Wed. June 12, 2019: Could There Be Some Relief in Sight? Don’t Want to Jinx It!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

Over on Ink-Dipped Advice, I talk about interviews being more of information exchange sessions.

I don’t feel like I have many interesting things to say on the blog right now. There’s plenty going on; but much of it is inappropriate to discuss publicly at this point. It’s taking a toll, but until certain things are settled, it’s counterproductive and potentially harmful to discuss them here. So I hope you will be patient. I will share what I can as I can.

On the upside, I managed to get the final piece finished on the car — the hub cab. I can’t believe they charge that much for a plastic piece of crap that’s going to pop right off again the next time there’s a pothole. Which, by the way, is how most roads in MA operate — full of potholes. They spend months narrowing traffic lanes and causing delays to pave the roads. Two days later, some utility company rips it all up, puts a bad patch on it, and everything’s right back to where it started. It’s not about throwing money at infrastructure — it’s about coordination, and making the utility companies fix what they rip up.

I’ve been getting estimates from lawn care companies about the mowing. No luck finding a woman-run business so far. Hit and miss on the others. This attitude that I don’t have the right to decide what is done and when has got to stop. I’m not hiring someone who shames or demeans me. Why would I pay for that?

I finally found a really nice guy who is responsive, friendly, listens. He came by yesterday morning to take a look and talk about it. He’s going to start today, and then come every other week. It’s a reasonable price, and it takes a lot of worry off my back (and pain out of my back). What a relief.

Working with a client on a big event next week. Working with another client on a marketing campaign for a series of talks given at different locations. Trying to pin down the meeting in Boston with a potential new client. Working on a couple of articles. Following up on an article I submitted nearly two weeks ago to a publication — they pay on acceptance. In the past, it was always accepted the same day I submitted and paid. I’m happy to make any changes they want, but I can’t make them unless they communicate. Got out some more LOIs. Working on some pitches. I don’t feel I can send them out until I have a few other things finalized, because those projects will change my schedule and limit my flexibility.

Meditation was great on Monday afternoon. Even managed to get home before the rain started. It wasn’t anywhere near as big a storm as predicted.

ELLA BY THE BAY is chugging along nicely. GRAVE REACH is going more slowly than I’d like. I’m getting out the gift books to the donors on the GoFundMe campaign.

My “action card” for the month is the Eight of Swords, and that’s exactly what this feels like. All I can do is keep my head down, keep moving forward, and handle each thing as it comes in, so I can make the next necessary thing happen.

I’ve had a couple of good nights’ sleep in a row, which helps, but I really, really, REALLY need some time off. That’s not going to happen until 4th of July weekend.

Back to the page.

Published in: on June 12, 2019 at 6:02 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 12, 2019: Could There Be Some Relief in Sight? Don’t Want to Jinx It!  
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Fri. May 17, 2019: Inspiration & Focus

Friday, May 17, 2019
First day of Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

For some reason, yesterday seems far away.

I got some work done at the library. Sent out notes to the person who organized the panel and my fellow panelists, thanking them for including me. Worked on articles.

My brain needed a break in the afternoon. I did a little bit of trimming and pruning in the yard, but, most of the day, I just read.

SHELL GAME, by Sara Paretsky, is one of the best books I’ve read lately. A social justice mystery, she reminds us how to seamlessly integrate what’s happening in the world with a heart-pounding mystery around great characters. I’ve always liked her work, but this is probably my favorite of all the books.

Doing some research on a couple of different projects. Working on articles, working on pitches. My main focus this weekend will be GRAVE REACH, the new play, and polishing “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” so it can go out next week. If the weather is decent, I’ll do more yard work.

Yoga was good yesterday; I’m glad I went.

Next week will be stressful on several fronts. I’m hoping a strong, productive writing weekend will counteract some of the stress.

The Go Fund Me is still on for a few more days; I’m hoping next stage car repair can happen next week.

Ran some errands, got out some pitches. I’m ready for a nap.

But first, I write.

Published in: on May 17, 2019 at 9:38 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 17, 2019: Inspiration & Focus  
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Tues. May 14, 2019: Trying to Get Some Equilibrium Back

Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

I tried to take some time off this weekend to regroup.

I’m keeping up the Go Fund Me at least through this week. I’ve landed two article assignments that I have to turn around this week, have pitched a couple more, and am in the process of pitching more.

I’ve done the Tip Sheets for tomorrow night’s talk in Brewster. I have my other materials — list of favorite writing books, promotional materials — ready.

I did some work on the book I have to review, but I needed to give myself a break, at least on Sunday, and not do anything that was a “have to.” I needed some quiet.

Friday, I had to go onsite with a client, because I couldn’t get there on Wednesday because of the car situation. Got a bunch of work done, then did the grocery shopping. Saturday morning, took the garbage to the dump and picked up a few Mother’s Day essentials. I did a little work in the yard — some pruning — but nowhere near as much as I should have. It was nice to enjoy a sunny, pleasant day.

Did a little bit of work on the play that has to go out at the end of the month. It’s supposed to be a gentle comedy, but I don’t feel very funny right now. I have to let the characters talk and let the humor evolve organically, then shape it to build proper beats and laughs.

We got the curtains switched out to the lace panels in the windows. I washed the winter curtains and put them away. I polished the wooden front door. I’m working on washing and packing away the thick winter sweaters — although we still have frost warnings, and it snowed in the Berkshires.

I’m behind on the planting, but I can’t do any of the outdoor planting until it gets warmer, and we’re out of room inside.

Sunday it was wet and cold and raining. I cooked a big Mother’s Day breakfast for my mom, and we spent a quiet day, mostly reading. I had a fire going in the fireplace to take off the damp chill.

I finally got to read Juliet Blackwell’s A MAGICAL MATCH, which I really liked. I’m also re-reading Louisa May Alcott’s Journals, which soothe me.

Yesterday, I was onsite with a client, and then worked on my articles, and then worked on more pitches. I was also dealing with my car insurance – since I have comprehensive insurance, they might cover part of the repair.

This morning, the adjustor/inspector is coming to check the car. Fingers crossed.

Desperately needed meditation group by the time I got there.

I’ve been working pretty steadily in longhand on ELLA BY THE BAY, but I’m behind where I want to be on GRAVE REACH, and that has to change this week.

Mostly, I am desperate for some rest.


Published in: on May 14, 2019 at 5:17 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 14, 2019: Trying to Get Some Equilibrium Back  
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Fri. May 10, 2019: Exhaustion

Friday, May 10, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I’ll be asking you to share the Go Fund Me Link for a few more days. I appreciate everything.

Pitched to an editor with whom I’ve worked before; she’s interested in the pitch and will get back to me in a couple of weeks. It wouldn’t pay out until next fall, but at least I’d know it was coming in.

Got out a couple of LOIs. Worked on an article; worked on a couple more pitches that will go out in the next few days.

Mowed the front lawn. Although I didn’t enjoy it, it didn’t take long, and it was much easier with the push mower than with the gas mower. Not to mention the lawn looks much better, too.

Phase One of the car repair is done. I can’t wait very long to get Phase Two done — the next big chunk of it — and I can’t drive very far until it is done. But at least I can get around locally, provided I’m careful, avoiding bumps and potholes. Poor little car. I’m very attached to this car. Not just because I need it to survive out here, but because it’s the car I always wanted.

Got some reading and writing done. I’m behind where I’d like to be on GRAVE REACH, because my focus has to be on short-turn-around, quick-paying pieces. And the money that was marked for any other bills and book marketing and garden and anything else for the next few months all has to go to the car. Thank goodness we could do the repairs in phases.

Still, not having enough of a cushion to cover the repairs makes me feel like a failure.

Worked on ELLA BY THE BAY, which is a good stress reliever. Worked out the outline for the short play I have to draft this weekend. Still struggling with a couple of scenes in “Intrigue of the Aurora Nightingale” — but I need to get them done so that play can go out next week.

“Light Between the Eyes” should start recording in MN today. I hope it goes well.

I’m still waiting for a couple of checks on other gigs I’ve completed. Let’s hope they come sooner rather than later. Every dollar matters right now.

The anti-abortion bill in Georgia is appalling. How any rational human being in the twenty-first century could legislate that is beyond me. But, of course, it has nothing to do with rationality. It has to do with religious extremism and controlling women’s bodies.

The state of the world is overwhelming right now.

Have a good weekend. I’m going to try to dig down and write, and hopefully get some rest. I went to bed ridiculously early, and woke up late this morning, still feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. I’m spending a few hours on site with a client this morning, and then stopping for groceries on the way home and, hopefully, being able to get some rest.


Published in: on May 10, 2019 at 9:08 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 10, 2019: Exhaustion  
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Thursday, May 9, 2019: Phases of Stress

Thursday, May 09, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

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

Well, I just feel beat up six ways from Sunday.

If you get a chance, I’d appreciate if you could share my Go Fund Me link for the car repair.

With no car, and public transportation less than wonderful in this area, I switched around my day on site with a client. I’ll go in tomorrow instead. I walked down to the library (only about a mile and a third); it was a pleasant day, I didn’t mind.

Got some work done there. One of the volunteers was kind enough to drive me home when she left (and it meant I could take home the heavy books that came in).

I brought out some of the big pots onto the deck and did some pruning. I should have done more, but I was exhausted, both physically and mentally.

Got a pitch out to a high-paying consumer magazine. Got out a couple of other pitches and LOIs.

Trying not to let the stress of the situation incapacitate me, because that won’t solve anything.

Cooked a lovely dinner of chicken in garlic and wine, served with mashed potatoes and spinach. A friend gave me an amazing bottle of Blood Orange Rose – one of the best wines I’ve ever drunk.

Up early this morning. Got some good work in on ELLA BY THE BAY, and will put in some work on GRAVE REACH later today.

The driver was over an hour late to pick me up, but I got there. Phase One of the car repair is done. I can drive it short distances, but I have to be careful on construction, bad roads, etc., until Phase Two is done. Then, there will be Phase Three and Four, but at least we’ve broken up the repairs over time. And I can get to my local client, although I can’t visit any long distance clients or go over the bridge until it’s all done.

Getting out a couple more pitches this morning. I’ll have to mow the front yard this afternoon (it’s supposed to rain tomorrow). I’m onsite with my client tomorrow for a few hours, then have a lot of local errands to run. Saturday I’ll have to take the garbage to the dump; we’re at capacity.

I have a book to read for review, and I also want to do a push on finishing “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” and the first draft of a short play that’s due in NYC at the end of the month. I’m trying to pick up some extra one-and-done high-paying assignments.

I can’t go away for Memorial Day, but I’m going to take some time off and decompress. Memorial Day isn’t that far away!

Sent in the winners and finalists on the contest; invoiced today.

The worst part of this experience is it makes me feel worthless as a human being. I realize that most people don’t have a spare $2300 sitting around, and it’s not unusual to be panicked by something like this. But it still makes me feel like a failure.

That ridiculous USA today article that accused “most people” of “typically” spending $1800 month “they don’t need” – by the way, lunch and personal grooming was included in that – enraged me.

First of all, I don’t know many people who have $1800 they can spend on non-essentials. Second, “essentials” has a wide range. Plus, we need some joy in our lives or we can’t survive. Who is this study to decide what is “essential” and not? And, if one more person does the whole, “For a cup of coffee, you can . . .” or “just don’t buy your $5 cup of coffee and you’ll be financially solvent in six months.”

Total B.S.

Especially since I don’t go out and buy $5 coffees every day. Most of the time, I make coffee at home – that tastes better. A coffee at a coffeehouse? A great treat. I might do it once every few months, meeting a friend or colleague. I hardly ever eat out. I bring my lunch with me when I work onsite – both because of cost and because it’s too isolated to effectively go out to lunch. I don’t take taxis or rideshares; I don’t need them.

Nor do I feel deprived by not doing those things. I LIKE the coffee I make at home (and it keeps the experience of coffee out as a treat). I’m a cook. I like it and I’m good at it. I like cooking at home and eating at home, and cooking for friends. I don’t keep a standing appointment to get my hair cut mostly because I don’t like the way most of the salons do it here.

It’s a bogus study meant to economically shame people who are barely getting by, and who might indulge themselves in a meal out or a treat once in awhile. It’s ridiculous.

Anyway, I’m hoping I’ll have a decent weekend of writing, gardening, and reading. And I’ll do extra yoga and meditation to de-stress.

I’m reading Emily Nagoski’s Burnout. Every two or three pages I burst into tears because it’s so relevant to what I’m going through right now. Hopefully, I can learn some good coping techniques.

In any case, for me, today, it’s back to the page.

Published in: on May 9, 2019 at 10:23 am  Comments Off on Thursday, May 9, 2019: Phases of Stress  
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Slowly Returning to the World of the Living

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I survived. I feel like hell, battling the second day of a migraine, but I survived.

On Monday morning, I was up at 3 AM. I did a good hour and a half of yoga, fed the cats, and did the last minute stuff to prepare for the window crew. By 6:30, I was totally ready for them and just sitting around. I managed to capture and crate the cats by 7:30 (took the opportunity when I could), and took them to a neighbor’s shortly thereafter.

The felines were NOT amused. Iris screamed in her crate for THREE HOURS without stopping. I had someone sit with the crate on the lap, trying to keep her quiet. No go. That cat is a drama queen. Elsa complained once or twice, but she was pretty calm. Violet was angry. She didn’t scream, but she was determined to find a way out. There was a point where she was upside down in the crate, trying to chew her way through the bars. She managed to work part of the door out of its fastening, but I found out and tied it shut.

The window crew arrived at 8:30. The windows were all out in the blink of an eye. It took 3 guys to get out the air conditioner that had been put in in 1973, and it’s still in the middle of the bedroom, because the building can’t be bothered to send anyone to get it out, and I can’t even slide it anywhere. It’s that heavy. The new windows went in fairly quickly, but this apartment is an anomaly – each window is a different size, but only by between ¼ and ¾ of an inch. Just enough to really screw everyone up. Especially since the team was told that all the windows on this side of the building are the same size, and heaven forbid our management company should set up appropriate measuring appointments. And there was some rotted wood around some of the frames. So they had to build some new somethings or others in order to have something on which to fasten the new window frames. I was the only one who actually cleared back the requested five feet of workspace, so they had the room to work.

In spite of it all, they were completely finished within only two hours. Three weeks of prep work and schlepping for two damn hours. But the crew was terrific – fast, efficient, and really, really nice. The windows let in a lot more light (hey, they’re clean for one thing, and, again, it’s not like management ever cleaned the windows, and we couldn’t clean them from the outside.) These we can.

I spent the afternoon sanding the sills. The window crew hadn’t damaged them; they’d been damaged in the bad weather around the flooding this time last year, because the old windows weren’t securely sealed. So I sanded, primed and did two coats of paint (I still had the Snowy Egret left over from when I painted the place in ’06). We put back a few things, but until these old air conditioners are out of here, we’re at a stopping point. Kind of frustrating.

The cats ran around and screamed a lot. Violet was completely over-stimulated and wouldn’t sleep. She was hissing and fretting all evening. Elsa and Iris settled down as soon as they saw their bowls were back in the kitchen.

Yesterday, I woke up with a migraine. I managed to drag myself out of bed. I worked on the screenplay – up to p. 113, past the re-creation of lost material and on to new material. I also turned around a piece for Confidential Job #2, and worked on the assignment for Confidential Job #1, which is due today, so as soon as I post this, I’m back to working on that.

They turned off the heat on Monday at 9 AM and it wasn’t back on until 6:30 this morning, in spite of the fact that Monday night and last night it was in the 30s here. And, because we were without windows for a couple of hours, the apartment got really cold on Monday. If you want to learn how to spell scumbag, just look up our landlords. Totally illegal and they totally don’t care.

I’ll have a couple of new articles appearing soon, one in a magazine for writers called Vision. I’ll put up the link when it runs.

The next few days will be spent putting together writing samples promised to a few people, drafting a monologue for a friend, working on the screenplay, hustling for work, and, of course, trying to figure out what to bring back from storage and what to leave in. I am NOT bringing it all back. I’ll have to figure out when I can head to Maine to see my grandmother – maybe by midweek next week. I also have to watch a bunch of video as research for some interviews I’m doing. It’s impossible to concentrate with a pounding head. Excedrin Migraine takes off the edge, but that’s all.

I need to get the pre-Derby article done as well. The Derby is a-coming – and my first choice horse is out, due to injury, and my next two choices haven’t done well in the past few weeks. So I have to look over the entire field again and re-shuffle my Derby deck.

And the hockey playoffs are happening, so I have to pay attention.

I’m hoping, in a few days, as I slowly put the apartment back to rights, it will be easier to concentrate. I’m re-arranging stuff, too. Just because I don’t plan to be here much longer doesn’t mean it shouldn’t look good while I’m here.

I bought pansies yesterday – they’re such a cheerful flower, and now that the apartment is so much lighter, they’ll be able to thrive.

I did my taxes on Sunday. I had all my receipts done and collected throughout the year, so it was a case of sitting down with the folders and adding up the numbers. It took about an hour. This is the first time I had to file a Schedule E because of royalties – pain in the butt to fill it out, but a good feeling that I finally have to declare royalties on my taxes!

Back to work. Someday my head will stop pounding and I’ll feel human again.


Script Frenzy – 113 pages out of 100 pages (113%).

Devon’s Bookstore:

5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.

Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on April 16, 2008 at 8:26 am  Comments (8)  

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

A DAY, let me tell you . . .

Found out the publisher for the time travel novella thingy is shutting down, so one less deadline to worry about. I’ll probably still write it sometime, but at least I don’t have to do it right now.

Sent a few pages of the teleplay for my portfolio to an old contact from the days when I was active in that area; he loved it, said I should expand it to a two-parter, not a one episode stand-alone, because I was trying to cover too much ground in 47 minutes (which is how much script time a one hour show gets), and there was enough to make the core cast of the show shine and still have the guest roles really strong and complex. So I’m going to keep working on it. Reworked all of part one, and now have to figure out the top of part two, change a few things, and then get back on track for the rest of the material.

Sent a few pages of the sci-fi horror western to a friend who loves the sci-fi horror genre. He was totally grossed out, in the best possible way, by my world of Freak Pretties and Skin Eaters, so I’m on the right track. Hey, I get squeamish writing it; good thing the reader gets squeamish, that’s the point. I got a good chunk of it done, and I can smell the end.

Someone asked me, a few days ago, via email, why I’m veering so much into the science fiction/fantasy realm with writing, reading, viewing, etc. Well, there are several reasons for it, and I think it’s an interesting question.

Currently, I think some of our best social commentary is being done in that genre. There’s a lot of material that has social, historical, and political relevance that falls under the sci-fi/fantasy genre, and there always has been. We spent a few years in the Femmebot phase, but we seem to be moving out of it into territory where gender, equality, and intelligence are factors in the storytelling, which I happen to think is a good thing. If you look in film and television work lately, where are the strong female characters? Not a whole lot out there in feature film land. Helen Mirren and Cate Blanchett are doing pretty well, but there’s not much left for anyone else. In fact, one of the trades ran an article a few weeks ago about how movies with female leads aren’t being green-lighted because they don’t make enough money. There’s more room for genuinely strong, complex female (and male) characters in television, especially in science fiction and fantasy: Rachel Luttrell’s Teyla in Stargate Atlantis immediately comes to mind –in fact, most of the core female characters in that show are smart, resourceful, and interesting. I want to smack some of the guest stars upside the head sometimes, but that’s the way it goes in guest spots. Their purpose is to make the core leads look better, which is a point I could debate for days, preferring to see the guest stars be genuine sparring partners with the core, but that’s a tangent. The “Sanctuary” episode of Stargate Atlantis is one of those – good concept, lousy execution; I was yelling at the screen at some of the bad writing – and usually, that show’s writing is pretty good. Battlestar Galactica is reputed to have strong, intelligent characters on it – especially the re-imagining of the character of Starbuck. I haven’t watched the show, only clips, but what I’ve seen looks fairly good, and several people whose opinions I respect say BG is one of the best dramas on TV.

Far too often, “strong” female characters are portrayed as simply wearing tight clothes and behaving exactly as men, or trying to out-tough the boys, and there is so much more to being a strong woman than that. And, very often, if the female characters are out-manning the men, the male characters get shortchanged, too. Can it happen in sci-fi? All the time. Doom immediately comes to mind, and some of the sillier Saturday night at 9 PM crap movies that are on Sci-Fi Channel. And a lot of the derivative sci-fi fantasy that’s published quickly and sinks because it’s not memorable or different. But there’s also a lot of ground-breaking character work and many interesting characters being created for both men and women, along with interesting social and political commentary that’s especially relevant right now.

I know Desperate Housewives gets high ratings and the leads are female, but none of them are women I want to spend time with (which is why I don’t watch the show). There are some interesting female characters in Lost (which is on the speculative fiction line), but even a lot of them are constantly shuffled back and forth between the Whore and Madonna categories, which is rather limiting. Lipstick Jungle? Sex in the City? Most of the New York women I know don’t have the time to be that shallow. They’re working too hard trying to make a living and survive in New York. Now, those shows are genuinely fantasy and definitely fiction, but there’s not much science involved OR realistic portrayals of, well, anyone. Boomtown matched the men and women well, but didn’t last long, unfortunately. I still think it’s one of the best shows that’s ever been on television. And, much as I love a lot of the issues dealt with in Rescue Me, I hate the way most of the women are portrayed. They’re not strong; they’re shrill, manipulative, and crazy.

I also think that a lot of what early science fiction writers projected has come to pass, and it’s time for the next wave of futurists to rise. The future looks pretty grim to me right now. If you look at the projected trajectory of the planet – well, we’re going to look like Mars in a few hundred years. Earlier, if the dumbasses keep putting Republicans into office. Life as we know it will cease to exist. Yes, new life forms will probably evolve, but the transition is really going to suck for whomever/whatever’s left. I’m sure the dinosaurs didn’t have much fun dying out, either.

I mentioned, a few weeks ago, that my dad was a scientist, chemist, specifically. He wanted me to be a nuclear physicist, because he felt someone with some common sense should be working in the field (and he believed, rightly or wrongly, that I have some common sense), and not just people who got so buried in the science they forgot about the reality and contexts in which that science is used or abused.

Needless to say, I didn’t become a scientist. I’m in the arts, have been all my life. But now that I’m doing the science research to make the thriller make sense, so that the theories behind some of the entertainment I’m watching can be addressed in future articles, and simply to explore some of my own ideas. . ..I’m finding the science comes very easily. Not only that, the reading I’m doing is giving me a lot of “What if . . .?”, which to me is the basis of imaginative writing, and sets me off on new roads. And I’m as shocked as anyone.

I’m spending more time writing, reading, and viewing in the genre because I think there’s more genuinely imaginative and creative work going on in it than in most other areas right now.

I mean, come on: I’ve had to read ARCs, over the last few months, for NINE different books by different authors of both genders that are coming out this summer. All of them are based on the theme, “My life is a mess because I had a crazy mother” and not one of them is, in my opinion, compelling. I sure wouldn’t plunk down $15-26 dollars for any of them. Once in awhile, there’s a clever paragraph or two, but, for the most part, it’s 200+ pages of self-indulgent excuses and I simply don’t care.

But then I pick up something by Sharon Shinn or Terry Pratchett, and I’m completely transported. I can’t put it down. Theme, character, story, plot, imagination – they refract our world through their worlds and make me look at what’s around me in a new exciting way and really make me THINK.

So that’s my opinion on the current state of the genre.

Oh, yeah, and I’m researching shows like Stargate Atlantis, SG1, BG, etc. for series of articles. Hey, if I’m putting in the time, there should be a pay-off, right?

Thank goodness for Pat Benatar. Crank her music high enough and SOME of the drills can’t get through!!! She’s one of my favorites anyway. Pat Benatar, Joan Jett – give me the women of Rock any day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love jazz. blues, Celtic, alternative, Nordic – tons of different music.

But there’s nothing like good rock and roll.

And if you like a great bass line – listen to “Beliefs” on the CD Mother’s Heaven by the Scottish band Texas. Fantastic!

I usually don’t write to rock and roll – I need music without vocals – but with all the noise and chaos, I am putting on the anthems of my favorite ladies (and Springsteen – he ALWAYS works) and letting it rip. And then, of course, there are the B-52s, who can overcome almost anything.

Because yesterday, they were using SLEDGEHAMMERS in the hallway. Now, the hallway has walls, doors, and stairs. Why do you need a sledgehammer to do a renovation? They’re supposed to be PAINTING. Oh, and nail-gunning who-knows-what and who-knows-why into the concrete floors, so it sounds like gunshots every minute and a half. Yeah, it’s fun.

‘Cause I’m such a delicate flower. Don’t all die laughing now. 😉

However, I still think I need to try a few days of writing all night. And I don’t mean an hour or two. I’m talking about sitting down at the desk at 10 or 11 PM and writing through until 5 or 6 in the morning, and then maybe catching a couple hours’ of sleep before the building noise grows yet again unbearable.

Far too much time spent on building crap today. Again.

I still haven’t kicked this flu – I think the stress aggravates it. One of these days, I’ll feel better again, right? I’m not contagious or anything, so it might not even be a virus. It’s just ICK. I even had to ask for an extension on a deadline (which my editor was lovely and gave me) for one project.

Helped an elderly, injured neighbor whose phone was out and she couldn’t call to get it fixed because she had no phone. It took us 45 minutes to get through to a Verizon repair person. Ridiculous. But we got through. Because I am a stubborn bitch when necessary.

So, one of the reasons the MTA fare hike was granted was for the major capital improvements. When I go in to the city now to work a show, 25% of that day’s salary now goes to train fare, which is just ridiculous. And now the MTA says they’re canceling a lot of the promised projects due to lack of money. Right, because it’s going into pockets instead of projects, and I don’t mean the people on the rails doing the work! Hey, they break their promise, the fares should be rolled back.

I’m taking the car in for inspection and running some errands, then it’s back to the page. I want to get the sci-fi horror western draft done so I can let it sit for a day or two before edits, and then . . .off it goes. I’m so close I can taste it, but by 11 PM, I ached so much I had to stop typing. So the writing all night thing didn’t happen.


Devon’s Bookstore:

5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.

Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on March 26, 2008 at 7:35 am  Comments (6)  

February 23, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Icy and cold

We had about 10 inches of snow yesterday, which then turned to freezing rain. I went out in the afternoon and shoveled out the car so the freezing rain wouldn’t make it impossible. The workouts must be working — I shovelled for an hour and wasn’t even breathing hard. Now THERE’S a change!

My new Canon Pixma arrived, and I installed it, uninstalled and packed up the HP. Once I find the driver for the HP, I will put it up for sale. Cheap. So, if anyone knows anyone who might want it, let me know. It’s fine if you don’t print 100+ pages nearly every day. And it’s not even two months old. The Pixma was $20 cheaper than the HP, and the print quality is 10X better. Go figure. It’s gorgeous – and the cats leave it alone! I feel like I should keep a special cloth in the drawer next to it and wipe it clean like a car every day, so it keeps gleaming. It doesn’t have a catch tray for the pages coming out, so I’ll make one out of a box lid. The HP had a catch tray and it still spit the pages all over the living room.

Did a bit of writing, noodling around. I have to do some research before I can go any farther on one particular piece.

Read another book for the essay. I probably could have read two, had I pushed, but I needed to spend some time away from the dark world for awhile. When you read one book per year there, it’s one thing; when you’re reading 16 back-to-back . . .it’s a little much.

It’s nasty out there again today, but I don’t have to go out until this evening, so this morning I’ll do some things like, oh, I don’t know, maybe vacuum? Since the cats are shedding their winter coats and we have tumbleweeds of hair flying around.

Again, I’m operating on so much internal work that I really have nothing interesting to say right now. There are plenty of job practicalities I should be dealing with, but, right now, I’m refilling the creative well a bit.


Devon’s Bookstore:

5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.

Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free

Published in: on February 23, 2008 at 9:18 am  Comments (2)  

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Snowing like crazy!

Short post. We’ve had six inches of snow so far and will probably get another six. It’s supposed to change to freezing rain later, so I’ll probably have to go and shovel out the car before it does so, and then move it if it rains. The brook’s already high, and if it rains AND the snow melts – well, better safe than sorry.

Other than that, I have no plans to go out today.

Got my next assignment from Confidential Job #1.

DHL tried to deliver the printer yesterday, but couldn’t, because the new buzzer system in the building doesn’t work (what a surprise – NOT), so I called them and told them to call my cell when they were at the door and I’d run down and sign for it. I hope they’re not out in this weather; really, I can wait until Monday. It’s nor worth someone getting hurt.

Ran a bunch of errands yesterday, including buying a jump rope (Nike speedrope, more than I wanted to spend, but it’s REALLY cool and feels perfect in my hands), and took a walk on the really cold beach, because it was so beautiful and sunny. It was just me and the crows. I like crows, so I didn’t mind, and they had a lot to say – let’s just hope I interpreted them correctly! 😉

Read two more books for the essay yesterday, and took notes. Patterns are emerging, some that support the argument, some that work against it.

Read some material sent by friends. Got off one set of comments; will get out the other today.

Getting some writing done, but don’t really know what any of it is; too early to discuss it. It’s still in that fragile state of creation.

Not much to say, but a lot of creative wheels turning.

And I love the snow, as long as I’m inside and don’t have to go anywhere. I’m not going anywhere today – I’ll refuse if I’m called in to the city. In spite of what’s being said on the traffic reports, I haven’t heard a train run in hours (the train station is right across the street), so it’s not like I could get in anyway.

Not much to say – I’m at a stage right now where it’s mostly internal work, not external.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. Costume Imp’s supposed to fly to London this weekend, but the airports are closed – my thoughts are with you, I hope you’re safe, warm, and dry, wherever you are!


Devon’s Bookstore:

5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.

Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on February 22, 2008 at 9:31 am  Comments (6)  

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007
Dark of the Moon
Pluto and Venus have both gone DIRECT
Hot, humid, rainy

My grandmother is very ill.

She woke us up around 5 AM on Saturday morning, saying she couldn’t breathe. I called 911 and her primary caretaker. The Rescue and the ambulance seemed to take forever to arrive – it’s much quicker here in the NY area than up there, let me tell you. But they were really terrific and got her on oxygen and calmed down and loaded her gently into the ambulance.

We got dressed, loaded the car up and found our way to the hospital in Portland, where they took us right in to the emergency room to be with her. For awhile, they were afraid it was a heart attack and they’d have to do emergency surgery. The test results showed it was not necessary, and other options were explored. The same questions were asked over and over and over again – it’s in the computer, why not print out multiple copies? Come on, people!!!

However, I have to say that every single person we encountered at the hospital had a terrific bedside manner. She (and the family) were never made to feel like they didn’t matter or rushed or neglected.

By 11, she was settled in a room, with two nurses to take care of her, and there was nothing else we could do, so we headed back as planned. Although we cancelled the property appointments – we just weren’t up to it. Instead, we made a stop at Earth Spirits in Sturbridge to stock up on some herbs and oils.

The final diagnosis is congestive heart failure. Her heart is simply wearing out. They drained the fluid accumulating in her lungs out for now, but . . .even with the pacemaker, we’re on borrowed time.

Which is difficult to come to grips with.

She’s vastly improved under constant care and might even be home in the next day or so – but we’re on borrowed time.

The weekend up to that point had been quite fun. Crazy Downstairs Neighbor, of course, kept me up most of the night with his noise (always, always, ALWAYS on a night when I have to be up exceptionally early). But we got out of the house by 6 AM. We looked at properties in several areas of Massachusetts. Two of the areas were okay, but not really the vibe we’re looking for. One of them was in an area that’s too industrial and too in-your-face churchy. Anyone can practice their religion as they wish, as long as they don’t interfere with my practice or try to foist their beliefs on me, and this was very much “walk-in-OUR-way-of-Christ” which just makes me want to behave disrespectfully and flip them off. Not the type of place I’d choose to live.

A little further up, though, is absolutely gorgeous. It isn’t an area I’d considered before, but I’d heard of a spread and wanted to take a look. It’s too big for me to handle, but I really like the area. If I can find something a bit smaller, I’d consider it.

I also saw some places in York, Maine that I liked – but the square footage and acreage was too small with the price too high. But I like York a lot – it’s still a vital artists’ community, and that’s important to me.

We had a great lunch at the café at one of my favorite Maine spots, although there was a bit of an incident. A woman was in the store with her husband, some other female relative, a toddler, and a smaller kid in a very large stroller. She kept ramming the stroller into people saying, “Can’t you see I have a stroller?” –even though there was plenty of room to go around them. When they reached the café, she parked the stroller next to my chair and said, “You have to watch the baby” and started to walk away.

“No,” I said, “I don’t.”

“Of course you do. You owe me.”

“I’ve never seen you before in my life.”

“Haven’t you heard it takes a village to raise a child?”

“Sorry, lady, I chose to live in a different zip code.”

Several of the staff intervened at that point. Now, there were two other adults in the group perfectly capable of watching the kid. In this day and age, not only is it stupid to try to dump the kid on a stranger, it’s dangerous. I was one cell phone button from calling child services on her.

Then, when her family group got all their stuff, she walked up to the table and said, “I want this table.” There were plenty of empty tables throughout the room.

“Too bad,” I said, and began eating veeeeeerrry slowly.

The staff was smart enough to escort that little grouping away. She did not have a New England accent or Midwestern accent. I’m figuring she was from somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic states – that misplaced sense of entitlement which is so common around here. Good thing the staff up there is so savvy.

Got to my grandmother’s, ran some errands, brought in dinner, and we made it an early night.

The next morning, we all had breakfast together. I went out and bought her a new toaster (her old one caught fire), and did the grocery shopping. Then we headed up to Freeport, Maine and paid LL Bean a visit in person. I buy a lot of stuff from them – their quality and their customer service are exceptional. The store was great, too. Busy, but everyone’s friendly, it’s kept neat and clean, and the temperature is comfortable.

We had a fabulous lunch a few doors down at a place called Azure. I had calamari and some of the best steamed mussels I’ve ever had in my life. Absolutely perfect.

I didn’t shop much – not in the mood to shop. Did a lot of looking, though. And had to walk out of a bath and beauty shop I used to like because I realized they used synthetic fragrance, not essential, and it was starting to make me sick.

Went to a favorite yarn store near Sebago Lake and found another ball of yarn for my current project IN THE SAME DYE LOT!!! Yarn enthusiasts will know how unlikely that is!

Made dinner for the family when I got home, did some catching up with people, and had a pretty early night, until my grandmother woke me up because she was ill, poor thing.

So exhausted when I got home Saturday night that I didn’t get much done. Did grocery shopping and errands Sunday morning, then took most of the day to read The New York Times (usually it takes me about an hour and a half). Cathleen Schine’s new serial in the Magazine section is set at an artists’ colony in Maine and is pretty funny.

I took in the car this morning for its 5000 mile check up (although I had nearly an extra 600 miles on it, thanks to the Maine trip). It’s much happier now. It was having hissy fits very much like the cats.

Last week, at the theatre, I somehow managed to hurt my back, so the additional stress hasn’t helped it. Thank goodness I have acupuncture next week.

Since everything is in limbo for now, I’m doing a big fall cleaning, and that way, I can leave at the drop of a hat without worrying that it’s all in chaos. I have some articles to finish up and a critique to do, but I’m in decent shape.

Found out the mothers of two friends of mine are very ill, and yet another friend is in the hospital with a staph infection. Everyone’s having a rough time right now, I guess.

Onward and mopward – the kitchen floors call.


Published in: on September 10, 2007 at 11:59 am  Comments (8)  

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and hot

The migraine won yesterday, and I didn’t get everything done that I needed to do.

Put gas in the car. We’re up to $3.53/gallon, which means it cost me $35 to fill the Rabbit, for crying out loud! Went to CVS, which, as usual, didn’t have everything I needed; went to Trader Joe’s, which, as usual, had everything I needed and more, and I bought it; went to the liquor store to get a nice French rose (can’t get the accent to work on the “e” – have I mentioned how much Microsoft sucks in the last few posts?) that goes with everything I bought.

Read all the rest of the chapters my friend sent me of her manuscript and commented on them. Worked on some pitches, but didn’t send them. I want to re-read them and re-work them if necessary, when I’m migraine-free. Did some work on a short hockey article which has to go out later today.

Had to lie down for part of the afternoon because it was so bad.

Good news – I have the green light to go ahead and write about the America’s Cup Races. Which means I have to learn everything really quickly. I found a book my Dad bought many years ago, after he and my mom attended the races in Newport, RI; I found the notes I took when I covered the HEALTH magazine fair in Newport and skipped out for a few hours to explore Newport and “met” some of the boats from former races; and Strand Books is on it, so I’m sure it’ll be all good. It’s about learning first (as well as fast), and then formulating the interviews, and then watching the live feed from the races – because I really don’t think I’ll be able to hop a plane to Valencia at the end of June. Although wouldn’t it be fun if it worked out and I could?

PERFECTLY PLUM’s release date is June 1, so I better get on the stick and get some PR going. I should have gotten releases out two weeks ago, but if I get them out this week, it’ll still be in the early days of the release. I need to talk to the Ben Bella PR person and see what’s what, so we’re not cross-pollinating and look disorganized. If our lists overlap, I’ll send a friendly note rather than repeat the same information.

I’m also developing a contest where some of you can win a copy! Stay tuned – it’ll probably happen around mid-June.

Came up with a new idea called Tracking Medusa, which could be a lot of fun if I can figure it out and slot it in properly. It’s too early to really discuss – but it’s definitely something that will appear under the Ava Dunne name, so that should give you an idea of its direction!

Did the research I need to do for the next section of Good Names. Had a terrific morning session on it, and finished Chapter 5. Now I can type the first chapters, so I don’t get too far behind.

The migraine still lingers, but it’s better than yesterday, so, hopefully, it will be a more productive day. Melissa, I think you’re right. I think I might have a thyroid problem. Unfortunately, since my insurance plan is in name only, I’m having a difficult time getting in to see a doctor without paying out of pocket. And the lab work is too far out of my price range in order to do it all out of pocket. But I’m trying to get tested. In the meantime, I’m doing dietary research, etc., and I’ll talk with my acupuncturist on my next visit to see what I can do to support thyroid health until I can get the medical treatment I need. Thank you for thinking of it.

Sya, you’re right –maybe I should go back to headphones. I didn’t order the earbuds I wanted because the shipping added 50% to the price. Um, considering how small and light they are, that’s unacceptable.


Good Names – 15,412 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15 / 100

Tracking Medusa — 4,123 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4 / 90

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Hop on over to Circadian Poems and catch up on a week’s worth of poetry. You have “Rain Chant” by Dawn Appleton, “Plum” by Chloe Crooikshank, and “Waiting for Life” by Faith Fenner.

Dog Blog is up, Part I of “Creating Your Literary Life” – I’m doing a series of articles on aligning your goals with your life.

I was a Miss Crankypants yesterday – I’m sure all the machine noise around the building had a lot to do with it – I couldn’t even hear myself think half the time.

I went to check out City Island with an eye to writing about it. That will be a challenge, to say the least. I’m sure it’s perfectly lovely if you live there, but there’s really no reason to GO there. It seems like the only activity in town is to go out to restaurants. Nothing wrong with that. It bills itself as a bit of New England in New York – uh, no. Nothing New Englandy about it, except that some of the restaurants serve lobsters.

But I did hit a thrift shop and get a hardcover volume of AHAB’S WIFE for a dollar, and a volume of Margaret Mead’s letters for 50 cents.

If there’s a regular bookstore on the island, I couldn’t find it.

The history museum’s supposed to be good but: A) I couldn’t find it; and B) I already knew it was closed on Thursdays.

So we left City Island and drove up-county to Pleasantville, which certainly lives up to its name. It’s beautiful and mellow. It seems unusually calm for a suburban New York town, but in the right way. We had lunch at the Dragonfly Café, which is excellent. If I lived in Pleasantville, I’d patronize the place every day.

Unfortunately, the idiot drivers in SUVs were out in full force. Twice, different SUVs tried to change lanes without looking and nearly squished me. Both times, the morons were talking on their cell phones (not hands free), which is illegal in this state. Personally, I don’t think a fine is enough; if you’re caught driving and putting people’s lives in danger due to your cell phone and the fact that you’re too stupid to concentrate on the road – your license should be suspended for ONE YEAR. And then, if you get busted for driving without a license, the consequences should be worse.

Spent most of the afternoon doing paperwork, since it looks like a recycling truck threw up on my desk. It’s a bit better now, but paperwork takes ever so long. However, if I can keep on top of it week by week, it won’t all bite me in the ass at the end of the year.

I’m getting ready to do my Preakness handicapping – it’ll be up by noon as a separate entry here called “Racing Ink”. Then, it’s off to pay bills, run errands, and prepare for the Preakness!

Turns out I can use my Nano account for Script Frenzy – they seem to be run by the same people. Anita, what’s your handle there so we can be part of the same “community”?

I still haven’t figured out if I’m going to do the ghost story screenplay or some sort of stage play.

Lots of errands and bill-paying, and then I have to move the car in case of flooding. We didn’t get hit badly by Wednesday’s storm, but we might get slammed by this one. Even though I’m leaving later, I don’t want to risk the car.

And I hope to get some work in on Good Names later today.


PS More Iceland photos, top and bottom. These are from Geysir, where, logically enough, there are geysers.

April 29, 2007

Sunday, April 29, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

It was a good trip, but not an easy trip. Nothing like your family to completely tip your equilibrium!

I received the next assignment from Confidential Job #1, along with the notification that the invoice I submitted was approved. Woo-hoo! Guess they like me! I’m still waiting both for payment from Confidential Job #2 and if they’re going to give me another assignment. Another freelance job asked for samples; I sent them; when I got back yesterday, there was the exact same email asking for samples, so I RE-SENT them, with a pointed email saying that’s what I did.

Icelandair fixed the problems, with many apologies, so it all seems good – provided they actually did what they said they did. I have all the paperwork, so we’ll see.

Wednesday night, I took my friend J. to the PEN World Voices Festival – readings at Town Hall. We went in early enough to have a cocktail at the Algonquin’s Blue Bar (one of my favorite places). I had a sidecar – they make the best sidecars ever.

The event itself was amazing! Tonight’s event was “Writing Home”. Salman Rushdie provided the introduction – and, three times, admonished people to turn off their cell phones and some idiot’s phone STILL went off halfway through! The writers reading from their work were: Steve Martin, Pia Tafdrup, Don DeLillo, Tatayana Tolstaya, Saaadi Youssef, Kiran Desai, Alain Mabanckou, Neil Gaiman, Nadine Gordimer, and Salman Rushdie. Each one was uniquely exquisite.

We left walking on air. What a wonderful way to replenish the soul!

THIS is a writers’ conference. A place where writers share ideas and responsibility and use their talents to change the world, to make it a better place. This is an international organization of writers committed to justice, peace, and making a difference in the world, inspiring everyone with whom they come into contact, and I am honored to be a part of it.

THIS is what a writers’ conference should be, rather than what most are – places where wanna-be writers try to find agents for books that will never be written and go to marketing seminars for work that they’ll never finish. Yes, it’s important for conferences to provide the business protocols on a regular basis, both because of the constant influx of starting writers and those who, no matter how many times they’re told, believe none of it pertains to THEM, but there’s really nothing out there for the working writer. Conferences bring together starting out writers and wanna-be writers with best-sellers. There is nothing for the steadily working writer who’s crafting a career – and a life – in the art form without bestseller-dom or spending 80% of the time marketing rather than writing.

PEN’s festival is about craft and content, not marketing. There was a sense of community, of writers and readers embracing each other, rather than a sense of competition and cliques which pervades so many conferences. These are people who want to talk to those who attend, who want to interact, who give a damn. They are confident in their skills and their work and in their sense of responsibility to humanity at large, but also humble.

It was an eye-opening, soul-reviving, life-changing experience.

Afterwards, J. and I went to the Campbell Apartment for another drink and to continue that feeling of well-being (because once we got on wonky, unreliable Metro North, it was hard to maintain).

I’m seriously thinking of writing a book of short stories based on Metro North nightmares. Darkly funny. Because there’s got to be a way to make positive use out of all the pain and frustration this train line causes on a daily basis!

Unfortunately, when I got home, I discovered that I’d broken the little toe on my left foot and it was black and swollen. I knew I’d tripped over something earlier in the day, but didn’t think it was a big deal.

It was. I had to adjust it (all together now – Owww!), ice it, and tape it.

Since I got home after midnight, I had a heck of a time getting up at 4:30 on Thursday morning. We were an hour late starting off for Maine – and I was up, I was packed, but I couldn’t get it together to get out of the house!

The drive up was fine, as always. The Rabbit drives like a dream and loves the highway. We stopped at my favorite Nutcracker Bakery in Newburyport, MA for coffee and a snack, then I nipped in to visit Jabberwocky Books there. If you’re ever in Newburyport, or near it, you MUST visit Jabberwocky – it’s an amazing bookstore and right next to the bakery. Tess Gerritsen turned me on to that place, and every time I go to and from Maine, I thank her for it!

We meandered through lower Maine the way we usually do – did some shopping in Kittery, stopped at the thrift shop in York, the Book Barn in Wells – which is about to close! After 25 years, they are going into semi-retirement and only working online via Alibris. The two lovely frame houses that are the store and the house have been sold to the shopping center beside them. I hope they’re not torn down! I bought my two final books there, and will miss them terribly.

We made our usual stop in Stonewall Kitchen in York. Stocked up on some more of their Wild Maine Blueberry jam, horseradish cream, shallot and champagne mustard, and they had a spicy corn relish that’s so good I bought the biggest jar they carry.

My grandmother had asked us to buy a few things on the way in, so we went to the Wells Food Mart (beside the bookstore) to get things. Then, it was a stop at the wonderful Maine Diner for a lobster lunch, and back onto the Maine Turnpike at Kennebunk. Those Bushes really ought to give the town some money to fix the roads! They can spare it, and the roads are in bad shape!

We got to my grandmother’s, unloaded the car, and filled up the freezer with all the things I’d cooked. My grandmother is too ill to cook anymore, so when I go up, I cook batches of things she and her brother like, put them in microwave containers, and stock her freezer. We also brought her a stack of Large Print mysteries – her eyesight’s failing, so she can’t see to read unless it’s Large Print. I taught her how to run the CD player I’d given her for Christmas so she could listen to the Books on Tape I’d bought (because no one else could be bothered to take the two and a half minutes to figure it out). My grandmother’s cousin and her granddaughter stopped by, whom I’d never met, so we had a nice visit.

We ordered in food from Bob’s Seafood over in Windham, and my great-uncle got a ride in the new car with me to get it, which was fun. We visited and caught up. My grandmother’s Parkinson’s is much worse, but she says it’s better since they switched her medication, so I can only imagine how bad it was in the interim.

My foot was killing me, so I put it up and iced it off and on for a few hours (in ten minute bursts – any more and it hurts the nerves).

Friday morning, I read a colleague’s manuscript (which is GREAT by the way. Not good – GREAT. Any agent or publisher who doesn’t snatch it up immediately is a complete and utter moron and the publishing industry is DOOMED). Meanwhile, I had the laundry going downstairs. We’d brought up two loads of laundry from NY, because we don’t know when we’ll have a laundry room again, and they had some laundry, and since I AM a laundry goddess, I did the whole lot of it.

My grandmother felt well enough to dress and wanted to come shopping. We made a list and went to Shaw’s. I LOVE that store! Ever so much better than many of the stores around here. And everyone’s so friendly and helpful. And it’s set up logically. The matches are with the lighter fluid and fireplace logs instead of in the middle of the dish soap (as in one store here) – and most stores in my area no longer sell kitchen matches “because everyone has a lighter”. So I stocked up on things like kitchen matches and oyster crackers to take back to NY, and got my grandmother’s grocery shopping done, and then ran into Staples to get some 3 hole punch paper (which is hard to get down here, but it’s what I use for drafts because I put them in binders).

Got Grandma back home, the groceries put away, the laundry folded, more work done on the manuscript. Then, it was back to Bob’s Seafood for lobster rolls for lunch (yum). After lunch, I had to head back out because I had to find a place to get keys copied. I have a 30 year old security lock on my door here, which does make me feel secure, but a single key makes me nervous. Down here, key cutters shrug and say they “can’t.” So I thought maybe a more rural area would have more resourceful locksmiths.

I found one, and I learned more than I ever knew about making and matching keys. You know it’s going to come in handy in a story someday. He was absolutely lovely, and I may need to base a character in something on him someday. Of course, I couldn’t test the keys until we got back to NY yesterday, but – they work! Ta-Da!

Did some other shopping (like I needed to spend the money). Came back to the house, finished the manuscript, wrote up the notes, and my grandmother’s sister-in-law stopped by, and we also had a nice visit. Then I started the next assignment for Confidential Job #1, fixed dinner, and helped my grandmother go through some things which I took back here to NY to get repaired – since I’m in wardrobe, I know the places that specialize in these kinds of repairs.

Somewhere in all of this, I ended up with a tick on me, which nearly sent me over the edge, but I got it off and stomped on it before it bit me. Two of my friends have had Lyme Disease, and it’s left them with permanent damage. I’m just glad I noticed it before it had the chance to chomp.

Up early yesterday morning, got my grandmother sorted out, packed the car. We were on the road by 7:30, and stopped in Ongonquit at The Egg & I for breakfast. I’ll be writing about this restaurant soon. The short version: The best eggs benedict I’ve ever had anywhere, and scrumptious coffee. Delightful! Not only is the food great and the atmosphere welcoming, but the other diners were all cheerful and interesting.

Back on the road, stopped in Newburyport for gas. Picked up a Boston Globe, but was halfway across the MASS pike before I saw that I missed my colleague Jon Clinch by MINUTES. He was appearing at 10 AM in Newburyport – I’d taken gas at 9:50 only a mile down the road, but didn’t find out about it until I stopped at a rest area and glanced at the paper around noon! Talk about ships that pass in the night! Jon’s book is FINN – if you haven’t read it, read it. It’s a harsh, beautiful book. I would have loved to stop by and support him.

Stopped in Sturbridge, MA, at Earth Spirits, to stock up on incense and oils. Their quality is so terrific it’s always worth the stop.

Stopped at a bookstore down the street from me on the way in, looking for Jill Shalvis’s latest to take with me on the plane on Tuesday. They didn’t have it. They didn’t have ANY of her books. I was NOT amused. I said, “The reason better be that you’ve sold through them and your re-orders haven’t yet arrived. The next time I walk in here, I expect to see an ENTIRE SHELF of her books!” I bought DANCING SHOES AND HONKY TONK BLUES by Luann McLane and SUSANNAH’S GARDEN by Debbie Macomber, both of which look good. That, along with POISON STUDY, should work for the trip.

The cats were glad to see me. I unpacked, finished the assignment for Confidential Job #1, and tried to get settled for today.

Worked on my pre-Derby article, the manuscript critique, and the report for CJ#1. Got the critique done and out; have most of the report for CJ#1 complete. The Derby piece still needs more work, but I have to finish it before I head for the city this morning.

Today, I’m at the PEN World Voices Festival again all day – I can’t wait. It’s like finding an oasis in the desert. I come out of these sessions so inspired and so honored to be in the company of people like these writers. And most of the attendees are pretty fascinating, too.

I had to move the car again when I came back – the brook’s too high, and, even on Friday, there was some concern of yet another flood.

I can’t really go into the emotional impact of the trip. It’s difficult to see my grandmother, who could always run rings around everyone, grow more and more frail. And, on the one hand, she’s appreciative that I come up and do all the things no one else thinks are important enough to take the time to do, but, on the other hand, she’s always harping on me. She’s proud of all the other relatives and what they’ve accomplished, but I’m the black sheep – and only because I’m not married and not popping out babies all the time. She’s finally accepted the fact that I’ll never get “a real job” and that I’m making a decent living in the theatre and now, switching to the freelancing. She’s stopped telling me that, “well, you’ll HAVE to do something you hate if you want to succeed in this world” and I’ve stopped countering with, “I won’t.”

I think a friend of mine is correct when he said that, because she made the choice of duty to “give up her art” (she was a talented artist) in order to devote herself to her husband, and then, after he died and her sister-in-law died, to move back to Maine to “take care” of her brother, she resents the fact that I’ve always refused to make the same decision. I’m willing to support and care for the man in my life – but not to the extent of dismissing or giving up my own writing. I won’t do it. And, according to my friend, whether she’s conscious of it or not, she has to punish me for that decision. And the fact that I can make it work.

Most of the time I get so upset and enraged and hurt that I’m beside myself by the time I leave. This time, I remembered the part of “detachment” that yoga always talks about and decided to apply it. I’m not denying that it hurt, frustrated, and annoyed me. But, this time, I decided it wasn’t going to fester, nor was I going to start an argument. There was far too much to do, too little time in which to do it, and I’ve had way too much to deal with in the past months to have to defend my choices to ANYONE. And I could move through the anger and hurt much more easily by not letting it infect me like a cut that wasn’t properly cleaned. It’s almost as though catching and destroying the tick before it bit me was symbolic of the entire trip.

Off to PEN, to waft on the wings of inspiration for the day.