Wed. June 28, 2017: Trying to Line Up Ducks Before the Holiday Weekend

Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Monday was busy. I re-slanted and re-sent two pitches; sent out two new pitches; caught up on correspondence. Somehow, the day flew by.

I did research on several new-to-me markets. Some, I need to do some more in-depth digging; a couple, I think I can craft pitches and send them.

My mom has to have surgery in July, on her foot. Results of the biopsy done a couple of weeks ago. I want to know why her first doctor — the one that dropped her because she wasn’t making enough money off my mom — didn’t diagnose this wound properly a year and a half ago, when my mom showed it to her?

And, of course, I have to come up with the co-payment. Another expense I wasn’t counting on. Not to mention that my mom is 94 and any surgery is worrisome.

There’s a possible new-to-me micro-fiction market. They pay, but I have to figure out the details and ratio of word count/payment/frequency of assignment to see if it’s something I want to or can take on. They seem to be more legitimate and a better payer than the other company I talked to last week. We’ll see. There’s a humor market that could become a regular gig, but I’m not feeling particularly witty or funny right now.

Read Barbara Ross’s ICED UNDER, another Maine Clambake book. I really like this series.

Quite a contrast to another book I tried to read (by a different author). It was a mystery. The protagonist was a narrow-minded, unlikable little twit. The story was dumbed down, the characters were ciphers instead of people. The author was anti-artist and anti-anyone who chose more than being a traditional housewife. I made it to page 35, closed the book, and have put the author on my Will Not Read list. She insulted my intelligence AND my profession. Next!

I really want to take this upcoming holiday weekend as a writing/reading/yoga retreat. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted.

Did a little bit of work on the Scottish mystery with the older protagonists on Tuesday, after running errands early enough in the morning so I didn’t get caught up in tourist traffic. That threw off my writing schedule, though.

Finished DRINKING THE RAIN by Alix Kates Shulman. Liked it a lot. And loving Helen Bevington’s THE JOURNEY IS EVERYTHING.

Worked on the June wrap-up, July’s To Do list, and, soon, I’ll have to do the mid-year assessment. We’ll see how far I’ve strayed.

Worked on the media kit. It’s always such journeyman work, but it’s important, and I always discover something I didn’t realize about my own work, because I have to look at it as though I’m handling someone else’s.

I came up with a series title for Playing the Angles and The Spirit Repository — but that makes me wonder if I should change the name under which the books appear. At the same time, I’m not completely sure I’ve hit exactly what I want with the series title. I’m feeling creatively drained.

The project in Orleans isn’t going to work out — they’re going with someone younger. That’s not what they said (which would be illegal), but that’s what they’re doing. Heaven forbid they hire someone with experience who expects a professional rate! Well, they’ll get what they paid for. I was having second thoughts myself — the money, the refusal to commit beyond the summer, and a few other elements. My ego’s bruised, but, deep down in my gut, I know it’s for the best.

Fretting because I’m waiting for two checks that are late. Not happy, because there are bills that need to be paid before the end of the month, and then I have to focus both on next month’s bills and on the co-payment for my mother’s surgery.

Got about half of “The Ramsey Chase” proofread. I’m creating the tracking sheets and character bible for the series as I go, which also slows me down.

Worked my way through a stack of research books that I hoped would be helpful as background for a project. Unfortunately, they were mostly self-indulgent navel-gazing masquerading as “self help.” There’s quite a stack to go back to the library.

I’m gathering questions for the Q&A section of the Devon Ellington media kit. Colin Galbraith had two interesting ones that I’m going to use. I’m hoping other people will post questions on Facebook, Twitter, and/or in the comments here on Ink.

I did quite a bit of work on the media kit yesterday afternoon. I’m through most of the fiction/series/shorts section. I’ve got some more Digital Delights to add in, make the links live.

Still fretting about the series title. That series title means it makes more sense to have the books appear under the Cerridwen Iris Shea name rather than the Annabel Aidan or Devon Ellington name. Also, the more I think about it, the more that series title fits a different series — one I’ve yet to write. So I’m on the hunt for another series title. Some of the books are set in New York, or at least start in New York and move outward. So the title needs to have a bit of an urban edge, but also fulfill the books when they move beyond the city limits. I came up with another series title, but it might also be a bit too soft. I’ll pull out the Thesaurus (the print one, not look online) and browse.

During this morning’s meditation, a new set of characters and situations dropped into my head. I still don’t have the plot, although I have a premise. I think it will be set on the outskirts of Portland, Maine.

Finished a science fiction short story this morning. Will revise it later today and tomorrow, and it can go out the door tomorrow. Now, have to turn my attention back to the more complicated, contemporary one and finish that to get it out the door.

I’m going to take the holiday weekend as a writing/yoga/meditation retreat. I need the mental and the physical break. If I can get my ducks in a row, and my deadlines met by Friday (gulp), that’s what I’ll do. Be offline from Friday afternoon until sometime on Wednesday.

Yet I’m sure there will be mowing in my future. I’ve been bad and haven’t done any this week, although the weather’s been good for it.

Errands, admin, and correspondence to do, and then, it’s back to the page.

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

Personal Revolution Cover

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

99 cents on Smashwords here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll set something else in Cornwall, eventually!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the page.

Wed. June 21, 2017: Work & Solstice

Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant
Summer Solstice

Managed to get a few things done yesterday; several pitches out, including a script pitch for something that would be really fun. But I don’t know if they’re willing to work with someone clear across the country. Did some article work and some research.

Read Barbara Ross’s second Clambake Mystery, BOILED OVER, which was also really good. Also read a book about a woman who took a 100 day Zen retreat in a cabin, as background for an idea with which I’m playing.

Trying to figure out the shape of the next Cornelia True/Roman Gray story, so I can write the opening and put it in to “The Ramsey Chase”. Then, of course, I have to write the rest of it!

Still having trouble finding the right images for the cover of Playing the Angles. I need to find my photos of the Belasco — I think I have some interesting ones that have the unlit marquee and the fire escape in them, and that might set the right tone. Nothing that’s already out there is quite working; unfortunately, at this point, I can’t hire a fine artist to paint something from the photographs.

I know there’s a whole industry in “pre-made covers”, but most of the ones I’ve seen are awful, and don’t speak to the content of the book. I want to find a series of strong images that reflect the book and give them to the cover designer.

I’m REALLY happy with “The Ramsey Chase” cover. I’d do a cover reveal, but I don’t want to interfere with the PR for “Personal Revolution”.

Mowing this morning, and then the library, errands, more pitches, more writing. I have to put together some additional paperwork for a grant. This afternoon, I get to drive to the elbow of the Cape, to Orleans, for a project meeting. I’m looking forward to it.

I need to get back to the assignment from the editor-I’m-currently-frustrated-with. I’m dragging my heels, but I need to get over myself and get it done. This will be the “midpoint” assignment in my imaginary trial period. I will see how much frustration this one generates, do one more, than make my decision to stay or go. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t put effort into the remaining assignments. It still might work out. I think I’m being highly optimistic, but I decided to give it a chance, and I will.

Tonight is the Solstice ceremony, which should be fun.

I’m struggling with the fiction, because I don’t feel particularly creative right now. Since my income depends on my ability to be creative, that’s an issue.

That’s when one has to rely on craft, and why it’s so important to build craft. Work on the craft so that, on the tough days, when inspiration is minimal, the craft sees you through.

Off to mow.

Published in: on June 21, 2017 at 8:58 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 21, 2017: Work & Solstice  
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Mon. June 19, 2017: Not on Weekends. Not for That Rate

Monday, June 19, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, humid, cool

Challenging weekend. A lot of stresses on the personal front, some annoyances on the professional front.

Saturday morning was difficult and discouraging, and exhausted me beyond expectation.

On the positive side, I managed to pull a metaphorical rabbit out of a hat and solve one pressing stress; but there are still a pile that need dealing with.

Also on the positive side, I finished reading Philip Margolin’s SLEIGHT OF HAND, which I thought was well done. I’d never read one of his books before; will definitely read more.

Also, over the weekend, read Barbara Ross’s first Clambake Mystery, CLAMMED UP. I liked it a lot. It’s not dumbed down, the way so many of these mysteries have become. The protagonist is smart & resourceful, I like the supporting characters, it kept me guessing for the right reasons. It’s set in Maine, in a fictional cover near Boothbay Harbor and Bath, two places in the state of which I’m very fond, and she got the emotional geography right. I’m looking forward to the other books in the series.

AND I read Abbi Waxman’s THE GARDEN OF SMALL BEGINNINGS, which I absolutely loved.

I’m playing with an idea, writing my way into it, to see if it’s viable. I’m wondering if it’s too similar to another idea with which I’ve been toying, although the characters are very different and the premises are, too. But the openings are similar, and I might have to change that. However, a character I planned to be the first body drop won’t comply; I’m trying to figure out how to make him the second body drop instead, but he’s balking. He has every intention of being an continuing character, should this be a series, and not as a ghost.

I usually have Sunday as my “day of disconnect”, where I don’t go online or use social media. Unfortunately, I had to check my email on Sunday morning. What I wanted wasn’t there, but a demand from the new editor for revisions was, and he wanted them by 9 AM Monday morning.

I said no.

First of all, he’s had three weeks to give me notes for revisions. That’s right. I turned in my assignment three weeks before deadline. So don’t email me revisions ON A WEEKEND and demand them first thing Monday morning. Not only are you not frigging paying me enough, I’m taking my mom to a medical appointment in the morning, so you’ll get them when you damn well get them. Also, the two month lag time between the deadline and payment isn’t sitting well with me. I resent it, and it’s making me drag my feet on the next assignment. I responded that I would have the revisions back at some point on Monday (and I am SO tempted to charge a rush fee), but it wouldn’t be by 9 AM. When I return the revisions, I will also point out that if he sends me revisions on Sunday, he WILL NOT receive them on Monday morning, because I won’t know about them until Monday morning. If you want them Monday morning, you get them to me before noon on Friday.

I did the revisions (the actual notes made sense; I resented the timing and lack of consideration of my time). I will finish up the current assignment and accept one more; if these frustrations continue, I will resign. They’re not paying enough for all this kerflamma, and not paying fast enough, which is even more important.

My anger was out of proportion to the situation, in some ways; perhaps it’s because I know I’m in the wrong situation. I need to let it go, resolve it, and move on.

Worked on another article that I want to get out in the next couple of days. This week is also my follow-up on queries where I haven’t yet received a response.

Worked on a short story that will go out the door later today, and will turn my attention to the longer short story that I want to get out this week. These are initially aimed at two publications where, should I open a positive relationship with them, there is the potential for paying work that is both steady and creative.

Took my mom to her medical appointment, and she had a biopsy. Fingers crossed nothing is serious.