Saturday, August 14, 2010

Violet keeps an eye on things

Saturday, August 14, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Free Muse Online Writers’ Conference registration closes tomorrow, so if you want to participate, or take either my Dialogue Workshop or my Story-Building Workshop, register before tomorrow. The Dialogue Workshop has a limited amount of spots available, and once they’re full, that’s it. I simply can’t correct 50-70 exercises per day and give each student my full attention — especially when students are late turning in exercises, don’t follow the instructions, etc. So, the Dialogue has a limited amount of participants. The Story-Building does not this time, because it’s my first time teaching it at Muse.

Dialogue Workshop Taught by Devon Ellington
Learn how to craft character-cohesive dialogue that moves along the story. Explore methods of cutting, crafting, and creating conversation that sparkles on the page and in the ear, and works in the context of the overall piece. This is an intensive, hands-on workshop, with daily assignments. Participants are expected to have a solid grasp of grammar, spelling, proofreading, and structure, and the ability to process comments, apply them moving forward, and keep up with assignments rather than doing them in a batch. Daily assignments will build on each other. Newly created work is required in the class; please do not use something from a WIP or that is used for another class. It will trip you up as we build from assignment to assignment. Anyone is welcome to read and follow along on the assignments, but daily participation is limited to 30 students. If you sign up, please meet the commitment, or give up your slot within the first day so another interested participant can take it.

Story Building Workshop
Spend the week with Devon Ellington building your story scene-by-scene — but not in the way you’d expect! Learn to integrate the elements of plot, story, and character with dialogue, description, and action to create a complete draft of a short story over the course of the week. There will be intense, daily assignments with specific guidelines to delve into the day’s purpose. Please do not use previously written material in the class.

Registration for the Muse Online Conference is HERE. You may have to send a separate email once you’re registered to the “contact” address in order to sign up for the Dialogue Workshop. Sorry it’s so late going up, but there was a glitch on their end and my information wasn’t up until I mentioned it yesterday.

Even if you don’t sign up for my workshops, there are a lot of great workshops happening. I particularly recommend Karina Fabian’s World-building Workshop.

Now, onto Savvy Authors. The links are up for the deconstruction workshops. If you want to join the workshop to deconstruct a fantasy romance and learn how to apply it to your own writing, you can sign up here, and if you want to deconstruct a steampunk film and learn to apply the techniques to your own writing, you can sign up here. The fees are very reasonable for both members and non-members. And there’s no homework in the deconstruction workshops! You just have to read the book or watch the film before it starts.

Now, on to other stuff:

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Great writing session in the morning on the Willowspring Grove novel. I’m thinking about it a lot in between writing sessions, which is good. I’m averaging between 1500-2000 words per session, and I’m 86 pages in so far. i have to start putting them into the computer, or I’ll get too far behind.

I got out some of the backlog of short stories, and got out a stack of queries, all good. Decided not to submit to one particular publication — the way they wanted me to reformat out of standard manuscript format to their house format would have taken me so long that, even if they accepted the story, they didn’t pay enough to cover the time. There’s a reason it’s called ‘standard manuscript format” — the writer formats it once, professionally, and it should be acceptable to any professional publication. I can understand stipulating .doc or .rtf or even .pdf, but to expect writers to spend hours reformatting from market to market is a waste of time, except, maybe, for the desperate-to-be-published. it’s hoop-jumping, power-playing, and I’ve noticed that the markets that pay the least expect the most amount of hoop jumping.


Spent a few hours in storage. Consolidated 20 boxes into 8, bagged a bunch of stuff I’ll drop off as donations, tossed a lot of stuff that needed to be tossed. It feels good.

Plotting the next Annabel Aidan, whose working title is THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. Will start the actual writing on Monday. The central character will be Bonnie, who we meet briefly in ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. Amanda and Phineas will have important secondary roles, and then they will be the focus of the third book. It’s not really a series, as each book stands alone with its own set of protagonists, but they are in the same paranormal, romantically suspenseful version of Manhattan, and they wander in and out of each other’s books.

Dinner with friends last night, which was fun. And, I managed to see just a tiny bit of the meteor shower last night — one quick sprint across the sky. Very exciting. I’d been so disappointed the previous night because I couldn’t see anything due to cloud cover.

Today, I’m writing in the morning, trying to get some organizational stuff done, then off to a friend’s in the afternoon. Tomorrow should be all about the writing. Because come Monday, my daily output has to either double or triple amongst the different projects, and I have to stay on top of everything else. The next few weeks/month will be very busy, not the least of which is getting the house-and-home situation sorted.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, rainy, cooler

Is is really Friday the 13th? Awesome! That means it will be a very, very good day. Those who have bad Friday the 13ths are generally those who have good reason to feel guilty and their Karma Dogs come to get a big bite out of their butts for good reasons!

Yesterday, I did a lot and felt as though I accomplished nothing.

Great writing session on the first Willowspring Grove novel. Yeah, one of these days, it will actually have a name.

Run-in with someone who was once a student, whining because her “historical fiction” piece kept getting rejected. I read a few pages and told her that yes, I could see why it was rejected, her characters spoke in modern speech rhythms and slang, the clothing and food details were from some bad movies, not accurate to the time period (I even accurately named the movies), and she set it in a real place while obviously knowing NOTHING about it. This was in addition to grammar and spelling errors that would have made any submissions editor hit the “delete” button and a lack of paragraph structure that meant you never knew who was talking and who was taking an action. Her response was that she’d spent, like, two hours looking at books in the library, and if the movies could get away with this, she should be able to, and why did it matter if she’d never visited the place or learned anything about the clothing or the food? She was writing fiction.

See, this is where the lazy writers get weeded out. The good, successful writers of historical fiction take time to do the research. Sometimes months, sometimes years. And I’m talking about eight to ten hour days, six days a week, for as long as it takes to know your historical time period inside out. Not just on weekends or when you’re not tired. There’s a reason they thank their families in the acknowledgements — their families don’t see them during that time. And love them anyway. There’s a reason they usually take several YEARS before the first book and then only do one book a year — about four months of those subsequent years are spent during RESEARCH. Not hours. MONTHS.

And if you can’t afford to visit the site, you damn well better have a contact who can walk the streets for you and give you a footstep-by-footstep description.

Dealt with paperwork and other crap. Dealt with upset neighbors. Hello, the head of the Tenants’ Organization is supposed to be dealing with this, not me. Not my problem he never answers phone calls or emails. Heaven forbid he do anything but posture to reporters.

The cats were upset about whatever happened while I was gone yesterday. First of all, that night, they were all piled on top of me. And yesterday, they all stuck close by. Elsa and Iris are having a dispute. Elsa’s stones keep vanishing, and she blames Iris. Iris won’t admit it. I had to separate them several times yesterday.

Started reading Jennifer Reif’s MYSTERIES OF DEMETER, which I found in storage. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the Eleusian Mysteries (if you don’t know what they are, look ‘em up). There have been some interesting speculations over the years, and some books that claim to have discovered them — without an ounce of historical fact, of course. This book has some very interesting, reliable sources, as well as growth and conjecture and imagination. It’s well researched and thoughtfully presented.

The comfrey is speeding the foot’s healing. I came up with a nice blend of eucalyptus, rosemary, and lavender to cut the worst of the awful crap floating around in the air. Put it in the oil burner, and everything clears up. I tried using a cedar smudge I bought in Philadelphia, but it won’t stay lit. I may burn some sage on a charcoal block (no, not the kind you use on the grill) to get rid of any bacteria or germs floating around. I drank an icky concoction to flush out the rest of the toxins I inhaled yesterday — it tasted disgusting, but it certainly did the trick after about twenty or thirty minutes. The anvil was gone from my chest, and I wasn’t coughing up black goo any more. Really, resembling something out of a D-level horror flick isn’t my idea of a good time.

Finished up the marketing and cover art sheets for my publisher and sent them back. Will update the Annabel Aidan page with one of the excerpts soon. I have a lot of notes for revision to discuss with my editor, and notes for the next book. I’ll let that percolate over the weekend, and start it on Monday.

Did some research last night.

Had a good writing session this morning — I’m averaging about 1500 words a morning, hand-written, on this. Next week, I’ll have to up it to 1500 on this book and 1500 on the new Annabel Aidan, so that will be a busy day’s work, but necessary to stay on contract tract — and remember to keep pitching for quick-turnaround/payment projects as well, so the bills stay paid. I’ve got another stack of queries I hope to get out today, and a backlog of short stories has built up again that needs to get out the door over the weekend.

I’ve booked a couple of quick jobs out of town for September that overlap with the teaching, but I have good internet connection, so I can do both.

I’m going to write and deal with paperwork this morning, then work for a few hours at the storage unit, and maybe hang out with friends tonight. I think I’ve rigged the screen so that, if someone who does not wish us well attempts access from the fire escape, they will have, shall we say an unpleasant experience. But if we need to get out and down the fire escape due to an emergency, we are unimpeded.

Happy Friday the 13th and have a great weekend!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pressed mold bottle vase, made in July’s workshop

Thursday, August 12, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Hot, humid, cloudy

Would it please storm already?

Yesterday was quite the roller coaster.

Had a GREAT session of work on ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT — I’ve found “the” excerpt I want to use for marketing, came up with the logline and the back cover blurb, massaged the bio, came up with a few things I want to discuss with the editor that I think can be improved. I hope to have everything out by tomorrow.

i stopped by the studio to see if my other pieces were ready — only one little pinch pot was, so I retrieved that. The rest of the stuff is set to come out of the kiln today or tomorrow.

Worked in the storage unit. I figured that six boxes would take me two hours, and that would be enough in this heat. But I managed to work my way through ten boxes in about an hour and a half — a whole line, which was even better. I purged a few bags of stuff, I found some stuff to wash and give to the donation box, and I found lots of treasures, things I forgot I had, including some lovely jewelry, candles, candleholders, even egg cups. I’m a freak for egg cups — I love them, and every time I see them for sale or in a thrift shop or a tag sale, I buy them. I also found some books I’m hauling back, including my Edinburgh Street Finder, very helpful when I’m writing something set in Edinburgh and have forgotten which street is called what, or, when I know how to get somewhere, but don’t have street names, I can look it up. Ten boxes became three boxes of sorted, organized material, which is how it should be.

On the downside, there was some dry rot in a few things that needed to be thrown out, and, at one point, I got a snoutful of it. It was like having cement fill up my lungs, and I couldn’t breathe. Think I’ll be using a mask from now on. These boxes were packed in 2001.

It was such a roll I may go back tomorrow and do another set of boxes. I have between 50-80 boxes marked “MISC”, which means, when I packed up 13 years of my life in 6 days when I gave up my apartment in Manhattan, I didn’t have time to sort through it, just filled boxes. Most of the boxes in storage are really well marked with room and contents, but I hit a point where I ran out of time.

After, I went to a friend’s place to clean up and have dinner.

When I came home, I found the screen on the fire escape raised. The window was locked, so no one managed to get in, but it was disconcerting, to say the least. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I photographed it, then called the non-emergency number from the police. The desk sergeant suggested that I check with the landlord first — whether they think they have to tell us what’s going on or not, they do, and if their answer is unsatisfactory, or that they did not have reason or raise the screen, I should file a police report. And when I talk to them, I should tell them that I’ve already checked with the police and what they advised. I shot an email off to the landlord, and received both an apology (the “memo” detailing the work is going out today — two weeks after it started) and that the workers swear they didn’t raise the screen.

So I’m guessing I’m going to spend some time over at the PD today.

I also realized that, while the old screens locked, these new ones don’t. A little disturbing, since I like to sleep with the window open at night, and can’t open the bedroom window that’s not over the fire escape because of the air conditioner. I’m going to have to find a way to rig the screen so it can’t be opened from the outside. Yes, if someone really wants to get in, they’d cut it, but why make it easy?

And, of course, the apartment is absolutely filthy from all the brick dust. I could vaccuum and wash floors five times a day and it wouldn’t make a difference. I also find it interesting, that, although they’ve got three scaffoldings up the side of the building, they are only actually working right outside the windows of the long-term tenants the landlord wants out. For nearly two weeks, ten hours a day.

You can’t leave because they’ll wreck something; you can’t stay and hear yourself think. It’s ridiculous.

Anyway, I have some errands to run and bills to pay today, and then I hope to get the marketing materials/cover art paperwork finished for the book, and do some more work on the lectures.

I’m booked for a site job for a couple of days next week, but the one I had for 10 days at the end of September may cancel because the person had a severe accident and may not be out of town after all. Oh, well, that gives me an extra ten days to go house hunting.

To Debra, who commented yesterday– I’m really, really proud of you. You’re worth far more than a content mill, and that sewage whirlpool would suck you dry very quickly. There’s a huge market for articles and information from someone with your experience and insight right now — I bet AARP would hire you to write articles in a heartbeat, along with some of the other big healthcare mags and holsitc mags. I know the transition sucks because you work a kazillion hours, but once you make the shift to being paid what your writing is worth, it makes up for it in financials, professional regard, and self-esteem.


Published in: on August 12, 2010 at 7:05 am  Comments (5)  
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Small pressed mold bowl made in July’s workshop

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Hot, humid, cloudy

This weather totally sucks. No thunderstorms as promised for days, just oppressive, cloudy heat and humidity. The cats are trying to learn how to turn on the air conditioner by themselves.

Got some paperwork done yesterday, not enough, but it’s never enough, is it? Got the stuff sorted out for teaching — the admin hadn’t put the materials into the folder when I sent them A MONTH AGO and it was at the bottom of her inbox. Really, not my problem. I was organized and got it in on time, and it bugs the hell out of me when I’m falsely accused of missing deadlines, which seems to be the leitmotif with this particular organization. If it doesn’t change, I won’t stick around. I am way too busy to have this argument over and over and over again, especially when I’m the one on time.

Skipped the museum — will have to make time next week or I’ll miss the exhibit.

Delivered some of the food I cooked to my mom, then went over to a friend’s for the afternoon and an early dinner. I love cooking in that kitchen.

Read Sharon Shinn’s novella “Flight”, which is excellent.

Got some research done in the evening at home, with the air on. Elsa seemed very confused last night — I think the heat is affecting her brain. She woke me up at 5:30 this morning; I say “No way”, rolled over and wound up oversleeping, so I’m having a tough time getting going.

Good first writing session this morning, though. The interesting thing about the Willowspring Grove novel is that I’ve outlined the character arcs for the major characters for the course of the series, but I’m blank-paging this individual book. I know the emotional points I have to hit, but I’m letting the story lead me to them. It’s a different way of working, and one that wouldn’t work with a lot of what I do, but it works here.

I have to go to storage this morning and work through some of the “Misc.” boxes, purging and organizing, then see if more of my pottery is ready. I paid my firing fees yesterday — which were three times more than expected, ouch — so I guess that means most of it survived the kilns.

Also have to get cat food. The never-ending void of the cat food cupboard. Can’t wait until I have the room to buy it by the case!

I’m off to cool down the bedroom for the cats before I leave, so they’ll have sanctuary in the heat.


Published in: on August 11, 2010 at 7:25 am  Comments (6)  
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Oversized mug made in May’s pottery workshop. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the differences in color actually indicate differences in texture where I used texturing tools on the slab before curving it into mug form.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

I’m still waiting for the damn thunderstorm! This humidity just sucks all the life out of me.

Didn’t get much done yesterday — well, that’s not true, I got a lot done, but just not what I intended. I had to retreat the the air conditioned bedroom pretty quickly because of the heat and humidity. Tried to get some work done there.

Took Elsa to her Reiki session. The practitioner is really pleased with the progress, and thinks the work we’re doing at home, along with the crystal therapy, is giving her a boost, so that she’s healing even more quickly than if she just came in for sessions. I don’t have to take her back for about another two and a half weeks. She’s still eating well, and the work done on her sinuses has helped with the mucus. She was lively and playful and funny in the office, and when we got home, she climbed into the kitchen window where the workmen were (on the outside) and fussed until they stopped what they were doing, I had to open the window so they could talk and pet her through the screen, and she just lapped up the attention. Violet hissed at them and ran away, and Iris, little chicken that she is, hid, but Elsa made new friends. As she always does. I should be as outgoing and accepting as she is.

I was late cooking dinner, until after they left, because, even though I’m annoyed with them, if they were hanging out in front of the window when I made dinner, I’d have felt obligated to feed them. Yeah, I know, it makes no sense.

I meant to spend twenty minutes in the afternoon doing some research and consolidating some information. Next thing I knew, it was nine hours later.

I meant to go to a museum today, and then to a friend’s, but it’s too hot to leave the cats. I’ll run the air in the morning, and get caught up on some correspondence that has to go out today, and maybe go to my friend’s in time for dinner.

I spoke to the pharmacy and Elsa’s refill was sent out yesterday — hopefully it won’t take yet another week to get here.

Great first writing session this morning — nearly 2K. Let’s hope it sets the tone for the rest of the day.


Published in: on August 10, 2010 at 7:49 am  Comments (3)  
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Monday, August 9, 2010

First little three-legged pinch pot I made in May’s workshop

Monday, August 9, 2010
New Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Hot, humid, cloudy

No “workmen” skulking around all weekend — since they are hired to torment long-term tenants, not the new, higher-paying ones. It’s amazing how much I can get done when those phony workmen aren’t around sucking the life out of me.

Went to my friend’s place on Saturday and got six loads of laundry done — woo hoo, clean clothes and sheets.

Also finished CE Murphy’s WALKING DEAD, which I really liked.

Up early Sunday morning, usual yoga routine, feeding the cats, first 1K of the day. Then, I washed the windows, flushed out the drains with lemon and baking soda, soaked and sterilized a bunch of bottles for essential oils, cooked ratatouille, chicken/sausage/basil, chicken w/mushrooms, rosemary, and mint, and a big pot of mint-infused rice. All by 10:30 AM. Yeah, I was feeling pretty smug! 😉

Spent the afternoon working on some craft projects — takes too long to try to explain, so, for our purposes, let’s call them “craft projects”. Also read CE Murphy’s DEMON HUNT.

Cooked spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner, using the last of the fresh basil from my friend’s garden. and did some research in the evening.

Elsa was soooo much better this weekend — just amazing. She was “helping” and underfoot the whole time, which is the way she behaved before she was sick. One of the craft projects has a bloodstone on it, very similar to the bloodstone I bought for her, and she keeps trying to dis-attach it, thinking it’s hers, even though I showed her that her very own bloodstone and jasper are in her favorite sleeping spot, just the way they should be. Her appetite is almost back to normal. She can’t eat a lot at once, due to the acid reflux (which is better, but not gone), but, over the course of the day, she’s eating her normal amount. Hopefully, she’ll continue to make progress. I think the combination of the Nalpoxtrene and the Reiki are helping her a lot. She really loves the tummy massage during Reiki! She’s still got the mucus and sinus problems, which is what we’ll start tackling in today’s Reiki session, but her purring is almost back to normal, without that wetness to it. And she’s behaving more like her old self. I hope she’s really on the road to recovery, and it’s not just a temporary blip.

I have some errands to run, bills to pay, correspondence to deal with, Elsa’s Reiki session, and finishing the marketing work on ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. Hopefully, I can also get out the newsletter, either today or tomorrow.

The “workmen” are back to make our lives hell — at 7:18 in the morning. We won a minor victory with the landlords this weekend, so I have no doubt they will try to hit us with some fresh hell shortly.

Yesterday’s writing session was great; today’s, not so much. I’m going to try to get another one in before the “workmen” get too loud. I already feel a migraine coming on. Oh, for a big old thunder and lightening storm that would send them off their scaffolding!

First irritation of the day — an admin for the classes I’m teaching just claims I never sent in the promotional materials for the classes — although they were sent on July 12 and confirmed. Re-doing work and being treated like I missed deadlines when I was ahead of schedule REALLY pisses me off.


Published in: on August 9, 2010 at 6:47 am  Comments (11)  
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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010
Day before dark moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cooler

The humidity finally broke overnight, and it feels a little better today.

Although yesterday and today are supposed to be the worst astrological days (and we don’t see this configuration again for 500 years or so, hoorah), it felt as though the knots loosened a bit yesterday, so perhaps, in my individual transits, it hit a few days earlier. Let’s hope — I’ll still be cautious.

The “workmen” were more careful, but they’re definitely targeting the apartments of the long-term tenants, to make it as unpleasant as possible. The clouds of brick dust floating around were rather disgusting. I closed the windows early on. But it was still gross in the heat and humidity not to be able to run the air conditioner. There were times when I did anyway, because the dust seemed a better choice — until I started coughing so badly I had to turn it off.

I stayed quiet yesterday, mostly reading. I finished Juliet Blackwell’s A CAST-OFF COVEN, which was tremendous fun, and I’m reading CE Murphy’s WALKING DEAD, which is excellent, too.

I forgot to mention that, on Thursday, I came up with a new herbal mixture for cleaning. Well, I can use the herbs for several things, but I also steeped them in boiling water, cooled the mixture, strained it, and put it in a big jug to use as the rinse after I wash with Murphy’s Oil soap. It’s strong enough to clean, but since I used the herbs steeped rather than oils, it doesn’t strip away finishes. It’s got enough antiseptic herbs, etc., to not only get rid of dirt, but get rid of germs or anything else icky that may tiptoe its way inside. I’m pretty happy with it, but I’ve also been careful to mark the containers as “do not ingest” — it looks a bit like iced tea, but a few of the herbs in there do not agree with the digestive system, let’s just say. I’m going to use some of it on the windows, as well. I’m fortunate, too, in that it smells great, although that wasn’t the most important element. The cleansing was the most important, and the good smell is just an added bonus. I notated as I worked, and copied the recipe in a safe place, so I can make more as necessary. A gallon of the stuff should last about 3 months, even with washing the floors a few times a week.

Elsa has made slow, but steady improvement over the past week. I wrote a polite email to the vet, asking for a refill on the Nalpoxtrene (you would have all been so proud of me), and he responded with 3 refills. I’m going to call the pharmacy today to make sure they’ve sent it out, and we should be in decent shape for the next few months. Elsa is eating mcuh better, and the Reiki helps a lot with the acid reflux, making it possible for her to eat. I’ve stripped away almost all the other medications — I’m alternating the Vitamin B and the olive leaf, and weaning her off the steroid. In about a week and a half, she’ll only be on the Vitaman B/olive leaf cycle, the Nalpoxtrene, and the Reiki. She especially likes the tummy massage in the Reiki, and that seems to help the most. She helped me clean out cabinets the other day and “supervised” the workmen yesterday, sitting in the window, so one can tell she’s feeling better. When she didn’t like what they were doing, she would tap on the window and meow at them, scolding them until they changed their behavior. It was pretty funny to see burly workmen being bossed around by an eight-pound cat.

Hauled stuff to storage. Tried to get a walking cast and the clerk at the local drugstore told me, in a completely condescending tone, that “people get them from their doctors; there’s no need to carry them” — his attitude that, if you don’t have insurance, you don’t deserve one. Bite me.

I’ll head to the family-run private pharmacy across town in the next few days — the place that helped Elsa so much when the vet ignored us. They have all kinds of stuff, and, if it’s not in stock, they’ll get it for me. Since I’ve been staying quiet and resting it, and wrapping it in herb-soaked cloths, it’s dong better.

I’m spending most of the day at a friend’s, working over there, catching up on laundry, etc. I think it’s going to be quiet around here today, so it’s safe to go somewhere else for a few hours.

Tomorrow, I’ll work at home — it should be quiet and reasonably temperate. I want to finish the notes on ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, make decisions about the excerpts, and notes on the new book. I also want to finish typing/sorting my notes on the lectures for the books, get out a newsletter (finally), and start deconstructing the film. And then we’ll see what next week brings.

Didn’t have a good writing session this morning, but it happens sometimes. Will bring the work with me to my friend’s place and see if I can get more done there.

Have a good weekend.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Violet finds this all exhausting

Friday, August 6, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Humid and cloudy

They promised it would be cooler and less humid today. They lied. I know, why am I surprised? If they were only paid when they were right, they’d all be out of a job.

Yesterday was very frustrating. The “workmen” nearly ripped the air conditioner out of the window three times — even though I’d talked to them about being careful. They’re working on one of those window-washer scaffoldings, and, literally, landed on it instead of pushing away from the building. Now, if they rip it out, it’s screwed into the window, which means it will take out the whole window and its frame, and it’s plugged into the wall — no I am NOT unplugging it – -which means it will take out part of the wall, the electrics, and half the bedroom furniture. And I”ll call the cops and the nearest ambulance-chasing lawyer.

And when I complained? They put a piece of carpet over the air conditioner. Yeah, THAT’ll help.

Not only that, but they’ve drilled holes in the brick and left them there. Yes, I took photos for the documentation I’m filing.

REAL masons apprentice for years and don’t pull this crap. AND they are willing to admit for whom they work, and wear work ID. And they wouldn’t be arriving in an unmarked van.

I also find it interesting that they’re only working around the windows of the long-term tenants that the landlords are trying to harass out of the building. Oh, they have other scaffoldings up along the side of the building. But no one’s on them. But the three long-term tenants in this section? Relentless for the past few days. And I actually know where actual work needs to be done on the bricks around our windows. And they haven’t touched a single spot. It’s a farce.

None of this is legitimate. It’s all yet another form of harassment.

The cats hate all the noise and commotion, too.

Since I couldn’t concentrate on writing, and I couldn’t leave because WHEN they smash a window I have to be here, I worked on cleaning out the kitchen cabinets. I reorganized a bunch of stuff, purged a bunch of stuff, and packed eight boxes that I will haul to storage this evening. It’s stuff that will be useful in the future, but I don’t need on a daily basis, so it’s packed. The packing took next to no time — I’m a very fast, good packer, I’ve packed myself and dozens of friends to move. It was the sorting that took a long time.

I’ve been figuring the packing for when I move. I figure the kitchen will need 25-30 boxes, the tiny dining area about 12 (a lot of them for cookbooks), the living room 40-60 (I have 9 bookcases in the living room), the hallway about 30 (because of the wall of books), the linen closet 10-12 (it’s big), the bathroom about 6, and the bedroom about 20-30 — again, a lot of books. Everything in storage is packed, so that’s just a case of the movers pulling up the truck and loading it. It’s a lot of stuff, but it’s packed. The hardest to move will be the plants and the cats. It’s going to be expensive, because the apartment is a third-floor walk-up, but at least everything’s going down.

At this point, it’s about finances and finding a place willing to rent to a freelancer. I’d prefer to buy, but I don’t know if I can make that happen fast enough to get out of here before things get violent from the landlords. They’ve already managed to contribute to the deaths of three senior citizens in the past few months, and driven out over a dozen formerly long-term tenants — since the corrupt new Republican City Council took office, because they cut a deal with them so that the City Council, Buildings Dept., et al, look the other way while the landlords do whatever they want.

Today and tomorrow are the days where the planetary squares are at their worst — eight out of twelve planets screaming at each other, pass the Excedrin now, please. Except for fighting with the “workmen” if necessary, I’m just going to keep quiet and try to stay out of trouble.

I did not have a good writing session this morning, but some great books arrived yesterday, so maybe I’ll just put on the iPod and read a lot today. I’ve got some stuff to do in the early evening, like go to storage — I’ll wait until the harassers have left for the day — but it shouldn’t take long. And, hopefully, I can pick up a walking cast. I could do most of the packing and sorting while sitting down yesterday, so that was a help. It will hurt to haul everything down three flights of stairs and out to the car, but it’ll be worth it.

The plan is to have a as low key a day as possible. We’ll see how the reality turns out.


Published in: on August 6, 2010 at 6:08 am  Comments (4)  
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Details of the cat fountain at the Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia

Thursday, August 5, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

It will be a miracle if I make it to Monday without seriously hurting someone. Lara, you got it in one — that unfettered rage is an awful feeling, isn’t it?

At least having the information helps me make more informed decisions. There were two incidents yesterday where I normally would have just gone off, but I restrained myself.

The first actually worked out for the better — the person apologized and was honest about the fracas instead of trying to do ass-coverage. Although I still felt the situation was disrespectful, I chose to accept the apology without rebuttal and we actually had a good work session.

The second time I nearly belted a check out clerk at one of my least favorite grocery stores, the A&P in Rye Brook. Not only are their prices high and their quality low, most of the employees with whom I’ve dealt over the past couple of years are the worst of the worst. It used to be a decent store, years ago, but in the past two-three years, it’s horrible. I go there about once every six weeks or so, when it’s on my way and it would be a chore to go elsewhere, but no more. I’m really sick of the clerks picking people they know out of the check-out line and serving them first, instead of taking people in the order they line up. In addition to being rude, slow, and lazy. It’s not acceptable, and I will no longer shop there. The A&P stores in this area in general have gone down the tubes in the past year, in spite of their “fresh” campaigns with Kelly Ripa. Quality down, prices up, and awful employees.

I held my temper, paid for my two items, and left. Hopefully, it will be the last time I ever have to walk through those doors. If I’m willing to drive 150 miles out of my way not to shop at Wal-Mart, I can drive an extra 5 to avoid the A&P.

The dickheads that the landlord employed to “work on the building” (which means torture the tenants) not only went up and down the fire escape and banged against the windows all day, they peeped into the neighbor’s bathroom as she showered. Because the landlord paid off the City, neither the Health Department nor the Buildings Department will take any action. They don’t have work IDs — which they are required to carry and show on demand by law. But no one will enforce that. Also, because of the dust they raised, we couldn’t have the windows open and use the fans, and we couldn’t have the air conditioning on, because the dust came through the vents. So we had to swelter inside with closed windows in 100 degree weather. Not acceptable.

I can’t leave because I can’t leave the cats. WHEN they smash one of the windows, either by accident because they’re incompetent, unskilled laborers or because they’ve been paid to smash property, I don’t want the cats sliding out of a broken third floor window and getting hurt.

Elsa had a good Reiki session yesterday, although both she and I tested positive for abnormally high levels of lead and arsenic. Like I said, the landlords are poisoning us, and the corrupt City Council lets them, because they’ve bee paid off.

Additionally, it looks like I broke a bone or several small bones in my foot, which is why it hurts. I can’t afford the $282 for X-rays, but I had it looked at, and, as far as can be told without X-rays, that’s the most likely scenario. No idea how I could have broken bones in my foot — a little weird. A cast isn’t going to do any good – I might make a poultice and just keep it rested for a few days so it can start to knit on its own. I’m trying to stay away from anyone and everyone for the next few days anyway.

We managed to get out of the house for a bit and go to the Stamford Farmer’s Market (serious limping on my part). In spite of all the astrological conflict, everyone there was lovely, as always, and we got some terrifically high quality produce at great prices. It’s one of the best markets in the area, both in quality and price, much better than the one down the street.

I have a tin Tibetan goddess statue I picked up in a second hand shop in PA a few years ago. She’s been sitting in my bookcase. I put her in the window yesterday as a deterrent for the dickhead harassers (on the inside). This morning, she’s in a different window, hanging off a plant trellis, looking out over the main road that runs past the building. Pretty funny. Guess she was busy in the night.

I have a prop that looks like a skull on a pole in one of the windows this morning. He has glowing red eyes. I was trying to download audio of hellhounds baying to run as a loop whenever they came near the window, but really, nothing that I’ve found is even remotely intimidating. Sounds more like sad puppy left alone than a baying hell hound. Unfortunately, renting a Rottweiler is not an option. Of course with my luck, I’d get the one that just wants his tummy rubbed rather than standing in the window looking intimidating!

The avocado that finally sprouted is doubling in size nearly every day. Will be interesting to see how it grows.

The purified water is a big help, and I think we’ve saved almost all the plants except for the morning glory. I think that’s a total loss.

Good first morning’s writing session. Let’s hope I can be productive today.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Introducing . . .Annabel Aidan!

I’m unveiling the Annabel Aidan pseudonym. It’s now official — Champagne Books has contracted my romantic suspense novel ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, under this name. It will release in July 2011, and they get first look at the next Annabel Aidan-penned tome.

I’m pretty darned excited.

You can visit Annabel’s brand new web page here.

Somehow, I managed to injure my foot. What’s weird is that I remember hurting it in a dream Monday night, pulled myself out of the dream, and Tuesday morning I have an injured foot.

Sounds like something out of one of the books!

Yesterday was a challenging day, to say the least. The scumbag landlords are at it again, acting like this is an empty building. Workmen are swarming over the fire escape, the roof, hauling up heavy equipment without safety mechanisms in place, hitting the windows, etc. We had no notice, they are not conforming to city code, they arrive in unmarked vans, have no identification — these are not licensed, skilled workers.

I was so enraged that, had I owned a gun yesterday, I would have slaughtered all of them. I have rarely been that enraged in my life. It would have made yesterday’s massacre outside of Hartford looked like child’s play. And then thing is, it’s not the workers that are the problem, it’s the landlord. It’s not the workers who should be slaughtered, but the landlord.

I wonder how much the astrological pressure is causing the trigger points to snap on people. According to the records, this configuration was last seen 537 years ago — and I’m too lazy to look up what happened then. It would not surprise me at all if there was a huge spike in violence between now and Monday — a lot of people snapping the way that guy did outside of Hartford yesterday and the way I nearly did. I don’t agree with his actions, but I understand them.

I have to remember to siphon off the rage somehow. And certainly not let it out on those who aren’t the root of the problem. It’s not a healthy feeling, to be that angry and that out of control. I have to stay as calm and as quiet as possible.

We’re supposed to get some harsh thunderstorms today — that should break some of the tension and prevent them from working on the roof, at least for awhile.

I worked on the manuscript yesterday, re-reading it to make notes of things to discuss with the editor and also to pull excerpts out for the marketing. I’m working on the marketing and cover art information, and starting to put together the media kit, which will build throughout the production process, and then it will be done on time, rather than having to start the process just before the book releases.

Decent, but not brilliant first writing session this morning. I can’t work, breathe (because of the contaminated dust), eat, drink, sleep, wash (because the water’s contaminated) or do anything else. And the landlords are charging us for this crap.

It’s supposed to be over 100 degrees again today. I’m taking Elsa for another Reiki session this morning. She’s shown some real improvement in the past two days, and i hope it holds, and that we can build on it. She’s eating much better, not throwing up, has a lot of energy and is alert and involved. I hope we’ve hit a turning point, finally, and that she’s on a real road to recovery. Heaven forbid the vet do any follow-up. I’m going to email him on Monday, telling him to put in a refill on her prescription. I don’t know how much of her improvement is the Nalpoxtrene — since the improvement didn’t start until the Reiki started — and how much the Reiki is boosting the Nalpoxtrene. I think it’s a synthesis of the two along with a couple of other naturopathic therapies we’re doing. I don’t care what it is, as long as it works.

The big thing between now and Monday is to keep the rage under control. Because I’m really close to the edge, and I don’t want to snap and do something I regret. It’s almost as though one can feel the tension in these squares, like a rubber band being stretched more and more tautly. At least knowing the influences gives me information that can help me make choices that are more positive, instead of simply reacting to triggers with what could be horrible consequences.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cat fountain at the Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia

Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde

Okay, according to the astrologer, calling this a “difficult” week for me is being kind. In fact, on the 6 & 7, I’m supposed to have Hell Days — EIGHT planets are squared in my chart, which means, basically, everything’s yelling at and in conflict with everything else. I’m going to try to remember to shut the F up, keep my head down, keep to myself, and stay out of trouble!

My upstairs neighbor (the nosy, demanding one) is having a fit about the landlords. I’ve given her the information she needs a half a dozen times, but, since she refuses to take personal responsibility and expects me to fight her battles for her — and then denies she ever asked me to if she is taken to task for it — I’m staying out of this one. As usual, she does not respect any boundaries and is constantly banging on the door — I’ve told her I don’t open the door when there’s no appointment. She can bang until 2015 for all I care — when I am working, I am not opening it. Another elderly tenant died and, of course, the scumbags are being disrespectful as they clean out her stuff. Let’s just say there’s plenty of chaos I could get involved in, and I have to remember to STAY OUT OF IT right now or suffer the consequences. I can’t win arguments over the next few days, so I should try my best to avoid them.

Yesterday was not as productive as I wished, thanks to the scumbag landlords yet again making life difficult. I got out a bunch of queries, ran some errands, worked with Elsa.

Elsa actually seemed a bit better. We’re doing our “homework” assigned by the Reiki Master twice a day, and I’m trying some other integrative therapies with her. She thinks they’re ever so much fun. Her attitude’s improved — now, if I could just get her to eat more. I’m feeding her kitten food to see if that’s easier on her stomach. So far, it seems to be working. She ate well yesterday, and this morning, she ate more than she has for weeks. She also seems happier and more comfortable.

I’m writing, working on the lectures, working on the marketing materials, etc. The contracts showed up in last night’s mail, so I will go over them, and, if everything is in order, I can make my announcement in the next few days.

Good writing session this morning – phew!


Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 6:36 am  Comments (5)  
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Monday, August 2, 2010

Some of the tea cups we used in the photo shoot

Monday, August 2, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Busy weekend. Hit the ground running Saturday morning with errands — storage, Target, bookstore, Home Goods, Trader Joe’s, etc. Found the props I needed in storage and a whole lot more, thank goodness.

One of the things I bought was a PUR water filter. They say you just “snap it on” — lying like rugs! You have to “prepare the faucet” — which means you have to take it apart. To me, “preparing the faucet” means wiping it down, not having to attack it with a wrench and pliers and take it apart. But that’s what was necessary. I was so grossed out when I took off the faucet and found slime and GRAVEL pouring out. And I wonder why the plants are dying and we’re all in “gastric distress”?

Anyway, I figured out how to put on the adapter — which isn’t at all the way the directions say to do it — and got the PUR on. What a difference. You can see it in the plants after 24 hours, and we’re all better, too.

Read my friend’s piece — it was great, but I thought it was a short story — and it was a novel! So it took longer than I expected, but was worth it.

The scumbag landlords hit us with more crap — really, the only solution is to cut off their heads and stake ‘em at this point, because I’m convinced they’re not human. Keep those positive moving vibes coming so we can blow this pop stand!

Had some preparations to do for Sunday, because August 1 is always a huge day on my personal calendar.

Getting into Sunday was tough. I was shocked out of rather unpleasant dreams at 2 AM because some numbnut set off firecrackers near the trash piled at the curb, practically under my window. The whole thing could have gone up, which was probably the point. I couldn’t see anyone — I don’t know if someone drove by and tossed them out of the window, or what, so I couldn’t even call the police. The cats were very upset.

Then, I didn’t get back to sleep until about 5, and when I dozed off, I had weird theatre anxiety dreams. Not the best way to start the day.

Celebrated on Sunday, and also spent five hours on a photo shoot for the icon for the new pseudonym. The publisher’s also assigned a “mentor” to me, which is cool, and I’m working on the marketing pieces. But, since the contract’s not signed yet, I’m not making a formal announcement, nor am I putting up the web page. Nothing’s real until the contract is done, as far as I’m concerned.

The shots using the gun prop looked awful; the dagger shots are much better, and draping pearls over the dagger seems to work as well. I’ve got to make a final decision on the photo in the next day or two. I like my top three choices a lot — now I have to stop waffling and make a decision already!

It’s interesting — as I honed the bio for the name, it’s definitely affecting my decision on the photo that will be the icon associated with it. Since the bio has a bit of a harder edge than I originally envisioned, a little more flippant, I’m leaning away from the softer first choice of photo.

Today I’ve got yet more errands (do they ever stop?), re-reading my manuscript to pull out marketing excerpts, come up with the tag line, etc. (yeah, I know, I broke my own rules and didn’t do all of that at the start of the submission process — fifty lashes with a wet noodle for me, I had my reasons, and it wasn’t just laziness). I’ve also got to do some work on the lectures and get some other writing done. I let some uncontracted deadlines go because, well, they were uncontracted, and therefore I wasn’t bound to them.

I’ve also got to clean out four cupboards in the kitchen — decide what to toss, what goes into storage, and re-organize what’s there. AND I have to go through a box of other stuff I brought back from storage, because it was too complicated to try to sort through it there. Violet started to sort it, but decided it didn’t meet her job description of “cat”. So it’s all in a muddle.

Good first morning’s writing session.

Elsa’s hanging in there. She’s definitely more comfortable, but I don’t know if she’s actually getting better. I need to let go of my rage at the vet and move on. We’re now entering our third week on the new medication, and there’s been zero follow-up. I realize vets have many patients, but wouldn’t you think, when one is critically ill and you’re trying a controversial new medication, there’d be follow-up? Not that I think the medication’s doing much good.

Diane, I can’t get a “job” as you put it, that would pay me enough and be stable enough in the area I want to live in until I actually live there — and there’s nothing around this area that would pay me enough except Broadway, and I’m not going back to Broadway, because then I’m caught back in the same cycle I was in before. Saturn’s kicked my ass enough for taking as long as I did to learn that lesson. Getting a job at McDonald’s isn’t going to pay the rent or the mortgage or the cost of the move, and, because I’m unmarried, even a job at McDonald’s isn’t going to make landlords approve the rental application. A “job” here isn’t going to put me in a position to to live somewhere else. Out in the ‘burbs, there aren’t the kind of jobs for which I’m qualified and could earn a decent amount of money. If I start commuting into Manhattan again, I’ll lose 30-50% of my earnings in train fare again, after taxes, which will put me in a worse position than I am now, not to mention a three hour commute time every day, round trip. Taxes in this area of the country run close to 30%, so I’d be losing between 60-80% of my income. Plus, I’d have to get daily care for Elsa, which isn’t cheap, since she can’t be left alone for more than a few hours at a time. If I went back to a traditional job in the city or back to Broadway, I’d wind up bringing home 10% or less of what I earned. I couldn’t pay rent or bills, and I still wouldn’t have heathcare. And the “jobs” for which I’m qualified in the areas I want to live, won’t hire me unless I already live there. I earn better money freelancing, even though it doesn’t give me the “job” on paper that the landlords want to see. You need the job to get the apartment, but you can’t get the apartment without the job. Do you really think I’m so stupid I haven’t sat down and crunched the numbers on all this? Unemployment in this area is close to 10%, and if you count the people who fell off the rolls, it’s closer to 17%. I can — and do — earn more as a freelancer than I can in a day job.


Published in: on August 2, 2010 at 7:08 am  Comments (9)  
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