Tues. April 30, 2019: Conference Wrap-up and New Ideas

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Ever so much to talk about, and some things about which I’m not yet ready to talk about, because I’m still mulling them over.

Hop on over to the GDR site for the April wrap-up. It should be up within a half hour of this post.

This past weekend, I was a presenter at the #NECRWA conference in Burlington, MA. It’s one of my favorite conferences, because it’s relaxed and upbeat. It always gives me a lot to think about.

I re-connected with some people I knew from before, met new people, met some people I knew from online and this was the first time we’d met in person.

The weather was awful on Friday. I had the car packed early, and left a little before noon. Usually, it takes me about 3 hours to get there (and it’s only outside of Boston) because of traffic. I’d managed to time it so it only took two hours.

My room was ready; I checked in and it took 2 luggage cart trips from car to room to get everything up. Made me think maybe I brought too much stuff.

The hotel had a renovation. It’s very upscale business traveler with dark wood and shiny counters and a huge TV. My room had a kingsized bed AND a chaise longue, with which I immediately fell in love. The bathroom was all shiny counters and frosted glass.

I unpacked, tried to rest up a bit, looked through the conference materials. I also worked ona book I have to review.

Freshened up and went downstairs for the cocktail hour. They served us a buffet dinner, too, courtesy of Red Feather Romance. That definitely got our attention — feed us! 😉

I had some interesting conversations. One with a writers’ group who’d travelled here together to attend — their members were from Western MA and upstate NY. I had another conversation with some early career writers who didn’t even try to hide their contempt that I’m with a small publisher and that I talked about craft and the importance of a good editor, and how much I value both my editor and my copy editor. They plan to self publish, and, according to them, “craft doesn’t matter, because Kindle readers don’t care.”

I beg to differ.

I found that arrogance rather off-putting, and wondered if that would be the tone of the conference.

The Literacy signing was after the dinner. I prefer it when it’s at the end of the weekend, when I’ve gotten to know some of the authors and have an idea of their books. I felt like I “should” buy a lot of books, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted, and I felt guilty when I browsed a table without buying.

I went back upstairs to decompress a little and read more of the book for review.

I also set up my rolling rack for tomorrow, went over the presentation again. Second-guessed myself on every item I brought and every slide I chosen; wondered if I should revise the presentation. But that way madness lies.

Tried to watch television, but it was lousy. I’m not missing anything by giving up cable.

Got an email from that new-to-me editor who wanted yet more information about why the topic — an underused resource that can generate more income for freelancers — is relevant to his site, which is supposed to be about generating income for freelancers. I have now written more than twice the word count ABOUT what the actual article would run. For a publication for which I’ve written a half a dozen times, and where I never had to jump through all these hoops for the other editor.

Makes me think we are no longer a good fit, and perhaps it’s time to move on to another dance partner.

The bed had one of those pillow top or memory foam things. I felt like I sank so far down it would cover me and smother me. It was comfortable; I’m just used to a much firmer mattress.

I woke up once at 4 AM with a horrible headache, but got back to sleep, and got up just before 6. Yoga, meditation, a little writing. I like writing in hotel rooms. There aren’t many distractions.

On my way to the first session, I stepped outside for a few minutes — and the headache went away. I realized that I can’t open the windows in my room, and I always sleep with my window cracked. I’m not used to recycled air.

A few minutes outside, even in the rain, helped.

Before the first session, I talked to some people who live in Central MA about the benefits of living there. They love it, because one can get to anywhere from there. It was great to hear them talk about what they loved about the area, how it’s changing, what frustrated them. The arts community seems much more vibrant and able to earn a living than it is here.

The first session was great, about burnout. Emily Nagoski was the presenter. Her handouts and worksheets were great. The timing couldn’t be better, considering the crossroads I’m facing right now. I also want to get a quote from her for an article I’m writing.

Went outside for a few minutes in between sessions, then went to a panel discussion where the participants frankly discussed money. We all agreed not to share these authors’ actual financial details outside of the room. But some of their approaches and concepts were interesting.

I was surprised — at this panel and elsewhere in the conference — by how large a percentage of the incomes are via Amazon’s Kindle direct. I’ve always avoided them because I don’t like the contract. My small publisher distributes digitally through Amazon, but my contract is not directly with Amazon, but via my publisher.

Also, the volume at which some of these authors are turning out books. There’s one full-time author who has published 70 books in the last 11 years. She’s earning money, she’s winning awards. She’s turning out quality work. She’s got audio books and translations out.

I always thought I wrote reasonably fast, but I couldn’t keep up that pace, unless I had a full staff to run the rest of my life.

I’m wondering if I should run an experiment, and have something that is more typically genre run through KDP/Unlimited to see how the returns differ.

The downside to that (apart from the qualms I have about the KDP contract) is that having only one book in that pipeline isn’t going to do much. I’d need at least three.

Three books that are separate from anything I currently have on contract, when I’m already on a brutal contract schedule.

Of course, a new pseudonym and a new idea for a series, even its title, came bursting forth almost immediately.

Whether I choose to go KDP or not, I’m kind of in love with this idea. It fuses with a couple of other ideas I’ve been playing with, and mixes the mystery and romance genres in a beautiful location.

I even have the opening line, which is a kicker.

The problem is — when will I be able to write it? We’ve already rescheduled THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and DAVY JONES DHARMA. I’m on track for GRAVE REACH, but I can’t let the other two fall by the wayside.

I have to get back into the Jain Lazarus Adventures later this year, revising CRAVE THE HUNT, and my editor and I have to go over the first two, seeing if we need to make any changes.

I have to get back on track with the JUSTICE BY HARPY books. The first book is in great shape; the second two, not so much. Since all three have to release close together, that’s a challenge.

I want to get THE FIX-IT GIRL out on traditional submission, and work on THE TIE-CUTTER.

And, of course, there’s always GAMBIT COLONY that pulls whenever I’m stressed to blow off steam.

I have a radio play going live in May. I have another radio play due in Florida in the next couple of weeks, and requests for more; I have ANOTHER radio play to send to MN as soon as I’m done with it.

I have a play due in NY at the end of May for a contest.

I have to get into the MFA to research Canaletto and the Bibiana families so I can start writing the play about Canaletto’s sisters that’s due at the end of the year.

I have to finish the anti-gun violence play (because it’s not like that issue will be solved any time soon).

I have to keep working on WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST, and test the monologues.

I have to write the play about the two infamous women authors.

I have articles to pitch and write, and other marketing writing that keeps a roof over my head. I have contest entries to finish, books to review, a couple of speaking engagements coming up.

I have to come up with a new marketing strategy for my books.

How do I make it all work? Especially when, right now, I’m exhausted? And deal with the garden? And I probably have to face some major life changes in the upcoming months.

I’m not sure. I have to take some time to sit and think. To prioritize. To push myself to get it all done.

To do it without killing myself.

Hence why the burnout workshop was so relevant.

Outside, took a few breaths of fresh air, then back in for a seminar on ebook pricing. Some of which directly contradicted what worked for some of the authors in the last seminar.

One interesting thing that came up was to set the first book in a series perpetually at 99 cents. I’ve played with that idea. I don’t want the people who are excited by a new release to feel screwed if I lower the price of the first book to 99 cents and keep it there. My publisher is open to discussing pricing changes, but is more in favor of limited-time discounts than a permanent change.

A few months ago, I was advised that I should lower the price of ALL the earlier books whenever I have a new release out. I balked at that idea, as did the publisher. Because then why should people order the book when it first comes out? They know it’ll come down in price a year later when the next one comes out. In the interim, I might lose them anyway.

It was also brought up that $1.99 is an awful price. I put my Delectable Digital delight shorts at 99 cents (making sure people understand they are SHORT). My publisher usually has novellas or short novels at $1.99 or $2.99 if they’re almost up to category length. Now I’m wondering if we should go up to some funky price like $2.09 or $2.49?

Yeah, this is just what my publisher wants. Me to come back from a conference full of ideas that aren’t new books! 😉

The lunch buffet was fun. I got to catch up with a friend who has nine books out under one of her names, and is about to launch a cozy mystery series under another. Can’t wait to read all of them!

Met another author, Jillian David, whose presentation I missed (and I felt guilty for so doing, because I really liked her). I now can’t wait to read her books, either.

The lunchtime keynote was Penny Reid, who was funny and heartfelt, and now I have another new-to-me author to read. That’s one of my favorite things about conferences — finding new-to-me authors whose work I can gobble up.

I found Kilby Blades, who was presenting the two sessions before mine in the salon we would all share, to ask if she minded that I brought my rack down and stashed it before her session started. She was cool with it. I didn’t want to just show up with a bunch of stuff and presume I could take up space.

I attended both of her marketing sessions which was useful. She navigates how to use best business practices in marketing and then morph them for the weirdness that is the book business. It helped me rethink some strategies, and I will have a lot to discuss with my publisher’s new marketing director soon!

There were some elements that gave me a headache. Charting daily sales–I know it’s useful, but I’d much rather look at weekly or monthly breakdowns. But as we work on new marketing strategies, the daily fluctuations and the importance of serious testing matters. The same way it does when I do it for other people.

I wish it wasn’t so much easier to market for someone else than to market myself!

Then, it was my turn.

My audience was great, but I was not happy with my performance. I talked too quickly. I didn’t share enough anecdotes from the set (only two or three). I meant to talk about heirloom pieces that are passed down and how they have meaning, and didn’t. I meant to tie in to some of the other sessions, and it flew right out of my mind.

I was frustrated with myself because it wasn’t as good as it could have been, and the only one to blame was me.

I shouldn’t have cut reading the passage from a friend’s book about how a couple of characters cleaned up for a funeral. That would have been a good addition. But when I timed a rehearsal, it made the session run long without time for questions.

As I said, my audience was great. I could have been better. I did not live up to my own expectations.

I packed up, took everything back up to the room, and changed for dinner. I wore Cupcake International pieces all weekend — I was a walking advertisement for them. But the pieces were fun and comfortable and flattering.

Dinner was good. I sat with some people who’d been in my session, and another woman from NH who was lovely. We had a great talk about life in New Hampshire and a whole lot of other things.

Sonali Dev was our Keynote, and she was wonderful. She said something that resonated. “We write because we refuse to be silent.”

Again, gave me a lot to think about.

I was exhausted and my mind going a mile a minute after dinner. I didn’t join the debrief sessions; I went upstairs. I finished reading the book for review, and made notes.

I made some notes on some new ideas. I tried watching TV, but there was nothing I wanted to see. Packed everything up.

I pondered all the information I’d gathered. It will take me awhile to sort it all out and decide how best to put it to use.

Woke up at 1 AM and got back to sleep. Woke up a little after six. Yoga, meditation, a little writing. Breakfast.

Had the car loaded and was gone a little after 8. There wasn’t much traffic, so I was home by 10:30.

Unloaded. Put stuff away. Unpacked. Sorted laundry. Unpacked the handouts and bookmarks and other things I picked up at the conference. It will take me a few days to go through them.

I usually go through them the day of or the day after. But I was too tired.

I don’t get why — I hardly drank at all. I usually spend more time at the bar at conferences, and I didn’t this time around. But I feel more worn out than when I spend most of my free time in the bar. Here I tried to take good care of myself and be healthy, and I’m still wiped out.

Probably because this was at the end of a long, stressful month.

Tried to rest on Sunday. Wrote the review. Read some other books. I gave myself the day off from contest entries.

Monday was back to the normal routine, although I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.

Got some writing done in the morning, although it wasn’t very good. Played with my new idea. That world is coming into focus surprisingly clearly. Although I don’t want to be arrogant about it, so I ordered a bunch of research books from the library.

Returned what I’d borrowed for the conference. Spent time onsite with a client. Turned in my review.

Cancelled out of my mid-afternoon appointment because my brain was mush and I was making stupid mistakes.

I’d walked out of the house without my phone. Meant to pick it up after the session with my client and before leaving for meditation group. But, of course, I walked out without it — mostly because the cats caught a little, tiny mouse, and I felt horribly guilty about her demise. I mean, I don’t want mice in the house, and I’m glad the cats did their feline job — but I still felt awful about that poor little mouse, and buried her in the yard.

Meditation was good. I felt better and more focused after, although still tired.

Read a couple of Tracy Kiely’s Nic and Nigel Martini books over the past two days. They’re a lot of fun.

Went to bed early; overslept this morning.

Got some writing done, but not enough. Still mulling things over in my head.

Onsite with a client most of the day, then I have to get some work done at the library.

More contest entries to work on tonight, and I’m starting to enter the scores into the digital sheets.

Was assigned my next book for review.

I have to get going on the thank yous and follow ups from the conference today and tomorrow. I don’t want to let that slide.

And I have to get on a more productive writing schedule. I think I have to add a second writing session into the evening for the next few months. The morning at 1.5-2K is okay (although it makes me feel very slow). But if I can add in another 1K session in the evening, I should be able to get back on track. Maybe I can up it a little on weekends.

Mostly, though, I’m so, so tired. My body is tired and my brain is tired. I’m seriously thinking of taking a few days off this weekend, except for contest entries, and then starting up again with the new moon.

But the conference was great, and it gave me a lot to think about. Now, I have to sort through it, and, most importantly, APPLY WHAT I’VE LEARNED.

Because otherwise, it’s just time spent without gain.

Back to the page.

 

Mon. April 29, 2019: Make the World a Better Place – The Big Picture — #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, April 29, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

All month, we’ve discussed ways to make the world a better place. Self, home, work, community.

All of those are building blocks to do the bigger things in THE WORLD.

There are the basics — you vote in every election, especially the local ones, for the person you think has the most integrity and will do the best job in the bigger picture.

You SERVE JURY DUTY. Yes. Stop trying to get out of it. Make the system work. Serve every time you’re called, without moaning. Pay attention. Weigh evidence. Because one day it might be you behind that table, staring at a jury, hoping for justice.

You can’t fix everything, but you can choose one or two organizations with missions about which you’re passionate. Give what you can financially. If your skills match the group’s needs and you can, volunteer some time. You’ll meet great people with the same passions, also working to make things better.

Support your local library. It is a bastion of community, learning, intelligence, curiosity, and social justice. Library funding is decided based on circulation numbers (how many books are checked out) and how many people attend programs. Do both. Make a financial contribution if you can. Volunteer if you can. Create a program if you can. Keep your local library healthy, and it will keep your community healthy.

We’re all hit with way too many demands for money from organizations every day. It’s hard not to feel guilty that we can’t help everyone. But pick what matters to YOU. Not what someone else tells you matters. But what matters to YOU.

If you can’t afford to give money or time, because you’re working too many jobs trying to keep a roof over your head and food on the table, then it’s even more important that you vote in every election. Vote for those who will raise your wages, make sure you have health care, protect the environment so there’s actually a world in which to live.

Stand up for what matters to you. Don’t watch and say nothing when someone is attacked. To stand by and do nothing is to agree with the action.

We live in a world where doing nothing is no longer an option.

Be kind whenever possible. Don’t be a doormat. Stand up for yourself with quiet strength and dignity. Don’t hide behind “honesty” as an excuse for cruelty, and call it out when others do so.

Keep working on your own little patch of the world, making it better by the way you live every day. Then see where you can make a difference on a bigger scale.

How do you make the world a better place? By being the best person you can be, staying true to your core integrity, and walking your talk.

Published in: on April 29, 2019 at 6:06 am  Comments (1)  
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Fri. April 26, 2019: Headed for the Conference!

Friday, April 26, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and chilly

I’m on the road today, headed to the conference. The most stressful thing about it will be driving the dangerous stretch of road full of dumbass drivers texting between here and the conference. It’s two of my least favorite roads in the area. It’s pouring down rain, and there’s already street flooding, so it will be a nightmare.

But that’s life.

I’m feeling a little under the weather. I have some errands to run this morning before I leave, some things to take care of. If one more person asks for something — everyone’s known FOR WEEKS I’m presenting this weekend, and yesterday a half a dozen people had questions that they think have to be answered RIGHT NOW. Just get over yourself. It’s going to have to wait until I get back.

I’m going to take it easy once I get to the hotel tonight. I may nip down to the signing and meet a few people. I have another meeting scheduled later in the evening. But I need to put together the rolling rack and unbag/hang the clothes, go over the presentation again, check the packets, etc.

Since I’m presenting at the end of the day, the lowest energy point of my day, I have to pace myself and conserve energy, so I can leave it all out on the floor during my slot.

Saturday night, once I’ve taken everything back up to the room, broken it down, and repacked it — I can hang out! 😉

Remember, most of us are a combination of nervous and excited about a conference situation. Seeing old friends, making new ones, meeting new people. Just be kind, smile, and invite someone to pull up a chair.

We’ll all have fun, learn from each other, and come back richer for the experience.

See you at NECRWA!

 

Published in: on April 26, 2019 at 8:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thurs. April 25, 2019: Evolution of the Writing Process & Internet Bullying

Thursday, April 25, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

That pressure you’re feeling? Jupiter AND Pluto are retrograde. Saturn joins them on Monday. Yuck.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest post on the garden.

Was with a client most of yesterday. Somehow, when I woke up I thought it was Thursday instead of Wednesday; even once I realized it, I had trouble getting into the Wednesday head space to work with the client.

Home and worked in the garden for about an hour. There’s still a lot to do, but I just have to do it one piece at a time. Eventually, it will all get done.

Worked on contest entries.

I’m playing with a new idea for a series of novellas. I want to mix genres. I want them to be short. The characters are clear; the world is taking shape. I have the beginnings of a plot, which I’ll have to explore further. I don’t want them to run longer than 25-30K, so the plot has to be precise, and a minimum of sub-plots, even though I want a couple of them to run the course of the series.

I’m not sure WHEN I can fit in the writing of them, so I have something worthwhile to show my editor. I have deadlines to meet, and re-adjusted deadlines to meet.

But it’s fun to play with the ideas.

It’s so important for process to evolve. My process is constantly evolving. I learn from each project. I work on both art and craft. Some of them wind up not working at all, and that’s okay. Disappointing, but even what doesn’t work gets me somewhere else, and gives me valuable experience.

I’ve written books as a blank-pager, not using an outline. (I don’t use the term “pantser” — to me, it sounds like an STD). While it was sometimes fun and often frustrating to figure it out as I wrote, ultimately, I had to evolve away from that. It also needed a lot more drafts to get it into the shape where I could even ask a Trusted Reader to look at it.

This is my profession, not my hobby. This is how I keep a roof over my head and food on the table. I don’t have the luxury of writer’s block or not knowing what comes next when I sit down at the page. I need to be able to drop immediately into the world of whatever I’m working on and move forward.

I’m juggling several series, along with other projects. Some are novels; some are radio plays; some are stage plays; some are articles or other writing I do for clients. I don’t have the option of telling a client I “didn’t have time” to do their project.

Outlining has helped me. I sit down and plot out the book. I free write the characters’ stories. Then I go back and work on plot points and scenes. Then I arrange and rearrange them as I best think it will serve that particular book.

I don’t like working on index cards. For scripts, especially television scripts, that’s the protocol, and if I’m working as part of a staff, or with a partner, yes, we use index cards. But I’m happier with paper and pen. My outlines are more like treatments.

This is NOT the outline I’d send with a query. Even the outlines I send my editors for series in progress are honed from these outlines, but are NOT these outlines. I call these outlines my “Writer’s Rough Outline.”

I type a copy and keep my original handwritten copy. I usually work from the handwritten (if I can read it — sometimes it’s too scrawled). The creative energy that went into the handwritten copy often serves me better than a cold, typed version.

As I complete each section of the outline, I check it off.

I adjust along the way, as the story and characters dictate and evolve.

My outline is a roadmap, not a prison. I often go in very different directions. That’s okay.

The first draft is often lean and skeletal. I don’t want to lose momentum. I want to get through it.

I like to put each draft away. The most important rest time is between the first draft and the second. Ideally, it’s two months. The reality is often far less, but I always try for at least two weeks.

I have to be able to look at it objectively, as though someone else wrote it.

Then I do as many drafts as it takes, including my multi-colored draft (where I go through with different colored markers highlighting adverbs, passive or past perfect, and qualifiers. Then I take them out and look for better ways to express what I want to say. If that word IS the best way, I negotiate with myself to put it back in).

The second draft is usually where I overwrite and follow tangents and develop ideas. The third draft if usually a combination of multi-colored draft and massive cuts.

Trusted readers usually get a third or fourth draft. I usually have at least one, sometimes two drafts after my readers see it before I consider it submission-ready. An un-contracted manuscript can take several years until it’s ready for submission.

The books on series contract have fewer drafts, since my contracted editor is in earlier in the process. Plus, the schedule is tighter.

There are always more ideas than hours in the day to write them. (I distrust those who say they “don’t have anything to write about” the same way I distrust people who get bored. Writers always have too much to write about). I recently started a notebook I call the “Whatever” notebook. I’ve had variations on this throughout the years, usually called “Fragments.”

I date every entry. I find the date provides a context for the inspiration, and sometimes it helps to go back to other elements of the day.

In it, I write whatever I want. A snippet of dialogue, an observation, ideas as characters and situations come to me. If I’m somewhere between meetings or in a waiting room or just want to get away and clear my head, I take the Whatever notebook and free write. Write about whatever’s on my mind, a combination of inspiration, what if, development, and brain dump.

It’s along the lines of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Practice and Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, although they happen at any time in the day, and at any place.

Morning pages work for lots of people, but not fore me. Morning is my most creative time. If I do morning pages, then I’ve used up that creative energy that should have gone into whatever is my Primary Project (the manuscript in which I write my first 1K of the day every morning). I think they’re great if they work. The concept is terrific, and it gets the person writing every day. But I need my first writing of the day to be about the work, not about me.

I’ve also started reading a few pages in one of my favorite writing books in the morning, before I start writing. Morning routine is: make coffee, feed the cats, check email/social media (sometimes I respond, while the coffee is brewing; sometimes I make a note to respond later), first cup of coffee, yoga, meditation, shower/dress, first 1K of the day.

When the weather is nice, I have my first cup of coffee out on the deck. When it’s not, I have it in my writing room. Now, I’m reading a few pages in one of my favorite books about writing (I have shelves of them, and some of them I re-read regularly as fuel).

Any other kind of book siphons energy away from my own work; in other words, I don’t read fiction first thing, or it derails my first 1K. But reading about writing and process helps. Usually it’s only 2-3 pages. But it starts building the desire.

Once I’ve written my first 1K of the day, I have breakfast. Check email, plan the day. If I can, I get a little more writing done. If it’s a day where I’m headed off to work with a client, I do it. Otherwise, I might write at home for a bit, and then head to the library for a few hours. There, I can research and put together pitches, or just sit in a corner and write. I answer emails, I send out LOIs or pitches. It’s easier for me to do that away from the writing room.

I prefer to write in the morning and edit in the afternoon. That’s flexible, depending on deadlines.

Again, weather dictates when I can work in the yard, so sometimes I have to push an editing session or add an extra writing session into the evening, when necessary.

I still go out with friends. I still spend time with family. But they can’t sabotage the writing. Anyone who sabotages the writing is removed from my life. This is my profession as well as my passion. I am the breadwinner. Writing is a priority, and those who don’t understand that, who don’t respect that, reveal a far deeper problem than time or writing. They reveal that they don’t understand or respect ME. Why would I have people in my life who don’t respect me?

That carries over to the endless bullying on the Internet. The last few days, I have received demands to stop talking about politics because the follower “only” wants writing information; to stop talking about writing because the follower “only” wants politics; to block people that person didn’t like or they would block me; if I’m even willing to listen to a different point of view, they’ll block me; if I don’t like the same thing they do, they’ll block me; they pick the “hill they want to die on” for something meaningless to most of the rest of us and demand fealty; that they’ll block anything that is retweeted without comment — really? If it’s well said, adding anything is only ego on my part; that I have to “prove” I’m a “real person” and they get to define “real” and that I “must” use pronouns in my bio– um, no. I get to decide what I share publicly and how to share it; to stop forwarding information on animals in kill shelters whose lives can be saved through adoption, fostering, and sponsorship.

All these people can go to hell, as far as I’m concerned. They don’t get to tell me what to post about, what to write about, how to live, what parts of myself I choose to share with the world.

I’m tired of people who claim they support inclusion and tolerance and are fighting for what’s right then tell me what I can and can’t say or do or think — as much as those we’re fighting dictate to us. Especially if it’s someone I’ve never met and only know for a few days on a social media platform.

Are you paying me to write something specific? No? Then you don’t have a say in what I write. YOUR right is not to buy it. Or read it. But not to tell me I can’t or shouldn’t write it.

None of these people matter in my life. I quietly unfollow or block plenty of people every week. We’re just not compatible. I don’t have to threaten them or fight with them. I either scroll past (because we are all more than one thing, and that’s beautiful) or, if it truly is something I don’t want in my life in the long term, I unfollow or block, as appropriate. I don’t have to make a big deal out of it. I’m a random person on plenty of people’s feeds, as they are on mine. We can peacefully co-exist, in most instances, without bullying each other. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to write posts that incite violence or demean people — yes, those should be called out. But if someone is happy about a show or a flavor of ice cream or whatever? Why be mean? If something matters to someone and they want to share a post to try and help? Why do YOU have the right to say THEY don’t have the right to care or to share it?

You don’t.

Also, I am not required to follow everyone who follows me, nor is everyone I follow required to follow me. There are certain red flag words in posts or bios that mean I won’t follow back. It doesn’t mean that person is expected to change; it’s just not something I want in my life. Eventually, they will probably unfollow me anyway.

And we don’t miss each other, because we never really knew each other.

Yes, social media is a marketing tool for my work. But that’s only part of the reason I’m on it. I’m on it to learn from people who know and are interested in different things than I am. I am on it for conversation and information and laughter. I don’t have to like, or even agree, with every post from every person that shows up on my feed.

Have I made poor choices, either in comments or in sharing? Of course. But I’m getting more aware of it, and am thinking twice before doing either. I am well aware how flawed I am, and I work on it. But I don’t bow to bullies, even in elementary school.

I’m happy with the way GRAVE REACH is going, and hope to get in at least one more writing session on it today. I have to make a grocery run, go to the library, take my mother to a doctor’s appointment, get some yard work in.

I also have to go over Saturday’s presentation one more time, and re-check the packing and all the stuff I’m bringing for the presentation. I have a rolling rack full of fun stuff. I leave for the conference tomorrow. I present late on Saturday. I know I’m prepared, but I always like to make sure.

I could teach a semester-long course on this. I have 50 minutes. I hope I picked the right 50 minutes of material!

Back to the page. And the yard.

 

Wed. April 24, 2019: Organization is Key

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the latest.

I’m tired. I’m wondering how I’ll pull up the energy for the conference.

Trying to get everything done so my client can get out the door and out of the country next Monday for her business trip is fun and interesting, but it takes a lot of energy.

Turned around the outline request from an editor; hopefully I’ll land the article. Took care of a few other admin things, and picked up the ribbons for my handout packets. Instead of putting the material in folders or just dumping it on the chairs, I’m going to tie them with pretty ribbon. I wish I’d had the budget to do swag for the conference, but that’s the way it goes some years.

Borrowed a sturdier rolling rack that folds down from one of my clients. It’ll fit in the car and be more stable than my little one that doesn’t fold. I need it for the display pieces I’m bringing.

Worked on contest entries.

Pondered what’s next for THE TIE CUTTER. I really like the material in the draft I re-read on Monday. But I think my original vision for the rest of the story was off. I have to re-read my outline and notes, but I think I want to take her journey more to self-realization (with love as a bonus) than the traditional finding true love story I originally wanted. She’s learning that maybe she shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place, and that the twenty-six years she spent with her husband wasn’t the partnership she needed.

The draft stops when she gets to Iceland. The Iceland section is next, and I’m going to deviate in that section, the Ireland section, and, ultimately, the Scotland section, from the way I originally envisioned this unfolding.

And that’s okay. Because an outline should be a roadmap, not a prison.

Really happy with the way GRAVE REACH is taking shape. That’s always a relief.

I’m re-watching STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, and enjoying it (in spite of some of the flaws I find in it) even more this time around. I learn so much from the structure and the writing.

With a client for the bulk of the day. Have to decide if I want to get some foam core and add vision boards to the presentation.

Mostly packed. The accessories are packed, and the pieces that will go in the garment bag are pulled — I just have to put them in the bag, zip it, and load it.

I’m kind of looking forward to sleeping in a hotel for a couple of nights; but I also don’t think I’ll be doing much hanging out on Friday night. I have a feeling I’ll check in, go to the cocktail hour, and then set up for Saturday and rest.

Saturday night, however, I hope I get to spend some quality time with fellow conference goers.

Tomorrow, I have a lot of last-minute stuff to do, and work to clear off, so that I can leave on Friday with a clear conscience, and nothing hanging over me.

Back to the page.

 

Tues. April 23, 2019: Just Trying to Keep Juggling

Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde

Yesterday was Earth Day. It was kind of rainy and gloomy here. One of these days, my time off and the weather will align. It wasn’t yesterday.

The weekend was busy, yet there isn’t much of interest to write about. I spent the bulk of it polishing my presentation for the weekend, and putting together the handout packets.

Time not spent on the presentation was spent working on contest entries. I’m in good shape with them, and there are some exciting books to consider as finalists.

Did some percolating on a few ideas; did some percolating on GRAVE REACH, but not much writing on it. Wrestled with “Aurora Nightingale” — but still not satisfied.

I like the way GRAVE REACH is working — I’m kind of a little bit in love with Sam, my male protagonist, which is a good thing!

Re-read what I have of THE TIE-CUTTER yesterday. It’s good, and is a book I’d like to get back to, once my contracted deadlines are cleared out.

I pitched an article on Friday; if it’s accepted, I can turn it around pretty fast. The editor requested an outline. For a 600 word article, that seems a little much (especially since I’ve written for this publication a half a dozen times), but hey, that’s what the editor wants, so that’s what the editor gets.

Didn’t make it to meditation yesterday; 4 PM just doesn’t work for me on many a Monday. I still sit at home, though. Every day. And I’ve packed my travel yoga mat for the conference. I’ll keep to my yoga and meditation practice there, too.

Client work will be stressful this week, because my client is going on a big trip and we have to get everything ready and out ahead of time. I’m trying to keep myself prepared both mentally and physically for this week’s challenges.

And keep writing.

 

Mon. April 22, 2019: Make The World a Better Place — Community #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, April 22, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde

This week, we talk about making the world a better place by building community and participating in your community.

What, exactly, does “building community” mean?

Different things to different people. To some, it means reaching out to those who don’t like to participate, and to encourage them so to do. That’s great for extroverts, but as an introvert who is forced into extroversion far too often and gets resentful, I build it in different ways. Ways that don’t force me to pretend to be something I’m not.

I consider what I’m interested in, and where my skills might be an asset. Then, I see which organizations could use those skills. I do my research, I attend open houses or events to see if we’d be a good fit. If what I do matches what they need, we discuss ways for me to volunteer.

One of my biggest mistakes when I moved here was downplaying some of my skills and doing tasks with which I was uncomfortable under the adage of “being a good sport.” Around here, too many people are hostile to people with New York skills, citing, “This isn’t New York.” No, it’s not. The only place that’s New York is actually New York. But some of the skills that are successful there can be successful anywhere, and dismissing skills because they worked in New York is a stupid reason not to use them.

Having learned the hard way, I’m done with that.

I’ve also learned to put my foot down when the organization demands something I don’t do, with the claim, “well that’s what we need” — ESPECIALLY when I told them, early on, what tasks I was uncomfortable with and would not do. Too many organizations just want bodies to deploy and aren’t honest about the work that needs doing. It’s one thing if there’s a crunch time to say, “We could really use an extra pair of hands for this.” Hey, no problem, glad to help. It’s quite another to send multiple emails every week demanding I do things I said I wouldn’t do.

It means I’ll leave the organization. Especially as a volunteer, I am not going to spend my rare time off, unpaid, doing things that make me miserable. It makes MY world a worse place, and it doesn’t help further the organization’s mission.

In volunteering, honesty on both sides and firm boundaries are vital for the volunteer-organization relationship to work. The more specific and honest the initial conversation, the better the overall relationship, and the better everyone works for the betterment of all.

Another way to make the world a better place in your community is to look around and see what needs to be done. Does an elderly neighbor need help with yard work or grocery shopping or someone to help walk the dog? Is a neighbor sick and could use a few meals they can just heat up? Is a fundraiser looking for someone to staff a table or write invitations or do something you enjoy doing?

The local library is an information center. They often have a community board, and their website carries information on programs, talks, community events.

If you have an area of expertise, ask your local library if they’d like you to give a talk on it. Partner with them. Attend other events they host. Funding is cut if people don’t attend. When I worked for a library, those who couldn’t be bothered to attend the free programs were always the ones who moaned that there weren’t enough programs offered. If you want events to exist, you have to make the effort to attend them when they do, or they will cease. If there’s no reciprocity, they stop.

Attend local theatre productions and art openings and wine tastings, if you’re interested in any of that. These programs have no reason to exist if people don’t attend. We’re all tired after a long day at work, but if you make an effort once or twice a week, it improves your community.

The Chamber of Commerce is another organization that makes the community a better place. Attend an open house. Get to know other businesses. See if it makes sense to become a member. As a freelancer, in most places I’ve lived, the Chamber of Commerce is one of the best resources for networking, community building, business building, and laughter around.

When you go to these events, smile. Introduce yourself. Talk to people. Make the effort, even if you’re shy. Look around for the person who is quiet and doesn’t know anyone else, either, and say hello. Be the inclusion you want. Don’t wait for other people to do it.

Create what you’re looking for, instead of expecting others to do it. When you create what you want and need and love, you attract those seeking the same. That’s how you find your tribe.

Fri. April 19, 2019: Trying to Stay On Track

Friday, April 19, 2019
Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was not as productive as I’d like. I got out a few LOIs, handled some admin work, worked on “Aurora Nightingale” and my presentation. I still can’t get those two scenes where I want them. It’s very frustrating. But I have to keep at it. I’m going to go some more research on current events. That should help.

Worked on contest entries in the afternoon and evening. Just felt tired and discouraged, but better for being off line for a good part of the day.

I’m trying to juggle everything that has to be done before I leave for the workshop. The hotel stuff gets more and more frustrating and complicated. I’m remembering why I dislike that hotel so much.

But the workshop will be fun.

I’m trying to track down monies owed that are late — so sick of this. We all have bills to pay. Pay on time and let everyone else pay their bills on time.

We had rain yesterday afternoon, so I couldn’t do yard work. It’s sunny now, but we’re supposed to get another storm. I have things away from home that I can’t put off this morning; I’m hoping the weather will hold for the afternoon.

The weekend is supposed to be a little nasty. But maybe they’ll be wrong, and I can get some yardwork done.

Playing with some ideas that are niggling at me. Getting back into the groove with GRAVE REACH. But the bulk of the focus will be honing the presentation and making sure I have the handouts.

I’m under intense pressure on several different fronts. All I can do is put my head down and do the work.

Have a great weekend, everyone. For those celebrating Easter and Passover, best wishes to you.

Published in: on April 19, 2019 at 9:02 am  Comments Off on Fri. April 19, 2019: Trying to Stay On Track  
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Thurs. April 18, 2019: Some Cycles Are Tougher Than Others

Thursday, April 18, 2019
Day Before Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy & cool

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest on the garden.

It looks like I may be moving webhosts again, or at least when my current term nears expiration. Here I thought A2 hosting was so great. Their price point is perfect. I like their panel. Yet the fact that I can’t access my sites from anywhere I want means they cannot serve my needs. I work on different machines in different locations. That is the nature of my work. I need to be able to access my sites WHENEVER and from WHEREVER I need. But because I don’t do so from a “static IP” address, they claim I triggered a firewall and won’t let me sign in far too often.

Basically, I’m only “allowed” to sign in from a single computer they recognize. Which is not how my life works. Nor am I going to change it to suit them.

They claim this is for “security.” Yet my email accounts have been hacked multiple times by outside sources and they shrug and tell me there’s nothing they can do. But I cannot access the sites for which I’m paying far too often. And ALWAYS when I’m under time pressure.

Which means A2 Hosting cannot meet my needs, and I must look elsewhere. Which is a shame, because there are so many things I like about them. The plan has to be affordable, allow me to run unlimited websites and unlimited email accounts, and also allow me to sign in from whatever computer and wherever I am located in the world.

A2 Hosting was great for the transition away from the awful 1&1, and they are light years superior to 1&1. A2 is so much better than Green Geeks. You remember what I nightmare I went through with them when I was trying to transition my sites over a year ago. But A2 Hosting is still not what I need. I am not an IT person or a developer, nor can I afford to have one on-call. I understand most of WordPress and am always learning, but I can’t run my own server. I don’t have the skills. I need shared hosting.

Both InMotion and SiteGround have come highly recommended. They were under consideration for the last move. I may talk to them both again.

I’m really tired of the sales departments of these hosts writing checks the tech department won’t cash. I ask very specific questions when I’m interviewing hosts, and when I’m assured they can and will meet my needs, I expect them so to do. They need to stop lying and misleading in order to land the sale.

I checked out Blue Host and HostGator. They could not meet my needs.

So the search continues. I welcome recommendations. My registrations are now all with Name Silo and I love working with them. No drama. Great customer service. Great prices.

The event I attended the other night was not what I expected, and not for the better. It was presented as a speaker teaching us how to make best use of visuals on social media. Instead, in an hour and a half, the “speaker” — reading from notes she took at someone else’s social media basics workshops — never got beyond joining groups on Facebook. Well, that’s the way it goes sometimes. Now I know.

Wednesday morning, I worked on GRAVE REACH and on my presentation for next week’s NECRWA workshop. Two people I really like have let me know they’ll be in the workshop. It will be great to see some friendly faces.

Had to send an email ending a situation where I feel I’ve been jerked around for a week. It should have been simple and straightforward, and the other person is making Big Drama. Sorry. I keep it on the page and out of my life. The person responded in the evening, wanting to string me along indefinitely. So I said no and ended the situation. It leaves me heart-sore on one level, but I’m tired of the demands in this area of constantly having to accommodate everyone else’s neuroses, and not getting ANY accommodation for ANYTHING ever in return. It’s non-reciprocal, and I’m not participating.

Waiting to hear back from another potential client who told me they’d make a decision at the end of last week. I’m assuming they’re still negotiating with their first choice. We’ll see what happens. On the fence about whether I’d even say yes at this point. If I’m not the first choice, it’s not the right situation for either of us.

Got a weird email back from one of my LOIs, trying to justify making an offer to someone else. Hey, doesn’t matter to me. He’s the one hiring. The email made me think he has hirer’s remorse already. I sent a gracious email back.

Got out some LOIs. Had to sent a follow up email to one of the radio producers, because it’s been nearly a month and no check yet. Professional protocol is that the check goes out the day of or the day after the final performance. Not whenever someone feels like getting around to it.

I’m weary and exhausted from all the crap.

It’s all cycles. I had a strong cycle a couple of weeks ago, and now it’s more difficult. I have to acknowledge the frustration, the anger, the pain instead of pretending it doesn’t exist. I have to sort through each situation logically and figure out the best way to respond, handle, extricate, or move forward. Then I have to take the actions so to do.

My life is mine. It is not to be lived for others’ convenience or agendas.

I’m invited to another event next week, and I doubt I’ll attend. Why bother? It’ll be same old, same old. Lots of meaningless chatter in the moment, no follow-through. Then, when I follow through, trying to get me to work for nothing. That’s the pattern here. I’m not playing the game anymore.

Working on contest entries, working on GRAVE REACH, working on “Aurora Nightingale.” I still can’t get those two scenes where I want them.

Tempted to work on GAMBIT COLONY, although I really shouldn’t. But working on that piece is a great stress reliever.

Working on the presentation. I think it will be a lot of fun next weekend. I’m not happy about being in the last slot of the day, when I’m at my lowest energy, but hey, someone had to be in it, so why not me? I’ll pace myself during the day and then pull up the energy and leave it all out in the room when it’s my turn.

I had hoped to have four solid days to do yard work, but it will be raining the entire time I have off. I need to get into better alignment with the weather, so I can get the yard done!

Going to do some policy work with a few people later today. That will make me feel better. Doing something that might actually make a positive difference somewhere.

So, yeah, going through a few tough days. It will even out eventually. In the meantime, I’m frustrated and exhausted and disheartened.

 

Published in: on April 18, 2019 at 9:06 am  Comments Off on Thurs. April 18, 2019: Some Cycles Are Tougher Than Others  
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Wed. April 17, 2019: Destruction of Beauty

Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for a piece on goals.

I’d already scheduled Tuesday’s blog for posting and was away from anywhere I could update it when word came about the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Watching the footage of the spire falling was devastating. The whole thing was devastating.

I am not a fan of organized religion. I believe spirituality is important, but religion can taint it. I think more atrocity is committed in the name of religion than anything else, and distrust the way it is used to control the populace. However, people have the right to their beliefs, as long as they don’t impose them on others. And this is Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, which has deep meaning to many.

I’ve visited Notre Dame. Many years ago, but the sense of beauty and genuine awe (not the overused “awesome” that’s become a meaningless throwaway) still stay with me. The sense of centuries of history and passion and fervor translated into such beauty. The stained glass windows.

One of my uncles, a respected artist in Europe, used to work in stained glass. On one of my few visits, he showed me how it was done. The painstaking process melding art and math and planning astonished me.

This incident is heartbreaking.

I hope the investigation into the cause will be thorough and relentless.

Client work was exhausting the past two days, and will be so today. I’ve been working on “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” and “Dashed Dreams” and GRAVE REACH. Each one presents some unique challenges. I’m annoyed with myself for struggling so much on “Aurora Nightingale.” I have the craft — why am I having trouble implementing it?

Of course, a few pages here and there on GAMBIT COLONY is how I de-stress.

I’m working steadily on the contest entries. I’m polishing up my presentation for the Character Closet workshop on NECRWA, which is at the end of next week.

I’m waiting to hear back on a few other things that make me feel like I’m in limbo, although part of me just wants to shrug and move on. Disappointing, but that’s the way it goes. The right opportunities will come my way, and I have to remain alert and aware enough to recognize them. The “rehearsal opportunities” — things that don’t work out – -give me a chance to learn something I can apply to things that do work out.

Got annoyed with a thread by a guy (of course) tweeting a thread about watching one woman treat another woman badly in a cafe. He just sat there, tweeting, and did nothing, although speaking up for the woman who was treated badly could have put a stop to the whole situation. The more I read his thread, the angrier I got with him. You don’t just stand by and observe injustice. You speak up. Or you are an accomplice. So what if he thought it was great material for his next piece? He had an obligation as a decent human being to intervene.

Or maybe he showed us all he is both a coward and not a decent human being.

The grass looks good after a few days’ rain. I hope the weather holds, so I can do more yard work. I’m going to have to mow pretty soon. But I’m ahead of the game this year, with a mower I actually like. If I can start early enough and keep up, it will all be fine.

Tomorrow, I will blog about my time at the Cape Cod Digital Artists event.

For now, it’s off to work with a client, and then back to the page. Or, if the weather’s good enough, in the yard for an hour or so.

Published in: on April 17, 2019 at 6:01 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 17, 2019: Destruction of Beauty  
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Tues. April 16, 2019: Trying to Get It Done

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to read about my next adventure in the Reader Expansion Challenge.

Busy weekend.

I didn’t get in as much yardwork as I wanted. I got a little bit done on Friday, before the rain started, and then again on Sunday, before the rain started.

I had a meeting Friday afternoon, which left me feeling lukewarm about the whole situation. It should have been very simple, but wasn’t.

Also, unless someone is planning to date me or sleep with me, asking about my marital status is irrelevant. I find it an insulting question. And I’m starting to push back when people ask. I thought that was not allowed anymore in interviews.

Saturday morning, up early, and got Tessa to the vet to get her shots updated. She was vocal in the car — first time ever. I guess, since Iris is no longer around to yowl, Tessa feels she has to pick up the slack. The visit went well; Tessa was good. Then, we headed home, and she was fine.

The day was rainy and yucky, so I focused on working on contest entries.

Sunday morning, I did a little bit of work on GAMBIT COLONY. I worked on contest entries. I went grocery shopping. It was a gorgeous day.

Took yard waste to the dump.

I went to Country Gardens and got pansies for the front, three kinds of lettuce, and parsley, then got potting soil. I potted the herbs and vegetables, put pansies in the front baskets and the barrel, and raked out the front beds. Cut back a lot of invasives that took up residence over the winter.

Sat outside on the deck for a bit, reading. Steven Axelrod’s newest, NANTUCKET COUNTERFEIT, is excellent.

Dinner, more WEST WING. I did not watch the premiere of the last season of GAME OF THRONES. It’s a magnificent production, but I stopped watching a few years ago due to the unrelenting cruelty. It’s great that people love it so much; always glad when art has that power. But I choose not to watch it anymore. I don’t denigrate those who love it; I don’t accept anyone denigrating me because I don’t.

Storm started Sunday night, and was bad into Monday. Monday was Patriot’s Day here in MA, and the Boston Marathon. I felt for the runners. Miserable weather. And tornado warnings in New York.

Got some work done on “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” but I’m still not satisfied. I have to keep working it until I get it right. Also worked on “Dashed Dreams” the Straw Hat Circuit radio play.

Worked with a client for a few hours yesterday on site, and am back there again today.

Have to get material to the organizers of the talk I’m giving in mid-May. It’s a panel discussion. Should be interesting, but part of me is wishing I hadn’t committed. But I did and I’ll see it through.

Am reconciling myself to disappointment on a couple of fronts, and feeling a bit discouraged.

Considering going to an event this evening, but I have to see how I feel. I don’t know if I can summon up the energy for yet another new group of people.

Back to the page.

Published in: on April 16, 2019 at 5:03 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 16, 2019: Trying to Get It Done  
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Mon. April 15, 2019: Make the World a Better Place #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, April 15, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Tax Day
Patriot’s Day in MA

 

Yeah, Jupiter Retrograde on Tax Day. Isn’t that fun? We already know anyone who actually works for a living is getting screwed out of a refund, while the richest get yet another break.

Week 3 of our month about “Make the World a Better Place” focuses on how to do so at work.

Many of us, as writers, work on our own or remotely. We started making our home a better place last week; this week, we make our work a better place, even if we work from home.

Others of us work outside of the home in whatever fields we work in when we’re not writing.

Work situations can be toxic, especially if we’re in a position where we can’t immediately leave a bad situation. Also, remember that everyone has bad days. Sometimes people are thoughtless or exhausted or overwhelmed and lash out. WE all need to practice a certain amount of forgiveness and give each other some breathing room. When it becomes a detrimental pattern, then you have to choose which action you take further, but remember that you will have bad days, and your co-workers have bad days, so try to approach the work situation with compassion.

So, how do you make wherever you work a better place?

Here are some things I have found that help. Try them or don’t, as you please:

Come in with a smile and a cheerful greeting. It makes a difference. People will start associating you with a pleasant start to the day.
Answer the phone sounding cheerful. Again, that makes a difference. It can also diffuse a tense situation if the other person has a gripe.
Have a small item you can put in your workspace that personalizes it. Some places don’t want you to personalize your workspace. Unless it’s a safety issue, I suggest finding another job as soon as possible, because, in my experience, it means they are trying to dehumanize their employees. But a small stone or shell or photo or mug or something that is uniquely YOU that you can put in your space when you arrive and then tuck back in your bag when you leave also ritualizes the work day. You put it down, and it helps indicate you’re starting work. You put it away, and this portion of your day is finished. Even if you work at home, entering the space where you work and performing a specific action to start and end your day makes a big difference.
Listen to your co-workers and learn about them. Pay attention. REMEMBER what is said in conversations. I worked with someone who, whether it was personal or work-related, would constantly say, “You can’t expect me to remember that.” Yes, I can. If I relay information you need for your task, remembering it or writing it down so you can refer to it later is called being professional. If it’s something personal, then it’s called being a decent human being. (Note: I no longer interact with this person at ALL, thank goodness).
Know what’s going on in your field. Read internal newsletters and reports. Read external information about the profession. Know what’s happening, what’s changing, what’s phased out. Be that valuable reference who knows the pulse of your profession. Relay appropriate information where it will do the most good.
Communicate with clarity and precision. Take good notes, especially in phone conversations. Send a summary of the phone conversation by email immediately after, stating that you will proceed on your understanding of the next steps based on this summary, unless you hear otherwise within one business day. Documentation is vital, and accurate documentation saves a lot of agony down the line.
Avoid passive aggressive behavior in yourself and call it out in others. You can say, “If something is bothering you, please let me know instead of expecting me to guess.” If it continues to be a problem, go to a supervisor for a discussion. In my experience, more sabotage and harm on both personal and professional levels is done through passive aggressive behavior than through direct attack.
Be honest without being cruel. If you disagree with something, or you find something unethical or unacceptable, calmly and clearly speak up using a positive language as possible. Don’t let an aggressor trap you into an argument. Remember that you can say “no” without a qualifier. “No” means “no.” If challenged, you have the option to say, “Because my answer is no.”
Be kind whenever possible. As we discussed in our work on kindness a few weeks ago, kindness is not weakness. It’s the opposite. As mentioned above, everyone has bad days. When a co-worker is struggling, sometimes even a kind word makes all the difference.

We spend so much time with our co-workers; even remote workers have to deal with people more often than we sometimes wish!

But when we remember that every word and every action has an impact on our co-workers, when we take that extra beat to think before we speak, we can make a positive difference.

Published in: on April 15, 2019 at 6:50 am  Comments (1)  
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Fri. April 12, 2019: Long Weekend Needs to Be Productive

Friday, April 12, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Got some yard work done yesterday, which was a good thing. Compared with how much still needs to be done, it doesn’t look like I got a lot done, but every bit of progress is progress. I got rid of a lot of invasives, which was not fun, but necessary.

Took my mother to the doctor. She had to have another biopsy done on her leg. Hopefully, she won’t need more surgery.

Worked on contest entries and some other stuff. Behind where I want to be in the writing, and have to push hard this weekend. Also want to finish the material for my workshop. I’m last on the schedule, about which I have mixed feelings. It’s my lowest energy point of the day. But I’ll pull it off.

I need to start putting together the handouts, too. Because, of course, I am the Queen of Handouts.

I’m still not sure if I should do a Power Point presentation, or visual boards, or a mix. I might do both and be prepared.

Still not happy with those two scenes in “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale.”

Waiting to hear back on a couple of things, prepping a couple of pitches. In a holding pattern for a few things, because I can’t move forward until I have more information, and, once I have it, I might have to do some negotiating.

I have a meeting at 2 this afternoon, which could also put a few interesting things into play.

Tomorrow morning, Tessa goes to the vet to get her shots updated (Lucy’s are still good). In the afternoon, I have a sound bath workshop. I can’t wait.

In between, I have to write and do yard work (unless it’s raining). And finish my taxes (ick).

Most important errands this morning are to pick up my mother’s prescription and put gas in the car! All the other errands are build around that.

Monday is Patriot’s Day here in MA, but I’m going in to work with a client on a big project.

Have a great weekend.

Published in: on April 12, 2019 at 8:47 am  Comments Off on Fri. April 12, 2019: Long Weekend Needs to Be Productive  
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