Fri. Nov. 30, 2012: Rich Writing & Trip Prep

IMG_0659

Friday, November 30, 2012
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Worked flat out yesterday. One press release was approved,and out it went The second press release was tweaked and I had to wait for photos, but those arrived last night and it will go out this morning. That will clear off the desk before I leave.

Polishing the Flash 7 Workshop that starts a week from today. The exercises are REALLY fun — I may well write along with the class, even if I don’t post the pieces. There’s still time to sign up here — it’ll be a great class, writing, revising, and submitting 7 flash fiction pieces in 10 days, and they’ll all be out the door before the holiday insanity starts! 😉

I started working on the Smashwords formatting — I think, once I get the hang of it, it will be pretty smooth, but the first one is always the hardest. I doubt I can get them up before I go to NY.

Caught up on my World History class. Next week is the last week of lectures, but we have until the end of the month to finish our final paper and wrap up.

Good writing sessions yesterday morning and this morning. There’s a richness in these characters’ lives that I enjoy writing, and something I find missing from a lot of the books I’ve read lately. Unfortunately, about the last dozen or so books I’ve read (from the library) have been awful. Very disappointing. I’m trying to pick the books for the trip carefully, so that I’m not disappointed.

Managed to get a few decorations up on the tree this morning, but it’s slow going. However, I am packed for my trip (except for the books). I need to finish Costume Imp’s birthday present today, and get a few other things done, and I’m good to go.

Devon

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Published in: on November 30, 2012 at 9:33 am  Comments Off on Fri. Nov. 30, 2012: Rich Writing & Trip Prep  
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Thurs. Nov. 29, 2012: Writing, Decorating, Coursework


Tessa and Violet enjoy the sun

Thursday, November 29, 2012
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

I’m over at The Writers Vineyard in my Annabel Aidan persona, talking about “Always Learning.”

Busy day yesterday. Writing, errands, libraries. Got the lights on the tree (my least favorite part of decorating). Got the lights up around the windows. I don’t want to start decorating outside until I know when the roofers are coming — and going. Got some of the ribbons up around the windows and doorways. I don’t understand why the decorating is taking so darned long this year. Usually, it took a day. Although decorating a house takes longer than an apartment.

Tessa helps.

I swear, that cat could pass the SATs. She understands every word I say.

I’ve got to get out a couple of press releases today, and set up the accounts at Smashwords, so I can upload my stories there. I still want to re-do the cover for “Mistletoe”, but didn’t manage to get my hands on any real mistletoe yesterday (and it was rainy and awful out, so ick).

I’m almost packed for the trip to NY. I’m working on a little something special for Costume Imp, and that has to be finished today.

Almost done with the Greek/Roman Mythology Course — finished the lectures and the quiz. Today, I have to evaluate five student papers, and, then — done! Started the Astronomy class — it looks wonderful, but I’m auditing, not going for certification. The math required is beyond me. But today, I’ll tackle the history course.

And, hopefully, get some more decorating done, and some more work on prepping “That Man in Tights” for upload.

Good writing session this morning, but missed yoga. 😦

Devon

Don’t forget to sign up for Flash 7 Workshop, running from Dec. 7-16. Write, revise, and submit 7 flash fiction pieces in 10 Days. Info and registration here.

Wed. Nov. 28, 2012: “Just Jump in and Fly” — a fun twist on Yuletide Myths!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Full Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Here’s the cover for “Just Jump in a Fly” a romantic comedy/fantasy re-working of the Yuletide Myths that went up yesterday under the Ava Dunne name.

Blurb:
Samantha Wright has a problem. The attractive Kris Teague crash- landed his sleigh and eight not-so-tiny reindeer in her driveway. His uncle Nick happens to be THAT Nick – as in Claus – and they need Samantha Wright’s help to turn back the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse at one of the Universal Gates not only to save Christmas, but keep Earth turning. A fresh, romantic comedy turn on Yuletide myths and traditions!

For an excerpt and Buy Link, go to the Ava Dunne page. It’s only 99 cents!

I love this story — I had such a great time playing with the myths of the season. I’m planning to do more with these characters for each turn of the wheel. Which means the next piece has to be released by February1!

I figured out how to do better covers in Pages. I realized, for the PDFs, I don’t have to work in .doc. I also learned how to save into PDF and transform that into a JPG. Unfortunately, the back cover fill doesn’t convert from Pages to PDF, so, while the stand-alone cover I’m using to promote the book has the background color I want, the download is in simple black and white.

I tweaked the cover for “Tumble”. I think it looks much better. Again, I can’t replace the cover in the PDF, but it’s close, and this looks better for promotion. It’s much easier to work with photographs than anything else, so I need to go find some mistletoe and re-do the other cover. The Nina stories are too much fun to suffer from poor covers!

And yes, I’m hiring a cover ARTIST for the Nina Bell book release on April Fool’s Day! 😉

My bio’s up on the Indie Book Award site, and I look forward to being one of their judges this winter/spring. Exciting!

Had a good writing session in the morning, both yesterday and a little tougher one today. Ran errands — had to find a new tree topper — it’s hard! Finally found one that I think will be pretty.

Got some raking done in the back — the terraced back area and one side of the house. That’s all we could get done before the sleet started. Took seven bags of leaves to the dump. Most of the day was about getting “Just Jump in and Fly” done.

Good meeting in the evening. I’m going to change the way we handle the mailing list, and set up a gmail account for the organization, which will make more sense and give us more flexibility. I’m also going to set up a WordPress site for them. We need to have an internet presence, and be able to link to other sites in the town, etc.

Started packing for the NY trip this weekend. Worked with tarot students. Set up a Tarot Lounge on the workshop board so that we can continue the conversation once class ends, and set up a Yahoo loop called “Myth-Drunk Writers” so we can continue the conversation once the Greek/Roman Mythology class is over.

I’ve got an article to write today, and I’ve got to prep “That Man in Tights” to upload, and get the lights on the darned tree — I finally found them. Tessa spends a lot of time playing with the tree — it makes her feel like outdoor kitty! Also have to go to the local library and Sandwich, and find mistletoe to photograph!

Busy times. But happy ones.

Devon

Don’t forget to sign up for Flash 7 — Write, revise, and submit 7 flash fiction pieces in 10 Days! Info and registration here.

Tues. Nov. 27, 2012: Two Nina Bell stories out: “Too Much Mistletoe” and “Tumble”!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

We’re going to get snow today!

Okay, there are TWO Nina Bell short pieces available now! The holiday-themed novella Too Much Mistletoe, where Nina’s complicated love life both helps and hinders her search for a missing college friend. Excerpt and buy link here.

AND

there’s the shorter piece, “Tumble”, taking place around New Year’s, when Nina discovers the body of a co-worker in the theatre’s dryer and realizes the murderer has to be someone in their theatre. As usual, she gets herself into all kinds of trouble and has a complicated love life. Excerpt and buy links here, below the excerpt for Too Much Mistletoe.

If you like Stephanie Plum, you’ll love Nina Bell! A little humor, a little mystery, a little romance. These two pieces are a lot of fun. I love Nina, and people keep asking when she’s coming back. So, she’ll be around a lot more! I never thought I’d be old enough to write a “period piece”.

I’ve added a page to the blog with blurbs and information on the stories, too.

For the most part, I’m happy with the covers, although when I uploaded them into the Payloadz site, they got warped on the store page. It was a lot of fun to set up the shoot for “Tumble” and stage the bloody hand print on the dryer. Fortunately, my basement looks an awful lot like the theatre basement in the story. 😉 I wish I could have filled the background with a color, but I love the font. I would have liked to do a photo shoot for Mistletoe, staging a spring of mistletoe into the Scotch, but I wasn’t able to get my hands on a reasonable piece of mistletoe. If I can, I’ll redo the cover. I really need to get a good cover design program. The lack of manipulation my programs give me with images is appalling. What is so fucking hard about just letting me re-size? I downloaded the Gimp software, that’s supposed to allow image manipulation and layering, but haven’t figured it out yet. In iWeb, I could fill background — why can’t I do that on a regular page? Very frustrating. And none of the Canon programs that are supposed to let me do whatever I want with a JPG actually DO anything worthwhile.

What was even worse was that 1and1.com’s servers were down, and I couldn’t access my email most of the day, nor could I update the websites. Cyber Monday, busiest online shopping day of the year, and they couldn’t be bothered. Unacceptable. And when I complain, they do the usual — shrug and say THEY have no problem.

So, cover kerflamma took longer than it should have. I’m almost done editing “Just Jump in and Fly”, a re-working of a lot of familiar holiday myths, and I hope to have that ready later today.

Worked in the garden — got the terraced border raked out and cut back, and got a section of the meadow raked. I’m going out to do some more in a few minutes — trying to get as much done as possible before the snow starts later. And I’ve GOT to get cat food in. It won’t be a bad snow, just . . . snow, which means the leaves left will be wet and icky, but there’s no way I can get the whole meadow done today, not with everything else going on.

Meeting tonight, and have to do the minutes for it. The Astronomy class starts today — looking forward to that. Greek & Roman Mythology wraps up this week, and World History next week. Then, I’ll have about two or three weeks where I’m only taking ONE class! 😉

Managed to get a few more decorations up yesterday, and found the lights. The lights have to go on the tree before we can go any further.

Onward!

Devon

Don’t forget the Flash 7 Workshop from Dec. 7-16. Write, revise, and submit 7 flash fiction pieces in 10 Days. Information and registration here.

Monday, Nov. 26, 2012: Back in the Writing Swing


The pumpkin I grew — so happy that it came up, even if it’s small!

Monday, November 26, 2012
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury goes direct this evening (thank goodness)
Cloudy and cold

First of all, check out my 200-word flash fiction piece “Love in a Wok” over on Daily Love. Drop a comment, so I know you were there!

Busy week. Wednesday morning, we were on the road by 6 AM. Even with traffic around Boston, we hit Maine a little after 9. Stores were barely open. We made a few stops; bought very little. Part of it was the budget, but there was really very little we couldn’t live without. My favorite thrift shops were a disappointment — Mercury was retrograde, there should have been all kinds of wonderful buys. Tante Tchotke abandoned me this time around! 😉

Had lunch at the Stone Dog in Windham, which is very good, and got settled in to the house. My great uncle will be 96 on Christmas Day. He’s doing pretty well for himself.

I brought the dinner for those doing the set-up, and we had a pasta with sausage-pancetta-cream sauce and some lovely Portuguese bread. Visited, read a bit, had an early night.

Up early the next day. Wrote nine pages (longhand, since I didn’t take the computer) — this piece is coming along nicely. The first four pages were challenging, hard to focus, but then I got into the rhythm of it. Made some notes on a few other things.

The dinner itself was fun — 53 people in the hall. Lots of laughter and catching up, and, as always, the four-foot potato masher and plenty of dishes! This time, we were among the last to leave. Good food, good company, no drama. We’ve been attending this gathering now for 38 years.

Tired in the evening, but read a bit. The books I’d taken with me were all a disappointment — not well-written at all.

Up early on Friday, and back on the road by 6. The fog was intense. It’s so interesting to me how different Maine fog is from Cape Cod fog. Maine fog is somehow more ominous, as though the fog itself has substance. Cape Cod fog is more ethereal, as though it reveals spirits, rather than BEING spirits.

At the last minute, we took a detour to Salem. I hadn’t been there in several years. Because we made such great time — nothing was damn open. You’d think on Black Friday, the stores would open a little earlier, even the small businesses. Nope. So we hung around until 11, when things started to come to life. The architecture is gorgeous there. I hope to take Costume Imp up in the spring.

We got home a little after 1, thoroughly exhausted. Unpacked. The cats had figured out how to pry open the basement door, took their toys downstairs, and that’s where I think they spent most of their time. Got some writing done.

Up very early on Saturday, delighted to be home again. Started getting down the Yule-tide decorations. Spent 4 1/2 hours ironing seasonal fabric, and got the tree in the stand. This year, I managed to get the hardware to work so the tree is steady. Not that it has anything to do with the directions, but it works. That, and three loads of laundry took up the entire day.

Yesterday, I wrote. Pretty much all day. I tweaked the Fearless Ink website — it needs a complete overhaul, but it looks a bit better. I got started on my new brochure, but I’m having graphics issues, getting the graphic sized properly to fit the space. I revised a novella, which will be released later this week, and started tweaking some short stories, which will also release shortly. I worked with my tarot students, caught up on my Greek/Roman Mythology class, took the quiz, and wrote a paper for that class on justice. Ties in with the Harpy trilogy nicely.

Up early again today, and lots to do — have to get back to the decorating — everything’s a mess. Have to get the novella released, run errands, deal with admin crap. Too much to do and not enough hours in the day! But I’m feeling cheerful, even if I don’t feel fully prepared to deal with the season.

Devon

Reminder: Flash 7 Workshop from Dec. 7-16 — write, revise, submit 7 Flash Fiction pieces in 10 days! Details here!

Fri. Nov. 23, 2012: No Black Friday For Me!

Friday, November 23, 2012
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

There is no way I’m going to join the feeding frenzy today.

If you do it, may you have a joyful, productive, and safe time.

I’m staying home! 😉

Published in: on November 23, 2012 at 9:18 am  Comments (4)  

Thurs. Nov. 22: Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful holiday!

I’m grateful to have all of you in my life!

Devon

Published in: on November 22, 2012 at 9:17 am  Comments (1)  

Wed. Nov. 21, 2012: And the holiday starts early!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

The spice cupcakes are baked and frosted. The lemon cake is ready. The pasta with sausage and pancetta is ready to re-heat. The bread and muffins are done.

My job is the dinner the night BEFORE Thanksgiving — and I’m in good shape!

Happy times!

Devon

Published in: on November 21, 2012 at 9:14 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: ,

Tues. Nov. 20, 2012: Pushing Through

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

A good writing session yesterday kicked off a busy day. Worked with students, took the garbage to the dump, tried to get something signed off on that should have gone out last week, but until the top gun signs off, I can’t do anything — I’ve done my bit, now it’s in their court.

Did my week’s coursework for the World History class, so that wasn’t hanging over my head. Worked on developing some ideas. Today, I’ll focus on the Mythology class. The Astronomy class starts next week — we heard from the instructor, and it sounds pretty exciting.

Have to wrap up a lot of stuff before the holiday weekend starts. Remember, the deadline for the Playwright application is on Sunday — you can get it here. And the Flash 7 Workshop information (it runs from Dec. 7-16) is here.

Not a lot of exciting stuff to say — a lot of writing is percolating, but it’s that delicate stage where it can’t yet be discussed. I’m trying to get back on track with a few deadlined projects that have stalled — I just have to push through. I’m juggling too many balls, and I’m afraid of dropping any of them, mostly because I have to keep a certain amount of money coming in.

Off we go — I hope the rest of this week goes smoothly!

Devon

Mon. Nov. 19, 2012: So ready for a New Week! = Why didn’t this publish this AM? Darned Merc Ret!

Monday, November 19, 2012
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy weekend. Friday was a discouraging day, on many fronts. By noon, I was just about ready to give up. But I pushed through, and just kept at it. But I was very discouraged and blue by the end of it — although a trip to the library cheered me up somewhat, as such trips do. Managed to get out a review, an interview, and an invoice, so it wasn’t completely a lost day.

Saturday was busy — yard work, hauling leaves to the dump, writing, doing article pitches, doing promotional stuff, and finishing up the final galleys for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. They are done, they are out. I turned around two sets of novel galleys this week — exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Also caught up on my World History coursework for the week (and aced all the quizzes).

Sunday was about newspapers and laundry and doing stuff around the house. The dump was accepting brush up until yesterday, post-hurricane, so I loaded up the car with all the brush the landscapers couldn’t be bothered to gather (although they were paid so to do and it was all in one pile) and dumped it myself. Sent a photo of the stuffed car to the landlord, so he can see how much debris had been left behind.

Did my mythology coursework for the week. The class is so helpful, and is feeding a lot of my fiction.

Read a couple of mysteries — the premise is good, but the protagonist is a man of certain age. Nothing wrong with that, except all the female characters of every age are morons who fall all over him in embarrassing ways and he’s always the smug, self-serving hero. Ick. And the stories lack logic — they discover something important, but don’t do anything about it for a few days, even though they know it’s important, and are then surprised when something goes to hell in a hand basket.

Writing is percolating — now I have to get stuff down on paper. It was really percolating yesterday, on more than one burner, but I purposely gave myself the day off writing to recharge and let it build up, so I can write more this week.

I got a solid 1000 words done on a project where I don’t know where it’s going, but I like the feel of it, and I know the overall shape I want it to take. Of course, that means I still have to turn my attention to several other deadlined projects today, as well as do things like yard work and taking the garbage to the dump and other home and hearth stuff.
I’m also going to do my World History coursework for the week today and the Mythology tomorrow, so I don’t have it hanging over me during the holiday.

Devon

Don’t forget — the deadline for the Playwright Intensive is November 25. Three months — a submission-ready play. More info and application here.

And the Flash 7 Flash Fiction workshop — Dec. 7-16 — write, revise, and submit 7 flash fiction pieces in 10 days. Info here.

Fri. Nov. 16, 2012: More Writing and More Seals

Friday, November 16, 2012
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Pedal to the metal all day yesterday. Worked with students. Sent out job pitches. Did an interview that will go live in January. Was invited to do another guest blog, and do a swap. Turned around the final galleys for HEX BREAKER. Did some PR stuff. Worked on a review. Worked on an article that’s due Monday, but I want to get it out today (mostly so I can invoice).

In the evening, I went back to the National Marine Life Center for the seal training session. Lots of information, and it makes me long for the running notes of Broadway days! Until I do the tasks often enough to feel comfortable, I’m going to feel insecure and ask lots of questions.

It brings up all kinds of fascinating ethical and emotional issues that will be interesting to dissect in fiction.

Came home, exhausted. Went to bed early and had very odd dreams.

I’m getting lots of great emails about the blogging article that went live yesterday — thanks for the comments and the support!

Please get in your applications for the Playwright Intensive soon — and don’t forget the Flash 7 workshop, December 7-16.

I’ve got a bunch of projects to finish up and get off the desk today, and the weekend is about buckling down and getting A LOT of writing done (and my school work).

So, I better get going!

Devon

Thurs. Nov. 15, 2012: Writing and Turtles

Thursday, November 15, 2012
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Reminder: Application deadline for the Playwright Intensive is November 20. More information and application download here.

And, as you start your day, here’s the link to my latest article on WOW-WOMEN ON WRITING, about blogging. I’d like to thank Lori Widmer and Marilyn Allen for quotes for this article.

Yesterday, I worked with my students, pitched a few jobs (including an interesting, long-term one that I hope I get), worked with my publisher. I have to get the last look at HEX BREAKER to them today so it can go into print. And I have my release date for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK: March 4, 2013. Just before my birthday. Pretty sweet!

In the early afternoon, I headed back to the Marine Life Center and did a follow to learn how the Red-Bellied Cooter Turtles are cared for. They are an endangered species, and the Marine Life Center is part of the “head start” program, raising hatchlings all winter, and releasing them in spring. Those little guys are hilarious. And, of course, caring for the tanks means lots of scrubbing! In general, caring for the marine life involves a lot of scrubbing and disinfecting — it is, after all a hospital.

The information and conversations I had gave me a lot of material for the articles AND the book.

Got back in time for dinner, and sluffed off in the evening, reading Alexandra Sokoloff’s BOOK OF SHADOWS — an excellent thriller — instead of getting back on the computer.

On my way to yoga, and then I have to take care of some admin stuff, and go back to HEX BREAKER, write a review, get material back for an article and finish that, and work on the final proofs for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. I want to get those out by tomorrow. This evening, I’m back at the Marine Life Center for the formal seal training program.

And don’t forget — if you love flash fiction or just want to dip your toe into that water, my “Flash 7” class runs Dec. 7-16. We’ll write, revise, and submit 7 pieces in 10 days. Info here.

Off we go!

Wed. Nov. 14, 2012: Follow Day at the NMLC

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune direct (as of Sunday)
Uranus retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and chilly

BUSY few days. First of all, hop onto the FF&P blog for my post, “For Love of Things That Go Bump in the Night” — and leave a comment, so I know you stopped by!

Monday — barely remember it, other than it was busy! I think I got a lot of writing done, and I know I read the latest material from Confidential Job #1. Have to do the write-up today. Also, baked two batches of brownies.

I got great news — HEX BREAKER is coming out into print. I have the galleys to check, one last time. I also have to turn around the final galleys of OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK this week. Lots of time in the Jain Lazarus world! Especially if I squeeze in the work on CRAVE THE HUNT.

Yesterday, I was out the door by 8 AM, zipped past the post office, put gas in the car, and was at the National Marine Life Center by 9. It was my “follow” day — the day when I follow to learn what a typical day is like, for the articles and other projects I’m doing for and with them. Of course, there’s no such thing as a typical day in a marine life hospital, but I got a taste of some of it. I spent time scrubbing out the seal tank and feeding our lovely seal patient, and disinfecting everything to the nth degree. I’m going back later today to do a follow on the turtles, because there was so much to do just in connection with seal protocol. I did my best imitation of the Gorton Fisherman in those bright yellow coveralls and the wellies, and I got a first-hand look at how much physical work is involved. And, like running horse barn at the track, it’s seven days a week, 365 days a year. Animals need to be fed. The enclosures cleaned. Medications, if necessary, administered. The place has such a small staff, it’s amazing how they get it all done. And, because it’s a hospital, and one does run into life-or-death situations, the training needs to be thorough, and the protocols followed exactly.

One of the things that surprised (and delighted me) is how steep and quick the seal’s learning and response curve is. He is one smart pup! Of course, one has to be careful — since he’s being rehabilitated so he can be released back in the wild, the protocol is not to get him too accustomed to humans. When he’s released, he needs to go be a wild seal, not seek out human company all the time — all he needs is to approach the wrong human, and it could be fatal to him. It’s a different situation than if he was going to remain in captivity and be an interactive teaching tool in an aquarium or zoo setting. The point is to get him healthy enough to be independent back in the wild.

It’s a huge help for the articles, and it’s a huge help for the book. That level of detail is going to make the difference between a puff piece and something with depth.

Directly from the Marine Life Center, I went to Cotuit Library, for my orientation meeting as a member of the Cape Cod Writers Center Board of Directors. It was a ton of fun. The new members are great, lively, full of ideas, and I’m looking forward to us being integrated with the ongoing members. What I love about this group is that everybody is interested in helping each other. We share a philosophy that’s very important to me: We’re all in this together.

A few of us went out afterwards, and by the time I got home, I was exhausted. Funnily enough, though, in spite of the physical labor yesterday, I’m less stiff and sore than after a day at the desk.

I must be very productive this morning, because I go back to the Marine Life Center today to do a “turtle follow”, and then, tomorrow, I go back in the afternoon for a formal “seal training” session, so I really learn the right way to handle seals.

Lots of trips over the bridge this week!

Devon