Mon. Dec. 31, 2018: Happy New Year’s Eve!

Happy New Year

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Published in: on December 31, 2018 at 6:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Fri. Dec. 28, 2018: Wrapping Up

Friday, December 28, 2018
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Third Day of Christmas

Today, I take in the car. Think good thoughts that it won’t be as complicated as I fear. Or as expensive. Hate driving over the bridge in foul weather, but too bad for me.

I had a bad night, Wednesday into Thursday. I came down with a migraine (nothing helps). It woke me at 2; then I had trouble getting back to sleep until just before the alarm went off.

I really, truly, hope this is not a preview of the next three months.

Weird dream Wednesday into Thursday, but I lost it before I could write it down. Which means February will be weird, which was already kind of a given.

The insurance situation, which I was promised was solved before the Dec. 23 deadline, of course, is still a mess. Don’t believe the hype that MA is so healthy and has such great insurance access. That’s all it is — marketing hype.

And I think I’m getting an ear infection, too. Not a happy camper.

I’m not writing enough, which throws off my equilibrium. With the onsite days all flipped around this week and next week, and a shorter break next week into the following week, the creative cycle is in disarray. I’m managing to stick to the yoga/meditation schedule, but the writing is more haphazard, because there are things that have to happen in what is usually my writing time, so unless, next time when I wake up I get up and write instead of trying to get back to sleep, I’m screwed. I should get up and write, but when there’s a migraine involved, it’s nearly impossible.

I’m trying to sort out a better fitness regimen for next year. I need to up the yoga practice again. Since the next three months, in particular, will see the stress in one particular work situation go through the roof, I’m considering adding an additional yoga session as soon as I come home from that particular gig.

Go to the mat instead of reach for the liquor.

I also need to add weight training back in to the regimen, but I have to figure out the sequencing and where to put it.

And I need to figure out one more activity that I enjoy (and will actually do). The stationary bike, which my mom loves and does every day for 20 minutes — hurts my knees too much. I HATE running. I like the idea of it, but I hate actually doing it.

Walking, maybe? Taking a walk a few times a week, for 30 minutes or so? On the days I don’t weight train? I don’t know. I need to play with a few things.

But I need to rebuild both strength and stamina, regain some of the lost muscle, and lose some weight (in a way that keeps it off).

That will help me keep creatively focused.

Yesterday contained work-related challenges, and I was glad to get home. Let’s hope, in spite of the car repair trauma, that today– and the next few days — are better.

Have a safe and lovely New Year’s Eve and Day — and we’ll reconnect next year!

Peace, friends, and Namaste.

Published in: on December 28, 2018 at 6:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thurs. Dec. 27, 2018: Hypocrisy & Artistry

Thursday, December 27, 2018
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Second Day of Christmas

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday.

Solstice was a little more drama-ridden than I would have liked, and I was under more stress than I wanted, but it all worked out.

Nice ceremony, starting at dusk, when the house went into full dark. Then, the fire lit first, then the candles in each room, then the tree and all the lights I have around the windows, then the outside lights, then the ritual, followed by a nice meal.

The Narcissistic Sociopath shut down the government, screwing 800,000 federal workers right before Christmas. Typical. He’s such a vile and disgusting pretension of a human being, and those around him, like Ryan and McConnell, who enable him, are even worse.

Saturday was the full moon. Again, more drama than I would have liked (and less writing). More cookie platter deliveries, a few errands and things I had to get done.

Trader Joe’s was a zoo. People screaming into their cell phones and acting like it was the bumper car ride at an amusement park. I met a lovely elderly man there, clutching his list, his cane, and his cart. I walked through the aisles with him, more to keep him from getting knocked over than anything else. His wife was sick, and the family coming in, so he decided to take over cooking the dinner. He was a WWII pilot in the RAF; he guessed he could figure out how to cook a turkey.

What a contrast to that awful man at the library, a week or so ago, whining that his wife was recovering from surgery, couldn’t do anything, so his meals weren’t on time and the house was dirty? When challenged he should step up and help he said, “That’s not why I got married.”

I will use the lovely ex-RAF man in a book as a positive character, and kill off a character based on the nasty man.

Worked ahead on Sunday on a bunch of articles and posts I’ll need in the new year. Didn’t get enough work done on any fiction. But even writing non-fiction helped a lot. Steady writing helps me keep my equilibrium.

Started a proposal for one of the plays that will have to go out the first or second week of January.

I’m under enormous deadline pressure for the next few months, so I have to step it up. The emotional exhaustion of the past couple of months has led to physical exhaustion. I’m sleeping, but I’m not getting any rest.

I also had a chance to sit with a stack of books on Degas and Sargant, and figure out which painting I want to use as a clue in DAVY JONES DHARMA. I’ve got it — it’s a lovely painting of a dancer in an aqua-colored costume. That will be perfect for the Scavenger Hunt clue.

Woke up to a bit of snow on Monday, not quite a white Christmas Eve, but still pretty. Read and wrapped packages and wasted time on silly things and spent time with the guests.

Dinner was the traditional pork roast, with mashed potatoes, green beans with hollandaise sauce, and red cabbage. It was very good. We had home-made stollen for dessert.

Quiet evening, talking, burning down the advent candles and the bayberry candle. Sent some good wishes to friends and cyberfriends.

The hypocrisy of the so-called “Christians” is in even starker contrast this year than in previous ones. Going to church, talking about God and love, and then supporting the policies of this administration, the racism, the sexism. It’s sickening. I’m at the point where, when someone starts the whole “Jesus” tirade, I ask them what they’re doing about the wall, about the children in cages, about homeless veterans and homelessness in general? When they start to sputter, I say, “Live your path and then come tell me what you’ve accomplished. Not doing anything? STFU and get out of my face.” I’m done with these hypocrites.

Up late with the candles, then filled the stockings. Up early the next morning (the cats won’t have it any other way).

We opened the stockings, then I made our traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs served with thick slices of panettone. Then I stuffed the turkey and got it into the oven.

Then, we did presents. We usually do them on the Eve, but this year, we did them on the day.

Settled down to read, while the dinner cooked. Turkey with all the trimmings. It was delicious. Read, talked, listened to music for the rest of the day.

I read two theatre-oriented books: UNMASKED, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s memoir, and SOMETHING WONDERFUL, about the Rodgers and Hammerstein partnership. Both books talk a lot about process, which I loved. It got me thinking in terms of structure and possibilities for the three plays I’ll write this coming year: the anti-gun violence play, the play set in Renaissance Venice, and the play with the two women authors central to it.

I need to figure out where to submit the other plays I’ve got. I haven’t been active enough about submissions in 2018. That changes in 2019. I need to get back to the Thirteen-in-Play, where there are always at least thirteen pieces out on submission or pitched. Separate from the client work pitches.

Someone told me about a production company that’s looking for new film scripts, but I don’t think what I do is in alignment with what they want. The two film scripts I have that are ready to go are very different: an action/adventure and a drama. I’ll do some more research on them, but why send them something they’re not looking for? Unless they’re on the hunt for good writers? But if I don’t like writing what they like producing, it’s a waste of both our time.

I’d like my client work in 2019 to have more script work for clients involved. I have to research companies that specialize in that kind of work and pitch to them, rather than to the corporations/small businesses directly. All I want to do is write the scripts for them, not produce the segment or any of the other production work that goes with it.

I spent most of yesterday onsite with a client. I’ll be with that same client today. Tomorrow morning, I have to take the car in over the bridge to Plymouth — in bad weather, and I’m worried the repair will cost more than I can afford. If it’s simpler than I fear, I’ll spend some time with my client. If not, I’ll do what needs to be done.

2018 was definitely better than 2017, but 2019 needs to put them both in the shade.

 

Wed. Dec. 26, 2018: Happy Boxing Day!

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Have a lovely day! I’m with a client; will be back to blogging tomorrow.

Published in: on December 26, 2018 at 6:40 am  Comments (1)  

Tuesday, December 25, 2018: Merry Christmas Day!

victorian_christmas morn

Have a lovely day!

Published in: on December 25, 2018 at 6:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Mon. December 24, 2018: Christmas Eve!

Santa Sleigh

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve!

Published in: on December 24, 2018 at 6:35 am  Comments (1)  

Fri. Dec . 21, 2018: Blessed Solstice

snow-834111_1920

Blessed Solstice, my friends. Peace and light.

Published in: on December 21, 2018 at 6:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Thurs. Dec. 20, 2018: Enter the Holiday Stretch

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Thursday, December 20, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

I’m in the process of winding up year-end work with various clients. Some of it are permanent wraps on projects that are done, and I’ll be replacing them with new projects/clients in the coming weeks. Some are just getting things cleared up as much as possible before this holiday, and then I’ll be doing some work in between and then we start again in January.

By next year at this time, I want to arrange my life so I can completely take off from Solstice until right after the New Year. I need that time and space on multiple levels.

Got the exterior decorations up outside, including fixing some of the light strands. One is beyond help, but I had enough without it. Another, I had to make a quick trip to the hardware store to pick up a few things. The old white men were giving me sage, negative advice on what I “couldn’t” do, because, after all, I’m just a little woman, and couldn’t possibly know anything about electricity.

Honey, I started my career in lighting for rock ‘n roll. I can do things with a splicer, electrical tape, and pliers that you can only dream of.

Anyway, I got most of the lights working again. One set needs a bit more attention, but I was losing the light, and I need to be able to see.

Today, I’m running around finishing the cookie platter deliveries (even over the bridge). I did a big grocery shop, so I have the food for the Solstice, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day. I’ll deal with the New Year’s meals next week.

I’m playing tomorrow by ear, because of the weather. We’re supposed to get a big storm (rain, not snow). I’m supposed to take in the car and do a few other things (like get in some more liquor), but I might hunker down, celebrate Solstice, and then get the car in over the weekend. I also have a few more stocking stuffers to get, but for the most part, I’m in decent shape. I have to wrap. Which means I also need more tape.

Next year, I’m going to buy fabric and either silk or velvet ribbon, use pinking shears to cut, and wrap everything in fabric.

I will sweep the fireplace and lay the fire for tomorrow night today, though. I want to make sure all I have to do when it goes dark is strike the match, and then it starts.

I have writing and cooking and reading and some friends coming in for the weekend and holiday, so we’ll be brainstorming the next three plays I plan to work on. I’ll need to hit the ground running on them after the first of the year – with at least three books on the roster for next year (more, if something that’s written is picked up and needs editing), and some travel and appearances and other life stuff, I’ll have to plan my time carefully to write three plays along with everything else.

But they’re good ideas, and they won’t leave me alone until I fulfill them. I just have to fix a few structural things in the rest of my life so to do.

Have a lovely holiday, and I’ll see you on the other side!

Wed. Dec. 19, 2018: Regain the Balance By Writing

Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Hop over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the final business post of the year.

Yesterday was challenging. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. Today will be as well. I will just have to make like a hockey player and dig deeper.

By the end of the work day, I was very discouraged and disheartened. Change will happen, not as fast as I want it to, but it will. I have to be patient and smart. But it was one of those situations where I wanted to just sit down and cry, only there was no guarantee I’d stop any time in the foreseeable future.

Behind on where I want to be with deliveries and finishing the cards. I’m close to the end of the cards, but I’ve been so wiped out when I get home that I’m practically babbling.

Working on THE LINGERIE TRAIL and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and starting to get back to fixing the problems in DAVY JONES DHARMA.

I’m brainstorming an idea that’s been rolling around in my head for years, which is demanding attention. It’s most likely to be a play, with two infamous female writers at the center of it. That’s all I’m going to say for now. Doing some brainstorming in the Women Write Change forum.

I’m not going to work on the anti-gun violence play until after the holidays. There’s too much going on for me to go deep enough, and then be able to come back and deal with life stuff that needs handling. I’ll need to block off some quiet, depth time. But I am working on the proposal for the play I want to write about Canaletto’s sisters.

Also toying with the idea of a novella (? Not sure there’s enough for a novel) about a charming guy who entices women he meets online to support his expensive lifestyle, and how he gets his comeuppance. If it remains as light and comic as the initial notes, I’ll keep it as an Ava Dunne piece; if it goes darker, it’ll go out under the Devon Ellington byline. I probably won’t get to it until about spring anyway.

Yeah, I can hear you guys from here, telling me of course it will go dark. Because, hey, who’s got a trilogy coming out next year called “Justice by Harpy”?

I might just surprise you all!

Or not.

I’ll trust the characters to lead me to the best format.

I have a lot to do over the next few days, but I’m also looking forward to Winter Solstice on Friday, full moon Saturday, and celebrating a (hopefully) quiet Eve and Day early next week.

I love those moments at the beginning of the Winter Solstice ritual, where the house goes to full dark. Then we light the fire in the fireplace, and then light all the candles, and then put on all the twinkle lights. It really does make me feel like things will turn for the better.

I need rest, which is different than sleep.

But before then, I need to get things done.

Hopefully, yoga is on tomorrow. I need to be back in class.

I need some good writing time this week – which I will get in, around the Solstice and Christmas prep and some friends coming in with whom I’ll brainstorm the new plays.

 

Tues. Dec. 18, 2018: Trying to Get it Done by . . .

Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

It was a busy weekend.

Ran around Friday, trying to get everything done earlier rather than later. Did not get enough writing done. I’m frustrated with myself.

Had a lovely grown-up evening in Boston with a friend — dinner out, concert at Symphony Hall, champagne bar, after-concert brandies at a cool, nearby bar. It was nice to dress up and go out, although it was odd to have tables and dining in a symphony hall, as far as I was concerned. A little too dinner theatre for me. We weren’t at a table; we were up in a box, which was much more to my liking.

Saturday morning, I made stollen from scratch. Stollen is a big deal tradition in our family. One used to get really good ones from Karl Ehmer, on the upper East side of NYC. Then, they went out of business, and it was a scramble, but one could usually find a decent kind.

Not lately. I swear, they’re made in February and left to get stale. They’re overpriced, undersized, and taste like cardboard dusted with powdered sugar.

So I decided to make the traditional Dresden stollen from scratch.

It took 8 hours. I started a little before 8 AM, and it was a little after 4 PM when it was done. It’s a long, involved, arduous process. But, I wound up with three stollen about three pounds each, and they’re really, really good. Wouldn’t do it more than once a year, though.

Also made beef stew, which turned out really well.

I’m thinking about reviving the cooking blog next year, but worried it’s too big a commitment.

Got a couple of thousand words written on THE LINGERIE TRAIL in and around the baking.

Sunday, I was wiped out. I had a hard time getting anything done. Got a little writing done. Had my phone off for most of the day, which was a relief.

Got up most of the interior lights. Still have to do the ones in my writing room. Put up the small tree in the writing room, with the blue and silver ornaments and the pearl garland. Got some of the other garlands up, and the nutcrackers out, and the boxes put away.

When I unpacked the little holiday stuffed animals, we discovered that someone had burrowed into the box through the handle and hidden acorns there over the summer and fall. Not sure if it was a squirrel or a chipmunk. They didn’t hurt the stuffed animals at all, just hid the acorns in the bottom of the box.

So everything had to be cleaned, and the box tossed. I put the acorns back outside. I felt guilty, but how did they get into the Christmas closet in the first place?

Monday was onsite with a client (the next few months will be, shall we say, challenging, to be nice about it). Then wrote up a cheat sheet to help a Twitter pal set up a blog on WP.

Then, a friend delivered a rug we’re inheriting. Not that I can put it anywhere until the holiday decorations come down.

Then, it was about running around delivering more cooking platters.

Tired much?

Today is about being onsite with one client, then doing some other work at a different location, and then delivering more platters.

I will be glad when it’s 4 PM on Wednesday. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed this week.

 

Published in: on December 18, 2018 at 6:16 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 18, 2018: Trying to Get it Done by . . .  
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Mon. Dec. 17, 2018: Emotional Thrift #upbeatauthors

Monday, December 17, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

‘Tis the season of running around spreading cheer. So why am I talking about emotional thrift? Aren’t we supposed to be generous at this “most wonderful time of the year?”

Being happy and spreading cheer does not mean letting others take advantage of us.

For authors, freelancers, and other creatives who work remotely, from a home office, and set their own hours, it happens to often. “You’re home anyway, so can you just . . .?”

It happens ALL year, but the demands increase during the holiday season.

I don’t mind accepting packages for neighbors (and they do the same for me, or we’d never get anything we ordered). When neighbors or friends are sick or laid up somehow, I’ll grocery shop and run to the post office and pay their bills and run their errands. That’s all fine. We all help each other out.

What gets my goat is when people who aren’t close, who fall into the “barely acquaintance” circle rather than the “close friends” circle start making demands. Not asking for help, but making a DEMAND because “you don’t work, so you have plenty of time.”

Buttercup, I GUARANTEE I work longer and harder than you’ve ever dreamed of working. I wouldn’t have made it to Broadway, and I wouldn’t be a full-time writer now if I didn’t.

So, no, your DEMANDS do not fit into my schedule. Yes, I’m working, and no, I can’t be interrupted.

When I’m writing, I do not accept interruptions. Period. Phone’s off, I don’t answer the door.

I am ruthless about uninterrupted writing time. Or I couldn’t earn a living at it.

When people make unfair demands, I say, “My schedule doesn’t allow for it, sorry.” Making sure the “sorry” doesn’t sound sorry at all.

If they protest or try to guilt me, I add, “This isn’t a negotiation.”

The holidays, especially, are a time to SPEND my time with those I CHOOSE, not to rearrange my time to accommodate those who wrongly they feel they have a right to MY time because THEIR time is more valuable. It’s not.

That doesn’t mean I don’t keep an eye out for someone struggling during the holidays (which can be rough for some people), and that I don’t try to help them or include them or just take them out for a cup of coffee or a walk to LISTEN to them.

Again, they are people on which I CHOOSE to spend time.

If you start practicing emotional thrift now, it will get easier during the rest of the year. You’ll lessen the stress in your own life, because you are living YOUR life, not being an unpaid assistant in someone else’s.

Be happy, be well, enjoy the season!

Published in: on December 17, 2018 at 6:32 am  Comments Off on Mon. Dec. 17, 2018: Emotional Thrift #upbeatauthors  
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Friday, December 14, 2018: Deliveries and Cards and . . .

Friday, December 14, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Busy day yesterday. My friend’s cat turned up, which was great news. He’d been hiding inside the house and sauntered out when he was good and ready.

Some remote client work, some work on THE LINGERIE TRAIL and a couple of other projects. All humming along nicely.

Caught up on some reading in the afternoon. I’ve now read three books in a series by a particular author. I LOVED the first book. The second book angered me, because it reinforced negative female tropes that are destructive to keep reinforcing. The third book was good, but not a single female character was positive. Even the women who are called “kind” or “responsible” are also described as “ugly” or “plain” or “hags.”

The only conclusion I can draw from this body of work is that this male author has serious problems with women. The writing is good, but he’s a misogynist. I tried to excuse it because of the historical context; but the books, over and over again, reinforce the misogynism instead of pointing it out and fighting against it. That bothers me.

Wrote about a third of my holiday cards last night. Large grocery shop this morning, then more cookie platter deliveries, then time at the library, then the hunt for more fruitcake mix so I can make stollen tomorrow.

The post office, the library, and my lovely firemen were all thrilled with their cookie platters.

This afternoon is about writing and decorating and finishing the cards — early on. I have plans this evening.

Busy weekend ahead of baking, decorating, writing, and delivering more cookie platters.

I can’t believe the holidays are almost here!

A new friend gifted me with a paperwhite. I’ve always wanted one, but never got around to buying it for myself. I never mentioned it in any of our conversations; it just happened to be the gift he gave. Very sweet.

Back to the stove — and to the page!

Published in: on December 14, 2018 at 11:20 am  Comments Off on Friday, December 14, 2018: Deliveries and Cards and . . .  
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Thurs. Dec. 13, 2018: Pre-Holiday Busy-ness

Thursday, December 13, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

We’re getting into the pre-holiday rush on everything, the exhaustion, the whole thing. Hard to stay balanced and focused.

Yesterday was busy with the client, trying to juggle incoming samples and changes and the rest, and create an online storefront and all the promotion before the store closes for the season.

Holiday party at a client’s in the afternoon, which was lovely.

Then a drive on Rt. 6A to see the lighted sculptures, then another holiday event.

I was pretty tired by the time I got home.

But I switched from pantyhose back to stockings, and that’s a keeper. Much more comfortable, looks better, and sexier on every level.

A friend contacted me this morning. She is frantic because her cat is missing — and it’s not like him at all. So I may wind up spending part of today searching for him. I hope he’s okay.

In addition to working on the books that are on deadline, I’m playing with an idea that came out of a funny anecdote and then my friend Lori Widmer told me it was the opening of a new novel, and it is. It’s women’s fiction, not mystery or fantasy or anything like that. It’s a grown-up relationship piece that refuses to fall into overused tropes. I’m having a great time writing it, so hopefully, once it’s written, revised, edited, others will like it, too. I hope the advice isn’t to change everything that makes it unique back into trope. We’ll see. For now, I’m trusting my instincts on it.

I have to write my cards to day and do a whole lot of other stuff. I’m working on a set of pitches and proposals that will go out early in January.

I’ve been dizzy off and on today, which is a little disconcerting.

Onward.

Published in: on December 13, 2018 at 10:17 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Dec. 13, 2018: Pre-Holiday Busy-ness