Fri. July 29, 2022: A Good Friend With a Beautiful Garden

image courtesy of Tim HIll via

Friday, July 29, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE has released, in its new edition. It helps get and keep projects on track, and teaches techniques to build a calendar that works. You can learn more about it here.

LEGERDEMAIN launched yesterday. The first two episodes are free on Kindle Vella. The story link itself is here.

It would be helpful if you like the free episodes, if you can upvote them and also leave a short, positive review. And, of course, tell everyone you know. If it’s not your thing, spreading the word to those who might like it would be really helpful.

My father died on this day in 1972. He’s been out of my life longer than he was in it. But the day still has its challenges.

I had a great time with my friend in upstate NY. The ride there on Wednesday was okay, up until the last stretch on I-84, which was rather chaotic. But it was a short stretch, and I found her place just fine. She lives in a town that’s similar to where I live here in the Berkshires, in that it’s a former factory town now populated with artists.

We know each other from working in theatre, film, and television production. There are several studios popping up in upstate NY, because of the demand for streamed programs, so she doesn’t even have to commute to the city for everything, which is great.

Doesn’t make me want to start up in production again, though. Those days are done for me, except for script  coverage and creating budget estimates.

We had iced tea in the wonderful, naturalized pollinator garden she’s built, then when into town to a taproom, where we ate outside. First time I’ve eaten at a restaurant since COVID. The tables were far enough apart that it was comfortable. It was delicious, and I had a local beer called “Marlowe” that was pretty good.

We went to the gallery where she’s part of a group show. Her piece was wonderful, and there were all kinds of interesting pieces in the show. We visited a friend of hers who has a fabric store, and there are terrific pieces there. The museum we planned to visit was closed on Wednesdays, so we went to a shop called Notions and Potions where I picked up some incense and a few crystals.

My friend is a cat person, and she has a group of rescued cats living with her. Many of them are old and had spent years either on the streets or in shelters. Bob even has his own Instagram account. I bonded with Ben, a lovely 15-year-old cat who loves the other cats (especially Bob), but doesn’t like to be touched by humans. Once he realized I would respect that boundary, he stayed close for most of my visit. He investigated all my bags, and left messages for my cats. He hung around. Griddle is a lovely black cat, who is very social and liked to come and be petted. There’s a kitten in search of a name who’s very smart and friendly, and looks like my Willa’s baby brother. One-Eyed George is kind of shy (because he can’t see much), but he was around. The tortie, Star, got more and more curious, the longer I was there, but not close enough to be petted. She kept walking through the room and staring, as though she was on her way to some other appointment. Calamity Joon was shy, although she peered at me from a safe distance. I didn’t meet Bertie, who stayed in my friend’s room, and I didn’t see Slick, the outdoor cat, although his empty bowls assured us he was around.

Anyway, my friend and I had a good catch up, and then got pizza for dinner we ate at home. I slept well, although Tessa has me so well trained, I woke up at 5 anyway. I’d woken up a couple of times in the night because I Was Being Stared At, but whomever did the staring fled as soon as I looked at them. Anyway, once Griddle realized I was up, she came for a petting session. George came to check things out, and then fled. I dozed off again for a bit.

When I woke up later, and went to take my shower, I found Bob stretched out in the doorway to the room, with the other cats looking at me hopefully from a distance.

After the shower, Ben came in to help me pack, and to make sure I put everything in properly.

I brought my bags downstairs, and most of the pride trotted down hopefully with me to the kitchen, and then were very disappointed when I failed Breakfast 101. I don’t know the medicine/food routine.

Bob forgave me and sat on my foot, with Ben right next to him, and Griddle came in to get some extra petting action, and my friend came down soon after, so all was not lost.

Morning feeding happened; we went out to get bagels with everything on them, and came back to the house to eat. Real New York bagels! I mean, the Berkshire bagels are better than the Cape bagels, but nothing beats a real New York bagel.

My friend gave me a small lilac, and a tansy plant to replace the tansy that Spiro Squirrel destroyed. She also gave me some mugwort slips and some cut mugwort. And she gave me some small pink flamingos who will dance in the pots on the back balcony.

Driving back was smooth. I got caught up in the horse trailer traffic going north on I-87, because the Belmont/Aqueduct barns are sending them up to Saratoga for the big races this weekend. But it was really a smooth ride back. Much less traffic than going down the day before. And it was so nice to spend time with my friend in her amazing house and yard and with those wonderful cats.

Unloaded the car. The lilac will be okay in its pot for now. I repotted the tansy and the mugwort.

I did some promotion for LEGERDEMAIN, did my Italian lesson. I’m learning random words, and I can figure out the phrases by process of elimination, but I’m not learning structure. And that frustrates me. There’s no context for anything.

Had a quiet afternoon. It was hot.

My mom had been sick the night before (she ate too many hotdogs in my absence). I have threatened her with kale smoothies. But the cats took good care of her.

Tessa was fine. She was very interested in all Ben’s messages, and told me everything that happened while I was gone. Willa was chill, as usual. Charlotte was upset because I had the scent of other cats on me. It took her hours to calm down.

Slept decently, although Charlotte woke me around 4:30 wanting attention, and then Tessa chimed in. So I was up at the usual 5 AM to feed everyone and start the routine.

I’m getting ready to go down to MASSMoCA to attend the artist working group to which I was invited. When I get back, I have to get a lot done this afternoon, and then there’s yoga tonight. Tomorrow morning is the farmers’ market, and then I have to finish my Llewellyn article and get it off to my editor. I’ll probably work on Sunday, too. There’s something I want to go to at The Mount in the late afternoon, but if I can’t get my work done, I can’t go.

Monday is Lammas, a big holiday in my personal calendar. And then we’re in both another week and another month.

Have a good one! See you on the other side.

Mon. May 13, 2019: Inner Peace – Detachment #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, May 13, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

I promised you a post about detachment and inner peace, so I’m delivering.

One of the frustrating aspects of studying meditation and different paths is when the instructors and meditators talk about the need for “detachment.” Or, sometimes, it’s phrased as “non-attachment.”

I don’t believe that artists can approach the world with detachment. Our work doesn’t resonate unless it’s passionate. Unless it’s created with passion and life and juice and emotion.

So when these instructors talk about living a life of “non-attachment,” I admit I want to smack them upside the head with the Frying Pan of Creation.

I think one of the reasons we’re in a societal and humanitarian crisis, locally and globally, is because we’ve removed the humanity from interaction. Computers make arbitrary decisions on hiring, firing, insurance claims, bank loans. Employees hide behind “company policy” in order to get away with debasing and harming their fellow humans.

That’s what “non-attachment” encourages. Yes, whenever I bring that up in a class or a session, I get a lecture filled with psycho-babble terms claiming that’s not what “detachment” or “non-attachment” mean at all. But look at how it’s actually practiced. Look at what happens when we detach from each other as human beings. De-humanization, which leads to the classification of those inconvenient “others” that leads to the fascism and authoritarianism we currently face. To sit on our mats chanting “non-attachment” or to put our hands over our ears and sing, “la-la-la, I don’t do politics” — if we want to stay alive and to have a world in which our children can live, that is not an option.

Especially for artists.

Artists have the capacity, and, more importantly, the responsibility to change the world. While entertaining. Those are not mutually exclusive. The best art entertains AND informs. Art can be lighthearted and fun and brain candy and still relevant. Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s too relevant and so heavy-handed that it shuts the audience down instead of opening them up. That’s where craft is necessary.

Artists can build buffers between themselves and many of the demands of daily life because they need a type of sacred space to create. At the same time, daily life keeps artists connected. Things like cooking and doing laundry soothe me and give me a chance to clear my head. Physical tasks balance mental tasks. But artists cannot and should not detach from passion, emotion, complexity, and a wide range of experience, or their art will become soulless.

At the same time, once the first flush of creation is done, be it the first draft or a rendering or whatever form, the artist DOES have to step back, take a breath. Take a break, so that it can be approached and improved from the point of view as though someone else created it.

Finishing your draft and starting edits an minute later, an hour later, even a day later — you don’t have the distance and objectivity to see what doesn’t work. You need to detach from the first flush of creation in order to layer in craft and make it the best it can be. You practice “non-attachment” to every word in the draft, but you are not detached from the craft in the creative process that allows it to engage and enchant your audience. You do not detach from the meld of art and craft that allows an audience to experience something new to them. To change their frame of reference. To see the world through different eyes.

What do you is shift your perspective in order to elevate your creation to the next level. Cut out what doesn’t work. Polish what does. That takes investment, commitment, and a different type of passion.

You detach from the belief that every word in a draft is inviolate and can’t be improved. But you are committed to making the draft better. And the next one even more so.

You balance the frenzy with creation with the steady progress of craft. So that when you release it into the world, it has the ability to fly.

Every person who interacts will do so from their own frame of reference. There will be as many gradations of response as there are individuals who interact with it. That’s beautiful.

But it comes from a deep sense of connection to the world, not detachment.

I detach from toxic individuals and situations. Not everyone wishes us well. A bad review? Sure, it hurts. It’s disappointing. At the same time, ask yourself, “Who is this person in my life? Why should this opinion matter beyond this moment?” Sometimes, it will. Other times, it is a single opinion that can give you information, but don’t let it bully you.

There are books or articles I read that don’t work for me. There are situations when it is my job to state what doesn’t work and why. I don’t wish to harm the individual, and my opinion is a single opinion. It may matter to some people — to people who trust my recommendations or the publication in which they appear. It won’t matter to plenty of others. I try to be specific. I try not to be cruel. I focus on the work.

There’s a wide variety of art and literature, for a wide variety of tastes. We like what we like. Hopefully, we’re receptive enough to explore outside our comfort zones. Sometimes, it will open new directions for us; other times, it’s not for us. We can find something unsuitable without attacking those who enjoy it (provided it doesn’t cause harm, danger, or abuse to others).

There are plenty of pleasures other people like that I don’t. But I can still enjoy their enjoyment. Their enthusiasm makes me smile. I’m happy they found something that makes them happy, even if I don’t share in the experience.

Because we are not detached. We are connected. That doesn’t mean we deny ourselves solitude or quiet when we need it. We can be connected within our stillness. In my weekly meditation group, we are all within ourselves, yet connected by sharing the experience of quiet and focus. In my daily meditations, I am alone, yet often feel more connected to others than I do going about my day. Strengthening those connections, rather than isolating ourselves further, makes a huge difference.

I don’t find inner peace by an ambiguous “detachment” or “non-attachment.” I detach from specifics at specific times, and work on my deeper connections. Because that is what feeds my passion, and, ultimately, my art.


Mon. Feb. 4: Defining What Love Means to You (and Your Characters) #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, February 4, 2019
New Moon

We throw around the word “love” in relation to items or people with which we barely have a relationship. So what does “love” mean to you?

It’s going to mean something different to different people. There are also different types of love: I love my friends differently than I love my cats than I love my writing than I love my family than I love my romantic partner. Yes, they all fit into the “love” category, but the sensations are different and the ways I bring different types of love out into the world are different.

Having a basic “love for humanity” is different than a love relationship with an individual (at least to me).

For me, love is about a deep, layered connection that manifests differently in different situations. It means putting the other first where appropriate (unless it becomes unhealthy, in which case one can’t use “love” as the excuse to remain in a toxic situation).

To me, it does not mean martyring myself to gain control over someone else.

I do love my writing. It expands me, fulfills me, gives me a reason to keep going every day. It is how I understand the world, how I make sense of it. Through stories, characters, words.

I love my friends. I value them, I treasure them. I am willing to go the extra mile for them on multiple levels. I trust them with tender emotions, and I keep confidences and remain loyal — even during rough periods when others flee because of what strangers “think.” My friends and I have history and shared experience. Especially friends I’ve made on shows — anyone not on that particular production will have different frames of reference.

I value and cherish the friends I make online, but if I don’t have actual life experience with them, “love” (for me) is an inappropriate word. There are people that I interact with online daily or almost daily. But I’ve never met them; even if we share confidences, it’s different than sitting across the table from each other, or visiting a museum together or working on a project together. I feel affection and warmth and want to protect them and help them — but I’m doing a disservice if I call it “love.” For me, I have to have the tangible factor as well as the emotional factor.

“Falling in love” for me, has multiple facets. It’s the attraction and the excitement and the warmth and the laughter and the companionship and the sex — but there also has to be a sense of building, of being able to make a journey together, of giving each other emotional and physical breathing room. If it doesn’t grow in multiple directions, if it’s not an ever-changing, growing sense of layered commitments and interactions — not going to work. I’ve never been willing to settle for long — and the older I get, the less I’m willing to settle at all. My definition of partnership is very different than many other people’s. It’s not a judgment on them and their needs, because it’s about their lives. While I am willing to compromise on certain things, I am no willing to capitulate on others. I learned, the hard way, that it is far lonelier to be with the wrong person than to be alone.

Besides, as I writer, I need a lot of solitude. I can’t be with someone who is all over the place, needs constant stimulation and noise.

Our needs and desires change over the course of a life. We have to be aware of them, in tune with them, and honest about them. We have to strike the balance between self-care (which just happens to be last month’s topic) and martyrdom.

That sounds like I believe in order to write fully-rounded characters, we need to have hit a point of self-enlightenment most of us only dream about.

What’s great about creating characters and stories and situations is that we can experience how a variety of individuals define love, define partnership, become self-aware. They are not us; they are themselves, when we do our jobs properly. But we inhabit them while we write them, so for that period of time, we are them, and we can experience the world through their eyes and hearts.

That can help us define and decide what we want and need in our own lives.

We live vicariously through our fictional characters in early drafts of the books. Then we step back and meld the craft with the art and the emotion.

As human beings, we take what we learn from the creative process, and apply what works for us in our lives, and step out of the characters who are unhealthy.

It’s one of the reasons I love being a writer; I can live many lives, and yet still maintain a core integrity. I can also learn from other writers’ works, see worlds and experience lives through their characters eyes and souls, and come away as a better person. There’s an intimacy in reading that is very different from WATCHING a production. Reading is more internal; it touches the soul – and the heart – in a different way.

Great art (in any discipline) makes it possible for me to love more and love better.

This is why what we do is so important. Why the love we feel and bring to our creative process and then share with the audience is so vital to the overall well-being of humanity.

Our love matters.


Published in: on February 4, 2019 at 6:31 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. Jan. 28, 2019: Bringing Back the Artist Date #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, January 28, 2019
Waning Moon


How often do you do an Artist Date?

What is an Artist Date?

If you’ve ever read any of Julia Cameron’s work, you’re familiar with the concept. It is one of her tools that I find useful, although sometimes I let it slide too often.

One of my promises to myself this year is to bring back the Artist Date.

When I teach long-form workshops, that’s also one of the weekly assignments.

Her rule for the Artist Date is that it must be done on one’s own, once a week.

That’s fine, if you need the alone time. But many of us spend most of the time working alone, so sometimes we want to have companionship when we go out and do an Artist Date.

For me, the Artist Date is something I might put off doing, but which, if I commit and DO IT, will feed my soul.

Often, that means going to a museum to look at paintings or other art forms. Sometimes, it’s listening to live music or going to a play. Other times, it’s going to a bookstore to find something I didn’t know I needed, or wander through a yarn shop and find the perfect yarn for a new project. Or go to the wonderful local chocolatier and buy myself a lovely concoction.

Sometimes, it’s taking a notebook or a book and going to the beach or one of the local nature sanctuaries and just spending some time BEING there.

Committing to it once a week and doing it makes an enormous positive difference.

Yes, you might have to give something up. You have to MAKE the time for it. You know what? The laundry will still be there, waiting to be folded and put away when you get back. Or someone else in the house can take a turn helping out. Have a few hours less of television.

If you can, occasionally, take a personal day and have a daylong Artist Date where you travel somewhere you’ve always meant to go, and really give yourself a treat.

I find that making the time for a weekly Artist Date creates more pockets of time in the rest of the week. My week is less stressful and more creative when I do the date than when I skip it.

If you’ve never try it, I encourage you. If you’ve done it and let it slip away, I encourage you to reinstate it.


Published in: on January 28, 2019 at 6:16 am  Comments (2)  
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Fri. July 6, 2018: Ongoing Artists Retreat

Friday, July 06, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

I wish this darned storm would just break so we’d get some relief.

Impromptu artists’ colony continues. It’s great, I’m getting so much inspiration and things worked out on different projects. But I am behind on word count for both RELICS and DHARMA. I’m hoping that all this brainstorming and refilling the creative well will then catapult me ahead so it goes more smoothly.

Some guests were supposed to leave this afternoon, but if the weather is bad, they might leave tomorrow. The rest will leave tomorrow, heading up to their rental in Maine.

It’s one of those situations where so much is percolating that I have to figure it out for myself, before I can talk about it publicly. Some wonderful new ideas and possibilities and solutions are opening. I need to mull them over for myself first, before any sort of public brainstorming.

Next week will be stressful on site with clients, and, hopefully, I’ll catch up with the wordcount on the two books.

I needed this creative interlude, even though it puts me behind on word count. It’s also nice to talk to artists working in different disciplines,  to see new ways to looking at the world. A sculptor sees things differently than a writer than an actor than a filmmaker. There are points of intersection, but the individual lens is different. It’s so interesting!

In breaks between creating and discussion creating, I’ve been reading. I’m reading Donna Andrews’s series featuring her protagonist Meg Langslow, which are fun. There are some things that hit me the wrong way, when the author has her characters patronize the theatre profession, but, for the most part, I enjoy them.

Tried to read another book that came highly recommended, but . . .it was in present tense. I find novels written in present tense unreadable. I don’t care how famous or revered the author. I can’t stand them. I was so frustrated by page three that I stopped. Read half of another book by an author whose name I’d heard, but whose work I hadn’t read – put that down, too. The author and her protagonist were parading as “quirky” and “liberal” –while in reality, promoting racist, misogynistic views pretending to be wrapped in tolerance. Her protagonist was a nasty piece of work and not very nice – not someone I want to spend a mystery series with. Tried to read a book by a very well-known author who tried something in a new direction. Some of her other books have worked for me, some have not, as happens with a prolific author who tries new things. This didn’t do it for me – I read about three chapters, and that was it. At the same time, I applaud her for not allowing herself to be boxed in by what she’s done before.

So I haven’t had much luck on the reading front. But I just got my hands on two novels by a novelist whose newest book blew me away, so here’s hoping.

Back to my guests, to creating, to the page. I’m hoping the storm will be gone by the time I’m supposed to go to a friend’s art gallery reception tonight.


Published in: on July 6, 2018 at 8:48 am  Comments Off on Fri. July 6, 2018: Ongoing Artists Retreat  
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Wed. June 15, 2016: Running on Fumes

Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Saturday seems like a long time ago. I spent most of the days between Saturday and today writing. Some of it was outlining, because what happens a couple of books down affects how situations and characters are set up in what I’m writing now. I was happy to be deep in the work, but it’s exhausting.

Monday morning, I had a Board meeting in Buzzards Bay, then found a couple of dresses for upcoming events. I’d reached the dress shop early, so I sat in the car and wrote until it was open.

Yesterday, I wrote a complex chapter – it’s a long chapter, it took all day. It wrung out my characters both physically and emotionally, but it sets the stage, especially for one character, for the rest of his life. I was wiped out by the end of the day, too. I think readers will love it – I hope so, anyway.

It was quite the weekend, apart from writing: Creator won the Belmont Stakes, the Pittsburgh Penguins won Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the Tony Awards were on. I got so emotional during the Tonys – this year, in particular, they showed how art can change the world for the better. Especially in wake of the horrific mass shooting in Orlando.

The only reason to purchase the type of weapon currently called “assault” is to kill a human being. You can’t hunt food with it. It is NOT for protection. It is a choice to commit pre-meditated murder, even if the target has not yet been chosen. There is no place for them in a civilized society. But any society that takes Donald Trump seriously isn’t civilized.

A situation I believed was resolved reared its ugly head again. Not only was the wound re-opened (metaphorically), I discovered it festered. It will need to be drained and cauterized. I thought I was at peace with the whole thing, but I’m not.

Not a good start to the week, which will be extremely busy, but I hope I can find blocks of time to descend into the writing and make progress. I’m exhausted, on many levels, and feel like I’m out of resources.


Published in: on June 15, 2016 at 9:16 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 15, 2016: Running on Fumes  
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Monday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Still dark out
— supposed to be partly cloudy

“The Misappropriation of Talent”, the new Merry’s Dalliance story, is going very well. It’s nice to be back with Captain Kit Erskine and the crew.

It was great to be upstate — a gorgeous day with wonderful people. We got our work done and had time to relax together over great food and wine and even visit a few art galleries. Lovely.

I’m off on an adventure today — will fill you in tomorrow. Have a great day, all!


Published in: on October 27, 2009 at 4:11 am  Comments (4)  
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008
Waxing moon
Cloudy and cold

I’m exhausted, both physically and mentally. It was a busy, bittersweet roller coaster of a couple of days, and I feel like I could sleep for about a week.

The trip up on Wednesday was as smooth as could be – no traffic until we hit the Maine border. Couldn’t believe it. In fact, we got to Maine so early we couldn’t stop and eat lunch at our chosen spot in York because it was too early!

We ran some errands, did a bit of grocery shopping, grabbed a snack, and arrived at my great-uncles’s (my grandmother’s brother, don’t know the correct term, so I call him my great-uncle) early. We had a good visit, with them and with some other family.

I’d packed the dinner I cooked, heated it up, we set the table nicely, and planned a festive dinner. Unfortunately, my great-uncle wasn’t feeling well. We were pretty worried about him.

Yoga the next morning – I brought my mat, and, throughout the few days, I was grateful I’d done so. I kept going back to the mat time and time again to stay centered and focused.

My great-uncle was too ill to eat breakfast, so we tucked him in on the sofa so he could rest.

I got some writing done – a bit of work done on the first Mick Feeney story, and about a thousand words on something else, that, if it works, will be something people enjoy. I’d plotted it out in my head in the car, made some notes, and got going. I’m going to set it in a fictional town in Maine, stretching geography to stuff it in around York.

My great-uncle was too ill to attend the dinner, and we were worried about leaving him home alone, but he insisted we go on.

As usual, the dinner was wonderful. Sixty-three people attended this year. A big hall is rented, with long tables decorated and set up. Down one side of the room, the food tables are set up, buffet-style. Along the other side of the room, this year, there were two tables of desserts. And I’m talking the long trestle-tables, not some dainty end table! The kitchen is enormous (I often joke that’s the size kitchen I want), with a huge stove and plenty of counter space to prepare big meals. My job is always to mash the potatoes. Which means standing on a step stool and wielding a four foot long potato masher because the pots are so big!

Almost everyone pitches in to do something, and everyone brings food, so it’s a case of what needs to be prepared at the hall (the potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, gravy, etc.) and what comes in ready and needs to be set out (the turkey, the creamed onions, etc.). We catch up as we do it. I really need to sit down and make up a map (family tree) because I can never figure out who’s related to whom and how, and, especially with the kids, they change so much from year to year that some of them seem like complete strangers every year. Also, I’m kind of shy and sometimes being around so many people is overwhelming, so staying busy in the kitchen is a good way for me to get talking to people and also contribute something to the overall dinner.

We had a real Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon moment (if you don’t know what that means – look it up). One of the family members, now going to college at NYU (my alma mater), was in class with someone from the Broadway show on which I work occasionally. Too funny! The guy in the show was part of the original Broadway company, and had left before I arrived, but I know OF him, and it’s one of those random events that shows just how small the world really is.

The food was great, the company was great, everyone’s considerate enough to keep the drama out of it and get along. Clean-up was quick, because there are so many people to help, and you just sort of catch up on a year’s worth of life.

What surprised and touched both my mother and I was that they are all adamant we keep joining them for Thanksgiving (we’ve gone up every year since 1972, when my father died). The family up there is my grandmother’s extended family, and she included us after my father died, so it wouldn’t just be my mother and I on Thanksgiving. I missed three years in the mid-1980’s when I lived on the West Coast, and two years in the early 2000’s, when I had shows, but, other than that, we’ve got every year since the 1970s. And we did wonder if this would be our last Thanksgiving together. But, over and over again, various members came and asked us to promise to keep coming up. I’d really like to.

I’m sure they wonder why I never bring up a boyfriend, but Maine is really my sanctuary, and I’d have to be pretty convinced that anyone I brought up there was going to stick around for awhile. Also, with the men currently in my life, they were all working this year, plus, from the outside, I’m sure the relationships seem far more complex than they actually are. Too much explaining involved.

Part of the loss of my grandmother equates to feeling like my safety net is gone.

My great-uncle was a little better when we got home, but still couldn’t eat or drink anything, which concerned us. He was livelier than he’d been earlier, though, and we sat up and all had a good visit, swapping travel stories and trying to figure out how some people were related to each other. I’m telling you, I need a map!

We picked out the artwork created by my grandmother for the next day’s memorial breakfast, and I cleaned it so we could set it up in the restaurant. Went to bed pretty early, because I was tired; had hoped to get both more reading and writing done, but was just too worn out. We also figured out which of her friends still needed to be notified of the death, and we’ll help with some of that this weekend.

Up early the next morning. My great-uncle still didn’t feel well, but wanted to come to the breakfast in memory of his sister, so another relative drove him over closer to the start time, while my mom and I packed the car with our stuff and the artwork and headed over early to help set up. A cousin of my grandmother’s also came with more artwork. It turns out that many people attending didn’t even know my grandmother was an artist.

She was very talented. She could paint, draw, work in pastel, pencil, pen and ink, charcoal, etching, silkscreen, and even do some metal art. She was a wonderful portraitist She was of the age where, as a woman, family and duty were always put before pursuing dreams, and that was always a bone of contention between us, because I’ve refused to get married and take care of a man rather than create a life in the arts. I’ve been lucky to have some great men in my life; I’ve also had some not-so-great men in my life; none of them have been worth giving up the writing. Writing is breathing to me, and I’ve been ruthless in not letting anyone keep me from the page. I also take care of an elderly mother, have taken care of several friends during terminal illness, and, when my grandmother was so sick in the last years, driven back and forth as often as possible to do whatever I could do help (although it never felt like enough, especially in these last years when she needed constant care). I haven’t met someone that I felt was an equal partner on this journey on a daily basis, and I’m not willing to settle for less. I’m willing to compromise, but not capitulate. I see far too much capitulation in far too many relationships around me, and, for the most part, it’s still the woman who’s expected to give everything up to “support” the man, instead of each supporting the other. It created huge tensions between us at times, but I made the right decision for me. I believe she could have been a working artist – she was a working art teacher for years – but there was always the excuse of needing to “do” for someone else. That was her choice, and I hope it was the right one for her, although one can’t help but wonder about her untapped potential.

In any case, the breakfast was lovely. It was good to see people again and chat a bit without waving a four-foot potato masher! People got up and shared stories, and letters from others who couldn’t be there were read. So it was a happy, joyful gathering, the kind that would have made her happy. She made everything fun, like baking and gardening and canning. She taught me how to ride a bicycle. She tried to teach me how to swim, but I still can’t swim – that’s my fault, not hers. She was interested in everything.

Driving away from Maine this time, the reality that she’s no longer with us really started to hit home.

The first half of the drive was in vile weather, pouring rain. The second half of the drive was in vile traffic, especially around the malls.

We called to check on my great-uncle when we got home, and he’s feeling much better. He’s still going to the doctor this week, but at least he didn’t have to be rushed to the ER.

So: at three Wal-Marts in the area, people were seriously injured. At one Wal-Mart, an employee was trampled to death. As most of you know, I loathe Wal-Mart, and I’ll drive 150 miles out of my way rather than shop at one, because their policies disgust me so much. The disgusting type of customer they attract, the type that would trample an employee to death, is a prime example of why I loathe the store and have such a low opinion of those who shop there. I don’t care how low their prices are – where you shop, where you spend your hard-earned cash, indicates what your morals and values are – whether it’s there or anywhere else. The type of shopper Wal-Mart attracts is the type of person who tramples an employee to death and shoves rescue workers out of the way when they try to resuscitate him. In my opinion, the cops need to take the time to dissect the surveillance video, identify these bastards (run it on television if need be, someone will recognize these people), and put them away because they are a danger to society. They are murderers, and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I bet the majority of these murderers go to church every Sunday, too, and consider themselves “good Christians.” Religious hypocrisy at work, yet again.

A weak economy is not a viable excuse to murder a store employee by trampling him to death. This cannot be shrugged off.

Yet it will be, because that’s how the Bush administration’s policies have filtered down over the past eight years and all we’ve seen from the top down is that it’s okay behave with greed and avarice, no matter who gets hurt. The Bush administration led by example, encouraging people to be their worst selves.

Cats weren’t too destructive while we were gone, although a few things were knocked over, and they were happy we were back, behaving like Velcro kitties.

I got a shock when I opened the extremely late check from one of my editors – it’s unsigned. Which means I can’t deposit it. To say I am livid is an understatement. I don’t believe for one second that it was a mistake. It was a complete “fuck you” from this place. I sent a polite (barely) but terse email to her. I do not want to have to wait another two weeks for this check. I want it replaced on Monday and sent overnight. It won’t be, but hey, this will be the last time I work for them anyway. A bridge worth burning, in my opinion, especially since, financially, I am now totally screwed for the coming week. What a different experience from the last anthology on which I worked with them, where they paid promptly and pleasantly. If they’re in financial difficulty, they need to be upfront with us. Screwing us in this way is simply not acceptable.

I have to have a discussion with another editor on Monday. I’m supposed to receive royalty statements and royalties by the 20th of every month. The last royalty statement I received was in September and I’ve yet to see a penny of royalties. I know the book is selling, and I want the monies due.

I’m tired of these people jerking around writers. This is why all writers and all writing should be unionized – so payments must be made on time or else there are strong consequences.

Nothing like coming back from a few difficult emotional days to complete and utter unprofessional bullshit, right?

Busy day today. I haven’t worked on the mystery; too much on my mind. I need to get a lot done in order to hit the ground running this week and figure out a way to make up instantly the shortfall from the unsigned check.

Mark your calendar – I’m on the radio show hosted by the League of Extraordinary Paranormal Women on December 11 at 8 PM EST. It’s on blogtalk radio, so I’ll post the link, and if you can’t listen to it live, you can listen to it some other time.

Back to dealing with life.


Devon’s Bookstore:

NEW! Too Much Mistletoe A Nina Bell Holiday Mystery by Devon Ellington. Nina Bell is back! Still trying to make a living in the New York theatre world of the 1990s, she’s trying to figure out which is the bigger mystery – a college friend’s disappearance, or her ever-complicated love life, as every man she meets wants to hang mistletoe over her head. Read an excerpt here and purchase the story for only $2.99 USD here .

NEW! “The Ramsey Chase” A Remarkable Adventure of Cornelia True and Roman Gray By Devon Ellington
Meet the adventurous Cornelia True of Bodwin’s Ferry, whose life changes forever when “fixer” Roman Gray lands naked in her petunias, and they combine forces to track down a serial killer determined to murder thirteen women in thirteen months for their blood, with his latest victim right there in Bodwin’s Ferry!
Only $1.49 USD for this 10K adventure, the very first Penny’s Dreadfuls release! Read an excerpt of the adventure here.
Purchase the story here.

Free limited download
“The Possession of Nattie Filmore: A Jain Lazarus Adventure” by Devon Ellington. If you loved HEX BREAKER, you’ll love spending time with Jain and Wyatt as they try to solve a haunted house mystery. Read an excerpt of the story and download it free here

Hex Breaker
by Devon Ellington. A Jain Lazarus Adventure. Hex Breaker Jain Lazarus joins the crew of a cursed film, hoping to put to rest what was stirred up before more people die and the film is lost. Tough, practical Detective Wyatt East becomes her unlikely ally and lover on an adventure fighting zombies, ceremonial magicians, the town wife-beater, the messenger of the gods, and their own pasts.
$4.00 ebook/ $6.00 on CD from Firedrakes Weyr Publishing.
Visit the site for the Jain Lazarus adventures.

Back By Popular Demand! 30 Tips for 30 Days: Kick Start Your Novel and Get Out of Your Own Way. A Nano Handbook by Devon Ellington. FREE!
If you’ve ever wondered whether or not you could survive National Novel Writing Month, this is the handbook for you! Ideas on preparations, setting goals, overcoming blocks, pushing yourself, tips for each day of the process, and ideas for going beyond, this handbook by veteran Nano-er Devon Ellington will help you survive. Best of all, it’s free! Download it here.
Limited time offer
Sensory Perceptions: Techniques to Improve Your Writing Through the Six Senses by Devon Ellington. Use the six senses to take your writing to the next level via a series of sense-specific exercises. By the end of seven weeks, you complete seven short stories!. $1.29 USD. Here.

5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.

Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on November 29, 2008 at 8:09 am  Comments (4)  
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