Tues. Dec. 6, 2022: A Richly Busy Weekend

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Day Before Full Moon

Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Rainy and cold

Curl up and get comfy, and we’ll have a catch-up.

There’s a post over on the GDR site about looking back at November and forward to December.

Friday was a lot of fun. Mailed bills on the way out of town, and headed down to Great Barrington. I found a shorter route, which was good. But, because we’d left later than I expected, we stopped at another store on the way down that was open, but wouldn’t have been had we left on time, and picked up something we needed (but didn’t find the bayberry candles we went down to get).

On the way down, we made an impulse stop at the library in Pittsfield, which was having a lobby book sale and found some cool books. Some of them holiday craft books, because I am a sucker for even tacky holiday craft books (especially at 50 cents a pop). And these have some cool ideas in them.

We went only to one store in GB, one of our favorite thrift stores. I found a train station for my Christmas village and the crossing sign lights up! (Which is more than the crossing sign IRL down the street does). Found a couple of small plates in a favorite pattern, a really cool mermaid candle holder, and a silver chain and bracelet with the large links I need for the charms I have for each. I also found a silver-plated frame for my favorite picture of my dad (who died when I was 10).

On the way back, we stopped in Stockbridge, in search of bayberry candles, but no luck. Then it was to a store in Pittsfield to pick up the last gift for extended family in Maine, and a few goodies for us. With a stop at Adams Fresh Market for fish for Friday night supper.

Pizza for lunch. I’m going to have to start making pizza from scratch again. Store-bought pizza tastes worse every time we buy it.

In the afternoon, I turned around two script coverages, and did some admin work. I was tired by the end of it. Really, really tired.

Tried reading for pleasure, a mystery that came recommended. But the writer uses “witch” as a slur against women and the world’s internal logic doesn’t makes sense, placing the characters in the “too stupid to live” category. So that one goes back, and that author is crossed off my list.

In Ellen Byron’s latest newsletter, she posted a photo of gigantic earrings she bought several decades ago in a shop on Columbus Ave. in NYC. I started laughing, because I remember the shop AND the earrings. They were too big to wear, so she turned them into Christmas ornaments. I love that so much. And that’s just so Ellen.

Her next Catering Hall Mystery (under the Maria DiRico name) comes out in March, and I’m excited.

Saturday morning, I had trouble getting going. But I did. And I wrote the first draft of “Net Worth” (which goes up today on Ko-Fi). The bones worked, and I knew I would do some edits. It came in a little over 1K, but hey, I don’t have to fit someone else’s word count. It won’t go too far one way or the other once it’s edited.

I started “Comfort, Then Joy” which was originally aimed to Ko-fi, but which I now feel is better suited to the quarterly newsletter. The story’s in my head; it’s just a case of getting it down on paper.

After a couple of hours at the desk, we hauled out the big Christmas tree from the broom closet and brought it into the living room. I started fighting with the stand, which has never worked well (and I bought this damn tree in 1989, or maybe it was 1990).

I finally decided I had HAD IT. I put the stuff down, wrapped up, got into the car, and drove into the escalating storm to get a new artificial tree stand. I got the last small one in the store, and while I was there, picked up a couple of oversized decorative poinsettias that clip to branches. I had hoped to find a finial topper, but no luck. I’ll keep looking in thrift stores after the holidays. All the other traditional toppers were too gaudy for our tree.

Home. Unwrapped. The new stand snapped together in less than 5 minutes, the tree slipped in and locked, and we could spend quality time fluffing the tree, instead of fighting for an hour or more with the stand. We put the lights on the tree (which actually had stayed coiled properly this year). And moved the tree into position in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. We use the glass doors to frame it.

Even though this stand is far sturdier than the other one, I tied off the tree to the door hinges, just for added security.

We unpacked all the ornaments from the big bin in the closet in the sewing room and put them on. The shimmery gold ornaments and some small wooden ornaments go on last, after everything else goes on, and we put those aside.

That took most of the afternoon, but we had a lot of fun with it. Each ornament has a story, and we tell and retell our history with it.

The kitty litter delivery from Chewy also arrived, so I got to haul 45 pounds of cat litter up the stairs.

Sprawled on the couch reading in the evening, with candles on and cats on laps.

Willa is so gentle when she checks out the tree. It’s kind of adorable. Tessa circled it a few times, and pointed out where some branches needed adjustment, and then was satisfied. Charlotte watched from a safe distance.

They really are all very good with the tree. But then, we don’t shut them out when we decorate. They’re always a part of the process of unpacking ornaments, putting things up, or packing them. ALL my cats have been good with the trees. I mean, Elsa (tortie) used to climb the bare tree, but she was fine once the ornaments were up. And Iris (Russian blue) used to choose a patch of tree she wanted bare and remove the ornaments. But none of them were ever destructive.

The storm intensified, and we had power outages on and off all night. Tessa did not like it, and roamed the house, complaining, each time it went off or on. I discovered that, while I could report the outage to the electric company, the gas company has no system for outages. WTF? Charlotte and Willa just burrowed deeper in blankets.

By the time I got up on Sunday morning, everything was fine again.

I mean, we live in a city, not a rural area (despite what Staples claims, when they slap “rural carrier fees” onto orders). It makes sense they’d get the power back on pretty quickly.

Sunday was cold and sunny. My neighbor knocked to let me know packages arrived last night. He’d knocked on the door, but, for whatever reason, I hadn’t heard, and he’d taken them in and then brought them over this morning. One was the Goddess Provisions box (which I didn’t expect until Monday) and the other was a gift from a friend in NY.

After breakfast, I revised “Net Worth” mostly for internal logic, and starting to layer in some sensory details. There’s plenty I intentionally don’t explain and leave for the readers’ imaginations.

I did some more work on “Comfort, Then Joy” which is surprising me for all the right reasons. I’m a little past halfway with it. I figure it’ll come in between 3-5K, a little longer than I wanted for a newsletter story, but it’s a fairly short newsletter.

In the late morning, we went over to the Alpaca Farm to pick up a gift for the cousin in Maine, and then to pick up a few things at Wild Oats. They had bayberry candles! And wonderful ones, from Mole HIll in Sturbridge.

The afternoon was all about wrapping presents, packing the packages, writing the cards to go in the packages, taping everything up, mailing labels, etc. I was tired, grumpy, and feeling every bit of my age by the end of it. Charlotte helped, which was pretty funny.

I like the wrapping and choosing things I think my friends would enjoy. But the whole post office prep can be a bit much. But I had the labels and the tape and the Sharpies and all the rest, so it was fine.

Too tired to do much more in the evening except have a glass of wine with some cheese, crackers, and fig/orange spread, enjoying the 2nd of Advent candles and the partially finished tree.

Dipped into a bit of Script Chat, but felt old and grumpy and in pain, so I wasn’t at my best.

To date, I have been invited to 17 different holiday gatherings, none with appropriate COVID protocols, and therefore have said no to all the invitations. Not worth the risk. I’m grateful they invite me, but I’m not getting sick because someone can’t be bothered to wear a mask. So I don’t put myself in high risk situations.

Fell into a very deep sleep. Charlotte woke me around 1:30. When I went back to sleep, I dreamed that I met Dewi Hargreaves, with whom I’m friendly on various social media, in person. We were meeting a couple of others we “knew” from social media in a parking lot somewhere, but they were wittering on about stuff we found vicious and tedious, so we ditched them to go to a book-lined bar and talk about books, which sounds like a nice evening to me. In this Dreamscape, we didn’t have to worry about COVID.

Tessa woke me up around 4, and I told her I was NOT getting up that early, and fell back to sleep. I dreamed that I was at an estate sale, bought 5 vintage suitcases, some books, and lots of women’s gloves. I have lots of suitcases (but love luggage) and I do pick up vintage gloves a lot (at least I did, pre-plague), so that made sense. But there was this other guy there, who kept trying to take stuff I’d already paid for and add it to his pile.

According to dream “experts”, dreams about suitcases mean an upcoming trip, or the need to access personal information about yourself. Dreaming about gloves shows a need for protection. It’s pretty obvious what someone taking something symbolizes. However, in this case, I think it was all more literal than metaphorical. But I’ll use the Rackham Tarot given to me by my friend to dig deeper. That deck works well for dream work.

I woke up late, and felt behind the beat and tired all day.

I got the Monday blogging done, made the SM rounds, sat down and made the grocery list. I took the packages to the post office. Managed to park right in front, walk right up to the desk, and was done in just a few minutes – AND within budget. Everything will be where it needs to be by the end of the week. It was sunny, so everyone was in a good mood (and most masked, indoors).

Went to Big Y to do the Big Shop. I think I’m all set for baking – will probably need to get more eggs, as some point. But I’ve been stockpiling staples for a few weeks, and I think I’m in pretty good shape.

Got a batch of veggie stock made in the crockpot. Did another draft of “Net Worth” so it was where I needed it to be in order to put it up this afternoon on Ko-fi. Polished the next two posts for The Process Muse, chose the graphics, uploaded and scheduled.

Turned around two coverages.

Jeremy’s soup class was great. He taught us to make Italian Wedding Soup, and I learned a bunch of new techniques. Charlotte was delighted, although I had to stop and grate some Parmesan for her, because he used Parmesan and talked Parmesan, and every time he said the word, she got all excited.

Tired. Had weird dreams overnight.

Last night was St. Nicholas Night, a traditional celebration, where one leaves out a shoe, and wakes up to find it filled with chocolate or candy or whatever. Chocolate and cocoa for us, this morning. And we generally put the goodies in either a gift bag or one of the Christmas stockings and put the bag in the shoe, because, you know, hygiene.

Waking up to chocolate is always good.

The coffee filter split this morning, so there are coffee grounds in the coffee. Better than no coffee, and I HAVE to get the new coffeemaker up and running.

Roxane Gay shared an article written by Isabel Kaplan about her boyfriend, a fellow writer, breaking up with her once she had some success. He didn’t like that she kept a journal. He felt it was his “responsibility to take her down a peg” and so on and so forth. It reminded me so much of a toxic, emotionally abusive relationship I was in back in the mid-90’s. I’m so glad I’m not still with that guy. I would be dead, emotionally (and most likely physically; he had a history of dead wives). She talks about parsing out her good news, about contorting herself emotionally until she’s a pretzel and then blaming herself for the hurt. It hit very close to the bone. Too many men in my life have defined “partnership” as me putting my writing last while doing physical, emotional, and sexual labor to promote their careers. No. Just no. The right partner will not sabotage the writing. The bell weather for me, in a relationship is – if my writing improves, sparkles, strengthens with this person, it’s a good relationship. If the writing falters or stalls, it means get the hell out.

And, as someone who has kept a journal for 50 years (there are boxes of them in storage), anyone who tried to keep me from my journal, or, worse yet, violated my trust by READING it, was gone in a heartbeat. My blogs are public. What’s in those handwritten books is private.

The big priority this morning is getting at least some of the next episodes of LEGERDEMAIN uploaded and posted. ‘Net Worth” goes up on Ko-fi this afternoon. We’ll see where we are, timewise, after that. I need to work on “Comfort, Then Joy” and also work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH and more LEGERDEMAIN, but that might not happen.

The baking begins today. I’ll do two batches of one kind of cookie right after lunch, then start my script coverages for the day. That should let me get all my baking done by the end of the weekend, so I can start delivering cookie platters early next week.

No doubt, I will post photos as I bake.

Have a good one, my friends. Peace and joy to you.

The next epsiode of Legerdemain goes live today. Enjoy!

Tues. Oct. 4, 2022: Determined Writing Time

image courtesy of Nicole via pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Waxing Moon

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

Mercury DIRECT as of Sunday the 2nd (phew)

Mars still in Gemini (until March)

Cloudy and cool

Doesn’t it feel ever so much better to have Mercury direct? I was feeling crushed by it on top of the other retrogrades and Mars in Gemini.

Friday seems so far away, somehow.

I didn’t get as much done creatively as I’d hoped, although I wrote and submitted the book review, slogged through some email, worked on some marketing, and wrote ahead on a couple of blogs, scheduling them to post this week.

Most of the day was spent on script coverage, since it was the end of the pay period. I finished the huge coverage and got that out, and then did two smaller ones, which took me until well into the evening, and then it felt like my brain was broken.

I’d hoped to re-read AS YOU LIKE IT on Friday night, but no such luck.

I slept pretty well, and was up on Saturday, doing the normal routine (early morning writing, yoga, meditation, after feeding the cats) in spite of a bad headache.

The morning was spent switching out fabrics to Halloween/Samhain fabrics, and starting the decorating. I took a break in the late morning to run some bills and cards to the post office. I swung by the dollar store, hoping to find black garland and bones, but they didn’t have the bones I want, and the garland was too flimsy. I might have to redesign. If I can find a sturdier garland out of black leaves, I might buy some of the skeletal hands and have them climbing up the garland. We’ll see.

Charlotte and Tessa actually shared the couch for most of Saturday, without fighting. It was adorable.

I alternated decorating with re-reading AS YOU LIKE IT and Asimov’s commentary on AS YOU LIKE IT (ASIMOV’S GUIDE TO SHAKESPEARE is one of my favorite and most-used books).

I wrote the first 4 pages of a new one-act (that’s only going to be 10 pages). I’m happy with the tone and the bones of it.

Slept in a bit on Sunday. Tessa was not amused. Sunday, was, all around, a pretty rough day for no good reason. I was jumpy and out of sorts.

I managed to finish the draft of the short play, at least.

Some of the Fall Foliage parade went by the house,  a handful of floats and some marchers. Fewer than last year, so I don’t know if they directed them down several different streets, or if this year’s parade was smaller. Charlotte sat on her perch, and was thrilled when people spotted her and waved. She believed the parade was in her honor, and was in a good mood for the rest of the day.

I was excited to read the next book in a series in which I’ve read all the books. But there, on p. 12 – the protagonist used “witch” as a slur against women. This author and this protagonist have never done that, in the entire series, and it doesn’t fit with the character as established over the years. In addition to the whole it crosses the personal line, so that series and that author is now off my list permanently, and I’m unsubscribing from the mailing list, and all the rest.

It also brings up how both Berkeley and Kensington are encouraging the hard right turn that cozy mystery has been taking for the past few years, and I don’t like it. Series that never used the slur are now doing so, authors who KNOW BETTER are letting it in their books.

I’m not having it. Bye-uh.

I started reading the essays in LIGHT THE DARK, which is a series of essays on the creative process, and it is wonderful and nourishing.

Participated in Script Chat Sunday night, which I don’t usually do, but I’d blown the whole day-of-disconnect for Sunday, so why not. It was fun.

Noodled with two ideas that might work well on Ko-fi.

Tessa let me sleep on Monday until 6 AM, a big win. A colleague wanted to meet; I’d suggested meeting last week today, but never heard back, so I went and booked other work for this afternoon. I’m not available at the last minute. Book ahead.

Again, it’s that whole “you don’t have a real job” mentality that irks me.

I adapted the next chapter of ANGEL HUNT (3600-ish words) into four serial episodes. That gives me 30 episodes so far, or the first 15 weeks of that serial. I will launch it at the new moon in January following Mercury going direct, but I want to make sure I have the entire serial done by the time it starts. It will be a finite serial, and, if it gains traction, I might do a “Season 2” when they’ve left New York, and a “Season 3” years after. But we’ll see how the original one does, first.

I took a look at EARTH BRIDE, which is likely to go up on Substack at some point. I have over 125K words, and I’m only about halfway through the original outline. When I’d worked on it as a novel, I figured it would turn into a trilogy, so as a serial, it could go on for a good, long time. Re-reading the material, it needs a lot of work, though. But I think it’s more suited for Substack than for Vella. ANGEL HUNT will work better on Vella.

I revised “After Arden” and then let it sit. I’m hoping one more revision (today) and then it can go out. The deadline looms.

Wrote an episode and a half of LEGERDEMAIN, which was good. I need to find my notes for the next section, so I’m not going too far off track.

Played the marketing game, checked in with the Women Write Change group (I usually check in on that site at least once a day, or once every couple of days).

A friend sent me the draft of his new novel for feedback. He’s a wonderful writer, so I’m looking forward to it. He’s off on a travel writing gig for the next three weeks, so I have some time.

I was invited to a reading at the end of next week by the leader of a group of poets I’m excited to hear. I didn’t think she’d remember to let me know when it was, but she did, and I’m looking forward to it.

Turned around three script coverages yesterday, and have the same amount to do today, tomorrow, and Thursday to stay on track. Don’t have scripts yet for Friday, but hopefully, I can  get some.

Did not sleep well. Charlotte fussed at me all night. So I’m starting the day a little tired. I might hop out for some errands later today, or I might wait and do everything tomorrow. I have a long list of things that need to get done today on the writing front.

Episode 21 of Legerdemain drops today (and there’s even a poll)! I need to spend some time on the Vella FB groups today, and see if they actually are helpful.

Have a good one, friends.

Tues. April 19, 2022: Stormy Weather

image courtesy of Andrei Kuleshov via pixabay.com

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Waning Moon

Rainy and cool

My brain wanted to take Friday off, although I had a good early morning writing session out on the front porch. But I slogged through a bunch of emails. There are some places to which I want to send an LOI, but it would have been stupid to send it on the Friday of a holiday weekend, so those go out today. I also have to find a way to get in touch with this mysterious garage who supposedly can fix my car but has no website in the 21st century. And mail my state quarterly taxes.

I did write, polish, and send off my book review before deadline. The only book they had to review was one I’m not qualified to review (it’s on early childhood education), so another thing on today’s list is to get back in touch and see what else has come in.

It was lovely and sunny, although cooler.

I turned around a script coverage, and decided to start my weekend.

Saturday, I rested and read a lot. I needed the time off. It was raining pretty hard most of the day, and I was glad not to have to go out. I’d hoped to walk down to the coffee shop opposite MassMOCA and give it a try, but that’s put off until it can actually be a pleasant walk.

I set up the ironing board and the craft paper and spent a couple of hours lifting wax out of various tablecloths and altar cloths. It takes a good bit of paper, and one has to work fast, so it doesn’t absorb through the paper and onto the iron. But I got it done, and then slowly started handwashing the fabrics. Some of the dyes from the candles will need to be taken out with the bleach pen, but most of it came out well.

Only people who haven’t worked in film and television think it has nothing to do with actual life skills.

Noodled some ideas in my head for various projects and let them percolate. Percolation time in necessary.

By Saturday afternoon, we brought in all the plants, because the temperature dropped hard and fast. Vacuumed, washed floors, changed beds, the usual Saturday housework.

Baked biscuits early Sunday morning. The weather kept cycled through accumulating snow to sun to rain to accumulating snow all day. I was glad to stay in.

Although we no longer celebrate Easter, my mom wanted baked ham for mid-day dinner, so that’s what I made. I thought it was too sweet (even though I hadn’t put anything on it). That’s the second disappointing ham we’ve had (Christmas ham was okay, but not brilliant), so I think/hope we’re done with it for a while. We have enough for some leftovers, and I’ll make a ham pot pie in a couple of days. I made soup with the bone, adding in garbanzo beans, onion, garlic, and spinach, so we’ll have that for a couple of lunches this week. I’d made chocolate mousse for dessert, so at least we had that.

Read a couple of Ngaio Marsh books, and an art mystery by Iain Pears set in Venice.

Unpacked a couple of boxes of decorations that had been in my office in the other house. Most of them have various new homes; some of them will be repacked into the box of decorations that we aren’t using right now. The “New Orleans Aunties” set of dolls I brought back from the Crescent City years ago now have their own shelf on the front porch, with their beads and the little chest of Crown Royal.

But mostly, I rested. I still feel the aftereffects of Shot 4.

Yesterday was a holiday here in the state, and I was damn well going to take it! It was sunny and cold.

I took some bills, including the federal quarterly taxes, and headed for the post office to mail them and buy stamps. Then, I headed over toward Mass MOCA, to try out the coffee shop. Which is no longer there, and the space now holds a Mexican restaurant. So, as far as I can tell, there’s no independent coffee shop in walking distance of the house. In a college town. Which makes no sense to me at all. Cumberland Farms and Burger King don’t cut it.

I’m not someone who goes out and buys a cup of coffee every day (I make excellent coffee at home), but sometimes, when I’m out and about, I like the option.

Makes me think I should bring up the espresso machine on the next trip to storage.

Picked up a few bits and bobs on the way home – some plant stakes, some hair elastics, some highlighters for the upcoming multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER. That type of thing.

It was warm enough to move the plants back out to the porch. I worked on contest entries out there, too. I also started oiling the porch furniture with the teak oil. I don’t have the room to spread everything out and do it all at once, so I’m doing one piece, letting it dry, then moving on. I got one of the Adirondack chairs done. I’m also cleaning and polishing the wooden sills around the windows, with another kind of oil. They are in desperate need of some TLC.

The tabletop fountain I ordered arrived, much more quickly than I expected. It’s simple, but nice. I set it up, put in the batteries, put in the water. It’s a little noisy for the size, but looks good and works well. I put a plate of crystals in front of it. And there’s the healing/meditation altar, inspired by the Twitter pal who said a blessing for me at St. Anthony’s Well last week.

The check arrived for the radio play in Minnesota. That was quick. We only talked about it a couple of days ago.

I saw an email from the potential client with whom I had the video conference last week. I fully expected it to be a “thanks, but no thanks.” Instead, it’s a contract and an NDA. I’ll read it and see if there are any points to negotiate before I sign, but it looks like I’ll be doing some freelancing for an agency. That will expand my parameters and skills a bit, no doubt.

I’ve been giving feedback on a friend’s synopsis for a TV pilot. It’s so good. I’m so excited for her. She’s entering it in a contest.

I’d been playing with the idea of taking a short trip this summer, to dip my toe back into the traveling waters, and even looked at flights. But with the inept Trump-appointed judge striking down the mask mandate on public transportation, that’s off. It also means it’s unlikely that I take the bus down to NYC for a quick museum trip, which I’d also hoped to do. It’s just not worth the risk. I’m glad the conference at which I’m teaching stayed virtual.

The storm woke me at 4 AM. In upstate NY, they were told to expect up to a foot of snow. Here, they keep changing their minds as to whether it’s snow or rain over the next few days. So far, just rain. I have to dash down to the post office to mail my state quarterly taxes today, but that’s my only foray out. I’d hoped to go to the laundromat, but not in this weather.

I have a lot of admin to handle today, and turn around the contract, check in with my editor to see if there are any new books to review, pitch to my Llewellyn editor for 2024. Work on the radio plays. Work on the Big Project. Turn around two scripts. Fight with Tracfone about my mom’s phone. Try to get in touch with the mechanic who supposedly can fix my car. Work on contest entries.

I’d better get going, hadn’t I? There’s a mid-month check in over on the GDR site. And I have a Dramatists Guild virtual event tonight (which I can actually do, since Knowledge Unicorns is on Easter break).

Have a good one!

Wed. Jan. 12, 2022: Writing In My Head

image courtesy of Chriszwettler via pixabay.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Yesterday was another day that was kind of all over the place. But I got some good stuff done.

Plowed through a bunch of emails, got out an LOI. There were some interesting submission calls in my inbox. One, I really wanted to do, but I don’t have anything suitable. It’s for a one-act play, 30-40 minutes, 4 characters. All my plays of the correct length have more characters; the ones with four or fewer are too short. I started to adapt a short story into a stage play, but that’s going to be too short, too. I don’t have time to write a new play from scratch, and have it in anywhere near decent shape by deadline.

There’s another call for a short story that got my wheels turning. It only needs to be about 1500 words, so if I can actually sit down and do a rough draft today, and it’s strong enough, I could revise it and have it in by deadline. I started writing it in my head. If it goes on the page as well as it’s unfolding in my brain, I’ve got a shot.

We’ll see.

Wrote a little bit on The Big Project. Not as much as I wanted to, but it was a comic scene that had to be properly structured. The joke lands, so I think it will be okay.

Worked on script coverage and on contest entries.

Charlotte sat down on my keyboard, causing all kinds of chaos, but now the “Editor” function is back in Word. Go figure.

Thank goodness there are plenty of leftovers.

Put in the Chewy order for cat litter. Packed away the boxes of holiday decorations. One box was dripping. I opened it—it contained large, outdoor balls I hadn’t used this year. They were full of water. A small hole in the top, where the hanging loop was put in, meant that, being outside, they could accumulate water inside.

I drained them and have left them on the counter to thoroughly dry. Don’t want them getting moldy inside.

That was weird. Just weird.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. Because everyone’s still remote, the kids don’t have to spend most of their day worrying about active shooters and whether the person next to them will expose them to a deadly virus, they can actually learn. Let’s face it, none of this insistence about forcing in-person learning is actually for the well-being of the kids. It’s all about making sure their parents go back out to Die for Their Employers. It’s disgusting.

I woke up on my own around 5:30 this morning, no feline choir. I’m writing this morning. Then, late morning, I will bundle up, load up as many library books as I can carry, and do a drop off/pick up.

Script coverage, book reviews, and contest entries this afternoon.

Onward.

Tues. Jan. 11, 2022: Bitterly Cold

image courtesy of Nicky Pe via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Bitterly cold

It is 1 degree F this morning.

There’s a post over on the GDR site about resolutions being the first step.

The weekend was kind of all over the place. Worked on coverages all the way through. Was honored to be requested by two writers (on two different scripts) to read revisions based on notes I gave them a few weeks ago.

Worked on packing decorations and figuring out where to put everything so we actually have living space for the year. I’m handwashing the holiday fabrics. Some of that is because I don’t want to put the glittery fabric in a commercial machine; also because there’s no way I’m humping it all down to the laundromat in this weather.

The library has cancelled all in-person programs for the month, which is a wise idea. There was a positive test at the co-op, and that staff member and two others who were in close contact are now in quarantine. I hope they are okay.

We’re having the weather we were warned about, so staying home is my only option (especially since the car doesn’t work). Snow and freezing rain all weekend, frigid temperatures today. I have a big stack of books to return to the library, but that will happen later this week. Since the virus numbers keep going up, and the entire country is back in “Die for Your Employer” mode, I’m happy to stay home.

Did some reading for pleasure, because I needed the break. Didn’t work on The Big Project until Monday, which threw off my rhythm for everything else. We’re eating leftovers, which is a good thing to clean out the fridge and not waste food, and because I just don’t have the energy to cook right now. Although I managed a chocolate mousse on Sunday, which was delicious.

Tessa is really angry at me for taking down the big tree that was in the doorway between the sewing room and the living room. She loved to glide under it to go from one room to the other, and also liked to sit under it.

As a joke, I put a small, 15” tree (that was on one of the bookcases) down in the same spot the big tree stood. Tessa glared at me like, “You think I’m stupid?”

Meanwhile, Charlotte walked around it, checking it from all angles, and then looked at me, puzzled, like, “I remember this being bigger last time I was here.”

Willa paid no attention, being her Willa self, and busy with other things.

The dog bed that was once Tessa’s and then became Willa’s is now Willa’s again. It is on top of my mom’s bed (instead of being on top of boxes near the window, where we thought Willa would like it), and she sleeps curled up in it during the day (and curled around my mom at night).

Saturday was sunny, but cold. I ran a few errands on foot, and then dug out the car, so that Friday’s snow wouldn’t freeze down when Sunday’s freezing rain hit. Definitely a good call, because Sunday was miserable. The plows were out all day, scraping down to pavement and then sanding, very conscientious, before Monday’s next snowstorm hit.

Sunday was nasty, freezing rain all day. I was glad to stay in, work on script coverages, and read. And keep working on packing up decorations. I’ve somehow misplaced two boxes – the decorations came OUT of them, so I don’t see how I could misplace them in this finite space.

After 10 years, I had the packing/unpacking down to a system, because of the way it fit into the Christmas Closet in the storage area over the garage. But I have to figure out how it works best here, so it’s a lot of geometry involved, finding out it doesn’t work, and starting over.

It snowed most of Monday. Again, the plows were conscientious about coming around to scrape down to pavement. Once the snow stopped, in the late afternoon, they put down a lot of sand, in preparation for today.

I didn’t get much done yesterday. I couldn’t concentrate. I did work up some notes on The Big Project, finding a way to integrate a new idea into the current outline, and giving it room to create another big arc (if I decide that’s what I want), or maybe even a spin-off.

I plowed through the email that had stacked up. Outlined some specialty blog posts. Spent some time on the acupressure mat. Worked on script coverage. Started on the print books in one of the categories I’m judging. I have to contact my book review editor; for some reason, I can’t find the links to upload the two reviews I just worked on. I also have to get back to the search for someone to fix the car today, so I can set that up for next week or so.

Made a black bean soup from the Moosewood recipe – very good, and easy. That recipe will become a staple recipe in my repertoire.

The Chewy order finally arrived; I felt sorry for the driver. The delay in delivery is not a problem at all – I’d rather the drivers stayed safe. The way Fed Ex lies about the delivery is not okay. Just tell me it’s delayed; don’t keep insisting it’s coming “today” as they did Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Target order – which is five small, but necessary items – is coming in three different boxes. And I’ll have to put in another order with Chewy this week for the cat litter (the one that arrived was for food – we’re good for the next nine weeks). The Goddess Provisions box arrived, filled with good stuff.

I’ve received so many oracle decks in the past few years, between Tamed Wild and Goddess Provisions, that I think, in spring, I’ll give away the ones with which I don’t connect strongly/don’t use. As I’m unpacking stuff and setting up the office/bookcases/ reading nooks, I will put aside the ones I want to give away, and then set it up in spring, when it’s easier to get to the post office.

Once I post here, I’m off to do some work on The Big Project, to try to get back on track with that. I’m way behind where I wanted to be at this point; however, I really like the quality of the writing. Then, I’ll write up the scoring sheets for the entries I read last night, and get back to the script coverage. I have to get a lot read this week if I want to make my nut this pay period (and I’m pretty sure I’ll fall short, but I’m so damn exhausted, and it’s not fair to the writers if I’m not in top form to write up the coverage).

I need to get back on track with THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, too, but that can happen this weekend. And I need to get some LOIs out.

Later this month, I need to get back to working on the new editions of the Topic Workbooks, so they can start re-releasing. I was so thrilled with the new covers, and now I’m having second thoughts that they might be too busy, using photographs instead of line drawings. The original covers are too similar; these new covers are too different, and the tiny logo in the corner doesn’t really tie them together enough. I’ll have to mull that over. Although I’m not going to go for a re-design during a Venus retrograde because that’s simply not wise. But I can think about it and consider options and styles, and how I really want these workbooks to sit in the world. They are my steadiest sellers, so I want them to be both useful and easy on the eye.

Today is bitterly cold. It was supposed to snow all day, but it’s sunny right now. I’m just grateful the power is still on!

Charlotte woke me at 3:33 AM, wanting attention, and the minute Tessa heard her, Tessa started, in full voice. I grabbed the feather bed and moved to the couch, grumpy that I had to leave my cozy fleece sheets, but not wanting Tessa to wake the neighbors at that hour. I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew, it was 7 AM and more snow had fallen. Poor Willa got the short end of the stick this morning – no attention AND late breakfast. I had weird dreams on the couch – busy dreams, not stress dreams, at least. But I still felt like I’d already put in a full day by the time I woke up.

It’s supposed to be a little warmer tomorrow, and cloudy, so the plan (so far) tomorrow late morning is to pack up as many of the library books as I can carry and return them, and pick up the books that have come in. I’ll probably go across the street to the college library in the next few days. I have some digging I need to do in their shelves. Best to do it before classes start up again next week.

I hope the virus numbers go down enough in spring and summer that I can work IN these two libraries a couple of times a week. The spaces are so terrific, I want to utilize them. But not now. Now, I’m isolating as much as possible.

Stay safe and healthy. May you have the energy you need to both get through the day and create.

Fri. Jan. 7, 2022: Taking Down the Ornaments

image courtesy of Theo Crazzolara via pixabay.com

Friday, January 7, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Snowy and cold

It snowed overnight. Not much, just enough to be pretty. The plows are already out. They’re good about that here. Unlike on Cape, where it could take days. Although I hear Boston and the coast all the way down past New York are getting more than two inches of snow per hour.

Fortunately, today is another day where I don’t have to go out.

It stopped snowing for a couple of hours, and started up again, tiny little flakes which will, no doubt, stick and freeze over. I’ll have to dig out the car later so it doesn’t turn into a mini iceberg.

I finished writing up a coverage yesterday morning and got it in just under the wire. Then, I put the chicken and mushrooms and spices in the crockpot, so I didn’t have to worry about dinner.

We were late starting to get the decorations down, and the sheer amount to be rounded up, packed, and stashed is overwhelming. I don’t know why I’m surprised; it took three weeks to put up. Taking more than a day to put it away shouldn’t surprise me.

But I was discouraged.

Got the front door wreath down, and have it up on the living room door, where the big jingle bell wreath was, although I’ve stripped it down to green. We will enjoy the greens as long as we can, and then I’ll harvest some to burn at Yule this coming December. The heart door decoration is now up, ready for Valentine’s Day.

The ribbons and cards and lights and little decorations are down from the kitchen. It looks very bare. I’m thinking it needs a valence. I like the big windows and don’t want curtains, but it does look terribly bare, now that everything’s gone.

We packed up the decorations from my office, the sewing room, the bathroom (yes, I even decorate the bathroom), and Tessa’s room. We took down the small tree on the porch and packed everything away in the closet in Tessa’s room. I still have to take down the lights, but they’re tied to the blinds, so that’s a chore for another day.

We stripped the big tree of all the ornaments. The ones that have specific boxes are all packed away. There are still a big pile that go into the plastic bins, and that’s a task for today. The big tree with just the lights is still up. I have boxes for the lights that are organized by type of strand and length of strand, so it has to be done with precision And it won’t be fun to unwind the length of lights I put around the trunk in a fit of over-decorating zeal.

We still have to strip the stairs of lights and garlands and bits, put away the Santas, the deer, and the nutcrackers. And then figure how to pack it so we still have some space for the year. Most of it goes into the closet in the sewing room, and some of it goes into the top  pantry shelves. There will, no doubt, be some rearranging.

Read a script just before dinner. Had the slow cooker chicken stroganoff, which turned out well, and then wrote up the coverage. I have one script I have to read/write up today, and I should do two. I behind where I need to be to make my  nut this pay period.

But I’ve struggled this week. I’m exhausted and frustrated and disheartened.

President Biden’s speech was a good one, but I remain dubious until there are arrests and convictions. Anyone involved in the insurrection or who voted not to certify the election committed treason and should face the strongest of penalties for that. Anything less is giving them a pass to do it again. Every House Republican who did not show up for the moment of respect on the floor yesterday should be censured and removed.

And, while I’m glad the economy is “booming” when the cost of it is close to a million lives, no. Just no. This administration is forcing people to work to death just as much as the last one. That is not acceptable.

They ran on promises of monthly stipends of $2K/month for the length of the pandemic and 3 months beyond. Instead, they gave us $1400 a year ago.

Not acceptable.

Word has dumped the “Editor” function in yesterday’s reboot, so I’m back cross-checking with style guides (like Strunk, Chicago, etc.) which I had to do anyway, because Word’s Editor was usually wrong.

I’m just so damn tired of all of it.

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

Thurs. Jan. 6, 2022: The Sense of Time Running Out

image courtesy of anncapictures via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Cloudy, windy, cold

Twelfth Night

Next winter holiday cycle (2022 into 2023), I need to figure out how to earn enough so I can schedule time off from the Winter Solstice through the first week of January. I don’t know if it’s pandemic fatigue, burnout, car stress, or a combination, but I’m having a difficult time getting going this year. The Uranus, Venus, and upcoming Mercury retrogrades aren’t helping.

There’s a post on Gratitude and Growth about the seed catalogs.

The crows fly past for their morning visit, but it was the regular murder, not the murderati, and they weren’t upset, so whatever the threat was seems to be gone.

I coaxed the car to the grocery store, did a big shop, and managed to get back. Still trying to find a mechanic to fix it. It was stressful to coax the car there and back.

Too many people sneezing and coughing in the store, although everyone I saw was masked. On the one hand, one wants to judge them for not staying home. On the other hand, there’s no grocery delivery around here, and a lot of people are on their own, with no one who can help them.  They HAVE to go to the grocery store.

There were a lot of empty shelves at the store. Big brands, not local ones. Some of the trucks were caught up in the I-95 snow debacle and still haven’t made it up. But I got what I needed, most of what I wanted, and forgot a few things that had me kicking myself when I got back.

I was exhausted by the time I got back, and it was still morning. I got everything in just before the rain started, so at least that timing worked.

Then, some sort of siren went off. Not like someone’s house alarm, but an actual town-wide warning siren. Only I had no idea what it could be since this city isn’t great at communicating, something I hope the new mayor will fix. It was raining, but not tornado weather, so it couldn’t be the tornado siren. The sluice gates were open, so it was unlikely to flood. And no one was worried; everyone just went about their business. So I figured I shouldn’t worry, either.

But it’s stressful to hear a siren go off and not know why.

They’re considering closing schools in Pittsfield because of COVID spikes – but not switching to remote learning, which is majorly effed up.

Today is the year anniversary of the attempted coup by the Narcissistic Sociopath. And there are still too many people out there who should be in jail. I don’t want a “speech” from Garland. I want the traitors punished. None of this crap about how “it takes time” to build the case. First of all, it was broadcast live. Second, we don’t HAVE the time. Get it done or step aside for someone who will.

On a personal level, the fact that it happened on January 6th angers me, because Twelfth Night/Epiphany is a joyous day in my personal calendar.

Well, it will be joyous again if someone would ever do something about holding these traitors accountable. All they do is nothing, which emboldens the traitors.

I didn’t get any work done on The Big Project, and it threw off my entire day. I was out of sorts. I’ve been unsettled since the start of the year anyway, but skipping writing days on these projects makes it worse.

Struggled with the script coverages, and didn’t get enough done, so I have to finish today, while taking down the decorations. I’d hoped to bake a King Cake, but I don’t really have time.

A job description landed in my inbox, for a part-time, remote copywriting position wanting someone “feminine.” WTF does that have to do with writing good marketing copy? And whose definition of feminine” is being used? Some old white man’s? Talk about insulting.

Made a ham pot pie with leftovers. Don’t want to waste anything. It’s like a chicken pot pie, only using ham, cream of celery soup, vegetables, garlic, and onion, and topping it with a Bisquick crust. It was really good, but I’m not happy with the way the oven is calibrated. Outer edges brown quickly while middles underbake.

Befana night is being included in our holiday celebration schedule, so this morning, little gifts were at the breakfast plates. Large crystals, this year.

The computer was cranky this morning. I had to shut everything down and boot it all back up. It took for damn ever. This PC is not even two years old. My Mac worked well most of the time for ten years.

I have meditation group (thank goodness, maybe it will help me be less scattered). Then, I have to finish a script coverage, take down decorations, put dinner in the crockpot, read and write up another script coverage, take down more decorations. I’d planned not to write on the Big Project today, but I still feel unsettled. Hopefully, the power will stay on until I get out my coverages.

Some poor soul in the neighborhood has a car alarm that keeps going off. I was worried it was mine, but it’s not.

I was requested for a coverage to read a revision of a script I liked, but on which I had a few suggestions. I’m honored that the writer wants me to take a look at the revision.

I need to figure out how to rework my time on things. I just can’t knock things out as fast as I used to. It’s very frustrating, and I hope it’s just pandemic brain and not something worse. But whatever it is, I have to adjust and make it work for the work.

Have a good one.

Published in: on January 6, 2022 at 8:29 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 6, 2022: The Sense of Time Running Out  
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Tues. Dec. 28, 2021: Post-Holiday Errands

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Waning Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Rainy and cold

I hope everyone had a good weekend, whether or not you celebrated the Christmas holiday.

Ours was fine: lots of food, lots of books. We were tired of the foods we “traditionally” had for the Christmas Eve and Day meals. So for the Eve, it was baked trout, baked whipped potatoes with garlic and herbs, and spinach. For the day, it was a baked ham with a bourbon-molasses glaze. We don’t eat much pork anymore, but my mom wanted ham, so we had ham. I didn’t feel all that great afterwards, but not too bad.

Desserts were stollen on the Eve and chocolate mousse on the day, and that was all good.

We usually do presents on the Eve and stockings on the Day, but, again, my mom wanted to wait and do everything on the Day, so that’s what we did.

We had fun opening things. Tessa “helped.” Charlotte and Willa watched from a safe distance. Tessa adored her present – a catnip toy that looks like a gift. Willa and Charlotte didn’t know what to do with theirs. Charlotte figured it out, and then she was afraid someone would take it away.

But most of the time, we just relaxed.

It was perfectly pleasant, although I felt somewhat unsettled the entire time.

I checked in regularly with my friend, who lost her mother the day before Christmas Eve. There’s not much I can do, except give her as much support as possible. The whole world shifts, and it’s painful.

Sunday, I puttered around with paperwork, and getting my email inbox down to 13 emails for a brief, shining moment, before it filled up again. Worked on the blog schedule for some of the blogs, and tried to get ahead a bit on ones that don’t rely on being in the moment. Researched some companies and added them to the list that will get the postcard mailing in January. Looked through some article guidelines. I’m going to work up some pitches this week, although I won’t send them until the New Year, because it’s just tacky and thoughtless to send them out now. Dived back into the research for “Dawn and Dorothy.” I made a loose writing plan for 2022, which, no doubt, will change by the middle of January. But at least it’s a starting point.

Yesterday, I went to the laundromat. I like to change up my days, but Monday is not a good day. People. The last thing I want, when the virus numbers are back up again, is to be around any more people than necessary. But things got done. Using the rolly cart to go to and from the laundromat is actually easier than getting everything down to the parking lot, loading the car, driving to the laundromat, unloading, reloading, driving back, etc. I just roll the cart down the block, around the corner, down another half a block, and there I am. Plus, yesterday, their parking lot was like a skating rink. I could have fallen and gotten seriously hurt. The sidewalk was clear. Much easier.

While the laundry was going, I make some organizing lists, and worked on a couple of arcs for The Big Project. There are three major arcs that have to be resolved, one after the other, along with less-important, longer-reaching arcs.

A little more than half the neighbors took down all their holiday decorations already. We are keeping ours up until Twelfth Night. That is a tradition we intend to uphold this year.

We never did put a tree topper on our tree this year. None of the ones we have looked right. And the tree looks just fine without it.

Read Colleen Cambridge’s MURDER AT MALLOWAN HALL and loved it. Stayed up until nearly midnight to finish it (I think that was on Christmas Day). I hope there are more books in the series.

Read a book by a new-to-me author set in Venice, which I liked. Put aside another book I started, also set in Venice, that just wasn’t doing it for me.

Started reading Sally Wright’s PURSUIT AND PERSUASION, which I’m enjoying.

Did my errands on foot. My mom won $20 on a scratch ticket that was in her stocking, so I picked that up for her. Mailed thank you notes and birthday cards at the post office. Dropped off and picked up a stack of books at the library. It was pretty cold and windy, but still nice to be out.

Got irritated by an author on Twitter. He’d followed; I followed back, as I do with most authors. The first interaction was a long DM from his “publicist” asking me to read and review the guy’s book. It was a long, involved DM, with a tone making it clear that they were doing me a favor. The publicist is male, of course, and the DM was typical male mansplaining privilege.

Okay, wrong on so many levels. First of all, I’m a paid reviewer by publications. Occasionally, when it doesn’t violate my contract terms, I can review a book for free, usually by someone I know, because the publications that pay me don’t want me reviewing books by people I know. But it is work. It relates to my job, and is therefore unpaid labor. I’m not doing unpaid labor for a stranger. Second of all, how often have I publicly stated that if the first interaction from a new mutual follow is a DM trying to sell me something (or ask for free labor), that’s an immediate unfollow, and often a block? Often. If the idiot can’t be bothered to do due diligence, not someone I want to deal with. Third, a professional publicist would know better than to pull crap like that, because that’s negative public relations, not positive public relations. So either the guy’s amateur hour (which means I hope the author’s not paying him much) or it’s the author using a pseudonym as a publicist. Fourth, if the social media is set to “automatically” DM any new mutual followers marketing crap, again, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, and are not someone with whom I wish to interact on any level. Fifth, don’t ask someone to work in the week between the holidays, unless you’ve done your due diligence and know that they are actually working. It’s rude.

That author also goes on my “do not ever buy or read” list.

Caught up with my lovely postman so I could give him his cookie packet. He was pleased.

Read a script, which I will write up today. Grabbed some more scripts to read the next few days. I’m reading less this week, but I need to read something.

Had Doordash deliver Chinese from my favorite place in Williamstown. One order for last night’s dinner (their duck lo mein is one of my favorites), and a chicken pad thai for today (yes, I know the latter is not Chinese food, but it’s from the same restaurant).

It’s clearing up, so I will bundle up, get the rolly cart, and head to CVS to pick up my mom’s prescription, and Big Y to pick up a few things I need for the meals over New Year’s. It’s a bit of a hike, but I’m trying to preserve the car until I can get it looked at.

Today, the “bonecrusher” square supposedly ends, and Jupiter goes into Pisces tonight/tomorrow, which, in my chart anyway, is supposed to be a good thing. I could use a break, and I’ll take any support from the stars I can get!  😉

On the agenda today, after I get back from the grocery store, is writing up the script coverage, and then finishing the short version of “Dawn and Dorothy.” I hope to get some work done on The Big Project, but we’ll see. This is supposed to be a week of more rest than work for me, but there’s always work to do.

Debating whether I’ll do a mini retreat over New Year’s. New Year’s is usually a tough few days for me, on multiple levels, and I want to be as gentle with myself as possible.

Jeremy Rock Smith is teaching an online cooking session on the 4th; seriously considering taking it, because I love learning from him. He’s a wonderful teacher, in addition to being a quality human being.

That’s the latest; off to the store now. Since I can only buy what I can carry, I have to stick to my list!

Hope your weekend was great, and that the days between the holidays are peaceful.

Wed. Dec. 15, 2021: A Quiet Day

image by DGlodawksa via pixabay.com

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and mild

Short post today (is that a sigh of relief I hear? 😊)

Yesterday was about getting the review out, invoicing (and I was immediately paid, and even got a year-end bonus, which was lovely). My next two books for review are being sent out.

Slogged through over 500 emails, after which I rewarded myself with a couple of chocolate chip cookies. But at least I’m almost caught up. I hate starting the New Year with a backlog of emails. And having 800 emails stack up over a weekend is a lot. Most of them were quickly dealt with; a few needed more attention and got it. I’m careful to keep up with email on regular business days, so it’s not like anything was falling by the wayside.

It was a lovely day, so I ran some errands on foot: mailed a bill, took some checks to the bank, walked up a delightful street I hadn’t yet explored on my way to the library. Yesterday was big leaf clean up here – they went down our block and got all the leaves (which meant leaf-blowing, but it’s not a daily thing here, so I can cope). The little street I explored was also having their leaf clean up. I asked the guy in the truck – the whole street gets together and hires the landscaper, who works his way down the street and removes all the leaves from the yards.

Unlike on Cape, where they leaf blow every day into a pile that the wind then redistributes, and I was the only one on my street who ever actually raked up all the leaves and took them to the dump. In other words, I did the leaf removal for the whole street. Unpaid. Because, eventually, all those leaves ended up in my yard.

Not my problem anymore.

Had a nice chat with the librarians, and a nice walk back.

Finished reading ONE LAST CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, which was a lovely holiday read. The author is a little overly fond of exclamation points in narrative, but the rest of it so lovely that I could deal with it. (I find too many exclamation points in narrative rather than dialogue exhausting. In dialogue, they indicate cadence and reveal character).

Got some work done on script coverage, but was too exhausted to really focus on it. The writer deserves my strong attention, not me pushing through when I’m overtired.

Instead, I put some of the decorations up on the big tree. The advice is to do it with the lights on, but the lights are rather bright, and it was difficult to see. Now, in daylight, I will have to move a few things as I add more! But every ornament has a story, and it’s fun to relive the memories each year when we decorate the tree.

Also figuring out where to put ornaments and things that don’t go on the tree. Since the space is new to us, and we’re trying to figure out how to make things work in it. Which is fun.

Didn’t feel like cooking, so ordered in from a restaurant I’d previously liked. This choice was not good – it was heavy and not prepared the way I liked it. Also, I’d been craving red meat, which I rarely eat any more, and that’s what I ordered. Since it wasn’t prepared properly, it was even more of a mistake than it would be otherwise. Shoe leather with sour cream, anyone?

It felt like a lump in my stomach, and I countered it with ginger tea, but overall, my body handled it better than expected, so there must have been something it needed.

Knowledge Unicorns was fun. Some of them had made Santa Lucia wreaths to wear on the 13th, with battery-operated candles instead of real ones, so that they didn’t set themselves or their houses on fire. They had fun adding that festival into their holiday calendar. Tomorrow is the Winter Holiday pageant they’ve written and rehearsed and will perform online together. I can’t wait.

Slept reasonably well; up once around 4 because I wasn’t feeling great, but the cats remained asleep, and didn’t get me up until a little after 6.

Did my first longhand writing session of the day and yoga and all that. Got some bread on the first rise. I will do some work on The Big Project, and then work on script coverages today.

This afternoon is the final Remote Chat. I’m sad the group is ending; it got me through a lot. I met great people there, and I hope I will stay in touch with at least some of them.

I might get some more baking done today, but I doubt it. oOther than the bread. I’ll have to get a lot done tomorrow and Friday instead. I’ll probably deliver to the neighbors over the weekend, and then to the libraries, post office, etc., on Monday. I have a bunch of admin stuff to finish up this week, too.

Back to the page.

Fri. Nov. 5, 2021: Hands On Keyboard

image courtesy of Pexels.com

Friday, November 5, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

The nights are getting cold here, into the twenties. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that we’ll get snow next week. I’m excited!

I also have to find my gloves. I have enough of them, and they’re up here, not down in storage.

Did my Nano quota yesterday, did the rounds of the buddies, etc. to check in on everyone and make sure they’re okay.

Got through some email. Did some script coverage (not as much as I hoped), and read two more scripts. I have two more to read tonight, and to write everything up over the next couple of days, and I’m done for this week, then start back up Sunday night. Got out a couple of LOIs.

Took down the rest of the lights from the front porch. Put the lights away, and all the spider web curtains away. I still have a little bit of fabric to switch out. Damn lot of laundry to haul to the laundromat next week.

Knowledge Unicorns was fun last night. The kids are actually excited that they can get vaccinated, even though they’re not happy about the whole needle thing.

Wrote Chapter 5 of CAST IRON MURDER this morning, 2439 words. Broke 10K the first 5 days, so I’m on track. I’m hitting my 2K minimum for my own purposes, but not the 2.5K I hoped. But it’s getting done.

Out on errands most of the day, then back to write up script coverage. I’ll write CAST IRON MURDER throughout the weekend, so that I stay on track to hit 50K by Thanksgiving, and then take Thanksgiving weekend off, or at least have a lower daily quota, so I can enjoy the holiday.

I also want to finish “A Rare Medium” this weekend, and finish the research for the Marie Collier play, so I can start it next week.

I’m back in touch with an old friend from Broadway days, with whom I’d like to collaborate on an international project, and write a proposal to develop it at an artists’ colony in France in a year or to. So I need to find my original notes and improve them this weekend, too.

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

Published in: on November 5, 2021 at 8:10 am  Comments Off on Fri. Nov. 5, 2021: Hands On Keyboard  
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Wed. Nov. 3, 2021: Rolling With the Writing

image courtesy of Anna Tukhfatullina via pexels.com

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Dark Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was just one of those days when everything takes longer than one expects. Rather par for the course, here, and I am grateful that my schedule allows for that flexibility.

I was much happier with the work yesterday on CAST IRON MURDER than with the first day’s work. Usually, I have a great start out of the gate, and then settle into the book’s natural rhythm. This time, I struggled a bit on the first day, but I’m starting to hear and feel how it flows. This morning, it felt pretty good, too, and I wrote the third chapter, at 2181 words.

I’m not doing the 2500 words I’d like to be doing a day, but I’m getting over 2K, and I’m writing in full chapters, which works well for this particular project. I need to trust in the work. I’m over the necessary word count, so, if I can keep it up, I should be okay. I’d like to hit 50K by Thanksgiving, and then, everything after that is gravy (pun intended). I’m planning this book to be around 70K, and I want to finish the draft by the end of the year.

Because I had a late start, I only worked on CAST IRON MURDER in the morning. In the afternoon, I wrote up the two script coverages, grabbed four more to read, and started putting away the Samahain decorations. It was too late/dark to get the lights down from the front porch, so I will do that today. We changed out the spider web curtains for the red curtains that will see us through the winter, on the front door, the porch door, and the front windows. The turkey wreath is up on the front door. Switched the Halloween fabrics with more Thanksgiving-oriented fabrics.

We paused to eat the leftover trout for dinner (yummy), and then I finished packing up the decorations.

I read two of the four scripts. I’ll write up the two, then read and write up the third that’s due tomorrow. I grabbed a script this morning, so I’ll read two tonight to write up tomorrow.

The plants look good on the porch. Tessa spent most of the afternoon out there.  They finally emptied the dumpsters across the street, so I could bring over the garbage. It’s still better than keeping it in bins in the garage and having to drive it to the dump.

All the front porches have ice melt and shovels at the ready. We’re supposed to get our first snowfall next Monday, and rain the rest of the week.

Two good first writing sessions so far this morning. I’m going to write up the script coverages, get through some email. I’m hoping to get the final scene written on “A Rare Medium” either today or tomorrow, so the draft can rest before revisions.

Remote Chat today, and then I have a Zoom NYU Alumni thing tonight, which should be fun.

Charlotte slept in the living room with Tessa all night. Granted, they were on different bits of furniture, but they didn’t fuss. Charlotte came and woke me up just before six, and Tessa started howling a few minutes later. Progress.

I need to pay some bills, run to the market, and do a library run, so I hope it’s not raining too hard by the time I’m ready to do that all.

Have a good one, and happy writing!

Published in: on November 3, 2021 at 7:43 am  Comments Off on Wed. Nov. 3, 2021: Rolling With the Writing  
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Wed. Oct. 20, 2021: Thoughts on Nano, Inner Work, and Daily Life

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Full Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cool

image courtesy of Pexels.com

I wanted to share some NaNoWriMo Tips that have served me well in previous years, and I hope will do so this year:

Prep. Even if you don’t do a formal outline, make notes on the story. That way, when you rip the time out of your day to write, you can drop right into the book where you are and not have to wonder what you meant to do when you stopped the previous day. The work I prep always drafts more smoothly than the work I don’t. Plus, the prepped work needs fewer rounds of revision than the uncharted work, although anything I write in Nano needs much, much more revision that work written outside of it.

Set Daily Goals. To write 50K in 30 Days, you need to hit 1667 words EVERY day. For me to feel comfortable, I like to hit 2K/day; for me to feel really good about the work and leave room for the chaos of life, I try to hit 2.5K/day, especially early on. I know I need days off here and there; I like to have 50K by Thanksgiving. This year? I have no idea, since my writing rhythms have been totally thrown off between COVID and last year’s surgeries and job changes and moving. My reason for doing Nano this year is to both reclaim my writing rhythm and, hopefully, find an even better one, that will sustain me long after November is in my rear-view mirror.

Frontload and bank words. The rush of the start and that initial creative wave feel great. If you can go beyond your daily goal early on (or at any point), do so. That way, WHEN something comes up and you have to skip a day or a few days, you won’t fall behind.

Plan breaks. You’ll need to take a day here and there for a break. Or maybe you have family plans for the whole weekend of American Thanksgiving. Plan for that. Include in the planning, working AHEAD on word count, so that when you hit the day off, you already have that day’s words in the bank. It’s harder to catch up than to work ahead.

Know the Difference Between Asking for Encouragement and Being an Energy Vampire. We all hit hard days during the process, and often hit several of them in a row. Week 2 tends to be the rockiest, because the initial rush has worn off, and it’s down to showing up to do the work. It’s healthy to admit you’re struggling and ask for suggestions or encouragement. But don’t expect/demand people to hurt their own work in order to get you back on track with yours. Every year, there are people who try to make the entire experience about THEM, and, if they start to struggle, they try to derail everyone else around them.

Stick It Out, Even if You Don’t Hit 50K. Using Nano to get into the rhythm of daily writing, and also knowing how to PLAN breaks in that daily writing, will serve you well moving forward.

There are all kinds of tips and daily encouragements in my free book 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS, available for download here.

I’m extremely disturbed to see how many right-wing and religious-based writing groups have taken over the discussion forums. You can’t tell me they’re working on systems of equality and inclusion, especially since most of the LGBTQ forums have locked down for protection. No thread should have to lock down for protection, if the community is actually run on respect and inclusion.

Now, on to my experience on the soul journey workshop I’m in this week.

I was a little worried, on Monday, that it was for newcomers to this type of work, people with less experience than I have. I was disturbed, in the day’s video, by the talk of one’s spiritual life and one’s mundane life being on parallel paths. It’s often true at the beginning, but isn’t part of the point of the work to integrate the two, so one lives one’s path?

I also reminded myself how important it is to go back to basics, and start with fresh eyes, as though it’s the first time, because there’s always something to learn.

I’ve been doing the work, and learning. Some of it is uncomfortable, but that’s okay, because it’s showing me where I’m stuck in patterns that hurt, and how I can break out of them to stumble along a path that heals.

Five days barely scratches the surface, but it’s giving me ideas on how to build this work into my schedule on a regular basis, and where to go from here. I want to keep doing the work, definitely through the Chiron retrograde, because that’s working with the natural energies rather than against them.

I keep hoping maybe January will give me a period of rest. I’m hoping I can adjust the work schedule without losing money, and that I can give myself a bit of a break on inner work and just rest/be for a few weeks.

Monday’s work was good; I decided that the Journey Tarot, which I received in the last Goddess Provisions box, was a good match for this work, and I was right. I did the work, and felt I got a lot out of it. The live chat was a little frustrating, because, as happened during the prep time, the people yelling excuses about not doing the work, and demanding validation for not doing the work are sucking all the energy out of the collective space. The people who are MAKING the time and DOING the work are getting lost in the noise. There’s no space for those of us doing the work to go deeper and safely share that experience with each other. The people not doing the work are trying to siphon off the collective raised group energy without contributing anything to it. That is something that rubs me the wrong way (to say the least). Everyone is on their own journey and has their challenges; but do NOT expect to be validated and steal the collective energy when you refuse to add anything to it.

I did some additional work during meditation Monday night and the Hermit card kept coming up. Which makes a lot of sense in the context.

Tuesday’s video was good, and so was the additional meditation/visualization. It was very helpful in figuring out a few things. During the live chat, I ignored the chat running down the side (with all the energy vampires), and focused on the group leaders and what they had to say. There was something that really resonated. In thinking about one’s “future self”, focus more on how you want your life to FEEL as you live it then, rather than what you DO. Which is a good point. We are groomed to always work for someone else’s profit. Usually receiving far less than our work is worth. If we visualize our future for the type of life we want to enjoy on an experiential level instead of assuming that if we just have a particular job or live in a particular house we’ll feel good – if we work on the emotional landscape we want, then we can create the physical portions that support it and make it possible.

There was also an emphasis on being “all in” – which translated to me as “do the work.” But, as I said, I ignored most of the chat stream, because there were still too many people on it making noisy excuses, and I’m not engaging with that.

Looking forward to seeing what today’s work is about.

This week is definitely a starting point, but it’s giving me useful tools and ideas of where I want to focus this type of work over the next few months.

Chop Wood, Carry Water, and all that Life Stuff

On the life level, I got some work done in the morning, then had to run errands. I’m telling you, the Post Office is the happening place around here. That’s where I go to keep up with local events. I had a stack of cards and letters to drop off (including another letter trying to get my mom’s insurance straightened out), and buy stamps.

Dropped off a bunch of books at the library (and didn’t get the notification that some of my holds were in until I got home. Oh, well).

Headed off to Wild Oats to stock up on a bunch of stuff, like coffee, wine, lentils, and eggs.

Picked up a few things at Stop & Shop that I needed, and probably snagged the last bag of frozen peas in the Berkshires. Those freezer cases are very bare.

Made red lentil soup for lunch (Moosewood Recipe, of course), which was pretty darn good.

Most of the afternoon was taken up with the soul journey class. When that was done, I attempted to pay the next six months’ worth of car insurance (instead of paying monthly). It shouldn’t take 45 minutes to put through an online payment. But it did. And it was wrong. So I had to contact them and get it sorted out. Which, supposedly, it is.

Grrr.

I’d gotten a great promotion for a Wine Advent Calendar and decided I wanted it. So I go to order it, get through the checkout, and then it says it “can’t” ship in my state. Even though the company is located in my state. Then why send the promotion? You know where I live. And hey, having worked for businesses who send out promotional emails, I know that it’s possible to set up email blasts with different parameters based on location, to focus promotions.

It was sloppy marketing and not using email platform functions well. Which pissed me off as a potential customer (this would have been my first purchase from them), and it is highly, highly unlikely I would do business with them in the future. Anytime I see their logo, I’m going to think, “The assholes who sent me a promotion in which I couldn’t actually participate” and move on to a different vendor.

That ate up the time I’d set aside to write up script coverages, which was frustrating. And I still had two scripts to read after dinner.

Got a question from a client, which I honestly answered, but I worried it would mean they no longer wanted to work with me. Instead, they told me the experience makes me more valuable to them. So why do I do this to myself, set myself up with unnecessary worry? Why do I always expect the worst? I need to stop that. Hopefully, this week’s class will give me tools so to do.

Did some percolating on CAST IRON MURDER, but very little was added to the outline. Will have to make up for that today.

Sent off my workshop proposal to the conference that invited me next summer. Decided to go to an outdoor writing event in Lenox over the upcoming weekend.

Reminded myself that the Hermit card cannot be denied, and I need to do all this slowly, slowly, being careful to marshal my energy.

Pork chops smothered in mushroom-tarragon gravy for dinner, with rice and red cabbage. It was good.

Knowledge Unicorns was good, although, again, we had to put off the virtual tours of Venetian museums because of pressing classwork. But discussing ETHAN FROME, Nancy Drew, and the racism in the required reading considered “canon” was a pretty good way to spend time.

I gave myself permission not to read scripts last night, and just relax. Which would have restored me, except that Charlotte started bothering me at 3 AM, and by 3:43, Tessa was in full voice.

To the laundromat early, and got two loads washed, dried, folded. I change my days and times there, because I’m often the only one there, and I don’t want to set myself up for trouble. I never have my back to the doors/room. I’m hyper aware of anyone even walking past. Because as a woman, I have to worry about these things.

But while I was there, I worked more on the outline notes for CAST IRON MURDER. I created the other possible suspects, their backstories, and why they might have killed the murder victim. Some of those “whys” also make my protagonist an even more likely suspect.

So it was time well spent.

My downstairs neighbors decorated the front porch, and it is delightful! We are going to have so much fun in the coming weeks.

Lots to do today. Previous Me would have piled on the work, insisted on trying to attend the Sundance Collab, immediately flip over to Remote Chat, and then try to juggle Remote Chat while doing the live classwork.

And felt like a failure when it didn’t work.

Current Me doesn’t do the Collab on Wednesdays (just Mondays and Fridays, when I can). I will do the beginning of Remote Chat, and then give myself a few minutes break before joining my class.

This morning, though, I have to make a quick dash to the library to pick up my books. And get coverages/reading done that didn’t happen yesterday.

Onward. Somehow, it will all come together.

Have a good one.

Tues. Sept. 21, 2021: Finding Rhythms

image courtesy of Petra Boekhoff via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Last Day of the Full Moon

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

Sunny and cool

I am happy to say that the weekend was less stressful than I expected. Which is a good thing.

I was in touch with my friend on Friday to find out if he was coming by to drop off the carload of Christmas decorations, or if he needed to move it to a different weekend. First he said he wasn’t; a few minutes later, he was back in touch to ask if he could. So we were back on.

I baked his favorite from my baking repertoire, lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting. I thought the frosting was a little too sweet; I need to work on my buttercream frosting skills. But, overall, they turned out well.

I also baked brownies, because I craved brownies, and, since I had the oven on anyway, why not?  They turned out really well, too.

Saturday, I vacuumed and mopped and did general housework in preparation for my friend’s arrival. He and his family had decided to make it a day trip, but had gotten a later start than expected. No worries. I was caught up with everything and ready.

I worked on GAMBIT COLONY while I was waiting, re-reading the rest of Book 4 and what I’ve written so far into Book 5, making some edits here and there. But, overall, I’m pretty happy with it. It’s not the kind of series targeted to a general audience; it’s definitely for people interested in the arts, who can deal with large ensembles. And I want to have the first six books of the series submission-ready before I start pitching them. Those first six books encompass auditions, rehearsals, shooting the mini-series, and then the first season when it’s picked up. At some point in the game, I’ll get back to working on the series website. I don’t know if my publisher would even consider it, or if I should go pure indie.

Anyway, in the early afternoon, I heard from my friend; he had taken a wrong turn, and was about an hour behind where he expected.  Again, no worries. I felt worse for him than for me.

He finally got here, and it only took 15 minutes to unload the car (under Charlotte’s supervision). He’d dropped off his family to do a short hike while he unloaded, and I gave him the cupcakes, which delighted him. They planned to go apple picking, and then stop at their favorite barbecue place on the way home. So they had a nice family day out, off Cape. Sometimes, it’s hard to get over the bridge, even when the traffic’s not a nightmare.

The day had started kind of rumbly and drizzly, but by the time they got out here, it had turned into a gorgeous autumn day. I was delighted for them, and so grateful for the carload of stuff!

My Kindle Fire is acting up; books I buy aren’t necessarily downloading. I believe this is Amazon trying to force me to buy a new Kindle (which they keep sending me emails about), which I don’t want to do, because I like this one. And hate Amazon. Customer Service wasn’t much help. No surprise there.

On Sunday morning, we were on the road by 6:30, headed back to Cape. It was a reasonably smooth ride down, and the weather was gorgeous. We arrived a little after 10, and I rearranged things in the main storage unit so that whatever we couldn’t get into the car would fit, and moved out of the second storage unit. The car was packed, but it was mostly light stuff (and yeah, more Christmas decorations). I also got the trunk full of yarn up, and the giant bin with all our winter coats. Once I empty that bin, I will fill it with the small boxes of holiday decorations, so that they are all safe and protected and in one spot, instead of in dozens of tiny boxes that have to be stacked like a weird Rubik’s cube.

I did the move-out paperwork for that unit, and we were back on the road by 11:28. Over an hour earlier than I’d expected. Unfortunately, the traffic over the Bourne Bridge was a nightmare, but we were still over before noon (the storage facility is just over the bridge on the Cape side).

The traffic was heavy all the way back to the Berkshires, but it moved, except for a messy patch around Worcester.  We made it back by 4, and my leg only hurt a little. The relief at getting it all done is immense.

Unpacked, hauled everything up, and rested. Since the book I bought still wouldn’t download to Kindle, I started reading the next book for review.

Up way too early on Monday, thanks to the cats. But got in a good meditation session, and good first writing session.  The cats were running and playing like loony tunes. But then, full moon, what do you expect? It was pretty funny.

There’s a bunch of new paperwork involved in getting the car registration and our licenses switched over to the new address, and I am frustrated with it. Also frustrated because Spectrum went down again in the afternoon. I fixed the problem myself from this end while I was waiting for the tech.

Got some work done early. Headed over to the college library to drop off books and check out some other books. Headed to the grocery store to get what I still needed for the Equinox dinner tomorrow. Unpacked the oversized bin with all the winter coats, and got those hung up. Refilled the bin with small boxes of fragile winter holiday decorations. I have to rearrange the big closet in the sewing room; I think most of that closet will house decorations.

Unpacked a couple of boxes of general decorations we’d never used in the Cape house. They fit better here. They are from our travels. Some of them definitely have the Deco/Nouveau vibe that works so well here. Stuff that we decide not to use is getting repacked, and will go back down when we do our storage run in spring.

Wrote up script coverage on two pieces, and read three others.

Trying to get into a more regular work rhythm for the fall and winter.

Found my favorite comfy pants pattern, and will make some fleece pants for both of us to wear around the house this winter. I’m looking forward to getting the sewing room set up and getting back to making clothes.

Have a bunch of coverages to write up today, more scripts to read, articles to write. An ex-client wants to talk to me, and I’m not looking forward to it. There are very good reasons this client is a former client rather than a current one.

My keyboard is now all wonky, too. I’m having trouble with all my devices. My Mercury has gone retrograde early. I better back everything up today.

Sigh. It’s going to be one of THOSE days, isn’t it? Hope you, at least, have a good one.