Wed. Aug. 23, 2017: Ground To Cover, Books to Write

Wednesday, April 23, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Lots of ground to cover. Lots went on.

Friday was a prime example of Mercury Retrograde. The negotiations broke down with the gig I’d been offered and the offer was rescinded. It could have been worked out, but the other side’s position of not allowing disagreement or discussion made it impossible. Although the whole situation left me feeling bruised, better to know early on and not go on than be mired in it and have it worse later on. I also found out something, that, had I known it about the company, I wouldn’t have pitched to work there in the first place. That is totally on me — I did not do my due diligence on the company. I looked at the parts of the job that appealed to me, rather than looking at the whole thing.

Mercury Retrograde is a time when people are likely to mis-communicate and mis-understand each other. It is also a time when one is supposed to avoid signing a contract. I’d hoped I could circumvent the possibilities with it this go-round and it didn’t work out.

I did some research for another publication with whom I’m in discussions. Coming up with suitable pitches for them will be an intriguing challenge.

Worked on the proofs for PLAYING THE ANGLES. Grateful to the copy editor for the catches, and annoyed with myself that I didn’t catch them. But that’s why one puts another pair of eyes on it, isn’t it? Also, reading the digital proofs on the Kindle, and then looking at the manuscript/Track Changes made me realize more than just looking at the manuscript on the screen.

I’m learning a lot with this process, which is great. Each book should teach something. The craft in each book needs to build on the previous books.

The cover for “Labor Intensive” is done — finally, I think we’ve hit on the style and tone for these covers. The cover of “Plot Bunnies” was then re-worked, to fit the series.

Now I just have to finish the damned piece! I’m cutting it a little too close for comfort.

Friday night into Saturday morning, we were woken by the most intensive rainstorm we experienced since moving here. Torrential. By the time we got the windows closed, water was across half the room. Dried pretty quickly, thank goodness. But it was hard to get back to sleep.

Saturday was the counter protest to the so-called “Free Speech Rally” in Boston. After Charlottesville, and the Narcissistic Sociopath’s response on Tuesday, supporting the white supremacists, I was worried that the violence would be worse in Boston than it had been in VA. I was wrong, and glad to be so proven.

100 people showed up for the rally. 40,000 showed up in an anti-hate counter protest. The “rally” lasted a little less than an hour. There were some arrests — 33 was the last number I heard on the news — and protestors were afraid of people playing the tuba.

The counter-protest had music (tuba, drums, bagpipes), dancing, and anti-hate chants. Had the rally ACTUALLY been about “free speech” and not “hate speech” — the organizers would have welcomed the counter protestors and invited some of them to speak at the “rally”.

I felt the mood was much darker and more cynical than at the Women’s March in January — or maybe that’s because my mood is so much darker and more cynical. Still, I think we can all be proud of how Boston behaved — a mostly peaceful protest standing against hate.

The Narcissistic Sociopath tweeted against the march at first, calling it “anti-police”, and then somebody changed his tune, and he started praising Boston. There was a lot of discussion on social media about mis-spelling “heal” as “heel”. Yes, it could have been a Freudian slip; it could also have been Auto-Incorrect. I certainly struggle with that enough when I’m typing on my phone. Even when I check it before hitting send, Auto-Correct sometimes changes it just as I hit “send.” So the spelling is not an issue where I feel I have any right to criticize. Content, yes. Spelling — when I’m able to overcome Auto-Incorrect on a regular basis, then I can.

I read over the short story I’m not sure where to place, the one where a friend thinks it’s the germ of a novel. I see possibilities. At the same time, I wonder how I can possibly expand a piece intentionally tightly written to be under 8K to novel length. With a good plot and outline. Strengthen the supporting characters. Add a couple of subplots. The potential is there; it’s just making the time in the schedule to get it all done without dropping the ball on anything else. I’ve already pushed back several manuscripts that I fully believed I could have out the door this year.

I put in the changes to PLAYING THE ANGLES — it can go back out today. I still want to look at it again before it goes to publish.

Monday was my “day off” — just like in theatre days. I enjoyed myself, preparing for my trip, and reading E.J. Kahn’s memoir of his years at THE NEW YORKER, and having fun, both virtually and in real life, with the eclipse. We only had a partial here, but it was interesting — the birds upset, the cats restless, everything going quiet except for the crickets, the quality of light all wispy, shadowy, and textured. Eerie silence. Then, getting brighter — Bratty Bird, our resident nuthatch, was the first to start yelling. When I stepped onto the deck, the Murder of Crows who hangs out around here came right up to tell me all the news. They are so funny!

Things brightened up quickly, and, of course, the damn neighbor started right back up with their damned power tools. Could we have 24 hours without them once in awhile, please?

There was a passage of only a couple of paragraphs in Kahn’s memoir, but it sent me on a fun “what if?” for either a section of a piece I’m already outlining (mostly likely) or its own piece.

Making time for all of this is the key.

Tuesday, we were up at 4:30 AM and out of the house by 5:30. After a bit of parking lot kerflamma, we were on the 6:30 AM ferry to Nantucket. It was great — only about ten people and a dog on the whole big ferry. Mostly truck drivers, who settled themselves onto the benches and went to sleep. Beautiful and quiet.

I meant to write on the 2 hr. 45 minute ride — I got about a page written. But it was so beautiful that I just sat back and enjoyed it.

A friend met us at the dock. We went to breakfast at Met on Main, which was terrific. We sat outside and I had the enormous and delicious “Met Muffin”. We toured around the town — too many tourists, to which we helped contribute, I’m afraid. Library, Whaling Museum, Oldest House and its Kitchen Garden, etc. Drove around the island, seeing the sites. Spent the afternoon at the house the friends rented for their vacation, sitting out on the deck, looking at the water, and talking. It was fun.

Steven Axelrod’s books will make ever so much more sense now! 😉

5:30 PM ferry back — many more people this time, and lots of dogs. Among the passengers was a pack containing 5 standard poodles — one white (the King), one black and white, one black, and two brown. They were gorgeous and regal and beautifully behaved — better behaved than some of the children on that boat, that’s for sure.

It was still a decent ride back, although not as good as the ride out. The crew on the ferry is always terrific, and boy, they sure know their stuff.

Home a little after eight. The cats were upset, and relieved we were back. Although we had to grovel appropriately.

Hard to get back into the swing of things today. I liked having a couple of days off. I was disgusted by the rally in Phoenix last night. Others are articulating the event far better than I can, so I’ll leave them to it.

I’d really like a few more days off.

But, the manuscript needs to go back to the publisher with the accepted changes. That’s the most important.

I also have to withdraw from consideration for a gig. It sounded like a fun topic and steady work. I was asked for my rate, and gave them a range for the range of work they claim to want. They came back with an offer that’s 1/3 of the lowest number of my range, and said they assign articles to those with the lowest rate first, and higher-paid writers get assigned anything “left over”, while insisting they hired “fantastic writers.”

Um, no. First of all, I don’t know ANY “fantastic” writer who would work for the rate quoted. “Fantastic” writers are paid professional rates and have enough self-esteem not to work for rates that are barely above content mill level. Second, I don’t work for 1/3 of what I told you was my lowest rate. Third, if you’re going to put me on staff for “steady” work, I don’t wait around for the leftover crap assignments, simply because I get a decent rate.

Buh-bye.

On to other pitches.

I’d like to take a few more days off, but work (especially “Labor Intensive”) dictates otherwise.

Onward.

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Published in: on August 23, 2017 at 8:43 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 23, 2017: Ground To Cover, Books to Write  
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Wed. May 29, 2013: The Challenge of The Travel

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and humid

Yesterday was certainly a challenge!

The morning started well, although I felt a wrench at being away from the garden this week. The irises are about to open. They are my favorite flower. I think they’ll have come and gone by the time I get back. The terraced back needs mowing, and I’m worried that the ants will get the upper hand while I’m gone.

But everything will rub along without me — plants were doing that for thousands of years before people started to garden!

I opened my email to find out that I’ve been contracted for 14 short articles (yes, paid) over the next seven months. I’ll do the first one next week, when I get back. I also finished and pitched another article to a different publication. Not a bad way to start the week!

The drive to Providence wasn’t bad, except for the construction work around New Bedford. If it’s the left lane that’s closed, why is that the only one moving? Because the travellers in that lane are pushy bastards, that’s why. If everyone let one person get ahead of time, and six people didn’t force their ways forward, causing the other lane to come to a grinding halt, we’d all get where we needed to go on time.

Megabus late in Providence. Turns out, the bus coming from NY broke down in CT, so they had to send another bus. However, the bus they sent was a single decker, and the Providence-NY bus was sold out as a double decker. Not everyone could get on the bus — some had to wait for another bus they were sending. Um, why didn’t anyone check the manifest for the trip BEFORE sending out a bus? We do make reservations ahead of time. There’s no reason to act surprised that there’s a line of people waiting.

Needless to say, I was on that first bus. 😉

Once we got rolling, it was okay. I ate the lunch I packed (simple– hard boiled egg, carrots, celery, radishes, a gigantic chocolate bar). I read Joelle Charbonnau’s END ME A TENOR, which was a lot of fun. I’m meeting her for a drink tonight, so I wanted to read at least something of hers!

The wifi on the bus didn’t work, and people were even having problems with cell phones, so at least it was quiet!

The problems happened from Bridgeport to New York. Should have taken maybe an hour and a half for that stretch. It took a little over three. The traffic was just backed up, it was raining and miserable.

I was glad that I packed the rain gear I wore in Iceland a few years back. It’s a light windbreaker that folds into its own pocket.

Once we disembarked in NY, we were in the midst of rush hour. Taking the escalator down into Penn Station, watching all the people scuttle around, was like descending into a colony of cockroaches. Reminded me of one of the reasons I no longer live here and have to deal with the commute.

Got the Metro Card — actually, I refilled the one I used when I was down here for Costume Imp’s birthday. Turns out they now charge you $1 for a new card, but credit you an extra $1.50 (three quarters of a ride? Huh?) if you refill. I opted for the refill.

I got the C train — I even got a seat! Headed out to Brooklyn. Humped the luggage in the rain through Ft. Greene to the place I’m staying. Imp left the key at the diner around the corner. Retrieved the key, hauled my luggage up the steps of the brownstone, and then up the steps INSIDE — tall ceilings, lots of steps.

It’s a wonderful place — and it’s the location I based the Ft. Greene brownstone in which Sophie, Fawn, and Bianca live for THE CHARISMA KILLINGS.

Greeted the animals, handed out the toys I brought, gave out pettings. The Puerto Rican street cat decided maybe I should give her some extra attention, and even climbed on the bed with me a few times. She wasn’t sure what to do next — she’s not a cuddler — but it was funny. Imp’s cats were delighted to see me and tried to convince me they haven’t been fed in at least three days. Riiiight.

Went back to the diner and had a roast chicken dinner. Yummy. Chatted with the housemates for a bit, read, waited for Imp to get back from the ballet. He had to haul out to Long Island for a photo shoot for HARPER’S BAZAAR, and had trouble getting back to the city in time for his show, too.

But we caught up, played with the cats, he lent me three more of Joelle’s books to read (and one of Pauline Gadge’s). And I lent him END ME A TENOR.

Slept like a log. I did wake up at 3 AM — like I have for the past few weeks — but got over it, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

I’m showered and dressed (although the makeup has yet to be applied). Did yoga. The younger of the two huskies and the Puerto Rican Street cat have wandered in and out a few times. Had my first cup of coffee. My run-around day bag is packed — promo materials, notebook, camera, in-case book to read, all the directions and appointments for the day.

Going to do some work with students and then a few email things — the editor of the publication to which I pitched wants to see the article, so I need to polish it and get it out. A proofreading job to which I applied says they want me, but the terms sound slimy — they want to pay by KB instead of by word or page, which sounds weird to me, and a few other things made the red flags go up.

Will foray out to get some breakfast soon, get some stuff done, and then I’m headed out for the day’s appointments, including the Indie Next Generation Book Awards at the Harvard Club tonight. I better get going!

Devon

Fri. March 16, 2012: Looking Forward to the Weekend (of Edits)


Crocus

Friday, March 16, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I overslept yesterday.

I MEANT to get up early and get some work done before leaving for Boston, but the alarm didn’t go off, and I overslept. But I still managed to get the coffee on before Costume Imp got up! 😉

Yesterday was the big field trip to the Boston Flower Show. Fourteen of us rented a van and were driven in. Coffee and cake set up on a table (with cloth) in the parking lot before we left — yeah, this group does it up right! 😉 We had enough time to wander around and “ooh” and “aah” over things, do some shopping, and go out for lunch. I’d remembered the pub as the Drunken Monk, but it’s the Whiskey Priest (yeah, I made the jokes, too), but we hopped one pub over to American Beer Company. Good food, good company, tons of fun. Back to do more shopping, vanned home (with treats in the van), home before dinner time.

I’ll have a full write-up on Gratitude and Growth tomorrow.

Imp Dog came by to visit and wanted to play. I actually played with him for awhile, and then tossed him an organic dog treat. He caught it, trotted over to the japonica bush, delicately dug a hole, dropped it in, and covered it up. Too funny!

Did some work with my students and some other work; caught up on more TORCHWOOD. There’s no doubt –it’s my favorite show.

Wednesday wound up being very busy — worked with students in the morning; seem to have a payment problem solved, but now there’s a new admin problem. I’ve got some other things in the works, so I have to buckle down to them over the weekend.

Costume Imp and I also found a magnificent grocery store in Mashpee called Roche Brothers. We were in heaven. And then we nipped over to Market Street Books, where we found some good stuff and had a lovely chat with Cynthia. I’m putting together a packet for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT and dropping it off today. We had a quick lunch at Siena (which is quickly becoming a favorite place of mine on the Cape) and then back to work.

The second round of edits for HEX BREAKER came through, and I’ve got a little less than a week to do them. I’m excited to get back to it, and get the marketing ball rolling for it. I expect it will come out in May, although I haven’t yet been given a firm date.

I’ve got some other writing to attend to, and need to figure out, over the weekend, how to recalculate my hours in a business-minded way to get it all done and make the money I not only need, but deserve and EARN, for my work. I’m about to turn down an invite from a magazine editor with whom I’ve worked for in the past (for a fee) who wants me to do something for free — that will, at the same time, make a profit for the company, but not for the writers involved. That would be a negative. Bad business decision, and it wouldn’t be a big enough “good will” gesture to make it worth while.

Gotta take a stand on these things, or I’ll keep winding up in the mess I was earlier in the week. I have a couple of carefully chosen pro bono clients, and that’s the extent of my unpaid work. When the plumber, the accountant, and the doctor work for “exposure” — so will I.

Devon

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Tree at the bottom of the drive

Thursday, December 23, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Snowy and cold

Spent far too much time yesterday morning doing annoying paperwork, but at least got a lot done and out, along with party invitations. Then, it was off to Sears to look for the electric snowblowers — which they didn’t have. The guy was very, very nice. He agreed that they’re great and said that a lot of people who bought gas blowers last year are now having problems because the ethanol content has changed in gasoline and is mucking up the engines. And I overheard a woman tell an elderly couple looking at one, “You don’t want to keep too much gas in the engine when you’re not using it, or it might cause a bad accident in the garage.”

Definitely electric.

The sales guy told us to go to Home Depot, we dashed over and got THE LAST ONE. At $100 less than I’d seen it advertised. And the clerk at Home Depot got me set up with the correct cord, and the check out guy got me set up with an extra 2-year replacement warranty for under $12, so now it’s covered for 4 years.

Happy camper, me! 😉

Ran some errands in Osterville, including dealing with a bank error (they fixed it immediately, and, in fact, gave us more than what we asked for — TD has great customer service), and I stopped at the hardware store, where I found a reasonably eco-friendly ice melt for the front walk and driveway. It’s pet, lawn, and car-safe, which is probably as good as it gets. It got the 25 pound bag, because I knew the 50 pound bag would be too hard for me to maneuver, and I designated it its own scoop cup to make it even easier to spread.

Got everything home, picked up the two invites I had to hand deliver, got them off, got back before the snow started up again. Read in the afternoon, met the mail carrier at the bottom of the drive (I’m trying to help them by not making them get out of the truck in bad weather). Some more books arrived — again, happy camper.

Quiet evening watching TV and reading. Think I figured out the fireplace kerflamma, so will try again on Christmas Eve.

The Hounds of the Baskervilles woke me up at 2 AM, just beside themselves with frustration, baying at something. And it sounds like something talked back. Then, I worried that I hadn’t locked the front door properly when I turned off the trees last night. I’m less worried about some sort of animal around the house than people — there have been a lot of burglaries in the area lately.

So, my ritual bogwood axe and I crept down the stairs in the dark. Not that it could cut anything, but it’s heavy, so it might be useful in an emergency. Iris waited half way up the stairs; Violet came with me. The moonlight on the snow reflected so much I didn’t have to turn on any lights. The door was locked properly and I couldn’t see anything amiss, so I went back upstairs.

More fresh tracks around the house this morning, though. I’m pretty sure something is taking shelter under the deck. I don’t mind — I hope it’s not a stray dog or cat, because I’d like to help it, and whatever it is, my worries are twofold — I don’t want it to starve or freeze, and I certainly don’t want it to expire under the deck! The size of the paw tracks makes me wonder if it’s a fox. I like foxes — they’re one of my totems — but I’ve never had to deal with one, so I’d probably just stare at it.

Up early this morning, plugged in the new snowblower. It took a bit of time to get coordinated with the cord, and the cord JUST barely reaches to the end of the driveway (at least I know how long my driveway is now). It works pretty well, although when the wind shifted, most of the snow blew back in my face. I’ll get better with practice. But I have a feeling I’ll go with a gas lawn mower — I don’t think the cord thing would work in the long flat back portion of the yard, and, heaven forbid they have battery-powered mowers! I mean, that would be quieter and logical, so obviously, it can’t happen!

I found a pair of arm chairs on Craigslist that I really want at an excellent, fair price for both of us, so I’m talking with the owner about when to take a look, and, hopefully, pick them up. They’re not quite Victorian wing-backs — a little shorter in the back — but that style. So, hopefully, we’ll get that sorted out today and tomorrow, before the next big storm hits.

I’m going to get some writing done today, hopefully, and tackle the assignment for Confidential Job #1 in the afternoon. I’d like to get a couple more boxes unpacked — even a few a day will make a difference.

It’s still snowing, and supposed to do so until about noon, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed I can do a chair run this afternoon.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on December 23, 2010 at 9:07 am  Comments (7)  
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Sunday, December 20, 2009


Adding in some real greenery

Sunday, December 20, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snow!

It didn’t even start snowing until 7 PM last night, but I’d say we received about a foot of it. It looks gorgeous, and supposedly it’s powdery, so it shouldn’t ‘be too bad to shovel out the car this afternoon. Oh, to have a garage someday!

Yesterday I worked on tidying stuff up and doing some more decorating, etc. Losing that week right after Thanksgiving due to the furniture swap really got me behind. There are islands of organization, but still far too much upheaval. The table’s finally done, and that looks lovely.

I ran out to mail some last few cards and went to CVS to pick up some pens (my pens seem to have vanished), and, of course, bought a bunch of extra cute stuff for the stockings. I love finding things for the Christmas morning stockings. It’s such fun!

Got some writing done. Confidential Job #1 sent me the next assignment, which they want by the 29th, so I have to get going on that, too. But it was a pretty quiet day. The “friend” still hasn’t called and I just can’t let it bother me too much. Clear message, that’s all I have to say. I don’t let people treat me like that. If you need to change plans, let me know. If you flake out, call as soon as you realize it and fix it. Don’t just ignore it.

I had a program on about dogs last night and Elsa got all excited. (Elsa loves dogs). She kept swatting at me, and rubbing against the screen and purring. I said, “No, Elsa, you can’t have a mastiff. When we get a house, you can have a DACHSHUND of your very own Not a MASTIFF!”

She does love dachshunds, but she really liked those mastiffs.

The eggnog cheesecake is amazing. Definitely a keeper recipe (thank you, MARTHA STEWART). I made maple-walnut muffins this morning (they also have oats and dates in them). They are awesome, too, although chopping dates at 7 AM on a Sunday morning does not rate high on my list of favorite tasks. They don’t use any sugar – the maple syrup and the heavy cream keep them sweet. That recipe is from the SILVER PALATE GOOD TIMES Cookbook, another of my favorites, and perfect for a snowy winter morning.

I’m staying in today, decorating, writing, and working on a few other things. Around 2 or so, weather-permitting, I’ll go dig out the car. It’s just started snowing again, so going out now would be a waste of time!

Have a great Sunday!

Devon