Wed. Nov. 30, 2022: A. Day. And then Another. Day

Charlotte and her banana. Photo by Devon Ellington

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Stormy and cold

Here’s a picture of Charlotte and her banana, because someone should have a good day.

Well, yesterday was A Day.

Sorry this is late, but today is shaping up to be A Day Again.

The transit chart warned me this would be a week of chaos and conflict influenced by the heavens, and drawing the Nine of Swords as my Advice Card for the day was another warning.

On the positive side, we talk about The Right Form For the Story over on the Process Muse.

I also posted a Holiday Mindfulness Oracle Reading over on Ko-fi.

You back? Good.

The worst thing that happened yesterday was that my giant Brother Color Laser Printer, which was expensive and so heavy it needs two men to life it, died. It turned itself off in the morning, and the power won’t go back on. You can tell Twitter is dying, because I posted a request for troubleshooting suggestions there and it was silent. Normally, I’d have a mix of actual help and mansplaining. CounterSocial and Mastodon offered suggestions, but most of it was what I tried, and both that and the stuff I hadn’t tried but then did, did not work. But I appreciated that people saw the post and genuinely tried to help. That’s always appreciated, and I made sure to thank and acknowledge them.

I will be heartbroken if a printer that was that expensive and under warranty at only two years old is dead for good.

Now, of course, I have to fight to get them to honor the warranty.

It’s not like I can load it up into the car and take it for repair. The tech has to come here.

So, no printer yesterday, and research for a small interim printer until we figure out what to do with the laser printer. I was going to buy a small printer anyway, that I could take with me on residencies. I just didn’t expect to get it right now, and lose the big laser printer, which is a necessity for my work.

I had A LOT of stuff I needed to scan this week, along with the regular printing, so it’s an issue.

I did the rounds to promote Legerdemain, and check in and interact here and there. Making the rounds of all the sites takes from 1 ½-2 hours, which I now need to build into the workday. Whether or not I “have” time doesn’t matter. It’s a necessary part of the job. People running around saying they “don’t have time” or “the spoons” to learn these new platforms are speaking from a place of privilege I do not have.

Twitter is mostly screaming right now, anyway. It makes me sad.

I turned around two script coverages in the afternoon. We got an issue with a misplaced synopsis sorted out, which I will deal with today. I have to sit through another “evaluation” soon. My numbers have gone up in the last months, I have a 100% on time rate, and I’m requested 5% more often than the average for readers, so what is there to talk about? Leave me alone to do my work or give me a raise.

I found out that library holds expired yesterday. I contacted the library to ask them to hold them over until I could pick them up this morning, but didn’t hear back. With the library closed for four days over the holidays, we should get a little extra time. All the same, my world will not stop if I don’t get a library book I ordered. I can order it again.

Centerville Library’s staff would just check them out and send me a note telling me they were ready whenever I wanted to pick them up, but then, I built relationships with those librarians over ten years. The turnover at this library is much higher, and while all the librarians know me, sort of, by this point, they don’t really know me. It’s whatever. I will cope.

A colleague asked for recommendations on something, and, having dealt with her requests before, she wants me to do initial introductions and labor on it, which I won’t do. I’ll give her the information. Someone else is nagging me to review her book, which I just received – give me a minute, would you? Paid work comes first.

I’m behind on getting out some other admin stuff that needs to be done this week, and I don’t want to let it slide.

It took me 45 minutes to upload my profile picture on Hive, between my tablet being slow and the site running slow. Hopefully, everything will even out soon.

On a happier note, I received a tax refund from the state. In this state, when there is a surplus of taxes collected, they don’t sit on it. They are required, by law, to return it to the taxpayers. So I got an unexpected refund check. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to cover the little interim printer I have my eye on. That little thing made me feel cared for by the Universe.

As far as writing went, I chose not to work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH yesterday, because I was working on the holiday story instead. However, as I passed the 2K mark and realized how much story there still was, this is not appropriate for the newsletter subscribers. So I have to come up with something else that can be a flash (I already have the idea) and switch over to writing the flash for the Ko-fi page in the next couple of days (that idea is a little weird, but fun. Ko-fi is where I do weird and fun).

This morning, I only did 1151 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, but they’re decent. I have to come up with a few more pages tomorrow morning to round out this chapter, and then we are where we need to be for the chapter I wrote last Friday, and that sends us careening toward the climactic sequence and resolution. It will come in short, on word count, for this draft, but as I revise it next spring, I will layer in the necessary period detail so it will hit the count organically (hopefully without info dumping).

I’m finishing NaNo at 59,736 (part of me says, come on, write another 300 words before midnight and hit 60K), but we’ll see.

I did not sleep well, between worrying about things and the cats being impossible.

Up a little after 5. Tessa is doing a Houdini act. I heard rummaging, and found her in a closed bureau drawer (that has not been opened for months). How did she get in there when there are no holes in the back of the bureau? It’s a mystery, but I’m glad I was home to get her out.

My back was spasming when I woke up, but a longish yoga session (under Tessa’s supervision) helped.

I dashed out early when the store opened that carried the printer I wanted. In and out in a few minutes with the printer, a 2-year warranty, and a hole puncher (I can’t find my other one, and Staples sent me the wrong case of paper).

Wolfed down breakfast and headed out again, just as the storm started. Hit up the library – they’d held my books for me, knowing I’d show up when I said I would. I am very grateful. Liquor store (gotta stock for a storm). Bank, to put in the refund check I’d just spent on the printer.

All the errands done in 20 minutes and home. Car safely slotted. Back to work. The winds are supposed to pick up seriously over the next few hours and be high until tomorrow night. The temperatures are in the 40s now, but will drop into the 20s tonight, so the rain might switch over to snow. They are positioning plows and utility trucks around the city.

Lots to do, so off I go. Have a good one.

And hey, all you who busted your ass for NaNo – good work! Cheers to you!

Tues. Nov. 22, 2022: Of NaNo Wins, Social Media Platforms, and Holiday Prep

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Dark Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and a little warmer

Curl up with your favorite beverage, because we have a long catch-up this morning, over a wide variety of topics.

If you missed my post on the GDR site about the reminder that holidays are supposed to be fun, you can read it now.

Everything took longer on Friday than I wanted. It was frustrating. But I got my words in, and then we headed out to errands.

I had quite the stack of books waiting for me at the library. Of course, as soon as I got home, I got the notice that there were more. Because that’s how it works. We headed off to the local Toy and Candy shop in Norad Mill, to get ideas for holiday shopping. It’s very cute, and I ended up buying one of my mom’s gifts there, but it didn’t solve this year’s gift-giving challenges.

Then, it was off to Wild Oats. A local coffee company had a tasting, and the guy running it was really nice, enthusiastic, and a fellow French Press enthusiast. So we had a good conversation, and then I got the rest of what I needed.

Hit Stop & Shop on the way back for a few things, and it was disgusting. Hardly everyone masked, and everyone sneezing and coughing all over everything. I stayed about 10 feet away and got out as fast as I could. Ick.

If I end up getting sick, I’ll know where it happened.

Negotiated a contract for a new-to-me publication. It’s still not the fee I wanted, but I really want to do the article, the timeline works, and, while it may be a one-and-done for me, it will also be a good opportunity to get my byline in front of a different audience.

Struggled with the script coverage in the afternoon. I’ve gotten used to the shorter write-ups, so doing a longer one was a challenge. I only got one done, not two, which meant I had to do another one over the weekend.

Gathering contact info and saying goodbye on Twitter is sad. Maybe it will course correct, who knows, but it will never be what it was. Not that it was perfect. There were plenty of times it was a toxic hell site. But it was an important marketing outlet, and a place for people to find each other, and come across fun, weird little pockets of interest. While the positive is that it gives one a chance to build something new, it’s still sad. Recognizing the grief and allowing ourselves to mourn is vital.

The people who are screaming how it negatively affects their income are going to have to buck up and learn other platforms, or lose that income permanently. People can moan that Twitter is similar to a public utility all they want, but the fact is that it is owned by an individual who takes glee in destroying it for his own ego. Either you put in the time to learn other platforms, and see what serves your business best, or you lose your income.

I’m as frustrated as anyone else. The Topic Workbooks were steadily paying the electric bill. Other sales were growing, and filling in other expenses. Legerdemain was gaining traction. A solid section of that audience came via Twitter. Since Yegads Muskrat started destroying the company, my sales took a 75% hit.

I have to absorb that and recalibrate over the next few months, until I figure out which platforms do what the best and can aim my marketing appropriately.

If all I do is scream that I’ve lost sales, I won’t learn what I need to learn, and can’t regain them. So it’s been a case of rolling up the sleeves and getting to work.

Do I “have” time? Of course not. But if I want to sustain and grow my writing business, it’s necessary. It means working even longer hours right now, and too bad for me.

The platform doesn’t “owe” it to me to stay the same because I’ve gotten used to marketing a certain way and making use of it.

There’s a learning curve with these other platforms. I’ll make mistakes, and will pay the price in lost sales. But I have to put in the work and learn.

Even if another company tries to put together a replacement platform, it will be different. This was something unique in its space and time, for all its flaws. We mourn, and we rebuild.

Things don’t stay the same in life. That’s reality. I mean, I was on the platform for 13 years. That’s centuries in tech terms.

Whining doesn’t change it.

I’m sad. I’m angry at Yegads Muskrat for taking glee in destroying something that was important to thousands or tens of thousands of people. I also think the Board shouldn’t be let off the hook. They didn’t HAVE to sell to him. They CHOSE to, out of their own greed. I want their names, and I don’t think any of them should be allowed to ever be in a position of authority over something like this again. Let them live off their spoils of this. Don’t allow them another penny again.

How does that affect my signing up as a beta for Bluesky? Because I don’t trust Jack Dorsey farther than I can throw him, even though he left the company in 2021, and the BOD earlier this year. I want to see what he’s built, and make my decisions from there, knowing that it’s likely he will throw everyone under the bus again. Will it be free? I heard rumors it will be tied to crypto. No, thanks. Will it be a useful marketing tool? Who knows? Once it goes live, I’ll try it out, weigh the pros and cons, and all of it against my opinion of Dorsey, his ethics, and what we know he’s capable of doing.

But Twitter’s demise changes the marketing game for all kinds of companies and creators. Anyone who’s positioning themselves as a transition guru is lying.

Enough about that. In the evening, I read for pleasure, and played with the cats. I finally unpacked the tote bag of toys we brought up from storage. Charlotte doesn’t understand how to play.

Didn’t have a good night Friday into Saturday. Weird dreams, and Charlotte kept waking me up. Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny, cold day, and it would have been perfect to drive down to Great Barrington. But I couldn’t get it together to get it done. I was absolutely exhausted. So we decided not to go.

The words for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH were a struggle. Not to mention there weren’t a lot of them. 1672, so I hit the day’s necessity with a handful over, but not my personal goal.

I stitched the fleece curtain for the back door. It’s amazing what a difference it makes, between the door curtain and the heavy drapes from the 1950s we put on the windows. It keeps the place warmer by several degrees, which means the heat doesn’t have to work as hard.

I did some stuff around the house. We can’t find what we hoped to find to send out as gifts this season, so we have to figure something else out. We think we have another option; hopefully, I can make it work.

The poor coffeemaker I ordered is shipping out of Buffalo – who had 5 FEET of snow. So that’s not showing up anytime soon. Those poor delivery people. This is why I ordered early. I don’t need it for another month. It’ll get here when it gets here; if it’s late, that’s the way it goes.

There were so many things I should have done, and just didn’t.

I did read IRON AND VELVET by Alexis Hall, which was a lot of fun. How have I missed this series?

I checked into Twitter a few times, but it just made me sad.

I helped a friend set up on Mastodon. I don’t find it the be-all and end-all some do, but the instance on which my friend and I signed up is primarily screenwriters, so we can talk projects together. It’s harder to come across random cool people with different interests, but I am blocking whiners and screamers and bullies much faster on this platform.

I still like CounterSocial for in-depth conversation. There are Twitgees trying to scream and bully. When they scream, they are ignored. When they bully, they are removed. But I’m also quick to block there.

I’m not a muter. I’m a blocker. I’m either all in with someone’s different facets, or all out.

But I spent very little time on SM. I want to try to cut back severely on weekends.

Up early on Sunday, mostly because Charlotte was impossible. I made the cinnamon honey coffeecake with orange marmalade filling from one of the Moosewood Cookbooks. I didn’t have wheat flour, so I substituted rye, which made it a little too dense. I should have stuck with all white flour. But it’s still good.

The day’s words went better with THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. 1928 words. Still under what I hoped for my own personal goal, but I’m on track. I doubt I’ll hit 50K before Thanksgiving, but I will by the end of Thanksgiving weekend.

It snowed on and off, mostly off, although we kept getting Winter Advisory Alerts. All around us, it was much worse, but in this little bowl in the mountains, we were protected.

Did some hearth and home stuff. Turned around a script coverage (the one I hadn’t done on Friday). We sat down and wrote the overseas cards. There aren’t a lot anymore; so many people have died. I’m still waiting for a couple of requested addresses, but if they don’t arrive, I’ll just let it go. I have way too much to do over the next few weeks to chase people around begging for addresses; if they don’t want to hear from me, that’s fine.

Checked in with Twitter again. It’s glitching like crazy. People are screaming about how “ethical” creators and companies have to pull their ads. Boo, if you’re running around to conferences unmasked and on airplanes (whether masked or unmasked) and eating indoors unmasked, STFU, you ableist hypocrite. You’re in no position to talk ethics with anyone.

I tried to get on in the evening to join ScriptChat, but the glitches were too much.

Death throes.

As far as my own strategy, I’m holding course with the promotions planned/scheduled through the end of the year, and then reassessing. There isn’t a platform that promotes the way Twitter did to the audience Twitter did, so I have a feeling, at least for the first few months, promotions will be piecemeal and staggered across platforms. As I learn what works where, I will re-align as needed. Most of my audience has fled Twitter, but there are still some stalwarts, and they might find something they missed in the noise of a busier platform.

If someone whines it’s not behind a content warning, I’ll just block them.

The whiners tend to fall into two groups: those who have a huge, well-paid marketing machine behind them, and those who can’t get published because they never finish anything, but keep talking about “someday.”

Dianne Dotson suggested Hive as a good platform. They look like fun, and if she’s comfortable there, it means it’s a good place to promote work (she’s excellent at promoting her work). It doesn’t look like I can do them from the desktop, which would knock them out of contention. I don’t have the capacity OR the desire to do all of this from my phone.

I resent having to have a phone in the first place.

I looked at POST, but basically, they want people to create content for them without pay. Which is part of what social media is, but they want long and short form articles on the site itself, not links driving traffic back to one’s work on other sites. I think I’ll pass.

Started reading the next book for review.

Also read MURDER BY THE BRUSH, S.E. Babin’s first Psychic Cleaner Mystery, which was a lot of fun. It’s a novella, not a novel, but I liked the energy and the characters and the plot and the heart of it. I liked it so much I went and bought the second novella in the series, MAID FOR MAYHAM, and read that. Like I said, novellas. Quick reads. The climactic sequences tend to be a little rushed, but other than that, they are a lot of fun. I’d read more in the series, when they release.

It’s interesting that there are so few category mysteries anymore, in the 50-60K range. Most of them are 80K+.

These novellas ran around 135 pages, which brought them in around 33K. So, while I read for fun, I was also learning.

More snow overnight, but nowhere near as much as predicted.

Monday, I overslept because Charlotte kept waking me up. It was the day before dark moon, which is my lowest energy day of the month anyway. I had weird dreams about working on a project with David Tennant (which would be great, I’ve always wanted to work with him) and discovering what an intense listener he is. I mean, that’s obvious from his work, but being on the receiving end of it in the dream was interesting.

Had trouble getting going, but once I got myself to the page, the next chapter of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH trundled along decently at 1951 words. I broke 48K, so if I keep going the next few days, I can hit 50K and then drop back to whatever the natural pace is for this book, which I think is around 1200 or 1300 words/day. As I said, I’m figuring the sweet spot is around 82K, but this draft might have fewer words, and give me room to layer in details in full drafts.

I’m kicking myself for leaving the box of costume books in storage over winter. I only have a couple up here. Although I took out a bunch of relevant fashion books from the library, I’ll have to get them out again when I do revisions.

Bibliographic notes are a must.

After breakfast and blogging, I headed out for errands. Library first, to drop off and pick up. The one day I’m in a time crunch, they have a line of people who want the librarians to look things up for them, instead of going to a terminal and doing it their damn selves.

But it was fine. I got my stuff and got out of there in longer than usual, but not too bad an amount of time. It was a bright, sunny day. Although it was cold, people were in a pretty good mood.

Big Y next, for Thanksgiving shopping. I was happy to see that almost everyone was masked. It took a lot of stress out of shopping.

Post Office, where I bought more overseas stamps, mailed the cards we’d written, and got stamps for the domestic cards. (The Elves, in case you’re curious).

Liquor store, and then home. Hauled everything up the stairs. Put it all away, made lunch, did the SM rounds. Being on Twitter made me sad.

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon. Another one, that had a problem with additional materials, was cleaned up, and that will be my one for tomorrow. I have two for today, so I’m okay. I have three days in the pay period next week, after the holiday, so as long as there are scripts to grab, I’ll be okay.

Soup class with Jeremy Rock Smith last night. Tons of fun, as always. I learned a lot, and got a lead on where to get my knives sharpened around here.

Got the wonky tablet up and running, because I should be able to run Hive off the tablet, since I don’t want it on my phone. I downloaded the app and established an account, but have to figure out how to get the photos I want on it. I was too tired to do much more than establish an account. And I have no idea how to find anyone. I’ll learn. Enough writers are migrating there that it sounds like it’s viable, if I make the time to figure it out. I still wish it had a desktop option.

I have to charge the tablet through my phone cord, because the charger that came with it no longer works.

Up early, although out the door later than usual to the laundromat, just in case they haven’t yet adjusted to the time change. They had. The washing machines were fine, but the dryers not only ate up double the money, but didn’t dry properly. So we have laundry draped all over everything.

Tessa disapproves. She likes things tidy.

I managed to get a good chunk of edits done on the next section of Legerdemain, which as to be uploaded and scheduled this weekend (or, at the latest, early next week).

It was later than usual when I sat down to work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, but it went pretty well, the chapter coming in at 2287 words. That brought me over 50K, which means I’m an official NaNo22 Winner, a nice boost to my ego. And a relief, because I can do the remaining 30K at a slower pace. And I hit my personal goal of hitting 50K before Thanksgiving.

So this is up late. There will be a whacky little piece of Thanksgiving flash fiction up later this afternoon on Ko-fi.

Don’t forget, the latest episode of Legerdemain drops today. Enjoy!

Fri. Nov. 18, 2022: Words, Grief, and Mars Retrograde Influences

image courtesy of Enrique Meseguer via pixabay.com

Friday, November 18, 2022

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Partly cloudy and cold

Yesterday was just kind of weird and all over the place. Meditation was good, and Charlotte was thrilled and sat on my lap the whole time. Between meditation on Thursdays and soup class on Mondays, she feels very well adored. Because, of course, Zoom is all about her.

I was late getting my Nano words in on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, but managed 2051, with an interesting twist to the story. I’m veering farther from the outline, which is why an outline is a roadmap, not a prison. I’m not thrilled with that day’s work, but it opens up some interesting arcs. I will have to decide if they all need to be wrapped up in this book, or some of them go a few books into the series. I’m leaning toward the latter.

Over 40K now, so the finish line is in sight. About halfway through the book’s sweet spot for the genre.

Did the social media rounds to promote Legerdemain, and to interact. Because they both go hand in hand.

Put in the Chewy order. Ordered the new coffeemaker in a pre-Black-Friday sale.

One of the things I don’t miss about Twitter that I liked about other platforms is that we are more responsible for curating our own feeds. I was so sick of the “if I haven’t followed you back, give me a shout” or “prove you’re not a bot”. No, bitch, I’m not your administrator. Fix your own timeline. I’ve got enough work handling mine. I’m not doing unpaid labor on your accounts.

Of course, the bullies and the trolls are trying to invade the other platforms, demanding what others can and can’t post about and how. Counter Social handles it well. Mastodon, because it’s so many different servers, and each has different protocols, is harder to navigate.

However, one thing I am firm about is not putting “content warning” on something because it’s a project I’m talking about or promoting. While I am more than my work, being on social media is about the work. If you don’t like it, we’ll just do a mutual block and not come up on each other’s timelines.

One traditionally published author was ranting about how writers “have to” put content warnings on anything that might sound like promotion (which is, basically, any time a writer talks about their own work), because she “didn’t want a timeline full of promotions like on Twitter.” Then curate your timeline, you dumbass. Again, don’t expect other people to do your work for you. You don’t want to read promos? Filter, block, mute, or hey, JUST SCROLL BY. Don’t bully others who are trying to keep a roof over their heads because you have a traditional publishing PR machine behind you.

Blocked. Noted the name so I NEVER buy or take one of her books out of the library. I rarely say never, but in this case? Never.

I completely forgot it was Freelance Chat day on Twitter and missed it.

In the afternoon I saw a post asking if anyone knows a video editor to “chop up” a large block of video into chunks.

Bitch, that’s not what video editing is.

How insulting to anyone who is an actual editor. Video editing is about nuance and precision timing, and restructuring the smaller blocks so they stand alone while feeding the whole arc.

Mars Retrograde much?

The Mars Retrograde definitely influences me wanting to punch so many people in the throat right now. And I have to watch myself.

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon, not three. One has a problem, which I hope will be fixed. Grabbed a couple more for early next week. I have two very long coverages to do today, but I’ll do what I need to do.

Got the next two books for review.

Twitter is in its death throes. A lot of us were on there last night, saying goodbye. Some people I’m okay with letting go. I figure the ones with whom I’m really tight, we are already connecting through other means.

There’s talk about creating “another Twitter” but I don’t think that can be done. It was unique. For all its flaws, it did a lot for connection and communication. I’ve been on there since March of 2009, for goodness’ sake. That’s 13 years, which is a long time.

Other platforms are different and serve different purposes. Sarah Kendzior pointed out how this is different than other platforms fading away because this is intentional destruction. I’m sad I couldn’t save my Fearless Ink archive (I have my DE archive). But if I sign out of the DE account, I won’t be able to sign back in, and I won’t be able to sign into the FI account anyway.

I’m sad. It’s definitely meant my sales take a hit, as far as the Topic Workbooks, the Delectable Digital Delights, and the serial. But I will figure out other marketing paths and regain lost ground.

There are things I won’t miss, but there’s a lot that I will. But this is what happens when it’s owned by someone else, and why it’s so vital to have one’s own website and space, apart from social media.

With all the grieving, I also look forward to trying to create something different elsewhere. I will probably try and leave several platforms, or have to use different platforms for different things. But the work will continue.

Former clients are contacting me in a panic, wanting consults on what to do next. I’m telling them to hold tight, because entire marketing strategies will have to be re-devised, and we’re all making it up.

This morning, the cats let me sleep until a quarter to six, which was nice. The work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH took longer than I would have liked, but came in at 2831 words. It’s a complicated ensemble chapter, but sets up some necessary dynamics, and I’m pleased with the bones of it.

I was supposed to be part of a state legislative session on the arts this morning, but they didn’t send me the link, and I’m not chasing it down, so there’s that.

I need to pick up a lot of books at the library, and head out to Wild Oats to pick up a few things. Script coverage this afternoon. It’s snowing and not every few minutes, so hopefully the weather won’t be too bad for errands.

I hope tomorrow’s weather is good enough for the jaunt down to Great Barrington. I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next week.

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

Fri. Oct. 28, 2022: There Will Be Cake

(image courtesy of Leslie Eckert via pixabay.com)

Friday, October 28, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I spent yesterday morning working on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. It took longer than I hoped, and the Writer’s Rough runs 11 pages. But I feel like I now have a viable book planned, and I can sit down and start writing next Tuesday.

I had to stop a few times and do some research. I had to research stoves in the late 1950’s in trailer homes to make sure my climactic sequence would work (yay, it does). One of the characters I’d layered into the piece to make the twists and turns work turns out to have quite the history. I also have some ideas for character arcs that can grow from here that I will note this morning, especially when it comes to the main subplot concerning my protagonist’s son.

I took care of some email (there’s still way too much in the Inbox), promoted the episode of LEGERDEMAIN which dropped, caught up partially on my Substack reading and responded to comments on my posts, and responses to comments I left on other posts (where appropriate).

I wrote a quick pitch for an article and sent it to an editor who’d put out a call on Twitter. Twitter used to be the place I found some of my highest-paid assignments, but that hasn’t been true for a bit.

Spent some time on CounterSocial, where people have been reading some of my work on various sites, including “Won if By Sea” over on Ko-Fi, and enjoying it.

Since Yegads Muskrat’s purchase of Twitter went through, and he’s going to destroy it, chances are I’ll grit my teeth and sign up for Tribel, even though I’m skeptical about their Terms of Service. They claim they’re a good branding platform, so maybe I can expand LEGERDEMAIN’s reach. The Process Muse is gaining subscriptions nicely just via Substack. The platform I had the most fun on and miss the most is MySpace.

Made soup with red beans, rice, and andouille sausage, which turned out well. I have all these soup cookbooks, so we are going to eat a lot of soup this winter!

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon. One was very near perfect.

In the evening, I lounged on the couch, drinking red wine and re-reading DRACULA (thanks to Lilith St. Crow). It really was fascinating. It’s been so long since I read the original text, I’d forgotten a lot of the texture and the detail. I will go back and read the biography of Stoker I’ve been carting around since before the move (which I bought because I wanted to learn more about his work in the theatre).

I didn’t write up the book review yesterday, so I will do that this morning and get it out. I still have one more book to review for that editor. I didn’t get any work done on ANGEL HUNT, so that will be pushed to next week. I’m in good shape there, so I don’t have to worry. LEGERDEMAIN needs more attention first.

This morning, I will write up the book review, type up some additional notes on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH (well, more general series/character arcs than for that book), and work on LEGERDEMAIN.

I have to do another library run to drop off/pick up books, then go to the grocery store and the liquor store to get what I need for my mother’s 98th birthday weekend (her birthday is tomorrow). I’ll head over to Adams, then, to pick up the cake.

I have two scripts to turn around this afternoon, and then I’m done until Tuesday. I’m taking Monday as my holiday, as I should. We’ll celebrate my mom’s birthday, and I’ll probably do some work on LEGERDEMAIN. I’ll finish reading my friend’s book that he wanted feedback on. And read for pleasure. Make up the treat bags for Trick or Treaters. And prepare for the series of rituals next week. This is always my busiest time of the year.

If you are doing Nano and want to be part of a supportive group, I run Enchanted Wordsmiths over there. Send me a message on that platform, and I’ll send you an invite. We’ll write in company next month.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side!

Tues. Oct. 25, 2022: Life as a Kaleidoscope

image courtesy of Dmitri Posudin via pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

New Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Saturn DIRECT as of Sunday

Rainy/Sunny/Confusing

Saturn went direct on Sunday, taking a lot of the life lessons pressure off. Now, we have to implement what we learned on this Saturn Retrograde so we don’t have the same lessons smacked at us next time it comes around, next year.

Enjoy the lull this week, because Mars goes retrograde  on the 30th, and stays there until January 12th. Mars is already in Gemini until March of 2023, causing stress and difficulties. Going retrograde, through all the holidays, means huge additional stresses. It makes it likely people will be more easily argumentative than usual over the holidays, so try to pull up extra patience and compassion. I talk about that in more detail over on the GDR site, with a post on “Breath Under Duress.”

My plan is to have as quiet a holiday season as possible, with very little socializing (especially since there’s a pandemic going on).

Now, down to our usual Tuesday morning natter, to catch up over the weekend.

Don’t forget: The Process Muse launches tomorrow on Substack. It’s free, and you can sign up here.

Friday morning, I hit the ground running; blogging, making devilled eggs, taking out the garbage, doing the last-minute counter wiping and stainless-steel appliance cleaning.

Our friend showed up and we had a good catch up on all that’s new for both of us. Feasted on the devilled eggs, the black bean soup, the lemon mousse. She had to head back to CT after lunch.

We cleaned up and settled in on the couch to rest. When I checked my email, I found some sad news. An old family friend died last week, in Switzerland. We didn’t even know she was ill. I’d been planning to go and visit the next time I went overseas (which will probably be in 2024).

I had nothing left in the tank, so I gave myself the afternoon off. I finished reading THE SECRET SISTERHOOD, about literary friendships, which was good. I read Joy Harjo’s memoir, POET WARRIOR, which was very well done and uniquely structured.

Charlotte, who’d hidden when my friend was there, because she was afraid she would be given away, was Velcro Kitty all afternoon and evening. And woke me every two hours all night, for reassurances.

Up early on Saturday. Did some work on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED MURDER. I’m a little worried, because it’s heavy on character and atmosphere, and light on plot. Also, there are so many period details I’ll have to add in when I do the revision. But I at least have a good idea on the first third, and escalating the stakes for Rita, my heroine. This book will definitely be a case of draft fast, revise slowly. I like THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH better as a title, which, it turns out, was my original title, so I’ve changed it back to that.

Turned around a script.

I filled out a writer-in-residence application that comes with a nice stipend. However, because of that, I’m sure they will go with a much bigger name. But if I don’t try, I have zero shot, so I tried.

Went out and got the paint I needed for the bookcases, and a dropcloth. I painted one bookcase completely and started the second one, but ran low on both paint and time.

Read a book by someone whom I met in passing back in my NYC days. It was one of those people I was advised I “should” know, although we were in different arenas. Anyway, I recently came across one of her books in the library (a memoir) and decided to read it. The writing is good. But I don’t like the person I met in those pages. The privilege and the whining are way too much.

Charlotte woke me at 3:30 on Sunday morning, which was not the start to the day for which I’d hoped. But I made apple muffins. I upped the allspice from ¼ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon, and it was a good choice.

Got a nice chunk of work done on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH.

Filled out the ballots for the election. Of course I voted Blue all the way down. I’m not an idiot. Or a supporter of fascism.

Got more paint and finished the second bookcase. Not that I know where to put it yet. The first one fit perfectly on top of the other red bookcases in the kitchen, so I cleaned and rearranged all those shelves, and it looks good.

I kept feeling I “should” work all day (on work-work, not house and home stuff). I also felt the flickers of burnout and decided to rest, so I could focus this week and next week, which will be challenging.

I read Alyssa Maxwell’s MURDER AT BEACON ROCK, which was well done and satisfying and sad, all at once. I really like the series. At one point, I fantasized about writing a series set in Gilded Age Newport, but she’s written a better series than I would have, and I no longer need to write one!

There are flutters that Yegads Muskrat is going ahead to buy Twitter and people are fretting about where to go. Tribel Social Network has been urging people to go on it, but I don’t like their policies/terms of service. I think I’ll stick with CounterSocial. If people want to find me, they will. I still can’t get on Ello, which is annoying, since I built so much on there. I’d hate to leave Twitter, but if I have to, I have to.

This is why one needs a website, not just social media.

Had trouble sleeping on Sunday into Monday, which made Monday a late start. But I got some work done on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH.

My priority was turning around the edits for my Llewellyn editor. Eek! Thank goodness for her kindness and patience, because some of the stuff she caught there was a big mess. I sent it in early, in case she needs me to do more work. But she said they’re fine, and she assured me she loves the piece (even with the messes we cleaned up).

I did revisions on “My Side of the Bed” and “Paranormal Paraphrasing” and got them submitted, in spite of the computer repeatedly crashing. I managed to get out six script submissions.

Irritated that the regional ML for Nano only wants to interact on Facebook and Discord. When I do Nano, I want to be able to go to the Nano site and get the information I need, not travel to other sites. I go to the Nano site FOR NANO. I’m irritated. I’ll stick to my Enchanted Wordsmiths group and to hell with the region crap. They’re doing stuff in person and you know they won’t implement any COVID protocols. Pass.

More scripts came up in my queue, so I have enough to read at least through tomorrow, and then, hopefully, I’ll get a couple of Thursday and Friday.

Turned around 3 scripts. Started writing a weird new little, short play. Heard that an odd little play I really love, which I wrote and submitted for a specific call, was not chosen as one of the 5 plays they can use for their event. The company wrote a really kind letter about it, but it makes me sad. I’m fond of the piece, and will have to find another spot for it, which won’t be easy, because it’s so specific.

Stepped in for a colleague who had an emergency and couldn’t do a Zoom talk with a group of young playwrights. It was a lot of fun. They had terrific ideas and great questions. It meant I missed the Artist Working Group, but I knew if they held the WG in the evenings, I’d run into conflicts. If they keep it in the evenings permanently, then I’ll withdraw.

Set the alarm for 5 this morning, and woke up just before the alarm went off, waking from a dream that I slept until 9 and missed the alarm. I was very confused when the alarm went off.

Hauled a fuckton of laundry into the car and over to the laundromat. Three large, industrial-sized machines were going, between the clothes (I’ve been lax about going every week), the curtains, and the other fabric-y stuff that’s been turned over for the season.

Sat in the car working on the multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER. The original plan was that it would be ready for submission this past summer, but that didn’t happen. A longer wait time to work on revisions before I start querying was the right choice for this book. The story and characters are strong, but there’s a lot of sloppy writing (which happens, during Nano).

Cleaning up the sloppy writing makes it an even stronger book. But, again, although it’s an amateur sleuth, it’s not a cozy. The book deals with racism, COVID, and the sex lives of the characters.

Didn’t get enough done on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH before I had to leave for the laundromat, so that’s been pushed off until tomorrow. I have to type up what I have, so far, so that it’s ready to go. I have a strong opening. I have good backstory to integrate. I’ve drawn maps of who lives where, et al, which in a community such as this one, is necessary for the plot. I know who the murderer is and why that individual committed the murder(s). I have some of the clues and the red herrings, and raising the stakes for my protag. I don’t yet have the climactic sequence, but I’ll get there.

I probably need to walk around the Spruces a bit more, on a nice day, and let it percolate. I do know where the first body drop happens. My friends and I poked around that spot near the river when they came to visit a few weeks back.

I have a feeling I’ll have a lot of placeholders in this draft, since I need to go in and layer period detail. I want to go to the library/historical society and read a batch of newspapers from the months in which this book takes place, and then also do some research on the racial and ethnic relations in the area at the time. I’d hoped to get it done before Nano started, but it will have to be a winter project, and part of the revisions, which will, no doubt, make the revisions more extensive.

There’s a post for The Process Muse in all that! (Don’t forget, it drops tomorrow).

I hope to catch a pocket between rain showers to do a library run, drop off my ballots at City Hall, get some stamps at the post office. There was something else I was supposed to do, but darned if I can remember it.

Episode 27 of Legerdemain drops today. I hope you enjoy it. If you haven’t started reading the serial yet, it starts here.

Have a good one!

Fri. Sept. 9, 2022: Prepping For House Guests

image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Friday, September 9, 2022

First day of Full Moon

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

Sunny and pleasant

Yup, Mercury’s gone retrograde today, until October 2, piled up on top of all these other retrogrades. Ick.

Yesterday morning, the online meditation group met again, and Charlotte was so happy! She’s missed these weekly mornings on Zoom (so have I).

I re-read the first chapter of the 3rd draft of the novel version of ANGEL HUNT (yeah, it’s confusing). I did some good work on it. I broke it down into serial episodes again (I think it was originally 3 or 4 episodes). This time, it broke down to 8 short episodes, most of which are 600-700 words, one just over 1K. Hmm. Interesting. Since it was originally written to be a serial, it’s easier to break down again, even though I’d expanded/smoothed over some things when I adapted it back to a novel. I went back and re-read the last chapters I’d done of the 2nd draft of the novel version, which stopped just before the climactic sequence (I’d continued writing it as a novel well after the company that hired me to write the serial went under). Definitely intense. I read a couple of chapters backwards in chronology. There’s good material there, but it needs the climactic sequence and resolution written. If I decide to adapt it back to a serial, I  have to write that and figure it out first. In the 2nd draft, I’d already planted some of the new material’s arcs in the very first chapter. Hopefully, what I’ve learned about craft since this first went live in 2003/4 will help me structure it better, while still keeping the passionate voice and narrative drive that works so well.

That has to be fit in around the other projects that get priority.

But it was hard to get out of the headspace of that world. As I said, it’s pretty intense.

I did some promotion for LEGERDEMAIN’s Episode 14 which dropped yesterday, and did two general ads: one for the Tower Rescue attraction (which is much simpler than my original concept, which was too busy to work) and one for Legerdemain’s equivalent of the monthly “Art Walks” with the tagline “eat, drink, and shapeshift your way through the district.”

Freelance Chat was fun. Paula and I recommended each other as featured guests. I’m never going to be invited as a featured guest; my focus is too much on the fiction/scriptwriting and not enough business-y. Which is fine, because I learn a lot from them that I can apply to both fiction and nonfiction writing.

The news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death came out shortly after the chat. I was surprised that I felt sad, not being a royal watcher. My mother is upset; being older than the Queen, she is surprised she outlived her. So Prince Charles in now king.

I’ve often wondered, had Charles been King and Al Gore President, if we’d be in a better position vis a vis climate change than we are. I think we would be. But then, so many things would be better, had the Supreme Court actually allowed the votes counted, and not just handed the election to Bush. We wouldn’t be in this mess now with the Narcissistic Sociopath.

Anyway, Twitter got ugly and cruel, which shouldn’t surprise me. People whose identities are part of the colonization by the British Empire? Of course there’s going to be anger and continued calls for reparations. That makes complete sense. But it’s the entitled white people (most of whom aren’t even part of the British Commonwealth) being deliberately cruel and snarky with whom I have no patience. They’re just showing that they’re trash individuals. Of course, when you dig a little bit, even though they claim to be tolerant and inclusive and about equality and community – these are the same ones who’ve stopped masking and are posting photos of them gallivanting around recklessly. Or using slurs against others because “it’s just an expression.” Actions speak louder than words. Trash humans are trash humans, and it always shows, eventually.

There are plenty of people who have all kinds of mixed emotions and are surprised by them. That, too, makes perfect sense. The Queen reigned for 70 years. She was a witness and a participant to an enormous swath of history. And plenty of people in genuine mourning.

I have to say, CounterSocial wasn’t full of trash humans. There were some interesting and enlightening discussions about the whole situation and the wide range of emotions and responses.

Tried to book our Covid boosters (shot #5) at CVS. There’s not a CVS taking appointments in the entire Berkshires. Walgreen’s  had something open in Pittsfield, which isn’t too bad, but still a trek.

On impulse, I tried the Stop & Shop over by the airport and got us both in. It took an hour to get everything sorted for the two of us, because I had to upload all the paperwork from the previous four shots for each of us. But my mom’s appointment is next Wednesday morning, and mine is a week from today. So that’s all good. And it’s new bivalent formula, which is what I wanted.

Yes, friends, we are getting our boosters at the grocery store.

Hey, my mom got her first two shots at the dump. We get them where we can. The US “Healthcare” system is trash.

I’m ignoring as many Bouchercon posts as possible, since people learned nothing from Malice Domestic being a super-spreader event in May, and some of the same people are dancing around indoors in groups unmasked and flying when there’s no reason to get on a plane right now. Don’t come to me for sympathy when you get sick AGAIN.

Turned around two scripts. I’m now clear of script coverage until Tuesday, which is good, since there’s a lot to do. I have to recover the chairs, knock out at least one new episode of LEGERDEMAIN,  make up the beds for my guests, clean the carpet. I’m doing another run to the store this morning to get in some of the fresh veggies, and I’m making potato salad and curried chicken salad today. Tomorrow, I’ll do the baking and make the soup, and vacuum, mop, and dust. Sunday morning, I’ll pick up some fresh bread, the berries to go on the lemon tart, my favorite local coffee that I want to share with my friends, and flowers.

And then my friends will be here, and we will have some Serious Fun (those of you who were in NYC during Lincoln Center’s years of the Serious Fun Festival will get the reference).

Have a great weekend, my friends, and I’ll catch you on the other side of it!

Wed. June 22, 2022: A Day at the Desk

image courtesy of Free Photos via pixabay.com

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy, rainy, mild

I expected rain yesterday, so didn’t get up early enough to go to the laundromat.  But it didn’t rain until the evening. That’s the way it goes sometimes. It’s raining today, so I have an excuse not to go.

Plowed through a lot of emails. Got annoyed at a job listing that landed in my Inbox, claiming to be remote – only requiring 2 days/week in the office. Boo, that ain’t remote. It’s hybrid. Stop lying in the listings. Plus, it didn’t pay enough. Big red flag.

Tracked down some information I needed for a couple of different decisions. Worked on the anthology story. Percolated the other anthology story.

Most of the day was taken up with rewriting/updating the Topic Workbook for the Developing the Series class, which I’m teaching in August. I put in more resources, especially for indie authors, and talked about responsibilities when on a contract schedule vs. on one’s own schedule. I took out references to an author I no longer want to include, because I’ve lost respect for that individual. I’ve kept in references to another author whose work had a lot of impact on me, but about whom I’ve learned some disturbing things. I might leave those in, and discuss the way learning more about who an author is impacts the relationship with the work. Or, I might take it all out, and not have that tangent in the class. Because that discussion could be a class all on its own, and there are people whose input and experiences would be valuable. It feels wrong to open that discussion, but not include them.

I have a few days to make that decision.

I still have to check/update/remove resource links, which will take a bit of time. There are a few awkward passages that I need to smooth out. And I have to extract the material and exercises for the slides I want to use in class.

There’s still work to do, but at least it’s well under way, and I’m not leaving it until the last darn minute.

More January 6 hearings and more corruption from the enablers of the Narcissistic Sociopath. That Ginni Thomas, who tried to overthrow the government, gets extra protection, while election poll workers are threatened, is simply not acceptable.

And then SCOTUS telling Maine that taxpayer dollars have to be used to fund religious schools. They only mean faux Christian schools, but, in any event, it’s yet another corrupt decision from them.

And all this crap about “voting harder” doesn’t matter when voting rights aren’t protected.

Texas is talking about seceding. Again. They’ve been yapping about that my entire life. They were an independent country for a few days in the 1840’s (or whenever, I’m too lazy to look it up) and want to go back to that. It’s all performative, for their extremist base. It’s far more complicated, in this day and age, to detach, than it was a couple of centuries ago. Plus, they don’t want to lose the government funding. The blue states carry the red states with funding. It’s all hot air.

The atrocities around the Uvalde shooting get worse and worse. They need to get rid of the entire city government and the police force and start over. May those who stood by and did nothing be haunted into their graves. Which is doubtful, because if they had a conscience or ethics in the first place, they wouldn’t have behaved the way they did. It’s not like they will suddenly sprout a conscience now. Therefore, there must be harsh consequences for all of them.

On a happier note, Summer Solstice was fine, even though the weather was yucky. A CounterSocial pal shared a tarot spread that worked really well. I used my new Ask the Witch deck. When it first arrived, I was worried it wouldn’t read well for me, but working with it, I find it does.

This same pal also told me about the Druidcraft Tarot Deck, by the same team that did the Druid Animal Oracle and the Druid Plant Oracle, two decks I really like. Hmmm. . .like I don’t have a couple of bookcases full of decks!

I put up a new flash fiction piece on Ko-fi, “Discoveries” which is under the Cerridwen Iris Shea name. The dynamic of the marriage between the two characters interests me. I’m not sure if the piece will stand as it is, or if it will lead to more exploration with these characters.

I wrote and turned in my book review, and received my next assignment. I have a script in my queue, which I will turn around either today, or, more likely, tomorrow. There hasn’t been much this week, and I will probably end up doing script coverage over the weekend, if more comes in. Urgh. I was trying to avoid that this summer. But that’s the ebb and flow.

I need to work on the anthology story today, and more on The Big Project. The thing that slows down the writing on The Big Project is that each section of it has to basically be at the stage I usually would be at the third or fourth revision before I can move on to the next section. Even though the basic plot is outlined. It’s a learning curve. But then, each piece has its own  innate rhythm. This one sure as heck does.

This afternoon, I have to put on Real People Pants and makeup and go down to Pittsfield. I’m in a playwrighting workshop hosted by the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Although I’ve been writing prose and radio scripts, the stage play part of my brain feels stale lately, and I’m hoping this will shake things up. It has very strict COVID protocols in place, and I know the venue, so I’m hoping I’ve calculated the risk correctly. I’ll know in 2-5 days, won’t I?

A year ago today, the movers actually showed up on Cape and loaded the truck.

Have a good one, friends. Despite the marketing, yesterday was not the “beginning of summer.” It’s Midsummer. Starting today, the days get shorter.

Enjoy them while you can.

Fri. June 10, 2022: At The Desk

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

Friday, June 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy/sunny and pleasant

Boy, did it rain yesterday! We needed it, and hey, no more pollen on the car. But there were intense bands of it.

Meditation was good, and Charlotte was right there with me. Got some admin work done. Did a library run to drop off/pick up books. The librarians are stressed by the unmasked patrons. They’re all still masking.

Unpacked and washed the second box of teapots. It feels good to have some of them back, and I’m eager to bring the others back up in autumn.

Freelance Chat was good. Lively conversations, with lots of resource-sharing. I feel very lucky to be a part of the group.

I also enjoy CounterSocial a lot. I’m finding so much kindness and in-depth conversation over there.

I started on a script coverage, then put it aside to negotiate a radio script contract. We came to an agreement, I signed, I did requested revisions on “The Collector” and I was paid before I’d even sent off the revision. That’s the way I like to work! It’s not a ton of money, but it was handled with professionalism and integrity, and I’ll choose that every time. This producer has the first look/licensing option on the next three radio plays (and then I have to finish the dirigible radio play for the other producer).

So this writer has to get busy at the page! Monthology draft first, though.

Started reading the next book for review. I read the first book in this series, and this one is the second. Zero character growth, which is a shame. There was a lot of potential here.

Ellen Byron’s book didn’t get delivered today; now it’s been promised for tomorrow. As long as I have it for the weekend. That’s my treat for finishing my work.

The public hearings about January 6th are powerful. What happened that day is horrifying. Every single insurrectionist needs to be in prison. Those who are elected officials need to go to prison for life, or be exiled from this US and ever allowed to return (or profit).

This is what happens when you allow yahoos to romanticize the Confederate flag for decades, and allow white supremacy to flourish.

 My short story “The Ramsey Chase” has an alternate history future for the US, where the Confederate States seceded again and the US is a series of smaller countries. That doesn’t look far off the horizon right now, even though it was written back more years than I like to think about.

Slept reasonably well, for the first time in a long time.

On today’s agenda: writing, script coverage, a quick trip to Pittsfield for a couple of things. I hope to finish everything by a reasonable hour, so that I can enjoy the start of my weekend.

I will have a journal prompt over on my Ello page later this morning.

I plan to write through the weekend – the Monthology story, work on the Big Project, work on the radio plays – but I also plan to enjoy myself. And, you know, Farmers’ Market tomorrow, which is my big social event of the week!

Enjoy your weekend!