Wed. March 9, 2022: Stuff Around the House

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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

There’s another storm coming in today, with accumulating snow expected. So glad I work remotely!

After breakfast, we got into the car and headed out for errands. It was the first time my mom had been out and about since December (without the car, she stayed home; although I can walk to do many of the errands, it’s too far for her). She said it felt weird to be out. The masking mandates have all been dropped, although most places still “recommend” it. More and more people are relaxing from wearing masks indoors, but I’m not yet. Maybe by late spring/early summer. Of course, they’re not releasing numbers anymore either, so there’s no real way to know if the numbers are going down. And since free testing has ended, many people who should be tested won’t be able to afford it. Because you know if the insurance company is supposed to handle it, they will deny every claim. So we won’t know anywhere close to the real numbers anymore.

Except I will use my secret weapon: The Post Office.

The Post Office is the hub of all knowledge in this community. I learn more standing in line talking to other people and/or talking to the clerks than anywhere else. So our information network congregating (safely distant) at the post office will be on what I rely. Actual people talking about what’s actually going on.

Speaking of which, we’re allowed 4 more free Covid test, so I ordered those. Through the Post Office.

Anyway, errands. Masked errands.

I had a list of stuff I’ve been meaning to get done since the car broke down in December. So yesterday, I started catching up. It was mostly home-and-hearth stuff I couldn’t do on foot. I got a new rug for the bathroom (it’s green and matches the shower curtain, which is green, burgundy, and gold, in an Art Deco pattern, which fits this house); I got some magazine organizers, so I can sort the food, garden, and yoga magazines properly and store them where I can actually use them; I got some more plant pots, and more, importantly, saucers to go under the plant pots, so I’m not using bits of saved containers or extra plates; I got 5 shelved rolling carts (2 small, 3 large). I need more than that, but that’s what the store had, so I grabbed them. They snap together easily, look good, and are easy to move around. I put them together and distributed them. One will be in the closet portion of the pantry; one in the laundry room; one in the bathroom; one in my office; one in my bedroom. I still need one for the sewing room, and I might get one more for the kitchen, if they come back in stock.

I unpacked a bin that’s been storing things in the bathroom and got it all on the cart. It’s perfect. The other carts are stashed in their new homes, and I will fill them over the next few days, as I sort things.

Because next week, the big spring cleaning begins. We’re starting in the kitchen and moving toward the front of the house. It will probably take about two weeks to get it all done, in and around everything else that has to happen, like working.

With the sun, it was warm enough on the porch to set out the seedlings for a few hours, and I even sat out there for a bit to read (George Orwell’s diaries. His diaries about WWII are an eerie echo to what’s happening now. His diaries about his garden and his chickens are quite something else).

Got out some LOIs, did some admin. Was disappointed when an organization to whom I’d sent an LOI sent an automated demand for unpaid work. Add that company to my list of places that demand unpaid labor as part of the interview process and move on. Ordered an ink tank for the printer (will need to order others soon, but they’re expensive, so I break it up). Ordered more seeds, completely forgetting that the reason I got on the site to order seeds is because I need more cat grass. Charlotte and Willa love their cat grass. Brainstormed on the shared world anthology. Covered a script. Made turkey meatloaf for dinner, which was excellent.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are already excited about Easter break. And, with mask mandates being dropped in schools, we are all relieved we didn’t send any of the kids back this year. In early May, we will have a big meeting and decide what to do next year. Some of the kids don’t want to go back to a traditional learning environment until college. A couple of them are going to college. A couple of them are interested in taking a year off between high school and college to do other things, provided the virus numbers are low enough for them to be able to travel or do an internship somewhere cool. We’ll have to deal with the safety issue of summer jobs for those old enough to have them this summer. So there’s a lot to consider. The one constant is that ALL of them have learned more and done better in this situation than they did in school. Having the online homework group (which evolved into an all-around support system) has helped, no doubt. But it’s also a wakeup call at how badly most schools are run (rarely the fault of teachers), and with QAnon morons getting on more and more school boards, it will only get worse.

Worked on contest entries until I was too tired to concentrate.

Some dumbass “writer” on social media made the blanket statement about how people who call themselves full-time writers have the “privilege” of other people paying the bills. She can fuck right off. Plenty of us have to pay our own bills. I made a note to NEVER buy anything of hers. I rarely say “never” but I will in this case.

I have nothing of value to add to the war coverage, except that it’s enraging to see how little anyone is doing to stop Putin.

Tessa got me up at four (is she already on daylight savings time)? I moved to the couch, dozed off, and woke up around six. I pointed out to the cats that if they’d just let me sleep until five, their breakfast wouldn’t have been an hour late. They were not impressed.

Charlotte’s newest thing is to jump on the long table in my office, where I have all the contest entries organized, and rearrange them. I keep putting them back in order. She keeps rearranging them.

Willa, who is not a lap cat, actually jumped up into my mom’s lap yesterday. For only about two minutes, but it’s progress.

I should go over to the college library today to get a few things out, but I’ll probably just stay home and work on The Big Project this morning, then get out some more LOIs, do script coverage, and work on contest entries this afternoon.

It will be interesting (?) to see how much snow falls today.

Fri. March 4, 2022: Working Through The Weekend

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Friday, March 4, 2022

Waxing Moon

Partly sunny/cloudy and cold

I dug the car out yesterday morning, and then it snowed again. I nearly cried. But it was only flurries, so it wound up being no big deal.

I couldn’t concentrate because I was so worried about the appointment at the mechanic. I managed to deal with nearly 400 emails and do some research for a new market to submit a story that was rejected. I really like the piece, but it may have been too genre for that first submission. I also might do another editing pass; I truncated some of it to fit the wordcount for the original market, and I think I might expand some of the sensory details before I re-submit.

The anthology editor was pleased with the materials I sent, so that’s a deep breath released. I’m going to write up plot points for each of my two stories; we’re not at the point of writing them, but since I’ve spent so much time in these worlds and collaborating to create for these characters, I want to get the shape and drive of the stories down. Then, when it’s time to write, I can drop back into the worlds and flesh out the stories. I don’t usually outline for short stories, but I think, in this case, I should.

Took CAST IRON MURDER with me to work on at the mechanic’s while he diagnosed the car. Couldn’t really concentrate. Only got about 30 pages done, and I’ll have to look at them again, because I’m not confidant in the work I did.

The car needs a new crank, and the dashboard computer isn’t communicating properly with everything else, but the crank should fix it. The car’s at the garage for a few days. He was nice enough to give me a ride home. The estimate is in my budget, so as long as nothing else goes cattywampus once he gets his hands on the part and gets to work, everything should be sorted out in a week or so.

I hope it’s all fixed by my birthday, so we can go to the local places we want that aren’t in walking distance.

But I guess I’ll be getting groceries on foot again this weekend.

Was wiped out by the time I got home. Heated up some homemade mac and cheese out of the freezer. I think I’ll have to make another big batch; it’s handy to be able to take out portions and they re-heat well.

Started reading the next book for review. I’d given myself off from script coverage yesterday, but I’ll read through the weekend, and ramp up the reading early next week so I can take a three-day weekend next week for my birthday.

Ordered tansy seeds and a night blooming jasmine plant. I wanted to order a patchouli plant, because I love the scent of patchouli, but it was part of a “bundle” that I didn’t want. And then I discovered it grows in zones 9-11. I’m in zones 4-5, so it wouldn’t work unless I built it a mini greenhouse.

Fell into bed exhausted early, which meant, when Charlotte woke me at 3:30, I was wide awake and couldn’t get back to sleep. I’ll pay for that later, but will make use of it now.

I’m going to work on the Big Project this morning, then run some errands. Script coverage and contest entries this afternoon. The second shipment for the contest is on its way, and I want to make sure I get as many of the digital entries from the first batch finished before the second batch arrive.

I’m frustrated at NATO’s lack of action. If they let Ukraine fall — and it will very much be NATO letting it happen – it’s too late. And that opens the path for the Russian assets in the GOP to make their next move, because Merrick Effing Garland won’t do what’s necessary to stop it.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. In addition to the regular work, we discusses the State of the Union, and how it’s possible to disagree with class, and not act like GOP trash.

I’ll be grumpy working through the weekend, but it will be worth it to take a three-day weekend off next week.

Have a good one, and see you on the other side.

Thurs. March 3: Grateful For Flexibility

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Thursday, March 3, 2022

Waxing Moon

Snowy and cold

We had some more snow, which means I have to dig out the car again before taking it to the mechanic this afternoon. There’s news about the sprouting seeds on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday morning, I caught up on some stuff. I’m so far behind in dealing with a lot of emails, it’s ridiculous. I run my eye down the list several times a day, dealing with what needs quick response, but there’s other stuff that doesn’t need quick response, but needs to be dealt with at some point. And those emails are stacking up.

I ran errands in the morning: library run to drop off/pick up books; post office to mail bills and buy stamps; hit up another store in walking distance for some plant pots and organizational supplies; pick up a few things at Cumberland Farms.

I wasn’t careful enough and ingested something that triggered a minor food allergy, so that slowed me down, too.

In the afternoon, I finished up the materials the editor needed for the anthology (one set of lore on my new clan, and two sets of organizational points). That took all afternoon, because I had to cross-check what’s been established and make sure I was working within that.

I also wrote up the review for the book I enjoyed so much and sent it to my editor. Culinary noir is becoming a favorite genre.

I covered a script in the evening. I’m so grateful that my schedule is flexible so I can decide what to work on when my energy is best suited to specific kinds of work.

I’m keeping an eye on the coverage of Ukraine and getting frustrated at countries talking about sending help, but not getting things there and not stepping up and stepping in with manpower. We ARE all at war. At this point, it’s a race to stop the guy before he hits the button. Standing by isn’t going to help.

Continuing to give The Narcissistic Sociopath and his cronies a pass will not end well for us. He and his cohorts need to be indicted and neutralized BEFORE the midterms.

I am so tired of stupid people who appease until it’s too late.

Today, I will work on The Big Project in the morning, dig out the car, and then spend the afternoon at the mechanic’s. Fingers crossed I can afford the repair. I’ve put aside a good chunk of cash these past few months, but I also was too burned out to push hard in February and hit the earnings goals. I hope that doesn’t come back to smack me.

Back to the page.

Published in: on March 3, 2022 at 8:13 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 3: Grateful For Flexibility  
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Wed. March 2, 2022: A Focus on Creating

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Wednesday, March 2, 2022

New Moon

Cloudy, slushy, cold

Yesterday was a pretty decent day creatively, in spite of keeping an eye on the news out of Ukraine.

After I got back from the laundromat and we had pancakes for breakfast (because hey, Fat Tuesday), I got down to work. I spent the morning working on the material needed by the anthology on my new characters/organizations. It was more complex and interesting than I expected (which is a good thing). But that means it takes longer to create.

It was still a solidly creative batch of hours. It also involved going back and re-reading a lot of the brainstorming and the material already approved, so that what I’m doing fits in with what’s been established, and builds on it, rather than fighting it.

Shared worldbuilding is very different than individual worldbuilding.

But I can’t jump from that world to the world of The Big Project easily, so I focused on the shared world yesterday (and will finish up today). I will either work on The Big Project first thing, take a break to go to the library and then switch worlds, or finish the shared world today and focus on The Big Project tomorrow entirely. Since I don’t know how long things will take at the mechanic’s tomorrow, I’m not scheduling any script coverage. I don’t want to be under that kind of pressure. Tomorrow will just be about my own work.

I’m probably working through this weekend, because I want to take a long weekend off next weekend for my birthday. We’ll see what my energy is like, and then decide where to place it.

My mom hasn’t been feeling well the last few days, so there was also taking care of her.

In the afternoon, I did a script coverage, which took longer than it should have, because I kept getting distracted by the news. I also felt like I’d hit the creative a wall hard – felt like I left my imprint on it. It was a good tired, and it didn’t interfere with reading and commenting, but I had hoped to go back to the worldbuilding, and there just wasn’t enough left in the tank for it.  In the evening, I read the next book for review, and it was delightful. I’m looking forward to writing the review today.

Charlotte woke me up out of a weird dream around 2:30. I started sliding back into a dream, and realized, “I don’t want to go there” and pulled myself out of it. Felt like stopping myself halfway down a slide. I managed to fall asleep again, because it was nearly 7 when Tessa woke me up.

Yesterday, I also wrote the formal letter requesting a lease extension from the landlord. Fingers crossed he likes us as tenants and is willing to sign us for another year. I will be a bag of nerves until I get an answer.

Knowledge Unicorns had a short session last night, specifically on homework, because it was important that they watch the State of the Union address. It was nice to have a decent human up there, talking to grownups. Too bad the GOP trash aren’t grownups, and didn’t behave with basic courtesy. But then, most of them should be in prison as Russian assets, so why be surprised. And Manchin keeps showing who he is. He needs to be stripped of committee assignments. I didn’t agree with everything said in the speech, but I felt it was a good, SANE, calm speech that hit some important points.

Have a good one.

Published in: on March 2, 2022 at 8:22 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 2, 2022: A Focus on Creating  
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Tues. March 1, 2022: Scattered

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Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Dark Moon

Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras

Cloudy and cold

The weekend was all over the place. The February Wrap-up post is over on the GDR site.

Was disappointed at a submission call on Friday. I loved the theme. But they want 6-8K words, on “revenue share” which means, basically, the writers will never get paid. If it was a shared royalty after the initial payment or just a one-time payment, that would be one thing; that’s hit or miss. But the whole thing being revenue share? Nope. On top of that, there was a bitchy comment about how revenue share will only happen if the authors put in the work. So unpaid labor for writing a longish piece that’s close to novelette length, and then additional unpaid labor to do the publisher’s work? I think I’ll pass.

I managed to get about 3K done on The Big Project, some of which was tearing apart and re-structuring the last couple of sections before writing the next one. This is a strange project in that I can’t just write the whole first draft and then go back and edit, which is the way I prefer to work. Because each section of the project builds the next, in a different way than a traditional novel or novella or short story would, it has to be strong, structurally, and with details, before I can move to the next section. That’s part of the reason I’m behind where I want/need to be at this point. The other element is slowing it down is word choice. I’ve never worked on something where the exact shade of meaning to a word choice is so important. I can’t put in a place holder and move on. I have to find the right shade-of-meaning word before I can move on. It’s a different way of working, and a little disconcerting at times, but it is what serves this particular work the best, and therefore, that’s how it has to be done.

So, I roll with it. Every project demands something different in order to be something different; if all you do is scream “that’s my process” and aren’t willing to grow and change, you miss out on a lot.

It snowed and snowed and snowed on Friday, so it was nice not to have to go out. Since the town declared a snow emergency, public buildings and a lot of businesses were closed, and people were advised to stay home.

Saturday was cold and clear. I suited up and packed the backpack to head up to the library, with 10 books to drop off and 5 to pick up. The sidewalks were pretty clear; the sun’s higher angle means it’s melting better, even when it’s cold. When I came back, I shed the books, picked up a shovel, and dug out the car.

Yeah, definitely not in my twenties anymore. Couldn’t work as hard and as fast as I could when younger, but slow and steady got it done, and it clear all around the car, so it can’t freeze in again.

Spent way too much keeping an eye on the news from Ukraine. My mom has firsthand experience with the Russians, having escaped from a Russian prison camp during WWII. She knows of what they’re capable. The GOPers who went to Russia on July 4 a few years back need to be barred from security briefings, because they’ll report to their handlers. They, along with anyone else who backs Putin, needs to be removed from government and prosecuted for treason. Or we’re going to have firefights in the streets here, too.

Between family-related stuff (some of which I’m just discovering through genealogical research), international arts colleagues, and what I learned from studying the ICC a few years ago, it’s all far too complex on both intellectual and emotional levels for a simple blog post.

I am grumpy about going out of my way for someone (not involved with the anthology) and writing up a big ole patch of background information, turning it around in less than 24 hours when I had other deadlines, and not even getting a thank you. Learned about this individual, and won’t make the same mistake next time. Because it takes 10 seconds to type “Thanks” in a DM or an email.

Sunday was again sunny. It was supposedly warmer, but felt colder. I ran some errands, but mostly I took it easy. I did break my “day of disconnect” rule, because I wanted to keep up with what’s going on in Ukraine. I couldn’t pull it together to cook, so ordered pizza.

Tessa woke me up at 2:30 (out of a dream about colonoscopy, so no loss there). I got back to sleep. She woke me again at 4 (out of a dream where I worked on the set of an action heist film starring Dame Maggie Smith, which was very cool). I moved to the couch and dozed off, only to wake up again a little after 6 from some other weird dream that had to do with books and cannoli. Yeah, I don’t get it, either.

I had a LOT to do, since I took the weekend off, and I also had cut back on some work in February, and therefore made less $$.

I still spent too much time watching the news out of Ukraine, but that’s necessary. If the Narcissistic Sociopath had his way, we would now be aligned with Russia, and with the rest of the world against us. I talked about that during the past few years, when he was intentionally shredding our international alliances. He and the GOP may have given Putin overblown promises about how much of the US would just roll over even now. Or Putin plans to continue the push into the Ukraine and further (it will always be further) until the Republicans are back in power. They will simply hand the country over to him.

Which is yet another reason we have to make sure that they don’t get back into power in November.

I’m glad the ICC is taking action. There’s more information here.

Hey, Merrick Garland, when are you gonna get off your ass and do your job? Look how fast the ICC is moving.

I managed to work on The Big Project, somewhere around 1600 words. I’d hoped each of the three major arcs would take up a specific amount of space; I think I have to expand on that a bit.

In the afternoon, I answered some questions from a writer whose script I’d covered, and read/wrote up coverage on another script. We’re getting a raise, which is nice, and hopefully better lines of communication are opening.

Ordered Chinese food for dinner. Door Dash “adjusted” the order so many times, I had no idea what would show up. The right items showed up; today, I have to check the bank account, to make sure I was only charged once. I was involved in various conversations on Twitter while I was waiting, and inadvertently got several people heavily invested in my dinner. On the one hand, I felt frivolous with everything going on. On the other hand, I think the people who joined the conversation needed the distraction.

Math. I have to do math today. (Shudder).

I got another monster in the shared world anthology, and another organization. I have to write up the information and turn it in by tomorrow.  

This morning, I was up and out of the house early, humped the laundry to the laundromat, and was back with everything washed, dried, and folded before 7:30. I’m getting it down to a system.

I edited about 70 pages of CAST IRON MURDER at the laundromat. This is a first pass edit, not the deep edit. I have, however, decided to cut a subplot. While it served the murderer, I cannot do it justice in the book without putting that plot front and center, and that’s not what I want to use to drive the book. So I’m cutting it, and adjusting the murderer’s motivation accordingly. It affects a few places in the book, where I wound it through, so I have to make sure I’m consistent.

A friend sent me a new tarot deck as an early birthday present. The Rackham deck. Very different than the others I have, and it will be interesting to work with it.

It looks like it will either rain or snow today. I’d considered doing some errands, but I might just stay in and work on the Big Project, the materials for the anthology, the grant proposal, and more script coverage. I need to get out the vacuum, too. The cats are shedding like crazy.

When I woke up, Kyiv was still holding on. I hope the supplies promised come in fast enough to deter the 40-mile Russian convoy headed their way to destroy them.

Let’s all do what we can on every front that we can. If we sit and do nothing, we will fall next.

Published in: on March 1, 2022 at 8:04 am  Comments Off on Tues. March 1, 2022: Scattered  
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Fri. Feb. 25, 2022: Snow Emergency

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Friday, February 25, 2022

Waning Moon

Snowy and cold

It wouldn’t surprise me if we got more than a foot of snow today. It’s coming down hard, and the city is on snow emergency, so most places are closed, and people are staying off the streets.

Yesterday, I spent the morning working on material for my friend’s grant proposal, and the turning around the edits for the 2023 Spell-A-Day. I thought it would take all day, but it didn’t. It was mostly proofing, and clearing up language on a couple of pieces. One had to be completely rewritten, and another, the editor and I went back and forth a couple of times to get it as specific as possible. But it’s all done, and ahead of the March 1 deadline.

In the afternoon, I turned around a script coverage.

We didn’t do much anthology brainstorming, because everyone’s affected by what’s going on in Ukraine. The world needs to do more, instead of standing around with thumbs up collective asses and talking sanctions. Putin needs to be crushed immediately, or it will just get worse. The Putin assets in the US need to be jailed and cut off at once, and then prosecuted for treason.

The Ukraine soldiers and people, who actually have courage and heart, make the MAGA QAnons look even more like pathetic cosplayers.

This is all hard on my mom, who escaped from a Russian prison camp in Czechoslavakia in WWII. She knows of what they’re capable.

I went to bed ridiculously early last night, and Charlotte woke me up a little after 5, because the snow made everything look light.

I should push hard today on a few things, but I just don’t want to. I will watch the snow. I will work on my grant proposal. I may do some work on the Big Project. If a script comes up that looks intriguing, I might cover it. Or I might give myself the day off from it. This weekend, I want to work on The Big Project, and on contest entries.

I can’t believe it will be March next week. I’d rather hibernate for a couple more months.

One day at a time. One word at a time.

Published in: on February 25, 2022 at 8:07 am  Comments (5)  
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Thurs. Feb. 24, 2022: Storms, Clocks, and Plots

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Thursday, February 24, 2022

Waning Moon

Cloudy and cold

Yesterday, the temperature was in the mid-fifties. By evening, mid-thirties. This morning, sixteen. I wish the snow would come through today and be done by tomorrow, instead of the predicted all day tomorrow. I talk about the new shoots coming up over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday, I wrote up some information on a topic I know a good bit about and sent it off as background information to another author I’d met via Twitter. I hope it’s helpful.

I sent email thank you notes to the presenters and organizations from Tuesday’s Zoom events. I finished up one script coverage and did another. I’m so far behind in where I should be, financially, this pay period. But I just haven’t had the mental energy to give the proper attention to two scripts per day. I’ll have to ramp it up again next week, but these past two weeks, I’ve just been tired.

The weather was all over the place, so I didn’t go out to run errands or do laundry. I did some brainstorming on the anthology. I did some work for the grant proposals.

I started thinking about what I want to do for next year’s International Women’s Day Project and then realized THIS year’s IWD is about two weeks away, and I haven’t done anything. I thought of a good project I can do in that time, and also made notes for a bigger project I want to do for next year. If I can get some funding for next year, I’ll open it up to contributors, but I want to make sure I can pay anyone who wants to participate.

I can put together my more personal one for this year within the time frame. And then I was stymied by the simplest of questions – whether to post the project here, on this blog, or make it a more permanent tribute on the main website.

I do not understand why, since the pandemic started, the most basic decisions I used to make without difficulty, have become overwhelming. I don’t like it. My “normal” is to be decisive, not waffle. But it’s as though I now only have the capacity to make a limited number of decisions across the board, and once I hit that number, I can’t make any more.

I have to figure out how to work past that.

I also haven’t figured out what to do for World Theatre Day.

The pendulum clock that I got in that funny little Treasure Hut store behaves as though it’s haunted. Which can be kind of fun, and I can build a good piece of fiction around it. But sometimes, it’s odd to live with. It keeps time just fine, but sometimes it gets chatty and noisy. Then it settles down. Then it gets chatty again. I need to name it.

My Llewellyn editor sent me the edits for the 2023 Spell A Day. It’s got a tight turnaround, so that will be the focus of today’s work, after meditation group. I was thinking of trying to do a library run up and back, but I don’t think I can make it before the storm starts.  The prediction is that it starts tonight, but the way the sky looks, and my head feels, it might start earlier.

I was sniffly yesterday, so there was also that layer of is this a seasonal cold, or did I catch The Plague? I feel okay today. If I feel bad a few days in a row, I’ll take the home COVID test, and, if necessary, get a more in-depth one. But I’m hoping it’s the seasonal change/housecleaning/unpacking.

But I felt well enough to dance around the kitchen listening to death metal while I cooked dinner, and figured out several plot points in the anthology story. Yes, I listen to everything from Mozart to Celtic rock to death metal, and most things in between. Except country.

The situation in Ukraine is heartbreaking and infuriating. The world better ally against Russia. Because Putin won’t stop at taking back former Soviet bloc countries. He’ll keep going into Europe. Stop him now. And remove those in Congress (and on Fox News) who support him.

I hope to get some work on The Big Project done. I think I have to break some sections down into smaller sections, in order for the rhythm to work.

Back to the page.

Tues. Feb. 22, 2022: Creative Trajectories

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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and mild

2/22/22 – Pretty cool, eh?

Friday was kind of a disjointed day. A client issue that was supposedly resolved came up again, as though the initial conversation never happened. This is why I do everything in writing.

But, hopefully, it’s all actually handled now.

Got some admin done. The weather was nasty, but I managed to get out the garbage and go down to the end of the street to mail some necessary letters.

Finished reading the book for book club, and spent some time in the online forum discussing it, which was lots of fun. This book has inspired several new projects, about which I’m excited. They are all long-term, non-deadlined projects at this point, things I can work on as palate-cleansers in between other projects.

My mom’s new smart phone arrived. It’s a good one, a Samsung, much fancier than mine. But the “one step” setup/transfer from her old phone to the new phone took well over 100 steps and wasn’t complete until well into Saturday. And Tracfone’s “customer service” was, as usual, useless. But I think we might be able to unlock/take the phone to a different company, if things continue to be nasty.

I had a bad night Friday into Saturday, waking up every couple of hours, and then having trouble getting back to sleep. I think some of it is sense memory trauma – two years ago, I had the first of the cancer surgeries; last year I was stressed about the upcoming move. My body and psyche are reverting, because they believe they’ve been trained to do so at this point in the year.

Which means I have to do mindful work to disconnect the cycle of the year from previous cycles of stress and trauma, and build something positive.

Just what I need right now. More work.

But, in the long run, it will make for a more positive life experience, so I better dig in and do it.

On Saturday, I was supposed to head to the grocery store for N95 masks. They’d sent an email the previous day, saying they were giving them out. Only good thing I checked and found out that they weren’t do so at the one within walking distance. Because the next snowstorm came roaring through just as I would have had to leave, and I would have been stuck out on foot in whiteout conditions – and no masks.

I stayed inside instead, enjoying watching the snow fall. I read, mostly a biography of Ottoline Morrell. I’d read about her via diaries and letters of Bloomsbury folks, and I was annoyed then by the way they accepted her generosity and then trash-talked her. Reading her biography (the one by Miranda Seymour) made me even more annoyed. But then, talented as they were, hypocrisy and gossip were the standards of that group.

Allowed myself the day to rest and read and enjoy the snow. Other than changing the beds, I didn’t do much in the way of housework, although I did a bit of unpacking and rearranging. I am going to have to set aside a few half-days in the not-too-distant future to rearrange the filing. And I need more bookcases.

Did an online yoga/meditation session with a group I joined that’s for professional women who chose not to have children. It’s a solid group of people, and the session was good.

Did some research and pre-planning for a research trip I want to take in the spring of 2023. Figured out about how much money I need for it, how much time, breaking down the travel so it won’t be overwhelming. I’m hoping to build in a couple of days to see friends on the way, if it works for all our schedules. Both money and the curve of the virus will be key factors. I figured out how much I have to put aside every month between now and then to afford the trip and have a bit of a cushion. I want to make sure I enjoy the actual travel, not just push through to get to various destinations, and then am so worn out I can’t enjoy them. I’m not 20 anymore, and I can’t travel as though I was, just because that would be cheaper.

I also might be able to get a grant to fund at least part of the trip, so I will look into that and apply this year so the funds would be available next year, too.

It was a pleasant way to while away some time.

Did some collaborative work on the anthology. Grabbed a script to cover, and was also requested to cover another script, so that starts the week out well.

We got about six inches or so of snow, in a couple of bands. Not too bad, but the car’s all covered up again. I made a big pan of chicken enchiladas for dinner, with leftover chicken from the roast I did the other night.

Weird dreams again, Saturday into Sunday. One set of dreams was family-oriented, and not appropriate to discuss publicly, since the dreams aren’t just about me. In the other set, I was working at a conference, and trying to convince a speaker named Susan to let the sound tech wire her for her presentation (the mic pack freaked her out). Not sure what all that’s about.

Sunday was cold and sunny. Charlotte woke me around 6:30, tapping my face with her paw and head-butting me. Made scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and chives from our own plants.

Had a good, long, deep morning meditation session.

I updated the tracking sheets and Series Bible for The Big Project. That takes time, because the details are so important, but it’s necessary, especially if the project sprawls in the directions in which it’s possible (i.e., it’s a success, and goes beyond the first projected phase).

I unpacked two more boxes of books. These actually held books for current projects, and I was delighted that they made it up, and now I have them accessible on the shelves. Baby steps, right?

I did some brainstorming on the anthology, and sent an updated sheet of bullet points for the article on the theatre I created for that world.

I heard from the conference at which I’m teaching in August. They have decided to remain virtual this year. I’m perfectly happy with that. Even though they would have paid for hotel and most meals, I would have had travel expense, had to worry about clothes and makeup for four days (now I just have to look good for the Zoom session), and interacting/being “on” all the time for four days. Much as I would have liked to dip my toe back into the realm of in-person, virtual is a better choice for me personally this year, and for safety reasons for all of us. Plus, now I’m only teaching 2 hours (or maybe 4, if they want both courses) instead of 10. I’m perfectly happy about it, although I bet there will be grumblers. It also means more people from all over the country and world, who wouldn’t have been able to come in person, or would have worried about safety issues, can attend. I think it’s a positive all across the board.

I took most of the day, however, to rest and recharge. I needed it.

Yesterday was President’s Day and a holiday. Tessa got me up at 5:30. She has also decided she wants to hang out for morning yoga (which she always did at the other house), but Charlotte, who hangs out with me here, is not sure if there’s room for both of them. Believe me, there’s plenty of physical room. They just have to learn to give each other enough psychological room.

I worked on preliminary information for a large grant application for which I want to try. I need to figure out what I want to do with it.

It was sunny and mild out, and I took the opportunity to run errands: get the garbage out, pick up a few things at Cumberland Farms, Big Y, CVS, the liquor store, and check out some other stores I could get to on foot, in the hopes of finding cute little plant pots. No luck. The ones I found don’t drain, and that’s not an option.

Did some brainstorming on the anthology. Covered a script. It was sunny and mild enough to sit on the front porch in the afternoon and read there. The cats were as thrilled as the people.

I’m reading a book that’s supposedly a diary by the author, but is actually more of creative nonfiction. The headings have dates, but she admits they were written over the course of two years and change, not a single year. Because no one could travel back and forth across Europe and the country for month-long or semester-long residencies and be in different, far-flung locations so often. She uses something that happens in the day to trigger an essay built around it, and it’s well-written and engaging for the most part. But she’s one of those women who always has to have a man in her life and can’t be alone for five minutes. I have trouble respecting that kind of dependence. On top of that, most of the time, she’s a jerk to everyone around her, including the men. One would hope, in the process of writing the diary (or writing the essays that compromise the diary), that she would realize how badly she treats people around her, and try to be kinder. Learn from it. But she doesn’t. She just wallows in being a jerk. I mean, the diary is the best possible place to be a jerk, but hopefully, through the writing, you realize it and choose the path of non-jerkdom. Or at least attempt the path of being kinder. Not this woman.

I’m tempted to try reading some of her fiction, but I don’t like the “her” I’ve met on the page (which, since this is a journal for publication, is another created “her” rather than the actual person). I’m nearly finished with this book; but do I ever want to spend time with any of the “hers” again?

Highly doubtful. Although I’ve learned some good craft lessons for creative nonfiction by reading this book.

Woke up to a great article about a local entrepreneur I met last October. I’m thrilled for her! Looking forward to being able to support her business later this spring and into summer.

This morning, I have a Zoom session with fellow local entrepreneurs, which should be fun, and tonight, I’m signed up for a Zoom session via Titcomb’s Books (one of my favorite bookshops on Cape) for an author event with Nina de Gramont, the author of THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR. Two Zooms in one day! And a Zoom on Thursday for meditation! That fills my limit of not doing more than 3 Zoom sessions a week, whenever possible.

After the first Zoom, I need to head up to the library, to drop off and pick up books. Then it’s back to the page, and after that, another script coverage. It’s supposed to be mild for the next few days (although rain coming in tomorrow), but then another storm at the weekend.

One day, one step at a time, right? After all, I have books to unpack and projects to create!

Fri. Feb. 18, 2022: Spiro Squirrel Is A Brat

image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures via pxabay.com

Friday, February 18, 2022

Waning Moon

Snowing

Yesterday was another somewhat scattered day. It was in the 50’s, mild, and raining all day. It was supposed to be mild today, then temperatures drop tonight with another storm coming in, but it was already snowing before 8 AM this morning.

Meditation was good. Charlotte sat in my lap the whole time.

Smoked salmon Benedict on brioche for breakfast, which was yummy.

Got the next section of The Big Project done, at just over 1600 words.

It was raining and windy, so I put off my errands.

Got some admin done, did some background research on some companies I want to pitch, participated in Freelance chat. Got an idea for a series of interlocked short stories, inspired by something I read in the book club book.

Spiro Squirrel knocked on the back window at lunchtime, as though he expected me to hand him my sandwich through the window, the little brat. It’s squirrel mating season, and they’ve decided the back balcony is their lovers’ lane, so there’s that going on.

The Chewy order arrived, with the treats and the new toys, including Robot Mouse. I want to give the cats some interactive toys to keep them busy. I figured Willa would like Robot Mouse, because she’s such a good mouser.

She does. She thinks Robot Mouse is excellent fun, and chases it, catches it, and plays with it. Since it’s a robot, she can’t tear it apart, the way she does with real mice.

Charlotte is curious, but cautious, and keeps a safe distance. Tessa Is Not Amused.

The afternoon was split between script coverage and collaborating on the anthology. I also got some reading snuck in for book club (I need to catch up online with everyone). I got some good ideas for my anthology story, based on our discussions. We’re doing detailed world building, amongst all of us, that I want to make sure that richness is part of the piece, not that the world is a backdrop. It needs to be integrated.

I rearranged a single shelf in my office. A baby step, but it makes me feel like I got something done.

Unpacking one of the boxes of books that wasn’t supposed to come up; it’s mixed books, rather than project books. However, some of them are relevant to new projects, so I’m sorting and shelving them, and it’s all working out.

Pasta with sausage and tomato for dinner. Yummy.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are excited for the winter break next week, so no sessions. Not that any of them are going anywhere, but there won’t be classes; it’ll be books read for fun and games and videos and puzzles, and stuff like that.

Today, I was supposed to do errands, but if it’s snowing, I’ll limit them. Tomorrow’s supposed to be bad out, so I’ll just have to cope with whatever. If I can’t do errands this weekend, I can’t do errands, and they just have to be pushed back until next week.

I have to clear off some script coverage, and I’m done for the week with that. I am way below what I’d hoped to earn there this week, but I’ve been burned out, and I’d rather do less coverage, but give each script the time and attention it deserves, then rush through it and not give each one a fair shot.

Work on the Big Project today and all weekend, plus working on contest entries. I need to catch up with some admin, and do housework this weekend, too. I hope I get some rest in there.

Charlotte woke me at 1:30, but I managed to fall asleep again, and then overslept until nearly 7, so it was a rocky start this morning. But bagels will make everything better, so I’m off to eat my bagel for breakfast, and then return to the page. Peace, friends, and see you on the other side of the weekend. Have a good one.

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Tues. Feb. 8, 2022: Fingers Crossed For the Car

image courtesy of pexels via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

It was a scattered weekend, although I spent most of it at home. Local authorities were worried enough about the ice storm that on Friday, the college campus, the public library, city hall, etc,, were all closed. It kept moving from freezing rain to sleet to snow to sleet to freezing rain and back again all day. Not much accumulation, but treacherous.

I finished the second radio play, give both a good polish, and got them out the door. I received a very nice acknowledgement from the producer, so I’ll know something in a few weeks.

My reward was to buy Scrivener (using the discount coupon I’d earned by finishing Nano). Purchase went through, and I got a complicated, two-page email about how to install it. When not even the first step of downloading it worked. I kept getting a message that it couldn’t be downloaded securely.

I was ready to ask for my money back and to hell with Scrivener.

But two writing friends made a suggestion to download the trial version (which is the full version) and then, when I opened it, enter the license number and I’d be all set.

Which worked.

So why sent the more complicated instructions with a broken link?

By the time support had gotten back to me, it was, at least installed. I have to block off time to learn how to use it, because I hear it takes a while. And since software is a foreign language to me, it takes me longer than most people. Although, a few years ago when I looked at it, it was basically Mac’s Pages on steroids, and I had Pages, so I didn’t bother. But Apple has steadily stripped all the stuff I liked best from Pages, and hopefully Scrivener hasn’t. Plus I’m on PC now, and so unhappy with Word.

Wrote up a script coverage, read another script.

I meant to write up the second script coverage, but got sidelined into a discussion on a collaborative project, and then another work-related thing came up. I missed the live stream of my friend’s play, which I was sad about. But I had to stop everything and create something that was needed within a couple of hours, instead of by the beginning of the week, as I’d initially thought.

By the time it was all done and out the door, I was so exhausted, I couldn’t write up the coverage as well as it deserved to be written, so I put it off until Saturday morning.

The cats let me sleep until nearly 6:30 on Saturday morning. It snowed lightly on and off all day.

I finished reading THE SPIRIT IN QUESTION by Cynthia Kuhn (love this series).

Dealt with some stuff on the collaborative project.

Worked on script coverage.

Which meant the time I’d blocked off for Scrivener tutorials was eaten up by script coverage.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, which was great, except it was a different mail carrier. Instead of dropping the box at the door because it’s too big to fit in the community mail slots at the curb, he shoved it in from his side of the box, which is wider than the side where residents remove the mail.

Which means I couldn’t get the box out.

I had to come upstairs, get a pair of kitchen shears, go back down, cut it open, take everything out and dismantle the cardboard box while it was still in the mail slot. In 8-degree weather without gloves, because I couldn’t maneuver in gloves.

Not a happy camper.

Anyway, the stuff in the box was good.

The first seed order arrived; I’ll talk more about that in Thursday’s Gratitude and Growth post.

Finished reading the Cynthia Kuhn books I had, and started re-reading Joanne Dobson’s Karen Pelletier series, which I love, starting with QUIETER THAN SLEEP.

Slept in on Sunday morning. Can you imagine? The cats let me sleep until nearly a quarter to seven. Finished QUIETER THAN SLEEP and started THE NORTHBURY PAPERS, which is one of my favorites.

Stopped to do some script coverage, and also start reading the Scrivener manual. It will take a few weeks of poking around to feel comfortable, I’m sure.

Did a little brainstorming on the anthology, but I need to spend less time on that, until we have more information about deadlines and structure, and things. I turned in the material that was needed up until this point, so once we get more information on the overall structure, and start working with deadlines and word counts, I can get back to it. I’m still making my own notes, reading everyone else’s brainstorming, and seeing if/how that affects my piece.

I got one of the rudest rejection notes I’ve ever seen for a short story I submitted last week. Wow. It’s fine not to want a piece, but no need to be rude. I’ve made a note in my submission log, so that I don’t submit anything to them in the future.

Had to get my mom a new phone, because TracFone is being such a dick. Decided I’d buy her an inexpensive smartphone through them, and then, if we decided to change providers a few months down, when the car is fixed, it’s not icy, and we can actually get somewhere, we would. Put the order through, and they stepped up and she is getting it for free. Now why didn’t they just say so at the beginning? That the phones are all listed with a price (even though the offer is a free phone), but when you actually put through the order, it goes through as free?

Anyway, she should have it within three days.

My 97-year-old mother is getting a smart phone. She doesn’t want one, but that’s the only choice she had.

Worked on script coverage; wrote up a coverage, read two more scripts, started one of the coverages. Since I’m taking the car in today, I didn’t want anything due today or too early tomorrow.

Went to bed early on Sunday night. Charlotte woke me up at 1:30, then again at 3:30. Tessa was so happy I was awake that I moved to the couch and fell asleep again, oversleeping, and waking up with a migraine. Weird dreams the whole way through. Not bad ones, not stress dreams, just weird ones.

Got the list of grant possibilities out that I’d promised to a colleague.

Slogged through some emails. Wrote up a script coverage and got it out the door. Bundled up and headed to the library to drop off/pick up books. Mailed some bills. Picked up some wine. Grabbed some fast food to bring home for lunch (brought an insulated bag). Grabbed a few things from Cumberland Farms.

Got back just before it started snowing again.

Poked around Scrivener some more. I have to pick a project not on deadline to use to get familiar with it.

Wrote up another script coverage.

The fast food was good to eat in the moment, but I felt lousy afterwards, so we had fried eggs sandwiches (the old college standby) for dinner.

Finished THE NORTHBURY PAPERS and started RAVEN AND NIGHTINGALE. I love this series. I’m so glad I’m re-reading it.

Stayed up way too late reading, but it was fun.

Charlotte woke me at 4, but I rolled over and went back to sleep until Tessa woke me at 6. Fed them, yoga, writing, reading, the usual morning routine.

I have to figure out how to get the car out of the ice the plow put up against it. I have the morning to dig out, and then hopefully the car will start, and I can get it to the mechanic. They’re going to do an hour and a half diagnostic this afternoon, and hopefully, I can afford the repair. Step by step, right?

I’m taking a bunch of work with me: reading, writing, editing, including the Kindle holding the next book for review. I want to finish it before I start downloading the digital contest entries I need to read. And I want to do a readthrough of the first draft of CAST IRON MURDER, to see where I need to go in the second draft, and to support what’s going on in THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

Hopefully, tomorrow, I can get back to work on The Big Project. I’m waaay behind where I need to be on that, and I need to catch up.

I have a script coverage to finish this morning before I go to the mechanic. I have two scripts to read (one for which I was requested), but they aren’t due for a couple of days. I can choose to read or not read tonight when I get back, depending on how wiped out I am after the ordeal at the mechanic’s. Hold a good thought for me.

Fri. Feb. 4, 2022: Let’s Hope Freezing Rain Doesn’t Freeze My Brain

image courtesy of adege via pixabay.com

Friday, February 4, 2022

No Retrogrades!

Freezing rain, temperature dropping

Can you imagine? No retrogrades!

It rained all day yesterday, and now, as I type this (in the morning), it’s switching over to sleet/freezing rain and rather nasty out there. I need to dash to the mailbox at the end of the street (not going all the way to the post office) at some point to mail more bills, but that will be the extent of leaving the house today.

Yesterday was another mixed day. I finished one of the radio plays. I worked on, but didn’t finish the other, and I need to get that done, because the two have to be submitted together. And that damn well needs to happen today. As it is, I might have missed my window.

I spent too much time brainstorming on the anthology, and need to curb my time on that a bit, because it’s interfering with The Big Project and a couple of other things I have going. I need to write up my proposal, draw up a floorplan for a building that can be shared space in the anthology, and then not spend several hours every day on it until we have more parameters and deadlines.

I finished THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR. Very well-written, and gave me a lot to think about.

Worked on script coverage, but didn’t get as much done as I hoped, so I have to buckle down today, once I finish and submit the radio plays.

I also want to buy Scrivener today and get that installed. I had hoped to start learning how to use it (I think it will be helpful for The Big Project), but I’m not sure I can make the time, with everything else that needs attention.

There were a couple of communication snafus (typically as Mercury is retrograde and stationing direct). One of them is a big red flag, client-wise, and I’ll have to see if it straightens out appropriately, and make decisions from there. The other was just one of those things, and totally not about me, although, exhausted, after a 16-hour day, it was difficult not to take it that way. But it wasn’t, and I put my ego aside, and acted like a decent human being. Because we’re all stressed and struggling, and doing the best we can.

I had hoped to have a very productive week and take the weekend again, but I’m behind where I want to be on a few things, and need to use the weekend to make it up. I still had a productive week, especially when it came to my own work; now I just need to balance it with work that brings in money immediately, not a few months down the road.

Had a discussion with another writer on social media about serials. I love writing them and reading them. However, I’m not all that thrilled about a writer who simply releases chapters of a book over time and calls it a “serial.” No, you’re just charging per chapter, and I’ll wait for the damn book. Serials require a slightly different structure, within each episode, and also driving the overall narrative. Yes, they can be released as books once they’re complete (hopefully, quite a bit of time after they’re complete), but they usually need a little tweaking to smooth them out as novels.

So when a writer is on social media talking about how they’re releasing their novel as a serial, I’m not all that interested; but if they’re actually talking about writing and releasing a serial as a serial, I am.

That’s just me. Writers need to do what they want, but how it’s framed affects whether or not I’ll buy it. And if I feel lied to, I’ll just cross them off my purchase list for the future.

Anyway, the freezing rain is pounding against the windows, and I need to get as much done as possible in case the power goes out.

Have a great weekend!

Tues. Sept. 11, 2012: Balancing Life With 9/11

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool
11th Anniversary of 9/11

My essay on “9/11 in Fiction” is here. I hope you will stop by to read it and drop a comment.

Today is always a difficult day, no matter where we are. Later on, I will perform the ceremony I created and add to over the years to commemorate the day.

I worked a lot yesterday, but didn’t get enough done. The anthology is off my desk and onto the publisher’s desk, which is a relief. I feel good about the book, and all our contributions to it, but getting all the bits to work smoothly when sending material between different operating systems was challenging.

Speaking of which, I have to update my operating system at the end of this week. The very thought of it gives me agita. But it needs to be done. In fact, first I have to upgrade to Snow Leopard, and only THEN can I put in the newest one, Mountain Lion. I can’t skip a cat.

I have to return a stack of research books today, so I pulled whatever information I still needed. I also have to pick up some books that are on hold for me.

The contest entries I agreed to judge arrived. I will get started on them today.

I was asked to teach a 12-week intensive at a rate that breaks down to $8 per WEEK. Are you kidding me? I was polite when I declined, but I was incredibly insulted by that rate.

Worked on my Sustainability assignments for the week. Worked with my tarot students. Had some preliminary discussions about other fall, winter, and spring classes that need to get on the roster. I’m teaching less, but at rates that reflect more the work put in. And each class is only offered once in year. I want people in class who want to be there, who make it a priority, not who figure, “oh, I can take it or something like it in three months instead”.

Didn’t get enough work done on the revisions, the novel, or the novella, and am not happy about that. However, I spent a couple of much-needed hours in the yard, and it shows. I have to start putting things to bed, and I think one of my rhodies has given up the ghost.

It was so cold this morning that the heat kicked in!

Lots to do today, and only a finite amount of hours (just like everybody else), so I better get going!

Devon