Mon. Sept. 14, 2020: Intent for the Week — Crossroads

image courtesy of Alicja via pixabay.com

I am at a personal crossroads on a few things right now. This week, I’ll be taking time to figure out the pros and cons of each path, so I can make the best informed decision possible within the time frame in which it needs to be made.

What’s on your agenda for the week?

Published in: on September 14, 2020 at 6:42 am  Comments (2)  
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Thurs. March 12, 2020: Sometimes You Outgrow Places

Thursday, March 12, 2020
Waning Moon

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

Lots to talk about, lots to think about. Yesterday was my birthday; tomorrow is Friday the 13th (one of my favorite days) which will encompass the pain-in-the-butt Home Energy Assessment in the morning, and then the follow-up appointment with the specialist in the afternoon. Next week is the next surgery.

It’s been a little more than a month since this particular health emergency started. It feels like much longer, because it’s taken up so much of my life, and put me behind in several areas of my life. I’m starting to take control again (and will do more so after the next surgery), make decisions, weigh evidence, and do what I can about moving forward in the areas that need change. I’ve learned a lot. Some of those have been hard lessons, but knowing is always better than not knowing.

I’ve been lucky in the support I’ve had around me from friends and coworkers and some random people I’ve met through different arenas. Seriously, something as simple as “I’m thinking of you. I hope you’re doing well” makes a huge, positive difference.

The silences have been telling, too.

The most disappointing one is from my yoga studio, and I’ve given a lot of thought to that. It has put into perspective and brought into light some things that have bothered me throughout my time at the studio, but I was willing to overlook, because I felt what I gained in terms of deepening my practice outweighed the things that bothered me.

That balance has shifted.

I have attended that particular studio for nearly two years now. Weekly, most of the time. Sometimes more than once a week. The location works. I like the atmosphere most of the time, the teaching style, the flexibility, and the price.

I’d visited the studio, which was under different ownership, when I first moved here. The owner at the time told me that it was useless to go unless I attended class there 2-3x week, and my only option was to be on Auto-pay. I could drop in once to try out a class, but after that, everything had to be booked ahead of time and on Auto-pay. I explained that, as a freelancer, that didn’t work for me. My schedule changes day-to-day, week-to-week. My income fluctuates. I can buy something like a 10-class pass, but I don’t do Auto-pay (not to mention that any Auto-Pay I’ve been on for anything has regularly simply taken whatever sum of money out of the account whenever they wanted, whether or not it was something I actually bought). The owner argued with me. I thanked her for my time, told her this was not the right studio for me, and that was that.

I was with another studio for about a year in another town, about a half hour’s drive. I liked a lot about it, but the teacher started making classes about her instead of about the practice, so I left. The first two summers I was here, I did sunrise yoga on the beach in Chatham, but over the years, with the increased traffic, the hour-long drive turned into nearly two hours each way, even that early in the morning, and it became unfeasible.

It never even occurred to me to go back to that first studio until I started studying with a specific teacher at her special events. I liked her style. She brought flyers in about her regular teaching — and she was at that studio. I mentioned I’d had a bad experience when I first moved here, and she told me the studio had changed owners.

I went back, I liked it for the most part, and I’ve been there for about the past two years. Last spring, there was an incident where I felt my trust had been broken; we sort of worked it out, although the studio did not fulfill a promise it made to help make things right. But I liked the studio, the teacher with whom I studied most often, the other teachers whose classes I tried, most of the other students. Some of the students only want to study with one teacher; I don’t like to get dependent on a teacher in that way. Life means change; teachers leave or go to another profession. I also like learning from teachers with different styles. I feel that enriches my practice. The price worked within my freelance life, and the payment schedule had options — you can have auto-pay, but you don’t HAVE to. Regular drop-ins are fine; if a class has finite room, they let you know. I sometimes felt like the teacher was trying to micro-control a little too much, especially in student interactions, but I thought maybe I was imagining it.

One of the things that has bothered me in all the studios here on Cape is the lack of community. They talk “community” constantly, but it doesn’t really exist. For the most part, we’re respectful and polite to each other in class. There’s some chatting amongst students. But most people are there for a respite from their day, not another social obligation. Some people come with friends, and they only interact with those friends. Some come in and out. But most people go to class and then leave.

In other areas I’ve lived/practiced over the decades, you wind up getting to know the “regulars” pretty well in class. They might not be your best friends, but generally, the chatting before or after class gets longer and longer, and there are usually one or two people with whom you connect and are in contact with outside of the studio. Maybe you’ll have coffee or a cocktail occasionally. Take a walk on the beach. Sign up for a workshop together you might not take on your own. If someone from class is sick, or suffers a loss, or has a crisis, one’s fellow practitioners rally around and offer support. Sometimes it’s in the form of physically doing something for someone (I’ve made casseroles, run errands, walked dogs, done laundry, etc. for fellow practitioners); sometimes it’s sending good thoughts, listening, just letting them know you care. There’s a sense of community.

Not here. People who’ve grown up here tend to stay friends with people they’ve known since childhood and not make new friends. Many of the people around here spend part of the year living elsewhere. They get together with their nearest neighbors when everyone’s home, have their families visit, but that’s it. I’ve tried to make plans with people from class, and they never come to fruition. Which is fine; if someone doesn’t want to hang out, I’d rather not hang out than one or both of us feeling forced and uncomfortable. I make plans once; if they don’t happen because the other person cancels, and the other person then doesn’t take the lead to make future arrangements, I let it go. To me, it means the person doesn’t want to spend time together, and that’s fine.

I also understand that far too many people who aren’t retired and living off investments have to work multiple jobs and are exhausted most of the time. But this attitude that “I don’t want friends” — which is said often in all kinds of contexts, disturbs me.

As a theatre person, where we build families of choice and expand them with every show, where the attitude is, “There’s always room for one more; pull up a chair” that’s an anomaly to me.

But people are who they are, and no one wants to be forced to be around people with whom they don’t want.

However, if you’re going to run around talking about compassion and community and connection in class, shouldn’t you also practice it outside of class?

Otherwise, yoga class serves the same purpose as going to church: you show up once a week and mouth meaningless words, then go back to being a jerk as soon as you walk out the door.

Another thing that bothers me (along with the lack of diversity) is that only Rich White Republican Ladies have the right to feel safe in class. Again, there’s all this talk about safety and inclusion. But when it comes down to it, Rich White Republican Ladies can say any racist, sexist, homophobic, inappropriate remarks, and we are all just supposed to sit there and put up with it because “it’s just the way they are.” But if anyone calls them on it, or makes a remark that is in opposition to something the Rich White Republican Ladies want to hear, the accusation is about “don’t bring politics into the studio” and making it “unsafe space.” Why are only the Rich White Republican Ladies entitled to a lack of politics and safe space?

And, in the world we’re living in, if you claim to follow yogic teachings, you’re not living your path if you’re not speaking up and acting to change things.

Whether or not it makes Rich White Republican Ladies uncomfortable or not.

This happens in studios all over the Cape, in my experience. I get that these studios are a business, and the Rich White Republican Ladies make up the bulk of the student population. Studios don’t want and can’t afford to lose the money.

But I want to be around people living their practice, not treating it like Religion Lite, where they mouth banalities so they can feel better about themselves and keep acting like entitled jerks.

I’m tired of the Rich White Republican Ladies doing and saying whatever nasty, inappropriate thing they want and getting away with it, but no one else can speak a different truth. It taints the purpose and the practice for me.

Another aspect of studio life around here I think is odd is that there aren’t classes on holidays. I get it on the big family ones, but a lot of these holiday Mondays are time that people who wouldn’t normally be able to attend class could. But classes are usually cancelled. Is it because the teachers need a break, too (which is understandable)? Or because people don’t show up on holiday Mondays here, unlike in other places where I’ve lived, where they flock to class on days off?

Thinking about this all and pulling it apart stemmed from the silence from the studio since I’ve been sick. I’m usually in regular contact with either the teacher or the owner. If I have to miss a class, such as the Monday meditation group to which I’ve gone for two years, I let them know ahead of time instead of just not showing up. The teacher has our emails and lets us know if there will be a sub or if class is cancelled for weather, or she’s sick or something else comes up. If she’s got something going on, I offer support, either by offering to do something tangible or doing energy work.

I thought the teacher and I built up a good relationship. We could talk about various issues, share good news and bad, have exchanged cards and small gifts over the years. Not quite friendship, in that we didn’t hang out away from the studio, but respect and appreciation.

If you’ve been following the bouncing IV needle here for the past few months, you know that when I had the urgent care visit and the first doctor basically told me I was at death’s door, I got in touch with the teacher. I let her know I had a medical emergency and was facing surgery or a series of surgeries and wouldn’t be in for awhile. I said that when it was all done, I would like to book a (paid, full price) healing session with her, but I didn’t know when it would be, because things were changing and getting booked day-to-day. She offered to do distance healing as a “gift” and said she needed some things from me in order to do it, and did I want more information? I said I wanted more information. She sent me a list that was absolutely overwhelming to me at that time while I was trying to deal with a slew of emergency medical appointments and surgery that had to happen within a week or two — AND said I had to book three healing sessions at a specific time at X price.

Now, I’m already frightened and vulnerable and losing work and worried about medical bills I didn’t expect. Everything is in flux and changing day to day; test results determine the next steps and how fast they have to happen. I CAN’T book three sessions. I can’t commit to the time and then cancel out at the last minute — it’s not fair to anyone. I don’t know what my financial situation will be due to missed work and incoming bills, and can’t take on any additional financial commitments, either. A “free” first session doesn’t mean a whole lot when the rest of the REQUIRED sessions (which I’d have to cancel anyway) are out of my reach financially. And the list of stuff she “needed” was overwhelming to me at the time.

I told her I couldn’t commit right now, because everything was in flux, and right now, the list was overwhelming and I couldn’t put it together and send it to her.

She argued with me. It wasn’t “what do you need, how can I help?” It was “Do what I tell you to do on my schedule.” Which rather shocked me, in the context of the past two years, and in the practice in general. She argued that putting together the list would “only take a few minutes” (no, it wouldn’t, and since I could barely even move at the time, it was too damn much), and that I NEEDED to do these sessions. Um, no, I NEEDED to work with the doctors so I wouldn’t die. That was the first priority. I had to not die. Then I get to heal.

I said I could not commit to it right now, with everything happening and changing so fast. She then told me I needed to book the post-surgery healing session now, because she books a few weeks in advance.

At that point, I didn’t know when the first surgery was scheduled or what came next. I told her I couldn’t.

I have never heard from her again. Not one word, since the 10th of February. Not one “how are you doing? I’m thinking of you.” Nothing. I didn’t want or need anyone from the studio to DO anything for me, but some good wishes would have been appreciated. But there was only silence.

Which tells me a great deal.

Compare that to the editor for the big article. We’d never worked together before. I was upfront with her about what was going on, got her the material ahead of deadline, and she worked with me around the surgery for the edits. This is someone who never knew me before, and she gave me more support than someone I’d been in weekly practice with for two years.

Heck, yoga studios into which I’ve dropped in occasionally in both Maine and Central Massachusetts have been in more frequent and more supportive touch than the studio in which I practiced regularly for the past two years.

I haven’t heard from the studio owner, either. Nor from anyone in the class.

Silence.

I am only a source of income to the teacher and the studio owner; I am irrelevant to my fellow practitioners. That’s the reality, no matter how many pretty words and phrases in which they try to wrap up the class experience.

I let myself feel the hurt and anger, because it existed. Silly to pretend it didn’t. No one wants to feel like they don’t matter. And then, I started picking at the threads of things that had bothered me over the time there, the things mentioned above, but that I’d chosen not to make a big deal out of because I felt what I got out of practicing there outweighed what bothered me.

That is no longer true.

I am deeply, deeply grateful for two years of deepening my practice and learning and growing. But I’ve gone as far as I can there. I need something else from practice-in-company and a studio experience. They are who they are, and they do what they do. I need something different.

I seriously doubt I will find it on Cape. I look at the other studios — auto-pay, demands that you attend several times a week (do they not realize that people work? Or are their only students more Rich White Republican Ladies who don’t work)?

I see a lot of the words of “inclusion” and “welcome” and “sanctuary” but I’m not seeing a whole lot of evidence of walking the talk. I may try some open houses that studios often give in early summer to attract the summer people, but I think the bulk of the practice will be home or remote study via online workshops (smarter in this time of virus anyway).

I worked to a place where I’m at peace with that. Acknowledge the hurt and anger, release it instead of letting it fester, realize I can’t get what I now need, and search for it elsewhere, while still growing my practice. I leaned on my practice, especially meditation, a LOT during this entire health crisis, and it was a huge help. I didn’t miss a single day of meditation through the whole thing. No matter how I felt, I sat at least once a day, often twice. I used breathing techniques in various appointments and in the hospital to get me through stressful or painful times. It made a difference.

Then I get an email from the studio on Tuesday. I saw the sender (the owner) and thought maybe she wants to let me know they’re thinking of me and hoping my recovery is going well. Silly me! Obviously I haven’t learned as much as I thought I had from this experience.

It was an email addressing the worries about the Corona virus. Which is a good thing. Talking about policies and practices and how everyone can protect each other. Responsible and necessary.

Then, they slip in the middle of the email that they’re going to start charging a rental fee for the mats in the studio to make sure they get cleaned properly. Um, what? We clean the studio mats after we use them. They claim it’s “temporary” but you know it will simply never get rolled back. Added fees are never rolled back; a new reason is always found for them. But people are “welcome” to bring their own gear to class.

So either rent the disinfected gear or bring in your own germy mat and contaminate the space? Seriously? People bringing in their own gear is MUCH riskier than using disinfected mats in the space. Because you KNOW people aren’t cleaning their mats every time they bring them to class.

It’s a way to get more money out of the students.

The email angered me. And then I laughed. Because it reinforced my decision that this is not the place for me anymore. And that’s okay.

I can still appreciate all I’ve learned and know it’s time for new teachers and new experiences. As a teacher myself, I’m delighted when my students outgrow what I can give them and soar. I’m very proud of former writing students who are out there in the trenches writing and publishing and living the writing life.

It has not been an easy journey, navigating these emotions and realizations along with everything else going on. But it’s been important.

Let’s hope I can apply the lessons moving forward.

Tomorrow is busy in all kinds of ways, and Monday is the Intent post, so it’ll be Tuesday before we have a good natter again, and I can fill in on the low-key birthday and whatever else happens over the weekend.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and peace.

 

Published in: on March 12, 2020 at 5:57 am  Comments (2)  
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Tues. Feb. 12, 2019: Right Decisions Relieve Stress

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Waxing Moon
Snowing

Stressful few days. Friday was about a lot of running around, and still feeling wiped out.

I had a lot to think about, with my head, my heart, and my gut giving me conflicting messages. But the more I considered, the stronger the guidance from the gut.

For a few hours, it looked like another door would open that would make the decision easier, but it didn’t, so I don’t have an easy out. I have other options, although I can’t finalize them quite as quickly as I’d like. I do, however, have an ever-strengthening gut reaction. I need to go with that, even if at the beginning, it seems like the weaker choice. It puts more pressure on me in other areas, then, at a time when I’m feeling under too much pressure already.

I also had to remove my ego from the decision (with a scalpel, sometimes, it felt like), because my ego pushed me in the direction my gut told me was wrong.

Suffered from stress-related health issues most of the weekend, which slowed me down.

Spent most of the time working on GAMBIT COLONY revisions on the first four of the first six books. Wrote some new material, made some cuts. Re-arranged things. Added a character to take care of an arc that needed to be handled, and will now have to adjust scenes in several places to see that through.

Worked on the comic ghost story radio play, trying to get back from where it derailed. It needs to be sharp and witty, which, since I’m not feeling either right now, is a reach. But I ripped out the section that took the wrong turn and am rebuilding it. It works much better as a comedy. The discarded plot thread for this will wind up as the central plot thread for a darker radio play in the future.

Read Mary Louise Wilson’s memoir MY FIRST HUNDRED YEARS IN SHOW BUSINESS, which was fun. We crossed paths a few times in the NY theatre world, and we’ve worked with a lot of the same people.

Read Jayne Ann Krentz’s UNTOUCHABLE. She’s trying some new things, which are interesting.

Worked on the review, and on contest entries.

The Fearless Ink site finally completed the domain transfer. I’d had to fight with 1&1 about the Cerridwen’s Cottage transfer. So all three domains are now safely with Name Silo. I sent in my cancellation to 1&1 for the account. I’m sure I’ll be in for at least several more months of fighting, and they will try to squeeze more money out of me. And then I’ll have to file against them. Again.

It’s taken me a YEAR to get the sites moved and the domains transferred. A YEAR of fighting with them. If you ever want a place to register a domain or host you, stay away from 1&1. I wish I’d had enough knowledge to break free years ago. They cost me tens of thousands of dollars in lost income over the years.

Yesterday I was onsite with a client, which was fine, and the same today, although I’m expecting it to be more stressful due to weather and other issues. At least I had meditation group yesterday. In general, the next three weeks will be very, very stressful, and I’m trying to put some stress management tools in place.

Working on my personal strategic plan. The dashed possibilities of the past few weeks had derailed it a bit, but now I need to focus and then complete the actions I need to get where I want to go.

Onward.

 

Published in: on February 12, 2019 at 6:33 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 12, 2019: Right Decisions Relieve Stress  
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Thurs. Sept. 20, 2018: And The Busy Continues (but it’s Good Busy)

Thursday, September 20, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny/rainy alternates

Still busy coordinating my part of the awards ceremony on Tuesday. Came in to the client site for a few hours, because there are things I need here that I don’t have with me. Something like this is always filled with dozens of tiny details.

Later today, I have to do some more on DAVY JONES DHARMA and start digging into the edits for RELICS & REQUIEM.

I have a feeling I’ll be onsite tomorrow, too, but it’s all good. My client asked me to accept the award for her, and I’ll be wearing one of her designs.

I’ll be mainly focused on the revisions for RELICS this weekend, along with working on calendar articles and getting out a review on a book that I was hired to review — and that I really like.

Hopefully, I can also get some more work done on the basement clean out. It’s been raining so badly the last few days that I can’t use the deck as a staging area.

I’m a guest over on Ari Meghlen’s blog, talking about creative organization — please click over and leave a comment!

While all this is going on, I’m also coming to some interesting conclusions personally and about what I want to focus on next year — and where. It will be interesting to see how I make it happen. I’ll talk about it publicly when I make some decisions.

Onward and back to the page.

Published in: on September 20, 2018 at 10:42 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Sept. 20, 2018: And The Busy Continues (but it’s Good Busy)  
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Wed. April 18, 2018: Schedules, Decisions, and Unexpected Guests

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for today’s post, “Fake Pitches that Alienate” to see how I answer that question.

The weather really got me down on Monday. I got a bunch of niggily admin stuff done for one of my clients, but I had trouble focusing. Yesterday, it was creating a couple of new ads for a client, and helping sort a big shipment that came in that has to be broken down into orders and go out.

I started putting together a slideshow of my books that I’m going to add to the Devon Ellington Work site. That will take a bit of doing, but I think it will be worth it. If I like it, I can do one for the Delectable Digital Delights page, too.

I’m getting an awful lot of spam through my contact forms. I’m glad it’s through the form, and not through the actual address. Many of them are scams. At least one of them threatened the registration of one of my sites.

I left 1&1.com’s hosting platform because it didn’t work for what I do, their customer service is non-existent, their techs are idiots without basic reading comprehension or problem-solving ability, and they try to extort additional fees for basics like posting jpgs on the site.

Unfortunately, I could not move my registrations at the same time as I moved the sites themselves. Because they did not update the contact information I provided, I have to wait 60-90 days before moving my registrations to Name Silo. My registrations are paid through October, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

But, when I forwarded the threatening scam email so they’d know what was going on and so they would DO THEIR JOB AND DEAL WITH IT, all I got back was a mis-spelled, poorly written email saying that the domain was no longer on their host.

Yeah, moron, I KNOW THAT. I MOVED IT BECAUSE YOU ARE EXTORTING IDIOTS.

But my registration is still stuck with them. I PAID THEM. It is THEIR JOB to deal with threats to the registration.

In fact, the accounting department was very specific about the fact I still have an account and a customer number, even though I cancelled my plan and moved the sites.

But those idiots keep coming back with improperly structured sentences about how my plan is cancelled.

In other words, 1&1.com and their incompetence are still making my life hell. It took more than a dozen emails to get it bumped up the food chain until there was someone who knew the difference between hosting a domain and registering a domain.

I look forward to moving the registrations as soon as I can. Hopefully, they won’t have allowed someone else to seize the domains and hold them hostage.

Echoes of Mercury Retrograde, still being frustrating. Pile on the Jupiter and Saturn retrogrades, and the upcoming Pluto Retrograde, and I am not a happy camper.

On the positive side, I’m working through contest entries.

I also did a first pass on the galleys for SPIRIT REPOSITORY. It never ceases to mortify me when it comes back in copyedits and I see all those things I should have caught and didn’t. Thank goodness for my copyeditor! In my own defense, some of the errors I remember changing, and it annoys me that the “saves” didn’t hold.

Anyway, I hope to get the galleys back to Cady either late today or first thing tomorrow, and I’ll probably have my next set to read over the weekend.

The page is up for the third Coventina Circle book, RELICS & REQUIEM, with its blurb. Cover will be revealed in autumn, and it releases in October.

Working on the media kit for SPIRIT REPOSITORY and some ads for SPIRIT REPOSITORY and the Jain Lazarus Adventures.

Working steadily on MYTH & INTERPRETATION. I love being back with Gwen and Justin.

Working steadily on the outline for the serial, while moving ahead with several more chapters. If it gets picked up as a serial, I’ll have some material to hand over right away, working with the developer, and I won’t be scrambling. I also have plans for a cool website with maps and background material and micro-fiction on supporting characters who can’t get enough time in the main arcs.

If the serial isn’t picked up, I have the basis of a solid novel, tweaking it back from serial format and pace, and the website will still happen.

Getting excited about RELICS & REQUIEM again, too.

Having a discussion about some shorter tie-in novellas or novelettes with the stories that serve as catalysts in the Coventina Circle series. These would not be paranormal romantic suspense. These would be historical fiction. I would do one about the woman who fell down the stairs and broke her neck, becoming one of the ghosts at the Candasco Theatre, mentioned in Playing the Angles. I could do one about the time Mathias Hendrik’s nephew Pieter goes missing, mentioned in Spirit Repository; the story of Klaus Hendrik, taken prisoner during the Battle of Fort Washington and put on the horrible prison ship in Brooklyn, mentioned in the same book; the tale of Hugh Gwydion Llewellyn and his passion for the medium Natasha Levelle (born Deborah Brown) in Victorian New York, also mentioned in the same book.

Again, carving out the time to re-visit the research with it being the foundation for those tales themselves, and putting them in the appropriate genre will be a challenge. As will marketing them to make it clear that the seeds are planted in the paranormal romantic suspense books, but they’re historical fiction instead. I don’t want readers to feel mis-led, so the website and copy has to be clear.

These stories within the stories are interesting, but if I fully explored them, I’d go off tangent on the Coventina Circle books. Yet they deserve their own time.

At the same time, I’m on a brutal contract schedule this year, and, because I hesitate to put all my eggs in a single publishing basket, I’m also trying to finish and get a few other submissions out the door.

I’ll make notes, gather research sources, maybe even do a reader survey. Then, when we meet this spring for another career re-evaluation and decide what to tweak for the next year, we’ll see if it makes sense to weave these shorter, more straightforward historical pieces in or not.

That decision will be influenced by whether or not the serial gets picked up. If it does, the novellas need to be put on hold until the serial is running, the website’s up, and there’s a good portion of micro-fiction up.

This year alone, I have THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY (Coventina Circle #2), MYTH AND INTERPRETATION (Gwen Finnegan #1.5), RELICS & REQUIEM (Coventina Circle #3), and DAVY JONES DHARMA (Nautical Namaste #2) releasing, with THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE (Gwen Finnegan #2) out in January of next year. That’s a brutal schedule.

I don’t want to burn out. Did that, a few years back. Don’t want to get there again.

The serial novel that’s under the working title of POWER OF WORDS, DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, SONGBOUND SISTERS, NOT BY THE BOOK, HEART THEFT, and FIX-IT GIRL all need attention, too.

it’s a lot of juggling, especially with the marketing writing that keeps us all afloat.

Plus, I’m pitching in the Carina Pitch fest over on Twitter today. Either they’ll like it or they won’t. I’ll make my decision from there.

So decisions will have to be made on long-term goals, sales numbers, and life-of-series viability. There’s just not the budget to do five and six figure advertising campaigns. Which means a quieter, but steady long-term strategy.

Stay tuned — I’m as interested to learn the results as anyone else (and have more invested, on many levels).

Had a houseful of people last night who came in from out of town for the wake and the funeral of their colleague. A couple of them I knew from my research days; they brought new colleagues. I cooked a lot of food, they brought a bunch of beer when they came back from the wake. I didn’t talk much, just listened. I hadn’t gone to the wake, although I stood to line the procession as my way to pay my respects. I listened to a lot of stories, a lot of pain, a lot of laughter. This morning, they attend the funeral and then head back.

 

Published in: on April 18, 2018 at 2:26 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 18, 2018: Schedules, Decisions, and Unexpected Guests  
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Fri. Dec. 2, 2016: Redefining How I Want to Handle My Writing Career

Friday, December 2, 2016
Waxing Moon
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday, I got some errands done and then started on the rewrite of TAPESTRY, which needs to be done in mid-January. I had forgotten how much fun that book is; definitely quirky and breaks formula a lot. Some of it I can make work; some will have to be rewritten, because there are logistical problems. I’ve tweaked the frame of the piece a bit, which I think works better, but kept the action in the mid-1990s.

I’m also starting a binge read of the books by Vicki Delany. I read her Constable Molly Smith novel NEGATIVE IMAGE and really liked it, so I’ve ordered everything else I can find by her from the library. And then, yes, I’ll be BUYING her work, because I believe in supporting living authors with my dollars. Dead ones, not so much. It’s not my job to support their descendants. Living authors — we all need to support each other to make sure we can continue writing.

It took awhile to get gussied up for the Spectacle of Trees party, but it was worth it. Used every Broadway wardrobe trick in the book on myself, and it worked. The party was a lot of fun, the wreaths went for good sums of money. I helped clean up, got home, and got right into my jammies. We needed something sparkly and joyful after the month we’ve lived through. And I got the sweetest thank you from the event organizers this morning for all my extra help.

The last of the books I need to finish the play arrived, so I can dig into that either later today or tomorrow. I want the play (with a new title, I hope), out the door by next Tuesday. Then, the attention goes back to JUST A DROP, and also to the short story I have to submit for inclusion in the anthology.

Yet my mind is churning with creative ideas; I want to keep WIPs on track, so that there’s material ready to launch as other pieces fall into place, especially where the various series are concerned; I want to revise, polish, and get out some of the projects I put aside out of frustration, but which have potential.

It’s about finding the right people to partner with, not just trying to change material to please them. If I’m going to do the latter, it’ll be a for-hire contract with a big paycheck up front; if it’s going to be MY vision, then I need to be true to it and not compromise on elements that dilute the work. The work needs to be as strong and unique as possible, and that’s what will enchant the reader.

If all I do is try to conform to formula, it will dilute my unique, quirky characters and stories, go against the themes I’m trying to explore, and not engage the readers I want to engage. Readers who only enjoy tight formulas and want the comfort of knowing the ending when they start the book aren’t the readers who will respond to the themes, characters, and situations I write anyway. Rather than trying to please them, it’s far more important to please myself (within the context of always improving my craft).

Every book or story I write needs to be better than the previous one, on a craft level and every other level. If I don’t like the other books an agent represents, it’s probably not the right agent for me; same thing with a publisher.

I’ve been truly lucky in most of my editors with my published work. They’ve understood what I was trying to achieve and guided me to make the material stronger without losing what makes it unique. I am so grateful to my editors.

I want the security of a traditional publisher with a recognizable name, only that security doesn’t exist any more. I watch the authors I like reading best dropped from their Big Five contracts, and authors whose work I don’t like (because they’re bland, lack craft, and, in some cases, the protagonists are bigoted, racist fools, and not because the author is trying to communicate that’s a negative) being heavily promoted.

The books I enjoy are, for the most part, coming out of small presses and, in some cases, independently published. Indie publishing is always hit and miss, because so many of those books are so published because the author lacks the craft to land an agent or a traditional contract. Yet, more and more ARE well-crafted, and have more interesting characters and situations and a broader context than that coming out of traditional houses.

Small presses are great because they are small, and they’re willing to take chances on the unusual. If you find the right small press with which to click, everything is possible. Of course, because they are small, even if you, as an individual, do your part, if every other author in the stable isn’t holding up their end, the publisher can burn out.

There’s a difference between incorporating notes/feedback into a manuscript to make it the best it can be, and changing it to fit someone else’s formula. If all they like and all they can sell is X, and I’d rather do Y, then I have to have enough savvy to realize that when they want it to conform to X, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s to make it better. It’s to make it fit. I don’t have to fit, if I’m willing to put in the thought, time, and effort, to do something else. It means not signing with them, but so what? The advances have gone down considerably in most cases, and few traditional houses are putting effort into promoting anything that doesn’t have to do with manipulating the so-called “best seller ” lists.

It wasn’t until I worked in a library that I realized just how much manipulation goes into those lists, and how little has to do with the actual worth of a book.

All of that has to be taken into consideration as I make my decisions in the coming months. I also want to redefine how I promote my work. I don’t WANT to do the same thing everyone else does — there’s a saturation of desperate promotion that works for very few. Instead, I want to craft campaigns that are as unique and quirky as the material I’m promoting.

The next couple of years should be interesting, craft-and-career-wise.

In the meantime — I have a play to finish!

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on December 2, 2016 at 10:14 am  Comments Off on Fri. Dec. 2, 2016: Redefining How I Want to Handle My Writing Career  
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Tues. April 30, 2013: Contests and Writing and Paperwork

Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

My guest on A Biblio Paradise today is Mike Robinson, talking about THE PRINCE OF EARTH. Stop by!

Worked like crazy yesterday, yet feel I got so little done.

On the plus side, I finished Chapter 14 and wrote Chapter 15. Which means I have to dive into Chapter 16 this morning. I have to make a decision by this chapter for the heat level of this book — there are several kinds of ways I could go with it, and I don’t want to lose the light tone I need, but I also want to let my protag go with her desires — that’s part of it. It’s also why it’s not marketed as a “romance”, because I’m giving her options.

My webhost was down yesterday, which hindered my work. I have to take a proofreading test for a big job today — must brush up on CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE — I use Strunk. And I don’t want to do it when I’m too tired, or I’ll make careless mistakes and lose the job.

People are signing up for the free tips — so glad. Had a nice exchange with another writer — we went to each other’s workshops this weekend.

Am finishing up the paperwork for the contest I’m judging — lots of paperwork. But picked my top choices and sent off the recommendations. Yesterday was about rearranging the stacks of books I’d read, comparing them against each other as well as individual stories.

Keyed in some data I needed, worked with students.

This morning, I’ve written a thousand words of a short story that started pulling at me. I hoped it would be only six pages (about 1500 words), but it’s growing like a dandelion and I want to see where it goes.

I need to start setting up my NY appointments for the end of next month, and make sure all my presentations and materials are in good shape. I’m juggling various projects, and need to make sure I don’t drop the ball on any of them, while still hustling enough freelance projects to pay the bills short term. Same old, same old.

But I love the longer days, and I’m definitely feeling more productive and more creative.

Devon

Last chance to sign up for the free Manuscript Preparation Tips in May. Signing up also gets you Devon’s Random Newsletter and a 10% discount off up to 30 pages critique. More information here.