Fri. June 3, 2022: Re-charging Through Art

image courtesy of Uwe Baumann via pixabay.com

Friday, June 3, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Mercury DIRECT

Cloudy and cool

I’d hoped for a productive day yesterday, and fell far, far short of my own expectations.

I had trouble settling in to meditation, mostly because Charlotte was crawling all over me, and over the desk. But we got there.

After meditation, I made French toast for breakfast, trying to use up the leftover ciabatta. I’m trying to recreate the recipe for the lovely one I had at Pere Antoine’s in New Orleans. Adding in more vanilla helps, but I think there was alcohol involved, too.

The morning fled as I slogged through emails and took care of admin stuff, and then washed the kitchen floor properly from the night before, first with a water/vinegar mixture, then with a water/rosemary mixture.

As soon as it dried, the cats, who all love the scent of rosemary, started rolling around on the floor.

Did some more work on the Topic Workbooks. Had a good Freelance Chat – I had a bunch of questions, as did other people, and it was a lively, fun conversation.

I think, as I prepare my Developing the Series class for this August’s booking from its previous version, that I will simultaneously create the Topic Workbook for it. The students in the class will get a copy of the workbook, and the following week, I will release it for sale.

I got my contract from my Llewellyn editor for the 2024 annual. Of course, she wants the very personal and challenging article I pitched! And it’s due earlier than usual, because of print and shipping delays. But I will sign it and return it today, and start it percolating. I will actually write it once I’ve written and submitted the Monthology piece.

In the afternoon, I only turned around one script, because I went down a Pixlr rabbit hole, trying to figure out how to use it, and if it does what I need it to do. It’s sort of like a simpler version of GIMP. But lets me work in portrait, not just landscape. GIMP doesn’t let me reorient photos. Or, if it does, I haven’t yet figured out how to do it, because when I put in the dimensions manually, it changes them to whatever it wants.

After I turned around the script coverage, I put on makeup and got dressed to go down to the MassMOCA open studios. They have a dozen or so artists-in-residence at any given time, from all over the world. Once a month in the summer (less frequently in winter), the studios are open to the public, invited in to see works in progress and hear about the artists’ visions.

It was amazing. The breadth and depth of work is astonishing and emotional and so, so strong. I felt so honored to be invited in and see it, and learn about the different processes. There were a lot of really good conversations, with artists and fellow visitors. It turns out that one woman lived on the same block as I did in NYC, around the same time! Small world.

Everyone had to be masked, and no one fussed. There was only one unpleasant incident, when an artist asked that no photographs be taken, because this is work in progress, not an exhibit and a white woman (of course) started screaming at her and stomped out.

Other that that, everyone was excited and respectful and thrilled to be a part of it.

I left a little early, because it was getting crowded, and I was uncomfortable around so many people, even masked. The bulk of the visitors came late, so that they could eat at either the taco truck or one of the several restaurants in the complex (all of whom have outdoor seating).

I walked down, and walked back, about a 3 mile round trip, and it was a couple of miles traipsing around the studios, so I definitely got my exercise! But the pieces gave me a lot to think about, for all the right reasons.

It was a calculated risk to go, with virus numbers rising, but I’m glad I did.

Woke up around 1 AM because of the rain, and had trouble falling back to sleep, due to sense memory stress. I have a feeling this will be a challenging month, on the emotional front.

Mercury turns direct today, thank goodness. Don’t talk to me about the shadow. I’d never get anything damn done if I had to worry about the pre-and-post retrograde shadows. Saturn goes retrograde tomorrow – the planet of life lessons. If I didn’t learn from the move last cycle, I’ll be paying for it this time around.

I have a post about Summer Hours up on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Sadly, I doubt I can stop work at noon today. Since I only turned around one script yesterday, I have at least two do turn around today, and then two tomorrow. Unless I get three done today, which would be a stretch. I need to do a library/co-op market run later this morning, get some writing done, and maybe some editing in the afternoon. This weekend, I need to work on the Monthology story and The Big Project.

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

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!

Published in: on May 26, 2022 at 6:23 am  Comments Off on Thurs. May 26, 2022: When The Day Evaporates  
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Fri. May 13, 2022: Windows11 Sucks, but Plants are Pretty

image courtesy of planet_fox via pixabay.com

Friday, May 13, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and hot

This is going to be the retrograde of computer malfunctions, I guess. Windows11 is awful. No more autosave – it tries to force you to save to the cloud. I don’t want to save to the cloud, and it should be MY decision. So, when I’m reading on screen and taking notes in a document, I have to save the document any time I switch back to the reading screen, or I lose everything. On top of that, when I opened the computer to start my day, it decided it had to “restart” and then “update” and then, when it asked for my PIN and I put it in, it gave me the gray screen of death. More than once. I shut it down and turned it back on, and it’s glitching.

As usual, Microsoft sucks. Although, from what I hear, Apple has descended to Microsoft’s level of ineptness.

In any case, yesterday was a decent day, although it got hot. I had trouble getting online to the meditation, but got there, and was glad I did. I got some work done in the morning, including slogging through way too much email. I had trouble getting the computer and the printer to talk to each other again after the upgrade, which is frustrating, because I have paperwork that needs to get done. I managed to get the next book for review downloaded, although that was a chore, too.

Once Mercury goes direct, I have to go through my Download file and dump a lot of it. It’s been double downloading things, and taking up space I can better use otherwise.

Headed for the grocery story, which had a special deal on hanging baskets, and we got a couple of lovely baskets of impatiens, one in a dusky pink and one in a bright pink. Headed to another store, where I wound up getting a lovely, soft shirt in organic cotton (on sale – gotta love Mercury Retrograde bargains). Headed back to the other store and got more potting soil, more pots, another patio rug, and three small shelf units that I plan to put together and use in various parts of the house. They’re kind of a dull brown. I will see what they look like put together, and then maybe paint them. Or, at least, stencil them.

The curried chicken salad I made the night before was perfect. We have a great big batch of it to enjoy, and that recipe might be a summer go-to for me. I used the Asian greens in it, almonds, currants, and golden raisins. I’d picked up a ciabatta on our errands, and that went perfectly with it.

After lunch, we set out the new rug on the back balcony – it even matches at the seam to the other rug. Having the two rugs run the length of the space unifies it. We hung the impatiens, and hung and filled the bird bath. We put the cushions on the bench and the bistro chairs. It’s a really nice, shady retreat. When the front porch, with its southern exposure, gets too hot in the afternoons, we can retreat to the back balcony, with its northern exposure.

Charlotte and Willa sat in the kitchen window and watched. I’m sure we will have to take them out sometimes in their playpens. Tessa happily stayed on the front porch.

I turned around a script coverage and cleaned up some other work, then read on the porch. The Ipsy bag arrived with the monthly goodies, and also MOTHER NATURE’S HERBAL by Judy Griffin, which had been recommended by an Instagram pal. It’s a lovely book, and covers a lot of ground. Since most of my herbals are still in storage, this will serve me well, and I look forward to savoring it.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. We’re prepping them for finals, and the kids are ready for summer.

Leftovers for dinner, and read. I was achy and tired, so went to bed pretty early. Had a rough night, though. I kept waking up with stress memory of this time last year, when that landlord was pressuring us to get out and we had no idea where we could go yet. I kept having to calm myself down (yoga and meditation came in handy) and get back to sleep.

Woke up with a scratchy throat and sneezing, but the itchy eyes and open windows tipped me it’s more likely to be pollen than plague. I was woken by screaming cats. At first I thought they were mine, but my trio was sitting in a row at the window (together) watching cats fight outside.

A friend’s card arrived yesterday, which made me happy, and another friend signed up for The World’s Largest Poem, so I hope that means she comes up for the performance!

Today, I have more email to get through, paperwork to take care of and get out the door, and work on The Big Project and the radio plays. I also have a script coverage.

This weekend, I have to turn over the linens and the closet from winter to summer, but I also want to get a lot of work done on The Big Project and work on the anthology story.

I need to get more scripts in my queue for next week, because I was well below my nut this pay period, and it was because there weren’t many scripts. I didn’t mind the break, because it gave me time to really focus on finishing the contest entries, and that paid more than I expected. But I have to look ahead, and I have a couple of big bills coming up in June.

It doesn’t help that I can’t trust the computer to power up properly or work properly, either.

Fingers crossed. Have a great weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Published in: on May 13, 2022 at 6:20 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 13, 2022: Windows11 Sucks, but Plants are Pretty  
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Fri. May 6, 2022: In the Midst of Creativity, Loss

image courtesy of strikers via pixabay.com

Friday, May 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

Yesterday was a bit of a rollercoaster.

It was a beautiful spring day here in the mountains. Just gorgeous.

Charlotte sat with me for the regular Zoom meditation group,

I got some admin work done. I need to spend some time over on Ello this week; I’ve been lax about that.

I pitched myself for a large creative project that will happen in July.

I did some brainstorming on the Monthology with fellow creatives who wanted to know if they could use something in one of the organizations I created, and we figured out how to make it work.

I did a drop off/pickup at the library – there were nine books waiting for me! I had to pick up a few things as the pharmacy. They had aloe plants there, so I grabbed one of those, two. The aloe plant we had in the kitchen on Cape died about two years ago, and I’d never replaced it. We’d bought it when we first moved there, so it had a long life. I did a big grocery shop (five bags’ worth). I stopped at the liquor store, because I was out of red. I got another bottle of red, found a bottle of interesting rosé on the sale shelf, and, in the back of a shelf, another bottle of the Pomelo sauvignon Blanc I like so much.

Getting everything upstairs and put away was a bit of a chore, but I got it done. The latest NEW YORKER has graphic photos of the Russian atrocities in Ukraine. I was worried it would bring back nightmares for my mom, after what she went through with the Russians in WWII, but she wanted to see the magazine anyway. The fact that the world hasn’t banded together to stop this is despicable.

I turned around two scripts in the afternoon, and went back to contest entries. I’m doing a big push today and tomorrow, and hopefully can make my final decisions by tomorrow.

I was accepted for the creative project and can even say what it is: I’m participating in Word X Word’s “World’s Largest Poem” event. 50 of us will write an ongoing poem (we get the last word of the previous writer’s poem, we write 3-5 lines, and the next poet starts with our last word) over the next two months, and we perform it at Edith Wharton’s house, The Mount, in Lenox, on July 23rd. I’m very excited. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone, but something I wanted to try. We each have 24 hours to write our lines, once we received the prompt from the previous person’s poem.

Knowledge Unicorns was a lot of fun, with a lot of laughter. We are enjoying our remaining time together.

Then, I had some shocking and heartbreaking news. I found out that my friend, Thalia Proctor, had died on April 2nd of cancer, and her memorial service was on May 4th. I found out on Facebook. I hadn’t even known she was sick. We’d exchanged cards at Christmas, and I was planning to spend time with her in London next spring, provided it was safe enough to risk the trip. In additional to being a wonderful editor, Thalia was one of the kindest people I know. We met in Nottingham, at one of the first mystery conventions I ever attended, back when I was just starting to get my feet wet in the convention scene. We hung out together at conferences (including the year Bouchercon was in Omaha, of all places) on both sides of the pond. When I was in the UK, we visited. She visited me in 2013 on Cape, which was the last time I actually saw her, although we kept in touch for birthdays and Christmases. She was a steadfast friend during one of the worst romantic relationships of my life, and had a mix of kindness, humor, and common sense that was a joy to be around. We’d been friends for nearly thirty years. In addition to the heartbreak of the loss, I feel guilty that I didn’t know she was sick, and hadn’t supported her more during her illness. But mostly, I’m devastated that the world has lost such a beautiful and graceful person.

Today is about writing and working on contest entries. Tomorrow is the farmer’s market, and finishing contest entries, and making the decisions in the final category. Tessa woke me at three. I moved to the sewing room and dreamed I was at a luncheon with Senator Elizabeth Warren, and she decided to introduce me to Kathy Griffin, because she thought we should know each other. Which is very much like Senator Warren. She got me involved with the Small Business Administration when I first moved to MA, and involved with the state arts organization who advocates for arts funding.

But, throughout, I will take the time to mourn the loss of my friend.

Wed. March 2, 2022: A Focus on Creating

image courtesy of Willgard via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

New Moon

Cloudy, slushy, cold

Yesterday was a pretty decent day creatively, in spite of keeping an eye on the news out of Ukraine.

After I got back from the laundromat and we had pancakes for breakfast (because hey, Fat Tuesday), I got down to work. I spent the morning working on the material needed by the anthology on my new characters/organizations. It was more complex and interesting than I expected (which is a good thing). But that means it takes longer to create.

It was still a solidly creative batch of hours. It also involved going back and re-reading a lot of the brainstorming and the material already approved, so that what I’m doing fits in with what’s been established, and builds on it, rather than fighting it.

Shared worldbuilding is very different than individual worldbuilding.

But I can’t jump from that world to the world of The Big Project easily, so I focused on the shared world yesterday (and will finish up today). I will either work on The Big Project first thing, take a break to go to the library and then switch worlds, or finish the shared world today and focus on The Big Project tomorrow entirely. Since I don’t know how long things will take at the mechanic’s tomorrow, I’m not scheduling any script coverage. I don’t want to be under that kind of pressure. Tomorrow will just be about my own work.

I’m probably working through this weekend, because I want to take a long weekend off next weekend for my birthday. We’ll see what my energy is like, and then decide where to place it.

My mom hasn’t been feeling well the last few days, so there was also taking care of her.

In the afternoon, I did a script coverage, which took longer than it should have, because I kept getting distracted by the news. I also felt like I’d hit the creative a wall hard – felt like I left my imprint on it. It was a good tired, and it didn’t interfere with reading and commenting, but I had hoped to go back to the worldbuilding, and there just wasn’t enough left in the tank for it.  In the evening, I read the next book for review, and it was delightful. I’m looking forward to writing the review today.

Charlotte woke me up out of a weird dream around 2:30. I started sliding back into a dream, and realized, “I don’t want to go there” and pulled myself out of it. Felt like stopping myself halfway down a slide. I managed to fall asleep again, because it was nearly 7 when Tessa woke me up.

Yesterday, I also wrote the formal letter requesting a lease extension from the landlord. Fingers crossed he likes us as tenants and is willing to sign us for another year. I will be a bag of nerves until I get an answer.

Knowledge Unicorns had a short session last night, specifically on homework, because it was important that they watch the State of the Union address. It was nice to have a decent human up there, talking to grownups. Too bad the GOP trash aren’t grownups, and didn’t behave with basic courtesy. But then, most of them should be in prison as Russian assets, so why be surprised. And Manchin keeps showing who he is. He needs to be stripped of committee assignments. I didn’t agree with everything said in the speech, but I felt it was a good, SANE, calm speech that hit some important points.

Have a good one.

Published in: on March 2, 2022 at 8:22 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 2, 2022: A Focus on Creating  
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Wed. Feb. 23, 2022: Mix and Match Creativity

image courtesy of Leolo212 via pixabay.com

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Waning Moon

Rainy and mild

I forgot to mention the post over on the GDR site about one’s practice; and later today, there will be a post over on Ink-Dipped Advice about being “Invited to apply.” The latter was supposed to post last week and didn’t. There’s a glitch with the scheduling tool, but I think it’s fixed.

I haven’t talked about the Ukraine situation because there’s nothing of value I can add to the conversation. Of course I’m upset at another war, especially one started by Russia. And I think the Congresspeople who pander to Putin (especially those who visited him on July 4th a few years ago) should be prosecuted for treason and face the ultimate penalty for it. Nothing short of that will stop them. That’s all they understand.

The entrepreneur meetup was interesting. Cool project, I’m looking forward to trying it. I didn’t say much, because there wasn’t anything to say; the presentation was clear, it’s an interesting piece, and now I need to interact directly with it. Any speaking I did would have been for the sound of my own voice, and that’s not necessary.

Part of the difficulty with networking (apart from the whole pandemic/isolation bit) is that I have to balance the need/ability to network with protecting the work. The work has to always come first, the writing. Things like The Big Project and the plays and writing/editing the books. Everything else has to build around it and feed into it, being “in addition to” not “instead of.” Sometimes that’s a difficult balance to strike. At other times, it’s impossible.

Headed to the library to drop off/pick up books. By the time I got home, it was raining, and kept raining, harder and harder, all day and into the night.

I renewed my Boston Public Library eCard, so that I have access to all their digital resources, which includes access to work via the British Public Library. That will help in my research.

Spun out some ideas for two grant proposals (one for one of my projects, one for a friend who’s got a big project). Did some brainstorming on the anthology. Covered a script for which I was requested (although I have to finish writing it up this morning).

In the evening, I attended a virtual author talk between Nina de Gramont and Wiley Cash about THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR. It was sponsored by Titcomb’s Bookshop. It was a lovely event. She’s a gracious and interesting speaker. Wiley Cash was lively and asked great questions, and I want to read his new book, too (I haven’t read any of his work before). There was a discussion about themes built around the different marriages in the book, and how unwed mothers were treated in Ireland at the time, which was very interesting, since so much of the press around the book focuses on Christie’s disappearance, and on the mystery side of it (and there are mysteries within mysteries in the book, too).

I started reading THE DECAGON HOUSE MURDERS by Japanese author Yukito Ayatsuji, translated by Ho-Ling Wong. It’s inspired by Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. It’s very clever and well done.

Although not a lot of words got onto paper, it was still a creative and interesting day, which is always a good thing.

Charlotte woke me up at 2, wanting attention. By 2:30, Tessa was howling, because Charlotte was getting attention and Tessa wasn’t. I moved to the couch, but couldn’t get comfortable. I finally dozed off and woke up around 6:30, completely disoriented.

But I have to “pull up my socks” as they say, and get moving. Lots to do today. Too messy out to hump the laundry to the laundromat, but I may go over to the college library and hunt down some research materials for various projects. And then, of course, more script coverage.

Have a good one!

Tues. Feb. 1, 2022: Happy Chinese New Year!

image courtesy of CDD20 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

New Moon

Mercury Retrograde

Venus Direct (as of Saturday)

Chinese Lunar New Year – Year of the Water Tiger

Sunny and cold

Time for our Tuesday catch up, so curl up with your favorite beverage and we’ll have a natter.

I have the January wrap-up over on the GDR site. I have a mistake in it – I said I wrote two short stories this month, but it turns out I wrote three. I finished the third (after I’d posted) and got it in a day before the deadline. So that’s three short stories, two poems, and a lot of words on The Big Project. I may have felt like I got nothing done in January, but it’s simply not true.

The weekend was quiet. Since we were prepared for the storm, we just sat and read and let it snow. We only got about six inches. We were nowhere near as slammed as they were on the coast. We also kept power, for which we were grateful.

Had we been in the old house, we would have been without power and had to rely on the woodburning fireplace. Plus, we would have had to try to dig out from two feet of snow on our own. I much prefer where we live now, where shoveling is handled by the landlord, not us.

I do miss having a woodburning fireplace, although I do enjoy our fireplace façade.

Venus going direct takes a lot of pressure off. There are still three days for Mercury to make everything go cattywampus, but I’m hoping I can proceed with caution and keep my head down.

I read a lot all weekend. I finished reading the last book in a series of 20 books, where I got tired of them about 10 books go, but kept hoping the protagonist might actually grow and change. No such luck. But they were quick reads, maybe an hour and a half to two hours per book, and I learned from them what I don’t want to do in my own work.

I read some contest entries.

I went through seed catalogs (I will go into more detail about that on Thursday’s Gratitude and Growth post), and put in one of my orders.

I started reading Cynthia Kuhn’s other series, the one that starts with THE SEMESTER OF OUR DISCONTENT, and I really like it. I’m grateful to Ellen Byron for suggesting Cynthia’s work.

It was nice to have a full weekend of rest. No running around, no extra work, none of that. I’d worked late on Friday to finish off all the script coverage that was due through yesterday, just in case. It meant I had to bow out of a virtual poetry event in which I’d hoped to participate, but I couldn’t take the risk of a power outage and not getting the coverage in.

And, as I said, two whole days of genuine rest made a big difference. I need to stop admonishing myself that rest is a luxury.

Charlotte woke me up Way Too Early on Saturday morning, because the snow made it appear so light. Tessa let me sleep in until 5:30 on Sunday, which was fine, and I got up and baked biscuits after I fed them. They had me up at 5 yesterday morning, which was fine, because I use the hours from 5-7 for yoga, meditation, journal writing, writing in longhand, etc.

Got a couple of boxes unpacked in my office on Saturday. Once things are unpacked (even if I need to buy more things in which to put them), I’ll put the extra boxes up on Craigslist.

There are boxes that should have come up on the truck that didn’t, so I will have to dig around in the storage unit in spring, when we make our run to find them.

Yesterday, Charlotte and Tessa tag-teamed to get me up a little after 5, which was fine. I’d originally planned to do a library run, but it was -7F, and I was not about to go out in that.

I plowed through about 200 emails, and got out an LOI to a company who immediately sent an automated series of “tests” which they can shove right up their collective ass. I did some blog posts, for myself and a couple of clients.

I made another big batch of black bean soup for lunch, this time adding in corn, and it was delicious.

In the afternoon, I finished off the short story on which I’d been working, which took some interesting twists, polished it, and sent it off.

In the evening, I read a script coverage for which I’d been requested. The author took the notes and did a genuine re-envisioning, in an exciting way. I’ll write that up today.

It’s a little warmer today, so I will suit up and head to the library to drop off/pick up, then write up script coverage.

Today is Chinese Lunar New Year, and it’s the Year of the Water Tiger, which is what I am. It’s supposed to be a year of massive change. I just had two years of that, and I would prefer a year of peace and tranquility.

But I’m making Chinese food tonight, especially long noodles for long life.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me up at 4. I moved to the sofa and went back to sleep, in spite of their fussing. I dreamed of a renaissance of small presses and magazines, run by diverse individuals, who actually pay their writers and staffs a living wage.

That’s the future toward which I want to work.

Have a good one!

Published in: on February 1, 2022 at 8:50 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 1, 2022: Happy Chinese New Year!  
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Thurs. Jan. 27, 2022: Mail, Stories, Storm Prep

image courtesy of Ekaterina Belinskaya via pexels.com

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Waning Moon

Venus & Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Post over on Gratitude and Growth about the incoming storm and turn of the season.

One of the things I have not yet discussed on the blog is Thich Nhat Hanh’s death last weekend, which saddened me deeply. I never had the chance to study with him directly, but I do read his work, and it is regularly discussed in meditation groups.

Yesterday was a better day, as far as getting things done. I was up early, got to the desk early. I worked my way through a bunch of emails. I dealt with blog posts. I mulled over the situation with the large client that bothers me. I don’t have any solutions yet, but I’m pondering.

A submission call landed on my desk, for a publication into which I’ve always wanted to break. The theme is right up my alley, and it can be fairly short, so I started a draft. I had to stop and fact check something, and went down a research rabbit hole for about an hour, which kind of threw off my productivity. But I hope to finish the story today or tomorrow, polish it over the weekend, and get it out by Monday.

In the afternoon and evening, I read three scripts, which I will write up today. I also worked on the redesign of the covers for the Topic Workbooks. They’re much simpler and make more sense, I think, while still being eye-catching. I’m trying to decide between completely plain, with color and text, or adding a small image to it. But I want to keep the covers in the same style, so they all tie together.

I’m doing a major overhaul on the Series Bible workbook, which will add in using Scrivener. The original plan was to have that be the first Workbook to relaunch, but until I get comfortable with Scrivener, I don’t see how it can be. THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS will probably be first.

I got a delightful card in the mail painted by Helen Whistberry. It’s a beautiful teapot. I’m going to frame it and hang it in the sewing room.

I finally got an appointment to get the car diagnosed for the repair, by a local reputable garage, for Feb. 8.

I made chicken pot pie with leftover chicken in my new Pyrex pie plate, and it made me happy (in addition to being delicious).

We’re about to get into another Supreme Court Justice fight. The Dems better not let the Repubs walk all over them yet again. I’m sick of excuses. They have the WH, House, and Senate. GET. IT. DONE.  The Republicans do whatever they want no matter how many votes they have or lack. So the Dems need to step it up.

The problem isn’t that the Dems are “too progressive” as the media misleading frames it. The problem is that the Dems aren’t progressive enough and don’t stand strong. They cave and cave and cave and keep moving to the right.

I don’t want bipartisanship. I want progress.

There is nothing the Republican party can or will offer me that makes my life better.

Charlotte woke me up at 3:30, and Tessa joined the chorus by 4. I moved to the couch and dozed off again, and didn’t wake up until after 7:30. They were grumpy that their breakfast was late. Well, then they shouldn’t wake me up in the middle of the night. Yesterday afternoon, Charlotte got upset that Willa sat on Charlotte’s pink blankie. They fussed at each other, and Willa ran away (no bloodshed). Charlotte, victorious, sat on her blanket for a bit, until she got bored. Then she tried to intimidate Tessa off the couch, but Tessa wasn’t having it. So Charlotte retired to the kitty condo like the trope of a Southern belle having the vapors. It was pretty funny.

Headed to the library. Eight books waiting (won’t that be fun to carry over the ice mounds?) and I want to get them back before the storm. I have a few cards to write and mail, so I’ll either drop them in the box at the post office on my way to the library, or in the mailbox down the street. Yes, we actually still have a blue mailbox just over a block away, and things put into the box arrive at their destinations in a timely fashion. Most of the mailboxes on Cape, at least in my area, were removed years ago. But the postman was nice enough to take the mail when he dropped mail off (If one couldn’t get to the post office), so it worked out. And the post office was close to the house, so I could walk if I had to (although I usually drove). But I like having a reliable mailbox close by. I also like walking to the post office here and catching up on everything that’s going on. It’s the major source of information in this area.

Have a good one!

Tues. Jan. 18, 2022: Planets, Cards, Pages

collage by Devon Ellington via pixabay and Canva

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Last Day of the Full Moon

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Uranus DIRECT

Sunny and cold

Uranus goes direct today. Uranus is “the Awakener” energy, so when it’s retrograde, things that need to be shaken up in your life are stymied. It also is about what makes you unique. While having it direct helps you get out of your own way, shaking things up in the already chaotic Venus/Mercury retrogrades isn’t fun. The full moon was in Cancer last night, which meant emotions were heightened.

Friday morning, the two scout crows from my local murder were in the tree outside my office window, telling me the news. They’re very chatty. The squirrels were running around, too, preparing for the storms. They are constantly knocking down the bird feeder, and I keep moving it and trying to figure out where I can put it where it won’t be taken down and dragged all over the balcony, but so far, no luck.

I got some work done early in the morning. Later in the morning, I layered up and did the pre-storm errands: dropped off/picked up library books; mailed bills and cards, and bought stamps; picked up a couple of bottles of wine at the liquor store. We may live in a city, but it often feels like a small town, because people like to chat (masked and at a safe distance).  I always know that if I head out for errands, I’m going to have to talk to people. Which is fine, because they are interesting and nice, and, let’s face it, everyone’s felt so cut off and isolated going onto three years now, they just want to know there’s another human being out there who’s not a complete and utter jerk.

But errands aren’t something I can do if I’m in a rush. I build time to chat into all the errands time. And, even though I’m an introvert instead of an extrovert, I don’t mind. Like I said, the people are nice, and they’re interesting.

I was looking at the artwork on various tarot decks. I don’t need any more decks, goodness knows, but I still love them. Three decks in particular have my attention right now: Ask the Witch Tarot, Tarot de la Nuit, and the Gilded Tarot.

I was scrolling through social media and saw a book cover – that was almost exactly like one of the tarot cards in the Tarot de la Nuit deck, although the blurb had nothing to do with tarot. I pulled up the image of the deck and put it next to the social media post. The only difference was the way the man’s hand wrapped around the sword. Other than that, the cover artist had used the tarot image. Now, maybe the artist had permission. Or bought the image. I don’t know. But I still found that disturbing. The tarot artist’s style on the deck is very distinctive. It’s not like the typical stock Rider Waite image that’s widely available. The tarot image I used for the collage at the top of this post is a typical Rider Waite free image.

Spent some time on the acupressure mat in the afternoon. Wrote up two script coverages and answered some questions on another one. I’m below my nut for this pay period, but that’s the way it is. I’ve just been too exhausted to take on more.

Worked my way through some more contest entries.

Was up until nearly midnight, and then had trouble getting to sleep. Tessa would rather I stay up and play with her, but at least I slept in until after 7 on Saturday.

Mercury has gone retrograde in Aquarius. In my birth chart, Mercury sits in Aquarius. Aquarius is about independent thought, and Mercury is about quick thinking. So when it’s retrograde in the place it sits in my birth chart, no wonder my brain is mushier than usual. Layer pandemic brain over that, and it is not a good thing.

Saturday was sunny, bright, and cold.  I polished the short story and got it out by deadline. I’ll hear by May if it’s what they’re looking for or not. I wrote two book reviews and sent them off. I worked on contest entries.

I made colcannon for dinner, adding leeks, Canadian bacon, and shredded cheese to the traditional cabbage and potatoes. It was wonderful.

Weird dreams lately, set in a city I don’t recognize as knowing in real life, but it’s where I live and work in the dreams. They are busy dreams, not stress dreams, so by the time I wake up, I feel like I’ve put in a full day.

Tessa got me up before 6 on Sunday. I made muffins with cranberries and chocolate chips, refining a recipe on which I’ve been working, and they turned out well. Which is good, because some days I feel like I’ve forgotten to how cook or bake properly.

Worked on contest entries. It was sunny and cold. I’d prepped as much as I could for the incoming storm, so I just rested and worked on the entries. I did take out the garbage, so we wouldn’t be stuck with garbage in the house during bad weather, but that’s as ambitious as I got, as far as going out and about. Read a script.

Charlotte woke me up before 4 AM on Monday. I think the storm upset her. Tessa was in the doorway with her, “You’re up? Do I need to start vocal exercises?”

I got up and fed them, then grabbed the featherbed and moved to the couch, where I fell asleep again. It had snowed quite a bit by then. I woke up a little after 7, and the snow was serious.

Still, people were out with shovels and plows, getting things done. Men shoulder their portion of the work better here than they did on Cape. The Cape was full of white men who would moan that they “couldn’t” shovel or carry groceries or do anything because they had a “bad back” and then immediately go play golf all day.

The past few weeks, I’ve landed in the same place in my dreams, as I mentioned above. I don’t remember much about the dreams, but I do know they take place in the same location. It’s a small city, that I don’t recognize when I’m awake, but is my home city in the dreams, and I’m comfortable. Lots of brick buildings, three and four stories. Coffee shops, restaurants, bookshops, small theatres, museums, a library, etc. No virus, as far as I can tell. The me inhabiting that dream space is a younger me (thirties?), and I’m happy there, with friends and work I like, although I don’t know what my work there is (I suspect it’s similar to what I do here, or I wouldn’t be happy). So far, I only recognize one person in that circle of people from my circle of people on this side of the dream scape, and that’s someone I knew when I first started working on Broadway, and who has since died. The dreams are pleasant, although they are busy, so I always feel as though I’ve put in a full day by the time I wake up. I’d like to try entering the space in lucid dreaming, so I have a better idea of where it is and why I keep visiting.

Eggs Benedict for Monday’s breakfast, because why not on a cold, snowy day?

I’m thinking of investing in Scrivener, after all these years. As long as I can save into .doc, .rtf, PDF, and create script templates, I should be fine. I’m unhappy with Word. I have a 50% off coupon from Nano, so I might as well use it. Not until Mercury goes direct, though, because that’s just asking for trouble.

Spent Monday morning working on The Big Project, and got two sections done.  I need to catch up on the tracking sheets for this piece (I’m now four sections behind) or I will be in trouble moving forward. In the afternoon, I worked on writing up the script coverage for the script I read the night before, and then, in the evening, I read two scripts for which I will write up coverage today.

A Twitter pal and I talked about a tarot reading she did, and the deck she used was so pretty that I ended up ordering it (Mystic Mondays Tarot, in case you’re wondering). I don’t need another tarot deck, goodness knows, but this one called to me.

It might be time to sit down and write my tarot book. I’ve been working with the cards for nearly forty years now.

Had good yoga and meditation sessions this morning. When I make the time to sit for a decent stretch, it starts the day in a more focused, grounded way.

I’m debating whether or not to head over to the college library later this morning. There aren’t a lot of students around, so it seems like a good time to poke around and find the materials I need to develop two different, but art-related projects.

I will do some more work on The Big Project this morning. I have contest scores to enter, script coverages to write up, and a couple of client blog posts to write. I might try to get some LOIs out, too, and I have two more scripts to read.

A friend has a new call for submissions out that got me thinking, although she works in a genre that would be a stretch for me, especially as I don’t read much in it. But I like the premise of the anthology call, and it’s only a 1K piece, so it’s worth thinking about. The deadline is the end of the month, which is do-able, if I find the right story and characters.

Had an idea for another piece in the same general family as The Big Project, only it wouldn’t be as big (The Medium Project as a working title?). The central protagonist and the premise came to me when I was writing in my journal this morning. At first, I thought it could be a spin-off to The Big Project, but it insists that it inhabits its own world, and I need to trust the work.

The power held, and I’m glad the storm wasn’t as severe as predicted. We’re supposed to get another one this coming weekend, so I have to figure out when to go out and about to take care of whatever needs out-and-about-ing, and then hunker back down next weekend.

Which suits me just fine.

Wed. Jan. 12, 2022: Writing In My Head

image courtesy of Chriszwettler via pixabay.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Yesterday was another day that was kind of all over the place. But I got some good stuff done.

Plowed through a bunch of emails, got out an LOI. There were some interesting submission calls in my inbox. One, I really wanted to do, but I don’t have anything suitable. It’s for a one-act play, 30-40 minutes, 4 characters. All my plays of the correct length have more characters; the ones with four or fewer are too short. I started to adapt a short story into a stage play, but that’s going to be too short, too. I don’t have time to write a new play from scratch, and have it in anywhere near decent shape by deadline.

There’s another call for a short story that got my wheels turning. It only needs to be about 1500 words, so if I can actually sit down and do a rough draft today, and it’s strong enough, I could revise it and have it in by deadline. I started writing it in my head. If it goes on the page as well as it’s unfolding in my brain, I’ve got a shot.

We’ll see.

Wrote a little bit on The Big Project. Not as much as I wanted to, but it was a comic scene that had to be properly structured. The joke lands, so I think it will be okay.

Worked on script coverage and on contest entries.

Charlotte sat down on my keyboard, causing all kinds of chaos, but now the “Editor” function is back in Word. Go figure.

Thank goodness there are plenty of leftovers.

Put in the Chewy order for cat litter. Packed away the boxes of holiday decorations. One box was dripping. I opened it—it contained large, outdoor balls I hadn’t used this year. They were full of water. A small hole in the top, where the hanging loop was put in, meant that, being outside, they could accumulate water inside.

I drained them and have left them on the counter to thoroughly dry. Don’t want them getting moldy inside.

That was weird. Just weird.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. Because everyone’s still remote, the kids don’t have to spend most of their day worrying about active shooters and whether the person next to them will expose them to a deadly virus, they can actually learn. Let’s face it, none of this insistence about forcing in-person learning is actually for the well-being of the kids. It’s all about making sure their parents go back out to Die for Their Employers. It’s disgusting.

I woke up on my own around 5:30 this morning, no feline choir. I’m writing this morning. Then, late morning, I will bundle up, load up as many library books as I can carry, and do a drop off/pick up.

Script coverage, book reviews, and contest entries this afternoon.

Onward.

Tues. Dec. 28, 2021: Post-Holiday Errands

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Waning Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Rainy and cold

I hope everyone had a good weekend, whether or not you celebrated the Christmas holiday.

Ours was fine: lots of food, lots of books. We were tired of the foods we “traditionally” had for the Christmas Eve and Day meals. So for the Eve, it was baked trout, baked whipped potatoes with garlic and herbs, and spinach. For the day, it was a baked ham with a bourbon-molasses glaze. We don’t eat much pork anymore, but my mom wanted ham, so we had ham. I didn’t feel all that great afterwards, but not too bad.

Desserts were stollen on the Eve and chocolate mousse on the day, and that was all good.

We usually do presents on the Eve and stockings on the Day, but, again, my mom wanted to wait and do everything on the Day, so that’s what we did.

We had fun opening things. Tessa “helped.” Charlotte and Willa watched from a safe distance. Tessa adored her present – a catnip toy that looks like a gift. Willa and Charlotte didn’t know what to do with theirs. Charlotte figured it out, and then she was afraid someone would take it away.

But most of the time, we just relaxed.

It was perfectly pleasant, although I felt somewhat unsettled the entire time.

I checked in regularly with my friend, who lost her mother the day before Christmas Eve. There’s not much I can do, except give her as much support as possible. The whole world shifts, and it’s painful.

Sunday, I puttered around with paperwork, and getting my email inbox down to 13 emails for a brief, shining moment, before it filled up again. Worked on the blog schedule for some of the blogs, and tried to get ahead a bit on ones that don’t rely on being in the moment. Researched some companies and added them to the list that will get the postcard mailing in January. Looked through some article guidelines. I’m going to work up some pitches this week, although I won’t send them until the New Year, because it’s just tacky and thoughtless to send them out now. Dived back into the research for “Dawn and Dorothy.” I made a loose writing plan for 2022, which, no doubt, will change by the middle of January. But at least it’s a starting point.

Yesterday, I went to the laundromat. I like to change up my days, but Monday is not a good day. People. The last thing I want, when the virus numbers are back up again, is to be around any more people than necessary. But things got done. Using the rolly cart to go to and from the laundromat is actually easier than getting everything down to the parking lot, loading the car, driving to the laundromat, unloading, reloading, driving back, etc. I just roll the cart down the block, around the corner, down another half a block, and there I am. Plus, yesterday, their parking lot was like a skating rink. I could have fallen and gotten seriously hurt. The sidewalk was clear. Much easier.

While the laundry was going, I make some organizing lists, and worked on a couple of arcs for The Big Project. There are three major arcs that have to be resolved, one after the other, along with less-important, longer-reaching arcs.

A little more than half the neighbors took down all their holiday decorations already. We are keeping ours up until Twelfth Night. That is a tradition we intend to uphold this year.

We never did put a tree topper on our tree this year. None of the ones we have looked right. And the tree looks just fine without it.

Read Colleen Cambridge’s MURDER AT MALLOWAN HALL and loved it. Stayed up until nearly midnight to finish it (I think that was on Christmas Day). I hope there are more books in the series.

Read a book by a new-to-me author set in Venice, which I liked. Put aside another book I started, also set in Venice, that just wasn’t doing it for me.

Started reading Sally Wright’s PURSUIT AND PERSUASION, which I’m enjoying.

Did my errands on foot. My mom won $20 on a scratch ticket that was in her stocking, so I picked that up for her. Mailed thank you notes and birthday cards at the post office. Dropped off and picked up a stack of books at the library. It was pretty cold and windy, but still nice to be out.

Got irritated by an author on Twitter. He’d followed; I followed back, as I do with most authors. The first interaction was a long DM from his “publicist” asking me to read and review the guy’s book. It was a long, involved DM, with a tone making it clear that they were doing me a favor. The publicist is male, of course, and the DM was typical male mansplaining privilege.

Okay, wrong on so many levels. First of all, I’m a paid reviewer by publications. Occasionally, when it doesn’t violate my contract terms, I can review a book for free, usually by someone I know, because the publications that pay me don’t want me reviewing books by people I know. But it is work. It relates to my job, and is therefore unpaid labor. I’m not doing unpaid labor for a stranger. Second of all, how often have I publicly stated that if the first interaction from a new mutual follow is a DM trying to sell me something (or ask for free labor), that’s an immediate unfollow, and often a block? Often. If the idiot can’t be bothered to do due diligence, not someone I want to deal with. Third, a professional publicist would know better than to pull crap like that, because that’s negative public relations, not positive public relations. So either the guy’s amateur hour (which means I hope the author’s not paying him much) or it’s the author using a pseudonym as a publicist. Fourth, if the social media is set to “automatically” DM any new mutual followers marketing crap, again, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, and are not someone with whom I wish to interact on any level. Fifth, don’t ask someone to work in the week between the holidays, unless you’ve done your due diligence and know that they are actually working. It’s rude.

That author also goes on my “do not ever buy or read” list.

Caught up with my lovely postman so I could give him his cookie packet. He was pleased.

Read a script, which I will write up today. Grabbed some more scripts to read the next few days. I’m reading less this week, but I need to read something.

Had Doordash deliver Chinese from my favorite place in Williamstown. One order for last night’s dinner (their duck lo mein is one of my favorites), and a chicken pad thai for today (yes, I know the latter is not Chinese food, but it’s from the same restaurant).

It’s clearing up, so I will bundle up, get the rolly cart, and head to CVS to pick up my mom’s prescription, and Big Y to pick up a few things I need for the meals over New Year’s. It’s a bit of a hike, but I’m trying to preserve the car until I can get it looked at.

Today, the “bonecrusher” square supposedly ends, and Jupiter goes into Pisces tonight/tomorrow, which, in my chart anyway, is supposed to be a good thing. I could use a break, and I’ll take any support from the stars I can get!  😉

On the agenda today, after I get back from the grocery store, is writing up the script coverage, and then finishing the short version of “Dawn and Dorothy.” I hope to get some work done on The Big Project, but we’ll see. This is supposed to be a week of more rest than work for me, but there’s always work to do.

Debating whether I’ll do a mini retreat over New Year’s. New Year’s is usually a tough few days for me, on multiple levels, and I want to be as gentle with myself as possible.

Jeremy Rock Smith is teaching an online cooking session on the 4th; seriously considering taking it, because I love learning from him. He’s a wonderful teacher, in addition to being a quality human being.

That’s the latest; off to the store now. Since I can only buy what I can carry, I have to stick to my list!

Hope your weekend was great, and that the days between the holidays are peaceful.

Thurs. Nov. 18, 2021: Early Morning Arias

photo courtesy of Isabella Mendes via pexels.com Note: This is not my Tessa, although this cat looks very much like Tessa.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

There’s a post about how the environment is changing over on Gratitude and Growth.

Got my words in yesterday, then switched over to script coverage, and worked on that. Remote Chat was a lot of fun, too.

I managed to book my COVID booster appointment for the Monday after Thanksgiving. It’s Pfizer, so I hope it doesn’t take me down the way the Moderna shots did. I mean, it’s definitely worth it, but I can’t afford to lose a week of work right now.

Ordered cat litter, got in some reading for fun.

Did a crockpot chicken that was really good.

Willa was dancing around in the evening, up and down on the kitty condo, running up and down the hall. I rolled one of balls with bells in it, so she had something to chase and play with. Charlotte later used the condo, too, so at least they’re in it, although they still prefer the Chewy box to anything else, and I left it for them, instead of breaking it down.

Tessa woke me up at 4, singing her version of opera. I moved into the sewing room. She started again, then realized I was there, stopped, and curled up on the couch. Willa came to check on me, and make sure I was still alive, and then Charlotte came to see where I’d gone. Then Tessa and Charlotte started fussing at each other. It was 5 by then, so I got up.

Got in my words on CAST IRON MURDER early, 2339 words. 50K is in sight, as is the end of the book. Although I want it to be around 72K, this draft will come in shorter, and then I’ll layer in the subtext and sensory details in the next draft.

Meditation this morning, and then we’re hoping to go to Great Barrington (if the weather holds). It looks like it wants to storm any minute, but the reports keep saying it will be on “partly” cloudy until this afternoon, and then rain. I’m seeing more than “partly” but go figure.

When we get back, I have coverage to write up, and more scripts to read. I’m going to work through the weekend, so I can take next weekend off. Although I’m wondering if I should work Saturday and Sunday, in case the booster wipes me out for a few days next week.

One day at a time, that’s all I can do.

I have a few things to pick up over the weekend for Thanksgiving (like the turkey), but we are mostly set.

Tues. Nov. 16, 2021: Juggling Manuscripts

image courtesy of Mochammad Algi vis Pexels.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I enjoyed the weekend, which is a good thing.

Friday was a bit of a slog. It started absolutely bucketing down rain, monsooning harder than it ever has since we lived here. I guess I should be grateful it wasn’t snow. But there was no way in hell I was going to go out in that.

Got through a bunch of emails, sent out some LOIs. Did my script coverage. Both read and wrote up the last script of the week (I was going to read Friday, write Saturday, but decided I needed a whole day off). So I worked until 8:30 at night, but at least I got it all cleared off my desk.

I was exhausted, and fell into bed early.

Charlotte started nuzzling me a little after 5 AM on Saturday, and then Tessa began singing the song of her people, so I got up to feed them.

2783 words on CAST IRON MURDER, and they went kind of well.

It was a lovely autumn day, so I grabbed the letters for the post office and the books that had to go back to the library, and headed out. As safe as I feel around here, most of the time, I’m still aware that it’s a city, and I still keep the awareness high of everything going on around me, and keep up with what I learned to survive living in NYC.

Such as: always carry a small compact with a mirror with you. You can “check your makeup” when you’re really checking to see who’s behind you. In a pinch, you can smash the mirror and use the shards as weapons (thereby putting the seven years’ bad luck of a smashed mirror onto your attacker, not keeping it).

Fortunately, I have yet to use that here, but I’m ready, if necessary.

I also feel often safer here than on Cape, because I’m not being harassed by that asshat Trump supporter with the tricked-up pickup and the American flags trying to run me off the road because I’m a woman driving on my own in a blue car, and must therefore be a femi-Nazi libtard and deserve to be driven into a ditch. Or a telephone pole. Nope. Don’t miss him at all.

Anyway, dropped off the mail at the post office. The clerks with whom I usually exchange information aren’t working on Saturdays, so I left without finding out the latest happenings.

Up the street to the library, to drop off and pick up books. One of the librarians suggested a book she really liked, so I added it to the stack, and got some books off the Free Discard table.

When I got home, it was so lovely that we headed to the car and drove up to Windsor Lake, to enjoy being outside while we still can. Explored some more of the lake. It’s a small lake, gouged into the side of a mountain in a residential area, but it’s lovely. I look forward to spending as much time as possible there.

By the time we got back, the clouds were moving in, and soon, it started raining again. So I’m glad we had the time outside.

Read for fun all afternoon. Finished one book and read another which had been recommended to me. They didn’t work for me, although the plotting is clever and well-thought out. I’m not fond of hapless protagonists, unless they grow and change, and this one didn’t, over the course of the two books I read. Also, “witch” was used as a derogatory more than once, by characters I’m supposed to like, without consequences, and that’s a non-negotiable line for me. Don’t pretend you’re an inclusive author when you refer to other women and an entire belief system in that derogatory way. You’re a fucking hypocrite. Any author publishing after 2000 can’t use the excuse that it’s a phrase “everybody uses.” No, hon, it’s a phrase those supporting white privilege status quo use. If a writer uses it in a book published after 2000, a line goes through the name, they are off my list. Writers can and should write whatever they want. But when they personally spit in my face, they can’t expect me to support their books, either by buying them or by praising them. There was a lot of maintaining the status quo white privilege in both books, which turned me off. When an author tries to create a protagonist that does that, while still pretending the protagonist is tolerant and accepting, it rarely works. While a lot of that comes from pressure from traditional publishers, editors, and agents, it’s rarely written with enough skill to work.

Done with that author.

As soon as Charlotte and I started drifting off to sleep on Saturday night, Tessa started wailing. I got up, sat with her while she had a snack, and we had a little chat about the human need to sleep through the night.

She started in again, for a few minutes around 5 on Sunday morning, but I didn’t get up until about six.

There was a brilliantly red sky for the sunrise, which made me figure we were in for some weather.

Baked biscuits in the morning. The American kind, not the British kind.

Wrote 2643 words on CAST IRON MURDER. Just over 100 were an insert on yesterday’s chapter; I realized I hadn’t planted the first part of a clue, so I had to go back and do that, or an upcoming scene won’t make sense.

In the outline for the second book in the series I’ve been working on, I originally planned to kill off the husband of this book’s murder victim, because he’s annoying. However, as I’ve been writing CAST IRON MURDER, he’s evolving into an interesting enough character, and I’ve invested enough in his development, that I’m thinking he might be fun to keep around as a character one can love to hate, who sometimes has redeemable moments. So now I have to come up with a new victim for the second book, and decide if that victim was the intended victim, or if the victim was killed by accident, because the murderer though it was this other character. For a while, I thought it would be the wrong person who initially got killed, and then the right person (because I can’t have a single body drop in the next book, I need at least two), but I’m rethinking the whole plot.

Something to ponder the next time I go to the laundromat and work on the outline.

If it makes more sense to kill this guy off, even though I’ve invested in him, that’s what I’ll do. But if it makes an interesting story to keep him around for a few more books before I kill him off, maybe I’ll do that.

I like having options.

I’m on page nine of my twelve-page outline for CAST IRON MURDER, and worried I’m running out of plot while only being a bit over a third of the way through my projected word count. Fortunately, the sequence in which my characters are currently engaged will take at least two, possibly three chapters.

CAST IRON MURDER definitely has passages that make it a “not quite cozy” rather than a cozy, because the book deals with race, and has references to sexuality and sexual choices in it, although I expect most of the sex will happen behind closed doors, once the protagonist falls for someone.

I find the terms “clean cozy” and “clean romance” rather vomit-inducing, because it suggests that all sex is somehow “dirty” and “unclean” and I disagree with that delineation. People can have all the different kinds of fun they want in their sex lives, and if they chose to call it “dirty” or “nasty” or whatever, that’s up to them. But to define books as “clean” meaning the characters are chaste and sexless not by choice but by publisher or reader demand is way too evangelical and censored for my taste. Also, I find a lot of those books unbelievable, because if people are in a healthy, romantic relationship, it often involves a healthy sex life, and to pretend that part of their lives doesn’t exist is unhealthy. There are plenty of stories where the tone makes more sense for the details of the sex lives not to be portrayed, but to deny the characters even have sex lives, unless a character has chosen celibacy or is ace (and let’s face it, dealing honestly with an ace character would make the readers who like to bully and  censor cozies take up arms, too) is a turnoff for me. Some writers can pull it off with great skill, but there are plenty of authors who, in my opinion, don’t. I’m also sick of militant reader groups trying to bully authors. Read whatever you want. Don’t bully authors into writing the way you want them to write. You can support or not support an author by where you place your money. But telling them how to write the books is not okay. You want to read a certain kind of book and can’t find it? Write it your damn self. Learn what it takes to actually write a book, instead of bullying those who already do.

So I keep trying different authors, and I keep crossing authors off my future TBR list when what they do does not work for me. And sometimes, an author’s books will work for multiple books until, suddenly, it takes a turn, and it doesn’t anymore.

Writers have the right to write whatever they want (or whatever they choose to write, because they’re being paid appropriately). I have the right not to read it. As anyone who finds my books and stories don’t work for them has the right not to read mine.

That doesn’t mean I’ll publicly trash them, unless they start a public fight with me. But I’ll stop reading them, or buying their books or recommending them in the various forms in which I recommend books.

At one point on Sunday afternoon, I was lying on the couch, with Tessa purring beside me. Charlotte jumped into my lap. For a minute, they considered fighting, but then they decided not to. Charlotte settled on my lap, Tessa stayed beside me. I figured 30 seconds to a minute of peace, but we stayed there nearly an hour, until Tessa decided she wanted her dinner. Progress.

Up early Monday, thanks to Tessa, but got a lot done. We were supposed to have snow flurries, so I planned not to leave the house. Didn’t see any; if they were around, they didn’t stick.

Wrote 2770 words on CAST IRON MURDER, and even liked a decent percentage of them.

Had to reformat some of my comic script samples, because somehow, they managed to wonk, in both .doc and PDF formats, and I needed to send those samples to a potential client. So that took up more time than I wanted.

Once those were fixed and out the door, I turned my attention back to “A Rare Medium. I had just one more scene to write on it, and it was taking some interesting turns.

I stopped long enough to make roasted parsnip and apple soup. It’s a Kripalu recipe, by Chef Jeremy Rock Smith. I had a difference of opinion with the immersion blender, and the blender won, leaving the kitchen a mess, so I didn’t take any photographs, but the soup tastes good.

After lunch, I went back to work on the script for a bit, took a quick break on the acupressure mat, and then got back to work. I finished the draft just after 4. Later than I’d hoped, but it felt so good to get it done. Now, it can sit for a week or two before I do revisions, and I’ll still get it in by deadline.

Finished the leftover meatloaf for dinner.

I took a basic astrology class from The Sisters Enchanted in the evening. I needed to brush up on basics, and see where I had gone off track in the layering of the houses with the birth chart with the planets, and then, of course, the transits/retrogrades go over the top. They didn’t add in the transits, but the rest was a good basic refresher of those first three layers.

I remember when I had a professional astrologer read my chart in NYC years ago, a one-hour session took three hours, because she found my chart so complex and interesting.

Another project for winter: untangling my birth chart for a better understanding.

Of course, the astrology books are in storage, and I can’t get at them until spring.

Anyway, TSE has a four-month astrology program that would be interesting, but it’s out of my budget right now. Not that I think they should lower their prices; they’re running a business, deserve to be paid, and charge a fair price. But that doesn’t keep it from being out of my budget at the moment. Which is fine, when the time is right, I’ll take it.

Why does astrology matter? Isn’t it just woo-woo b.s.? It’s often used that way. But it’s information that can help see patterns and make smarter choices. Too many people use astrology as an excuse for their bad behavior. Their chart says X, Y, Z, so they’re not responsible for their behavior, which is a load of crap. Others use it as a reason not to do anything, not to make decisions, because it’s all “fixed” which is also crap.

What it does is give information as to tendencies in behavior and reactive patterns, based on influences and stresses in the chart. If I keep having a response to a set of stressors (which are also affected by environmental and nurturance factors), I can look at my chart and see influences for those stressors. Then, when I feel them, I can stop, take a breath, realize that this is a reactive pattern that does not serve me, and make a smarter choice in my behavior and responses. And, in areas that support positive explorations and choices, I can lean into the support of those influences.

It’s information, to be used or ignored.

There’s also a lot of math involved, which makes me cringe, but hey, the stars and planets have a lot to do with math and science.

I wanted to bask in the afterglow of class, but because I’d spent so much time on the book and the play, I still had script coverage to write up. Got that done. I was about to sign off for the night when I got in an irritating email about something that I thought had been resolved.

Instead of reacting angrily in the moment, I closed out for the night. I will prepare a professional, considered response today and send it during business hours.

Because boundaries, and working to break negative patterns.

Had trouble falling asleep last night, even though tired, and then dreamed of hotels. I’m pretty sure this hotel complex has been in previous dreams. Whatever.

Up at 5, woke up on my own, just before Tessa began singing her morning opera scales.

2378 words on CAST IRON MURDER, and I even like some of them.

I’m dashing out to the grocery store soon, because it looks like we’re getting in some weather, and I want to be done before it hits. I’m taking a cooking class online tonight, via NYU Alumni, and I need to get the ingredients.

More script coverage when I get back, email, LOIs, and then on to the next play.

Peace, friends, and catch you tomorrow.