Thurs. Jan. 26, 2023: Grey Days

image courtesy of Lena Lindell via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Waxing Moon

Gray and cold

I like to spell the color both ways: “grey” and “gray” depending on mood and contest. “Grey” fit me better today.

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

Did the social media rounds early yesterday, promoting The Process Muse and the Angel Hunt launch. Now that I finally have the direct link to the serial, I can start uploading/scheduling each episode’s logline. And, since I’m using the same graphic, it makes things simpler. I updated the links on various webpages.

Went out early to mail some letters and grab some groceries before the next storm came in. One of my lamps is out on the car, which means I have to find a place to fix it before the inspection. Which has to happen by Jan. 31. Argh. But I grabbed a few things (how did I run out of onions, for crying out loud?) and made it back before the snow started up again.

Considered signing up for a six week yoga program at the library in Williamstown. It’s on Thursday mornings, which means soon after the Zoom meditation with the group at Concord Library was finished, I’d get in the car and drive over to Williamstown. Which is doable; it just means rearranging my Thursdays to write extra early in the morning before meditation, and Thursdays mornings are All About Me. I kind of liked that idea. But, investigating the details of it, there are no COVID protocols in place, and it’s happening inside in the winter.

Nope.

We’re being pressured by the script coverage company to “double our volume” this year. Okay, first of all, then pay me more. Second of all, I’m already reading 10-15 scripts/week when they are available, and if I try to read 30, I’ll burn out even faster than I am now. Third, if you want us to work full time, that means salary AND BENEFITS INCLUDING PAID VACATION AND HEALTH CARE. Working 40 hours a week for a single company without a stable salary or benefits would just make me an idiot.

I mean, I know all of the readers are just part of the sausage factory, but we bust our asses, and the pay gets lower, but the volume of work gets higher. So I’m upping the LOIs (especially in the break between retrogrades) to get a wider range of clients over the coming months.

Because I’m burning out on this, and increasing the pressure on me is only going to make me burn out faster.

Went down a research rabbit hole on abandoned towns for sale as background for a piece, and it was a lot of fun.

Turned around four coverages and scores on a pitch.

Should have started reading the next book for review; instead, I read a book for pleasure, WELL TRAVELED by Jen DeLuca, which takes place at a series of Ren Faires. Deborah Blake recommended it, and I’m glad she did. It’s lots of fun.

The cats slept all day during the snow, and then were up all night causing trouble. I had to get up several times in the night to scold them. Then, they tried to blame each other, even though I fully knew all three were involved in the various escapades.

Busy times in the Dreamscape. All good, but it’s starting to feel like I’m leading a double life, and I’m tired of waking up tired.

Meditation this morning, and then some writing. I need to work on the article, get some more work done on LEGERDEMAIN, I think I’m just about ready to write the next section of the Heist Romance script. Have to do the social media rounds to promote the episode that goes live today. I have three coverages to do this afternoon. Tomorrow are dribs and drabs of score sheets and pitches. I think that’s all I’ll take, so I have room to finish the books for review tonight and tomorrow, and try to find a place to get the car done. I also need to do some extra yoga today; my lower back is unhappy from the shoveling, and then the sitting and couch potato-ing from the last few days. I need to stretch out the kinks.

Not sure if I’ll do coverage this weekend or not; I have to see what comes in, and what my energy levels are like. I’m under where I want to be, money-wise (in spite of a higher “volume” this pay period), but I’m also tired. And I want to focus on my own work this weekend. And maybe get some extra sleep.

We’ll see how today and tomorrow go. In the meantime, I hope you’re having a good day, easing into a good weekend.

Enjoy the next episode of Legerdemain!

Tues. Jan. 17, 2022: When A Project Takes Control

image courtesy of M. H. via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Waning Moon

Uranus and Mars Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Time for our usual Tuesday morning catch up. The mid-month check-in is not yet up on the GDR site, but I hope to get that done later today.

Friday was pretty much a lost day. I did some blog work in the morning, made the social media rounds, and then headed out for the usual errands: post office, library, grocery store.

I didn’t realize how bad I felt until I was out and about.

Got things done, came home, unpacked, tidied up the living room (which involved rearranging stacks of books for various projects, and I wound up with a book fort).

I decided to give myself the day off and stayed in the book fort.

I noodled a little in long hand on an idea that started percolating a couple of days ago, and wrote a few outline notes.

I wrote up the two reviews, turned them in, and received my next books for review.

I finished reading THE READING LIST, which I really liked, and I’m looking forward to discussing it in book group.

Started reading another book that was recommended to me, but it was in present tense and lost me at the end of page one, so back to the library it goes, unread.

We were well enough to eat a decent dinner, and relax in the evening, reading and listening to Chantal Chamberland.

Slept reasonably well Friday into Saturday, although I had weird dreams. It was snowing again on Saturday morning (this after the weather reports said Saturday would be a “bright” day and the best of the weekend). Did the usual household chores.

Wrote about 12 pages on the outline I started the previous day. I know what has to happen for the last bit, but I’m not sure how to get there, so that will back burner percolate for a bit.

Roughed out ideas for two future “seasons” of ANGEL HUNT, if this one goes well, although the plot will be tighter and less sprawling. The seeds for both are set in ANGEL HUNT, although that was not my original intention. But we’ll see if it’s worth getting them past “idea” stage.

The damn new little printer wasn’t working properly, and I was ready to drop kick it out the window. I know better than to buy anything Canon anymore, be it a camera or a printer. They used to be a good company, but haven’t been for at least ten years now.

I want my big printer to work again.

Okay, whine over.

I set up the folders for the judging sheets in the three categories I’m judging, and put the correct sheets in the correct folders. I use paper sheets as I read, and then as I finish each book or a few books, I enter the data. It saves work rather than trying to enter all the scoring at the end. This way, I can finish the Batch 1 print in each category, then Batch 1 digital in each category, hopefully before Batch 2 gets there, and then I just have the final decisions to make, once I’ve read and entered Batch 2. I keep the Yes and Maybe piles on the worktable in my office for final decisions, and keep winnowing them down as I go. If it’s digital, I keep the physical sheet in the pile, so I can refer back to it when it’s time to make decisions.

I turned around a script, and started work on contest entries.

Sunday, I was up early, enjoying coffee, cats, and writing in longhand. Made biscuits. Had some sad news from a friend that a friend of hers, with whom I worked, has died of COVID. An online acquaintance is going through a rough time; I’m trying to be supportive, but also wondering if we’re being manipulated. That’s always the risk, when you only know someone online. Still, kindness from afar costs nothing, and can make a big difference.

Had to write a new Episode 56 for Legerdemain, because I needed to plant a character in a specific location to set up a plot intersection, and it needs to happen here. So the next set of episodes is misnumbered in the 1st draft now, and I’ll have to be careful drafting and editing forward. But I fixed a plot hole I knew was coming up, and set up a good intersection, even though it won’t happen for a few episodes. Polished and uploaded the episodes, which gets me into the beginning of February. Writing ahead on the first draft while polishing the second to upload requires intense concentration and specificity. I am grateful for my Tracking Sheets, Style Sheets, and the Series Bible, and I am diligent about adding in new information as soon as it’s created, and then changing it if it changes in the edits.

That process is different than with a series of novels, where I have tracking sheets as I write, but I don’t update the Series Bible until the final galleys are done on the book.

Had to put in more ink in the little printer, because, of course I did.

Turned around some script scoring. The pay for that is insulting, but that’s all that was in the queue, and the pay period ended on Sunday, so there we are.

Yeah, I’m getting on top of the LOIs and the direct mail as soon as Mercury goes direct this week.

Finished reading SILHOUETTE IN SCARLET, the Vicky Bliss mystery, and loved it. It got me thinking about some tropes I want to turn inside out. I ended up staying up until 11:30 writing 11 pages of a script outline in longhand.

Yesterday morning, I wrote another 9 pages, and then typed it up. Basically, the whole day was on this outline, which is really more of a treatment. I think it will be a limited series script, not a single screenplay. And there’s research to be done, and some beats to be fleshed out, even beyond the 10K of this outline. But it’s fun. And because each section needs a different type of research, it will be worked on piecemeal around other projects. I’ll reward myself for finishing work on other projects by doing a section of this piece here and there.

I have scripts in my queue for the next few days, too, so although I’m worried about the small amount of money from the pay period ending on Sunday, I’m hoping this pay period will be better. And I have to get off my duff and pitch for some new gigs.

I turned around two coverages. I was too tired for soup class. I wrote the opening 6 pages of the script on the treatment I’d written. It’s doing what I want it to, at least for this draft, although there will be a lot of cutting and layering in future drafts. I don’t yet have a title for it. For myself, I’m referring to it as the “Heist Romance” script.

It was very difficult to pull myself out of that fictional world (even though some of the settings are places I know very well). I felt disoriented and out of place.

I should have started the next book for review or worked on contract entries. Instead, I started reading a book by an author who’s work I’ve read for years. Her new book is the first of a new series. It’s still a little too predictable, formula-wise (but that’s what her readers want) and I keep getting too far ahead, but I like the central pair of protagonists, so it was worth staying up until 11:30 reading (I hope to finish it today).

I overslept this morning, and Tessa Was Not Amused. I fed everyone and settled down to write in longhand for a bit. Still felt disoriented, and a bit addled. My brain is already rewriting those initial six pages, and I took the red pen and marked up what I printed out.

The priority this morning needs to be the post for tomorrow’s Process Muse. I started it a few days ago, and then got distracted, so I have to get back to it. I need to draft another episode of Legerdemain, adapt another chapter of ANGEL HUNT, and maybe upload the next month’s worth of episodes. I have to create the graphics for the four episodes of Legerdemain I uploaded on Sunday, and draft tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice post. The two posts for tomorrow were supposed to be on yesterday’s work schedule, but the Heist Romance pushed everything else to the side. I don’t regret spending the whole day on it at all, but it means reshuffling the rest of the week’s work. And the other script, that I started a couple of weeks ago, with the working title LUCKY NUMBERS, is standing there, tapping its inky foot, demanding attention. Since I figured out how to get out of the corner into which I’d written myself, I can do so. The question is when? I don’t want to lose its rhythm, or get its rhythm diluted by the Heist Romance.

I have errands I planned to do on Thursday, but we’re supposed to get the 3-6 inches of snow on Thursday that everyone else got the past couple of days. Today is bright and sunny. The SMART move would be to do all the errands today, and then hunker in the rest of the week, and push off some of today’s work to tomorrow. If I do that, I’ll wind up only working on the two blog posts (and the GDR post) and turning around the two scripts in my queue for today.

I like the flexibility of my schedule, but it also calls for prioritizing and rearranging tasks and making decisions, and today, my brain is filled with mashed potatoes, so that is not an easy task. Perhaps the errands will help clear it.

I’m talking in circles now. I’m going to stop yammering and get to work.

Episode 51 of Legerdemain drops today. Hope you enjoy it.

Have a good one.

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. Jan. 10, 2023: Good Start to the Writing Week

image courtesy of  Peter H via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Waning Moon

Uranus, Mars, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Time for us to curl up with a favorite beverage and have our Tuesday catch-up natter.

The GDR post this week is about “More Me” rather than the mantra thrown at us every year about a “new me.”

Busy weekend. As you saw from reading Friday’s post,  I was not in a good mood on Friday.

I scuttled the idea of getting anything done, and, instead, spent most of the day taking down and packing the holiday decorations. I didn’t get it all done on Friday; there was still about 1/3 of the tree left, and few other things scattered around. But I got most of it done.

I was tired and sore by the end of the afternoon. I made bouillabaisse for dinner, in the new Dutch oven, and it was delicious. I read for pleasure in the evening.

Didn’t sleep well.

Saturday morning, I wrote about 1K on a project with which I’m noodling in longhand, and wrote in my head on the screenplay.

I spent most of the day finishing getting the ornaments packed and reorganizing where to stash all these various boxes of ornaments, getting the tree taken apart, and the new stand apart (took 2 minutes to get this stand back in the box, yay), and everything put away. I broke one glass ornament, from 1982, which makes me sad, but when I took it off the tree, the top metal part that was attached to the hanger detached from the glass ball and that was that. Got it all cleaned up, so that the cats wouldn’t step on any shards.

Started switching out all the different fabrics from the holiday to more general January/winter fabrics – kitchen table, the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell, other tables, etc. Didn’t get them all done, but made good progress.

The heat stopped working around midday. I put in a call, got no response, but it started working again in the late afternoon, so who knows. As long as it works.

Made Moosewood’s mac & cheese for dinner, which was good. Was too tired to read much in the evening, although I’m enjoying another of Elizabeth Peters’s Vicky Bliss series. Went to bed early because I was tired and sore.

Up early on Sunday and, for the first time since about Christmas, we had real sunshine. What a big difference! That made me feel better, too.

I wrote about 2K on the project in longhand, which wound up being all of Chapter 4. I’m starting to realize what this book is, how it’s shaped, what the narrative drive needs to be, which is very different than what I thought it was about. I think (hope) it will be a standalone. I have a lot of placeholders (which I don’t usually do), and I’m at the point where I have to type up these pages to really get an idea of what’s what. I SHOULD outline, but I don’t think I will, this time around, even though it will necessitate more rounds of revision. I started typing up the pages written (because otherwise it’s too overwhelming at the end). I am doing a lot of rewrites as I go, on this draft I’m calling “1A” that goes beyond adding in the information from placeholders and going to some restructuring as I’m learning the shape.

I wrote ten more pages on the screenplay. There are already all kinds of notes in the margins of what I’ve printed out, where I need to fix things in the next draft. And this draft will be too long, so cuts will have to be made, and some structural work done. But I’m telling the story I want to tell. I need to tell this version to completion, before I can make it fit the format better.

At the same time, part of me suspects I will eventually adapt it into a novel, because that is more likely to go somewhere. But the ideas are coming in as a screenplay, and I’m learning from it, so whatever it winds up being, I will have gained from starting in this format.

Made turkey meatloaf for dinner. Added a bit of Worcestershire sauce and tabasco to the mix, and that made a big, positive difference.

Read in the evening, but went to bed early, because I was tired. Tessa tried to get me out of bed at 3, but I told her no breakfast until the coffee starts. So the minute the coffeemaker started at its designated time, she was in full voice.

It’s amazing how something as small as having a coffeemaker one can program to start before one gets up makes such a big difference in starting the day.

Wrote about 1K on the longhand project. Drafted a Legerdemain episode. Got next week’s episodes uploaded, and created graphics. I wrote the loglines in the evening.

Mailed bills, dropped off and picked up books at the library, went to the grocery store I don’t like much to pick up a few things I couldn’t get at the other place. Sang the grumpy pants song to myself to get myself out of my worsening mood. It’s a silly little jingle I made up to sing to the cats when they were grumpy, and now I use it on myself at times, to get over myself and get back on track. Because it’s silly, and it’s hard to stay grumpy singing it.

After lunch, I did some scoring for the script coverage place – quick but low paid, and I’m a little worried about having enough work for this week.

In the meantime, I polished the first 16 episodes of ANGEL HUNT, created the Episode Tracking Sheet, the Style Sheet, and the Series Bible. I polished the blurb. I can start uploading those first two months’ worth of episodes today. Then, I’ll have to write the log lines and do the episode-specific graphics. I’m only using the series logo as a general graphic (unlike LEGERDEMAIN, where I have a plethora of general graphics to support the ongoing worldbuilding).

I wrote two pages on the script, which will have to be cut. I’m pretty sure I’ll need to cut this whole subplot. It’s too much of a tangent. I have a bit of a subplot in there already that is stronger for the piece.

I made some notes of general ad graphics for LEGERDEMAIN. I have a slew of general ads along with the episode-specific graphics, but I need to do some more, as more weird little shops and places work into the story.

Soup class with Chef Jeremy was fun, although his Zoom cut out partway through. But everyone just hung out and chatted until he got the tech on his end up and running. I’ve learned a lot in that class, and it’s fun to apply it.

My mom hasn’t been feeling well the past few days, which, since she is 98, is a concern. She’s a little better this morning, so hopefully, taking it easy for a few days will help.

Up early, before coffee, and had to coax the coffeemaker along. Tessa was thrilled she didn’t have to start howling to get breakfast. Got my act together to leave for the laundromat early, and was the only one there. It was wonderful.

While the laundry was going through, I got 1K written in longhand on the one book, and then read a bit, as the laundry finished in the dryer.

Home, hauled it up the stairs, got it folded and put away.

The plan for today is to draft another episode of LEGERDEMAIN, adapt the next chapter of ANGEL HUNT to serial episodes, and get those first 16 episodes uploaded and scheduled. I’ll write the loglines, and maybe start the episode graphics, but we’ll see how long all that takes. I also want to do some work on the LEGERDEMAIN website. I also have to do the promotional rounds for the episode going live today.

I want to get out some LOIs today; I’ve been lax on that, and am paying for it, now that the script coverage has slowed down so much. They keep telling us they want more commitment as far as hours per week – well, then pay us better and have enough scripts ready for us.

I have a book to review, and can start on contest entries, if nothing comes in, script-wise, and I have some work to do on an article, too.

Episode 49 of LEGERDEMAIN goes live today – I hope you enjoy it.

Have a good one, my friends! I’m headed back to the page.

Wed. Dec. 28, 2022: Back in Communication From the Home Office

image courtesy of Pexels via Pixabay.com

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Mars Retrograde

Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow again

Cloudy and a little warmer

The computer is back and sort of running, so I’m able to do most things from home again. Missed you!

The latest Process Muse dropped this morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, I hope you will. New musings release every Wednesday. The subscription is free.

Yesterday was a little chaotic. I got the errands done that I didn’t do on Monday. I returned 15 books to the library and posted the blog for the day from their computer. I also sent out the two reviews I’d written first thing.

But it was well into the afternoon by the time I got back, and I had nothing left in the tank to give to THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. Or anything else, for that matter.

The laptop returned mid-afternoon, supposedly repaired. What they did was reload the operating system, but nothing’s been done to fix what caused the problem in the first place. It took 3 hours to upgrade again to Windows11, get Google up and running, and get Office back in place. It doesn’t look like I lost anything from the hard drive itself except for the downloads, which is fine.

Scrivener won’t download, so I have to try that again. And I have to get DramaQueen again. Not sure what to do with Discord, since it caused so many problems, and I’m keeping McAfee off. All those attempts to uninstall it didn’t work, but now it’s uninstalled, and I plan to keep it that way. I also have to get the other Gmail accounts loaded back in, which will be a major PITA. I shouldn’t be forced to do 2-step authentication.

But I’ll turn my attention to all of that AFTER I’ve written.

The laser printer decided it no longer wants to work. Again. I wonder if it has something to do with the laptop? It was fine with the old Macbook. So, again, AFTER I’ve written, I will set up the new printer.

In addition to THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH (and maybe some work on LEGERDEMAIN), I want to work ahead on posts for Ink-Dipped Advice and The Process Muse. But I don’t know if that will happen today.

The first box of contest entries is also supposed to arrive today, so I’ll have to do the administrative work on those, and probably start reading this weekend. I’d also like to do some freshening up on all the websites.

So much for a week off? Well, last week was my forced week off a lot, sort of.

I’m coming up with a new social media plan for the first part of next year, anyway, that should streamline the daily process and also make my time in each space a better experience for myself and for those with whom I interact.

I’ve made notes on Process Muse posts to early June. I’ll block off some time to batch write posts and schedule them, in case there are more technical difficulties, so I don’t need to worry. And I want to get way ahead on uploading/scheduling LEGERDEMAIN and ANGEL HUNT posts.

Time and energy management are key, going into 2023.

The plan today is to stay home and get everything working again – AFTER I’ve done the writing I want to do. Protect the work. Make sure the writing comes first. That, too, is my key to a creative 2023.

Peace, my friends, and it’s nice to be able to be in contact from my home office!

Tues. Dec. 27, 2022: Holiday Catch-Up

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Mars Retrograde

Chiron Direct as of December 23

Sunny and cold

Hello, my friends, and I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend.

Hopefully, the newsletter went out properly last Wednesday, and you enjoyed the holiday tale, “Comfort, Then Joy.”

I am still waiting for my computer, although supposedly it is repaired and on its way back. So my posts on all the blogs will be erratic this week; which is kind of okay, since I planned to take this week off anyway.

We had a big storm come in late Thursday, before the holiday weekend. It poured with rain all day Friday. I was very glad I didn’t have to go anywhere. I have the new, big coffeemaker set up, and I admit that waking up to the smell of coffee in the morning is glorious.

I did manage to get a whole lotta laundry done on Thursday morning, before the storm came in. I brought some ideas with which I’m noodling, but there were Other People there, so it wasn’t as useful a work time as it usually is.

I’m able to keep up with my email, for the most part, on the phone and the tablet, but when the storm came in, I shut everything down, to avoid power surges and other issues.

I started reading some mysteries, but didn’t like the writing and the protagonists definitely fell into the “too stupid to live” category, so those are going back to the library, and those authors are crossed off the list.

It snowed for a little bit at night, and quickly changed over to rain.

Rained all night. Friday, it rained all day, and it was windy. Chiron went direct during the day — Chiron is about the Wounded Healer. I definitely feel like a lot of this year has been about healing, or at least recognizing where healing needs to happen, and letting go. Pretty much feel like a limp dishrag from the work.

I played with several story ideas on themes I’ve worked with for years, but never quite made work. We’ll see.

I worked on my answers to the 2023 Questions on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site. If you’d like to take a look at the questions to help you with your own musings, here is the link.

I read, a mystery by someone whose first book I liked, but thought this one was “meh.” I’m giving this series one more shot; if book three doesn’t work, I’ll give up. Book Two is problematic, no matter what.

I read the first book in another series that was a lot of fun. It’s Diane Vallere’s first Costume Shop Mystery, A DISGUISE TO DIE FOR, and I enjoyed it. I look forward to reading the rest of the series, and she has several more series that sound like fun, too.

Christmas Eve, got up early to zero degrees, but at least a white Christmas. We were lucky; the power held. Wrapped presents. Read. Did some tidying up. Wrote a bit, in longhand, playing with some ideas.

Our big Christmas Eve dinner was a cod, mussel, and scallop paella. If you saw the photos on social media, it looks very dark. That’s not from squid ink; it’s from all the spinach in it. It took several hours to make and get done properly, but was worth it. Very delicious. Plenty of leftovers for the week. It’s a dish that needs time and care.

Willa is always fascinated, and loves to watch me cook.. She either sits on the bed in my mother’s room, which is off the kitchen, or on a kitchen chair. It’s hilarious.

We opened presents after dinner, which is always fun, and enjoyed the tree and the candles.

Christmas Day, we were up early (to the glorious smell of coffee and the prodding of the cats) and enjoyed our stockings. I made scrambled eggs to go with the panettone. The panettone was disappointing this year. I have a feeling I might need to learn how to make that, too.

Had a leisurely day. Read BORROWER OF THE NIGHT by Elizabeth Peters. How have I missed the Vicky Bliss series all these years? It’s a lot of fun, and I look forward to reading more.

The big Christmas Day meal was Coq Au Vin — another one that takes hours to do, because of the layering of flavors, but it was very good.

Honestly, I feel like I could just stay in bed and sleep the rest of the week. If I could afford to, I’d like to sleep through the entire upcoming Mercury Retrograde. We had four of the damn things in 2022, and I am over it.

Coffee and cats got me up early on Monday.  I got some writing done, in longhand, and finished a short story, and planned a couple more. I hoped to take care of a few things, but got caught up trying to download the photos out of iPhoto onto a backup device. I got about half of the photos moved, and then the old Macbook just wouldn’t let me copy to a device or even export to the machine’s own hard drive I have them on Time Machine; I’m just not sure how to get them off time machine and onto something I can use.

I have the original SD cards from everything I took with a camera. Maybe I’ll get a reader/adapter for the laptop and then download all of them onto flash drives and the external hard drive.

Another digital camera is on my list for this year. I HATE relying on the phone. I’ve lost so many photos thanks to the phone. I have an SD card in the current phone, thank goodness, but still.

Anyway, that took longer than I’d hoped, so I decided to put off the errands until today.

I did some work on LEGERDEMAIN and on ANGEL HUNT instead (gotta love flash drives and Word for Mac). I wrote thank you notes. I planned future posts for Ink-Dipped Advice and The Process Muse.

The first 44 episodes of ANGEL HUNT (22 weeks’ worth) are ready for the final polish and upload in early January, so the launch on the 25th should work. I won’t get the live link to the serial until the day it debuts from Kindle Vella, so I can’t work ahead scheduling the episode graphics to drop. What I CAN do is upload at least the first 2 months, and then create the episode graphics, so that when it goes live, I can just upload and schedule.

I also need to work ahead further on LEGERDEMAIN, and upload/do episode graphics and get ahead on that. I’m also working on a prize package giveaway for it, and looking at buying some ad time for it, probably later in January, or early February, and buying ad time for ANGEL HUNT in February, too.

I’d like, this week, to work ahead a bit on some of the blog entries, so that next week is more about uploading them than creating them.

I deleted a bunch of stuff from the Kindle, old contest entries and books I reviewed that I don’t need to keep, to make room for the incoming.

I’m trying to finish the first draft of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH this week, too. Not sure if I’ll meet that goal, but I’m giving it a go. I drafted Chapter 29 yesterday, just a smidge under 1900 words. I’m about to start the climactic sequence. Not sure if that will be three or four chapters. If I keep showing up at the page steadily, I should be able to get it done. Then it can rest for two months at least before I start revisions. I also need to do some more research before I start revision, to layer in more period details.

In those two months of rest, I want to finish the revision on CAST IRON MURDER and get the submission materials prepped. There are two, possibly three publishers to whom I want to query it, in addition to the small publisher who’s handled some of my other work.

I need to spend some time this week to sit down and really look at what writing projects NEED to get done this year, and mix them with the writing projects I WANT to get done. If I get THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH finished before January 1, I will have written only one novel this year, and that’s not sustainable. LEGERDEMAIN’s done decently (both creatively and financially), and I licensed some radio plays and wrote some other plays and short stories, but I didn’t have a real plan this year, and it shows. I need to come up with something more sustainable for 2023. This year was about healing and settling in to the new location. I did some good healing work (although there is much more to do) and I’m content and often happy here.

Now, I need to come up with a sustainable plan for the fiction, so that it’s in balance with the nonfiction and other writing-related work that I do. Everything has to earn its keep, and I need to get back into the 13-in-Play concept, where there are always at least 13 pieces out on submission.

This morning was about the errands I didn’t get done yesterday (and digging out the car from this weekend Was Not Fun). I also had to mail off a bunch of stuff at the post office, drop off books at the library, and upload all of this at the library. I wrote two book reviews and sent them off, and I’m waiting for my next assignments.

The plan for the afternoon is to write Chapter 30 of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH and see how far into the climactic sequence that gets me. I don’t really like writing fiction in the afternoon, but that’s the way it shook out yesterday and today, so I’ll go with it.

The repaired computer is to show up sometime this week, and I figure it’ll take a half-day to get it set up again properly. I’m sure I lost a few things, but we’ll set up what we can. I was pretty good about regular backups, so I’d only have lost stuff from sometime in November that I hadn’t backed up anywhere else.

The first box of contest entries should arrive this week (I’m judging three categories this year). I’ll log in the physical books first and then start downloading the digital entries. Depending on how many are entered this year, it should be a busy reading time between now and May, between books to review, contest entries to judge, and the script coverage.

Which means the morning writing has to be focused and productive.

Hope you’re having a great “Betweenmas” as Dianne Dotson calls it, and enjoying some rest.

Fri. Dec. 2, 2022: Writing in My Head & a Road Trip

image courtesy of Pexels via pixaabay.com

Friday, December 2, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Partly cloudy/Partly Sunny and cold

In spite of a rather chaotic week, with Jupiter direct I’m feeling distinctly more optimistic, and with Neptune turning direct tomorrow, even better.

I didn’t get many words on paper yesterday, and none of them were for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. But I’ve written in my head a weird little paranormal flash fiction that was inspired by the recent death of a musician I admire, and that will go on the page this weekend. The Christmas flash for Ko-fi is almost complete in my head, at least working out the beats of it, and that will get on paper this weekend, too. The flash for the newsletter is still percolating, and the original piece planned for the newsletter, that will be more of a novella wants attention, too.

So there are projects that are demanding head space and finger work, along with the needs of Legerdemain, TREES, and the rest.

And the decorating! I’m getting tired of living with stacks of boxes.

I got my reader notes out on my friend’s book yesterday, and answered a colleague’s questions. I didn’t get the interviews scheduled, and Friday is a bad day to ask, so I’ll wait and send out that request on Monday. Did the rouonds to promote Legerdemain. Hive is offline for a bit, due to security issues, so I don’t have to try and figure it out for at least the next little bit.

I still haven’t unpacked the new printer or done a test run on the coffeemaker.

Brother got back to me on my request about the big printer and was absolutely fucking useless. All they did was send me the troubleshooting link in the handbook. Really? You think I’m just that much of an idiot? They’re supposed to HELP me, not just send me a link. So much for their reputation for good customer service. I can’t even get to them via Twitter, because they’ve left Twitter (good for them, but, basically, the only way to get actual service from a company the last few years was to get them to notice on social media).

Turned around two scripts yesterday, a good start to the new pay period. Have two today and two for Monday. I want to read at least 10 scripts next week, if there’s enough coming in (at the right rate). Sometimes, they put in scripts where the work: money ratio isn’t worth it, and I don’t take them.

I kicked Charlotte out of the bedroom last night, because she was impossible and wouldn’t let me sleep. By 4 this morning, she managed to get Tessa to pry open the door, but then Tessa wanted to be fed. I wouldn’t get up. Tessa feels Charlotte filched on the deal. My mom got up to feed Tessa but DIDN’T WARM THE BOWL, and Tessa wishes to speak to the manager. This Will Not Do.

Okay, I laughed at all of them. Now none of the cats are speaking to me. Not even Willa, who is united (for once) with her sisters.

Today, I have to actually leave the house. I mean, I WANT to go and do what I’m doing, which is finally making the run down to Great Barrington and Lenox in search of some things I need and a final gift for a cousin in Maine. But actually girding my psyche to get out of the house isn’t fun. But we have masks, it’s a pretty day to drive, and I’ll fill the car on the way out of town. We won’t be gone that long. It’s getting out of the house that’s the hard part. Once we’re actually out and about, it’s all good.

Today won’t be much on the writing front, but at least I’ll get a lot of other stuff done, so I can dive into the weekend with writing, packing gifts, and decorating.

Have a good one, and I’ll see you on the other side of it!

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!

Tues. Nov. 15, 2022: Incoming Snow

image courtesy of Tomasz Proszek via pixabay.com

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and cold. Snowstorm on the way.

Time for our regular Tuesday catch-up.

It was a steady weekend.

Friday, I got my words done on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, and then did a run to the pharmacy, the grocery store, the post office (mailed stuff, even though it was closed), and the liquor store.

A new contact on Mastodon, who is also over on Ravelry, shared a pattern with me that might work for that very thin alpaca yarn. I’m also working up one of my own designs, and will see which makes the most sense. Or maybe try to combine them, if I can pull it off. By accident, I cam across another yarn on sale that I want, and I have to remind myself that I have an ENTIRE TRUNK (a vintage trunk from the late 1800s) full of yarn that needs to be worked up, plus several bins of yarn still in storage. I do not need more yarn.

Yeah, like that’s gonna stop me.

Rested in the afternoon, because I am weary on multiple levels. Part of it is grieving for Twitter. Its destruction is a financial blow to my work. But there’s also the community element. I’m building different experiences on other platforms, but the platforms are different and the experiences will be different. And I’m enjoying some of the platforms, and getting ready to remove myself from others in a few weeks, when I reassess where my time and energy is best placed, on both professional and personal levels. Which isn’t a bad thing, but those of us who were hooked into top level Twitter usage, for business and personal reasons, need time and space to grieve. The fact that Yegads Muskrat is destroying it intentionally for his own ego makes it even worse.

My writing is very much a part of who I am, and how I make sense of the world. Any platform that gets squiffy about me talking about my work is the wrong place for me.

But I also read for pleasure. A brain candy book, instead of what I “should” have read, but I needed the break.

The rains at the outer edges of Tropical Storm Nicole came in the evening. It’s such a different experience here in the mountains than it was at the coast. Still, the leaks on the porch were bad, and we had to empty buckets and bowls a couple of times, and also get up overnight and do it. I wish they’d hurry up and fix the porch roof.

It was bucketing down in the morning, which meant our plans to head to Great Barrington were scuttled. Next time I head down that way, I want to visit Karen Allen’s Fiber Arts store and see what’s there. It sounds like an amazing store.

1827 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, and they were a struggle.

Read a book that’s getting a lot of buzz and everyone thinks is wonderful. I was not impressed, and annoyed that I wasted several hours with these characters.

Finished taking notes on my friend’s manuscript. He’s been traveling, so I’ll type them up and see when he’s ready for them. Started reading another friend’s book that came out recently.

Finished switching out fabric from Samhain into November, including the kitchen table. Finally took down the pumpkin lights. Getting that all washed and put away. Soon it will be time to put out the Solstice fabric.

Baked potatoes for dinner, with bacon and Moosewood’s cheese sauce. Been a long time since I had a layered baked potato.

The Dems held the Senate at 50. Let’s get in Warnock in the runoff and make it 51.

Weird dreams on Saturday into Sunday, closer to the stress dreams from before the move and when we first moved here than the better dreams I’ve had lately.

Baked biscuits.

2078 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, including an insert in the previous chapter. The first few hundred words were difficult, and then it started flowing again. I managed to beat the little voice saying, “You’re ahead. You can take time off.” I’ll take time off when I hit 50K. I’m a little over 31K now, breaking 30K two days before I needed to, for my own schedule.

Did some stuff around the house. We finally got the bulbs planted (which I will go into in more detail on Thursday’s garden post). I was annoyed that Scheeper’s shorted me a half a dozen bulbs. The bulb packets I bought were supposed to have 12 each in them, and had only 10. Which meant, over the three packages, I was shorted a half a dozen bulbs.

Definitely going back to Color Blends next year.

Started reading the next book for review, and also read for pleasure. Just felt tired all the time. There were plenty of things I “should” have worked on, but I needed rest more. Why is it so difficult for us to allow ourselves to rest, so that we can do better work after? Not just better work, but better life?

Tessa woke me up at 3:30 on Monday morning, because it was windy, and the porch door banged. I got it fastened, and then she tried to convince me to feed her. Nope. She and Charlotte bothered me until I finally got up a little after 6.

I had resistance to sitting down to write, but once I did, I got Chapter 15 drafted of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH at 2073 words. I’m a little over 33K, and broke 30K early. 17K left to go for Nano; I suspect the draft will run 70-80K. 82 is the sweet spot for this, once it’s edited.

If you didn’t see the Mid-month check in over on the GDR site yesterday, you can hop on over ad check it out here. Did the social media rounds. Kind of skipped Cohost; pretty sure I’m going to ditch that account without waiting until January. It’s more geared to a gaming and fanfic demographic than what I do.

Had 11 books to drop off at the library, and a bunch of local history to pick up, which I will make notes on and use in TREES, and can also use some of the information for CAST IRON MURDER. Picked up a few things at the grocery store. Only one person wasn’t masked while I was out and about, which made me feel better about things.

It started cold, and then warmed up enough to open the porch and bring the tomatoes back out. I have a feeling I’ll be hauling plants back and forth a lot on sunny days.

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon, got some reading for pleasure in. Had a great soup class online with Jeremy Rock Smith. It’s always such fun to participate in his classes. Lots of laughter, while building skills.

Dreamscape was good last night, and I might have the basis for a new novel or novella. I have to make some notes on what I remember, and, when I have a little more breathing room, see if it’s viable.

Slept in until 6:30 this morning, but felt rested when I got up, which has been rare lately. Did the next chapter of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. It came in at 2226, and now I’ve broken 35K. Character development, b-line stories, red herrings. Typical middle stuff.

Once I do a quick social media round, I have to head for the store and get a tarp. We need to get the rest of the plants and furniture in from the back balcony today, since tonight we’re supposed to get our first snowstorm, and it could be up to 5 inches. I planned to go to the laundromat tomorrow, but I’ll put it off.

I have two more scripts to turn around this afternoon, and that’s it for this pay period. I’m happy with what I hit. I also have to write a book review later this afternoon and submit it, so I can be assigned the next one.

Tomorrow, since I’ll be home all day in the snow, I hope to do some catching up on Legerdemain. The last few episodes of the year are in decent shape, and can go up soon, but I need to finish the rest of the second arc.

I’ve been working on a media kit for it, too.

Speaking of which, the next episode of Legerdemain goes live today. I hope you enjoy it.

Have a good one, friends, and stay warm!

Fri. Oct. 28, 2022: There Will Be Cake

(image courtesy of Leslie Eckert via pixabay.com)

Friday, October 28, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I spent yesterday morning working on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. It took longer than I hoped, and the Writer’s Rough runs 11 pages. But I feel like I now have a viable book planned, and I can sit down and start writing next Tuesday.

I had to stop a few times and do some research. I had to research stoves in the late 1950’s in trailer homes to make sure my climactic sequence would work (yay, it does). One of the characters I’d layered into the piece to make the twists and turns work turns out to have quite the history. I also have some ideas for character arcs that can grow from here that I will note this morning, especially when it comes to the main subplot concerning my protagonist’s son.

I took care of some email (there’s still way too much in the Inbox), promoted the episode of LEGERDEMAIN which dropped, caught up partially on my Substack reading and responded to comments on my posts, and responses to comments I left on other posts (where appropriate).

I wrote a quick pitch for an article and sent it to an editor who’d put out a call on Twitter. Twitter used to be the place I found some of my highest-paid assignments, but that hasn’t been true for a bit.

Spent some time on CounterSocial, where people have been reading some of my work on various sites, including “Won if By Sea” over on Ko-Fi, and enjoying it.

Since Yegads Muskrat’s purchase of Twitter went through, and he’s going to destroy it, chances are I’ll grit my teeth and sign up for Tribel, even though I’m skeptical about their Terms of Service. They claim they’re a good branding platform, so maybe I can expand LEGERDEMAIN’s reach. The Process Muse is gaining subscriptions nicely just via Substack. The platform I had the most fun on and miss the most is MySpace.

Made soup with red beans, rice, and andouille sausage, which turned out well. I have all these soup cookbooks, so we are going to eat a lot of soup this winter!

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon. One was very near perfect.

In the evening, I lounged on the couch, drinking red wine and re-reading DRACULA (thanks to Lilith St. Crow). It really was fascinating. It’s been so long since I read the original text, I’d forgotten a lot of the texture and the detail. I will go back and read the biography of Stoker I’ve been carting around since before the move (which I bought because I wanted to learn more about his work in the theatre).

I didn’t write up the book review yesterday, so I will do that this morning and get it out. I still have one more book to review for that editor. I didn’t get any work done on ANGEL HUNT, so that will be pushed to next week. I’m in good shape there, so I don’t have to worry. LEGERDEMAIN needs more attention first.

This morning, I will write up the book review, type up some additional notes on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH (well, more general series/character arcs than for that book), and work on LEGERDEMAIN.

I have to do another library run to drop off/pick up books, then go to the grocery store and the liquor store to get what I need for my mother’s 98th birthday weekend (her birthday is tomorrow). I’ll head over to Adams, then, to pick up the cake.

I have two scripts to turn around this afternoon, and then I’m done until Tuesday. I’m taking Monday as my holiday, as I should. We’ll celebrate my mom’s birthday, and I’ll probably do some work on LEGERDEMAIN. I’ll finish reading my friend’s book that he wanted feedback on. And read for pleasure. Make up the treat bags for Trick or Treaters. And prepare for the series of rituals next week. This is always my busiest time of the year.

If you are doing Nano and want to be part of a supportive group, I run Enchanted Wordsmiths over there. Send me a message on that platform, and I’ll send you an invite. We’ll write in company next month.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side!

Thurs. Oct. 27, 2022: A Cat With A Plan

(Charlotte, photo by the author)

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Warm and wet

I hope you’re enjoying The Process Muse. If you haven’t had the chance, you can sign up for it here. (It’s free).

Latest on the garden and our weird weather up on Gratitude and Growth.

Worked on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH and I’m still not happy with it, although it’s grown and is richer than it was. A major arc for a couple of supporting characters is gaining traction, and, if I handle it will be both beautiful and sad throughout the book.

Picked up the rest of the books at the library, and put in for some books with 1950s details that I will need for Nano. The book on fashion is a lot of fun. After all, I have to clothe my characters (and most of my costume books are still in storage).

Went to the DMV (RMV here in MA) to renew the car registration. In and out in under 10 minutes, and they were very nice, just the way I like it. Paid the insurance for the next 6 months, so that is all set.

Ordered in Chinese food for lunch, because I was too lazy to cook.

In the afternoon, I turned around two scripts, and in the evening, I read the next book for review. I will write it up and send it off this morning, after meditation and breakfast.

Charlotte kept bothering me in the night. Around 2 AM, I set up her playpen in the sewing room and put her in it (Tessa came by the snicker at her). I was just falling asleep again when I heard a series of thumps. I got up. Charlotte had rolled the playpen out of the sewing room and down the hall into my office, headed for my bedroom. Gotta give the cat points for ingenuity.

I took her out of the playpen and back in bed. She snuggled down, purring, and was good until Tessa woke us at 6:30 with her howling.

I had a breakthrough on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH – I think I’ve finally figured out the climax and refigured the resolution, so it works better. It means setting up a couple of other characters earlier and planting more clues, and shifting a relationship, but it will make the book stronger, and fix what I was worried isn’t working. As soon as this is posted, I’m going back to work on it, taking a break for meditation, and then finishing it.

I’ll have to decide if I want to work on ANGEL HUNT this morning and LEGERDEMAIN tomorrow, or the other way around. I think I’ll work on ANGEL HUNT, and then work on LEGERDEMAIN all weekend.

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

Published in: on October 27, 2022 at 7:09 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Oct. 27, 2022: A Cat With A Plan  
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Tues. Oct. 25, 2022: Life as a Kaleidoscope

image courtesy of Dmitri Posudin via pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

New Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Saturn DIRECT as of Sunday

Rainy/Sunny/Confusing

Saturn went direct on Sunday, taking a lot of the life lessons pressure off. Now, we have to implement what we learned on this Saturn Retrograde so we don’t have the same lessons smacked at us next time it comes around, next year.

Enjoy the lull this week, because Mars goes retrograde  on the 30th, and stays there until January 12th. Mars is already in Gemini until March of 2023, causing stress and difficulties. Going retrograde, through all the holidays, means huge additional stresses. It makes it likely people will be more easily argumentative than usual over the holidays, so try to pull up extra patience and compassion. I talk about that in more detail over on the GDR site, with a post on “Breath Under Duress.”

My plan is to have as quiet a holiday season as possible, with very little socializing (especially since there’s a pandemic going on).

Now, down to our usual Tuesday morning natter, to catch up over the weekend.

Don’t forget: The Process Muse launches tomorrow on Substack. It’s free, and you can sign up here.

Friday morning, I hit the ground running; blogging, making devilled eggs, taking out the garbage, doing the last-minute counter wiping and stainless-steel appliance cleaning.

Our friend showed up and we had a good catch up on all that’s new for both of us. Feasted on the devilled eggs, the black bean soup, the lemon mousse. She had to head back to CT after lunch.

We cleaned up and settled in on the couch to rest. When I checked my email, I found some sad news. An old family friend died last week, in Switzerland. We didn’t even know she was ill. I’d been planning to go and visit the next time I went overseas (which will probably be in 2024).

I had nothing left in the tank, so I gave myself the afternoon off. I finished reading THE SECRET SISTERHOOD, about literary friendships, which was good. I read Joy Harjo’s memoir, POET WARRIOR, which was very well done and uniquely structured.

Charlotte, who’d hidden when my friend was there, because she was afraid she would be given away, was Velcro Kitty all afternoon and evening. And woke me every two hours all night, for reassurances.

Up early on Saturday. Did some work on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED MURDER. I’m a little worried, because it’s heavy on character and atmosphere, and light on plot. Also, there are so many period details I’ll have to add in when I do the revision. But I at least have a good idea on the first third, and escalating the stakes for Rita, my heroine. This book will definitely be a case of draft fast, revise slowly. I like THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH better as a title, which, it turns out, was my original title, so I’ve changed it back to that.

Turned around a script.

I filled out a writer-in-residence application that comes with a nice stipend. However, because of that, I’m sure they will go with a much bigger name. But if I don’t try, I have zero shot, so I tried.

Went out and got the paint I needed for the bookcases, and a dropcloth. I painted one bookcase completely and started the second one, but ran low on both paint and time.

Read a book by someone whom I met in passing back in my NYC days. It was one of those people I was advised I “should” know, although we were in different arenas. Anyway, I recently came across one of her books in the library (a memoir) and decided to read it. The writing is good. But I don’t like the person I met in those pages. The privilege and the whining are way too much.

Charlotte woke me at 3:30 on Sunday morning, which was not the start to the day for which I’d hoped. But I made apple muffins. I upped the allspice from ¼ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon, and it was a good choice.

Got a nice chunk of work done on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH.

Filled out the ballots for the election. Of course I voted Blue all the way down. I’m not an idiot. Or a supporter of fascism.

Got more paint and finished the second bookcase. Not that I know where to put it yet. The first one fit perfectly on top of the other red bookcases in the kitchen, so I cleaned and rearranged all those shelves, and it looks good.

I kept feeling I “should” work all day (on work-work, not house and home stuff). I also felt the flickers of burnout and decided to rest, so I could focus this week and next week, which will be challenging.

I read Alyssa Maxwell’s MURDER AT BEACON ROCK, which was well done and satisfying and sad, all at once. I really like the series. At one point, I fantasized about writing a series set in Gilded Age Newport, but she’s written a better series than I would have, and I no longer need to write one!

There are flutters that Yegads Muskrat is going ahead to buy Twitter and people are fretting about where to go. Tribel Social Network has been urging people to go on it, but I don’t like their policies/terms of service. I think I’ll stick with CounterSocial. If people want to find me, they will. I still can’t get on Ello, which is annoying, since I built so much on there. I’d hate to leave Twitter, but if I have to, I have to.

This is why one needs a website, not just social media.

Had trouble sleeping on Sunday into Monday, which made Monday a late start. But I got some work done on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH.

My priority was turning around the edits for my Llewellyn editor. Eek! Thank goodness for her kindness and patience, because some of the stuff she caught there was a big mess. I sent it in early, in case she needs me to do more work. But she said they’re fine, and she assured me she loves the piece (even with the messes we cleaned up).

I did revisions on “My Side of the Bed” and “Paranormal Paraphrasing” and got them submitted, in spite of the computer repeatedly crashing. I managed to get out six script submissions.

Irritated that the regional ML for Nano only wants to interact on Facebook and Discord. When I do Nano, I want to be able to go to the Nano site and get the information I need, not travel to other sites. I go to the Nano site FOR NANO. I’m irritated. I’ll stick to my Enchanted Wordsmiths group and to hell with the region crap. They’re doing stuff in person and you know they won’t implement any COVID protocols. Pass.

More scripts came up in my queue, so I have enough to read at least through tomorrow, and then, hopefully, I’ll get a couple of Thursday and Friday.

Turned around 3 scripts. Started writing a weird new little, short play. Heard that an odd little play I really love, which I wrote and submitted for a specific call, was not chosen as one of the 5 plays they can use for their event. The company wrote a really kind letter about it, but it makes me sad. I’m fond of the piece, and will have to find another spot for it, which won’t be easy, because it’s so specific.

Stepped in for a colleague who had an emergency and couldn’t do a Zoom talk with a group of young playwrights. It was a lot of fun. They had terrific ideas and great questions. It meant I missed the Artist Working Group, but I knew if they held the WG in the evenings, I’d run into conflicts. If they keep it in the evenings permanently, then I’ll withdraw.

Set the alarm for 5 this morning, and woke up just before the alarm went off, waking from a dream that I slept until 9 and missed the alarm. I was very confused when the alarm went off.

Hauled a fuckton of laundry into the car and over to the laundromat. Three large, industrial-sized machines were going, between the clothes (I’ve been lax about going every week), the curtains, and the other fabric-y stuff that’s been turned over for the season.

Sat in the car working on the multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER. The original plan was that it would be ready for submission this past summer, but that didn’t happen. A longer wait time to work on revisions before I start querying was the right choice for this book. The story and characters are strong, but there’s a lot of sloppy writing (which happens, during Nano).

Cleaning up the sloppy writing makes it an even stronger book. But, again, although it’s an amateur sleuth, it’s not a cozy. The book deals with racism, COVID, and the sex lives of the characters.

Didn’t get enough done on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH before I had to leave for the laundromat, so that’s been pushed off until tomorrow. I have to type up what I have, so far, so that it’s ready to go. I have a strong opening. I have good backstory to integrate. I’ve drawn maps of who lives where, et al, which in a community such as this one, is necessary for the plot. I know who the murderer is and why that individual committed the murder(s). I have some of the clues and the red herrings, and raising the stakes for my protag. I don’t yet have the climactic sequence, but I’ll get there.

I probably need to walk around the Spruces a bit more, on a nice day, and let it percolate. I do know where the first body drop happens. My friends and I poked around that spot near the river when they came to visit a few weeks back.

I have a feeling I’ll have a lot of placeholders in this draft, since I need to go in and layer period detail. I want to go to the library/historical society and read a batch of newspapers from the months in which this book takes place, and then also do some research on the racial and ethnic relations in the area at the time. I’d hoped to get it done before Nano started, but it will have to be a winter project, and part of the revisions, which will, no doubt, make the revisions more extensive.

There’s a post for The Process Muse in all that! (Don’t forget, it drops tomorrow).

I hope to catch a pocket between rain showers to do a library run, drop off my ballots at City Hall, get some stamps at the post office. There was something else I was supposed to do, but darned if I can remember it.

Episode 27 of Legerdemain drops today. I hope you enjoy it. If you haven’t started reading the serial yet, it starts here.

Have a good one!

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!