Wed. Jan. 25, 2023: ANGEL HUNT Launch Day

Wednesday, January 25, 2022

Waxing Moon

Virginia Woolf’s birthday

Burns Night

ANGEL HUNT:

ANGEL HUNT launches today, with new episodes dropping on Wednesdays and Fridays. The episodes are intentionally short, usually less than a thousand words. I hope you check it out and follow it. The first three episodes are free, so you can read for free until the middle of next week.

A witch.

An angel.

An impossible task.

A devil calls in a marker, forcing witch Lianna Maplethorpe to hunt a renegade angel. It gets even more complicated and dangerous when the renegade turns out to be Lianna’s own Guardian Angel, who she believed abandoned her. As magical conflicts escalate in 2004’s New York City between differing factions, deeper and darker magic than Lianna has ever faced force her to grow – or die.

Urban Fantasy set in a slightly alt-New York City, beginning in 2004.

Direct Link Here.

Back to the Regular Blog:

The newest Process Muse post, talking about “Mindful Work” is here.

Wrote the loglines for the new LEGERDEMAIN and ANGEL HUNT episodes. Did the social media rounds promoting yesterday’s episode of LEGERDEMAIN. Created a double graphic for LEGERDEMAIN/ANGEL HUNT.

I need to get #28Prompts uploaded and scheduled soon, too. February is just around the corner.

Dug my car out. It wasn’t fun, but not as bad as expected. And I didn’t clear out all the space between cars, either, because I’m tired of being the only one who ever does it. But I made a nice little bowl around the car, so that I can run some errands this morning, before the next storm comes in.

Put up the Valentine’s decoration on the front door. I like having something fun up on the front door all the time, and switching it out every month or so.

Turned around 5 coverages and one score sheet in the afternoon. One of the coverages is for one of the best pieces I’ve ever read anywhere. What a delight! I can’t give more details, because NDA.

Worked on contest entries.

They’re backing off on how much snow is coming in. I might not do errands today, and do them tomorrow and Friday instead, although I need to mail a few things and get eggs. I might tromp down to the mailbox at the end of the street and then hit up Cumberland Farms and see if they have any eggs.

Pulled myself out of a weird dream last night. It wasn’t bad, just busy, and I realized it was the third time I’d been in the same dream in the same sequence (three distinct parts). Once I pulled myself out, I realized I should have stayed in it, because if I’ve had the same exact dream three times in a row, my subconscious is trying to feed me information I’m not getting. Go figure.

Discouraged with all social media platforms right now. February will be dialed back somewhat, focusing on the promotion drops and the #28Prompts. Then I’ll reassess. But I need to get the Topic Workbook promos going again. When I do those properly, they sell steadily.

I also need to figure out how I’m going to do wider promotion (paid advertising) for both Legerdemain and Angel Hunt (once there are more AH episodes live). I’m putting together a giveaway package of Legerdemain, and will probably do a series of bookmarks for it that will be a more general giveaway. I have to figure out what kind of giveaway I could do for AH.

Creating the giveaways isn’t that hard. It’s getting the material and getting them made up. Without the laser printer, I’m struggling. I wanted to do transfers of the logos so I could put them on bags and tee shirts, but this little printer isn’t gonna cut it. Maybe I can get them done at a print shop.

I have to do research for the next section of the Heist Romance script. Some of it is on Monte Carlo, where it takes place. The rest is on old German books containing woodcuts. I know a little bit about German woodcuts, because it was one of the things my uncle the artist was known for (along with stained glass windows, carved altar triptychs, and giant bronze sculptures), but I still need to refresh my memory on some details.

Writing this morning, script coverage, article work, and contest entries this afternoon. And so it goes.

Hope you have a good one, and please check out Angel Hunt. The first three episodes are free!

Thurs. Jan. 12, 2023: Unexpected Snow Day

image courtesy of  Kati via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Waning Moon

Uranus and Mercury Retrograde

Mars Direct (but still in Gemini)

Snowy and cold

Huh. We were supposed to get a storm coming through with rain tonight. Instead, I woke up to snow. Oh, well. Life in the Northeastern Mountains, right?

Garden post is up over on Gratitude and Growth.

Decent writing day yesterday. Although I only got 500 or so words on the novel in longhand, I drafted the next episode of LEGERDEMAIN and adapted the next chapter of ANGEL HUNT into five serial episodes.

I did the rounds on social media, promoting the latest Process Muse post, and spending time on the sites designated for that day. There are two sites I’m pretty sure I’m going to drop soon. I spent some time on Bookbub. Since they don’t allow us to list our serials in our booklist, I put the serials in my bio.

A book arrived for review, and it’s lovely, so lovely. Such beautiful design elements. I’m excited to get into the text. Read half of another book for review. It’s perfectly serviceable for the genre, but lacks sparkle.

Switched to reading some books for pleasure. One of them (I’m not sure how I ended up with it) is just awful. Everything in it is so completely disconnected from each other and a flat trope that I suspect it was run through AI. If I’d paid for the book, I would be angry, but I seem to remember it was sent to me free.

Read most of another book by an author whose work I know well over years. It was trying to fit a market niche, but she’s too much herself to be niche-restricted, and I could see where she was fighting the expectations. I mean, I enjoy it, but other books, where she can just let it rip, work better for me. And for her, since she doesn’t plan on continuing with the series.

Slept well, for once, although woke up after some weird dreams. But I woke up to coffee and snow, so it’s all good. I’ll put off my errands until tomorrow. There’s nothing urgent for today.

In my morning noodling session, suddenly and idea I’d played with off and on since last summer started coming into focus. I took a few notes. It will be a bit down the schedule before I can actually work on it. The idea was prompted by a submission call. I couldn’t make it work within the guidelines within the time frame, but I liked the idea, and hoped I could figure out what to do with it. I think I have, in a format with which I want to play more anyway. I’m playing with some character and plot notes, and then I’ll have to see how it fits into the structure and adjust.

I missed working on the other piece on which I usually work in longhand in the morning, so I may sneak in a few pages later today, between other bits and bobs.

Meditation this morning, then more LEGERDEMAIN, more ANGEL HUNT, making the rounds to promote today’s new episode of LEGERDEMAIN, the start of promotion for ANGEL HUNT, work on the article, finishing up books for review. Still no scripts in the queue, which is a worry, so I’ll also get out some LOIs.

I need to work on the direct marketing post card this weekend and get it to the printer (since my big printer is out of commission, and it would look awful on the inkjet).

I love watching the snow come down. I love even more that it gives me an excuse not to go out!

Have a good one, my friends!

Published in: on January 12, 2023 at 8:08 am  Comments (4)  
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Tues. Dec. 13, 2022: Busy in the Cold

image courtesy of 0fjd125gk87 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Waning Moon

Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Cloudy and COLD

It is ZERO degrees F this morning. Brrrr!

I hope you have a cup of your favorite beverage, so we can curl up to catch up.

There’s a post over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site about “Flexible Gratitude” which is what I’m working on this week, in addition to trying to hold steady and get things done.

Friday, I had the day off from script coverage. I did the blogging, the social media rounds, picked up books at the library, got a couple of things from the grocery store. I had trouble getting going, because I was tired.

However, after lunch, I started baking, and I baked 25 dozen cookies (orange cranberry, oatmeal currant, molasses spice). Once I got going, I had it down to a system, and it went pretty fast. I did two batches of each kind of cookie; if I need more, I can always whip up another batch.

Since I have 7 baking trays, I can prep the trays and just rotate them through the baking while I keep working on the next batch.

Got them all packed up in their tins, once they cooled. But I was definitely tired by the end of it.  I ran out of wax paper while I was packing the tins, but I had parchment paper, so it was all good.

Really, though, it took about 4 ½ hours, that’s all.

And I made more vegetable stock in the slow cooker, too, because I needed the space in the freezer that was taken up with the bits that go into the stock.

Saturday, I was up early. I had to get a few things like more ginger and more wax paper and Crisco for some of the cookies, and a few things I’m stockpiling for the holiday meals.

I made the dough for the coffee spice cookies and for the brown sugar maple cookies. While that chilled in the fridge, I handstitched the holly curtain for the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell, because we must be festive in the kitchen.

Baked the cookies. The coffee spice cookies are from a companion cookbook to Phillip R. Craig’s mysteries set on Martha’s Vineyard. If you’ve never read them, I recommend them. I read them first years ago, and then re-read them (and got the cookbook) when I lived on Cape.

The cookies are good, but I want to bump up the flavor. The next batch I try will split the batch and put some anise extract in one half and some allspice in the other. The nutmeg is a little too subtle.

The brown maple sugar cookies are good, but it doesn’t make a lot, which is a concern. I think I’ll have to make another batch in the next couple of days. The maple glaze is good, too. These will be a good addition to the platters.

I was tired, so I made turkey enchiladas for dinner. No, not from Thanksgiving leftovers. We finished all those!

I was happy to see that all the packages I mailed last Monday were delivered. Whew! Of course a package UPS was supposed to deliver last Wednesday is still out there somewhere, and every day, UPS lies and says it’s “out for delivery” and every day it doesn’t show up. I hate UPS. It’s fine if there’s a delay, but stop lying.

I made a chocolate glaze and put it on the coffee spice cookies. Yup, that gave it enough of a boost to go into this year’s cookie platters, while I work on the recipe. Only I ran out of confectioner’s sugar, and have to make another batch of glaze. So one batch of cookies needs 3 batches of glaze (I made 2, which will get me through the first few platter deliveries).

While the glaze set, we sat down and wrote the domestic cards. Only around 50 this year. So many have died. I’m at that age, plus COVID, means a lot of loss. I also let some names on the list go, when I haven’t heard from them at all for several years.  There were years, in New York, when I wrote as many as 500 cards (it took most of the month).

There’s a whole set of people with whom I only interact during the winter holidays. That’s fine; we manage to keep in touch. Someone, a few years back on social media, raged that if the only time one keeps in touch is winter holidays, it’s not worth it, and I disagree.

But then, the whole ritual of holiday cards is very important to me. Choosing the cards. Choosing the stamps. Sitting down with the list. Writing something in the card. Addressing the card. It’s taking a moment to honor the friendship and connection with each individual. And, while there are definitely times postage is a frightening expense, I believe each of these people is worth spending the cost of a stamp and some time on, once a year.

Some people choose not to send cards, for whatever reason. It’s up to them. Some of those who don’t like the whole card ritual keep in touch in other ways at other times of the year. Which I also appreciate.

But when there’s no interaction over a long period of time, it’s time to let go.

That’s a big change for me; there were people on the list to whom I’ve written for ten or more years and not heard from at all. Ever. Definitely time to let go. My position in their lives is clear (as in “non-existent”). I can retain positive memories and let go of the current connection.

As someone who was always designated “Kin Keeper” of various groups of friends and colleagues over the years, the letting to AND BEING OKAY WITH IT, is a big step.

In the afternoon, we finished decorating the big tree in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. Because one can see all around the tree, the back of the tree is as important as the front, and it’s fun to decorate in 360.

Added the musical instrument garland and lights to the garland on the mantel. I bought the musical instrument garland for 50 cents in December 1980 in Woolworth’s, Tallahassee, Florida, when I was at FSU that first year (I transferred to NYU the following spring). I love that silly little garland, and have hung it up every year in Florida, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Cape Cod, and now here in the Berkshires.

Put up the lights in the living room window. Set up a shelf full of snowmen behind one of the big reading chairs. Put up the small tree over my desk, behind Seshat, my goddess of scribes, who has pride of place over my desk.

The Santas are still packed; we have to figure out where to put 50+ Santas. All over the house, no doubt.

Once the stacks of cookies are on platters and out the door, I will set up my mix-and-match Holiday Village on the big table in my office. I still have to put up the lights on the front porch, in the kitchen, and on the stairs, along with the garlands.

It started snowing around 11 on Sunday morning and snowed all day. We got about 5 inches. I perched on the couch in the evening, enjoying the candles and lights (3rd of Advent) and reading.

I have a lot of holiday stuffed animals (especially reindeer. I love reindeer). One of them, which I picked up at a thrift store for about 50 cents, has a music box on it. Only I don’t know how to make it work. Charlotte, on the other hand, keeps setting it off. It’s hilarious.

I had weird dreams, Sunday into Monday, about an immersive theatre experience in a stadium-sized theatre. Charlotte woke me up from it.

Slow start Monday, wanting it to be a snow day. No scripts in the queue. I decided to be grateful instead of worried. I could do other things!

I did the Monday blogging, and the social media rounds.

To my absolute joy, the big laser printer which hasn’t worked for the past few weeks, turned itself on and started printing, like nothing was every wrong. Okay, it thinks it is May 17, 2020, but other than that, it’s working. I am so grateful. I guess it needed a vacation?

I haven’t even set up the other printer yet.

I caught up on all the printing on which I’d gotten behind, got some scanning done. I created the Cookie Cheat Sheets to go with the cookies. I figured I should get as much done as possible, in case it decided to stop working again.

I went out and dug out the car. The parking lot was plowed already, and the snow was light and fluffy, so it wasn’t a big deal. The sun came out later on and helped, too.

I edited, polished, uploaded, and scheduled Episodes 47 & 48 of Legerdemain. I wrote their episode log lines, created the episode graphics, and uploaded/scheduled that content to drop on the appropriate days. I’m good through the first week of January, which gives me a little breathing room, since I won’t get to write new episodes until sometime next week. I’ve written through Episode 58, but I need to go further and finish the arc, so that I can make sure I don’t need to plant information in earlier episodes to make sense later.

I put release dates into the January calendar for Legerdemain and ANGEL HUNT episodes (I’m behind where I want to be on that, too), and other deadlines in January. This is in the big calendar. I didn’t use different colors in January, which I’m kind of regretting. Everything is in black ink, and it looks rather dull.

I was about to finish my witchy charm bracelet and my talisman necklace when I realized I need to get jump rings.

The trust paid off and more scripts came in for the week. I have 3 coverages today and 2 tomorrow. If I can pick up a couple more each day Thursday and Friday great; if not, that’s fine, too. I hope to get some coverages next week for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and maybe one on Friday, and then I am on vacation!

Today, I need to do the rounds to promote the Legerdemain episode that’s dropping. I want to work on “Comfort, Then Joy” and I have a tarot reading to set, write up, and post on Ko-fi later. I have to go out and get more maple syrup and more confectioners’ sugar, so I can do another batch of the brown sugar maple cookies, and make another batch of glaze for the coffee spice cookies. I hope to give the batches of cookies to the neighbors in the building later today, and then start delivering the other cookie platters tomorrow. I also need to drop off the cards at the post office. Writing them is great, but if they’re not mailed, it doesn’t mean a whole lot, does it?

A package arrived a week late yesterday, but it’s here, so that’s all good.

There’s another storm coming in on Friday, so I need to figure out if I can get the laundry done today or tomorrow, and all the cookie deliveries out by Thursday, then grab a few groceries to get us through the weekend. I was going to do the stocking stuffer shopping this weekend, but might put It off until next week. I also have another book to review this week, and need to get moving on that.

The Christmas novella wants to be worked on, but that will have to wait until next week. The newsletter story and the Ko-fi flash have to take priority. Then, I’ll mix working on the Christmas novella next week, along with work on Legerdemain, ANGEL HUNT, and finishing THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH.

Fingers crossed the printer keeps working!

On a personal level, there’s some rough work going on. The Chiron retrograde energy presses down, forcing me to face some painful memories and past choices, deal with them, and gain perspective. While making sure I don’t make the same mistakes again. Necessary work, but not easy and often painful.

Have a good one, friends. Enjoy the next episode of Legerdemain! This one wraps up the first large story arc and leads into the second one.

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. Nov. 22, 2022: Of NaNo Wins, Social Media Platforms, and Holiday Prep

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Dark Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and a little warmer

Curl up with your favorite beverage, because we have a long catch-up this morning, over a wide variety of topics.

If you missed my post on the GDR site about the reminder that holidays are supposed to be fun, you can read it now.

Everything took longer on Friday than I wanted. It was frustrating. But I got my words in, and then we headed out to errands.

I had quite the stack of books waiting for me at the library. Of course, as soon as I got home, I got the notice that there were more. Because that’s how it works. We headed off to the local Toy and Candy shop in Norad Mill, to get ideas for holiday shopping. It’s very cute, and I ended up buying one of my mom’s gifts there, but it didn’t solve this year’s gift-giving challenges.

Then, it was off to Wild Oats. A local coffee company had a tasting, and the guy running it was really nice, enthusiastic, and a fellow French Press enthusiast. So we had a good conversation, and then I got the rest of what I needed.

Hit Stop & Shop on the way back for a few things, and it was disgusting. Hardly everyone masked, and everyone sneezing and coughing all over everything. I stayed about 10 feet away and got out as fast as I could. Ick.

If I end up getting sick, I’ll know where it happened.

Negotiated a contract for a new-to-me publication. It’s still not the fee I wanted, but I really want to do the article, the timeline works, and, while it may be a one-and-done for me, it will also be a good opportunity to get my byline in front of a different audience.

Struggled with the script coverage in the afternoon. I’ve gotten used to the shorter write-ups, so doing a longer one was a challenge. I only got one done, not two, which meant I had to do another one over the weekend.

Gathering contact info and saying goodbye on Twitter is sad. Maybe it will course correct, who knows, but it will never be what it was. Not that it was perfect. There were plenty of times it was a toxic hell site. But it was an important marketing outlet, and a place for people to find each other, and come across fun, weird little pockets of interest. While the positive is that it gives one a chance to build something new, it’s still sad. Recognizing the grief and allowing ourselves to mourn is vital.

The people who are screaming how it negatively affects their income are going to have to buck up and learn other platforms, or lose that income permanently. People can moan that Twitter is similar to a public utility all they want, but the fact is that it is owned by an individual who takes glee in destroying it for his own ego. Either you put in the time to learn other platforms, and see what serves your business best, or you lose your income.

I’m as frustrated as anyone else. The Topic Workbooks were steadily paying the electric bill. Other sales were growing, and filling in other expenses. Legerdemain was gaining traction. A solid section of that audience came via Twitter. Since Yegads Muskrat started destroying the company, my sales took a 75% hit.

I have to absorb that and recalibrate over the next few months, until I figure out which platforms do what the best and can aim my marketing appropriately.

If all I do is scream that I’ve lost sales, I won’t learn what I need to learn, and can’t regain them. So it’s been a case of rolling up the sleeves and getting to work.

Do I “have” time? Of course not. But if I want to sustain and grow my writing business, it’s necessary. It means working even longer hours right now, and too bad for me.

The platform doesn’t “owe” it to me to stay the same because I’ve gotten used to marketing a certain way and making use of it.

There’s a learning curve with these other platforms. I’ll make mistakes, and will pay the price in lost sales. But I have to put in the work and learn.

Even if another company tries to put together a replacement platform, it will be different. This was something unique in its space and time, for all its flaws. We mourn, and we rebuild.

Things don’t stay the same in life. That’s reality. I mean, I was on the platform for 13 years. That’s centuries in tech terms.

Whining doesn’t change it.

I’m sad. I’m angry at Yegads Muskrat for taking glee in destroying something that was important to thousands or tens of thousands of people. I also think the Board shouldn’t be let off the hook. They didn’t HAVE to sell to him. They CHOSE to, out of their own greed. I want their names, and I don’t think any of them should be allowed to ever be in a position of authority over something like this again. Let them live off their spoils of this. Don’t allow them another penny again.

How does that affect my signing up as a beta for Bluesky? Because I don’t trust Jack Dorsey farther than I can throw him, even though he left the company in 2021, and the BOD earlier this year. I want to see what he’s built, and make my decisions from there, knowing that it’s likely he will throw everyone under the bus again. Will it be free? I heard rumors it will be tied to crypto. No, thanks. Will it be a useful marketing tool? Who knows? Once it goes live, I’ll try it out, weigh the pros and cons, and all of it against my opinion of Dorsey, his ethics, and what we know he’s capable of doing.

But Twitter’s demise changes the marketing game for all kinds of companies and creators. Anyone who’s positioning themselves as a transition guru is lying.

Enough about that. In the evening, I read for pleasure, and played with the cats. I finally unpacked the tote bag of toys we brought up from storage. Charlotte doesn’t understand how to play.

Didn’t have a good night Friday into Saturday. Weird dreams, and Charlotte kept waking me up. Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny, cold day, and it would have been perfect to drive down to Great Barrington. But I couldn’t get it together to get it done. I was absolutely exhausted. So we decided not to go.

The words for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH were a struggle. Not to mention there weren’t a lot of them. 1672, so I hit the day’s necessity with a handful over, but not my personal goal.

I stitched the fleece curtain for the back door. It’s amazing what a difference it makes, between the door curtain and the heavy drapes from the 1950s we put on the windows. It keeps the place warmer by several degrees, which means the heat doesn’t have to work as hard.

I did some stuff around the house. We can’t find what we hoped to find to send out as gifts this season, so we have to figure something else out. We think we have another option; hopefully, I can make it work.

The poor coffeemaker I ordered is shipping out of Buffalo – who had 5 FEET of snow. So that’s not showing up anytime soon. Those poor delivery people. This is why I ordered early. I don’t need it for another month. It’ll get here when it gets here; if it’s late, that’s the way it goes.

There were so many things I should have done, and just didn’t.

I did read IRON AND VELVET by Alexis Hall, which was a lot of fun. How have I missed this series?

I checked into Twitter a few times, but it just made me sad.

I helped a friend set up on Mastodon. I don’t find it the be-all and end-all some do, but the instance on which my friend and I signed up is primarily screenwriters, so we can talk projects together. It’s harder to come across random cool people with different interests, but I am blocking whiners and screamers and bullies much faster on this platform.

I still like CounterSocial for in-depth conversation. There are Twitgees trying to scream and bully. When they scream, they are ignored. When they bully, they are removed. But I’m also quick to block there.

I’m not a muter. I’m a blocker. I’m either all in with someone’s different facets, or all out.

But I spent very little time on SM. I want to try to cut back severely on weekends.

Up early on Sunday, mostly because Charlotte was impossible. I made the cinnamon honey coffeecake with orange marmalade filling from one of the Moosewood Cookbooks. I didn’t have wheat flour, so I substituted rye, which made it a little too dense. I should have stuck with all white flour. But it’s still good.

The day’s words went better with THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. 1928 words. Still under what I hoped for my own personal goal, but I’m on track. I doubt I’ll hit 50K before Thanksgiving, but I will by the end of Thanksgiving weekend.

It snowed on and off, mostly off, although we kept getting Winter Advisory Alerts. All around us, it was much worse, but in this little bowl in the mountains, we were protected.

Did some hearth and home stuff. Turned around a script coverage (the one I hadn’t done on Friday). We sat down and wrote the overseas cards. There aren’t a lot anymore; so many people have died. I’m still waiting for a couple of requested addresses, but if they don’t arrive, I’ll just let it go. I have way too much to do over the next few weeks to chase people around begging for addresses; if they don’t want to hear from me, that’s fine.

Checked in with Twitter again. It’s glitching like crazy. People are screaming about how “ethical” creators and companies have to pull their ads. Boo, if you’re running around to conferences unmasked and on airplanes (whether masked or unmasked) and eating indoors unmasked, STFU, you ableist hypocrite. You’re in no position to talk ethics with anyone.

I tried to get on in the evening to join ScriptChat, but the glitches were too much.

Death throes.

As far as my own strategy, I’m holding course with the promotions planned/scheduled through the end of the year, and then reassessing. There isn’t a platform that promotes the way Twitter did to the audience Twitter did, so I have a feeling, at least for the first few months, promotions will be piecemeal and staggered across platforms. As I learn what works where, I will re-align as needed. Most of my audience has fled Twitter, but there are still some stalwarts, and they might find something they missed in the noise of a busier platform.

If someone whines it’s not behind a content warning, I’ll just block them.

The whiners tend to fall into two groups: those who have a huge, well-paid marketing machine behind them, and those who can’t get published because they never finish anything, but keep talking about “someday.”

Dianne Dotson suggested Hive as a good platform. They look like fun, and if she’s comfortable there, it means it’s a good place to promote work (she’s excellent at promoting her work). It doesn’t look like I can do them from the desktop, which would knock them out of contention. I don’t have the capacity OR the desire to do all of this from my phone.

I resent having to have a phone in the first place.

I looked at POST, but basically, they want people to create content for them without pay. Which is part of what social media is, but they want long and short form articles on the site itself, not links driving traffic back to one’s work on other sites. I think I’ll pass.

Started reading the next book for review.

Also read MURDER BY THE BRUSH, S.E. Babin’s first Psychic Cleaner Mystery, which was a lot of fun. It’s a novella, not a novel, but I liked the energy and the characters and the plot and the heart of it. I liked it so much I went and bought the second novella in the series, MAID FOR MAYHAM, and read that. Like I said, novellas. Quick reads. The climactic sequences tend to be a little rushed, but other than that, they are a lot of fun. I’d read more in the series, when they release.

It’s interesting that there are so few category mysteries anymore, in the 50-60K range. Most of them are 80K+.

These novellas ran around 135 pages, which brought them in around 33K. So, while I read for fun, I was also learning.

More snow overnight, but nowhere near as much as predicted.

Monday, I overslept because Charlotte kept waking me up. It was the day before dark moon, which is my lowest energy day of the month anyway. I had weird dreams about working on a project with David Tennant (which would be great, I’ve always wanted to work with him) and discovering what an intense listener he is. I mean, that’s obvious from his work, but being on the receiving end of it in the dream was interesting.

Had trouble getting going, but once I got myself to the page, the next chapter of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH trundled along decently at 1951 words. I broke 48K, so if I keep going the next few days, I can hit 50K and then drop back to whatever the natural pace is for this book, which I think is around 1200 or 1300 words/day. As I said, I’m figuring the sweet spot is around 82K, but this draft might have fewer words, and give me room to layer in details in full drafts.

I’m kicking myself for leaving the box of costume books in storage over winter. I only have a couple up here. Although I took out a bunch of relevant fashion books from the library, I’ll have to get them out again when I do revisions.

Bibliographic notes are a must.

After breakfast and blogging, I headed out for errands. Library first, to drop off and pick up. The one day I’m in a time crunch, they have a line of people who want the librarians to look things up for them, instead of going to a terminal and doing it their damn selves.

But it was fine. I got my stuff and got out of there in longer than usual, but not too bad an amount of time. It was a bright, sunny day. Although it was cold, people were in a pretty good mood.

Big Y next, for Thanksgiving shopping. I was happy to see that almost everyone was masked. It took a lot of stress out of shopping.

Post Office, where I bought more overseas stamps, mailed the cards we’d written, and got stamps for the domestic cards. (The Elves, in case you’re curious).

Liquor store, and then home. Hauled everything up the stairs. Put it all away, made lunch, did the SM rounds. Being on Twitter made me sad.

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon. Another one, that had a problem with additional materials, was cleaned up, and that will be my one for tomorrow. I have two for today, so I’m okay. I have three days in the pay period next week, after the holiday, so as long as there are scripts to grab, I’ll be okay.

Soup class with Jeremy Rock Smith last night. Tons of fun, as always. I learned a lot, and got a lead on where to get my knives sharpened around here.

Got the wonky tablet up and running, because I should be able to run Hive off the tablet, since I don’t want it on my phone. I downloaded the app and established an account, but have to figure out how to get the photos I want on it. I was too tired to do much more than establish an account. And I have no idea how to find anyone. I’ll learn. Enough writers are migrating there that it sounds like it’s viable, if I make the time to figure it out. I still wish it had a desktop option.

I have to charge the tablet through my phone cord, because the charger that came with it no longer works.

Up early, although out the door later than usual to the laundromat, just in case they haven’t yet adjusted to the time change. They had. The washing machines were fine, but the dryers not only ate up double the money, but didn’t dry properly. So we have laundry draped all over everything.

Tessa disapproves. She likes things tidy.

I managed to get a good chunk of edits done on the next section of Legerdemain, which as to be uploaded and scheduled this weekend (or, at the latest, early next week).

It was later than usual when I sat down to work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, but it went pretty well, the chapter coming in at 2287 words. That brought me over 50K, which means I’m an official NaNo22 Winner, a nice boost to my ego. And a relief, because I can do the remaining 30K at a slower pace. And I hit my personal goal of hitting 50K before Thanksgiving.

So this is up late. There will be a whacky little piece of Thanksgiving flash fiction up later this afternoon on Ko-fi.

Don’t forget, the latest episode of Legerdemain drops today. Enjoy!

Thurs. Nov. 3, 2022: Weary

(Image courtesy of S.Hermann/F. Richter via pixabay.com)

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Partly cloudy and warm

The latest on the garden is up over on Gratitude and Growth.

The Mars retrograde is kicking my ass, and it just started. I don’t even want to imagine what it will be like when it pairs with the Mercury Retrograde over New Year’s.

After I finished the Nano quota yesterday, and then made the social media rounds, I switched out the curtains and took down the Samhain ornaments.

Packing them took a while, since I also had script coverage, and all that climbing and untangling and all the rest took time.

Something about Nano that makes me tired is all those who only write once a year doing Nano thinking they know everything about writing and giving condescending pats on the head to those of us who MAKE OUR LIVING AT THIS ALL YEAR. Learn something about the person you’re talking to before you give “advice.”

If you missed Ink-Dipped Advice yesterday, I talk about the toxicity of “Team Player”, so hop over and read it.

Turned around 3 scripts in the afternoon. Packed up the decorations in the evening, and I have to hoist the boxes back onto the shelves today.

I’d accepted it was unlikely I’d work on Legerdemain yesterday, so at least I didn’t beat myself up about it.

A strange, murky-colored stain started to expand on the ceiling of my mother’s bedroom. Either something is leaking up in the attic, or something is bleeding up there. Either way, it needs to be dealt with. Since we don’t have access to the attic, I reported it to maintenance, who promised to check it out today.

As my friend Dewi Hargreaves said, it’s an intro to a story. Let’s hope it’s not a horror story!

The rituals for the dead continue. They take more of a toll this year than usual. I’m not sure if it’s because there are more dead due to COVID, or I’m older, or a combination. But this year, it’s difficult to sustain the rituals all week.

Weird dreams last night, and up early this morning.

Up early, and at the desk. Wrote Chapter 3 of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, 2624 words. The book wants to pace at around 1K/day, but that doesn’t work for Nano, so I’m pushing it into an unnatural pace, which will mean more time in revisions. I also need to create boards with visuals of the clothes and other details to have in front of me while I write (not on yet another screen – a real BOARD). The hat etiquette is slowing me down. It’s interesting, it’s fun, but it’s slowing me down.

Meditation this morning. After breakfast, I hope to get a little work done, and then I have a morning filled with errands. Not sure if I’ll get to work on Legerdemain, or how much work, because there are two more scripts that need attention this afternoon.

At least the weather should be gorgeous through the weekend.

The next episode of Legerdemain drops today. I hope you enjoy it!

Published in: on November 3, 2022 at 8:16 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Nov. 3, 2022: Weary  
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Wed. Oct. 19, 2022: Rearranging Words

image courtesy of Willi Heidelbach via pixabay.com

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Waning Moon

Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Partly cloudy, foggy, and cold

Yesterday wasn’t as much of a words-on-paper as I hoped, but I still got a good deal done. I need to shift my idea of “productivity” and allow myself to be happy with what I get done, instead of obsessing on what I don’t get done.

I put up a tarot reading on my Ko-Fi page, using the Halloween Tarot. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, hop on over and check it out.

I got the blogging done, I slogged through some email. I did the social media rounds to promote the next episode of LEGERDEMAIN. With permission, I went into a friend’s website and did some fixes. The site is under construction, but there are enough relevant visuals and placeholder text so she can apply for grants that will allow her to hire a web developer and get exactly what she wants.

I had to dress like a Real Person and run errands: library, grocery store, post office, the liquor store, the bank. Of course, as soon as I got home, more books arrived at the library, and the check arrived from Llewellyn for last year’s almanac that comes out this year. More people are masking than did even a week ago, which is encouraging.

I uploaded and scheduled the posts to drop every day through November and into December for 30 Tips for 30 Days.

I haven’t yet fixed the problem with the LEGERDEMAIN ads, but I will do that today and tomorrow. It will just mean more episode-specific ads dropping for a few weeks in November, that’s all.

I set up the site for the project that launches next week over on Substack. It was, of course, more complicated than I’d hoped. But I got it done. I’m going to do some tweaking before I make the official announcement.

I did some interacting with other Substack authors, to introduce myself and get more of a feel for the site. One of the authors spoke about how Substack had given her a “business audit” with advice for monetizing her site better. And yet, EVERY piece of advice they gave her is something that would turn me off to becoming a paid subscriber.

I want to be invited, not nagged.

In fact, I’m unsubscribing from a couple of lists over there, because I’m tired of being nagged and a sense of bait-and-switch. I also don’t want to get into a non-reciprocal situation with a bunch of authors where I’m paying them, but none of them are supporting me.

Some will say, well, that cuts into the profit margin of their own site, and well YEAH, but part of being in a community of writers, to me, is buying each other’s books, or, at the very least, boosting each other’s social media about the work so we all expand our reach. It’s something that will be front and center when I clean up my Twitter feed and get rid of a lot of other “writers” (most of whom aren’t doing  this to earn a living) who never support my work. Supporting is not just forking out cash; there are fellow writers who either can’t afford to buy everything I do, or some of what I do (maybe all of it) isn’t to their taste. Yet they still support me with boosts and likes and comments and recommendations and other interactions. My budget, too, is limited; I can’t give money monthly to every other writer I’d like to support. But I do as much as I can each month. I at least try to do SOMETHING. But if I’m not getting any type of interaction or support back, it’s draining me on multiple levels.

Because the best way to reach people who are readers, not writers (and whom writers need to sustain their work) is via other writers. Most readers read work by multiple writers. We’re not competing for audience. That’s a corporate traditional publishing line, to keep writers scared. Yes, people have limited budgets and have to choose where to put their reading dollars. But they also usually read more than one writer.

I mean, basically, Substack is a streaming service for writers.

Did a quick revision on “My Side of the Bed” and “Paranormal Paraphrasing” so I could send them to my friend Paula for comment.

Turned around a really fun script that took familiar tropes and did something new with them in clever, skilled ways.

While I was cooking dinner, I came up with an hilarious sequence for LEGERDEMAIN. Now, I just have to figure out where to put it so it supports the overall arc, rather than is a tangent.

I set up a Serials page on the sidebar of this blog. Right now, it only has LEGERDEMAIN up, because that’s what’s running. It will have more entries as more serials drop.

Read for pleasure in the evening.

Overslept this morning, after weird dreams where I was a different person in the dream. Not myself. I mean, I was very much the person I was in the dream, but that person wasn’t the me I am when I’m awake. Does that make sense at all? There’s got to be a way to use that in something.

Tessa Was Not Amused. She composed and performed her song of hunger and abandonment relentlessly until I got up, with Charlotte and Willa singing backup. She plans to record it in Nashville and hit the charts, so she can afford minions who will feed her On Time.

Paula’s comments on the plays were terrific, and now I have to figure out the best way to implement them.

I have to travel down to Pittsfield at some point today (hey, taking the advice of yesterday’s reading that’s up on Ko-Fi) and get some stuff done.

But I’m hoping to get at least a few words on the page before I have to leave.

Have a good one!

Tues. Oct. 11, 2022: Serial Musings, Creative Inspiration, and Dishes

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Waning Moon

Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Pluto direct as of Oct. 8

Cloudy and cold. Second frost.

I started out stressed on Friday, but then calmed down. As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I hoped to get an oil change, but had to schedule it for yesterday instead.

I came home, got some work done, had trouble logging into Ello, which bothered me, since that platform has one of the highest metrics for me.

I picked up some books at the library, swung by the post office to mail some cards and bills, picked up some wine at the liquor store, filled the gas tank.

I jumped in the shower when I got home, and I thought, “what if I just don’t worry about everything that still has to be done today? What if I just get it done without the worry?” And that made things flow better.

I worked on script coverages up until the time I had to get dressed and go to the art opening. It was a lot of fun. I didn’t stay long; I made sure my colleagues knew I was there and that I thought they did a great job; I had a short conversation with the artist; I looked at the art five or six times, seeing something new each time. And then I left, as it got more crowded. The turnout was good, which is always heartening.

Home, made fish and chips for dinner, then finished the script coverages, which took until nearly 10 PM. But I made my goal and a little over this week. But I was tired.

Overslept on Saturday morning, after weird dreams.

I did a lot of promotion for the Free Vella Binge days. I promoted my serial, and I also read a lot of other writers’ serials, and it was a lot of fun. I hope they do a binge week a few months down the line again. Today is the final day of the binge – which means you can even read the episode dropping today, Episode 23.

It also means I have to start a different type of promo as of tomorrow.

And I’m behind on the Topic Workbook promos, which have to get done, since they pay at least one of my bills per month!

I wrote more on the next LEGERDEMAIN episodes – about 3K, and it felt good. This arc is taking some interesting twists and turns for me as the writer, even as I sort of stick to the general outline I made for the arc.

A character started talking to me. She’s kind of a cross between Marion Ravenwood and Morticia Adams, and I kind of love her. I listened to her for awhile and made some notes. Where I originally planned to start turns out to be further into the piece. My character told me the action starts IN an action scene earlier. So I listened.

I think this will be a short serial, to dip my toe into the waters of Substack. I have some questions to ask them about pricing, and if one can put bundling serials into the tiered pricing system. It’s a combination of action, magic, fantasy. With, of course, some humor. The voice is VERY different from LEGERDEMAIN.

Anyway, the series is called Vixen’s Hollow, and this first “season” is called THE CUNNING ONE. If I stick to the outline, it will be 12-20K. That way, I can dip my toe in while prepping EARTH BRIDE (which needs a fuckton more revision than ANGEL HUNT) and developing REP. While keeping LEGERDEMAIN going on over at Vella, as long as the metrics for work it, and also putting ANGEL HUNT up there in January.

Then, by midyear next year, I’ll have enough data and metrics to compare, contrast, and see if either platform grows the way I need it to grow for this to be viable on both financial and creative levels. And can make informed decisions.

While I’m juggling the other prose, script, and business writing. I think it’s do-able, if I stay focused, and if everything is outlined properly. Then, in each project’s time slot, I drop down and work. Hit my quota, take a quick break to clear my head, and move on.

We also did some more decorating on Saturday, putting up the autumn lights (which is always a bigger PITA than I’d like) on the front porch, in the living room, and in the kitchen. I wanted to wait to do the stair lights until after the storage run.

Sunday morning, we were up at 4:30, and on the road by 6, even though I had to scrape frost off the windows. It’s our first frost, which means the colors will begin to pop soon.

The drive to the Cape wasn’t bad at all, in spite of some sun glare for a bit. There wasn’t much traffic, and it was pretty to see where the colors are throughout the state. Mid-state has the strongest color now.

We made it in 3 ½ hours instead of 4, and spent about an hour in the storage unit, trying to organize and rearrange what shifted. We still haven’t found the photos and scrapbooks from our trips, and I’ll have to take another look at spring’s trip. I also forgot the shepherd’s pie dishes, which annoys me, and I didn’t have the energy to move enough boxes to get to the books I wanted.

But we brought back teapots, my grandmother’s china, the snowman china, lots of pictures and a couple of paintings, more sewing baskets, my wardrobe kit (which I will clean out and make functional for current project life), plant pots, and some miscellaneous stuff. It was a full car.

We stopped at a favorite store, which has things I haven’t yet been able to source here, and stocked up.

We were back on the road  a little after 11. We hit a bad pocket of traffic from Worcester to Sturbridge, but then, even though it was busy, traffic moved. We stopped at Adams Fresh Market for things like pizza, bread, and pie (their bakery is wonderful), and filled the tank up the street at Cumberland Farms. The gas was 4 cents more a gallon on Sunday than it was on Friday, when I filled the tank in preparation for the trip.

We were home with the car unloaded by 3:30, and kind of tired, even though it was a much less stressful day than I expected. Ate pizza, unwrapped some of the pictures. Some we will hang up; others we will put aside and maybe switch out, if we get tired of what’s up on the walls.

So tired, I went to bed at 7:30 at night. Slept until midnight. Woke up because my hip hurt. Moved to the bed in the sewing room and slept until the alarm went off at 6. Weird dreams, including that my laptop was stolen, with the flash drive holding the serials. I guess I better back it up on the external hard drive, too.

Tessa was beside herself, claiming we were starving them to death.

Fed the beasts, fed myself, pulled it together and was out the door and at the garage by 8 for my oil change appointment.

I’d brought CAST IRON MURDER with me, to work on the multi-colored draft, and got a couple of chapters done while I waited. The change was easy-peasey, reasonably priced, and they always do right by me. The car is purring like a contented cat.

Came home and started unpacking/washing china. Of course, now we have to figure out where to put it. And now, in addition to working on a flash fiction idea about a haunted doorbell, I want to write another about dead ladies’ china. Because ideas come in batches, like cookies.

Some of the pieces could go into the dishwasher, but most of the older, fragile, bone china needed to be handwashed and set out on the mats to air dry, then get wiped.

Of course, I don’t have a place to put some of it, although I think I’ve come up with a temporary solution that involved buying another rolly cart for the shelf full of tea and chocolate, and then putting some of the dishes up there. Until I can get a china cabinet that will fit into one of the corners in the living room or my office.

Because there are still two boxes of china that need to come up in spring. And who knows how  much I’ll rescue out of thrift shops over the winter?

While batches of china dried, I did Kindle Vella promotion and finished the first draft of the first episode of THE CUNNING ONE. It needs some tweaks, but the bones are good.

One of the things I noticed while reading serial episodes is that many of them are long, because the author is simply posting book-length chapters in preparation for the book’s later release. I’m intentionally keeping the episodes shorter and crisper than I would for a book because serial structure is different from book structure. It’s not just a bunch of chapters slapped up there, one at a time.

LEGERDEMAIN’S sometimes run longer than I would like, although if we get up to 1700 words, I try to break it down and restructure it. I can’t always do that without losing the rhythm, but I try, and as I write forward, in this second arc, I’m much more aware of structure as I write, rather than writing and then revising to fit structure.

ANGEL HUNT was originally created as a serial, then opened out as an (unfinished) novel, and now being adapted back into a serial. The episodes are short and tight, shorter than the original serial episodes. But it fits the rhythm.

THE CUNNING ONE, at least so far, is a little longer than ANGEL HUNT’s, but still less than LEGERDEMAIN. I want to keep the episodes between 900-1100 words, not more than 1200.

EARTH BRIDE’s will be more complicated, since that was originally written as a novel, and the chapters run long even for my usual chapter lengths. I have a feeling those will run around 1500 words each.

No idea about REP yet. Since it’s a science fiction comedy, probably short, precise chapters that build in comedic beats and then pay off.

Anyway, in addition to that, I did some noodling on two Christmas story ideas, which I need to draft before November. One is aimed at the newsletter subscribers; the other will go up on Ko-fi. My friend Chaz Brenchley has a really cool piece called HITHER that he releases a page at a time over there. You can read HITHER here (and buy Chaz a coffee).

We’re all experimenting across formats, trying to earn a living practicing our craft.

I tidied up some of the text on the Legerdemain site yesterday afternoon, too. I will work on the city’s history and the People content, and hope to get them up this week. I want to start promoting the site.

Slept decently last night, although, again, I had the dream that my laptop was stolen with the serial flash drive in it. Note to self: back up serial flash drive on external hard drive AND make sure the flash drives are out of the laptop and put away at night, or when away for extended times.

Back to the page; there’s a lot that has to get done this week. The To Do lists I made the last two weeks only depress me. But I have a lot that has to get done. So I better get to it, huh?

Anyway, Episode 23 drops today for LEGERDEMAIN, and I hope you enjoy it. The direct link to the series is here.

Thurs. Oct. 6, 2022: Adopt-A-Versaries and Free Vella Reads

Willa (photo by Devon Ellington)

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

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

Foggy and mild

It’s still gray and foggy. Yesterday, it rained on and off all day. I guess we’re having a damp autumn. Latest on the garden is at Gratitude and Growth.

There’s also a post over on Ink-Dipped Advice about the Work Wins Journal experiment, and what did and did not serve my work.

Today is the 4th Anniversary of Willa’s adopt-a-versary. She’s come a long way from the scared little cat who arrived four years ago. Saturday will be Charlotte’s 4-year anniversary. Charlotte’s been an even bigger challenge. They were with two different people, which is why they arrived on different days. I’m glad we have them both. Tessa isn’t so sure on some days.

Charlotte, photo by Devon Ellington

I mostly got admin and some marketing done yesterday morning. Then, I went to Big Y and did the Big Grocery Shop that sets us up for most of the month, and we just have to fill in here and there with fresh things. I was relieved to see so many people masked. But I had six large bags when I was finished (the reusable big bags I take with me).

Got everything home, up the stairs, put away. Did a few more things before  my meeting with a  client. It should have taken an hour and took three, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Dug in after the client left and turned around three scripts. Which meant I was working until nearly 9 PM, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Had trouble settling into sleep. Charlotte was impossible. I ended up kicking her out of the room so I could sleep. I woke up around 2:30 and let her back in, and then we settled down to sleep and I overslept until 7:30. The bed looks like a battlefield this morning.

I had weird dreams about being in a writers’ residency with a famous author, where we shared living space that had a studio for each  of us in it, but we cooked together and had a common room together.

Today needs to be about writing and cooking (and, in the afternoon, three more scripts to turn around). I doubt I’ll make it to open studios tonight at MassMOCA. I won’t be able to turn around three scripts early enough without cutting into my writing time, and I’m never in any shape to concentrate on coverage after open studios, because I’m too excited about the work.

I was thinking about the request to move the artist working group meetings to evenings because of “day jobs.” If that becomes the norm, then this is not the right group for me. Art IS my day job, and I consider these meetings part of my job. I’m not interested in being part of a group where the day job is the priority, not the art. The reason I’ve been able to earn a living in the arts since I was 18 was that the only purpose any non-arts “day job” had was to SERVE the art, not the art pushed aside for the day job. And any time a day job conflicted with the art, it was the day job that was dropped. I’ve participated in groups of part time artists before. All they do is whine about the world not accommodating them, rather than making their art a priority. That is not what I want and need now.

If you don’t make your art a priority, you will never be given the opportunity by others for it to be a priority.

So we’ll see how this unfolds. It may well not be the right group for me at this point in my journey. It may well be the right group for the other members where they are, and if that is the case, so be it.

Meditation as good this morning. Now, it’s back to the page, and also the stove. There’s a lot of cooking that has to happen today, along with the writing.

Have a good one, friends.

Episode 22 of Legerdemain drops today. On top of that, from Oct. 5-11, eligible accounts can read up to 100 episodes per day for free. That means you can read ALL of the released episodes of Legerdemain (and give them thumbs up if you like them) FOR FREE this week. “Eligible” means you have an active Amazon account, and have spent $50 on Amazon at some point. The link to the serial is here.

Thurs. Sept. 29, 2022: Choices

image courtesy of Arek Socha via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Waxing Moon

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

Partly sunny and cool

The latest on the garden is over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday morning, I set up a Substack account and subscribed to some material. I will read for a few weeks/months, to get an idea of the platform and how it can be used.

Found out about some great submission calls. Hopefully, I can fulfill them.

I’m feeling overwhelmed by opportunities and having trouble prioritizing them. It shouldn’t be difficult. The opportunity needs to meet the following criteria:

–Does it pay the bills? Because writing – yes, even fiction and plays – is my BUSINESS, not my hobby.

–Does it present an opportunity for professional growth?

–Does it challenge/stretch me creatively?

–What are the long-term benefits compared to the short-term benefits?

Chasing something because it’s new and shiny and interesting does not build a career. Finishing work and making sure it pays its way, while growing in the process, builds a career.

I drafted an episode of Legerdemain (I wanted to draft two, but that didn’t happen). I stayed current on the marketing game, posted on LinkedIn, made the social media rounds, slogged through some email. In the afternoon, I turned around three script coverages and grabbed a big coverage I will do today and tomorrow, along with a couple of smaller ones, that should get me closer to where I need to be this pay period.

I started reading the next book for review (the review is due tomorrow). Good thing I read fast.

I prepped for this morning Working Artists Group session.

Watching Hurricane Ian destroy Florida is horrifying.

DeSantis, who voted against Hurricane Sandy aid to blue states, should be forced to step down as Florida gets aid. That needs to be the tradeoff. You vote against aid? When you then ask for it for your state, you have to step aside. The aid should go to the people who need it, but the politicians cannot be allowed to remain in office when they’re hypocrites.

I had two weird dreams last night. One was very personal, and I completely understand the message, but it made me very sad. It will keep me sad as I process it. The other dream had something to do with time travel in New Orleans, and I have no idea what that was about.

Online Meditation group this morning. Then, I just have time to gulp down breakfast before I head off to the Working Group, and there’s the morning gone. This afternoon, I have a lot of coverage to do, and to finish the book for review.

It is unlikely I will draft anything for Legerdemain today, which puts more pressure on tomorrow and the weekend.

Episode 20 of Legerdemain drops today. I hope you enjoy it.

Peace, friends, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Published in: on September 29, 2022 at 7:01 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Sept. 29, 2022: Choices  
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Fri. July 22, 2022: Seasonal Summer Heat

image courtesy of jplenio via pixabay.com

Friday, July 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Hazy, hot, humid

It was difficult to settle into meditation yesterday, but I managed it.

Uploaded the content calendar for the ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE Topic Workbook release through the end of September. A content calendar is only useful if you follow through. I’ll do a post on that for Ink-Dipped Advice for September.

I had to run the repair on Word again in the morning. Getting tired of the constant problems with the computer, but that’s how it goes with PCs.

Plus, Windows 11 keeps changing things. What a lousy operating system.

Turned around my script coverage in the morning, before it got too hot and the computer really started suffering. I have a coverage to turn around today, for which I was requested, and another request just landed in my inbox that I will do on Sunday.

Freelance Chat was fun.

It was too hot to work upright in the afternoon. I spent most of it lying on the couch. I noodled with my article. I have to get the first 900-1000 words of It down on paper this morning, then another 900 tomorrow morning, then the final 900 on Sunday (it’s a 2800-word article). I want to revise it Monday and send it to my editor Tuesday, nearly a week early.

I also read a mystery, recommended by two writer friends, but I’m not enamored of this writer’s voice/style. It hits the genre conventions, but that’s about it.

Leftovers for dinner. We were promised a thunderstorm, which never materialized. Today and tomorrow will be hot. I’m worried about tomorrow afternoon’s performance. But I also trust the event organizers to take care of us.

The Jan. 6 Hearing last night simply confirmed that the Narcissistic Sociopath wanted a bloodbath. He should have been led away in cuffs the day after Biden’s inauguration. The fact that no one has been held accountable is unacceptable. And ALL the Republicans who voted against certifying the election need to be in prison.

I don’t know how I’m going to find a place to get my hair cut today.

I dreamed last night about one possible salon, that it was definitely the wrong place for me. In the dream, a friend told me that they were reasonably priced, but the quality was awful.

I had another dream where a Twitter acquaintance (who’s a lawyer out on the other coast) and I worked on a social justice performance piece. Weird dream.

Today will be another hot day. I’ll do as much as I can early on, and then stay quiet for the worst of it, and maybe do some work when it cools down again in the evening. That’s the joy of controlling my own schedule.

Tomorrow is all about Word X Word. I’m both excited and nervous. It will be an adventure, that’s for sure.

Have a great weekend! We’ll catch up next week.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022: Release Day for “Personal Revolution”

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

New Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Partly cloudy and pleasant

The re-release of the short mystery “Personal Revolution” is out today! I’m in the process of updating all the links. It’s a Delectable Digital Delight, a short story set in a fictional town tucked near Lexington and Concord, MA.  Since Independence Day weekend is coming up, it was a good chance to re-release it. Only 99 cents. Universal buy link is here.

When a man is hanged from the oak tree in a Redcoat uniform at an historic house just before the Independence Day program, Glenda vows to both solve the murder and protect the newly-opened museum. What she finds is much darker — and more personal — than she bargained.

There’s information on the other Delectable Digital Delights here.

Back to our regularly scheduled natter.

Neptune has joined Pluto and Saturn in the retrograde lineup. Neptune has strong influences over me, so it’s a reminder to be cautious until it goes direct in December. It’s good for revealing phonies, though.

Friday was a hellscape, wasn’t it, with the corrupt, extremist SCOTUS striking down Roe. I’m glad I got a good chunk of work done on The Big Project, because the rest of the day was lost. The Dems had the heads up on this months ago. What do they do? Stand on a few steps singing a song and send out fundraising emails. They are pathetic.

Don’t start with “they don’t have the votes” or “don’t criticize Dems.” We gave them enough votes to get it done and it is THEIR JOB to keep their people in line, the way the Republicans do. The Republicans get whatever they want no matter who is in office, because they fight, and they don’t stop. The Dems throw up their hands, say they “don’t have the votes’ and ask for more money. Pathetic. They just let the extremists roll right over top of them, no matter what.

I had to hop out to the grocery store shortly after the announcement came down. What was hopeful was that there were growing groups of women of all ages, at both the grocery store, and the post office, talking. Those of us who are old enough to remember life pre-Roe, and who’ve been activists since before the Internet know how to harness the power of memory and communication that’s not based on technology, so we can help set up less traceable networks (nothing is untraceable if more than one person knows about it). Use the best of modern advances with old school.

There is plenty I will not be discussing publicly.

I tried to write in the afternoon, but everything came out incoherent.

I gave up on the Balzac biography, and I’m trying to figure out why I liked his work so much, back in the year I lived in Seattle. But I was a walking disaster that year, so my judgment was undoubtedly questionable.

Read Donna Leon’s latest Brunetti mystery, GIVE UNTO OTHERS, which is quieter and sadder than many others in the series. At least she deals with the pandemic. I don’t trust authors setting their books as “contemporary” who act like the pandemic never existed. I’m giving some a pass, who had books that stalled in the pipeline during the pandemic, but going forward, it’s a big red flag for me.

Saturday morning, I was up early.  I took a home COVID test, because there’s the regular question of “Is it pollen or the plague?” and because of last week’s playwrighting workshop. Even though we were masked and vaccinated, there was still risk, and I felt questionable a few days after, so I wanted to make sure.

The negative test meant I could go to the Farmers’ Market (that and the fact that I felt fine, other than scraping pollen off my skin every few hours). I bought from my friend at Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery, I bought tomatoes and fennel and carrots and eggs from various other farmers, and told the maple syrup place how amazing their syrup is. I chatted with all kinds of people and dogs lined up to get attention (often thoroughly confusing their owners). I left before it got too crowded, but the market is as much about the social aspect as the culinary one.

Felt the need to rest, so I did, pushing away all the “should haves.”

Made a big salad for lunch, then put Willa in her playpen and took her out on the back balcony, so I could read and she could enjoy being outside. It’s nice and shady, and the humidity wasn’t too bad.

Finished the Donna Leon book and started FROM BAD TO CURSED by Lana Harper, which was a lot of fun.

Dinner was leftovers, and then I switched to a biography of Shirley Jackson. It didn’t get as hot as I feared, but I was too wiped out to move. My body remembers the exhaustion from last year, the move, going back and filling the two dumpsters, the difficulty getting things sorted to either the dumpster or into storage. So this week, I have to focus on building new, lighter, happier, more relaxed memories here over those other memories, even with all the crap going on, and even as I have to focus on deadlines and making a living.

So that will be. . .something or other.

Had weird dreams Saturday into Sunday, where I lived in a condominium. My next-door neighbors had theirs on the market. For some reason, the wall between our apartments served as a one-way mirror for me, so I could see everyone coming through to look at their apartment. I have no idea what the hell that could mean.

Sunday was even hotter than Saturday. It was also the day before the dark moon, my lowest energy day of the month, but all the stuff I’d put off for Friday and Saturday had to be dealt with.

I worked on the SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM Topic Workbook. That should be ready to go for final formatting and proofing this week, and maybe release next week. The workbook for class is nearly done. I took down two more workbooks that I want to re-release in July, so that they are down long enough for me to revise them and get them back up.

I worked on the anthology story and it wasn’t working. I’m percolating an idea for a different anthology that is genuinely creepy and twisted and, if I pull if off, will need trigger warnings.

The yoga studio here sent out a wonderful email blast about processing what’s going on, poses to help, and where they stand on the issues. Unlike the yoga studio on Cape Cod, who only allowed right-wingers to voice opinions and have safe space. If anyone spoke up to stand up to the right-wing crap spouted by class members, they were told to stop being political. Yet those right-wingers could say whatever they wanted and it was their right to express an opinion. Which meant it wasn’t safe space for anyone else. Huge difference, and the attitude here is much more what I want and need out of my yoga studio.

The meditation group also set up something virtual for Sunday night. I’d hoped to go, but Charlotte got her claw stuck on something in the kitty condo and panicked. By the time I got her safely extracted and calmed down, the mediation was nearly over. She wasn’t hurt, thank goodness, but was very vocal in her upset. Both Tessa and Willa were worried. Once Charlotte was free, and hiding, Tessa sat nearby, so that Charlotte wouldn’t be alone. I was worried Charlotte would get aggressive in her panic, but she didn’t. It was very sweet of Tessa, since they still don’t always get along.

Could not get going on Monday. Everything was a struggle. Managed to get the SUBMISSIONS Topic Workbook smoothed out and uploaded, but there is a lot of formatting wonk, so I will have to go back through and figure it out. I might have to push back the release date.

Lost way too much of the day trying to get my mother’s new doctor situation sorted out. It shouldn’t take us a damn year, pandemic or not, to find a doctor. I’m lucky she’s in reasonably good health for 97, and the paramedics aren’t here every couple of weeks, the way they are for several other residents on the block. I think we’ve found someone decent. We’ll see, after her appointment in mid-July.

Finally managed to shake loose what wasn’t working in the Monthology anthology story, and got it done. It wasn’t just that the originally planned A and B storylines flipped, causing restructuring – the heart of the piece was somewhere else. Once I found its heart, I could build the story properly. I did a few revision passes (some of them major), and wound up with a draft I felt good enough about to send to my editor. Hopefully, she likes it. I’m a little worried that the story is too quiet, without the harder urban fantasy edge. But I was careful about fact-checking the shared world details and the details of anyone else’s monsters, so I think we’re okay.

There’s a lot less about the workday of the protagonist, which I thought would ground the piece, and would have called for more inter-monster interaction. But there’s room to do more if there’s another volume, and if I’m invited to contribute again. This story stands on its own, but also leaves the door open for more stories with these characters.

Fingers crossed it fits the shared vision.

I let the horror story percolate. I actually have two ideas. The more gruesome one is the one I’m going to draft first.

While there weren’t scripts assigned in my cue, I got a stack of manuscripts to cover, where I have to read the first fifty pages and comment, so there’s the week’s work from that. I’ll still be under where I wanted to be this pay period, but not as badly. And, with the review invoice I’m sending, I should be okay. Bills are covered, and as long as I’m not extravagant, I don’t have to feel like a miser.

Started reading the new book for review. It’s pretty good.

Up early this morning to go to the laundromat. It’s usually kept up quite well, but it was filthy today. The machines were fine, but the rest of it was yucky. I brought the laundry back unfolded, because I didn’t want it on the folding table.

I managed to get a good bit of the multi-colored draft of first big section of The Big Project done. The good thing about the slow and careful attention it needs to catch passives, adverbs, and qualifiers is that a lot of other errors show up, too.

I’ll do some writing this morning, and promotion of “Personal Revolution”. Later, I have to pick up my mom’s prescription. This afternoon, I’ll take a home COVID test, not because I’m feeling terrible, but because tonight I’m going to my first in-person yoga class in nearly three years, and, even though they have strict protocols, I want to make sure once and for all I’m clear post-workshop and Farmers’ Market. I have my vaccination card tucked into my purse. I still have to clean my mat and fix my mat bag before tonight. The buckle on the strap broke during the move.

I’m hoping to get a tarot spread up on the Ko-fi page later today, too. I was going to head down to Pittsfield to try and get a new phone (my phone’s giving me trouble, but hey, it lasted four years, a record for me), but I think I’ll wait until later in the week.

Plenty to do, so better get to it, right? Overlay the NOW over the sense memory stress of the final clear-out last year.

Have a good one.