Fri. Nov. 25, 2022: Leftovers and Decorating Begins

image courtesy of Monika via pixabay.com

Friday, November 25, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Rainy and mild

I hope you had a lovely day yesterday, whether you celebrated American Thanksgiving or not.

I slept in, until nearly 7. Tessa was beside herself. I fed everybody, made the stuffing, and wrestled the bird into the oven a little after 8:30.

I put good wishes on the various social media platforms, rather than do any serious interaction.

Then, I did my day’s work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, which wound up being 1929 words that, overall, I’m happy with (at least for this draft).

Wednesday, I got the book review out, the invoice in, was paid, and did a script coverage.

I’d finished my work by 2 PM on Wednesday, and lounged around reading, and feeling strange in the afternoon. I realized that was because I no longer know how to relax. I know how to work, and how to collapse onto the couch or the bed to recover from work, but I’ve forgotten how to relax.

That goes on the schedule for next year, weird as it sounds.

Follow-up questions came in for a script I covered a couple of days ago, and I was irritated that the answers are due on Monday morning. But I’ll probably turn them around today, and get it over with.

I could not face any more Cleaning Out the Fridge leftovers, so I made scrambled eggs for dinner instead.

Hopping back to yesterday:

For once I timed the turkey and all the sides to be done on time, and I’d set out all the necessary platters and dishes, etc. It was your typical turkey with gravy and stuffing and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (mashed with melted butter, orange juice, and brown sugar), peas, corn, and rolls. With apple pie for dessert.

We like our holiday meals around mid-day, so we can clean up and spend the rest of the day half asleep.

We cleaned up. Because I have a lot of vintage china that can’t go in the dishwasher, there are always plenty of dishes that have to be done by hand. But we also had a full dishwasher, and put that on.

I made stock from the carcass, and it’s so glorious I think I will use some of the leftovers to make a turkey soup.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening lounging on the couch, reading and playing with the cats.

Checked in on Twitter a few times, but it was mostly people screaming about this and that and saying that anyone who enjoys the holiday isn’t accommodating those with toxic families. Yeah, when you’re wearing a mask when you’re out and about and actually taking care of others, you get to say something about accommodations.

And if I have a family I appreciate and we enjoy each other, we’re going to have a good holiday without guilt.

Up around 6:30 this morning. Tessa is annoyed that not only was her breakfast late, but it’s not sunny. She’s somehow decided that I am in charge of making sure the sun shines, so she has multiple sun spots in which to nap during the day, and she is not pleased that I am slacking off.

I did the next chapter of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, which came in at 1941 words, so I’ve broken 56K. Without the pressure to hit a certain wordcount by a certain day, it’s flowing better. Or maybe I’m just in the book’s natural rhythm now.

Most of the weekend is about decorating  for Yule. I stopped Black Friday shopping about 20 years ago, so I don’t have to worry about anything, although I do have to pick up a few things at the grocery store and Wild Oats. Tomorrow, I may do some Small Business Saturday shopping, and I’ll head to Whitney’s Farm to get the wreath. Sunday is the First of Advent, so even if I don’t have everything done, I’ll have the Advent Table up.

So why am I online today? Because, my friends, I am being mercenary.  Writing is how I keep a roof over my head, so I must promote my work. The next episode of Legerdemain dropped yesterday. Some scheduled promotions went live, but for the rest, I have to make the rounds today.

Have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you next week.

Wed. Nov. 16, 2022: Snow to Icy Rain

image courtesy of Andreas via pixabay.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Icy rain and cold

I talk in detail about my process for the Writer’s Rough Outline over on The Process Muse. I hope you enjoy it.

I’m always grateful having control of my schedule, and yesterday was another day for it.

I got my Nano words in first thing. I started to do the social media rounds, promoting Legerdemain and doing all the rest. The snowstorm wasn’t set to hit until late at night. But the pre-storm headache got more intense, and the clouds got thicker.

So I stopped what I was doing, and made the store run to get a tarp and some bungie cords a few hours early.  On a whim, I stopped at the thrift store and found three more cute Santas and some more adorable Christmas mice for my collections. Because I love them.

When I came back, we brought in the rest of the plants and decorations and shelves and stuff from the back balcony. I’ll go into that in more detail in tomorrow’s garden post over on Gratitude and Growth. We tarped down the big bench and the bistro chairs folded on it which will stay out all winter. And rearranged what we had to in here.

I got out all the garbage before the snow started. And then started the social media rounds. Mastodon was down most of the day, which is no big deal. They’re doing the best they can. CounterSocial has a lot of Twitgees coming over, trying to cause drama, and nobody’s giving it to them.  Some are flouncing back off to Twitter; others are getting blocked or banned. I’m pretty sure I’m going to dump Cohost before the end of the year. I’m not enjoying it, and the focus/interests of most of those I’ve encountered are very different from what I want and need from a platform.

Turned around two scripts. I’d almost finished with the book for review, and got an extension. I will get that out today. I also have three script to turn around today, so it’s a good thing I’m home all day. I did well for the pay period that ended yesterday, a little higher than my goal. Hopefully, there will be enough in the queue over the coming weeks to make my nut AND take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off.

Angry that the Narcissistic Sociopath gets to make another run for President. Merrick Garland has failed the country. He had the chance to defend it, and he chose not to. I’m disappointed in him as a professional, and as a human, and enraged that these traitors keep getting away with it.

This whole “oopsie, Russia hit Poland by mistake” is ridiculous. Russia is testing NATO. And these new reports it was a Ukrainian missile gone astray? I don’t buy it.

The snow was lovely. I spent a chunk of time sitting at the window, watching it. But during the night, it turned to an icy rain. Tessa woke me up around 4 so I could put a bucket under the leak on the front porch. Then, Charlotte didn’t want me to go back to sleep. We battled until I finally got up a little after 6. Miss Thing is, of course, fast asleep on the bed again.

I’ve been playing with the idea I had in a dream a few nights ago that would make a good novel or novella. The premise is strong, the characters work, but I’m not sure how to make the plot work. Something to play with, probably in longhand, after Nano.

This morning’s Nano went well. Chapter 17 of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, coming in at 2461 words. I was worried the chapter was a tangent, but I found a way to make the subplot echo certain elements of the plot and tie together. That was a relief.

If the temperatures hadn’t risen and it changed over to rain, we’d be in a serious snow day by now. But it’s hovering around freezing, so it’s yucky, but not snowdrifts.

Back to the page.

Published in: on November 16, 2022 at 9:50 am  Comments Off on Wed. Nov. 16, 2022: Snow to Icy Rain  
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Thurs. Oct. 27, 2022: A Cat With A Plan

(Charlotte, photo by the author)

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Warm and wet

I hope you’re enjoying The Process Muse. If you haven’t had the chance, you can sign up for it here. (It’s free).

Latest on the garden and our weird weather up on Gratitude and Growth.

Worked on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH and I’m still not happy with it, although it’s grown and is richer than it was. A major arc for a couple of supporting characters is gaining traction, and, if I handle it will be both beautiful and sad throughout the book.

Picked up the rest of the books at the library, and put in for some books with 1950s details that I will need for Nano. The book on fashion is a lot of fun. After all, I have to clothe my characters (and most of my costume books are still in storage).

Went to the DMV (RMV here in MA) to renew the car registration. In and out in under 10 minutes, and they were very nice, just the way I like it. Paid the insurance for the next 6 months, so that is all set.

Ordered in Chinese food for lunch, because I was too lazy to cook.

In the afternoon, I turned around two scripts, and in the evening, I read the next book for review. I will write it up and send it off this morning, after meditation and breakfast.

Charlotte kept bothering me in the night. Around 2 AM, I set up her playpen in the sewing room and put her in it (Tessa came by the snicker at her). I was just falling asleep again when I heard a series of thumps. I got up. Charlotte had rolled the playpen out of the sewing room and down the hall into my office, headed for my bedroom. Gotta give the cat points for ingenuity.

I took her out of the playpen and back in bed. She snuggled down, purring, and was good until Tessa woke us at 6:30 with her howling.

I had a breakthrough on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH – I think I’ve finally figured out the climax and refigured the resolution, so it works better. It means setting up a couple of other characters earlier and planting more clues, and shifting a relationship, but it will make the book stronger, and fix what I was worried isn’t working. As soon as this is posted, I’m going back to work on it, taking a break for meditation, and then finishing it.

I’ll have to decide if I want to work on ANGEL HUNT this morning and LEGERDEMAIN tomorrow, or the other way around. I think I’ll work on ANGEL HUNT, and then work on LEGERDEMAIN all weekend.

The next episode of Legerdemain drops today, and I hope you enjoy it!

Published in: on October 27, 2022 at 7:09 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Oct. 27, 2022: A Cat With A Plan  
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Tues. Oct. 18, 2022: Riding a Creative Wave

image courtesy of Kaneori via pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Waning Moon

Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Rainy and cold

Ready for our long, Tuesday natter? I also have the Mid-Month check-in up on the GDR site.

Decent weekend. Friday was a little all over the place. It wasn’t focused writing time, which was frustrating. Lots of admin work. Wrote and submitted a book review, and received the next two books to review. Wrote 2 ½ blog posts for Ink-Dipped Advice, working ahead. Poked around on Substack, honing my plan. Covered a script. Started another coverage.

The inspiring thing I did on Friday afternoon was to put on real people clothes and makeup and go to MASSMoCA for the Boiler House Poets reading. I met Joanne, the poet who invited me to the reading, and several of the others. Eight poets were on this year’s retreat, working together. The voices and experiences were all very different, but there was still a flow to the overall reading. It was exciting, and I’m so honored I was invited to it. I’m looking forward to next year’s reading already!

Home, made dinner, read in the evening, for fun. Read a new book in a series where I’ve read most of the series. This one was just too formulaic and similar to the others to be satisfying. I mean, I enjoyed it, it worked as relaxing brain candy for the night, but I didn’t love it, and some of the other books in the series I really loved.

Slept well Friday into Saturday, mostly because Charlotte stayed on the couch until nearly 5 AM. It was Tessa who jumped on the bed in the morning to wake me up – the first time she’s been on the bed since we moved here. Charlotte came in a little later and was horrified.

I drafted a short play in the morning, “My Side of the Bed” which was fun. I unpacked more boxes from the storage run, washed some pieces, and finished the last script coverage of the pay period. I made some notes on a couple of projects, where the ideas are flowing.

The tulip, daffodil, and hyacinth bulbs arrived. We’ll plant them in a week or two, and hope for the best in spring. So I guess the tussling with John Scheeper’s worked. Still not sure I’d deal with them again.

Forced myself to read the book I’d put aside from the author whose series I’d previously liked until she used “witch” as a slur in this one. I didn’t like it for more reasons than the slur. Overall, it was bland. On top of that, the protagonist, in the last few books, is regressing. I was drawn to the series because the protagonist was smart, resourceful, strong, and fun. She paired up with a romance-worthy guy, and the first few books post-marriage were fun. But in the last few, she gets weaker and weaker and more and more dependent on him and frantic/anxious, in a way that doesn’t make sense the way her character was established in the previous books. It’s like the editor encouraged the writer to make the character more “relatable” by giving her more anxiety when there’s nothing to worry about.  I’ve lost respect for the character, and not just because of the witch slur. Instead of growing, she’s regressing, into a state of helplessness beyond where she was in the first book. So, I’m done with the series and the author. It’s not like losing me as a reader is going to make a dent in her sales. I am no longer her target audience.

Tried to start another book that came highly recommended, but it’s in present tense, and I’m not being paid to read it, so it’s going back to the library unread. I loathe novels written in present tense. I want to hurl them against the wall. It’s the author standing between me and the text screaming, “Look at me! I’m such a brilliant stylist!” when they’re not, instead of letting me experience the story. Again, I’m not the target audience. If a writer believes that’s the best voice in which to tell the story, they should absolutely do it. But I am not the audience for it.

I’m reading a few nonfiction books right now, which I enjoy. One I did not, too much religion and not enough about what it claimed the book was about, so that’s going back.

Started the next book in the Elantra series, and I’m enjoying that.

Alternated reading and unpacking in the afternoon.

Charlotte woke me up too early on Sunday morning. But I got up, fed everybody, and wrote two episodes of LEGERDEMAIN, about 3K all told. Updated the Style Sheet and the Series Bible. I bitch and moan to myself (and the cats) about updating the sheets after drafting every episode (for a novel, I’d wait until galleys to update the Series Bible). But it sure as heck saves me a lot of time and frustration as I move forward.

I did some puttering and reading, and planning for a project I realized has to go live next week (just after the new moon). I meant to just create the opening for it and jot more notes, but I wrote the first four pieces. This will all make sense later this week, when I formally announce the project. Until I upload it and schedule it to post, I don’t know if I can promote it before it goes live, or if I have to wait. I hate vague-posting, and apologize. I’m also not talking about it on social media, because I hate it when people say they have good news, but can’t share it yet. STFU until you can.

Crankypants much? I better sing myself the Crankypants song until I laugh and get over it.

All told, I wrote a little over 5K on the new project and 3K on LEGERDEMAIN, so I wrote nearly 8K on Sunday. I haven’t done that in a long time, and I was tired and achy by the end of the day.

To my horror, when I was looking at the content calendar of scheduled upcoming posts, I realized that I have not uploaded/scheduled the episode ads for the final 11 episodes of LEGERDEMAIN’s first big arc. So that’s on the list for this week. I’m behind in the overall series marketing, and I have to update the Topic Workbook links before the new project drops next week, because I link back to the Topic Workbooks. I also have to create a newsletter blast so it’s ready to go when the new project goes live.

And I’m way, way behind on LOIs. As in, hadn’t sent any this month. Which I didn’t realize until I compiled the information for the Mid-Month post over on the GDR site on Monday.

But the writing itself felt good, and that’s what’s important.

I joined #scriptchat on Sunday night, and it was fun. Sunday nights are usually bad for me to do stuff online, but I’d already blown the attempt at a day of disconnect, so why not do something fun?

Monday morning, I was irritated by the amount of email that piled up. I have a lot of admin to catch up on this week.

I wrote another episode of LEGERDEMAIN, which is a good thing. But I’m pretty sure this arc will run closet to 40 episodes than 30, as originally planned. But the structure of the arc has embedded in me as I write, which will make the revisions and edits easier.

I got an email for my editor with the suggestions for the article that will be in the 2024 Llewellyn almanac. She loves the piece, which makes me so happy, because it’s one of the riskiest and most personal pieces I’ve ever written, and I worried I screwed it up. Her suggestions, as always, are right on the mark. I’m so grateful to have her as my editor.

Payment came through from the last two weeks’ of script coverage, and I transferred that over to the bank.

I think I figured out a solution for the LEGERDEMAIN ads which won’t be too much of a PITA. On some platforms, it’s just about adjusting dates. On channels that don’t allow edits, it’s about adding in the correct episodes on the correct dates, and having more overlap between episodes. It will be a slog, but it’s fixable.

The hardest thing was to take a breath and not berate myself for the mistake. I’m human, I made a mistake. It wasn’t huge, it’s fixable, it didn’t hurt anyone. It was on my own work, not client work. Mistakes happen.

I updated the links on the Topic Workbooks on the Devon Ellington site, so those are all current. Since the workbooks are steady sellers, I need to stay on top of that. I still have to create, upload, and schedule the marketing campaign for that through December. And upload/schedule the ads for 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS during November and into the first week of December (October is done and dropping on time).

I did another piece for the project launching next week, because I was in its groove. I can start uploading/scheduling on Thursday, I think. I also created the announcement in MailerLite, which will either go out this week (preferable) or on the day of the launch, depending on when I can get a legitimate link.

I turned around one script coverage, and started a second. I realized I was behind where I hoped/needed to be, so I withdrew from an online event I was scheduled to attend.

However, while I was cooking dinner, I got an idea. The title came first (which is unusual for me). Originally, it was going to be a piece of flash fiction, a ghost story with humor and maybe a touch of horror. But as I percolated, I realized it make more sense as a play.

After dinner, instead of returning to script coverage, I sat down and wrote the first draft of “Paranormal Paraphrasing” which turned out to be a 10-minute play.

As I finished the draft, an email came in from my friend Paula, who’d come across some more play submission calls, and one of them looks like it will be a good fit.

I was so tired by the time I was finished that I was shaking. But I’m glad I rode that creative wave.

I didn’t sleep well; too many different ideas mashing, but not meshing, in my dreams.

Up early. One of the cats was hurling, but I haven’t stepped in it yet, which means I haven’t yet found it.

Got into a lively Twitter discussion about being baffled when people refuse to wear clothes more than once. For me, it’s not only a sustainability and an economic issue, but also, when I love a piece of clothing, I take good care of it and keep wearing it. I mend it. I clean it the way it needs to be cleaned. I honor it. Most of us on the thread felt the same way, thank goodness.

I also sew, and can build my own clothes. I realize not everyone can or wants to do that, but basic mending is a necessary life skill. It’s worth MAKING the time to learn.

Anyway, I actually have to leave the house today. I should have gone to the laundromat, but the weather is too yucky. I’ll go tomorrow. I do, however, have to return a stack of books, hit the grocery store, pick up my mother’s prescription, mail some bills, hit the liquor store.

I need to get some writing in before I leave, help a friend with her website, and then, later on, finish the coverage I started yesterday and turn around another one. There hasn’t been much in the queue this week, which concerns me.

Time to get out some more LOIs. I’ve been lax on it for the past few weeks.

Have a good one! The next episode of LEGERDEMAIN drops today.

Thurs. Oct. 13, 2022: Working Through the Back Pain

image courtesy of Wolfgang Claussen via pixabay.com

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold (rain coming in)

Read up on what’s going on, garden-wise, over on Gratitude and Growth.

I had a pretty good day workwise, yesterday, and my back didn’t give out until the evening.

In the morning, I wrote another episode of LEGERDEMAIN, updated the style sheet and series bible. That usually takes longer than writing the episode (okay, it doesn’t. It just feels like it). I’m having a lot of fun, and working hard to keep the rhythm of the chapters more consistent, and closer to the 1200-word mark.

Then, I switched over and wrote the next episode of VIXEN’S HOLLOW/THE CUNNING ONE. It’s a lot of fun. I think people will enjoy it. I updated the series bible for that (I won’t have a style sheet until I revise/edit, as I prep it for release). But I am creating a “Work Diary” that gets into the details of each episode, the inspirations, the changes as the writing flows, etc. That will be part of the subscription element when the series goes live.  For my personal definition, the central protagonist, Esmeralda Santini, is a cross between Marion Ravenwood and Morticia Adams. The series itself is somewhat like WAREHOUSE 13 meets LEGENDS AND LATTE. Yeah. That far out there.

It’s a helluva lot of fun to write, and I think readers will enjoy it. Again, it’s specifically written as a serial, as is LEGERDEMAIN, not releasing chapters of a book one at a time. Which means if I ever do decide to take them down and turn them into a book, it will be a bit of a PITA to adapt it back.

I poked around some more on Substack. There are so many different ways to do this. It looks like the most sensible way is to start building an audience before launching the serial and the “extras” that would be part of a subscription. Another thing to keep up. But I have some ideas, and if I can batch write posts and schedule them, It should work. It definitely feels better than Medium, which had so many obstacles to get over that it became a chore, rather than something joyful. There’s also more of a sense of writers supporting each other’s work over on Substack, which I like. So we’ll see. It means at least a year’s commitment, before I’d know whether or not to keep going. And before I have enough metrics to compare to Vella.

While juggling the shorter-term work that pays the bills every month. I’m playing with several different approaches, and I will see what works best. I look at the way Lilith St. Crow runs her career, and she’s doing pretty well running her serials on Patreon and Gumroad, but those are written with the intent to put them out later as books.

It’s a lot to think about and plan. Especially with the pressure from Nano coming up, and the need to keep up with immediate-paying work. I don’t want to drop the ball on radio plays or stage plays. I have plans for those for next year.

I looked at Linktree, which seemed like a good idea, but it drives traffic to Linktree instead of my website, so I think I’ll keep it to the website, which then has links to everything else on its landing page. It keeps my metrics higher.

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon. I liked both of them a lot, which is always a nice way to end the day.

There were computer issues on and off. By next spring, no doubt, I’ll need a new laptop. This one will be 3 years old, and I never had a PC make it more than a week past its warranty.

After dinner, I was on the couch with a heating pad on my back, reading the next book for review. I like the writing style – until it hit a trope that just sets my teeth on edge.

Didn’t sleep well. Woke up several times because of back pain, and used the yoga blocks and the foam roller. Had weird, bad dreams. Their messages are very clear, but it makes me weary.

Meditation this morning, and then it’s back to the page. I also have to do a library/grocery/post office run. This afternoon, more coverage. I’m hoping to have a light coverage day tomorrow, because I want to spend some time updating my websites.

Episode 24 of Legerdemain drops today. It’s not all-free anymore, but if you haven’t yet started to read, the first 3 are still free. The link is here.

Have a good one!

Published in: on October 13, 2022 at 7:29 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Oct. 13, 2022: Working Through the Back Pain  
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Tues. Oct. 4, 2022: Determined Writing Time

image courtesy of Nicole via pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Waxing Moon

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

Mercury DIRECT as of Sunday the 2nd (phew)

Mars still in Gemini (until March)

Cloudy and cool

Doesn’t it feel ever so much better to have Mercury direct? I was feeling crushed by it on top of the other retrogrades and Mars in Gemini.

Friday seems so far away, somehow.

I didn’t get as much done creatively as I’d hoped, although I wrote and submitted the book review, slogged through some email, worked on some marketing, and wrote ahead on a couple of blogs, scheduling them to post this week.

Most of the day was spent on script coverage, since it was the end of the pay period. I finished the huge coverage and got that out, and then did two smaller ones, which took me until well into the evening, and then it felt like my brain was broken.

I’d hoped to re-read AS YOU LIKE IT on Friday night, but no such luck.

I slept pretty well, and was up on Saturday, doing the normal routine (early morning writing, yoga, meditation, after feeding the cats) in spite of a bad headache.

The morning was spent switching out fabrics to Halloween/Samhain fabrics, and starting the decorating. I took a break in the late morning to run some bills and cards to the post office. I swung by the dollar store, hoping to find black garland and bones, but they didn’t have the bones I want, and the garland was too flimsy. I might have to redesign. If I can find a sturdier garland out of black leaves, I might buy some of the skeletal hands and have them climbing up the garland. We’ll see.

Charlotte and Tessa actually shared the couch for most of Saturday, without fighting. It was adorable.

I alternated decorating with re-reading AS YOU LIKE IT and Asimov’s commentary on AS YOU LIKE IT (ASIMOV’S GUIDE TO SHAKESPEARE is one of my favorite and most-used books).

I wrote the first 4 pages of a new one-act (that’s only going to be 10 pages). I’m happy with the tone and the bones of it.

Slept in a bit on Sunday. Tessa was not amused. Sunday, was, all around, a pretty rough day for no good reason. I was jumpy and out of sorts.

I managed to finish the draft of the short play, at least.

Some of the Fall Foliage parade went by the house,  a handful of floats and some marchers. Fewer than last year, so I don’t know if they directed them down several different streets, or if this year’s parade was smaller. Charlotte sat on her perch, and was thrilled when people spotted her and waved. She believed the parade was in her honor, and was in a good mood for the rest of the day.

I was excited to read the next book in a series in which I’ve read all the books. But there, on p. 12 – the protagonist used “witch” as a slur against women. This author and this protagonist have never done that, in the entire series, and it doesn’t fit with the character as established over the years. In addition to the whole it crosses the personal line, so that series and that author is now off my list permanently, and I’m unsubscribing from the mailing list, and all the rest.

It also brings up how both Berkeley and Kensington are encouraging the hard right turn that cozy mystery has been taking for the past few years, and I don’t like it. Series that never used the slur are now doing so, authors who KNOW BETTER are letting it in their books.

I’m not having it. Bye-uh.

I started reading the essays in LIGHT THE DARK, which is a series of essays on the creative process, and it is wonderful and nourishing.

Participated in Script Chat Sunday night, which I don’t usually do, but I’d blown the whole day-of-disconnect for Sunday, so why not. It was fun.

Noodled with two ideas that might work well on Ko-fi.

Tessa let me sleep on Monday until 6 AM, a big win. A colleague wanted to meet; I’d suggested meeting last week today, but never heard back, so I went and booked other work for this afternoon. I’m not available at the last minute. Book ahead.

Again, it’s that whole “you don’t have a real job” mentality that irks me.

I adapted the next chapter of ANGEL HUNT (3600-ish words) into four serial episodes. That gives me 30 episodes so far, or the first 15 weeks of that serial. I will launch it at the new moon in January following Mercury going direct, but I want to make sure I have the entire serial done by the time it starts. It will be a finite serial, and, if it gains traction, I might do a “Season 2” when they’ve left New York, and a “Season 3” years after. But we’ll see how the original one does, first.

I took a look at EARTH BRIDE, which is likely to go up on Substack at some point. I have over 125K words, and I’m only about halfway through the original outline. When I’d worked on it as a novel, I figured it would turn into a trilogy, so as a serial, it could go on for a good, long time. Re-reading the material, it needs a lot of work, though. But I think it’s more suited for Substack than for Vella. ANGEL HUNT will work better on Vella.

I revised “After Arden” and then let it sit. I’m hoping one more revision (today) and then it can go out. The deadline looms.

Wrote an episode and a half of LEGERDEMAIN, which was good. I need to find my notes for the next section, so I’m not going too far off track.

Played the marketing game, checked in with the Women Write Change group (I usually check in on that site at least once a day, or once every couple of days).

A friend sent me the draft of his new novel for feedback. He’s a wonderful writer, so I’m looking forward to it. He’s off on a travel writing gig for the next three weeks, so I have some time.

I was invited to a reading at the end of next week by the leader of a group of poets I’m excited to hear. I didn’t think she’d remember to let me know when it was, but she did, and I’m looking forward to it.

Turned around three script coverages yesterday, and have the same amount to do today, tomorrow, and Thursday to stay on track. Don’t have scripts yet for Friday, but hopefully, I can  get some.

Did not sleep well. Charlotte fussed at me all night. So I’m starting the day a little tired. I might hop out for some errands later today, or I might wait and do everything tomorrow. I have a long list of things that need to get done today on the writing front.

Episode 21 of Legerdemain drops today (and there’s even a poll)! I need to spend some time on the Vella FB groups today, and see if they actually are helpful.

Have a good one, friends.

Fri. Sept. 30, 2022: Inner and Outer Fog

Image by Joe via pixabay.com

Friday, September 30, 2022

Waxing Moon

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

Cold with dense fog

I could not shake the sadness triggered by the dream yesterday, to the point where getting through the day was a struggle. It was a case of actual reality not aligning with my emotional reality.

Meditation was lovely (Charlotte participated). I then had time to bolt breakfast and head for MassMOCA for the Working Artists Group, which was also good. They’re talking about moving sessions to after traditional work hours, which does not work for me. I can go to the next meeting – I think –even though it’s at 5, but if it moves to evenings, I will have to give it up. These meetings are part of my job, not a hobby; and if people are going the “day job comes first” route, then it’s not the right group for me.

Got the newsletter out. I like using MailerLite. The newsletter has a good feel to it. Of course, since that newsletter is out the door, it’s time to start the document for December’s newsletter!

The missing piece for one of the script coverages arrived, so I read that, updated the notes and sent it off. Started to turn around another coverage; it was missing a piece. Sent off the note. Received an “updated draft” that was still missing a piece, so I asked the support team for guidance. I have a feeling this particular author does not know the difference between a “preface” and a “synopsis.” Did half of the big coverage that’s due today, and will finish the rest this afternoon. That piece is pretty good.

Got 3 writer satisfaction bonuses, so at least the feedback’s been helpful.

Finished the book for the review that’s due today. I’ll write it up and get it out this morning.

I’m woefully behind in what I needed to get done this week, especially when it comes to Legerdemain and the next radio play. However, I have a lot of bills that have hit and need to be paid, so the script coverage has to take priority. But I’m discouraged with myself. I just don’t have the stamina and the mental capacity for long days that I used to.

So I have to adjust.

I’ve been invited to three events next week. I’ve already bowed out of one, because it will be inside, a large group, and unmasked. Nope. Not with the way the numbers are going up. I’m not yet sure about the other two.

I’ve also made peace with the fact that it might be years before I go to another in-person conference, if at all. If they’re not going to have safety policies and enforce them, I won’t be there.

On this morning’s agenda are the book review, Legerdemain, some blog posts, hopefully some work on “Owe Me.” The afternoon is about finishing the large script coverage and doing a shorter one. And that’s the pay period.

I’m trying to get in touch with various friends and colleagues in Florida, to make sure they are okay.

This weekend, I hope to get some more work done on Legerdemain and on the outline for the Retro Mystery. We’re also turning over the curtains/fabrics to October and getting out the decorations.

I am so ready for Mercury Retrograde to be damn over.

Have a good weekend, my friends.

Published in: on September 30, 2022 at 7:05 am  Comments Off on Fri. Sept. 30, 2022: Inner and Outer Fog  
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Tues. Aug. 23, 2022: Clacking Those Keys

image couresy of Simon via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Mars in Gemini

Cloudy and humid

The weekend was rocky. Friday, I still had a migraine. I dreaded going out to do the necessary errands, but it was sunny and pleasant out, and people were so darned happy about it, that it was fun to do errands. All of us who live there know that the sunny, pleasant days are numbered, and pretty soon, we have to hunker down for the winter.

Although I have to admit, I’m kind of looking forward to hunkering down for the winter.

I did more work on LEGERDEMAIN on Friday, finishing the episode ads, although I have to still work on some general ads. And I had to break up the folders for the episode ads and the general ads. I also did some work on the Legerdemain website. There’s still more to do, but I hope, by early September, I will have enough fun material on it to make it worthwhile to start promoting the link to the website.

Saturday morning, I went to the Farmers’ Market, which was a lot of fun. It wasn’t so hot and humid, which was a big help. I’d worn a dress – nothing fancy, just something simple and fun, and got a lot of compliments. Genuine compliments, not creepy ones. So that was a nice boost to the ego.

Forgot to photograph the produce when I came home. I immediately pulled out the slow cooker and did a slight adaptation of Moosewood’s ratatouille recipe so it would work in the slow cooker. And used the wonderful Carmen peppers instead of regular bell peppers, which made such a huge difference. That went simmering along for most of the day while I worked. We had some of it over couscous for dinner, and the rest made up six packets that I froze.

I did more work on the LEGERDEMAIN website. Because I want portions of it to read like the Chamber of Commerce put it up, there was a big section on public transportation and how to best get there, money, checkpoints, etc. It needs some massaging, but it’s fun.

I put up a bunch of the business-oriented ads, but did not write the information around them.

I really need to sit down with the sketchbook I bought for the project, my dad’s old Faber Castell pencils, and draw maps.

I worked on a new logo for the Coventina Circle Series. The graphic I’m using is too busy. I’m still not fully satisfied with the new logo, but it’s moving in the right direction.

I struggled with the horror story. The version that works, that sings, and makes sense on plot, character, and structure levels leans too far toward humor, which the editor very specifically stated he does not want for this anthology. The version without humor falls apart on plot and structure levels, although some of the character stuff works. So the version that works doesn’t fit the guidelines, and the version that fits the guidelines doesn’t work. The first would be rejected because it doesn’t fit the vision for the anthology; the second would be rightly rejected because it’s not good. I’m not saying that seeking praise; I’ve been doing this long enough to know when something doesn’t work/is bad. The version that fits the guidelines can’t be salvaged before deadline.

So I decided not to submit, because submitting either version wastes the editors’ time and is disrespectful. It kind of broke my heart, because I was so excited about the premise. But that’s the reality.

I’m putting away the more comic version. I think that has the potential to grow into a novella, which might eventually fit some other publisher’s guidelines. But right now, I will let it sit. There’s too much on deadline that needs my attention.

It still meant I was very depressed for the rest of the weekend.

I finished reading the Anita Loos biography. I always wished I lived around the beginning of the film industry, writing scenarios. I’ve always loved reading about it, and how writers used to move smoothly from coast to coast, and between prose, theatre, and film writing.

Sunday, I hit a wall. Or maybe the wall hit me. Not sure. I was exhausted (didn’t sleep well Saturday night). I was worried about a boundaries conversation I had to have with someone. Anyway, I made a late brunch of salmon Eggs Benedict, and spent most of the hot and humid da on the couch, reading Donna Andrews’ latest, ROUND UP THE USUAL PEACOCKS, which is a lot of fun.

The whole Mars in Gemini bit, with Mars being the planet for forceful momentum, and Gemini being quick-thinking and action, is hitting me hard. I have zero patience, and the urge to slap idiots upside the head is overwhelming. Seven months of this? Ick.

At least the migraine abated a little by Sunday.

Sunday night into Monday was rough, too. First, I was awakened by a cat in heat crying outside. All three of mine moved from window to window, worried. Finally fell back to sleep, and Charlotte woke me up a few hours later, because I had a nightmare. Took awhile to get to sleep after that.

But I woke up feeling better on Monday, and it turned out the boundary conversation was unnecessary, because the other party decided to respect the boundaries after all, so all is good. I have some ideas for the next couple of arcs of LEGERDEMAIN, one of the seeds which will be planted in the rewrite.

I’m considering putting all the Legerdemain stuff onto its own flash drive (in addition to backing it up on the external hard drive) instead of just having it on the general writing flash drive. I think the project needs its own. If I do wind up doing more serials (which wouldn’t happen until early next year, because I don’t want to undermine Legerdemain), maybe there would be room to put all of them on that drive. I’m thinking about revising ANGEL HUNT, finishing it, and putting it up as a finite serial, and then maybe revising EARTH BRIDE, and doing the same with that. It would be interesting to see how they stack up against each other. ANGEL HUNT started as a serial back when I wrote for KIC, and was unfinished when the company tanked. EARTH BRIDE was a Nano project way back in 2007 (I think) that wound up growing into a possible trilogy, but it might work as a serial, because it mixes science fiction and fantasy elements. But first, I want to get the first three major arcs of LEGERDEMAIN up and running, let them run, see if it’s worth continuing for several more arcs for the next year or so. Whenever I decide to finish it, I plan to leave it up for several months, up to a year, just to see how it does, and then I’ll decide if that’s it, or if it will have a life in a different format (after a multi-year break).

Readers who wait for an entire series to publish before they start reading are not my audience (and those readers are also why so many book series wind up dropped by their publishers, and no one gets to read the whole thing).

Worked on revisions for Legerdemain’s episodes 30 & 31. The new episode I need is between 31 & 32, and then the rest of the episodes to finish that arc get pushed back a number. I might break some of those last episodes into more than one episode, to keep the word count tight and the pacing strong. I got a few ideas for some general ads, and got to weave in some of what’s on the website into the episode, so each supports the other.

I ran into the landlord on the way out to do errands. The city inspector is coming around next week, and needs to come in and see our place before I have to take my mom to the doctor, which is not a problem. We’ll mop and vacuum Monday afternoon, and good to go. It was never a problem on Cape; it won’t be here, either. The place looks happy and comfortable. I will rearrange a few things between now and then, but it will all look good by the time he gets here, and it lights a fire under my butt to get it done.

Had to pick up more envelopes, staples for the stapler, some flash drives, a couple of small crochet hooks for the new yarn. It’s very delicate, so it needs a smaller hook than what I have here. Drove down to City Hall to drop off my mother’s ballot, and give them a little nudge because I still haven’t received mine. Picked up a couple of things at the grocery store, swung by the post office.

Home, and got the rest of the episode ads uploaded and scheduled through Episode 29, which takes me into November. I plan to revise, edit, proof, upload and schedule the last episodes for this major arc this week, and then get back to work on the next two arcs next week. There’s a character who died in this arc whose spirit is going to come back in the next couple of arcs, I think, and I’ve got a good idea of specifics I want in each of the two upcoming arcs.

I wrote a new episode, which I’m calling “31.5” in the first draft, but will eventually be Episode 32. It introduced a character who’s important to the murder arc, and sets him up for being central to the next big arc. I then did the multi-colored draft of the last batch of episodes in this arc, which are now ending with Episode 41. Actually, Episode 41 is a bridge episode winding up the last few details of this first large arc and launching the second arc. I’ve broken down episodes where I think it makes sense, structurally, to keep the pace and rhythm. I’ll work on those later this week, to get that whole arc finished and uploaded this week, which gets me through mid-December, as far as episode releases.

I read the next book for review, and need to discuss a few things with my editor before I submit the actual review. To say the book is problematic is an understatement. It was well over 400 pages of awful, and needs multiple content warnings. The content warnings section will be longer than the review itself.

But I was up until 2 AM with that atrocity, hoping at least the ending would make sense. But it doesn’t actually end. Just stops in the middle of a scene and promises a “next book.”

The cats got me up at 6 AM. While 6 hours of sleep is my sweet spot, 4 hours no longer works. However, I do not have the luxury of naps or taking the day off, so I just have to dig in and get things done.

I’d hoped to ease off the final two weeks of August and have some time to recharge, but that’s not happening. I still  hope to take the holiday, though.

Episode 9 of LEGERDEMAIN drops today!

Hope your week starts well and gets better.

Published in: on August 23, 2022 at 7:43 am  Comments Off on Tues. Aug. 23, 2022: Clacking Those Keys  
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Fri. Aug. 19: Migraines and Tension

image courtesy of Kerbstone via pixabay.com

Friday, August 19, 2022

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny and warm

I had a migraine yesterday, but not the option to lie down until it passed. You can yammer about self-care and health all you want, but the reality, for many of us, is that we can’t just stop whatever we’re doing. Fortunately, since I work remotely, I could at least be grumpy and miserable at home.

The major need was to get the next batch of LEGERDEMAIN episodes edited, uploaded, and scheduled, and get the ads done. Although I’m still behind in the general ads from the last batch.

I’d hoped to get episodes 21-30 done. I got through episode 29. 30 really launches that last act of this first large arc, and it makes more sense to do it with the last batch of episodes. That last batch needs a lot of revision, and will probably wind up broken down into shorter episodes with more drive, which then puts the first major arc over 40 episodes. Which means the initial offering will go over 100. So much for that pretty 90 number! Oh, well. Needs must.

I changed the episode title of one of them. I’m overusing “Welcome” in episode titles.

Anyway, in spite of numerous computer crashes, one of which messed up the dashboard badly and I had to do a lot of work to get it untangled, I got all nine episodes revised. That was nearly 11K words, and I did about 3 drafts on each episode.

I wrote the episode loglines for the nine new episodes, and got to work on the episode ads. I only got five done before I ran out of steam.

Freelance Chat was fun, although I was distracted and a little grumpy. I had rehearsal stuff to deal with for a radio play. I worked on the Shakespeare horror story which has to get out the door this weekend. I’m struggling, because it keeps taking a comic turn, and they were very clear about not wanting comic horror, but horror-horror.

I got some admin done, but not enough. I got a little more done this morning. The Chewy order arrived, so there’s cat food for the next six weeks. And I ordered the tulip bulbs we’re going to try to plant in troughs overwinter and leave on the porch, and then put out on the balcony in spring.

Berkshire Gas hit me with an enormous “settle up” bill for the end of the balanced billing year, and raised my monthly rate yet again. Which is going to make the next few months difficult. So much for thinking I could ever get ahead or get any time off. They also shouldn’t be allowed to double the price per unit IN THE SUMMER, and then probably double it again in the fall, making sure they screw us all to the wall.

Today, I have to run errands. I meant to run some of them yesterday, but never left the desk, so they all have to happen today. It’s supposed to get very hot again during the day, but cool off at night, so we’ll see if I stay here all day to work, or pack up and go somewhere cool.

I need to get the ads done and finish a draft of the horror story. I should turn around a script or two, since I only read two days this week so far, and I have that big ass gas bill to pay. And I need to get the cats to the vet to get their shots updated. And, you know, establish with a vet here.

So I’m feeling stressed and overburdened right now. It will right itself, especially if I make the time over the weekend to get some rest.  But once I get this first big arc uploaded and scheduled, I can focus on writing the next arc. Episode 29 takes me through November 1, releasing twice a week, and the last episodes will get me into December. So that gives me some breathing room to do the next arc, but I also can’t drag my feet.

I also need to do some more work on the Legerdemain website this weekend. I want to be able to start promoting it, but I can’t do so unless there’s fun content on it, not just the episode releases and loglines.

I also need to read the next book for review, so I can send off the review on Monday.

The Topic Workbooks are chugging along nicely, and doing the content calendar/scheduling the ads has taken a lot of pressure off me. Being able to upload some of the Legerdemain ads has also been a help.

I need to get back to work on the next three radio plays, too. One has to go out by the end of the month, and the other two are due in September.

One thing at a time, right? All I can do is the best I can do. But it all has to get done, and I have to be ferociously protective of my time and energy right now.

I’m also not going to chase people down for stuff. I said I could do X within a specific time frame, and needed Y by Z. You don’t get it to me, it’s not happening. You’re not paying me. I said I could help out, but only within a specific time frame. I am not nagging or begging or “sending reminders.”  Be a fucking adult and do what you said you would do when you said you would, or communicate so we can adjust the schedule. Don’t just not do it or makes excuses or  ghost, and then expect me to jump when you get back in touch. I have paying work that takes priority. We set dates. Cough up or shut up. I am moving on to people and projects where any other parties involved step up and supply what’s needed with in the time frame. And pay.

Obviously, I need to make some serious meditation time this weekend.

Back to the page (and later, to the library). Have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Published in: on August 19, 2022 at 7:34 am  Comments Off on Fri. Aug. 19: Migraines and Tension  
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Fri. Aug. 5, 2022: Ebbs and Flows

image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures via pixabay.com

Friday, August 5, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Hazy and humid

Definitely tired and feeling the effects of the week. But I’ll do a big push this weekend, and, hopefully, next week will be a little easier.

Had a story rejected by a publication (I wasn’t sure it was the right fit, but gave it a shot, so it wasn’t a complete surprise). Got a rejection on a big grant application I put in earlier this year – again, not a surprise, because it was a stretch. They were encouraging and made suggestions on where to beef up certain sections of the application, and to reapply next year, so that is what I will do.

Got the SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM workbook uploaded and out, but there’s a problem with a couple of things. The issue with the cover I understand – I think I uploaded the wrong version, so I’ll fix that. I don’t understand the other note, about “mentioning competitive markets in conflict with the distributors.” It’s about how to set up a submission system. I don’t mention any publisher or distributor by name. I do have links to resources, so I wonder if that’s the problem. I have questions in, and we’ll see.

Did a run to Wild Oats for a few things in the late morning. The heat and humidity were oppressive. I managed to turn around two scripts, and also to finish a book for review, but I was wiped out by the end of the day.

We had a cracking good thunderstorm with bucketing rain, so I spent a good portion of the evening lying on the sofa, watching the storm.

It didn’t get comfortable enough to sleep until about 3 AM, so I’m a little slow today. But I had good coffee, which makes a big difference.

I worked on the latest draft of the radio play with the producer, and finalized virtually attending Tuesday’s rehearsal, which will be fun.

On today’s docket is finalizing the PowerPoint for tomorrow’s Developing the Series class, and getting both versions of the Workbook proofed. Class attendees will get a copy of the workbook as part of the class; it will release for sale next Wednesday.

If there’s time, I need to start uploading/scheduling the next set of episodes for LEGERDEMAIN, but that might happen on Monday.

Tomorrow morning, it’s Farmers’ Market Day, and then I teach in the late afternoon (at the worst possible time for me biorhythmically, but I’m prepared, so it will work). Sunday is a day of fun for me. I have two events at the Edith Wharton manse – I’m going to see a play by a local theatre (stage managed by a fellow poet from a few weeks ago), and, after that, there’s a poetry event inspired by the sculptures in the garden. It should be a fun day.

Next weekend will be busy, between script coverage and LEGERDEMAIN and a cooking class and the radio play rehearsal and participating in Poets in Conversation, but it should be fun, too.

Have a good one, friends, and we’ll catch up on the other side.

Tues. July 26, 2022: Protocols, Performance, Persistence

garden sculputre installation at The Mount

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Sunny, cooler, less humidity

Hot, busy weekend.

Friday wasn’t quite as hot as Thursday, mostly because there was cloud cover, but the humidity was oppressive. Once the plants were watered on the front porch, we closed it off and let it be a greenhouse for the day, which helped keep the rest of the house cooler. And we kept the blinds closed on the east side of the house, and the lace curtains drawn on the south side. The lace lets in enough light, but blocks some of the heat.

I did some admin/organizational stuff, noodled on my article, and then turned around the script I had in the late morning/early afternoon. I made a pasta salad in the morning that could cool in the fridge for dinner, so we didn’t have to think about cooking or preparing anything.

I rehearsed my portion of the poem, working on rhythm and voice placement. What made me smile is that we just moved into Leo season – a season to shine, to share, to perform – and here’s the performance date.

I finished reading the next book for review.

The request for mail-in ballots arrived, and we filled them out and returned them. The mail-in option makes it easier (and safer) for this year’s voting.

I was invited to an artists’ resource meeting, but the day and the date didn’t match up. I emailed them for clarification. If the day of the week is correct, I can’t make it this month. If the date is correct, I can. At any rate, it’s a group with which I’d like to work, and if I can’t do it this month, I hope I can next month. They even are meeting outside this month, to make it safer.

It was tough to get to sleep Friday night because of the humidity, but I managed,

I should have worked on the Topic Workbooks, but I was too hot and tired and grumpy. I am very much a Winter Girl, not a Summer Girl.

Started feeling all kinds of doubt and uncertainty on Saturday morning again. Part of it was stage nerves for that afternoon’s performance. I am not a performer; I write for performers. I am a behind-the-scenes person. But there are enough of us in this event (50) that it’s about collective creation and collective experience, and there isn’t pressure on me to do more than be in the moment (and get my first & last words right, to keep the flow going).

Another part is also with the Topic Workbook and the serial launching in the upcoming weeks, there’s the whole pressure of now it’s out in the world, and no longer in my control. It’s 50-50. Some people are going to love these pieces & find them helpful or interesting; others won’t. There will always be those who are condescending and make nasty comments. Not that they ever create anything themselves; but they talk about what they’ll do some day while slam others. That’s the reality of the business.

I remind myself: They are not my target audience.

I remind myself: The previous negative reality is not my current positive reality. I am building something new here. That means taking risks, creatively and personally. Not all of them are going to work the way I want them to. But I still need to do it.

Because the alternative is a day job outside of my field, and that is the ultimate last resort.

I cut out a rant from this post about wanna-be writers who think they know more than those of us earning our living in the industry,  because I don’t feel like focusing on them today.

Saturday morning, I had to run out and get a hat. Early, when it was easy to stay ten or more feet away from anyone else in the store. There’s no way I could make it through the event without a hat. I have a whole collection of wonderful hats – in storage. So I ran out to a store that was likely to have workable hats. I couldn’t decide between two in the store, they were both affordable, so I bought both.

I did not go to the Farmers’ Market. I knew the heat would wear me out; I also didn’t want to risk exposure to anyone who might be sluffing off virus, and then bringing it to the event. I missed it, though. I missed the beautiful produce and the friendly, engaging farmers, and the other market regulars I chat with every week.

Took the rest of the morning to rest, read, rehearse. Packed my bag for the event. Took a shower, slathered on sunscreen, braided my hair that I wasn’t able to get cut in time, the whole thing.

I was proud of myself for breaking the usual pattern, which would have been to work myself into the ground all morning, and then feel frantic and unsettled when it was time to go. I gave myself time and rest. I knew it would be hot and humid and challenging, so I made sure, for once, not to sabotage myself.

I left around 2:30, to give myself time in case I hit tourist traffic. I did vocal exercises in the car, and rehearsed my little bit (all those years working musicals have application in the real world). I made decent time to get to The Mount, and got there around 3:30. Walked through the gardens to get to the house, where we were meeting. The sun dappled through the trees in nuanced light that was both beautiful and spooky. The phone’s camera made it look lighter than it was.

We assembled. They had us on chairs on either side of the path that wound down around the side of the house, odds and evens. We lobbed our parts of the poem back and forth across the path, with the audience on the path. I was number 9 (being one of the early poets to sign up and create my bit). So Number 7 was next to me. He lobbed the final word of his poem to Number 8, across the path, who started with the last word of his poem as the first word of her poem. She lobbed back across to me. The last word of her poem was the first word of my poem. I lobbed to number 10, across the path, whose first word of her poem was the last word of my poem, who lobbed it to Number 11, next to me, whose first word was the last word of the previous poem, and so forth and so on.

The audience moved through us as we spoke. They moved through us in waves, so when the first group reached the bend (about half way through), the next group started with the first poet again, so there were multiple vocals happening at any given time, and we had to be present to the poets around us, while aware of what was going on above and below us on the path.

There were a few poets who couldn’t be there. The agreement was that, if someone couldn’t be there, that individual was responsible for sending a proxy. There were several who did so, and that was great. There were a couple of people who didn’t, and a couple who didn’t show up or let anyone know, and that put unnecessary pressure on the poets who were there. Someone early in the poem couldn’t run down and cover for someone late in the poem, because by that point, the next wave of audience was coming through. So the organizers had to work out who could move a few chairs to read a missing poet’s bit, and then get back to their original chair to perform their own bit again in time.

It worked, mostly because there were enough experienced performers to flow, and the first-timers like me, who were trying to get a handle on what was going on and feel the rhythm, weren’t put under that additional pressure.

In other words, the organizers took care of the performers, instead of expecting the performers to fix things that happened at the last minute.

And the overall poem did build a flow and a rhythm. It was amazing. Somehow, even though we didn’t know anything about the poets and their poems on either side while we wrote, it all came together.

There were poets of all ages and from all over the place. I walked in with a poet from Northampton (who used to be a production coordinator for the Boston Ballet, so we had a good talk about backstage). The woman next to me and her daughter (numbers 11 & 13) were from Gloucester, MA, and each wrote a segment as something fun to do together. There was a family of six – wife, husband, two teen daughters, and their dogs – who each did a segment (they were spread out amongst everyone. And only the humans created poems, although the dogs performed with their humans). I think they’re from upstate NY. They told me they love to “poem together” and grab any opportunity to be part of public art events like this. There was a woman across and down a few who’s stage managing a show with a theatre company with whom I had contact awhile back, and I hope I get to see the show. The guy who led the playwrights’ workshop I attended a few weeks ago wasn’t in it (he’d planned to, but dropped out when he couldn’t be there, so another poet could step in and take his place with their own work, instead of someone reading as a proxy). But one of my fellow playwrights was there, and we had a good catch-up natter. There was another woman who’s a part of a poetry group that creates and performs social justice public art.

It was great to be part of a group that had NO Trumpers in it, and no both-siders and right-wing apologists. No one pursing their thin little lips claiming they “don’t do politics” when in reality, they support extremists.  In fact, a good deal of the poetry was political. Quite a few of the older poets, men and women, a few years ahead of me in age and experience, were talking about how they’d fought/marched/voted/protested for Civil Rights and Roe the first time around, and here we are again.

It was a dog, kid, family inclusive event. Several poets brought partners or family members who set up camp chairs nearby and watched/listened or read a book or worked on their own writing.

No one was told to tone down their language, and the audience was warned of the possibility of strong language. As far as I know, no one complained.

They’d put out a buffet for us up at the Terrace Café (it’s a spectacular view). They’d told us they’d have snacks for us, but there was real food to make sandwiches (and gluten free options) and salads and fruit and lemonade and raspberry tea and all that. They watered us well throughout, to make sure we were hydrated and didn’t faint. The chairs were in the shade. The audience was kept in the front courtyard until showtimes, with lemonade and cookies.

Originally, we were supposed to do the full poem 4 times through. However, so many people signed up that, for both vocal projection’s sake and safety’s sake, they split up the audience for the first couple of shows; hence the waves of audience members. So what were originally scheduled as the first two performances turned into four performances.

Each performance built a unique rhythm and flow. As the poets got more comfortable with each other, we could try different inflections with the same words, and lob the bits back and forth more easily.

We poets also kept moving our chairs back. We knew we were all fully vaccinated and had tested negative that day before showing up, but there was no way to trust that the audience was the same. Since the audience didn’t pay attention to the social distancing, we made it happen by enlarging the distance.

After the first four shows, we had a break to eat. One of the poets was bored with saying the same thing over and over, so he rewrote his poem in the break (keeping the first and last word, per the agreement). A couple of people joked that they’d never remember everyone’s name, but they could remember everyone’s content. For instance, I became “Lilac” because I had lilacs in my poem, and the image of “frothy lilacs” stuck in people’s heads. So, you know, any event I do from here on in, I’ll be “Lilac.” I can live with that.

After the break, we had two more shows. Because of time, the groups couldn’t be split up this time around. They were larger; we pulled our chairs back farther from the path and projected more. The heat and humidity were taking a toll, even with all the precautions.

During the final performance, as we completed our bits, we folded in behind the audience (at a safe distance), so that we were all together at the end and could celebrate.

We were all pretty much hurting by then (even the puppies were tired), but we celebrated each other, and were invited to a couple more of these creations, given our travel stipends, and then headed out.

The walk back to the parking lot seemed to take forever. I managed to get home in only 40 minutes (not much traffic), but as the adrenalin wore off, it was a challenge.

Dashed up the stairs, ordered Chinese food for delivery, and jumped in the shower to hose down and decontaminate. Even with some protocols in place, there were still a lot of people involved in the day. My throat was raw and everything hurt, and I knew I’d put myself at risk.

Popped the prosecco, though, and sucked down a couple of glasses along with the Chinese food. It took awhile to unwind. As a non-performer, and also as someone who’s used to writing by myself and then it either goes into the world, or, in the case of a play, it goes into rehearsal with a finite group before going out into the world, it was quite a new experience. But that sense of excitement, creating with others, trusting in them, and then INVITING the audience to experience it with us instead of PRESENTING TO the audience as pretty incredible.

Even if I don’t participate in the next couple of events (one of them, a haiku contest where content is created in the moment, is not something I could even consider doing), I might go as an audience member and support my fellow poets.

I finally collapsed into bed. I woke up around midnight and drank a bottle of water. My throat felt awful. I woke up again at 3 and did the same. Sunday, I rested. I drank tea and water. I took Slippery Elm (which I should have taken before I left, but I didn’t think of it). I’m not used to talking that much, or projecting outdoors. Of course it’s going to leave my throat and voice raw. I read.

Again, the usual pattern would have been to push myself and run myself down even more, probably winding up sick with a cold, if I managed to avoid the plague. At the very least, running myself down would give any exposure to the virus more traction.

So I rested.

I had to run out mid-day for a few errands – pick up my mother’s prescription and get her a new blood pressure monitor, get in some groceries, since I didn’t go to the market on Saturday. Just that little bit wore me out. The heat and humidity were oppressive.

I managed to do another read-through of the next chapters I have to upload for LEGERDEMAIN. I did some work on my article on Saturday morning, but didn’t do any work on Sunday. I put some hooks up in my mom’s closet, hung up some of the copper molds in the kitchen, and hung a quilt on the living room wall.

That was it.

Went to bed at the normal time. Tessa got me up early on Monday. I was still a little tired, but overall felt decent. Still just not loving the heat and humidity.

There’s a post on the GDR site about enjoying the week. There’s a lot going on, and I want to enjoy it.

THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS released on Monday. I’m proud of all the Topic Workbooks, but I think this one will help a lot of people who get scattered among too many projects.

A ridiculous amount of email piled up over the weekend, so I slogged my way through that. Did the postings of the daily prompt on the site where I couldn’t schedule the posts. Wrote the thank-yous for the event. Signed up for a yoga class. Signed up for an online cooking class at Kripalu, with my beloved Chef Jeremy, and even received a scholarship to attend. Checked in with my friend about my upcoming visit, provided I test negative the morning I’m supposed to leave. Packed for the trip.

Kept track to see if I’m showing any symptoms, or if I felt bad. I mean, I was grumpy in the heat and humidity, and I was tired (hey, I’m not 20 anymore), but overall, I feel fine. My throat was a little raw for a couple of days, but steadily felt better. My voice is still a little scratchy, but I don’t talk much during the course of the day, so that’s to be expected.

Turned around a script and some questions on a previous script I’d covered. Grabbed some shorts to turn around today. I’ve been steadily working on the Italian every day. I’m definitely learning vocabulary, but I’m not understanding sentence construction.

Did some work on a grant proposal, and noodled around with my article and with an idea tossed out by Word X Word.

It was hot and humid when I went to bed, but much better upon getting up this morning. I feel like I can be much more productive today, and I kind of have to be. There are a slew of errands to run late this morning, after I get some work done on the article, the Topic Workbooks, and getting the next LEGERDEMAIN episodes uploaded.

This afternoon, I turn around the three shorts. In the late afternoon, I head out to Greylock Works for a 1Berkshires Entrepreneur meeting at Berkshire Cider. It’s inside, so yes, I’ll be masked.

Someone contacted me about a content writing position. I have to take a look at the details. On the surface, the money looks outstanding, but I need to know more about it.

Hope you had a good weekend, and let’s work toward a good week!

Wed. June 22, 2022: A Day at the Desk

image courtesy of Free Photos via pixabay.com

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy, rainy, mild

I expected rain yesterday, so didn’t get up early enough to go to the laundromat.  But it didn’t rain until the evening. That’s the way it goes sometimes. It’s raining today, so I have an excuse not to go.

Plowed through a lot of emails. Got annoyed at a job listing that landed in my Inbox, claiming to be remote – only requiring 2 days/week in the office. Boo, that ain’t remote. It’s hybrid. Stop lying in the listings. Plus, it didn’t pay enough. Big red flag.

Tracked down some information I needed for a couple of different decisions. Worked on the anthology story. Percolated the other anthology story.

Most of the day was taken up with rewriting/updating the Topic Workbook for the Developing the Series class, which I’m teaching in August. I put in more resources, especially for indie authors, and talked about responsibilities when on a contract schedule vs. on one’s own schedule. I took out references to an author I no longer want to include, because I’ve lost respect for that individual. I’ve kept in references to another author whose work had a lot of impact on me, but about whom I’ve learned some disturbing things. I might leave those in, and discuss the way learning more about who an author is impacts the relationship with the work. Or, I might take it all out, and not have that tangent in the class. Because that discussion could be a class all on its own, and there are people whose input and experiences would be valuable. It feels wrong to open that discussion, but not include them.

I have a few days to make that decision.

I still have to check/update/remove resource links, which will take a bit of time. There are a few awkward passages that I need to smooth out. And I have to extract the material and exercises for the slides I want to use in class.

There’s still work to do, but at least it’s well under way, and I’m not leaving it until the last darn minute.

More January 6 hearings and more corruption from the enablers of the Narcissistic Sociopath. That Ginni Thomas, who tried to overthrow the government, gets extra protection, while election poll workers are threatened, is simply not acceptable.

And then SCOTUS telling Maine that taxpayer dollars have to be used to fund religious schools. They only mean faux Christian schools, but, in any event, it’s yet another corrupt decision from them.

And all this crap about “voting harder” doesn’t matter when voting rights aren’t protected.

Texas is talking about seceding. Again. They’ve been yapping about that my entire life. They were an independent country for a few days in the 1840’s (or whenever, I’m too lazy to look it up) and want to go back to that. It’s all performative, for their extremist base. It’s far more complicated, in this day and age, to detach, than it was a couple of centuries ago. Plus, they don’t want to lose the government funding. The blue states carry the red states with funding. It’s all hot air.

The atrocities around the Uvalde shooting get worse and worse. They need to get rid of the entire city government and the police force and start over. May those who stood by and did nothing be haunted into their graves. Which is doubtful, because if they had a conscience or ethics in the first place, they wouldn’t have behaved the way they did. It’s not like they will suddenly sprout a conscience now. Therefore, there must be harsh consequences for all of them.

On a happier note, Summer Solstice was fine, even though the weather was yucky. A CounterSocial pal shared a tarot spread that worked really well. I used my new Ask the Witch deck. When it first arrived, I was worried it wouldn’t read well for me, but working with it, I find it does.

This same pal also told me about the Druidcraft Tarot Deck, by the same team that did the Druid Animal Oracle and the Druid Plant Oracle, two decks I really like. Hmmm. . .like I don’t have a couple of bookcases full of decks!

I put up a new flash fiction piece on Ko-fi, “Discoveries” which is under the Cerridwen Iris Shea name. The dynamic of the marriage between the two characters interests me. I’m not sure if the piece will stand as it is, or if it will lead to more exploration with these characters.

I wrote and turned in my book review, and received my next assignment. I have a script in my queue, which I will turn around either today, or, more likely, tomorrow. There hasn’t been much this week, and I will probably end up doing script coverage over the weekend, if more comes in. Urgh. I was trying to avoid that this summer. But that’s the ebb and flow.

I need to work on the anthology story today, and more on The Big Project. The thing that slows down the writing on The Big Project is that each section of it has to basically be at the stage I usually would be at the third or fourth revision before I can move on to the next section. Even though the basic plot is outlined. It’s a learning curve. But then, each piece has its own  innate rhythm. This one sure as heck does.

This afternoon, I have to put on Real People Pants and makeup and go down to Pittsfield. I’m in a playwrighting workshop hosted by the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Although I’ve been writing prose and radio scripts, the stage play part of my brain feels stale lately, and I’m hoping this will shake things up. It has very strict COVID protocols in place, and I know the venue, so I’m hoping I’ve calculated the risk correctly. I’ll know in 2-5 days, won’t I?

A year ago today, the movers actually showed up on Cape and loaded the truck.

Have a good one, friends. Despite the marketing, yesterday was not the “beginning of summer.” It’s Midsummer. Starting today, the days get shorter.

Enjoy them while you can.

Fri. June 17, 2022: Project Juggling

image courtesy of Theodore Moise via pixabay.com

Friday, June 17, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy, foggy, humid

Meditation was fine yesterday, and Charlotte really enjoyed it, too. Managed to get through some email after breakfast, get out an LOI, and get some other admin work done. Wrote and submitted my book review; got another assignment. Freelance Chat was fun.

“Personal Revolution” is in pretty good shape. There are a couple of formatting things I need to tweak, and then a final proof, and it should be ready to go by the end of the day (or, latest, tomorrow), and release on time on June 28.

Time to turn some attention to the Topic Workbooks, and to the PowerPoint presentation for my class in August.  I’ve also roughed the outline for the Llewellyn almanac article in my head, and I should be able to start writing it just after Independence day. So at least all that is on track.

I need to do a big push to finish and polish the Monthology story this weekend, so I can get it out next week.

There are some red flags coming up on a project; I will fulfill my commitment to it, and then not take on any more.

Since I’m on a bunch of mailing lists around here, so I can keep up with what’s going on and where I want to participate, I’m also starting to get invitations to gala events. The liberation I feel from realizing I never HAVE to attend another one of those again is delightful.

I need to update the Pages on Stages website with the latest information on the radio plays. I hope to get ahead on some blog pieces.

I turned around two scripts yesterday and have one to do today, and then I’m done for the weekend. Hopefully, enough come through next week and the following week, so I can make my earnings goal for the end of June.

Still struggling with the sense memory stress from last year’s move. Lots of emotional flashbacks as to where I was at this point last year. The Pluto/Saturn retrogrades add even more weight to those emotions. I’m acknowledging, releasing, and trying to focus on the reality of where I am now.

There’s some cool stuff going on at MassMOCA this weekend. However, doing the risk assessment, it looks like too many people in too small a space for me to feel comfortable, and too high a risk for me to take right now. I will, regretfully, pass. I already have the Farmers’ Market and grocery shopping on Saturday. They’re fairly low risk, but any interactions around people involve risk.

Today is supposed to be the hottest day for a stretch, but it’s still much cooler than it was last year at this time, and for that I am grateful. I have to do a library run to drop off/pick up books. I didn’t get the borage planted yesterday, so now I have to wait until Sunday, the next planting day. For those wondering what I mean by “planting day”, I have a calendar marking which days are planting days and which days are harvesting days on any given week.

The January 6 hearings were not all that surprising, while still emphasizing just how corrupt and awful that sociopath’s entire administration was and is. The fact that the wife of a Supreme Court Justice is part of it is unacceptable. Even more so that she is getting extra security, paid by my tax dollars. She could afford to finance the coup attempt. Let her pay for her own damn security. Better yet, put her in prison, where she should be.

Keep an eye on the people both-siding through all of this, or telling us we should make more efforts to “understand” and “communicate” with Republicans. I understand them just fine. They want to destroy anyone who doesn’t agree with them. And I also understand that the both siders are those who will stand by and let atrocities happen and then be surprised when it happens to them. Gotta watch your back around both siders even more than the blatantly extremist.

Today is Starhawk’s birthday! I am deeply grateful for all I’ve learned from her over the decades, and for her commitment to education and community building.

Better get going. Lots to get done today, and I also plan on plenty of enjoyment throughout the weekend.

Have a good one, and I’ll catch you on the other side.