Fri. March 1, 2019: Stormy Writing Weekend

Friday, March 1, 2019
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

This will be a short post; I’ve got to prep for a double storm whammy this weekend.

I already ran some errands and did the big grocery shop. I forgot to grab the cat food, so I guess I’m heading out again!

Yesterday, I got out some LOIs. Got an enthusiastic response from one almost immediately, BUT — they sent me a link with a series of hoops and a “test” project to write – without pay, so that’s an immediate no deal. AND, the link to do all of this is part of a conglomerate run by someone I think is a charlatan and wouldn’t work for anyway. NOTHING about this guy was on the website or in the original information about the marketing person they claim they need. Or I wouldn’t have pitched in the first place.

No. Just no, on so many levels.

Now, there’s also a big controversy about Contently starting to charge their writers to access the money they earned. Um, no. Writers do not pay to access the wages they earned. If there’s an agency fee, it’s added as part of the customer invoice, not taken out of the writer’s fee. How much you want to bet Contently already does this, and this is their way of double-dipping? I think the Contently writers should check with their AGs to find out if it’s even legal.

It also makes me glad I never signed on with them.

Yesterday afternoon, I met a writer pal at a bar a few towns over. Nothing like sitting at an almost empty bar at two in the afternoon to make you feel decadent! But I was early and he was totally on time. And we had Bourbon Plums, which is a mixture of bourbon, plum wine, pomegranate juice and lime. Yummy! And hey, it has pomegranate juice, so it’s healthy, right?

I paced myself, and I’d eaten a HUGE lunch, so I was okay to get home.

But it was great to sit with a fellow writer who also travels (he’s a travel writer as well as a novelist) and brainstorm ideas and share stories and just figure things out.

This weekend, I dive into the writing, especially if the weather’s bad. I got an idea for a totally weird piece that I have to work on in and around the other stuff because it’s just so darn weird.

Off to buy cat food and then back to the page.

Have a great weekend and happy March!

 

Published in: on March 1, 2019 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thurs. Feb. 28, 2019: Snowing & Planting

Thursday, February 28, 2019
Waning Moon
Snowing and cold

Hop on over to the GDR site for February’s wrap-up, and over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest on the garden.

Yesterday was a mixed bag of client work and other things.

I heard back from a producer to whom I’d pitched a play on Tuesday. He read it overnight, loved it, and is going to recommend to the company to do it. He’d like more with these characters. Hopefully, it will all work out.

I finally got a chance to listen to the production they did last summer of “Light Behind the Eyes” and they did a good job.

I heard from the other radio company to whom I’d pitched, located in California. They wanted to let me know they are a little behind, but would give me an answer by the end of April.

So far this year, one of my radio scripts will be performed in early April in Boston, and another in early to mid-May in Minnesota. With three more plays in the pipeline for Minnesota, and possibly more in Florida.

All these gigs are paid, professional gigs. Which is great, since I love writing for radio, but I’m past the point of working for free.

I have to get back on track with the novels, though, and spend some time on the stage plays as well this weekend. I’m planning it to be a fairly quiet reading-and-writing weekend.

I was onsite with a client and couldn’t watch the Michael Cohen hearings, although I caught up with them later. It’s stunning to me that the GOP members on the committee aren’t at all upset that Cohen lied FOR the Narcissistic Sociopath; they’re upset he’s no longer doing it.

It snowed last night, and we woke up to about 5 inches of fluffy, lovely white stuff this morning. I was out early shoveling. Figures as soon as I was done, it started again!

I’ve got some work to do at the library, then I’m meeting a writer friend for an early afternoon cocktail later on. Looking forward to it.

Working on the contest entries and the book for review. And reading Ed Ifkovic’s Edna Ferber mysteries just because I want to.

Not looking forward to going out in this weather, but, oh well. Sooner I get out there sooner I can get back.

And go back to the page. I’m hoping to get some more work done on the Straw Hat play today, and work on the monologues.

Have a lovely snowy day! Guess March is really going to come in like a lion these next few days.

Guess I won’t be traveling anywhere for my birthday in a couple of weeks.

 

Wed. Feb. 27, 2019: Gigs, Etc.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Waning Moon

Monday’s windstorm was a little scary. We didn’t lose power, thank goodness, but driving was tough.

I got caught up in a work thing and missed meditation group, which was kind of a bummer.

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice, where we’re working on the personal strategic plan.

Worked on contest entries, the book I’m reviewing, wrote some more on GAMBIT COLONY. Figured out a conflict that needs to deepen in one of my other books. I need to compare the numbered and unnumbered drafts of “Horace House Hauntings” before I send the unnumbered draft to another radio production company. They’re in completely different areas of the country, so there’s no conflict.

Didn’t get a particular gig for which I’d pitched, but it was a stretch, and no big surprise. I’ve got some other irons in the fire in that particular direction; one of them will hit true.

Saw an ad to ghostwrite romance novels. They pay $15 per 1000 words. That works out to one and a half cents per word. That’s beyond insulting. Especially in light of the controversy where a “romance author” was accused of plagiarism and then said it was her ghostwriter’s fault.

I’ve always wanted to write juvenile series fiction (like Nancy Drew) for a book packager, but I sure as heck wouldn’t do it for rates like that.

Worked on an ad campaign and a mailing for a client. Did some more work on one of my own promotional campaigns. Gotta say, I’m loving the Twuffer platform. Also pleased that the campaign I’ve been running for one of my clients on Twuffer is getting about a solid, daily return.

I had trouble booking the room online for the conference at which I’m teaching, so I sent them a letter with a check for deposit instead. Hopefully, that will work.

We’re supposed to get more snow tonight into tomorrow. Tomorrow’s post may be late, depending on how much snow we actually get and how long it takes me to shovel.

Totally loving watching THE WEST WING for the umpteenth time. Those little detail moments between the characters are brilliant. I love the fast delivery and that they’re smart.

I always learn so much from watching well-written, well-acted, well-produced shows.

Back to the page.

Tues. Feb. 26, 2019: Cleaning the Virtual House of the Toxic

Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Waning Moon

Busy weekend, but in the right way.

When I finally finished my meeting on Friday morning, and then the grocery shopping and headed to Centerville Library, the parking lot was full. I had about 20+ heavy research books to return. There was no way I was going to park in the lower lot and haul them up 40 stairs.

So I went to Sturgis library in Barnstable Village instead. It’s a lovely old library, one of the oldest (maybe the oldest) on the Cape. Returned my books, did some work on there instead.

Checked out their book sale.

I found an enormous, red Collier’s Atlas from 1960 for 50 cents. It’s wonderful! Yes, there are differences in country names and political situations. But there’s still a lot of relevant information. On top of it, when I write anything set before 1960 or near 1960, it’s a good reference.

That book makes me so happy!

I did a lot of reading Friday night, including contest entries and the book I’m reviewing.

Started re-watching THE WEST WING. The integrity and optimism of that show are a stark contrast to what we have now.

Saturday morning, I was wide awake, so I hit the page early. Got nearly 40 pages written. On GAMBIT COLONY, which isn’t what I was supposed to be working on, but it was wonderful. It was wonderful to be able to get deep into the work again.

Worked on more contest entries.

Got annoyed on Sunday by someone on social media (I checked before I clicked off for much of the day), whining that libraries should be open at night so people have options other than bars or isolation at home.

Lady, where the hell have you been?

Anywhere in the country where I’ve lived and worked, libraries are open at least a couple of times a week at night. They have a plethora of programs and coffeehouses and lectures and training sessions on just about everything. Only most people in the community can’t be bothered to attend, so then the funding is cut, the programs are cut, the hours are cut. I know this because I worked in a library for a couple of years, and our funding was based on circulation numbers and program numbers. People didn’t check books out across our desk? People didn’t bother to show up for programs? Our funding was cut. Personnel was cut. Hours were cut. We couldn’t buy as many books and DVDS. We had to spend less time providing service to our patrons and more time begging other sources for money.

You want options at the library? Then USE the library. Support the library. Check out books and videos. Attend programs.

Better yet, CREATE programs. Stop the hell expecting everyone else to do your work while you sit there and whine.

If you’re not willing to work to create the type of community you crave, get the hell away from me, because I’m working to create the life, the community, and the work I want.

I wound up reading more than writing on Sunday. My wrist hurt and my brain was tired. Plus, I needed to do some percolating.

I used the Oscars telecast to remove some toxic people from my social media feeds. It’s one thing to have an opinion about whether or not a piece worked for you, or to agree or not agree with winner choices. It’s quite another to denigrate the profession. I’ve dedicated my life to the arts; anyone who denigrates art & artists denigrates ME. It’s personal. And it’s usually done by cubicle slaves who never had the guts to follow their dreams and turn them into reality.

Buh-bye. You’re out of my life, and my life is better for it.

People who work in the arts tend to be intelligent, hardworking, dedicated, curious. They are able to learn many things and live many lives in order to share a wide range of experiences with audiences. To make the audience view the world in a new and different way.

Artists are not, overall, stupid, shallow, lazy, or lack knowledge, skills, or empathy.

There are smarter and less smart people in every profession, but this constant contempt against artists claiming they can’t know anything beyond themselves or have the right to speak out and make the world a better place — usually coming from people who are too stupid, narrow-minded, and lack the courage to do anything beyond their own selfish interests, often out of jealousy, envy, and spite — out of my life. I’ve worked too hard, my colleagues have worked too hard. Go f&ck yourself.

I’m not going to argue. I’m not going to engage. I’m going to remove them from my life. Social media is what I do IN ADDITION to my life, not INSTEAD of my life.

Art provokes change. Art can take down regimes — look at Vaclav Havel. If you don’t know who that is, look him up.

So, the side effect of award shows in my industry is that certain toxic people show their true colors, and can be removed.

Lively debate over whether something works or doesn’t work, or how a story was handled or whatever — that makes sense. We like different things, we have different frames of references, and it’s not always about “fair” or “best” — so when someone or a group of someones create something extraordinary and it gets recognized, it’s fantastic.

There were a lot of great people getting recognized last night, and they deserved their moments of happiness.

Did I agree with all the choices? No. I would have chosen some differently. But I am happy for everyone who won.

I’d considered not paying attention this year, when they threatened to give out technical awards during commercials instead of broadcasting them. The wins for costume design and production design proved why those awards need to be broadcast. I was thrilled for Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler.

I was also thrilled for Olivia Colman’s Best Actress win. She’s one of my favorites.

There are all kinds of reasons to disagree with the competition aspect and the apples/oranges comparison between projects. But it’s important for kids who dream of a life in the arts to see it’s possible — both on the technical end and on the acting/directing end. That ‘s why broadcasting more than just the actors and directors is so important.

The Narcissistic Sociopath’s attack on Spike Lee was disgusting. The lack of class and basic human decency in that creature are appalling.

Bad night, woke up too often. Up late on Monday, and trying to get things sorted out.

Client work Monday, client work today and tomorrow. Plus a lot of admin stuff that needs to be dealt with. Technical issues on different fronts make it feel like Mercury already went retrograde.

Then, more writing. I’m behind on too much, and need to catch up.

I am NOT looking forward to most of March being Mercury in Retrograde.

And people keep messaging me on FB, in spite of my constant reminders that I can’t open the messages and NOT to contact me that way. Email me.

Back to the page.

Mon. Feb. 25, 2019: Your Own Definition of “Love” — #upbeatauthors

Monday, February 25, 2019
Waning Moon

 

In this final week of February, and the theme of love, I’ve been thinking about how other people try to influence how we define “love.”

Women who choose to remain unmarried are constantly told they’re “too picky” or if they don’t change something about themselves, “no one will want to marry you.”

First of all, we shouldn’t have to settle, and second, why is marriage considered the ultimate end game for everyone?

Marriage and love aren’t always related.

Look at history. Look how often, throughout history, people have not married for love.

It still happens, far too often. People believe that being with someone is better than being alone, and that a partner guarantees security. I know I’ve found it far lonelier to be with the wrong person that to be on my own.

You can love someone and not want or need to have sex with that individual. It’s not about repression. It’s about the sexual element not being part of the equation. Not just in cases where it’s taboo, but in cases where the love takes a different form. And no one has the right to scoff at you or tell you that you “don’t” or “can’t” feel love that isn’t equated with sexual desire. The person deriding you might not be able to feel different types of love; that doesn’t mean you don’t or can’t.

You can have sex with someone you don’t love. That happens far more than people admit. As long as both parties are honest about the expectations and the value of the time together, as long as both parties consent, as long as there aren’t other parties in the relationships that are betrayed and hurt, it’s no one else’s business.

Love can be unrequited. And then you have to be a responsible grown-up and not get all creepy and stalky about it.

You can’t MAKE someone love you. You have to LET the person love you.

That’s probably one of the most difficult lessons about love.

If they don’t, then take a deep breath, disengage, and move on. Don’t make it about power or make yourself sick over it.

Allow yourself to care. Allow the possibility that sometimes you will be hurt or disappointed. Even a relationship that seems solid for a period of time can have an expiration date. People grow and change at different rates. They want different things. Either they can work on them together, while still being individuals, or they can’t.

You can still love someone, even if you can’t do the day-to-day anymore. It’s a different type of love.

Because every individual is exactly that — individual — generalized definitions don’t work. Every relationship is different. Every relationship builds its own definitions and boundaries.

Writers are lucky, because they can express and explore different types of love in their work without putting their own relationships at risk.

Looking ahead to next month, March, the theme is “kindness.” I have a challenge for you. Each day in March, perform an unexpected act of kindness for someone. Most important: DO NOT POST ABOUT IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA, or even discuss it. But keep track, for yourself, of the way it changes the way you relate to the world.

We will explore kindness next month, and, at the end of the month, see how our anonymous acts of kindness affected our experience of the world.

 

Published in: on February 25, 2019 at 6:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Fri. Feb. 22, 2019: Prepping for a Writing Weekend

Friday, February 22, 2019
Waning Moon
Sunny and mild

I was so excited to receive the 3D versions of the various book covers. And so disappointed to see that most of them look terrible on the websites, although they look good on social media marketing posts.

But then, different formats for different purposes. That’s the whole point, right?

Finished reading A PARIS ALL YOUR OWN. What a lovely book. And it’s leading me to other books by these authors, and that these authors love.

Picked up a bunch of travel guides that I need for various locations, to refresh my memory and get deeper, when I write about them. I still need a really good Vancouver guide. And I need to get out to Vancouver at some point in the next year.

Yoga was great. I’m glad I could go. It made a big difference.

Worked on the contest entries. Worked on my workshop for #NECRWA. I hope to see a lot of you there. I’m putting together pieces that I’ll have on a rolling rack and, of course, the massive handouts I always prepare for workshops.

Watched THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME last night. There was a lot of great, creative stuff in it. There were also some logistical lapses and contradictions that broke the ability to suspend disbelief in a few places. But I loved the way the actors worked together.

Up early this morning, and working on GAMBIT COLONY.

Had a phone conversation with a potential client in another state. It went well. I liked the client a lot, and I hope we’re a good fit. Hopefully, we will have our next-step conversation in a few weeks.

Grocery shopping & then off to the library. Centerville Library’s parking lot was full, and I had too many books to return to park in the lower lot and haul everything up, so I went to Sturgis instead.

The rest of the weekend is about writing, reading, and cooking. Have a good one.

 

Published in: on February 22, 2019 at 2:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thurs. Feb. 21, 2019: Developing the Monologues

Thursday, February 21, 2019
Waning Moon
Sleeting and cold

Hop over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest post.

Had a decent writing day yesterday, and a good session onsite with a client.

Got out the comic ghost story radio play (numbered draft), along with some other paperwork for them. Waiting to hear back from that company on a few different things, including my contract.

The weather was turning, so I came home after the client session, and worked on contest entries.

SCRATCH, the book about writers and money, is really wonderful. And the experiences can be applied across disciplines in the arts. Someone on social media couldn’t understand how a book about writing could apply to any other art. If everything has to be spelled out directly in your own reference, how can you possibly create art? Art is about going beyond the expected, and knowing how to make connections beyond the obvious.

Also reading A PARIS ALL YOUR OWN, edited by Eleanor Brown, which is a wonderful anthology of writers and their experiences in Paris. It also lists their books. Some of them I’ve read; many I haven’t.

I’m also determined to track down a book by Jeannie Moon. She was disparaged by a person calling herself an author who said that a romance novel where the woman is ten years older than the man is “gross.” How sexist and ageist is that? So now I’m determined to read the book.

Between the lists of Parisian books and Jeannie Moon’s book and recommendations from the post on A Biblio Paradise’s Reader Expansion Challenge, I have a wealth of choices for the next challenge!

Did some work on Gambit Colony.

Watched HIDDEN FIGURES. What a beautiful, beautiful movie! Made me both laugh and cry. I can’t believe it took me so long to sit down and watch it.

Worked on the monologues.

I planned to test one or two of them last night, but decided not to because of the weather. Of course, then the weather didn’t get bad until later, but it would have been a challenge to get home.

Public reading is not something I can do off the cuff. I write for performers; I am not one. But, of course, a professional writer has to give readings. It’s even more layered when it’s from a stage piece that I have no intention of professionally performing — the actors cast will perform it.

However, the monologues from WOMEN WITH AN EDGE have served me well over the years — both in the professional productions where actors have performed the monologues, and in readings all over the world, both live and on radio. Those monologues have been around and performed since the mid 1990’s. The evergreen ones can be called up and spoken/read at the drop of a hat.

I need to test the monologues I’m creating for WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST. At some point, when I have a batch of them, I might call upon some local actors to come over for a session and read. Or hire a rehearsal studio for a few hours, where we can read. Maybe hire a space over at Cape Space.

But right now, it’s too early in the process. I need to speak them myself and gauge a reaction. I need to feel the rhythm in my body in order to revise properly.

When there’s a script with multiple parts, it works better for me to bring in actors and listen to them read. That way, I can feel how individual rhythms develop and make adjustments. (And yes, I’ve often paid actors to come in, sit around a table, and read an early draft of a script).

But with monologues, unless I’m developing a piece with a specific group of actors (which needs time, access to the talent pool, and money), I need to read aloud the initial drafts myself. I need to feel the rhythms in my own body.

After a few drafts of the monologues, then I’ll bring in some actresses, and we’ll work in the room. But I need to test the initial drafts with an audience, once I’ve read them aloud myself a few times. Whenever possible, I also tape the reading, and listen to it for objectivity. I do this when I rehearse readings from my books as well.

By listening, I can figure out rhythm. Where do I need to take a breath? Where can I speed up? Where should I slow down? Is there anything that needs to be cut, because it doesn’t work in the piece?

Anything that is spoken needs to be heard. Simply looking at words on the page isn’t enough. Even when I have enough experience to feel the beats as I write them, I also need to hear them. That’s true of radio, stage, or screenplay. Having actual actors (not just random people) read the words out loud during the development/drafting process makes a huge difference.

Obviously, it was easier to do that in NY than it is here. First, the talent pool is smaller here. Second, even though there are some wildly talented people here, theatre is a “side” not a “priority” and getting people to commit and fulfill that commitment — even for a one-shot reading — is not easy. Anything shiny dangled in front of them will take priority.

It gets frustrating. But it is also vital to the process.

But I can’t just decide at the last minute whether or not I’ll read. I have to feel confident that the draft I have is ready for comment. In other words, it will have gone through several drafts, and I will feel it’s solid enough to have feedback.

Then, I have to rehearse it, so it feels natural when I speak it, and I’ve found its innate rhythm and show it off as best as I, a non-performer, can.

Had I gone last night, I would have read “Smile!” and possible “Emotional Lifting.”
“My Life in Quicksand” is still an unfinished first draft; while I’m having fun with it, it’s nowhere near ready to be read yet. Most likely, I would have just read “Smile!”

I’d rehearsed, to the point where I felt as comfortable as I can feel when reading. Which is “never very.”

But then, I have to gear up myself emotionally. I need the focus of my emotional energy to be set aside for that reading. For several days leading up to a reading date, I pace myself differently, and I store up the necessary energy, so I can tap into it during the reading. I do this when I teach in person, too, or attend a conference.

Even though I wrote during the day. Even though I did client work during the day. I had to pace myself and save myself.

So add in a storm to the mix, snow and sleet, and bad road conditions at night, in an area where people are lousy drivers on a good day — I made the decision the night before, based on the weather forecast that said it would start getting nasty in the late afternoon, not to go.

In other words, that saved emotional energy was then released and dissipated into other projects.

I kept waiting for the storm to start. It didn’t.

Part of me was tempted to just drive to the open mic and read.

Only I’d used up the emotional energy I needed in order to read well on other projects during the day, because I’d made the decision not to read that night. Could I have read?

It would have been flat. It wouldn’t have given the audience something worthy of response, which meant I wouldn’t have gotten what I needed for the next draft.

It was snowing a little after eight, so it was a moot point anyway. I wouldn’t have gotten home until nearly ten (I don’t read and run — I stay for everyone’s work, and then we usually chat).

Have I ever just stepped in and stepped up to an unexpected opportunity? Or a request to fill in for someone who backed out at the last minute?

Of course I have. I’ve done well. Because I dig deeper, making like a hockey player, and use the adrenaline rush. I’m wiped out after, but I can do it.

I can do it not with new material, but because, after all these years, I have a wealth of material and experiences I can use to draw from in a spontaneous talk. It’s been hard-won, but it’s there.

So that was my Wednesday night.

Today, I have lots of admin and LOIs to do, then yoga, then, hopefully, a good afternoon writing and working on contest entries and the book I’m reviewing. I also am prepping for my client meeting tomorrow.

Which means that tomorrow’s post will go up late, probably in the early afternoon.

We have more storms this weekend, so I’ll tuck in to read and write.

 

Wed. Feb. 20, 2019: Middle Day

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Last Day of Full Moon
Expecting another storm

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the weekly take on business.

Client work was fine yesterday.

Sent off the comic ghost story radio play. Dug into the Straw Hat Circuit mystery radio drama. Worked on the monologue, but we’re supposed to get another storm tonight, so I might not be able to go and test it.

I had to order a copy of a book I know I own, that I need as background, from the library, because I don’t know where my copy is packed. I need to live somewhere with enough space to unpack all my books!

Prepping for a meeting with a potential new client on Friday.

Ridiculously excited that the leek and scallion seeds have already started to sprout.

That’s pretty much the deal. I’m writing and reading and working a lot. It’s a typical middle day in a busy week, but a least it’s the good kind of busy.

With all the chaos going on, I’m going to grab as many moments of happiness, or a least contentment, as I can!

Published in: on February 20, 2019 at 6:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tues. Feb. 19, 2019: Writing & Weather

Tuesday, February 19. 2019
Full Moon
Sunny and not too cold

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to see how I fared reading horror on the first month of the Reader Expansion Challenge. My choice this time around was in the horror genre, and I read Grady Hendrix’s WE SOLD OUR SOULS.

I cut myself some slack this holiday weekend. I did a lot of reading: what I felt like reading just because, research for various projects, contest entries, and the next book I have to review.

Writing-wise, I finished the short comic ghost radio play, “Horace House Hauntings” and polished it. The ending had to be rewritten quite a few times, because it kept going off track. Then, I changed the murderer (again), and it all fell into place. It goes out to the company in Minnesota today.

Started the next comic radio mystery play, which is set in the Straw Hat Circuit. I was going to set it in the early 1950’s, but the heyday was in the late 30’s, so I’m moving it back. I’ve been playing with titles for it. And I’m going to have a running joke about wardrobe in it. I got about 12 pages done on it, and it’s not quite as comic as I expected. More of a drama. And likely a two-parter, not wound up in a single 30 minute episode.

Worked on GAMBIT COLONY more than I should have — I have other pieces on a tighter deadline.

Worked on the monologue, to the point of rehearsing it. Still not sure if it’s ready to test by tomorrow night. Plus, there’s another storm coming in tomorrow night, so it might be again a moot point.

Sunday night into Monday, we had a snowstorm. Not anywhere near as bad as predicted, but I was glad I didn’t have to go in for any client work. Especially since they didn’t bother to plow the road, and it got mushy, and then icy. It meant I also couldn’t get out of our little road and down to Provincetown for the only local protest against this false National Emergency the Narcissistic Sociopath Autocrat declared.

Shoveling wasn’t too bad, except for the place where the plow packed everything at the bottom of the driveway. That’s always killer. Me with my little orange shovel having to undo what a two-ton plow packed down.

Monday’s meditation group was cancelled, due to the storm, and I missed it.

Today, I’m with a client most of the day, and then some other appointments; same tomorrow.

Plus, of course, writing.

Published in: on February 19, 2019 at 10:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mon. February 18, 2019: Love of Country #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, February 18, 2019
Almost Full Moon
Presidents’ Day

We survived Valentine’s Day. We all deserve a prize.

On this President’s Day, on a month of essays about love, it’s appropriate to talk about love of country.

This is a contentious issue right now in the US, with two factions with opposite ideas of the definition of “love of country.”

I can’t think of any country whose history hasn’t been built on blood and pain. We keep hoping culture and society evolve into a better form of humanity. Sometimes it moves forward for a few years, and then back for a few hundred.

Too often, we don’t know actual history, just propagandized bits of history. Although it’s painfully obvious we don’t learn from it.

What inspires love of country?

For me, it is a set of ideals about humanity, justice, education, art, compassion, and inclusion that I see the country in which I currently live abandoning. Ideals that were set out by the Founding Fathers, and built on by our Founding Mothers and children, and all the rest of the anonymous people who actually did the work. There are always people devoted to their country who are willing to fight for it — be it joining the military or working on various fronts at home. But a country survives and thrives by its citizens holding a shared vision of what that country stands for, and everyone working to bring that vision into reality for ALL its members.

One can learn a great deal by re-reading documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — and then reading diaries and letters of regular people who actually lived through those times.

One of my favorite experiences was a discovery I made in the Philadelphia Archives. I was there to research Betsy Ross, for a project for which I’m still trying to find the proper form.

By accident, I saw a diary by a Dr. James Allen. I’d gone to elementary school with a nice guy named Jamie Allen, and I thought it might be fun to read about this Dr. James Allen. So I asked for the diary, which arrived, written in absolutely gorgeous penmanship.

Dr. Allen was a medical doctor. Well educated, well read, with a strong sense of justice. He was there, at Independence Hall, listening to the original public reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776. It shook him, transformed him. He ended up joining the Army and serving under General George Washington. He was part of that Delaware Crossing.

I read his diary, knowing how it all comes out in the end, but, of course, he didn’t as he wrote it. His concerns, the times his patience and his integrity were tested — I wish I could get a grant to transcribe the diary, research his history, and publish a book about him!

I learned more from reading this man’s diary than I did from any history book.

It also reminded me how much more complex actual history is than a line in a textbook or a tweet or a sound byte.

Skipping ahead in history a bit, Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe are two of the reasons I became a writer. I admired both their work and their lives so much. As an aside, as much as I admire Emerson and Thoreau, I’m always reminded that there they were, talking and studying and writing and walking in the woods, while the practicalities of daily life were handled by the WOMEN around them. This frustration was reinforced by Susan Cheever’s terrific book, AMERICAN BLOOMSBURY (which I highly recommend).

I re-read Louisa’s diaries regularly when I get tired and discouraged.

Harriet is best known for UNCLE TOM’S CABIN. There’s plenty to discuss about that book on so many levels, both positive and negative, which could take up an entire college semester. But Harriet wrote plenty of other books, too, many of them domestic comedies. Some of her writing is very, very funny. She came from a large, lively, intellectual, daring, engaged, and flawed family. Her brother Henry Ward Beecher’s scandal when he led a church in Brooklyn, and, again, how the woman in the scandal was the one thrown under the bus, is detailed in Barbara Goldsmith’s wonderful social history, OTHER POWERS.

Both Harriet and Louisa were considered “difficult women” and
ahead of their time.” Reading their letters, their diaries, their books, one sees how they were both ahead of their time and PART of their time (and prejudices, although they were far more progressive than many of their contemporaries). We hope we’ve evolved in our understanding of humanity, although too often it feels like we’re going backwards.

History is made up of people and their messy, beautiful, terrifying lives. Societies are too often built on breaking the individuals that actually do the work to build the society. Where can you give someone room for individuality? Where does someone going too far become a threat to someone else’s basic human rights and dignity? What are basic social constructs that allow people with vastly different beliefs and points of view to co-exist in peace and dignity and prosperity for all? How does one teach people that having enough for all doesn’t necessarily mean taking away from anyone, but that everyone must contribute fairly? How can we craft laws that have more to do with justice, and less to do with religion, which, in my opinion, has been used as a tool of oppression ever since it was invented?

All of that feeds into our “love of country.”

It’s not an easy issue. Especially when competing factors have vastly different ideas of what the society that inhabits the defined “country” should believe, live, and build.

As a writer, of course, all this is fascinating. But living it (and we are all living history, every moment), can often be exhausting.

We supposedly live in a democracy (which is under serious threat), that is set up as a republic. Therefore, as part of our love of country, it is an obligation to keep up with the news (actual news, not propaganda feeds), to stay informed about upcoming legislation (you can read the text of past, present, and proposed bills on Congress.gov), and to interact with our elected officials, on local, state, and federal levels. It takes time, but the alternative is to lose our country. So it’s worth it. We need to vote. We need to serve on jury duty when called. We, as individuals and collectively, need to speak out when human rights are denied, and stop it.

This President’s Day, think about what you love about your country. Think about what you believe needs to be changed. And then take action. Because history is built by people.

Be a History Builder.

 

Fri. Feb. 15, 2019: Books Make Everything Better

Gwen Finnegan 3B 3D Collage

Friday, February 15, 2019
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and mild

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

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

Nautical Namaste 2B 3D Collage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace!
Coventina Circle 3B 3D Collage

Thurs. Feb. 14 , 2019: It’s the Work

valentines-day-2057745_1920

Thursday, February 14, 2019
Waxing Moon
Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Once I decided to celebrate the holiday in the way I want, rather than the way advertisers told me I should, I was much happier.

Yesterday’s Ink-Dipped Advice post hit a nerve for a lot of people. I’m glad it helped. If you haven’t yet read it, you can find it here.

I’m finally free of 1&1.com. I am so happy I wish I’d had the knowledge, the courage, and the determination to leave them years ago.

Client work was fine. Stopped at the grocery store, and some dumbass white dude thought it would be “funny” to scare me in the parking lot by grabbing me from behind. I used to live on the Deuce, 42nd Street, in NYC. You don’t grab me from behind and scare me. I react. He’s lucky he didn’t need stitches. It’s not funny to go up behind a woman you’ve never met (or even one you have) and grab her from behind. It is not “funny” to deliberately scare someone like that.

Since the 2016 election, this happens more and more and more. And I’m in this little town on Cape Cod. It shouldn’t be happening anywhere, but it definitely shouldn’t be happening here. And it’s always white guys. Of all ages.

Finished reading the book for review. I’m polishing the review and sending it off this morning.

Worked on contest entries.

Today, I have some LOIs to get out, and some article pitches to prepare. I need to finish the polish on the short comic ghost story radio play, work on the novels, work on the monologues.

So, for me, it’s back to the page.

 

Published in: on February 14, 2019 at 10:13 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 14 , 2019: It’s the Work  
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Wed. Feb. 13, 2019: Life is Short

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Waxing Moon

Woke up yesterday morning at 1:30 with a blaring headache, due to the incoming storm, and had trouble getting back to sleep.

The storm hadn’t hit by the time I left for client work; but I figured I might have to leave early to get safely home.

Was shocked to find out that a Twitter pal died on Saturday night. We’d had a few exchanges earlier in the day, when she was sitting in the ER. We’d cyber-met because of politics, and she was witty and incisive and had a huge heart. She will be missed. Another Twitter pal is writing a song in her memory.

Reworking the second half of the radio play is making it stronger. It will be ready to go out at the end of the week.

Working on the monologues. I want to test at least one of them next week, at an open mic, but right now, the monologues need more work. They’re not sharp enough. The softer edge gives a whiny quality that I don’t want.

Working on the review, and on contest entries. Have to finish with a book on Canaletto and his patrons today — it’s due back tomorrow to the Commonwealth Catalogue, and I can’t renew it.

Client work yesterday and today. Wore me out. I’m working on new page for the Fearless Ink site, about social media training and social media packages.

Speaking of Fearless Ink, there’s a new post up about Tools and Resources.

Back to the page.

Published in: on February 13, 2019 at 5:56 am  Comments Off on Wed. Feb. 13, 2019: Life is Short  
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