Fri. Nov. 30, 2018: Lots o’Prep

JUST JUMP IN

Friday, November 30, 2018
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Hop on over to the GDRs to see the November wrap-up.

I’m delighted to reveal the new cover for one of my favorites of my own holiday pieces, “Just Jump In and Fly” under the Ava Dunne name. It also went through a fresh edit, updating sloppy language and fixing a few other issues.

I love these characters and the woven mythology of it. It’s more in the romance vein than I usually write, but with a solid mix of comedy and fantasy. It’s only 99 cents here.

I’m updating all the websites to reflect the changes.

There was a power outage in the morning, for no discernible reason, so, of course, everything took longer than it should have.

Worked on some plotting stuff, and then went home and decorated in the afternoon. The tree is mostly decorated; although we haven’t even unpacked a third of the decorations.

This morning is about more edits on a project; I already did a photo shoot for a new cover for another project; I have some client work to do, and then it’s writing and decorating.

I’m going to a museum open house tomorrow morning, and then writing the rest of the weekend (and decorating).

Have a good one, all.

I’m at a point in the work where I have to be careful; even talking about certain portions of the process is detrimental.

More soon.

Peace!

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Published in: on November 30, 2018 at 9:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Thurs. Nov. 29, 2018: Sick, but Writing

Thursday, November 29, 2018
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I’m still sick, at least as far as coughing and exhaustion goes.

I cancelled out of the networking event this morning, because I’m in no shape to make a good impression.

Work with the client yesterday was fine, and then I came home, exhausted.

I wrote 7 pages in longhand on INNATE POWER, a new fantasy novel that tugs at me (I wrote the outline on Monday, I believe, while I was home sick).

Today’s plans are to write a few pages on INNATE POWER, at least a chapter on the latest draft of BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, at least once scene on the anti-gun violence play, a few blog posts, and some LOIs.

I need to get back to decorating, too. The boxes are stacked all over the place; they need to be emptied and the contents put where they need to go.

This weekend, I plan to dig into the writing, the decorating, and write the overseas holiday cards.

As soon as I’m not sick, I’ll start the holiday baking, because baking when I’m sick would be eww.

Navigating a new friendship with someone very different from me, and we have to learn to communicate on the same plane. On some levels, we understand each other very well; on others, not at all. Mercury in retrograde doesn’t help, either. Patience and caution are key. This person is serving as a muse on several projects, and that gets tricky. Some people like it; some feel used. But the truth is, if you know me on any level, you will be absorbed into the work somehow.

Working on my GDRS for next year, and looking at my list for this month and next month. I wish I didn’t feel such an overwhelming exhaustion, which is worsened by the administrative corruption in DC.

But the next few days are about the writing, so it’s back to the page.

And planning some holiday marketing campaigns!

 

Wed. Nov. 28, 2018: Recovery Time

Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

I’m getting better, but I still have a weird dry cough.

Not much to say; I worked with a client yesterday, then went home because I still get tired very quickly.

The whole time, I’ve been well enough to whine, so I’m not that sick, but I’m cranky.

There are plenty of people with it worse, so I’ll get over myself.

I outlined a book — I got an idea, and the two characters I thought would fall in love fell in love with other characters, but that’s okay — it makes the book different and stronger. I wish I had time to write it now.

Worked a bit on Balthazaar.

Today, I’m working with a client again. We have an ad deadline.

Tomorrow morning, I have to turn it on for a networking event in the morning — not sure what I’ll do the rest of the day. I still need rest.

I also need to get a lot of stuff done.

The decorating will take a few weeks this time around! Not that I mind; in fact, taking our time will be a good thing.

Deep breath. Healing thoughts. I can’t be of any use to anyone if I’m not healthy.

Published in: on November 28, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Tues. Nov. 27, 2018: Busy Season is Here

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Waning Moon
Neptune DIRECT (as of Saturday)
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving last week.

We drove to Maine, leaving early on Wednesday. We managed to thread the needle through the Big Dig tunnel, avoiding the bulk of the traffic, and getting through it only moments before a breakdown in the tunnel caused problems.

Our preferred hotel in Ogunquit was closed for the holiday, so we found another one, in Wells. It was fine. It had a kitchenette, which always helps, but the space was cramped, and the shower only had hot water for three minutes.

Hit my favorite thrift shop in York, and got some adorable decorations to add to the decoration family.

We got our favorite pizza from our favorite pizza joint in the area, Da Napoli. On the way back, I ran into a snow squall. From clear to whiteout in seconds. It was like someone poured a giant vat of sugar over the road.

Got some writing done, on a couple of different projects. Tried to watch TV, but it was dreadful. The news has a single sound byte and then a half a dozen commercials. There isn’t any actual reporting going on. The shows don’t even have scenes any more, just moments. But at least Comcast doesn’t run everything up in Maine.

Thursday was the coldest in years, although clear. 8 degrees, but it felt like in the minus numbers. We drove up to Gray. We always rent out the American Legion Hall. This year, we had 63 for dinner. I mashed, I believe it was, 108 pounds of white potatoes, and 40 pounds of sweet potatoes. Lots of people I hadn’t seen in years were there, and it was fun to catch up.

I felt bad for my mom. This year, she was the oldest one at the dinner (at 94). All her contemporaries have died. It was difficult for her.

We ate, we cleaned up (everyone helps with everything), we went back to the motel to recover. It was fun, but exhausting. For an introvert, that’s a lot of people.

Friday morning, we hit the road early. Stopped at Stonewall Kitchen in York to stock up on our favorite things, and then headed home. There was a lot of traffic, but it was moving. We made another stop at Market Basket when we came over the bridge, to stock up, and were home a little after noon.

The cats were glad to see us, but they’d coped just fine while we were gone.

Unpacked, and switched out the harvest fabric to the holiday fabric on various surfaces. I felt like I was coming down with something, and hoped I was wrong.

Saturday, I had a sore throat, but pushed ahead. We took 300 gallons of leaves to the dump, then raked up another 330 gallons. We got the tree in the stand, and the lights on it. I hate putting on the lights, but when we took them off last year, I took the time to pack them differently and mark them, and that made all the difference this year.

While raking, sorted out the scenes for the holiday story I want to include in the newsletter this year. It will be short — 3, maybe 4 scenes, inspired by the fireplace at the rest area on the border between New Hampshire and Maine on I-95.

Cleared off one of the bureaus, to set up the Santa collection, and wound up polishing the whole piece. It looks wonderful, so it was worth it. But the Santas didn’t look right there, so they’re back on the behemoth. For now, the carolers are on the bureau and the herd of deer are on the mantel, but it might all move around.

By Sunday, I was sick, sick, sick. Curled up and read all day. Made chicken soup from scratch. Read a wonderful book called THE STRINGS OF MURDER by Oscar de Muriel, set in Victorian Edinburgh.

Yesterday, I was too sick to work onsite with my client. I probably could have pushed through, but didn’t want to sneeze and cough all over my client and colleagues. Dropping off library books and picking stuff up at CVS was about all I could handle.

Today, I’ll be onsite with my client, prepping for her holiday sales. Busy weeks coming up, with the holidays, and all. I need to get the overseas cards written.

I am disgusted by the administration’s policy firing on asylum seekers and threatening to close the border — all while Russia is making a move in the Crimea. I am sick and tired of no one DOING anything about the corruption in this administration.

I need to get back to the page. BALTHAZAAR is going along well, and I need to make sure that stays on schedule. In the meantime, I need to tear apart DAVY JONES DHARMA and fix it, so that it stay on its new release date schedule.

And I have a review to write.

I watched a documentary about Canaletto, one of my favorite painters, and got an idea to write a play about his sisters. Not sure if that will be pitched to 365 Women or elsewhere. But I think that will be the play after the anti-gun violence play is done.

In the meantime, trying to really get well. I’m better, but still get tired quickly.

Onward, and back to the page.

Mon. Nov. 26, 2018: Can Writers Have Friends? #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, November 26, 2018
Waning Moon
Neptune DIRECT (as of Saturday)
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

On the surface, that looks like a ridiculous question. Of course writers have friends! There are famous (and infamous) literary friendships throughout the known canon of literature. Writers need friends — people they can trust, people who will tell them when they’ve gone off the rails.

But it’s difficult to be friends with a writer.

It’s difficult for writers to be friends with each other.

I’m not talking about competition. As far as I’m concerned, when one of us succeeds, it’s good for everyone. Agents, publishers, and those who make money off our work want us to feel competitive, because it helps THEIR bottom line. But really, the toughest competition is ourselves, meeting our own expectations.

So why is it difficult to be friends with a writer?

Because everything is material.

If you know a writer, something you inspired will turn up in their work.

Unless it’s a roman-à-clef, it won’t be you in a literal sense. When an individual inspires a character, when I do my job properly, that character evolves away from the inspiration into a distinct individuality of its own, even if they still share characteristics.

Strangely enough, some people who swear that this character or that character is “based” on them in my work were never part of the equation, as far as I was concerned, and certainly not for the characters in which they saw themselves reflected.

I do my best to “do no harm.” I don’t always succeed, but that is my objective. Unless you hurt someone I care about, and then I’ll hunt you to hell and back if that’s what’s needed. I am fully in touch with my Shadow Self, and know how to use it.

But if you know me, whether it’s virtually or in person, something or someone you inspired will eventually show up in the work. It might be twenty years after we’ve lost touch, but it will happen.

Because I’ve spent my working life in the arts, and, except for the years since I left New York, my circle was entirely artists in different disciplines, athletes (when I was a sports reporter), and either veterans (met through the arts) or soldiers (who found my letters nattering about life in the arts an interesting distraction), it wasn’t a big deal. Now that I live away from an art-centric, urban environment, where fewer people understand the process, it’s a trickier. People are quicker to hunt for offense.

Artists use each other creatively all the time. It’s usually healthy. Sometimes it’s not. I was part of a cabal of writers in the UK for awhile, when I was early in the writing part of my career, where we used each other in our books, often without much disguise. Sometimes it was flattering, sometimes it was painful. Now, I re-read it, shake my head and laugh at how we tried to impress each other and communicate what we really thought and felt by Mary-Sue-ing instead of just talking to each other. In many cases, the work suffered. So did our relationships.

Non-writers often make assumptions, especially when it comes to my characters’ romantic lives or sex lives, especially if the book is dedicated to a man. They assume I’ve either had sex with the man mentioned in the dedication, or I want to have sex with him. In either case, it’s assumed the male protagonist stands in for him. The former may be true (I’ve certainly dedicated books to current or ex lovers), the latter unlikely. I’m not Anaïs Nin and he’s not Henry Miller; we’re not dashing to the page, still naked and sweaty after our encounters, to write them down.

Okay, I admit it: I went through that phase, but I was in my early twenties. I outgrew it. My writing is better now than it was then for many reasons, and, most important of all, I write FICTION.

I used to write erotica, back when it paid well. People who knew I did (and knew the names under which it appeared) often assumed and commented on how I must go about my “research.” It served us both not to dissuade them, although I made some flippant comments that I realize were unfair to actual lovers in my life, and that I now regret. I have apologized to several people, all of whom were puzzled because they didn’t remember and/or hadn’t been hurt.

When I’m writing and revising, I can pinpoint where the real-world inspiration diverges from the fictional character; but often, after several years, drafts, and a good editor, I can’t any more. I know who it was, but the character stands firmly on its own.

Writers used to worry, before the age of over-sharing on social media, about hurting others in their writing. It’s less of an issue now that it was fifteen or twenty years ago, and it’s always been more of an issue in memoir than in fiction.

There’s the position of “write whatever you need to write, your own truth, and to hell with anyone who gets hurt” and “change enough so they can’t recognize themselves.”

As I mentioned above, I evolve the characters away from the inspiration, when I do my job properly, so I embody neither AND both of the above.

On the opposite side of protecting people in your life you care about, there’s dealing with hurt. Hurt is inevitable. We cause it, even when we don’t want to; we feel it.

I make a lot of jokes about killing off people who annoy me in my novels. But they’re not really jokes, and it’s a great way to blow off steam. And by the time I write it, and the piece is ready to go out into the world, again — the character has evolved away from the original inspiration into its unique identity.

But the process eases the hurt and gets it into perspective. I’m often less hurt after the process because I understand the other individual more. I could wallow in the hurt if I kept that person as a two-dimensional cipher of my pain and rage. But, again, if I do my job as a writer, and make it a fully developed character, there will be more to the person and the situation than my pain.

Yes, writers can and must have friends. But non-writers need to realize that everything, and every ONE — is material.

Published in: on November 26, 2018 at 6:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fri. Nov. 23, 2018: Taking A Break!

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I’m taking a break, to start decorating, and to live in my imagination.

Will be back Monday with an #upbeatauthors post on whether or not writers can have friends (because everything is material).

Published in: on November 23, 2018 at 6:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018: Happy Thanksgiving!

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May you have a lovely day of friendship, family, food, and peace.

Published in: on November 22, 2018 at 6:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Wed. Nov. 21, 2018: Prep Day!

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I’m using today to prep for tomorrow. Have a lovely day, and, tomorrow, a lovely holiday with your CHOSEN family.

Published in: on November 21, 2018 at 6:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Tues. Nov. 20, 2018: Writing, Reconstruction, Announcements

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend. I was lucky enough to focus on the writing.

I finished the 4th draft of HEART SNATCHER on Sunday morning, after spending part of Friday and most of Saturday on it. I wound up cutting seven chapters, doing a lot of tightening. It’s now back down within an acceptable range for genre, although I’d like it to be even leaner.

But I love Max and Valerie, and what they’re dealing with. The characters are well-developed, the plot moves.

I made some changes in the first third of HEART BINDER, the second book in the trilogy, and then went over the outline for books two and three, and made some changes to support the revisions in book 1.

I also found a place where I need to add a few words of description to an object that makes an appearance in Book 1 and then becomes vital to the plot in Books 2 &3.

I wrote another chapter on HEART BINDER on Sunday afternoon.

I’ll send HEART SNATCHER to my editor after the Thanksgiving holiday. I want it to marinate, so to speak, for a few days, and then I’ll do one more pass before I send it off. She liked the synopsis and sample chapters, and in the current climate of a toxic administration, it’s relevant.

Along with the discussions I’ve been having with editor and publisher, we are moving the release of DAVY JONES DHARMA into February, rather than December. I can’t get it into the shape I want by the end of this week. I need to tear it apart and reconstruct it. The contract schedule this year was just too tight for me.

From a marketing standpoint, it makes more sense to release a book set on a cruise ship in February, during the height of cruise season, so that all works.

THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE is on track, and retains its late January release date.

We may push back the re-release of the Jain Lazarus Adventures, and the future of the Gambit Colony series is up in the air, as far as when it will release.

That’s all dependant, of course, if the publisher wants the Justice by Harpy trilogy. If not, we still have to rearrange some of the schedule, so that each book we release is the best I can make it, within the time frame, and the time frame is realistic so it doesn’t suck.

I’m also at that weird stage I hit with certain books, where I don’t like to be physically separated from the manuscript.

Got a few pages done on the suicidal veteran piece.

Friday night, there was an NBC news piece about teaching kids to triage each other in active school shootings. Right, because the adults refuse common sense gun legislation.

But that got me thinking about the anti-gun violence play. I wrote a new opening, and I have the notes for a new closing. They will echo each other, without boring repetition (if I do it properly). Instead of writing this play linearly, the way I usually do — start at the beginning, write it through, and then revise — I’m writing it from both ends to the middle. It’s a variation on a technique I learned in a playwrighting workshop I took with the National Theatre when one of my plays was done at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

I found out about the deadline to submit the application on the last day. I went to the Fringe office to apply. A scene had to accompany the application, so I sat down and wrote one. When I turned it in, they asked me to wait. A few minutes later, the instructor said, “You wrote this just now? It’s not part of something else?”

I said, “No. I can’t use anything from the piece that’s running, because it would hurt both processes.”

He looked at me and said, “You’re in.”

It’s one of the best classes I ever took in my life, and I still use what I learned.

Anyway, I rewrote the opening scene. I sent it off to my UK actor pal (the one who told me to get out of my own way in the reading). He’s one of the few who sees an early draft of anything; he’s both supportive and critical. I asked him what it needed. His reply: “To be on stage. Now.”

So I’m on the right track.

Yard work suffered this weekend, but too damn bad. I was so sick and tired of all the damn leaf blowers. It’s autumn in New England. Leaves fall down. The lawn doesn’t have to be immaculate every moment.

It was a Twitter pal’s birthday yesterday. I sent him good wishes; but, because I wasn’t close enough to buy him a drink in person, I went to a local bar where veterans hang out (he’s a veteran) and anonymously bought a round for a table of them in his honor. I left before the bartender could point me out. Because none of this is about me.

The rest of this week’s posts are placeholders and good wishes for the holidays. The next post with teeth in it is next Monday, the Upbeat Authors post wondering if authors can have friends, since everything is material.

Back to the page.

Mon. Nov. 19, 2018: Friendliness – An Introvert’s Journey #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, November 19, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus DIRECT (as of Friday)
Mercury Retrograde (as of Friday)

 

I am an introvert.

I am perfectly happy to hole up at home for days or weeks on end, writing, and not interacting much.

But my profession does not allow it.

My profession demands that I wear the mask of an extrovert in order to promote my books and to land marketing clients. If people don’t know about them, how can they read them? I’m constantly navigating the line between the public and the personal.

My basic policy is that my work is public; my life is private.

It’s not particularly scandalous or interesting, but it’s MINE. I CHOOSE what to share publicly.

I owe readers good work.

In order to do good work, I need to keep boundaries.

I like many individuals just fine. I’m not fond of “people” all that often.

Yet, when I go to conferences or talk at libraries, I enjoy myself. I like sharing my process, my ups and downs, with them. Most of them ask interesting questions. I like to hear about their journeys, their experiences. I like to know who they are and what matters to them. Some of them make unfair demands, and I’ve learned to shut that down.

At networking events or cocktails or dinners, when someone makes a rude or dismissive comment, I smile, cut them off, walk away, and get on with my life. I don’t owe them my time or attention. I owe that to my work.

This blog, which has now been up for more years that I can comprehend at this point, is a conversation, as far as I’m concerned. I share how the writing and the life weave together or get into conflict. I share ups and downs. There’s plenty I don’t share, especially when it concerns other people in my life. While everyone I interact with is processed into the work in some way, eventually, that doesn’t mean I write about them in the blog as themselves.

I try to give support and encouragement as often as possible, while not allowing myself to be drained by emotional vampires.

I fall short of my own expectations often.

Even events that I enjoy wear me out on multiple levels. Then I have to retreat to recharge.

I’ve finally accepted that it’s okay.

For me, protecting the work, doing what I have to in order to nourish the work, is the most important.

I build relationships, I maintain friendships (amongst my circle, I tend to be the main “kinkeeper” — keeping in touch with people, keeping them in touch with each other).

But I also relish my time alone.

It’s becoming less about wearing a mask and more about keeping a balance.

I don’t like the way we, as writers, are forced to dog-and-pony ourselves. I believe it should be about the work FIRST and we should be in soft-focus, in the background.

Others love to be in the spotlight, and are good at it. More power to them.

But I’m finally learning that I can be friendly by defining my own parameters, my own boundaries, and not feeling guilty or defensive when those are inconvenient for those who want more. I’ve also noticed that the bulk of those who want more offer little in return. It’s also about learning and enforcing discernment.

I’d rather meet someone with an expectation of the positive and let them fulfill it or not than assume the negative. But when they show who they are — for good or for ill — I believe them.

Because being friendly doesn’t mean being a doormat.

Being friendly means offering a warm hand and a warm heart when needed. Knowing when to step forward, and when to step back. When to give support and when to give space.

The space is as important as the contact.

It’s a beautiful, brilliant dance that brings out the best in both partners.

 

Thurs. Nov. 15, 2018: Passion, Creativity, and a Dark Night of the Soul

Thursday, November 15, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

 

It never ceases to amaze me how often people criticize others in order to feel more powerful themselves, or because they feel threatened by others’ talents.

That’s kind of the entire GOP platform at this point — dehumanize anyone they deem “different.” Only give basic human rights to those who do as they’re told.

Which is a conversation for another day, but an ongoing one we need to have here in the U.S.

Again, if you haven’t read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, do so now.

I’ve been called “difficult” often over the years because I walk my talk, I’m passionate about my work, and I’m ruthless about protecting my creative time. I’ve grown to embrace the “difficult” moniker because these are things I’m not willing to change about myself. The toll is too high. And, frankly, I’m old enough not to really give a damn what most people think.

I recently came across some old journals, as I’m cleaning out the basement. That younger me who was in so much pain with this man or that man in my life tried to demean or demoralize me for being creative and passionate, telling me I was “too much” or had to “tone it down.” Or the one who said I “didn’t give him enough to complain about” and he felt left out when his friends bitched about their wives and girlfriends.

They were all kicked to the curb, and it was the right decision. I stayed true to my core. Had I stayed with any of them, I would be miserable now.

Hell, I might not even be alive.

There have been some wonderful men in my life, even though we’ve chosen not to stay together forever. I tend to have long stretches of being single rather than going from relationship to relationship, because I learned the hard way that it’s lonelier to be with the wrong person that to be alone.

I’ve been told I’m not a “real” writer (even though that’s how I earn my living) because I write more than one thing, because I do marketing writing as well as novels and plays and radio drama, because I write in genre instead of “literary” fiction, because I’m not published by one of the Big Five, because I worked in theatre, because I worked in a library — it just goes on and on and on.

You know what? Go ahead and define me. I’ll just keep working and cash my checks.

Am I rich? No. But I’m building the life and career I want.

Am I famous? No, and with luck and careful strategy, I never will be. I spent many years working with actors and directors, many of them big names. I don’t want what comes with fame.

A little more financial security that buys me freedom? Yeah. I’ll take it. Fame? No. Let those who like it have it.

When I was nervous about reading at the festival in Provincetown this year, an actor friend in the UK (for whom I’ve written) asked, “Do you trust the work?”

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “Then get out of the way and let the work breathe. Trust the work.”

He was right, and it was a good experience. It’s also one of the reasons he’s getting to be a known name (and no, I’m not going to name drop here).

None of that created the dark night of the soul of this title.

As many of you know, it’s been a tough year for me. A year of loss. Deaths in the family, deaths of friends, of my elderly cat, health issues in the family, other pressures, a tight contract schedule, intense political activism (which has brought me into contact and sometimes friendship with people I might never have crossed paths with otherwise). I have had a lot of demands on me physically, emotionally, creatively.

There have also been plenty of friends, family members, colleagues, and others in my life who have needed my love and support, and to whom I gave and continue to give it willingly. They are not a burden. They are my heart.

In October, I received a disappointment that shook my confidence in my work. Had nothing to do with publication or production, and I’m not going into detail about it publicly. But it devastated me, and I’m still trying to recover and get my creative feet back under me. Intellectually, I should be able to shrug and move on; emotionally, it’s much more difficult.

Trying to create in this political atmosphere is, anyway, like swimming through molasses. Says the chick who never learned how to swim. But you get the idea.

It’s necessary, and yes, I do take the position that all art is political. Even art that claims not to be supports the status quo.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be light and entertaining and fun.

Chuck Wendig had a terrific thread on Twitter the other day about the importance of creating, of “making stuff” — both because we as artists need to do so, and the world needs it.

I re-read HEART SNATCHER, the draft of the ass-kicking novel I wrote several years ago. It’s filled with rage I felt as a woman at unchecked violence against women and people who can’t defend themselves. It’s urban fantasy, not “literary” and its protagonist is charged with fulfilling justice, especially when the law moves away from justice. The writing was praised, but I was told to tone it down, that “women’s rage makes readers uncomfortable.” I put it away, but I think its time has come.

I started Women Write Change to create a place where women can develop creative projects sparked by what’s going on in the world. That’s been a great help.

Also, ideas come in batches. I got ideas for several new short stories. I’m doing research and will write a play about gun violence and possible solutions. That was inspired by a conversation I had with an actress friend on Twitter, when we felt so angry and helpless after Stoneman Douglas. I started PREVENTATIVE MEASURES, a novel that also deals with gun violence (among other things) when I was so uncomfortable about a gun vendor being part of that awful shopping/liquor event I did with my client a few weeks back.

Veterans’ Day weekend brought a batch of new/old ideas and inspirations, growing out of conversations with vets I’ve worked with on various projects over the years, vets I’ve gotten to know on social media as we fight to save our country in our various ways, and my experience working/talking/caring over the years.

Mixed into that is the book on the tightest deadline just isn’t working. I can’t fill it with the effervescence it needs right now. Everything is forced. The darker piece due next is doing better, but this one, I’m struggling, and I feel like I’m failing — myself, my editor, my readers.

I’m looking at some huge, huge changes in my life in the coming year (and I’m sure there will be plenty of unplanned stuff). I’m trying to prepare for those on every level.

And I’m tired of being tired, angry, and sad all the time — again, that’s mostly due to the state of the country.

Tuesday going into Wednesday was pretty rocky for me, and Tuesday night was basically a Dark Night of the Soul. I’ve had these periodically, and some are darker than others. I’ve learned how to create a container of ritual for these now, which supports the experience and makes it a tool to get somewhere instead of a downward spiral into the abyss.

Once the emotion was burned away (and there was plenty of that), there was clarity. I won’t go so far as to say “peace” — but there was clarity on several things. I’m now taking steps to make some adjustments.

There was also a fresh surge of creative energy, which is always welcome, and when I make the adjustments I need to make, I will be able to shape it into something that might help someone else get through a bad day.

One of the comments that mattered most to me about my work came in a letter that arrived about a year after one of my plays was produced in Australia. The writer had come to the play at a particularly low point in her life. Low enough to consider suicide. She came to the play (which also touched on the topic), and it made her see things in a new way. It made her feel that she mattered and SHE could instigate her own changes. A year later, she had a job she liked, working her way to a job she loved; her own apartment; and was in the early stages of a relationship she felt was the first healthy one in a long time.

During that production in Australia, I hit a particularly low point, my own danger zone. I attended someone else’s production, which got me down another train of thought, and I would up staying up for a couple of days and writing a play about a suicidal woman stalked by a serial killer. Both want her dead, but who gets to control it? Which became one of my signature works.

When I hit a particularly bad patch, I remember that, and it helps get things into perspective.

I’m feeling like I have more perspective, and that I can make some positive decisions.

And please, please remember that you matter, your creativity matters, your contribution to the world matters.

Wed. Nov. 14, 2018: Dancing in the Kitchen & Creative Synchronicity

Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the latest on why word choice matters.

Heads up: Venus goes direct on Friday WHILE Mercury turns retrograde. In other words, that’ll be one messed up day. And then I’ll have to spend the next three weeks keeping my mouth shut!

30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS is up as a free download (how’s that for contradictory language?) here. Although originally geared to National Novel Writing Month, you can decide any day is “Day 1” and go for it. I’m committed to keeping it free, since Nano is free, and that was the catalyst for it.

I got the center front yard raked on Monday afternoon, before the storm started. Tuesday was nasty; I’m hoping to get all those bags of leaves (nearly 800 gallons’ worth) to the dump (excuse me, transfer station) either today or tomorrow. And then get some more raking in before Friday’s storm hits.

Steady work on DAVY JONES DHARMA, although slower than I’d like or need. I’m not sure how to step it up. I need to push harder, but right now, the tank on that project is pretty low. Truly, I’m trying to make like a hockey player and dig deeper, but I’m struggling!

Drafted about half of a short story, inspired by a conversation I had over Veteran’s Day weekend and some of my own experiences back when I did a lot of work with Vietnam vets. There’s a lot of pain in the story, but it’s in subtext, not text. That means each word has to be chosen even more carefully than in a typical short story. There’s also a twist in the last couple of lines that I hope I don’t foreshadow too directly, but I want readers to be hit with it, then go back and not feel cheated. It’s a good craft stretch for me.

Tuesday was a day onsite with a client, and today will be the same.

Looks like the Democrats picked up another Senate seat in Arizona. Maybe the gap in the Senate will be closer than predicted, even with Heitkamp and McCaskill losing.

Meanwhile, the Narcissistic Sociopath continues to be a corrupt embarrassment to the office and the country.

And California continues to burn.

Took a look at two projects I’d worked on a few years back and put aside. They’ve got a good foundation, great characters. I need to think about when I can get them back into the writing queue. They have temporary end points, so they wouldn’t drain creative energy. But I really like what I’m trying to say in them.

While doing some research for one of my projects, the song from 1984, “Obsession” by Animatron, started running through my head. I found the video and watched it — I don’t remember ever seeing it. But then, I don’t remember plenty of things from the 80s. I do remember having a lot of fun to that song and others when I lived on the West coast during that time. I’m grateful it was before the time when going out to blow off steam meant it showed up on social media. In the context of the time, I wasn’t particularly wild, but when I tell stories from those days, people around here seem to think I was. I was passionate and determined, and seized life for everything it had. I have no regrets.

Later that night, I put on the iPod and started dancing around the kitchen, just blowing off some steam. Hadn’t done that in awhile. Tessa, the older cat, looked at me, rolled her eyes (as only a feline can), and stalked out. Lucy, the newer rescue, was terrified and ran away. It was pretty funny.

I want to weave more dancing into some of my projects. I haven’t had the chance to go out dancing much here. Of course, when I worked on Broadway, we made our own dance parties regularly. Anywhere we went had potential to turn into a dance party.

In one of those weird creative synchronicity things, when I checked my Twitter feed the next morning, one of my Twitter pals had posted a video of him dancing in his kitchen. It was wonderful! Made me smile and reminded me that happiness is contagious.

He’s invited his followers to shoot videos dancing in their kitchens and will edit it together. Since I don’t do on-camera stuff, I won’t shoot one, but I’ll sure as hell enjoy watching what he compiles. He’s wildly creative, and I’m sure it will be a blast.

Back to the page.

Tues. Nov. 13, 2018: Digging into the Inspiration

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

Busy, intense weekend.

Friday, we went to the Cahoon Museum, to see the fiber arts exhibit. It was astonishing. My favorite pieces were the enormous scorpion made out of black lace doilies — it took up about a third of the floor space in the exhibit room — and a quilt called “Security Blanket” filled with charms and shells and artifacts from different belief systems.

There was also an amazing painting in the upstairs gallery by a painter named Jim Dowd. When you first look at it, it’s dark blue. As you continue to look at it, you start seeing the moonlight, the outline of the houses, the light in the windows. It was another piece I kept going back to. It filled me with delight and discovery.

Picked up some stuff at the Patisserie in Falmouth (still my favorite bakery), stocked up on cat food and cat litter, ran some other errands.

Saturday was a stormy, rainy day, but Sunday was lovely, and I got to see the matinee of a musical in which a former colleague had a role. Overall, the production was well-directed, well-designed, well-choreographed, well music-directed. My colleague and one of the young actresses were terrific vocally. But the score was beyond some of the other performers. It was better than most musical productions I’ve seen here, but still, there were too many sharps and flats and missed notes. I enjoyed it, though, and the overall sense was of a good production. The audience stood, although I did not. I have only stood at curtain call for three productions in my life, three productions where I felt blown away. I rarely stand, and this “standing for everything” dilutes the meaning of a standing ovation.

Worked on DAVY JONES DHARMA over the weekend, but still am not where I need to be. I’d hoped to have this draft done this weekend. I’m having trouble keeping the tone light enough.

Read an historical mystery where the period detail was exquisite, but the characters and plot didn’t quite do it. Read Michael Ovitz’s memoir, which was interesting. CAA was in its heydey as I transitioned from off-Broadway to Broadway. I liked (and continue to respect) the long-term career planning the agents did (rather than take the money and run). What I didn’t and don’t like is them putting together packages of all their personnel — writer, director, actors. Taking over that part of the creative process. I don’t think you can get the best person for each slot that way. Of course, one could argue that film and television production isn’t about the “best” but the most bankable. Sometimes they align, and sometimes they don’t. Anyway, it was interesting to learn that perspective. That will feed into the GAMBIT COLONY series.

I also wonder who his ghostwriter was. The tone sounds familiar.

Did some work on PREVENTATIVE MEASURES. Got over a point where I’d stalled. I’m writing some bits I’ll probably cut, but I need to write them so I have the information. Then I can cut it and seed in what’s necessary for the reader.

The Narcissistic Sociopath was an embarrassment on a global scale, yet again. Flying to France (on our $$$), then refusing to go to the Armistice Ceremony because it was raining. Berating California for its wildfires and refusing aid. Skipping the dinner of World leaders (or maybe he was 2 1/2 hours late — I’ve heard conflicting stories). Wagging his tail like an eager puppy when Putin arrived. Refusing to walk down the Champs Elysee with 70 other world leaders. He’s a disgrace, on every level.

The California wildfires are heartbreaking. The loss of life, home — not just belongings, but home. At least one actor with whom I’m acquainted has lost his home, and I’m worried about others. The animals dying, people burned alive in their cars as they try to flee.

And the federal government doing NOTHING. The Red Cross telling them there’s nothing coming in. Well, Red Cross, you have a HUGE bank account — crack it open and help these people. The Red Cross has been a major disappointment in my lifetime. The one time I personally needed help from them, where there was a fire in my apartment building and I was traumatized and frightened and didn’t know what to do? They were useless.

Re-connected with veterans, with Armistice Day and Veterans Day and all these important events this weekend. I’ve worked with a variety of them on different projects — theatre pieces, writing, listening to them. Every year, I’m saddened to see how many move from the Veterans’ Day list (alive) to the Memorial Day list (dead).

But from it, I got seeds of inspiration for several pieces. I’m taking notes, and will try to steal time here and there to work on them, while the inspiration burns hot. There’s so much pain going on, and in this percolation process, when I write from the inside out, it can be overwhelming. Actor friends tease me about “method writing.”

The process isn’t easy, but always worth it. Right now, I have no one to buffer between me and the world, which makes it more difficult. I have to build my own shells, my own walls, to protect myself and my process.

I really need a break, time off from the world, for a few days, but I can’t see how I’m going to get it.

I’d hoped to go on an adventure to Boston later this week, but I don’t think it will work. And, honestly, I don’t think I have the emotional energy for it right now.

Worked with my client onsite yesterday, and will do so today.

Focusing on DHARMA, since that deadline is looming, and on the pieces inspired this weekend, which fall into the category of development I can do in the Women Write Change project.

I got a little bit of yard work done, trying to get the leaves done and bagged. I’m getting a little sick of the neighbors, with their constant leaf blowing. But they only blow the leaves into piles, which then blow into my yard, and I’m the one who ends up having to rake and bag everyone’s leaves. Bag what you blow, people!

I’m tired, tired on so many levels.

But I need to get back to the page. That always helps.