Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear

Monday, May 22, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Not the productive weekend I’d hoped for, unfortunately.

The stress of the personal issues I’m dealing with hit like a hammer, and it was difficult for me to get anything else done. I managed a little yard work, but not like the marathon hours that my neighbors did. Their lawns are pristine; my mower still isn’t working. I’m hoping the replacement of a simple part or two will do the trick.

I got a little work done on the play proposal, and some plotting work done on the radio play. I need to gear up and get those out the door this week.

On the upside, I re-read Arlene Kay’s Boston Uncommons mysteries, and enjoyed them. I drafted up some reviews I’ll leave for them. I also read a couple of her earlier books, one-offs, which were also fun.

STILL waiting for my first assignment from that editor who, weeks ago, said I was hired. I could have done THREE assignments (and been paid) in this time frame. I’m irritated. Perhaps it’s time to move on and take other work instead. IF I’m ever contacted, I’ll see what my schedule is, or I’ll bow out. If you’re “constantly” adding people to the team and promising “steady” work, it doesn’t take three weeks to make the first assignment.

Drafting a short article and an article pitch that need to go out today. Also want to tackle the short story — I’d like to get that out by the end of this week. I need to do some reformatting on the Topic Workbooks for an additional release venue, and get back to work on the next Topic Workbook. I’m going to try to release one every three months.

I re-read TIE CUTTER, which needs to get back into the writing mix in the next few months, and also did some more research for the next section of FIX IT GIRL revisions. The revision process on this novel is different than my usual, but it’s working for the particular novel, so I’m going with it.

Managed to get in a bit of yard work this morning before the rain started, although I was bitten several times. I hate ants. I’m in full out war with the ants. I know, I should appreciate them and all they stand for, but they’re not keeping their part of the bargain.

I have errands to run this morning, some things to do at the library, and then, hopefully, I can get back to the page. This week will be very stressful, on multiple fronts, and I’m trying to prepare myself, both mentally and physically.

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Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 9:02 am  Comments Off on Mon. May 22, 2017: Getting Back into Gear  
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Fri. July 13, 2012: Linky, Linky, Zombie Disco Party

Friday, July 13, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Happy Friday the 13th! Always one of my favorite days on the calendar.

Have I got links for you! 😉

First of all, I hope you’ll come join me today in a virtual Disco Zombie Party to celebrate the release of HEX BREAKER, over on Author Roast and Toast, later today, going well into the night. Attendees have the chance to get the new Billy Root story before it goes live!

Second, my article on “Smart Gardening” is up on Fifty is the New Fifty. I’m doing six articles for them (I sent off my fourth last night).

Third, I’ve got a piece up on the Writers Vineyard (as Annabel Aidan) about the pleasures of discovering a short story is the seed for something bigger.

Before I could even post this, I conducted an interview for another client. It went very well — I really, really like her and think we can work well together.

Yesterday was crazy busy. I kept thinking, “I can blog in the next hour” and then I couldn’t. My apologies.

Yoga was fantastic. I had to do some errands, including a stop at Country Gardens to pick up some petunias (the pansies in the urn are fading), and get more bamboo hoops, this time for the wisteria. I worked with students, worked on articles and short stories, and considered how to rework my resume geared to a specific Boston facility.

I’ve got a lot of writing and teaching to do today, along with errands, so I better get going. Tessa is grumpy this morning, because she can’t be outside as much as she’d like. She learned pouting and sulking from her big sister, Iris. Can’t the twins teach her any GOOD habits? 😉

Have a great weekend, everyone! It’s supposed to get hotter over the next few days — we’ve been so lucky, weather-wise.

Devon

Registration closes tonight for the Series Bible Seminar, tomorrow! If your story encompasses more than one book, this online seminar will help you keep it all organized! More information and registration here.

Mon. July 9, 2012: Guest-Free & Geared For Insanity


Violet & Tessa get the bed back, once company leaves

Monday, July 9, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

All the guest are gone, which is good, since this week will be beyond insane. But that’s okay, I’m just going to deal with everything one piece at a time, and, somehow, it will all get done. It was great to have friends and family here, although having them converge unexpectedly at the same time, and both groups bring extra people I wasn’t expecting and didn’t know was a bit much. Everyone was nice and fairly easy-going, it was just a lot.

Friday was busy. Saturday, I just hated everybody. For no good reason, just everyone and everything worked my last nerve. Overtired, and tired of people who are lazy and incompetent making unreasonable demands. I don’t have time or tolerance, and I’m not going to waste my valuable time with them.

On the plus side, the weather is quite lovely, the garden is growing well (see the latest post on Gratitude and Growth), and I’m figuring out what I want to do next and what direction I want to take, career-wise. I’m getting rid of what no longer works, even if it’s scary to get rid of the known devil, and going after what I want.

I got the notebooks for the writers’ conference next month — yeah, it’s early, but fellow writers will nod and smile at the excitement of finding the right notebook for the job. Next month’s conference will be fun, and it will be nice to go hang out and not be responsible for anything except showing up and being a good student! 😉

The short story due last Friday, about a woman aviator in 1947, really wants to be a at least a novella, or maybe even a novel. I’m excited about the feedback on what I tried (even though it didn’t work as it stands), and looking forward to finding a way to slot it in and do more work on it.

Today is the last day “Town Crier” is available for download. Billy Root has a few things to say about it, and the upcoming story featuring him, “The Occasional Ghost”.

The Scene Meat workshop starts today — looking forward to it. But you can still sign up for the Series Bible seminar that runs on Saturday, and, if you’re on the Cape this weekend, for the Character and Situation Workshop over at Three Fish and A Ram.

Today, I’ve got to make arrangements for the yearly house inspection from the town, work on three articles, the ghostwriting project, deal with Nightmare Client, prepare for tomorrow’s jazz concert, do three chapters of revisions, deal with students, work on the edits for an anthology I’m collaborating on, polish “The Occasional Ghost”, deal with some more HEX BREAKER PR, and work on the deadlined novels.

NEWSROOM just gets better and better and better. How terrific that there’s a show on the air geared for intelligent people, instead of the reality-pay-them-for-being-their-worst-selves that dominates network television right now.

So, I better get going!

Have a great week, people!

Devon

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

There are two Annabel Aidan reviews up — one on Coffee Time Romance and one on Colin Galbraith’s blog. Hope you’ll check both of them out.

Tuesday morning’s yoga class was HUGE. Among the participants were three sisters who’d always come to the Cape every summer. They’d rented houses again this year, with their families, and brought all their teenagers to yoga! So it was a group of about twelve from the same family. Lots of fun.

Brandy, our teacher lets people choose corpse or seated meditation, whichever is comfortable. Some people just aren’t comfortable in corpse. I have problems keeping palms up in it (receptive). Because of all the chaos leading up to the move, I have trouble with any heart-opening poses. So that’s what I have to work on the hardest. Even when I’m psychically uncomfortable, my teacher has won my trust enough so I’ll keep working. And she’s a nurse, so she’s also teaching correct physical alignments, which helps a lot, and teaches me the difference between making progress and challenging myself physically and doing something that could injure me. I also love the poses where we have the earth/sand “massage” our backs — huge difference in helping heal the back problems I had earlier this year.

I worked hard on various projects on Tuesday, and then had to go to a site job overnight. I survived it, and, as much as I’d love to vent, there’s no way I can do so and stay professional. Short version — the job the client wants me to do is an entirely different profession than mine, and not anything I ever remotely agreed to do or that was in our initial discussions. I don’t do that job. I don’t have either the interest or the skills, and that’s not how I’ve ever presented myself. So don’t bring me in under false pretenses and then order me to do something that’s not within my profession, and, when it came up last week, I told you flat out I would not do. Repeated demands do not wear me down — they piss me off.

Fortunately, my yoga teacher’s lessons embedded firmly enough so I was able to keep my cool, be cordial (a sure sign I am FURIOUS –when I hit “cordial”, everyone needs to take cover), and get through it as a professional.

Did some grocery shopping early Wednesday. Stopped at the bookstore to pick up a couple of things (stress relief) and get coffee. Did more grocery shopping and came home to recover. The cats were waiting for me in the kitchen, not at all amused that they didn’t have snacks the night before or wet food. So we took care of that! Instead of running when they hear the garage door open, they now line up at their bowls, facing the door from the garage into the kitchen.

Got some good work done, but was pretty wiped out. Prepared the smoked trout mousse and the black bean hummus for my meeting. Did a bit of reading.

Traffic wasn’t bad to Buzzards Bay, and the meeting went well. Came home, relaxed, played with the cats, went to bed early. Woke up at 2 AM and had trouble getting to sleep again.

Off to yoga now, and then a full day at the desk. It’s cool this morning, and smells like fall.

Devon


ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT available from Champagne Books and Amazon Kindle.
Annabel Aidan webpage here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I had to really work yesterday not to be a whiny pain in the ass. I was cranky and cold all day.

Workshops were fine; you can see where some people took on too much for the course of the week and are rushing through. Nothing they can’t sit down and flesh out when they sit down and breathe for a minute. But part of my job is to be a taskmaster, and that’s what I’m doing.

Got the fans to storage. Got my cappuccino maker out — it needs a good, solid cleaning AND I have to replace the pot that broke, but I’m glad to have it home.

Had my headphones on nearly all day because of the noise. They’ve redone the front steps with a slippery fake slate and removed the handrails. Won’t that be fun in ice and snow, especially since they don’t shovel and/or sand properly? They’re redoing the pavement with brick pavers, which doesn’t make any sense in bad weather, or for professional women who wear heels, the brick looks like crap with the slate steps up to the sections (in addition to being a completely different color and texture from the brick of the building), AND there was no need to cut down all the trees to do any of this.

Quite a few people in the building have filed complaints with the Health Department about the lack of heat. Since today is the 15th, where they are even MORE required by law to keep the temperature reasonable, today I start my log and file it with DHCR on the first of every month. Dates, times, temperature, when it went up because I cooked, when they actually bothered to put heat on. And state clearly that I will NOT allow anyone to enter and plant a “sensor.”

We had a little heat over night, but they turned if off at 9 AM, as they do every weekday morning all winter.

Speaking of which, so many people talked about banana bread on Twitter that I had to bake some. Yummy.

I got some good work done on redesigning the websites — especially the Jain Lazarus site, which will be simply awesome. I’m having trouble settling on a graphic for Fearless Ink. I’m trying to balance something that really speaks to the purpose of the site and is very much “me” with something that looks professional without being corporate. I know what I want for Devon and I even found something I can use for Cerridwen — but the Fearless Ink is a challenge. Mostly because I need to design a logo, and I can’t seem to settle on what I want.

I posted a question in a conference forum and was told to buy a book to figure out my “mission.” I KNOW my frigging mission — I make a living at it, for eff’s sake –I’m a freelance writer who can write anything that needs to be written, for a decent price. What I need is help brainstorming a graphic! I can’t use anything from iStock because it’s a logo (and I didn’t find what I wanted there anyway). I can’t use anything from clip art, because it’s a logo. I’ve either got to draw it myself or take a photograph and see what I can do in “effects” — but if I don’t know what I want, I don’t know what to shoot.

Hey, I warned you I was cranky! Seriously, when I ask for advice and someone tries to part me from money instead of answering the question, I get annoyed. Recommend the book all you want IN ADDITION to answering the question, but answer the question!

Today, I plan to just sit tight and alternate between working on my own writing and teach the workshop. I have GOT to get back to that NYFA application. The good thing about working on the application and the residency applications is that it’s making me articulate focus on specific projects next year, instead of working on whatever catches my interest.

The first Nor’easter of the season is supposed to hit, starting with severe rain tonight, and we’re under flood watch again. I’m boiling water and checked the batteries, so, in case power goes out and everything goes kerplooey, we can hang in there. I’ll move the car up the hill later in the day.

I just had to delete a whole paragraph Violet typed when I got up for a minute. I don’t know what it said — it was in some mysterious feline dialect — but she is highly offended that I deleted it.

Devon

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Today’s guest is my good friend Lori Widmer, from Words on the Page. She’s a phenomenal freelancer and an activist for fair pay for our work. She’s also got some great tips for handling difficult clients. She talks about two separate, yet related issues here.

Dealing with Client Insecurity
By Lori Widmer

If you spend enough time in the freelancing trenches, you’ll encounter clients who can’t make a decision without a committee, and that’s where you have to put your diplomatic and contract negotiation skills to the test.

Outsmarting a Posse

The email came in as I was heading out for the weekend. “I see several editing mistakes in the copy.” How is that possible? Simple – the email didn’t come from my client. The email, instead, came from my client’s colleague.

If you haven’t faced a posse yet, brace yourself. It’s one of the most unnerving, irritating wastes of time you’ll ever encounter. Worse, it’s almost impossible to avoid. Without fail, clients writing books or authoring their first anything will want to run it past a few friends or colleagues, who inevitably fashion themselves instant experts. When this happens, run like hell.

As there are many kinds of editors (and some with talent, some without), there will be an equal number of approaches and styles. Likewise, clients and writers have a history that a posse cannot understand. In one case, I had a client who wanted specific things in the copy that were clearly errors, but it’s what he wanted. And yes, he asked a friend to read the copy. And yes, the friend found these mistakes. And yes, the client conveniently forgot that these were things he’d insisted on against my advice. In that case, he was more concerned with getting out of our arrangement without having to pay me. He paid, alright. But not without a fight.

You may not be able to avoid a posse, but you can outwit the posse interference. Since I’ve been burned so many times I feel like a human marshmallow, I now include a clause in my contracts that specifically excludes third parties from taking part in the writing and editing process. Also, I counsel my clients on the dangers of employing non-experts to look over expertly drafted work. Typically, I will repeat in email before the contract is signed and as I’m delivering it that the contract is between two people – the client and me. Any outside input is not part of the process and will not be honored under the current contract. Instead, third party involvement will be priced separately (and heavily).

What can you do when the posse undermines your work? Whatever you do, don’t go into defense mode, and certainly do not start trying to please everyone. It won’t work. In the end, you’re all going to be miserable. I restate the terms of the contract, I restate that I’d be happy to take additional payment in order to work with these new people, and I reiterate that I’m the one who’s being paid to give the client the best possible product based on my skills, research, and interactions. Then I let it go. It’s no longer my situation.

About that email – the “mistakes” referred to were actually factual mistakes and not editing mistakes. That the colleague had called them editing mistakes was unnerving, but I was able to recover quickly by sending a note to the colleague, copying my client, and letting him know I was glad the mistakes he referred to were not editing mistakes but errors in fact. That was my one and only communication with that person, and that was to clear up instantly any misconceptions the client may harbor about my abilities. In other cases, I’ve not been that lucky. There was the client who used Grammar Check and thought it was The Final Word in grammar. I had to quote him Chicago Manual passages before he realized it may not be such a great tool. He still ended our relationship, but on a congenial note. I had a client who took the advice of an acquaintance and began reframing and rewriting the entire book. Some you win, some you don’t.

Yes, you may lose that client to the whims of a posse. So be it. Just make those contracts airtight and don’t you dare work one second for anyone who isn’t listed on that contract.

And that’s’ why it’s important to not only have a strong contract in place but to

Assert Your Contractual Rights

I had occasion recently to work with a favorite client on a new project. He provided the contract and I got to work. I finished the project, sent the invoice, and went about my business. It wasn’t until he came back with edits that I realized it was time to restate to him our contract terms.

The contract was very specific in whom I would work with – him. His contract, his terms. This new twist he’d thrown in had me working directly with his colleagues, who were invisible to this point. If these colleagues had been part of the original agreement, my fee would have been much higher. Working for a group is much more difficult than working one-on-one. As they say, too many cooks.

Despite my great relationship with the client, I asserted my boundaries, restating to him (very politely and very tactfully) the terms of our agreement. I added how happy I’d be to continue and if that was his intention, I’d gladly provide him with new terms. He realized the error he’d made in drawing up the contract minus the additional people involved. I salvaged a tenuous situation by being assertive yet friendly.

Would it have killed me to continue on with the project and work with these new people? No – not right away. See, projects tend to snowball. If Carl wants Jill to look it over, Jill may want to impress Carl with her editing skills to perhaps procure that promotion he’s dangling over her. Or perhaps Carl and Jill have a shaky history and Jill’s itching to stick it to him. Now enter Fred, who’s a ladder climber, and Pam, who took a communications course in college and thinks she’s an expert, and you can almost hear your project blowing apart.

Since I’d been burned too many times to count in the past, I knew I had to halt the misconception before it turned into precedent, for this client had hired me to complete a number of projects for him. Did I risk losing him? Sure. But I risked that simply by taking on the project and doing my best. Risk is part of most business arrangements. It’s also why we have contracts – to minimize our losses should things not work out.

It’s also more professional to alert your client to an issue at the outset than to try working with it, finding out it’s too much for you, and trying to back out later. It’s much better to risk losing a client than to work endlessly for the same client (one client project I had went on for a year) only to be stuck with a set project fee you can’t alter.

If you’re providing a contract for your clients, I highly recommend you put a clause in it dealing with third-party review or input. My contract states the contract is between the named individuals in the contract only. Any third-party input will be contracted – and priced – separately.

Lori Widmer is a veteran writer and editor with over 15 years of experience. Visit her writing blog at http://loriwidmer.blogspot.com.

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 1:13 am  Comments (6)  
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Disk 3 Excerpts 006_2_2
Montauk, NY

Friday, September 11, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto DIRECT
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

A sad day for everyone, but especially for those who lost people in the 9/11 attacks eight years ago. I encountered a woman in the post office yesterday who was having a hard time — she lost two daughters that day. Everyone in the facility did what they could to comfort her, but this time of year will always be tough for her.

On the news yesterday, they were blabbing that no one pays attention to 9/11 anymore and it no longer holds meaning. Of course, every single individual they interviewed was a tourist, not someone who lived here or lost someone. Those who did have chosen their own ways to mourn, out of the spotlight.

And, to me, the most important and moving moments of the day are the reading of the names.

I think I’ve mentioned a few times how worried I’ve been about some of the bridges and overpasses in the area, to the extent that I avoid some of them and I’ve called in my concerns a few times. Well, a lot of construction workers have been around, with those green-and-white Recovery Act stickers. On my errands the other day, I walked under the I-95 overpass, which had worried me and where debris had fallen several times. They’ve been working there, and one of the guys pointed out the new plates fastening the sections back together and the new supports. Very cool. I actually drove over it a few hours later, and it feels much better. Now THAT’s the way I want my tax dollars to work! Not bailing out corporate executives, but putting people back to work on projects that actually keep people safe and make a difference.

A video clip both highly entertaining and somewhat ironic was broadcast last night. I thought it was sadly hilarious. Some of these anti-education, anti-health care wing nuts were waving around signs calling people “Morans.” I’m assuming they meat “morONs”; they can’t even be bothered to spell their message correctly. You wanna see a moron? Look in the mirror, sign-waver! I sure as heck know a lot of wonderful people in the clan of MorAN and I’d be PROUD to be lumped in with them! 😉

I had to pull clips of my work off a site that’s going dark today — just what I needed right before I leave, especially since it won’t print the articles cleanly without superimposing text on other text (I could then scan the clips back in and create PDFs in my clip file) or print/save as PDFs or even copy and paste. No luck with any of them. While I appreciate that means no one could co-opt the work, it makes it a damned sight harder to have usable clips, and I’d rather not lose three years’ worth of clips. I asked a few people and put the word out on Twitter. We came up with a few possible solutions. I tried them all, so I should have the clips saved several ways! Whew.

Also found some interesting possible prospects. I hate to pitch right before I leave, but I’ll be upfront about my schedule. If it knocks me out, then that’s the way it is; if they like my work enough and we can work around each other’s schedules, I think it would be fun.

I’m happy with my decision to skip Nano this year. I think it’s great and I encourage people to participate, and do it more than one year, because one can learn so much each year. But this year, I’m juggling deadlines and publishers and I’m getting my toe into the foreign rights waters and the websites are undergoing a massive overhaul and all the rest, so for me, this year, it would be the wrong choice. I may do it sometime again in the future. I’ll be cheerleading all my friends and colleagues from the sidelines. No challenges, no Nano, just focusing on clearing up unfinished projects, getting the backlog out, and landing better and higher-paying gigs.

I plateau’d there for awhile, and it’s time for the next leap.

I’m reconfiguring what I want to do and what I need to do in order to pay the bills, and getting them more in tandem with each other. And because I want to take some interesting creative risks next year, I have to figure out how the months around the months in which I take those risks will pay for everything. And still be open to new opportunities.

The plus side of the economic problems is that it proved I was right to remain the Anti-Niche. Except for February, which was a scary month, I managed to make steady gains in clients and income every month by being able to do a wide variety of writing. I miss the Broadway money, but I don’t miss the work in the way I thought I would. I miss some of the individuals, but not the politics of backstage. Income will be frighteningly low for September because I’m not here for a good bit of it, and more will go out then comes in. However, the content of the time away will pay off, both literally and figuratively for years to come. The trade-off’s worth it.

My mom went to the doctor yesterday, and she’s having thyroid problems. Then, she cut her leg this morning, which is a little worrisome. I’m going to cook all weekend and prepare meals she can heat up while I”m gone (because I know she won’t eat properly if I don’t). She’s looking after the cats, so they have their second-favorite human on the planet with them, catering to their every whim.

I did three loads of laundry yesterday and I’m going to do some ironing today and maybe even pack. I have to find the jeans i want to wear on the plane, and pick up a few things at the drug store, but, other than that, I think we’re okay.

It’s in the 40’s here today, and rainy. The cats are much perkier in the cooker weather. I certainly slept better. Autumn is my favorite season.

I’ve got most of my holiday cards sorted out and worked on the Christmas list, so I can tackle that when I get back and get things done ahead of time.

I have my eye on yet another sofa. I’ve got to stop buying sofas or I’m going to need a 16 room house just for the sofas. As comfortable as that red microsuede is when it’s unfolded into a bed, it’s far too small and low for an adult human to actually sit on. It’s the most expensive cat bed I’ve ever bought.

I’m at a stopping point with AMENDS. I tried to push through, but without sorting out what I’ve got and plotting the middle, it’s merely getting muddled. I’ll read it over before I leave and let it percolate while I’m gone.

Errands, pitching, ironing, packing today.

Devon
IMG_0431
Violet on the most expensive cat bed I’ve ever bought.

Published in: on September 11, 2009 at 7:41 am  Comments (6)  
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

IMG_0035
A view from Eastham, MA

Saturday, September 5, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Nine days until Prague!

Yesterday was busy — out of the house early, up to Stamford. Visited the currency exchange — got the first four days’ worth of my budget in Czech krona. So there’s a start! Also got some more British pounds sterling, since we’ve got that 4-hour layover in Heathrow.

Went to the bookstore and got my fourth plane book: Italo Calvino’s IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER. I can’t wait to read it. But I have to wait until I head for the airport! 😉

I bought some books for my mom. She loves the writing of Mary Balogh, so we’re getting all of her books.

I seem to have fixed the power cord problem with extensive jiggling.

Visited the Staples in Stamford — no luck on the memory card for the camera. I don’t want 16GB — I want 2 GB, and not the tiny card, but the one that actually fits my camera. The card will only hold the photos from this trip. I keep the memory cards — in addition to backing up the photos on them, I also work directly from the cards. I don’t erase them and re-use them. That is my choice. I shouldn’t have to change the way I work because a store doesn’t feel like carrying what I need.

Drove to Larchmont, to that Staples. It’s on the site of what used to be a VW dealership when we first moved to NY in 1968. It’s now a fantastic Staples — not only is it huge, but the employees are helpful and friendly. They had what I needed, they helped me double check the reference just to be sure, and they had most of the other stuff I needed, too (although not the pen refills I need). Most importantly, they were pleasant and helpful. So they will now be my first choice of Staples around here, instead of going up the street to the one that never has anything or all the way to CT.

There was also a fantastic organic market in the same plaza, so I stocked up on a few things!

I started reading the novel PRAGUE and put it aside. It takes place in Budapest, and while that is part of the novel’s irony, I am not in the mood for irony right now; I wanted to read something set in Prague. I found myself muttering about it on every page and not doing the novel justice, so I’ve put it aside until I get back.

I tried to fact check something for an article that needs to go out with English Heritage, who runs the property. And got an email telling me it takes 21 days to check this fact. WTF? They can’t look it up or forward the email to the site? Puh-leeze. I’m going to see if I can get better information via the Northumbrian Tourist Authority. They’ve been very helpful in the past. And the National Trust usually gets back to me within 48 hours. Update: Lindisfarne Priory got in touch with me directly to answer my question — exactly what I needed. Article will go out this morning. Phew!

The CD version of DIXIE DUST RUMORS arrived, so now I’ve got something for people to have in hand when I give readings.

I’ve got to work on the guest blog posts this weekend, write my Sole Struck article, and get out at least one more essay.

I had a great morning’s work on AMENDS today. I wrote the scene with the Alzheimer’s sufferer. It’s true to life and there’s sadness there, but it doesn’t divert the themes and intent of the book.

I hope to get more work done on it today.

I received my first royalty check from PERFECTLY PLUM!, the anthology in which my essay appeared a couple of years ago. It’s earned out its advance, and we got some royalties! Love that.

If you’re a fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and haven’t yet checked it out, I hope you do.

My play, THE MATILDA MURDERS opens the day before I leave for Prague, so I won’t get to see it until I get back.

NYFA’s funding cycle covers both fiction and playwriting this year, so I will probably apply for both. I’m going through my work to decide what to submit for that, and what to submit for the residency in Maine next summer. I’m also working on another proposal for an overseas residency. I don’t think I’ve got the serious lit/academic credentials they usually go for, but I’m trying to shape the proposal to make that a strength.

A friend of mine suggested that if I’m serious about ex-patriating (which, if the US doesn’t stop its ridiculous, destructive downslide to the hard right that I hoped would cease with last year’s election but hasn’t, I certainly am), I should consider Switzerland. Honestly, I’d never even thought of Switzerland. I haven’t thought about Switzerland since I visited in the early 1970’s, except when I re-read Noel Coward’s autobiography.

The Democratic Party Platform: All have the right to equality and social justi–ooh, shiny!

The GOP Party Platform: ME, ME, ME! Die, suckers!

We need more legitimate parties than just those two. For all the chaos in the UK, at least they have a variety of valid viewpoints.

Which is why I am not affiliated with either of the above parties.

The only thing I remember about Switzerland is mountains, mountain passes, and riding a paddle boat on Lake Zurich and the paddles broke. So we waved and waved, and people waved back, thinking we were being friendly, until some Scandinavians with rope in their rucksacks figured it out, tossed us a line and towed us back in. I remember the floral clock in Geneva and the bears in Berne. And that’s about it.

I hope to get a lot of work done on AMENDS this weekend, and also learn at least a few more phrases of Czech. I’m tired of preparing — I just want to get on the plane and have the experience.

Of course, the fact that Mercury is in retrograde for the entire trip should add some, uh, interesting twists!

Devon

AMENDS: First draft: 20,937 words out of est. 75,000
27.9%
IMG_0314
Another view of Eastham, MA

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

IMG_0451
New York Botanical Garden

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

It went down into the 40’s last night and is only in the 50s right now. I love the cooler weather, don’t get me wrong, but wow!

I am having a heck of a time with the Czech language. Totally at sea with it. I hope it will make more sense when I’m immersed in it. Usually, I have some trouble speaking a language outside of its country, but this is ridiculous. It’s all going in one ear and out the other. I’m not retaining ANYTHING.

I do love that the language volume has an entire chapter dedicated to asking one’s way to a bookstore!

I can’t get my ear in tune with it. There are so many variations on meaning, where the word is spelled the same except for an accent over a particular letter, but the meaning is vastly different. And if I get it wrong – it could be nasty! 😉 I’ll wind up offending a lot of people when I didn’t mean to.

So I probably won’t talk a lot (which might be a relief).

I already suffered from foot-in-mouth disease when I didn’t realize the National Opera and the State Opera were completely different — I thought the State Opera was one of the branches under the National Theatre, not two wildly separate entities in different sections of town (which wasn’t clear because of the way the site I was on linked them).

The American Embassy has not been helpful to date. You’re not in the midst of a revolution, no one is defenestrating anyone (as far as I can tell), so you could PLEASE answer ANY of the questions I asked back in June?

And could someone please decide which currency they’ll be using in two weeks? I find it a little ridiculous that no one can give me a definitive answer if it will still be the Czech krona or if it will have completely switched over to the Euro.

This is why I should be Dictator of the Universe. Things would run more smoothly! 😉

Apple still only leaves me “let’s talk” messages. I don’t believe they have any solution, nor any intention of fixing the problem. They hope that, if they drag it out long enough, it will go away. When the computer works, it’s a amazing, and a 100 times superior to any PC. However, they don’t stand by their products, and they aren’t willing to fix the problem when they sell a lemon. That is not acceptable.

Good morning’s work on AMENDS. I wish I could finish the first draft before I leave, but, even if I worked on it full-time, there’s too much to write. I’m enjoying the writing process, though! Obviously, things that bother me in life are spilling into it — issues of sexism and not making assumptions based on appearance are big themes in the book, while there’s still a lot of lighthearted mystery and action.

I polished an article, and I’m waiting for some responses to fact checking before I send it off.

I’m working on two proposals for projects for 2010 that I will send out when I return, and I have to visit NYFA to see if I’m eligible to apply for anything in this grant cycle.

I hope to have some GDRs up later today.

Back to the page.

Devon

AMENDS: First Draft: 17,062 words out of est. 75,000
22.74%

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New York Botanical Garden

Sunday, August 30, 2009

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New York Botanical Garden

Sunday, August 30, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

It’s starting to smell like autumn.

Danny passed us by without much impact, which is a good thing. And I can use all that boiled water!

The CNN website hit a new low yesterday. They’ve lost my trust anyway over the past few years, as far as not finding them a reliable resource. Yesterday, however, they took tasteless and tacky to a new level.

They’ve got the coverage of the Senator Edward Kennedy funeral streaming, and, under it, an ad from a life insurance company picturing a casket and saying, “Don’t wait until it’s too late!”

Yes, I emailed them and told them what I thought.

I didn’t spend the day glued to the funeral. I honored the Senator (who, even though I didn’t always agree with him, had a huge, direct, and personal impact on my life, mostly positive) in my own way. I saw a bit of the end, at Arlington. As usual, the Kennedys handled things with grace and panache.

Let’s hope the right wing-nut lie-mongers shut up for at least a few days. Not that they’re capable of respecting anything other than the dollars for which they shill paid by large corporations masquerading as citizens.

Now, as everyone walks away from Arlington, is where the real sense of missing begins. I remember when my father died — there was a sense of unreality from the news through the funeral arrangements through the wake and even the service. It wasn’t until walking away from the grave site that it really began to sink in. All the preparations and the people kept him immediate. The emptiness came later.

I’m re-reading a book called CALLINGS by Gregg Levoy. A friend recommended it a few years ago — it’s about creating an authentic life, doing what you’re meant to do, and recognizing the false call from the true call, and most importantly, taking action rather than making excuses. I read it quickly that first time. I’m reading it more slowly this time, and enjoying even the parts I don’t necessarily agree with.

I love his reference to TS Eliot’s quote about measuring our lives in coffee spoons (very relevant, in my case). I also agree with the way he says that one has to plunge fully into one’s calling: “A part-time effort, a sorta-kinda commitment, an untested promise, won’t suffice.” (p. 11). That’s how I feel about my writing.

It’s a very interesting book. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels at the moment, I recommend it. Even the parts that don’t necessarily work for you will get you thinking in new ways, and help you find what does work.

Ordered holiday cards from the National Wildlife Federation yesterday — special sale. I hope National Geographic offers some cards soon, and then I’ll be all set. I’m percolating another holiday story — a couple of them actually. If I’m going to do them WELL, they need to be written now, so I have time to revise them, design them, and print them in time to go out with the cards.

Got some good work done on AMENDS. It’s got an interesting shape. I couldn’t figure out where to set it for the longest time. The incident that inspired the book’s murder and the location of that incident took place here, but suburban NY didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to stick it on the Cape, and I just set stories in VT and around Concord, MA.

So I thought about putting it in Western MA, farther west even than Wyatt East’s domain in the Jain Lazarus Adventures, all the way in the Berkshires. I’ve got another piece percolating that I want to set in that region, but I don’t think they’ll conflict.

So that’s where AMENDS is set.

I figure it will run somewhere between 65K and 90K.

Had a lot of trouble with 1and1 again. I looked at some other hosts; everyone seems to get mixed reviews. I don’t know if I’m better off staying with the devil I know. At least until I get the computer stuff sorted out and don’t lose all my iWeb files again.

My contacts and client lists vanished from my Address Book — AGAIN — which means I have to re-enter them. Over it! I want Apple to stop wasting everyone’s time and actually DO something.

Finished reading the material for Confidential Job #1 and will write it up today, send it off tomorrow,and find a computer from which I can invoice them.

Did some notes on one of the holiday stories. Figured out what I want to try to make for the holidays. I will do a few prototypes in early October. If it works, I can get everything made and wrapped early; if not, it gives me time to come up with something else, so I’m not scrambling, like I did last year.

I figured out that I’ve saved $1200 so far this year by shopping as Costco on items I would have had to buy in that time period anyway.

A site on which I’d like to be a contributor is not going to work out. I’d be willing to compromise on the money (or lack thereof) to a point, but the insistence on running a photograph, not the icon, makes it a no-go. What I do or don’t look like has NOTHING to do with the quality of my writing, and, as someone who publishes under multiple names, a photograph hurts me rather than helps me. If clients who pay a ton of money have no problem with the no-photographs clause, clients who don’t should be even more flexible. Obviously, it’s not the right fit, and there are better fits for both of us somewhere else.

Need to get deeper into Prague Prep — the trip is coming up awfully quickly. It would be nice if those who were invited to guest blog and didn’t want to/couldn’t at least had the courtesy to decline and respond to my follow-up emails instead of ignoring them. Oh, well, the sooner you learn about someone discourteous, the sooner you can remove them from your life, right? I’m seriously starting to think everyone should be required to pass an etiquette class before they’re allowed out in the world! 😉

Devon

AMENDS, first draft: 13,750 words out of est. 75,000
18.33%

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool
IMG_0500

The Adelphi Hotel, Saratoga Springs, NY.

I was in the Query Zone yesterday afternoon. I think I got out about a dozen queries. Hopefully, they all find their mark. I also got some pitches out to potential clients.

Got some client projects cleared off, have another to finish today. Got a lot of work done on the assignment for Confidential Job #1. I think I can finish it and submit it (and the invoice) by Monday. I’d like to get the check before I leave for Prague.

Spoke to my currency exchange person. Hard to get Czech kronas because they’re about to switch to Euros, only haven’t set a date. Some businesses take euros, some kronas. Oy.

With our luck and Merc retrograde, we’ll arrive on the Big Day. Whatever, right?

Sent off some photos I promised. Have to burn a CD of the Botanical Garden photos for my friend — I didn’t realize I took so many!
IMG_0530
Racetrack in the morning.

Dealt with some nasty emails from people who tried to censor my Twitters — the usual crap — attacking my values, my lifestyle, tarot, the desire for health care reform, etc. If you don’t like what I say and how I say it, unfollow me, don’t read the blog, whatever. If you want to enter into actual discussion, fine, but don’t demand that I change what I write to please you, because I’m not gonna. Even if you offered money — which, of course, you don’t, because you’re a bully, not an entrepreneur, who tries to force his own twisted beliefs on everyone else. I will not be censored.

Let me put it this way — if one of us is set for Eternal Damnation, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be YOU.

And if and when I’m up before a Big Kahuna of the Afterlife who wants some answers about my choices, I’ll give ‘em.

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National Museum of Dance, Saratoga Springs, NY

Had a great morning’s work on AMENDS. Slid right back into it as though I’d never been away from it, which is great. I know the premise and the ending, but I haven’t outlined this one. I’m discovering it as I go, which is a nice switch.

I find I don’t need outlines as much when I’m working with material set in contemporary, more realistic settings than in created worlds or historical fiction. Good to know. Of course, the next time around, I’ll probably have to outline. I needed an outline for the Helena Francis mystery — which still needs a title, by the way. But I don’t need an outline for this one. As I’ve often said, every novel is a bit like reinventing the wheel.

Paid some bills. Now I have to run some errands and then make sure the car is on higher ground before Tropical Storm Danny hits. We’re on flood watch. Again.

So I guess I’ll boil some water while I’m at it, just in case. We have plenty of supplies. I just have to get some more coffee!

Back to work.

Devon
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The grounds of the Gideon Putnam Hotel, Saratoga Springs, NY

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
No idea; writing this Mon. night

By the time you read this, I should be on the road to Saratoga.

While I’m gone, if you like this blog, how about nominating me as one of the Best 25 Blogs for writers here?

Or, of course, nominate any writing blog you think is really good!

Busy Monday. Trader Joe’s, Staples — they STILL didn’t restock the glossy postcard paper near me, so I had to drive well into CT for crying out loud, and they didn’t have glossy paper either, so I settled for matte. Whatever. They’re postcards. They also don’t sell the refills for my great Pentel pens — although they sell the pens. What’s up with that? Not a happy camper.

Did paperwork. Packed. Ironed. Put everything together for the trip. Missed the call from Apple — I was only away from the phone for 10 minutes.

Did some mapping, so I have a clue where I’m going. Finalized some arrangements. Busy day, but good busy. Didn’t get a chance to get back to AMENDS, and it’s eating at me, so I hope to sneak in a few pages here and there between events.

Will return soon

Devon

PS Threw an extra pair of shoes into my bag. Just in case.

Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 1:36 am  Comments (3)  
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

Bad storms yesterday into today. The beaches are closed, due to the rip currents connected with Hurricane Bill. And we’re on flood watch. I’ve got some errands to run this morning, and then I’m moving the car to higher ground.

Yesterday was busy — multiple trips to Staples, picking up more ink at Costco, session with Canon Tech support because the big printer and the computer weren’t speaking to each other properly to print postcards. The Staples closest to me is now officially sold out of glossy postcard stock. Designed postcards and business cards for the blog — yes, it’s useful to have business cards for this blog. I haven’t yet redesigned my personal business cards, because I like my previous design, only it’s in a program that’s incompatible with the Mac and I haven’t yet been able to import the graphic properly in order to tweak if for the card. But I will.

I got nearly 400 postcards printed, several hundred cards, a series of certificates, and signed some copies of the HEX BREAKER CD. And packed the envelopes. I’m on my way to the post office this morning to get them out.

I also turned around an emergency rush job for the client — he offered, without prompting, to triple my usual rush free (anything that has to be turned around in less than three business days gets a rush fee tacked on to it). He needed it done in a matter of hours, and therefore tripled the fee. He was especially desperate because he’d gone with a cheaper-priced writer (who works for mill content sites) who mucked it up royally, and he had tens of thousands of dollars on the line. I let the fee say, “I told you so” rather than saying it myself. If you hire someone who writes for mill content sites or bidding sites, that’s the quality you’re going to get. You get what you pay for. He was ecstatic with the copy I came up with. We’ll see if he’s learned.

I got a royalty check from a special performance of one of the plays. Royalties make me all warm and fuzzy.

I’m working a benefit in Saratoga for part of next week, so most of my focus turns to that. I’ve got a client project to get done, and then I can’t do any work for this client next week. The arrangements fell into place pretty nicely this year — I’m packing a lot into one single trip. I’ve also got to finish up a feature article for a publication.

And spend more time on my own writing.

And do some more prep for Prague — that’s coming up in just a few short weeks.

The next assignment came in for Confidential Job #1 and it looks awesome. Can’t wait to dive into it. I have to do a quick turnaround on that. I want to be able to invoice them and receive the check before Prague.

Great morning’s work on AMENDS. Yes, it’s too long to fit in quotes anymore. I’m about to write a scene about an animal shelter’s Death Row, which is as upsetting to write as it is to read, but it’s vital to the story.

Driving back from my final trip to Staples yesterday, I turned a corner and it was as though someone threw a blanket over the sun. In an instant, it went from bright sunshine to a deluge.

Off to do my errands and get back to the page.

Devon