Tues. Dec. 27, 2022: Holiday Catch-Up

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Mars Retrograde

Chiron Direct as of December 23

Sunny and cold

Hello, my friends, and I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend.

Hopefully, the newsletter went out properly last Wednesday, and you enjoyed the holiday tale, “Comfort, Then Joy.”

I am still waiting for my computer, although supposedly it is repaired and on its way back. So my posts on all the blogs will be erratic this week; which is kind of okay, since I planned to take this week off anyway.

We had a big storm come in late Thursday, before the holiday weekend. It poured with rain all day Friday. I was very glad I didn’t have to go anywhere. I have the new, big coffeemaker set up, and I admit that waking up to the smell of coffee in the morning is glorious.

I did manage to get a whole lotta laundry done on Thursday morning, before the storm came in. I brought some ideas with which I’m noodling, but there were Other People there, so it wasn’t as useful a work time as it usually is.

I’m able to keep up with my email, for the most part, on the phone and the tablet, but when the storm came in, I shut everything down, to avoid power surges and other issues.

I started reading some mysteries, but didn’t like the writing and the protagonists definitely fell into the “too stupid to live” category, so those are going back to the library, and those authors are crossed off the list.

It snowed for a little bit at night, and quickly changed over to rain.

Rained all night. Friday, it rained all day, and it was windy. Chiron went direct during the day — Chiron is about the Wounded Healer. I definitely feel like a lot of this year has been about healing, or at least recognizing where healing needs to happen, and letting go. Pretty much feel like a limp dishrag from the work.

I played with several story ideas on themes I’ve worked with for years, but never quite made work. We’ll see.

I worked on my answers to the 2023 Questions on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site. If you’d like to take a look at the questions to help you with your own musings, here is the link.

I read, a mystery by someone whose first book I liked, but thought this one was “meh.” I’m giving this series one more shot; if book three doesn’t work, I’ll give up. Book Two is problematic, no matter what.

I read the first book in another series that was a lot of fun. It’s Diane Vallere’s first Costume Shop Mystery, A DISGUISE TO DIE FOR, and I enjoyed it. I look forward to reading the rest of the series, and she has several more series that sound like fun, too.

Christmas Eve, got up early to zero degrees, but at least a white Christmas. We were lucky; the power held. Wrapped presents. Read. Did some tidying up. Wrote a bit, in longhand, playing with some ideas.

Our big Christmas Eve dinner was a cod, mussel, and scallop paella. If you saw the photos on social media, it looks very dark. That’s not from squid ink; it’s from all the spinach in it. It took several hours to make and get done properly, but was worth it. Very delicious. Plenty of leftovers for the week. It’s a dish that needs time and care.

Willa is always fascinated, and loves to watch me cook.. She either sits on the bed in my mother’s room, which is off the kitchen, or on a kitchen chair. It’s hilarious.

We opened presents after dinner, which is always fun, and enjoyed the tree and the candles.

Christmas Day, we were up early (to the glorious smell of coffee and the prodding of the cats) and enjoyed our stockings. I made scrambled eggs to go with the panettone. The panettone was disappointing this year. I have a feeling I might need to learn how to make that, too.

Had a leisurely day. Read BORROWER OF THE NIGHT by Elizabeth Peters. How have I missed the Vicky Bliss series all these years? It’s a lot of fun, and I look forward to reading more.

The big Christmas Day meal was Coq Au Vin — another one that takes hours to do, because of the layering of flavors, but it was very good.

Honestly, I feel like I could just stay in bed and sleep the rest of the week. If I could afford to, I’d like to sleep through the entire upcoming Mercury Retrograde. We had four of the damn things in 2022, and I am over it.

Coffee and cats got me up early on Monday.  I got some writing done, in longhand, and finished a short story, and planned a couple more. I hoped to take care of a few things, but got caught up trying to download the photos out of iPhoto onto a backup device. I got about half of the photos moved, and then the old Macbook just wouldn’t let me copy to a device or even export to the machine’s own hard drive I have them on Time Machine; I’m just not sure how to get them off time machine and onto something I can use.

I have the original SD cards from everything I took with a camera. Maybe I’ll get a reader/adapter for the laptop and then download all of them onto flash drives and the external hard drive.

Another digital camera is on my list for this year. I HATE relying on the phone. I’ve lost so many photos thanks to the phone. I have an SD card in the current phone, thank goodness, but still.

Anyway, that took longer than I’d hoped, so I decided to put off the errands until today.

I did some work on LEGERDEMAIN and on ANGEL HUNT instead (gotta love flash drives and Word for Mac). I wrote thank you notes. I planned future posts for Ink-Dipped Advice and The Process Muse.

The first 44 episodes of ANGEL HUNT (22 weeks’ worth) are ready for the final polish and upload in early January, so the launch on the 25th should work. I won’t get the live link to the serial until the day it debuts from Kindle Vella, so I can’t work ahead scheduling the episode graphics to drop. What I CAN do is upload at least the first 2 months, and then create the episode graphics, so that when it goes live, I can just upload and schedule.

I also need to work ahead further on LEGERDEMAIN, and upload/do episode graphics and get ahead on that. I’m also working on a prize package giveaway for it, and looking at buying some ad time for it, probably later in January, or early February, and buying ad time for ANGEL HUNT in February, too.

I’d like, this week, to work ahead a bit on some of the blog entries, so that next week is more about uploading them than creating them.

I deleted a bunch of stuff from the Kindle, old contest entries and books I reviewed that I don’t need to keep, to make room for the incoming.

I’m trying to finish the first draft of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH this week, too. Not sure if I’ll meet that goal, but I’m giving it a go. I drafted Chapter 29 yesterday, just a smidge under 1900 words. I’m about to start the climactic sequence. Not sure if that will be three or four chapters. If I keep showing up at the page steadily, I should be able to get it done. Then it can rest for two months at least before I start revisions. I also need to do some more research before I start revision, to layer in more period details.

In those two months of rest, I want to finish the revision on CAST IRON MURDER and get the submission materials prepped. There are two, possibly three publishers to whom I want to query it, in addition to the small publisher who’s handled some of my other work.

I need to spend some time this week to sit down and really look at what writing projects NEED to get done this year, and mix them with the writing projects I WANT to get done. If I get THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH finished before January 1, I will have written only one novel this year, and that’s not sustainable. LEGERDEMAIN’s done decently (both creatively and financially), and I licensed some radio plays and wrote some other plays and short stories, but I didn’t have a real plan this year, and it shows. I need to come up with something more sustainable for 2023. This year was about healing and settling in to the new location. I did some good healing work (although there is much more to do) and I’m content and often happy here.

Now, I need to come up with a sustainable plan for the fiction, so that it’s in balance with the nonfiction and other writing-related work that I do. Everything has to earn its keep, and I need to get back into the 13-in-Play concept, where there are always at least 13 pieces out on submission.

This morning was about the errands I didn’t get done yesterday (and digging out the car from this weekend Was Not Fun). I also had to mail off a bunch of stuff at the post office, drop off books at the library, and upload all of this at the library. I wrote two book reviews and sent them off, and I’m waiting for my next assignments.

The plan for the afternoon is to write Chapter 30 of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH and see how far into the climactic sequence that gets me. I don’t really like writing fiction in the afternoon, but that’s the way it shook out yesterday and today, so I’ll go with it.

The repaired computer is to show up sometime this week, and I figure it’ll take a half-day to get it set up again properly. I’m sure I lost a few things, but we’ll set up what we can. I was pretty good about regular backups, so I’d only have lost stuff from sometime in November that I hadn’t backed up anywhere else.

The first box of contest entries should arrive this week (I’m judging three categories this year). I’ll log in the physical books first and then start downloading the digital entries. Depending on how many are entered this year, it should be a busy reading time between now and May, between books to review, contest entries to judge, and the script coverage.

Which means the morning writing has to be focused and productive.

Hope you’re having a great “Betweenmas” as Dianne Dotson calls it, and enjoying some rest.

Fri. Dec. 9, 2022: Catching Up on Baking; Planning the Writing, the Cards, the Decorating

image courtesy of Mylene 2401 via pixabay.com

Friday, December 9, 2022

Waning Moon

Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Partly cloudy and cold

Yesterday felt slow, although I got a decent amount of work done. I polished, uploaded, and scheduled two more episodes of Legerdemain. I created promo graphics for them. I redid the promo graphic I hated so much on Episode 42. I also redid the graphic for Episode 44. I liked the graphic for Episode 44 a lot, but it was in a style that was completely different than any of the other episode promos, and it was jarring. It also gave the sense that it was an episode that leaned more toward humor, which that episode does not. I uploaded and scheduled all the promos. I also decided, starting with the promo for Episode 45, to stop putting “First 3 Episodes Free on Kindle Vella.” That’s known, especially 44 episodes into it, and the promos will be more useful in the long term without the Vella reference. I think I will leave off the reference on the ANGEL HUNT promos, except for the first 3 episodes which are eternally free.

I’m sitting down to do the 2023 Plan which involved the larger plan for the serials (some of which will run beyond 2023). Legerdemain is sustaining itself well enough to warrant the first three large arcs, and possible one or two more. ANGEL HUNT is finite (and, by the end of this year, I hope I know just how many episodes it will entail. I’m pretty sure it will be over 100, meaning it will run for at least a year). I have to schedule in the radio plays I need to write, and a couple of full-length stage plays. I have a couple of film scripts that need prepping so they can go out to contests. Pretty soon, I will know whether or not I’m going back to the series that went on pause when I got sick. And I want to get CAST IRON MURDER out on submission this spring.

Two more packages of the ten mailed on Monday have been delivered. So, five out of the ten. Of the remaining five to be delivered, two of them having been repeatedly traveling between Springfield and Chicopee, instead of getting out of state to their destinations, so let’s hope they get it together and get going.

That’s why I mailed everything early.

It’s UPS and their lying about an incoming package that gets my goat. The package was out for delivery on the truck with the package that was delivered on Wednesday. Only it never made it off the truck with that other package. And now, UPS keeps telling me it will be delivered “today” but it isn’t.

Slogged through a bunch of email. I need to clean up and unsubscribe from a bunch of stuff instead of just deleting it.

Turned around two coverages in the afternoon. Nothing on the docket for today, which is fine, because that gives me time to catch up on the baking. Hopefully, I’ll get a few more coverages next week, and into the following week.

Too tired to bake yesterday.

Finished reading my friend’s book, and I’ll do the writeup on it I promised her, and get it posted this morning.

Today, I need to get two more episodes of Legerdemain polished, uploaded, scheduled. Then do the graphics for them. Then upload and schedule the ads for those last four episodes, and I’m into the first week of January 2023. Then I can switch to editing the next batch of episodes in this arc, and writing more.

I’ve lost some momentum on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, and need to get that back. I’m fairly close to the end of this draft, and then I want to let it sit for two months, without even looking at it.

I need to do the rounds of the library, the grocery, the liquor store later this morning, and then bake in the afternoon. If I want to get back on track with the plan, I need to bake 3 different kinds of cookies today.

This weekend, we write the domestic cards, so I can mail them on Monday. I have to get the new printer set up, and do a test run on the coffeemaker. We also need to finish decorating: the tree, getting the garlands and lights up on the stairs, the small tree on the porch, the additional lights throughout, the mantel, and decide where the 50+ Santas I’ve accumulated will perch. We have a platoon of the smaller nutcrackers waiting to be deployed in the living room, too. And Tessa’s made a nest of stuffed Christmas animals in the sewing room, near the heater.

Speaking of Tessa, she has decided that since Charlotte eats out of Tessa’s bowl, Tessa will now eat off Charlotte’s plate when she’s in the kitchen. This is the cat who has never eaten anything that wasn’t in her warm, freshly washed bowl. But she has had enough of Charlotte’s food theft. And Charlotte believes everything tastes better out of Tessa’s bowl.

Willa stays out of it.

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

Wed. Nov. 23, 2022: Almost Feast Time!

image courtesy of Lubos Houska via pixabay.com

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

New Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Jupiter DIRECT as of tonight

Sunny and cold

Hello! This is a much shorter post today. Less ranting, more celebrating, some sorrow.

If you didn’t see my weird little micro fiction “That Darn Dog” over on Ko-fi yesterday afternoon, you can find it here.

This morning’s post on The Process Muse is about astrology.

So, yesterday I hit 50K on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH and hit the Nano goal. I felt huge relief. Last year, I felt genuinely victorious with CAST IRON MURDER, since last year I was worried I’d never have it in me to write another novel again. Yesterday, I just felt tired. I’m worried that Nano has become, for me, too much about ego, rather than the work. It needs to be about the work first.

This morning, I wrote 2020 words on the book. Just because I hit 50K doesn’t mean I’m stopping. I have a book to finish. I just don’t have to be under the same pressures, and each day’s words can be more organic (although, as always, the goal is a minimum of 1K/day).

I’m definitely ready for the new moon, and even more ready (readier?) for Jupiter to go direct tonight. Since it’s the planet of expansion and material things, this is a good time for it to go direct, especially with my sales taking a hit because of Twitter’s death throes.

I’m looking forward to the weekend. I actually like cooking Thanksgiving dinner. For those of you who just recently joined the daily reading, for over 40 years, we used to go to Maine for Thanksgiving. The extended family rented the VFW Hall, and we usually had around 60 people for dinner. When it first started, everyone made an agreement that, for the day, it was about thanks and being together. No arguments, no drama. For the first few years, I made a box for the front hall with a sign saying, “Drop your egos here. You can pick them up on the way out.” After the first couple of years, we didn’t need it.

We’d cook in the giant, industrial kitchen. My job was the mashed potatoes. The potatoes were cooked in huge pots, and the masher was 4 feet long. I had to stand on a stool to get high enough over the pot to mash.

Large tables were set up in a U shape in the main room, with two buffets off to the side. One had the meal; the other was the dessert table.

As the years went on, I started taking responsibility for Wednesday’s meal, for those who set up the hall. I’d cook a gigantic casserole of something on Tuesday. We’d drive up on Wednesday, and I’d heat it up, and everyone who set up would come over for dinner. I also would bake something for the dessert table.

Even when I was working on Broadway, I made arrangements to take off at least Wednesday and Thursday (I made it back for Friday night’s show). And then I’d work Christmas, so someone else could have off.

We’d leave very early in the morning on the Wednesday, about 5 or 6 AM, and hit the Maine border around 9 or 10. We’d meander up slowly, visiting our favorite stores and places along the way. Once my grandmother died and my great uncle went into a nursing home, which meant the house changed hands, we started staying at a motel in Ogunquit, and getting in pizza from one of our favorite pizza places, rather than going up all the way and bringing the Wednesday dinner. The next morning, we’d drive the rest of the way up, help with the meal, help with the dishes, drive back to the motel,  and drive home early on Black Friday.

We stopped shopping on Black Friday about 20 years ago.

The pandemic, of course, made it impossible to have the dinner the past couple of years. And, by this point, there’s enough death and exhaustion that it’s too much to pull it off. So the extended family now has smaller family dinners. Last year we did a ZOOM dessert, but I think this year, everyone just wants to rest.

Things change. We had a great four decades of large gatherings. I will always be grateful for them. At the same time, something smaller works for me now at this point in my life.

Yesterday, I worked through a ton of email. I’m still behind in my Substack reading, which I will catch up on this weekend. I finally got Hive working on my tablet, although it’s very slow. I managed an intro post, and that’s about it. I have to figure out how I can upload graphics to the tablet and then into Hive. I want to run them off my flashdrive, but the tablet doesn’t always acknowledge the flashdrive.

The coffeemaker arrived. From snowy Buffalo! Isn’t it pretty? So shiny! So much bigger than I expected. And no instruction booklet (the box wasn’t even taped shut). The coffeemaker is complicated enough that I’m baffled, and want to read the instructions before I try anything. So I’m on the hunt on the Cuisinart site for it. I have to get different filters, too.

I turned around two script coverages yesterday, and have one today. I have to finish up a book review this morning, and send it off with the invoice. Clear the desk before the holiday weekend, right?

I intentionally did not discuss the shooting at Club Q in yesterday’s post because I was worried it would get lost in the noise, and it deserves more. It’s not at all surprising that the shooter is the grandson of a Republican politician who supported the insurrection. That is what happens when there are no consequences. No one has the right to go into a club and shoot people up because they make different choices. And when someone does an act of terrorism like this, there have to be serious consequences. Not the shooter and Rittenhouse becoming besties and poster boys for the GOP, which is the next step.

Those murdered and their loved ones deserve better. People deserve to live their lives without interference, and with love and joy.

Then, of course, this morning was news of another shooting, this time in a Virginia Walmart. I mean, that’s slightly more understandable that someone would snap at Walmart, but still not acceptable.

The only reason to have an AR-15 is to kill humans. That means anyone who owns one is premeditating murder, even if the target is yet to be chosen. And they must be so prosecuted.

Not the happiest note to end on before the holiday, so let me add this: may you have a joyful, delicious weekend without family drama.

Peace, friends. Catch you on the other side.

Tues. Nov. 15, 2022: Incoming Snow

image courtesy of Tomasz Proszek via pixabay.com

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and cold. Snowstorm on the way.

Time for our regular Tuesday catch-up.

It was a steady weekend.

Friday, I got my words done on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, and then did a run to the pharmacy, the grocery store, the post office (mailed stuff, even though it was closed), and the liquor store.

A new contact on Mastodon, who is also over on Ravelry, shared a pattern with me that might work for that very thin alpaca yarn. I’m also working up one of my own designs, and will see which makes the most sense. Or maybe try to combine them, if I can pull it off. By accident, I cam across another yarn on sale that I want, and I have to remind myself that I have an ENTIRE TRUNK (a vintage trunk from the late 1800s) full of yarn that needs to be worked up, plus several bins of yarn still in storage. I do not need more yarn.

Yeah, like that’s gonna stop me.

Rested in the afternoon, because I am weary on multiple levels. Part of it is grieving for Twitter. Its destruction is a financial blow to my work. But there’s also the community element. I’m building different experiences on other platforms, but the platforms are different and the experiences will be different. And I’m enjoying some of the platforms, and getting ready to remove myself from others in a few weeks, when I reassess where my time and energy is best placed, on both professional and personal levels. Which isn’t a bad thing, but those of us who were hooked into top level Twitter usage, for business and personal reasons, need time and space to grieve. The fact that Yegads Muskrat is destroying it intentionally for his own ego makes it even worse.

My writing is very much a part of who I am, and how I make sense of the world. Any platform that gets squiffy about me talking about my work is the wrong place for me.

But I also read for pleasure. A brain candy book, instead of what I “should” have read, but I needed the break.

The rains at the outer edges of Tropical Storm Nicole came in the evening. It’s such a different experience here in the mountains than it was at the coast. Still, the leaks on the porch were bad, and we had to empty buckets and bowls a couple of times, and also get up overnight and do it. I wish they’d hurry up and fix the porch roof.

It was bucketing down in the morning, which meant our plans to head to Great Barrington were scuttled. Next time I head down that way, I want to visit Karen Allen’s Fiber Arts store and see what’s there. It sounds like an amazing store.

1827 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, and they were a struggle.

Read a book that’s getting a lot of buzz and everyone thinks is wonderful. I was not impressed, and annoyed that I wasted several hours with these characters.

Finished taking notes on my friend’s manuscript. He’s been traveling, so I’ll type them up and see when he’s ready for them. Started reading another friend’s book that came out recently.

Finished switching out fabric from Samhain into November, including the kitchen table. Finally took down the pumpkin lights. Getting that all washed and put away. Soon it will be time to put out the Solstice fabric.

Baked potatoes for dinner, with bacon and Moosewood’s cheese sauce. Been a long time since I had a layered baked potato.

The Dems held the Senate at 50. Let’s get in Warnock in the runoff and make it 51.

Weird dreams on Saturday into Sunday, closer to the stress dreams from before the move and when we first moved here than the better dreams I’ve had lately.

Baked biscuits.

2078 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, including an insert in the previous chapter. The first few hundred words were difficult, and then it started flowing again. I managed to beat the little voice saying, “You’re ahead. You can take time off.” I’ll take time off when I hit 50K. I’m a little over 31K now, breaking 30K two days before I needed to, for my own schedule.

Did some stuff around the house. We finally got the bulbs planted (which I will go into in more detail on Thursday’s garden post). I was annoyed that Scheeper’s shorted me a half a dozen bulbs. The bulb packets I bought were supposed to have 12 each in them, and had only 10. Which meant, over the three packages, I was shorted a half a dozen bulbs.

Definitely going back to Color Blends next year.

Started reading the next book for review, and also read for pleasure. Just felt tired all the time. There were plenty of things I “should” have worked on, but I needed rest more. Why is it so difficult for us to allow ourselves to rest, so that we can do better work after? Not just better work, but better life?

Tessa woke me up at 3:30 on Monday morning, because it was windy, and the porch door banged. I got it fastened, and then she tried to convince me to feed her. Nope. She and Charlotte bothered me until I finally got up a little after 6.

I had resistance to sitting down to write, but once I did, I got Chapter 15 drafted of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH at 2073 words. I’m a little over 33K, and broke 30K early. 17K left to go for Nano; I suspect the draft will run 70-80K. 82 is the sweet spot for this, once it’s edited.

If you didn’t see the Mid-month check in over on the GDR site yesterday, you can hop on over ad check it out here. Did the social media rounds. Kind of skipped Cohost; pretty sure I’m going to ditch that account without waiting until January. It’s more geared to a gaming and fanfic demographic than what I do.

Had 11 books to drop off at the library, and a bunch of local history to pick up, which I will make notes on and use in TREES, and can also use some of the information for CAST IRON MURDER. Picked up a few things at the grocery store. Only one person wasn’t masked while I was out and about, which made me feel better about things.

It started cold, and then warmed up enough to open the porch and bring the tomatoes back out. I have a feeling I’ll be hauling plants back and forth a lot on sunny days.

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon, got some reading for pleasure in. Had a great soup class online with Jeremy Rock Smith. It’s always such fun to participate in his classes. Lots of laughter, while building skills.

Dreamscape was good last night, and I might have the basis for a new novel or novella. I have to make some notes on what I remember, and, when I have a little more breathing room, see if it’s viable.

Slept in until 6:30 this morning, but felt rested when I got up, which has been rare lately. Did the next chapter of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. It came in at 2226, and now I’ve broken 35K. Character development, b-line stories, red herrings. Typical middle stuff.

Once I do a quick social media round, I have to head for the store and get a tarp. We need to get the rest of the plants and furniture in from the back balcony today, since tonight we’re supposed to get our first snowstorm, and it could be up to 5 inches. I planned to go to the laundromat tomorrow, but I’ll put it off.

I have two more scripts to turn around this afternoon, and that’s it for this pay period. I’m happy with what I hit. I also have to write a book review later this afternoon and submit it, so I can be assigned the next one.

Tomorrow, since I’ll be home all day in the snow, I hope to do some catching up on Legerdemain. The last few episodes of the year are in decent shape, and can go up soon, but I need to finish the rest of the second arc.

I’ve been working on a media kit for it, too.

Speaking of which, the next episode of Legerdemain goes live today. I hope you enjoy it.

Have a good one, friends, and stay warm!

Wed. Nov. 2, 2022: Let’s Skip It All and Have Pie

(image courtesy of Hansuan Fabregas via pixabay.com)

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and warm

We’re supposed to have a stretch of unseasonably warm days the rest of this week, so I don’t have to worry about bringing the plants in. I am worried that it’s too warm to plant the bulbs, though.

While I was pleased with a quick-off-the-mark start to Nano yesterday, 2552 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, it was hard to get my head back in the game afterwards.

I slogged through some email. I did the rounds of social media to promote Episode 29 of Legerdemain. I’m back on Ello, which is good, since I have over 265K eyes on my work over there.

I dug in and managed another episode of Legerdemain, which actually went well, once I got going with it.

I started the 30 Days of Gratitude practice with my yoga studio.

The second half of “Won if By Sea” went up on Ko-Fi yesterday afternoon. I hope you enjoy it! If you didn’t want to read the first part without the second part going up, now both are up, and you can read them together.

I turned around two scripts. I signed up with Cohost and with WT. Social. I want to do a comparison/contrast of all these platforms over the next couple of months and then post my experiences and data, probably over on Ink-Dipped Advice in January. By then, I should have enough information. Even early on, it’s fascinating to see which things resonate on different platforms.

All of this social media kerflamma underlines the need for creatives and businesses to have their own WEBSITES, not just social media.

I was invited back to judge the book contest again that I’ve judged for the past few years. The pay is decent, and I enjoy the work, so I said yes.

Did my rituals last night. During these days of tending the dead, I am a cauldron for a lot of grief, and it’s exhausting. But necessary.

Today’s issue of THE PROCESS MUSE is about “Different Structures for Different Mediums.” If you’re not yet subscribed, you can click the link to read it. You can also subscribe (it’s free).

I was up early this morning, with the alarm, which I couldn’t figure out how to turn off. I think I will go back to a traditional alarm clock, and not my phone. Every time it updates, everything goes bonkers.

Out the door just before 6 to the laundromat, got everything done and back a little after 7. Got a few chapters of the multi-colored draft done on CAST IRON MURDER.

No one’s allowed to park on the street from Nov. 1 – March 31, so, at least the first few days of November, I try to keep my car in my spot as much as possible, so no one grabs it. People are pretty good, but there are always a few who don’t believe boundaries and space applies to them.

Wrote the second chapter of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, which came in at 1997 words. Less than yesterday, but better words, and I’m starting to feel the innate rhythm of this piece.

Unfortunately (?) I got an idea at the laundromat, when a couple of characters started yapping at me, so I will make some notes and make it clear that they MUST WAIT THEIR TURN. I have enough going on this month.

Today I have to start taking down the Samhain decorations, along with everything else that has to get done. That includes taking down all the spiderweb curtains, and putting up the red and gold paisley curtains that will be up until we put the lace panels back up in spring. It will take a few days to get everything down and put away, because I also have to get the writing and script coverage done.

But we should have some nice weather these next few days, and Tessa, in particular, will enjoy being out on the porch.

Have a good one!

Published in: on November 2, 2022 at 8:23 am  Comments Off on Wed. Nov. 2, 2022: Let’s Skip It All and Have Pie  
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Tues. Oct. 25, 2022: Life as a Kaleidoscope

image courtesy of Dmitri Posudin via pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

New Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Saturn DIRECT as of Sunday

Rainy/Sunny/Confusing

Saturn went direct on Sunday, taking a lot of the life lessons pressure off. Now, we have to implement what we learned on this Saturn Retrograde so we don’t have the same lessons smacked at us next time it comes around, next year.

Enjoy the lull this week, because Mars goes retrograde  on the 30th, and stays there until January 12th. Mars is already in Gemini until March of 2023, causing stress and difficulties. Going retrograde, through all the holidays, means huge additional stresses. It makes it likely people will be more easily argumentative than usual over the holidays, so try to pull up extra patience and compassion. I talk about that in more detail over on the GDR site, with a post on “Breath Under Duress.”

My plan is to have as quiet a holiday season as possible, with very little socializing (especially since there’s a pandemic going on).

Now, down to our usual Tuesday morning natter, to catch up over the weekend.

Don’t forget: The Process Muse launches tomorrow on Substack. It’s free, and you can sign up here.

Friday morning, I hit the ground running; blogging, making devilled eggs, taking out the garbage, doing the last-minute counter wiping and stainless-steel appliance cleaning.

Our friend showed up and we had a good catch up on all that’s new for both of us. Feasted on the devilled eggs, the black bean soup, the lemon mousse. She had to head back to CT after lunch.

We cleaned up and settled in on the couch to rest. When I checked my email, I found some sad news. An old family friend died last week, in Switzerland. We didn’t even know she was ill. I’d been planning to go and visit the next time I went overseas (which will probably be in 2024).

I had nothing left in the tank, so I gave myself the afternoon off. I finished reading THE SECRET SISTERHOOD, about literary friendships, which was good. I read Joy Harjo’s memoir, POET WARRIOR, which was very well done and uniquely structured.

Charlotte, who’d hidden when my friend was there, because she was afraid she would be given away, was Velcro Kitty all afternoon and evening. And woke me every two hours all night, for reassurances.

Up early on Saturday. Did some work on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED MURDER. I’m a little worried, because it’s heavy on character and atmosphere, and light on plot. Also, there are so many period details I’ll have to add in when I do the revision. But I at least have a good idea on the first third, and escalating the stakes for Rita, my heroine. This book will definitely be a case of draft fast, revise slowly. I like THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH better as a title, which, it turns out, was my original title, so I’ve changed it back to that.

Turned around a script.

I filled out a writer-in-residence application that comes with a nice stipend. However, because of that, I’m sure they will go with a much bigger name. But if I don’t try, I have zero shot, so I tried.

Went out and got the paint I needed for the bookcases, and a dropcloth. I painted one bookcase completely and started the second one, but ran low on both paint and time.

Read a book by someone whom I met in passing back in my NYC days. It was one of those people I was advised I “should” know, although we were in different arenas. Anyway, I recently came across one of her books in the library (a memoir) and decided to read it. The writing is good. But I don’t like the person I met in those pages. The privilege and the whining are way too much.

Charlotte woke me at 3:30 on Sunday morning, which was not the start to the day for which I’d hoped. But I made apple muffins. I upped the allspice from ¼ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon, and it was a good choice.

Got a nice chunk of work done on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH.

Filled out the ballots for the election. Of course I voted Blue all the way down. I’m not an idiot. Or a supporter of fascism.

Got more paint and finished the second bookcase. Not that I know where to put it yet. The first one fit perfectly on top of the other red bookcases in the kitchen, so I cleaned and rearranged all those shelves, and it looks good.

I kept feeling I “should” work all day (on work-work, not house and home stuff). I also felt the flickers of burnout and decided to rest, so I could focus this week and next week, which will be challenging.

I read Alyssa Maxwell’s MURDER AT BEACON ROCK, which was well done and satisfying and sad, all at once. I really like the series. At one point, I fantasized about writing a series set in Gilded Age Newport, but she’s written a better series than I would have, and I no longer need to write one!

There are flutters that Yegads Muskrat is going ahead to buy Twitter and people are fretting about where to go. Tribel Social Network has been urging people to go on it, but I don’t like their policies/terms of service. I think I’ll stick with CounterSocial. If people want to find me, they will. I still can’t get on Ello, which is annoying, since I built so much on there. I’d hate to leave Twitter, but if I have to, I have to.

This is why one needs a website, not just social media.

Had trouble sleeping on Sunday into Monday, which made Monday a late start. But I got some work done on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH.

My priority was turning around the edits for my Llewellyn editor. Eek! Thank goodness for her kindness and patience, because some of the stuff she caught there was a big mess. I sent it in early, in case she needs me to do more work. But she said they’re fine, and she assured me she loves the piece (even with the messes we cleaned up).

I did revisions on “My Side of the Bed” and “Paranormal Paraphrasing” and got them submitted, in spite of the computer repeatedly crashing. I managed to get out six script submissions.

Irritated that the regional ML for Nano only wants to interact on Facebook and Discord. When I do Nano, I want to be able to go to the Nano site and get the information I need, not travel to other sites. I go to the Nano site FOR NANO. I’m irritated. I’ll stick to my Enchanted Wordsmiths group and to hell with the region crap. They’re doing stuff in person and you know they won’t implement any COVID protocols. Pass.

More scripts came up in my queue, so I have enough to read at least through tomorrow, and then, hopefully, I’ll get a couple of Thursday and Friday.

Turned around 3 scripts. Started writing a weird new little, short play. Heard that an odd little play I really love, which I wrote and submitted for a specific call, was not chosen as one of the 5 plays they can use for their event. The company wrote a really kind letter about it, but it makes me sad. I’m fond of the piece, and will have to find another spot for it, which won’t be easy, because it’s so specific.

Stepped in for a colleague who had an emergency and couldn’t do a Zoom talk with a group of young playwrights. It was a lot of fun. They had terrific ideas and great questions. It meant I missed the Artist Working Group, but I knew if they held the WG in the evenings, I’d run into conflicts. If they keep it in the evenings permanently, then I’ll withdraw.

Set the alarm for 5 this morning, and woke up just before the alarm went off, waking from a dream that I slept until 9 and missed the alarm. I was very confused when the alarm went off.

Hauled a fuckton of laundry into the car and over to the laundromat. Three large, industrial-sized machines were going, between the clothes (I’ve been lax about going every week), the curtains, and the other fabric-y stuff that’s been turned over for the season.

Sat in the car working on the multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER. The original plan was that it would be ready for submission this past summer, but that didn’t happen. A longer wait time to work on revisions before I start querying was the right choice for this book. The story and characters are strong, but there’s a lot of sloppy writing (which happens, during Nano).

Cleaning up the sloppy writing makes it an even stronger book. But, again, although it’s an amateur sleuth, it’s not a cozy. The book deals with racism, COVID, and the sex lives of the characters.

Didn’t get enough done on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH before I had to leave for the laundromat, so that’s been pushed off until tomorrow. I have to type up what I have, so far, so that it’s ready to go. I have a strong opening. I have good backstory to integrate. I’ve drawn maps of who lives where, et al, which in a community such as this one, is necessary for the plot. I know who the murderer is and why that individual committed the murder(s). I have some of the clues and the red herrings, and raising the stakes for my protag. I don’t yet have the climactic sequence, but I’ll get there.

I probably need to walk around the Spruces a bit more, on a nice day, and let it percolate. I do know where the first body drop happens. My friends and I poked around that spot near the river when they came to visit a few weeks back.

I have a feeling I’ll have a lot of placeholders in this draft, since I need to go in and layer period detail. I want to go to the library/historical society and read a batch of newspapers from the months in which this book takes place, and then also do some research on the racial and ethnic relations in the area at the time. I’d hoped to get it done before Nano started, but it will have to be a winter project, and part of the revisions, which will, no doubt, make the revisions more extensive.

There’s a post for The Process Muse in all that! (Don’t forget, it drops tomorrow).

I hope to catch a pocket between rain showers to do a library run, drop off my ballots at City Hall, get some stamps at the post office. There was something else I was supposed to do, but darned if I can remember it.

Episode 27 of Legerdemain drops today. I hope you enjoy it. If you haven’t started reading the serial yet, it starts here.

Have a good one!

Tues. Oct. 11, 2022: Serial Musings, Creative Inspiration, and Dishes

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Waning Moon

Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Pluto direct as of Oct. 8

Cloudy and cold. Second frost.

I started out stressed on Friday, but then calmed down. As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I hoped to get an oil change, but had to schedule it for yesterday instead.

I came home, got some work done, had trouble logging into Ello, which bothered me, since that platform has one of the highest metrics for me.

I picked up some books at the library, swung by the post office to mail some cards and bills, picked up some wine at the liquor store, filled the gas tank.

I jumped in the shower when I got home, and I thought, “what if I just don’t worry about everything that still has to be done today? What if I just get it done without the worry?” And that made things flow better.

I worked on script coverages up until the time I had to get dressed and go to the art opening. It was a lot of fun. I didn’t stay long; I made sure my colleagues knew I was there and that I thought they did a great job; I had a short conversation with the artist; I looked at the art five or six times, seeing something new each time. And then I left, as it got more crowded. The turnout was good, which is always heartening.

Home, made fish and chips for dinner, then finished the script coverages, which took until nearly 10 PM. But I made my goal and a little over this week. But I was tired.

Overslept on Saturday morning, after weird dreams.

I did a lot of promotion for the Free Vella Binge days. I promoted my serial, and I also read a lot of other writers’ serials, and it was a lot of fun. I hope they do a binge week a few months down the line again. Today is the final day of the binge – which means you can even read the episode dropping today, Episode 23.

It also means I have to start a different type of promo as of tomorrow.

And I’m behind on the Topic Workbook promos, which have to get done, since they pay at least one of my bills per month!

I wrote more on the next LEGERDEMAIN episodes – about 3K, and it felt good. This arc is taking some interesting twists and turns for me as the writer, even as I sort of stick to the general outline I made for the arc.

A character started talking to me. She’s kind of a cross between Marion Ravenwood and Morticia Adams, and I kind of love her. I listened to her for awhile and made some notes. Where I originally planned to start turns out to be further into the piece. My character told me the action starts IN an action scene earlier. So I listened.

I think this will be a short serial, to dip my toe into the waters of Substack. I have some questions to ask them about pricing, and if one can put bundling serials into the tiered pricing system. It’s a combination of action, magic, fantasy. With, of course, some humor. The voice is VERY different from LEGERDEMAIN.

Anyway, the series is called Vixen’s Hollow, and this first “season” is called THE CUNNING ONE. If I stick to the outline, it will be 12-20K. That way, I can dip my toe in while prepping EARTH BRIDE (which needs a fuckton more revision than ANGEL HUNT) and developing REP. While keeping LEGERDEMAIN going on over at Vella, as long as the metrics for work it, and also putting ANGEL HUNT up there in January.

Then, by midyear next year, I’ll have enough data and metrics to compare, contrast, and see if either platform grows the way I need it to grow for this to be viable on both financial and creative levels. And can make informed decisions.

While I’m juggling the other prose, script, and business writing. I think it’s do-able, if I stay focused, and if everything is outlined properly. Then, in each project’s time slot, I drop down and work. Hit my quota, take a quick break to clear my head, and move on.

We also did some more decorating on Saturday, putting up the autumn lights (which is always a bigger PITA than I’d like) on the front porch, in the living room, and in the kitchen. I wanted to wait to do the stair lights until after the storage run.

Sunday morning, we were up at 4:30, and on the road by 6, even though I had to scrape frost off the windows. It’s our first frost, which means the colors will begin to pop soon.

The drive to the Cape wasn’t bad at all, in spite of some sun glare for a bit. There wasn’t much traffic, and it was pretty to see where the colors are throughout the state. Mid-state has the strongest color now.

We made it in 3 ½ hours instead of 4, and spent about an hour in the storage unit, trying to organize and rearrange what shifted. We still haven’t found the photos and scrapbooks from our trips, and I’ll have to take another look at spring’s trip. I also forgot the shepherd’s pie dishes, which annoys me, and I didn’t have the energy to move enough boxes to get to the books I wanted.

But we brought back teapots, my grandmother’s china, the snowman china, lots of pictures and a couple of paintings, more sewing baskets, my wardrobe kit (which I will clean out and make functional for current project life), plant pots, and some miscellaneous stuff. It was a full car.

We stopped at a favorite store, which has things I haven’t yet been able to source here, and stocked up.

We were back on the road  a little after 11. We hit a bad pocket of traffic from Worcester to Sturbridge, but then, even though it was busy, traffic moved. We stopped at Adams Fresh Market for things like pizza, bread, and pie (their bakery is wonderful), and filled the tank up the street at Cumberland Farms. The gas was 4 cents more a gallon on Sunday than it was on Friday, when I filled the tank in preparation for the trip.

We were home with the car unloaded by 3:30, and kind of tired, even though it was a much less stressful day than I expected. Ate pizza, unwrapped some of the pictures. Some we will hang up; others we will put aside and maybe switch out, if we get tired of what’s up on the walls.

So tired, I went to bed at 7:30 at night. Slept until midnight. Woke up because my hip hurt. Moved to the bed in the sewing room and slept until the alarm went off at 6. Weird dreams, including that my laptop was stolen, with the flash drive holding the serials. I guess I better back it up on the external hard drive, too.

Tessa was beside herself, claiming we were starving them to death.

Fed the beasts, fed myself, pulled it together and was out the door and at the garage by 8 for my oil change appointment.

I’d brought CAST IRON MURDER with me, to work on the multi-colored draft, and got a couple of chapters done while I waited. The change was easy-peasey, reasonably priced, and they always do right by me. The car is purring like a contented cat.

Came home and started unpacking/washing china. Of course, now we have to figure out where to put it. And now, in addition to working on a flash fiction idea about a haunted doorbell, I want to write another about dead ladies’ china. Because ideas come in batches, like cookies.

Some of the pieces could go into the dishwasher, but most of the older, fragile, bone china needed to be handwashed and set out on the mats to air dry, then get wiped.

Of course, I don’t have a place to put some of it, although I think I’ve come up with a temporary solution that involved buying another rolly cart for the shelf full of tea and chocolate, and then putting some of the dishes up there. Until I can get a china cabinet that will fit into one of the corners in the living room or my office.

Because there are still two boxes of china that need to come up in spring. And who knows how  much I’ll rescue out of thrift shops over the winter?

While batches of china dried, I did Kindle Vella promotion and finished the first draft of the first episode of THE CUNNING ONE. It needs some tweaks, but the bones are good.

One of the things I noticed while reading serial episodes is that many of them are long, because the author is simply posting book-length chapters in preparation for the book’s later release. I’m intentionally keeping the episodes shorter and crisper than I would for a book because serial structure is different from book structure. It’s not just a bunch of chapters slapped up there, one at a time.

LEGERDEMAIN’S sometimes run longer than I would like, although if we get up to 1700 words, I try to break it down and restructure it. I can’t always do that without losing the rhythm, but I try, and as I write forward, in this second arc, I’m much more aware of structure as I write, rather than writing and then revising to fit structure.

ANGEL HUNT was originally created as a serial, then opened out as an (unfinished) novel, and now being adapted back into a serial. The episodes are short and tight, shorter than the original serial episodes. But it fits the rhythm.

THE CUNNING ONE, at least so far, is a little longer than ANGEL HUNT’s, but still less than LEGERDEMAIN. I want to keep the episodes between 900-1100 words, not more than 1200.

EARTH BRIDE’s will be more complicated, since that was originally written as a novel, and the chapters run long even for my usual chapter lengths. I have a feeling those will run around 1500 words each.

No idea about REP yet. Since it’s a science fiction comedy, probably short, precise chapters that build in comedic beats and then pay off.

Anyway, in addition to that, I did some noodling on two Christmas story ideas, which I need to draft before November. One is aimed at the newsletter subscribers; the other will go up on Ko-fi. My friend Chaz Brenchley has a really cool piece called HITHER that he releases a page at a time over there. You can read HITHER here (and buy Chaz a coffee).

We’re all experimenting across formats, trying to earn a living practicing our craft.

I tidied up some of the text on the Legerdemain site yesterday afternoon, too. I will work on the city’s history and the People content, and hope to get them up this week. I want to start promoting the site.

Slept decently last night, although, again, I had the dream that my laptop was stolen with the serial flash drive in it. Note to self: back up serial flash drive on external hard drive AND make sure the flash drives are out of the laptop and put away at night, or when away for extended times.

Back to the page; there’s a lot that has to get done this week. The To Do lists I made the last two weeks only depress me. But I have a lot that has to get done. So I better get to it, huh?

Anyway, Episode 23 drops today for LEGERDEMAIN, and I hope you enjoy it. The direct link to the series is here.

Tues. Sept. 27, 2022: Walking the Project Talk

image courtesy of Rafal Chudoba via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Waxing Moon

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

Cloudy, mild, humid

Pour yourself a favorite beverage and settle in for a natter. This weekend had a lot going on.

I’ve posted the questions to help you create and plan your 2023 over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site.

I managed to get them up early this year. I don’t know about you, but I already have the urge to plan next year, process this year, and build on it. We’ll ponder the questions between now and the end of the year, and then post what we’re comfortable sharing in January over on the GDR site.

Friday felt like a lost day, even though it wasn’t. I mean, I did stuff, it just wasn’t what I’d hoped to get done. I scheduled the episode ad postings on the LEGERDEMAIN site to release all the way through October. I still have to add some content to the site before I’m comfortable with it going live, but that should happen this week, so next week, I can start promoting the site.

Newsletter subscribers will get the link early, when the newsletter goes out later this week. Have you subscribed to my quarterly newsletter yet? If not, you can do so here.

I did some work on the Topic Workbook graphic, and I’m still not happy with it. I need to play some more. I also started the media kit for the Topic Workbook, and I’m pondering the media kit for LEGERDEMAIN.

I looked at running ads on Amazon for LEGERDEMAIN, and the prices are just way out of my budget at the moment.

I ordered a set of signed books by an author whose work I adore for a friend I think would really love them. I bought them directly from the author, and she already shipped them to my friend, and I am so excited.

I covered two scripts in the afternoon. I should have done three, but I was just too tired. And, when I cover the script, I want to give good, focused attention to the writer. That is the respect each writer deserves.

Canva won’t let me design a bookmark that’s horizontal instead of vertical, and I don’t like the way the verticals look. However, the print store I want to try out lets me design horizontally on their site, and I think I will do that. I will initially order a small batch; if they look good, I’ll order more. I may have them do my direct mail postcards, too, if I can ever get a design on those I can stand.

The Fresh Grass Music Festival was over at MassMOCA this weekend. Can you say super-spreader much? Especially now that Rochelle Wollensky of the CDC has gone full genocidal eugenics on the country. She needs to be removed. And yes, I contacted both my Senators and my Representative yesterday so to do.

But the upside of the music festival is that, at night, when the wind is right, I can hear some of it. Which is kind of cool. The venue is only 5 blocks away, so it makes sense.

Had kind of a slow start Saturday morning. We ended up putting on the heat on Friday – I’m already cringing, because not only has the gas company jacked up my bill over the summer, here in this state, they are telling us to expect a 64% increase. My income hasn’t increased 64%, so why are they allowed to do this?

Yes, that was another set of contacts to the Senators and Reps, on both federal and state levels.

I did not go to the market, or even the grocery store, because with all these people in for the festival, ewww, germy strangers probably not masking shedding virus. Nope.

Played with some ideas for upcoming Ink-Dipped Advice posts, and hope to write them up and schedule them to post this week.

I’ve basically given up on all the short stories I’d hoped to write the second half of September. I need to focus on other work first. Some of the ideas I might still play with and write, and look for other markets. But I can’t look at Sept. 30 deadlines for anything right now, other than already contracted work.

I did rough out a short story outline that was inspired by a call to submission, but they wanted flash fiction and this will be 3-5K. But I love the idea, and it will be fun to spin out.

So, yeah, not given up on the short stories, just on the deadlined submission calls!

It’s been dipping down into the low 40’s,/high 30’s F at night, so it’s time to take in the plants. We took in a bunch, some inside for good, some to the front porch. I will go into that in detail on Thursday’s garden post.

Once that was done, the light was good enough so that I could sew the October-themed curtain for the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell. Willa, who hardly ever comes on the couch, sat along the back of it, alternating watching me sew and looking out the window. I did this, too, by hand.

In the afternoon, I turned around the script coverage.

After that, I downloaded the scriptwriting software DramaQueen (the company is based out of Germany). Right now, I can’t make the time to sit with Scrivener. I’ve tried Trelby and hated it. Eventually, I will invest in Final Draft again, but not right now.

It was kind of a PITA to download, but I have no doubt that’s more about my computer than their software. Once it was downloaded, though, and I started playing with it, it worked well.

I imported VISCERAL INVISIBLES into the software and started working on the new draft of that. This will be the 7th draft. Because I’m going to keep at it until it’s right before I submit. The import was wonky from PDF, but just fine out of .doc, so that’s good to know. The software wonked some of the formatting, but not badly, and it’s very easy to adjust with the highlight and tabs.  I later realized it was because I hadn’t used the standard Courier format, but whatever it was I drafted in, so when it converted to the correct format, some of it wonked.

So far, so good.

I rewrote the first 23 or so pages. I’m rearranging a few things, and deepening a few things. That’s what this draft is about. And then I’ll do another pass, and make cuts. According to the software, the page count is 120. However, I think some of that is format wonk, since none of my drafts were ever that long, page-wise. Once I do the rewrites and fix the wonks, I will check the page count (I expect it’s around 115) and then cut, because it needs to hit the sweet spot for the genre, and not be more than 110. So I’ll tighten and cut until I get there.

I knew I had another script I wanted to import – but I couldn’t find it on any of my drives. I nearly panicked, until I realized I’d sent it to my friend Paula for critique a couple of years back. I went back into the emails, found the attachment, downloaded it, and converted it to .doc. I tried importing the PDF version, but it wonked again, so I imported the .doc, and it looks okay.

On the fence about importing STALEMATE DEATH. It might be worthwhile for the portfolio, but I doubt it would go out often. I think it’s just about served its purpose. There’s also the pilot of THE BROWNSTONE and of TALENT. Those need to be reworked, and maybe put into the portfolio. I will use and apply what I’ve learned as a script analyst these past couple of years to make my own scripts stronger.

The one I really need to concentrate on this winter is the pilot for THE WOMEN’S PRECINCT. That’s the one I’m truly excited about, and need to get back to.

I also found a script roster of loglines and information on scripts that all sound good, but according to the document they are written and I look at them and don’t remember some of them. So I’m not sure if that’s a document I wrote as an exercise, or if there’s more spelunking to do in old flash drives.

All of the above is a combination of leaning into the energies of the retrogrades, which is about going back and reworking or finishing older projects, rather than starting something new. This is something I talk about and share techniques for in THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS.

Unfinished projects drain energy. I need to clear the decks to make room for new work. To do that, I have to decide which projects to revive, get into the schedule, and finish; which projects to put in stasis, because it doesn’t make creative or financial sense to deal with them right now; and which ones I need to retire.

That will make room for the new work. It’s also using the information and energy of the retrogrades as something positive, rather than using the retrogrades as an excuse.

I’ve made a rough plan for the marketing of the Topic Workbooks (and including 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS with Nano coming up soon) for October through December. If I can ever get the danged graphic right, I can upload and schedule that. I also figured out the next couple of months of the LEGERDEMAIN campaign, more than just the episode-specific ads. So all of that has to get uploaded and scheduled in the next couple of weeks, in an around all the other stuff.

I also saw that I need to update the buy links on several Topic Workbooks. I thought I’d kept up with that, and am annoyed with myself that I did not.

DramaQueen has several levels of software, but I think I’ll be okay with sticking with the free version. Anyway, so far, so good.

I’ve dumped all the “project management software” programs with which I experimented. None of them have the range I need. I do better with the old-fashioned desk blotter calendar and colored markers. I’ve also kept up with the Work Wins Daily Journal Challenge set out by a colleague. I’m learning that some of the categories he set up don’t work for me. That’s going to be the first October blog post for Ink-Dipped Advice – what I learned from this challenge, and what I’m changing to suit my needs. So much of all these tools and platforms and systems is about compartmentalizing instead of making it holistic. For what I do, that’s detrimental to my productivity, my creativity, and my mental health.

Sunday, I was up at a reasonable time and baked biscuits.

I’d hoped to get the history of Legerdemain written and up on the website, but I don’t know what made me think I could create two thousand years’ worth of a country’s history in a couple of hours. So that’s taking longer than I planned.

In the afternoon, I switched over to plotting and working on my Writers’ Rough outline for the Retro Mystery. I had to keep stopping to look things up, which was frustrating, but better to have that happen now and jot down those details, than to get stuck when I have to draft at speed in November.

So neither project was finished, which left me frustrated.

I created an ad for 30 Tips for 30 Days, and got it uploaded/scheduled through October. November needs a slightly different take; I will either upload/schedule half the month today and half tomorrow, or all today and December tomorrow. Probably half today/half tomorrow and then December on Wednesday. Each month needs a slightly different slant, and there’s a lot to do this week.

I actually did a To Do list for the week, which sets my teeth on edge. To Do lists make me feel constrained, and then I sabotage myself, but there was simply too much for me to be able to look at the calendar and get it done. Urgh.

Read a book on Sunday by a well-known author which came highly recommended, and I was left with “meh.” I am glad to see the author try to tackle social inequity, racism, and domestic abuse in a genre that usually ignores it. But in so doing, she flattened out her central protagonists to make sure they were righteous, and that didn’t quite work. But at least she’s trying, in this genre, which is more than most attempt or fight to do.

Up at a reasonable hour on Monday morning. Good journal, yoga, meditation, and tarot sessions. Came up with a mantra for my intent for the week: “I thrive in situations where my work is respected. I remove myself from situations where it is not.” I will use that this week.

Posted the blogs, posted in the Marketing Game, made the social media rounds. Drafted Episode 42 of LEGERDEMAIN, which came in just under 1300 words, and was more fun than I expected.

Did the rounds of the library, the grocery store, the liquor store.

Adapted Chapter 4 of the third draft of ANGEL HUNT into 7 serial episodes, and smoothed out a few things. The chapter was 6500 words. So that was a lot of words handled, all told, yesterday.

Turned around 3 script coverages. One is missing a piece, and I sent in the information. I read what I had, and commented; I just need the missing piece to finish it.

Made turkey Bolognese for dinner, a different recipe than I’ve used before; I like it a lot.

Tired. Tired, tired, tired.

Woke up 2 minutes before the alarm went off, did the morning routine, and was out the door before 6 AM and over to the laundromat when it opened. Back by about 7:30. Still have to finish folding the sheets and put them away.

I did a few chapters of the multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER. The book is good. I just wish publishers and agents weren’t so determined to ignore the pandemic and racism, which are two very important themes in the book.

I’m going to work on Episode 43 of LEGERDEMAIN. I have to be at the TV station across town by 11 AM, so I have to pull myself together for that. But I’m looking forward to seeing the facility and percolating ideas.

Williams College music department has tightened up the COVID protocols for their performances – proof of vaccinations and masking are again required. So maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to go and listen to some music over the coming months!

There’s a big push in the area to get everyone boosted with the bivalent formula. They’re setting up a lot of free clinics all over the place this week. That, too, makes me feel better. You can tell the tourists have left, because almost everyone in the grocery store yesterday masked.

Off to folding laundry and back to the page.

Episode 19 of LEGERDEMAIN drops today. Enjoy!

Have a good one, friends!

Wed. June 15, 2022: A Magical Garden Day

Berkshire Botanical Garden. Photo by Devon Ellington

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Last Day of Full Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Sunny and warm

Yesterday was one of those lovely, precious summer days. It was warm, but not hot and humid; clear and sunny.

We left the house early and drove down to Stockbridge, to the Berkshire Botanical Garden. It was truly magical, beautiful, and wonderful. I posted some of the photos on my Instagram account, which cross-posted on Twitter, FB, and Tumblr, so if you follow me on any of those accounts, you’ll see them.

Again, as so often happens here, there was an art installation integrated into the space. This one was called “Symbiosis” and was both in the gallery, and pieces out and about in the garden.

My mom is 97, and likes traditional art. She always complains that she doesn’t understand modern art. And yet, when she experiences these installations having to do with the relationship to nature, she gets excited about them and loves them. It’s a lot of fun.

We took our time wandering the gardens, enjoying the magic of it, the different areas, and designs. I did an impromptu meditation on a carved wooden bench under a tree.

I found some borage seeds in the store. It’s late to start them, and I won’t use the entire packet, but I will plant some on the next planting day (which is actually today).

We want to go back in August, when everything will be in full bloom, and again in the autumn, before they close for the season. I would like, on a day that’s not too hot and humid, to go on my own with a notebook and write a piece of flash fiction in each of the different areas. I might need more than one day for that!

We took our time driving back, enjoying the day. I stopped at a grocery store I hadn’t yet tried, because heaven forbid I drive past a grocery store and not check it out. Got some lovely peaches and blueberries.

Although we came back early enough where I “could have” put in an afternoon dedicated to work, I chose not to. I read, out on the front porch, and played with some ideas. I wrote in my head quite a bit, and that should help me when I hit the page this morning.

Did the tarot reading from the Mystic Mondays new moon/full moon book (with that deck, of course), and it was right on the nose. Now, to follow through on the advice. Did a very simple full moon ritual at night.

Didn’t sleep as well last night as I had the past few nights, but we’re coming into the anniversary of crunch time in last year’s move, so time and energy needs to focus on separating sense memory stress from present day stress.

Up early and out the door to the laundromat. Got another chunk of the multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER done. It’s slow going, because of paying attention to every word, but it will be worth it. I’m shocked (and a little embarrassed) by how much sloppy language still exists in this draft. But that’s the purpose of multiple drafts. I have an editor interested in taking a look, so, as soon as I finish this draft, off it goes. It’s already gotten a pass from another editor who said that the conversations about racism and the way the characters are still masking and talking about the pandemic make it a difficult sell. Which I respect, but both those elements are important to both the book and the series, so that publisher isn’t the right fit (she saw the synopsis, sample pages, and a series overview – this other editor wants to see the full draft).

My keyboard is being wonky today, which is irritating. I can’t afford this computer to take a dive. It’s only two years old, and it’s cosseted as though it was sentient, so there’s no excuse, except that PCs suck.

Anyway, it’s back to the page for me, along with some house-and-hearth stuff. If I get enough done early enough in the day, I might try to start putting the kitchen island cart together. Or, I might leave it for the weekend.

Today is the 1st anniversary of getting the keys for this place, when we drove out the first load of stuff, took measurements, and started planning where we’d put things. I am so grateful we are here.

Thurs. June 2, 2022: No Use Crying Over Spilled Pork Chops

image courtesy of Conger Design via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and pleasant

Yesterday morning was chaotic, due to all the traffic barreling down our street in the wrong direction. I contacted my City councilor, who, according to the city government website lives. . .next door! We had a good exchange about it. He’d done some investigating on the cause when he saw what was going on, and, with my statement, had additional information to take to the Mayor so this can get resolved.

Did I mention that my BookBub account was approved, under the Devon Ellington name? I’m @devonelllington there. I’m not yet sure how to build up the account; I will have to spend some time poking around. Once the Devon account is established, I’ll apply for another under the Ava Dunne name (each name has to be approved/set up separately).

I was also approved to join the PaganSpace community, and I’m over there under the Cerridwen Iris Shea moniker. The Cerridwen Iris Shea website will get some updating/redesigning/et al this summer, too, since more is happening under that name.

Got some more scripts in my queue, so that takes me into the weekend. I have quarterly taxes looming, and it’s start-of-the-month bills, so the more work I can get, the better right now.

I went down the rabbit hole of the new covers for the Topic Workbooks, but I’m glad I have it all sorted out. Now it’s about taking down the old editions and putting up fresh ones. I think I’ll do a Topic Workbook for my CCWC class in August, and give it to them as part of the class, scheduling it for general release the week after. I need to make sure, at the very least, the Submission and the Series Bible Workbooks are released before then.

I got 7 new scripts in my coverage queue, and turned around two of them yesterday afternoon. It will get me to almost where I need to be this week, and, if I have enough scripts next week, I’ll be okay.

I looked at some graphics software, such as Pixlr, Paint.NET, Blender, and Inkscape, and I’m looking at Storyboarder for when I need to storyboard. I’m trying to get up to speed on GIMP, but the logic on that program is very different from the way my logic works, so finding the places where they cross is a challenge.

I wrote and sent off the book review, and received my next assignment.

I got very few new words written, and only about 25 pages or so on the multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER, so I have to do better today. This weekend, I’ll need to dig into The Big Project, because the first of the three arcs needs to be done, and I need to be well into the second arc. I have to be able to announce the project in my newsletter later this month, and then it has to go live early in July. Which is already later than I’d hoped, but needs must.

I had a stupid, clumsy accident last night at dinner. As I turned with the plate of hot, sauce-covered pork chops, I hit against something, the plate flew out of my hand and landed, face down, on the floor. On the way, it splattered both me and the kitchen chairs. It burned the tops of my feet (yeah, I know, chefs always warn not to be barefoot in the kitchen, yet I usually am). Thank goodness I have an aloe plant again.  Changed into fresh pants and soaked the stained ones, cleaned everything up, washed the floor.  I’ll wash it again this morning with a vinegar concoction.

Thank goodness there was enough food in the pantry so ruining dinner didn’t mean going without. There have definitely been stretches in my life where that would have been the case, but not last night, and for that I am grateful. I had some vegetable curry to heat up and put over the rice, so it all worked out.

But I felt like an idiot.

I’ve been meaning to recover the kitchen chairs for years. I guess it has to happen now.

Meditation this morning, then I’m making French toast with the leftover ciabatta. Then some writing before Freelance Chat, and script coverage in the afternoon.

There’s the latest on the garden over at Gratitude and Growth.

Have a good one!

Thurs. May 26, 2022: When The Day Evaporates

image courtesy of Christoph via pixabay.com

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Partly sunny/cloudy and pleasant

There’s a garden update on Gratitude and Growth here.

As I mentioned yesterday, while I was at the laundromat, I did 26 pages of the multi-colored draft on CAST IRON MURDER. Yeah, that will take some time, to clean up the sloppy language. I’m keeping some of it as a cadence choice for a particular character, because it supports/reveals who she is, but will fix it in plenty of other places. So much for being happy with the book!

Had a terrific conversation with my Llewellyn editor about the article I’ll write for them in 2024. Which will be contracted in the next couple of weeks, and due in August. Because almanacs work two years in advance. The material I wrote last year for next year will release in August.

It’s also a reminder to put reworking the Cerridwen iris Shea website into the schedule for this summer, as well as sorting through the twenty-six plus years’ worth of material I’ve written for Llewellyn annuals, where the rights have reverted back to me, and I can publish them elsewhere. That’s kind of a major project, since there were years where I had multiple articles in multiple annuals, which is part of the reason I burned out.

Another thing on the list, right?

And then, the rest of the day just sort of evaporated. Much of it was due to the combination of grief and rage against the elected officials for allowing continued gun violence and refusing to do anything about this. I’m tired of my government’s determination to kill me and those about whom I care (and even those about whom I care, who I don’t know). I’m tired that we are expected to pay to be murdered. It has to change. Part of that is that Democratic leadership has to change. They need to be as ruthless, no, MORE ruthless than Republicans.

I did some research, and found out that one can file a petition with the IRS is a tax-exempt organization has broken the rules. I looked at the checklist, and the NRA has broken many of them. Gathering supporting documentation won’t be difficult. I posted the link multiple times, but I doubt anyone else will do anything. I also worked on a letter to Chuck Schumer demanding Joe Manchin be removed from all committee assignments. Stop pandering to someone who stabs us all in the back at every opportunity. The carrot hasn’t worked. Used the stick and beat the SOB into submission until he’s voted out. I’ve worked with Senator Schumer. I like and respect him a great deal. But he’s not ruthless enough. If McConnell can always get everything he wants, Schumer needs to be just as much of a dirty fighter.

We took Willa out on the back balcony in her playpen in the afternoon. She was fascinated by the sights and smells. So different from being out on the deck on Cape. I will have to take the cats out in the playpens by turns – there isn’t room for all the playpens at once, like there was on our deck. So each day, one of them gets to go out. I have a feeling Tessa won’t like it, but I at least want to give her the option. Charlotte definitely wants to go out. And she’s very good in her playpen.

Put in a Chewy order. The food Tessa likes is out of stock; I’m trying one bag of a similar one, and ordered treats and the cactus scratching post. Because the 100% response to the Twitter poll was that I should get it (like I wasn’t going to, anyway). I had to buy a toy, too, to get it up to the level for free shipping.

I’m trying to look at the lack of script coverage work as a gift of time, to heal from burnout, and enjoy it, rather than worrying.

I read the next book for review, and will write up/submit that today, and hopefully get assigned a new one before the holiday.

Meditation this morning, then some work on the Big Project. I have to do a library and grocery run, and then it’s back to the page to work on the Monthology story, some more edits on CAST IRON MURDER, and the radio plays.

There’s plenty to do, I just have to stop frittering away time.

Have a good one!

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Wed. May 25, 2022: Roadtrip!

image courtesy of 453169 via pixabay.com

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was road trip day. We travelled over to Lake George, a day trip to make sure the car was working, and to get a few things out that way we couldn’t source around here.

We drove Rt. 2 across to Troy (New York), which was pretty, but the curvy mountain roads required intense concentration, especially since I haven’t driven much since December, and I’m not used to the mountain roads yet. I mean, they’re not the Alps, but still have challenges (mostly yahoos in rusty pickups who want to speed).

Troy is an interesting, historic city, and we picked up Rt. 9 North from there. Once we got around Saratoga Springs, I was back in familiar territory, although I hadn’t been out that way since before we moved to the Cape a little over a decade ago. It’s gotten more built up, of course, but it was still good to see familiar places with happy memories.

Somehow, we got sidetracked onto Rt. 9N north, instead of N, and took the roundabout way to Lake George which was . . .kind of retro kitschy? Very built up with games and “fun” parks and stuff, and one can barely see the lake for the tourist stuff. We’d hoped to grab some takeout and picnic near the lake, but there wasn’t anything we wanted to eat, and a plethora of school field trips, so we decided not to.

We stopped at the Timberland outlet and I got new walking shoes – black with purply-pink trim. I had my last Timberland walking shoes for nearly 15 years before they fell apart during the move last year. These feel great, and will be terrific for running errands. I doubt they’ll last as long as the others, between concrete city streets and hiking trails, but I have every intention of enjoying them. We stopped at a couple of other stores, too, and bought a few things, but mostly didn’t, and didn’t stay in stores where people weren’t masking. We, of course, stayed masked.

We picked up I-87 and dropped down to Albany, then went across on the Pike, and came back up through Lee and Lenox. We stopped at the kitchen store in Lenox; I hadn’t had a chance to do my birthday shopping there in March. One of the (unmasked) cashiers was walking around on her cell phone, talking about how she was “recovering” from COVID and how much she loved the anti-viral drugs. I grabbed two pretty blue bowls, went to the other cashier, and we got the heck out of there ASAP, sanitizing like crazy. Bitch should have still been home, or, at the very least, masked in the store, instead of spewing germs everywhere.

We stopped at a food market that advertises all over the place and is always crowded (90% were masked, thank goodness)). I’d heard so much about it. I found them overpriced. Their prices are $2-$4 higher than the food co-op and $3-$5 higher than the other grocery stores in the area, for the same brands.

I bought some of their own brand to try it. The take-and-bake pizza had no taste. Not even a cardboardy taste. Completely bland, until I put some of the fresh basil from the garden on it. That brought out the cheese and tomato flavors, but the crust was still bland. The organic chocolates were flat, too. The texture was okay, but they lacked taste. This morning’s chocolate croissants were okay, but not brilliant. Let’s hope the rest of the stuff I bought there has more flavor, or I am going to be Annoyed.

Doubtful I’ll shop there again, unless the cheese I bought from the cheese monger is terrific.

But at least we know it’s hype without substance, and don’t have to shop there again.

We did full decontamination protocols on ourselves and everything we brought into the house, just in case.

Charlotte and Willa had missed us, and were glad we were home. Tessa had ensconced herself on the porch, and was like, “Eh, you’re home earlier than you said.”

Read in the evening, still reading DISORIENTED, which is such a strong book. Definitely has a lot of ha-ha-ow! to the satire.

Tried to re-order the cat food, but they are out of stock for the only food Tessa will eat. We still have a few weeks’ worth, which is why I usually order early. I can wait a few days before figuring out something else.

Was heartbroken and enraged by yet another school shooting in Texas. Every politician who blocks gun control and removing the filibuster is personally responsible for these daily killings, and should be charges as accessories to the homicides.

Up early this morning, confronted by a very angry Tessa. When we refilled her bowl before bedtime, we left it on the kitchen counter. She did not get her 2 AM snack, and she was enraged. For once, she didn’t even care that I was headed to the laundromat. Her attitude was, “Just go! You’ve done enough!”

Laundromat was fine. Lots of laundry, but got it done in a reasonable amount of time. I drove, because there was so much, and refilled the gas on the way back. I’d only had to fill the car once before since January, so I feel like I have no right to gripe about gas prices. Besides, it’s still cheaper here than, say, in the UK, where they pay for a litre what we pay for a gallon.

I haven’t had any scripts in my queue since Saturday, and am trying not to panic. I am way under my nut for this pay period. I’m still okay, but I’m trying to get ahead, not just stay afloat. I have some other paid work to do, fortunately, this week, but it irritates me that they gave us this big song-and-dance about wanting us to take on more work and put more of our focus on them, but then they can’t give us enough to meet our needs.

Time to add a few more clients into the mix. Another editor wants to know if I want to work with her again (it would be for a project coming out in 2024, although it would be due this August and paid next October, which is the way it works for the almanac). I’m going to say yes. I have a book to read for review, and radio scripts to do for producers. Plus, the Big Project, the monthology story, revising “Personal Revolution” and the Topic Workbooks, and the next edit on CAST IRON MURDER.

Speaking of CAST IRON MURDER, I started the multi-colored draft at the laundromat, and wow, is there a lot of sloppy language in it. It’s part of one character’s cadence, but I’m going to clean up the rest of it. Yikes.

If you’re not familiar with my multi-colored draft, my article on the layered editing process is here.

Back to the page. I have a headache from the driving yesterday, but there’s too much to do today to take another day off.

Have a good one.

Tues. May 24, 2022: Writing, Reading, Research

omage courtesy of congerdesign via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Partly sunny and cool

Friday wound up being a lovely day. It was sunny and warm. I started at the library to drop off and pick up books (there were 10 waiting for me).

I headed over to Williamstown, looking for the Historical Museum, and couldn’t find it. I did find the public library, which is sleek and beautiful, with a garden full of blooming lilacs. The staff is lovely, and gave me detailed directions with landmarks. I scoped out the library – it’s definitely a place where I want to spend more time. Lovely, light reading areas, and a sleek work area.

And people are still masking. By choice. Which is great.

The Museum was much farther from the college/town center than it seemed on the map, but I found it. It’s a lovely building. The person staffing it is new, so we had to figure out where things were.

I looked at the exhibit, and found information about a Williamstown resident’s untimely demise that had been told to me as happening up the street from me here in North Adams, which resulted in a ghost in the building that is now the Mason Hall, so I will have to do more research. I also found information on a pair of sisters who farmed around the turn of the century, and want to know more about them.

The staff person found the file (somewhere neither of us would have thought to look), and I settled in. Much of the information was more recent, about the flood that finally wiped out the Spruces, and the rent battles the tenants had with the town leading up to it.

But there was some of the earlier information. I found contradictions and sanitization of information I’d found from other sources, which I found very interesting. It has set off ideas on how I want to build the character who heads the fictional community, and how I want to put him in competition with the real-life guy. Al Bachand, who was the actual visionary behind The Spruces, reminds me, in a lot of ways of David Belasco. My theatre pals will understand the reference. For anyone who doesn’t, I suggest looking up both names in your search engine, and reading some of the biographical information, and you’ll see what I mean.

Bachand was quite a character, a man of many talents and appetites. I want to build the fictional counterpart, who is in deep rivalry with him, to be even more over-the-top. Most of that is because it will suit the story I want to tell better. Part of it is because members of Bachand’s immediate family are still alive, and it would be disrespectful to use him in the series the way I want and need to use the visionary behind my fictional park. So I’m building a character that is somewhat inspired by him, but also very different from what I’m researching on the man, AND a character who is obsessed with the idea of besting Bachand (but can’t ever really do it). I also want to build the geography of my fictional park a little differently than the real Spruces was built, so it can serve the needs to the series.

In order to do this, I’m doing something I call “stretching geography.” By that, I mean creating fictional places and integrating them with real ones. I do that in CAST IRON MURDER, where I created the fictional Berkshires town of Persimmon. It’s got elements of Cheshire and Dalton and Clarksburg in it. While I’m vague about exactly WHERE it is (I talk about neighboring towns, including North Adams), it’s sort of stuffed between Cheshire and Adams, in my mind. I have to figure out the name of the town I want to put in competition with Williamstown and the Spruces community, and where I’m going to shove it. I want it close enough so that there can be actual competition between the two communities. That won’t come up in the series arc in action until several books in, but I’m going to seed the tension from the first book.

Anyway, there were notes in the research file that will lead me to other sources that I will go back and poke around in on another day.

I may have to buy another sketchbook just to draw the maps of my new community! The one I bought recently is dedicated to the maps I need to draw for The Big Project.

The lilacs are in bloom here, and it does my heart good to see and smell them. I still miss the ones I nurtured for a decade, but being around lilacs makes me happy.

On the way home from the museum, I stopped at Korean Garden and picked up chicken tangsooyuk, which was delicious.

There were no scripts in the queue, but I’d sent off my review and the invoice before I left for the museum, and was paid and had my next book assigned by the time I got back, so I decided not to panic.

Instead, I started reading UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR by TJ Klune, which is so beautifully written.

Meanwhile, in the back of my mind, I let the Retro Mystery percolate, and the monthology story percolate.

I prepared a big batch of black currant tea and put it in jars in the fridge, so I’d have something cool to drink over the very hot weekend.

I put up a one-card reading with the Herbal Tarot up over on my Ko-Fi page.

Saturday was World Meditation Day. I’d been invited to several all-day online sessions. While I was tempted, I was more drawn to not being online all day, and being quiet and internal instead.

I did some more research on the building here in North Adams. Turns out that there was a similar accident within a year of the one mentioned in the museum in Williamstown. Two different women, in similar family situations, killed in automobile accidents, about a year apart. I dug and did more research on both women, their families, and the accidents. I found some papers on them at Academia.edu, which is great, only now they email me multiple times a day with ideas on other stuff.

It also led me to research on Alice Ramsey, who drove across the country in 1909, and I put aside some information on that, because that sounds like fun inspiration.

I finished reading UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR, which is a beautiful, beautiful book. I started reading UNDER SKELETON LOCK AND KEY by Gigi Pandian, which is a delight.

It got quite hot on Saturday. Not unbearable, but hot enough so that I spend the hottest part of the day supine, reading. And letting things percolate.

I turned a script around on Saturday, too, because I was able to grab one. I typed up and revised the flash fiction, “Discoveries” that will go up on Ko-Fi this week. I put up a one-card reading with the Herbal tarot on Ko-Fi here.

Sunday was also hot, and much more humid. I had computer problems again; the computer took an hour to get up and running again, with screen freezes and all the rest. I hate Windows11.

But before that, I had a good day writing, in longhand, on the front porch. I’m going to need a new journal book before the end of the month, my third this year. I also wrote six pages on the idea spawned by the information about the two young women who died in automobile accidents up in Pownal, that I’d been researching. I’m writing my way into it. The plot is taking shape, and, once I’ve written my way into it a little more, I will stop and do an outline, if it’s viable. I figured out a way to connect the two women. It’s fiction, inspired by the real Elizabeth Botsford and the real Mary Houghton, but it’s definitely fiction.

The Houghton graves – and that of the chauffer who killed himself after Mary’s death – are up the street in Southview cemetery. I may go up there and look around, one day when it’s cooler.

Preakness Day was on Saturday afternoon. They should have cancelled, due to heat, and no one in the stands was taking any Covid precautions, which was rather disheartening. I wanted the filly, Secret Oath, to wipe the track with the boys, but she came in fourth, which is still pretty good. Early Voting won, and my baby Epicenter came in second.

I finished reading UNDER LOCK AND SKELETON KEY, which was so much fun. I also read A DEADLY BONE TO PICK by Peggy Rothschild, which was also very good.

I was assigned the word with which to start my poem for the World’s Longest Poem. I figured out the first two lines, and played with them, rhythmically, until they worked. But then I couldn’t figure out where to go with it.

Fortunately, it percolated overnight, and I woke up with the third and final line. We can have up to five lines, but I’m saying what I want to say in three, so there’s no need to witter on.

I worked the final line until it fit the rhythm, so I could send it off by noon. Also wrote two pages on the ghost story, and 1200 words on The Big Project.

More computer problems, especially with the keyboard, which is very frustrating. In case I haven’t said it often enough, I hate Windows11.

This computer is only two years old and has been babied as though it was made of Swarovski crystal. There is no reason for it not to run perfectly.

I’m also sick of people who tell me I should have a “backup computer.” Who can afford that? The computer which I PAID FOR INCLUDING AN EXTENDED WARRANTY should do the job it’s supposed to do, for more than the first couple of months, especially because I take care of it.

Sent off my bit of the poem, which is both exciting and terrifying.

I walked to the library to drop off and pick up books. I was delighted to literally stop and smell the lilacs several times along the way. I took some photos of the Houghton Mansion that I will use in my research, although my fictional mansion will be set up a little differently. I’m not going to have the added-on bulk of the masonic hall, which looks as though it should house a swimming pool. I may have that portion of the house be a ballroom instead. I’d written two more pages on that piece in the early morning writing session. The story is coming out a little differently than I expected, but I like what it’s doing. At least, so far. And I’ve figured out how to tie the two women’s deaths together in fiction, although they were only tied together by location and type of accident in real life.

Went down a research rabbit hole about Mary’s friend, Sybil. The birth, death, and marriage records point out where a lot of the sensational stories appearing on the various haunted house websites bent the truth. Probably through a lack of careful research, but still. It also took a bit of digging to find out what happened to her mother, Cordelia, after the deaths of her husband and daughter, but I found some information from reliable sources. Her two other daughters helped care for her, until she died, several years later. I’m changing that in the novel; the character based on her remarries and starts a new life, and that is tied to the deaths not only of Mary and Sybil, but Elizabeth, in a way that simply does not have evidence that happened in real life.

 Then, I went back to searching a particular record I want in relation to the Retro Mystery, but couldn’t find it. Could find records around it, but not that one. It’s a specific marriage record, and it makes me wonder if that marriage took place out of the county, such as at Niagara Falls or somewhere else. I found out that one of the inspirations for a character in the story is still alive and living in this town, so I have to make even more certain that her fictional counterpart is very different. However, my intent for her is to be a positive, dynamic character in the series.

Finding the facts, and then deciding how I’m going to change things so it works for fiction, and do so in a way that honors the real-life inspirations, is an interesting process.

Knowledge Unicorns was a lot of fun. Finals are done; it’s mostly about field trips and running out the clock. And our last session is on Thursday. It’s bizarre to think that we’re done, after more than two years. But they’ve built a strong support system amongst each other, so whatever comes next, they can handle it together, and I can step back.

I’m reading DISORIENTED by Elaine Hsieh Chou, which is by turns, funny and disturbing. The writing is beautiful.

Charlotte woke me up at 4:20, and Tessa rousted me out of bed by 5. So another too-early morning. Got some writing done, and fussed over the plants.

We have Some Plans for today, which hopefully will go well, and I’ll have a lot of fun stuff to share tomorrow.

Peace, friends, and have a good day. We’re headed to a long holiday weekend, and I am ready for it!