Fri. Feb. 23, 2018: Positive Web Host Adventures (For a Change)

Friday, February 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

They told us it would be snowing and raining on Cape this morning, so I changed my off-Cape appointment, and now it’s beautiful. Cold, but beautiful. How annoying.

Yesterday was a lousy day, writing-wise. I could not make SPIRIT REPOSITORY work. The deadline looming doesn’t help, and I feel like I’m chasing my own tail. At the same time, POWER OF WORDS is singing its siren song to me. But I can’t do anything until I have the contracted work back on track.

On the positive side, I got a lot of work done on both the Devon Ellington Work site and the Coventina Circle site. I figured out WHY there’s a problem on the landing page of the DE site, but not how to fix it. At least I cleaned it up! I also realized I had to add an “anthology page” for the anthologies in which I’m included. I realized there’s quite a bit of my work out there — I’ve had a decent output. It’s nice to see it all set out.

As I finish building the subdomains, I’ll have to keep tweaking some of the information on the links, but, for the most part, the DE site is done.

The Coventina Circle site is almost done. I have to tweak and upload the media kit for PLAYING THE ANGLES, and then it can go live.

I plan to do that work on both sites today, and then move on to building the Nautical Namaste site.

I still have to go back and do an article on the goddess Coventina and create the playbill for the show within PLAYING THE ANGLES, but at least there’s enough content to give readers something to enjoy. I have a feeling I can’t call it “playbill”, but have to call lit “show program.”

I’ll do as much as I can today, and then, the weekend is about SPIRIT REPOSITORY, not the websites. I’ll go back to work next week on the websites. I’m hoping I can go live with all the series subdomains by next week and start building Cerridwen’s Cottage, get that moved, get Fearless Ink up and moved on so on. And then, breathe a huge sigh of relief!

I have house-and-home stuff to do this weekend, too. Some yard work, if the weather holds, some errands across the bridge.

But most of the weekend is about finishing THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY.

And then, the primary focus shifts to MYTH & INTERPREATION, but I have to work on RELICS & REQUIEM in tandem with that. My editor and I talked about stripping MYTHS down quite a bit, which I think is a good idea. I still might overwrite some of it, but she pointed out where the tangents are derailing the story. Since MYTHS was a derail of BALTHAZAAR TREASURE in the first place, I don’t want to wander too far afield.

It’s a good kind of busy, and I’m trying to push other frustrations out of the way and focus on the work that gives me the most satisfaction and is the most career-building.

Have a great weekend!

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Thurs. Feb. 22, 2018: Stresses and Deadlines

Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018
Waxing Moon
Rainy and cold

Wacky weather.

Check out the latest post on Gratitude and Growth here. I’m trying to revive that blog, along with everything else.

I’m weary. There’s some stuff I can’t discuss publicly that has to be thought through and decisions made. It’s been a rough week. Especially since the bulk of the unpleasant chaos was unnecessary and caused by someone who is manipulative and a nasty piece of work.

On a happier note, the Devon Ellington Work site is coming along nicely. I’m pleased with the design; no muss, no fuss, easy to read. There are still a few glitches, some more material to add. But the host moved happened, and it’s just about ready to announce — once I figure out why the pages I trashed show up published under the home page!

I’m working my way through the emails, getting all the necessary accounts re-set, too.

The Coventina Circle site is also coming along well. It’s about halfway there, and should be ready for its live announcement in a few days. I’m building all the subdomains live, which is risky, but necessary.

Nautical Namaste, Gwen Finnegan, and Jain Lazarus all have temporary landing pages. I hope to have them finished next week, and then I’ll start on Cerridwen’s Cottage, get that moved, and then, last but not least, do Fearless Ink.

On a writing front, I’m frustrated with myself. I haven’t been pitching enough articles; I haven’t been sending enough LOIs; I am pushing to get THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY done on deadline, but I’m struggling.

Between the web host stress and difficulties on another front, I am worn out, physically and emotionally. But deadlines aren’t suggestions; they’re deadlines. So I’m pushing through. Once I get this book off my desk and to my editor, I’ll feel better.

Of course, then I’ll be focusing on MYTH & INTERPRETATION, and starting RELICS & REQUIEM. And finishing FIX-IT GIRL so it can go out on submission and getting back to NOT BY THE BOOK. But REPOSITORY must get the bulk of my writing attention now. I’m in the last few chapters. It’s just making them work, and picking up the pace.

We have some more cover discussion for SPIRIT, too, coming up.

Once the websites are live, then we can start putting our marketing ideas into play and get some promotion done on these books.

I found the photos for the special page on the Gwen Finnegan site, where I got inspirations for TRACKING MEDUSA. I’m excited, when I get to the point where I’m building that site, to put those up and share them.

Working steadily on the books submitted for the contest. I finished the first batch of mysteries, and I’m working on the fantasy genre now. I’m glad that the entries are so strong this year.

I’m looking forward to a productive few days, and then, maybe, maybe, just focusing on hearth and home issues this weekend!

Wed. Feb. 21, 2018: Web Host Stress & Writing

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Waxing Moon

The Tactile Muse finally has a new post up, about removing wax from fabric.

I’m finally back in the rhythm of THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and it feels good. This is why I love to work with a good editor. I’ve been lucky with most of my editors. There was the one who hated the word “said” and removed it from the manuscript (without replacing it or suggesting replacements) and was ready to turn it in to the publisher until I pitched a fit. But, other than that, most of my editors, especially when it comes to the books, have been great at spotting problems, helping me figure out solutions, and, overall, making the work better.

We’re galloping into the home stretch with SPIRIT REPOSITORY, which is a relief. I’ll be glad to get the manuscript off my desk and onto my editor’s.

The focus is on that rather than MYTH & INTERPRETATION this week, although I’m working on that book, too. And, as soon as REPOSITORY goes off to the editor, I open a new file, pull up a blank page, and start RELICS & REQUIEM. The life of a series writer.

Saturday, in particular, was a productive day. I wrote 2600 words on REPOSITORY. I did a partial clean out of my closet and did 8 loads of laundry. I removed wax from various cloths (see the latest post on The Tactile Muse for more information on how to do that). I put the watery-looking fabric back up over the fireplace (since I don’t have a mirror that fits, I put fabric that looks like it’s underwater up — good feng shui. Never, EVER put your TV up over the fireplace. Bad feng shui). I baked two loaves of spiced pear bread, a new-to-me recipe from a French cookbook. I read.

I also had a three hour argument with my old webhost, the awful 1&1.com. Take my advice and stay away from them. My new host told me to expect a confirmation email about the DevonEllingtonWork transfer at a particular address. An address I haven’t had for eight years, and that I changed when I moved with my old host. I went into my account — even though I’ve regularly updated my information with them for ICANN, they had old information listed. Now, I’ve updated the information multiple times over the EIGHT YEARS since I moved. And, when the registration renewal document is sent to me, it’s correct on that. But it’s wrong in the information supposedly submitted to ICANN. Which makes no sense at all. So I updated it, and then they told me the domain was “locked” for 60 days and I couldn’t move off the host because I entered a “new registrant.” No, you fucking dumbasses, I’m the same person. I entered the correct information that’s been entered regularly FOR EIGHT YEARS, you incompetent jackassses. Now, 1 & 1 is notorious for not letting people move off the host.

I ripped them a new one, and I filed a complaint with ICANN directly.

Supposedly, the lock is off the site and it can move. We will see.

Of course, it doesn’t work. 1&1 blames A2; A2 blames 1&1.

It seems to FINALLY be resolved. The Devon Ellington Work site is on the new host, but it still needs some work. I will make an announcement when I feel it’s ready for visitors.

As soon as the DE site goes live, I have to go in and customize permalinks and add the links so it can move smoothly between the pages on the site. That will take some time. Then, I rebuild the subdomains for each series, one at a time, and I do so live, which is a risk, but will be quicker than the temp link and then switching it.

One the sites for the Coventina Circle, Nautical Namaste, Gwen Finnnegan Mysteries, and Hex Breaker go live again, I’ll set up a temporary URL for Fearless Ink, reload what I built when I tried to move it last time, switch the link back to the permanent link, and then initiate that transfer. I’ll do the same last, but not least, for Cerridwen’s Cottage. It won’t all be done by the end of this month, unfortunately (I wanted to demand some of the quarterly fee back), but maybe I can get it done by next month. I’m thinking I might move Cerridwen’s Cottage first. I have to see if I can get any of the damn sites moved, if any of these hosts WILL DO THEIR DAMNED JOBS.

I am sure 1&1 will create yet more ridiculous obstacles. I wish I’d had the courage to leave them years ago. Thank goodness I learned how to build and work in WordPress, even if I can’t do the fancy stuff. Once everything is on the new host, I think my life will be much easier, at least as far as my web life goes!

On Sunday, I wrote more, again on SPIRIT REPOSITORY. Another 2600 words.

I also finished taking down the February/winter decorations and putting up some of the spring decorations (switching out fabrics on tables, etc). I have the heart off the front door, and the shamrocks up on it. The Ostara/Easter stuff will go up after St. Patrick’s Day.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around Easter and April Fool’s Day being the same day.

Monday, I was onsite with a client. No President’s Day holiday for me! And spent most of the day fighting with both 1&1 and A2.

Fortunately, I had written 3000 words on SPIRIT REPOSITORY in the morning, before the frustration resumed. That’s one of the worst parts of the webhost problems — not only are both these hosts interfering with my ability to earn a living (in addition to trying to extort additional money from me), they interfere with my creativity. The unnecessary stress they put me under by not doing the jobs for which they are paid make it difficult for me to create. But I have a deadline coming up, and I have to push through.

Yesterday, I was also onsite with a client. After I’d woken up at 5 AM because I was so upset about the webhosting issues I couldn’t sleep.

But at least I got a good chunk of SPIRIT REPOSITORY done on both days. Yesterday was more of a struggle, due to the webhost stress.

But I’m exhausted.

I’m also furious about the refusal of Congress to pass reasonable gun reform because they’re paid not to. I’m disgusted by Congress, and by the idiots on the right who are criticizing kids who saw their friends and classmates die. Kids who have the guts to stand up for more than adults ever have.

I know several people who own guns. Some of them hunt for food. They do not have automatic weapons. In fact, most of the hunters I know are bow hunters. They are responsible and eat what they hunt. They are careful to keep their weapons locked up when not in use. They understand that they have a responsibility to the community around them by owning and using these weapons.

The gun owners I know who go around thumping their chests about their rights to gun ownership aren’t smart enough to own guns, or responsible enough. Listen to any of them talk for five minutes, and you don’t want them owning a gun, because they are not capable of intelligent, responsible decisions. They want the rush of knowing they can end a life. They claim it’s for “protection,” but it’s easy to see through both the lies and the delusion. It’s about having power over someone else’s life. Having a power they do not have the right to have and for which they do not have the intelligence, ethics, or responsibility to act appropriately.

In the meantime, while I’m fighting on those fronts, I have to waste time and energy fighting with webhosts. Which in the scheme of the bigger picture means little, but in my personal universe, is huge.

I can walk into a store or a gun show and walk out with a weapon no civilian should be allowed to own faster than I can most a WEBSITE. It’s ridiculous.

At least the first hurdle, webhost-wise, seems to be handled, and I’m fixing the DE site, and building the subdomains. When that is done, in a week or so, I’ll start working on the Cerridwen’s Cottage and Fearless Ink sites.

Fingers crossed!

 

Tues. Feb. 20, 2018: Day By Day

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Waxing Moon

Tuesdays have become a difficult day on which to post, for some reason. Hopefully, I can work out the difficulties in the coming weeks. So forgive me when they don’t always make it up.

Busy weekend.

The Devon Ellington Work site is moving; so that site and the sites for each of the series are dark. The DE site will go live again first, and there will be a Series Page with information and links for each series. Then, one by one, each subdomain will go back live as I rebuild it, over the coming weeks. Hopefully, I’m not shooting myself in the foot with this. But I feel like I can’t do effective promotions until the sites are up and good. It’s pointless to try to promote when I can’t even post book covers on the old site.

I’ve got some ideas for some fun promotions coming up; let’s hope I can do them.

Dug in to both THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY and MYTH & INTERPRETATION this weekend, so I feel better about where I am with those. Got a little bit of work done on FIX-IT GIRL, so I don’t feel as though I’ve completely abandoned that.

POWER OF WORDS is pulling at me again, which is always worrying, as is DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I’ve found a couple of places to which I want to submit the latter, but I want to do one more pass on it and make some cuts. There are three small publishers I think would be interested. I don’t like putting everything with one publisher. Much as I loved Amber Quill, when they closed their doors, I was in trouble. Much as I love working with Bluestockings and Gentlemen Press, they are small and just starting out, and I don’t want to get into the same predicament.

Day by day, right? That’s all I can do, is work day by day. Do the best work I can, make the most informed decisions I can, and hope for the best.

 

Mon. Feb. 19, 2018: “Be Kind To Your Mind” #UpbeatAuthors

The topic today is “Be Kind to Your Mind.”

I find that works in multiple parts.

Meditation
The first part has to do with making the time for meditation. Quiet time, to “just sit” and let the detritus of the day drop away is vital to mental health. When I find myself unable to concentrate, it’s usually because I haven’t taken the time to meditate.

I meditate every morning, after my yoga session. I started adding an additional meditation at night, right before bed. It’s helped my sleep patterns. Nights I don’t meditate, I tend to wake up around 1 or 3, my head filled with worries about the past day or the coming day, have trouble falling asleep again, and then struggle the next day. Nights when I stick to my meditation schedule, I can usually sleep through until about 5:30. I usually get up around 5:30 or 6 anyway.

Mindfulness
Studies prove “multi-tasking” is both a myth and detrimental. I’d rather do one thing well than five things half-assed. This is especially true when I write. I need quiet; if I have music on, it’s music without lyrics. I NEVER have TV or a DVD on when I write or edit. I can always tell when a student does that; I can usually even tell which program was on, or what was listened to. It infects the text.

Be kind to your mind by doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. You will do it well, you will complete it more quickly, and you might even enjoy it.

Instead of Negative Self-Talk, Positive Action
The other part of being kind to your mind is to stop the negative self-talk. Stop beating yourself up for a thoughtless comment or a mistake. When you make a thoughtless comment or a mistake, apologize and move on. Make sure it’s a genuine apology, without qualifiers. “I’m sorry IF I upset you” is NOT an apology. It’s not taking responsibility. “I’m sorry I upset you” is an apology. No excuses. An attempt to make it right.

“I’m sorry I made a mistake. I will be more careful moving forward.” In most work situations, that suffices. You and your supervisor or co-worker can build on that.

Also, stop qualifying when you say “no.” If someone asks you to do something and you say “no,” you don’t have to explain why, or flounder to come up with an explanation you think will be acceptable to the person you refused. You said “no.” That’s enough. If pushed, just remind that person, “I don’t have to explain. I said no.”

When someone criticizes you or blindsides you, yes, it hurts. It’s upsetting. Admit your feelings, to yourself if not to anyone else. Don’t repress them. “Yes, this person hurt me.” “Yes, I am angry.” Your feelings are your feelings.

Then, break down the feelings. Was the criticism justified? Is it something you want/need to address? Who is this person in your life? Someone important? Someone you need to remain cordial with? Someone who really doesn’t matter (such as an online troll)? Figure out the person’s place in your universe. If necessary, ex-communicate them from it. There’s nothing wrong with ending associations with toxic people.

If it’s justified criticism, and it’s something you need to address, admit your anger and upset, and then figure out why the criticism is justified and what you want to do about it. Do you need to think before you speak? Do you need to adjust your attitude in a certain situation? Are you behaving in a toxic way to others and it’s time to change? Figure it out and then take action.

Once you’ve made a decision and acted on it, you can stop replaying the incident over and over in your mind. Forgive yourself. Forgive the other. Move on and work on living a better life.

New Experiences/Artist Dates
Another way to be kind to your mind is to experience new things. Don’t just go to work and go home and turn on the TV. Read a book by a new-to-you author. Check a DVD out of the library of a type of movie you hardly ever watch. Pull up your local events calendar. Libraries often have programs free to the public. Art galleries have receptions for new shows, free to the public. At least once a week, go out and do something out of your ordinary schedule. As awful as the news is right now, find a trustworthy news source (not just one that reinforces what you already think, but one that shows multiple, well-sourced facets of a situation) and keep up. Let yourself do something fun and silly that you don’t usually do. Take a class. Play miniature golf. Go on a garden tour. Visit the small, local museum you drive by on the way to work. Volunteer at the nature sanctuary to help them put in a butterfly garden. Work in your own garden — without your phone nearby. Just take an hour and work in the garden, focusing on each task you do as though it’s the only task in the world.

Julia Cameron calls this an “Artist Date.” Many of her techniques don’t work for me, but this one does. She suggests doing your Artist Date alone. If you’re constantly surrounded by people, that’s great. It helps you hear your own inner voice and figure out your responses. But for many writers, who spend the bulk of their time alone (or with the myriad of characters that exist in our heads), a mix of solo Artist Dates and Artist Dates with people you don’t see often works better.

Get Rid of the Phrase “Guilty Pleasures”
I do not feel guilt in my pleasures. I don’t care if other people like them or approve of them or laugh at them. As long as they don’t hurt anyone, they are MINE, and I revel in my pleasure.

Keep a Journal
One of the best ways I’m kind to my mind is to keep a journal. Yes, there’s this blog, which talks about my process and how I try to integrate writing and life, and how they influence each other. But I also keep a private, handwritten journal where I am free to say anything. I can be my best self. I can also be my worst self and then work my way back to a better self without inflicting harm on anyone else. I can work out what I really think and feel about things that upset me, and figure out the actions I can take to live a better life, a life that inflicts as little harm as possible on those around me and on the environment.

Integrate
Keeping up the meditation practice WHILE you do these other actions becomes a self-supporting loop. It’s a step toward a more holistic life.

 

Fri. Feb. 16, 2018: More Website Building Adventures & Digging in To Write

Friday, February 16, 2018
Waxing Moon
Rainy and mild

Busy day yesterday. Not enough writing done, but when is there?

The mid-month check-in is up on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site.

The Devon Ellington website is ready to move. There are tweaks I’ll have to do as soon as the site goes live, especially when it comes to creating custom perma-links. But the text and the look work for me. I mean, I kind of wish I could do a slight parchment color on the background, so the text isn’t against something so white, but I’m not quite savvy enough or confident enough to change the CSS script to do it. Not yet, anyway!

So now, I go into my pHp admin, change the links from the temporary building URL, and then dig in to my old webhost to try and point the site to the new address.

It’s also a case of creating the email addresses on the new site, and then setting up the subdomains for each series. I already put the pinned posts up on the various Facebook pages for each series to let them know that the old sites will be dark while the new sites are built.

I rebuilt the Devon Ellington Work site on a temporary URL, so I could test and tweak as I built and gain confidence. The subdomains, one for each series, will be built live. Yes, that’s a risk, but it’s easier (I think) than creating a temporary URL for each of them and then moving it. We’ll see, right?

I hope the site move will happen over the weekend, so I can start building the subdomains next week. I’d like to get them all up in about a week or so.

And then I’ll set up a temporary URL for Fearless Ink and work on that build, and, finally, the Cerridwen’s Cottage site. I’m looking forward to being done!

But I’ve learned a lot. And I have a stack of books to teach me more! 😉

So, I spent yesterday morning building and editing the Devon Ellington site. I still have to come up with logos for the Gwen Finnegan Mysteries and the Jain Lazarus Adventures, but I can always create those and add them in.

Then, I took a much-needed break for yoga class. Boy, did I need it. The stress from the past few weeks took a toll on my body.

After that, I spent the afternoon on site working with a client.

Today, early morning grocery shopping, then time on the site move, and then, for the weekend, I’m digging into SPIRIT REPOSITORY. The original due date was yesterday; thank goodness it was moved. But I want to get some serious work done on it.

And I have to find a new drum for my laser printer.

Have a great weekend!

 

Thurs. Feb. 15, 2018: Back After A Tough Few Days

Thursday, February 15, 2018
New Moon
Cloudy and mild

It’s been a rough few days. I’ve been out of town, which is one reason why I skipped the post yesterday and on Tuesday.

On Saturday night, we learned a second family member had died, also up in Maine. This was more expected, after a year-long illness. And on Sunday, I learned that an actress I’d worked with as we both made our way up the ladder to Broadway, had died of cancer. Three deaths in about two weeks. It was rough.

On Sunday morning, we packed the car and headed up to Maine in the rain. It wasn’t too bad of a drive, and we made better time than we thought. We made a few stops in Kittery to pick up some things we needed. The hotel we originally planned to stay in was undergoing renovation; even though they were taking in guests, the added stress of the noise and the overall creepiness was more than we could cope with at the moment.

We kept going until we hit the Ogunquit Resort. They had a room at a good rate, we booked in. It was a wonderful room. Bigger than most New York City apartments. Great beds, a desk, a table and chairs, plenty of floor space. Enough floor space for me to roll out my mat and do yoga without hitting anything.

We settled in and tried to have a relaxing afternoon. Reading and research for me. I read Ann Hood’s THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST. I like her writing. I also did some research on New Amsterdam for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY. I knew I lost writing days, so I wanted to make some use of the time. Pizza from a favorite local joint for dinner, watching the Olympics at night.

Monday morning, up early and into Portland for the memorial service for the family member who died unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. The funeral home and its staff were lovely, although I couldn’t help but think of SIX FEET UNDER. Members of her knitting group were there, telling funny stories. In spite of the sorrow, it was uplifting. Too much religion for my taste, but then, it wasn’t about me, was it?

After, we convened at a brew pub in Scarborough for lunch and to catch up. We raised a glass to the family member who died on Saturday; he gets a graveside military funeral, so he’s on ice (literally) until the ground is soft enough to dig in spring.

Back to the hotel, exhausted. Read a bit, researched a bit, played with the opening to a short story. I have two openings for two different pieces rolling around in my head, and I’m trying to see if they are two sides to the same piece (doesn’t seem that way) or two different pieces (more likely). Also have a story idea spinning based on the past few days (although it will take a different direction, with higher stakes or it wouldn’t be worth reading. Or writing).

More Olympics, which is really the only thing worth watching.

I am sickened by how many commercials for drugs are on TV. And in magazines. And they wonder why people are addicted. It also enrages me that most of these drugs are supposed to be taken “with” another drug that isn’t effective enough. No, dumbass, you don’t take four different things to “help” whose side effects make you nauseated, dizzy, and break out in rashes and could kill you. It means the initial medication ISN’T WORKING and the damn doctor needs to find ONE medication, the RIGHT medication, that solves the problem without side effects.

I am convinced these drugs are created not to work completely, to force people onto multiple medications with horrible side effects, so they have to take even more medications to counteract those effects. Pharma is a scam. It’s not about making people healthy; it’s about keeping people sick in order to make money off them.

Up early and out the door on Tuesday, headed back to the Cape. I tried to time it so I got through the Big Dig in Boston after rush hour, but before the noon traffic. It was still awful, with slowdowns and crashes and roadwork.

I was a wreck with a migraine by the time we got home. We unpacked, comforted the cats (who were upset we’d gone), paid some bills. Did some stretches. Tried to rest.

I was in bed by 8 PM. Woke up with a migraine on Wednesday and felt awful, but dragged myself to work with a client, dropped off/picked up some books at the library, and came home.

Finally started feeling better in the evening.

Today, I have to get some writing done, work on the website (I hope to start the move tomorrow or Saturday), and work with another client. I also have to take down the February decorations and start putting up the spring decorations.

Both the snapdragons and the sweet peas I planted in pos are coming up. I’m going to start the tomatoes and the lettuce soon.

I need to get it together on SPIRIT REPOSITORY.

I also need to buy a new drum for my laser printer. The thing I ordered was the wrong piece. That’s what I get for trying to cut corners.

Onward.

 

Mon. Feb. 12, 2018: #Upbeat Authors — Love

The topic of today’s Upbeat Authors post, ahead of Valentine’s Day, is love.

While plenty of people bemoan the commercialization of the holiday, there’s more to it to that IF YOU CHOOSE TO DO IT.

I remember, when I was working my way up in theatre, from church basement shows to Broadway, what a big deal Valentine’s Day became. If you were dating someone, there were all these expectations, on both sides. It was a day to prove and to define the relationship. It was also a day of fear – what if the acknowledgement was out of balance with the recipient’s feelings? Those not in a relationship were either depressed or desperate (plenty of one-night stands on Valentine’s Day).

So a bunch of us who didn’t want to be bound or defined by expectations decided to do something different.

We decided that one should celebrate one’s loving relationship by the strength of daily actions. And that Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating the relationships that don’t often get celebrated, such as friendships, strong relationships with co-workers, etc. We would give each other funny little gifts or candy, and go out as a big group to celebrate EACH OTHER. It wasn’t focused on couples, although couples were included; it was about all of us being glad we were in each other’s lives, and taking note of it to celebrate, to make sure we weren’t taking each other for granted.

Were there still some of the relationship pressures? Of course.

But love takes many forms – romantic love, family love, strong and loyal friendships, even some work relationships that aren’t quite friendship, but are deeper and more complicated than “just business.” All of those deserve celebration.

We also worked for inclusion – we wanted to make sure no one felt alone. Working in theatre, that tends to happen anyway. We are a tight group and look after our own, even if we don’t always get along every moment of every day. Most of us were the outsiders growing up, or in the communities into which we were born; so the artistic community we CHOOSE does not shun people for being artistic, intelligent, or different. We BUILD our families.

That’s the big difference between living someplace like New York or San Francisco or Chicago of wherever, and living in a more isolated community (that the right mistakenly calls “real America.” Cities are just as “real” as any other community). In cities, people choose their families and their communities. Literature, especially some of the genre-focused category literature, claims that cities are impersonal and cruel. My experience has been quite the opposite. Rural communities are often stuck with those too afraid to leave; cities are built by those who choose to be there. Living in cities, we fantasize about moving out to a smaller community for a “quiet” life. The reality rarely measures up to the fantasy. It’s hard to find that balance. It’s hard to move from a place where you choose your tribe to a place that defined the tribe by place and birth years before you got there and continues to do things “the way they’ve always been done” rather than balancing a respect for tradition with the need for evolution.

So, this coming Valentine’s Day, take a minute to let the people in your life know they matter. And offer a hand of friendship or at least understanding to someone who needs it. The positive results will surprise you.

Published in: on February 12, 2018 at 6:32 am  Comments (1)  
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Fri. Feb. 9, 2018: Website Building

Friday, February 9, 2018
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Yup, almost all of yesterday was about building the new Devon Ellington Work site.

The text is fine, the images work. I still need to work on the overall look before I can move it.

When it moves, hopefully toward the end of next week, the Devon Ellington Work site and ALL FOUR of the series sites will go dark for a few days. The Devon Ellington Work will go live first, and there will be a Series Page that has information and buy links to all the series. Then, I will rebuild each of the subdomains that focuses on esch specific series and they will go live one by one.

After that, I start to rebuild Fearless Ink and move it, and Cerridwen’s Cottage will be the last.

And then, I’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief!

I have a huge amount of writing to do in the next few days and family stuff to deal with, so I’ll just say have a great weekend!

Published in: on February 9, 2018 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Thurs. Feb. 8, 2018: More Web Host Frustration

Thursday, February 08, 2018
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Busy, busy, busy.

I have mixed feelings about A2 webhosting. On the one hand, when I have a question, the answer they give me works.

On the other hand, they only give me PART of what I need, so I have to then ask another question.

I paid them TWO WEEKS AGO and I’m still trying to get into the cPanel in order to build my site. That’s not okay. They’re still miles better than either 1and1 or GreenGeeks, but it’s frustrating. I hope, once the sites are built and live, there won’t be problems. Which is why I only signed with them for a year.

SPIRIT REPOSITORY is moving forward, albeit more slowly than I would like. But the work with my editor, in combination with the 10 day extension on the deadline, makes it possible.

Of course, I will lose a few days’ worth of writing next week due to family issues, but I’ll have to dig in the next few days to make them up.

MYTH & INTERPRETATION is moving along, too. I think we’ll come in just under 50K.

I finished the print books in one contest category, and am moving on to the next. So far, this year’s entries are VERY competitive, which is great. The next batch comes at the end of the month, and I want to make sure I’m through the first batch before it arrives.

I need a new drum for my laser printer. I’ve been using it steadily for nearly six years. It’s done very well. I’d like to invest in a color laser printer in the not-too-distant future as a companion. I’m using the black one for manuscripts and articles, but I need color for other promotional materials.

I have some client work to do today that needs to go out tomorrow, and dig in to the writing.

Eventually, I’ll be able to get in to build my damn websites. I hope. What is so goddamn impossible about giving me the correct link so that I can log in to my own site? Not happy.

 

Published in: on February 8, 2018 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wed. Feb. 7, 2018: So Lucky with My Editor

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Waning moon
Stormy and cold

Challenging week. Even when I try to rest, I’m having trouble recharging.

So, Super Bowl Sunday — congratulations to the Eagles. It was a well-deserved win. I prefer close games, because they are more interesting. I’m not a football fan, so the Super Bowl is usually the only game I pay much attention to all year.

I know people have many reasons for disliking Tom Brady, but I was disappointed and perturbed by the viciousness with which he was attacked. He’s good at his job and has been for years. He’s skilled. He has five rings to prove it. I’m not a particular fan of his, but I respect his skills.

Didn’t like the halftime show. I’m not a particular fan of Justin Timberlake any
way — again, I respect what he’s achieved, but I don’t go out of my way to listen to or buy his music. I disagreed with the choice to have the projection of Prince included. Prince was vocal about not agreeing with that choice while he was still alive. His halftime show in 2007 (I think that was the year) was one of the best performances I’ve seen anywhere. Pouring rain, he came out and did his thing, no muss, no fuss, and he was brilliant. No other halftime show, in my opinion, has ever come close.

Got some decent work on MYTH & INTERPRETATION. I’m taking my editor’s concerns about the outline into account and finding places to simplify, combine elements to drive the narrative better, and to cut things completely. It’s great to be back with Gwen and Justin again.

Figured out why I’m struggling with SPIRIT REPOSITORY. It’s not just that I have the deadline looming. It’s that I made a major mistake in the logic. I have to go back and untangle the mistake in order to move forward. It’s not something where I can put in a placeholder to fix “later” because of the way it affects everything that happens later.

Talked to my editor and got a 10-day extension on the deadline. Now, I feel like I can meet it with something worthwhile. That pushes the start of RELICS  & REQUIEM back ten days — I’m not sure how I’m going to make that up, since the schedule for that is already tight. But I have a solid outline for it, which will help. And scenes with Amanda and Phineas are spinning in my head, and some of the scenes between Bonnie and Amanda in SPIRIT REPOSITORY will plant seeds for R & R, even while driving the plot of REPOSITORY.

Saw yet another agent on Manuscript Wish List asking for diverse manuscripts. I pointed out my own experience and that of other writers I know who submit such manuscripts — the notes that come back are all about whitening it up so “mainstream readers” can relate. Characters described in Starbucks coffee colors, acting like white people, names that aren’t “too ethnic” and the like. Complaints that heroines are “too independent.” Notes that don’t add to the structure or story, but strip out the diverse elements that make a book unique. The elements that these agents and writers claim to want.

When actual diverse books are published, promoted, and hit the best seller lists, instead of “thrillers” about white male assassins who sometimes sleep with a beautiful ethnic villainess who is then killed off, I’ll believe that’s what the agents and editors really want.

Ilona Andrews and I had a conversation about this several months ago — always be wary when they make a point of asking for diversity. It’s usually hollow.

Monday was a long day with clients – wound up being a twelve hour day. Tuesday was long, too, including website rebuilding. Today will be long, too. The weather is bad, so I may go straight home after I work with my client – I’ll have to see how it goes.

But I feel optimistic again about THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and even figured out a way for Phineas to make a cameo in it, ahead of taking his place as one of the central protagonists of RELICS AND REQUIEM.

 

Tues. Feb.6, 2018: Same Location, Distinct Voices

Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Waning Moon

I’m in a juggling act right now. I’m working on books in different series, but I’m working on them at the same time.

One of the challenges, is, of course, keeping the voices distinct. Especially since two of the books take place in contemporary New York City, and their circles of influence somewhat intersect.

The Coventina Circle paranormal romantic suspense novels take place in contemporary New York City. Well, sort of contemporary — based on my last visit there after the move away. Things change all the time, so it’s a recognizable New York City, while still serving the fictional needs of my plots and stories.

The Gwen Finnegan mysteries have a longer reach, because Gwen and Justin’s adventures take them all over the world. After all, TRACKING MEDUSA had sections set in New York, London, Lindisfarne, Ayrshire, Greece, and Marseilles.

THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, the second Coventina Circle book, is set in New York again. Most of it is in Greenwich Village, a place I’ve known and loved for years. Some of it takes place on the Upper West Side, where Bonnie, the central protagonist of this book, has sublet the apartment from Morag (the central protagonist of PLAYING THE ANGLES, the first book in the series). And part of it is set up in Inwood, near the Cloisters, where one of the secondary characters lives. The third book in the series, RELICS & REQUIEM, with Amanda as the central protagonist, will focus mostly on the Upper West Side and on Midtown East, where the Phineas Regan lives.

MYTH & INTERPRETATION, which lands between TRACKING MEDUSA and its locations, and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, which is mostly set in the Bahamas, but with some sections in New York and in the UK, is completely set in New York. Okay, Justin makes a foray to Princeton in New Jersey. But the focus is in New York.

Both deal with paranormal. Central characters in both are witches.

So it becomes an interesting challenge to keep the books from intersecting. The voices must be different. The issues the members of the Coventina Circle face in their lives and loves are quite different from the issues faced by Gwen and her archaeological clan. Yet the frequent some of the same places — libraries, museums, restaurants, and the like.

When I lived in Manhattan, I was involved in a variety of different circles, although my primary one was theatrical (since if you work in the theatre, you spend 90 hours or more a week in the theatre). I also moved in publishing/literary circles, in the wellness/spiritual circles, in academic circles, in art and music circles. It was always interesting to see where they intersected and where they did not.

Applying that in a believable way while keeping both these series’ voices distinct is an interesting challenge. If the deadline pressure wasn’t so severe, I’d probably enjoy it more.

Some of it means writing fast and then breaking down sentence and paragraph structures as I rewrite, to fit the cadences already set up in the first book of the series. That’s easier to do in the Gwen Finnegan mysteries, because Gwen is central to each book. It’s more of a challenge with the Coventina Circle books, because each book has a different set of central protagonists, each with their own distinctions.

I’m also taking a risk, putting in a site and a small group of characters into both SPIRIT REPOSITORY and into MYTH & INTERPRETATION that make a bit of a crossover, although Bonnie, Rufus, Gwen, and Justin won’t meet and/or interact.

It’s similar to some of the in-jokes and crossover Jenn McKinlay’s done between her Hat Shop Mysteries, her Cupcake Bakery, and her series set in Maine.

Hopefully, I can pull it off!

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

PLAYING THE ANGLES, the first Coventina Circle mystery is available digitally here for $3.99.

Witchcraft, politics, and theatre collide as Morag D’Anneville and Secret Service agent Simon Keane fight to protect the Vice President of the United States — or is it Morag who needs Simon’s protection more than the VP?

THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, the second book in the series, will release in May 2018.

Tracking Medusa Cover 1

TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan mystery, is available digitally here for $3.99.

Archaeologist Dr. Gwen Finnegan is on the hunt for her lover’s killer. Historical researcher Justin Yates bumps into her, literally, on the steps of the New York Public Library, and comes to her aid when she’s attacked, sparking an attraction between them in spite of their age difference. After avoiding a cadre of pursuers at the Met Museum, Gwen impulsively invites Justin to hop a plane with her to the UK. The shy historian, frustrated with his failing relationship, jumps at the chance to join her on a real adventure. That adventure takes them through Europe, pursued by factions including Gwen’s ex-lover and nemesis, Karl, as they try to unspool fact from fiction in a multi-generational obsession with a statue of the goddess Medusa.

MYTH & INTERPRETATION, a “between the books” novella, will be available digitally in July 2018.

 

Mon. Feb. 5, 2018: Helping Others #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, February 5, 2018
Waning Moon

Today’s topic for #UpbeatAuthors is Helping Others.

On the surface, it seems easy. See something that needs doing. Do it. They’re happy. You’re happy.

On the other hand, it’s not that easy.

I find it disturbing that we are urged to help others because it makes US feel better. Not everything is about us. I believe we should help others because everyone is in a position to need help sometimes, and those who can offer help should, because the cycle will turn and then they can receive it.

Some people, however, find it difficult to receive help. They like to give it, for the reason that it makes THEM feel good. It also keeps them in control. But they can’t receive it. Or they try to make decisions for other people, to put conditions on the help. In some cases, that type of tough love is necessary, to help break patterns. In other situations, again, it’s about control.

Some people never give help, because they disdain anyone who needs it. It’s that entitlement thing: “I WORKED for what I have; why should I help YOU?” And then they’re shocked when no one helps them when they need it.

Some people ONLY take and never give. They structure their lives to live in a constant state of crisis. Whenever someone gives them a helping hand, they take the hand and then want the arm, the shoulder, and all the rest. You get the idea. They refuse to break the patterns that create the need.

“Helping others” seems like it’s simple, but it’s complex. You want to give without strings attached, what you can without putting yourself in jeopardy, of a thing and in a way that is of genuine assistance to the receiver. That’s different in every situation. “Help” is something transient that shores up someone in difficulty, and helps them find the stability so they can proceed with independence.

Politicians too often portray those who in need (especially when they’re put there by political and corporate greed) as those who refuse to be independent, who want to remain dependent. But if we have economic and social structures that help people in crisis not only through the crisis but into INdependence, it would no longer be an issue.

And yet there are times when “help” is as simple as offering a smile or opening a door for someone carrying an armload of packages. You can brighten someone else’s day with a simple gesture. And down the line, someone will brighten yours.

Start with the small things, and let them reverberate into larger ones.

Published in: on February 5, 2018 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment