Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Scheduled to Post

I spent most of the day finishing the galleys for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. Technically, I’m done, and I only found four little tiny things. I’m terrified to hit the final “send” in case I missed something, so I might go over it one more time.

Spent time on the workshop.

I should have worked in the yard, since it wasn’t raining. My neighbors were all in their yards, and I’m feeling guilty, as you can read in my Gratitude and Growth post, Falling Behind.

But my deadline had to come first.

I’ve scheduled this to post, since I’m out the door early to help plant a butterfly garden at a local wildlife sanctuary this morning. I hope, this afternoon, to mow (my first time using a power lawnmower) and get some stuff done in the yard.

I’ve made a good start on the next assignment for Confidential Job #1, so I’m hoping to finish that and get it off by Monday morning. Next week will be packed full of work and gardening and writing and last minute errands for things that must be done before I head for my site job in CT.

It better not rain!!! 😉

To the wildlife sanctuary, then to the page, then to the yard.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny, wet, and cool

Had a good 3K day on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY yesterday, which certainly lifted my spirits. Unfortunately, didn’t finish the galleys of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, so that will be today’s focus.

Ran a couple of errands, picked up a few things for Beltane. It rained all day, thunderstorms at night, and quite a bit of wind, so there wasn’t much I could do outside. There are more dandelions all over the place — of course! 😉

The huckleberry bush arrived — it’s tiny! But adorable. It was a little traumatized from the trip, but seems to be settling in.

Caught up on the workshop — a group of students even posted early.

Got up early to watch the Royal Wedding — in real time. No way was I going to have to watch the three same clips everyone’s going to run for the next two weeks. And I wasn’t going to record it to watch later. Either I watch it or I don’t. Events have more meaning when experienced in real time. I watched Prince Charles & Princess Diana get married, so I figured, why not witness another piece of history? Even if I hadn’t set my alarm for 3:15, I would have been up that early, because Violet hurled up three fur balls and was completely shocked.

Scheduled the wake up so I had time for my yoga and meditation — I kind of understand why so many people get up that early to do two hours of yoga and meditation. It’s lovely and quiet. Even the birds are asleep. Fed the cats, made the coffee, even got some writing done before putting on the television.

Watched the coverage on BBC America, because the three US Networks had coverage that was tacky and tasteless, on par with reality shows. No surprise there. BBC was commercial-free, and had historians to put traditions in context, etc. I thought the whole thing was lovely, well done, and beautifully orchestrated. I hope a happy day gives them a happy start to a good life together.

And now, I’ve had enough of it all. I can always turn the channel when they regurgitate bits and get snarky.

Errands today, and I have to focus on the galleys of the book above anything else. I’ll probably take a nap, and maybe do some yard work. SPIRIT REPOSITORY will be put aside for a day or two, until ASSUMPTION is complete, and I’ve committed to work tomorrow morning at one of the wildlife sanctuaries.

At some point, I need to mow the lawn this weekend, because it will soon look like a hayfield.

I have a feeling, though, that I’ll work a nap in there!

Right now, though, I have to post the next exercise on the workshop, go back to the page, and then comment on exercises during the block I’ve set aside this afternoon.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and raw

Had a good day’s work on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, finally. What a relief! I think I’m figuring out the book’s themes. I often have the basics of the plot down when I start (whether I write them out or not), but the theme or themes only emerge as I write the book.

Working slowly on the final galleys of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, because I’m so afraid I’ll miss something. I printed out the whole document, because it’s easier for me to accurately read it on the page than on the screen. My eyes don’t get tired as quickly.

It cleared up enough for me to spend a couple of hours in the yard in the afternoon. I pulled up all the dandelions. Now, I’m fond of dandelions, and if I knew how the lawn was treated in the past, I’d use them in my stillroom. But I don’t, so I don’t dare risk it. And dandelions are difficult on the lawn, especially if they get all puffy and go into other people’s lawns. So I removed them. I raked out another section of the back bed. From the ground, it looked and felt as though I hadn’t made any progress (although I filled two 30 gallon bags). But from the upstairs windows, one can see the progress.

The new lilac bush arrived, totally surprising me (I expected it about Saturday). It’s settled and budding. I’ll have to get it a nice pot, but it came in a tub, so it’s fine for the moment.

Caught up with my students in the workshop. They’re starting off on time and staying on top of the assignments and no whining, so that’s a good sign. Towards the end of the second week, in a month-long class, there’s usually a bit of a lag, but when they start strong, it’s not as much of an issue than if they’ve been behind from Day One.

Most evenings/nights at this point are spent studying — botany texts, gardening books, herbals, latin texts, etc. Better than TV most nights, that’s for sure. I’m unearthing (no pun intended) a lot of the books I bought over the years with an eye to having a garden “someday”. Well, someday is here. And there’s a lot of information in my older Craft books, books that had a lot of influence on me fifteen or so years ago, and now I can re-read them with a new appreciation based on the experiences in the interim. So that’s good.

Confidential Job #1 sent me my new assignment — that was fast! It looks interesting. Once I get the final galleys of ASSUMPTION done and back to the publisher, I’ve got two other manuscripts I’d like to run an eye over and get out the door before I leave for CT next week. I’m hoping to get the CJ1 assignment turned around this weekend, and have the next assignment ready to take with me on the site gig.

Today is about writing, editing galleys, and taking my mom to the doctor in the afternoon. And getting coffee — I ran out and got into my emergency stash, which isn’t very good. But it’s better than being coffee-less!

Back to the page.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy, cool, foggy

Is anyone else as heartily sick of all the fuss about the Royal Wedding as I am? Let them enjoy their day, for crying out loud! The way the media keeps trying to ruin it for them is despicable.

3 loads of laundry yesterday.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth to read about the latest goings on in the garden.

I’m struggling with THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and I don’t know why. So I’m just pushing through. There’s a deadline to be met. Just keep going, that’s all I can do, and remember that every word I wind up with at the end of the writing day is more than I started with.

Didn’t get enough work done on the final copyedits for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, either. Must do better on both today.

The workshop is off to a good start, though, which is a relief.

I find I need to take breaks between unpacking. Some of these boxes have been in storage since 2001. I haven’t seen the items inside for ten years. Some of them can be thrown out or given away; some need to be integrated into my life. Everything has a memory and a story attached, and I have to spend time with each story and see if it’s a part of my past, a part of my present, or relevant to my future. It’s a very strange process.

Back to the page.


Published in: on April 27, 2011 at 7:08 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy, foggy, cool

Decent day’s work on SPIRIT REPOSITORY. Not an easy one, but at least I got more than the basic 1K done. I need to really up my game the next few weeks in order to get the draft in decent shape by its deadline. This is what I get for not creating a solid outline when it was hot in the brain. I remember the beginning, the end, the point, and the primary relationship, but lost the rest of it because I didn’t write it down. And now, that I have to go back to it on deadline, it’s nearly like starting from scratch. My own damn fault. I know better. So now I have to re-figure it all out and make it work in a timely manner.

And then I found this quote from Madeleine L’Engle, in A CIRCLE OF QUIET:
“Inspiration does not always precede the act of writing; it often follows it.” (p.162)
So true!

Read the second Crosswicks journal, THE SUMMER OF THE GREAT GRANDMOTHER. Beautiful and heartbreaking.

Payment all sorted out, and problems resolved. Very glad to move on.

Had to get out a partial I wasn’t expecting to have to get out, so that took some time. All the bits were there, I just had to personalize the cover letter and print everything, so it wasn’t a Big Huge Deal, and I should be glad I had to get a partial out, right? 😉

Spent a good chunk of the afternoon up in the storeroom, sorting out the many boxes of books. I got most of the series juvenile fiction shelved (Nancy Drew, Penny Parker, Trixie Belden, Judy Bolton, Vicki Barr, Beverly Gray, Kay Tracy, Dorothy Dixon, the Dana Girls, Sue Barton, Cherry Ames, etc.) I even have a few shelves on which to put other books, and i have to figure out which ones should go there. But I’ve still got about 40 unpacked boxes of books up there with no idea where to put them, and close to 100 in the basement.

Yeah. I need more bookcases.

Gave some advice to a friend, found a request for a blog post and wondering where my contribution was to an anthology. Since this was the first I’d heard of it, it’s not yet written. I’m waiting to hear back on the deadline, to see if I can possibly whip something worthwhile out. The blog post I’d written and sent them over a year ago, so I’m not sure if they’re using it again, or just getting around to it.

The copyedits/galleys have come through for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, so I start those this morning. I’ve got ten days to turn them around, but I’m hoping, even working slowly with “copyeditor eye” instead of “writer eye”, that I can get them done by the weekend.

Today’s a deadline for the first assignment in the workshop, so I’ll spend some time with the students.

And I thought this would be a quiet week! 😉

But I would rather have all this good chaos going on than any other kind.

Last night was the first night I didn’t need the hot water bottle along with the big pile of blankets. I’m hoping I can slowly use fewer and fewer blankets, and soon switch from the flannel sheets to simple cotton ones. My neighbor’s tulips have bloomed, and are lovely. And the squirrel dashes over every morning, grabs his two lettuce leaves, and scrambles back up the tree. Too funny!


Published in: on April 26, 2011 at 5:53 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Partly sunny and warmer

The weather was gloomy much of the weekend, and I just didn’t feel like doing ANYTHING. I gave myself Saturday off– just read, played with the cats, fussed at the plants, that type of thing.

Read some gardening books and a mystery that was decent, but not brilliant. I liked it well enough to stay up Saturday night until I was finished with it, but it’s not making my top ten list.

Saw the premiere episode for the new season of DR. WHO, which was pretty entertaining. I like the show anyway. I missed Matt Smith’s first season as the Doctor, because I didn’t have BBC America in New York, so his performance was new to me, and quite fun. Alex Kingston is in it, and I really like her work. There’s a great sense of play between the cast, a sense of fun, which comes across. I always adored David Tennant’s work in the role (but then, I’ve never seen him in a role where I didn’t like his work), but it’s nice to see how each actor can really jump in and make it unique.

Still having trouble with Safari, which is not acceptable. I’ll have to call Apple Care to figure out what’s going on. I’m getting into everything through Firefox, but it doesn’t give me the flexibility I’m used to with Safari.

Still waiting to be paid for the last workshop. I wonder what the next excuse will be. Not acceptable.

Sunday started gloomy, but the sun came out in the afternoon and it got warmer. We put up most of the storm windows, put down the screens, and opened the windows. The cats were fascinated. In the apartment in NYC, we were on the 8th floor and in Rye, the 3rd floor, so being close to the grass and the birds and the squirrels is new. There was one bird in a very crochety mood, stomping around the yard. He tried to eat an oak leaf, spit it out, and complained. It was so funny!

When I sat outside reading a book for a bit, a spider was very busy around the Adirondack chairs (In my belief system, one does not kill a spider unless it’s poisonous and attacking you). When I went back out later, for my evening glass of wine, she’d spun her web tying both chairs to the side rail of the porch. She was busy! It was funny.

I did my write-up for Confidential Job #1 and sent it off, so, hopefully, they’ll send my next assignment this week.

I re-read Madeleine L’Engle’s A CIRCLE OF QUIET, the first of her four Crosswicks Journals. Very soul-refreshing. I love what she says about writing and parenting, and many other things. I disagree with her on spiritual issues, but that’s okay — it’s still interesting to read about how and why she gets there.

Yes, I should have worked in the yard, but I was tired and needed a break. And it was nice to read a book in the sun with a warm breeze wafting past.

Today, the next workshop starts — with a different organization than the last one (who still hasn’t paid me). I posted everything they need to get started, and off we go. I’m excited about this class, it’s “Setting as Character”, and it was developed specifically from requests from students in other classes. I’m making a real effort not to let any bad energy from the last class affect this one.

I hope that this week will be productive as far as THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY goes. I need to get back on track with that. I know what I want to say, I know the direction in which I want to go but I’m having trouble getting there. I hope if I push through the current problematical section, the next bit will flow better. I may cut this section in the revision, but unfortunately, I need to write it in this draft, in order to GET to the next bit. Last night, as I fell asleep, a piece I’d put aside during the move started tugging at me again, but it has to wait its turn.

I’m hoping this will be a quiet week at home, with lots of writing and maybe some gardening done.


Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 7:15 am  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , ,

Saturday, April 23, 2011

small forsythia at the back of the house

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cold

There’s news that it snowed and continues to snow north and west of us today. Brrr!

Check out how I’ve had to prioritize the garden list over on Gratitude and Growth. I’ve also got some photos.

Not a good day on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, unfortunately. That’s discouraging. So I have to dig in today to make up for it. I know what I want to say, but I’m not saying it well.

Went to tweak the exercises for the workshop that starts on Monday, and they’re gone. Can’t find them anywhere. The document vanished. So I’m recreating them from my notes. Also, for some reason, Safari’s not working. It keeps “quitting” on me after being up for a few seconds. So I’m on Firefox for the moment.

Still waiting to be paid for the workshop. Not acceptable. I don’t want to hear excuses, I don’t want to hear “holiday weekend”, I don’t want to hear “volunteer staff.” I want the money I more than earned, and I want it in a timely fashion. Instead of dicking around until they happen to feel like dealing with it, they should deal, so we can all close the book on this fiasco and move on.

I got another email yesterday from a different organization. They’d asked for pitches eighteen months ago; I pitched by return email; there was interest. Then no word. When I followed up, several months later, the organizer told me she’d get back to me “the next day”. Nothing. So I shrugged it off and went on to other things. Yesterday, I get an email announcing I’m booked for X dates, which had nothing to do with the original dates discussed (which, of course, have long since passed). I politely and firmly replied that no, I was not booked with them for X dates, because we had never discussed those dates and I was already booked elsewhere (which is absolutely true). The arrogance and disorganization of some of these places never ceases to amaze me.

All I really wanted to do by afternoon was curl up in the sun with a book, but I knew the weekend was supposed to be gloomy, so I did a few hours’ of yard work.

While I was outside, Violet told my mother that, for some reason, the door to the basement had opened and the light was on, and then proceeded to go downstairs to explore. We both remember shutting off the light and closing the door. In fact, I even said, “I’m turning off the light.” The house pixies are at it again!

Iris got Very Brave this morning and investigated the garage for the first time (the door to the outside was closed). She was very proud of herself.

I’m hoping that, because it’s a gloomy day, I can get in a few good writing sessions. I’m behind where I should be on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and it’s got to not only get done, but get done WELL.


Published in: on April 23, 2011 at 8:12 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cold
Earth Day

Today actually IS Earth Day, and I will celebrate by spending time in stewardship of my own little patch of it later today.

Lots of admin yesterday. Got the payment situation for the workshop sorted out, and should be paid soon. Glad I asked — or I wouldn’t have seen the money.

Good day’s work on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, which was nice. It’s starting to come together and make a little more sense. I have a feeling that Daisy and Dulcie, the two Yorkshire terriers who share the protag’s life, are going to be scene-stealers!

Ran some errands, picked up some books that the library got in for me on Sissinghurst, the famous English garden. When we travelled in the UK, we visited a lot of big houses and their wonderful gardens. Felbrigg, where we stayed in “the Mustard Pot” cottage had gorgeous gardens, including a walled garden and an orangerie filled with camellias and tropical plants. Blickling Hall, not too far away, had gorgeous, formal Italian gardens — and even some stone sphinxes and a pyramid! The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall remained lost to us — never could find ‘em –but I hear they’re wonderful. Anyway, I love visiting and looking at the formal gardens, but I don’t think I could live with one — and not just because of the upkeep. I admire the designs very much, but I need a garden I can live in. Someone asked my garden style and I said, “Enchanted cottage garden with gothic touches”. I like to tuck in surprises that will make those with good intentions laugh at the contradictions, and those without good intentions will get a jolt.

Took a drive down to the large, shoreline compounds on the water in and around Hyannis. Beautiful stuff. The water was an amazing shade of blue-green yesterday, really wonderful. Again, a lot of these large summer houses are too formal for me. They’re pretty, I appreciate them, but I need something that can be lived in, not just admired.

People who live here year-round do most of their own yard work and planting, while people who live here part-time hire in landscapers and the rest — which makes perfect sense, because they’re not here, and someone’s got to stay on top of it. But again, there’s a difference. The landscaped properties look sterile and aloof, whereas the ones where the individual owners do the work are filled with life and enchantment. In CT, where I still work a lot, almost everyone hires in people to “do” the yards, which means they mow and use leaf blowers all the time, but things rarely look enchanted and individual — just cut. It’s interesting to see the contrasts in different styles.

Started working on the back bed of my own yard, which will take MUUUUCH longer than I expected. I got maybe an eighth of it done in the hours I spent on it yesterday. I’ll write about it in detail in tomorrow’s garden post.

Unpacked some stuff in my office, and then unpacked six of the kitchen boxes still in the garage. Found some cool stuff, including a set of martini glasses I didn’t remember owning. I need to get a couple more shelf units for the basement, so I can store everything properly. Slowly but surely, we’re getting there.

Occasionally, I watch THE MENTALIST, because I like the ensemble cast. I happened to flip it on last night, and it was a story-line that supposedly took place at a racetrack. It was AWFUL. Either the writer did ZERO research, or the showrunner/producers/network execs decided to ignore the research. The episode was a slap in the face to anyone who works in the industry and who loves horse racing. So many details had nothing to do with what it’s actually like to work on the backstretch — and most of the story took place there. It wasn’t even remotely plausible. I understand that some things may need to be changed for dramatic reasons, but at least root it in the reality of the world, so it’s got some relevance. Absolutely an offensive and insulting episode. The lack of research and respect for an intense and unique industry was unacceptable. Guess I won’t be watching that show again.

Frost again last night — Mahoney’s sent around another warning to cover the in-ground plants. I saw a squirrel run away with a few tiny leaves of the neighbor’s lettuce this morning, which was pretty funny.

If you celebrate Easter weekend, may you have a beautiful time.


Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 7:13 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I forgot to write about a little adventure I had on Tuesday evening. I saw a posting on Craigslist about free pots and ornamental stone available at a house nearby who recently redid their garden. I jumped into the car and tootled over, but, of course, I was too late! Still, it got the adrenalin going for a few minutes!

There were all kinds of Earth Day events going on around here yesterday, which made me think I forgot Earth Day (although, when I looked it up, it’s actually tomorrow). I said something to one of the cashiers about forgetting, and she said, “Every day’s Earth Day on the Cape. We don’t need to set aside a special day.” Which is true, and pretty cool. Even little kids are environmentally aware, and excited. It’s so much fun to see the little kids at the recycling center. They’re so excited. The other day there was a toddler in pig tails whose Dad (with firm grip on her) let her put the newspapers into the big bin. When she was done, she jumped up and down, clapping her hands, saying, “I saved the Earth!” It was so cute!

One thing for which I have no patience is when people whine that they “don’t have time.” We all have exactly the same amount of hours in the day. It’s how we choose to use them that defines us. It’s not that the whiners “don’t have” time, it’s that they can’t manage the time they’ve got. If you freelance, you have to be great at time management or you’ll starve. If you want a writing career, you better learn how to manage your time, no matter what other demands there are on it. You make, steal, wrestle, and demand it. If you don’t, it means you don’t want it enough. Very simple. If you have to have a day job while you launch your writing career, you treat your writing as a second job, until it can replace the day job and be your only job. But, without making the commitment and seeing it through, it won’t happen. “Writing in batches” for a few days every few months isn’t going to build a career. You need consistency. You need stamina. You need to keep your name and your work out there in the form of smaller projects in between big projects. But, most importantly, you have to be willing to give up the time wasters you have in your life (and we all have plenty of those) and WANT it badly enough to stop procrastinating, sit down and DO IT. Don’t use that old excuse of not being able to do anything without a deadline. Set your own deadlines and stick to them. Because if you don’t commit and follow through, you won’t earn your way into a position where there’s an editor regularly cracking the whip. And, quite frankly, they get tired of it after awhile and expect you to act like a grown-up and a professional. No one owes you anything, because you say you want to write. You have to earn it. Part of that is making the time to actually sit down and write, no matter what.

No one will treat you as a professional unless you start acting like one. All of it — the creativity, the craft, the attitude — have to start with YOU.

One of the things that I love about living where I do now is that no one whines about time. No one says “they don’t have time”. They shut up, go do what they have to do, and then have the time to hang out with a glass of wine or do something else fun. It’s that typically Yankee mentality that I love so much — get it done and then have fun. No one’s rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off. There’s “service with a smile” (and usually a conversation) at the stores. No one is rushing, yet everything gets done efficiently, and people are pleasant. That’s the way it should be. Don’t get me wrong — most people here are wildly eccentric in their own unique ways. But individualism is prized, except among the snobby enclaves of “summer people” in the million dollar houses, and everyone’s happy to peacefully co-exist and enjoy each other’s eccentricities. AND they keep their word. It’s a nice change, and the kind of place I want to live.

Caught up on a lot of admin, especially for upcoming classes. If I’m not paid for the last class by today, I’ll have to send a (hopefully) diplomatic inquiry. Ran some errands, got the boxes that held the patio furniture to the dump, picked up cat food (biggest priority), and some groceries. Grabbed some Chinese take-out. That restaurant just cracks me up — the staff is so funny!

The next assignment for Confidential Job #1 arrived. I sat down, planning to just flip through it, but read the WHOLE THING — just over 300 pages. It was fantastic. I couldn’t put it down. So I’ll write it up and send it back, nearly a full two weeks before it’s due. After the last few assignments, which were kind of a slog, this was wonderful!

It’s sunny today, so I might actually get to clean up the back bed today, which would be lovely. I’ve got to figure out what to do with the small strawberry plants. I don’t want to kill them, they don’t really like to be transplanted, but I can’t put them into their final pots yet.

Back to the page for now — got some work to do on SPIRIT REPOSITORY.


Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 7:12 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , ,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and chilly

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth to see a picture of the Mystery Bush that’s blooming and read the latest goings-on in the garden. There are quite a few pictures!

The point I made a few days ago about the payment I receive for teaching being out of balance with the time put in was driven home when I saw what another writer is charging for a six week class: $750 per student. Yeah, I have to re-think my fees.

Anyway, yesterday was about making the final tweaks on the ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT manuscript before my editor sends it back to the publisher for final copyediting. I LOVED working with my editor — she’s amazing. And I sent the publisher a note this morning, telling her how grateful I am we were paired up. I also told my editor how much I enjoyed the experience and how grateful I am to her.

Also worked on the proposal I promised my Senator, which is kind of sucking the life out of me, but the sooner I get it done and out, the better. It’s important, and can solve a lot of problems in a fair way, so it needs to get to people who can implement it.

Did four loads of laundry, which included unpacking three bags of stuff from the move and figuring out what to do with it — some washed, some washed and prepped to be given away, etc. There’s a lovely knitted suit I wore a lot in the 80’s — and is the 80’s design — that my mom made for me from my design. I’ll never wear it again, so my mom is unravelling it and will knit something else from it. It’s a gorgeous ice blue, one of my favorite colors, and I think a sweater set in a more modern style will work.

Finished a book yesterday that was a volume of letters between professional gardeners. I have a few of them, and enjoy them, because I always learn something. I want to re-read some of them, because now I’ll understand it more. This volume, however, was too much of a disappointment. Too much whining. I didn’t like either of the letter writers.

Last night, as I was trying to sleep, I had a big breakthrough on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. About damn time. This morning, I wrote up a bunch of notes, and I hope to dive back into it. I can weave a double plot line in to make it a stronger book. I was thinking in terms too linear before.

Of course, now I have to sit down and do it! 😉

But it’s a chilly, rainy day, so, in and around some errands (we’re dangerously low on cat food), I have no excuses!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

In case you’re wondering why I ignored the apostrophe in my mention of Patriots’ Day, it’s because I wasn’t sure where to put it – I’ve seen it done as Patriot’s, meaning one patriot, which doesn’t seem right; Patriots’, meaning everyone in MA who wasn’t a Tory, which makes more sense; and Patriots, meaning there are a lot of individuals running around, but there’s no possession of the day. I checked with the State, and the correct usage is Patriots’ Day — a day belonging to multiple Patriots (and I don’t just mean the football team) in the state.

Of course, then I forgot it was Patriots’ Day and such a big deal, and tried to take a load of recycling to the dump. The dump, of course, was closed, because it’s a state facility and state workers were off being patriotic for Patriots’ Day! 😉

By accident, I came across a review of GAME OF THRONES written by a local reviewer, who happens to be a woman. She had the exact same response to the piece that I had in regard to the sex scenes, which I thought was interesting. I’m curious to see if other reviews split along genre lines on that aspect.

Trotted around to gardening stores. Got inspired to do something different than I originally planned for the front — once it’s warm enough to put anything in there! Instead of just putting in a row of pansies, I think I’ll mix them with English daisy and candytuft. I’d never thought much about candytuft from the photos, but, when I saw it in person,I really, really liked it.

I also got my Blue Prince and Blue Princess small holly trees, pots, and soil. I’m so excited.

I spent the afternoon repotting the rapidly growing plants inside, starting some new seeds, and cleaning up the front yard. There’s still work to be done, but it’s better. I’ll write about it in detail in tomorrow’s Gratitude and Growth.

It felt good to spend the day away from the computer and immerse myself in physical activity, where I could actually see results right away.

I searched and searched to figure out what the lovely, flowering magenta bush is on the side of the house, but no luck. I’d like to know what it is so I can take care of it properly!

Today, I’ll make up for it. Supposedly, it will rain intermittently today, so no yard work for me. I’ll stay inside and write, which is a pretty good way to spend the day, too! 😉 I’m looking forward to having a few days where my own writing is the primary focus, without other commitments pulling me in all directions.


Published in: on April 19, 2011 at 6:46 am  Comments (7)  
Tags: , , , ,

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool
Boston Marathon
Patriots Day

I got my second round of revisions done and off to my editor on Saturday morning, along with the front matter. She’s going over it again early this week, and then, it’s off to the copy editor! From there, I await the final galleys — shiver, shiver! Whenever I hit the “send” on final galleys, I always want to throw up, because I’m sure I’ve missed something Really Important.

Did a library run, some errands, etc. The box of irises arrived from White Flower Farm (Wednesday’s Gratitude and Growth will have more on that).

Wound up the workshop. Two weeks of shouting into the abyss complete. I have to accept my portion of the responsibility in what didn’t work. Hopefully, I learned from my mistakes this time around and can apply it moving forward. I was the wrong teacher and it was the wrong format for this particular group. It happens. Fortunately, I am the right teacher in the right environment for a lot of people. I know I should focus on that, but it always takes awhile to get over something like this. Holding onto the anger, frustration, and disappointment doesn’t do anyone any good, and it goes beyond just a simple “oh, it’s Mercury Retrograde.” Let’s face it, if you can’t commit to two weeks of making writing a priority, how are you going to have a career?

The bulk of my teaching experiences are positive, but a trusted friend is right — I need to adjust certain things, especially the amount of time I put in as equated with the money. If these classes were being taught in person, they would be $425 and up. Online, they are considerably less, but I’m putting in the same, or even more time and energy, than I would in person. For instance, this last class took between four and six hours per day, plus the additional admin work the formatting problems brought up and trying to keep track of who still had material due. So I spent more than 84 hours on this class. I’m not being paid even a fraction of my hourly rate when you break it down like that. Turning around 15K or more in exercises with relevant comments takes time, and I’d even cut the word count on most of the exercises. Usually, classes take two hours or a little over per day, which is reasonable. I look at classes taught by some of the others, where material is posted (sometimes the entire course is posted the first day) and there’s only about 20 minutes of interaction a day. As a student in a class like that, I don’t get a whole lot out of it. I want my students to walk away from my classes with a short story that’s close to submission ready or a chunk of a novel that is in good shape. I want them to have something tangible they honed in class AND a set of skills they can apply to most of their writing moving forward. All of our time is valuable, and when students are willing to put in the time to hone the work, they leave the class with a feeling of accomplishment and more confidence, along with a piece of actual, almost submission-ready work. Students who do not put in the time or make excuses or ignore the notes do not. I want the students who do the work to have the best and most complete experience possible, while not getting drained by the small percentage one winds up with in class who suck the life out of everyone. I don’t want the students to have less of an experience because of the time factor on my part. There’s an imbalance there, and it’s up to me to address it and get back in balance in a way that’s positive for both myself and my students.

I enjoy teaching, especially when my students go on and publish and succeed, but I need to re-think where and how I accept bookings, factor in price more than I have, and, where appropriate (such as for advanced classes), institute an application process. Also, after the current teaching commitments expire at the end of Summer 2012, I may take a break and not teach for awhile.

Read the manuscript I promised my friend I’d read, and sent back comments. Enjoyed it very, very much, and was honored to be a Trusted Reader. Had to catch up with my Senators and my Rep, who actually represented my interests in a recent Congressional vote. Wanted to thank them and brainstorm a few more ideas. Before 9 AM on Saturday, 15 minutes after I’d sent off the email, one of the offices got back to me, wanting the proposal, so had to work on that.

Dealt with someone trying to stir shit to both get attention and cause trouble. I have a very low tolerance for the self-involved and manipulative. I just don’t have the time and patience for it.

In other words, it was a rough weekend! 😉

I have a few days before the next workshop starts, the Setting as Character one. I’m going to tweak the exercises a bit. But most of these next few days will be spent writing SPIRIT REPOSITORY, working on edits for ANGEL HUNT, and figuring out what I want to say in my new freelance brochure. The sooner I get that done and start that mailing, the sooner I pick up new clients.

My preferred clients are always small historical societies and non-profits. Again, I have to make sure I keep in balance the money and the work. A lot of these places can’t pay much, and, again, if I take them on, I have to make sure the ratios stay in balance for both sides.

I wrote a query and sent off the pitch for an article to a well-paying publication; let’s hope they pick it up. If they don’t, I have a half a dozen other pubs that pay just as well to whom I can pitch it. I may actually write some of it while the idea is still fresh. I got another idea for a different topic in the same field of interest that I will write up and pitch today to another publication in the field. And I’ve got to finish and polish the proposal package for my Senators. It’s a relationship, not a monologue for either side. That’s the only way one can effectively practice democracy. I was fortunate in New York to be represented, in both houses of Congress, by people who welcomed my ideas, listened to me, took my views under advisement, and sometimes even used my material in their legislative battles. It seems I am in a similar situation here, which is good.

I bet you dollars to doughnuts I get called in for jury duty this summer here! I get called regularly, and I’ve been put on a case every single time I’ve been called. Which is fine.

Watched GAME OF THRONES last night. I have mixed feelings about it. I adore the production design. It is gorgeous. They use Ireland and Malta to create alternate worlds in a beautiful way. The costume design is exquisite. However, I am so happy that I am not a wardrobe person on that show — continuity must be a nightmare. The crew is outstanding, because the continuity in last night’s episode was very, very good. My problem with the show is the direction (as in, the director’s work, not the way the story is headed). It. Feels. Very. Heavy. Every. Word. And. Scene. Is. Important. They’re very aware they’re Making an Epic, instead of just living the piece and letting it BE epic. That falls on the director.

The exception, and the actor who absolutely blazes through the piece with dynamics and layers is Peter Dinklage. I really like his work anyway — if I see his name in the credits, I know I can count on a complex and nuanced performance. He’s got a surprise for the audience in every scene and delivers it, and moves through the piece with an ease and a fluidity that the other actors haven’t yet mastered. Even Sean Bean’s a bit stodgy in this (and I’m a big fan of his work) — although, to be fair, that costume probably weights about forty pounds, and that’ll slow you down. Some of the camera angle choices also left me with a “what the hell are they thinking?” feeling. Other choices were gorgeous.

By the way, I’m fully expecting Sean Bean’s character to get killed off this season, since he’s already cast in the new Ashley Judd series. Although, given the size of the cast and the screen time given to each story, something might be worked out schedule-wise. I haven’t read the books, and I don’t know how closely the series plans to follow the books. If the director lets the actors stop taking everything so seriously and encourages dynamics instead of the current monotone, it could be good. Also, HBO lived up to its reputation for a particular style of sex scene, and I’m wondering if the scenes in the pilot were kept true to what was in the book or where written by a man who’s bad at writing sex scenes and that’s why they were all the same, no matter who participated, or were demanded in that position by HBO. I understand the choice not to make any of them about love or romance, but at least have a little variety, the way actual humans do! There was one scene with a hint of something else, but again — obviously written by a man in a way insulting to women. If you’re going to claim you have strong female characters, it needs to follow through in ALL aspects of their lives. Jane Espenson, whose work I adore, wrote one of this season’s upcoming episodes, and I have high hopes for it.

Of course, so far, all the reviews I’ve read so far, written by men, love it.

Mixed feelings. May watch the second episode, if it fits into my schedule. If I can find out which episode is Espenson’s ahead of time, I’ll make sure I watch that one.

Back to the page today.

And I really, really, REALLY want to spend some time in the yard today! A shrub to the left of the house has burst into deep magenta blooms. I have no idea what it is, but it’s pretty!

It’s Patriots Day AND the Boston Marathon today, both of which are a really big deal here.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Skunknett Wildlife Sanctuary

Saturday, April 16, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

I found the Skunknett Sanctuary, totally by accident.

I’ve been searching for it for months, and could never find it. Yesterday morning, I was on my way back from Osterville, took a turn to avoid a blocked road, and found it. Cue screeching tires and a U turn in the middle of a small road. Imagine that! Of the three near-by Audubon Sanctuaries, it’s the closest, and the wildest. And it has a holly trail, which made me very, very happy.

I love the moss down the right side of the path here.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth to read what I’m learning during my “Mornings on the Porch.”

I spent most of yesterday on the second round of edits. The first time through was dealing with the notes directly. Then, I went back and started reading it through more slowly, to see if I missed anything. I’ve caught a couple of inconsistencies, which I’ve fixed. I will send it off to my editor today, so she has it on her desk when she starts work on Monday.

Spent time on the workshop. Colin’s right — it’s amazing how different the dynamic is from workshop to workshop. Two of the most committed, positively dynamic groups I’ve had were in the last One Story, Many Voices class and the Unsticking Your Book class. Not only did they have a deep commitment to the work and take joy in it, they fed off each other’s energy in the best possible way. They all made each other better, which is the way it should be. I may be the leader of the expedition, but they’ll only get out as much as they put in. I set out the expectations at the top of the workshop, often in very harsh terms. Either stay and step up, or leave. I expect A LOT from the students. Having taken quite a few online workshops at this point, I know how often teachers just talk “at” students, or, when the students post work and the teacher just offers something vague. I put a LOT of individual time and effort into each student’s work, and I expect them to apply the notes moving forward. Tomorrow, I wind up this workshop. Because the moderator stated that the loop would remain open for a few extra days to give people a chance to download/print off information, several of the students stated they would just post the last few exercises “next week.” Uh, no. Tomorrow is the last day of the class. You post it today, the day it’s due, I will comment tomorrow, and then I am not commenting on any more. I am paid through TOMORROW, not through the end of next week, and I have other commitments. Some of the students are great. Some of them have such a lack of respect for my time and and a lack of commitment to the work that I find it appalling.

Finally found some pretty lace curtain panels in the stuff that’s still packed. I knew I’d accumulated all styles and textures of curtains over the years; it was just a case of finding the right ones. These are so sheer they are barely there — almost gossamer. They’ve got a delicate pattern of leaves and springs of flowers. I had four panels, a pair for each set of windows. Amazing how much just that simple addition softens the lines of the windows and perks up the room.

The moonlight coming through was amazing last night. It will be a full moon tomorrow, and it was so light, I could read by it.

Of course, it meant the cats were up running around and playing all night.

Today, I’m finishing up the edits and trying to get some work done in the yard before tonight’s rain storm. It’s still too cold to put in the pansies. In fact, Mahoney’s emailed a frost warning, suggesting people put blankets over anything that’s in the ground. Um, like fleece? Velour? Wool? Confused.

The bulbs and daffodils seemed to have survived the night without too much stress.

The house pixies are at it again. The lights in the laundry room turned on all by themselves. AGAIN. I’m meticulous about turning out lights behind me, and, when I did the laundry last week, I turned back halfway up the stairs to double check, and they were out. I was in the still room a couple of days ago,and they were out. My mom went down to get something this morning, and they were on. Maybe they think, because the hamper’s full, it’s time for me to do laundry again? 😉