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

image courtesy of Rafal Chudoba via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Waxing Moon

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

Cloudy, mild, humid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the afternoon, I turned around the script coverage.

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

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

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

So far, so good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So neither project was finished, which left me frustrated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tired. Tired, tired, tired.

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

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

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

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

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

Off to folding laundry and back to the page.

Episode 19 of LEGERDEMAIN drops today. Enjoy!

Have a good one, friends!

Thurs. Sept. 8, 2022: Prioritizing Projects

image courtesy of Conger Design via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

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

Mercury goes retrograde TOMORROW

Cloudy and cooler

I kept thinking yesterday was Thursday, but it was only Wednesday, and I was all mixed up. I am so NOT looking forward to Mercury retrograde piled on top of all these other retrogrades. My preference is to stay in bed for the next three weeks, but the Universe would laugh and have the bedroom ceiling collapse on me, so I better just deal with what needs to be dealt with, and stay away from traps.

There’s a post on the garden over on Gratitude and Growth.

There’s a post about creating and using content calendars over on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Those oughta keep you busy for a bit, right?

I did a big grocery shop yesterday. You can tell the tourists are clearing out, because the majority of people in the grocery stores are masked again. I’m trying to get us scheduled for our Shot #5, but I’m hearing nightmare stories about CVS cancelling appointments when insurance doesn’t cover it, and refusing to accept payment out of pocket. It looks like we can get them at the Stop & Shop Pharmacy otherwise, so at least we have a backup, but the timing is the problem. We’ll see what we can come up with. And I want to make sure it’s the correct formula.

I sent some info out to a friend for her business, and I answered an email from a friend of a friend who is relocating to the area. At least I got that all caught up.  I spent more time than I should experimenting with text-to-art AI technology. I don’t think I’ll be able to use anything (or very little) of the experiments, but I learned a lot, so I don’t feel that it was wasted time.

I turned around two scripts.

Roast chicken for dinner, which meant the house smelled wonderful, and then I made chicken stock. So we are well-stocked (pun intended) on both vegetable stock and chicken stock. Bring on soup season!

An acquaintance on Twitter posted a thread of open submission class with paying markets for short stories. I made notes on some of them, and will look into them in more detail over the next few days. I got one idea for one of them and made some notes; hopefully I can do a rough draft today. I may have a couple of stories ready to go on some of the calls. We’ll see. The work on those has to fit around the work that has to get done, and that is stacking up something fierce.

I need to get back to the radio plays, and I’m just not in that headspace right now. So I better figure out how to get into it. I have to spit out four radio plays pretty darn quickly. And I have to get back on track with the next arc of LEGERDEMAIN, while promoting what’s dropping. I also have a short play that’s been squawking at me, a comedy, and I need to get that drafted, plus go back and revise the two one-acts I wrote a few weeks ago, where my friend Paula gave such great feedback. They need to be prepped and ready to go out the door for appropriate submission calls.

Speaking of which, Episode 14 of LEGERDEMAIN drops today.

Meditation group starts meeting again online this morning, and I’m looking forward to it. I also have to nip down to the post office later to mail some bills that I forgot to mail on Tuesday. Oops.

I better get going then, hadn’t I? Have a good one.

Wed. Aug. 23, 2022: Real Calendars Are Still Best

image courtesy of Open ClipArt Vectors via pixabay.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Waning Moon

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

Cloudy, warm, humid

Uranus goes retrograde today, so now we’ve got six retrogrades, with the next Mercury Retrograde looming over us.

Got some work done on the new Episode 32 and on Episode 33, along with some admin. Made a curried chicken salad, and used the leftover cilantro to make cilantro pesto, using the method Jeremy Rock Smith taught us a few weeks back.

My 1 PM meeting cancelled, so I then kept working on LEGERDEMAIN, revising episodes 34 & 35, and working on script coverage. I also put in a slide show on the landing page of the Legerdemain site, with the ads for all the episodes released so far, and will update that slide show with the new episode ads every few weeks. I started a slideshow on the businesses and the fun little quirky ads, which I will do on the business page, but ran out of time.

Had a good conversation with an editor about something I was worried about, and wanted to run past her before submitting. It’s all set now, and I can do that this morning.

Ordered pizza for dinner, kept working on the script coverage. The script I read last night is good, but it’s a 1400-word coverage, and I didn’t get it finished last night. I will finish it this morning (I’m fine, deadline-wise).

Yesterday’s meeting is moved to this afternoon, which is fine, but I have to spend less time on it. I have another coverage to turn around today/tonight, but the report is shorter.

Six more episodes to revise on LEGERDEMAIN, and this first big arc will be uploaded and scheduled. These are tricky episodes to revise and structure, because there are certain plotlines that have to be resolved, while others that were planted for future arcs have to be brought forward, so it’s clear where things are headed.

I did some promo on the episode that dropped yesterday, in addition to the promos already scheduled. I’m considering doing a giveaway package of weird, fun little stuff connected to LEGERDEMAIN in late September or early October, and playing with ideas for that. I may do it on Google Docs, but I put out a question to see how complicated it is. It’s always been easy as a contestant, but I want to hear from people on the other side of the table. So far, I have ideas for three little fun pieces; I want to come up with six or seven, put in a nice presentation, and then use it as a way to drive traffic to the Kindle Vella page. Contestants have to answer questions that are tied to details in each of the first three episodes (which will then get those numbers up, and help my algorithm. Amazon, of course, makes it as difficult as possible to actually market the serial. But I’m trying. I wanted to buy a bunch of tokens and add them to the giveaway, but Amazon doesn’t allow tokens as a gift. Gift cards can’t be used, either. Both of which suck, but hey, it’s Amazon, not at all unexpected.

I sent an email off to the artists’ working group, to make sure they are actually meeting tomorrow, and find out where. I have a few ideas (because, of course I do).

I actually slept pretty well, in spite of the humidity. I’m doing some work on LEGERDEMAIN this morning, and do a few other things before the afternoon meeting. Then, it’s script coverage. The next few days will be a mix of errands, LEGERDEMAIN, script coverage, and rearranging a few things in the house with the inspector coming next week.

Next week is crazy busy, and then, I am looking forward to the holiday weekend.

I also have to get ahead on some of the blogs that are starting up again after the long holiday weekend. I want to brainstorm topics, and always try to stay a little ahead.

The content calendar – the print version – is saving my ass daily. I’m finding the online project management tools, like Asana, Todoist, ClickUp and more, add several extra steps to everything, instead of streamlining. So I might delete Asana. Still on the fence about trying Hectic.

With my paper calendar, I write it down once, it’s there, I look at it, I do it. With an online project management tool, I have to:

Set up every project

Put in all the different steps

Tie them into the main calendar

Go back in every day after I’ve completed what’s to be done on that day’s list and mark it complete

Move the task to the complete column, because the platform doesn’t move it once it’s complete

With my big desktop blotter calendar, I just look at the calendar and know where I am. Much more efficient.

None of the “systems” out there have the flexibility I need for the range of projects, services, and mediums in which I work.

I do want to look into a social media scheduling tool that isn’t a kazillion dollars that lets me upload my content once and then schedule it across multiple platforms, not have to upload/schedule each day separately. I want to upload the content and be able to set different dates/times AND different platforms, all in one go, not separately.

Old-school desk blotter calendar works better! So be it. I need more ink for the printer; maybe I’ll go down to Staples tomorrow in person to pick up the ink, get more notebooks for the back-to-school sale, and get next year’s desk blotter calendar.

Have a good one!

Tues. Aug. 16, 2022: All About The Words

image courtesy of Nicole via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

It was a busy weekend, but few-words busy. As in I don’t need a lot of words to talk about it, although the bulk of the weekend was all about words.

Friday & Saturday were almost entirely about LEGERDEMAIN. I got six episodes revised, edited, proofed, and up on Friday, along with some other stuff (which I don’t even remember). I did a library/post office/CVS run.

But almost everything was focused on LEGERDEMAIN, and, of course, it all took longer than I hoped. But things take as long as they take, and I’m doing 3-4 editing passes of each episode and then uploading/scheduling, so what would normally be a process stretched out over a period of weeks is now over a period of hours.

Different mediums require different processes.

I was also tired from Thursday night’s event, albeit a good tired, and thinking a lot about the other poets’ poems.

I meant to go to the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning. At 7:30 in the morning, I sat down at the desk to “just do a little work” on the next 4 episodes of LEGERDEMAIN. The next time I looked up, it was 3:30. So, I missed it.

But the episodes are uploaded and scheduled through Episode 20. I did the episode-specific ads and loglines, and uploaded and scheduled all those. I started working on some more general ads.

I did some work on a residency application. I still have to take some photos of clay and textile pieces I’ve made.

I was too tired to cook on Saturday night, so I ordered in Chinese. And read.

Sunday, I had a slow start. I handwashed and ironed some of the new fabric – I’d hoped to sew this weekend, but that didn’t happen. But at least everything is washed and ironed. I managed to finish the new tablecloth for the kitchen table, and swap that out, and tidy up all of that.

The cut mugwort stems were dry enough to strip, so I stripped them and put them in glass jars for the stillroom section of the laundry room. 3 jars’ worth, which should last me awhile.

I played with some ideas for the Shakespeare horror story. So far, I have ideas and scenes, but I need the narrative drive, and I haven’t yet settled on that.

In the afternoon, I drove down to the Edith Wharton homestead again, this time to be an audience member for Word X Word. Nine poets did pieces inspired by various pieces of sculpture. It was fascinating to see how  they used the pieces as jumping off points.

Driving home, I started writing in my head two new pieces. I need to get a notebook specifically for poetry-esque work. I mean, it takes about an hour to get anywhere, so writing in my head while I drive makes sense. And then having the notebook for the specific type of work makes sense (although I always carry one of the Fragment Notebooks with me, to jot down notes).

Stopped at the Adams Market to pick up pizza and a bottle of wine, because, again, too tired to cook.

Monday morning, I was just exhausted. I think the last few weeks are catching up with me. I managed to heave myself out of the house for a run to Wild Oats for a few things, and Stop & Shop, and another store, where I went in to get Velcro dots and lightbulbs. I came out with those, and some project notebooks. Love back-to-school sales. I have to get down to Staples for more.

I got some more ironing done. I worked on an application for another residency, which had just opened up. I’d worked on all the pieces. It should have taken me 30 minutes to slot in what I’d written. But it took 2 ½ hours because the damn computer kept freezing and crashing. Windows11 sucks.

But I got it done and out, and I’m actually proud of it. We’ll see if they give me a slot next year.

Turned around a script coverage. Got my inbox down from over 900 emails to just over 170.

Roasted a chicken. It’s finally cool enough to make roast chicken again, my favorite, because there’s so much one can do with the leftovers. Had the makings of chicken stock simmering on the stove while I took Jeremy Rock Smith’s cooking class in honor of Julia Child’s birthday.

Didn’t sleep well, although I don’t have the overall sense of fatigue today that I had yesterday. I have to do some serious house cleaning this morning, because my friend the baker is coming over in the afternoon, and I’m going to teach her how to register her domain name and find a web host and maybe we’ll even apply for a grant or two. Tonight, I’m attending a virtual event with The Ripped Bodice for the release of Roselle Lim’s new book.

I have two scripts in the queue; I may do one today, or I may do both tomorrow. I will see how the afternoon goes. I intentionally kept the start of this week light.

This morning, in and around the cleaning, I’ll do some promo for Episode 7 of Legerdemain, which releases today, “There Are Rituals, and Then There Are Rituals.” The episode ad is lovely/creepy with a candle balanced on a raven’s beak.

Better get to it. Busy day, but again, it’s good busy.

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

garden sculputre installation at The Mount

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Sunny, cooler, less humidity

Hot, busy weekend.

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

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

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

I finished reading the next book for review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I remind myself: They are not my target audience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I rested.

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

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

That was it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wed. July 6, 2022: Of Typing and Glitching

image courtesy of Karolina Grabowska via pixabay.com

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Rainy and humid

Yesterday was interesting, and kind of all over the place.

I wrote the first draft of the one-act play. It’s not long, but it still takes a specific kind of energy, so my psyche kept saying, “You put in a full day, right? I mean, you wrote an entire play. That means we get to play the rest of the day, right?”

Sadly, no. There was work to be done. Bills to be mailed at the post office. Books dropped off/picked up at the library. Groceries gathered at the store. Managed to get all the errands done before the rain began.

I heard from one of my colleagues on the Monthology anthology, who is reading the stories to help the editor decide on the order. She said my story (“Stone Garden”) was so beautiful, she cried at the end, which is EXACTLY the response for which I hoped. So I did a little happy dance.

Worked on an application for a residency. If I got in, it would be a Big Fucking Deal. It would be impressive on the old CV. The likelihood I’ll get in is small, but if I don’t try, it’s zero. And the organization contacted me specifically during this grant cycle to ask me to apply.

So I did.

Only, while I was in the process of filling out the application, the computer decided to stick/wonk/crash. It was so frustrating. Fortunately, a writer pal and a pal from Freelance Chat jumped in with ideas. I am deeply grateful to both of them. Working with both sets of ideas got things up and running and working again. It seems HP (my laptop is an HP Pavilion) and Windows11 have a difference of opinion, and something Win11 does makes HP think it needs to eat up more memory than it does. There’s a patch from HP, I downloaded it, and it seems to help, but I have to keep an eye on what’s being gobbled in my Task Manager, and then probably do regular fixes. Because, you know, heaven forbid that the companies who charge us money actually give us working products.

But it worked, and I got the application out, and now I can forget about it until November, when they tell if me I got it, or if I didn’t. It’s a project I won’t get to do unless I get this residency, more because of studio space than anything else. So I’m putting the notes for it aside and not getting too attached until I hear back, one way or the other.

I’m having a big issue with LinkedIn, and they don’t give a damn about it. Over the past week, I’ve gotten some really creepy “let’s connect” messages. First, they come through LinkedIn, which is how they’re supposed to. Then, after I either decline or ignore the messages, I’m getting even creepier, aggressive emails on my personal email, which is not connected to any of my websites, and supposedly protected on LinkedIn. All of these emails are coming from older white dudes in red states. None of them are involved in any business that would even remotely hire me for writing work. None of them should have access to my personal email. And yet, LinkedIn has somehow allowed it. Their position is that that’s what I get for not having a premium subscription. I’m tempted to take my profile down, but the email’s been compromised, and I’m not changing my personal email. Plus, pitching to agencies often requires a  LinkedIn profile.  I’ve got too much connected to it, and I like it. If LinkedIn won’t do anything, and the harassment continues, I will file with the IC unit of the FBI. They’ve been helpful before. But the fact that LinkedIn both allowed this and doesn’t give a damn that its happening is deeply disturbing. I already give them side-eye a good portion of the time, because I don’t find them particularly useful, but now? In this climate of the war against women? It’s unacceptable.

Turned around two scripts. One was deeply misogynistic while pretending to be about strong women. (Eye roll). Was requested to cover a new script by a writer whose work I adore, so I’m happy about that.

Used up the rest of the fennel for dinner to make a scallop fennel pasta dish. It was really, really good. Red Shirt Farm, from whom I got the fennel, said they’ll have some more in a couple of weeks, and I cannot wait. Between the Moosewood Cookbook and Deborah Madison’s cookbooks, I will learn how to use fennel in great dishes.

I indulged myself. COOK’S ILLUSTRATED sent me a special offer for an amazing deal for a two-year subscription and a cookbook. I’ve been a fan of the magazine for years, but the cost was always out of my budget. I usually read it through the library. But with this special offer, it’s well within it, so I’m indulging.

The downstairs neighbors have split the garden patch in front. Two of the guys who live in the apartment under me are growing corn and watermelon (which is unusual, in the middle of the city, but hey, I’m growing pumpkins), and they are so excited about it. It’s so much fun to watch these big ole construction dudes tending their seedlings. All grown from saved seeds from stuff they got from a farmer for whom they did some work. The neighbor in the other apartment last year grew the most amazing tomatoes (which she’s growing again), and beans.  I have cucumbers and tomatoes and herbs. So we’ve got our own version of a community garden growing.

I felt the full gamut of aches and pains echoing last year, when I was giving the Cape house the final scrub down. By 10 PM, when I had collapsed into the hotel room after the shower (I stayed in my favorite hideaway, The Publick House, in Sturbridge, on the way home), I finally relaxed.

I woke up feeling much better. Maybe now that I’ve ridden this out, I can get beyond the sense memory stress and build on what’s going well in the present.

A lot to do this morning, especially on The Big Project and the Topic Workbooks. And then script coverage in the afternoon.

My friend’s show opens on Cape tonight. I hope it has a good run!

An offhand (but deeply meant) Tweet I made last night went viral and it’s a little weird. But whatever. Some good conversations emerging. Dickheads are blocked. Not muting. It annoys me when someone starts something and then mutes, rather than deals with it. It’ll be over by the end of the day.

Forgot to mention that the Mid-Year Check-In went up on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site. I’m doing better than I thought, which is cheering.

Have a good one.

Tues. July 5, 2022: New Week, New Play

image courtesy of Kohji Asakawa

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto. Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Cloudy and pleasant

Why, yes, I started the week by writing a full draft of a new one-act play this morning.

Friday morning, I got the review and invoice out. I was paid my month-end fee by the biggest client. I got some information on something for which I want to apply in autumn. Sent a marketing idea to my shared world anthology editor.

I set up all #31Prompts to release via Tweetdeck at 11 AM each day. They will be consistent on Tweetdeck, and hit all the other social media channels whenever I can get them up. But at least, if you follow along on Twitter, it will be consistent.

Made a logo for #31Prompts, and also for the Friday Journal Prompts which are exclusive to my Ello page.

Turned around a script coverage in the afternoon, and received two scripts I will turn around today.

Got the information for The World’s (Possibly) Largest Poem event on the 23rd – when to get there, how we’ll be set up, etc. They’re giving us a travel stipend for gas, which will help. Thankfully, gas prices have gone down 34 cents in the last week or so. Which is good, since I need to top up this week (I always refill the tank when I hit half).

Spent the late afternoon on the front porch with an ice-cold martini, reading THE NEW YORKER and VANITY FAIR. It was hot, but not unbearable.

An article I read in VANITY FAIR gave me an idea to layer into GAMBIT COLONY, so I started doing that. Yeah, I’ve been working on that series for years. Eventually, I will finish it! But it’s always a comfort for me to work on it, even though it’s large and unwieldy. It has a very specific target audience. Anyway, I wrote about six pages of new material, to layer in another character’s story. At some point (probably over the autumn and winter), I will go back to finish Book 5 and write Book 6, then do another pass, because those first 6 books encompass the major story arcs and hopefully will release fairly close together.

But GAMBIT COLONY can’t be the main focus right now, just a stress release valve. The Big Project needs my primary focus.

A thunderstorm with lightning woke me a little after midnight, going into Saturday. Tessa and Charlotte were scared, so I stayed up with them for a bit. Willa yawned and went back to sleep. Not a lot bothers her.

It was still drizzling when I went to the Farmers’ Market, but I made my rounds, and then went to the grocery store to fill in.

Saturday was a bit of A Day: woke with a migraine, stepped on glass later in the afternoon and cut my foot, choked on a vegetable at night. Survived, but let’s hope that’s my quota for the month!

Dived into the world of GAMBIT COLONY and stayed there most of the weekend, tweaking, making notes on additional scenes, making cuts. The years of work put into it need to eventually add up to something. I wrote about 20 pages of new material.

A friend is working a show at an historical playhouse on Cape where I worked  a few years back. I had a very mixed experience (slanting to the negative) when I worked there. I’m glad I got to be a part of its history, but it’s highly unlikely I’d work there again. I hope she has a better experience.

Salmon with fresh dill and lemon basil on Saturday night, which was good. Coq Au Vin in the crockpot Sunday, which was okay, but now that I have the base recipe, I need to work on it to deepen the flavors.

We were so lucky for most of the weekend. There were some controlled fireworks for about an hour or so every night, but not the constant shelling, danger, and noise that we had on Cape. So much healthier for us and for the cats. I heard from colleagues still living on Cape that it was absolutely packed and awful all weekend. Hard to get into the grocery store; lines to get to the beaches; and so forth.

I wonder how high the Covid numbers coming out of there will be in two weeks?

The weather’s been warm, but not unbearably hot, which has been nice. I haven’t taken advantage of Windsor Lake yet, but that’s on this week’s schedule! Spending regular time at the lake.

Monday, I was paid by a client and received my next assignment.

I intentionally stayed fairly quiet this weekend, in spite of the nice weather. My body demanded it, with all the sense memory stress. Here’s hoping that I pull out to the other side in the next few days.

I took Willa out on the back balcony on Monday afternoon. Tessa and Charlotte set up a Big Fuss. So everyone got a turn, each in her own playpen, for about a half hour each. That allowed for harmony in the afternoon.

There were some fireworks, but not dickheads setting them off in the streets. Around 10 PM, down past the end of our street, there was a professional fireworks display that ran 20-30 minutes, setting the starbursts over our street. It was beautiful, well-choreographed, and not very loud. Very pretty. We sat on the front porch and watched it. Well, Tessa didn’t like it and hid in the bathroom, but the rest of us watched it from the front porch, and some of the neighbors came out into the street to watch. It was fun.

Unlike feeling like one was being bombed 24/7 for days and having to worry about the roof catching fire, like on Cape Cod.

The shooting in Highland, IL was atrocious, especially since the cops were right there, “couldn’t” catch the shooter, but later took him “without incident.” This, after a black man in Akron was shot 60 times for a traffic stop and his dead body handcuffed. This is not acceptable.

And the Dems just shrug, tell us to “vote harder” and try to fundraise off it.

No. Just no. Do your fucking jobs.

When I finally did get to bed, I had a huge sense memory flashback to this time last year, when I was in the almost empty house, with the last few loads of boxes going to storage, hoping the roof wouldn’t catch fire from the illegal fireworks, because I’d given the hose away. On the 5th last year, was the day of my final storage runs, cleaning the house, and finally getting the hell out, so maybe, just maybe by 9 PM tonight, when I’d hit my favorite hotel in Sturbridge last year, exhausted and in tears, and they upgraded me to a fancy room, I will finally be done with the sense memory stress. I just have to ride out today.

It already started better than this day last year. I woke up with an idea for a short play, sat down before breakfast, took a quick breakfast break, and had the first draft written by 8:30 AM. It’s short, a one-act, but it was a place to put my rage, with a character who comes up with a solution. I mean, it needs work, it’s a first draft, but I said what I wanted to say. Once it’s polished, it’ll go out on submission. It’s called “The Little Woman” so you can guess the context and content.

A colleague on the Monthology anthology, who is helping the editor decide the order of the stories, said she read mine last night and it was so beautiful it made her cry. I’m delighted! I hoped it would have that power.

Today, I catch up on a lot of admin, and start writing my Llewellyn article, which is due by the end of the month. I’ll go back and wrestle with the formatting on the SUBMISSIONS Topic Workbook, and start putting in the edits to the first big arc of The Big Project, so that I can have clean copy to submit by early next week. I have some scripts in my queue, including one for which I was specifically requested. This week, I’ll also do some work on a couple of the other Topic Workbooks, and work on the slides for my class. If you haven’t yet signed up for it at the CCWC, the class is about “Developing the Series” and you can sign up here. It’s in the late afternoon of Aug. 6.

I hope your long weekend wasn’t too chaotic, and you were able to have both rest and pleasure.

Peace, my friends. We have to go to war for it (again), but we can get there.

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

image courtesy of Uwe Baumann via pixabay.com

Friday, June 3, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Mercury DIRECT

Cloudy and cool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thurs. May 12, 2022: Making the Most of Tech Issues

image courtesy of Gretta Blankenship via pixabay.com

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and warm

Just like that, we leapt into summer. It’s gorgeous, and as long as the humidity stays low, I’m fine about it.

Details of how we’re setting up our garden spaces are over on Gratitude and Growth.

The computer announced it was doing the Windows11 Upgrade at 7:30 in the morning. It took 14 hours. Not a happy camper.

Fortunately, nothing was on deadline or in the script queue, or I would have been screwed.

I mean, Mercury Retrograde and all that, but fourteen hours?

I let it run, and went about my non-computerized day. Yeah, I know, it says you can use the computer while it’s upgrading up until the point where it needs to restart, but that simply wasn’t the case. I managed to get the blog up, and check email, and that was a struggle. So I closed down the tabs and let it run uninterrupted. And it still took 14 hours.

I went to the library to drop off and pick up books, and to get my Commonwealth catalogue sign-in issues resolved. Because I need my access to the Commonwealth Catalog!

Went to pick up my mother’s prescriptions, and to go a quick grocery shop.

Home, and we did some repotting (even though it wasn’t a planting day, according to my calendar, but the new plants can’t wait until Saturday). We ran out of potting soil, so that’s on the list for today’s errands.

I’d made a sesame-poppyseed dressing for which my friend Artie gave me the recipe when he’d visited the Cape house several years back. I made it before we started the repotting, so it blended by the time lunch rolled around. I tried to re-create the spinach and strawberry salad he’d made us. It wasn’t as good as when he made it, but it was still good. And the recipe makes plenty of dressing (which is really good), so I put it in a glass jar, labelled it, and we can enjoy it with other salads.

We started setting up the back balcony, which is also detailed in the G&G post. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re getting there, and it’s a lovely space. The rug is a little short; if we can find another one to match it, that will unite the space better. We also put down the rug and rearranged the enclosed front porch (also detailed in the G&G post).

And collapsed onto the chairs on the porch with a cocktail when we were done!

But both spaces feel really good now. We can enjoy using them until it gets too cold in the autumn.

Since I couldn’t do any computer work, might as well get this done, right?

Made a mushroom-spinach crabmeat concoction for dinner, wrapped in phyllo, and remembered how much I loathe working with phyllo. It was decent, but the mushrooms overpowered it, and the crabmeat wasn’t a high enough quality to hold its own. Also made a batch of lime cilantro mayonnaise, and a big batch of curried chicken salad. Used up all the cilantro I bought, which had already started to fade, although I bought it this morning.

The Radio Theatre Project wants to do “Pier-less Crime” later this month. I’m delighted. I love working with them. They’d hoped to do it when everything shut down, so there was a delay, but they’ve performed the entire Frieda/Laz trilogy.

Once I figure out how to make the dirigible play work, they’ll get first crack at it.

I have two scripts in my queue, one for today, and one for tomorrow. I’m way under my pay goal with that client this pay period, but I earned more than expected from the client for whom I finished the five-month project (the contest), so it balances out.

Meditation this morning, and then I want to get some writing done. Later this morning, we are going to run some errands, and then it’s script coverage in the afternoon. I have to learn how to navigate Windows11. It looks different, but as long as I can do what I need to do, I’ll adapt. It wasn’t working well at all this morning, so I wiggled some keys, not really knowing what I was doing, but it works now.

I have a ton of email to slog through, some paperwork to do, and catch up on Ello. But somehow, it will all get done. I’m trying to retrain the stress sense memory from last year not to be so reactive to every little thing this year.

Spending the early morning first writing session of the day in the lovely garden spaces helps. Tessa isn’t sure about the rug on the porch. It feels strange under her paws. But Charlotte was really sweet with her (for once) showing her all the new stuff this morning. And the two scout crows peered in and made a few comments. Willa was still in bed. She “helped” yesterday and is Very Tired today.

Have a good one!

Published in: on May 12, 2022 at 7:17 am  Comments Off on Thurs. May 12, 2022: Making the Most of Tech Issues  
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Fri. Feb. 18, 2022: Spiro Squirrel Is A Brat

image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures via pxabay.com

Friday, February 18, 2022

Waning Moon

Snowing

Yesterday was another somewhat scattered day. It was in the 50’s, mild, and raining all day. It was supposed to be mild today, then temperatures drop tonight with another storm coming in, but it was already snowing before 8 AM this morning.

Meditation was good. Charlotte sat in my lap the whole time.

Smoked salmon Benedict on brioche for breakfast, which was yummy.

Got the next section of The Big Project done, at just over 1600 words.

It was raining and windy, so I put off my errands.

Got some admin done, did some background research on some companies I want to pitch, participated in Freelance chat. Got an idea for a series of interlocked short stories, inspired by something I read in the book club book.

Spiro Squirrel knocked on the back window at lunchtime, as though he expected me to hand him my sandwich through the window, the little brat. It’s squirrel mating season, and they’ve decided the back balcony is their lovers’ lane, so there’s that going on.

The Chewy order arrived, with the treats and the new toys, including Robot Mouse. I want to give the cats some interactive toys to keep them busy. I figured Willa would like Robot Mouse, because she’s such a good mouser.

She does. She thinks Robot Mouse is excellent fun, and chases it, catches it, and plays with it. Since it’s a robot, she can’t tear it apart, the way she does with real mice.

Charlotte is curious, but cautious, and keeps a safe distance. Tessa Is Not Amused.

The afternoon was split between script coverage and collaborating on the anthology. I also got some reading snuck in for book club (I need to catch up online with everyone). I got some good ideas for my anthology story, based on our discussions. We’re doing detailed world building, amongst all of us, that I want to make sure that richness is part of the piece, not that the world is a backdrop. It needs to be integrated.

I rearranged a single shelf in my office. A baby step, but it makes me feel like I got something done.

Unpacking one of the boxes of books that wasn’t supposed to come up; it’s mixed books, rather than project books. However, some of them are relevant to new projects, so I’m sorting and shelving them, and it’s all working out.

Pasta with sausage and tomato for dinner. Yummy.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are excited for the winter break next week, so no sessions. Not that any of them are going anywhere, but there won’t be classes; it’ll be books read for fun and games and videos and puzzles, and stuff like that.

Today, I was supposed to do errands, but if it’s snowing, I’ll limit them. Tomorrow’s supposed to be bad out, so I’ll just have to cope with whatever. If I can’t do errands this weekend, I can’t do errands, and they just have to be pushed back until next week.

I have to clear off some script coverage, and I’m done for the week with that. I am way below what I’d hoped to earn there this week, but I’ve been burned out, and I’d rather do less coverage, but give each script the time and attention it deserves, then rush through it and not give each one a fair shot.

Work on the Big Project today and all weekend, plus working on contest entries. I need to catch up with some admin, and do housework this weekend, too. I hope I get some rest in there.

Charlotte woke me at 1:30, but I managed to fall asleep again, and then overslept until nearly 7, so it was a rocky start this morning. But bagels will make everything better, so I’m off to eat my bagel for breakfast, and then return to the page. Peace, friends, and see you on the other side of the weekend. Have a good one.

Published in: on February 18, 2022 at 8:14 am  Comments Off on Fri. Feb. 18, 2022: Spiro Squirrel Is A Brat  
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Thurs. Jan. 13, 2022: Hoping for Quiet

image courtesy of Myriams-Fotos via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow, and I just don’t have the surge capacity to deal with it.

Post over on Gratitude and Growth about the weather.

Most of the morning was spent on writing the first draft of a short story. Got 2/3 of it done, just over 1700 words, and my brain just stopped. I know what comes next, but couldn’t pull it together to write it. And, I know the ending for which I’m aiming. I’d hoped it would only be 1500 words, but 2.5K is the sweet spot now, with 3K being the max.

Bundled up in so many layers until I could barely walk. Got the garbage out (so much easier to take it across the street to the dumpster than having to drive it to the dump). Once I unloaded garbage, came back, put on the backpack full of library books and the tote bag full of more library books and stomped to the library.

Church Street was hit and miss, as far as clean sidewalks, and I had to be careful. Dropped off the finished books, picked up the ones that have come in, stomped back. I wasn’t that cold, because of all the layers, although the tip of my nose got red and I looked like Rudolph’s understudy by the time I got back.

Made my favorite noodles with Asian peanut sauce for lunch – comfort food.

Could not get it together to write more in the afternoon.

But I finished writing up a coverage, and read another script I will write up today. I have two scripts to read/write up, and two book reviews to write. I started reading another contest entry, too.

Part of the Target order arrived. I am in love with my Pyrex pie plate. There will be pot pies and sweet pies galore with that! And things like garbage bags, shampoo, and an ice tray (although it’s a weird, squishy ice tray). Once the cat litter arrives (today or tomorrow), we will be stocked up until early March for cat and cleaning stuff. Food-wise, we could make it 4-6 weeks if supply chains totally break down, although we’d run out of eggs. I have dry milk and evaporated milk if needed, and plenty of other goods stocked in.

I’m still going to attempt a grocery run (on foot) today, to get in the perishables. Then I’ll decontaminate and start my workday. I’m not washing groceries again, but I’m decontaminating myself whenever I have to go out and interact.

The stocking up has as much to do with weather as the virus. Another storm is coming in tomorrow, and predictions are that it will go down to -31F with wind chill over the weekend. Yet another storm comes through on Monday.

So I won’t be going anywhere for awhile.

But I still have to find a place to get the car fixed.

I decided not to go to the college library this week. Maybe next week, if the virus  numbers go down and there aren’t too many people around. With the public library, I just go in to drop off/pick up; I’m not back to browsing yet. With the college library, I have to dig through the shelves, looking for what I want, and I just don’t feel comfortable being indoors with strangers, even if we’re masked and vaccinated. Nothing I need from that library is on a tight timeline, so I’m okay to wait.

I have meditation this morning, and then I’ll make a run (a waddle, in all my layers) to Big Y with my rolly cart to see how much on my list I can find. Then it’s finishing the short story (it needs to be edited and sent out tomorrow, which is a tighter turnaround than I like, but that’s when I found out about the submission deadline), writing up a script coverage and two reviews, reading two more scripts. I doubt I’ll get to work on The Big Project today, but I’m hoping to get back to it tomorrow and over the weekend, and do some work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY this weekend, too.

Tessa let me sleep until nearly 6. Actually, again, it was Charlotte who woke me, and when Tessa heard us, she chimed in.

Hopefully, the power will stay on.

It’s relatively quiet anyway around here; I’m hoping for a quiet weekend, even with storms happening outside.

Thurs. Dec. 2, 2021: Getting Back on My Feet — Slowly

image courtesy of Alkaine via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Waning Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Rainy/snowy, cold but warming up

I’m starting to feel reasonably functional again, thank goodness. I was better for a little while yesterday, and then I wasn’t.

Yesterday, everything took much longer than it should have. I spent most of the day resting, because I was still fatigued, achy, and had a bad headache. When I felt a little better, I managed to read a script, which I will write up this morning.

I managed to pull my newsletter mailing list off of Gmail. I’m getting fed up with Google. Making everything a 2-step verification sign in, tied to one’s phone has NOTHING to do with security, and everything with data collection. I am not a happy camper.

Anyway, I signed up with MooSend for the newsletter. They keep saying how “intuitive” it is to use their features. No, actually, it’s not. Or maybe it would be if I wasn’t feeling lousy, but it should be much simpler than it is. For all the issues I had working with Robly (for one of my clients), at least Robly was simple.

Wrote a rough draft of the newsletter, which I’m sure will be massive revision, since it was written when I wasn’t feeling well. But I want it to go out next week. Time to get my newsletter life back on track.

Got an email from a recruiter I hadn’t heard from in about two years about a job 4 days/week onsite in Boston, that wasn’t really what I do, nor was the pay what I said I wanted. I emailed back, thanking her for thinking of me, and explaining that I’d moved across the state, and was only doing remote work at this point. The recruiter said I should consider commuting in/renting a room. I said, “only if the company’s paying for all of that” which was met with an “oh, no, of course they’re not. But, you know, this remote-work will be obsolete within a year.”

HA!

NOT FOR ME.

To say I was grumpy by the time I stopped for the day is an understatement.

It cheered me up to read Maria DiRico’s IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE MURDER. I absolutely love this series. It makes me homesick for Astoria (even though I never lived there, only visited friends who lived there).

I actually cooked last night, for the first time this week, making a sort of a shepherd’s pie, using leftover turkey instead of meat. It turned out pretty well, but nearly knocked me out. Went to bed early.

Slept well. Tessa was at it again, early, even though my mom got up at 4:30 to feed her.

It snowed overnight again, just a little. It’s warming up (might go up to 60 degrees F) so it’s all getting slushy.

I was sitting on the couch reading, when I saw movement in my peripheral vision. A minute later, a pair of little black ears and a black nose came over the back of the couch. Tessa was standing on the heater, peering over the back of the couch.

It was pretty funny.

Meditation was good. Charlotte, as usual, sat with me for it. This week’s book is ATLAS OF THE HEART, which I ordered from the library.

I need to write up and send off the script coverage, and then go to the post office, the library, Wild Oats, and I’ll pick up Chinese food for lunch.

This afternoon’s mission is to figure out how to hook up the newsletter sign-up on my website to MooSend (they sent me directions yesterday, so I should be able to do it).

I’ve been working on organizing the notes for the Big Project, and for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. I will start The Big Project as soon as the notes are in good shape, and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY will begin on Monday. Because I like writing about the holidays IN the holidays. I’ll work on them in tandem, probably only 1K/each/day, and will only commit myself to 5 days/week on each. If I feel like writing more, I will, but I won’t set myself up for failure to do more, since I have to write between 3-5K of script coverage most days. I also got an idea for a 2ND Big Project, which is just going to have to percolate for a bit and wait its turn.

CAST IRON MURDER is resting (and will until the end of January). I hope to do the revisions on “A Rare Medium” tomorrow and over the weekend, and to write the Marie Corelli play next week.

I still have to finish decorating and write my domestic cards. And, you know, earn a living.

I also have to accept the fact that I can no longer pull fourteen-hour days, physically or mentally. So I need to adjust to that reality, without punishing myself and feeling like aging is a character flaw.

The Cape Cod house sold; for less than the owners asked, but still for a big chunk of change. So that’s a form of closure for all of us, I guess. I genuinely hope the new owners are very happy there. I’m sure there will be renovations (new bathrooms, all the windows need replacing), but, overall, it’s a lovely little house.

Now, off to write script coverage, while I still have some energy. My arm is still sore, and I have a headache, but otherwise, I’m feeling more like myself. The Grumpy Pants version of myself, but myself.

Wed. Nov. 24, 2021: Holiday Meal Prep

image courtesy of Sarah Chai via pexels.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

After yesterday’s quota on CAST IRON MURDER was met, I headed for the post office to mail the two packages (one overseas, one domestic that I wanted to arrive during Chanukah). The overseas rate has gone way up, but it’s the only package, so I’m not worried. The domestic package rate has gone up somewhat, but along what I expected.

Then, off to the library, to drop off and pick up books. To Big Y, for a few last-minute items.

Home, unpacked, and worked on script coverage. I was done about midafternoon. I have one more to read/write up before the holiday, but I was just too tired. Each script deserves my ability to concentrate and respond at top capability.

Leftovers for dinner. I’m trying to clean out the fridge to make room for turkey leftovers!

Pondering how I want to change things for next year, as far as work schedule, the way the workload is spread out, etc. I’m on the right track; I need to make a few decisions about where to put my focus and energy. I need to figure out the roster of projects I need/want to get done, and how to juggle them so I don’t burn out and can truly enjoy each of them.

I want to go back to Sundays (or at least one day a week) being disconnected from social media, email, etc. I want to use that day for yoga, meditation, projects I WANT to do, rather than things I feel I HAVE to get done before the next week starts. I want to shift some of my focus, copywriting-wise in the next few months, with a bigger emphasis on certain areas, while pulling back in others. I like the flexibility I have now, and I like taking what Americans consider a long-ish break in the middle of the day, even if it means working later at night.

Went to bed early. Tessa woke me up at 4:10. I moved to the bed in the sewing room, and she settled down, happy. Then Willa and Charlotte came to check in, and I gave up and got up.

Headed for the laundromat early, and got everything done in about an hour and a half. I was the only one there. Sometimes it’s creepy, but today, it wasn’t.

I worked on the outline for the second HEARTHSTONE book (the series started with CAST IRON MURDER). I’m calling that book THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, at least for the moment. Outlining is something I can do at the laundromat, because the hum of the machines gives the writing an underlying beat, and I can still be aware of what’s going on around me. If I’m deep in scene work, I’m not alert enough to my surroundings.

I realized I have to seed a couple of things in CAST IRON MURDER for it to make sense in KRINGLE CALAMTIY, so when I go back in a couple of months to revise CIM, I’ll seed them in. Unless I put them in as inserts in this draft. I forgot to write a scene in CIM that’s kind of important to set something up for the end of the book, so I’ll go back and do that this weekend. When I go back and revise, I have to clean up some timeline stuff; it’s too vague the way it is right now.

Made some notes on the project with which I’ve been playing. It’s still mostly world-building and character relationship notes, although I’m starting to feel more than see how the first three major arcs will go.

When I came back, after breakfast, I wrote 2951 words on CAST IRON MURDER. I realized about two pages of this chapter needed to be the end of the previous chapter, not the opening of this one, so I moved them back into that chapter, and then this chapter made more sense. I need to smooth out a bit of logic, which I can do once I’ve added the insert scenes.

One more chapter (and insert scenes) and I’m done with this draft.

Since it’s not a contracted, deadlined project, I can then put it aside to rest and marinate for two months, before I start working on revisions.

And get back to my contracted, deadlined projects.

I hope to do the revision of “A Rare Medium” early next week, and get that in before deadline. I’m hoping to start the Marie Corelli play this weekend.

I got through about 500 emails this morning. I’m trying to get (and keep) the email situation under control.

I’m a little concerned, because the COVID numbers are going up again here, and Pittsfield is back in the red zone. Since we were shopping in Pittsfield last weekend, I’m monitoring us.

I have one more script to cover, and I’m done for the holidays. I’m debating reading another couple of scripts Saturday/Sunday, in case the COVID booster knocks me out Monday/Tuesday. I’ll see how I feel on the weekend. My brain needs the break.

I’ve got some baking to do this afternoon – cheddar and apple turnovers, an apple/ginger cake, and possibly the chocolate walnut butter bread. Or I might do the bread over the weekend.

Tomorrow morning, I make the stuffing and put the turkey in the oven. I’m serving it with traditional mashed potatoes and homemade turkey giblet gravy, peas, and I’m doing my carrot-parsnip dish in mushroom sauce. I have a bottle of local hard cider from Berkshire Cider Project that I bought specifically for the meal.

Friday, we start the winter holiday decorating, and work on the domestic cards. Sunday is already the First of Advent and the beginning of Chanukah. At the very least, I need to get the Advent table up.

Yes, there will be photos, especially since this is the first time we’re decorating this space, and it will be very different from the past ten years in the Cape house!

Monday, I get my COVID booster in the morning, mixing Pfizer with my previous Moderna shots. Hopefully, I won’t have strong side effects. My mom had 3 Pfizers, with barely any side effects, except sore arm and fatigue. My first two Moderna shots kicked my ass.

Have a lovely weekend, my friends. Enjoy the holiday. Rest, eat, enjoy.