Fri. Oct. 18, 2019: Storm Day = Cat Socialization Work

Friday, October 18, 2019
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Clear and cool

Sorry about yesterday. No Ink in My Coffee. No Gratitude and Growth. But there’s a short post over on Affairs of the Pen today on shipboard activities.

The power went out around 1 AM on Thursday. We called it in, even though it was during the storm. Better to get in the queue early than to wait until it’s over and then have to wait even longer.

Tried to go back to sleep, but didn’t do more than doze. The winds screamed more than the new cats when they’re arguing about something.

It kept the cats quiet, that’s for sure. They didn’t like it.

I got up at the usual time, although it was still dark. The flashlight got me to the candles. I made coffee. The gas stove works in power outages (although the oven does not). The heat, also gas, does not work because it’s powered by an electric switch, which annoys me on multiple levels.

I fed the cats by candlelight. Charlotte was so cute. I told her I couldn’t see in the dark the way she could. She would run ahead of me a few feet, then come back and touch my leg with a paw, then run ahead a few feet, then come back. Like a seeing eye cat.

Willa and Charlotte have not been socialized much. It’s obvious their original human adored them and spoiled them. But they’ve never really learned how to interact, although they want to. So we’re working on that.

Willa is more outgoing. She’s already a lap cat, and loves to play and interact. But she gets oversitmulated, and then, even on a lap, can get yowly and growly. She nipped the first few days, but we’ve gotten her past that. She’s very sweet, for the most part, although she needs to learn to be a Writer’s Cat — I need BOTH hands to type, and will pet her in between paragraphs.

Willa does start the yowling and screeching with both of the others. I think she wants to be dominant cat. She might be dominant over Charlotte (although I suspect Charlotte only lets her think so sometimes), but Tessa is Head Cat in this house, and Tessa is not putting up with Willa’s antics.

Willa does back down from Tessa, though. Which is good.

Willa is also fascinated by running water. She likes to be on the bathroom counter when the tap is going, and she’s trying to learn how to turn it on herself. Fortunately, one needs thumbs for that. She doesn’t like closed doors, especially not bathroom doors. She loves the new perch we made for her on the old tea cart from Chicago’s Pump Room that’s in my office and usually holds plants. We put a fleece blanket on the top, which is even with the windowsill. She sits and watches the squirrels and neighborhood dogs and cars. Her behavior has vastly improved since we set that up.

She needs a lot to do. Lots of playtime, interaction. I’m thinking of getting her some battery-operated toys.

Charlotte is at the stage where she wants company, but she doesn’t know how to interact with people or other cats. She sits and watches most of the time, which is fine. She comes and asks for attention, but still won’t let anyone pet her.

I think she and Tessa will make friends first. They barely growl at each other anymore, and, when they do, it’s half-hearted.

Charlotte likes to be up — on the behemoth, on the bureau. She likes to be on the bed with me. Unfortunately, so do the others, so it can get a little dicey.

Tessa stomps around, keeping them in line.

Willa and Charlotte swat each other sometimes, but not Tessa. And they swat each other with soft paws. It’s more vocal than physical, thank goodness.

They’re getting lots of individual playtime, but now they want to be involved in each other’s playtime. But then they get upset that the other cats are there, and run away. But it’s already better.

Today is only two weeks since Willa arrived, and a little less for Charlotte. Tessa is much happier with them here, even though she’s telling them off. My cat vet in NY said that once, “It’s better for two cats to live together than alone. As long as they don’t attack each other, even if they don’t like each other, it gives them something to do.”

So this weird insistence here in MA shelters that adult cats have to be “only cats” makes no sense.

The Storm Day was good for socializing. With no power, no street lights, library closed, many businesses closed, and the sirens going for police and fire all day, I was lucky I could stay home.

Even without power, it wasn’t too cold. We bundled up in sweats & sweaters & socks & blankets. The cats settled in with us. We read and played with them. It was quiet (except for the neighbors’ generators). They got used to all being in the room together and associating good things with it.

Willa and Charlotte learn fast. They already know that “bedtime snacks” means treats and then I head upstairs for meditation and bed. Now, they gobble their snacks and get there ahead of me.

Charlotte is fascinated by the meditation space. Sometimes, she sleeps on the cushion when I’m not there.

The power came on for a few minutes in the early afternoon. Then it waved, off and on, until it steadied later in the afternoon. Cell service was out for most of the day. Most of the batteries I stockpiled for just such an emergency were new, yet didn’t work.

Candles are much more reliable.

The batteries in the radio worked, though, so we could get news, which was a help.

I finished reading MISS BUNCLE’S BOOK, which was odd and charming and delightful. I read a mystery by an author whose earlier work I adored, but whose turn into puritanical mystery in locations with no flavor and stock caricatures instead of characters disappoints me. I’d skipped her last few books, but thought I’d
try again. It didn’t work for me. The relationships, including the supposed romantic ones, are flat and bloodless. No, thanks.

Started reading a mystery by a new-to-me author who has a lot of books in the series (how did I miss her )? The location is unusual and well-rendered, the human-animal relationships are good, but I’m not sure about the rest yet.

My treat for myself this weekend is my friend Arlene Kay’s newest release, Homicide by Horse Show. Once I get everything done.

Made a Kripalu recipe of roasted eggplant, tomato, raisin, and mint over couscous for dinner. It was good. Hope to make cowboy cookies (from the Moosewood recipe) later today.

There’s a lot of yard cleanup to do. Plenty of branches came down, although I don’t think any big limbs did. Some idiot was out in the nor’easter yesterday using his leafblower.

I have some client meetings to finalize for next week, and some other work to get done at the library, along with pickups/drop-offs. The furnace guy is coming this afternoon for yearly maintenance. I have stuff to put away.

I didn’t turn around the edits for my Llewellyn article; will do it this weekend and send it off on Monday. I have some other edits to finish this weekend, too.

I gave myself yesterday off for the storm and cat socializing. Now, I need to get back to work.

Have a great weekend!

 

Tues. April 2, 2019: Regaining Equilibrium & Grabbing Opportunities

Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Waning Moon

I hope everyone had a good weekend.

Mine was all over the place. The drama surrounding what should have been something simple intensified, and I’m fed up. In addition to being hurt and frustrated because I said if these particular actions were taken, these would be the results, and I would be the one who had to pay for it both financially and emotionally. That was ignored, I was hit with consequences for something that was not an action of MINE, and now I’m supposed to jump through more hoops to fix it, instead of the person who caused the issue in the first place. No. Just no.

Human beings make mistakes. It happens.

When I make a mistake, I apologize, first and foremost. Then I take actions to correct the mistake. Then I work to rebuild any trust that was broken because of the mistake. Especially the latter takes time, and isn’t always successful. But I make the effort.

Yet in this situation, when the other party made a mistake that affected me in more than one area of my life — I had to fight to get an acknowledgement and then a half-hearted apology. And then I was told the hoops I had to jump through to get it fixed with a third party– again, this was NOT my mistake — which I had told the person who made the mistake wouldn’t work in the first place, because I actually have worked in this field and know the manipulations. As I predicted, it did not work, I was badly treated, shamed, and mansplained to. The situation is still not resolved. We are now in Day 5 of something that shouldn’t have happened in the first place, and could have been fixed in FIVE MINUTES.

Even if it is, any future interactions will be tainted. What used to be in the life balance column is now in the life stressor column.

I don’t need that, especially not this month, when things are stretched to the max anyway.

In addition to the whole situation making me angry, I am so, so hurt. This was someone I trusted.

But now I know better.

And I’ve lost a sanctuary I deeply value. Which is painful.

So, basically, most of the weekend was spent in emotional pain management, trying to heal, and, every time I took a step to try to resolve the situation, getting another metaphorical slap in the face.

I didn’t get a lot of writing done, although I got some plotting, and I’m back working on GRAVE REACH this week. At least I can relate to Lesley’s pain and sense of betrayal. I’ll find a way to funnel it into the work.

I read my friend Arlene Kay’s DEATH BY DOG SHOW, which was really fun. Made me laugh a lot.

I worked on the books for review. I worked on contest entries. I got quite a bit done on the contest entries.

I started working in the yard. Saturday was so beautiful. I got the terraced area in the back raked out. I didn’t get as far as the border bed on the terraced area, but I got the rest of the beds raked out, did some pruning and cutting back. Got rid of a lot of bindweed that’s been creeping around. And some of the roses are taking over, so I’m going to have to do some serious hacking back in the next few weeks.

Worked on the proofs for the almanac. They went out yesterday morning.

Was with a client on Monday, and will be so today. Wednesday, Thursday, and maybe into Friday, I have an adventure. I’ll be able to share some of the details next week. And then I go into another intense weekend of writing and, next Saturday, going to see my radio play performed live in Boston.

My entire intent on Monday was to keep my head down. I don’t like April Fool’s Day. I don’t like that people feel liberated to be cruel — although, since the 2016 election, they feel that every day, and, especially around here, regularly act on it.

Onward.

 

Published in: on April 2, 2019 at 5:26 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 2, 2019: Regaining Equilibrium & Grabbing Opportunities  
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Tues. March 5, 2019: Prepping Pitches

Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Dark Moon
Mercury Retrograde

Today is my friend Arlene Kay’s launch of her new book, DEATH BY DOGSHOW, the first in her new series! She’s a wonderful writer, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Not loving the Mercury Retrograde thing, especially since it covers most of this month.

I ran around a lot on Friday, doing storm prep, errands, laundry, baking, etc. Got some reading done, but not much writing.

Got a new idea during meditation that I’m playing with. Kind of out of my wheelhouse, but it intrigues me. It needs a lot of figuring out before I can write it.

Slept in Saturday and woke to snow. Snowed most of the day. The heavy, wet kind.

I roughed out three pitches for trade journals, and an idea for another article. The latter probably won’t hit where I plan to pitch it. The editor decided she doesn’t like me, and she always rejects my pitches. As much as the call for pitches got me thinking down the road for this particular article, it makes more sense to pitch it elsewhere. Why beat my head against the wall? So I roughed the pitch but I’m re-thinking where it will go.

Got my hotel booked for NECRWA. That’s a relief. There were rumors all the rooms were booked. But I got my confirmation, etc., so I’m all set.

If you’re in the northeast, and interested in my workshop about using wardrobe as a character development tool, information on the conference is here.

Made some notes on the next section of GAMBIT COLONY, then wrote 16 pages. Made some notes on the next radio play, featuring Frieda and Lazarus from “Horace House Hauntings.” I think I’ll put them on a luxury cruise ship across the Atlantic.

Made some notes for the new idea. It pulls at me, but has to be worked around other things.

Read quite a bit. I really enjoy Ed Ifkovic’s mysteries featuring Edna Ferber as a protagonist.

Started watching the 1982 RCS NICHOLAS NICKLEBY starring Roger Rees. I’d seen it on Broadway, and wanted to see the DVD again. It’s quite wonderful and disturbing.

Up early on Sunday. Did some Canaletto research. The books I need for the next steps in my research are all at the MFA’s library in Boston, and can only be used in-house. So I’m going to have to arrange a day to go into Boston and spend the day researching in the library. Not sure when that will happen.

Read a few more essays in SCRATCH. It really is a wonderful book.

Worked on polishing the trade journal pitches and also on notes for an essay I’m going to pitch to some of the writing magazines. As I checked the websites for the first four listings I made, I saw that the first one has changed their formatting a bit, but the slant I put on my pitch will still probably work; the second has gone out of business since listed, so I have to figure out where else I can send the pitch; the third no longer uses freelancers and does everything in-house; the fourth, I couldn’t access the guidelines from where I was, but I got them yesterday, and I’m pretty sure I can send them a decent pitch. I do, however, have to scan some article clips and turn them into PDFs to go with the pitches.

The article I had an idea for but don’t think a particular editor will take because she doesn’t like me? I re-framed it, and I have an idea where to pitch it to a higher-paid market. And I made some more notes on the essay.

We had a breath between storms on Sunday. It was nice and sunny. The snow that fell after I shoveled Saturday afternoon melted down, so I didn’t have to shovel again.

I’m reading Andrew Lanh’s mysteries, set n the Vietnamese-American community in Hartford, CT. Very well done. I should have been reading other things, but I was too caught up in the book.

Woke up to slush Monday morning. It had snowed a bit, then rained, so it was a big. slushy mess. Got some writing done, then went to work with a client, ran some errands. I’m with a client again today and tomorrow.

I’ll be working on all the other writing, but my primary focus this week is whipping the article pitches into shape and getting them out. I’ve been derelict about article pitches for months now, and I need to get back into the swing of it. I’m a little worried about sending them out during Mercury Retrograde (one shouldn’t sign contracts during the retrograde), but I also don’t want to put myself back another month, and sending them out now doesn’t mean I’ll get hired during the retrograde.

Back to the page.

 

Published in: on March 5, 2019 at 6:40 am  Comments Off on Tues. March 5, 2019: Prepping Pitches  
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Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018: The Exhaustive Stage of Grief

Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to read about Lucy Burdette’s newest Key West Food Critic Mystery, Death on the Menu.

It’s been a rough few days. I keep expecting Iris to hop up on whatever I’m working on and made one of her feline demands; I keep coming across cool things to do and thinking, “Pam would enjoy this.”

None of that is possible anymore. It’s tough.

Friday was terribly hard. I was exhausted, I was sad. I tried to nap in the afternoon, and couldn’t.

On the positive side, the Heart Chakra box from Goddess Provisions arrived early – just when I needed it. It was a welcome treat.

I managed to pull myself together to attend a dinner party given by my friend and colleague, author Arlene Kay, for our mutual friend and colleague, Carole Buggé, whose sold 50,000 copies of her newest release, Edinburgh Twilight.

It was a lovely evening. I got to see people I hadn’t seen in a long time, and meet some new ones. The house was lovely, the food was spectacular, the conversation lively. It was a delightful evening.

Saturday, some friends from Connecticut stopped by on their way to Nantucket; they’ll be there for three weeks, so I might get the chance to visit with them there again.

But I was worn out and that was all I could do. It’s the stage of grief where everything is exhausting. You’re trying to function as needed, you’re working not to make it all about your grief for everyone else, and it’s exhausting. I feel like I’m plodding. All I want to do is sleep, but when I lie down, I can’t.

I read a lot, I played with Tessa (who is very upset), I tried to stay cool. I’d been in conversations to adopt another cat before Iris’s death, and it looks like we’ll get to pick her up this coming Friday. She’s only a year younger than Tessa, and supposed to be friendly, and a tortie, so I hope they will become good friends in time.

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, I’m with a client. I’m trying to put one foot in front of the other and get done what I have to. I’ve cancelled out of several things to just give myself time to grieve in peace.

My yoga and meditation practices are a big help.

I haven’t written much on RELICS the past few days, or DHARMA, with the deadlines looming. I managed to write about thirty pages of an idea I’m playing with – I needed something different to work on, without pressure. I’ll get back into the harness with RELICS later this week. It means a deadline extension, but I’m lucky that I’ve earned one.

Onward.

 

Published in: on August 7, 2018 at 1:55 am  Comments Off on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018: The Exhaustive Stage of Grief  
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Wed. Sept. 14, 2017: Balancing Act

Wednesday, September 14, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Yesterday was a long day of admin, filing paperwork, updating links, et al.

PLAYING THE ANGLES is now live on Google Play, ready for pre-order.

My article “Tracking Your Banged Buck” is live on WOW-Women on Writing, and I want to thank K.R. Conway, Jessica Glenn, Goddess Fish Promotions, Arlene Kay, Alyssa Maxwell, and Barbara Ross for their quotes. I made a document for their clip files, and sent that, along with the live link and a thank you, to them. I heard from the editor last night that the article is getting positive feedback, so I’ll pass that along today, too.

Exhausted by the time I got back, and came down with a migraine. However, I didn’t have the luxury of taking an afternoon off, so I kept working.

I did some work on the FIX-IT GIRL revision. It’s going slowly, and I’m frustrated. I’m not quite sure how to solve the frustration, which leaves me more frustrated, and so it goes. The first eighteen chapters of the revision sailed along well, but this is a tricky part, a turning point. I have to get it right, or the book falls apart.

I’ll just keep at it until I do.

Also did some work on THE MARRIAGE GARDEN, the literary fiction. This first draft will need a lot of revision, a lot of making scenes active that are now too narrative. But I need to set out the narration for myself first, and then pick which scenes to dramatize, and what to leave as narration. Because the book is quiet and introspective, rather than an action-driven piece, it needs a different approach. Too much action, and I lose the tone and the reflective quality that is the reason for the book’s existence. Too much narrative and it’s telling rather than showing and just plain dull.

We need to make some solid decisions about “Labor Intensive”, and I also need to get back to the draft of SAVASANA AT SEA, so that can go off to the editor, and she can catch me out on my bad habits again. 😉

As much of a slime pit as social media can sometimes be, through all this political chaos, I’ve been lucky enough to meet some wonderful people from all over the world, in all walks of life, with whom I might not have otherwise crossed paths. They are intelligent, creative, and committed to making the world a better place. I hope we’ll stay in touch if and when things settle down.

It looks like I didn’t land two gigs I’d really hoped for this week. One of them would have been well within my wheelhouse, but the people making the top decisions have proven, over the past few weeks, to be consistently disorganized. On the other, it would have been a physical challenge in some respects, but the company’s lack of basic business protocol makes me wonder if the listing was scam. One can put up a slick website and still be a con. More research done, and perhaps I should be grateful not to be associated with either organization! Only time and what happens next will tell.

My editor asked for some revisions on a review; I have to get back to work on the next book, which is one of the most sloppily written pieces I’ve read in a long time. I need to work on some article pitches that I’d like to get out before the end of the week, and expand an essay where there’s interest, but it’s too short.

Whenever the days are nice enough to be outside, I’m trying to work at least for a few hours at a time on the deck. Pretty soon, everything has to come back in for the winter.

Speaking of winter, yesterday I worked on a section of THE MARRIAGE GARDEN taking place during a blizzard, while we had lovely, sunny, warm weather. It was an interesting exercise in sense memory for writing.

 

Mon. June 26, 2017: Traction to Getting Back on Track

Personal Revolution Cover

“Personal Revolution” — A Cabot’s Crossing Mystery — Independence-Day theme.

99 cents on Smashwords here.

Monday, June 26, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

A slower-paced weekend than I probably should have had, but I needed it. My brain is tired, my soul is tired.

Saturday morning, I took a wrong step down the stairs and wrenched my knee. The good knee, not the Broadway knee. The outer tendon. My poor hockey players had that often enough, although not from going down a flight of steps. I treated it with arnica and gentle yoga. As long as I keep the leg in alignment, from hip to foot, it’s okay. The minute I go out of alignment, I’m in pain. That certainly slowed me down, because I need to move with more care.

I managed eight loads of laundry over the course of the day. A lot of it consisted of the blankets and fleece covers on the furniture for the winter. They’re now washed and ready to be packed away, with lighter cotton covers on everything. It’s finally warm enough to put the winter things away. Also in the process of washing, blocking, drying, and then putting the winter sweaters away with cedar shavings.

In between the laundry, I’ve been clearing out things that have accumulated — the big stack around my big reading chair, where I tend to nest; starting to go through drawers and boxes. I’m weighed down by too much stuff I don’t need; we haven’t even unpacked everything since we moved here. I wanted to get through everything in the winter and didn’t; so I better buckle down and do it now. A little bit at a time eventually adds up to big bits.

In and around that, I also wrote nearly 2500 words on the piece with the two older protagonists. I’m writing my way in, to see if I have something viable. I like the characters a lot, especially how they’re trying to heal from their damage. It’s naturally set itself in Ayrshire, Scotland, near Culzean, where I’ve stretched the geography a bit to add a small, fictional village between the villages I spent time in when I was there.

I’ll set something else in Cornwall, eventually!

I’m reading Alix Kate Shulman’s DRINKING THE RAIN. It’s a wonderful exploration of a writer’s need to balance solitude and companionship. I’m not as adventurous as she is, as far as where she chooses to stay. I’m a modern woman who appreciates indoor plumbing, and I’m no longer willing to stay in places without it. That doesn’t feed my soul; it merely irritates me. My soul is fed when I’m comfortable.

The book is from the library, but I’m going to hunt down a copy to buy; it’s something I will re-read.

I’m also reading Helen Bevington’s The Journey is Everything: A Journal of the Seventies. I love her writing, and it’s interesting to see her perspective on historical events we both lived through (although I was much younger, just a kid).
I originally read her books shortly after 9/11. I was staying with my mother, in the NYC suburb in which I’d grown up. I got a new library card at the library I’d practically lived in growing up. Wandering the stacks, I found Helen Bevington’s memoirs and journals, and loved them. A few years later, I found A Book and a Love Affair in Niantic and bought it; I keep an eye out for her other books, so I can add them to my personal library. I re-read Book recently, when I came across it, unpacking a box, looking for something else. I wanted to re-read the rest. The Cape Cod libraries don’t carry her books, so I had to order it through the Commonwealth Catalog. This volume is from U Mass-Amherst.

Sunday, I didn’t feel much like doing anything. I read a bit, and then went to S. Yarmouth library, where my friend and fellow writer Arlene Kay gave a program as part of their Author Series. It was wonderful, but then her programs always are. She had a nice turnout (thank goodness, it’s always hit and miss around here), including some mutual friends and colleagues I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was nice to catch up.

Came home, read on the deck, cooked dinner. I’d created a new-to-me salsa recipe on Friday, and combined two recipes from one of Barbara Ross’s mysteries (and then added some bits of my own) on Saturday, so Sunday was mostly leftovers.

I think I’ve got the opening of “Miss Winston Apologizes” in my head. Now, to write it down, so it’s ready to add when I’m done with the proofread of “Ramsey.”

I also have to write down the opening of “Labor Intensive” — and then write the rest of it.

Did some work on the Devon Ellington media kit. Did another 1000 words on the older protagonist piece. I think it’s viable. As I’ve been writing my way in, the plot is getting clearer. Pretty soon, I will stop and outline it. I worried the premise was a little too close to Death of a Choleric, but this morning, I figured out how to fix it.

I have a long list of things to do today, both fiction and non-fiction and pitching, and administrative work, and catching up on some correspondence. And, of course, mowing. I have to pause in my work on the meadow, because the damn front needs to be mowed again!

The roses are magnificent this year. We have vases of them all over the house and they smell lovely.

Back to the page.

Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear

Monday, May 22, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Not the productive weekend I’d hoped for, unfortunately.

The stress of the personal issues I’m dealing with hit like a hammer, and it was difficult for me to get anything else done. I managed a little yard work, but not like the marathon hours that my neighbors did. Their lawns are pristine; my mower still isn’t working. I’m hoping the replacement of a simple part or two will do the trick.

I got a little work done on the play proposal, and some plotting work done on the radio play. I need to gear up and get those out the door this week.

On the upside, I re-read Arlene Kay’s Boston Uncommons mysteries, and enjoyed them. I drafted up some reviews I’ll leave for them. I also read a couple of her earlier books, one-offs, which were also fun.

STILL waiting for my first assignment from that editor who, weeks ago, said I was hired. I could have done THREE assignments (and been paid) in this time frame. I’m irritated. Perhaps it’s time to move on and take other work instead. IF I’m ever contacted, I’ll see what my schedule is, or I’ll bow out. If you’re “constantly” adding people to the team and promising “steady” work, it doesn’t take three weeks to make the first assignment.

Drafting a short article and an article pitch that need to go out today. Also want to tackle the short story — I’d like to get that out by the end of this week. I need to do some reformatting on the Topic Workbooks for an additional release venue, and get back to work on the next Topic Workbook. I’m going to try to release one every three months.

I re-read TIE CUTTER, which needs to get back into the writing mix in the next few months, and also did some more research for the next section of FIX IT GIRL revisions. The revision process on this novel is different than my usual, but it’s working for the particular novel, so I’m going with it.

Managed to get in a bit of yard work this morning before the rain started, although I was bitten several times. I hate ants. I’m in full out war with the ants. I know, I should appreciate them and all they stand for, but they’re not keeping their part of the bargain.

I have errands to run this morning, some things to do at the library, and then, hopefully, I can get back to the page. This week will be very stressful, on multiple fronts, and I’m trying to prepare myself, both mentally and physically.

Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 9:02 am  Comments Off on Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear  
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Fri. May 19, 2017: Trying to Put It Into Play

Friday, May 19, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Took my mom to her medical appointment. Found more evidence on the CVS issue, and will turn everything over to the State’s Attorney General.

Finished reading a book by an author whose work I usually like, but this one had sloppy writing in it. Good plot, but one could tell that it was written fast. Sets up a new web of characters for more interconnected books, though.

Started implementing some of the things that were discussed on Wednesday. I have to make sure I break down the lists into do-able pieces, or I’ll get overwhelmed and won’t do anything.

Started working on some formatting changes for another outlet for the Topic Workbooks. The problem with those is that I can only work on them for a couple of hours at a stretch. It takes longer than I’d like to get the material done.

Re-read Arlene Kay’s SWANN DIVE. It’s the first of her Boston Uncommons Mysteries. Every time I re-read her books, I enjoy them more.

Still waiting for my first assignment from this supposed new gig.

Started going over some old short stories, both published and unpublished, to see if there are enough on any given theme for a collection. A collection of short stories is less important than getting on the novel carousel again, but it would be nice to get them out there. Some of them are more relevant now than when they were written.

Wrestling in the FIX IT GIRL revisions. There are a couple of B plot lines and red herrings I feel I should weave in to enrich the story; at the same time, I like the leanness and the pace. So I’m struggling with that. Can I keep a lean, fast pace, while just adding in a few tidbits here and there without it either slowing the piece down or it feeling like I’ve thrown things in there with no follow-up?

Getting some yard work done, but it’s difficult without a working mower.

Hopefully, I can have a solid writing weekend, and figure some more stuff out on my recalibration plan. I want to start implementing a few things, and then step back and look at it all again, make some decisions based on the new implementation, and so on and so forth.

Part of that is that, in the next few months, I want to get some general swag done for the constants: Ink in My Coffee, the Devon Ellington website, the Fearless Ink website, and maybe even the Topic Workbooks. Then, as more projects launch, I can add project-specific swag and mix and match for giveaways.

I also need to get rights back on a book where I suspect the contract expired ages ago. The publisher’s done diddly, in fact, new management wanted its authors to pay a monthly fee for promotion. I’d assumed they’d dropped me, but I found the book still on the website; never gotten any reports from them for years. So I have to dig up the contract, get the rights back, do some rewrites, and get it out in a better format.

I also have to figure out why I’m struggling to get back to NOT BY THE BOOK. It’s a good, tight story with fun characters.

Managed to handwrite a couple of pages on something this morning, but I’m still looking for those sample pages for the play proposal. I guess it won’t get out until early next week. I’ve got the proposal section done and the resume done, and I have the completed play done, but I have to find — and then type and polish — the sample pages to finish it.

Published in: on May 19, 2017 at 9:24 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 19, 2017: Trying to Put It Into Play  
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Fri. Aug. 7, 2015: Full Conference Mode

Friday, August 07, 2015
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

It smells like autumn in the mornings now. It warms up to summer during the day, but you can really feel the wheel of the year turning in the early mornings. About 3 AM – since that’s the time I’ve been waking up lately! 😉

Yesterday was busy – worked on conference stuff, casino night stuff, Mermaid Ball stuff, wine tasting evening stuff, photography contest stuff, cataloging stuff.

Left early to get down to the Conference Center and get my books into the bookstore before the 6 PM deadline. Even though I got there a little after 4:30, it was already closed and locked. So, I got my hands on the key (no, I did NOT pick the lock, that would have been rude, hush, you!) and left them with the paperwork.

Went to the cocktail reception, saw some old friends, made some new ones, introduced people to each other, welcomed newcomers to the conference, tried to get people chatting to each other and integrated. In other words, taking my job seriously as a Board member. Faculty Introductions went fine, we then repaired to the bar. To my regular table, where, when people came in looking lost and unsure, we waved them over, “Pull up a chair! Come join us!”

Because inclusion, along with inspiration, is what this conference is all about.

My friend and fellow (wonderful) author Arlene Kay made a comment that was 10% joke, 90% concern that triggered an epiphany about my unhappiness with both my writing quality and my writing productivity over the past few months.

I’ve unfortunately moved from steady, daily productive work (not that every day’s quality is good, but at least there’s something to work on) to more binge writing because of the extra hours I’m putting in between all the events that are booked for August. So I get frustrated because I’m writing less on some of the frantic days and frantic and pushing too hard to binge write on days I set aside for writing. It’s making things choppy instead of letting it flow. Even when something is one fire and I write a lot in a given day, I’m still happier and it’s better quality when I do a lower word count (1 to 2K/day), but a steady one.

Knowing I have to make changes this coming autumn on many fronts, that was an important realization. Thank you, Arlene! I can always count on her to cut through the crap!

In full conference mode for the next three days – tonight is our first keynote speaker, and then there are readings. And then, of course, the bar. Tomorrow, I’m working the desk in the morning, sitting in on one friend’s class in the afternoon, doing whatever needs to be done in the later afternoon, sitting in on a new friend’s class. The banquet is tomorrow night, but I have another commitment on another front in the evening, but will probably head back to the conference later. Sunday, I’m working the desk, sitting in on a class, and then helping load everything out.

In and around all that will be writing for said classes on which I’m sitting in, talking to people, making sure everyone feels happy and included and inspired, and listening. A lot, a lot, of LISTENING.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Mon. Aug. 11, 2014: Excited by The Wonderful Conference!

Monday, August 11, 2014
Last Day of Full Moon
Sunny and cool

Wow. The last few days have been intense.

Thursday, I worked at the library until 2 PM. It was busy — I wanted to make sure I got everything done (since I’m not back “in the office” until this Wed.) and not leave anyone holding the bag or cleaning up a mess I left. So I worked ahead on anything that I could think of being needed, such as the report for tonight’s Board meeting. I also processed a big stack of books that arrived from Ingram. Another box from Ingram arrived as soon as I was done, but I pretended it wasn’t there — and it might not have been mine, anyway. I also processed some videos that arrived from Amazon. I wanted to make sure as much as possible could get on the shelves while I was gone.

I left at 2 PM and headed for the Conference center. I checked in and found out that a fellow board member had a family emergency, so I agreed to cover the things he was supposed to take care of. I unloaded the car, got the library exhibit table set up, then got my own books checked in to the bookshop, then helped out at the cocktail reception.

As usual, we started at a table with two people and kept expanding. My rule of thumb is, “pull up a chair, join us; there’s always room for one more.” That way, no one feels left out, excluded, and people who are there for the first time and don’t know anyone get to meet people, and people who know other people get to meet new people. So that was fun.

My boss from the library joined us for the introduction ceremony upstairs. I announced the writing contest winners (one of them was even there, which was great), and all the instructors were introduced. We ran into someone with whom we’re going to put together a great panel for the library, and a group of us headed downstairs to the bar to catch up. It was fun and noisy, and we got out of there late.

Up early on Friday. Wrote a bit of 1000 words on INITIATE. Cooked for the incoming guests. Finished cleaning up. Ran to the store for the last few things.

Did a roundtable with my friend, Kevin Symmons, at the conference on inspiration –we had a good time with it, and the participants seemed to enjoy it, too. Then came the class I was taking, a screenwriting class. Since it covered the basics, I was worried that I might not be pushed hard enough. But the teacher was good (Chantalle Aimee Osman — if you ever get a chance to study with her, jump at it) and I found points where, because I move from format to format, I’ve gotten sloppy. There are certain areas where I need to sharpen what I do when I’m in screenplay format, in order to take it to the next level.

I’m also going to have to bite the bullet and invest in either Final Draft or Movie Magic, once I have the new Macbook. I’m very anti-formatting software, because I think it makes people rely on the software instead of learning the craft, but it is now the industry standard, and if I want to work in the industry, I need to suck up and deal.

Ran home after class to deal with a few things and get my company settled. Part of the company is a very old yellow lab that my Mom has taken care of since he was a puppy. He’s sweet, but not very bright.

The cats are horrified.

Raced back to the conference. Had rehearsal with the executive director for a skit I stepped into. Had a drink in the bar with some fellow panelists and the terrific novelist Gary Braver. I was on a panel moderated by Arlene Kay, along with Kevin Symmons and David Litwack. What a pleasure! We were talking about our journeys and how we keep writing on tough days, and things like that. It was a lot of fun. We then kicked off the reading sessions.

I knew about two paragraphs in that I picked the wrong scene — you can feel the energy in the room. But I was stuck by then, so I pushed through. Live and learn, right? Should have stuck to the scenes in the media kit! The readings were good — quite varied, and a better quality, overall, than some of the other years.

Went back down to the bar, had a drink with friends and colleagues, got in a bit after midnight. Chatted with the company. Fell into bed, trying to learn lines. Got a text from an actor for whom I just wrote a monologue — he’s on set for a new film and was in between set-ups.

Actor: What are you doing?
Me: Learning lines for Gutenberg.
Actor: Who’s Gutenberg?
Me: Use Google.
Few minutes silence, then another text.
Actor: How are you going to play a guy from the 1400s?
Me: I have no fucking idea.

Up early on Saturday. Wrote about 1100 words on INITIATE. Tessa is still furious with me because there’s a DOG in the house. Got the company safely off to the Nantucket ferry — although the dog stays with us. Tessa puffed up so big that she couldn’t dive under the bed, and had to deflate before she could fit. The cats were just starting to calm down, and then my neighbor decided to cut down a tree next door. Of course, that was my fault, too, as far as the cats were concerned. A DOG and all that NOISE. I’m unhappy, because I don’t think perfectly healthy trees should be cut down, but it’s not on my property, so I have no say in the matter.

Called the joke shop, talked to Chris –sounded like they had what I needed. Drove in to Hyannis, Chris got me all set up with the beard.

Back to the conference. Picked up my costume. Another excellent screenwriting session. Home. Tried on the costume, complete with beard. Cats took one look and dived under the bed. Ran lines a few times. Got out of costume. Took a nap.

Woke up, showered, dressed in a killer blue silk sheath dress, fishnets, and heels, pinning up my hair. If I’m going to play I bearded guy from the fifteenth century in an academic robe, I am going to look HOT for the banquet!

Got caught in Craigville beach traffic on the way back to the conference. Had my window down, had the music on. This shirtless surfer dude leans into the open window, sees the fishnets and says, “So, what’re you doin’ tonight?”

Me: Playing Gutenberg.
Dude: Huh?
Me: What, you don’t get into a little role playing sometime?

He had no idea how to respond to that!

The keynote was a roundtable with author Rishi Reddi and Alicia Anstead, who’s the editor of THE WRITER magazine. We all read Rishi’s story “Karma” and it was a discussion, led by Alicia. It was interesting, and a lot of fun. At times, I worried that over-analyzing it might take away some of the power and emotional beauty of the story, but Alicia is very good at what she does and knew how to keep it from getting pretentious or ponderous. Rishi’s writing is just gorgeous. The piece was the “One Story” that was read last year by the entire city of Boston as part of the Boston Book Festival.

Then, we paraded into dinner. I was lucky enough to be at the table with Rishi, Alicia, Michelle Hoover, and Karen Day (two more wonderful authors), along with others. We had a lively, fun discussion that ran the gamut of topics. I can’t wait for the new novels by Rishi, Michelle, and Karen.

Between the main course and dessert, I disappeared, and, with the help of Matthew, one of our scholarship students (whose work I really liked, and who already knew, from the previous days, that I am completely out of my mind), got into costume. Nancy and I did the skit. I couldn’t let my dislike of performance inhibit me. Nancy wrote an arrogant, self-assured character, and I had to go with it and over it — so I went for it, over the top, high camp. The audience loved it. I still wish Jim had been able to do it — he’s such a good actor, he would have brought a lot to the role. But I managed to get away with it. However, it was a prime example of why I spent my life BACKstage, instead of ONstage.

Scrambled out of costume, let my hair down (literally this time, not just figuratively), and had dessert. Stopped at the beach on the way home because it was such a beautiful night, hung out with some people playing music and dancing. Got home about one.

From silk sheath to panda pajamas in a matter of minutes.

Up early on Sunday, wrote about 1100 words on INITIATE. At the conference a little before 10 AM to help at the desk. At noon, I broke down the library exhibit table, loaded the car. As classes ended, I loaded the easels into the car, since we will use them for Mermaid Ball. Got the unsold books back from the bookstore — I sold some, and people kept asking me to sign copies, which was nice. Had a rash from the fake beard around my nose and my upper lip, though.

Took my final screenwriting session. We wrote tag lines and log lines. I created a tagline and used the logline from STALEMATE DEATH. Fortunately, the teacher liked both, although she thought I should put back a line I’d cut from the logline, so I did. If I hadn’t been able to walk my talk, in the experiences I’d shared in class, it would have been bad!

Bolted down a tuna melt in the bar, and came back to help break down the rest of the conference and load it into the truck. They had enough people to unload, so I got to go straight home. Drinks on the deck, dinner. Repacked the books that will go to Books by the Sea today, read a bit, but was too tired to concentrate, so I went to bed early.

Up early this morning. Wrote 1000 words on INITIATE. Tessa is getting braver, and even coming downstairs to be with me when I write, but she is still not happy there’s a dog in the house. Violet just stares at the dog, and he stares back, totally intimidated. Iris sidles by him. It’s funny.

Long day today — have to go in to the library to settle some dates; have to drop stuff off at Cotuit Library. Have to get my books to Books By the Sea. Have an appointment in Hyannis with a new student (we’re meeting at Uncommon Ground). Have a Mermaid Ball meeting tonight. Need to do follow-up on the conference (already had to do some business this morning). Need to finish two book reviews, and prep the cozy mystery group and do more research for BALTHAZAAR.

Busy day much?

All I want to do is sleep! No chance for that, not until tonight.

It was a great week. I’m glad I stuck to my guns and wrote every day, or I’d be feeling lousy today.

I hope the momentum carries the students into new work. Too often, the members are all excited during the conference, and by the time the Writers Night Out sessions start again, most of them sit around the table making excuses about why they’re not writing.

Which just drives me nuts. Which, I realize, is often a very short drive.

Back to the book reviews, and then I’m on the road for pretty much the rest of the day. I’ve already drunk a whole pot of coffee. It’s not helping.

But it was a great conference. In spite of the exhaustion, I want to use the energy and the momentum positively into the coming months, on a writing level, on a Board-Member-of-the-Center level, and on a programming level for the library.

After today, however, full focus MUST shift to the Mermaid Ball, which is at the end of next week.

Devon