Mon. Feb. 10, 2014: Nouns, Adjectives, and THE MAGICIAN’S BOOK

Monday, February 10, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Challenging weekend. I’ll be posting some material on the gardening blog, the cooking blog, and the wine blog soon. Lots going on — trying to save my citrus plants from some icky bug.

Friday afternoon, a friend was kind enough to spend time brainstorming titles for the sci-fi horror western with me. We have a good list.

Friday evening, I slipped on the ice at the meeting, and injured my knee, the bad “Broadway knee” I messed up pounding up and down the stairs all those years. Couldn’t decide if I was glad it was that knee and I still have one good knee, or if I wished it was evened out a bit.

By the time I got home, it was swollen to the size of a grapefruit. I treated it with ice, ibuprofen, and arnica, and more arnica and a malachite stone the next day. Saturday, I was pretty immobile — my back was tweaked, too. I could stand up or lie down, but not sit for more than a few minutes at a time. I did, however, ever hour or so, get up and gently move it around, to keep it from stiffening.

Basically, Saturday and Sunday, I was an invalid. Amazing how, when you change the inflection from the noun, INvalid and make it an adjective, it becomes inVALid. That pretty much sums up what I felt like all weekend. But I behaved. I could have acted like a Victorian consumptive and moaned on the settee; I could have been cranky and ignored the injury and hurt myself worse. Instead, I settled in with books and notebooks, and took care of myself, and let my body concentrate on healing, which it’s done pretty well, all things considered.

I read a brain candy book (I’m working my way through this author’s bestsellers to figure out WHY she is a bestseller, since there’s a lot of sloppy writing in the books). I also read a wonderful non-fiction book, THE MAGICIAN’S BOOK: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller. It’s really wonderful. Miller explores her conflicted feelings between her enjoyment of the Narnia books and the often heavy-handed religious message. Having felt the same way about the books, it was interesting to read her explorations and interviews about the topic. It’s an extremely intelligent, well-written, thoughtful book. I hadn’t realized Lewis and Tolkien were friends, despite their religious differences. It also made me wonder where the reasoned, ethical religious arguments are in modern day. In the past, there were intelligent, educated, ethical people who could fashion intriguing and solid arguments about their differing beliefs. One reads these treatises, and, while not always agreeing, one can still respect that. Where are such minds now? I don’t know that we have them. Making up “facts” and deciding that whatever comes out of one’s mouth is a fact just because one says it doesn’t cut it. I’ve read some interesting spiritual essays by Buddhist practitioners, especially some of the female monks, but that’s about it. Of course, the right wing extremists are anti-education (because if people are educated, they might actually think for THEMSELVES instead of drinking Special Interest potions and doing what they’re told without question). But it’s a shame that there isn’t significant intelligent discourse happening in either religion or politics (certainly not in the latter), when you look back and see the history of such important discourse in various arenas.

In other words, the issues brought up by the book go beyond just Narnia and are relevant to various areas of life right now. And it makes me want to re-read all the books again. THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE was my favorite, in spite of the heavy-handed religious symbolism. I disliked THE LAST BATTLE intensely. And Lewis lost me when he punished Susan for growing up. Even the first time I read the books, that infuriated me. Honestly, I don’t remember much about the other books.

Started reading the next book for review — I like it a lot.

Did some work on TRUE HOME, on the untitled novella, and on the edits for the other novella. Had a big “aha!” moment on the play, and I think I can fix what’s bothering me about it.

Loved watching the Olympics all weekend. I prefer winter to summer games anyway. The Women’s Ice Hockey Team is amazing this year — love them! I also enjoy the skiing and snowboarding events a lot. Everyone loves the figure skating, and it’s interesting, but because it gets so much attention, I tend to gravitate to some of the other sports that get less attention. I like that they’re showing more of the international athletes again — in Vancouver, they hardly even mentioned anyone who wasn’t American, and that was frustrating. I like watching people I’d never get to see otherwise.

Lots of catching up to do today, since I was out of commission all weekend. Hopefully, this will be a creative, productive, and lucrative week.

Devon

Fri. Feb. 7, 2014: The Project Juggle Dance (the 2200th Post)

Friday, February 7, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Do I get a prize for posting 2200 times? 😉

Thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading! I do this to have a conversation with you, and you inspire me.

I’ll have a post up, at some point today, on Adventures in Vineland, talking about an Argentinean Malbec I like.

Wrote nine pages on the untitled novella yesterday, which I suspect is turning into a novel. Pitched some jobs, worked with students, worked on the play, did some research.

Baked cupcakes for the helpful neighbors — lemon ones and spice ones. Frosted and delivered them.

Finished Stephen Dobyns’s novel THE BURN PALACE. Very unique and well-done. I love the different chances he’s taken over the years.

Feeling very tired and run down, but have to get it together and get a lot of work done today, and finish the draft of the play this weekend. It’s taking longer than I wanted, but it’s not sparkling the way I need it to.

Worked on some notes for a couple of other projects. May have to do a few pages.

Spun some ideas for the BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, rewriting the outline to make it make more sense. Pulled some of the research material to re-read over the next few weeks, as I get back into writing the book.

I don’t like that Olympic Events start before the Opening Ceremonies. If events start on Thursday, have the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday. If you need more time and want the Friday night TV audience, then tack more days onto the back. This “slipping a few things in” before the games officially starts feels wrong, on so many levels. I feel it’s disrespectful to both the athletes and the audience.

Watching and taking a lot of notes during the games, both for ongoing commentary and as research for some upcoming projects.

I prefer the Winter Games to the Summer Games, mostly because I prefer winter sports and winter, in general (although I’m kind of over winter this year). Everyone fusses about figure skating, but I like ice hockey, ski jumps, snowboarding, speed skating, etc. I love how the sport of snowboarding is growing and changing, and how the participants are coming up with new tricks and new challenges.

Back to the page — lots to do, and not much time. I have a meeting tonight. Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on February 7, 2014 at 9:15 am  Comments Off on Fri. Feb. 7, 2014: The Project Juggle Dance (the 2200th Post)  
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Thurs. Feb. 6, 2014: And Mercury Retrograde Hits!

Thursday, February 6, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Snowing

Yup. it’s snowing again. Getting a little tired of it, and I LIKE winter.

Got some decent work done yesterday, in the morning. Made some notes on a couple of projects, played with ways to punch up the play.

Of course, shoveled.

Lost the second half of my workday at the doctor’s office. I took my mom in for her check-up. We’d confirmed the appointment in the morning, but we get there, and she’s not on the schedule. They said they’d “fit her in” around 3-ish, two hours after her appointment, then didn’t tell the doctor, and it was nearly 4 by the time she was in and out for a FIVE MINUTE APPOINTMENT. Three other people showed up during that time who weren’t on the schedule, either. Instead of trying to solve problems caused by THEIR screw-ups, they don’t give a shit. Unacceptable. It’s not like we could go home and come back in the bad weather, either. So we had to sit and wait while they carried on personal conversations that are inappropriate to have in patients’ hearing instead of working.

Before anyone goes on about “a mile in their shoes” — I’ve worked as a receptionist for a BUSY doctor’s office. I know all about the challenges of dealing with patients who think every hangnail is a major emergency, how one often has to juggle appointments, how one has to monitor doctors’ time to keep them on schedule with patients and with the other work they have to do — reviewing charts, doing notes, making calls, writing prescriptions, etc. I’ve done it. It’s not difficult work (although sometimes exasperating), and it requires a level of attention to detail that this staff lacks.

In the four years we’ve lived here, not ONCE has an appointment run on time — even in an empty office without emergencies calling staff away. Three hours’ wait time is the norm. This is not acceptable. Just because a patient is elderly doesn’t mean you can let them sit there for hours. And when YOU make a mistake — FIX it. Don’t just shrug and ignore it. Mistakes happen. Own it and make it right.

When my mother complained to the doctor, the doctor said if she’d known my mom was sitting out there, she would have taken her earlier. Don’t play “good cop, bad cop” either, missy. Yes, the staff should have let her know there was a screw up and had a solution to fix it that INCLUDED the doctor. But the doctor walked past at least a half a dozen times during those hours. You don’t recognize a patient unless that person is inside the examining room? You expect me to believe that? You, who have a MEDICAL degree?

My mom feels comfortable with the doctor herself and doesn’t want to start over with someone else, or I would have ditched this place a long time ago. But she’s left to sit around for hours at every appointment, and I lose a half day of work every time I have to take her to an appointment. I read TWO BOOKS while we were waiting — a book of essays and a book of poetry. If the books that arrived for review had arrived BEFORE we left, I could have knocked out one of those and been paid for my time.

I’m going to start invoicing them for wasted time. Maybe then they will start to pay attention.

But my mom negotiated not having to go back until next January, and she’s happy about that! She still has to go for regular blood work at the facility in Mashpee, but they whisk her in and out in about ten minutes and have the results back within three days.

Frustrating.

Came back and tried to pick up some threads of the day, which was difficult. However, while I was in the office (fuming and advocating), a scene for a piece came to me, along with the setting. When I came home, I sketched out the basic configuration of the main location and made some notes. Later, I wrote about 1700 words of the opening.

I have a couple of articles to work on, have to get back to the play, work with students, get some pages done on a handful of projects, and buckle down for Mercury Retrograde. Not looking forward to this one — the anxiety dreams have already started.

The day’s barely begun and I’m exhausted.

Devon

Published in: on February 6, 2014 at 8:48 am  Comments (1)  
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Wed. Feb. 5, 2014: Ideas Come From Everything

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Snowy and cold

Update on all the teeny little plants we’ve got going here, over on Gratitude and Growth.

Worked yesterday, pitching jobs, working with students, etc. Did the week’s work for my Environmental Law and Policy class. Totally love that class.

Worked on the play — still not happy with it.

Finished reading Jake Arnott’s THE HOUSE OF RUMOURS. I liked it, especially structurally, although some of the chapters felt as though they meandered a bit too much before all tying back together. It was an interesting conceit, though. I’ve played with the idea of structuring something along the Major Arcana, but haven’t found what works for me, yet. I think I’d approach it differently, so it was interesting to read this approach.

Started another book, a thriller by a well-known author, and it just didn’t work for me. So I put it down. I’ve hit the point where I only push through on a book that doesn’t engage me if I’m paid to read and review it.

Played with some characters and ideas. Would like to do another serial, but not sure which outlet I’d pitch to. I’m not interested in one of the sites where you only get paid if you get enough votes. This is my business, not my hobby. I get paid for the WORK, not a popularity contest.

One story idea came because of a job pitch. I made the first cut (it’s a very, very competitively sought position and I’m the “out there” choice), and if I get it, I’d have to spend a certain amount of time each month out of town. That could align with another project in which one of my former professors wants me to work with him on, in the same area. I was idly looking at shares in the area (it’s too far to commute, and doesn’t make sense to stay in a hotel), and found a dream share — not that I could contact them until the details on the job were finalized. The photos and the tone of the ad gave me an idea for a story. So, you see, ideas are everywhere, and even if these projects don’t work out as jobs, they’ve served a purpose!

Plenty to do today. The snowstorm is worse than predicted; not sure I can get my mom to her doctor’s appointment this afternoon. I’m getting sick of shoveling — ready to hibernate and come out when it all melts!

Making some decisions on some changes I want to make, both personally and professionally. Feels good.

A-writing we will go!

Devon

Published in: on February 5, 2014 at 8:39 am  Comments Off on Wed. Feb. 5, 2014: Ideas Come From Everything  
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Tues. Feb. 4, 2014: Crusty Snow and School Work

Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

We had snow most of yesterday, the wet, icky kind. It didn’t stop until after dark, which means I got to shovel wet, crusty snow this morning. And that Toro Power Shovel? Piece of crap. I thought Toro products were good and reliable, but both the design on this and its unreliability make it a huge disappointment. Save your money and and buy a product that actually WORKS.

If you haven’t dropped a comment on my blogging article, please do so. I’d love to be asked back for a regular gig.

Finished up a book proposal yesterday, printed it out, and realized that there were font and formatting problems, so I had to go back, fix it, and reprint. It looked good on screen, but I hadn’t checked the details, and it wasn’t right, so . . .had to make it right. That will go into the mail today, when I get to the post office. I fell in love with the book all over again, working on the proposal.

Polished the sci-fi/horror/western novella and submitted it to Amber Quill, who let me know, a few hours later, that they accepted it! That was quick! We’re going to find a new title — which makes perfect sense — but they definitely want it. Nice, quick sale! Now, I need to polish another novella for them and get back to BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

Did some work on the new play, but it still isn’t where I want it.

Made a quick library run to return some books and get out some novels for the snowstorm. Reading Jake Arnott’s THE HOUSE OF RUMOUR, whose chapters are structured on the Major Arcana of the tarot.

Trying to catch up on computational neuroscience work, but it’s giving me a headache (no pun intended). Catching up on Astrobiology — fascinating class, out of University of Edinburgh, and did the peer evaluations on the Environmental Law papers.

Did some thinking on an untitled novella (which seems to be expanding into a novel) and on the Sparkle and Tarnish project. Caught up on some correspondence.

I need to get a lot of writing done and work with students. I’ve got a new student, a guy whose college papers I proofread, who’s hired me to give him some grammar lessons along the way. So that’s all good.

Got paid for my last two articles on the random-date-paying market — earlier than I expected, which is nice.

I’ve got some wine research to do for Adventures in Vineland, and some other research on a couple of articles I’m interesting in pitching to markets that are a bit of a stretch for me.

I was invited to participate in an eco-festival this spring out in Provincetown. I’d wanted to do it last year, but didn’t find out about it until too late. This year, unfortunately, it conflict with the dates for the new play. Oh, well. It’ll happen when it’s time, I guess.

Back to the page, and to the school work.

Devon

Published in: on February 4, 2014 at 9:22 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 4, 2014: Crusty Snow and School Work  
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Mon. Feb. 3, 2014: Snowing and Starting

Monday, February 3, 2014
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Snowy and cold

I’ve got an article up on how to get out of a blogging rut over on Learn To Blog. Stop by, drop a comment, maybe they’ll ask me back!

Busy weekend. Flat out on Friday, along with celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Felt great to get into the Year of the Horse.

Saturday was all about Imbolc, cooking, and launching two new blogs. I cooked for twelve hours, and you can see the details in my new blog on cooking, Comfort and Contradiction: Food as Muse. I also have an introductory post over on Adventures in Vineland.

Recently, I re-read Beverly Nichols’s book, MERRY HALL, a “creative nonfiction” — or maybe it’s fiction based in some fact — about buying his home and starting to revive the garden right after WWII. This weekend, I read the other two books in the trilogy, LAUGHTER ON THE STAIRS and SUNLIGHT ON THE LAWN. While there’s a funny, rather arch Noel Coward-esque tone to the books, he’s downright mean sometimes, and very condescending towards women, which I didn’t like. There’s some wonderful garden and house information, and he writes warmly and well about cats, but I finished the trilogy with mixed feelings.

Did some work on the play, but, for the most part, other than the new blogs, I gave myself a break from writing. I need to dig back in today, revising the novella and finishing a book proposal I want to send out tomorrow.

I will miss the year-long student who finished her work on the 31st. She was outstanding, and I’m looking forward to cheering her on during a long and productive writing career. I’ve still got my terrific editing intensive students, but this year, I really need — and want — to cut back on teaching. My focus needs to be elsewhere for the coming months, and I have to be very careful where I spread that energy when it comes to teaching.

Caught up on my Environmental Law and Policy class, wrote and submitted my paper. Still have two other classes to catch up on and then get going on this week’s assignments. I LOVE the law class — really terrific.

Got an interesting bite from a gig I’d pitched, not thinking in a million years they’d be interested — but they are. It’s the other side of the table from where I usually sit on this issue, so it would be an interesting challenge.

It’s snowing, and I have books due that can’t be renewed anymore, so, as soon as the library opens, I will pop down and take care of it, then stop by the post office to get a few things out.

And then, it’s all about digging in for the new week.

Devon