Friday, January 4, 2008

Friday, January 4, 2008
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to Chaz Brenchley! Not only is he a brilliant writer, he’s a wonderful friend. Many happy returns of the day and the year for you.

Lyd, all is good between us. I think where we got our wires crossed is that you assumed I was blogging and making lists INSTEAD of writing, when I do it in ADDITION to writing. When I get tired (because the creative energy does flag after awhile), the blogs and the lists help me get back on track. Also, because of the amount of projects I have to juggle as a freelancer, if I didn’t track them with lists and spread sheets, I wouldn’t be able to stay on top of deadlines, outgoing invoices, and know when the chase down the money from clients that are slow payers and won’t be getting my services again!

My printer died yesterday morning, right as I’m in the midst of trying to get out all my work. The “ink waste tank” is nearly full. It will cost me $100 to fix it, which does me no good between now and the time I have to leave; it costs $279 to get a new printer that seems to do everything I need it to do. I contacted Canon – I’ve had trouble with this printer since the first week I had it, and for four years, they promised to replace it and never did. I at least want a partial credit towards a new printer.

And I’m not sure how or where I can get my printing done, but maybe I can run downstairs to my friend’s place once a day or once every few days and print.

According to one of my forums, where they’d know this kind of thing, it’s good to have a small, inexpensive printer just to print manuscripts AND the all-in-one. I used to do that – you could drop-kick my Baby Bubble and drive a truck over it and it would still churn out the pages – but I’ve stuck to one printer for the last few years. Maybe I should go back to using two. I wonder if I can keep both plugged in all the time.

I just cried. It always, ALWAYS happens when I’m on deadline. I HATE technology. It’s built to fail, especially when you need it not to, and it’s created that way on purpose to get the maximum amount of money out of the consumer.

I’m telling you, I’m ready to go back to quill pens and ink, and keep a couple of pigeons around to transport manuscripts. Okay, maybe I need a bird that‘s a little bigger than a PIGEON to carry a 400 page manuscript, but you get my drift . . .

Instead of doing what I was supposed to do, I worked on Hex Breaker all day, finishing the second draft in the late afternoon. I’m going to let it sit today, and not look at it, as much as I want to, and then revise it, print it at my friend’s place, and get it out before I leave. I love these characters, even though I know the piece needs more work. Hopefully, my editor will love them, too!

Exhausted, and still trying to figure out a way to make the last bit of this assignment with Problem Client work so it doesn’t cost me, literally, hundreds of dollars in wasted time for which they won’t compensate me. Yes, the Saturn retrograde is kicking my ass, and I damned well better learn this time around. I learned the show stuff since last time, but this go-round I’ve got a whole new set of life lessons to face, gosh darn it!

I was lousy company last evening for one of the men in my life (yes, there are more than one; one just can’t keep up at this point), but, fortunately, it all worked out and my, ahem, mood improved as the evening wore on. He knows how to distract me! 😉

So, the insurance company who’s dumped me sent me a letter offering me a $100 gift card if I had a mastectomy last year. WTF????? That is just twisted. Not only is it sick that they’re trying to make it a game to publicize the results of one’s mammogram (isn’t that illegal?), they’re offering a chance to win a gift card if you have a mastectomy. It is so inappropriate and so twisted. I’m furious. I’m calling the union today with a few choice words, let me tell you! I think I also might file a protest with the state.

It felt odd this morning to wake up and not jump into fiction right after my morning yoga. I still need to do the cheat sheet before I can get back to EARTH BRIDE. I’ve got the characters worked out for the time travel novella, but the plot is still too shaky to start. It would be nice to get that in well ahead of the deadline. Last night, I worked on a short story for a bit.

But, of course, I’m chomping at the bit to get back to Hex Breaker. I did some tweaks last night, but I’m determined to let it rest for at least a day so I can come back to it with fresh eyes.

Off to work on articles and run my Friday errands – which, today, unfortunately, includes printer shopping!

Devon

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 January 4, 2008 at 8:54 am  Comments (7)  

March 23, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Yes, I’m back. I don’t know where to start, but starting somewhere seemed better than just paddling along like a dog in floodwaters.

The past few weeks have been hectic, stressful, and all the rest of it. The flood, losing the car, the aftermath, dealing with insurance, getting the new car, working full time on the show, the trip over my birthday weekend, the trip yesterday, and so on and so forth. I’m kind of tired.

I’m behind on many writing things, although I managed to keep up the paying, contracted deadlines. I have to finish up my column (that I was working on when the flood hit) and get it off to SDR and get back to Circadian and a few other things, but, for the most part, I kept up so there wasn’t a huge gap in money coming in (plus, working on the show helped fill the gap that opened).

Chasing the Changeling has been put aside while I get everything else sorted out. I haven’t completely given up the creative writing in the interim – I had a few ideas which I sketched out, but we’ll see what comes to fruition and when.

I was also hired for a freelance gig by a company that’s a big power in the industry – but I had to sign a confidentiality agreement, so in here, it will only be referred to as the Confidential Job, or CJ. I’m thrilled that they thought I was the right person for the job, and, so far, I’m loving it. The very first materials arrived on the day of the flood – the DHL guy waded through thigh-high sludge in order to get it to me. Too funny! I turned around that material, and, on Wednesday, I got my next assignment, which is due April 3.

Every time it so much as drizzles, I’m going to move the new car, because I don’t trust that the city will get the warnings out in time. I understand that the manpower had to immediately go out into the street to keep people from drowning in their cars, but the Reverse 911 failed (as in, it never happened because there was no one to do it ), and the sirens used in the past never failed. So re-instate the sirens as back-up already, right? That’s the LOGICAL thing to do. Which is why it probably won’t happen.

I already told the mayor that if I move the car and get a ticket, I’m not paying it.

The car drives like a dream. It drives like a terrific sports car and picks up on the entrance ramp of the highway as well as the stick shift did. I got automatic transmission because of all the traffic here – if I lived in a rural district, I would have gone back to standard. But this one drives just as much in partnership with me as the standard. Usually, I’m always fighting with automatic cars – they tend to wander off. This car feels like we’re working together. Love it.

The rental from the insurance company, a Chevy Cobalt, had two big disadvantages. The first was that it drank up gas like I’ve never seen (and it’s a small car)! I had to stop on the way to Vermont FOUR TIMES to refill the tank. Meanwhile, with the Rabbit, I can drive over 400 miles on one tank. The second big drawback to the Cobalt was that the entire driver’s side is a blind spot. You can’t tell a car is on your left side unless you’re eyeballing the driver. It was terrifying. The mirrors didn’t help, the frame of the door and the back window were such so that if you looked over your shoulder, the entire driver’s side was a blank. It was awful. In the Rabbit, I can see everything. Plus, the seats warm up, it has anti-skid and anti-roll features, it has so many airbags I’m basically driving a padded cell (appropriate, don’t you think?), and a good sound system. It’ll take me months to learn how to do everything it does.

I never thought I’d have a good thing to say about an insurance company, but AllState did right by us. They were not only efficient, but they made the entire process as smooth and stress-free as possible in a situation like this. I was surprised, pleased, and impressed by them. They’re not kidding – comprehensive coverage actually means “comprehensive” in their terms.

I have a stack of notes that need to be turned into article proposals, and I’m in my Spring Cleaning frenzy – especially since, even though no water got into my actual apartment, there’s still that sludgy, mildewy smell everywhere. Since chemical cleaners only stink up the place temporarily, hurt the environment, and then the stench comes back worse than ever, I’m using baking soda, vinegar, and lemon. The place smells fresh and clean, and it STAYS that way. There’s a reason our great-grandmothers used certain natural products (besides the fact they are all that were available). They WORK.

When the tenants were running power lines to the generators and trying to pump the water out (the usual five of us who end up always doing everything, with the self-appointed head of the group nowhere to be found when there’s any actual work to be done, as usual), the owner’s only contribution was to show up with a 9 foot length of garden hose. And that would do what, exactly, when there was 5 feet of water in the basement? Fortunately, the people negotiating to buy the building forced him to hire a clean-up crew – not only did they clean the basement, but they stripped all the walls down there to dry up – something that’s never been done in all the floods through which I’ve lived through in this building since 1972. It’s about damn time.

Now – the black cat. His name is Spooky and he was abandoned in the building several years ago when his people moved and left him. He’s mostly an outdoor cat – he can hunt and fend for himself. He’s gorgeous – big eyes, beautiful, shiny coat, very fastidious. He can be outside for hours and there’s never a speck of dirt on him. He’s hardly feral – he asks me to pick him up and then starts purring. He has the building at his beck and call – there are at least six people who feed him regularly and open doors for him when he so demands, etc., etc. The super is pleased to have him around, because it means no rodents, and almost every one is fond of him. There are several people who are convinced they’re his favorite, and he knows how to play it to the max.

However, he got trapped in one of the basement apartments during the flood. We saw him floating on a mattress, looking very freaked out, as the water rose, but we couldn’t get into the apartment to get to him. Finally, as the waters were pumped down, the super broke in and got him. When I finally got him in my arms, I couldn’t believe him. He’s sitting there, purring – not a drop of water or a speck of mud on him, after twelve hours in a flooded apartment! And here I was, waist high in sludge, hair plastered to my skull from the rain, and I was only out for a half hour!

I have food and water for him outside my door, and we have play time every day. Several others in my section are also leaving him food – basically, my section is now the cat’s smorgasbord – he goes from door to door and feasts.

I’m trying to integrate him into the household slowly – I’ll take him to the vet and make sure his shots are updated, etc. I don’t want to rush him – or my girls. He comes in and out of the apartment, occasionally, and the girls have drawn boundaries. There’s no fighting – but a bit of hissing on the twins’ parts, and many flicking tails. Whenever they take a stand, he backs right out (I leave the door open so no one feels trapped). I find it highly amusing that this is a cat who can stand down any wild animal in our region – but my spoiled, tiny housecats intimidate him! He’s very much a gentleman with them (he’s been neutered and mine are all spayed, so no worries there).

So we’ll see.

There’s much more, but that’s the short version. I’ll try to keep up the daily details, soon, and, hopefully, I’ll have more writing stuff to talk about shortly. Basically, this month’s GDRs are shot, so most of them are just going to roll over into April. I’m not going to stress about it. I’m going to do what needs to be done and re-assess. The GDRs are supposed to be guidelines, not prisons.

Back to work.

March 6 Update

The heat kicked in around 3 AM, which is a good thing, since, with the wind chill, it is -19 this morning.

Yesterday was all about dealing with insurance, getting the car towed, getting the loaner, etc. I was just too tired to do much online — although I managed to send out two pitches (although I doubt I’ll be hired — I played hardball with the $$ upfront).

I kept the apartment warm yesterday by cooking and experimenting with recipes for The Project yesterday, and I have a cake in the oven this morning.

Hopefully, there’s enough hot water left so I can shower here instead of at the theatre. We’ll see.

It snowed yesterday and is supposed to snow tomorrow. Are we ever going to catch a break?

I’m exhausted, physically and emotionally, and heading into the theatre for another 14 hour day. I’ve also managed to pull something in my lower back, so work will be a challenge.

I’ll write in more detail in a few days, when I feel up to it, and post the photos.

Off to the show.

Devon

Published in: on March 6, 2007 at 8:10 am  Comments (11)  

February 15, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and COLD

And guess what? No hot water! Again. Are you really surprised, at this point?

I was featured on Deborah Ng’s “Pay it Forward Tuesday” this week – and too sick to visit any other blogs. So I caught up today.

My “Pay it Forward” is Mia King, who found me here via wordpress or something, and whose new book, Good Things was published about a week ago. Go, Mia! Hop over and visit her if you get the chance. Not only does her book sound terrific, she and her husband run a golfing company in Hawaii!

Visiting the other blogs on the Pay it Forward:

Kelly Boyer Sagertz: Word of Mouth has some interesting information on a variety of topics:

Eleanor Burks’s book Assaulted by Memory – the page goes directly to Amazon.com, not her site, so all I could see was that only one book is left in stock; nothing about her;

Sinclair Nicholas has an interesting Prague Blog

if you’re interested in daily life in Prague. I wanted to comment on the blog, because I enjoyed the writing, but I “wasn’t authorized.” I tried to “log in” and it wouldn’t even let me sign up/sign in/whatever. Oh, well. I’m not going through any more signing up processes. I’m tired of jumping through hoops in order to be able to give someone a compliment. Either you want people to respond to your blog, or you make it too difficult and they don’t come back.

Scott Penny has That Blog

which is pretty fun AND you can leave comments on it without having to promise your firstborn, your dog, and your kitchen utensils.

And I really enjoyed Joanne Mason’s blog, What Do You Read?

Now, back to life, writing, and the rest of it.

I’m much better. No idea what got me down – and, because my union’s so-called insurance plan is not only inadequate, but for all intents and purposes, non-existent (I swear, the guy I was forced to see must have gotten his degree from a matchbook cover, so I ended up paying out of pocket for my former doctor and then going to my acupuncturist, who fixed just about everything), it wasn’t pretty.

Those of you who’ve known me for awhile know I’m pro-union. I’ve served as a union negotiator on contract issues. However, the labor movement, in general, has failed its membership in this country since Bush was crowned President by the Supreme Court (because he sure as hell wasn’t voted in – the votes weren’t even counted).

People join unions for two reasons – to have a unified voice in receiving a FAIR day’s pay for a FAIR day’s work in reasonably safe and sanitary conditions, AND to have access to health care by being a part of a group large enough that an insurance company can actually be bothered. Their responsibility is to provide that day’s work, and the union leaders’ responsibility is to make sure the membership is paid fairly, with cost-of-living increases each year, and to make sure the health care is there.

The union leadership has done nothing but cave to Bush’s anti-labor policies for the past six years instead of holding the line. It’s not just my union, it’s a nationwide problem. Too many egos and personal agendas have taken precedence over the reason unions rose in the first place, and now “union” is equated with lazy and/or corrupt – an incorrect image the employers are eager to push, and the leadership does nothing to dissipate. We need new leadership across the board who clean up the internal messes and then present unity to those who expect everything for nothing.

My industry has prime examples – those with the least contribution to the creative process make the profit, when it should be evenly distributed amongst those who actually generate the work.

Anyway, enough about unions and healthcare.

The show is going fine, in spite of the lazy co-worker who expects to be carried (and I’m not). This person begged for the job; now this person must fulfill the responsibilities. I’m doing MY job, not TWO jobs. I have a second full-time career already. Make the choices, take the consequences, right?

The commute hasn’t been too hateful this week, so far; I’m dealing with it, back to reading on the train, etc.

The writing has gone to hell without even the hand basket – I’m way behind on all the creative work, although I’ve managed to stay on top of the business writing, pitches, follow-ups, etc., and I’m in the midst of negotiating contracts on several interesting projects. I also found some interesting new markets for some of the pieces that I worried about before I left a week and change ago. I certainly have my work cut out for me, catch-up wise, next week, on my week off between tracks. At least I managed to keep up with Circadian posts.

Artie is back, and we went to dinner at a recently opened French restaurant on Ninth Avenue between shows last night. The décor is lovely, the service excellent, the food wonderful, the presentation beautiful. All in all, a good experience.

We had a few kerfluffles in the show – a boot got caught up in one of the massive underskirts and we couldn’t find it for a quick change, so I ran down to storage and got out an old pair and got the actress on stage; two pairs of boots that look the same were accidentally switched, but I managed to get them switched back before the change – little stuff like that. For the most part, it’s been pretty calm, and there’s been enough laughter to make it fun.

I got the child’s humidifier from Target that looks like a small, round, yellow cat. The steam comes out of its ears – it’s pretty funny. My cats are fascinated by it.

I’ve got a few hours before I head back to the show tonight to try and get some stuff done out here. I need to dig out my mom’s car later because she’s got to get on the road, and I’m not going to have her do it herself.

February 19 was supposed to be a day off, but because I lost so much ground when I was sick, that’s just not going to happen. Maybe the weekend of the 24/25, I can have some time off.

Doesn’t it suck that Mercury went Retrograde on Valentine’s Day? Hope it didn’t have too much negative effect for any of you.

Will catch up on everyone’s blogs over the next few days.

Devon

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tueday, February 13, 2007
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I’ve been to sick to even turn on the computer for the past few days. But, as I said, it’s not an option for me to call in. I still have to work.

The fact that our union betrayed us by forcing us onto an insurance plan that’s completely inadequate has only made matters worse.

I’m better, back home, but heading back into the city (and a snowstorm) for daywork and a show.

I’ll catch up here when I’m feeling up to it.

The labor movement, in general, has betrayed its membership, as far as health care. It’s their job to hold the line, not bow down to George W. Bush’s anti-labor policies. They’ve failed in this, mostly due to ego within the unions, and then they wonder why the membership is unhappy and doesn’t turn out in force when needed.

Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 8:40 am  Comments (18)