfilled. And they still owe me a credit from two years ago, which I bet I’ll never see.

Anyway, I’m dropping some stuff off in CT this morning, then heading upcounty to pick up a friend, and we’re off to the Botanical Garden. Should be a great day. Hot, but good.

“Amends” is going really well. I’ve hit the right balance between comedy and mystery. Phew.


Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 7:17 am  Comments (4)  
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Wednesday, April 19, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Humid and hot

I puttered around and got work done in the morning, got the grocery shopping done, took care of some other business. Then, I headed off to CT for some site work in the afternoon, and also managed to get some other client work done and out. I cooked, for the first time in a few days, which was a nice change. When I’m stressed out, I lose my appetite, and the computer situation’s been stressing me out so much I haven’t been eating properly, pretty much only one meal a day. So, I’m trying to get back on track.

Meditation group was interesting — only one of the same people from my last session, but two other people who come pretty regularly and two new people. They said that last week it was packed — about twenty people — which must have been an interesting experience. Of the new people, one was really open to the experience and one was not. The latter kept trying to force confrontation, and no one engaged, so she was left spinning in her own bile. Anyway, I got a lot out of it, and, although it will probably be about two weeks again before I can go back, I’d like to keep working with this particular group. The structure of the meditation works well for me, and I find the interpersonal dynamics interesting without feeling as though I need to engage with anyone who’s trying to make it all about them or push negativity onto anyone else. The negativity is spewed and then dissipates; the rest of us aren’t touched by it, and the spewer is left feeling rather confused at not getting the desired reaction. It’s quite an unusual scenario. In any group, everyone plays a role, and my role in this group has developed into the one who makes the comment that gets everyone to laugh when the mood needs to shift, without being negative. Positive wit rather than negative humor.

I definitely have some philosophical questions that are formulating, which I will bring up in the coming weeks, but I want to see how the natural dynamic comes into play.

More preparations for Prague. I find Czech history very confusing, but I’m trying to wade through these books anyway. Language-wise, I’m not putting in the time and picking it up as quickly as I’d like — I have to get back to that again when the moon turns and it’s easier to begin a new project. Granted, there’s very little time for this project, but hopefully, I can use the turn of the moon phase as a catalyst to get me back on track. I also have to call the exchange bureau to find out when I can pick up my currency.

Difficult morning’s writing. I have to look up a few things for “Amends” and I forgot what that arched trellis thing one puts in a garden and lets vines and roses, etc. grow over is called. I want to say “arbor”, but I’m not sure that’s correct.

“Amends is developing nicely; I’m very happy with it. It’s just that now I have to stop and look up a few things before I can continue. But it feels good to be in a steady writing rhythm again.

I’m weary, and I’m tired of worrying, every time I turn the computer on and off, that everything will go kaplooey. But, until I have a sustained period of time where the computer works well, that’s the way it’s going to be.

Elsa’s been a little under the weather for the past few days again, and I was worried about her. But I changed something dietary yesterday, and it’s made a big difference. She perked up within an hour, and has been engaged and playful ever since. Well, she is my “special needs” cat.

Back to the page. I want to get a good day’s writing in today. I’m out of the office for most of the day tomorrow, on an adventure, so I have to get a lot done today.


Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 8:25 am  Comments (7)  
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and hot

The computer and I are limping along. Bits of programs fall out; I figure out how to get them back and bits fall out of other programs, but I managed to get some work done. I have no idea how long the computer can last, and I have no confidence in any of it, but at least I’m working day-to-day getting work done. It adds unnecessary stress to my life, but there you have it. Every time the programs and files have been reloaded, they run differently, and I have to re-learn how to maneuver within them. Since it’s the same files and the same software, it doesn’t make sense. It’s frustrating and a time-waster. I’m also tired of having to use a password on my own computer every time I want to do something. That’s a minor irritant, but I still get offended when my own computer won’t recognize me. It used to.

I’m back to writing first drafts in longhand.

Apple called — the woman with whom I spoke last week. She said she has a “resolution” for the problem. I wasn’t home to take the call, so I left a message and we’ll probably talk tomorrow. If the “resolution” means going back for another round of repairs, I’m not doing it.

They need to earn my trust back, and the way to do that is to come up with a solution so my computer runs well for a sustainable period of time, especially with me doing all the backups and maintenance it’s supposed to have.

Got some client work done, caught up on a few things. I’m having difficulties with 1and1 (gee, what a surprise), so the “out of office” is still up, because I can’t get it down. Hopefully, that will change today, and then something else won’t work. Gee, what fun.

I started playing with a story idea and wrote some notes and an outline. It deals with belief and non-belief. I doubt it will ever be publishable, but it’s something I want to play with and explore, and maybe it will come in handy in something down the road. Both of the protagonists and the antagonists have very different belief systems from each other and from me, and I wanted to explore what it was like to be inside those different psyches. Then, of course, a secondary character came in for what was supposed to be one scene, and now he’s an important part of the overall story. It’s intriguing, it’s different, it’s out of my comfort zone, so I want to try it.

I didn’t work out last night — didn’t feel up to it. I noticed that, if I don’t do my evening yoga practice, I’m much less limber in the morning. So I need to be more committed to the evening practice again, whether I feel like it or not.

I had a great 1500 word session on “Amends” today. I think it’s going to turn out to be a novella, not a short story. It’s developing in a very interesting way. It’s a mystery with elements of comedy and the paranormal in it. So, we’ll see how it goes.

I’ve got to take care of some business in the morning, then go to the grocery store. I’ve got some work to do in CT this afternoon — let’s hope the computer holds up for that.

I have meditation group tonight — I look forward to it.


Published in: on August 18, 2009 at 8:32 am  Comments (3)  
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hazy and hot

I’ve had about five or six hours of sleep over the past 48 hours, trying to get the computer to run properly. It’s better, it’s running, but still not the way it should. I’m over it. MacGeorge and I are limping along as best we can, and, hopefully, it will get better. I have no idea if this computer has a life of a day or a year left in it, and I don’t yet know what I’ll do when it dies yet again. I’m not going back to deal with any more technician ego — four attempts at repair is MORE than enough chances. Really disgusted.

I didn’t do the Time Machine wipe yesterday, so I’ll have to do it today and rebuild the backup, or I’ll be even more screwed next time the computer fails. I also backed up my writing on a flash drive — which the Mac techs told me I’d never need to use again because I have Mobile Me and Time Machine — gee, they lied, what a surprise. I planned to store projects on flash drives anyway, but I wanted to do it as projects were completed and past the production stage.

Anyway, at least I got out “Plot Bunnies” and I’m making headway with “Amends” — I had a good writing session this morning. I have some business correspondence to take care of, drive to the post office (not the one in my town, but the one in the next town), and get some work done on client projects in the afternoon. If it’s too hot to work in the apartment, I’ll pack everything up and go to the Greenwich Library.

What I’d really like to do is get some sleep, but there’s too much that needs to be dealt with first. And I have to get out of the house for a bit today, because I’m out of milk, and I don’t like black coffee.

I’m discouraged, depressed, and disappointed. iPages, iWeb, iPhoto are so far superior to anything that runs on a PC — light years better. But if the machine is also built to fail and the company doesn’t stand behind its product either, I’m in the same boat, and out a whole lot more money. So I’m not sure what I’ll do in the long run.

I’m waiting to hear if the corporate office will respond to my messages and faxes and have a solution. I have no faith that they will, and I’m sure as hell not going back to the store to waste any more time and bring home the same damn machine which probably won’t even turn on the next time I get it home. It’s run worse after every “repair”, and it’s about THEIR egos, not about solving MY problem.

And. like I said, if I was a man, this would have been fixed properly the FIRST time I walked through the door.

Back to the page. Maybe I can get some of my office space sorted out and pack up some more stuff for storage.


Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 8:34 am  Comments (6)  
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