Wed. Sept. 28, 2022: Creative Overload (In a Good Way)

image courtesy of Christian Dorn via pixabay.com

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

The last week of Mercury Retrograde is always crushing, but with all these other retrogrades piled on, it’s rough going.

I did admin and marketing in the morning, and did not get another episode of Legerdemain written, and that threw my day out of synch.

I left early for the meeting at the television station, in case I got lost. Of course I did, but I eventually found it. They are a very small staff, but very nice. The studio is far better equipped than I expected – even with green screen capabilities, and there’s a lot of flexibility within the space. The radio component is smaller, but also quite good.

It gave me fuel for several different projects. They need to percolate, and then I can write up proposals if any of them are viable. I also have to look into sources of funding, especially for the radio plays. Maybe that’s something I can hit up the cultural council for next year.

I made notes on Ink-Dipped Advice posts into the beginning of December. Now, to sit down and actually write them!

I meant to sit down and do the script coverage. Really, I did. But I decided to take a look at my Play Script Tracker sheet in Excel, and update it with “The Little Woman” and “Inspired By.” That led me to looking at calls for submission, which led me back to some of the earlier plays which are actually ready to go out, and I wound up submitting 5 plays. Which took much longer than it should have, mostly because I realized how few plays have synopses ready to go. I broke one of my own Submission Systems rules, and I paid for it.

Another thing to go on the list: Make sure every play has a blurb AND a synopsis. The blurbs are already up on the Pages on Stages site, but I need the synopsis ready for when it’s called.

A friend contacted me about a collaboration over the winter, which sounds like a ton of fun. I was in touch with another friend, who has both a new novel and a new screenplay he’d love some feedback on, so we’ll get that set up.

By that time, The Authors Guild Seminar on serials started. I did not realize that an author whose work both my mom and I have read extensively was the pseudonym for the chair of English at a major university (and a Board member). So, that was fun. There were two Vella authors, one Substack fiction author, and heads of Vella and Substack. 

I knew most of the information about structuring a serial, etc. I mean, I’ve written serials for decades, off and on. I was interested that Vella has more flexibility with driving readers to other sites (it says, in the guidelines, one can’t). Yet the authors are listing their websites and Facebook groups and other work in their author notes.

So I will start doing that, too. If they send it back for removal, so be it, but at least I’ll try.

The information on gaining traction was too vague for my taste. Great, success stories about tens of thousands of hits and people making the serial their day job. But what are the nuts and bolts of gaining traction? Especially if the price of Amazon ads is out of reach? That was not answered to my satisfaction.

Substack’s pitch interested me. I had not looked at it in terms of fiction. The pitch was very strong, and the author chosen to speak was a ton of fun, and I am definitely signing up for her material. I think I will poke around the site and sign up for a few things and see what it’s about. I might put EARTH BRIDE and REP serials up there, and have LEGERDEMAIN and ANGEL HUNT on Vella and do a comparison study.

The Substack people also offered more nuts-and-bolts information on growing audience, which was helpful.

Also, Substack is international. A strong portion of my readership is international, and therefore shut out of all things Vella. Having work on Substack  would give them entry.

After all that, it was time to make dinner. I did colcannon tricked out with leek, pancetta, and lots of shredded cheese on top. It was wonderful.

I should have done script coverage after, but by then, it was 9 PM, and I was too damn tired.

So today will be a long day. I have to do follow-up on yesterday, work on LEGERDEMAIN, and catch up on script coverage. There’s more I should do – maybe I’ll sneak in a post or two of Ink-Dipped – but LEGERDEMAIN and script coverage need to be the main focus.

The television/radio stuff can percolate for a few days, before I actually write up those proposals and contact those I want involved, but I will send the thank you out today.

I’m worried about my friends and colleagues in Florida, in the path of Hurricane Ian. Let’s hope the storm decreases in intensity and/or veers into the sea.

Have a good one, friends.

Tues. Sept. 20, 2022: The Boostered Couch Potato

image courtesy of Agata via Pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Yup, Mars is still in Gemini (until March 2023)

Cloudy and cooler

Anyone else find all these retrogrades exhausting?

This will be short, because it was close to a Lost Weekend. Not due to alcohol (hopefully, I’ve matured beyond that by now). Due to Covid Shot #5, the bivalent booster.

I got it on Friday morning, at good ole Stop & Shop. It hurt. My arm hurt immediately. My mom drove us home. She hasn’t driven much here in the Berkshires since we’ve moved (and her license is good until she’s 101).

I was woozy, but not too bad, for most of the day. I’d blocked it off for rest, so I spent the day on the couch, reading. I read Kwana Jackson’s KNOT AGAIN, the second book in her series about a group of foster brothers who inherit their foster mother’s knitting shop in Harlem and are determined to keep it a community hub. The series is a lot of fun.

I didn’t feel bad until about 12 hours after the shot. Then, it hit. I’d gotten steadily colder during the afternoon, but by 12 hours post shot, I was so cold I was, very literally, shaking. That was a new and different reaction. I piled quilts and cats on the bed, did a hot water bottle, and snuggled in.

That warmed me up, but I was awake most of the night with terrible body aches, headaches, and nausea, but I couldn’t muster the strength to get out of bed to get the Tylenol.

I finally managed to hoist myself out of bed around 11 AM on Saturday and took Tylenol, which helped, although I continued to feel nauseated. Again, new and different. Usually, I am all kinds of hungry after the shot.

I spent Saturday on the couch, reading and dozing. I read Roselle Lim’s SOPHIE GO’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB, which was delightful. I do love her books so much.

I barely ate anything all day (just some chicken soup), drank a lot of black-raspberry-flavored water, and hot tea when I started getting cold again. I alternated between a slight fever and chills.

I went to bed at 7:15.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me up at 5 AM on Sunday. I had a blazing headache, which makes sense, since I hadn’t had any coffee the day before (just the thought made me queasy, and rarely do I skip coffee). I made coffee, fed everything, retired to the couch.

Where I spent the day.

I read Michelle Sagara’s CAST IN SHADOW, which I really liked. It was published in 2005, and there are 16 books in the series, so I have a lot of pleasurable reading ahead of me. Not sure how I missed it back then, but I’ve found it now, and am happy about it.

In one of my half-dozed states, I figured out the climactic sequence and resolution for ANGEL HUNT. It’s quite different than I originally planned (I am sure), but I’m using what I’ve learned about craft and character in the ensuing years, so I believe it’s stronger.

I also worked out a few threads for LEGERDEMAIN. Let’s hope they haven’t fled when I sit down to write!

I decided that I’m not going to the Authors Guild Festival in Lenox next weekend due to lack of COVID protocols. They’re taking the cowardly “Masks recommended but not required” which means having high numbers means more to them than having healthy attendees. Nope. Not doing it. To say I am disappointed in them is an understatement. I emailed them on Monday, releasing my tickets (so someone else can take the risk) and telling them why. Rather than going there, getting upset, and leaving, I will withdraw now. Because, fuck you, you CANNOT be in a seminar claiming you give two shits about equality and justice when you can’t be bothered to wear a piece of cloth over your face for an hour. That’s hypocrisy. I won’t condone it or be around it. At least 500 people are dying a DAY. That calls for stricter protocols, not fewer, and I have zero tolerance for cowards.

I started re-reading A MURDER OF MAGES by Marshall Ryan Maresca, which remains one of my favorite books ever. I’m re-reading the whole Maradine Constabulary series, and then probably all his Maradine books. They hold up.

Monday, I woke up feeling semi-human. Still not great. Fed the cats, caught up on the journal, went back to the page. Typed up the notes for ANGEL HUNT’S climactic sequence. The notes were 2K, so the sequence will be long, and then cut. I made a placeholder for the resolution saying “figure it out” which will bite me in the butt, but hey.

I was saddened by an email that the yoga studio is closed for a couple of weeks, because the owner came down with COVID. This is the one place I felt safe indoors, because everyone had to have proof of vaccination. And still . . .just proves there’s no safe place outside of home.

Wednesday, we have to “activate” our new debit cards with Greylock Federal Credit Union. Having the entire base activate their debit cards on the same day during Mercury Retrograde would be a clusterfuck even if they didn’t always get everything wrong the first time. Not looking forward to it.

I was going to run some errands, but I had a slight fever, so I decided to stay home.

After typing up and printing out my notes for the rest of ANGEL HUNT, I went back and adapted chapters two and three of the third draft into Episodes 9-15 of the serial. The pace is good, it works structurally. I mean, it was designed to be a serial, then adapted into a novel, so adapting back isn’t all that much of a stretch. These episodes are shorter than the original episodes. So far, they are all under 1K, except for one of them, and shorter than LEGERDEMAIN’s episodes. I want to look at the contrasting metrics for the two serials, especially during the stretch they run concurrently.

I should have switched over to script coverage, although I am fine with my deadlines. Instead, I went back and re-read all of ANGEL HUNT. It holds together, I’m happy to say, but I can see why I stopped where I did. I spun out multiple arcs when it looked like the serial would continue indefinitely. When it was clear the company was in decline, I tried to tie things up before the company collapsed, but was not able to do so. When I adapted, I had some good ideas, but didn’t know how to pull it all together without cheating an arc or going on for too long.

Hopefully, in the intervening years, I’ve developed the craft to fix that. We’ll see, won’t we?

I was starting to think, between the climactic sequence and the resolution, I might have as much as 8K left to write, but I think I can keep it within the original 5K vision.

So I guess that’s what I’m doing later this week, when I’m not doing client work.

Shelley, over at LEGERDEMAIN, is tapping her foot with impatience.

I stayed up way too late re-reading A MURDER OF MAGES. I have no regrets.

This morning, I am up and out of the house early, headed to the Berkshire Law Library in Pittsfield, where their librarian will point me toward the books on banking law in 1957 for the retro mystery. I am thoroughly looking forward to it.

On my way back, I’m getting in some groceries, doing the errands I didn’t do yesterday, and getting in some cash, in case the whole banking think goes cattywampus tomorrow, as is inevitable.

Speaking of LEGERDEMAIN, Episode 17 drops today. I hope you enjoy it.

Tues. June 21, 2022: Creativity in Multiple Directions

image courtesy of Chris Martin via pixabay.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)

Cloudy and pleasant

Friday turned out to be an up and down workday. I spent some time working the class I’m teaching in August, preparing both the Topic Workbook for it and the PowerPoint. Some of my examples have not aged well over the past couple of years, so I’m switching them out.

I hopped onto Pages on Stages to do some updates, and it was an absolute mess. The posts page had somehow detached from News & Updates. Most of the time, I got the white screen of death when I tried to get on or switch pages.

I was lucky to land some excellent techs at A2Hosting, and together, we spent a couple of hours sorting it out. I am very grateful, and told them directly, and on social media. Hey, if I’m going to moan on social media when a company is awful, I have the obligation to praise when a company comes through.

I need to put up a media room page on that site eventually, with links to productions.

I did a library run to drop off/pick up books. It started raining when I left (on foot). I almost turned back, but it stopped within two minutes, so I continued.

Turned around a script in the afternoon. My Llewellyn contract came through, so I’m good to go on that article after 4th of July weekend.

I’m playing with a very dark idea for an anthology call edited by a friend. I don’t know if I can pull it off within word count by deadline, but I will try.

Reading an article in THE NEW YORKER about a new production of HAMLET spawned an idea for a new project that mashes up two genres that seem weird, but just might work. I have to finish what I’m working on first, though, before I hie off on anything else. I made some notes, to capture characters and energy, and now that project has to wait its turn.

Tessa started howling at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday. I moved to the sewing room, but she was not mollified. We no longer leave her food down at night for her 2 AM snack, because the others are eating it, and Willa is putting on too much weight. However, Madame Tessa Is Not Amused. She wants her 2 AM snack.

Got the proof done on “Personal Revolution”, fixed a couple of formatting things, and it is out. The re-release happens June 28. Once I get links and stuff, there will be a push for it.

Now, I have to decide what’s the next Digital Delight to come off Smashwords and switch over to D2D. Probably “Severance.” I want a new cover for that, too. Or maybe I’ll take down “Plot Bunnies” and put it up with the next Twinkle Tavern piece that hasn’t yet released, “Labor Intensive.”

Headed to the Farmers’ Market. I didn’t need much, but made the rounds to chat with the vendors; ran into people I knew from other spaces, such as the library, and we were chatting as to how it’s often hard to place people out of context. You know that you know them from somewhere. . .

Quick grocery shop from the store. Didn’t need much. Home, put it all away, lugged 66 pounds of cat litter up the stairs (Chewy delivery).

Then, I spent the rest of the day trying to put together the kitchen island cart I ordered. I wasn’t even close to finishing after 6 hours (it’s supposed to take 2 people 70 minutes). The directions were incomplete, so I had to hunt for another set online. The drawings aren’t detailed enough with some of the pieces, so then I had to find various videos of similar pieces to figure out the details, so I wouldn’t put something on incorrectly and have to take it apart again.  And the design is so poor that, by following the directions, I had no room to maneuver the tools needed to tighten the next thing in the directions. Very frustrating.

If I ever get it put together, I think it will be a decent piece, though.

Used bounty from the Farmers’ Market to make a pasta primavera in Alfredo sauce (and used our own basil for it).

Started reading a biography of Balzac, before I go and re-read some of the novels.

By evening, every damn thing hurt and I went to bed ridiculously early. I slept well, dreaming of various gardens, which was rather nice.

Worked on an ad and other promotional materials for the re-release of “Personal Revolution” on Sunday. Started getting the pre-order buy links. I’m adding them onto the various websites as I get them. The release is holding to June 28.

Played with some other graphic tools to try to get comfortable. Since I can’t seem to do all of what I need with any single tool, I’m learning how to mix and match bits of what I want to do in different programs to get to the whole. It’s actually less irritating that trying to figure out a single program.

Made a logo for the project inspired by the article yesterday. If THAT’s not putting the cart before the horse and all, right? But it gave me an excuse to play with learning something new.

Worked on the newsletter. If you haven’t yet signed up for it, you can do so here. It will go out later this week. And, hint – in the newsletter, I reveal what The Big Project is really all about! So if you’re interested in finding out what I’ve been yapping about for months, calling it “the Big Project” you will find out before the hoi-polloi.

I created a bunch of ads for the Big Project, too, and they are really cool. I’m having way too much fun creating these ads. I’m trying to capture the voice of the piece in the ads.

One of the best things I started doing is opening a new document for the upcoming newsletter and adding information on projects over the course of the quarter. That way, I don’t have to scramble to remember what I did, and what I want to talk about.

Made more vegetable stock. Because buying all these vegetables from the market means I have lots of bits and bobs left over for stock. Not at a zero waste kitchen yet, but working on it.

Most of the day was spent on working on things around The Big Project, which will save me time and effort once it launches in July. It was a lot of fun.

I couldn’t face the kitchen island cart on Sunday. I needed the time away.

Slept well Sunday into Monday. Got caught up on some blogging, and blogged ahead. There’s a post on healing over on the GDR site, if you’re interested.

Planted some of the borage seeds and more cat grass. Got through nearly 400 emails. Sent out two LOIs. Worked on an anthology story.

The Authors Guild is doing a Words, Ideas, and Thinkers Festival this September over in Lenox, which is close by. Well, okay, about an hour, but just about everything is at least an hour away. They sent me an invite to attend, and I accepted. It’s in the calendar. I mean, if the COVID numbers are way up again at that point, I’ll cancel, but I know the venue, and they have good protocols in place. I’m hoping it will be safe to attend. I’m sure I’ll be masked, no matter what.

Since I didn’t have any scripts in my queue, I spent the afternoon on the porch, reading the next book for review. This morning, I will send off the review, and hopefully get assigned the next book before my editor goes on vacation.

Made a sausage pasta for dinner, and it was yummy. We have plenty of leftovers for the week (most of them pasta).

The B plotline has switched with the A plotline in the anthology story. It makes it a quieter story, and I hope the editor doesn’t feel it no longer fits the tone of the overall anthology. We’ll see. It’s for a created world, so it’s not like I could use it anywhere else if it’s rejected, not without major, major re-envisioning. But trying to force it the other way wasn’t working. All I can do is send in the best piece I can to this point, and then get notes on it, and apply them.

The other anthology story I need to get out by the end of the month is percolating in the back of my brain. I’ll be making the bed or chopping onions, sorting through plot possibilities: If I do A, with D work, or should I go with E? That type of thing. Hopefully, once the shared world story is out, I will have figured out enough of the other piece to just sit down and draft.

Slept well last night, although I woke up about every two hours (similar to what I was doing last year at this time). By 3 AM, Charlotte and Tessa were fussing. They woke me from a dream where I was temping at a company. I’d brought in blueberry muffins. Their kitchen/breakroom was stacked high with empty/used takeout containers and dirty dishes. They told me to clean the kitchen. I told them I was there to type, not be the maid. They laughed and said they couldn’t get any of the wives to come in and clean. I told them maybe they should stop being sexist and  learn to clean up after their own damn selves.

That definitely happened to me more than once in my temping years, but I didn’t recognize this company or these people. Something about the dream made me think it took place in Chicago, and I never temped in Chicago. New York, Westchester, San Francisco, Seattle, yeah. Chicago, no.

I moved to the couch. Charlotte settled on top of me, Tessa rummaged. I dozed off and dreamed about more boxes (echoes of the move, no doubt). Willa woke me around 5:30, telling me she was Very Hungry, so I got up and fed them.

Plenty to do today, even without scripts in the queue, although I hope some more show up, so I can make my goal this pay period.

Last year today was the day the movers were supposed to show up and did not. I am glad we are where we are (and that it isn’t as hot as it was at this point last year, either).

I have every intention of enjoying the Summer Solstice, even though it’s supposed to rain.

Have a good one.