Fri. Aug. 18, 2017: Working Through the Weekend to Earn Play Time

Friday, August 18, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and humid

The “audition” assignment was a success. The editor only had to change one punctuation mark, and that was because I used Strunk instead of Chicago Style. I’ve been offered the position. We have one more point of negotiation, which could put the kybosh on my joining the staff, but hopefully, we can iron it out.

Picked up the assignment from the other publication. Got out a couple of pitches. The market I wanted to submit the essay to isn’t appropriate, so I’ll have to re-slant it for a different publication and expand it. The markets for the short story aren’t quite right.

A friend, who is a particular champion of this short story and these characters, believes I should expand it into a book, or at least a novella. WHEN I’m supposed to do this, I’m not sure. But I’m going to print it out and look at it and see. I do love these characters, and I planned to use them for a series of stories, so maybe.

Went to Cotuit Library to do some research, but the materials that were in the catalog as being there “for library use only” — aren’t. Wasted trip. They were very apologetic, and it was a typical Mercury Retrograde event. Not that big a deal, just annoying, and certainly I’m not mad at them about it. These things happen. Stuff vanishes. Puts me behind in terms of the research I need for this interview, though.

Spent the afternoon going over the galleys of PLAYING THE ANGLES. Got the first six chapters done. Grateful to my copy editor for catching mistakes that I find mortifying. Also did some work with my PR person for the launch. I need to do a couple of tweaks in the media kit and reload it, and then we can send the kit out with the PR letter. We also started talking about the PR for SAVASANA AT SEA.

I have a feeling I’ll work straight through the weekend and take Monday off, since I’m taking Tuesday off to go on an adventure. In other words, I doubt I’ll post here until next Wednesday.

I was wide awake at 4:32 this morning. After tossing and turning, I got my day started. Re-read a fragment of a piece that has excellent bones and a good outline; need to figure out how to get it back into the queue. Spent some time working on FIX-IT GIRL, trying to solve a dilemma. Without the solution, I can’t finish this draft. Ultimately, I have to make the choice that’s organic to the characters’ intergrity as they’ve been set up.

Already did a Trader Joe’s run this morning.

Published in: on August 18, 2017 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Thurs. Aug. 17, 2017: The Workday Work Day

Thursday, August 17, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was a decent workday, in spite of the chaos, and yet another day of Paul Ryan’s and Mitch McConnell’s refusal to uphold the Constitution. Sent out three pitches, sent out two essays. The markets to which I wanted to send the short story are closed to submissions right now, so I will have to look elsewhere, and I didn’t have the right information with me for another essay market, so I’ll have to take care of that today.

The afternoon was spent finishing the “audition” assignment for the new-to-me publication that hired me a couple of weeks ago. This morning, it got a polish before going off, ahead of deadline, in case they need revisions. Hopefully, they like what I’ve done and I can continue.

The next assignment from the publication I want to leave was sent, and I pick it up today. Hopefully, this will be the last assignment for them, and they’ll pay everything they owe for work done.

Today, I have some pitches to send out, the audition assignment, the essay, and the short story. I have some research to do in a nearby town. This afternoon, I get started on the PLAYING THE ANGLES galleys.

Not much first draft work done this weekend, but at least I’m clearing out a lot of other stuff.

I have to do some follow-up on other pitches, because I don’t like hanging in limbo. This “we only respond if we like it” is unprofessional b.s., in my opinion. Don’t like it? Fine. Say no. Don’t just say nothing. I don’t care how many submissions you claim you get. It’s unprofessional.

While I worked outside on the deck yesterday afternoon, I got an idea for a new piece — it will need some research, but, if I can make it work and sell it, it will make people re-think a few things about their approach to their reading and their work.

Working on the list for the initial press list/media kit push for the PLAYING THE ANGLES release. I want to send out that information as soon as Mercury goes direct.

I can’t believe tomorrow is already Friday again!

Wed. Aug. 16, 2017: Freelance Range

Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Oh, how I long for the days when all we had to worry about was a book review or whether or not the wine delivery was on time. I want to go back to the days of talking about books and art and cat videos. Unfortunately, our very lives depend on our current choices and actions. We are in the midst of a Civil War.

And the idiot who is at the helm clearly aligned himself with Nazis yesterday in a press conference that was irrational and irredeemable. Yet Speaker Ryan and Mitch McConnell continue to do nothing, because having him where he is suits their personal agendas. They are just as corrupt and must also be removed. Every day they refuse to do their jobs, they continue to prove they agree with him, they align with him (no matter what their empty words contain), and they refuse to uphold their oaths to the Constitution.

But, apart from my daily activist work, I also have to keep a roof over my head, and that means writing.

I sent off my article in the morning; by afternoon, it was accepted and paid, which is one of the reasons I love working with this particular publication.

I’m in discussions with a publication whose work I admire, who liked my samples, and who is interested in having me on staff. There’s more research and pitching on my part, and more decisions on their part, but if it all works out, I will be excited.

Pitched for a corporate script job out west (I’d work remotely), and for two other gigs, wildly different topics, both well in my wheelhouse, but which would still let me stretch. It would be steady work that paid fairly, if one or both work out. I had to pull samples and create a different type of sample packet for one of the pitches, but I think it reads well.

In the afternoon, I alternated between reading A WALK BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH: A PERSONAL JOURNAL ON WRITING AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS by Burghild Nina Holzer, and working on the first assignment for the new publication that hired me a couple of weeks ago.

This is why I’m the Anti-Niche, and why I refuse to be locked into the myth of “niche writing”. I get to live many lives and follow a wide variety of interests, do it well, and get paid.

I gave myself a break from fiction yesterday, although I have to get back on the stick with that. I’ll have to juggle the final galleys on PLAYING THE ANGLES with the revision of SAVASANA AT SEA. Which is fine, but I want to finish the assignment from the editor today and get that off tomorrow morning.

This morning, I have a couple of essays to work on and then send off. I need to research a market for a short story and get that out, and research another market for an essay.

It’s hard to create in the midst of destruction, and hard to balance creation with then necessary work to ensure survival on both an individual and a cultural basis. But it’s necessary.

Tues. Aug. 15, 2017: Writing In Spite, Not With Spite

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and humid

So instead of gathering Intel on hate groups, the DOJ is demanding web hosts turn over information of those who disagree with the Narcisstic Sociopath. I think that tells us we no longer live in a democracy, don’t you? It’s more important to leave a hate monger in power than uphold the Constitution.

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, as usual, do nothing. They are complicit, they are as corrupt as anyone else in the administration, and they must go.

Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh said hate groups “were not welcome” in Boston (but didn’t forbid them from holding their rally this coming Saturday). Governor Baker remains silent. Not surprising, but disappointing.

Somehow, in all this chaos –meant to wear people down so they’re so worn and beaten they’ll do what they’re told instead of standing up for their rights — I had to get back to work.

I sent out a short story; I sent out an article pitch that was accepted. I sent out a pitch to a local magazine that sounds interesting. I sent out a couple of other things.

I have more pitches to send out today.

I received a new assignment from one of my editors. I have an assignment for another editor that has to be finished first, but I have a long enough deadline so it’s not a problem.

As usual, I’m waiting for payments. The place that is now TWO MONTHS late doesn’t even respond anymore.

The final galleys arrived for PLAYING THE ANGLES, and I have to get going with them this week. They look good, but I’ve already caught a few things I need to fix, just in a quick glance.

Rewrote five chapters of SAVASANA AT SEA. Happy with the way it’s developing. This draft is taking a few elements in different directions than any of the previous (seven) drafts. It feels much better than the last two drafts.

Also did some work on the material for the Nautical Namaste website, and started gathering material for the article on the goddess Coventina for the Coventina Circle website.

Worked on the new article assignment; will finish, polish, and send it out later today.

I’m behind on “Labor Intensive” and not quite sure how to catch up.

And I’m heartsick at what this country has turned into.

Published in: on August 15, 2017 at 10:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Mon. Aug. 14, 2017: Time to Decide

Monday, Aug. 14, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

What a horrible weekend for the United States. Sickening and disheartening. Not at all a surprising one. We are in the midst of another Civil War on our own soil. It began openly when the Narcissistic Sociopath was given the GOP nomination and he encouraged people to be their worst, violent selves, giving them the freedom to crawl out from under their rocks. NONE of this is surprising. ALL of it could have been prevented. The roots of this go back decades.

He has never hidden who he is. Enough people agreed with him to put him where he is now. This call for him to be something else won’t work. The entire administration needs to be removed.

I also find it interesting that everyone I personally know who tried to justify a vote for the Sociopath last fall, and swore that they were “good people” and would be “the first” to stand up if he abused his power or tried to cause the harm we KNEW he would — they are all silent.

Because they are complicit.

Because they agree.

On social media, people are saying, “This is not who we are.”

Obviously, it’s who quite a few people are, or we wouldn’t be in this situation.

The seeds of this were sown in the Reagan years, when the radical right built their long game. This has been decades in the making, and too many people turned away, covered their ears, singing, “la, la, la.” Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. I remember talking about this back in those days, and being called an alarmist.

If there truly is “no room for white supremacists” in the US (and there will be necessary Constitutional fights about that and decisions made about where to draw lines on the right to one’s beliefs and where beliefs and acting on them are legal or illegal), there are ACTIONS that must be taken to fulfill that “no room” policy, which include:

–Prosecuting illegal acts;
–Stripping these individuals of their citizenship;
–Sending them into exile;
–Removing the corrupt administration and having a new election.

My first year of college, in Tallahassee, Florida, back in the early 80s, the Klan was open and arrogant in their actions and intentions. They behaved with impunity. I witnessed it regularly. It was part of my decision to leave after a year.

The GOP responses I saw have been tepid, to say the least. Marketing spin, hoping something new will come on the radar in a day or two (like the impending nuclear war with N. Korea) to take the focus off their responsibility in creating this mess, and their refusal to fix it. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are as much to blame as the Sociopath. Neither one will take the necessary actions, because they are still getting what they want from the situation. AG Sessions, of course, defends the Sociopath’s response, because he, too, has a proven record of racism and should never have been confirmed in the job in the first place. On top of the fact that he stands there and accepts the way his boss has demeaned him over the past few weeks.

If the GOP was serious about their outrage, and actually decided to put country over party for the first time in nearly a decade, Congress would go back into session TODAY and steps would be taken to remove this administration. That won’t happen because too many of them secretly agree with the Narcissistic Sociopath’s base, and were put in power by the same base. It’s all hot air, smoke and mirrors.

Don’t forget that the GOP has bills on the table ALLOWING cars to run over protestors, which is how Heather Heyer was murdered. They encourage this type of murder.

We need to remember Heather Heyer. We need to remember the two Virginia State troopers killed in the helicopter crash, and get justice for the young black man beaten.

GoDaddy showed surprising class by telling the “publication” that slut-shamed Heather Heyer they were in violation of the Terms of Service and had to move the site. It will be interesting to see which web host accepts them. It better not be mine. Tiki’s statement was better than the Sociopath’s (no surprise there). The Detroit Red Wings took a stand (I’d have been disappointed if one of my favorite Original Six teams had done less).

WBZ Radio Boston was shameful in last night’s broadcast at 5:30 PM. The host chirped that the injured “showed improvement” after a “car plowed” into a crowd — not calling it what it is, an act of domestic terrorism. Heather Heyer’s murder was not even mentioned. In fact, they wrapped the sound byte into a piece with two local DUI crashes, making them all sound of a piece. Disgraceful. This morning, they had a carefully-worded, non-informational 60 seconds about the “alleged” driver going to court this morning. All carefully worded to please the far right. WBZ has been a disgrace since the campaign, moving farther and farther right, until they’re almost in the same category as Fox News. I expect better from a CBS affiliate. Especially one in Boston.

The same organization that created the Charlottesville march has one scheduled in Boston on the 19th. Counter-protests are being organized. I have no doubt that even more bloodshed will happen here next weekend than happened in Charlottesville. I’m sure there will be debates about their legal right to assemble. Of course, if they were serious about their right to “peaceful assembly”, they wouldn’t be hiring private militia and they wouldn’t be chanting slogans that encourage mass murder. They may have the legal right to be here, and I will have legal specialists debate the details of that — but I don’t want them here. It comes down to both who has the right to assemble and who gets to decide who has the right. If there is truly “no place for white supremacy”, then the assembly needs to be denied. However, that sets a precedent to allow what the Administration is trying to set up, which is that any type of dissent, including assemblies such as the Women’s March, March for Science, etc, can also be denied. It becomes about where to draw the line and who gets to make the decisions. If I deny someone else the right to assembly, that means, in turn, I will also be denied that right. No matter which side stands for “good” or “evil”. While we fought a war that defined Nazism as “evil”, society as a whole is fickle and easily swayed, and the victors get to change the social contract to their own purposes.

The Kumbaya attitude of “let’s listen to the other side and understand them” is not going to prevent this escalating violence. One can’t reason with fanatics. It’s not about different views to get to an overall better result for the population of this country. It is about a single group that wants to exterminate anyone who disagrees.

World War II was all about these same issues, and, because it was not fought on US soil, too many haven’t learned — thanks to the defunding of education that’s been going on since Reagan, and the revisionist history that so many of the right-wing states have put into the school system. Now, we have another Civil War on our own soil. Instead of popping anti-anxiety medication and pretending it doesn’t exist, people damn well better start taking action –or THEY won’t exist.

I remember, several years ago, going to Nashville, TN for the NHL draft. At that time, Tennessee was talking secession, about “building a wall” (sound familiar?), and creating a “country” which remembered that slavery was a good thing. I still have the front-page news story tucked away somewhere. I was so disgusted, I was ready to leave the same day, rather than stay and cover the draft. But I stayed. I listened to the uneducated, racist, bigoted talk that I heard in almost every local establishment I visited. None of this is new. It’s been building for years, and too many people ignored it. Too many people also agree with it.

My direct family members survived WWII. Some of my family was torn apart when the Berlin Wall went up. I remember visiting the Wall; seeing someone try to escape, get shot, and dragged back. I remember the Wall coming down, and going into the East three days after reunification and seeing a place stopped in time. Driving behind Soviet tanks (it was still the Soviet Union then) as they prepared to pull out. Talking to young Soviet soldiers who’d never seen an American girl before (they got into trouble — they weren’t allowed to talk to anyone outside of their unit). Drinking with a commander who’d known my grandfather (we were in a town that my grandfather, an architect, had rebuilt after the war).

To most Americans, World War II is Captain America or a video game. It’s not.

We are now suffering the consequences of not paying attention. Unless we, as a people, take action, we will be the new Nazi regime, and the rest of the world will be forced to take action against us, the way we were forced to take action in World War II. Only, in World War III, no one gets out alive.

Decide where you stand. And then DO something about it.

Published in: on August 14, 2017 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fri. Aug. 11, 2017: Sneezing For Company

Friday, Aug. 11, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was a challenge. I got some work done (not enough). I started sneezing like crazy, and getting congested. Couldn’t tell if it was allergies or coming down with a cold, although I suspected the former.

I was absolutely miserable and couldn’t get anything done. I made the mistake of breaking down and taking medicine. Not only did I feel worse, but I was disoriented and couldn’t concentrate. How can people WANT to feel like that? I don’t get it.

No coherent writing done, although I took notes on a couple of weird ideas. They may turn out to be too weird to be viable.

At least the toner arrived for the laser printer. Now I can move forward on a few projects.

Cleaned the house for company; will do some more today while they are out. I’m starting to think I’m allergic to people, even the ones I like.

Tonight is the Mermaid Ball, benefiting the National Marine Life Center. Sorry to miss it, but, even if I didn’t have company, I’m not feeling well enough for all that it requires.

I have to disengage from a project where one of the other parties involved has been jerking me around for three months on something that should be a simple “yes” or “no”. I don’t have the time or energy to be dicked around like this, and I’m done. I want to make sure I’m fully done before the retrograde.

This weekend is about company, writing (if I’m coherent enough to get words on paper), and the “audition” assignment for my new editor.

I also have to plan two pieces that need to be done for two different events next March.

Have a great time!

Published in: on August 11, 2017 at 8:53 am  Comments (2)  

Thurs. Aug. 10, 2017: Female Geeks are the Best Guides for Technology Upgrades

Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday, the Coventina Circle website went live. You can visit here. I’m happy with it. I’ve still got more material to upload in the coming weeks, but I think it has interesting information to keep readers and potential readers engaged in the content of the books.

PLAYING THE ANGLES went off to the publisher yesterday; I’ll have final galleys coming soon, and then, we’re off!

I also built my author page on the publisher’s website. It needs some more work, but there’s a good start.

I tried to get a new assignment from the publication I want to leave, since I’d like some overlap, but there weren’t any available. Not only that, but I haven’t had any response from the past three I’ve requested. AND, when I look in the payroll status, one assignment is in the queue for payment and the other two are listed as “Maybe”. Maybe? No. I did the work; therefore I will be paid. This waiting two months or more to “decide” to pay me isn’t working.

On the upside, the material for the new publication I’m “auditioning” for — with a paid assignment — arrived. I’m eager to dig in and turn it around quickly for editor feedback, so I can learn the publication’s quirks. I also like that they pay on the 5th of the month for every assignment completed the previous months. That’s the kind of place for which I like to work. So fingers crossed I do well on the audition and land the gig long-term!

I had to get a new phone. It’s a better make and model, with more storage, and the capacity to expand storage. I had to go to the local mall to get it, not my favorite thing to do. I went to the big Best Buy in the mall. It’s staffed by young guys who descended like locusts to “help”. Sadly, they didn’t listen to a thing I said about what I wanted and needed, and kept pushing phones on me that I had no intention of buying.

Honey, I do my research BEFORE I arrive. Also, when you don’t even let me finish a sentence, and run right over top of what I’m saying with what YOU want — doesn’t work for me. I am the customer. I am not the most tech-savvy person on the planet, but I have a good idea of what I want, what I need, and my budget. I do my homework. I expect you to LISTEN to what I have to say and RESPOND to the information I just shared, not ignore it.

So I walked out, without buying anything.

I went to the smaller store in the mall, also a Best Buy, but a Best Buy mobile. One of the female crew members came to help me. She listened. We had a discussion. She explained a couple of things to me and gave me information I did not have before (and appreciated). She helped me pick out the phone, got ALL my information transferred (last time I switched phones, the guy just shrugged and moved the SIM card; the rest was up to me, and I wound up losing all my contacts and all my photos on the other phone). When I said, “This is the way I need X, Y, Z set up,” she showed me how to do it, instead of what the guys do, which is shrug and say, “can’t do it” because they don’t feel like it.

It took awhile, but everything got done, and it looks like I have a piece of equipment that will actually meet my needs, which is the whole point of buying it. I don’t need toys; I need technology that works for me.

Changing technology is always stressful for me, and, as relieved as I was to have it done, I also came down with a migraine. We have company coming in, so I’m also doing a big houseclean (I’m thinking of it as a headstart on my fall cleaning).

I wrote in my head quite a bit, so hopefully, today, I can get it on the page.

I ordered toner for the laser printer, too, so that should arrive today.

Already did two major dump runs, one for household garbage, one for recycling. Chop wood, carry water. Makes the writing more relevant and visceral.

Wed. Aug. 9, 2017: Building & Happiness

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy day yesterday. Early morning errands and bill paying, including a major grocery shop. I love grocery shopping. I love looking at what’s fresh and in season, and, because I cook, I can make up recipes as I shop.

Built two websites yesterday, one for the Coventina Circle series and one for the Nautical Namaste series. They’re not live yet; I want to get most of the material on the site before I send it live.

At first, it looked like the host wouldn’t let me build any more without yet another fee, but then I figured out how to do it. As usual, customer disservice was useless.

I’m happy with the look of both sites, although I need to wrangle the graphics on the Nautical Namaste site a bit more.

Finished the last piece of backmatter for the PLAYING THE ANGLES manuscript. One more major proofread, and off it goes. I need to get it out the door before Mercury goes retrograde! I have to change a few links, since I directed readers to the web PAGE for the Coventina Circle series on the Devon Ellington site, whereas now they will go to the web SITE dedicated to the series. And I’ve got some fun stuff going on the site, too!

I had a lovely wine/cheese/gab session with someone yesterday afternoon. Good catch-up. And, for dinner, baked chicken with Thai sweet chili, basil, and garlic, along with mashed potatoes and spinach. Yummy! And I baked chocolate chip cookies, because I wanted to.

It was nice to spend a few hours relaxed and happy after the unrelenting stress of the past few months.

Today, it’s getting the manuscript out the door, uploading more material to the Coventina Circle website, getting in cat food, and probably buying a new phone.

I’ve been having trouble with this phone for months now. It’s constantly telling me I’m “running out of internal storage”. I’ve taken out almost all the apps; I have about 11 emails in my inbox. And it keeps “running out of storage”. That’s because the manufacturer, BLU, is trying to force me to buy a more expensive phone. I may well do that, but it won’t be from this company. It stopped letting me take photos months ago, claiming there wasn’t any room; and the camera isn’t anywhere near as good as it was on the other phone. The other phone wasn’t very good, either (Alcatel), and I won’t buy another of those. BLU was useful in the transition from T-Mobile to AT&T. T-Mobile was a crap carrier; AT&T serves my needs much better. But this particular phone causes me grief on a daily basis. I need a smart phone for email and to do internet research. I never TALK on the phone — my hyperaccusis makes it painful. I don’t do business by phone. But I need something reliable for email and social media, and so I can look things up when I write. So I’m off to hunt down a new, affordable

And it all needs to happen before Mercury turns retrograde, or I’m really screwed.

I’m still not back into a good writing rhythm, but I hope to get that handled later today.

“Labor Intensive”, SAVASANA AT SEA, and SPIRIT REPOSITORY are the priorities here.

Onward.

Tues. Aug. 8, 2017: Small Victories Pave the Way

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Last Day of Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Got out a short story and a couple of pitches yesterday. The medium-sized late payment (not the big one that’s nearly two months late) arrived, so yesterday afternoon and today is a flurry of catching up on bills. Also had a small victory with one of the insurance companies.  One down, three to go!

My web host is placating me for the moment — I now have the ability to build more subdomains, and I can still pay quarterly. I’m going to see how it goes for the next three months (since I’m paying this week). I’m still interviewing other hosts, But it also means I can build the subdomains for the Coventina Circle Paranormal Romantic Suspense books and for the Nautical Namaste books.

I came up with some fun stuff for the websites, and a couple of good things for the tour giveaway.

I worked on the final piece of back matter for PLAYING THE ANGLES, so I can get that darned thing out the door, but it needs some more work. I’m hoping if I dig in today, I can get the manuscript out to the publisher by tomorrow or Thursday, and then, once I clear it with them, book the release tour.

The paperwork arrived for my mother’s upcoming surgery. There’s a lot of it, unfortunately. Not too happy about that. The surgery itself will take five to six hours. Not happy about that, either. But it is what it is.

This morning is all about errands and starting the new series websites. This afternoon is about finishing the back matter for PLAYING THE ANGLES and doing yet another proofread so it can go out; if I can, I need to do more work on an essay, work on a pitch package that needs to go out by mail, and do work on both THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY and THE FIX-IT GIRL. AND “Labor Intensive”. However, I have the feeling some of that will wind up bumped over to tomorrow.

I think I’ve figured out how to get “Labor Intensive” back on track. I’m lightening the plot a bit, and getting the tone right, but not losing some of the social prejudices I had in the darker version.

The cover is a problem, though. Fireworks seem more like July 4th, but there are fireworks in the story. I don’t have much time to come up with the cover — or finish and edit the story. It needs to drop at the end of the month. But I’ll figure it out. Somehow, I always do.

I also have to get the big fall cleaning started — yes, even though it’s only August. I’m trying to do it in little bits every day, once I finish my writing quota, rather than putting aside days to do big bits. We’ll see how that works.

It’s raining, so no yard work today. I can practically watch the grass growing. As soon as the weather clears up, there will be yet more mowing in my future.

Second day of a migraine, but at least I can fit into my favorite pair of jeans again. I’ve lost weight, which is a good thing. I’m not completely down to what I consider my ideal weight — I may never reach it again, but I look and feel better. And my clothes fit again.

Which is why I think those “organizers” who tell you to purge everything the minute you need a different size are full of crap. I’m convinced that most “professional” organizers are in league with stores to try to get their clients to spend as much money as possible, instead of making use of what they have.

Anyway, there’s a lot on the agenda today, so I better get moving! Trader Joe’s grocery run starts the day, along with putting some gas in the tank.

Mon. Aug. 7, 2017: Working is My Rest

Monday, August 7, 2017
Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I feel better after cutting myself a break for the weekend. I rested a lot on Friday, and read — I’m reading a lot of Maggie Shayne’s work lately, and learning from it. Also reading Christopher Isherwood’s diaries, which are interesting, and doing my 1940s New York research (or, I should say, more research, from a different angle on the same decade).

It was nice enough to do some reading/writing outside on the deck, and I even managed some yard work (although no mowing). The Rose of Sharon is blooming beautifully, as are the geraniums, begonias, and mums — the mums are a bit early, in my opinion. We’ll have a decent tomato harvest, with three different varieties. This morning, we had an entire family of bunnies chomping on the dandelions in the back, and a blue jay taking a bath in the fresh water I put in the birdbath.

Worked on notes for the Coventina Circle series, and for some short pieces. Reworked an essay to slant to another market — I need to do another pass, to go a bit deeper, and out it goes.

Researched some other markets, and dismissed several as not being the type of market to which I want to pitch. I’m not going to pay a membership fee for the “privilege” of pitching — either you’re a professional publication that hires professional writers, or you’re a membership enclave where people pay you to be published. I’m not interested in the latter. Nor am I interested in embedding links to previous articles on your site in order to have an article published. I disagree with the ethics of both those positions. While it’s not up to me to make decisions on someone else’s website, as a “Free Lance”, I get to decide where I do and don’t pitch. Both of the above situations are a no-go for me.

Found another market for which I’d really like to write — a bit more academically-slanted than I usually do, but a good stretch. It will take me a couple of weeks to put together the pitch packet, though.

Have at least one, maybe two short stories that will go out today.

Debating on whether or not to pitch to a company — I like what they do, but don’t particularly like the employees of theirs I’ve dealt with. Not sure that would be the right situation.

Another project is going in a different direction, so we decided not to work together. I was having second thoughts about the whole enterprise, so it’s a relief.

The information in the public statements about the shooting a block away and what I see happening at the house are two different things. I’d like to think they’re merely being thorough in the investigation; however, I doubt they’ll ever tell us what really happened — or catch the shooter.

Got a good bit of work done on the draft of THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY — about nine chapters. About half of each chapter is new material, so it was a good bit of writing. I’m deepening the atmosphere and the sensory detail and finding ways to weave together seemingly disparate plot threads. I’m happy with the progress. I want to get back into a daily rhythm with it, so it can release on time in May 2018.

I also have to get back into a daily rhythm with SAVASANA AT SEA this week — since its release date is this November! Most of it is rearranging material, “uncutting” the cuts that took the heart out of it, and doing some restructuring that keeps the fresh voice, but also keeps the plot moving. Pace and energy are important here.

What would have been a good night’s sleep was disrupted by some moron at 3 AM sitting in his car and revving the engine for 15 minutes. Hey, if you have to leave early, go ahead. Put the key in the ignition and drive off. But do NOT sit and rev the engine until the whole neighborhood is awake, and then peel out of your driveway with the tires screeching. Not cool at all.

Found out the insurance company lied to me. No surprise there, but it means more battles this week.

Already did an early morning grocery shop to avoid the damn tourists. Lots to do today, so I better get moving!

Fri. Aug. 4, 2017: Resting, Reading, Prep to Write

Friday, August 4, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy/sunny/humid

Saturn goes direct tomorrow, thank goodness. It’s been quite the ride.

A stop at the firehouse (those guys are great), some time at the library. Got my new pitch out, and some other work done. It looks like the two contacts I wanted to get in touch with each other will work. That’s good, and it’s nice to be back in touch with someone who was important to that period of my life.

It looks like I have a minor victory with one of the insurance companies. I won’t believe it until I have the signed paperwork in my possession. Too often, they lie and then, when it comes to legal, written commitment, reverse themselves. But if they’re telling the truth, it takes some immediate pressure off.

The adrenalin wore off and I crashed hard. Slept part of the afternoon; read the rest. Got a little bit of work done on the backmatter; will finish it this weekend and send it off.

Feeling a little better this morning, although I was plagued with weird dreams last night. Have to pick up some library books that came in, for research, but will give myself a break for most of the day to recharge.

There’s writing that needs to be written this weekend, but if I’m dead on my feet, my brain won’t work properly either. Best to rest first and then do it well.

Isherwood’s diaries inspired an idea for a new piece. I took some character notes. It will take a lot of research, but it could be fun. We’ll see. I don’t want to overbook myself, but I don’t want to reject a good, viable idea, either.

The shooting WAS at the house I suspected. Not a surprise at all. I feel bad, though, because they’ve been trying to get their act together the last few months. The guy was shot five times. They’re still not giving out much information.

Errands and some rest today. Back to the page tomorrow.

Have a GREAT weekend!

Published in: on August 4, 2017 at 8:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Thurs. Aug. 3, 2017: Too Much Drama, Too Many Guns

Thursday, August 3, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Too much drama, too many guns.

On the positive side: I got hired for a freelance gig I really, really wanted. Flexible hours, steady work, steady monthly pay with regular chances for promotion. They offered me the gig yesterday morning, I accepted, did the paperwork, got my first assignment.

Once I get the rhythm set with this new job, I can give notice at the other freelance gig I’ve held for the last few months that has given me nothing but grief. I was “hired” quickly, but it was over a month before my first assignment, and there’s a delay in payment by two months. Additionally, I am regularly asked to compromise my ethics. In small ways, but I believe digging away at the small stuff leads to bigger stuff. I spend too much time uncomfortable and/or frustrated. I knew I couldn’t stay much longer; at least this means I can both replace and increase the lost income.

A pitch I sent to a new-to-me publication was rejected, but nicely. In fact, the editor was intrigued by a throw-away line in my credits and asked for a pitch built around that. The new pitch goes out today.

An historian whose work I like and respect a lot put out a call for sources for an article he’s working on. I immediately thought of someone I knew years ago, who I thought would have an interesting perspective. She’s still alive (thank goodness — sad we have to check that first, isn’t it?) I’m trying to get updated contact information, remind her how we know each other, and set up a virtual introduction. I think she’d find his work interesting, and he’d find her a good source.

I have one more piece of back matter, an article on theatre ghosts, that I hope to finish today, and then PLAYING FOR ANGLES can go to my editor!

On the frustrating side, I’m dealing with far too many insurance companies right now. Does HR intentionally hire the least competent, least intelligent, most likely to commit acts of willful cruelty, or is that just the type of individual who seeks work in the industry? That’s been my personal experience since I started temping and was sent to insurance agencies back in high school, not to mention dealing with them. The only exception is the guy in my hometown who handled my mother’s car insurance for over 30 years. He was actually smart, compassionate, and had integrity.

Still having trouble with the web host. I’ve put together a document that’s almost a questionnaire that I will submit to the web hosts that SEEM to offer what I need. Their answers will have a lot to do with which company I move my business.

I’m reading Christopher Isherwood’s diaries. I realized I know ABOUT him (after all, his play I AM A CAMERA was the basis for CABARET), but I don’t actually know his work directly. There’s a great passage about LA haunted by the ghosts of failure that I copied out, and there’s also a lot of talk about impending WWII (the diaries begin in 1939). The way history is taught in school, I had the impression that the US basically ignored the war until Pearl Harbor. Of course, it was far more complicated than that, and it’s interesting to read the first hand accounts, especially when actual dialogue’s been recorded. Yes, diaries filter through a subjective point of view, but such a personal viewpoint of world-changing events is both fascinating and necessary.

We watched TO WALK INVISIBLE, the drama about the Brontes, which was interesting and well-done.

However, during that, came the scary stuff: we heard something we assumed were yet more idiots setting off illegal fireworks, which happens a couple of times a week in the neighborhood.

They were gunshots.

I didn’t know that until this morning. I SHOULD have — I know enough about guns, and I should be able to discern the difference between a gunshot and fireworks. Yet another example of dangerous assumptions. But a few minutes after the quick succession of noises, a quartet of helicopters with search lights hovered over the neighborhood. So low I was worried they’d tangle in the trees.

I posted on social media, asking about it. A friend a couple of miles down the street had heard about a police car involved in a major crash while en route to respond to report of shots fired a few miles away in the next town over. We figured it was probably that. As an aside, I believe that’s the third police vehicle involved in a MAJOR accident while responding to a call in a month around here.

I knew I wouldn’t get any answers if I called the police — it’s not NY, nor do I have the contacts here that I had there. I considered calling the fire department, but decided not to. The helicopters hovered for about a half hour, and then there was that eerie silence that rolls in after a commotion.

We locked the doors early last night, just in case.

I woke up at 4. Something that sounded like it was out of a horror movie was on the deck — nails clattering, vocally chattering, skittering around. It was a drawn out, high-pitched, single-note call, followed by a series of short, staccato sounds over about an octave’s range (still pretty high). I was actually more scared of that then the possibility of a gun-toting moron with a sub-par IQ. No, I did not go out and investigate. I sincerely hope I never hear that again — although I’m sure I’ll use it in a book at some point. I checked the deck this morning, but couldn’t figure out what it was. The older cat slept right through it (she slept through the gunshots, too). The younger cat wasn’t going anywhere near the doors or windows. I decided to pay attention to her instincts. Whatever it was, it was not friendly.

The morning news feed had the news of a shooting — a BLOCK AWAY FROM THE HOUSE. Not many details, but this was definitely NOT the shooting to which my friend referred. Too many morons with guns out there. Two incidents, around the same time, about three miles apart. One of which was way too close to my home for comfort. I’m pretty sure I know which house — there are only 3 on the block mentioned in the article. I’m going to drive by this morning. If it is them, I’m not surprised, but I am angry. If it’s the house on either side, I’ll be worried.

I’m exhausted and on edge this morning. I’ll do what I need to do this morning (which includes a visit to the fire station to find out what the HELL was going on last night), get out some pitches, hopefully finish the article so I can do a final proof and send out ANGLES tomorrow, and then nap.

Or I might send out my pitches and nap before I try to do a final proofread. I’ll miss less that way.

Onward.

Wed. Aug. 2, 2017: Website Woes and the Cost of Choosing an Unreliable Host

Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and humid

Yesterday wound up being an up-and-down day. The “up” parts were the rituals, morning and evening, for Lammas.

The “down” was, of course, the webhost failing me yet again on cover release day. 1&1.com simply does not provide the services for which they charge. It’s not that I don’t know HOW to code or use the tools; it’s that they too often don’t work. They were the wrong choice for me, and I’ve paid a high, high price, both financially and otherwise. When I sat down and figured the fiscal losses caused by their unreliability, I was shocked. With Mercury Retrograde coming up this month, I can’t change yet, but, since they are not interested in providing the services for which I pay, I will HAVE to change before the end of the year. With major book releases coming in October, November, and January, this has to be addressed, and timed so the website isn’t down at crucial times.

Of course, today, the website is just as bad as yesterday. This time, it let me make SOME of the changes on the page, but it doesn’t show up when I load, or refresh. So I had to try to re-submit the changes – which had vanished, even though they were saved. And this time, the coding wouldn’t take AT ALL.

List of woes:

–Webhost is unreliable. At least a third of the time (often more) I try to get in to either the website to update or to any of the emails to check mail, et al, the website is down and can’t be used. Since I have short windows when I can do this work, I need to be able to access the website and the email when I need to, not when they happen to feel like allowing it. I’m paying for access 24/7, not for once a week between allocated hours that they don’t reveal. When I ask what’s going on, virtual shrugging and saying, “Yeah, we were down; too bad” is not okay. You’re paid enough by enough people to be up more than you’re down.

–Tools don’t work. I can change the coding or use the tools until I’m ready to scream, and the page sits there, unchanged. Once in awhile, a tool will work for MAYBE 5 minutes. Then I have to save, log out, go to a different browser, log back in, and maybe the tool will work for another five minutes, or maybe that’s it for the day. The longest I’ve been able to do any work on a website without the site going into complete failure is 15 minutes. That is NOT okay. I should be able to do whatever work I need to do on the site for however long it takes me to do it. Doesn’t matter which browser is used, and it’s not my computer. I’ve used a variety of computers to check, a variety of browsers, and it’s always the same problem. I don’t have this issue when I do client work for anyone who has ANY other host.  1&1 claims this is for “security.”  Um, no.  It’s a lack of your platform working.

–Their customer service is non-existent. I don’t care where their technicians are located. I DO care that they refuse to explain anything properly. Their “customer service” and “technicians” are not as bad as those who work for Dell. My only experience with Dell’s customer service personnel is that they are sexist, misogynist pigs who make demeaning comments to me as a woman and about women. Dell’s response to any request for help was met with “women in my country don’t make demands” and “I decide whether or not you get help. Not you.” Honey, you’re working for an AMERICAN company who charges AMERICAN dollars. You treat women like people or you should be fired. As a customer paying for a service, it is the customer service representative’s job to treat me with respect and fulfill my needs. I’m not asking for anything out of bounds; I am asking that I get the services for which I pay, and to be treated with respect. To be fair, though, Dell had the worst and most abusive technicians and “customer service” personnel with which I’ve ever dealt. One of the reasons I no longer do business with them. That and the fact that their products fail the day after the warranty runs out.

–Supposedly, I can have “unlimited” subdomains. Yet if I want to actually build any more of them, I have to pay an additional monthly fee.

–Supposedly, again, I can build all the additional projects I want by uploading ftp files. Only they won’t give me the access code so I can upload them.

—-Supposedly, they support WordPress platforms. Supposedly, that is part of my package. Yet, if I actually want to use said platforms, you guessed it — an additional monthly fee.

–Supposedly, I have a “business” package which allows me to use marketing tools and to have things like a “Buy Now” button for Paypal. Only if I try to add such buttons or use the tools, I am suddenly charged an additional monthly fee. That monthly fee, to put a “Buy Now” button on my site, is double the quarterly fee for all the sites combined.

–My fees regularly go up, and the package terms change from week-to-week. Hosting contracts normally run for a year, unless you sign on for a multi-year agreement, and then are renewed every year. The agreement I made was that each contract would run for a year, paid quarterly. Now, they are changing the terms week-to-week, and charging me a higher fee every month. This is in addition to telling me there is an extra monthly charge every time I want to use a tool that is supposedly part of my package. Those are NOT the terms to which I agreed. I like paying quarterly. I’d like it even better if I actually got the services for which I paid.

–I have approached customer disservice multiple times about these issues. In return, I get flippant, demeaning, and inappropriate replies. Not acceptable. It’s time for me to hunt down the executive office’s contact information (I believe it’s in Germany), and to also get the Attorney General and the FCC involved. Not that I think there will be much support from the FCC, with its current governance.

Certain parts of my package are held hostage, and I can’t figure out how to release them. Otherwise, I would have left ages ago.

I’m more tech savvy now than I was before. I’ve found a way to enjoy technology, and, let’s face it, every profession has to evolve, or it dies. I still can’t get at everything I want, but I’m getting better. And, once I’ve done a technology upgrade on some of my home equipment, the research I’m doing on new webhosts will pay off, and I’ll move EVERYTHING. Probably slowly, one site at a time. The Devon Ellington site will be the most difficult, because it is the most complex, with the most subdomains. But it’s necessary.

What I need in a new webhost:

–Reliability. I need to be able to access what I need to access WHEN I need to access it.

–Customer Service. When I ask a question and say I need the steps laid out in writing, do it. Don’t argue. Don’t make rude comments about the fact I’m a woman. Don’t tell me that I have to do things YOUR way. I am the PAYING customer, and YOU are supposed to serve the customer. Period.

–Wordpress platforms. I am the most comfortable working on WordPress. While I appreciate the simpler website builders, and while, with enough time and no interruptions, I CAN code from scratch now (thanks to tutelage of wonderful people like Colin Galbraith, et al), WordPress is my comfort zone.

–A reasonable price that is stable for at least a year, and doesn’t double or triple the following year. I’m not a rich corporate client. I am a freelancer. I believe in paying for service. I shop around, and have to choose the package that gives me what I need for the price I can afford. But once I do that, I expect to get the service for which I pay.

I don’t think that’s unreasonable. I pay X fee for the services listed; I thereby get those services for which I paid.

If you have any suggestions for reliable, reasonably priced webhosts with good customer service, I’d love suggestions. I’ve heard good things about Bluehost. I’m also looking at Fat Cow and Host Gator. GoDaddy is NOT an option. Can’t stand them. I’m putting together a list of what I need, and I’m sending it to the hosts that seem to offer those types of packages, so that I get a response IN WRITING that, if I switch to them, they commit to providing what is promised. We’ll see how that works.

On to other things:

I’m working on August’s To Do list, but it’s not ready yet.

On today’s agenda, however, is work on the essay, work on the back matter for PLAYING THE ANGLES, planning the social media posts between now and then for the release, and working on “Labor Intensive.”

So I better get to it, now that I’ve got my litany of complaints against my webhost up! 😉