Wed. Oct 31, 2012: Post-Sandy Samhain

Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool
Samhain

We made it through Sandy. We were pretty lucky, tucked in mid-Cape. We lost power about mid-day on Monday, as the storm picked up speed. The gas stayed on, though (the lines didn’t flood), so we could cook and had hot water, which made it all much easier. In other words, we didn’t need to cook in the fireplace!

Sunday, we’d pulled in all the plants, creating an indoor jungle that Tessa loves to play in. Friday totally sucked, on so many levels I don’t even want to get into it, crowning with the deadbeat client who paid me three months late giving me a rubber check — don’t even get me started. Needless to say, it’s started a negative ripple effect that will take weeks to sort out, and, since the client is in the worst of the hurricane zone, it is unlikely I will EVER see the money. I don’t want to be unsympathetic to a hurricane, but it should have never happened in the first place.

On the positive side, we did a big Market Basket run, and were well-stocked. Since the power was off for only about 12 hours, we didn’t lose anything, and we could cook. We hunkered down, reading books, eating, and listening to the battery-operated radio. We woke up in the middle of the night when the power kicked back on, and started watching the news at 4:30 in the morning.

The devastation in NY and NJ is horrible. Kudos to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for pointing out that we’re getting the “100 year storm” every 2 years and climate change! Even Broadway shut down for two days, which is a heck of a lot more unusual than the damn Stock Exchange.

The town I grew up in was hit hard, especially the art deco amusement park down by the water. The boardwalk was seriously damaged, and one of my favorite restaurants destroyed. I’m glad I took so many photos while I still lived there. I’ve tracked down most of my friends and neighbors, who are fine, but in the dark. We never lost mail delivery, but someone tacked a sign on the post office in my former home town — which happens to be at one of the highest points in town — saying, “we’ll be back when it’s safe.” Although the official news reports are saying how things are running smoothly, I hear very different stories from the people actually living there, and much bemoaning that the former mayor isn’t still in charge — someone good at dealing with this type of crisis.

It’s that mix of relief that I’m here, and things are fine, and guilt that I’m not there, with the people I’ve known for so many years.

We are in much better shape here. In fact, everyone yesterday was, in typical Cape Cod fashion, Very Busy yesterday. There was as much traffic as on a summer day — it’s as though people had been trapped inside for a week instead of a day.

I did cancel the writers’ group gathering, since the roads were still hit-and-miss, and there were lots of power outages.

Today, it’s buckling back down to work, and getting everything re-decorated again for Halloween. I’ve still got to finish edits on a manuscript and knock out a couple of articles, not to mention get started on my school work for the week. Costume Imp is figuring out if he’s going to try to go back at the end of the week, as planned, or stay longer. He’s welcome to stay as long as he needs to.

All I want to do is sleep!

Devon

PS on two fronts — the “Dissecting Submission Guidelines” seminar is ON for this Saturday, only $20 to learn how to interpret and successfully prepare your submissions to guideline. More information here.

The deadline for application for the Playwrighting Intensive has, per request, been extended to November 20, in light of the hurricane and power issues. Decisions will still be announced on December 1. More information and application here.

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Fri. Oct. 26: A Very Long Day Before 8 AM

Friday, October 26, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Barely past 8 AM, and it’s already been a long day! I got up early to move the car out of the painter’s way; then, as I was mixing up the apple muffins, the landscaper finally showed up and I had to move the car again. Of course, he’s not moving the bushes today — he’s waiting until Monday, when we’re in the middle of a hurricane. He just removed the brush, and tied up the bushes, “to make it easier for the painter.” Um, if he’d come when he was supposed to, any time in the last two weeks, the painter would have had a clear shot! 😉

On top of that, something fell off the lazy Susan cupboard, it’s stuck half open, half closed, and Tessa is trying to crawl behind to explore. (Yes, as I typed, I was interrupted, yanked out the jar of popcorn kernels, and nailed the rim back into place).

I’ve got a ton of work to do today, and I can already tell that doing any of it is going to be a challenge.

Yesterday, Costume Imp and I went to the Cahoon Museum in Cotuit. It was charming! Just lovely. The Cahoons were artists with both a lovely sense of design and a lovely sense of humor.

On the way back, we stopped at the Sandwich Library to pick up a book they’d put aside for me, the grocery store, and Sturgis to return the museum pass. I love that you can check out museum passes at the library!

Tonight, we’re going to an event at Long Pasture — should be a lot of fun!

But first — there’s a lot of work to do.

And this damn hurricane that’s supposed to hit early next week is screwing up my Samhain plans!

Published in: on October 26, 2012 at 7:33 am  Comments (3)  
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Thurs. Oct. 25, 2012: It’s Official

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was busy. Worked in the morning with students. Did peer reviews for 5 World History papers and 6 Mythology papers. The World History papers — most were good, but only a few went beyond regurgitating class material. The Mythology papers were excellent. Well-written, and interesting points of view. Also worked with one of my favorite editors on some fact checking and word choices

We went shopping in Yarmouth, and Costume Imp found some great stuff. I wasn’t so lucky, but I pulled together a simple look topped by a vintage hat for the Writers’ Dinner.

It’s now official; I’m on the Board of Directors for the Cape Cod Writers Center. I’m pretty happy about that! The speaker was great — someone with whom I had contact, and who’s been supportive of my work. It was nice to meet her in person, to catch up with colleagues, etc.

The service at the event venue was awful — 30 minutes to get a drink, mixing up drink orders and giving people attitude about it, starting to clear my plate while I was cutting my meat (“You’re done, I’ll take it.” “Um, no, I am NOT.”), removing linens while we were still in the room, even though we finished early and the room was still booked.

Up early this morning, off to yoga. Found out that I’m booked to teach at a conference here in MA next April — I’ll be teaching my Settings as Character workshop — and then found out some stuff I sent for an event I’m doing next spring, too, didn’t get through, so re-sent it. Another editor liked my pitches, but has a backlog, so wanted to know if I could delay the pieces — no problem; nice to know they’re wanted.

The landscaper STILL hasn’t shown up to remove the brush and move the forsythias, but the painter’s here, scraping down the house and trying to work around the shrubbery, poor guy. The noise is driving me nuts, but at least he’s a good guy and easy to work with. So I will just have to cope with/remove myself from the noise! Note to self: When I own a place around here, I will NOT be using this landscaper!

Costume Imp and I are on our way to the exhibit at the Cahoon Museum, and then I have to buckle down and get back to work!

Devon

Wed. Oct 24, 2012: Wide Feedback and Wacky Road Conditions

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Yesterday was about cleaning, yard work, trying to get information I needed in order to get it to someone else, waiting to hear word on a project, working with my students, making lasagna, etc. One of my editors fought for me and got $$ for something the publisher wants me to do, but didn’t want to pay me for. Love this editor.

Got my feedback on my final project for the Sustainability class — which was the first three chapters of the mystery novel. Two people thought it was a great idea, and, although I didn’t encompass every idea in the first three chapters, they could see where I was setting the seeds, and how it could grow. They loved the idea of subtly melding these ideas in a work of fiction, rather than standing on a soap box. The third peer reviewer HATED it. Hated everything about it, said I didn’t understand what a “class” was and what it meant to write a paper — now, considering how many of us were doing non-traditional, art-based projects and HAD PERMISSION to pursue them, that was inappropriate. The funniest comment was, “There’s no room for Nancy Drew in sustainability” and the individual was mad that there was a dead body in the first chapter instead of a treatise on conservation. Um, it’s a murder mystery — you need the dead body to set things into motion! Ouch, and yet I couldn’t help laughing, because the vitriol came from such a place of narrow-mindedness and self-righteousness, all one could do is shrug. You could say, “I see what the person is trying to do; I don’t think it’s effective” rather than people don’t have a right to express sustainability concerns in terms of art. I knew it wasn’t going to please everyone, but the response from the other two reviewers at least let me know I’m on the right track. They had some excellent suggestions to keep it on track and raise the stakes.

Got on the road a little after one. Dropped off the minutes for tonight’s meeting with the president of that organization, returned books at Sandwich library — one was overdue and I had to pay a fine. 2 cents. TWO CENTS. Seriously. I handed over two shiny pennies. Hilarious.

Drive to Providence wasn’t bad, although there was construction around New Bedford and the dipshits who cut around cars and force their way back in, in a single lane, because they think they’re so important they can’t be behind another car drive me nuts.

Didn’t get lost this time, found the bus drop-off, and there was Costume Imp! Drive back was fine, we got settled, heated up the lasagna, opened a bottle of cabernet, and had a good dinner.

Lots to do today, and then tonight, is the Writers Night Out Dinner and Annual Meeting.

I have papers to read, work to do with students, and edits to which to attend.

Devon

Published in: on October 24, 2012 at 6:51 am  Comments (2)  
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Tues. Oct. 23, 2012: Good Meetings & Busy Times

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Morning meeting yesterday was at The Bay Pointe Club, and it was good. I like the facility — the space has a lot of natural light, it’s beautiful without being pretentious, it’s flexible, and the people running it listen and respond to what one says and help come up with ideas so it works for everybody. That’s the experience I’ve always had working with the Gideon Putnam in Saratoga, but has been the exception, rather than the norm in many other venues over the years, including here on the Cape. So, to find a venue where they both get it (in terms of an individual organization and what they do) and offer ideas that are better than what one thinks one needs to fix a concern — that, to me, is a good place to be. They’re also interested in participating in the community, rather than being separate from it, which gains them big points from me.

I’m glad that it looks like two organizations with whom I work like the venue as much as I do, and we’ll do events there.

Came back, did some follow-up, caught up on what came in while I was gone. Deadbeat client finally paid, so did that paperwork. That’s over and done, we parted civilly and I can take a deep breath and move on.

Three loads of laundry, cleaning the house for Costume Imp’s arrival, grocery shopping, checking to see if any notes came back from the agent re: the proposal that had to be turned around instantly. Didn’t hear, so I’m hoping that means the revision works. Spoke to my other editor, and I need to get on the ball with the book edits — I’m behind.

The owner came by with his wife to stake where the forsythias will move, and what else needs to be cut back and done. Flowering daphne will replace the forsythia in front of the garage — once it’s painted. Someday, the landscaper will deign to show up and it will actually get done! 😉

I’ve got a lot to finish up this morning, before heading to Providence to pick up Costume Imp from the Megabus. I’m going to have some long-ass days this week, but it will be worth it!

Iris is almost back to normal. We’re keeping close watch on her, and probably taking her in for a blood test soon. If she needs anti-seizure medication, I’d rather she had it sooner rather than later.

Devon

Mon. Oct. 22, 2012: Scary Times with Sick Kitty


Iris lounging on a better day

Monday, October 22, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Quite the weekend! But before we start on that, hop on over to A Bible Paradise for a cool round-table interview with some of the contributors from DEATH SPARKLES.

The big and scary thing for the weekend was that Iris was very sick. Yesterday morning, I couldn’t find her, and, when I did, I thought I had to rush her to the emergency vet. She was in bad shape, and I have no idea why. About 45 minutes later, she was a little better, so the vet & I agreed to keep her quiet and watch her, and, if it got worse, bring her in later.

She hid for a few hours (and we checked on her every 20 minutes), then came down on her own in the early afternoon, ate, and curled up in her usual spot. She was quieter than usual, but definitely not at death’s door. She even had bedtime snacks, although she decided to stay downstairs instead of coming up with the others. This morning, she was moving slowly and quiet, but she ate all her breakfast and most of Violet’s (the usual), so, hopefully, she’s on the mend.

I think she had another seizure, like she had four or five years ago. I’m going to watch her for a few days to see how she does, and maybe take her in for a blood test. Last time, they couldn’t find anything and said either they’d be infrequent, or she’d get more of them and have to be put on anti-seizure medication. This is the first one she’s had in years.

Scary times, and the other two cats worried and stuck close.

I don’t remember much of Friday, except I worked hard, and had a phone conference with an agent about the proposal. A few things I was worried about Thursday were cleared up Friday — as usual, I was fretting when no fretting was necessary. And I got my hair chopped off — it was too long and I couldn’t stand it anymore. I’m much happier with it now.

I read my fellow students’ projects for the Sustainability class and commented on them. I wrote my final paper (“Full Circle Humanity”) and submitted it, and commented on the discussion projects submitted for grading. Uploaded my lectures and exercises for my own class.

Saturday morning, I watched the video lectures for my final week in Sustainability and took the quizzes. I think one of the speakers in the TED talk video might be good for a keynote speaker at the Writers’ Conference next year. I’ll suggest it.

I worked with my students all afternoon and well into the evening (their work was awesome and it was a pleasure), and then caught up on the Greek & Roman Mythology lectures and took the quiz (got 100%). I started the lectures for the World History class and took the quizzes for the lectures I’d watched (100% on all of those).

Sunday, I had the worries with Iris, which framed the whole day. In and around that, I did follow-up with my students, watched the rest of my World History Lectures, took the quizzes (100% on all of them), and wrote my papers for both classes. I’d been working on them for the whole week, but it was a case of pulling it all together and on paper.

My Greek & Roman Mythology paper was, from a writer’s perspective, why Homer needed book 24 of the Odyssey, instead of stopping at Book 23. The original paper was nearly 1300 words (and could have been much more), but I had to cut it down to 350. Talk about a challenge! However, it was interesting, and I want to dig deeper and expand it out beyond class.

My World History paper was on how conversation changed the world. The very structures that allowed the moneyed and educated to meet and discuss ideas about liberty and rights — a structure that allowed for servants and/or slaves — made it possible for these “unseen” in the room to learn, too, and start applying those principles to themselves. I tried to integrate the feedback from the last paper — specifics from my research within the text — so I did that, this time. Again, this is something I want to expand on beyond class — a really interesting topic.

And my lovely, diplomatic professor addressed the whiners complaining that there is work for the class and deadlines that have to be met by pointing out that that’s part of the university experience!

I worked on the tweaks for the proposal last night and sent it off to the agent. We’re going to talk more this afternoon, for any final comments and changes, before she takes it out into the world.

I already spoke to the vet this morning, and I’m on my way out the door for meetings. When I come back, I have to clean the house (Costume Imp arrives tomorrow), get the recycling out, and finish the edits on OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK.

The Sustainability Course is done — I’m just waiting for my final grades, and having separation anxiety! So this week, only Mythology and History — along with all the other stuff that needs to get done!

Onward!

Devon

DEATH SPARKLES on A Biblio Paradise

Get the dirt and diamonds on the DEATH SPARKLES anthology here.

Published in: on October 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm  Comments (3)  

Fri. Oct. 19, 2012: Gearing for a Busy Weekend

Friday, October 19, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Last chance to sign up for The First Three Pages: Dynamic Openings, which runs tomorrow. Registration closes at 5 PM today.

I had a horrible migraine all day yesterday, and was a total waste of food. I managed to follow up on a few things from the previous day. I tried to get work done, but couldn’t focus. I suffered a case of foot-in-mouth disease with a colleague, apologized, and haven’t gotten a response, so there’s nothing else I can do at this point. I’ve spent all my life with theatre people; I’m not used to civilians and their rules and their assumptions of dire motivations. It was a genuine apology on my part, and that’s what’s in my control right now.

I did book a day to go trailing around the Marine Life Center to learn the dailiness of the routines. The date we picked is election day, so I’ll have to go to vote early!

I pulled it together by the evening and we had a terrific live chat/distance reading hour and change with the tarot class. Truly inspirational. We got to work on everyone’s questions and read each other and interpret — it was great. We’ll meet in a few weeks to do a Q&A type of chat, and then another distance reading evening.

I went to bed early and feel better after a good night’s sleep. I HAVE to get my hair cut today — I can’t stand it anymore; I have a phone conference with an agent, and then it’s working with students, the finishing touches on tomorrow’s workshop, and catching up on my own schoolwork. I got a little bit done yesterday, but not nearly enough.

Busy, busy weekend ahead, filled with writing and schoolwork and teaching and editing, so I better get going!

Devon

Published in: on October 19, 2012 at 8:25 am  Comments (2)  
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Thurs. Oct. 18, 2012: Intense Day


This is why I live here

Thursday, October 18, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

It’s going to take me about a week to recover from yesterday. I busted my ass most of the day on the non-fiction book proposal. I finally got the sample chapter where I wanted it, tweaked, proofed, and hit “send” at 3:49 in the afternoon.

During this, of course, I’d been making the devilled eggs.

Once I hit “send”, I was ready to puke and then take a nap, neither of which was on the agenda. I had all of 15 minutes to get out of sweat pants and pull myself together appropriately for a cocktail party at the National Marine Life Center.

I got there on time. The space was set up beautifully — just gorgeous! It’s amazing what someone with an eye for decorative detail can do with things that were in the space, and it looked beautiful. I had to untangle some of the eggs — a perky lil’ teenage blonde had wandered into the road 1/2 mile from the center, nearly causing a three car accident (good thing I had new brakes) — her eye on the guys in the pickup trucks that were the other two cars! But the devilled eggs survived, even if they’d rearranged themselves a bit, and people loved them.

The cocktail party was to celebrate the fact that we’re now open to accept seals, and we have our first one — Townsend. Who is such a little cutie! But it was a time to bring together those who’ve worked so hard to bring this to fruition and those who are just learning about the Center and what we do.

It was a lovely evening. I got to catch up with people I knew and get acquainted with some terrific and interesting people that I didn’t know before.

Came home, ate, checked email — found out that the person to whom I sent the proposal already read it and likes it. We have a phone conversation tomorrow for tweaks, and I’ll rewrite this weekend, and . . .we’re off. Considering how far out of my usual wheelhouse this is, I’m happy for the positive response. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, though.

I have a TON of work today, especially when it comes to the classes I’m taking, and the final prep on the course I’m teaching on Saturday.

Yoga was great, but I have a migraine to beat the band.

Onward.

Devon

Published in: on October 18, 2012 at 11:08 am  Comments (1)  
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Wed. Oct. 17, 2012: Earthquake & Book Proposal


I love this photo. I took it on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard last month

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Intense day yesterday, part of which culminated in an earthquake in the evening. Yup, an earthquake in New England. No wonder the cats were restless and upset all day, and I was ready to turn inside out. The quake was centered in Maine, but felt all the way into Rhode Island.

For me? Cats were upset, but I wondered why a garbage truck was on our little street after dark!

Sounds silly, but it did feel like that bubble of tension that was building all day inside me was relieved once the quake actually happened.

The worst was the local ABC affiliate news, WCVB — they cut into programming to announce it. Okay, fine, makes sense. Then, they ramble on and on and on, repeating the same three sentences over and over and putting people on TV who said things like, “my couch moved a few inches” or “my bedroom door popped open.” Um, and this is news because. . .? There weren’t injuries or fires or power outages. Tell us that and go back to programming. The anchors, who usually give the impression of being a few beats the music behind anyway, looked like utter morons. Totally left out to dry by their EP. Embarrassing. They kept the crawl under the programs all night — the same three sentences. If you don’t have something valuable to say, shut up and don’t waste our time.

I spent time with my tarot students yesterday, but the bulk of the day was spent on the non-fiction book proposal and the query letter. I’m finally happy with both. It was a huge challenge, well out of my comfort zone, but also incredibly exciting. If the proposal sells, it’ll be a great experience to write. What I’m not satisfied with yet is my sample chapter. So I’ll do some more work on that today, and then . . .of it goes.

I have a lot of work to get through today, since I spent so much time on the proposal yesterday, AND I have to make two dozen devilled eggs — we’re having a cocktail party at the National Marine Life Center this afternoon.

Also, time to turn some attention towards the school work. I’m excited about the mythology paper and turning over ideas for the world history paper. I THINK I have one final paper to write in the Sustainability class, too. Plus, I have to review my peers’ projects.

Back to the page.

Devon

Don’t forget to sign up for the First Three Pages:Dynamic Openings, this Sunday, Oct. 20. Take your book or story’s opening, and make it the strongest it can be.

Have you read DEATH SPARKLES yet? This anthology’s got nine vivid, exciting stories about death and diamonds — and is a top 100 Amazon seller! Proceeds go to literacy charity.

Need A Vacation, But No Break in Sight

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Worked with students yesterday, did some schoolwork, worked on proposal. Cut the essay by 2/3 and got it to my editor with 3 words’ wiggle room. It was a challenge, but it still holds together well, and is yet another example of how much one can cut.

It’s not the amount of words that gets the point across, it’s the specific words you choose.

Realized I pitched for a job I don’t really want, so I hope they’re not calling me. Ripped out the last vestiges of the tomato plants — there’s still some basil I can harvest. Cooked the last of the eggplants and tomatoes last night — yum. Went to the library. Forgot to look for the books I meant to get as research for a long article, but I’ll be back there before the end of the week, so that will be fine. Read a mystery by someone whose first book in the series I liked, but this was illogical and flat. Made some business decisions I didn’t want to make, but had to do in order to keep the money flowing in on time.

Today, I have to work with students, put up some more lectures, polish lectures for Saturday’s class (The First Three Pages: A Dynamic Opening — information here), work on the proposal, work on the edits for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, get started on two papers, and a couple of articles (so that the money is actually coming in to pay the bills).

I have to say, the whining on some of the course forums is working on my last nerve. We are studying with Ivy League professors — it’s not supposed to be easy, and we are supposed to meet deadlines when those deadlines are set. The workload is clearly stated for each class, and it’s in HOURS, not MINUTES. Deadlines and expectations are clearly stated early on. Welcome to the real world, asshats, where there are actual consequences when you don’t manage your time! And guess what? Saying you didn’t get an email alert is no excuse not to know what’s going on — it makes me froth at the mouth when online students say this in MY classes (especially, since on DAY ONE, they are told not to rely on them, but to check the fucking forum regularly), and it’s no excuse on these Coursera forums, either.

You see this in class situations, and then you realize why so many of the clients behave as badly as they do. But it sure as heck makes you appreciate the good ones! 😉

Things that make my head explode #84: When detailed conversations and scheduling held over weeks are suddenly news to some of the parties involved.

Things that make my head explode #85: When things gone over in class and then needed to be put into practice in the real world are suddenly treated like this is the first time anyone’s ever heard of them.

It’s that old adage: Your disorganization is not my emergency.

Your time is not more valuable than mine, and I am not readjusting everything to suit you, unless you’re paying me a boatload of money so to do.

Especially not right now, when, between now and early December, 18-20 hour days seven days a week are the norm. I am not cleaning up anyone else’s mess because they weren’t paying attention. I’ve got to build some down time in there somewhere or I will lose what’s left of my mind (and trust me, there’s not much left), but I don’t see how right now.

Tried to relax last night by watching REVOLUTION, but the logistical gaps bothered me. There’s no power, no windmills, no water wheels, but suddenly there’s a steam train? The scenes between Rachel and Bass have gotten too repetitive. I understood it the first time, I would have lived with it structurally three times, but now it’s five or six, and it’s overkill. Miles & Tom finally had a good scene together, and a lot of the moment-to-moment work is very good. But the things that are not working for me are starting to have more weight than what is working. Which is a shame, because I can see echoes of the themes in the Sustainability course, the World History Course, and even the Mythology course, which I find interesting.

Okay, I have to let go of my general frustration with the world today and focus on the work that needs to get done.

Devon

Mon. Oct 15, 2012: OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK Cover & Rough Weekend

Monday, October 15, 2012
New Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Here it is! The cover for the second Jain Lazarus Adventure, OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK! Once again, my cover artist is the wonderful PJ Friel, who did the art for HEX BREAKER and also for the anthology in which we both appear, DEATH SPARKLES. I’m pretty happy with it. I’ve also got my second round of edits to deal with this week!

“The First Three Pages: Dynamic Openings”
workshop is on for next Saturday, October 20, where we spend the day making the opening of the novel or short story as strong as possible. More information here. “Dissecting Submission Guidelines” has been rescheduled for November 3.

The weekend was rough, on several levels. Good, too, but rough. Deadbeat client still hasn’t paid me — the check can’t be “in the mail” for this long. Typical of someone who runs around yapping about how much they “work with spirit” — total bullshit. Especially since I’d given this client a special rate, lower than my usual one. Not happening again.

Wrote one of the best kick-ass critical essays on a book in my life on Friday. I’d been working on it for two weeks, had voluminous notes, but sat down and pulled it all together on Friday. My editor loves it, is taking it to his bosses — but, it still needs to be cut by 2/3. That’s my first task this morning. He’s still going to use it to try to get me more prestigious assignments, and I’m going to use it as a sample, and possibly as a basis for an article on a quartet of semi-related novels this author has written (which I couldn’t address in this piece), It wasn’t wasted, even if this publication can’t use it in its entirety. That’s the reality of word counts and space requirements — something, I would say at least 80% of writing students don’t get on any given day. You have to be able to fit the available space, or you don’t get in. They can’t expand space for YOUR work and lose advertising or encroach on someone else’s space.

Wrote a paper for my Sustainability class on leveling the policy-making field by removing lobbyists (and how to do that). Kept looking for the feedback on the rough draft of my final project, which was supposed to be ready by Wednesday and . . . nothing. A little disheartening, as was not getting a timely response on my submission questions and finding out that I could only present one and not both of my projects. I realize there are a lot of us, but the lack of administrative response for things is not handled as well in this particular class as in both the others. And if the feedback is supposed to be available Wednesday, and the final project is due on Sunday — the feedback should DEFINITELY be available by Friday. I went out of my way to provide feedback on more than the required amount of projects during the first couple of days in the week because I know that, even though all 26,000 students didn’t submit projects, a lot did, and everyone who puts in the work deserves feedback.

Also took the time to comment on five of my fellow students’ papers in the World History Class, as was required. Lots of good writing, but only one out of the five went beyond regurgitating the information we got in class, which was disappointing. Of course, my paper went way out of the box, and I bet you dollars to doughnuts “my peers” grade me down for doing more than spitting class notes back up (but I have a list of really cool sources, and I’m going to use it as a basis for an article for the AFL-CIO magazine).

I woke up on Saturday, feeling lousy and cranky, and glad that I’d been smart enough to cancel the day’s workshop, because I could not have done justice to my students. I was worse than a bear with a sore head, and that’s not fair to them. For once, I listened to myself and knew I wasn’t well enough to teach, and cancelled early enough not to screw up anyone else’s schedule.

I was even more disheartened when I logged on to the workshop I’m teaching, and, out of the entire class, only two people bothered to turn in the assignment on time. Not acceptable, and entirely disrespectful. Every moment I spend on their work is time I’m not spending on my own, and I resent it when they can’t be bothered to keep their commitments. It’s disappointing, because the quality of the work is good, but the fact that they can’t keep a simple commitment — and this is an extraordinarily light course load for one of my classes — it’s not about writing when you feel like it or “get around to it”. It’s about getting it done when it’s due.

I’m taking three classes at coursera right now, EACH requiring 7-12 hours of work a week (which means I’ve added 21-36 hours of additional work onto my already long days) ON TOP of keeping up with current deadlines, the courses I’m teaching, and freelance work to pay the bills. If I can do that, and I’ve kept on top of ALL my course assignments because I’d be letting MYSELF down hugely by not meeting those commitments — someone with a 400 word piece due and more than week to get in done can get it in on time, no matter what else is going on.

The rest of the day was spent finishing up the work for the final Sustainability project, which means I had to revise the first chapter of the marine life mystery and write the next two chapters, and then massage them so they were polished enough to submit. It took me awhile to get back into the groove, but once I did, it went pretty well. I explained, in the Cover Sheet notes, that not every topic inspired by the Sustainability course was going to be fully explored in only the first three chapters, but again, I expect to be marked down by my “peers.” And again, that’s really fine, because I’m fulfilling the commitment to the class, and I’m also getting out a lot of material I can use far beyond class. I would, however, have liked to get that feedback before submitting the final, to see if I needed to tweak it one way or another to fit the class parameters. But I didn’t, so what the hell, and I polished, proofread, and uploaded it a day early. This week, I’ll read five other class projects (as required) and comment on them. I also watched the rest of the videos and took my two quizzes. The less I study for those quizzes, the better I do on them, for some reason.

I was so tired and cranky and felt so lousy that I read Nora Roberts to do something different. Now, I totally respect what she’s achieved in her career, and admire her work ethic enormously. However, her tendency to head-hop in her scenes always leaves me feeling slightly motion-sick, so it wasn’t quite the cure I was looking for!

Sunday was all about coursework, once I’d read the paper and played with the cats. I watched all the week’s videos for the World History Class and took all the quizzes (there’a quiz at the end of each video — I aced all of them). The professor is terrific, and it really shows how we’ve been making the same mistakes since the beginning, over and over, in cycles, financial crises and all (there have been similar ones as far back as 1720, all caused by greed on those making the most money — sound familiar?). We also got our “weekly letter” from the professor; out of 83,000 students, only 1800 submitted papers and he thinks that’s a terrific percentage! 😉 We certainly do math differently, or perhaps, he just has a more realistic picture of how people lack commitment. He keeps emphasizing how he hopes the class helps us make connections in the ways different elements in history affect each other, and he’s certainly opening up my perspectives enormously.

Then, it was on to the Greek and Roman Mythology course. This professor, and his Coursera administrative student assistants, do something called “Screenside Chat” which is just awesome — taking questions from the discussion groups and going into them in more depth, so we feel like there’s more connection and community. I watched all the week’s lectures (I’d already worked on the readings) and took the quiz — I got 88, not too bad. I also got the assignment for this week’s paper, which I’m REALLY looking forward to.

So, that was a pretty good day — I felt tired but accomplished by the end of it. And I finished early enough to have a relaxing evening.

This morning, the woodpecker was back — at the same spot we just fixed. I’m going to have to go hang an owl representation in that spot to keep him away.

Will plant the rest of the bulbs today, and clear out the rest of the vegetable patch (we harvested everything left to harvest before Saturday’s light frost).

I did some work on the non-fiction proposal, and will start organizing it today. I want to get it out the door in the next few days, strike while the iron is hot.

Devon

Fri. Oct. 12, 2012: Release Day for DEATH SPARKLES!

Friday, October 12, 2012
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny/Cloudy/Cold

We’re going to get our first frost tonight — this is going to be a long, cold winter!

Update: Tomorrow’s “Dissecting Submission Guidelines” is cancelled, because I am under the weather. I will reschedule it, probably for early November.

The Oct. 20th workshop, “The First Three Pages: Dynamic Openings”, however, is open for registration.

It’s here! The Death Sparkles Anthology is available. Here’s the Kindle link, and it will also be available on B&N and Smashwords. I wrote the introduction and have the final story, “Sea Diamond” , a science-fiction mystery that introduces the ass-kicking, take-no prisoners Fiona Steele. We WILL see more of her.

Nine authors contributed to this anthology, inspired from the prompt “the diamond necklace dangled from the dead woman’s hand” and nine very different interpretations of that. The wonderful PJ Friel did the cover AND is a contributor, with “The Needing”.

It’s a perfect pre-Halloween read!

Yesterday was crazy busy. Yoga was terrific. Came home and worked with my students — finally got into the Savvy forum, so I could work with tarot students and catch up a bit. I wrapped up my three day Supporting Characters workshop at the Muse Online Writing Conference, and was invited to stop in to the “Finish What You Start” Workshop and offer some tips on completion.

I wasn’t able to take anything this year, because of my schedule. They had a lot of terrific workshops, but most of them are geared to beginning writers, so there really wasn’t anything I felt I missed. There really needs to be more geared towards the intermediate/advanced and working writer –even if the person isn’t writing full-time, perpetually staying in Beginner’s classes starts having a negative return after awhile.

A royalty check for an anthology I was involved in years ago landed on my desk yesterday — a substantial one. I was thrilled. Not only did it lift my morale, it saved my bill-paying ass, since my ghostwriting client who swore up, down, and sideways, that she’d sent the check this week — STILL hasn’t paid me. I knew this project would be a pain in the butt when I took it on. As soon as I get the money, I am done with this individual.

The next round of edits came in for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, so I need to get to work on that. I’ll be releasing the cover on Monday for that!

Ran some errands, got cat food in, worked with students, worked on the material for Confidential Job #1, which is due today. I’m very behind in this week’s school work. Must catch up today.

I’ve got a book proposal to write over the weekend, so there’s no time off for me this weekend.

I need a vacation — but I’m awfully thrilled about the upcoming releases.

I hope you enjoy DEATH SPARKLES!

Devon