Tues. Feb. 8, 2022: Fingers Crossed For the Car

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Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

It was a scattered weekend, although I spent most of it at home. Local authorities were worried enough about the ice storm that on Friday, the college campus, the public library, city hall, etc,, were all closed. It kept moving from freezing rain to sleet to snow to sleet to freezing rain and back again all day. Not much accumulation, but treacherous.

I finished the second radio play, give both a good polish, and got them out the door. I received a very nice acknowledgement from the producer, so I’ll know something in a few weeks.

My reward was to buy Scrivener (using the discount coupon I’d earned by finishing Nano). Purchase went through, and I got a complicated, two-page email about how to install it. When not even the first step of downloading it worked. I kept getting a message that it couldn’t be downloaded securely.

I was ready to ask for my money back and to hell with Scrivener.

But two writing friends made a suggestion to download the trial version (which is the full version) and then, when I opened it, enter the license number and I’d be all set.

Which worked.

So why sent the more complicated instructions with a broken link?

By the time support had gotten back to me, it was, at least installed. I have to block off time to learn how to use it, because I hear it takes a while. And since software is a foreign language to me, it takes me longer than most people. Although, a few years ago when I looked at it, it was basically Mac’s Pages on steroids, and I had Pages, so I didn’t bother. But Apple has steadily stripped all the stuff I liked best from Pages, and hopefully Scrivener hasn’t. Plus I’m on PC now, and so unhappy with Word.

Wrote up a script coverage, read another script.

I meant to write up the second script coverage, but got sidelined into a discussion on a collaborative project, and then another work-related thing came up. I missed the live stream of my friend’s play, which I was sad about. But I had to stop everything and create something that was needed within a couple of hours, instead of by the beginning of the week, as I’d initially thought.

By the time it was all done and out the door, I was so exhausted, I couldn’t write up the coverage as well as it deserved to be written, so I put it off until Saturday morning.

The cats let me sleep until nearly 6:30 on Saturday morning. It snowed lightly on and off all day.

I finished reading THE SPIRIT IN QUESTION by Cynthia Kuhn (love this series).

Dealt with some stuff on the collaborative project.

Worked on script coverage.

Which meant the time I’d blocked off for Scrivener tutorials was eaten up by script coverage.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, which was great, except it was a different mail carrier. Instead of dropping the box at the door because it’s too big to fit in the community mail slots at the curb, he shoved it in from his side of the box, which is wider than the side where residents remove the mail.

Which means I couldn’t get the box out.

I had to come upstairs, get a pair of kitchen shears, go back down, cut it open, take everything out and dismantle the cardboard box while it was still in the mail slot. In 8-degree weather without gloves, because I couldn’t maneuver in gloves.

Not a happy camper.

Anyway, the stuff in the box was good.

The first seed order arrived; I’ll talk more about that in Thursday’s Gratitude and Growth post.

Finished reading the Cynthia Kuhn books I had, and started re-reading Joanne Dobson’s Karen Pelletier series, which I love, starting with QUIETER THAN SLEEP.

Slept in on Sunday morning. Can you imagine? The cats let me sleep until nearly a quarter to seven. Finished QUIETER THAN SLEEP and started THE NORTHBURY PAPERS, which is one of my favorites.

Stopped to do some script coverage, and also start reading the Scrivener manual. It will take a few weeks of poking around to feel comfortable, I’m sure.

Did a little brainstorming on the anthology, but I need to spend less time on that, until we have more information about deadlines and structure, and things. I turned in the material that was needed up until this point, so once we get more information on the overall structure, and start working with deadlines and word counts, I can get back to it. I’m still making my own notes, reading everyone else’s brainstorming, and seeing if/how that affects my piece.

I got one of the rudest rejection notes I’ve ever seen for a short story I submitted last week. Wow. It’s fine not to want a piece, but no need to be rude. I’ve made a note in my submission log, so that I don’t submit anything to them in the future.

Had to get my mom a new phone, because TracFone is being such a dick. Decided I’d buy her an inexpensive smartphone through them, and then, if we decided to change providers a few months down, when the car is fixed, it’s not icy, and we can actually get somewhere, we would. Put the order through, and they stepped up and she is getting it for free. Now why didn’t they just say so at the beginning? That the phones are all listed with a price (even though the offer is a free phone), but when you actually put through the order, it goes through as free?

Anyway, she should have it within three days.

My 97-year-old mother is getting a smart phone. She doesn’t want one, but that’s the only choice she had.

Worked on script coverage; wrote up a coverage, read two more scripts, started one of the coverages. Since I’m taking the car in today, I didn’t want anything due today or too early tomorrow.

Went to bed early on Sunday night. Charlotte woke me up at 1:30, then again at 3:30. Tessa was so happy I was awake that I moved to the couch and fell asleep again, oversleeping, and waking up with a migraine. Weird dreams the whole way through. Not bad ones, not stress dreams, just weird ones.

Got the list of grant possibilities out that I’d promised to a colleague.

Slogged through some emails. Wrote up a script coverage and got it out the door. Bundled up and headed to the library to drop off/pick up books. Mailed some bills. Picked up some wine. Grabbed some fast food to bring home for lunch (brought an insulated bag). Grabbed a few things from Cumberland Farms.

Got back just before it started snowing again.

Poked around Scrivener some more. I have to pick a project not on deadline to use to get familiar with it.

Wrote up another script coverage.

The fast food was good to eat in the moment, but I felt lousy afterwards, so we had fried eggs sandwiches (the old college standby) for dinner.

Finished THE NORTHBURY PAPERS and started RAVEN AND NIGHTINGALE. I love this series. I’m so glad I’m re-reading it.

Stayed up way too late reading, but it was fun.

Charlotte woke me at 4, but I rolled over and went back to sleep until Tessa woke me at 6. Fed them, yoga, writing, reading, the usual morning routine.

I have to figure out how to get the car out of the ice the plow put up against it. I have the morning to dig out, and then hopefully the car will start, and I can get it to the mechanic. They’re going to do an hour and a half diagnostic this afternoon, and hopefully, I can afford the repair. Step by step, right?

I’m taking a bunch of work with me: reading, writing, editing, including the Kindle holding the next book for review. I want to finish it before I start downloading the digital contest entries I need to read. And I want to do a readthrough of the first draft of CAST IRON MURDER, to see where I need to go in the second draft, and to support what’s going on in THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

Hopefully, tomorrow, I can get back to work on The Big Project. I’m waaay behind where I need to be on that, and I need to catch up.

I have a script coverage to finish this morning before I go to the mechanic. I have two scripts to read (one for which I was requested), but they aren’t due for a couple of days. I can choose to read or not read tonight when I get back, depending on how wiped out I am after the ordeal at the mechanic’s. Hold a good thought for me.

Thurs. Feb. 3, 2022: The Rain Before Snow

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Thursday, February 3, 2022

Waxing Moon

Mercury Direct

Rainy and mild

Today is the rain before the next snowstorm comes in, so I’ll have a chance to dig out the car, since the big snow pile behind it is melting.

There’s a post on Gratitude and Growth about the seed order, and a post on Ink-Dipped Advice about talking about money early in the hiring process.

Yesterday was a rather quiet day. A little frustrating, as I didn’t finish the radio plays as I’d hoped, so that’s the priority for this morning.

I slogged through a bunch of email, got some blogging done, stomped up to the library to drop off and pick up stacks of books. Most of the sidewalks were okay, but some were still bad. And this attitude of shoveling to the property line and leaving the snow mound at the line on the sidewalk irks me. The sidewalk should be clear all the way through.

Finished reading Cynthia Kuhn’s THE ART OF VANISHING. Wow. I usually get ahead of plot twists, but this one kept surprising me. I absolutely love this series. I love the literary conversations between the characters, too.

Started reading THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR, which is interesting and very different, in style and tone, from what I’ve been reading lately.

Put in the order for the Kitchen Garden seeds. I didn’t order much. They were out of both the globe thistle and the grey poppy.

Read two scripts, which I will write up today.

Spent a couple of hours on Discord, brainstorming the Monster Anthology with the other writers. I don’t want to give away too many details, but I’ve created a Playhouse as the backdrop for my characters, and it’s a space that can be used in other stories, as well as mine, so I’ve promised to draw up a floor plan and create some details about the space.

Tessa got me up at 4 again, I moved to the couch, fell asleep again, and got up around 6:30, which set me back for the day.

Meditation was great; Charlotte participated.

I have some bills to pay, and more documentation on the complaint I’ve filed against TracFone to submit, and then it’s back to the radio plays and The Big Project. I have to get the script coverage done and read two more scripts tonight, but I also want to work on the floor plan for the playhouse.

Lots of fun stuff in the hopper!

And Mercury turns direct today, thank goodness. I might even get to buy Scrivener tomorrow.

Have a good one.

Published in: on February 3, 2022 at 9:34 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 3, 2022: The Rain Before Snow  
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Wed. Feb. 2, 2022: Creativity and Imbolc

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Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Waxing Moon

Mercury Retrograde

Imbolc

Cloudy and a little warmer

Yesterday, it stayed around 10 degrees, so I put off my library run until today, when it’s supposed to be in the 40s, and the snow becomes slush.

I slogged through a ton of emails. There were too many stupid arguments happening on social media, and I decided not to participate. I even muted a few “conversations” which I rarely do. I’m either all in or all out, once I follow someone. But this “discussion” tagging 30+ people stuff is too much. And it wasn’t a discussion. It was moderately bright people insisting that their way was the only way. Which is not only wrong, but boring.

A call for submissions landed on my desk, and I actually have a story of which I’m fond, that I am trying to place, so I wrote the cover letter and sent it off. I’m trying to get back up to “13 In Play” where there are at least 13 pieces out for submission at any given time. I only have 6 out right now, according to my log, but I’m working up to it.

Another call for submission landed on my desk, for radio plays. I think they want something darker than I usually do. I dusted off a trio of 10-minute scripts I’d written, based on old, scary campfire stories, and wove them together. I’m going to work a little more on transitions this morning, and then send it off.

I also started working on something gothic-noir-paranormal that also might be more in the realm of what they’re looking for. I hope to get that out today, too. I’ll pitch my other radio plays, in case they’re interested in a range; if they like the writing, maybe I can be a regular contributor. The pay is decent.

But that ate most of my day. It was around 3 PM by the time I started working on script coverages, and, with a couple of breaks to deal with dinner and celebrating Chinese New Year, and Knowledge Unicorns, I worked until 10 at night.

Knowledge Unicorns was fun. In addition to their regular homework assignments, we talked about the Republicans banning books (because only stupid people vote for them, so they want to keep people stupid, as one of the kids put it), and Chinese astrology and New Year traditions and foods. It was fun. I’d made vegetable lo Mein for dinner from scratch, using the long noodles for long life.

I started reading Cynthia Kuhn’s THE ART OF DISAPPEARING, but I was too tired to get very far.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me up at 4. I moved to the sofa and dozed off again, with weird dreams. I wonder if the dreams are triggered by the television the downstairs neighbors have on twenty-four hours a day? It’s not on at a high volume, but I’m hyper-sensitive to sound, so I’m aware of it. I can’t hear it at all in my bedroom, but I can feel the hum when I’m in living room, and hear faint rises and falls in cadences.

Tessa and Charlotte were rummaging around this morning, and then Willa came with a soft paw and a serious face communicating, “Will you please get up? I’m Very Hungry.”

I told her since she asked nicely, I would. It was nearly 6:30 by then.

If they wouldn’t wake me at 4, I’d get up around 5 and they’d get their breakfast on time.

But they are cats, and live in the moment of what they want right now.

Back to the page for now, working on the radio plays. I have to do a library run later this morning (the books are piling up there – I’m getting my own hold shelf, like I had on Cape). I have to mail a few things at the post office, such as the fraud complaint against TracFone. I might put in the seed order at Kitchen Garden Seeds for the rest of the ones I want to order.

This afternoon, I have to enter scores on the contest entries I’ve read lately, work on the book for review, and read two scripts.

I’ll do my Imbolc ceremonial planting later today, and then do the ritual tonight. Bridget, the goddess closely associated with Imbolc, encourages creativity, so I’m going to ride that energy as much as possible.

The groundhog in PA says six more weeks of winter; the groundhog on Staten Island disagrees. Yesterday, I came across a story of the Cailleach winter goddess; if it’s sunny and bright, she is out gathering wood and there will be six more weeks of winter; if it’s cloudy or bad weather, she sleeps in, but then she runs out of wood and spring comes early. It’s cloudy here, and looks like it will rain any minute, so let’s hope we have an early spring.

I’m so happy the chiming clock has started up again. It’s much quieter than it was last summer, but I love the tone, and it’s comforting to have it with me throughout the day.

Peace, friends.

Published in: on February 2, 2022 at 9:14 am  Comments Off on Wed. Feb. 2, 2022: Creativity and Imbolc  
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Tues. Feb. 1, 2022: Happy Chinese New Year!

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Tuesday, February 1, 2022

New Moon

Mercury Retrograde

Venus Direct (as of Saturday)

Chinese Lunar New Year – Year of the Water Tiger

Sunny and cold

Time for our Tuesday catch up, so curl up with your favorite beverage and we’ll have a natter.

I have the January wrap-up over on the GDR site. I have a mistake in it – I said I wrote two short stories this month, but it turns out I wrote three. I finished the third (after I’d posted) and got it in a day before the deadline. So that’s three short stories, two poems, and a lot of words on The Big Project. I may have felt like I got nothing done in January, but it’s simply not true.

The weekend was quiet. Since we were prepared for the storm, we just sat and read and let it snow. We only got about six inches. We were nowhere near as slammed as they were on the coast. We also kept power, for which we were grateful.

Had we been in the old house, we would have been without power and had to rely on the woodburning fireplace. Plus, we would have had to try to dig out from two feet of snow on our own. I much prefer where we live now, where shoveling is handled by the landlord, not us.

I do miss having a woodburning fireplace, although I do enjoy our fireplace façade.

Venus going direct takes a lot of pressure off. There are still three days for Mercury to make everything go cattywampus, but I’m hoping I can proceed with caution and keep my head down.

I read a lot all weekend. I finished reading the last book in a series of 20 books, where I got tired of them about 10 books go, but kept hoping the protagonist might actually grow and change. No such luck. But they were quick reads, maybe an hour and a half to two hours per book, and I learned from them what I don’t want to do in my own work.

I read some contest entries.

I went through seed catalogs (I will go into more detail about that on Thursday’s Gratitude and Growth post), and put in one of my orders.

I started reading Cynthia Kuhn’s other series, the one that starts with THE SEMESTER OF OUR DISCONTENT, and I really like it. I’m grateful to Ellen Byron for suggesting Cynthia’s work.

It was nice to have a full weekend of rest. No running around, no extra work, none of that. I’d worked late on Friday to finish off all the script coverage that was due through yesterday, just in case. It meant I had to bow out of a virtual poetry event in which I’d hoped to participate, but I couldn’t take the risk of a power outage and not getting the coverage in.

And, as I said, two whole days of genuine rest made a big difference. I need to stop admonishing myself that rest is a luxury.

Charlotte woke me up Way Too Early on Saturday morning, because the snow made it appear so light. Tessa let me sleep in until 5:30 on Sunday, which was fine, and I got up and baked biscuits after I fed them. They had me up at 5 yesterday morning, which was fine, because I use the hours from 5-7 for yoga, meditation, journal writing, writing in longhand, etc.

Got a couple of boxes unpacked in my office on Saturday. Once things are unpacked (even if I need to buy more things in which to put them), I’ll put the extra boxes up on Craigslist.

There are boxes that should have come up on the truck that didn’t, so I will have to dig around in the storage unit in spring, when we make our run to find them.

Yesterday, Charlotte and Tessa tag-teamed to get me up a little after 5, which was fine. I’d originally planned to do a library run, but it was -7F, and I was not about to go out in that.

I plowed through about 200 emails, and got out an LOI to a company who immediately sent an automated series of “tests” which they can shove right up their collective ass. I did some blog posts, for myself and a couple of clients.

I made another big batch of black bean soup for lunch, this time adding in corn, and it was delicious.

In the afternoon, I finished off the short story on which I’d been working, which took some interesting twists, polished it, and sent it off.

In the evening, I read a script coverage for which I’d been requested. The author took the notes and did a genuine re-envisioning, in an exciting way. I’ll write that up today.

It’s a little warmer today, so I will suit up and head to the library to drop off/pick up, then write up script coverage.

Today is Chinese Lunar New Year, and it’s the Year of the Water Tiger, which is what I am. It’s supposed to be a year of massive change. I just had two years of that, and I would prefer a year of peace and tranquility.

But I’m making Chinese food tonight, especially long noodles for long life.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me up at 4. I moved to the sofa and went back to sleep, in spite of their fussing. I dreamed of a renaissance of small presses and magazines, run by diverse individuals, who actually pay their writers and staffs a living wage.

That’s the future toward which I want to work.

Have a good one!

Published in: on February 1, 2022 at 8:50 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 1, 2022: Happy Chinese New Year!  
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Fri. Jan. 21, 2022: Creative Stretching

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Friday, January 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and very cold

Meditation was fine yesterday, with Charlotte sitting on my lap for most of it, participating. She then went back to the rocking chair in my reading corner to go to sleep. I rarely get to use my reading corner anymore, because Charlotte is usually in it.

I signed up for a Zoom reading next week, with a group with whom I’m interested in getting involved. I’m on the wait list to actually read, and I drafted two short poems to read. One needs more work. I need to replace a couple of words with those that sharpen the image while fitting the rhythm. The second poem came out, in word and rhythm, better than I hoped. I might still polish, but it does what I want it to do.

I was surprised that I managed to write either, since I don’t consider myself a poet. I love poetry, but I never felt I could ride that tiger properly as a writer. I wanted to stretch, and I am. You learn how to write in different formats by writing in those formats. Should I even attempt to read them? Who knows? Chances are I’m too far down on the list and won’t get to read them anyway. I’ll learn from the other poets reading. I’ll learn from my own reading, even if it doesn’t go well.

I’d have a three minute slot, allowed one poem, and either poem takes up less than two minutes, even read in what I call “Dramatic Reading Voice.” (Which is different from Pretentious Sonorous Voice).

I can still always decide to only read none, or take myself off the list. But pushing myself, taking the risk, will be valuable.

I’ll work on and rehearse the poems for the next week, and be ready, whichever way the chips land.

I drafted a series of activist letters to the appropriate organizations and individuals. My weapons are words, and rather than social media-ing everything to death, I’d rather write specific, actionable proposals that will get results.

The way I did before social media.

I finished the first draft of the short story for the anthology. It was disquieting to write, so hopefully it will create strong emotions in the reader. It’s just under 1200 words, which gives me room to do some cutting and also layer in more sensory detail. I’m going to let it sit a few days before I approach it again. It has to go out next week, so I have a little bit of breathing room.

I picked up Cynthia Kuhn’s HOW TO BOOK A MURDER (a book recommended by Ellen Byron) “just to take a look.” Yeah, right. I read the whole thing straight through in the afternoon, instead of doing other things. It was a lot of fun. Now, I want to read her other series. My local library had one book, but I had to get three more through Commonwealth Catalog. Ironically, two of those three will come in from Sandwich. I can’t find the last one.

The Mystic Mondays Tarot arrived, and I am in love with it. I love the weight of the cards, their size, the way the sides are iridescent. I love the artwork on the deck – very different from any of my other decks, and in colors that really speak to me. I’m excited to start working with it. I think I will use it mostly in relation to creative work: spurring myself on creatively, finding ways around blocks and obstacles, etc.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. The kids are working hard, they’re thriving in a virtual learning environment, and they’re doing well. One of the things we started when we first launched this homework group was to keep a journal. Of course, when we started, we thought the group would only be for the spring 2020 semester. Now, we’re starting into 2022. But the kids have kept up their journals. Not all of them write every day, and some of them are sketch journals rather than word journals (which is perfectly valid), But, after keeping it as a practice now for two years, they find it a useful tool. Even the ones who have no intention of becoming writers! As someone who has kept a journal for going on 50 years now, I’m glad it helps others; I know it has often been a lifeline for me.

In the evening, I attended a virtual author event for an acquaintance and fellow Sister in Crime. It was a lot of fun. She currently writes three series, plus short stories, which is the kind of schedule I really need to keep. The questions in the Q & A were the typical ones that are asked. The thing we all remind ourselves of is that, even though we’ve answered these questions dozens of times, it’s still new information to this person asking (unless it’s someone who attends events always asking the same question, There were a couple of those on Cape. They’d even ask the same question to the same person at event after event). Of course there was That One Person, who didn’t have a question, but a “comment” and made it all about herself. There’s always one self-involved audience member, who tries to turn every event into a personal platform. We learn how to be polite and gracious and move on. Good moderators shut that individual down; too many just look uncomfortable and expect the guest artist to deal with it, which is unfair.

Anyway, I was glad I was there, and could support my acquaintance. I also realized I’m behind reading one of her series!

After the event, I had to stay up and get out a script coverage that was due this morning. I’m behind in the script coverages (but still ahead of deadline) and will spend most of today working on those. It will need to be a long day, if I expect to have a weekend.

But I have no regrets about sitting and reading Cynthia’s book all afternoon!

I had a perfectly productive day, and yet, by the end of it, I still beat myself up for not doing enough. I need to stop that.

A couple more ideas are percolating for short stories; hopefully I can rough them out this weekend.

I had trouble getting to sleep last night; it was after midnight. Then the cats woke me up at three. I am not a happy camper today. I am a grumpy pants.

It’s been a frustrating, up and down week. Let’s hope next week is better.

Catch you on the other side.

Published in: on January 21, 2022 at 9:17 am  Comments Off on Fri. Jan. 21, 2022: Creative Stretching  
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