Wed. Nov. 14, 2012: Follow Day at the NMLC

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Waxing Moon
Neptune direct (as of Sunday)
Uranus retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and chilly

BUSY few days. First of all, hop onto the FF&P blog for my post, “For Love of Things That Go Bump in the Night” — and leave a comment, so I know you stopped by!

Monday — barely remember it, other than it was busy! I think I got a lot of writing done, and I know I read the latest material from Confidential Job #1. Have to do the write-up today. Also, baked two batches of brownies.

I got great news — HEX BREAKER is coming out into print. I have the galleys to check, one last time. I also have to turn around the final galleys of OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK this week. Lots of time in the Jain Lazarus world! Especially if I squeeze in the work on CRAVE THE HUNT.

Yesterday, I was out the door by 8 AM, zipped past the post office, put gas in the car, and was at the National Marine Life Center by 9. It was my “follow” day — the day when I follow to learn what a typical day is like, for the articles and other projects I’m doing for and with them. Of course, there’s no such thing as a typical day in a marine life hospital, but I got a taste of some of it. I spent time scrubbing out the seal tank and feeding our lovely seal patient, and disinfecting everything to the nth degree. I’m going back later today to do a follow on the turtles, because there was so much to do just in connection with seal protocol. I did my best imitation of the Gorton Fisherman in those bright yellow coveralls and the wellies, and I got a first-hand look at how much physical work is involved. And, like running horse barn at the track, it’s seven days a week, 365 days a year. Animals need to be fed. The enclosures cleaned. Medications, if necessary, administered. The place has such a small staff, it’s amazing how they get it all done. And, because it’s a hospital, and one does run into life-or-death situations, the training needs to be thorough, and the protocols followed exactly.

One of the things that surprised (and delighted me) is how steep and quick the seal’s learning and response curve is. He is one smart pup! Of course, one has to be careful — since he’s being rehabilitated so he can be released back in the wild, the protocol is not to get him too accustomed to humans. When he’s released, he needs to go be a wild seal, not seek out human company all the time — all he needs is to approach the wrong human, and it could be fatal to him. It’s a different situation than if he was going to remain in captivity and be an interactive teaching tool in an aquarium or zoo setting. The point is to get him healthy enough to be independent back in the wild.

It’s a huge help for the articles, and it’s a huge help for the book. That level of detail is going to make the difference between a puff piece and something with depth.

Directly from the Marine Life Center, I went to Cotuit Library, for my orientation meeting as a member of the Cape Cod Writers Center Board of Directors. It was a ton of fun. The new members are great, lively, full of ideas, and I’m looking forward to us being integrated with the ongoing members. What I love about this group is that everybody is interested in helping each other. We share a philosophy that’s very important to me: We’re all in this together.

A few of us went out afterwards, and by the time I got home, I was exhausted. Funnily enough, though, in spite of the physical labor yesterday, I’m less stiff and sore than after a day at the desk.

I must be very productive this morning, because I go back to the Marine Life Center today to do a “turtle follow”, and then, tomorrow, I go back in the afternoon for a formal “seal training” session, so I really learn the right way to handle seals.

Lots of trips over the bridge this week!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ashumet Holly Sanctuary

Thursday, March 17, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Supposedly sunny
St. Patrick’s Day

Well, yesterday was full out, but it was fun. Got some work done in the morning (although not enough — familiar refrain).

Out the door on time, dropped something off for my mom, wound up at the Cotuit Library early, but they were kind and took me in out of the rain. I stayed in a corner looking at books until they were ready for the event (I could have offered to help, but they have a system, and it would have slowed them down, at that point).

Anyway, the lunch was terrific, and the event was a lot of fun. Author Carol McCleary talked about her new book, THE ILLUSION OF MURDER. She writes a mystery series featuring one of my personal heroines, Nelly Bly, one of the first all-round investigative journalists and a champion for women and children’s rights. When I saw this in the events calendar I had to go — I’ve got the first book still in a box (the box is marked TBR, but, well, it’s still a box), and already had the second book on pre-order. So I was very excited to attend. Carol is a lovely, lively, smart, funny woman and had the whole audience with her for each moment. Makes me even more eager to read the books. And, of course, the lunch spread was great — it always is. And I met some really great people and there was some talk about future events and my possible involvement. I love supporting fellow authors and celebrating their new releases — when one succeeds, it brightens the future for all of us.

The woman sitting next to me was a fellow NYU grad, fascinated by film, daughter a librarian in NY, used to attend the Y where my mom used to work, goes to the track in Saratoga with her current (third) husband — one of those great synchronicity things. She told me some great NY theatre/opera stories from the times slightly before my own — I’ve filed them away in the brain, and I’m sure I’ll use them one day. It was a great conversation.

It was a lovely way to spend the late morning/early afternoon, even in this miserable weather. I also found some great books in the library, which I checked out and lugged home.

And, when I got home — I did my follow-up. I’m always emphasizing to my students how important quick follow-up is when you meet new people, and then I putter around and put it off. Not this time — I did it properly! 😉 And I even heard back from Carol a few hours later — it’s great to find kindred spirits, as Anne of Green Gables would say!

Came home, did my follow-up, commented on some of the student work, made the business cards and post cards I needed to take to the dinner.

Drove to the dinner, felt rather at a loss because I didn’t know anyone. Not one familiar face in the room. And I’m not a naturally outgoing person. I’m shy and awkward around people I don’t know. But a table full of friendly fellow writers invited me to join them, and we were off to lots of good conversation and interesting stories. They also taught me how to do things like pronounce “Cotuit” properly.

I also got to meet J. Bean Palmer, who writes the children’s series featuring the Cape Cod Witch. I first found the books at the gift shop in the National Marine Life Center in Buzzards Bay and think they’re absolutely delightful, so it was great to meet the person who wrote them!

Jim Hill was the speaker, with a lively presentation on the uses of social media. And I met another charming woman who is also the chair of the New England Chapter of the Herb Society of America, who has one of the best and most inventive ideas for a children’s book I’ve ever heard. And she lives only a few blocks away — talk about synchronicity. There was another lovely woman whose first book is published next week — I meant to get info and didn’t run into her again. I told her to schedule something for release day so it’s not depressing if her publisher doesn’t fuss over her appropriately! A release day is a celebration!

All in all, a terrific evening at a rather odd chain restaurant that dealt with a larger-than-expected group of lively writers as well as they could.

What I love about people here is they don’t get all defensive about their writing — people are happy to talk about it and happy to support each other. Because we ARE all in this together, and when one of us is successful, it’s good for all of us. People NEED stories — it’s hardwired into us. Publishers and marketers can pretend there’s a limited need, but they’re looking at their own agenda, not how people are built.

I look at my students’ work in the current workshop — every single one of those books is unique enough and creative enough and intriguing enough to deserve publication. And I bet the bulk of the work the writers at tonight’s dinner is the same. We just have to keep at it, encourage each other, and use each individual victory to make us all more determined.

I’m going to schedule this to publish now, and try to tackle some more student work before bedtime — I will be out of the house and headed to Boston to the Flower Show early tomorrow, and I don’t want to leave my students dangling. Oh, and I did the post-dinner follow-up immediately — I better walk my talk, right?

I took a wrong turn coming home — down Phinney’s Lane instead of ShootFlyingHIll Road (locals will get a chuckle out of that) — in other words, I took the long way home through the fog. I hate driving in fog, but this is the Cape, and there is FOG, so I better learn how to fucking deal. 😉



Join Lori Widmer and me on March 26 for the one-day online seminar The Confident Freelancer. More info here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Thursday, January 20, 2011
Waning Moon
Grey and cold

I think there’s a group of Maine Coon cats who live across the way. Yesterday, the big black cat strolled across the lawn, on its way to get something it wanted at another neighbor’s. That cat is at least 25 pounds, probably more, but not fat — just huge and athletic, which is why I’m thinking Maine Coon. Also stops at the street and looks both ways before crossing. I called out to him, he turned, gave me a look that clearly said, “I’m BUSY” and kept going.

Violet hissed.

Which is hilarious, because she’s about an eighth of his size. He shrugged in that way only a cat can, and kept going.

Later, in the afternoon, he emerged from what must be a cat door in the screened porch across the way to lounge on the roof and laugh at us.

By accident, on the drive to Cotuit, found the vet I’m thinking of establishing with here, and it makes sense– close and the place has a good vibe.

The lecture on shipwrecks at the Cotuit Library was very interesting. The lecturer was quite the character in her own right. Some information I knew, some I did not, and it got me thinking, so I took notes. Lots of nice people — and about 40 people turned out for it. Lovely lunch of kale-and-sausage soup, served with a mixed greens salad, excellent bread, and spice cake for dessert. It was made by several of the Friends’ members, and it was really, really good. We were encouraged to have seconds. Something else I love about events here that have food — no one ever skimps. There’s always plenty. It’s never forced on you, but you always know you can have more if you want it. If I was going to be here for the February event, I’d volunteer to cook for it, but I’ll be away. We’ll see when March’s event takes place, and what I’m up to and decide from there. They started serving wine at 11:30 AM — my kind of group! 😉 I had one glass of wine, and then switched to coffee. Met a wide variety of people with a wide variety of interests and jobs. So many people seem to make their own hours and run their own businesses — it’s like being in a very large community of freelancers, which is great.

The library itself is a lovely, lovely building with great collections. Each of the libraries in the region has areas in which it specializes in, so, depending on what you’re working on, you go to different places.

I found PD James’s book TALKING ABOUT DETECTIVE FICTION, which I’ve wanted to read for a really long time, and Bill Bryson’s SHAKESPEARE: THE WORLD AS STAGE. Since Cotuit is part of the CLAMS system, I could check the books out with my library card on the spot and not have to order them and have them sent to my base library, like i had to do in New York. Much more practical, since I was standing right there with the books in my hand! The libraries here also have temporary cards for “summah people”, which I think is an excellent idea.

Unless you were born here, you’re considered a “wash ashore”, even if you’ve lived here or had a house here for decades. Some people feel that means they’re excluded from — I’m not sure from what. Everyone’s friendly and always inviting me to do this and that, so I don’t feel excluded from anything. I just smile and shrug and say I’d rather “wash ashore” here than anywhere else!

Stopped at the grocery store and the post office on the way home. Bought a small primrose plant, which is adorable, and it’s nice to see what a primrose actually looks like. More books arrived that I’d ordered before the self-imposed moratorium (and, if you don’t believe how overboard I went at the book barn, go hop onto A BIBLIO PARADISE). The box contained the copy I decided I had to own of THE CAPE COD GARDEN (still with its awful error in the introduction and no errata slip), and also THE NOVEL BOOKSTORE, what sounds like a fantastic novel by Laurence Cosse (there should be an accent on the “e”, but I can’t get it to work) and a novel by Kate Morton called THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN.

The following was overheard in the grocery store. The woman speaking was 150 if she was a day, and using a walker:

Woman: Goddamn doctor! Wanted to write me a half a dozen prescriptions. I told him what to do with his notepad! I went for acupuncture this morning! So I can’t play soccer this week. But at least I’m not funding some pharmaceutical executive so he can have a mistress AND a therapist!

Okay, I am soooo using that! 😉

Did three loads of laundry and put a full dishwasher load through.

Where I am over the next few days is entirely dependent on the weather. I need to do another round-trip to CT, but when I do it will depend on the forecasts. It’s going to be like a game of Where’s Waldo?

This morning, along with writing and workshops and the like, I have to vacuum the house and tidy up Just In Case.