Fri. Nov. 8, 2019: Cold Weekend for Hot Writing

Friday, November 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

There’s a possibility we’ll get our first snowflakes today. I’m hoping it will be cool and dry the rest of the weekend, so I can work in the yard. In spite of taking 3000 gallons of leaves to the dump yesterday, the yard is full of more leaves.

Hop on over to Affairs of the Pen, where I talk about SAVASANA AT SEA being a case of writing the book I wanted to read.

Yesterday was busy. After two trips to the dump for leaves and recycling, and a massive grocery shop, we brought in some of the plants to overwinter, and put some of the big pots away. The garden ornaments are cleaned and put away for the winter. We have more plants and pots to put away today, and then I have to oil the teak.

I baked a chocolate chip raspberry cake, prepping the filling for chicken pot pie and for Indian stuffed eggplant. I didn’t hear from my friend until 3:30 that yes, we were still on for tonight, and she hadn’t gotten any of my emails in the past week, asking for information, so I could draft up the piece she needs help with.

Mercury Retrograde strikes again.

She got here, and we worked socializing the cats. All three did really well. Even Tessa came out for a bit. Willa was happy to have a playmate, and Charlotte handled having a stranger around really well.

The dinner went well, we discussed what needs to be done. I’m writing/revising the speech today and will send it off tomorrow. She’s giving it in NYC next week, as part of a fundraising conference.

This morning, I wrote the review for the absolutely delightful book I read, and will send it to my editor this morning, telling her I’m ready for the next one.

Driving from errands to the library on Phinney’s Lane, we were all stopped in our tire tracks as a flock of wild turkeys took their time strolling across the street. It was hilarious.

The bulk of the day will be spent working on the speech, but I had a few errands this morning, work on THE BARD’S LAMENT, and edits on another project. I’m hoping to sneak some work in to finish “Pier-less Crime.”

The weekend is about writing, reading, working with the cats, cleaning up the yard, cleaning out some boxes from the basement. I want to finish “Pier-less Crime” and get the opening of the play about Canaletto’s sisters right, along with finishing my edits, and continuing a decent pace on THE BARD’S LAMENT. My goal is only 2 pages a day for it, but I usually write 4-6.

I’d like to get some more of ELLA BY THE BAY typed up — I don’t have much more work to do on that first draft, but I need to see what I’ve got so far so I can wrap it up. Because I blank-paged it instead of plotting it, I’m in a muddle for this last third. The next draft will be a pretty major tear it apart and restructure it.

I’m hoping, by next week, to get back into revisions for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, too.

I also plan to work on the GDR questions for 2020, so I can post them next week.

Onward, one word at a time.

Tues. Oct. 8, 2019: New Additions to the Household

Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

It’s been a stressful weekend, without enough writing getting done. I’m way behind where I need to be.

But it’s for a good reason.

We brought two new cats into the house. They’ve had a rough time, for the past year. The man who raised them since they were kittens had seriously worsening medical issues over the past year. The cats (littermates) started fighting. Then, the man got a service dog and couldn’t keep the cats. The cats have spent the last year being moved around between relatives, sometimes together (where they fought in the new environment, which is understandable), sometimes apart. A niece decided to put them up for adoption, we found each other, and I agreed to take both.

One arrived on Friday night. She’s very cute, but she was very upset, hissy spitty and growly. She threatened a lot, but didn’t attack. I set up her food and water dish in the kitchen. I let her out in the bathroom, with the door closed, so she knew where the litter box was.

She shot out of her carrier, checked out the litter box, and demanded I open the door. I did; she did a quick recon of the kitchen, then set up a fort in my office, amongst the books (but on the carpet, because she’s smart). She was unhappy all night.

We checked on her, but ignored her hissing, spitting, and growling. Humans did. Tessa growled back once, when New Kitty #1 advanced on me, growling, once. But Tessa’s handled it all calmly.

We simply let New Kitty #1 do her thing. We keep our usual routine. That makes Tessa feel safe, and it gives structure for New Kitty.

She came out to the living room while we watched TV to lodge a complaint before dashing back into the office. When we made the rounds before going to bed, she was in my Victorian wingback chair, and stuck her little head out to hiss. We laughed at her, which perplexed her. But it was kind of cute. I gave her a toy mouse, which she clutches like a teddy bear.

Tessa came up with me, as usual, and even slept on my bed.

Saturday morning, she was much calmer. She’d eaten and used the litter box in the night. She didn’t hiss or growl when we spoke to her. But we basically left her alone. She napped most of the day. Poor thing was exhausted.

I had gotten up at 5 AM and made raw apple muffins, but kitchen noise doesn’t bother her.

We had a quiet Saturday. I didn’t work in my office. I left it for her to feel safe. I read in the living room. Tessa stuck with me. We checked on her occasionally, to make sure she was okay. She watched us with a quiet, thoughtful gaze.

I put up most of the outdoor decorations for Halloween. I haven’t yet put up the lights.

I was up early again on Sunday. Usual routine. This time, I sat in my office to do some editing for a bit. I wanted to go in and write later in the day, but it didn’t happen.

I baked orange rye bread and my favorite chocolate walnut butter bread.

The second cat arrived mid-afternoon on Sunday. She came with lots of stuff, including Bliss Mist and her own pink fleece blanket, and an elaborate set up for her food dishes.

She, however, would not come out of her crate in the bathroom. I kept it near the litter box, so she’d know where it was, and left her there for a bit. She wouldn’t come out. I moved the crate to the living room, where she yowled her unhappiness. I moved her into the back bedroom, near her things, and let her be.

She took a nap for awhile, and then started yowling again. Hissing, growling, yowling. Diva Princess tantrum (I was warned she is the princess of the two). We let her alone. She had an even bigger tantrum when Tessa came downstairs (the stairs go into the back room). Tessa skirted around her and ignored her.

I sprayed her with Bliss Spray and she settled a bit.

New Kitty #1 came to tell her off. They hissed and spat and growled, but didn’t fight. They were saying some pretty nasty things, though, in feline.

Tessa stayed with us in the living room. Lately, she’s started sitting in the rocking chair (where Violet used to sit).

Then, New Kitty #1 decided since there were stairs, she might as well see where they led. She ventured upstairs. She hung out in my room for awhile.

New Kitty #2 was carrying on with a major tantrum still when we went to bed. We let her have her tantrum. Tessa was still downstairs. I didn’t realize New Kitty #1 was still in my room until I tripped over her. She fled back down the stairs.

At some point, Tessa sneaked up. She rummaged around upstairs and then settled on the bed.

I had insomnia for a bit, and then finally fell asleep. I woke up around 5 when Tessa was growling at someone. I guess one of the New Kitties was roaming around upstairs, but I don’t know which one.

I started the normal morning routine. Tessa came down to the kitchen with me. I put out fresh food and water for everyone.

New Kitty #2 finally came out of her crate and sat on one of the beds in the back bedroom, where she can see everyone. She started hissing. I said, “Good morning,” and kept going. Tessa ignored her.

New Kitty #1 was back to hanging out in my office in her fort. Again, calm. I went to my desk to work. Tessa came in and sat with me, as she always does. Tessa and New Kitty #1 can hang out in the same room and ignore each other.

I had a decent first writing session before I had to head off to my client’s.

I was tired and slow, but managed to get the work done. Headed to the library for a bit, then to meditation, which, believe me, I needed.

I’m scheduling this to post, so I have no idea what the night will be. I’m hoping it will be quiet and New Kitty #2 will get over herself. If we don’t engage in her tantrums, I hope she’ll calm down, the way New Kitty #1 does.

The cats were named with actresses that have a variation on the same first name and different middle names. No wonder they’re confused.

I had hoped to rename them Harriet and Louisa, after Harriet Beecher Stowe and Louisa May Alcott, but the names don’t suit them. I will let them settle in a bit more and reveal their personalities, and then we’ll work on names together. I have tried several on New Kitty #1, and she is not impressed. Nor does she like her original name.

New Kitty #1 calmed down pretty fast, so I hope New Kitty #2 will do the same. We are letting them initiate any interaction they want with us, other than basic greetings and giving them food. If and when they want to check us out or getting petted, they can come and ask. But giving the day basic structure, with freedom and quiet for them within it helps more than anything.

Lucy, in spite of her difficult history, was a much easier cat with a sunnier personality.

Tessa is already happier to have other cats in the house, although right now, they’re a pain in her butt.

Friday night, we finally heard from the landlord that he’s willing to extend the lease another year. We had asked in August, and have lived on tenterhooks ever since.

Of course, the rent is raised. More than is comfortable, but it’s still less than market rate. Which means a lot of other things have to change. And, in MA, the landlord can raise the rent however high they want. So, while this is uncomfortable, we’re still lucky, especially since there’s a housing shortage here.

Although about half of my town is up for sale.

On a happier note, when I was out doing my grocery shopping, I ran into a couple visiting from Marseilles. They were trying to get directions, and having trouble understanding the people who were trying to help. I intervened, apologizing for my bad French, and managed to make them understand, while showing them on the map, in French.

They invited me for coffee (not at Starbucks, which we all can’t stand, but at an independent place). We sat outside and talked, in a mixture of French (mostly) and English. I helped them plot out their next two weeks, with maps and recommendations. They think the Cape is beautiful, but are disappointed in how many people who support the Narcissistic Sociopath are here, and feel America, in general, has lost its sense of independence. I agree. It’s gotten worse in this area. I mean, really: Home Depot, Chick-fil-A, and now Hobby Lobby? Home Depot is my last resort, only if I can’t get something from one of the local hardware stores. But I refuse to set foot in Chick-Fil-A or Hobby Lobby.

I’m exhausted, on so many levels.

But one word in front of the other, one foot in front of the other, one paw in front of the other.

Published in: on October 8, 2019 at 6:37 am  Comments (1)  
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Tues. July 9, 2019: The Steadiness of Daily Writing

Tuesday, July 9
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Yup. Five damn retrogrades. July will not be an easy month.

If you missed any of the #31Prompts, you can catch up here.

The weekend was good, for the most part. Too much stupid from too many stupid people, but, whatever. Some friends stopped by on their way to the rest of their trip. Nice to catch up.

Other than visiting with friends, it was a quiet holiday, except for the numbnuts who set off fireworks in the neighborhood. The cops do NOTHING. It’s nudge, nudge, wink, wink, boys will be boys. It’s the same damn idiots every year who set them off. It’s illegal, so DO SOMETHING.

I will have a few words with my Town Councilor this week. Not that it will do anything — he’s a total waste of space and has done NOTHING for his district since he got elected. (And no, I did not vote for him. I knew he’d be a waste of space in the job).

The night of the 4th was spent on the floor, trying to soothe the terrified cats.

These jerks aren’t smart enough or skilled enough to be handling explosives.

Friday was an outstanding writing day — worked on ELLA, GRAVE REACH, typed up part of ELLA, did some revisions on GAMBIT COLONY. I love steadily working on projects. You can watch pages stack up, in a tangible way.

Got a contract signed and in the mail — wanted to get it done before Mercury went retrograde.

Finally switched the winter, fleece sofa and chair coverings to the cotton yoga blankets for the summer.

My order from Crystal Bar soaps arrived — just lovely. They have such excellent products.

Marinated tuna steaks in a soy-sesame-ginger sauce. Delicious.

Saturday, was up at five. Baked lemon cupcakes, chocolate chip devil’s food cupcakes, and a spiced chocolate banana bread with rum before it got too hot. Took a dozen of each cupcake to the new neighbors to welcome them. They are long-time Centerville residents, downsizing. Took another dozen of each type of cupcake to my lovely firemen — this is a busy weekend for them.

Got a little bit of writing done, but not much. It was too hot to think. Got a good bit of reading done instead.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived and is a delight. A book arrived, too — one of the Caribbean books I test drove from the library that I wanted to keep, so I bought a copy.

Started re-watching the Lord Peter Wimsey episodes starring Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walters. I’d forgotten how much he loves to play with props when he works.

Up early on Sunday. First writing session on the deck, on ELLA.

Plenty of loads of laundry, between clothes, sheets, and the winter furniture covers.

Worked on GRAVE REACH.

Started the short story inspired by the July 1 prompt on #31Prompts: The bagel has landed. I wanted it to be a flash fiction; it might be a short story, or the draft might be a short story, then edited down to be flash. We’ll see. Right now, I’m just writing. Stretching. That’s important.

Up early Monday. Worked on ELLA, worked on GRAVE REACH. Onsite with a client, then another appointment, then meditation group.

Today, I’m onsite with a client, then another appointment. Decent writing sessions on both ELLA and GRAVE REACH.

Not where I’d hoped to be by this point in the summer on anything, but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

 

Published in: on July 9, 2019 at 5:43 am  Comments Off on Tues. July 9, 2019: The Steadiness of Daily Writing  
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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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