Fri. June 14, 2019: Preparing for a Writing Weekend

Friday, June 14, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday, I did a bunch of client work in the morning, got out some LOIs. It was pouring with rain in the afternoon. I worked around the house and read.

I’m re-reading GOOD OMENS, in preparation for watching the mini-series. I’d forgotten how much I love the book. I’m giggling on every page.

It’s such a relief not to have to worry about the mowing. Now, I can work on the beds here and there on nice days, and get the rest of the planting in.

ELLA BY THE BAY is going well. Ella’s struggles with forgiving herself for making bad choices as she works to make better ones resonates. GRAVE REACH is going slowly, but it’s going. I’m happy with the shape the book is taking, and with the way Lesley and Sam try to navigate their relationship.

I feel like I learn a lot from each book I write, and then I can apply it to the next one. That’s a good thing.

This weekend, I’m hoping to balance rest, writing, some gardening, and also purging some boxes from the basement. I’m hoping a bit of rest and downtime will help get a few things into perspective. I also have a hectic week next week — a big event for a client early in the week, and a few other demands and meetings later in the week.

Step by step. That’s all we can do, right?

I hope you have a lovely weekend.

I hope the weather stays this temperate — sunny and not too warm. It would be nice not to have a brutal, humid summer.

Published in: on June 14, 2019 at 8:52 am  Comments Off on Fri. June 14, 2019: Preparing for a Writing Weekend  
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Wed. May 22, 2019: Links & Prepping for Time Off

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

Rachel Poli interviewed me for her blog here, and I’m quoted in The Ray Journey’s article on fighting creative block here.

Also, hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for some ruminations.

Still have the Go Fund Me for the car repair going. Once I get the insurance check, I’ll know if I can shut it down and start distributing the thank-you books.

I’m helping a client prepare for a big event next month. Neither of the parties involved wants to take responsibility for proper organization and running of it, and they won’t give me the autonomy to do what needs to be done to make it run well. It’s very frustrating. So I’m doing the best work I can in my realm, and it will be what it is.

The morning routine now includes taking the plants out to the deck and arranging them, and the evening routine includes bringing them in. Hopefully, after this weekend, they can just stay out. We’ll see.

Client work most of the days yesterday and today. Early morning meeting with a new potential client. Working steadily on the books, the plays, some new ideas for radio plays. Someone who does NOT like my work was just named artistic director of an organization where I had something produced, so I guess that’s it for me with them right now. That’s the way it goes.

Sent off  “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” to the producer. Fingers crossed.

Working on the articles. A couple of sources dropped out on both of them, so I have to replace those.

Playing with some other ideas, trying to get back on track for a few things. My brain is tired, which is why the next few days off are so important. I’ll let each day happen as it comes, let myself write and rest as I need to. That will help me get my energy together to hit the ground running again next week.

I mentioned to a writer pal of mine that I was “drunk on the scent of lilacs” and she is going to use it for the title of her book. I’m looking forward to reading it.

The beginning of this week was stressful, but I hope that the rest of it will be restorative.

I don’t plan to be online much; I won’t be blogging here again until late in the day next Tuesday.

I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, or, if you’re somewhere that doesn’t have that day, just a wonderful few days.

Namaste.

 

Thurs. May 16, 2019: Process, Viability, and Attitude Adjustment

Thursday, May 16, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Check out the latest on the garden here.

I still have the Go Fund Me up for the car repairs. Your help in sharing is greatly appreciated.

I was pleasantly surprised that the insurance adjustor got back to me on Tuesday night. Part of the repair costs will be approved. Hopefully, I’ll get the check soon; then I’ll know if and when I can shut down the GoFundMe, and schedule the next phases of repair. Even a little bit will be a relief.

I just hope it doesn’t make my insurance skyrocket.

I also have to face the fact that, within the next couple of years, I’ll need a new, or at least new-to-me, car. I love my little blue rabbit. But it’s twelve years old.

Woke up at 3 AM yesterday. The good part about 3 AM is that, from 3-5 AM, it’s relatively quiet. I can get some thinking and plotting done, even if I don’t get up and actually write.

I got up at 5. Worked on ELLA BY THE BAY. Worked on GRAVE REACH. Worked on articles, and on blog posts that have to go up in the next few weeks. Worked on the review of the book I just read.

I’ve now written my way four chapters into ELLA BY THE BAY. It’s a viable book. The next step is to sit down and do a writer’s rough outline, so I can continue with an idea of where I’m going.

My process has changed over the years, from being a total blank pager, to being a total outliner, to mixing the two. I get an idea; if it nags me, I write about four chapters, to see if it can sustain. If it can, I then outline, and then go back and write it.

Some pieces can’t sustain. Some are okay, but I do a nice temporary chapter ending and put them aside to get back to “someday.” (See my Topic Workbook THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS for more on this).

But “process” has to change, as we grow and change as writers. How I created work twenty years ago doesn’t necessarily work the way I do it now, although some tools still work.

Went in and worked onsite with a client.

Came home, changed, had a quick snack, and then drove to Brewster to participate in a panel discussion for a local organization.

Of course, I had handouts. Because I am the Queen of Handouts.

We got off to a bit of a rocky start. I’d given myself an hour to drive there, which would mean I arrived 15 minutes before start time. But the traffic was lighter than I expected, and it only took me 45 minutes to get there. So I was a half hour early. I’m often that early to events — it gives me time to prepare, set out handouts, find out the structure of the event, etc. However, as I tried to get into the building, a board member came out and said, “You’re really early. We’re in the middle of a meeting. Come back in ten minutes.”

Excuse me?

I am one of your guest speakers. An UNPAID speaker, on top of that. (I rarely accept unpaid gigs at this point, but I did here because of my connection with the organization). The proper greeting is, “We’re so glad you’re here! We’re still in the board meeting. I’ll get you set up over here until we’re done.”

Not “come back in ten minutes” so I had to sit outside in the cold.

When I was on the board, I considered it my JOB, my RESPONSIBILITY, my HONOR to make guest speakers and presenters feel welcome and appreciated. I also considered it my job to make the audience feel the same.

“Come back in ten minutes” because they’re busy? No.

I sat outside, fuming. I was tempted to rant on social media. Which was inappropriate. I was tempted to leave. And then I thought, why? Why behave with as little grace as this individual? I’m not Top Poobah Writer of the Universe who demands minions bow to me. It’s really not that big a deal in the scheme of the Universe. It gives me important information, and factors in to future dealings, but, really, it’s not a crisis. I got over myself. Because, in the bigger scheme of things, apart from both my ego, and from feeling that’s not the way to treat people who donate their time to an organization, getting over myself made more sense.

Which was the right choice, because ultimately, it was a lovely evening. My fellow panelists were delightful. The questions, for the most part, were excellent. Except for the couple of people who went on and on about the “art” of what they do and how they didn’t like we talked so much about business. (The topic of the evening was business-oriented, so go figure).

Well, first of all, one does not negate the other. My passion for my art does not mean I forfeit my right to earn a living at it. And if you want to succeed as an author, the business part of it is part of the gig. All of those making faces about how they “don’t do” or “don’t like” websites and social media and all the rest can either pay someone to do it for them — and really PAY, not the attitude around here where $20 is supposed to pay your rent for three months, or better yet, you’re supposed to be THRILLED to do it for free — or suck it up and learn or don’t do it and have a different career trajectory. But if you do the latter, don’t whine that nobody pays attention to you.

Still, it’s an important discussion to have. The more information people have, the more informed decisions they can make for the path that works best for them. There is no ONE WAY — thank goodness! It would be far too dull.

But I’m glad I did it. I saw some people I hadn’t seen in ages, and that was great to catch up.

And I’m glad I didn’t stay mired in annoyance. That wouldn’t have done any good for anyone. This was a case where recognizing the emotion and CHOOSING to move on from it made a lot of sense. I didn’t ignore my response. Nor did I pitch a tantrum. I was able to face it and see how it fit into the bigger picture, and make the best choice for me, which turned out to be positive for everybody.

However, if this individual treats the keynote speakers and better-known workshop presenters at the conference this way, it’s going to hurt the organization.

Happily, it is not my problem!

It was still light-ish driving home, which was nice. I had Prince turned up on the radio for a few miles, and then, by the time I got to Yarmouth, I drove through Yarmouth and Barnstable with the windows down singing along with various radio songs at the top of my lungs. Which was really fun.

The abortion ban in Alabama is disgusting. So are the bans in Georgia and Ohio. I am sick and tired of old white male religious zealots trying to control me. And who are bound and determined to kill me if I don’t “behave.” They must be stopped. Especially when they give rapists more rights than rape victims.

The level of corruption in our government is appalling. Russia is delighted.

Last night, I dreamed about a large tree falling. It woke me, and I was upset, but I managed to get back to sleep. When I looked it up, it said it indicated that I’m “on the wrong path.” Which path is wrong? I’m preparing to make several major changes over the coming months. Is it warning me where I am at this moment is wrong (which I know) or that the options I’m looking at are wrong? So now I’m really confused and worried.

Today, I’m working on ELLA BY THE BAY, GRAVE REACH, and the articles. I hope I can polish the review well enough to send it off, either later today or tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go to yoga.

If the weather holds, I’ll do some yard work.

I have a new Trusted Reader for GRAVE REACH. She’s going to read GR, and I’m going to read her magical realism she’s-not-sure-what-it-is.

I hope the rest of the quotes I requested for articles come in soon, so I can finish them and send them off. My mechanic can’t give me an estimate on the rest of the work without seeing the car. That means losing another day of work to go to Plymouth, and then losing another day of work when repairs are actually done. Whereas if I have them done here, at the original estimate, they will drive me to and from work and home. The money I lose by losing those days in Plymouth will even out what I’d save in actual repair costs. So I’m not sure what to do.

I have some more pitches to finesse and send out. I was about to send out a short story to a market, only to find it closed early this reading period. Oh, well.

I also have to finish the first draft of the short play that has to go out this month, so it can marinate for a few days before revisions, and polish “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” so it can go out next week.

One step at a time. That’s the best I can do.

Tues. May 14, 2019: Trying to Get Some Equilibrium Back

Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

I tried to take some time off this weekend to regroup.

I’m keeping up the Go Fund Me at least through this week. I’ve landed two article assignments that I have to turn around this week, have pitched a couple more, and am in the process of pitching more.

I’ve done the Tip Sheets for tomorrow night’s talk in Brewster. I have my other materials — list of favorite writing books, promotional materials — ready.

I did some work on the book I have to review, but I needed to give myself a break, at least on Sunday, and not do anything that was a “have to.” I needed some quiet.

Friday, I had to go onsite with a client, because I couldn’t get there on Wednesday because of the car situation. Got a bunch of work done, then did the grocery shopping. Saturday morning, took the garbage to the dump and picked up a few Mother’s Day essentials. I did a little work in the yard — some pruning — but nowhere near as much as I should have. It was nice to enjoy a sunny, pleasant day.

Did a little bit of work on the play that has to go out at the end of the month. It’s supposed to be a gentle comedy, but I don’t feel very funny right now. I have to let the characters talk and let the humor evolve organically, then shape it to build proper beats and laughs.

We got the curtains switched out to the lace panels in the windows. I washed the winter curtains and put them away. I polished the wooden front door. I’m working on washing and packing away the thick winter sweaters — although we still have frost warnings, and it snowed in the Berkshires.

I’m behind on the planting, but I can’t do any of the outdoor planting until it gets warmer, and we’re out of room inside.

Sunday it was wet and cold and raining. I cooked a big Mother’s Day breakfast for my mom, and we spent a quiet day, mostly reading. I had a fire going in the fireplace to take off the damp chill.

I finally got to read Juliet Blackwell’s A MAGICAL MATCH, which I really liked. I’m also re-reading Louisa May Alcott’s Journals, which soothe me.

Yesterday, I was onsite with a client, and then worked on my articles, and then worked on more pitches. I was also dealing with my car insurance – since I have comprehensive insurance, they might cover part of the repair.

This morning, the adjustor/inspector is coming to check the car. Fingers crossed.

Desperately needed meditation group by the time I got there.

I’ve been working pretty steadily in longhand on ELLA BY THE BAY, but I’m behind where I want to be on GRAVE REACH, and that has to change this week.

Mostly, I am desperate for some rest.

 

Published in: on May 14, 2019 at 5:17 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 14, 2019: Trying to Get Some Equilibrium Back  
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Thurs. April 25, 2019: Evolution of the Writing Process & Internet Bullying

Thursday, April 25, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

That pressure you’re feeling? Jupiter AND Pluto are retrograde. Saturn joins them on Monday. Yuck.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest post on the garden.

Was with a client most of yesterday. Somehow, when I woke up I thought it was Thursday instead of Wednesday; even once I realized it, I had trouble getting into the Wednesday head space to work with the client.

Home and worked in the garden for about an hour. There’s still a lot to do, but I just have to do it one piece at a time. Eventually, it will all get done.

Worked on contest entries.

I’m playing with a new idea for a series of novellas. I want to mix genres. I want them to be short. The characters are clear; the world is taking shape. I have the beginnings of a plot, which I’ll have to explore further. I don’t want them to run longer than 25-30K, so the plot has to be precise, and a minimum of sub-plots, even though I want a couple of them to run the course of the series.

I’m not sure WHEN I can fit in the writing of them, so I have something worthwhile to show my editor. I have deadlines to meet, and re-adjusted deadlines to meet.

But it’s fun to play with the ideas.

It’s so important for process to evolve. My process is constantly evolving. I learn from each project. I work on both art and craft. Some of them wind up not working at all, and that’s okay. Disappointing, but even what doesn’t work gets me somewhere else, and gives me valuable experience.

I’ve written books as a blank-pager, not using an outline. (I don’t use the term “pantser” — to me, it sounds like an STD). While it was sometimes fun and often frustrating to figure it out as I wrote, ultimately, I had to evolve away from that. It also needed a lot more drafts to get it into the shape where I could even ask a Trusted Reader to look at it.

This is my profession, not my hobby. This is how I keep a roof over my head and food on the table. I don’t have the luxury of writer’s block or not knowing what comes next when I sit down at the page. I need to be able to drop immediately into the world of whatever I’m working on and move forward.

I’m juggling several series, along with other projects. Some are novels; some are radio plays; some are stage plays; some are articles or other writing I do for clients. I don’t have the option of telling a client I “didn’t have time” to do their project.

Outlining has helped me. I sit down and plot out the book. I free write the characters’ stories. Then I go back and work on plot points and scenes. Then I arrange and rearrange them as I best think it will serve that particular book.

I don’t like working on index cards. For scripts, especially television scripts, that’s the protocol, and if I’m working as part of a staff, or with a partner, yes, we use index cards. But I’m happier with paper and pen. My outlines are more like treatments.

This is NOT the outline I’d send with a query. Even the outlines I send my editors for series in progress are honed from these outlines, but are NOT these outlines. I call these outlines my “Writer’s Rough Outline.”

I type a copy and keep my original handwritten copy. I usually work from the handwritten (if I can read it — sometimes it’s too scrawled). The creative energy that went into the handwritten copy often serves me better than a cold, typed version.

As I complete each section of the outline, I check it off.

I adjust along the way, as the story and characters dictate and evolve.

My outline is a roadmap, not a prison. I often go in very different directions. That’s okay.

The first draft is often lean and skeletal. I don’t want to lose momentum. I want to get through it.

I like to put each draft away. The most important rest time is between the first draft and the second. Ideally, it’s two months. The reality is often far less, but I always try for at least two weeks.

I have to be able to look at it objectively, as though someone else wrote it.

Then I do as many drafts as it takes, including my multi-colored draft (where I go through with different colored markers highlighting adverbs, passive or past perfect, and qualifiers. Then I take them out and look for better ways to express what I want to say. If that word IS the best way, I negotiate with myself to put it back in).

The second draft is usually where I overwrite and follow tangents and develop ideas. The third draft if usually a combination of multi-colored draft and massive cuts.

Trusted readers usually get a third or fourth draft. I usually have at least one, sometimes two drafts after my readers see it before I consider it submission-ready. An un-contracted manuscript can take several years until it’s ready for submission.

The books on series contract have fewer drafts, since my contracted editor is in earlier in the process. Plus, the schedule is tighter.

There are always more ideas than hours in the day to write them. (I distrust those who say they “don’t have anything to write about” the same way I distrust people who get bored. Writers always have too much to write about). I recently started a notebook I call the “Whatever” notebook. I’ve had variations on this throughout the years, usually called “Fragments.”

I date every entry. I find the date provides a context for the inspiration, and sometimes it helps to go back to other elements of the day.

In it, I write whatever I want. A snippet of dialogue, an observation, ideas as characters and situations come to me. If I’m somewhere between meetings or in a waiting room or just want to get away and clear my head, I take the Whatever notebook and free write. Write about whatever’s on my mind, a combination of inspiration, what if, development, and brain dump.

It’s along the lines of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Practice and Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, although they happen at any time in the day, and at any place.

Morning pages work for lots of people, but not fore me. Morning is my most creative time. If I do morning pages, then I’ve used up that creative energy that should have gone into whatever is my Primary Project (the manuscript in which I write my first 1K of the day every morning). I think they’re great if they work. The concept is terrific, and it gets the person writing every day. But I need my first writing of the day to be about the work, not about me.

I’ve also started reading a few pages in one of my favorite writing books in the morning, before I start writing. Morning routine is: make coffee, feed the cats, check email/social media (sometimes I respond, while the coffee is brewing; sometimes I make a note to respond later), first cup of coffee, yoga, meditation, shower/dress, first 1K of the day.

When the weather is nice, I have my first cup of coffee out on the deck. When it’s not, I have it in my writing room. Now, I’m reading a few pages in one of my favorite books about writing (I have shelves of them, and some of them I re-read regularly as fuel).

Any other kind of book siphons energy away from my own work; in other words, I don’t read fiction first thing, or it derails my first 1K. But reading about writing and process helps. Usually it’s only 2-3 pages. But it starts building the desire.

Once I’ve written my first 1K of the day, I have breakfast. Check email, plan the day. If I can, I get a little more writing done. If it’s a day where I’m headed off to work with a client, I do it. Otherwise, I might write at home for a bit, and then head to the library for a few hours. There, I can research and put together pitches, or just sit in a corner and write. I answer emails, I send out LOIs or pitches. It’s easier for me to do that away from the writing room.

I prefer to write in the morning and edit in the afternoon. That’s flexible, depending on deadlines.

Again, weather dictates when I can work in the yard, so sometimes I have to push an editing session or add an extra writing session into the evening, when necessary.

I still go out with friends. I still spend time with family. But they can’t sabotage the writing. Anyone who sabotages the writing is removed from my life. This is my profession as well as my passion. I am the breadwinner. Writing is a priority, and those who don’t understand that, who don’t respect that, reveal a far deeper problem than time or writing. They reveal that they don’t understand or respect ME. Why would I have people in my life who don’t respect me?

That carries over to the endless bullying on the Internet. The last few days, I have received demands to stop talking about politics because the follower “only” wants writing information; to stop talking about writing because the follower “only” wants politics; to block people that person didn’t like or they would block me; if I’m even willing to listen to a different point of view, they’ll block me; if I don’t like the same thing they do, they’ll block me; they pick the “hill they want to die on” for something meaningless to most of the rest of us and demand fealty; that they’ll block anything that is retweeted without comment — really? If it’s well said, adding anything is only ego on my part; that I have to “prove” I’m a “real person” and they get to define “real” and that I “must” use pronouns in my bio– um, no. I get to decide what I share publicly and how to share it; to stop forwarding information on animals in kill shelters whose lives can be saved through adoption, fostering, and sponsorship.

All these people can go to hell, as far as I’m concerned. They don’t get to tell me what to post about, what to write about, how to live, what parts of myself I choose to share with the world.

I’m tired of people who claim they support inclusion and tolerance and are fighting for what’s right then tell me what I can and can’t say or do or think — as much as those we’re fighting dictate to us. Especially if it’s someone I’ve never met and only know for a few days on a social media platform.

Are you paying me to write something specific? No? Then you don’t have a say in what I write. YOUR right is not to buy it. Or read it. But not to tell me I can’t or shouldn’t write it.

None of these people matter in my life. I quietly unfollow or block plenty of people every week. We’re just not compatible. I don’t have to threaten them or fight with them. I either scroll past (because we are all more than one thing, and that’s beautiful) or, if it truly is something I don’t want in my life in the long term, I unfollow or block, as appropriate. I don’t have to make a big deal out of it. I’m a random person on plenty of people’s feeds, as they are on mine. We can peacefully co-exist, in most instances, without bullying each other. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to write posts that incite violence or demean people — yes, those should be called out. But if someone is happy about a show or a flavor of ice cream or whatever? Why be mean? If something matters to someone and they want to share a post to try and help? Why do YOU have the right to say THEY don’t have the right to care or to share it?

You don’t.

Also, I am not required to follow everyone who follows me, nor is everyone I follow required to follow me. There are certain red flag words in posts or bios that mean I won’t follow back. It doesn’t mean that person is expected to change; it’s just not something I want in my life. Eventually, they will probably unfollow me anyway.

And we don’t miss each other, because we never really knew each other.

Yes, social media is a marketing tool for my work. But that’s only part of the reason I’m on it. I’m on it to learn from people who know and are interested in different things than I am. I am on it for conversation and information and laughter. I don’t have to like, or even agree, with every post from every person that shows up on my feed.

Have I made poor choices, either in comments or in sharing? Of course. But I’m getting more aware of it, and am thinking twice before doing either. I am well aware how flawed I am, and I work on it. But I don’t bow to bullies, even in elementary school.

I’m happy with the way GRAVE REACH is going, and hope to get in at least one more writing session on it today. I have to make a grocery run, go to the library, take my mother to a doctor’s appointment, get some yard work in.

I also have to go over Saturday’s presentation one more time, and re-check the packing and all the stuff I’m bringing for the presentation. I have a rolling rack full of fun stuff. I leave for the conference tomorrow. I present late on Saturday. I know I’m prepared, but I always like to make sure.

I could teach a semester-long course on this. I have 50 minutes. I hope I picked the right 50 minutes of material!

Back to the page. And the yard.

 

Wed. April 24, 2019: Organization is Key

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the latest.

I’m tired. I’m wondering how I’ll pull up the energy for the conference.

Trying to get everything done so my client can get out the door and out of the country next Monday for her business trip is fun and interesting, but it takes a lot of energy.

Turned around the outline request from an editor; hopefully I’ll land the article. Took care of a few other admin things, and picked up the ribbons for my handout packets. Instead of putting the material in folders or just dumping it on the chairs, I’m going to tie them with pretty ribbon. I wish I’d had the budget to do swag for the conference, but that’s the way it goes some years.

Borrowed a sturdier rolling rack that folds down from one of my clients. It’ll fit in the car and be more stable than my little one that doesn’t fold. I need it for the display pieces I’m bringing.

Worked on contest entries.

Pondered what’s next for THE TIE CUTTER. I really like the material in the draft I re-read on Monday. But I think my original vision for the rest of the story was off. I have to re-read my outline and notes, but I think I want to take her journey more to self-realization (with love as a bonus) than the traditional finding true love story I originally wanted. She’s learning that maybe she shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place, and that the twenty-six years she spent with her husband wasn’t the partnership she needed.

The draft stops when she gets to Iceland. The Iceland section is next, and I’m going to deviate in that section, the Ireland section, and, ultimately, the Scotland section, from the way I originally envisioned this unfolding.

And that’s okay. Because an outline should be a roadmap, not a prison.

Really happy with the way GRAVE REACH is taking shape. That’s always a relief.

I’m re-watching STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, and enjoying it (in spite of some of the flaws I find in it) even more this time around. I learn so much from the structure and the writing.

With a client for the bulk of the day. Have to decide if I want to get some foam core and add vision boards to the presentation.

Mostly packed. The accessories are packed, and the pieces that will go in the garment bag are pulled — I just have to put them in the bag, zip it, and load it.

I’m kind of looking forward to sleeping in a hotel for a couple of nights; but I also don’t think I’ll be doing much hanging out on Friday night. I have a feeling I’ll check in, go to the cocktail hour, and then set up for Saturday and rest.

Saturday night, however, I hope I get to spend some quality time with fellow conference goers.

Tomorrow, I have a lot of last-minute stuff to do, and work to clear off, so that I can leave on Friday with a clear conscience, and nothing hanging over me.

Back to the page.

 

Tues. April 23, 2019: Just Trying to Keep Juggling

Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde

Yesterday was Earth Day. It was kind of rainy and gloomy here. One of these days, my time off and the weather will align. It wasn’t yesterday.

The weekend was busy, yet there isn’t much of interest to write about. I spent the bulk of it polishing my presentation for the weekend, and putting together the handout packets.

Time not spent on the presentation was spent working on contest entries. I’m in good shape with them, and there are some exciting books to consider as finalists.

Did some percolating on a few ideas; did some percolating on GRAVE REACH, but not much writing on it. Wrestled with “Aurora Nightingale” — but still not satisfied.

I like the way GRAVE REACH is working — I’m kind of a little bit in love with Sam, my male protagonist, which is a good thing!

Re-read what I have of THE TIE-CUTTER yesterday. It’s good, and is a book I’d like to get back to, once my contracted deadlines are cleared out.

I pitched an article on Friday; if it’s accepted, I can turn it around pretty fast. The editor requested an outline. For a 600 word article, that seems a little much (especially since I’ve written for this publication a half a dozen times), but hey, that’s what the editor wants, so that’s what the editor gets.

Didn’t make it to meditation yesterday; 4 PM just doesn’t work for me on many a Monday. I still sit at home, though. Every day. And I’ve packed my travel yoga mat for the conference. I’ll keep to my yoga and meditation practice there, too.

Client work will be stressful this week, because my client is going on a big trip and we have to get everything ready and out ahead of time. I’m trying to keep myself prepared both mentally and physically for this week’s challenges.

And keep writing.

 

Published in: on April 23, 2019 at 5:49 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 23, 2019: Just Trying to Keep Juggling  
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Thurs. April 18, 2019: Some Cycles Are Tougher Than Others

Thursday, April 18, 2019
Day Before Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy & cool

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest on the garden.

It looks like I may be moving webhosts again, or at least when my current term nears expiration. Here I thought A2 hosting was so great. Their price point is perfect. I like their panel. Yet the fact that I can’t access my sites from anywhere I want means they cannot serve my needs. I work on different machines in different locations. That is the nature of my work. I need to be able to access my sites WHENEVER and from WHEREVER I need. But because I don’t do so from a “static IP” address, they claim I triggered a firewall and won’t let me sign in far too often.

Basically, I’m only “allowed” to sign in from a single computer they recognize. Which is not how my life works. Nor am I going to change it to suit them.

They claim this is for “security.” Yet my email accounts have been hacked multiple times by outside sources and they shrug and tell me there’s nothing they can do. But I cannot access the sites for which I’m paying far too often. And ALWAYS when I’m under time pressure.

Which means A2 Hosting cannot meet my needs, and I must look elsewhere. Which is a shame, because there are so many things I like about them. The plan has to be affordable, allow me to run unlimited websites and unlimited email accounts, and also allow me to sign in from whatever computer and wherever I am located in the world.

A2 Hosting was great for the transition away from the awful 1&1, and they are light years superior to 1&1. A2 is so much better than Green Geeks. You remember what I nightmare I went through with them when I was trying to transition my sites over a year ago. But A2 Hosting is still not what I need. I am not an IT person or a developer, nor can I afford to have one on-call. I understand most of WordPress and am always learning, but I can’t run my own server. I don’t have the skills. I need shared hosting.

Both InMotion and SiteGround have come highly recommended. They were under consideration for the last move. I may talk to them both again.

I’m really tired of the sales departments of these hosts writing checks the tech department won’t cash. I ask very specific questions when I’m interviewing hosts, and when I’m assured they can and will meet my needs, I expect them so to do. They need to stop lying and misleading in order to land the sale.

I checked out Blue Host and HostGator. They could not meet my needs.

So the search continues. I welcome recommendations. My registrations are now all with Name Silo and I love working with them. No drama. Great customer service. Great prices.

The event I attended the other night was not what I expected, and not for the better. It was presented as a speaker teaching us how to make best use of visuals on social media. Instead, in an hour and a half, the “speaker” — reading from notes she took at someone else’s social media basics workshops — never got beyond joining groups on Facebook. Well, that’s the way it goes sometimes. Now I know.

Wednesday morning, I worked on GRAVE REACH and on my presentation for next week’s NECRWA workshop. Two people I really like have let me know they’ll be in the workshop. It will be great to see some friendly faces.

Had to send an email ending a situation where I feel I’ve been jerked around for a week. It should have been simple and straightforward, and the other person is making Big Drama. Sorry. I keep it on the page and out of my life. The person responded in the evening, wanting to string me along indefinitely. So I said no and ended the situation. It leaves me heart-sore on one level, but I’m tired of the demands in this area of constantly having to accommodate everyone else’s neuroses, and not getting ANY accommodation for ANYTHING ever in return. It’s non-reciprocal, and I’m not participating.

Waiting to hear back from another potential client who told me they’d make a decision at the end of last week. I’m assuming they’re still negotiating with their first choice. We’ll see what happens. On the fence about whether I’d even say yes at this point. If I’m not the first choice, it’s not the right situation for either of us.

Got a weird email back from one of my LOIs, trying to justify making an offer to someone else. Hey, doesn’t matter to me. He’s the one hiring. The email made me think he has hirer’s remorse already. I sent a gracious email back.

Got out some LOIs. Had to sent a follow up email to one of the radio producers, because it’s been nearly a month and no check yet. Professional protocol is that the check goes out the day of or the day after the final performance. Not whenever someone feels like getting around to it.

I’m weary and exhausted from all the crap.

It’s all cycles. I had a strong cycle a couple of weeks ago, and now it’s more difficult. I have to acknowledge the frustration, the anger, the pain instead of pretending it doesn’t exist. I have to sort through each situation logically and figure out the best way to respond, handle, extricate, or move forward. Then I have to take the actions so to do.

My life is mine. It is not to be lived for others’ convenience or agendas.

I’m invited to another event next week, and I doubt I’ll attend. Why bother? It’ll be same old, same old. Lots of meaningless chatter in the moment, no follow-through. Then, when I follow through, trying to get me to work for nothing. That’s the pattern here. I’m not playing the game anymore.

Working on contest entries, working on GRAVE REACH, working on “Aurora Nightingale.” I still can’t get those two scenes where I want them.

Tempted to work on GAMBIT COLONY, although I really shouldn’t. But working on that piece is a great stress reliever.

Working on the presentation. I think it will be a lot of fun next weekend. I’m not happy about being in the last slot of the day, when I’m at my lowest energy, but hey, someone had to be in it, so why not me? I’ll pace myself during the day and then pull up the energy and leave it all out in the room when it’s my turn.

I had hoped to have four solid days to do yard work, but it will be raining the entire time I have off. I need to get into better alignment with the weather, so I can get the yard done!

Going to do some policy work with a few people later today. That will make me feel better. Doing something that might actually make a positive difference somewhere.

So, yeah, going through a few tough days. It will even out eventually. In the meantime, I’m frustrated and exhausted and disheartened.

 

Published in: on April 18, 2019 at 9:06 am  Comments Off on Thurs. April 18, 2019: Some Cycles Are Tougher Than Others  
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Wed. April 17, 2019: Destruction of Beauty

Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for a piece on goals.

I’d already scheduled Tuesday’s blog for posting and was away from anywhere I could update it when word came about the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Watching the footage of the spire falling was devastating. The whole thing was devastating.

I am not a fan of organized religion. I believe spirituality is important, but religion can taint it. I think more atrocity is committed in the name of religion than anything else, and distrust the way it is used to control the populace. However, people have the right to their beliefs, as long as they don’t impose them on others. And this is Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, which has deep meaning to many.

I’ve visited Notre Dame. Many years ago, but the sense of beauty and genuine awe (not the overused “awesome” that’s become a meaningless throwaway) still stay with me. The sense of centuries of history and passion and fervor translated into such beauty. The stained glass windows.

One of my uncles, a respected artist in Europe, used to work in stained glass. On one of my few visits, he showed me how it was done. The painstaking process melding art and math and planning astonished me.

This incident is heartbreaking.

I hope the investigation into the cause will be thorough and relentless.

Client work was exhausting the past two days, and will be so today. I’ve been working on “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” and “Dashed Dreams” and GRAVE REACH. Each one presents some unique challenges. I’m annoyed with myself for struggling so much on “Aurora Nightingale.” I have the craft — why am I having trouble implementing it?

Of course, a few pages here and there on GAMBIT COLONY is how I de-stress.

I’m working steadily on the contest entries. I’m polishing up my presentation for the Character Closet workshop on NECRWA, which is at the end of next week.

I’m waiting to hear back on a few other things that make me feel like I’m in limbo, although part of me just wants to shrug and move on. Disappointing, but that’s the way it goes. The right opportunities will come my way, and I have to remain alert and aware enough to recognize them. The “rehearsal opportunities” — things that don’t work out – -give me a chance to learn something I can apply to things that do work out.

Got annoyed with a thread by a guy (of course) tweeting a thread about watching one woman treat another woman badly in a cafe. He just sat there, tweeting, and did nothing, although speaking up for the woman who was treated badly could have put a stop to the whole situation. The more I read his thread, the angrier I got with him. You don’t just stand by and observe injustice. You speak up. Or you are an accomplice. So what if he thought it was great material for his next piece? He had an obligation as a decent human being to intervene.

Or maybe he showed us all he is both a coward and not a decent human being.

The grass looks good after a few days’ rain. I hope the weather holds, so I can do more yard work. I’m going to have to mow pretty soon. But I’m ahead of the game this year, with a mower I actually like. If I can start early enough and keep up, it will all be fine.

Tomorrow, I will blog about my time at the Cape Cod Digital Artists event.

For now, it’s off to work with a client, and then back to the page. Or, if the weather’s good enough, in the yard for an hour or so.

Published in: on April 17, 2019 at 6:01 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 17, 2019: Destruction of Beauty  
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Thurs. March 28, 2019: Trying to Shake off Mercury Retrograde Fatigue

Thursday, March 28, 2019
Waning Moon
Mercury Direct
Sunny and cool

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest on the garden.

Yesterday was one of those difficult, frustrating days. By the end of it, I felt beaten down, humiliated, and wounded. I’m tired of online interactions forcing information I do not wish to disclose in order to do a basic transaction. I am dissolving several customer relationships with businesses and organizations because they demand information that has nothing to do with my buying their products. I WON’T give it to them, and they refuse to let the transaction continue until I do so. Therefore, I won’t do business with them.

But at least the six-day migraine eased up by the end of the day.

Worked with a client. Worked on the books for review. I hope to have both reviews done and out the door by tomorrow.

I’m back to work on GRAVE REACH, which needs to get to the editor in the not-too-distant future. I finally figured out what Sam, my male protagonist, does for a living. He’s a forensic psychologist. So now I have to familiarize myself with that profession.

I’m also working on the final proofs for the almanac — they are due early next week. The changes are pretty simple, and the design is lovely. I’m pleased that I was able to participate again. I had a good time. The almanac will drop in August for 2020. I hope the keep me on for 2021.

I’m playing with some ideas for a few things. I need to start carrying around a notebook for random ideas instead of trying to organize everything from the get-go into its own little box. Because some ideas wind up working well together. So I chose one of the notebooks I bought during school season last fall, and its special pen (every notebook needs a special pen, that works best with it), and it’s becoming my “Whatever Ramblings” book. I will carry it around most of the time to jot whatever, and then figure out what fits where.

I need to get back to the Frieda/Lazarus radio play this weekend, and also to the monologues. Plus everything else I’m juggling.

I hope, with Mercury going direct, this sense of gloom and discouragement will lift.

Had a good conversation with a potential client, but I have a feeling they’re looking for someone younger. But the organization would be excellent with which to work.

I’m supposed to pick up a printer in Harwich, which I hope will get me through what I need to print for my workshop at the end of April. I’m hoping, in May, I can buy a new laser printer, since I can’t seem to get my old Brother laser up and going again, even though it has a new drum and new toner. But it won’t grasp the paper properly.

I’m so tired of products built to fail to force you to keep buying newer, lower-quality products.

I’m tired of a lot of things today.

 

Published in: on March 28, 2019 at 9:54 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 28, 2019: Trying to Shake off Mercury Retrograde Fatigue  
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Wednesday, March 20, 2019: Full Moon on the Equinox During Mercury Retrograde. Yeah.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Full Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Spring Equinox

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for a post about balance. Because, you know, Equinox, and why not make connections?

Client work was fine on Monday. We got a lot done. I learned I didn’t land a gig that I wanted, although I knew it was a stretch. But they were gracious and I’m going to keep in touch. I also got out a couple more LOIs. There was a third place to which I wanted to pitch, but their online process was insulting to anyone who has ever held a professional position, to I passed.

Meditation group was great. We have so much fun together, and make actual progress together.

When I got home, there was an email from someone “checking” something with me — only because that individual knew I’d find out about it, and if they hadn’t believed they’d get caught out and I would be angry, the individual would have tried to get away with it. Not amused. At all.

I’m going over the material today, either signing off or not, and will be gracious until the end of this project, and then I’m done with them, at least until there’s a major staff turnover.

The Women Write Change group helped me brainstorm the ending for “Smile” which wasn’t working. They had great ideas. I tried each one of them in a run-through. I thought I’d found what I wanted, a variation on a suggestion; yesterday morning, I made one little tweak and now it’s right.

“Quicksand” wound up being much weaker when I spoke it than it looked on the page. It needed major, major reworking.

But that’s why it’s so important to rehearse a reading, and not just stand up there and mumble.

When I was finished with rehearsal, I found an email from the director of the piece opening next Monday. She directed my last piece with this company, and she’s great. She had a question about an Elvis song and rights. I was really confused, because my piece is set in the 1920s, so Elvis isn’t appropriate. I gently pointed this out, and said I had no problem cutting the song, since I didn’t think it fit anyway. She then realized she’d contacted the wrong writer! (She’s juggling multiple projects). We had a good laugh over it.

Tuesday I tweaked the monologues in the morning, did some more work on GAMBIT, worked with a client, got out some more LOIs, and rehearsed. The stopwatch is going in these rehearsals, since I have only 5 minutes for both monologues, and I can’t rush through them or the beats and laughs won’t land. I had to finalize where to take a breath, where to let a beat land, etc.

Equinox ceremony as the sun came up. Great way to start the new cycle.

Today I’m with a client, and then I have some prep time before I go and read. I’m nervous, because I’m always nervous. I write words actors speak, not for me to speak. But, especially for the monologues, for anything that’s a script, I have to embody actorish techniques in order for the pieces to work.

And reading from WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST in this part of the Cape, which is pathetically conservative, will be a challenge. On a full moon during Mercury Retrograde on the Equinox?

Challenge is an understatement.

Back to the page.

Published in: on March 20, 2019 at 5:59 am  Comments Off on Wednesday, March 20, 2019: Full Moon on the Equinox During Mercury Retrograde. Yeah.  
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Wed. March 13, 2019: Post-Birthday Recalibration

Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice, where we continue to work on our personal strategic plans.

My birthday on Monday was low-key and lovely. Birthdays can be fraught, even more than New Year’s, weighed down by all the things not achieved. I made a determined effort not to fall into that trap this year.

The greetings through various social media channels and email and mail and in person were much appreciated. I had a lovely lunch, and then went to my usual Monday meditation group, where we had a celebration, and then a quiet night with plenty of chocolate cake!

Site work with the client was a little bit more stressful than usual, and it will continue to get more so, due to the situation that started in December. The client is not listening to what I’m saying, and it all needs to be dealt with in the next few months. I want it to be weeks, but I have a feeling it will be months. Tuesday the stress continued, as it will today, which only reinforces what I already know.

The birthday blues threatened on Tuesday — since I’d held them at bay on Monday, they seemed determined to come at me stronger on Tuesday. Fortunately, what I’ve worked on in meditation and yoga this past year, and focusing on the writing, helped. Step by step, that’s all I can do. Step by step.

Was assigned two new books to review; one is downloaded and started. The other is in print and on its way. I like working with this particular organization. The quality of the books is overall pretty good, I like working with my editor. She appreciates honest reviews and doesn’t send things back to “please the client” the way the other publication last year did. A review has no integrity unless it’s honest.

I’m reading the book for the Reader Expansion Challenge. It’s a lot of fun. I will discuss it in detail next week on A Biblio Paradise.

I’ve been steadily working on contest entries.

There weren’t and won’t be any memorial services for the neighbors who died. It is, of course, up to the family. They aren’t local, and I can understand it’s difficult for them. But it leaves me feeling unsettled and without a way to contain the sadness. So I decided that, when I have the deck set up with the plants, and the yard work well under way, I will hold my own ceremony of remembrance. They were wonderful gardeners. This will allow me to process the loss while still respecting the family’s choice. Maybe I’ll invite the neighbors over to join me.

Working on the monologues. Working on the trade journal pitches. Saw that one publication to which I planned to pitch in a couple of months has filed for bankruptcy protection. I’m not particularly surprised, since they kept recycling old material all the time. They refused to have articles that grew with their readers; they kept everything at the early-career stage.

Had an awful headache on Tuesday. Made it more difficult to get anything done.

Just keeping my head down and doing the work.

 

Published in: on March 13, 2019 at 4:57 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 13, 2019: Post-Birthday Recalibration  
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Wed. Feb. 20, 2019: Middle Day

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Last Day of Full Moon
Expecting another storm

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the weekly take on business.

Client work was fine yesterday.

Sent off the comic ghost story radio play. Dug into the Straw Hat Circuit mystery radio drama. Worked on the monologue, but we’re supposed to get another storm tonight, so I might not be able to go and test it.

I had to order a copy of a book I know I own, that I need as background, from the library, because I don’t know where my copy is packed. I need to live somewhere with enough space to unpack all my books!

Prepping for a meeting with a potential new client on Friday.

Ridiculously excited that the leek and scallion seeds have already started to sprout.

That’s pretty much the deal. I’m writing and reading and working a lot. It’s a typical middle day in a busy week, but a least it’s the good kind of busy.

With all the chaos going on, I’m going to grab as many moments of happiness, or a least contentment, as I can!

Published in: on February 20, 2019 at 6:28 am  Comments Off on Wed. Feb. 20, 2019: Middle Day  
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