Tuesday, June 28, 2022: Release Day for “Personal Revolution”

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

New Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Partly cloudy and pleasant

The re-release of the short mystery “Personal Revolution” is out today! I’m in the process of updating all the links. It’s a Delectable Digital Delight, a short story set in a fictional town tucked near Lexington and Concord, MA.  Since Independence Day weekend is coming up, it was a good chance to re-release it. Only 99 cents. Universal buy link is here.

When a man is hanged from the oak tree in a Redcoat uniform at an historic house just before the Independence Day program, Glenda vows to both solve the murder and protect the newly-opened museum. What she finds is much darker — and more personal — than she bargained.

There’s information on the other Delectable Digital Delights here.

Back to our regularly scheduled natter.

Neptune has joined Pluto and Saturn in the retrograde lineup. Neptune has strong influences over me, so it’s a reminder to be cautious until it goes direct in December. It’s good for revealing phonies, though.

Friday was a hellscape, wasn’t it, with the corrupt, extremist SCOTUS striking down Roe. I’m glad I got a good chunk of work done on The Big Project, because the rest of the day was lost. The Dems had the heads up on this months ago. What do they do? Stand on a few steps singing a song and send out fundraising emails. They are pathetic.

Don’t start with “they don’t have the votes” or “don’t criticize Dems.” We gave them enough votes to get it done and it is THEIR JOB to keep their people in line, the way the Republicans do. The Republicans get whatever they want no matter who is in office, because they fight, and they don’t stop. The Dems throw up their hands, say they “don’t have the votes’ and ask for more money. Pathetic. They just let the extremists roll right over top of them, no matter what.

I had to hop out to the grocery store shortly after the announcement came down. What was hopeful was that there were growing groups of women of all ages, at both the grocery store, and the post office, talking. Those of us who are old enough to remember life pre-Roe, and who’ve been activists since before the Internet know how to harness the power of memory and communication that’s not based on technology, so we can help set up less traceable networks (nothing is untraceable if more than one person knows about it). Use the best of modern advances with old school.

There is plenty I will not be discussing publicly.

I tried to write in the afternoon, but everything came out incoherent.

I gave up on the Balzac biography, and I’m trying to figure out why I liked his work so much, back in the year I lived in Seattle. But I was a walking disaster that year, so my judgment was undoubtedly questionable.

Read Donna Leon’s latest Brunetti mystery, GIVE UNTO OTHERS, which is quieter and sadder than many others in the series. At least she deals with the pandemic. I don’t trust authors setting their books as “contemporary” who act like the pandemic never existed. I’m giving some a pass, who had books that stalled in the pipeline during the pandemic, but going forward, it’s a big red flag for me.

Saturday morning, I was up early.  I took a home COVID test, because there’s the regular question of “Is it pollen or the plague?” and because of last week’s playwrighting workshop. Even though we were masked and vaccinated, there was still risk, and I felt questionable a few days after, so I wanted to make sure.

The negative test meant I could go to the Farmers’ Market (that and the fact that I felt fine, other than scraping pollen off my skin every few hours). I bought from my friend at Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery, I bought tomatoes and fennel and carrots and eggs from various other farmers, and told the maple syrup place how amazing their syrup is. I chatted with all kinds of people and dogs lined up to get attention (often thoroughly confusing their owners). I left before it got too crowded, but the market is as much about the social aspect as the culinary one.

Felt the need to rest, so I did, pushing away all the “should haves.”

Made a big salad for lunch, then put Willa in her playpen and took her out on the back balcony, so I could read and she could enjoy being outside. It’s nice and shady, and the humidity wasn’t too bad.

Finished the Donna Leon book and started FROM BAD TO CURSED by Lana Harper, which was a lot of fun.

Dinner was leftovers, and then I switched to a biography of Shirley Jackson. It didn’t get as hot as I feared, but I was too wiped out to move. My body remembers the exhaustion from last year, the move, going back and filling the two dumpsters, the difficulty getting things sorted to either the dumpster or into storage. So this week, I have to focus on building new, lighter, happier, more relaxed memories here over those other memories, even with all the crap going on, and even as I have to focus on deadlines and making a living.

So that will be. . .something or other.

Had weird dreams Saturday into Sunday, where I lived in a condominium. My next-door neighbors had theirs on the market. For some reason, the wall between our apartments served as a one-way mirror for me, so I could see everyone coming through to look at their apartment. I have no idea what the hell that could mean.

Sunday was even hotter than Saturday. It was also the day before the dark moon, my lowest energy day of the month, but all the stuff I’d put off for Friday and Saturday had to be dealt with.

I worked on the SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM Topic Workbook. That should be ready to go for final formatting and proofing this week, and maybe release next week. The workbook for class is nearly done. I took down two more workbooks that I want to re-release in July, so that they are down long enough for me to revise them and get them back up.

I worked on the anthology story and it wasn’t working. I’m percolating an idea for a different anthology that is genuinely creepy and twisted and, if I pull if off, will need trigger warnings.

The yoga studio here sent out a wonderful email blast about processing what’s going on, poses to help, and where they stand on the issues. Unlike the yoga studio on Cape Cod, who only allowed right-wingers to voice opinions and have safe space. If anyone spoke up to stand up to the right-wing crap spouted by class members, they were told to stop being political. Yet those right-wingers could say whatever they wanted and it was their right to express an opinion. Which meant it wasn’t safe space for anyone else. Huge difference, and the attitude here is much more what I want and need out of my yoga studio.

The meditation group also set up something virtual for Sunday night. I’d hoped to go, but Charlotte got her claw stuck on something in the kitty condo and panicked. By the time I got her safely extracted and calmed down, the mediation was nearly over. She wasn’t hurt, thank goodness, but was very vocal in her upset. Both Tessa and Willa were worried. Once Charlotte was free, and hiding, Tessa sat nearby, so that Charlotte wouldn’t be alone. I was worried Charlotte would get aggressive in her panic, but she didn’t. It was very sweet of Tessa, since they still don’t always get along.

Could not get going on Monday. Everything was a struggle. Managed to get the SUBMISSIONS Topic Workbook smoothed out and uploaded, but there is a lot of formatting wonk, so I will have to go back through and figure it out. I might have to push back the release date.

Lost way too much of the day trying to get my mother’s new doctor situation sorted out. It shouldn’t take us a damn year, pandemic or not, to find a doctor. I’m lucky she’s in reasonably good health for 97, and the paramedics aren’t here every couple of weeks, the way they are for several other residents on the block. I think we’ve found someone decent. We’ll see, after her appointment in mid-July.

Finally managed to shake loose what wasn’t working in the Monthology anthology story, and got it done. It wasn’t just that the originally planned A and B storylines flipped, causing restructuring – the heart of the piece was somewhere else. Once I found its heart, I could build the story properly. I did a few revision passes (some of them major), and wound up with a draft I felt good enough about to send to my editor. Hopefully, she likes it. I’m a little worried that the story is too quiet, without the harder urban fantasy edge. But I was careful about fact-checking the shared world details and the details of anyone else’s monsters, so I think we’re okay.

There’s a lot less about the workday of the protagonist, which I thought would ground the piece, and would have called for more inter-monster interaction. But there’s room to do more if there’s another volume, and if I’m invited to contribute again. This story stands on its own, but also leaves the door open for more stories with these characters.

Fingers crossed it fits the shared vision.

I let the horror story percolate. I actually have two ideas. The more gruesome one is the one I’m going to draft first.

While there weren’t scripts assigned in my cue, I got a stack of manuscripts to cover, where I have to read the first fifty pages and comment, so there’s the week’s work from that. I’ll still be under where I wanted to be this pay period, but not as badly. And, with the review invoice I’m sending, I should be okay. Bills are covered, and as long as I’m not extravagant, I don’t have to feel like a miser.

Started reading the new book for review. It’s pretty good.

Up early this morning to go to the laundromat. It’s usually kept up quite well, but it was filthy today. The machines were fine, but the rest of it was yucky. I brought the laundry back unfolded, because I didn’t want it on the folding table.

I managed to get a good bit of the multi-colored draft of first big section of The Big Project done. The good thing about the slow and careful attention it needs to catch passives, adverbs, and qualifiers is that a lot of other errors show up, too.

I’ll do some writing this morning, and promotion of “Personal Revolution”. Later, I have to pick up my mom’s prescription. This afternoon, I’ll take a home COVID test, not because I’m feeling terrible, but because tonight I’m going to my first in-person yoga class in nearly three years, and, even though they have strict protocols, I want to make sure once and for all I’m clear post-workshop and Farmers’ Market. I have my vaccination card tucked into my purse. I still have to clean my mat and fix my mat bag before tonight. The buckle on the strap broke during the move.

I’m hoping to get a tarot spread up on the Ko-fi page later today, too. I was going to head down to Pittsfield to try and get a new phone (my phone’s giving me trouble, but hey, it lasted four years, a record for me), but I think I’ll wait until later in the week.

Plenty to do, so better get to it, right? Overlay the NOW over the sense memory stress of the final clear-out last year.

Have a good one.

Tues. June 7, 2022: When You Break The Important Bowl

image courtesy of Chuttersnap via Unsplash.com

Tuesday, June 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Saturn Retrograde

Partly sunny and warm

Talk about a weekend that was all over the place.

Mercury went direct on Friday, thank goodness, so there was a huge burden lifted. Don’t talk to me about the shadows of the retrograde; we’d spend far too much time in trouble if we had to tack on two extra weeks at each end of already too many Mercury Retrogrades every year.

But, of course, as Mercury turned directed, Saturn (the planet of life lessons) prepared to turn retrograde on Saturday, and they squared. Which caused tension.

Did a library run to drop off/pick up books, and then out to Wild Oats for eggs, guacamole, wine. You know, the basics. Turned around two scripts.

Read a book from an author whose work I’ve read a great deal of, over a great many years. Wasn’t that thrilled with this one. It was within her formula, but missing the sparky quality that usually sets it apart in the genre. It felt like she dampened it down to please a more conservative audience, and it didn’t quite work.

Up early Saturday morning, fussing over the plants. First thing, when they opened, I went to the Farmers’ Market, which is now in the outdoor location, and weekly through October. Got some great stuff, enjoyed talking with the vendors and the other shoppers. One woman starts at the Williamstown market, then hits North Adams, and keeps going. Saturday is her Farmers’ Market day.

Since I was out in that direction, I hopped into Big Y and filled in the other groceries I needed for the week’s meals, built around what I got at the Farmers’ Market.

Good thing I’d decided to drive.

Hauled everything home and upstairs, and put it away. Made a big salad for lunch.

Turned around two more scripts in the afternoon, and played with the next Monthology section. Had to deal with an issue with the storage facility on Cape.  They tried to put through the autopay early and whined that it was refused. Yup. That is correct. I put in a safeguard so it can’t be pulled early. The new owners suck, and I need to make arrangements to get things moved up here as soon as I can afford it (and find a storage facility not too far away. They are not plentiful here).

Read REAL MEN KNIT by Kwana Jackson, which is delightful. THE ENCHANTED MAP ORACLE arrived, which I like, although it’s very different than I expected, when I ordered it.

Dinner was salmon with softened onion, tomato, and red pepper aioli on romaine, with buttered steamed spinach. It was good.

There was an extra Zoom meditation session this week with Be Well Be Here, and I practiced with the group. Definitely helped me sleep.

Up early on Sunday, thanks to the cats.  Breakfast consisted of delicious blueberry muffins from Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery. But we also were out of the house early to visit Natural Bridge State Park, which is only a couple of miles away (and in the same town). The park entrance is right next to a mill where I’d attended a chamber event a few months back.

It’s absolutely beautiful. I posted some of the photos on my Instagram feed. It used to be a marble quarry. I hadn’t realized we had marble quarries here in New England, and I don’t even think I’ve ever seen marble out in the wild. Pretty stunning. The dam and the waterfalls are lovely.

The bridge itself is shut off right now, awaiting inspections. I assume there are safety issues. We’ll go back another day, when it’s all opened back up. A conspiracy of ravens was in one of the large trees on the cliff. They didn’t mind when we walked past first (as the only humans around), but when some others arrived, they were carrying on like they were having a group nervous breakdown. I guess they’ve learned humans are bad.

They were definitely ravens and not crows; much bigger than my local murder of crows, and the call is different.

Read Fiona Leitch’s MURDER ON THE MENU, the first book in her Nosey Parker series set in Cornwall. Although it’s set in a fictional town, there were also lots of familiar touchstones from places I’ve visited. The writing is great, the characters are fun, the plot is good. I wanted to read more in the series. Turns out, although it was only released last year, the whole series undergone a rebrand. This book is now THE CORNISH VILLAGE MURDER and all the covers are redone. The whole series has new titles and new covers to play up the Cornish village aspect. I wound up buying the whole series for Kindle, and pre-ordering the 5th one that will come out in August.

I’m noticing how the traditional authors are being pushed to release multiple books a year, often several in the same series within just a few months of each other. I have a sneaking suspicion they’re being paid less to work harder. Even before I got sick, that was one of the things that was killing me with my small publisher – being pushed too hard to write too much too fast for too little money. Pay writers enough and let them keep a sane schedule.

The publishing industry needs to make a lot of changes in order to be sustainable. Part of that is getting the corporate overseers out, and having a renaissance of smaller publishers with actual vision, who also have enough resources to pay their writers, editors, production people, artists enough on which to survive.

Started reading Jennifer Weiner’s THE SUMMER PLACE, which is a different style than many of her other books I’ve read before. Good for her, not sticking to formula, but writing what interests her.

The big drama for Sunday was a fire across the street, in the historical building that houses student apartments. There was a kitchen fire in a supposedly empty apartment. A couple of guys showed up and tossed burning things onto the pavement and poured water on it, and didn’t want the fire department to show up. But someone called them, because two cars of cops, and EMT, and two fire trucks showed up. The firemen were not amused by the way the guys packed smoldering materials in garbage bags and just poured water on them. Everything had to be undone and checked to make sure it didn’t catch again, thank goodness. And the fire department went in and brought out the blackened stove and several rods’ of burnt curtains. How did it even start? The apartment’s been empty since late May.

The building itself has Historic Preservation status, having been built in 1899, and it’s gorgeous. But this is the third time since we’ve lived across the street that the Fire Department has had to visit.

Dinner was chicken with honey barbecue sauce, in the crockpot, and potato salad.

The cats got me up before 5 on Monday morning. I was not amused. All three of them ganged up on me. At least there were lemon muffins from the Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery to which to look forward!

Slogged through a bunch of email, blogged, did the rounds, wrote a little over 1K on The Big Project, worked on a social media ad, worked on a blurb and log line for a project. Turned around only one script, not two, which means I have three to turn around tomorrow, because I can’t turn any around today.

Broke a beautiful vintage bowl from the 1950’s, the one I use to let the bread rise. I’m furious with myself, and have no sympathy for the fact that my hands are banged up. “Oh, it’s an accident, these things happen” doesn’t cut it. It was my responsibility to take special care of that bowl. And I failed, after making sure it was safe for decades. Which is unacceptable. I’m going to try to piece it together again; I think I’ve retrieved all the pieces.

Today will be challenging, and there’s no use talking about it ahead of time, so we’ll catch up tomorrow. Spare a good thought my way if you can, and we’ll catch up soon.

Tues. May 10, 2022: Off To Yet Another Mechanic

image courtesy of Peter Gottschalk via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto & Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

This is scheduled to post, since I had to leave the house very early to get the car to the mechanic, and I have no idea how that will go.

I made sure I had a quiet weekend.  Friday and Saturday were all about finishing the contest entries.

First thing Saturday, though, I went to the Farmers Market. This is the last time it’s indoors; starting in June, it will be outdoors every Saturday until November. What adds a sense of festivity to the market is that you buy wooden tokens (yes, I’ve considered the wooden nickels jokes) when you go in and pay with the tokens.

The woman who made the amazing baguettes wasn’t there this time, which was a shame, since I’ve been fantasizing about those baguettes since last month! But I made a stop at Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery and had a good chat with the baker (who was a theatre major in college), and stocked up on the espresso coffee cake muffins, some cocoa bites, and a loaf of challah bread. I bought a cranberry pecan loaf from Cookies & More. I bought a big bag of spinach, a big bag of mixed Asian greens, and a lovely head of Bok choy from Red Shirt Farm. I bought a camembert-like cheese from Cricket Creek, and a bottle of maple syrup from Senecal’s Sugarhouse.

Filled up my bag with goodies!

And all through that, it was about chatting with the vendors and the other customers at the market, everyone in a good spirits and eager to share their favorite things.

It reminds me of the best of the Union Square Greenmarket, when I lived in NYC, rather than the markets in my previous location, where the vendors usually acted like they were doing you a favor by selling something, instead of it being a mutually beneficial transaction.

I wasn’t there very long, but I was tired when I got home, even from positive socializing! The joy of being an introvert. But I’m glad I did it, and I’m glad I’m meeting people slowly. Most people are still masking; everyone’s as vaccinated as they can be.

Once I put away the bounty, I took a rest, and then went back to work on contest entries.

For dinner, I used the whole head of Bok choy with the rest of the leftover chicken to do a stir-fry from one of my favorite cookbooks, CHINESE SOUL FOOD by Hsiao-Ching Chou. It was delicious. I also made more vegetable stock.

Saturday was also the Kentucky Derby. I lost all respect for those running Churchill Downs when I learned that the Narcissistic Sociopath was in attendance.

It was pretty exciting to see Rich Strike, who wasn’t even in the race two days ago, win, at 84-1. My baby Epicenter came in second. Tiz the Bomb decided this wasn’t worth the effort that day (very much like his grandfather).

When I used to cover horse racing (more years ago now than it seems), I quickly found out that the Derby was the least fun of the three races, in spite of being the start of the Triple Crown, where everything is possible. And that’s because it’s stopped being about the horses and focuses more on the audience who wants to see and be seen. The Preakness became the most fun for me. It’s raucous, less pretentious than any of the others, and there’s still a lot of Triple Crown possibility. The Belmont was at my home track, and, while I always loved the race and the site, the crowds and the tension were exhausting.

As an off-site observer, for years before I started writing about racing, the Preakness was my least favorite; but, once I started getting more involved, it was the most fun to actually be onsite of the three races, in spite of all the chaos in the infield.

Sunday was Mother’s Day. We had the espresso coffee cake muffins for breakfast. I made salads for lunch, using the spinach, Asian greens, carrot, cranberry, Canadian bacon, and hard-boiled egg, with an Italian vinaigrette. My mom asked for bangers and mash for dinner, so that’s what we had. And, of course, cheesecake.

I read for pleasure on Sunday, instead of logging entry scores, although I made a list of my top picks.

I read BOSS WITCH by Ann Aguirre, which I really liked, and CLAWS FOR SUSPICION by Deborah Blake, which I also loved. It was nice enough to sit out on the porch, so I read out there for a good portion of the day.

I went to bed very early on Sunday, because I was tired. In the third year of the pandemic, with the right wing Christofascists openly telling us they’re planning to murder us, after packing the courts so they can get away with it, and the DEMS SIT BACK AND LET THEM – it’s exhausting. Trying to live my life and also fulfill my responsibility as a citizen is exhausting, even if I don’t write about all the details of it here.

There is NO such thing as “not being political” anymore. If you make that claim, it means you agree with the rightwing extremists and think you’re safe from their hate. The thing is, they always need something and someone to fuel their hate, so no one is safe.

Up early on Monday.  Worked until 2 PM finishing the paperwork on the final category of contest entries, and sent it in. It was accepted and invoice requested. I sent the invoice at 7 PM and it was paid 39 minutes later. That’s how you show your freelancers you appreciate them!

I stress-painted the garden frog we bought when we first moved to the Cape house. I didn’t have the dark pink paint the petals on his back used to have (yes, he’s a frog, but his back is full of flowers), so I used a lighter pink, and then the yellow for the centers. He’s a bright, happy frog again who can sit amongst the plants on the front porch.

Read for pleasure (a mystery set in Venice, and then started reading a biography of Ngaio Marsh).  Spinach and cheese omlette for dinner.

Neighbors across the street are building a garden in front of the house, with all kinds of cute little plants and hanging baskets. Only. . .they plant but don’t water anything. I’m sure they will learn.

Finals at the college across the way must be done, because the students started playing music and hanging out in the street and blowing off some steam. Yes, they’re still masking. Even though they’re all vaxxed. Good for them (and us).

I am off to the mechanic. Let’s hope this guy will actually fix the car and not put me off another month. I’ve basically been without a car for six months now. I want to get it done.

Have a good one, and hold a good thought for the car and me.