Friday, December 14, 2018: Deliveries and Cards and . . .

Friday, December 14, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Busy day yesterday. My friend’s cat turned up, which was great news. He’d been hiding inside the house and sauntered out when he was good and ready.

Some remote client work, some work on THE LINGERIE TRAIL and a couple of other projects. All humming along nicely.

Caught up on some reading in the afternoon. I’ve now read three books in a series by a particular author. I LOVED the first book. The second book angered me, because it reinforced negative female tropes that are destructive to keep reinforcing. The third book was good, but not a single female character was positive. Even the women who are called “kind” or “responsible” are also described as “ugly” or “plain” or “hags.”

The only conclusion I can draw from this body of work is that this male author has serious problems with women. The writing is good, but he’s a misogynist. I tried to excuse it because of the historical context; but the books, over and over again, reinforce the misogynism instead of pointing it out and fighting against it. That bothers me.

Wrote about a third of my holiday cards last night. Large grocery shop this morning, then more cookie platter deliveries, then time at the library, then the hunt for more fruitcake mix so I can make stollen tomorrow.

The post office, the library, and my lovely firemen were all thrilled with their cookie platters.

This afternoon is about writing and decorating and finishing the cards — early on. I have plans this evening.

Busy weekend ahead of baking, decorating, writing, and delivering more cookie platters.

I can’t believe the holidays are almost here!

A new friend gifted me with a paperwhite. I’ve always wanted one, but never got around to buying it for myself. I never mentioned it in any of our conversations; it just happened to be the gift he gave. Very sweet.

Back to the stove — and to the page!

Published in: on December 14, 2018 at 11:20 am  Comments Off on Friday, December 14, 2018: Deliveries and Cards and . . .  
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Tues. Dec. 11, 2018: Spontaneity, Baking, and Writing

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Busy weekend.

I gave myself the weekend off from most writing, more so I wouldn’t get frustrated than anything else.

I wanted to start the baking marathon on Friday, but I made spontaneous arrangements to go get a drink with someone and it turned into dinner, and then suddenly it was after 8 PM, so that was that.

I needed the break, and it was so nice to do something spontaneously. I thought, when I left NYC, with all the scheduling and enforced busy-ness, that away from NY, life would have more room for spontaneity. But people here aren’t interested in doing anything outside of their set routines, most of the time. Not only is it a non-reciprocal culture, it’s an un-spontaneous one. People don’t want to play or have fun.

There never “is” time for any of that. You have to make it. You have to seize the opportunity.

So, when I had the chance, so to do, I did.

It figures the person with whom this happened is only visiting here, not a resident.

Anyway, Saturday began the baking marathon. 19 dozen cookies (two kinds). With a pause when the landlord came to fix the garage door, and then roasting a chicken.

Sunday, another 22 dozen cookies (two more kinds) and the first batch of cupcakes.

I’d done a grocery run in the morning to pick up a few more things I needed for baking. The young grocery clerk asked if I was making fruitcake. I said no, I was making stained glass cupcakes. He’d never heard of that, and I said it was because I created them. I explained the recipe, and he thought it sounded really cool.

So, after the batch was done, when I went out to meet a friend for a walk on the beach, I dropped some off to him. It brightened his day.

Finished watched the French drama THE DISAPPEARANCE. Really well done, and the difference in storytelling technique is fascinating.

Monday morning started on a sour note; more calls for “civility.” Of course, from privileged white men. Sorry, not playing that game. Not being civil to people who are trying to kill me, physically or legislatively. Done.

It’s even more frustrating when the ones who start pulling the crap are the ones who pretended to support us in the fight in the first place.

I know people struggle during the holidays. I’m happy to offer a loving hand and friendship. What I’m not willing to do is get dragged down into their misery. I value my holidays and hold that happiness sacred. I’m tired of people wanting to destroy other people’s happiness.

Granted, that’s a major part of the GOP platform, but even so-called resistors try to do the same too often. We all resist in our own way. I do not expect everyone to bend to my way; I do expect the respect not to bend to someone else’s way.

Worked with a client, which was challenging. But we got through it.

Had a couple of other appointments, then started delivering the cookie platters, and also had to do some admin work.

Today will be another challenging day. My patience is wearing thin.

Then it’s more decorating, and working on the cards. I’m behind where I need to be with them.

And getting some writing done.

In two projects I’m playing with, the characters who were supposed to fall in love with each other fell in love with other characters who are better suited. So I’m going with the flow. This is especially true in one piece, where the man has a pattern of falling in love with toxic women. Instead of folding to the trope of him finally recognizing the worthwhile woman is just that — worthwhile — he’s going to keep repeating his pattern of falling for toxic women (and expecting her to pick up the pieces when he’s hurt), but she will move on to someone who is worthy of her. Not settle for the good guy, nor does she keep herself mired in a pattern with her ex — she genuinely grows away from him.

In the other piece, he wants her because she’s thrown him a lifeline, but she knows they aren’t suited. So she navigates gently, so as not to hurt him, while unexpectedly falling for someone else, and it opens the way for him to fall in love with someone who is good for him, too.

I think both of those are more realistic and healthier than the usual tropes.

We’ll see how it works when the piece is done, and then edited, and then revised.

 

Published in: on December 11, 2018 at 6:24 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 11, 2018: Spontaneity, Baking, and Writing  
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Mon. Dec. 3, 2018: The Infamous Cookie Platters #Upbeatauthors

Monday, December 3, 2018
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

#upbeatauthors — Thriftiness — The Infamous Cookie Platters

christmas-cookies-2975570_1920

Some people look at thriftiness as being cheap, or not valuing the person on the receiving end of that thrift. Far too many people believe that the value of a relationship can be measured by the financial value of gifts exchanged.

I disagree. I would rather receive a gift given from the heart with some thought to it of a lesser monetary value, but a greater “heart value” than something expensive.

As a freelancer with a budget, I have to be careful with my holiday budget. Well, with any budget, but the holidays always put a special stress on it.

I’m a big holiday card person. I believe in writing and mailing cards. I don’t do a typed letter that I print out and stuff in; I handwrite notes on each cards. I’ve had years, when I worked on numerous shows in numerous locations, where I wrote and mailed nearly 500 cards; in the last few years, it’s closer to 75.

I love receiving cards, too. Our family tradition is to hang red velveteen ribbons around the doorways and windows in our house. (To be thrifty, I buy the ribbons on sale in bulk at an art supply store when they’re on sale, cut them to fit, take them down and wind them on marked spools for “doors” and “windows” so I can re-use them for years). We then fasten the cards we receive to the ribbons around the doorways. It’s lovely to look up from wherever we sit and have a reminder of friends and loved ones.

But what I’m known for, around the holidays, are my cookie platters. Every season, I bake about 1000 cookies and several dozen small cakes or cupcakes, and put them together in large platters that I deliver to neighbors, clients, the firehouse, the library, the guys at the transfer station, the yoga studio, postal workers, etc., etc.

This is actually a thrifty way to show these individuals that they matter to me (handmade, baked from scratch goodies) while not breaking the bank.

How do I do it?

I’m organized.

I decide, over the summer, which cookies I’ll make. There are either four or five varieties, and they have to be the kind that don’t go bad after three days (although, to be fair, once the platters are delivered, they are devoured pretty quickly).

Thanksgiving weekend, I sit down with the recipes, paper and pen, and make a list. How many platters do I need? It’s usually between 18-24. How many batches of each type of cookie does that need? Instead of doubling or tripling the recipes themselves, I make batches — the quality is better.

I sit down with the recipes and figure out how much of each ingredient I need. I usually start stock piling staples in autumn, and purchase the eggs, milk, butter, etc., as I need it. I start stockpiling parchment paper and wax paper in autumn, too.

I set aside several days, and bake one type of cookie each day, starting with the cookie that keeps best. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a variety of excellent tins in which to store the cookies; they are cleaned and sterilized at the end of each season, and then, again, before I start baking.

Before I start each batch, I check to make sure I have all the ingredients I need. If not, I run out to the store and get them. There were too many years where I ran out of something in the middle of the recipe and had to run out, leaving partial batter in a bowl!

The last thing I make are the small cakes or cupcakes. I make them either the night before delivery, or the day of delivery.

Everything is baked, stored, marked.

Now, I create the assembly line for the platters. I usually prep 3 platters at a time, using the oval Chinet-thickness platters. I put the cakes in the middle, and arrange the different types of cookies around them.

Then, I slide the platter into a large cookie bag (or I use cellophane, the type used for florists and gift baskets). I’m in the process of designing a more eco-friendly type of bag with my own designs on it, but haven’t yet perfected it. I close it with a twist tie, then add a gift tag with a thin ribbon. The gift tag either lists the cookies, or I have a cheat sheet with photos of each type of cookie that I include. I don’t use nuts in any of the cookies I give as gifts, and I make sure to say so. Once the tag is fastened, I use a yard of organza ribbon in either red or green to tie a large, flowing bow, and add a candy cane to the bow.

I plot my route for deliveries. I usually do two or three sets of deliveries. I walk the platters over to the neighbors. My favorite thing to do is to leave it at the door, so they find a treat when they come home; however, I’ve lived here long enough that they start watching for me, so they can invite me in!

I do my deliveries, and I’m done! Time for eggnog, with a good dose of rum in it. Except for the postal carriers who come to the house. We’re a weird little set of streets, and different carriers hit us on different days. So I make small packets, tucked into holiday-themed Chinese-food style containers, and give them out from the Solstice through New Year’s, whenever we have a different one.

I make sure to have enough cookies left over in case we need to put together another platter, or we are invited to a party and bring something, and so we can enjoy some ourselves! In other words, I usually make at least one batch more than I believe I’ll need.

By October, people start asking if I’m doing the cookie platters again this year, and what will be in them. I keep several of the old favorites, like tollhouse and molasses spice, but change up the other types.

By keeping my eyes open for sales on ribbon, platters, paper, etc., all year, and then stockpiling as certain items that hold freshness go on sale, I can create the platters on a budget, and still let the recipients know they are valued.

Published in: on December 3, 2018 at 6:56 am  Comments (1)  
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Thurs. Nov. 29, 2018: Sick, but Writing

Thursday, November 29, 2018
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

I’m still sick, at least as far as coughing and exhaustion goes.

I cancelled out of the networking event this morning, because I’m in no shape to make a good impression.

Work with the client yesterday was fine, and then I came home, exhausted.

I wrote 7 pages in longhand on INNATE POWER, a new fantasy novel that tugs at me (I wrote the outline on Monday, I believe, while I was home sick).

Today’s plans are to write a few pages on INNATE POWER, at least a chapter on the latest draft of BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, at least once scene on the anti-gun violence play, a few blog posts, and some LOIs.

I need to get back to decorating, too. The boxes are stacked all over the place; they need to be emptied and the contents put where they need to go.

This weekend, I plan to dig into the writing, the decorating, and write the overseas holiday cards.

As soon as I’m not sick, I’ll start the holiday baking, because baking when I’m sick would be eww.

Navigating a new friendship with someone very different from me, and we have to learn to communicate on the same plane. On some levels, we understand each other very well; on others, not at all. Mercury in retrograde doesn’t help, either. Patience and caution are key. This person is serving as a muse on several projects, and that gets tricky. Some people like it; some feel used. But the truth is, if you know me on any level, you will be absorbed into the work somehow.

Working on my GDRS for next year, and looking at my list for this month and next month. I wish I didn’t feel such an overwhelming exhaustion, which is worsened by the administrative corruption in DC.

But the next few days are about the writing, so it’s back to the page.

And planning some holiday marketing campaigns!

 

Published in: on November 29, 2018 at 9:53 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Nov. 29, 2018: Sick, but Writing  
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Tues. Dec. 12, 2017: The Aftermath of the #HolidayBakingFrenzy

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend, but, at this time of year, when is it not?

Another 270 gallons of leaves raked on Friday, and two trips to the dump to get everything out. The front is done. I still have the side yards, the terraced back, and the meadow, which will be done piecemeal as weather allows.

I put up the exterior decorations. Two strands of NEW lights — as in I bought them last year — aren’t working. So, when I went to replace them — of course, the place I bought them is sold out.

Also did important things like re-stock the cat food and cat litter.

Had great discussions with several webhosts. One, in particular, looks like it has everything I need, is reliable, and has good customer service, at a price I can afford. In fact, I’ll save quite a bit if I use them. Not only that, but I’ll be able to post my book covers and media kits and, you know, the things that make it possible for me to earn a living.

Another host was helpful, but I’m not tech-savvy enough to use their services.

Several other hosts haven’t bothered to answer the questions I sent. Which knocks them right out of consideration. This was, after all, an audition.

And my current host is just useless. On social media, insisting they are eager to make things right. But when I actually interact with them, they are cruel, condescending, and useless.

The holly walk at Ashumet was cancelled on Saturday, due to weather. So the weekend turned into a baking marathon. On Saturday, I prepped the rolled sugar cookies and the molasses spice cookies, which had to be chilled overnight. Then, I prepped and baking 15 dozen tollhouse cookies, 12 dozen oatmeal-currant cookies, and 13 dozen orange cranberry cookies. Baked, cooled, packed.

Every year, I swear I’ll buy chef’s clogs for the baking marathon, because standing and working causes excruciating pain in my lower back, hips, knees, and feet. Every year, I put it off and regret it. This year is no different. Hopefully, I’ve learned from my mistakes!

I was exhausted and in a lot of pain Saturday night. Yet, at the same time, I enjoyed the process of the day. I truly enjoyed the baking.

I also used some of the time (when I wasn’t intentionally being mindful — how’s that for being redundant?) to work out plot points on several pieces on which I’m working.

Sunday, up early, and an extra long yoga session, which helped stretch out the kinks. Then, it was back to baking.

Rolled sugar cookies first. Nightmare. I simply cannot do the volume necessary with this type of cookie in the time frame I have. This is the last year I’ll do them for the platters. I’ll do them for us in the coming years, but not for the platters.

Molasses spice next, which was fine. Takes time, rolling them and flattening them, but they’re fine.

12 dozen sugar cookies, 14 dozen molasses spice.

Because the mint chocolate brownie recipes didn’t work, I went back to the raspberry chocolate chip recipe, only as a cupcake, not a cake. I did the first 3 dozen cupcakes. They’re messy, but good.

Once the sugar cookies cooled, had to decorate them, then pack up everything. And put them in the coolers so they stay fresh and cold.

Yesterday, the cookie platters started moving out. I need to get them out in the next
few days.

Published in: on December 11, 2017 at 2:18 pm  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 12, 2017: The Aftermath of the #HolidayBakingFrenzy  
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Wed. Nov. 6, 2017: Keeping On Keeping On

Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy few days.

My late-paying client turned out to be a life-saver, paying me for the month that was late and the monies not due until the end of December. That will go to car repairs. I’d hoped to have money to adopt another cat before the end of the year, but no such luck. Guess Tessa’s not getting a new friend until the new year!

Work on SERENE AND DETERMINED is going slowly, but going. My deadline to turn in the play is the end of the year. I’d hoped to get in in sooner, but it’s slow. When the information on someone indicates she was determined to keep a lack of drama in her life so that she could focus on her art, well, it’s difficult to dramatize! 🙂

But it’s been a joy to immerse myself in Renaissance art for a year. I learned a lot, but there’s still so much more to learn!

The idea for the Winter holiday short that goes out with the newsletter that will go out early next week hit me in the shower yesterday. I have the characters, the situation, the story. Now, if I can only keep it to under 1000 words! I wanted it to be 500 words, but I doubt I can do it justice in that.

Got more lights up, and the Santa collection out. Still have to decorate the back room and my office. Things get a little elaborate in my office.

Also have to start the baking and finish the cards this week. Too much to do, too few hours in the day. Just like everyone else.

This morning was the joy of a candy-filled shoe! I love the morning after St. Nicholas Night! Yum yum!

Lots to do with my clients.

Busy time.

I’ll be blogging late tomorrow; National Grid is coming in to change out the meter, and then I have yoga.

Be well, be kind. Remember, Mercury is retrograde!

Published in: on December 6, 2017 at 3:32 am  Comments Off on Wed. Nov. 6, 2017: Keeping On Keeping On  
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Tues. Nov. 14, 2017: Writing and Releases

Savasana at Sea Cover Choice 1

Savasana at Sea release on November 15. Buy your copy here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to read about tomorrow’s release, Savasana at Sea!

Quite the weekend.

Friday was frustrating, because I was tired. I managed to get some decent writing done for a client and sent off the materials. I got as much as I could done online, but there were a lot of distractions.

I worked bringing in the rest of the plants that need to overwinter. Some rearrangement had to happen in the house, in order for them to fit; the rest, which overwinter in the garage, are now settled. There’s a kalachoe that’s infested with some sort of bug that I’m leaving out, in the hopes of killing the bugs in the frost; but we may end up losing that one. Which is a shame, because it’s a beautiful plant. I’m letting the Datura die back naturally.

Did some research for a couple of upcoming projects, but, frankly, by Friday afternoon, my brain was too tired to be particularly productive.

I worried that the version of SAVASANA that’s dropping next week is the latest ARC, and not the final corrected draft. I was having difficulty making sure it was the correct version, and had to ask them for help. We’re going through enough as it is without the wrong version of the book releasing. But it’s all good.

Saturday, ran some errands early. Then did six loads of laundry, scrubbed the house from top to bottom, baked six dozen tollhouse cookies, and roasted a maple-cranberry glazed chicken. Which, by the way, is becoming one of our favorite recipes.

Started playing with a new idea. Not sure if it’s a single book, or if there will be several books, or if it will be a flat-out series. It has to do with aging gracefully and making different decisions at one age than at another. The working title is so awful I’m not even sharing it. I’m using it privately until I come up with something better. Wrote about 8 pages (2000 words). It starts slower than I expected, and I may wind up cutting some of the beginning, but that’s where I need to start it in order to make sense of its world. I’m also building my “ideal” small community in the book — which isn’t to say it’s perfect. There’s definitely a dark side.

Also did notes for another book that would become a series if I can pull it off, set shortly after WWII. I’ve set several things in that time period; this shares some of them, but also goes beyond it, because it moves into the period of rapid change in the fifties and sixties. We’ll see if it’s an idea that flares out, or if it has potential. I like the core characters. I think I can do some good things with them.

Sunday, wrote a bit on THE MARRIAGE GARDEN. I feel like I have to type up most of Willow’s section before I can effectively work on Doug’s. There’s a lot of cross-referencing and same-situation-from-different point-of-view stuff, and it’s too hard to navigate in longhand.

Wrote ten more pages on the aging novel.

Managed to get a little bit of yard work in before the rain started.

In the afternoon, I went to a healing sound meditation class at the yoga center down the street. As someone who is highly sensitive to sound (I have a condition called “hyperaccussis”, as well as “misophonia”), I thought it would be good to be around positive sound instead of the damn repetitive machine sounds that make me want to choke someone with the cord of the leaf blower.

The session was terrific, but intense. It took awhile to get back to normal after, and driving was definitely a challenge! But I sure as heck slept well on Sunday night!

Monday was cold and rainy. The septic tank was pumped out. I did some prep for my client meetings and some writing.

I also wrote the opening for SERENE AND DETERMINED, the Lavinia Fontana play, and I’m on a roll. Working out most of it in my head ahead of time works, for this particular project.

Today, I’ll spend the bulk of the day with one client, and then have another meeting in the afternoon.

Published in: on November 14, 2017 at 9:29 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 14, 2017: Writing and Releases  
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Tues. Oct. 10, 2017: Not Enough Weekend, Too Many Responsibilities

 

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Playing the Angles

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Finally, some sun, after a string of rainy, humid, icky days. Remnants of Hurricane Nate yesterday. Again, I’m grateful it was just a few hours of heavy rain and wind, and not worse.

Read through the SAVASANA galleys. I made notes — six pages’ worth of notes of copy editing errors that I caught. Now, I pull up the document (I proofread on the Kindle, I catch more), and I compare my notes to my copy editor’s notes. And then I make the fixes. I’d hoped to have it done by today, but it was just too much.

Picked up my next two reviewing assignments, but haven’t had a chance to start them yet. Hope to fix that today.

Managed to work my way through about twenty research books, pulling what I need, noting citations, etc. I have stacks of books and videos to return today.

Did some work on the outline of DAVY JONES DHARMA.

Most of my writing was on THE MARRIAGE GARDEN, although that was not the original intent for the weekend. But it was flowing, and I didn’t want to get in the way. I wrote about 10K on it. I’m already well in to the second notebook, and nearly finished with Willow’s first section This book is going to take at least three years before it’s submittable, maybe longer. But then, literary fiction often takes longer than genre fiction because it’s a different type of storytelling. It needs a different type of structure. The story and characters definitely affect me, differently than most of my other work. Hopefully, it will have the same effect on the reader.

Lots of cooking all weekend, making up some new recipes, plus old favorites like the raw apple muffins from THE BREAKFAST BOOK, and moussaka from THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL COOKBOOK. I’m baking my favorite chocolate walnut butter bread later today, and tonight is stuffed eggplant from a Moosewood recipe.

I have so much to do today and this week that I’m overwhelmed. All I can do is break it down and do one bit at a time. I’m waiting to hear if and when I have a project meeting tomorrow, I have to follow up on a few things, and I have some pitches to get out.

I didn’t work on the short stories or the essay this weekend, so I have to spread them over the next few days, in and around everything else, and get them done. Same with the next section of FIX IT GIRL.

My mom had one of her pre-op appointments this morning, so there’s that to juggle, too.

Somehow, it will all work out. I’m not sure how, yet, but somehow, I have to figure it out and MAKE it work.

Being off social media more than on it helped. I miss being on Twitter, especially, but I don’t miss the added stress.

I’m percolating a couple of pieces that are getting ready to be written, and I have to fact-check some names and dates in order to write the opening scene of the Lavinia Fontana play.

I couldn’t do any yard work this weekend, in the lousy weather, so that’s stacking up, too.

Onward, and back to the page.

 

Published in: on October 10, 2017 at 8:41 am  Comments Off on Tues. Oct. 10, 2017: Not Enough Weekend, Too Many Responsibilities  
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Mon. Nov. 14, 2016: No Holiday Weekend For Me! Writing!

Monday, November 14, 2016
Full Moon
Sunny and cold

I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend. It sure wasn’t a holiday for me.

On Thursday, I started the fifth draft of DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I finished it on Saturday. It’s still got a higher word count than I hoped, but under the absolute “no way in hell” count it had before.

But I’m happy with it. I wrote the book I wanted to read and couldn’t find.

I have a few sentences to tweak, but it’s ready for submission. I wrote the blurb, the query template, and the synopsis. I didn’t even mind writing the synopsis this time, and liked the outcome. I must still be feverish. 😉

But doing all that means I didn’t get JUST A DROP done. Actually, the play about the female pirate (due the same day as JUST A DROP) is pulling me fairly hard. So I might do that one first — I think that will be a one act, and JUST A DROP is definitely full length.

However, the opening of a new play — not connected to any of my deadlines — came to me and I hurried to scribble it down. The working title is IDEAS AND IDENTITY. While that reflect the theme of the play, I think I have to come up with a better title! The rest of the play is percolating — I hope I can keep up!

I got some yard work done — although not enough. Never enough, is it? I painted some more planters and two more tables. The problem with painting is that one thing looks great, and everything else looks dingy, so you keep going.

Most of the pots are put away; most of the outdoor furniture is oiled and put away. I have a few more bits and bobs to do this week, and one more shelf to paint, and then, other than mowing and raking, we are set for the winter.

I have every intention of enjoying the last holiday before the Apocalypse!

Today, I start the mowing, do some more painting, work on MURDER OF A MELANCHOLIC (it takes place over Christmas, and I always write better about a season when I’m in it), work on the fantasy novel that came in a dream, and the plays. Plus, I have more edits to do on PLAYING THE ANGLES, so that, too can go out this week.

I made cranberry walnut bread first thing this morning. Hopefully, that’s a positive, productive omen for the coming week. And there’s an amazing full moon tonight. I intend to take advantage of it!

I went back to keeping the phone/social media/email, etc. turned off on Sunday, and it was great. I’d cheated the last few weeks. But the quiet time was wonderful. I want to hold a day of silence each week as long as I can. It lets me refill the creative well, and tap into creativity that gets tamped down by the constant noise.

Have a wonderful week.

Devon

Published in: on November 14, 2016 at 9:53 am  Comments Off on Mon. Nov. 14, 2016: No Holiday Weekend For Me! Writing!  
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Fri. May 13, 2016: Preparing for Guests

Friday, May 13, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Yesterday was busy. As soon as I finished cataloging/processing one batch, another box arrived! But we’ve got some great stuff going out, so it’s all good.

Baked spice cupcakes for Saturday’s program, lemon cupcakes for our guests, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for Saturday’s program, and made potato salad for the guests. Finished straightening up my room this morning, changed the beds, rearranged some things on the deck, frosted all the cupcakes.

I have to stop at the liquor store on the way home, and then it’s entertaining all weekend, plus the program here at the library tomorrow. I didn’t get a chance to work on any writing or revisions this morning, which has put me off my game a bit. I’m eager to get back to the revisions on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, finish them next week, and then let it sit for another couple of weeks, before doing the third round of revisions and getting the submission packets ready.

SONGBOUND SISTERS has been woefully neglected the past few weeks, so I have to dig back into that, and I have to finish “Just a Drop.” I need isolation to work on the play. I have most of it figured out in my head, but now I have to translate it onto the page. It’s turning out to be a bigger play than I expected, but I think it will pack a punch, if I handle it properly.

I’m in for a busy weekend, but I’m looking forward to it. And looking forward to getting some sleep next week!

Have a wonderful time!

Devon

Published in: on May 13, 2016 at 8:22 am  Comments (2)  
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Wed. April 20, 2016: Writing Intensifies – So Does the Garden

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Two retrogrades, and Mercury goes retrograde next week. Can I please just stay in bed until everything goes direct?

The past few days were good, although flat out busy. Saturday, I had lots of errands, but managed to get to the NMLC Seal Pup Shower, which kicks off April vacation week. We got a lot of donations of basic necessities — Pedialite, laundry soap, etc. First thing that morning, I’d done a major run to Country Gardens. Got the fertilizer for the lawn, lettuce plants, basil plants, etc. We’ve planted pansies in hanging baskets for the front and the deck — they’re happy in this cool weather. The lettuce is repotted, and so is the basil.

We’d bought a small table at Restore, and I repainted it an apple red, and repainted one of our metal plant stands green. I painted a few planters. I still have two more tables and a shelf unit. We put some of the furniture on the deck — we tend to rearrange every year — and some of the hardier plants.

I worked on the HEART SNATCHER rewrites. I have Max’s first chapter where I want it, so I think the Prologue and first three chapters are in good shape. I worked on the following six chapters. I’m still not happy with Carey’s introductory chapter. It needs more work. But the chapters where Max and Valerie keep running into each other are working. I’m doing quite a bit of tightening, better use of language, more sensory detail. I’m also about to cut a chapter.

I started re-reading DEATH OF A CHOLERIC with an eye to its revisions. I think it will need two more revisions, not just one. I’ve had to do a major shift in some of the relationships so it makes more sense, and I need to put those in and then read it through again, and THEN do another draft before that’s ready to go out.

Did a nice chunk of work on Nonfiction #1.

Received the radio contest entries, read them, made notes. I found it disturbing that not a single entry is in correct radio format. One of them is a screenplay; another is a stage play. Some of them tried, but don’t understand the use of sound in radio.

Worked on the pages for the MOBY DICK marathon reading in which I’m participating next weekend.

Did some yard work, although not enough. Somehow, it’s never enough, is it?

Read a couple of delightful mysteries: KILLER TAKEOUT by Lucy Burdette, and, especially, THE CRACKED SPINE by Paige Shelton, which is set in Edinburgh. Enjoyed them both.

Got some submission materials completed for a major script entry I have coming up.

Baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and almond cookies, and made a non-alcoholic syllabub for tonight’s Tribute to Shakespeare. I’d done the programs last week. I tried to put together the Globe Theatre model, but it was a disaster. No instructions, it makes no sense, and it doesn’t work to watch a You Tube Video. I want step-by-step, well-written instructions. Will never deal with THAT company again!

Up early this morning. Worked on Nonfiction #1, and also did a bit of yard work. Today will be a ten hour day for me at work — the full day, and then the Tribute to Shakespeare tonight. It will be a very long week. So will next week, especially since I’ll be flat out every day I’m not at the library, but then, I have a much-needed vacation.

I’m so wiped out when I get home at night that I can’t get anything done in the yard, so I’m going out on nice days in the early, early morning. Even twenty, thirty minutes here and there will eventually add up.

Onward.

Published in: on April 20, 2016 at 9:10 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 20, 2016: Writing Intensifies – So Does the Garden  
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Wed. Dec. 9, 2015: Fun All Around

Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Waning Moon
Cloudy and mild

I’m grateful we don’t have snow yet, but I’m a little worried that we’re supposed to hit 60 this weekend. A little too warm for this time of year!

I’ve been going flat out all week. Friday and Saturday I zombie’d through work – barely made it through, but I did. I had plenty to do at home around work. Sunday I baked, and then attended the Marstons Mills Stroll.

The Stroll was fun – it was simple – start at the Community Church, pick up the brown bag with the list of places participating, and follow it around town. It was just enough, not too much, and I didn’t know several of the businesses before – but I will certainly go back to them and shop!

The Church rang their bell, we gathered around the tree for the lighting and to sing carols. It was nice. Simple in the right way, and a lot of fun.

After, I took my mom for a drive along 6A, so that we could enjoy the large light sculptures that various businesses have commissioned. They were beautiful. In previous years, they’d only used white lights – now there are a combination, and it is wonderful!

Home, some more baking, and even a bit of writing.

Monday, I was up at 4:30, so I could get my yoga and meditation practice done before I had to leave for the NMLC Board Meeting. Had the Board meeting, came back, and headed over to Titcomb’s Bookshop for the Ann Hood event. She’s promoting her newest book, KNITTING PEARLS. Several knitting groups attended – there were about 60 people there! I brought my mom along, and both of us knitted along. Yes, even I knitted – my mystery project – -and it was fun.

I was wearing one of the sweaters my mom knitted, and she got many compliments –and an invitation to join the Titcomb Bookshop knitters! It’s good for her to get out and do stuff like that.

Ann’s presentation was lovely and fun, and I got a chance to chat with her for a bit at the signing.

We came home, and I started baking again. I didn’t finish baking until after 11 at night – but – the holiday baking is done – at least, for the cookie platters.

Yesterday morning, we took a carload of leaves to the dump – and gave the guys their cookie platter – and delivered some of the other cookie platters, to the firehouse, etc. Home, early lunch, and then over to the JFK Museum, because it was my NMLC shift for Spectacle of Trees. The trees are all so beautiful and unique. It was a joy to spend time with them. We had more people come through in the first hour than in my entire shift last year. People were nice, they were excited, and, importantly, they bought Tree Bucks and put them in boxes. Which is great, because each organization gets 100% of their Tree Bucks.

So tired when I got home that I barely made it through dinner and couldn’t even read.

Up early this morning to do some more cookie platter deliveries. Long day at work, and then I have to do the platters for the neighbors.

I’m at a conference tomorrow (local, but still a conference), then working Friday, then doing Spectacle on Saturday, and Saturday night is the drawing.

Sunday, I may help with the trees, and I have to spend most of the day writing. Monday and Tuesday are errands and writing, because my play needs to go out on Thursday – so next week is shaping up to be busy.

And Solstice and Christmas are in, what, two weeks? Hannukah is already happening.

I want to keep the holidays simple – of course, I still have to write my cards! I’d rather it was about food and friends than stuff.

I haven’t put many words on paper, but I’m doing a lot of “writing in my head” as I run around, which, when I actually do sit down, makes it flow more smoothly.

Devon

Published in: on December 9, 2015 at 11:16 am  Comments Off on Wed. Dec. 9, 2015: Fun All Around  
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Tues. Nov. 3, 2015: Grief & Writing

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Waning Moon
Sunny and mild

Friday was a very sad day for us. Violet died in the afternoon. At least she died at home, where she was loved, and she wasn’t in pain. But we are all heartbroken. We took her body to an emergency care facility in Dennis, where they will take care of the remains.

She was a small, quiet cat, but the house feels empty without her. Iris and Tessa are looking for her. They miss her, too.

There was a lot of cleaning and scrubbing and disinfecting to do, of course. We were already exhausted from the last few days, and there was just nothing left in the tank.

Samhain was sad. It was difficult to pull it together, and I kept the ritual very simple.

On the plus side, the costumes the Trick-or-Treaters wore were delightful. Brought us some joy for a sad time.

Turned back the clocks to standard time. The cats, however, were still on their time, so I was up early anyway.

Sunday was the first day of Nano. I seriously considered quitting before it began. I wasn’t sure I have the heart to do it this month. I’m also tired of Nano and death being so closely associated, year after year. I’m going to be sad for awhile, and I don’t know how I can dig deep enough to work on the books.

But I did it, and felt better for it. I started DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, the cozy mystery set on a fictional island off the coast of Cape Cod. Yup, I stuck in another island near Martha’s Vineyard. Gave the steamship authority a couple of extra routes, too. I wrote the whole first chapter, 2833 words, and felt better.

I then did some work on TIE-CUTTER, getting ready to close out the section set in Hollywood. So my day’s total was 4269. Not a bad start.

The rest of the day was about taking down the Samhain decorations, but leaving up the Day of the Dead items. Again, I kept the ceremonies simple, because I’m just wiped out.

I also baked for the week: cranberry muffins for Monday’s meeting, double chocolate chunk for Tuesday’s Come Write In! session, and oatmeal cookies for Thursday’s session.

I’ve been reading Ted Hughes’s WINTER POLLEN. I know very little of his work. I’m of the generation that fetishized Sylvia Plath, put her on a pedestal, and demonized Ted Hughes. Unfair, but that’s how it was presented — he destroyed her genius, forcing her to have children and subsume her poetry to his, while he catted around. Reality was, of course, far more complicated. The older I got, the less patience I had with Sylvia. But I’d still read very little of Ted’s work.

His essays on Shakespeare are wonderful. I’m not sure I agree with his theories, but they’re interesting, and they certainly give me additional perspectives, next time I go back to the plays. It makes me eager to re-read the plays. I grow wary when I read his writing on Sylvia Plath’s work. He was in an impossible situation. Who knew her work better? Yet who had more reason to protect himself, and, supposedly, the rest of her family? Destroying her final journal — under that same guise of “protection”– is something I don’t think the world will ever forgive. I agree with that. Even if she lashed out at her children and he didn’t want them to read those moments of anger — and it would make sense to resent her children in the moment and write about it in her journal, using that to cure her — that anger or depression or whatever she poured into those final journals is vital to understanding her work. At the same time, I understand the desire to protect self and family (I don’t agree with it, but I understand it), and he’s got a point, that, at the time, she wasn’t the iconic figure she grew into. The sad part is, no matter how good her poetry was, or how much she was likely to improve as an artist, she probably wouldn’t have become the icon she is without her suicide. It’s an impossible, complex situation.

I think I would trust his writing about her work more if it wasn’t in the third person; if he didn’t refer to “her husband” when he meant himself. Again, I can understand the choice in the moment — to keep it sounding more objective. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come across that way. It comes across as cold, and as though the writer has something to hide.

The only one who knows the truth is Sylvia herself, and she only knows her own truth. His truth is different. The children’s truths are different. The rest of her family’s truths are different. They are all parts of the puzzle, and some of those parts are irrevocably missing.

From the outside, though, it remains fascinating. Disturbing, but fascinating.

Yesterday morning, I was up at five. I wrote Chapter Two of CHOLERIC, 2554 words. Difficult words, but words.

I left a little before eight to go to Buzzards Bay for a strategic planning meeting at the Marine Life Center. There’s too much “committee” and “subcommittee’ and yakking in my opinion. Work is not done in meetings; work is done in the space between meetings. I feel like we’re going around in circles, instead of moving forward.

Home, another stint on TIE-CUTTER. Brought my day’s total to 3990 and my full total to 8259, which is decent for two days’ work.

Took down the spider web curtains, put up the winter curtains, did four loads of laundry. Another simple ceremony (these are the days of the ceremonies for the dead). The sadness weighs me down and I can’t shake it. But I also have to give myself time.

We will adopt another cat, but not right away. We all have to adjust to life without Violet. After Thanksgiving, or maybe even after Christmas.

Of course, people keep offering cats now. 😉

Watching the DCI BANKS series. Very well done, although sometimes the second half of each episode feels rushed.

Up early this morning. Wrote Chapter Three of CHOLERIC, 3322 words. I was raring to continue into Chapter Four, but afraid I’d push too far. There’s a COME WRITE IN session at the library this morning, and I want to work on TIE CUTTER there, and have something left in the tank for CHOLERIC tomorrow. We’re getting to a big confrontation scene.

Once CWI is over, we’re doing a test run of the tree for Spectacle at the Library. So, yes, once again I’m going in on what’s supposed to be my day off. 😉

Busy day today. Tomorrow and the rest of the week will be long days, and I imagine that my word count will drop drastically. That’s why I’ve been pushing so hard up front.

Devon

Published in: on November 3, 2015 at 10:53 am  Comments (4)  
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