Thurs. Aug. 30, 2018: Dissecting Creativity & Poor Business Choices

Thursday, August 30, 2018
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hot, humid, cloudy

Long day yesterday, although I got good work done on RELICS. The heat and humidity are supposed to break a bit later today, thank goodness. I am not productive in this weather, and I need to be productive. This morning, the RELICS worked rocked! We are at the first of the double climactic sequence and barreling to the end of this draft!

Lots of work with the client yesterday, and next week will be long days of extra hours. But it’s all good. The work is interesting, and that helps.

Finished re-reading TENDER IS THE NIGHT (F. Scott Fitzgerald). Although there is a lot of beautiful language, it’s also a cruel book. It also keeps the reader at a distance, which I hadn’t noticed the first time I read it. I never felt that the POVs were close enough. It wasn’t quite third omniscient, but not really close third, either. That got frustrating after awhile.

It’s also interesting to speculate on how he used material and transformed it into fiction. I always wonder how much of that transformation is using a real-life inspiration as a jumping off point, and how much is exploring one’s feelings toward that inspiration? In my case, when I do my job properly, the inspiration evolves into a fully-formed individual/character very separate from the original inspiration. I know where they diverge. But I always wonder if and where it happens for other authors.

Nicole Diver reminded me, in some ways, of Sara Murphy. So many of her characteristics are similar to Sara’s. But her mental health issues reminded me of Zelda Fitzgerald. In the same way, Dick Diver seemed a combination of Gerald Murphy and Fitzgerald himself. Although the McKiscos also reminded me of the Fitzgeralds. The racism in the book also struck me. I think it was deliberate on Fitzgerald’s part, him pointing it out and depicting it, I mean. I don’t think it was thoughtless. I think he wanted a spotlight on how black individuals were treated in that time and place. There were many people in the novel where one could speculate the inspirations — especially because I’m re-reading the book about Sara and Gerald Murphy, EVERYONE WAS SO VERY YOUNG, at the same time. The first time I read it, I didn’t know any of the context. It was less distracting in some ways, but I was also less discerning.

It’s been an interesting experience.

I was absolutely shocked when I opened my email yesterday and there was an email from a startup wellness company attacking me for not buying their product. I’m not even sure how I got on their list in the first place. They asked if I wanted an invitation to subscribe to their monthly yoga box. I accepted the invitation for an invitation. That’s not a commitment. That’s saying I’m interested in hearing about it. When I received the invitation, it was for a limited time, and I was dealing with two deaths that happened in close proximity. I glanced at the invitation, I had questions about pricing — things were unclear and it looked like the pricing would fluctuate every month, which meant it wasn’t an option for me. And, frankly, their stuff was fine but it didn’t excite me. I put it aside. I CHOSE not to purchase it at this time. That is my right as a potential customer. To CHOOSE whether or not I buy a product.

Yesterday I got an email, berating me for not purchasing the product. Basically calling me too stupid to understand their offer.

I sent a strongly-worded email saying that I was dealing with two deaths at the time and not everything was about THEM, and sending an email attacking potential customers is not the way to grow one’s business. I then unsubscribed from the email list, too.

Of course, there was no apology. I felt like I’d been blindsided with a gut punch, and I wanted one. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it didn’t matter. Yeah, my ego wanted the apology. But there is no way I’d become a customer. There is NOTHING they could do or say — not an apology, not an offer of free or discounted anything — that would make me trust them enough to give them money. I’m done.

And this is supposed to be a company promoting the yoga lifestyle. Hypocrites.

I’m still hurt and angry, but I’ll get over it, I’ll move on, and I want nothing to do with them. I realize it’s hard to be a start-up, but walk your talk. And you’re NOT going to succeed if you abuse potential customers.

Roughed out the next month’s worth of Ink-Dipped Advice pieces. Uploading next week’s today; will write the next over the weekend and upload them next week. Also want to get ahead on the September postings for Upbeat Authors.

Working on calendar articles.

Have to get the balance back between working on RELICS and DHARMA. This draft of RELICS will head off to the editor as soon as I can finish it (hopefully this weekend).

Working on the piece about Donna Andrews’s Meg Langslow mysteries, which should go up on A Biblio Paradise next week.

I have errands this morning, and writing, and web stuff (have to get the new website offline properly so we can work on it). Because it takes place behind-the-scenes on a television series, my editor and I are also discussing how the #MeToo movement will affect the plot. When I started writing it, we dealt with the issues differently than we are trying to deal with them now. So, as we work through this next draft preparing for galleys, we have to figure out how to acknowledge how things have changed and figure out where and if they affect the plot.

I’m hoping the weekend will be a combination writing retreat/meditation/purge-the-basement/yardwork event.

I’m not going anywhere. The Labor Day Tourist Insanity was already in full swing yesterday. I’ll do some grocery shopping tomorrow, and some errands, and then I’m in for the weekend.

Back to the page.

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Wed. Aug. 29, 2018

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Blisteringly hot & humid

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

I’ve been onsite with a client the last few days, doing studio/design work. She leaves for Thailand early in September and needs to get this done. It’s interesting work, the way she designs clothes, and very different from costume design in theatre.

I’m re-reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s TENDER IS THE NIGHT and wallowing in the beauty of the language. Which is weird, because when one breaks down certain sections of it, it shouldn’t work. But when you put it together, it does.

Since I’m reading EVERYONE WAS SO YOUNG, which deals with the inspiration for TENDER IS THE NIGHT, it’s an interesting juxtaposition.

Ari Meghlen invited me to guest on her blog (it will go up next year) and I said yes. I also invited her onto Biblio Paradise. I need to get the next few dozen posts on that sorted this week.

Working on the calendar articles. The first book for my new reviewing gig arrived, and I really like it. I hope to finish it this weekend and get the review out early next week. Worked on the newsletter, which will go out early next week.

Shameless promotional note: If you haven’t signed up for my quarterly newsletter yet, you can do so here.

This newsletter has a triple cover reveal: RELICS & REQUIEM, DAVY JONES DHARMA, and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

Pushing for the end of this draft of RELICS. Behind where I need to be on DHARMA. But BALTHAZAAR is where it should be, and CRAVE THE HUNT needs to get back into the mix once RELICS is in galleys and the next draft of DHARMA is done.

Right now, the goal is a minimum of 2500 words/day on RELICS (more if I can) and 1K on DHARMA, but that doesn’t always happen.

Getting more comfortable on Tumblr; loving Ello; joined Triberr, and we’ll see how that goes. I’m ready to give up on Vero — if I’m having trouble with even the sign-up, a client less IT fluent won’t like it at all. Their support people have been lovely, but the problem’s not solved. We’re going on a week here. And it’s just about signing up and my email address (that I use a dozen times a day) coming up in the sign-up as invalid. It’s not.

I have to start rehearsing the material for the Ptown Book Festival Reading and put together a flyer/handout for it.

Discussions on the Jain Lazarus covers with that cover designer. The cover I want to go back to was not by that designer — paint me mortified! I have to figure out what to do about OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. CRAVE THE HUNT is more important now.

We got the new subdomain for the new series set up and WordPress on it. Now, I have to take it offline so we can build privately. The first three books in the series are in good shape. The cover for the first is great; we have to tweak the second a bit. The fourth book is almost ready; the fifth is partially done, and the sixth outlined and has to get back into the writing roster. How the next few books in the other series stay on track and what goes on with CRAVE THE HUNT will decide a lot about the schedule for this series.

It’s a juggling act.

The cleanout of the basement is going more slowly than I’d like. The heat and humidity has a negative effect.

Last night was our last session of Savasana/Sukasana/Reiki for the season. It’s been a beautiful experience, and I am glad I made it to every session.

Today, I’m with a client for most of the day, and then I hope to get more basement cleaning done. The humidity/heat is set to break either tomorrow or Friday, so maybe I’ll have a productive weekend.

Back to the page.

Tues. Aug. 28, 2018: Design, Create, Purge

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Direct (as of yesterday)
Uranus Retrograde

Sorry I didn’t post on Friday. The day got away from me.

But I bought 18 notebooks in the back-to-school sales, so I’m set for notebooks. For the moment!

Thursday was not a good writing day at all, but at least I got some other stuff done, including early morning grocery shopping.

I tried reading a book from a series by an author who’d come recommended. I wound up skimming through the second half of the book I was reading because the protagonist was such an idiot I wanted her to be the next murder victim, there were copy editing errors as in the wrong character name in a scene that made no sense, and some major revelations happened off the page and were told to the reader in a toss-off sentence.

No. Just no.

I tried a book from a different series by the same author; put it down after the third chapter. I’m tired of dumbed-down, silly protagonists being marketed as “cute” and “whacky” and “spontaneous” and “eccentric.” Sorry, they’re dumb and annoying. I know plenty of cute, whacky, spontaneous, and eccentric individuals who aren’t morons.

An author I’ve crossed off my list. Fortunately, I’m not in contact with her on social media or at conferences. And no, I won’t name her publicly. I don’t bash other authors.

I want the protagonists in the books I read to be smarter, more resourceful, and more inventive than the average person. Yes, I like to see characters grow and change during the course of a book and series, but the change has to start soon after the catalyst, not six books down the road. A protag doesn’t learn from mistakes and keeps making the same one over and over? First of all, I want that protag to be the next murder victim (Donna Andrews calls it the “Too Stupid to Live Syndrome” and I agree). Second, it’s not a person I’d spend time with in real life, so I sure as heck won’t waste my reading time with that individual.

I like living books through characters vastly different than I am, but I demand intelligence and resourcefulness from them. Or I just don’t care enough to take a book-length journey with them.

Dumbing down characters so the reader can feel superior (a reality-tv trend) is not something I buy into. Or buy books of authors who do that.

I managed to get some yard work done Wednesday afternoon, which meant I could sit out on the deck with a lime martini and my writing and some books and not feel guilty. I need to mow and tidy up the front again.

By the time I get the yard where I want it, it will be snowing!

Read Yasmine Galenorn’s SOULJACKER and really liked it. Totally understand why she can’t continue the series. But still really enjoy this book (and it does stand alone).

Got out a couple of article pitches. Working on a radio play pitch and a workshop pitch, and a detailed LOI for a company that really interests me. Doubt they’ll go out before the end of this week.

Friday, I got a bit of writing done, and then I had a stack of errands, including getting a new phone. I went to one store — I told the guy my budget, and he immediately tried to get me beyond by double for a phone that he could only sell me that day. Um, no. That’s more than I can afford for a phone I don’t want. So I shopped around, and finally got something at a different store within my budget, and they were nice about it. So I have a phone I like that works.

I’ve been trying to get onto Vero, a social media network that’s only on one’s phone, that’s supposedly far superior to Instagram, Facebook, etc. Only when I download the app and try to sign up, they tell me the email address I use a dozen times a day is invalid. I complained to support, and they respond quickly, but keep asking the same questions and not solving the problem. So, unless it’s solved by today, I’m done and moving on.

One of the reasons I try new social media networks/apps is because, in addition to my own needs, I run social media platforms for other businesses and creatives. I experiment with them, see how they work, and then, depending on the need of the client, I can suggest one or more network.

If there are glitches and problems and a lot of hoops to jump through, I’m not going to recommend it.

I’m still getting a handle on Tumblr. I really like Ello, but that’s for creating, not really promotion. Which is fine, because it fills the hunger I have for connecting with other creatives about creation, not promotion.

I need and want to be around other working creatives who are creating. Not who are whining about “not having time” or only talking about the business side. The whining and the only-market-driven talk is like a disease among creatives, and it interferes instead of enhances creativity.

The last days of the Mars retrograde were tough. I had to take a breath and step back or I would have burned some bridges that really don’t need it right now.

The weekend was frustrating. Saturday was not a good writing day, and I didn’t get enough done around the house, either. I feel like I have no energy, like I’m in limbo. I can’t wait for other people’s decisions, even though they affect mine. I have to do what I need to do and just adjust. But it all seems overwhelming right now.

Sunday was better, especially creatively, although I’m still not where I need to be.

In addition to necessities like laundry, I also spent some serious time working on unpacking/purging stuff from the basement. Stuff that’s sat down there for far too long that I haven’t dealt with.

Time to deal.

It took me two hours to go through four boxes. I’m trying to deal with each item only once. There are a few things which I’m not yet sure about. Everything else was either toss or integrate. Not merely keep. Integrate.

I have a box for stuff to give away, but nothing from these boxes was appropriate.

If I can do a little every day, and more on weekends, eventually I will have gotten through it. But it’s slow going and it means making decisions that I’ve been putting off, sometimes for years. But it must be done.

It was also much more emotional than I expected. I had to confront my past self, and, again, decide what to integrate and of what to let go.

Difficult, but necessary.

Design work on site with a client yesterday and today. It’s fun, but needs a lot of focus.

 

Mon. Aug. 27, 2018: Respect for Craft #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, August 27, 2018
Day After Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde – as of today

The final post about respect is about respect for craft, which is vital to us as authors.

If you’re a professional, published writer, your craft matters. Making each book better than the one before it, on levels of story, character, structure, language, grammar, and style MATTERS.

It shows respect for yourself, your work, your readers, and writing in general.

It matters.

When I teach, students who don’t give a damn about grammar, spelling, the difference between a possessive, a plural, and a contraction don’t last long. Because it shows a lack of respect for the work.

This ties back into the post from a few weeks ago – if you don’t respect your own work, no one else has any reason to respect it, either.

More than one student has shrugged and claimed “they didn’t have” basic, third-grade grammar in school. Having been through the school system, there’s a difference between what the teacher presented and what the student CHOSE to learn.

If you CHOSE not to learn something vital in school, and you expect to be a professional, published writer, take the time now to do it.

Also, when you, as a writer, work with a professional editor, be it in a publishing situation, or a workshop situation, and you get a correction, APPLY IT MOVING FORWARD. There is little more frustrating, as a teacher, than explaining to a student why a contraction is not appropriate when context requires a possessive and the student CONTINUING to make the SAME mistake, because that individual can’t be bothered to pay attention and apply what is learned. It is a waste of all of our time.

When I worked for a publishing company, I supported their strict submission policy on errors in submission packages. If there were more than three errors in the submission (which was usually query letter, synopsis, and the first three chapters), it was an automatic rejection.

The company, which did high-end art books printed on gorgeous paper in Italy and Japan, expected the authors to give enough of a damn to take the time to proofread and understand the craft. Anyone who submitted a package filled with errors obviously didn’t, and wasn’t worth the time or the money it took to produce the beautiful books. Because there were ten thousand other talented writers lined up right behind that one who cared enough to learn the craft and submit error-free proposals.

Fortunately for all of us writers who appreciate our editors and copyeditors, we have more leeway in the actual book. It never fails to mortify me when my editor and copyeditor catch things I should have seen before I submitted. But when it’s a craft issue, and not just me not catching an error, I ask questions, and pay attention to the “why” of the answer. Is it house style? Have I mis-learned something along the way? And then I apply what I’ve learned moving forward.

I still remember what a former editor at Amber Quill Press taught me about the difference between “toward” and “towards.”

There are also certain stylistic choices that are non-negotiable for me. I get those into contract clauses, so there is no confusion down the line.

Editors are overworked and underpaid. They don’t have the time to teach you what was taught in third grade that you did not bother to learn. Nor should they have to. The days of Jack Kerouac walking into a publisher’s office with a mess of a roll of typing that was brilliant enough and that an editor had time enough to fix are over.

Not only that, when you know and understand your craft: grammar, structure, spelling, story, character – then YOU get to control when you break what are considered the rules.

There’s a HUGE difference between a writer who knows the rules and chooses to break them and the writer who can’t be bothered to learn the rules in the first place.

The writer who learns and makes a choice pushes the work into exciting new realms. Because the foundation is solid, and each rule-breaking is a CHOICE, it usually works. Those who don’t know/can’t be bothered – well, the work reads as careless.

I’m always up for something exciting and new in the work. But careless writing is a slap in the face to me as a reader.

My goal in each book, story, article, is for it to be better than the one before. I try to learn with each piece, and build on what I learned before. I’m the first to admit that I don’t always succeed. Not everything I write is going to work. Even when it goes through the entire publication process, with the support of other professionals, some pieces are going to miss the mark.

I learn from those, too. And what I learn is applied moving forward.

Because I love and respect the craft of writing, and I respect my readers. I try to do the best for all of us that I can. Which means always learning.

Published in: on August 27, 2018 at 6:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thurs. Aug. 23, 2018: Lucy Learns to Play

Thursday, August 23, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny/cloudy/hot/humid

Overslept, which is setting me back quite a bit today.

Couldn’t get to the grocery store on my way home from work yesterday because there were so many accidents. Streets blocked off all over the place.

Client work was okay, but a little tiring. The individual who left (the shit-stirrer) turned out to have made a LOT of expensive mistakes that we now have to fix. I know that my life on site for that particular gig is much less stressful now that she’s gone.

Some more client work today.

Working on my calendar articles.

RELICS is chugging along well. Now, when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, I work scenes out in my head and then they’re ready to type when I get up in the morning. I plan to dig in hard over the next few days.

When I do the next editing pass on it, I’ll work on all Amanda’s chapters first, then all of Phineas’s chapters, then do another pass to make sure they integrate properly.

If the weather holds this weekend, I’ll catch up on yard work (I hope).

DHARMA is behind where I want it to be, but it’s going along, too.

I was thinking, yesterday, about how much I miss days spent scribbling in notebook while sitting in a coffee shop. We have few coffee shops around here, and none close enough not to be a major planning operation to get up and get to it. Nirvana is my favorite.

I remember reading, in one of Natalie Goldberg’s later books, how she, too, misses the days that inspired WRITING DOWN THE BONES, when she didn’t know any better!

Don’t get me wrong, I still love what I do. I just need to find a way to build in some more unstructured creative time that’s not focused on any one creative project.

Lucy is learning how to play. Imagine a six year old cat who doesn’t know how to play! She’s finding she quite likes it. She learns by watching Tessa, and then I take time to introduce her to some of the other toys, too. We have a ton of toys; Tessa is partial to one in particular that she doesn’t want to share right now, so Lucy has plenty of others to keep her busy.

I have a couple of article pitches to get out, a couple of workshop proposals to get out, and some more LOIs. When I’m done with client work, of course.

Then, it’s yard work and back to the page.

I won’t be able to post tomorrow until the afternoon. My morning is caught up with appointments.

 

Wed. Aug. 22, 2018: Creative Expansion & Annoyance at Forced Terms

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Today would have been my father’s birthday, if he was still alive.

Hop on over for the latest freelancing advice over on the Fearless Ink website, Ink-Dipped Advice. I’ve tweaked the look of it a bit, too.

I hurt my back on Monday, and it’s still bothering me. On top of it, yesterday, I had an awful headache.

I’m surprised by how upset I am at Facebook’s new terms, where authors can’t talk about their books on their personal pages. Because talking about them IS promoting them — it’s all integrated. My work is deeply entwined with who I am — even though my work is public and my life is private. My reason for being on social media is to talk about the work (and watch food porn and share pet photos, but that’s secondary). To force authors and all artists to move their work to business pages in order to force all of that to be paid promotion — I’m angry.

I’m also disappointed in Mark Zuckerberg, and his journey from creative entrepreneur to greedy corporate owner. People don’t change (although one hopes they grow), so it was always there. I had hoped it wouldn’t be what he leads with, but now it is. It’s bad enough he sold out his country to foreign entities, fake news, and hate groups. All these changes, which he claims are part of controlling that are crap. All he’s doing is hurting the small businesses and individual artists.

So, yes, I’m putting up a Devon Ellington Author page tied to my other pages. For the moment, I am still on FB. But if I’m kicked off, while I will miss some of my FB-only contacts, I’m going to shrug and move on.

I signed up on Tumblr, and you can find me here. I’m still figuring out how to use it.

I signed up on Ello, and you can find me here. I’m digging the creative energy over there, and I think I’m going to like it.

Once I upgrade my phone, I might join Vero, but the jury’s still out on that.

I’m thinking about reviving my old My Space account, even.

It all has to evolve, doesn’t it?

I use Twitter differently than I use Facebook. Facebook is more for hanging out. Twitter is more hard-edged and focused. Although I’ve gotten some of my highest-paid gigs off Twitter.

I might have to suck it up and try to be active on Goodreads, although I can’t stand the thought of it. But I need to be able to connect with readers and potential readers.

The whole thing is discouraging, depressing, and dispiriting. As usual, it’s about screwing the individual artist.

Negotiations for the gig are ongoing. I’d like to land it, but we have a few things to work out. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll shrug and move on.

Lucy loves to sit in my lap as I type. Lucy loves to sit in my lap no matter what. It makes Tessa grumpy, so I make sure to give Tessa plenty of extra attention.

Needless to say, I really, really needed Savasana/Sukasana/Reiki last night!

Continuing on with RELICS, happy that I see the end in sight for this draft and moving toward it.

DHARMA is heating up; once that moves back into the primary position, I think it will cook along fine.

BALTHAZAAR is also taking shape nicely, and I’m eager to get back to that, and to CRAVE THE HUNT.

We’re working on the relaunch of the Jain Lazarus books. My editor has asked me for a few tweaks, especially when it comes to OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. And I’ll have to do some major work on the website. I’m going to get it more in alignment with the other series sites.

We’re also talking about the series POWER OF WORDS is evolving into. The cover for the first book is stunning. I’m so happy with it. The second still needs some more tweaks, but it communicates what the book is about. We should see some proofs for the upcoming books shortly. We’re still tweaking titles on some of them, and starting to build the website.

Client work today; I’ll be late getting posts up both Thursday and Friday, because of things that have to get done in the morning before I can post. I hope to spend most of the upcoming weekend writing and working on the house and garden. With any luck, it will be cool enough and dry enough so to do.

I’m absolutely delighted that I was chosen to read at the Provincetown Book Festival on September 15. We’ll be in the Marc Jacobs room at the Provincetown Library, from 10-11:30 AM. Can’t wait.

Back to the page!

 

Tues. Aug. 21, 2018: Back into a Creative Groove

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Busy few days.

Since V.S. Naipaul died a few weeks back, I’ve read Paul Theroux’s IN SIR VIDIA’S SHADOW. Interesting book. Reinforced my dislike of the man (although I respect his talent and his craft). I don’t like that he expected others to always pick up the tab at restaurants and the way he treated women, both in life and on the page. What I do agree with is his demand that he be paid the same as “the lawyer or the astrophysicist.” And his belief that the work is what is important, not the author.

Authors are not and should not be performers (unless it’s something they enjoy). The forcing of authors to do dog-and-pony shows because marketing departments “don’t know how to sell” a book — honey, it’s time to hire new marketing people, who actually know what they are doing. When I worked for a publishing company in New York, it angered me when, in meetings, an editor was passionate about a book, but the marketing department shrugged and said they “didn’t know how to market it.” In my opinion, then the marketing department is sub-par and needs to be replaced.

Friday was hot and humid and awful. Got a few things done (not as much writing as I wanted). I started putting together a proposal for a new gig I’d like to land.

We also visited the Cahoon Museum. I had visited, with my friend Artie, several years ago, before they did their renovation. They did a beautiful job. The original portion of the house, that Ralph and Martha worked on, is still lovely, and their painting, especially Martha’s furniture painting, is exquisite. The photos of them working in their studio, and just the entire sense of fun prevailing the place, is lovely.

I remember last time I visited, I felt that Martha was not given equal footing with Ralph, but that’s been adjusted. The vibe of the place is very positive and fun and beautiful.

There’s now an additional gallery, where they exhibit other artists. This one is Herman Maril, an artist with whose work I was not familiar. I liked it, and I loved his sketches of his cats.

They had other artists in one of the upstairs rooms; and, again, I was drawn to the luminescence of the oil paintings.

Friday night, I attended a sound bath at the yoga studio. Basically, it’s Savasana, but with crystal bowls and rain sticks and drums and other sounds. Last time I attended, I let it all wash over me. This time, I was actively absorbing certain tones, using some to heal specific aches and pains (my acupuncturist used to use tuning forks on me), and bending some sounds for intentions. It was an interesting process, but definitely a night to go to bed early!

Saturday, I got out two proposals for gigs I’d like to land; we’ll see what happens. I wrote. I wanted to do yard work, but it was too hot and humid. I did several loads of laundry, and worked with the cats.

Sunday was the first day the cats ate in the kitchen at the same time. They were pretty calm about it — hunger will do that. Tessa got annoyed with Lucy shortly thereafter, and we had some growlies, but nothing major. We got it all calmed down. I think Tessa feels that Lucy gets too much attention. So I gave Tessa extra playtime, and we smoothed it over.

It takes about four months, in my experience, for cats to adjust to each other in a new configuration. Of course, it took Iris a year to even remember Tessa lived here, and that it wasn’t a new cat every day.

Sunday, I did really good work on RELICS. Very happy with it. Feel good about the book again, and see the end of this draft. Had a wonderful writing session with it on Monday morning, and hopefully that will continue.

I’m very frustrated with Facebook. I’m sick of them trying to dance around the concept that the platform is free. Now, they don’t want authors to talk about their books, except on their “business pages.” Even though they’ve proven they can’t be trusted with personal information, now they’re making more demands, pretending it’s about “fake” accounts — when it isn’t. They want you to buy an ad in order for your posts to be seen.

I’d hate to lose touch with some of my contacts on FB. I use FB and Twitter for different things. But I am not going to compromise what I’m comfortable with because FB wants information I’m not going to give them. If they kick me off, so be it. I’ll find alternatives. I’m looking into a couple more of them this week.

Time with clients yesterday, today, tomorrow. Wears me out right now, but necessary. Studio work, which I really enjoy, but it leaves me worn out. Tonight is Savasana/Sukasana/Reiki. Next week is our last session, and I will miss it.

I already heard back from one proposal I sent out on Saturday, and we’re negotiating. Good times.

Back to the page.

 

Mon. Aug. 20, 2018: Using Respect to Write a Better World #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, August 20, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT (as of yesterday)

Thank goodness Mercury is finally direct! With all these other retrogrades, especially Mars and Uranus (and Saturn, life lessons), it’s been tough.

Last week, on Upbeat Authors, we talked about the need to respect our work (and ourselves) if we want anyone else to respect it.

This week, we talk about respecting others.

Not the faux “civility” that’s being batted about so often lately. Have you noticed that the ones screaming the loudest about the need for civility are those least likely to practice it toward others?

We live amongst other people (unless we are recluses). There are certain social constructs that allow that to happen, and some of those constructs have to be turned into laws, because too many human beings refuse to treat others well.

We now respect ourselves and our work (or, at least, we’re working on it).

The next step is to respect others. How far to take that has to be an earned quality, but when we meet people, it’s important to meet them on a level ground of basic human respect and dignity.

We are all flawed human beings, and most of us are doing the best we can to get through the day. We will all have bad days. We will all go through patches when it’s more than a day.

We have to monitor our own behavior so that we don’t inflict our bad days on others. We have to LISTEN (a lost art) to those around us – if something is important or hurtful to those around us, it IS our responsibility to remember and speak or act within consideration.

That’s different from “political correctness” – again a term that is too often used to oppress under the guise of being progressive.

What I am talking about is being a decent human being.

If someone tweets or posts or talks about something that makes that individual happy, don’t deride or condescend or criticize (unless it is something that causes harm – if beating someone makes the person happy – yeah, that’s something to criticize).

You might not like what that person likes. You might shudder at what makes that person happy. That does not give you the right to make fun of them or demean them or try to make them feel bad for enjoying it.

That’s not “being honest.” It’s being an asshole.

And when called out, a sincere apology is needed. Not an “if I said something hurtful, I’m sorry.” Just plain, “I’m sorry.”

We all are thoughtless or flippant when it’s not appropriate or say or do something inappropriate at times. But owning it and, when and where appropriate, apologizing, is also important.

That doesn’t mean you need to apologize for holding your boundaries when someone tries to demean you and then make you feel guilty for standing up for yourself. Those are two different issues.

You need common sense and sensitivity.

But then, as writers, that’s what we do. We are able to dissect complex issues and emotions and communicate them in our work to show a broader view of the world, both good and bad.

In our writing, we can explore characters who are nasty, who are mean, who deliberately cause harm. We can take our bad experiences, raise the fictional stakes, and make things right in our work. Without preaching, without screaming, we can create a picture of the world we want, a world in which people learn how to respect each other and work together, even when they come at it from different viewpoints, or don’t always agree.

As writers, we have the ability to take that respect for ourselves and our work, meld it with respect for others, and write a better world.

 

Published in: on August 20, 2018 at 5:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fri. Aug. 17, 2018: Tucking In to a Weekend of Inspiration & Writing

Friday, August 17, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Here’s hoping I can hang on until Mercury goes direct!

Yesterday, not enough writing done. But I got some LOIs out, updated the websites. I’m trying out the new Fearless Ink logo, and I changed the background color on the site. As my work evolves, so must the site. The concept for the site wasn’t meshing enough with the practicality.

Did some updates on the Devon Ellington site, too. Tweaked the information; added a couple of necessary things. I really like the slideshow of book covers on the Welcome page; I’d like to add additional slideshows to the top of the Delectable Digital Delights Page and the Anthologies Page. Eventually, the Topic Workbooks will have one, too.

We’re working on a new look for the Topic Workbooks. So far, the consensus is that the old covers work better! So I guess we’ll keep working.

Saw a couple of roughs for the cover of what will be the new book in the first of what used to be the Power of Words series. I really like it. It’s very different from anything I’ve seen out there. It gives information on the cover without over-extending titles and gives an idea of what the series is about. We’re going to start building the website offline, so it can go live when we’re done.

About twenty research books arrived at the library — some I’d ordered quite awhile ago. Most of them already go back today.

Did some good work on something I had to research for RELICS. I think feeling insecure about some of the research is what’s tripping me up and making me second guess. Also, the massive overdose in New Haven, CT is supporting what I’m dealing with in the book.

A new character walked into DAVY JONES DHARMA and is going to give Sophie a hard time — in more than one book, it looks like!

Writing this morning. Then, I have to do a few things at the library, and then it’s off to the Cahoon Museum to see their exhibits.

Tessa and Lucy are doing really well. They’re adjusting to each other. Tessa’s mood has improved enormously since Lucy joined the household. Lucy came from a difficult situation, so she’s cautious, but she’s starting to feel safer and more confident.

I plan to dig in this weekend. It’s all about writing and working on the house.

Back to the page, and then off to get some inspiration!

Have a great weekend!

 

Published in: on August 17, 2018 at 8:48 am  Comments Off on Fri. Aug. 17, 2018: Tucking In to a Weekend of Inspiration & Writing  
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Thurs. Aug. 16, 2018: Trying to Get My Creative Will Back

Thursday, August 16, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Tired. Can’t seem to get my energy back.

If you didn’t get a chance to read Ink-Dipped Advice yesterday, about charging for multiple skills, hop on over to it here.

Yesterday was up and down at the client’s. Conflicting agendas and some inflexibility. Deciding something SHOULD be a certain way and not working with what IS does not serve to do anything but add unnecessary stress. Change what you can; make a decision about the rest.

I’m second-guessing myself on RELICS & REQUIEM, and the way I’ve set up the two interconnecting plots. I have to decide how far and how much destruction I want to cause with one of them; for the drama of it, it needs to be intense. I just have to make sure it also makes sense on a logical level.

I’m getting back into the groove with DAVY JONES DHARMA. I love Sophie’s voice, and am having fun with it.

BALTHAZAAR TREASURE is reshaping nicely. It’s nice to have the cover designs for them, too. I think we might have to do one more tweak on DHARMA.

My newsletter subscribers will get a sneak peak at all three covers in the September newsletter. If you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up here.

We’re designing new covers for The Topic Workbooks, which will be good. And I’ve been working on a new Fearless Ink logo, which I think I like. I may do some tweaking on the site. As my work evolves, so must the sites that represent me!

Tessa and Lucy are doing very well. They haven’t been together even a week. Instead of sitting across the room and staring at each other until they fall asleep, now they do it about two or three feet from each other. They adjust to each other, are aware of each other, but are not aggressive. It’s pretty cute.

Yoga today, and then writing and working on things around the house. I need to fix a few things, clean a few things, get back to the purge.

I plan to have a strong writing weekend, and also cleaning weekend.

Tomorrow, I hope to get to make a museum trip.

Back to the page.

Published in: on August 16, 2018 at 8:47 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Aug. 16, 2018: Trying to Get My Creative Will Back  
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Wed. Aug. 15, 2018: Getting My Creative Feet Back Under Me

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

They told us showers Monday night. We had a monsoon. The yard needed it, but still. Glad I didn’t have to be out in it.

Client work yesterday and today. Getting back into the rhythm so that I can buckle down and really push on RELICS. Getting back into the groove for DHARMA.

Got a stack of LOIs out. Have some more to work on this weekend. Working on articles for Ink-Dipped Advice and Biblio Paradise (the Lucy Burdette piece stays up another week at the top of the feed — I’m posting a new piece next Tuesday). Check out the new piece on Ink-Dipped Advice today, though, about being paid appropriately for multiple skills.

I need to get back into the pattern of pitching articles. That’s really fallen by the wayside this year, and it can’t. I like the work, and I want to keep doing it. Don’t get me wrong, I get plenty of requests to post articles on money-generating websites — but they don’t want to pay, so no thanks. This is my business, not my hobby. An occasional post swap with another author whose work I like and respect is one thing, and yes. The demand that I work for free while the site owner earns money off my piece? No.

Lots of positive feedback on Monday’s article about self-respect. I’m glad it helped. I’m done with non-reciprocal respect. I will almost always meet a new-to-me individual on the base foundation of respect. However, if that person proves unworthy of that respect — which includes showing me the same respect from the get-go — excommunicated from my universe. Done. I will not be a doormat or otherwise badly treated because that individual demands “civility” without behaving with it.

The mid-month check in is up on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site. I’m behind on just about everything, and the rest of the month is about catching up.

Savasana/Sukasana/Reiki was great last night, as usual. I will be sad when the class ends.

Back to the page.

Published in: on August 15, 2018 at 12:35 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 15, 2018: Getting My Creative Feet Back Under Me  
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Tues. Aug. 14, 2018: Getting Back on Track

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Quite a busy few days.

On Friday, we drove across the bridge and picked up the newest member of our family, a six year old tortoiseshell cat named Lucy. Her owner was a nice guy and it broke his heart to give her up; but she was friendly with us from the get-go, so I hope he is reassured she has a good home.

Coming back over the Bourne Bridge was a nightmare, but eventually, we got home. Then came the introduction/integration process.

It’s been working well. They growl at each other occasionally, or hiss. But there’s no other aggression, and, most of the time, they basically ignore each other. They both get a lot of affection, often in sight of each other, at the same time, so that they can associate good things with each other. We’re pretty low key and calm; because we’re not tense and fussing, other than a few growls and hisses, they don’t, either.

It will take a few months before they’re friendly with each other, but I think it will work out. They are both sweet-natured, affectionate cats.

The writing did not go well over the weekend; I’m exhausted. Although I did re-plot the rest of RELICS now that it’s diverged so far from the outline. Yesterday, I got back into the saddle with both RELICS and DHARMA. I’m not quite in the flow where I want to be yet, but we’re getting there.

It rained on and off, so when it was cool enough to do yard work, I couldn’t actually do any.

Saturday, I managed to do tons of laundry, get some cleaning done, and get material to create a new cover for the big chair. It’s the same color configuration as Lucy’s tortoiseshell fur, so sometimes when she sits in it, she’s camouflaged. I think she likes that.

I also experimented with a puff pastry filled with apple pie filling, making little turnovers. Needs some work.

We’re watching lots of travel-the-world through cooking videos, and it’s making me more adventurous and confident about my own recipes.

I finished off the foreword for my friend’s book and sent it off. He was thrilled with it. Hopefully, the publisher likes it, too, and doesn’t want too many other changes. But I’ll do whatever.

It was one of the more challenging pieces I’ve ever had to write. Keeping it simple, not getting too gushy, pointing out where it works and lifts the book above typical genre, why it works so well as an indie title due to the chances it takes and breaks through the narrowing of the genre that so many of the Big Five now do. Using examples, but not spoilers.

I’ve read far too many over-blown forewords that quote so much text and dissect so much of the book, you don’t need to read the book anymore. I didn’t want to write one of those!

It was a good stretch, and I learned a lot.

Sunday was the memorial service for the friend who lost her battle to cancer on Aug. 1. It was at a local theatre, which was great (especially during the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in NY, we held a lot of memorials in theatres). Lots of people, photos and videos of productions and performances in which she was involved. Her family is bearing up while devastated, because what else could they be?

What I didn’t like was that there was a cash bar and the drinks were full theatre show night price. Since, in lieu of flowers, the theatre was getting donations anyway, I thought that was inappropriate. That’s something I’ve noticed lately at New England funerals/memorials — cash bars. The last two years, that’s been the case in MA and Maine. I don’t like it. I prefer the established ritual of the community providing the feast for the family of the bereaved — everyone would chip in if asked.

It was good to gather everyone to say a final goodbye, but it drove home that this was it. No more of our friend laughing and making our lives sparkle. It was closure, but I don’t want to close the chapter on her. It’s a closure her family, especially needs, and I guess the rest of us do, but there’s a part of me that rebels at it.

She will live in our hearts, but right now, that’s not enough. Even though it has to be.

Came home, exhausted, to calm kitties also sleeping. The past few days have been stressful for them; it was good they could sleep — especially in the same room.

With a client and some other appointments yesterday and today. Yesterday was a web of missed communications.

My phone is dying AGAIN. I’m tired of forced updates I don’t want and forced apps I can’t take out of my phone to make room for what I want and need in it. I resent being forced to run my life on my phone and everything is an app.

I’m not buying a phone during Mercury retrograde. Last time I did that, it died the day Mercury went direct.

I’ll just be old school for the next couple of weeks, and people don’t get an instant response.

This coming weekend, I will go offline all weekend. I’m looking forward to that.

Meanwhile, I’m booked into three yoga classes this weekend, which I’ll need!

Onward.

Published in: on August 14, 2018 at 1:37 am  Comments Off on Tues. Aug. 14, 2018: Getting Back on Track  
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Monday, Aug. 13, 2018: Respect, as in Self-Respect #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, August 13, 2018
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Let’s talk about respect when it comes to ourselves and our work.

If you don’t respect your writing, no one else has any reason to, either.

Don’t demean your work. Don’t make excuses around it. If you talk about your writing, and call yourself a writer, CALL YOURSELF A WRITER.

If someone tries to demean you, give them “The Look” and move on.

You do not owe it to anyone to discuss how much you earn, how much your advance is, how much your royalties are, or any other terms of your contract. When someone who has no business asking these questions tries to pry the information out of you, simply smile and say, “I’m happy with the terms of my contract.” And don’t engage.

If they persist, go ahead and say, “That’s none of your business.”

If someone tries to get you to work for them for free, whether it’s the insulting “You should write . . .” or the even more insulting, “Oh, but it’ll be so EASY to write this and we’ll make a lot of money out of it” – no.

For “You should write” smile and say, “I’m already contracted out on at least three years’ worth of ideas. But thanks for thinking of me.”

For the trying to get you to team up – which ALWAYS means you do the work while they bask in the money they think they’re going to rake in, again, smile and say, “My agent (or lawyer) handles that. Here’s the number. By the way, negotiations for ghost writing or co-writing start at 30K. And there has to be a publisher in place.”

Don’t engage with people who try to sabotage you. There’s nothing wrong with being cordial and walking away. If they continue to behave badly, there’s nothing wrong with being RUDE and walking away.

But the walking away is important.

Also, don’t denigrate your own work. You don’t “just” write marketing material or romance or genre. There’s not “just” in it. You DO.

Marketing writing is every bit as legitimate as novel writing as play writing as short story as anything else.

Don’t make self-deprecating comments about your work. There’s a difference between keeping your ego in check by being low-key and actively encouraging people not to respect your work. The choice of words you use to describe your work, even jokingly, will set the tone for the way strangers will regard you and your work. There’s a difference between an arrogant hard-sell (which is a turn-off), and a pleasant one-sentence summary (your log-line, your hook that you used in your pitch) that gives potential readers and conversationalists a taste of it.

Women have a tendency to self-deprecate more than men do. In the 1980s, we were supposed to wear the oversized shoulder pads that made us look like line-backers so we could tackle “a man’s world” (in stilettos, no less). Then, in the 90s, we were expected to self-deprecate, especially when we had major achievements.

Don’t.

Use positive language that shows self-respect without arrogance. There’s a difference between arrogance and assertion, and yes, it is about more than gender. Plenty of people will call you “arrogant” or “aggressive” if you are an assertive woman, especially an assertive author who’s a woman. That’s their problem, not yours.

Changing your negative self-talk takes time, but it is well worth it. When you start watching what you say out loud, it will also adjust in the voice that’s your saboteur, that often comes out as the “internal editor” (the negative kind) that gets in the way when we create.

That’s like when someone feigns interest in what you write, asks you about it, you tell them, and they say, “Oh! I never would read THAT!”

They aren’t “being honest.” They’re intentionally trying to make you feel like “less than” and that what you do is “less than.” If they were actually being productive members of society, they would smile and say, “How interesting! How wonderful that you wrote/published that!”

There are plenty of books that I won’t read – but I won’t spit in an author’s face by saying so when they’ve taken the time to tell me about the book, ESPECIALLY when I’ve asked about it.

There’s no reason you can’t be supportive and gracious, even when you don’t plan to read the book.

Smile and move to a different conversational group. I no longer grope for another topic. I’ve learned that this individual does not have the most basic social etiquette, and I’m not going to waste time. I smile and move on.

In this divisive time, I get plenty of “I bet you write feminist libtard crap.” To which I smile and say, “No, you wouldn’t like it. My work deals with concepts of humanity, justice, equality, which don’t interest you. Plus, I use words of more than one syllable.”

And I walk away.

Never forget how much non-artists HATE the fact that artists create. They will pretend they “don’t mean anything” by their remarks. But they do. The purpose is to undermine your self-esteem, your self-confidence, to make you feel bad, to “cut you down a peg” or to “put you in your place.”

My place is wherever I CHOOSE it to be.

Smile, be gracious, disengage.

Hold on to the core of your self-respect.

Don’t let anyone treat you with less than respect.

When you respect yourself and disengage from those who treat you without it, you’ll be surprised how their behavior changes, how positively your self-respect affects your life (and your work), and it begins an upward spiral.

Published in: on August 13, 2018 at 4:14 am  Comments (4)  
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