Wed. Feb. 29, 2012: Leap Days and Crossroads


Altogether, now, “Awwwww.” (That’s Violet & Tessa)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny, getting cloudy, prediction of snow
Leap Year Day

Happy Leap Year Day!

I’ve been up to some planting (indoors, don’t worry). Check it out on Gratitude and Growth. I posted a photo of the jasmine plant especially for Brandy!

Yesterday was one of those days when everything took longer than expected, except for meditation, which zipped right by. Bought some pots and soil, paid some bills, figured out some stuff. Realized I was out of ink, so just when I thought I was all settled, I had to go out again. And, on the way back, treated myself at the bakery out by the airport, this time to a hazelnut tart.

Confidential Job #1 has changed its format slightly; fortunately, it’s in a way that works better for me. Did more work than I expected for last night’s meeting, but it was all good. I’ve also been drafted to draft a letter to one of the Town Boards on behalf of the organization (plus, I’m writing my own opinion, which is in line with the organization’s view, but takes it further).

Caught up on student work. My eyes are really bothering me, so I have to be a little careful. Even the drops aren’t helping much.

I’ve got some writing of my own to concentrate on today, and some work to do in preparation for tomorrow night’s meeting with a pro bono client.

I pulled a card from The Well-Worn Path Deck this morning — The Crossroads. Yup, that’s exactly where I am right now, at a crossroads, rearranging aspects of my life so that I can move forward in my vision for my writing life, and have it sustainably supported in a way that doesn’t leave me depleted and resentful.

Devon

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Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 9:15 am  Comments (3)  
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Tues. Feb. 28, 2012: The Universe Steps In

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Partly cloudy and cold

Yesterday was an interesting day, and a good example of how the universe provides. I worked in the morning, and, late morning, had to go run a few errands, in one direction. Returning, on the spur of the moment, I drove in the other direction in search of a bakery I’d heard about near the airport. Since I arrived, I’ve been on the hunt for a good chocolate croissant. They are plentiful in NY; rare out here.

I FOUND the bakery, and was all excited. Especially since they have HUGE chocolate croissants. The counter person made a comment and I responded flippantly, and nearly a half a dozen people responded to my response. Turns out they were all either writers who teach, writers who don’t teach, or teachers. We wound up doing an impromptu bitch session about our work. I discussed current frustrations I’m having with some of my own teaching set-ups now, which is more about the business side of it than the students, quite frankly.

One of the other writer/teachers nodded and said, “These online-only places have to be less of a garden party and more of a university system. There aren’t any consequences for the student to quit; the only person who suffers, especially financially, is the teacher. Taking a class online is supposed to be about giving a student flexibility within that individual’s workday, not giving the individual an excuse not to do the work.”

Which is true. Any long-time class structure moving forward must have a steady financial commitment from the institution, so that I’m not penalized if someone quits. I’m still putting in the same amount of work. AND it needs to be a structure that doesn’t retain 50% of the course fee. I could see 20%, or even 30%, but 50% is out of balance. Administration and providing the board don’t take up 50% of the time put into a course. I understand they are in business and need to make a profit, and this model works well for them. At the outset, it worked for me, too. Now, it no longer does.

One of the other people at the table argued that they don’t get a certificate for completing an online class. I pointed out that the hardy few who survive my year long WILL get one — I’ve got it all designed and everything. I used to do it for the Nano mentees — make them certificates at the end of the session. Sure, it’s not a degree, but it is kind of fun to get something like that. I also pointed out, in the case of writing, those who successfully navigate the course and collect and apply the techniques we work on tend to get published, and regularly so. It may not be a diploma — but it shows that putting in the work pays of, both figuratively and literally.

I found it very interesting that ALL of them think I’m far too lenient with the students anyway. They think 1K/day and a short story every few months is too light a load. I think it’s a sane, steady pace, and I’m certainly not going to change it at this stage of the game! The writers all felt the bar HAS to be set high, to cull the herd of wanna-bes, and keep in the ones who really have the commitment and the talent.

One of them, who used to be an editor in both NY and London before she chucked it all to move here said, “They’re so busy pretending they’re ‘artists’ that they can’t be bothered with craft. Their job, as writers, is to tell great stories. Part of telling a great story is loving language and knowing how to manipulate language, how to pick the perfect word with the perfect shade of meaning for a sentence, how to order those words and sentences and paragraphs in a way that transports the reader. The craft means knowing that if I read a sentence with a sem-colon, I get a completely different image and have a completely different response than I do if there’s a period or a comma. I used to get a huge number of submissions where you couldn’t find the story because the rest of it was such a mess. To me, that indicates an enormous ego. It’s a slap in the face to the people receiving the submission. ‘I’m so important I don’t have to learn craft. You’re the servant — fix it.’ I’m NOT the servant — I’m the business partner. Anyone who’s made it past primary school should know basic grammar; if you’ve somehow slipped through due to a poor education system, or you quit school to take care of the family or go live your life and now found your passion is writing, it’s now YOUR job to learn it. The days of gentleman agents babysitting angsty, self-indulgent, self-styled geniuses is over, and good riddance to them. That’s the upside of the current dismal trend in publishing — no agent or publisher has the time to tutor would-be writers in the classroom basics they were given when they were ten. I wouldn’t hire a plumber who didn’t know the difference between a snake and a crescent wrench; why would I hire a writer who doesn’t know the difference between a semi-colon and a comma?” (Yes, she’d lived in England for a long time, too, hence “primary school”).

Later on, I had a phone conversation with one of my closest friends from NY. Her life is going in many exciting new directions; I’ll be travelling down there later this year to do her Croning ceremony. We discussed some of the elements from the above, and she said, “Look, you had to try this business model to see if it would work. It’s not in your best interest. Now you know. Now you can either find or create something better. Saturn Retrograde — you won’t be in the same place when it next rolls around. You’re good at that.”

Considering right now I don’t feel good at much of anything, it was nice to hear that.

It gave me a lot to think about. And they gave me some organizations to check out who work more along those university models with solid financial commitments. So I’ll send out some proposals and juggle those with the requests I’m getting in to present at other places, and figure out what kind of time/money ratio works out for me moving forward, and also what portion of time I want it to take of the day, so it doesn’t interfere with the writing. The writing is the most important thing, and I have to go back to being ruthless in that regard.

I feel like I’ve hit a plateau which is quickly turning into a wall, and therefore I have to change it. I’ll finish out my commitments this year, but next year will be about fewer classes with higher fees, and classes that are more difficult to get into. I don’t want to tell anyone that they can’t play — but they also have to keep up their end of the deal, which is showing up, doing the work, and learning the craft.

In the meantime, I have to go back to researching Master Herbal certification programs — I’ll probably find someone to discuss it with at the horticulture show next month. I had to give it up this year, because of the fluctuating income due to students leaving and me being penalized for it, and having to scramble to fill those financial holes. Being smarter in how I set up my regular gigs will help — I don’t cause someone else’s health problems or roof to cave in or whatever excuse people come up with not to fulfill their commitments, and I should not bear ANY of that financial burden, while still expected to put in excessive hours. It was my own stupidity for agreeing to a business model like that in the first place, because, silly me, I thought that if people actually had to apply to get in, it meant they really wanted to be there and had what it took to see it through. Lesson learned.

I’m sure Saturn’s next go-round will have something else to teach me! 😉

Hey, it took THREE rounds of Saturn returns kicking me in the butt before I had the guts to completely leave Broadway.

But the paths are opening. As challenging as this is, it’s also good, in many ways, and I have to appreciate what’s good about it. I just have to do some more exploration, find some new paths, see what makes the most sense moving forward, and what supports my own work best. Teaching, again, focuses too much of my energy on other people’s work, and I have to get it in balance with my own. Writing along with the classes helps, but there are other, gentle ways to adjust my day while still giving the students what they signed up for, and giving me the emotional space in which to write, which is just as important as the financial. The emotional demands of some of the individuals is just as draining (especially when they’re inappropriate) as the physical time spent on the work. A lot of the work is great and a joy to comment on — but the elements that aren’t working in the whole process need to be cut or changed.

Got a lovely letter from an old college friend. I’d written to him a few weeks ago, since all we’d done the past few years was exchange cards, and it was time to write more in depth. On my way to meditation, which, no doubt, will help even more in perspective. Then, it’s getting some client work done for tonight’s meeting, and back to the class and the page.

Devon

Published in: on February 28, 2012 at 7:23 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. Feb. 27, 2012: Some Challenges, Some Rewards, Some Opportunities

Monday, February 27, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

Fascinating, challenging weekend. Friday, I shot myself in the creative foot by getting online too early to catch up with student work, and ruined my own creative part of the workday. The frustrations from that are on me, and I take responsibility for them. It is MY job to always put my own work first, and when I don’t and then get upset, I have only myself to blame.

However, I do not appreciate that students have been late (sometimes as much as 20 days late) and then dumped 100K on me all at once. There are not enough hours in the day to turn around 100K in a day or two, no matter what the price. And then, one of the students who has a pattern of lateness, procrastination, and time management problems got snarky with me. Publicly. Had to shut her down. Publicly. That cannot be condoned in the class.

My eyes are killing me. I’ve been using the chamomile compresses, but I need to add eyebright to the mix. Started using eye drops, too.

Took care of my mom, did four loads of laundry, got into the car to go to my lunch meeting and discovered one of my headlamps isn’t working. So I have to get that special-ordered and put in next week.

Fortunately, lunch was great. It’s with another writer, who also used to live in NY, and now lives locally. We like each other’s work, and just enjoy each other as people. We will both be teaching in a local program this spring, and brainstormed class ideas. She is opening the door to a potentially wonderful opportunity, and it’s up to me to rise to the occasion. I have to remember to be absolutely myself for it. We also talked about getting together once a month or so to support each other as we navigate the writing life.

We also talked a lot about the lack of commitment and follow-through so many people who say they want to write continue to show. When life gets tough, writers write though it. The writing is not what falls by the wayside. Because you don’t build a career – -in ANYTHING – -by making excuses not to do it. Writing is no different than biology or archaeology or finance or sports — put in the work, reap the rewards. Don’t, and you won’t succeed.

A local garden center contacted me to half-jokingly offer me a job. I nearly chucked the whole teaching thing and said yes! Pay would work out about the same, and at least the hours would be restricted!

This is definitely an interesting Saturn retrograde — but it’s doing what a Saturn retrograde is supposed to — making one redefine one’s life path.

Saturday, I finished this round of edits on HEX BREAKER. I’m excited about them. The editor encouraged me to open up some sections of the book in a new way. It’s going to help both this individual book and the whole series. I enjoy working with this editor a lot. I let the edits sit overnight, read it over on Sunday morning, and sent it off. I got the sweetest email from my editor this morning, saying how much she enjoys working with me. I got all misty! 😉

Saturday and Sunday I also worked hard to catch up with student work. One student lost track of what belongs where — hmm, let;s see, each exercise has the story number in it, and there are five stories – not brain surgery — and keeps saying she wants me to post a “key”. Babe, I’m not your personal administrative assistant. It was YOUR job to keep track during the class. You CHOSE not to when you fell behind. Go back, read through the exercises and figure it out. When I tell you there’s a story missing, don’t give me a link back to a story from a different exercise.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of other students working their butts off who are doing terrific work. THOSE are the ones who need the attention, not the ones who don’t do the work.

This morning, first thing, I had to get off some information for a potential Big New Opportunity. Scares the life out of me, but if it works, it will make my life easier for a long time, AND up my pay. This week, I also have to prepare some material so it’s ready to go if this initial material is positively received. I would rather have it ready than have to scramble at the last minute. I’ve got some meetings to prepare for this week, and some work for some freelance clients, along with getting back to some other manuscripts that need to get out in the next few weeks.

The Holiday Hocus-Pocus Workshop was a lot of fun. It was pretty easy-going and stress-free, more information-oriented than anything else. The participants seem to have generated a lot of fun ideas out of it. This is the last week of 5 in 10 — by next week, those that actually kept up with the work will have five short stories out on submission. Some will have more, if they did the optional exercises, so a couple of people will have nine stories ready to go. Next week, Sensory Perceptions starts.

I’ve got two manuscripts to get back to this week and whip into shape before my next round of edits comes through, so I better hop to it.

My treat for finishing my edits on time was Heather Blake’s IT TAKES A WITCH, the first in her new series. It’s both well-written and fun.

A contrast to another book, in the same genre, I read recently, where I really liked the characters and the humor, but there were so many flaws in the logic — setting appointments for specific dates and times, they passed and no mention was ever made of recognition or missing them or consequences, things put in different places than established without logic, etc.

Lots to do today, and this week, so I better get moving. If the weather holds, I’ll give myself a couple of hours’ break and do some yard work.

Devon

Published in: on February 27, 2012 at 9:01 am  Comments (3)  
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Feb. 24, 2012: Up Early Making Herbal Medicinal Concoctions

Friday, February 24, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sleet and cold

The weather out there is gross, and I’m worried about my tulips!

Yoga was great yesterday. I’m so thankful to be in that class!

Busy day yesterday. But it was a really, really good day on the HEX BREAKER rewrites. I’m happy with the progress, and I feel very, very lucky that I get a chance to revisit this book and make it better. I’m also mortified at some of the mistakes in it. But that’s why one has an editor, and, fortunately, I’ve got a good one. She likes the book, she gets what I’m trying to do, and she’s determined to improve it, while staying true to my voice — all the things a good editor should be.

Spent the rest of the day working on student stuff — another night at the desk until 11 PM. Hopefully, that will adjust down after next week.

My Excel Tracking Sheet for 5 in 10 went kerplooey, so I put it in Numbers instead — much better. much easier to work with.

My mom got sick in the night, so it was a case of being up and making the appropriate medicinal concoctions. Hopefully, I’ll get her settled soon, so I can get back to the page. I’ve got a lunch date with another writer — I’m really looking forward to it — more edits, work on the other WIPS and short stories, and work with my students.

I’m hoping to sneak a nap in there for a half hour or so this afternoon!

Devon

Published in: on February 24, 2012 at 6:53 am  Comments (7)  
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Feb. 23, 2012: Hoping to Asana My Way Out of Frustration

Thursday, February 23, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Raining

I’m over at The Writers Vineyard talking about juggling today.

The crocuses are blooming in the yard, and the tulips are starting to come up. I’m panicking that we’ll get a big storm and all those lovely tulip bulbs I planted in fall (on time, no less) will rot and die. Photos to follow soon (probably on Gratitude and Growth).

Busy day yesterday. Took my mom to her medical appointment, and then we went out to breakfast at the 6A Restaurant in Sandwich — really good food, reasonable prices. Spent the rest of the day working flat out. I have huge amounts of backlog to read on student work, mostly because they were late getting it in — which is not an option for me this week, because of my own edits for the book. I will not be late with my own edits because they’re disorganized. But it meant working until 11 PM again last night. If you can’t meet a commitment of a six week class, you’re not going to meet the type of commitment it takes to write a novel or build a career.

Also, skimmed through and put aside a book that was supposedly about finding peace and balance, but in reality was a bunch of passive-aggressive, psycho-babble bullshit excuses about why this successful individual didn’t like her success. The book just left me so angry, and has turned me off this individual’s other writing permanently.

Business aspects are part of success. Deal or get out. Don’t get passive aggressive or take it out on those who have made it possible to succeed. And don’t hide behind psycho-babble. If you don’t like the results, change the path that brought you there, and change your attitude. Don’t keep doing the same thing and then blame others when they are doing their job — a good one, at that — just because you refuse to change any part of your attitude. Flexibility is a component of success, along with grace. commitment, and being able to think on your feet. You make a commitment, you keep it with a positive attitude. You don’t lash out at people who have nothing to do with your choices and your frustration.

I’m off to yoga, and then, it’s flat out again all day. My primary focus, today, though is HEX BREAKER. Every one else is just going to have to wait. Disorganization on their part does not constitute an emergency on my part. I have well over 60K to read this week, plus do my own work. I set up a reasonable time frame; if they refuse to meet it, they have to wait until I can circle back, since I’m not going to punish the students who are keeping on deadline because others are late. Those who are on time are read and commented on first; the latecomers will have to wait until I can circle back. They knew what was expected from Day 1.

On the flip side, I was glancing at some listings on Media Bistro and found some interesting possibilities. Will have to get out pitches over the weekend.

Hopefully, I can asana my way out of my current mood of frustration.

Devon

Feb. 22, 2012: Stockpiling the feast against the famine

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and wet

It rained last night, so everything glistens in the sun.

Meditation was good yesterday, but taking that time in the morning meant adding hours in to the back of the day, so I was working until 10 PM. That’s just the way this week will be — I have to finish the HEX BREAKER edits, keep up with my other writing, and teach three classes. I will enjoy the feast and stockpile against famine.

Speaking of teaching, the local writers’ center asked me to teach a day-long workshop in May for teens. I think that will be really fun, and I look forward to putting together something dynamic that gets their creative juices flowing far beyond the single day. From what I understand, these are bright, highly-motivated teens anyway, so they’re eager to jump in and DO. I’m pretty excited, and very honored that they asked.

I’ve got to finish tweaking another short story today and get it up for class — I went off on a tangent that did not work AT ALL — I discovered a lot about the characters, but now, I need to put something relevant on the page!

Also had some good pondering on HEART BINDER. So, even though I feel mired in so many “have-tos” this week, it’s still being a creative week.

I’m off to take my mom to a medical appointment now, and then, it’s back to the page.

Devon

HEX BREAKER: A Jain Lazarus Adventure
Coming soon from Solstice Publishing
http://hexbreaker.devonellingtonwork.com

ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT
Still available in print and digital editions from Champagne Books

Published in: on February 22, 2012 at 8:10 am  Comments (5)  
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Tues. Feb. 21, 2012: HEX BREAKER cover

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
New Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

And here it is. The new cover for HEX BREAKER’S re-release. The artist is the amazing PJ Friel, who is one of my writing students (she’s an awesome writer as well as an awesome artist). I LOVE this cover, and the publisher approved it, so we’re good to go.

Now, I just have to get those revisions done this week!

I’ve also updated the Jain Lazarus site, and there’s some cool new information over there — about tie-in short stories, the new re-release, etc. As soon as I have a firm release date, I’ll be pestering people for interviews and blog tours!

I thought I’d be able to schedule something to post yesterday, but no luck. I spent the last five days working in CT. I like the gig, but it was hard to be away from home. I really do work better at home.

I didn’t get enough done on the HEX BREAKER edits. I got some good work done on HEART-BINDER, and I also got some great work done on the long short story and the shorter story. I sketched out a few ideas. And then, I went back and took another look at POWER OF WORDS, which, of course, really wants some attention because of everything else that is on deadline! There is potential here, although I think, because of the detail and the scope of the piece, it needs to go the indie route. Only an editor who’d actually worked on set would be able to effectively edit the piece, and that’s going to be next to impossible to find. If I go indie, I’ll get to interview the editors myself. Also, I think it’s kind of unfair to dump this muddle on a publisher. I need to get it streamlined and sorted and figure out a good presentation that will catch and hold the readers while still keeping the vision and integrity of the daily detail of the piece, WHILE juggling as many arcs and characters as the series does. But the piece just won’t let me rest, so, in a few weeks when I’ve got a few things cleared off my desk, I will give it a few hours’ worth of attention a week, without letting it take over, the way it usually does.

Got some good research done for another project, some of which feeds into the harpy trilogy, which was a happy surprise. Oh, and I even did the work for which I was brought down to CT!

I got the next assignment for Confidential Job #1, but haven’t had the chance to start it yet. HEX BREAKER edits are front and center all week.

I’m juggling three classes this week and the private students, which is a bit much, but, somehow, it will all get done.

This morning, I’m off to meditation, and then I have to take my mom to medical appointments. After that, the primary focus is on the HEX BREAKER edits, although the classes need some attention, too.

HOLIDAY HOCUS-POCUS has a good group in there, and looks like it will be fun. It’s more informational and brainstorming than “you have to write a 1500 word story by Friday”, but I’m still doing what I always do, which is tweak the lectures as I put them up, to make sure I have a lot of information that’s both broad and specific.

I’m going to try to knock out some words on HEART BINDER before I have to leave for meditation, and then, off we go, racing through the day.

I can’t believe how much Tessa grew in just a few days!

Devon

Fri. Feb. 17, 2012: Yoga and Anti-Yoga

Friday, February 17, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Yesterday wound up being an unexpected sick day. I felt like crap when I woke up, but had to get on the road early. The traffic was awful and I felt worse when I got there, so I did the work I was there to do, and then took the day off from workshops, et al. I figured I could take a day early and take care of myself, or push and lose a week when I got REALLY sick. It means I have to do more work this weekend with my students, but at least I feel better today.

Up very early this morning, and to yoga class at a studio not far from the site job. It was a great class – when I’m in this area again, I definitely want to take from the teacher again. We got to work on some of my big trouble spots, and places where I wasn’t doing the correct alignment and cheating with weight distribution, which threw the alignments off even more. Good stuff to work on. Ran some errands, and am back to work.

Went to Yoga Accessories to order something and had the usual ordering torture from them. Their price and quality are outstanding, but every order is a Major Drama and Nightmare to get through — with no reason. I finally emailed them and said fix it today, or I’m taking my business elsewhere permanently. I realize I’m not their biggest customer, but it shouldn’t take three or four days to sort out placing an internet order, which is what usually happens — the password doesn’t work, they say the “email is in use” — um, yeah, I’m your customer, you have my email and so forth and so on. They ship fast and the stuff is great, BUT getting in the order is enough to send you to the hospital with high blood pressure. This has been an ongoing problem for the past year, and they really don’t seem to give a damn about fixing it, so why should they get my money? We’ll see how the day goes.

Okay, back to my students, who deserve some quality time from me in the next few days!

Devon

Published in: on February 17, 2012 at 11:31 am  Comments (4)  
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Thurs. Feb. 16: Up Way too Early this A.M. . .

Thursday, February 16, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Scheduled to post

Flat out today, so I scheduled this to post. Busy yesterday — worked all morning — polished and sent off the lectures for Monday, wrote an article I thought was due today (and found it’s due next week), got my next assignment from Confidential Job #1, did laundry, vacuumed, dealt with the house, the plants, the cats, the bank and so on.

Went to a live chat to support one of my students who just published a book. It was fun, and I made an offhand comment that’s now a writing challenge — a whaler, a knight, and a phlegmy Englishman walk into a bar — get my kick butt female character in there, and I can write something quick and fun. When? Not so sure.

Check in tomorrow — have a great day!

Devon

Published in: on February 16, 2012 at 2:31 am  Comments (1)  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012: Better Than Fiction


Sometimes the world looks better upside down

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was one of those truth-is-stranger-than-fiction days. It was pretty funny.

First of all, I went to sit with a new-to-me meditation group. They are absolutely lovely, and I hope I can make the Tuesday morning sit regularly. We were talking about all kinds of things, like deadlines and commitment and stuff. I mentioned that I tell my students there are two choices: Write. Don’t write. If you CHOOSE not to write, that’s what it is — a choice. Don’t make excuses about life or family or whatever. You’ve chosen not to write. You live with the consequences, and don’t expect everyone else to accommodate you and change THEIR choices because you CHOSE not to write. The old Devon class mantra: No excuses; no whining. They pointed out it’s very much in line with the teaching: Do or don’t do. I hadn’t thought about it in that context, but at least I know I’m working along principles that are not counter to the internal work I’m doing!

I admit to not being “of empty mind” while we sat. It was great — 20 minutes sitting, 10 minutes walking, 20 minutes sitting. But we were in a church on a hillside, and as we sat, I got a great opening line for a story with a character I’m currently working with in the story that’s been obsessing me lately (the long short story). I admit — I explored it for awhile and memorized it before I let the “thinking” part float away.

Then a van pulled up. A prison van with guys on work release. So they’re working all around us, and they don’t really know we’re meditating (although us seated on cushions and the silence might have been a clue). It was pretty funny. I added it into the story idea and then shamelessly eavesdropped on them.

Hey, there was enlightenment, I learned a lot, just not in the traditional way!

After the session, we leave, and the work release guys said hello. So we say hello back. I smiled and looked each one who spoke to me in the eye and returned the greeting. You would have thought I gave them some sort of gift. They just lit up. They were being perfectly pleasant — why should I be the same in return?

On top of that, as I drove through the cemetery behind the church to get back to the main road, I discovered this is THE cemetery the family in Maine (coming to visit in a few months) dubbed as the most important visit for them to the Cape — it’s filled with ancestors! I’d been looking for it, but hadn’t yet found it, and there it was! I’m going to have to go back in nicer weather and really walk it. No wonder it was “talking to me” and giving me ideas for stories!

I stopped at Nirvana, on the way back — one of the few coffee places around here where one can go and hang out while having a cup of coffee. And ran into people I knew!

The session left me feeling with a lot of optimism for the day. I drove to the Sandwich Library to drop off books, and wound up picking up more than I planned (that’s what happens when you go to a really, really good library). I circled around back to the hardware store and the grocery store and the wine store.

Came home and worked — got some work done with the students, but there were site issues and I kept getting kicked off with “fatal error” — as were some of the other students (always helpful to know it’s not just me). Worked on the edits for HEX BREAKER. Spun some ideas. Had a breakthrough on the obstacle for HEART-BINDER, which means I have to go back and add stuff into HEART-SNATCHER, so I made some notes and wrote a few snippets that I’ll type and add in as excerpts, so they’re ready when I hit revisions.

Took some time off the read Heather Webber’s first Lucy Valentine book, TRULY, MADLY. Loved it. It’s such fun, it’s well-written, the characters and settings are wonderful, it’s a good mystery. Yeah, I figured out the twist, but I usually do, and it didn’t bother me, because the way Lucy discovered it made perfect sense and didn’t make me feel like I was waiting for her to catch up. Instead, I couldn’t wait to see HOW she figured out the same thing I had. Webber has two other mystery series (and uses multiple names), so I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

I have a boatload of stuff to get done today, and I won’t make it to Writers’ Night Out. 😦
But, it needs to get done — I have a very long day tomorrow, and I need to clear a lot off the desk before then. That includes knocking out and polishing a couple of articles.

Back to the page.

Devon

Tues. Feb. 14, 2012: Valentine’s Day & Surprising/Disturbing Information

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold
Happy Valentine’s Day!

First of all, you are all my valentines, and I treasure each and every one of you. Thank you for being here.

Second, I’m over at Savvy Authors, blogging about spicing up your writing with Sensory Detail.

Busy day yesterday. Had to catch up on a lot of admin work, bills to pay, and I even got a few letters to old friends tucked in there. Not emails — letters. So that was nice. Worked with my students, worked on the HB edits, worked on my long short story (I’ve got a short story to knock out this week, too), worked on the outline for the second harpy book. Finished the assignment for Confidential Job #1, sent if off, and realized I thought it was due today, when it’s due on the 24th. Well, better early than late, right?

One of my students, who’s part of a writing team, brought me some disturbing news. It seems like WRITERS DIGEST MAGAZINE, who supposedly champions writers and is still the go-to source for people starting out, has partnered with a vanity press. Not only that, the vanity press is approached them, gave them a hard sell about not even trying the traditional publishing route, and they should PAY this organization to publish the book. I checked the website — yup, they’re “a Division” of WRITERS DIGEST.

This team has already completed the draft of a novel, is well into the second, and will probably be deep into a third novel by the end of the year-long class, WHILE keeping up with the short stories in 5 in 10 and even some additional stories they got inspired to write. In fact, one of the pieces they developed in class is already published.

They don’t need a vanity press.

That is so many ways of disgusting it made me want to froth at the mouth. WRITERS DIGEST is supposed to champion writers, guide them into making good business decisions. Instead, they’re lining their own pockets with desperate aspiring writers. This is a huge conflict of interest, and totally hypocritical on their part. We are professionals. We are PAID to work. We do not PAY to work. If you want to do it yourself, hire an editor, a designer, and get a good deal from a PRINTER. Not a POD, not a vanity publisher, but a printer who knows how to bind books. Order an actual print run and act as your own distributor. Instead of the $15/book POD places charge, you can charge $7 or $8 per copy and still have a profit margin of $4 or more per book. I know people who do it — the quality of their titles is great, and they’re in all the local bookstores. It’s a lot of legwork, but it’s truly THEIRS.

I’d stopped reading WD several years ago, because they only have articles for newbies, and they recycle their content about every 14 months or so. Pull out an issue from ten years ago, it’s not going to have much more new information than the current issue, just maybe some references changed for the digital marketing and a different byline. And the article from ten years ago will be much better written than the one in the current issue, nine times out of ten. There’s very little for a working writer except a few market listings and conference listings. But this? Talk about a combination of disappointment, anger, and a really bad taste in my mouth.

On a happier note, I ran errands, stocked up on cat food and groceries, and bought a jasmine plant. It was so pretty, I couldn’t resist. I had to repot it right away (it was potbound), but fingers crossed that it will be happy here. I’m on my way out now to meditation — there’s a Tuesday morning sit not to far away, and then it’s off to return books at the library and do a few more errands, before buckling down and concentrating on student work all afternoon, polishing some lectures, and writing my Writers Vineyard piece for Thursday. I got some tarot cards scanned to give my students some ideas, and have to get a few more of those done today. Working on the business plan, figuring where and how to tweak this and that, so it’s a case of working smart, not just hard.

Devon

Mon. Feb. 13, 2012: Pedal to the Metal in the Flurries

Monday, February 13, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold, snow flurries

Busy, busy weekend! My goodness, me!

On Friday, I drove to CT and back. We left at 6 AM, and I was back in the late afternoon, which was great, because I didn’t expect to get back until the evening. And I even managed to stop at the Book Barn in Niantic and in Mystic to pick up a few things!

The Thursday night live chat with my year-long students, brainstorming about the round robin novella we’re doing, was fun. We got to be silly and throw out all manner of ideas, but out of that came some solid elements we can use as our foundation.

Saturday, it was pedal to the metal all day long, working with my students and starting the HEX BREAKER revisions. Driving back on Friday, I came up with some interesting marketing ideas — there’s Jain’s fan base, and that needs to expand. I know more people, and, with the deepening of her character that’s happening in these revisions, she’ll also appeal to a wider audience, without coming across as diluted to her loyal fans. Billy’s been a fan favorite since Day 1, so it will also be Billy-centric. I also worked on the revised outline for HEART-BINDER, did some work on HEART-BINDER, and I’m working on scenario ideas for a few other pieces for this other opportunity. I’ve got a start on one of them — if I can keep up a steady pace with that while not dropping any of the other balls, I should be able to hit a June deadline.

Sunday was my Day of Rest. I needed it. I was wiped out. Okay, so I did a bit of work on HEX BREAKER, and I read the assignment for Confidential Job #1, but I stayed offline! I also wrote about 2500 words on a piece that’s been gnawing at me for awhile, and the character said, “Either give me some attention, or I’m outta here.” So I gave her some attention. I’m hoping it will be a story in the 10-12K range, but we’ll see.

Read a delightful book called SHELF LIFE by Suzanne Strempek Shea, about a writer who takes a job in a bookshop. It’s an MA author talking about an MA bookshop — which, of course, now I want to visit! So well done, and it makes me want to read her novels, too.

Made banana pudding (still needs tweaking) and cooked a nice chicken-and-sage pasta. Sighed over gardening catalogues.

I’ve got a lot of admin work and bill paying to get done, and then it’s time to go get some cat food! Those little darlings have a low provisions in the cupboard, and they’re not happy about it.

All three cats are being very, very clingy lately.
Devon

Thurs. Feb. 9, 2012: Stressed Out

Thursday, February 9, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Still dark out

Hey, I just looked outside and there’s SNOW on the ground! That makes me happy. I mean, it IS February, and it’s NOT enough to shovel.

I’m on my way to yoga soon, and boy, do I need it!

Had a lousy night’s sleep, stressing over the new HEX BREAKER cover. The artist and I are not communicating well. Hopefully, we can get this straightened out.

I got my edits, and will start attacking them this weekend.

Worked yesterday, on HEART-BINDER, with my students, on my lectures, etc. I’ve got a live chat tonight for an hour with some of the students on a project, and then I’ve got to get to bed early, because I’ll be up by 4:30 tomorrow for an 11 hour round trip I have to drive. Thank goodness I got the new tires BEFORE embarking on this trip! And I will be happy to be back in my own bed at the end of it.

My mom’s pre-op physical went well. Answered some additional work on a client project I thought was wound up.

Tessa is obsessed with the garage lately, and she’s fast! She’s also learned that the stairs from the garage lead to the door to the second bedroom. In HER perfect world, all the doors would be open, so she could run that circuit as well as the one around the downstairs floor plan. She doesn’t go under the car, just runs around it and heads up to the storage room. So we have to be very, very careful that she doesn’t get out when we plan to leave.

I’m going to try and get some words done before I leave for yoga. I need to regain some perspective. I need to remember that something that’s stressful now won’t necessarily matter to anyone a hundred years from now.

Devon

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