Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I can move! I can bend, I can stretch, I can sit up from a prone position, I can stand from a sitting position! Since I haven’t been able to do that in about six weeks, it’s very exciting. My acupuncturist did a great job — acupuncture, massage, cranial sacral, moxa, and I’d brought a malachite stone I’ve used for other healing work and let her place it where she thought it would work best (the tighter of the two hip flexors).

I’m a little sore, and was warned I might twinge for two or three days, but, for the most part, I am pain free. Sans drugs.

She’d also heard good things about the place where I want to train next spring in herbalism, so that’s a good sign.

Being pain-free makes it easier to write — both physically, and mentally, because I’m not wasting so much energy on pain.

I am delighted.


Published in: on February 26, 2011 at 6:57 am  Comments (6)  

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
A Dark and Stormy Morning

It’s raining like crazy, and there’s a flood watch on — let’s hope they’re wrong. I need to get to the acupuncturist today — if I cancel, I can’t get another appointment until May, and I can’t wait that long for treatment. I’m in too much constant pain, which negatively affects my work, and my movements are too limited. Although, this morning, I managed to get the back to release completely in pigeon pose and child pose — finally! First time since the injury. However, because I’ve been working the long muscles on my back so much, now the hip flexors are tightening, so I have to add hip openers back in, although they hurt my back a lot. But the tightening hip flexors are negatively affecting my walking and sitting. I’ll have to get that looked at today, too.

Traffic was bad yesterday, but I had a good time at the Book Barn in Niantic. Visited with their many cats, who like to follow me around and point out books I need (they’re usually right). They didn’t have the third book i need for my May class, but they had a copy of the Tower of London book I keep renewing from the library for HISTORICAL INFLUENCES, and another London book I can use, along with a theatrical diary from the early 1800’s, and a memoir by Sybille Bedford. I’ve heard of Sybille Bedford, of course, but I haven’t read any of her work. The memoir is fascinating. The way it meanders — it’s supposed to appear artless, but, in reality, the tangents are meticulously planned — get irritating after awhile, because I feel like she’s trying to manipulate me, and I don’t like that. One can argue that all writing is a form of manipulation — if you want to take that tactic, fine, then I say I prefer it to be more subtle.

The memoir is very much a reflection of the literary mores and beliefs of its time (from World War I until the turn of the 21st century), and it’s fascinating to have a first person account — even in memoir form, which is, of course, filtered through the present — of the time, in case I ever want to set anything then.

The year-long class is filling up quickly, which is good, and I have no doubt we’ll have a waiting list. A lot can happen between now and September, so I want to make sure that we have a full contingent for the year. I’m working and re-working my other workshops for the coming year, and I also want to put together another booklet.

The play is starting to take shape in my brain, which will be helpful when I sit down on Monday to actually start writing it.

For now — I’m going to get some work done on HISTORICAL INFLUENCES this morning, with one eye on the weather and traffic reports. I’m going to rest after treatment this afternoon, and maybe read some more.


Published in: on February 25, 2011 at 7:08 am  Comments (4)  
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn REtrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was a DAY, let me tell you.

It started just fine; usual morning routine, writing, etc. I started adding the additional scenes into POWER OF WORDS to integrate the new antagonist.

The guy from the water dept. was here promptly at ten a.m. and he had the meter installed and everything done within 30 minutes.

I love how everyone here shows up on time, gets the job done, no muss, no fuss.

Unfortunately, a few hours later, the CO detectors started going nuts. First they beeped once, then occasionally, three times. According to the book, they only beep once or FOUR times repeatedly if there’s a problem. The one on the main floor hallway was the culprit. I changed the batteries three times, but it didn’t help. I took the digital reader and had a very low level reading. I called Kidde and they were puzzled. They’re sending me a replacement. In the meantime, I took out the batteries and set this one aside so it would shut the hell up.

Then the CO detector outside my bedroom started randomly chirping. I changed the batteries in that (again) and it didn’t help much.

I drove down to the fire station and asked what I was supposed to do. They pulled up the record from their last visit on this issue, and said they’d send someone. I drove home and he drove up about a minute later. Fortunately, not with all the trucks and the brouhaha this time, just one guy with a really expensive, sensitive reader. We walked the whole house, especially around the gas furnace and stove, and up in my room. His meter read 0. He thinks it’s a battery issue, although he agrees it’s weird that they would ALL have issues and ALL suddenly be defective. He said sometimes, if the batteries are sitting on the shelf for too long, they don’t work properly in the detectors.

So, he left, I felt a little better, but then the upstairs detector AND the basement detector (which had been fine until we tested it) started chirping. I went out and got more batteries. Changed them again. The upstairs detector complained about a cold, new battery for an hour or two, then ran a few test cycles again and settled down, all happy and blinking green battery light.

I had to take the digital reader outside and reset it, so we could monitor if the reading went back from 0 to 12. Re-setting that one is, to say the least, noisy, and it set off the Hounds of the Baskervilles, and the rest of the many dogs in the neighborhood soon took up the tune, so not only was there chirping, there was howling.

My nerves were totally shot by this point.

Those two basement detectors were happy for a few hours, but then something started chirping in the basement AGAIN. I took the batteries out of the CO detector, and then discovered it was the smoke alarm chirping –but this time, because it decided it wanted a new battery, too.

But I’m out of batteries.

I put the batteries back in the CO detector, which was now happy (after it ran itself through its noisy test cycle again), and took the battery out of that smoke detector. I will try another one in there temporarily, until i can get a really fresh battery for it — since it’s near the gas furnace, water heater and dryer, I really want it armed all the time. So three of the four CO detectors are back in business, with one more on the way, but only one of the three smoke detectors is working. I’ll have two working detectors by later this morning, but the third one has to be replaced.

This is a small house, but at least we’re protected.

Now, I always change the batteries on these devices on the Equinoxes in spring and fall. We didn’t live here during the Fall Equinox, but the owner had put new batteries in to everything before we moved in. For whatever reason, they didn’t last the full six months. The Fire Dept. guy said sometimes the battery on his CO detector has to be changed every two weeks.

I tried to find a service place that would come out and take a look at everything. Turns out that the places that service these types of alarms only do calls like that if you’ve hired them to hardwire the whole house and pay them monthly to monitor the equipment. These small devices from the hardware store? No one’s interested.

In and around all of this, I managed to finish, write up, and send off the assignment for Confidential Job #1.

Read an urban fantasy which I mostly enjoyed. The premise is clever, the dialogue and action well done, the writing is crisp and clean, one of the unusual secondary characters was my favorite, the flashes of humor were so good I laughed out loud (it’s organic to character and situation), and the supporting cast is great. I wish the antagonists had been more well-developed (they were two dimensional and cliched,and we didn’t get to know them well enough to care WHY they were antagonists), I got ahead of the story a little too quickly sometimes and felt like I was waiting for the protagonists to catch up(I shouldn’t be 200 pages ahead of the characters), and the situation with the primary lovers at the end didn’t ring quite true with me (a little too blame-game on the guy’s part, which sends up huge red flags for me), but that may be part of the set-up in the series for future arcs, and I was willing to roll with it and see where it goes in the next book. There were a couple of points where I felt character development was sacrificed in order to put in yet another sex scene, and it felt a little forced. But I stayed up until 1 AM to finish it, which is what a writer always hopes will happen with a reader! 😉

Up early this morning, trying to get some work done. Got a phone call at 7 AM from the neighbor where my mom is working — she saw a shady looking character poking around the garage and my mom wasn’t answering her phone, so she was worried. Turned out it was a legitimate pick up. In CT, no one ever makes an appointment — they just show up whenever and open the door and do whatever, which drives me nuts. But the point is that someone was looking out for my mom’s well-being, and that it turned out to be something simple.

Barely get off the phone and I hear an alarm go off and go off and go off outside somewhere. Pulled on boots and coats and the rest, grabbed the keys, and tried to figure out what the hell was going on and if I needed to call someone. It may have been down the road where they’re dismantling the water tower (it’s almost all gone). I don’t know — it stopped by the time I reached the end of the lane, and there aren’t any sirens going, so I figure it’s nothing major.

So much for living the quiet life, right?

I’ve got a lot to get done today, and my back is killing me. Can’t wait to see the acupuncturist tomorrow.

Hopefully, I can get back to the page, although I’d really rather just to back to bed.

I’m giving myself Sunday completely OFF.


Published in: on February 24, 2011 at 8:09 am  Comments (3)  
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

The water company is coming today to put in a new meter. Supposedly, it will take only 45 minutes. Supposedly.

They are taking down the old water tower down the street. I managed to snap some photos of it yesterday, before they took its little hat off. It’s one of those graceful old designs, with a top that looks like the Tin Man’s hat. The new water tower is as ugly as can be, looking like an oversized golf tee, probably designed by a golf aficionado.

Ran errands, returned books to the library, found some on local history, and a book on Louisa May Alcott and her father that’s new to me, called EDEN’S OUTCASTS. Looking forward to it.

HISTORICAL INFLUENCES is flowing along well. I’m re-writing the chapters I’ve got into the new vision, and it all works much better, thank goodness. The characters are finally free to deal with the situations true to their characters, without having to worry about age-appropriate references, or a lack thereof. I also took some notes for POWER OF WORDS. Another character who will turn out to be a major obstacle for my main ensemble has been poking at me, wanting to join the fray and play. And I’m percolating the play, so that next week, I can sit down and start it.

I’ve decided which book I want to write as part of the year long intensive and pulled those notes out and put them aside.

I’m reading the applications for the intensive. In addition to writing ability and a sense of whether or not they can commit to something as intense as this course, I also have to pick people who I think will meld well together. We’re going to be in close emotional and electronic proximity for 365 days. While I’m responsible for setting the tone, it’s also important to get a mix of people who will both work and play well together. The dynamics are important.

I worked on workshop lectures and the material for Confidential Job #1. The stuff for Job #1 is well-done, but I’m not enjoying the content, so it’s a bit of a slog. But I have to get it finished and out the door tonight.

My back was bothering me badly, but only two more days until my appointment, so I’m just gritting my teeth and hanging in there. Can’t tell you how bored with it all I am. I am looking forward to being in less pain and having my range of motion back.

I’ve got a post up on Gratitude and Growth answering Lori’s question about garden design and my irritation with the lack of envelope information from two of the seed companies.

Thoroughly enjoyed last night’s episode of NCIS:LA. I watch it because I like the character of Deeks, played by Eric Christian Olsen, although I’ve had issues in some episodes with the material he’s been given. But last night, it was a great character development arc for him, showing the character’s humor, intelligence (Olsen is often cast to play dumb, so when he plays smart, he knocks it out of the park), and courage. The balance between the whole ensemble was good, and it was directed by Kate Woods, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. Whenever there’s an episode of something I particularly like (and not just this show) and I look up the director, it tends to be Kate Woods.

I’m going to try to get some writing in before the water company shoots the day’s schedule all to hell.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Still snowing

I shouldn’t complain. Really, I shouldn’t. But I am anyway. Yesterday’s snow was steady, but it stopped sticking after awhile, so I didn’t have to shovel, and for that I am deeply grateful. This morning, it is flurrying, so it’s really not that big a deal.

I spent most of yesterday catching up on paperwork, bills, correspondence, administrative stuff, etc. My desk is relatively cleaned off, and what’s left is tidy, and I know why everything is there. I did three loads of laundry. I started reading applications for the year-long intensive. I think the class is going to fill pretty darned fast. And they will be an eclectic and talented group. Which is a good thing!

In the afternoon, I headed to one of the Borders in the area which is closing. It’s always hard to find a parking spot — it was completely impossible. I had to park up the hill in the lot for a big shopping complex and walk down. The store was absolutely packed. I can’t believe they’re closing this store — it’s typical of Border’s Corporate Management’s stupidity. This store is ALWAYS packed, and if they claim it’s not making money, either they can’t read a spread sheet, can’t negotiate a decent rent deal, or someone’s cooking the books on the corporate end. On any given day, there are at least 20 people ahead of me in line. Yesterday, there were 65. I had six books, three puzzle books,and four magazines, and I had the smallest stack of anyone in line. There is no reason to close this store, except that Corporate is manned by morons.

When I got home, I realized that I’d bought the wrong Audubon Guide –for the Mid-Atlantic states instead of New England. I’m so used to living in a “mid-Atlantic state.”! Still, I can use it when I’m in that area, and some of the plants, trees, and animals are up here, too. I also got two books I need for a class I’m teaching in May. I just have to get the third of the trilogy, and I can start reading and breaking it down. Someone else was supposed to teach that particular deconstruction, but stepped out, so I’m stepping in.

My next assignment for Confidential Job #1 was in the bag that was mis-delivered, which means I have two days instead of two weeks to complete it. Since it was not their fault, I’m not putting a rush fee on it. They sent it to the right spot, but from there, the person who was supposed to get it to me screwed up. Not a problem — I can sit and do it today and tomorrow.

Comcast got the bill wrong AGAIN. Gee, there’s a surprise. Not. They’re always charging for things that don’t exist, and they’re the only choice on the Cape, which is ridiculous. The State should not allow that kind of stranglehold monopoly, and that’s what I’m communicating to my legislators.

Later this morning, I’m headed out to the bank, the post office, and the library. Shouldn’t take too long (famous last words). But it’s all in the same direction.

Reworking the book, which now even has a title (HISTORICAL INFLUENCES), and the changes are getting it flowing again. It’s becoming the book it wants to be. Amazing what that small shift did to open it up and get it flowing.

Working on the structure of the play, which I will probably start next week. It’s due the end of March, but I want to actually write it early in March (I like to write scripts in large chunks), put it away for a few days or a week or two,and then revise it before I send it off.

Back to the page.


Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 8:13 am  Comments (3)  
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde

So I’m writing along, feeling pretty good about the book, and up comes an issue that I wasn’t sure how to address in it. Again, if the protagonists were the age they’re struggling to be, it wouldn’t be an issue. But since they are younger, and the target market is younger, I struggled to find an appropriate way to handle it. So I emailed a friend who has kids in that age range to ask what she, as a parent, would be comfortable with. Ultimately, I think I picked the wrong material for this age group, and I’m not handling it the right way for the age group, which could come back and bite me in the butt. I can’t gut it and start over, and I don’t think these situations would work for the 8-12 age range (even though they are much savvier than I was at that age).

I had a chat with the publisher and sent the first few chapters. He agrees that it’s too old for his target market. However, he really, really liked what he read. He suggested that I reframe the book as an adult novel, told by the adult character as the memory of the summer that changed her life. He couldn’t publish it, but he invited me to resubmit something else next February, when he considers new material, and he doesn’t think this particular story should be “younged down.” I tried what he suggested — in addition to make the characters fourteen instead of twelve — makes all the difference in the world. So I’ll keep plugging away at this, a few pages a day, and prepare to start the play that’s due at the end of March.

During all this, I somehow managed to kill the coffee maker onsite. I am paranoid about making sure it is unplugged and turned off before I leave — unlike mine, at home, this one doesn’t have an Idiot Switch (pardon me, “automatic shutoff). Well, I was the idiot who needed the switch and burned the damn thing. Fortunately, I found a model close to the one here, but a little bit fancier, so I replaced it and left a note with deep apologies. Hopefully, it will be all right. To say I am mortified is an understatement.

The year-long intensive at Savvy Authors has gone live; course and application information are available here. I already had applicants in the first three hours, so it’s filling up fast.

I read a book I was really excited about on poisonous plants, and was left with a feeling of irritation. And no, not from any leaves touching my skin. Now, I’ve worked with various poisonous plants for various reasons for years, and studied them. I am very, very careful. And there are beautiful, popular garden plants found in many people’s gardens which, under certain circumstances, can be dangerous. I know rhododendron can be dangerous, but I’m not putting it in my salad. I KNOW every part of a lily is toxic, but I’m not grinding it up and putting it in my soup. And when the author started talking about the toxic properties of CORN . . .overkill. I checked everything I want to plant against the list of Prohibited Plants in the state, and nothing I want to have is on it (although I’m kind of surprised at some of the ones that are — and aren’t. Forget-me-nots and coltsfoot are banned in MA). I’m going to be careful, treat each plant as an individual, if precautions need to be used in case of wandering cat or dog (I was pretty careful in what I ordered), I’ll take them, but I’m not going to live in fear of my azaleas. I will RESPECT them, but not fear them.

Sunday morning, I was jolted awake at 4 AM by an alarm going off. My first thought was smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm. The dog, however, was unconcerned, so I was pretty sure that it wasn’t a fire. Then, I realized the power was out. Turns out the ADT alarm system goes nuts when the power goes off. I didn’t know the Special Secret Code to make it shut up (only how to arm and disarm it, and no, it is not the same code). So I made one up and it worked. I was rooting around looking for the account number and the name and number of the power company when everything kicked back on.

I went back to bed, but couldn’t sleep, tossing and turning. I finally dozed off and woke up later than I meant to, so I spent the morning running around like an idiot, making sure everything was all settled at the site.

Packed the car, made sure my mom was settled at HER site job, and hit the road by 11:30. Traffic was awful, the Idiot Quotient was terribly high. I know, I should talk after killing a coffee pot, but still — 35 mph is not an acceptable speed for the Merritt or I-95 unless something is wrong with your car (in which case, put on your hazards and I will be appropriately sympathetic), or there’s bad weather or more traffic than we had. Driving 35 mph on a highway because that’s the only speed you’re comfortable with means you shouldn’t be on a highway.

Stopped at Old Saybrook. No Adirondack chairs. 😦 But I found two gorgeous glass vases, one in blue, one in amber, a lovely tray, and a lovely silver necklace that’s in the shape of sand dollar with a starfish etched into it. The whole lot was $6, so I think I got a good deal, and the glass looks gorgeous on the mantel.

Stopped at My Very Favorite Gas Station in Rhode Island (hey, gas is up to $3.63 in NY — no way), filled up, and headed home. I was so happy to cross the line into MA, even happier to hit the Sagamore Bridge, and over the moon when I hit the garage door opener of my own little house.

The cats were pretty thrilled, too. They were fine, they’d had fun with my mom, but they were glad to see me.

Huge stack of mail to go through, a lovely gift from a good friend (she made it for me — I’m thrilled), and, yes, more seeds! The seeds arrived from Johnny’s and Territorial. They have to be logged and then I’ll have to sort them to figure out what needs to be started when for Memorial Day planting.

Lots of settling in and reorganizing and catching up today. I need to run some errands, but want to wait until the snow (yes, we have MORE snow) stops. I got my membership card from Mass Horticulture, and my ticket to the Boston Garden show (a group of us are going up for the day in a mini-bus). Something GREEN to look forward to.

And Costume Imp is planning his next visit.

All good.


Published in: on February 21, 2011 at 8:18 am  Comments (4)  
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011
Last Day of Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

There’s a new post over on Gratitude and Growth. About zucchini (you can’t wait, I can tell). 😉

Yesterday consisted of working on the book, taking care of some admin and scheduling things (as in, getting an email about presenting in a conference to which I’m not booked this year, etc.), going to Costco, and running a few other errands. Costco had Izze water, so I bought a couple of cases. The blackberry is my favorite, but I’ve also developed a taste for the clementine. I can’t drink the grapefruit (I break out in hives), so I usually give it away.

Came home, worked some more, sent some very pointed words to one of my Senators, and oohed and ahhhed over a gardening magazine. I have to accept the fact that I won’t have my “dream garden” until I own a place, and I’m also facing budget limitations. But I can still do some fun stuff, with a little creative energy. The photos are a great inspiration, but I need to do them a little differently. Good to stretch my imagination and creativity in new ways. Plus, looking at the lush flowers makes me resent the non-melting snowpacks a little less.

I don’t care what the weather people said — it was NOT in the mid-60s here yesterday. But it was warmer and pleasanter than it’s been.

The characters in the book want to be older than the publisher wants them, and it’s a struggle to keep in the guidelines and still be true to the story. So that’s part of the struggle in wringing out each chapter. When I forget about those age-related whispers in my ear and just write the damn book, it goes pretty well.

I cooked dinner for a friend last night, we had wine, food, and good conversation. I haven’t seen this friend since I moved, although we talk on the phone sometimes and email. It was a good catch-up.

The second load of laundry is already in, I have work on the book to do, and an errand to run later today up in Stamford. Then, it’s more work on the book and packing — I get to go home tomorrow!

I had a lot of fun down here and am grateful that two of my favorite clients continue to book me, even when I’m far away, but I’m ready to be HOME.


Published in: on February 19, 2011 at 8:44 am  Comments (2)  
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and milder

Moved sites late morning yesterday, so now I’m back up at Job #2. A bag of work that was supposed to be delivered to me here in CT was delivered to the Cape instead. It would have been nice to get started on it this weekend, but I’ll just have to do it early next week instead. I can still meet the deadlines — I just have to spend more focused time on everything next week. The world isn’t going to stop spinning, and it’s just not that big a deal.

Next week will have a lot of extra long days in it, but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. Being a freelancer doesn’t mean you stop on the dot at 5 PM, anymore than working a desk job means you stop at 5 PM. No matter what the profession, there are days when we put in extra hours. You do what’s necessary to get the job done. You learn from it and see if there’s a way you don’t have to do that the next time around. Sometimes, it’s beyond your control, and you just suck it up, get it done, and add it to the invoice. The “I have a life” refrain doesn’t cut it — work is part of life. You hate your job, you want to compartmentalize, go ahead. I prefer to live an integrated life, and that means sometimes I put in 16 hours at the computer and sometimes I put in 1. Doing what needs to be done outside of “regular business hours” doesn’t mean I don’t have a life. What it means is I’m able to ebb and flow, rather than be regimented (how very Piscean of me), and still get everything done.

Started reading a book yesterday that I was very excited about when I bought it. What a disappointment! The first SENTENCE turned me off. I pushed on. The writing is sloppy, shifts tenses without good reason, it rambles, the structure is poor, and I don’t give a damn about the characters. By the time you finish one of the rambling, disjointed sentences, you have to go back to its start to try to figure out why it was written in the first place. It’s not like the sentences move the story ahead or reveal anything about character. I stopped on p. 12. I just couldn’t take any more. The author effusively thanks her editor, and I am so tempted to contact the editor and ask what the editor saw in this manuscript? Why not fix these massive problems? But there’s no way I could phrase it so it wouldn’t sound like I’m criticizing the editor, and I don’t want to burn a bridge in my field with someone I don’t actually know yet. So I will keep my damn mouth shut. I’m especially irritated because I paid full price for the book. 😉 I don’t know whether to put it up on BookMooch or keep it as an example in the year-long class of what NOT to do! Later in the day, I forced myself to read more, just to be fair. It didn’t get any better. Sloppy writing, illogical plotting, non-dimensional character cliches, poor research, no growth or surprises in it. Everything I tell my students not to do. Often, if I don’t like a book, I just shrug and figure it’s not for me, it’s for others, more power to the writer for getting it on the market, it’s hard to make a living. Well, badly written books like this make it harder for the rest of us to get published, and I can’t help but wonder who slept with whom to get it done, because it certainly wasn’t picked up on merit.

I thought I’d share my weird book-buying formula with you. It’s not the “right” way to do things, but it works the best for me, on several levels. I happen to think there’s a place for Amazon, big bookstores, independents, and second hand stores. Each fulfills an important part of the reader experience. I like to support independents, so that’s where I try to shop first. Again, I’m enormously blessed on the Cape because there are so many independent bookstores, so many libraries, and they are so busy all the time. I also buy books by living authors I know (in person or by their work) and like at full price, preferably from an independent store, but, if I want it fast and it’s via a box store, so be it. But I buy the books NEW, so that the author gets the royalty payment. I “test drive” new-to-me authors via anthologies (bought new if I already am familiar with a contributor, second hand otherwise) or from the library. If I like their work and they’re alive, I then buy them new. Dead writers’ books are usually bought second-hand. Out-of-print and research books are often bought second-hand, usually because they’re so out of my price range I can’t buy more than a dozen a year at full price (again, I try to buy those few full-priced ones from living authors, so they get royalties to pay bills). Amazon is my last resort, usually if I’m on a tight deadline and can’t find the book at my usual outlets or get it in time from my usual outlets. I’ll also buy new-to-me authors second-hand at first if I’m on the fence about them — then, if I like them, and they’re alive, I switch to buying their books new and at full price. Not every book on my shelves falls into these categories neatly, but that’s how I try to buy them.

Not a good writing day yesterday, so here’s hoping that today is better. At least it’s sunny and a bit warmer.

Going to Costco this morning, and then a friend is coming over for dinner tonight, which will be fun!

Time to wrestle with the Page Dragon, and hope that I win!


Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 8:07 am  Comments (8)  
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

There’s a new, short post up on Gratitude and Growth.

I’m angry that Borders is closing the two stores within a decent driving distance from me. As much as I prefer spending my money at independent bookstores, there are times when Borders came in handy, and the two stores they’re closing were packed ALL THE TIME. As in, six check out people and a line winding back and forth no matter what day of the week or time or day I was there. There is no reason to close those stores other than Borders Corporate Management is greedy and bad at what they do (hence having to file for bankruptcy). They keep touting the website, but it sucks, and they’ve never gotten a single order correct for me, so I stopped using them. I’ll close out my gift cards and then, to hell with them. I feel bad for the wonderful people in my area who worked for them and were helpful, friendly, and supported local authors. But management in the head office? Deserve to be kicked to the curb. Corporate office management has sucked for at least the past five years, probably longer.

It’s not the death knell for bookstores. What this does is open slots for more independent bookstores (I’m so lucky that the Cape is full of them), and also, make room for a hopefully more successful, literate, book-friendly (meaning both digital and print) model. The death of the Corporate Bookstore is only going to help actual individual booksellers, authors, and readers. There are other business models where everyone wins. I’m not going to bore you with them here, but I’ve researched and written about those possibilities elsewhere, and how to make them work. Unfortunately, because so many publishers are now corporations, too, it makes it harder to convince the big houses there’s a better way to do things.

Someone stopped following me on Twitter because that “person” — I think it was a fake name — kept sending me links to write for content mills & I asked the person to stop, saying I don’t write for content mills and they couldn’t afford me. So I’m “dropped”. So sad. Not. 😉

Working on a set of proposals for some for-hire work. Tight turnaround time, clean copy, write fast and well, mimic the style previously set up. I can do all that. An assignment from a one of these establishments wouldn’t be easy, but I think it would be good experience, so I’m going to toss my hat into a couple of rings and see what comes up. If they like me, they’ll keep me on file and contact me whenever it seems there’s a good fit. It could be intermittent, short-term work that pays decently, and I can manage it with my teaching schedule and my own writing. And I’ve got some more teaching proposals to get out, for in-person, local workshops.

It’s all about time management. We all have 24 hours in every day. It’s how we choose to use them that defines us.

And my work is not separate from my life — few fiction writers’ work is. It is INTEGRATED into my life.

I finalized another deconstruction workshop for May — someone dropped out and they asked me to take over, so I have to get up to speed on the books — they’re on my To Be Read list, but now I have to sit down, read them back-to-back, taking notes, and read them for an entirely different perspective than to read it just to read it. Should be fun.

The work on the book went slowly, but pretty well yesterday. I need to get some more done this morning before I pack up and head up to Site #2, where I’ll be for the rest of the week.


Published in: on February 17, 2011 at 9:44 am  Comments (7)  
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

“They” keep saying it will warm up and it keeps staying cold.

Mostly an admin day yesterday, sorting out schedules, proposals, etc. Not enough work done on the book, which is frustrating. Kept getting up every hour or so to stretch out my back. The stretching helps, and then, ten minutes later, it’s a mess again and getting stuck — that’s the only way I can describe it. It gets stuck and I can’t bend or straighten properly. And I can’t soak in a tub (which I’d love to do), because, unless I’m in a tub with a railing, I can’t get up to get out. Downloaded some more music to the iPod. Watched the snow not melt.

All of the admin stuff is necessary, and it’s good to batch it and get it out of the way, but it’s a slog.

Plus, ideas keep spinning. A new piece wants attention, and can’t get any, and the Alexis Walthers piece is tugging at me again. I’ve got extensive notes and know where it wants to go, it’s just that I need to get out the deadlined work before the undeadlined work.

Had a good first writing session this morning on the book, in spite of having to stop a few times and do some location research. Most of the locations I’ve been to and just needed to refresh my memory; one, in the Lake District, I had to research a bit more. It’s only a single scene, but if I don’t get the atmosphere right, it will ring false. I’ve been to the Lake District, I just haven’t been to this particular spot in the Lake District. And, since I can’t get there before the book is due at the end of the month, I have to do careful research.

Reading Donna Leon’s THE GIRL OF HIS DREAMS. I always want to eat pasta and drink wine when I read those books, because there’s so much food in them. Yes, that’s a compliment — I love her books.

Working on the post for Gratitude and Growth – it should be up by the end of the day, and I’ll post the link tomorrow.

Back to the page. I’m hoping to ride the momentum of that first writing session and keep going.


Published in: on February 16, 2011 at 10:39 am  Comments (3)  
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

So where’s this thaw they keep promising us, and pushing back day-by-day? We had snow flurries last night!

Everything that needed to go out today went out yesterday, all good. Now I can focus on the book. I’ve been invited to present in person at a conference at Mt. Holyoke in the fall — not too far away from where I live, and it will be fun to do some in-person work. A friend and I brainstormed topics for a one-day, online seminar at the end of March. So, the morning, at least, was productive.

Afternoon was busy with site work, but I managed to grab a few hours to read Donna Leon’s ABOUT FACE. I love her mysteries set in modern-day Venice. We’re definitely going to talk about her work in “Setting as Character.”

Also, a couple of story ideas are roiling around in my brain. I wish they’d queue up properly, but that’s not how the process works.

My back is REALLY bad. Yoga and tiger’s balm are helping somewhat, and I just have to hang in there until the end of the month, when I have an acupuncture appointment. Pain medication doesn’t even take off the edge, so I’m not going to waste my liver on it. Heat, stretching, tiger’s balm, valerian root (except I don’t have any with me). When I have a car again towards the end of the week, I’m going to get some icy hot patches and see if they help. There’s a massaging chair here that is sort of fun, but doesn’t give much long-term help.

Back to the book, with breaks to work on the seminar essays. And my March workshop is almost full — the getting unstuck one. There are just a few more slots left.

To the page.


Published in: on February 15, 2011 at 7:45 am  Comments (7)  
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Valentine’s Day
Cloudy and cold

Each and every one of you are precious to me, and, as far as I’m concerned, you are all my valentines!

Busy weekend. The year-long intensive writing workshop I’m teaching, starting in September, is a go. Spent quite a bit of time going back and forth, finalizing the details. I’ll post the sign-up/application link as soon as I have it. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but we write, revise, edit, and start to submit a novel, start a second novel, and write a few short stories during the year. The students get their money’s worth, and wind up with submission-ready work. It is limited, there’s an application process, and applicants better know the difference between possessive and plural! I’m only accepting twelve students.

I was a little worried that it might be priced out of some people’s range; however, it needs to be priced high enough to pay me for my time — and the students get more than their money’s worth; it has to be priced high enough so they take it seriously; and it has to make up for the work I’ll have to turn down in the coming year. It’s still less than the herbalism master class I want to take next spring, and it definitely requires more work on my part to teach than the class I plan to take next spring requires to teach.

The red fox visited Site #2 Sunday morning, coming quite close. He is gorgeous, one of the most beautiful creatures I’ve ever seen — all red and gold with a white vest, and black face and paws. Healthy and shiny and vigorous.

Finished up at Site #2 in late morning, went back down to Site #1, and I’ll be here until mid-day on Thursday. Some snow flurries on and off all weekend, but nothing major, and we’re promised a thaw. I’m ready.

Worked on the essay and the short story, both of which are due tomorrow. I think I can get the essay out the door today — I want to tweak the story a bit more. I’m not satisfied with it.

I’m reading Susan Wittig Albert’s TOGETHER ALONE — gorgeous book. Definitely on the recommended reading list for “Setting as Character.” Stylistically, it wouldn’t work for what we’re doing in class — she’s talking TO us instead of integrating information into action, hey, it’s a memoir, that’s the point — but the use of language to evoke emotion about place works really well.

I also read and then tossed to the side one of the lamest “writing” books I’ve ever seen in my life. I’d heard a lot of good things about it, and had been looking for it for a few years. I finally hunted down a copy in Niantic. What a piece of psychobabble crap! I did not find ONE useful piece of information in the entire book. And the exercises make you a weaker writer, not a stronger one. I’ll put it up on BookMooch as soon as I get home.

Hopefully, today I can put in a lot of hours of uninterrupted, focused work time. It always takes awhile for me to settle when I move from place to place — I don’t quite have the transitioning down yet. And I miss home.

Word from home is that the cats are in a MOOD. Violet is stomping around, knocking things down, and Iris is running around yelling.

To the page.


Published in: on February 14, 2011 at 7:38 am  Comments (9)  
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