Fri. April 16, 2021: Die For Your Employer day 328 — Pen To Paper

image courtesy of Stock Snap via pixabay.com

Friday, April 16, 2021

Waxing Moon

Bucketing down rain

I’m so grateful for the rain. We need it. A good, all-day soak would be a boon for this area.

I didn’t do the grocery run yesterday. I had a really, really bad feeling I shouldn’t go, as I got ready to leave. So, I trusted my instincts and didn’t. I don’t know why; there wasn’t news of a serious crash down the street until later in the day. But I trusted my instincts.

Meditation was fine, although I had trouble focusing and staying in with it.

Did some client work, looked at rental listings, heard back from a place that they didn’t have the unit available we’d need, noodled with a couple of pitches I hope to get out today.  I want to get something to my Llewellyn editor for the 2023 almanacs.

Freelance Chat was interesting, although it was about working with agencies as a freelancer. While I’m poking into that, I really didn’t have much to contribute to the actual conversation. It was about listening and learning yesterday for me, which is a good thing.

Got a response from an LOI, and we are having a conversation next week. The company interests me, and if the parameters and the way they treat people are as well as they claim, we’d be a good fit. I might, actually, visit their calendar and try to move the conversation earlier in the week.

Did some work on the Topic Workbook revision of THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS. I need to get the Topic Workbooks revised and out again. When they are available and I promote them properly, they are steady sellers. I keep them affordable, but not so cheap I resent it. Once we move, I might look into getting some print copies of them, too, not just digital.

Worked on contest entries.

I’ve read two books in the past few weeks (not contest entries) that are different – from each other and from what’s out there – and enjoyable. WHO IS MAUD DIXON? by Alexandra Andrews is twisty and fun (although I did figure it out ahead of time, but was interested enough to find out how the characters would navigate). BEACH READ by Emily Henry was also fun, a nice twist on the standard romantic comedy formula. Hits all the points, but goes beyond, with a lot of heart. I recommend both.

I also, finally, got back to some writing, working on three ideas that have been playing in my head. I had hoped to find a way to combine them, but they are three definitive sets of characters on different projects.

One is contemporary, slightly alt-reality, with elements of romance and paranormal. I have the characters and the catalyst, and part of the setting (the house in which most of it happens is very clear, but I don’t yet know where that house IS). I’m looking for a one-word title for it, a word that encompasses self-confidant solitude. I threw out the request on Twitter yesterday, and got some interesting responses, but nothing with quite the right shade of meaning yet.

The second idea is something I’ve been playing with, off and on for years, inspired by the breakfasts at Cole’s Farms in Maine, and some of the other wonderful breakfast-only places in Maine that are so well-loved. I want to start in the 1970’s, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, and have one section in each decade for about five decades. Built around a breakfast-only restaurant in Maine. Cole’s Farms closed this past January, after 68 years in Maine. I’d been eating there, when I visited my family up there, since I was 10.

The third idea I suspect will grow into a mystery series, and needs the most research. It will start in the aftermath of WWII, a former ferry girl pilot and the shattered soldier with whom she had an affair during the war. I don’t want to say too much about it until I know where it’s headed. There are a few scenes very strong in my head that I will get down as a foundation, and then develop.

And yes, I’m aware that I still need to write the stand-alone suspense novel about the former ferry girl who becomes a barnstorming pilot just after the war, the one I started developing in a workshop during the Cape Cod Writers Conference a few years back. That’s in the queue.

Once we’ve moved, I can look at the queue of books that need to be written, sort them, and get back to it. But for now, under all this stress, I will work on what pulls me.

I’m going to take a look at THE GHOST IN THE BREAD MACHINE and see if that’s viable, or needs to be put into stasis. I’ve been thinking about it the last few days.

Because writing even for a couple of hours made a huge positive difference in my psyche and coping skills. I need to stop the self-flagellation about not knowing where we will move, and keep writing so I have the energy to move.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We’re taking another break next week — many of them have next week as the spring break. Everyone is burned out. We all need a massive month-long vacation. But too many companies have learned NOTHING from the pandemic, and are trying to force the same old crap. No. Just no. All the way around no.

Staying in today in this mucky weather, to work on articles, pitches, LOIs, client work, contest entries, the Topic Workbooks, story ideas, and, of course, pack and look at rental listings. I have another book to read for review, and I hope to finish the next category of contest entries this weekend.

At least I slept through the night for the first time in a bit.

Another mass shooting, this time in Indiana. More murdered black children. The cops need to stop murdering people based on skin color, while letting white domestic terrorists roam free. And, in general, American society needs to stop murdering its children.

Have a good weekend.

Tues. Jan. 12, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 237 — Chop Wood, Carry Water, in Spite of What’s Going On

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Dark Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Partly cloudy and cold

Well, it’s been a week, hasn’t it? I guess 2021 really is saying “Hold my beer” to 2020.

I have a post on reading goals up over on A Biblio Paradise.

I spent a good deal of time over the past few days in touch with my Congress people – telling them I am glad they are safe, but also encouraging them to take swift action. It is repulsive that those behind the domestic terrorism are still in power.

In the vein of chop wood, carry water, having to get on with daily life, I spent time working on the article – almost all the quotes have come in. I noodled on the book proposal, and am not sure I can get it done by deadline. I have the end game in my head fairly clearly, but getting there is a struggle.

Did a lot of laundry, especially the holiday fabric. Put away more decorations, and managed to get everything into the Christmas closet. Still have to pack the fabric, take down the ribbons and roll them, and take the wax out of a few pieces of fabric.

I did not clear out any boxes from the basement, with the packing away of holiday décor, so I have to make up for that this week.

Sunday, I rested. I was tired, body and soul. I read nearly all day, and that was great. I didn’t read anything I was supposed to read, just things I wanted to read.

Yesterday, I was in the office on my own, as it should be. Got a lot done. Got ahead on next week’s ad/mailing. I need to update my B2B/B2C sample document. The new samples came in, and I’ve started processing them. That always takes extra work, but it will be worth it. They look good, and putting together line sheets/pricing/getting them out to the reps is a big deal.

Home, decontaminated, in touch with my Congress people’s staffs, got some reading done. More quotes came in for the article, and I’m working on structure.

Can start to put the book proposal on paper today (well, on screen, anyway).

The Direct Cash Relief payments showed up, much to my surprise. I was about to contact my Congress people to ask why the IRS had the right to hold them hostage until we filed our tax returns, but I guess that wasn’t the case, after all.

The Goddess Provisions box finally showed up and it was lovely. Soul-soothing.

The only outstanding shipment is the first box of books from the contest, which was supposed to arrive on Saturday, but has been delayed. Once it gets here, I will start reading contest entries every day, along with everything else (will be up late reading every night until May – which is a good thing). In the meantime, I will read my book for review in the next couple of days, get that out, and get started on the next book for review.

Some more article ideas are percolating; once I get this article out, I will work on more pitches. Will get a bunch of LOIs out today, I hope.

Had a bunch of responses to LOIs wanting free, project-specific samples, which isn’t happening. Had one company try to get me to sign an NDA for an interview. It was one of the more insulting NDAs I’ve ever read, and I would have been an idiot to sign it. Not to mention the demand for free work on top of it. I countered with my test/sample agreement, and the changes they’d have to make to the NDA in order for me to sign it and they sputtered, so I said thanks, but no thanks, and moved on.

I’m not 20 begging for my first job. I have decades of experience. They can shove their demands for free labor right up their collective ass.

Today will focus on writing, over an array of several projects, and then the Knowledge Unicorns reconvene tonight. We have a lot to talk about.

Have a great day, friends! Let’s work for justice, so we can have peace. Otherwise, things will just get worse.

Tues. Oct. 13, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 146 — Covidiots Run Loose

image by Peter Lomas courtesy of pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Waning Moon

Neptune, Uranus, Mars, and MERCURY Retrograde

Yup, Mercury goes retrograde today and stays that way until election day. With Mars retrograde.

It won’t be pretty.

Technically, tourist season ended here yesterday, so we are only expected to die for our employers. But boy, howdy, did they expect us to Die For Tourist Dollars all fucking weekend, because there was NO enforcement of the mask mandate.

To say I am angry about the domestic terrorists that tried to kidnap the governor of Michigan is an understatement. We need Bill Barr impeached. We need the 25th Amendment now. We need that vile SCOTUS nominee removed.

I got SERENE AND DETERMINED out on submission before 8 AM – with a full proofread and some tweaks. Either this place will take it or not. A long shot is better than no shot.

Honestly, until I actually hit “send” I didn’t think I could make the deadline.

Did a few more drafts of the short story and got that out, too. I don’t think it’s exactly what they’re looking for – I think I might have used a slightly wider lens than they want – but I’m  happy with the story, and if they don’t use it, I have a list of other markets to which to pitch it.

Did another drop-off/curbside pickup at the library. As soon as I got back, more books had arrived, so I picked those up on Saturday.

We got our ballots of Friday, so we filled them out, and I took them to the secure drop box in Hyannis on Saturday morning. We’ve voted. We’ve done our civic duty.

It was great to see so many others dropping off ballots, too.

It was not great that I was the ONLY ONE wearing a mask.

Main St. Hyannis is supposed to be a masked zone. NO ONE is supposed be on the street unmasked. No one is supposed to be in any public space in the entire state unmasked.

Yet, there they all were, dancing around in public, no masks. No distancing. Tourists sashaying out of the packed motels, no masks, no distancing.

No enforcement.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Since the pandemic started, I have not seen a single cop EVER wear a mask around here. All the construction and DPW workers – who would normally wear masks and goggles as part of their safety gear – aren’t. And they’re all up in each other’s faces all the time and not distancing. It’s disgusting.

And we wonder why MA numbers are going up.

Broadway is shuttered until May of 2021. Heartbreaking, but necessary. You know the producers are going to try to use this to bust the unions. The unions must hold firm. It’s going to take a decade or more for theatre to recover. But it WILL recover. Hopefully, a lot of these corporate entities will go away from theatre, and old-style impresarios, who actually love the format, will return.

I shouldn’t be surprised by the vicious remarks from snide people saying, “Well, now you have to get a REAL job” – the same people who say that the arts isn’t a real job, and that “no one” makes a living writing.

Nice to know who I can cut out of my life.

All these people binge-watching their streaming shows all pandemic — how do you think those are created? You think they magically appear out of the ether?

I’m reading SENSE OF OCCASION by Harold Prince, and he has a line that resonates: “. . .the theatre has been dying for as long as it’s been living, so its problems are not irrevocable.”

I was lucky enough to work directly with him on one show, at the Public Theatre. The hopes were that it would move to Broadway. It didn’t, but working with him was an amazing experience. The intensity of his joy, his craft, and the way he listened and valued EVERYONE in the company was wonderful.

Didn’t get much done on Saturday other than laundry, taking in the ballots, picking up the candy for Halloween, and doing the library run.

Sunday, I was up early to take the garbage and recycling to the dump. The staff, as always, were masked and great. The fucktards dumping garbage weren’t.  Disgusting. At least at the recycling area, people wore masks as required.

Since I was over in that direction, I dashed over to the nearby Stop N Shop to pick up a few things I couldn’t get at Trader Joe’s.

Home, decontaminated, had trouble with the laptop as I was trying to get work done. This laptop is barely six months old. I shouldn’t be having trouble with the keyboard already, especially since I have a light touch on the keys.

Wrote, revised, and polished the two articles for which I’d been contracted last week by the same editor.

Started the third contracted article, for a different editor, but had run out of steam by then.

Monday was the end of my few days of sleeping through the night. I woke up around 1 AM, again at 2:44, and then for good at 4:36.

I got some writing done, and headed to my client’s. I knew no one would be there. I got a lot done in a few hours, as much as I could get done there. I prefer to work on the ads at home. It’s easier.

Swung by Star Market, because that is the only place I can get the Cranberry-Peach juice and stocked up. Everyone was masked and careful in the store, which was good, since there were more people in the store than they should have let in.

No one outside the store was masked. Everybody’s dancing around the streets, not distancing, not masked. It’s really out of control in my neighborhood, and is irritating. I have made it clear to the neighbors that they don’t come near me unmasked. I am not participating in their insanity and disdain for each other. It’s a shame our neighborhood, which used to be tight and be about people taking care of each other, has devolved so badly.

Home, decontaminated, tried to work on the third article. I wanted to get it out the door before Mercury turned retrograde, but that’s just not going to happen. Switching between the various drafts of the stage play and the radio version to pull the right examples gets confusing.

We are having High Kitty Drama.

Someone on Twitter suggested the catnip banana as a great toy. I bought one for Tessa in this last Chewy order, and other toys for Willa and Charlotte.

Well, everyone wants the banana.

Charlotte tried to steal it and caused arguing and caterwauling and chasing and hissing.

Willa and Tessa now steal it back and forth, but they are sort of friends now, so it’s more playful than nasty.

But I couldn’t stand the drama and ordered two more catnip bananas, so each has her own. They should arrive by Thursday.

I bet the still steal them from each other.

I saw a publication that does both podcast and print. I asked the editor if in the next submission style, I could submit in radio format, and they were intrigued.

The next cycle is in December, which gives me some time to play with ideas. I have a few – it’s fantasy. There will be comedy. I don’t think there will be dirigibles in this one – I think I’m going in another direction. But you never know when a dirigible might show up in my work.

I asked, on Twitter, for recommendations for romance novels where children aren’t the end game, where a healthy HEA involves NOT having children BY CHOICE (not by infertility) and that is treated as a valid choice. I’m so sick of books about supposedly “independent” women who get pregnant by accident (“everything solved by a ‘magic penis’ as one person said on Twitter) and then turns into a puddle of ecstatic goo. Of course those books should exist. But other books, where happy lives without children should exist, too, and those are the books I want.

I got a pile of suggestions, which I wrote down. I ordered some from the library. I bought one, so far, on Kindle, because it’s set against horse racing.  I don’t read much romance (although I enjoy books in other genres with strong romantic elements and love) because too often I find the tropes cringeworthy.  For instance, I can’t stand the whole billionaire boyfriend trope, because I have yet to meet a billionaire who wasn’t a complete ass. That’s how he got to be a billionaire. Not by being secretly a good guy. Yes, it’s fantasy, but it stretches believability too far for me.

Also bought WITCHING TIME, Yasmine Galenorn’s newest WILD HUNT book, and have read about half of it so far.

Got my next book assigned for review. Looking forward to starting that by Thursday.

Today, I need to finish the article and get it out.  I will do client work, and get out some LOIs. I will finish tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice post and schedule that, and maybe get up a post for A Biblio Paradise.

Once the article goes out, I need to turn my attention back to the novel revisions, and work on the Susanna Centlivre play.

I have the Knowledge Unicorns this afternoon, too. We’re starting later than usual, because I’m taking a cooking seminar via Kripalu with Jeremy Rock Smith. I love the way he teaches, and I love his recipes, so I’m excited!

Don’t get me started on the SCOTUS hearings, or I’ll just turn into a rage monster. What an unqualified, unprincipled piece of crap that nominee is.

Off to start my day. Have a good one. Keep your head down during this retrograde.