Wed. Nov. 13, 2019: Progress & Incoming Winter

Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Last Day of Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

We’re supposed to have rain turning into snow early this morning. Since I’m scheduling this to post, I wonder if it happened? Yesterday morning was nasty when I woke up.

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice, for a post about Creating Client Voice.

There was no meditation on Monday, and I missed it. But I came home and helped bag 6 more 30-gallon bags of leaves just from the center front yard before the storm. I’ll be making a trip to the dump on Thursday or Friday. I’m hoping it clears up later today, so we can start raking the side yard and back tomorrow and into the weekend. Every dry day, we do a little, and, eventually, it will all get done.

I’m pleased with the way the edits are going, although the fresh writing has slowed down while I focus on edits.

Got my next book to review. The pace and characters are good, the plot a bit convoluted, and easily-checked facts (about an area in which I grew up) are wrong, so it won’t get as high a review as it would if those facts were correct. We all make genuine mistakes; this is carelessness.

Reading books about Verona, Italy, and it’s giving me ideas for way down the line on GAMBIT COLONY.

Worked onsite with a client yesterday, trying to get ahead on a few projects, with Thanksgiving coming up. Doing the same today: up early thanks to the cats, writing, editing, on site with a client. While yesterday, I made a stop at the library on the way home, today I will pick up a couple of things at the grocery store and head straight back. I rarely go to the library on Wednesdays.

Still working on the GDR questions for 2020. Hope to have them up by tomorrow.

Remote Chat today. Looking forward to it.

I’m really proud of the progress the cats are making. Willa and Charlotte are starting to believe maybe they can stay after all, maybe they truly have a home and won’t be shoved around any more. Their behavior and demeanor has improved remarkably. They still get a little fussy with each other, but they are much better. When they find something new to explore (like the basement), they call a truce and do it together. We are trying to get Tessa re-integrated back into the mix, instead of her being separate, but she is not an alpha cat (although she needs to be, with these two). That will take some more time, but she, too, is getting more determined. It’s only been a little over five weeks, but it’s been a world of difference. I also think it’s hilarious that they prefer French and French Canadian jazz, rather like Celtic music, but dislike traditional classical and pop. Not that we play much pop in the house, but I wanted to see how they’d react.

I feel a little guilty for not missing the Nano participation this year. However, this year, doing Nano would be an obstacle, not an asset. And, this year, I’m enough of a grownup not to let my ego get in the way.

Live and learn, right?

Happy mid-week!

 

Thursday, October 24, 2019: Backwards and Forwards

Thursday, October 24, 2019
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

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

Yesterday was up and down at the client’s. I’m working on the campaign through the end of the year, and prepping the Fall 2020 collection for photographs. We also have an issue with FedEx — they lost over a thousand dollars’ worth of stuff, and don’t want to pay the claim. They have been a nightmare. I’m putting together all the case notes and going to the Vice President in Corporate who was helpful last time we had an issue.

Remote chat was a lot of fun. It always is. I learn a lot.

Came home, worked with the cats. Charlotte is aggressive with both Willa, and especially Tessa, which is not good. She and Tessa were on the road to being friends, so I don’t know why that changed. Tessa is unhappy that Charlotte no longer recognizes her as dominant cat. We’re working on it. It takes time.

When Charlotte has company and plenty to do, she’s fine. I have a feeling, when she got aggressive before, she was shut away and isolated, which makes her frantic and even worse when she gets out. So we’re working on them associating good things when they’re all in a room together.

Charlotte and Willa learned fast that if they want their bedtime snacks at night, they can’t fight or fuss at each other. So they always call a truce for bedtime snacks.

We will get there. But it takes time, work, and patience. Patience I’d never have with humans.

Finished a novel draft yesterday morning, and got to work on the next one in the queue. Yes, they’re contracted, and I’m behind where I need to be.

I have some serious revisions to turn around this weekend, and then it’s off to galleys. Then, I go back to finishing “Pier-less Crime”, working on the Venetian play, and going back into revisions for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

I’m working on THE BARD’S LAMENT (Coventina Circle #5) and I don’t want to lose momentum on that, either, but BALTHAZAAR and DAVY JONES DHARMA have to take priority.

My morning meeting was moved to the afternoon, so I got a chance to post this earlier than I thought, and get some other work done.

After my meeting, I have to clean the house — the new cats’ first encounter with the vacuum, which will not be pretty — and then back to revisions.

I also have a book to review this weekend.

I got one of the rudest responses to an LOI this morning. It was from a company out in Utah that claimed they were willing to work remotely with a writer. I was chastised for not doing “the exercise” (it was an LOI; no exercise involved. Plus, I don’t do unpaid labor); I was chastised for not including samples (the LOI includes links to both my Clippings.me portfolio and to the Clients/Publications page on my website. Plus, hey LOI); they stated “we are not thrilled with your work history.”

Really? You’re “not thrilled” that I have twenty-nine years’ worth of credits as a published writer? Take your lack of thrills, and you know where you can shove them.

I don’t disagree that we are not the right match. I do disagree with the lack of professional courtesy in the response. And the admission that it was an automated response, which means they never even read the LOI.

Now, why would there be an automated response like that to an LOI?

Put them on the “No Way in Hell” list, unless there’s a change of leadership.

Yesterday’s security breach in the Congressional hearings need to have consequences. Instead of shooting unarmed people of color for merely existing, how about law enforcement growing some balls and arresting those old white men (and a couple of women) who put our national security at risk? As in, actually PROTECT us?

It is disgusting that there continue to be no repercussions for continually breaking the law. It’s flaunted. Step up and take down these traitors already.

This country has turned into a sick joke. And those who can stop it lack the courage and the backbone so to do.

Back to the page.

Wed. Oct. 23, 2019: Progress

Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

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

I needed Monday’s meditation group. I felt discouraged and out of sorts, on various fronts. The cats had regressed in their progress. I was tired.

Meditation group helped.

Between client work and meditation, I did some work at the library. It was noisy and hard to concentrate. I wish they’d designate one of the computer areas as a quiet area. I’m all for libraries as community gathering places, but there also needs to be room for quiet work.

I finally decided I was too tired to concentrate. I found a new book by an author whose work I’ve read for years. I settled into an armchair in a nook in a relatively quiet corner. There’s no rule that says all time spent in a library has to be on the computer or doing research, does it? I read for about a half hour.

Unfortunately, this author is now writing sections of the book in present tense. She’s doing multiple points of view, some in present, some in past. It’s not working for me at all. Every time I hit a section in present tense, I want to throw the book across the room. I don’t care how many books it sells, how many awards it wins, if it’s a novel written in present tense, and not an epistolary or diary-format, it doesn’t work for me. I appreciate that this particular author feels, after twenty-plus books, the need to experiment with style. But moving into this style doesn’t work for me. I can’t enjoy the book, because the stylistic choice keeps pushing me out of the actual novel. So, if this continues, I will sadly have to stop reading this author. It makes me sad; I’ve enjoyed her books for over twenty years. But I read to enjoy and learn, not to be enraged because the author stands between me and the text screaming, “Look what a cool stylist I am” instead of letting me experience the book.

Every author must choose the style they believe best serves their story. That doesn’t mean I have to read it or accept it. I don’t believe in telling authors NOT to write a certain way. But I retain my right not to read something that doesn’t work for me.

But the loss of this author in my reading queue makes me sad.

Was too tired to cook, so I picked up dinner on the way home. That was nice. I’d also bought some room sprays at the yoga studio, and used them in the house, which calmed everyone down. One is cedar and lavender; the other is rosemary and mint.

I also bang two pots together like gongs if they get aggressive toward each other, which scatters them. I want them to associate aggression with a noise they don’t like.

They settled down after supper. Tessa in the big reading chair; Willa on her perch; Charlotte between us on the couch. Charlotte allows limited petting now, and finds she likes attention. When she feels bored and rejected, she gets aggressive. If we keep her busy and with company, she’s fine.

I’m reading a book I don’t particularly enjoy, but I kind of want to see where it goes.

A book I need to review arrived; I will turn that around this week.

I’m preparing a pitch to a new-to-me magazine editor. The idea I’m most excited about may not be the right fit for her, but I have a couple of others, and I’ll batch pitch. Then, she can pick what she wants and see if we’re a good match.

Tessa won the who-gets-to-sleep-on-the-bed lottery on Monday night.

Up early Tuesday. I had to drive my mother to Osterville at 7 AM for a blood test. We hopped next door to Earthly Delights, one of my favorite places, for coffee and muffins. Their goods are always outstanding.

Charlotte and Willa both want to be with me when I write, but neither wants the other there. So we are working on a way so they can both be with me, get along, and I can actually get some writing done.

Charlotte likes the computer and typing; she thinks she’s better at this stuff than I am.

With a client most of the day Tuesday, then some work at the library.

My first writing session of the day was out of sync, because I got up at 5:30 and barely got out of the house by 7 to drive my mom to her appointment. In order to get in an hour of writing, I’d have to get up at 4:30, and, just no. As it is, it was still dark enough to need headlights on the car when we left.

I’m so close to the end of a novel draft I can taste it, and all these obstacles keep cropping up in my path. But I will get there.

Even though we keep to the daily routines, with three cats who are figuring out how they fit together, it takes longer, so I have to build in more time in the morning and at night. They still all need play time to be separate, and they all need good sessions of play time.

We are working it out.

Client work was fine. We’re in that slow patch before the holidays.

Early morning writing session today, and then dropped off something for my mom on my way in to work. With a client most of the day. Hoping I can join in the Remote Chat.

Wednesday night has evolved into pizza night, so that’s something fun to look forward to.

Tomorrow’s post will be late. I have a 10 AM phone meeting with a potential new client.

One word at a time. Eventually, you have enough words to make something.

Thurs. Sept. 19, 2019: Focus Back on the Writing

writer-1421099_1920
image courtesy of voltamax via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 19, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Partly cloudy and cool

Hop on over to see the latest on the garden in Gratitude and Growth.

I had terrible nightmares Tuesday night into Wednesday. I dreamed someone was casting fishing line and I got a fishhook in my face.

Good work on ELLA yesterday morning and this morning. GRAVE REACH is going well, too.

Yesterday was a loooong day at my client’s, not just because I had to go in an hour early for a meeting. Part of it was that I had a migraine; another was that I’d had an excellent session directly before on GRAVE REACH, and it was difficult to switch headspaces.

As usual, the Remote Chat was outstanding. Owl Labs has put together a report on remote work. I downloaded it and look forward to reading it.

NIGHTMARE IN PINK, the next Travis McGee, was also frustrating when it comes to the female characters. There’s some gorgeous writing, such as calling cubicle offices “people kennels.” But the women in the books are awful. And McGee self-romanticizes his obsession with sex. He pretends not to objectify the women he screws and leaves, but he does. He justifies it to himself. He can lie to himself; he can lie to them; I’m not buying what he’s selling. I might have when I was twenty. But I know better now.

I listened to the radio broadcast of “Horace House Hauntings” that was done in Florida last spring. It went well. In spite of the gaffe made by one of the actors, who was so charming he took the audience along with him and they applauded when he recovered, overall, it went well. So I damn well better get “Pier-less Crime” polished and out to them.

I have a commitment tomorrow, so I may not blog here. But you can hop on over to Affairs of the Pen, the Ava Dunne blog, where I talk about creating the passenger ensemble for Savasana at Sea. Another Upbeat Authors post will be up on Monday, which is the Equinox. Then we’ll really notice how early it gets dark.

Have a great weekend.

Published in: on September 19, 2019 at 9:27 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Sept. 19, 2019: Focus Back on the Writing  
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Thurs. Sept. 5, 2019: Running Out of Coping Skills

Thursday, September 5, 2019
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Tropical Storm/Cyclone Warning

If you haven’t seen the latest chapter in the saga of “Fred Needs a Writer” over on Ink-Dipped Advice, hop on over and read it. And pop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest on the garden.

Yesterday was fine at the client’s. Samples for Fall 2020 came in, and I spent most of the time there unpacking and hanging. The Spring/Summer collection is already being shown and orders written. We shipped a bunch of stuff, too.

Came straight back after the stint at the client’s. I was exhausted. It was hot and humid and icky.

Remote chat was great, as always.

Watched REAR WINDOW. It’s years since I saw it. I forgot how much humor was in it. Not a fan of Grace Kelly, though. I didn’t find a lot of depth to her performance. Thelma Ritter was much more interesting.

We’ve also started re-watched THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW since the start. I’m doing this in honor of Valerie Harper. It really is funny. What a great ensemble.

Didn’t sleep well. I’m under stresses that I can’t discuss publicly right now, and they’re affecting me in a bad way. I hope to find some solutions sooner rather than later, but the process is painful. I feel like I’ve run out of coping skills.

Writing work, LOIS, pitches, work on GRAVE REACH and “Pier-less Crime” on the schedule for today Also some work on websites, and scheduling some marketing posts. Maybe a couple of hours for another client. Not sure if I’ll go to yoga or not. I have to go grocery shopping first thing, and get supplies in ahead of the storm. We’re really supposed to get slapped on Friday/Saturday by the outskirts of Hurricane Dorian, but we already are under a tropical cyclone/tropical storm watch today.

Sent off my short review to my editor yesterday, and my next assignment is on its way. I’m trying to do one assignment a week for this editor.

Tomorrow morning, I have a very stressful meeting first thing, so this blog will be late. But I’m scheduling the post for Affairs of the Pen, the Ava Dunne blog, so it will go up early. The topic tomorrow is building the ensemble.

I want my life back from before the pre-Occupant insanity.

Back to the page.

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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