Fri. Jan. 15, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 240 — Blocks of Creative Time

image courtesy of Gerd Altmann via pixabay.com

Friday, January 15, 2021

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

Although it’s milder than normal for this time of year, it’s still cold and raw.

The Mid-Month check-in is up on the GDR site, and looking at how short the list is, I feel like crap.

Which is a shame, because I felt pretty good after yesterday’s work on the book proposal. It has to go out by Sunday, although I’m hoping to get it out today or tomorrow.

This particular organization’s guidelines are structured very differently than a traditional book proposal, so I’ve had to change my process to fit it. It’s a challenge, but in the right way. I feel good about the work I did. I don’t know if it’s what they want, but I have something solid that I can use, be it for them or somewhere else, and that feels good.

It was a good mix of finding the right resources to source for research to support the themes I the novel, and to talk about schedule and process. I need to move some material around today, and polish it. As I did my first couple of editing passes yesterday, I was alarmed by the overuse of passive voice and the overuse of adverbs. Thank goodness for edits. I’m also tightening, focusing, and clarifying.

A grant application hit my desk yesterday; it’s not a complicated process, and I might as well try. If I don’t apply, there’s no chance of getting it. But that will happen AFTER this proposal is out.

Once the book proposal is out, I have to turn my attention to the article for SCRIPTMAG. I have almost all of the material. Two sources did not get back to me with the requested quotes,  so I will move forward without them. That is due on Tuesday, so I’ll finish it over the weekend.

I finished the book for review, and will submit the review today. I have one more book assigned for review; I will do that this weekend. The first box of contest entries is supposed to arrive today, and once I process them, I will have to get started on them next week.

It felt really good, though, to spend the bulk of my energy on a single creative project yesterday. That’s the way I like to work. Large swaths of uninterrupted work time.

During our Knowledge Unicorns session yesterday, we discussed the impeachment process, and what needs to happen for the Senate to convict — and what can happen if they chose to remain loyal to a traitor.

Have a great weekend, my friends. Let’s hope we’re in for better things after what will be a chaotic week next week.

Published in: on January 15, 2021 at 7:16 am  Comments Off on Fri. Jan. 15, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 240 — Blocks of Creative Time  
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Tues. Nov. 24, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 188 — Too Much (Web) Traffic

image courtesy of Steven Liao via pixabay.com

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Waxing Moon

Neptune & Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

The last few days have been more chaotic than I hoped. It happens.

I have a Very Long Post Full of Context on Thanksgiving Prep over on Comfort and Contradiction. A long post to try to simplify the holidays sounds contradictory, but there you have it.

Yesterday, I also posted on Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions about worrying less about the “perfect” holiday and living it more from the heart.

The food post took longer on Friday than I meant it to, and then I had to rush to CVS, where they’d screwed up my mom’s prescription. We got it sorted out and they were nice; it just took time, and I got increasingly nervous having to be around people. I’m doing my best to avoid people right now.

Swung by the library for a curbside drop off/pick up. Came home, decontaminated, was exhausted.

Got an ad live for a client.

Just Jump in and Fly cover

Went through the final proofs for “Just Jump In and Fly” (under the Ava Dunne byline) and signed off on it. It’s coming live for pre-orders slowly – except Amazon doesn’t want to carry it because it’s available through other channels. Amazon is used as a distributor, not a publisher, and I’m not part of any exclusive program with them, so they can get over themselves. Well, they only wanted to give me 29 cents royalty on every sale anyway, which is pretty insulting.

I’m looking at platforms where I can sell mobi files (since I can’t get the WP site to acknowledge the plug-in). Setting up a Square Store would make sense – only that platform can’t do instant downloads. Most of the commerce sites are too expensive – I couldn’t generate enough to make them pay for themselves, much less make any profit.

I absolutely love “Just Jump In and Fly” even after all this time. It’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever written.

I managed to get Trinity of Teasers up, too, for free download. It contains the first three chapters each of PLAYING THE ANGLES, SAVASANA AT SEA, and TRACKING MEDUSA. You can download the PDF here.

I started work on the revision of “Lockesley Hall” which is pretty damn funny in its own right, even though it needs work. Didn’t get very far, because I was so damn tired.

Saturday morning, I was all set to get a lot of writing done and promotion, and all the rest.

I received an email late Friday night from my editor that my piece was up on Script Mag. So I had to prep it for my clip file, get it up on Clippings.me, but when I tried to add it to my Fearless Ink website, it wouldn’t save the edit.

I contacted A2. They told me that my websites have “too much traffic” and that I exceeded CPU capacity. Lots of people are finding my work on WOW – Women on Writing, and coming over. Even more are finding me through SEO searches.

That’s a good thing, right? This is what I’ve worked for the past few years, WHY I moved hosts. To have a stable platform and grow traffic.

Only now, they’re trying to force me to upgrade my plan to something I can’t afford right now AND hire one of their “web developers.”  They suggest switching things onto Cloudflare, but it’s out of my price range right now.

Come on, people! My sites are gaining traffic, but it’s just that THAT much.

And, of course, they’re doing this while I’m trying to get the holiday pieces out and doing lots of promotion, such as with TRINITY OF TEASERS, that drives traffic to the sites. They know they have me over a barrel. It makes me so angry.

I looked at some other hosts. Hostinger seems affordable, but then I have to learn a whole new control panel. They’re supposed to be reliable and good, but do a lot of upselling, which I don’t like.

I also think I might have to split the websites on different hosts. The Devon Ellington Work site and its various subdomains might need to be on one host, since they get the most traffic and are ever-expanding. While the Fearless Ink, Cerridwen’s Cottage, and Grief to Art sites might need to be on a different one. If I can find reasonable plans, it will be about the same price as what I have now, which is affordable.

If Grief to Art gains traction, eventually, it will need to spin off on its own host, because it will need a lot of room.

So I lost most of the day dealing with that, which was so frustrating. I was in tears by the end of it, even though A2 was nice and had some good ideas. But every suggestion ended with the upsell.

The bottom line is that the websites need to pay for themselves. They’re doing that right now. But if I upgrade to a plan I can’t really afford, I’m in trouble. They need to show the actual monetary gains in book sales, more article work, etc. BEFORE I upgrade, not putting in the money where I’m not sure it can grow fast enough to pay for itself.

I also don’t want to make a stupid decision out of panic and regret it.

Thank goodness I’ve always kept the websites separate, or I’d be in real trouble.

I ran down to do a curbside pickup at the library. The Congregational Church next door was having a leaf cleanup on their property. Too many people, more than half unmasked, no social distancing. In flagrant violation of state mandates. Why are they allowed to get away with this? Why is nothing enforced around here?

Sunday morning, I was out the door early, early to go to Star Market before too many people were out. I didn’t need much, but the turkey was the most important thing. I found a nice turkey – only 14 pounds this year. Put gas in the car, too. Hauled everything home, disinfected it, disinfected myself.

Sat down and wrote holiday cards. Got all the overseas cards out, except a few where I had to email people for their addresses. Got a good start on the domestic cards. But it took a long time, and I was tired.

Up early yesterday. Off to the client’s, where I worked on my own. Got some orders shipped out (I hate that part of the job; I don’t mind helping out, but I am not a shipping clerk). The postman “forgot” to stop at the office, so I had to run down the street after the truck, waving the packages, even though the flag was up, and I’d put in an electronic pickup request. Got out holiday email blasts; worked on the ad that needs to go live. The ad that went live on Friday is getting a lot of traction, so hopefully it’s converting well into sales. We’ll know next weekend.

Was getting ready to work on some social media posts for the client when a Tornado Warning came through on my phone, followed a few seconds later by a screaming Tornado Alert – Seek shelter! Message.

The building I was in was flimsy, and the car unprotected. I looked outside, and didn’t see any funnels. I locked up and risked driving home. The rain came in, hard. I could barely see the road sometimes. But I made it home, got the car in the garage, before the worst of the deluge and the thunder. We hunkered down for the next hour and a half. It was a bad storm, but no funnels around here, thank goodness.

But I was worn out by then.

Read in the afternoon. Finished reading a biography of Elaine Stritch. As talented as she was, I kept a safe distance from her when we were both working in NYC. She was nasty and manipulative, and I stayed away as much as possible.

Also read my first Kit Rocha book, DEAL WITH THE DEVIL, one of the Mercenary Librarians series, and liked it. I usually avoid dystopia because we’re living it, but this one was recommended by several people, and I liked it a lot.

Gearing up for a round of errands today. I have to make a Target run for some things I can’t get anywhere else and can’t do for curbside pickup, because I have to look at things and make a decision. Then, to the post office to get more stamps and mail an overseas package; to the liquor store and the library; and to the chocolatier to get gifts we are sending to several friends.

Even the thought of it upsets me, being out around people, but I hope I’ve mapped it out and timed it so I’m around the fewest people possible and can whip in and out everywhere with minimal contact.

Major, major disinfectant protocols when I get back.

Then, it’s writing more domestic cards, getting a client ad live, and working on “Lockesley Hall.”

Tomorrow will be stressful, because I have to overlap with other people at the client’s, but it’s only for a short time, so, fingers crossed.

At least that seditious GSA administrator finally signed the transition papers. She needs to go to prison anyway. We can’t let ANY of these corrupt individuals slither away.

Of course, I’ve been sneaking in a few thousand words here and there on GAMBIT COLONY, my major stress-reliever of a project. Someday, I’ll be satisfied with those first six books of the series, that cover from auditions through filming the first season, and actually submit them! Well, I’m hoping to submit them in 2021, so they’ll be out by 2022, but who knows. There are other books that need to be finished first.

Take care, and have a safe day.

Tues. Sept. 22, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 125 — Autumn Equinox

image courtesy of jplenio via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Mabon, Autumn Equinox

Stormy and cold

Hurricane Teddy is going to give us a bit of a slap as he moves by today, mostly with high surf and winds. We could use a few hours of torrential rain, although we do have a coastal flood advisory out.

There’s a post over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site about planning in chaos.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death grieves me. I’m also furious at the Republicans for pushing through the next nominee. I’m even more furious at the Democrats for not doing anything. I’m tired of them bringing a cupcake to a gunfight. There is ALWAYS a way to stop the other side and stop the vote. There is ALWAYS a way to derail a nominee. But they’re not willing to do it.

I stress-baked and stress-cooked most of the weekend, instead of doing other things I should have been doing. I did get several loads of laundry done, and I switched out the lace curtains and those pretty sheer rose curtains I made at the beginning of the stay-at-home for the heavier red and gold paisley curtains I use for winter.

I made chocolate chip cookies, cornbread, and tried a chocolate cake from a cookbook borrowed from the library. I’m not sure if I like the cake. It’s a pain in the butt to make, even though it has no eggs. It tastes fine, but with all the hype around it, I expected it to be brilliant, and it’s not. I make other chocolate cake recipes I like better. Still, I will copy out the recipe, in case I want to try it again with tweaks.

I made a crockpot minestrone on Saturday (quick dash to Star Market at 7 AM to get what I needed, and then full decontamination process). That was from a small cookbook I picked up years ago with seasonal garden recipes. That came out very, very well.

I took the bits and bobs discarded from the minestrone and used it to make vegetable stock. I actually used the vegetable stock I made whenever it was I last made it instead of water in the minestrone, and it made a huge difference. It gave it a depth and a richness I liked a lot.

Sunday, I made a cauliflower-leek soup from one of the cookbooks I bought as background for one of the novel ideas with which I’m playing. I have to say, I wasn’t thrilled with it. I’m not a big fan of cauliflower anyway. I just sort of felt there should have been more of something, somehow. It’s not bad, it’s better than edible, but I’m not thrilled with it.

I also learned that cauliflower is easier to cut than broccoli. I expected it to be as hard. When I whacked the cauliflower head with the cleaver, it exploded all over the kitchen. So that was a bit of a clean-up.

The soup only used the white part of the leeks. I took the green parts to make leek stock – I will use that in the prep for the next surgery, and froze it.

I also put the discarded bits from the soup into a bag and stashed it in the fridge for the next round of vegetable stock.

Yesterday, I made the Indian stuffed eggplant from Moosewood’s recipe. I also took the bits from the past few days’ vegetables and some tomatoes that looked a bit sad and made more vegetable stock. Making stock this way is fascinating, because no two batches are ever alike.

My friend gave me the notes back on both JUST A DROP and SERENE AND DETERMINED. They’re excellent and workable. She put her finger on what was missing on SERENE AND DETERMINED, and now I can fix it.

I’m going to work on JUST A DROP today – it needs the least work before submission for this particular market, and I need to send it off by the end of the week – company wants to work on plays over a nine-month process (much of it via Zoom) and then do a public reading. I think JUST A DROP could benefit from that, although I don’t want it to lose its theatricality. It’s unabashedly melodramatic at points, and that is a stylistic choice.

Whether it works or not is yet to be determined.

When that is done, I will turn my attention to SERENE AND DETERMINED, which I would like to submit to the O’Neill for next summer. It’s a long shot, but if I don’t try, there’s no shot.

The Susanna Centlivre play is taking shape in my head. By the time I’m done with the revisions on the above two plays, I should be ready to put Susanna’s story down on paper. Then, it’s on to Isabella Goodwin’s play, and then I can circle back around to the Kate Warne one acts I’d planned to write all year. I’ve figured out how to retain them as one acts, but also adapt them into a full-length by adding a supporting character who flows through the evening and also serves as a bit of a Greek chorus/narrator between the plays. I still want to expand CONFIDENCE CONFIDANT to a full-length, adding in Nathan in his jail cell and that whole part of the undercover operation. But that’s down the line a year or two.

I pitched to a couple of arts-related gigs.  One might not work out because the money is lower than I’m looking for; the other might not work out because I don’t think they’d support the necessary relocation and I’m not doing it on my own dime. But again, if I don’t try, there’s no chance.

Yesterday, I got some writing done early in the morning, and then went onsite to my client’s. I was alone in the office, which is as it should be. I got some A/B ads done, and an email blast, and took care of a few things that can’t be done remotely.

Swung by the library to drop off books and do a curbside pickup. Another woman was there, dropping off, and whining that the library is still closed to patrons. “We’re so much better,” she whined. “I work at the hospital and we haven’t had a case in a long time.”

“Maybe they want to keep it that way,” I snapped at her, and stomped off to the table to pick up my books.

It alarms me that stupid works in the hospital. Nantucket has gone up to a red zone for COVID. This area is now up to green (from gray, which is low risk), and our numbers are only climbing. According to the stats I watch, um, yeah, there ARE cases in the hospital, so this person doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Not sure where in the hospital she works, but it’s not anywhere getting information.

And we wonder why we’re not further along fighting this thing.

Well, at least she wore a mask and social distanced.

I’m reading the series I’ve been enjoying (where I stopped reading her other series), and now this one is starting to bother me, too. The disdain this author has for theatre people bugs me. Considering the series is set adjacent to a theatre company, this becomes a problem. The dislike and disdain drips from every sentence in which she includes them. Everyone is always painted in caricature. In 30 years of working professional theatre all over the country and the world, I’ve never encountered anyone working professionally in the theatre who is that un-dimensional. Community theatre and non-pro theatre? Yeah. Because it’s a hobby. Professional theatre? No. A career would be unsustainable.  Most people are multi-dimensional and choose which facets to bring forth at any given time. But not in this author’s books. And it angers me. I’m willing to read the last four books in the series, because I like the way the relationships are building between the characters, but I don’t know if I’d recommend the series. If I ever cross paths with her, I will ask her why she hates theatre people so much.

Also, the protagonist, who I liked because she wasn’t a typical flat cozy protag, is starting to get a self-righteous stick up her ass, and it annoys me.

The book I have to read for review lost me in the first sentence, due to adverbs and lazy writing. I put it down for a bit, and will get back to it today, since, you know, I’m being paid to read it.

However, I read Alyssa Maxwell’s MURDER AT CROSSWAYS (which I someone never got my hands on when it came out last year), and liked it a lot. I like the way this series has grown.

Today is about client work, LOIs, working on JUST A DROP, working on edits for a novel, and, hopefully, cleaning out a few boxes n the basement. One box a week won’t cut it. I need to do at least one box a day, two on weekends. Even that’s not enough, but it’s better than I’ve been doing.

Later today is the Knowledge Unicorns session. We are going to wear tiaras. It was a suggestion that came through over the weekend, and we all decided it would be fun.

Today is the Autumn Equinox, Mabon. We are in a precarious moment of balance, before tipping back into the dark. I’m looking forward to tonight’s ritual.

Blessed Mabon, friends.

Tues. July 14, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 55 — Working On Independence Issues

flag-993627_1920
image courtesy of jackmac34 vis pixabay.com
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Bastille Day

Bastille Day is my own personal Independence day, because that was the day I left a very toxic job situation in the past.

If you missed the weekly intention post yesterday, it’s here; it ties in with the Inner Resources post on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolution site,which also went up yesterday.

Mercury went direct on Sunday, so at least that’s a little pressure off. But these heavy planets are still slowing things down.

Didn’t get as much done as I hoped over the weekend. I don’t do well in heat and humidity, and we don’t have air conditioning. It wasn’t too bad, but it slowed me down. And, mentally, I’m just exhausted.

I managed to finish reading the rest of Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop Mysteries, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I love how the characters grow from book to book.

Most of my own creative work was focused on GAMBIT COLONY, when it should have been focused on BARD, but GAMBIT is a good stress reliever, and my stress levels are skyrocketing.

Tried some new to me recipes over the weekend – a farfalle pasta with zucchini, corn, and tomato, with homemade pesto using basil from the garden; chicken enchiladas. I’d never made the latter before. I was always worried it was too hard, but it’s not. There are leftovers, so I don’t need to worry about much cooking for the early, high-stress portion of the week.

Three Chantal Chamberland CDs arrived over the weekend, and I’ve been playing them a good deal. Sitting and really listening to them, not just having them on in the background while I do something else.

I feel a need to pull inward. I’m expending too much energy on Sliding Mask Skanks and Covidiots. They want to be stupid and reckless? Let them pay the consequences. I’m going to stay as far away from them as I can as much as I can. I have a life to rebuild.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop working for more justice and equality across the boards. But it does mean not wasting time with people who aren’t worth it. I am willing to meet each individual as worth of basic human dignity until they prove otherwise. Then, I’m done.

I’m tired of the noise levels around here. I’m tired of these people who can’t enjoy their lovely yards for two minutes without turning on a machine to destroy something. They’re never building something or creating something beautiful; it’s just destruction. Cut down trees, tear out bushes, cut up boards. Someone had a chainsaw going at two a.m. Monday morning. Unless they’re disposing of a body, there’s no reason for it. Tropical Storm Fay barely kissed us. And on Monday morning, the mowers started by 7 AM.

People hanging out in their yards talking and laughing? No problem. I actually love to hear it (outside of pandemic times). Playing music? No problem, whether it’s something I like or not.

But the constant repetitive machine noise seven days a week at all hours of the day or night is infuriating, especially because of the hyperacusis.

And now, the town wants to get rid of residential zoning, so every building can be rented short term. The short term rentals have already destroyed this neighborhood. Tourists don’t give a damn. The sense of neighborhood and community is lost, they don’t follow pandemic protocols, and they throw trash everywhere.

No. Just no.

My Town Councilor got a letter from me to go into the Public Record at last night’s meeting. I doubt he even looked at it, much less submitted it or acted on it.

I managed to catch up, over the weekend, on my coursework for The Miracle of Human Language. The course is a delight, mostly because the professor is smart, quirky, and enthusiastic.

Yesterday, I went on site for a few hours to do some client work. I was completely on my own I the office, which meant much less stress, and I could get a lot done. Not quite as good as working from home, but I’ll take it.

Swung by the library on the way home to drop off/pick up.

Worked on my article, which goes out today. Probably at the end of the day, since there are tweaks I want to do on it. Got out a bunch of LOIs. Heard back on a few – a couple want to go with a writer who has a track record within the industry (understandable, but short-sighted); several like my work, but their expansion/hiring plans are on hold now. However, they want to stay in touch, so we’re setting up a check-in schedule every few months to see where we are and when we can work together.

Managed a couple of hours of yardwork in the afternoon, hacking away at invasives. There’s still a lot to do, but I’ve made some progress.

Charlotte and Willa were both on the kitty condo last night. Not sure about having the other so close. I got some hilarious photos, which are over on Instagram.

The numbnuts are still setting off illegal fireworks every damn night. I wish the town would crack down on them.

I was supposed to get bloodwork done today. The doctor said I could just show up whenever at the diagnostic center. But I checked with them, and I can’t. Which I figured. The earliest appointment I could get is next Tuesday morning. Which is fine with me. I’d rather they took precautions, and the COVID antibody tests have to take priority.

Then, I have to do some client work and some writing. And what ever else comes up. I’m hoping to be more productive today than I was yesterday.

I should do a Target run, but I just don’t want to be out and about. But I feel like I should get in everything we need, because I anticipate things shutting down again in a few weeks, in spite of us being pushed into Phase 3 re-opening.

I’m really not surprised that Disney World re-opened during all of this. I mean, the company’s greed is legendary. But the fact that people are actually going? Putting themselves, each other, and the staff in danger? That is disgusting.

Again, though, I don’t need to waste my energy on these Covidiots. I need to focus on my own life. And work And things that need to happen, pandemic or not, over the next few months.

I have to mull over how to pull inward more. Much as I’d love to be a professional recluse, I need to be visible to earn money. But, even with isolation due to the pandemic, I need to pull even further inward to get some things sorted out, and figure out how to get a few things on track.

 

Fri. March 15, 2019: The Ides of March & Need for Focus

Friday, March 15, 2019
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and mild
The Ides of March

I’ll be re-visiting Shakepeare’s JULIUS CAESAR today. If you don’t understand why, look up the Ides of March.

We’re supposed to get a big rain storm later today; I’m trying to get everything done ahead of time.

Hop on over to the GDR site for the mid-March check-in.

Didn’t get as much writing done yesterday as I’d hoped. Same song, different day, right? I got some blog posts done, and I started putting together the ideas to help hungry kids for the resource sheet. I’m going to have to research some of the suggestions and put useful links in there, too. It’ll take awhile.

Some additional mansplainers jumped in to defend the mansplainer. Really? I can’t be bothered with any of them. Not worth the time or energy for engagement.

The next book for review arrived. So I have two. I want to turn them around fairly quickly (while still giving them my full attention).

Working on the monologues. I’ll start rehearsing them this weekend, and see which ones I want to read.

Working on the pitches. I didn’t think they’d take this long to craft, but I want to do them well. I’d like to start solid relationships with these trade journals, so it’s not just one-and-done.

April is shaping up to be a hugely busy month. I will have very little downtime. I have to be organized, keep my head screwed on straight, and stay focused. It’s all the right kind of busy, but it doesn’t stop it from being damn busy.

I’m determined to make it a happy month.

Saddened and angered by the terrorist attack in New Zealand. Especially since the terrorists were inspired by the Narcissistic Sociopath and his enablers. Truly disgusting how his poison spreads around the world.

A few more things to do out and about today. Got the grocery shopping out of the way first thing. It took me 5 minutes to make a right turn out of my little street. The snow birds are back. Urgh.

Then back to the page, both as a writer and a reader.

Have a great weekend.

Published in: on March 15, 2019 at 9:11 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 15, 2019: The Ides of March & Need for Focus  
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Fri. Feb. 15, 2019: Books Make Everything Better

Gwen Finnegan 3B 3D Collage

Friday, February 15, 2019
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and mild

Hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site for my mid-February check-in. I was discouraged, because I felt as though I hadn’t gotten anything done this month, but the list isn’t too bad.

I got the 3D versions of my book covers from my publisher yesterday, and I’m really happy with them. I got them as individual covers and collages. Now I can use them in the marketing campaigns. I have to upload them on all the sites.

Nautical Namaste 2B 3D Collage

Sent off my review, and already have my next assignment, which is kind of cool. I’ll pick it up today. Also downloaded a book as part of the Tor book club, and bought KILL THE FARM BOY, by Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson.

I’m reading WE SOLD OUR SOULS by Grady Hendrix for the Reader Expansion Challenge. So far, I’m enjoying it. I’m going to recommend it to some of my musician friends. If I can, I’m also going to read the other book recommended to me from this challenge – THE BUS ON THURSDAY by Shirley Barrett.

I’m also reading SCRATCH: WRITERS, MONEY, AND THE ART OF MAKING A LIVING, edited by Manjula Martin. All creatives, not just writers, can get a lot out of this book.

Almost ready to send off the comic ghost story radio play. It took another unfortunate turn, and I had to yank it back. I hope to get it out tomorrow or Tuesday. As soon as that’s done, I’ll start the straw hat comic mystery radio play.

Hint: If you don’t know what the Straw Hat Circuit was, I suggest you look it up! 😉

I have some grocery shopping to do, and this weekend, I’ll start planting the first of the tomatoes inside. Bills to pay, too, although this week and next week are tight, financially.

Which means I damn well better get those article pitches out, too, right?

The Narcissistic Sociopath is making an autocratic power grab by declaring a national emergency. He must be stopped.

Have a great weekend. I’m taking the Monday Presidents’ Day holiday. The #UpbeatAuthors post will be up, but Tuesday’s post may be late.

Today is Nirvana Day in the Buddhist tradition. In honor of that, I will light some joss sticks and do extra meditation sessions. Tuesday is the full moon!

Peace!
Coventina Circle 3B 3D Collage

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Hop on over to the Scruffy Dog Review Blog and take a look at my tough love post on “Goals and Expectations”.

The post below this one details my GDRs for 2008.

I’m not going to post monthly “To Do Lists” because one of the biggest lessons I learned in my 2007 freelancing is that the To Do List has to be re-prioritized and shuffled like a Vegas dealer shuffles cards every day. He who pays most and fastest is brought to the top.

Lyd, I found your comment on the GDR post regarding the time spent blogging and setting my goals both hurtful and insulting. I disagree that I’m wasting my time with the blog and creating goals, because it helps make the writing possible. I sold several dozen articles last year, and had to turn down work the past few weeks because I have more on my plate than I can possibly handle. The blogging doesn’t prevent me from doing more. It allows me to do more. The GDRs were worked on for over a month, so no, I didn’t take an hour to write the post. And my daily blog posts are written after I’ve written myself out for the day and met my writing quota. Let me point out that, in addition to winding up with lists of things to do, I also MAKE MY LIVING WRITING, which is more than a lot of people do. I pay the bills with it. I no longer have a “day job”. I’m not rich, I’m not famous (thank goodness), but I’m paying the bills and moving towards the life I want to live. This blog is a part of it. It’s integral to the process, and not, in my opinion, a waste of time. Plus, the great thing about being a freelancer is that my time is my own and I don’t answer to anyone else – which is why it suits me.

Bizarre New Year’s few days. Rough, but ultimately, worthwhile. I’d some delusions of grandeur of getting work done, at least on the Day, in spite of my retreat, but quickly ditched that idea. This was time off and time off it was, for the most part.

Got out the material to Confidential Job #2 early Monday, sent off questions for an interview, and then took off. If it’s possible to have a dark night of the soul in the middle of the afternoon, I did, but what can you do but ride it out? A good workout helped. And I got an idea for a short story out of it – part of which I’d thought of in the city last week, but it started to come together in a different and better way on NYE.

Had trouble meditating because I was having trouble focusing. Um, it’s not meditation when you’re using it to plot scenes, is it? Didn’t think so.

Nice, quiet Eve with people important to me. Late start to the Day, because we were up late on the Eve. Ditched work plans because I didn’t feel like it, and I was on retreat, and retreat is supposed to be about doing what you want.

A phrase in a book I read (because I wanted to, not because I was paid to) triggered an idea for a new novel dealing with the topic of reincarnation. It’ll be ages before I can sit down and write it, but I’ll make some notes over the next few days so I don’t lose it.

The first few chapters of THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE are taking shape in my head. I’m purposely using the double A’s in it, even though that’s not how it’s usually spelled. There’s a reason, revealed in the book. Yeah, you’re shocked, I can tell.

I did sneak onto the computer for a few hours to visit blogs and forums and also do some research for the Philly trip next week. My dilemma is how to fit about six months’ worth of research into three days, so I had to do some serious re-prioritizing. Where do I think I can get the most bang for my time? I think I’ll have to skip the National Archives on this trip, because from the collections I was able to search, The Historical Society of Philadelphia’s got more of what I need. I WANT to spend time at the Center for the Constitution, but the information I need is in the Christ Church Cemetery (literally). And I’m not willing to give up the trip to The Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, even though I missed the exhibit on Pre-Columbian gold (different project).

I’m also going to dig down deeper this week and take less work with me to Philly, because I’ll be racing around all day on my research and working nights on this gig, so when the heck do I have time for all the other work? Clear off the deadlines through the 15th this week, and only take with me the notebooks for the Philly projects, the edit of TRACKING MEDUSA, and the material for Confidential Job #1, since it’s due the day after I get back!

Bi-location would be a handy skill next week.

Almost to the end of Hex Breaker, and I already see some of the changes I have to make in the third draft this weekend. It feels good. I can push in the next couple of days, put it aside for a couple of days, edit and polish over the weekend and get it out. I didn’t get a high word count this morning, but this section has to be handled carefully. If I don’t get it right, it’ll ruin the piece.

And get to work on the next two novellas due. We All Have Secrets won’t go to the same anthology as Hex Breaker, but I’ve got another market possibility lined up, and the time travel novella’s not due till when? March? April? Have to look it up. Plus, it’s only 15K, so it’s no big deal.

Had a core workout last night that kicked my ass, but it was necessary, since I haven’t done a decent core workout since early October! I’ve been good with the morning yoga, but everything else kind of fell to the wayside.

Back in the saddle this morning, and time to ride hard this week. Giddyup, Computer!

Diane, I’m using the codes you gave me for Writertopia, but can’t get it to show up in WordPress. That’s okay. I’ll figure something out. I’m working on something – I’m sure it’s more complicated than it needs to be, but – I’m working on it! And thank you so much for taking so much time to help me out. I appreciate it so much!

Devon

Hex Breaker – 21,096 words out of est. 25,000

Published in: on January 2, 2008 at 9:11 am  Comments (5)  

Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions for 2008

For the past several years, we’ve been using the GDRS to set both yearly and monthly goals. The point of this is to create a road map, not a prison. Our lives are mutable; therefore, we must be flexible enough in our goals to let the goals serve the life, not to be imprisoned to the goals. Generally, we take November and December to work on them, and post them (if we choose) in the first days of January.

This year, instead of many questions that require lists, we’re taking a more life-encompassing approach. We’re working in paragraphs instead of lists. We’re working in visuals as well as verbals.

1. Look back over the past year or two. How do you feel about the progress you’ve made? What ideas have you changed about your needs and wants in relation to your writing since you started?

Quitting the show was a huge step for me. It was my safety net. I’m a little scared to be without medical insurance, but I wasn’t going to meet the grossly inflated criteria my union set for it this year (not that the insurance we were forced on actually PAID for anything I needed anyway). Once I realized I couldn’t make insurance, I figured why stick with a job that’s keeping me from doing what I want and need to do in my life? For the paycheck? It’s not that much.

So I quit. I dived in and I’m paying my bills with the writing. It’s scary, and occasionally I dip back into theatre, etc., but, for the most part, it’s sink or swim.

I’m happy about that, and, in general, feel happier about my life overall, in spite of the uncertainty of freelancing.

I’m unhappy that I haven’t been able to complete the move yet. The move is vital to keeping the writing moving forward, because it will allow me to control my environment and be as productive and creative as possible.

I’m still ABLE to write anywhere, but my WANT is to have my dream library/office.

And my concern is that I’ll get so caught up in the non-fiction, short-term work that pays the bills that I keep shoving the long-term fiction aside. I have to work to find a better balance.

2. Self-Respect. In order for others to respect your work, first you must respect it. Do you respect your writing? Do you believe that your need to write is as valid as anything others in your life value in their own? Do you respect your own work as much as you respect anyone who gets up and goes to a job outside the home every day? Respecting yourself and your work helps you draw boundaries. Once you hold firm to those boundaries and prove that you have self-respect, others will start to notice. Sometimes, especially at first, they will push back. But, eventually, they will respect you because you respect yourself, and you won’t settle.

Look back over your year and see where you did not draw or hold boundaries firmly enough. List the where and how you intend to do so this year.

Too often, I did not hold the boundaries when it came to the show, and I accepted work when I should have said no and focused on the writing. This was out of a need for quick cash, the desire to keep my insurance, and a feeling of loyalty towards the show. Unfortunately, because it wasn’t the right path for me, it backfired.

I need to listen to my instincts. Again, with a freelance job at the end of the year, I made the same mistake – got talked into sticking around when my gut told me to get out, and I’m in the midst of paying a big financial and emotional price from that.

Saturn’s in retrograde, so I damned well better learn from my mistakes.

For the most part, I respect myself as a writer and hold firm on my boundaries. I need to be tough, but I don’t want to be hard.

3. Where does the writing fall in your life? Is it something you do on the side? Is it what you want to do full time? If you want to be a full-time writer, you have to want it badly enough to say “no” to other things. This doesn’t mean becoming a martyr or wholly self-centered. It means putting the writing high enough on your priority list so it’s not the thing that’s left at midnight when you’re too exhausted to think straight. It means turning off the TV for a few hours a day and writing instead of watching reality television. It means not letting family members interrupt you and sabotage your writing time, unless it’s a genuine emergency. It means treating it as a second job, giving it the same commitment you give to your “day job” until it is your ONLY job. There will never BE time. You have to MAKE it. Time is a void; it fills up. You can CHOOSE to fill it with writing – if you want it enough.

Spend a few minutes thinking and writing about what place writing has in your life. On a separate sheet of paper, think and write about the place you want writing to have in your life. Put the first sheet of paper on the left. Put the second sheet of paper on the right. Take a third sheet of paper – the middle – and list steps you can take to get from the first place – where writing is now – to the second place – where you want to be. Some of that may include negotiating uninterrupted work time with friends, family, and employers. Remember: there’s a difference between compromise and capitulation. A healthy compromise will serve both you and the person with whom you’re negotiation; full capitulation on either side will lead to frustration, resistance, and sabotage.

Writing is my priority, period. What I need to do is work smarter this year, not harder. I need to take it to the next level, both financially and with the quality of the work. I AM a full-time writer – now I have to be a more organized full-time writer.

One of the best things I can do is cut down forum time. Yes, it’s an important marketing tool, but I get too frustrated dealing with people whose idea of a life is making other people feel bad. So I need to remove myself from those situations and write more.

I need to stop falling into the ridiculous marketing criteria of “this is the way it’s done” when I know it does not serve my own work. I need to break new ground and come up with fresh ideas that will work for ME, within my life, and best support my work.

4. Visuals. Sometimes our subconscious likes the toys, the perks, the visuals to stimulate it into action. Take a poster board and glue images, or take a corkboard and pin them on – images of what your idealized writing environment and goals look like. It can be as simple as creating a cover for your manuscript and putting it up; do a mock-up of a Best-Seller list with your book or books on it; or pictures taken out of magazines showing your perfect study or home. Whatever images trigger feelings of writing well-being for you.

I’m in the process of doing this. I’m going to take pictures of it, and then update it throughout the year.

5. Now write a plan for the next year. It can be along the lines of, “I want to write three first drafts of novels, finish the two I started last year, get revisions done, put together my query packets, and query them all”, “I want to write one short story every month” or “I want to adjust my freelancing so I earn an extra $1500/month above what I’m earning now”. It can be as simple as “I will spend 15 minutes every day writing in my journal and 2 hours per week working on fiction.”

Think realistically about how much time and how much work is involved in each one of your goals. Ask yourself how they fit into your long-term dreams.

Take a separate sheet of paper for each goal. Put the title of each goal at the top. Create a game-plan to achieve the goal, and, at the bottom, take a few sentences to tie it to your long-term dreams.

Goals:
Get the Relocation Done
Finish the first draft of 3 novels
Revise, polish, and start submitting the backlog of both novels and stories
Finish at least two unfinished projects
Triple 2007’s writing income
Research both the Shakespeare Project and My Philadelphia project
Write at least 3 more how-to booklets this year – upping the design elements
Launch the new websites
Pay down completely two credit cards
Add and tweak my fitness regime, so that it supports my writing by adding good health & stamina
Try something completely new and different in my writing
Shed some of the lower paying gigs and move up to the next financial level
Remember to write down my daily gratitude every day
Spend more time on my journal – I’m doing too much external work (blog) and not enough internal (handwritten journal).

Dreams:
In the new house, set up my library/office the way I want
Find affordable health insurance
Create and work in my garden
Start taking piano lessons
Take a pottery class

I’m still working on the game plan part of this – it takes more time than I’ve given it thus far! 😉 And some of the steps I want to hold close, instead of exposing to the light too early. Page of Cups – time to give it a bit more nurturing before sending it out into the world!

6. Once you’ve sorted out your Goals and Dreams, make another list of Resolutions: the promises you make to yourself for the next calendar year. These resolutions are boundaries, habit changes, attitude changes, and general physical, tangible steps that you promise yourself you will take in order to bring to fruition your goals and dreams.

Resolutions:
Use fitness & good health to shore up my writing
Create my home environment to be as positive as possible to shore up the writing
Balance the fiction and the non-fiction
Stick to my own path and not get distracted by other people’s agendas
Balance the need for solitude with the joy of socialization
Work smarter, not harder

Best of luck to all of us!

Published in: on January 1, 2008 at 10:14 pm  Comments (6)  

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold
3-5 inches of snow predicted

I’ve been trying to figure out how to articulate my feelings about the assassination of Bhutto, and I can’t get it down properly. Saddened, angry, concerned – just don’t express the gamut of emotion that I feel. But I did want to acknowledge it, and not act like I’m ignoring it.

The year-end GDR Wrap-Up for 2007 is in the post below this one. I kept in what I stated last January and then updated where I am now, for comparison/contrast. I’m frustrated because the only thing I seem to have done is the career transition. Which is huge, but I wanted to get more done.

I’m going to ramble on about the National Treasure movies a bit more, since the first one was on again last night and I checked a few things, and then I’ll shut up and go back to my life and MY characters. Geez, between yesterday and today, it sounds like my existence is revolving around two darned movies, for crying out loud, and it’s not.

The next paragraph may have character spoilers for the second film, but if you skip it and go to the paragraph beyond, there aren’t spoilers, just character studies.

They changed houses between 1 and 2 and never dealt with it, thinking we (the audience) are too stupid to notice. In the first film, Riley is smart and resourceful and funny and inventive. He’s a great foil for Ben, and a great balance to the Ben/Abby teamwork. In the second, he’s treated like a joke, he’s miserable, has no sense of self-esteem, and keeps trying to prove he’s valuable. It might make sense at the beginning, that he hit a rough patch since the end of the last film, but as 2 moves on, he should regain his confidence, thanks to Ben’s confidence in him. Instead, Ben is dismissive. That hurts Ben’s character as much as Riley’s. And, in the first, Riley’s always the gentleman. Ben rushes forward; Riley’s the one who turns and gives Abby a hand when she needs it. That dynamic set up between the three of them, subtle, but there, worked beautifully, and is missing in the second film. In the first film, Riley actually saves Abby’s life, when she’s so focused on the Declaration that she nearly gets run over by a truck. It would have been a good touch to see her do something helpful for Riley in this one. Or get to see them do anything except run through the basement of the Library of Congress. The fun of the first film is you get to figure things out WITH them; in this one, they already have the answers and simply reveal them to each other. The sequence in Buckingham Palace, as ridiculous as some of it is (hey, buddy, no backpacks get through security after 9/11), is the only one where that sense of fun and discovery is retained. I missed it in the rest of the movie. I got more and more frustrated, because I felt characters were sacrificed for badly constructed machinations. And, as someone whose own work is character-driven, and who is drawn to character-driven material (the best action/adventure movies are all character driven), I got more and more frustrated.

A reader emailed me a question yesterday about why I think Riley Poole is such a good character. A big part of it is how perfectly Justin Bartha portrays him. It’s a case of the actor finding the details in the character and communicating them in a way that connects to the audience. Riley’s a smart, resourceful guy, especially in the first film. He’s not just the sidekick who gets killed off two thirds of the way through the movie. Yeah, it’s Disney, they can’t kill him off. You root for him, for a good portion of the film, you ARE him, He embodies the regular guy in the audience in many ways, but smarter, which is what you want for fiction. You don’t necessarily want to be as obsessed as Ben, although you’d want to be friends with Ben and want to help him on his quest. Ben and Abigail fit so well together, especially in the first film, because they’re both obsessed. Riley is their counterpoint, their reality check.

Ben is smart enough to know that history is written by the victors until somebody comes along to make more discoveries and rewrite it. A prime example in our time is Aaron Burr, back in Revolutionary Times and into the early 1800’s. In his time, he was tarnished as traitor, and Hamilton as hero, especially after the duel. As the centuries have gone by, and more information comes to light, it looks more and more like Burr was original and committed and on the verge of crazy in the right way, while Hamilton was the control freak and the asshole. Actually, in my opinion, based on my research over the years, both men could be brilliant and both could be assholes at times. They were too complex and interesting to be just one thing – as all truly brilliant people are.

To get back to Riley: You’d want to be Riley. He might not have the background in history, but he knows how to find things out, and he’s got a great learning curve. He makes himself irreplaceable in the team, even though he doesn’t realize it. He’s just totally who he is, and totally up for doing whatever it takes to support those to whom he’s loyal, and in whom he believes. We’d all like to be that good a friend as well as have that good a friend.

You believe he doesn’t get the girl and he has trouble finding dates, because, in life, that kind of guy, smart, but with self-esteem issues, ALWAYS goes for the girl who’s going to treat him like crap. He’ll go for the pretty, shallow young thing with lots of money, or the ambitious, manipulative young thing who wants a lot of money and expects the guy to pay for everything. He’ll never fall for a woman of substance, because it would never occur to him. He’ll always be hurt and, eventually, alone because these twinkies keep using him and dumping him. And the women who used to regularly fall for HIM (because they recognized he’s smart, funny, and a good guy), but whom he always ignored because he’s off busy chasing the shallow things, eventually outgrow his kind of guy and fall for guys who appreciate them. That’s how it happens in life, anyway. In fiction, there’s always the possibility that Riley will actually gain enough self-respect to fall for a woman who’s smart and resourceful. And that gives the people who relate to the character hope, and the people who tend to fall for that kind of character hope. Riley’s all about hope. To me, he’s the lynchpin of the movies, which is why I got so frustrated in NT2. In other words, he’s interesting and important to me for what he represents in the mythology of the stories. If I was to compare him to a tarot card, he’d be The Fool in the Major Aracana – standing on the precipice, ready for his hero’s journey, with infinite possibilities in front of him. The Fool isn’t a weak or foolish character; he’s a symbol of hope and joy – despite his cynical and sometimes sarcastic repartee. Riley is the every day guy embarking on the wonderful journey. The original NT set that up for him, and then didn’t fulfill it in the second movie. Now, if there’s a good character arc in a next movie, I might accept this arc within context of a trilogy, but if they just keep making him a joke because twenty-three useless, talent-free middle executives thought it was funny . . .you’ve lost a viewer.

And I’m not even going to discuss the poor research done by the writers in the second film. In the first were delightful historical tidbits then blown into unique mythologies that served the vision for the movie. Even when it stretched credibility, there was enough cleverness involved that you forgave it. In the second, it was sloppy – whether on the writers’ parts, or because some stupid mid-level executive made “changes” and figured the audience was too stupid to notice. And it lost me.

And now, back to my life.

I actually had to turn down hockey tickets tonight between the Rangers and the Canadiens – that was hard. But I can’t rearrange my schedule to go, so I had to say no.

And I’m thrilled that the Patriots won last night! I’m not a football fan, but I do like the Pats, and I used to have family in Foxboro, so the tiny percentage of football loyalty I’ve got goes to them. I’m thrilled that they had a perfect regular season.

I had a FANTASTIC morning on Hex Breaker. I’m almost at the climactic scene and then we wrap it up. I’m exactly where I want to be. With any luck, I can finish it on retreat the next few days and then have nearly a week to polish it before I send it off. I love this piece.

And more adventures with these characters are swirling around in my head. And the ideas for two short stories that have nothing to do with anything else that I’m writing, but could be kind of fun.

I’m off to my friend’s place (to do more laundry) and then off to my retreat. If I don’t check in for a few days, I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year!

Devon

Hex Breaker – 19,975 words out of est. 25,000

PS Diane, thanks for the Writertopia info. It NEVER works for me — the bar will NOT appear in here, no matter how many times I follow the exact coding it says to put in. I have never, ever, ever been able to get Writertopia to work.

I need to create my own word bar. Because relying on these other people’s crap just doesn’t work.

Published in: on December 30, 2007 at 11:09 am  Comments (5)  

Wrap-Up: Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions 2007

1. Take a few minutes to reflect on the previous year. What are you happy with?

Jan.: I’m happy because I felt my writing took a leap. I met some wonderful people, and strengthened relationships with friends. I became clearer on my own boundaries.

Dec.: That was all true. I’m also happy that I left the show. It was causing too much stress, and too much conflict with the rest of my life. I’m also happy that I’ve gotten better at pitching and landing freelance jobs, better at drawing boundaries, better at chasing down money owed and cutting away deadwood, and that the quality of my writing improved and continues to improve.

2. What are you unhappy with?

Jan.: I’m unhappy that I’m not farther along in the transition, even though I know it was mostly due to the pressures of The Situation.

I’m unhappy in that I feel I lost a part of myself that was optimistic and kind in the Situation, and I don’t know if I can heal enough to regain it.

I’m unhappy in that I feel I spent too much time in groups.

I’m unhappy because I feel I got too caught up in the “busy-ness” of the writing “business” and neglected the art and the craft.

I also feel I often got caught up in other people’s “stuff” – which is very different from being supportive of friends who are going through a difficult time.

I feel I often spun my wheels, instead of settling down to do focused work.

Dec.: Yes, I’d say all the above was true. I started to get back towards the art and craft of writing later in the year (once I left the show). It also helped me stay out of other people’s “stuff” and not be as affected by it. Cutting back on forum time has helped a lot. I still visit and seek out blogs; but I’m spending less time on forums. On one hand, I know that I should so people get to know me; on the other hand, too often, it’s the ones who have nothing better to do but hang out on forums and stir up trouble that spend the bulk of the time there. The forums drained too much energy from my work, and I need to find a better balance. I’m frustrated that I haven’t moved yet, and I’m fighting the feeling of failure connected to that; at the same time, because I want it to be a move to the place I’ll live for a long time, I have to be particular.

3. What unexpected joys did you discover during the year?

Jan.: Getting to know some wonderful people.
Even sporadically, the time spent in yoga made a huge difference.
Strengthening bonds with some of the people close to me.

Dec.: That, yes, I can cut it as a professional writer. And I can be happy outside of the theatre. I wasn’t sure that was possible before.

4. What were some of the unexpected obstacles that came up, and how did you deal with them? Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

Jan.: Regarding The Situation, I would have struck back sooner and harder, and worked less from a position of fear. Spent less time in a tizzy, and more time acting. I also feel that I got caught up in a cycle of loyalty again, often with people who did not deserve it, and with that, I worked against my own best interests.

Dec.: I put aside my own needs too often for the needs of the show; even though I tried to negotiate a better balance. I felt I wasn’t listened to or respected, which meant that I had to leave sooner than I originally planned. Yet, that opened up all sorts of new opportunities for me. If I had to do it again, I think I would have left sooner.

The floods were another obstacle, and losing the car. Although I ended up with a much better car, it set back the move, and that was – and is – frustrating.

My biggest obstacle is myself, and that’s always the hardest with which to deal. Note the pattern of putting my own needs aside. I thought I was better about that this year, but maybe not.

5. What expectations did you find you needed to let go of?

Jan.: That I have full control over the transition.
That I have as much stamina as I need.
That other people are going to listen carefully and actually respond to what I say/write, instead of skimming it and imposing their own frame of reference onto it.

Dec.: The same. It took me the whole darned year to really let go!

6. Looking ahead, how do you want to structure next year to support your writing?

Jan.: Say “no” more
Put the writing first
Not get caught up in the web of what other people say one “must” do to become successful, and follow my own path to my own kind of success.

Dec.: I did all of the above, and it made a huge difference. I’m still not necessarily someone else’s definition of “success”, but I feel like I’m growing into myself, if that makes any sense (and even if it doesn’t, that’s how I feel)!

7. How does the rest of your life support your writing?

Jan.: Most of the rest of my life does, because I’ve learned to redraw boundaries this year. I need to push harder with the business writing. I need to manage time better and stop making excuses. And I need to worry less about other people not fulfilling their potential. It’s their choice, not my problem. I have enough to juggle.

Dec.: I agree with the above. I’m getting better at letting go when others choose not to fulfill their potential. After all, they have to deal with the consequences; I don’t. And what annoys me in others, as usual, is what annoys me in myself. So work on myself first. The house move will be the biggest support I can give to my writing, because I will have a dedicated office/library, with my books and files and everything else I need.

8. How can you change/compromise on the non-supportive elements?

Jan.: Hold to the boundaries drawn.
Remove unsupportive people from my life (who are different than the supportive ones who give me a reality check when I need it).

Dec.: I agree with the above. The third factor was to leave the show, and that made a huge difference.

9. What new aspect of the writing life do you want to try next year?

Jan.: I’m not sure. Every year, I keep saying I want to expand more into travel writing and food writing, and I keep holding back. Maybe this is the year I take the leap? I want to keep playing with cross-genre pieces and write whatever interests me. I want to learn more, listen more.

Dec.: I worked more in the fantasy and the science fantasy realms this year, wrote more in the paranormal, and some in the YA, which was fun. I also got more into the novella format, which I loved, and wrote a couple of how-tos, which was both fun and challenging.

10. Where do you need to be more disciplined?

Jan.: Time management, especially with less time on the internet.

Dec.: I have to add less time spent on forums to the latter. When I up my physical activity, such as yoga, weight training, etc., I’m more productive in writing, so I want to up the fitness regime even more. I believe in making time for friends and colleagues, which includes things like reading blogs; however, I need to limit my time with the wanna-bes and energy vampires on forums.

11. Where do you need to ease up on yourself?

Jan.: I need to make sure I leave time for fun, and don’t let writing become a job, even though it’s a vocation. I need plenty of percolation time, which I didn’t give myself this past year. This past year, I had it when I collapsed out of sheer exhaustion and stress. I want to build it in for the coming year.

Dec.: Committing to the daily yoga practice helped that a great deal. The additional work out routines still need to be refined, but a commitment to fitness and health gives me a lot of what I need to be more productive writing wise.

12. List your goals for the coming year.

–Finish at least three unfinished projects that are sitting around –honestly, I don’t know if I’ve done that. I’d have to read back through the whole year. I know several projects I wanted to get back to, I never did.
–Do the first drafts of at least three new novels – TRACKING MEDUSA, GOOD NAMES, so it was only two full-length finished. EARTH BRIDE would have made three, but it’s still growing. Novellas: TOKEN AND AFFECTIONS, REVENGE TANGENTS.
–Get the relocation DONE — no
–Expand the business writing — done
–Get the websites up — done
–Commit to both the fitness/yoga practice and redevelop my spiritual practice — done
–Keep 13-in-Play/Focus on finding homes for every piece – hit and miss with that; I concentrated on longer works instead of shorter. And I pursued so much of the paid, non-fiction work that the fiction suffered.
–Not let a backlog of projects accumulate – if anything, I have a bigger backlog, not a smaller one.

In addition, I had an essay in the anthology Perfectly Plum; wrote several months’ worth of articles for Blessed Gardens; wrote articles and am still chasing down the money from two other publications; covered The Triple Crown, The NHL Draft, America’s Cup, Empire State Games, Central New York Scottish Games, and Breeders’ Cup for Femmefan; moved the blogs to Word Press; joined and completed Kristen King’s Query Challenge (by the end of the year, I sent out nearly 200 queries – the goal was 120); landed two ongoing confidential jobs; attended PEN events and worked on their Core Freedoms/Freedom to Write campaign; traveled to Iceland; survived two major floods; presented a workshop at The Muse Online Workshop; had a story in the FULL MOON anthology;

13. List three positive, active steps to take on each goal to get it going.

Dec.: Not necessary to go over these; obviously, if I’d done them, I’d have finished more.

14. List your dreams for the coming year.

Jan.: Relocate
Create a secure, peaceful environment for my family and my writing.

Dec.: Still working on both.

15. List three positive, active steps to transform each dream into a goal.

Dec.: Again, not necessary to go over these.

16. List your resolutions for the coming year.

–Try to find the kindness and compassion that was stomped out of me during The Situation—Tried, did not always succeed.
–Sew more – not much more.
–Paint more – didn’t happen.
–Take more quiet time for myself – started to happen more in the latter part of the year.

17. List three positive, active steps to help you stick to them.

Dec.: Again, no need to go over them.

Overall
: I managed to make the career transition; but not the relocation. The relocation will take a lot of the financial pressure off, because the cost of living is lower and the quality of life is higher where I want to move. I worked on less fiction and more non-fiction this year, building up the business writing segment. That’s good, but I have to get things back in balance this coming year. I tripled my writing income from the previous year, but it’s still not enough to keep the worry wolves from the door. It was a very difficult year, but at least there’s some progress, however small. For all the frustrations, I feel that I’ve set some solid groundwork, and now it’s up to me to have the creativity and the commitment to continue the growth.

Published in: on December 30, 2007 at 10:51 am  Comments (2)