Wed. June 24, 2015: Blasting Through the Solstice

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy few days. By Friday afternoon, I was cooked. We moved books over to Liberty Hall for the book sale. We were short handed, so in between, I had to handle the desk myself in the afternoon. By the time I locked up on Friday afternoon, I was wiped out.

Tried to relax on the deck, but it was hard. Got some reading done — I’ve read a few books of a fairly well done cozy series, except the female protagonist of the pair makes really stupid mistakes. It’s one thing for an intelligent character to make a mistake based on mis-information or mis-interpretation of information. It’s quite different to make a mistake when you know better — and keep making that type of mistake, more than once per book and in multiple books. It shows a character who doesn’t learn, and that’s not someone with whom I choose to spend time. Even though a lot of the writing is lively, that is such a huge character flaw and shows a lack of growth that I can’t accept in characters I spend time with.


Cats loved having house guests. They got even more spoiled than before.

Prepped for the wedding Friday night and some of Saturday morning. Also got some research done on Saturday morning, and spent time with houseguests.

The day was gorgeous and the wedding was wonderful. It was at a church in Cotuit –the place was packed. The wedding was full of joy and laughter and beauty — the best of what one of those public rituals should be.

The party was fun, although I only stayed a couple of hours. I was worn out.

Tried to sleep in a bit on Sunday, fed the guests, got them on their way. The weather was dreadful — storms, thunder, lightening, pelting rain. Caught rainwater to use for plants. Spent most of the day doing research.

I’ve got two plays to work on, and I don’t want to lose momentum for BALTHAZAAR. There’s another idea percolating — I’m working with characters and situations, but I don’t quite have it yet. It would be contemporary.

And there’s another idea that’s taking shape, form, character, that would start in 1938. If it works, it has the potential to go all the way to present day. The backdrop is, of course, theatre, and it combines some of the other ideas and research I’ve done over several years, trying to find the right format.

Believe it or not, Agnes DeMille’s biography of Martha Graham provided the missing piece of inspiration to pull those years of playing with ideas together, and I did ten pages of notes for the overview and, specifically, for the first story.

Something else that is interesting about DeMille’s biography of Graham is that it is as much about DeMille as Graham! It shouldn’t be titled MARTHA GRAHAM, it should be MARTHA GRAHAM FROM AGNES DEMILLE’S PERSPECTIVE.

Read SPINSTER: MAKING A LIFE OF ONE’S OWN by Kate Bolick. The writing is good, and while there is a lot I like about it, I disagree that she’s “making a life of one’s own.” Yes, she remains unmarried. But she’s a serial dater, always involved in a relationship, always dating frenetically, as though she has to prove that, although she remains unmarried, she is still attractive and desired. She has no idea what it means to be alone — especially since she’s always running to her therapist. She’s unmarried, yes, but solitude is something she avoids. Being home alone one night to read a book and enjoying it is not “being alone”. It’s having a night off.

Read MUSE by Jonathan Galassi. Liked a lot of it, loved a lot of the writing and phrasing. However, stylistically, it was too narrative for my taste. It was like reading a book-long profile in THE NEW YORKER. I don’t want to hear ABOUT all these interesting people — I want to learn about them through active scenes. So, while I enjoyed the book and the writing a lot, I didn’t love it.

Lovely Summer Solstice celebration that will hopefully ground me well for the next cycle. I can’t believe the days are starting to get shorter! In a week or so, we’ll really notice.

Monday was an excellent writing day: 16 pages (just over one chapter ) of the mystery set on Cape Cod in 1938. The reading I’d done over the weekend fed the story and characters. While this mystery follows formula in some ways, it unfolds a little differently and a little more slowly than the current fashion. The title tells you the type of character who will meet a bad end, but, for the first couple of chapters, there are several possibilities. Also, setting the book in this time period, while Europe is in turmoil and America tried to stay out of it, sets up interesting conflicts between the more insular world the characters inhabit and how world events affect it — and how they try to fight it. It’s also a good way to explore various prejudices. I’d originally planned to start the book in the Midwest (my protagonist is from a small town outside Chicago) and have her receive a letter that is the catalyst to moving to New York. However, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to start building the relationships during a summer stock season on Cape Cod to set the stage (so to speak) for her break with her hometown and childhood sweetheart in active scenes. In other words, this first book will be here, on Cape Cod, before she makes the move to New York. She’ll move to New York in Book Two. I’m also taking some time to develop the first murder victim. I want the reader to know the individual and feel genuine sorrow at the death. It fits more the formula of some of the books written in the actual era, instead of starting in the midst of everything or giving us background we don’t need. Every scene has relevance to the plot, even the ones that won’t seem to until the murderer is revealed.

When I’d written myself out, I got gas for the car and the mower (prices have gone up AGAIN — I’m tired of the way gas prices are manipulated). I mowed the side yard and part of the front, although a big new crop of dandelions sprang up almost immediately.

The cats missed the house guests.

Read Barbara Delinsky’s LAKE NEWS last night. I enjoy her writing.

Up early Tuesday. I have more mowing and repotting to do today, hopefully before the next storm hits, but I also want to get some work done on both BALTHAZAAR and the 1938 mystery.

I’ve also been doing background reading for the one hour pilot. The research reinforces the more jaded view that people basically suck.

However, it was an excellent writing day on BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, a total of 22 pages, finishing up one chapter and writing another completely. I was exhausted by the end of it, but it was worth it. I have the research books spread out all around me, and I keep referring back and forth. The constant fact-checking slowed me down, and I still have some more to do when I do the next draft, but I was able to at least make this first one work.

Bad storms came through, with both tornado watches and warnings. The cats were upset and all sat in my lap. We were lucky here, though: thunder, lightening, heavy rain (which we needed). But no tornadoes.

Tried to read a mystery on the Kindle with an interesting premise, but the author or copyeditor didn’t know the difference between a regular plural and a possessive plural, so, after four pages’ worth of mistakes, I gave up. That’s third grade level English, and there’s no excuse for those types of errors in a published book. Read another book on Kindle that was pleasant, but no great shakes. Needed brain candy, but, ultimately, that one left me unsatisfied, too.

Upped the yoga practice to more intensity. I want to try adding another yoga session at night. I used to do that, when I first moved here, and yoga twice a day was great — in the morning, it focuses me and gets me ready for the day; at night, it unwinds me.

Today will be a very long day at the library. We’re short-handed today, and there’s something that needs my full attention that HAS to get done (I started it, but the rest of the information won’t have arrived until today). That means I’ll be putting in extra hours, after the building is closed. I’m working tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday, and then I have Sunday and Monday for intense writing. Tuesday, next week, I have appointments.

Worked on BALTHAZAAR again this morning, before I left for the library, but after the intensity of the past few days, it didn’t feel like enough. It was a solid 1500 words, though, so I shouldn’t kick myself about it. There are so many great stories-within-the-story in BALTHAZAAR that I’m tempted to do some chapters set back in pirate days. However, as a reader, I don’t like that convention — having the reader get far ahead of the protagonists — and it doesn’t fit with the way I’ve set up the structure of chapters in the series. Maybe a tie-in novel set there in the future? Or would it be too much like CUTTHROAT CHARLOTTE? I don’t think so, but one never knows. We’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll do a book with Balthazaar, Sybilla, and Charity as the focus, rather than the catalyst, at some point in the future.

The weather, however, is gorgeous, and a wonderful reminder of why I live here.

I have a bad headache which I hope won’t develop into a migraine.

Have a great week!


Published in: on June 24, 2015 at 10:29 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 24, 2015: Blasting Through the Solstice  
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Wed. April 8: Lost Weekend — Writing, Not Liquor!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Waning Moon
Jupiter DIRECT
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy few days. Thursday and Friday were rough at work. Less said, the better. Really frustrated with the group that bought the CAPE COD TIMES newspaper. Not only did they dump all the calendar entries for April’s programs that took me several hours to load — and they dumped them AFTER they’d confirmed them — now, every calendar entry has to be approved by someone sitting in an office in Tennessee. That is simply not acceptable. Someone in Tennessee should not have the authority to approve or refuse a calendar entry about a local event on Cape Cod. Who ever is sitting there probably has never even visited, much less has any idea what’s important to residents. It’s WRONG on so many levels. Local calendar entries for the newspaper need to be handled LOCALLY.

So, I had to lose more hours re-entering everything into a new system, and now I have to wait for approval. From Tennessee. Especially with these crap “religious freedom” laws (which are, in actuality, laws to allow bigotry and discrimination to anyone the passers deem they want to discriminate against), it makes even less sense. If someone in the TN office decides a Cape Cod program is “against” his so-called “religious beliefs”, does that give him the right to refuse publication?

Finished watching the second season of MISS FISHER over the weekend. The energy and pace were off in a few of the early episodes, and then it picked up steam again as the season progressed. Read the first three books, too. Very different from the series. Since each is a completely different format, each works in its own way. The Phryne-Jack relationship is vital to the series, as is the Dot-Hugh relationship, in a way that isn’t in the books (Hugh isn’t even in the three I’ve read so far). Those relationships are what connect the viewer and make the episodes work within the time framework of each one, whereas the prose canvas is broader, and there’s more room for the other elements. Very interesting to see the differences, and how each works in its own format.

Scriptwriting isn’t “just dialogue” as so many prose writers who want to adapt their novels think. Scriptwriting is visual storytelling. Yes, dialogue is important, but so is choosing what the audience sees, and putting it on the page in such a way that the director and the creative team can fulfill the vision, without dictating every detail.
It’s a completely different way of telling the story.

Worked through quite a few contest entries. The disparity between what works and what doesn’t is far larger this year than in previous years. I finished all the print entries in one of the categories (I still have a few on Kindle), and I’m diving into the second category. The third category has only a few entries, so that won’t take long.

Watched THE IMITATION GAME over the weekend. It was well done, but Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance was a little too mannered for me. I like his intensity, I like his work, but he rarely surprises me any more. Keira Knightley was terrific. Also watched INTO THE WOODS. I’m a big Sondheim fan, and I loved the Broadway production. This one was clever, but I still think it works better on stage than on screen. Meryl Streep was wonderful. The actors playing Jack and Red Riding Hood reminded me of typical Broadway belter kids. There were lots of great moments by everyone throughout, although I thought Johnny Depp’s work was too close to his work in both ALICE IN WONDERLAND and WILLIE WONKA.

We got news of the death of a family member in Europe. It wasn’t someone I knew well, but it still leaves a hole, and there’s paperwork, and lots of other things to take care of.

Sunday was Easter. Since it didn’t rain, I did quite a bit of yard work. Not that it’s visible yet. There’s still plenty more to do. Monday it was supposed to rain, but didn’t, so I did even more yard work, including starting to clean out the front beds. There’s a little progress there, but I still have a lot more work to do, and I can’t do any of it until next weekend. Took a carload full of leaf bags to the dump. Replanted all eighteen heads of lettuce and six Brussels sprout plants. Started two kinds of tomato seeds, borage, feverfew, basil, parsley, and bok choy. Moved some of the potted trees and shrubs out of the garage and back onto the deck.

Tuesday, I was supposed to do taxes and finish the microfilm reels. Instead, I wrote a 5691 draft of a new short story. I have two short stories due at the end of the month. I’d been thinking, percolating, on some ideas, and this one burst forth. I thought I was only going to write 1 or 2K, but I was on a roll, and just kept going. Wrote the whole first draft in one day (practically one sitting, although I got up to pace and mutter fairly frequently).

It felt good, I got to figure out some stuff that was bothering me, and push it to its ridiculous limits and enjoy it. I like the characters, I like the premise. It’s 691 words above the limit, so there’s some serious cutting in its future. Either that, or I need to expand it by about 2K for a different market, and that leaves me still having to write two stories by the end of the month. So I’ll try to cut first. There’s a little too much of my Freudian slip showing in this one, so I’ll have to smooth this out. Great to have catharsis in writing, but therapy is not interesting to readers. Time to cut the navel-gazing and layer in the craft.

Far too many “writers”, when faced with a word count limit (especially in class assignments), ignore it. When called out about it, they go, “ha, ha, ha, I had too much story to fit.” Well, bunny boo, the limit is the limit. Either cut it down to fit, OR WRITE ANOTHER DAMN STORY THAT DOES. It’s called “craft.”

I was exhausted and out of words by the end of the day, although the next story is poking up from the subconscious to the conscious. I’m worried that, if I start it, I’ll lose all track of everything again.

Because, last night, I screwed up. I was supposed to attend a town meeting having to do with changes in parking and sidewalks that will adversely affect the library. I looked at the clock and had plenty of time. I started to do “one more thing.” The next time I looked at the clock, it was 9 PM, and I’m sure the meeting was winding up. I tried to justify it by reminding myself that it was my day off, and I put in far too many hours above and beyond my scheduled work time, but I still felt badly. There’s no excuse, no matter how I try to make myself feel better. I should have been there, and I wasn’t.

I had odd dreams all weekend. One night, I dreamed I moved back to San Francisco. Another night, I dreamed about genealogy. I don’t know WHOSE genealogy I was working on — it sure wasn’t my own family’s.

The upcoming week will be stressful, as will next week. Today is a basic, long workday. Tomorrow is pretty basic, with tango at night. Friday, I have a Chamber breakfast in Hyannis before work, then the work day, then a program that will probably last until 10 PM. I have to be in first thing on Saturday, and then there’s another program on Saturday afternoon, so I’m pulling a 10-5 day instead of a 10-2 day. I have Sunday and Monday to finish taxes and microfilm. Tuesday, I have a meeting in the afternoon (where I’m there for two different organizations), and then a program at the library at night. A week from today is another big program at the library, and so on and so forth.

I was up at 5:30 this morning, because I have so much to do before I go to work, including paperwork that has to go off to Germany. Somewhere in all this, I have to figure out where I’m going to bake and prepare “the light refreshments” we’re serving Saturday afternoon.

Thirty-two days until my vacation. I desperately need it. BEFORE that, I have to finish the contest entries, two stories, do the final edit on the radio play, and get it out. Plus all the programs at work. Plus put together some materials for the Marine Life Center.

It’s a busy month.


Published in: on April 8, 2015 at 9:37 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 8: Lost Weekend — Writing, Not Liquor!  
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Mon. June 17, 2013: More on the Cape Coastal Conference & a Day Unplugged


Monday, June 17, 2013
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and chilly

Interesting weekend, in a good way.

Friday was the second half day of the Cape Coastal Conference. Nice to see that so many people stayed for the whole conference, and that many of the presenters didn’t just come for their own presentations, but stayed for other people’s presentations.

The Universe had a good laugh at my expense — although I found it highly amusing, too. The two individuals who inspired characters I plan to kill off in one of the Sustainability mysteries both wound up in the climate change session with me! I figured maybe I’d given them a bum rap, but they were even more annoying and desperate for attention (in the wrong way) in a smaller session than they had in the larger session. One of the things I found interesting was that physically they were very similar, and energetically, they were very similar. In the book, I’m going to make them sisters! I think that will be in the second book in the series.

Apart from that, the climate change seminar was pretty interesting. I think I have enough information to write several of the semester’s papers for the Climate Literacy class, between that and the information my friend provided. Great information and interesting people. The woman sitting in front of me was from the Town of Barnstable, and knew about me coming to tomorrow’s meeting on the climate change project. And I was surprised by how many people knew about the play I’d written for NMLC or had seen it or knew someone who’d seen it.

Back into plenary session. I took umbrage from a few things the head of the Cape Cod Commission said, in relation to writers — if you want your message spread effectively, don’t condescendingly tell us we should work for “exposure” when the special interest side is willing to pay us more than a living wage — and then whine that you’re not getting your message out. Value the people who can get the message out and pay them appropriately. You’re talking about the grants and funding you have for the coming year — if some of that doesn’t go to skilled people ABLE to communicate the message effectively, the project will fail. Period. You can be sure I’m going to speak up! ;)

Came home, caught up on a few things, but was utterly exhausted.

Saturday wound up being an unexpected day of internet disconnection. It wasn’t intentional — when I came out for my morning coffee, I decided I couldn’t live with the deck the way it was one more minute. Last year, we created an enchanted garden on the deck — so far, this year, it’s been a hodgepodge. We keep having to move stuff because of bad weather.

So, I got to work rearranging the deck and cleaning stuff and tidying and arranging. Then, I noticed the terraced area was in Vacant-lot syndrome, so I had to mow that (although the meadow’s getting a little scary, too). No Man’s Land was looking like No Man Will Ever Walk Here Again Land, so I had to mow that. Then, the bags were disintegrating — the biodegradable lawn waste bags were biodegrading — so I had to line the car in tarp and haul everything to the dump.

I sat down to take a rest, make some notes on a project, and read a bit — and suddenly the day was done.

I needed it, and Tessa had a blast being outside with me for most of the day, but I was also a bit worried falling even further behind.

Sunday, I caught up with private students and the RWA students — really happy with the growth the students are showing in the Supporting Characters workshop. Caught up on my own classwork. The Archaeology stuff was exciting — caught up on work, some of which is helping me with the BLOOD AND BONE adaptation, did well on the quiz, evaluated other students’ papers, etc. The Climate Literacy class is frustrating. Plus, I’ve been really good about staying on top of deadlines and they claim I never took the third week’s quiz — um, yes, and I did decently on it, I have the note of my score — and wont’ let me retake it. I also don’t find that the quizzes are reflecting the material we’re going over, which is an additional frustration.

Had a good breakthrough on an upcoming project, though, and started putting together a list of potential sponsors for the Mermaid Ball.

Up early this morning, walking the property. Found I left my notepad with my upcoming projects out on the deck — it was a little damp, but not ruined. I HAVE to get some mowing done today. One of the cats from across the street, a sweet tabby, keeps coming over, but she’s very shy and runs away every time I try to approach her. She’s welcome, as long as she doesn’t have kittens under the rosebush or something.

Note to self: when researching material from library books, notate from which library it came, in case you need to get it out again.

I have articles to get out today, tomorrow morning’s meeting to prep for, tomorrow night’s meeting to prep for, material for the Wed. meeting I can’t attend to prep for, and my presentation on the panel I’m going to be on Wed. night to prep for. Plus teaching and the other stuff.

Better get to it.


Tues. July 3, 2012: Extrarodinary . . .

Squash blossoms

Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Got a lot of work done on freelance assignments, but as always, it’s never enough. Plugging away on the ghost writing gig, polishing the lectures for next week’s classes, working on my articles, got out the write up for Confidential Job #1. Did some promo for HEX BREAKER and booked a few slots. Worked with students. Worked on HEART SNATCHER revisions. Worked on the short stories.

Went over to Mother’s Park. Deadheaded and weeded. The beds were in good shape. Cleaned up a lot of broken vodka bottles –someone had a party there and left a mess. Pigs. Wait, no, that’s insulting to pigs, who are perfectly lovely. When we first moved to this house, some people around the corner would drive by and throw empty beer cans and cigarette packs on our lawn. I waited one day, caught them mid-air, tossed them back in the effing jerks’ faces and told them, very calmly that, next time, I’d break their fingers. It did not happen again. You do not mess with someone who lived on the Deuce.

Planted the black-eyed Susans in the front yard, and did some other work on the yard at home. I have to mow the meadow this week.

Got some errands to run,and then I want to put in a good day’s work, because tomorrow is a holiday, and I”m going to enjoy it. Decided not to do the press jaunt in Newport on Thursday. They take us by boat to NY — but don’t give us a way back. Um, no, thanks.

I’ve gorged myself on Susan Wittig Albert’s lovely book, AN EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF ORDINARY DAYS. I write about it in-depth here.

Have a great holiday, everyone!


Learn how to create focused scenes with impact in the Scene Meat workshop, July 9-13. Learn how to create and maintain a series bible in a one-day seminar on July 14. Take both classes together and save $15!
And don’t forget — “Town Crier” is available, as a free download, on the Jain Lazarus site until July 9.

Mon. June 11, 2012: Busy Start to the Week

Monday, June 11, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy, busy, busy weekend. Worked hard all day Friday, trying to stay on top of things, get out all the promo stuff, etc., etc. Working in the garden. It took most of the weekend to get the meadow mowed. We’re still having trouble with trespassers. I’ve got to get out there and confront them and tell them that next time, I’m calling the cops. The lack of respect by these particular neighbors is appalling. But what do you expect from people who tie a sex doll dressed in a bikini to a tree and leave it there for months?

Got a stack of books out of Sturgis Library — what a great place. We are so lucky with our libraries around here.

Anyway, the scratch of I’ll Have Another in the Belmont caused all kinds of chaos. Something about that whole situation feels off to me. On top of that, they had the horse lead the post parade for the race, which was so incredibly unfair to the horse — he didn’t understand why he wasn’t being warmed up and sent to the gate, the way he’s used to. Badly handled all the way around, in my opinion. Union Rags finally had a good day, and paid off for his loyal fans, though.

Stanley Cup game at night — NJ Devils vs. LA Kings. NJ staved off elimination. Let’s see what happens next.

Last night was the Tony Award Presentation. Reminds me of why I went into the business in the first place, and, just a little, made me miss it. There’s nothing like working at or attending the Tony Awards. It’s the most fun of any of them, because it’s truly a community, not just a bunch of strangers preening in front of each other. I watched a lot of people I’ve worked with over the years, and texted with friends on the show. Fun. After the Awards, of course, we all did the party circuit, winding up eating breakfast in a 24-hour diner as the sun came up, still in our fancy clothes. Tons of fun.

Wrote a bunch, read a lot this weekend, but most of the weekend was just for ME. I needed that. I’m gearing up for the Tarot Workshop this weekend – hope it goes well. Haven’t done one of those in person in a long time. Tessa was outside with me a lot yesterday, in her crate, enjoying the sun, the fresh air, and the company. Read some disappointing books (those always make you think, “how the hell did they ever find an agent or a publisher?”) and read some good ones, including an interesting book by Nancy Thayer and two unique, charming books by Sarah Addison Allen.

I’ve got a ghost writing quote to get off today, some more PR for a client, and two blog posts to write. Plus, hopefully some of the places to which I’ve pitched will respond positively, and I’ll have to get out some more pitches.

Billy Root’s blog comes up later today, and I’m putting the finishing touches on “Town Crier” for release later this week. Better hop to it!


Taste of the Tarot is for artists in all media interested in the art and archetype of the cards. Learn how to do basic readings and use the cards for inspiration and to push through blocks. Sat. June 16, 2-5 PM, $60, Three Fish and a Ram Community Art Center, Mashpee. More information here.

Tues. May 15, 2012: Intoxicating Lilacs

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and pleasant

Got a lot done, yesterday, which is good. Weeded the vegetable bed. Planted peas, spinach, bok choy, and radishes. Started creating a new, round bed in a rather desolate patch (someone used to have a woodpile there) where I will grow herbs. I need to get a few more stones for the edge, and then I can put loam in it and start planting. Got the morning glories and the moonflowers into the ground — the morning glories are starting to bloom, and they’re lovely. The lilacs are absolutely intoxicating this year, and I often just stop whatever I’m doing and inhale.

Revised six chapters of HEART SNATCHER, wrote about 840 words on HEART BINDER, and then went back and tightened things some more in the revisions. I worked on my article, caught up with my students, etc.

Finalized some dates — I’ll be teaching locally for Three Fish & a Ram Community Art Center in June and July — a tarot workshop, a writer/performer workshop, and a writing workshop. The first two are detailed up on the Workshop page here on the blog (I’ll have to update my website later today). And I’ve got some more Fast & Fun topics coming up.

I went to meditation this morning, but no one was there. I hope everything’s okay. So I stopped at Nirvana, got my usual Tuesday morning treat, and came home to enjoy the morning on the deck. I’ve got a lot of work to do today, plus things like grocery shopping, finish my article, and finish the write ups for Confidential Job #1.

I have a meeting tonight about another possible teaching gig in Falmouth — looking forward to it.

Hop on over to Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page for Writers Worth Week — today’s article is by Susan Johnston about the per word rate.



Mon. April 23, 2012: Energizing Writing Weekend

Monday, April 23, 2012
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

A terrific writing weekend — now, if it can only spill over into the week!

First of all, I’ve got an essay up on Cape Cod Women Online, “The Leap Over the Canal” about moving to the Cape. It’s got both book covers in it, and I’m thrilled with the way it turned out. The two book covers look really nice together — I may do that for a mailing.

Second, Billy Root blogs about what it feels like to be an actor — a nice little behind-the-scenes taste. I hope you’ll stop by — and maybe even drop a comment. I’m very happy with the way this piece turned out.

I can’t remember all the way back to Friday, but I know it was busy. I know that I did about 1700 words in the sprint with the students, and I picked up violets and holly cuttings from a friend (we couldn’t dig up the whole tree–the root system’s too deep). It was a gorgeous day, and we drove around for a bit, exploring new-to-us back roads that will make life easier when the tourists clutter the main roads in the summer.

Got the proposal that was due out on time; now the waiting begins. Set up a meeting for tomorrow on the theatre projects.

Worked with my students in the evening.

Saturday, I rewrote a half a dozen short stories (some of them massively) and sent them out. Slowly, but surely, I’m catching up on the backlog. I worked with my students.

Sunday, I decided to leisurely start something I thought was due mid-May (a first chapter and an outline), so I wouldn’t have to rush. I re-read the submission materials request and realized — it’s due TODAY. Mid-May is if you make it past the initial round.

Okaaay. Butt in chair, kick the brain into gear. I’d played with the idea, so I had a good sense of where I wanted to go with it. As I worked it, however, I realized that I’d focused on the wrong character as the primary male protagonist. So I tweaked it, and suddenly the whole book opened out. The chapter worked better than it had initially (I’d worked on it a few weeks ago, before I even got the request). The synopsis, which I’d loosely sorted in my head, came together beautifully. I’ve got a solid piece now, and I’m happy with it. Revised the chapter a few times, tightened the synopsis, and out it went. I feel good about it. Even if this particular place decides not to take it, I’ve got something solid I can work on and sell elsewhere.

Started percolating on some non-fiction proposals I want to get out in the next few weeks. I re-read Michael Larsen’s book on proposals. I kind of do most of that anyway when I put together a proposal package, but re-reading it made me more aware of the steps, and the order.

I skipped the Green Drinks event — the weather was vile, and I was in that fragile state of percolation/creation that can be derailed at the slightest wrong prod. So I stayed home and worked. And seeded the lawn right before the rain.

Read Sonia Singh’s novel GHOST, INTERRUPTED, which was really fun, and started Jane Haddam’s WANTING SHEILA DEAD, which I’m thoroughly enjoying.

Long day ahead of me at the desk. I hope I can use some of that positive momentum I achieved this weekend to propel me through the week. It was heaven to spend the bulk of the day on my own writing.

However, I’ve also got some business and PR stuff to attend to today.

Better hop to it!


Don’t forget the next two one-day seminars! Amazing Antagonists on May 12 and Setting Up Your Submission System on June 2.

Tues. March 27: Frost and Flowers

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Slow start this morning, and busy day yesterday. I got three trees and the bushes planted yesterday. I still have to find those plastic nursery tubs to put some of the other baby trees into temporarily, because they arrived unmarked, and until they leaf for me and I can figure out what they are, I can’t decide how much room they need and where to put them. Urgh. And, while everywhere sells their stuff in those plastic pots, none of them actually sell the damn pots.

Working on the final galleys of HEX BREAKER, terrified I’m going to miss something huge. This is where trusting my editor comes in — if there was a huge problem, she would have fixed it by now! ;)

Dealt with student work, got some of my own work done, worked on some other business stuff. Picked up a research book the library tracked down for me. Got the interview questions out for an article.

It was below freezing last night, but none of the plants seem upset by it, thank goodness. Overslept this morning, and just didn’t want to get out of bed.

Have a big day ahead, lots of work to do with students, on my own, marketing, proposals, getting out press releases for a client, a meeting tonight. I’m not where I want to be in my own writing, and I have to find a way to get that balance back. Have to go to Sandwich Library to drop off books and pick up a book THEY managed to track down for me. I need to focus, but I really want some percolation time.

Well, the sooner I clear off the have-tos, the sooner I can create space for percolation.

So I better get to it!

Don’t forget the Dialogue Dilemmas and Solutions One-Day Seminar on April 14!


Tues. March 13, 2012: Spring weather means Yardwork!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Yesterday was a beautiful Cape Cod day. The weather was gorgeous.

I got a big, elaborate envelope from White Flower Farms — a gift certificate from Lori! Thank you so much — I’ve got my eye on a amethyst wisteria . . .

And I opened the computer to good wishes, some from people from whom I hadn’t heard in ages, and lovely cards in the mail from other friends. It was nice to be remembered and wished well! I’m excited about the possibilities ahead.

I made my mom rest, and she felt much better by the afternoon. I worked on cleaning the house and doing laundry and getting work done. The client is still dragging feet on payment, ignoring my requests, AND, now, not even doing the administrative work that is part of the deal — I’m getting all the questions that they’re supposed to be handling. I’m kind of surprised at how quickly and severely the situation is souring. Part of it could well be growing pains in both directions, and they are different directions.

I’ve got meditation this morning, then more housecleaning, and work with students, then driving to Providence to pick up Costume Imp. I’ve got two proposals to get out, the HEX BREAKER media kit to finish, and I have to figure out how to juggle the bills that have to be paid tomorrow with monies that are owed to me and not here.

I’ve got another project I need to put together and launch this week, and an assignment to finish for Confidential Job #1. It’s intense, a little intense for me right now, but it’s also very interesting, so it’s just a case of buckling down and doing it.

It was so nice yesterday afternoon that I did some work in the yard, and then pulled out a couple of chairs so we could sit outside for a bit and just be. I want to do a little bit of work every nice day, so that I’m not suddenly overwhelmed in early May, the way I was last year. I took Tessa out with me — she loves being outside, and is very good about just sitting in my arms, taking it all in. I think I’ll put her in the puppy training cage this summer, so she can be outside with us, but still safe (and always under supervision).

At one point, I was working (inside) and smelled smoke. I was absolutely convinced the dryer caught fire. It hadn’t — a neighbor was burning something in the yard. But it was a little worrying at the out set!

On the fence about a new short story. It features my horse-playing tarot reader; I’m just worried it’s a bit too much on the sweet side.

I’m excited to go to the Boston Horticulture Show on Thursday. When I think how much I’ve learned in the past year, it’s even more exciting!


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Mon. Feb. 13, 2012: Pedal to the Metal in the Flurries

Monday, February 13, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold, snow flurries

Busy, busy weekend! My goodness, me!

On Friday, I drove to CT and back. We left at 6 AM, and I was back in the late afternoon, which was great, because I didn’t expect to get back until the evening. And I even managed to stop at the Book Barn in Niantic and in Mystic to pick up a few things!

The Thursday night live chat with my year-long students, brainstorming about the round robin novella we’re doing, was fun. We got to be silly and throw out all manner of ideas, but out of that came some solid elements we can use as our foundation.

Saturday, it was pedal to the metal all day long, working with my students and starting the HEX BREAKER revisions. Driving back on Friday, I came up with some interesting marketing ideas — there’s Jain’s fan base, and that needs to expand. I know more people, and, with the deepening of her character that’s happening in these revisions, she’ll also appeal to a wider audience, without coming across as diluted to her loyal fans. Billy’s been a fan favorite since Day 1, so it will also be Billy-centric. I also worked on the revised outline for HEART-BINDER, did some work on HEART-BINDER, and I’m working on scenario ideas for a few other pieces for this other opportunity. I’ve got a start on one of them — if I can keep up a steady pace with that while not dropping any of the other balls, I should be able to hit a June deadline.

Sunday was my Day of Rest. I needed it. I was wiped out. Okay, so I did a bit of work on HEX BREAKER, and I read the assignment for Confidential Job #1, but I stayed offline! I also wrote about 2500 words on a piece that’s been gnawing at me for awhile, and the character said, “Either give me some attention, or I’m outta here.” So I gave her some attention. I’m hoping it will be a story in the 10-12K range, but we’ll see.

Read a delightful book called SHELF LIFE by Suzanne Strempek Shea, about a writer who takes a job in a bookshop. It’s an MA author talking about an MA bookshop — which, of course, now I want to visit! So well done, and it makes me want to read her novels, too.

Made banana pudding (still needs tweaking) and cooked a nice chicken-and-sage pasta. Sighed over gardening catalogues.

I’ve got a lot of admin work and bill paying to get done, and then it’s time to go get some cat food! Those little darlings have a low provisions in the cupboard, and they’re not happy about it.

All three cats are being very, very clingy lately.

Mon. Feb. 6: I Still Prefer the Puppy Bowl

Monday, February 6, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Still dark out

Quick check-in, because I’m on my way to get my car serviced this morning. Busy, busy, busy weekend. I never made it to the yoga open house — I got caught up in work and went flat out all day. Friday was a busy day, too. Didn’t sleep well either Friday or last night, so I’m kind of dragging.

I stayed true to not getting online yesterday. I need to do that, at least one day a week. I re-read THE AGE OF INNOCENTS, which I needed to do in connection with the current project for Confidential Job #1. Liked it better this time — with twenty years’ more life experience through which to view it!

Once I get back from the mechanic, I hit the ground running — students have deadlines — more than half of the 5 in 10 are late with their last story — not only did they have a whole week to do it, it was their ONLY assignment all week — so tired of the lack of commitment bullshit. There’s no such thing as “no time to write.” There’s only “choose NOT to write.” And, if you choose not to write, you’re not a writer, because writers write. Period. No excuses, sometimes whining.

I’ve got to get the write-up out to Confidential Job #1, spend time with students, do some more work on a client project, get out some interview questions, get out some pitches, and get some of my own writing done. I’m taking some of it with me to the mechanic, and hope I can get some work done in the waiting room, , but it’s small and usually crowded, so I don’t know how useful that will be.

I was disappointed that the Patriots lost to the Giants. It’s not that big deal to me, since I’m not invested in football, particularly, but it was the home team, and it is one of the few games I watch all year. It was more important to me that the Patriots crushed Colorado a few weeks back, proving that skill triumphs over gimmick.

I was pleased that Madonna went there for her finale in the half-time show, although I bet a lot of people didn’t get it. A little disappointed that she slowed down the tempo on some of the pieces, such as “Vogue”, but hey, I couldn’t do what she does, so what the hell do I know?

Watched a bit of the Puppy Bowl, but, for the most part, had a quiet night. Tessa was fascinated by the Puppy Bowl and by the football game. I wonder if she’ll take the watching hockey, the way Violet does?

Repotted a bunch of stuff that needed attention. If it’s nice enough this week, maybe I can spend some time cleaning up the yard. Might as well make use of the mild winter.

Off to get the car serviced.


Monday, November 14, 2011

The tree in Mother’s Park before the storm

Monday, November 14, 2011
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I think my Mercury went retrograde a week and a half early! ;)

Busy weekend. Worked a lot on Friday, had a good day at the page. On an impulse, went to the yarn store and bought yarn for two projects. I want to crochet a chakra blanket (the chakra colors in order) for meditation. Found cotton yarn for that, so I can use it year-round. Also found a lovely blue alpaca yarn for a sweater my mom will knit for me. Started the blanket.

Saturday was busy – writing, then going to help clean up Mother’s Park. It was a lot of fun. We had a great group of people. Sadly, the enormous white pine that will be 100 years old had a section sheared off in the last storm — more than 20 feel lying on the ground. Heartbreaking.

One of the women I worked with is in a book group, so I gave her information, in case the group is interested in ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT and having me come and speak.

I took lots of pictures of the day to document it, since that’s now my job as Secretary of the organization. When I went home to upload them, I found out that there’s a CCD problem with my camera, and it won’t take pictures in daylight anymore. With low light and no flash, I can kinda sorta get some pictures, but the quality is rapidly deteriorating.

We headed off to the stores in Wareham. Found some additional alpaca in the same dye lot and also some yarn for another project I’d like to do. I looked at other cameras in Staples and Best Buy. Honestly, between the camera and the printer, I’m wondering if I should re-think my twenty plus years of loyalty to Canon. The Nikons are very tempting. I can’t spend much, and I don’t need anything too fancy. But I need to carry a camera around with me all the time. That’s part of the gig.

I was frustrated, so I bought the shoes: a lovely pair of Anne Klein navy pumps. They’re gorgeous and go with just about everything.

Swung by the park on the way home. The angle of the sun had changed and I was able to get photos that, with enhancement, are somewhat usable, although not great. You can see the poor tree’s plight. As you see, the photo’s not great, even with enhancement, but it’s better than nothing, and at least it’s not all white light space.

injured tree after storm

Worked with the students, did some more work on the blanket. Even though I’m going all the way to the end and chaining up, I’m decreasing. I don’t understand why. Emailed Canon to find out my options.

Sunday, woke up early, got the papers, gave myself the day off writing. Wound up the Harry Potter class, did some work around the house. Canon got back to me — they gave me one trouble-shooting option I can try (but the light sensors are probably shot, so it may not work). My other options are to send it in for a refurbished one “at a customer loyalty discount” or get it repaired, which will cost more than a new one. Since soon I won’t be able to get the memory cards for this camera anyway, I think I should probably get a new one. While their camera customer service is definitely better than the printer customer service, I’m still on the fence about staying with them. Asked advice and was told that both Sony and Kodak are unreliable, so that narrows it down to saying with Canon or switching to Nikon. I usually avoid anything with a celebrity spokesperson on principle, but I played with some Nikons on Sunday and kind of liked them. We’ll see.

I’m going to see if there’s such a thing as a “disposable digital” — remember those disposable cameras a few years ago? — to tide me over. I have an older Canon digital that I had to stop using because the film sets couldn’t use the memory cards, which is why I bought this one for my kit in the first place. It’s still packed — somewhere. If I can find it and it works, maybe it will tide me over. I probably will wait until Mercury goes direct in mid-December. Even though it doesn’t turn retrograde until Thanksgiving Day (lucky me, on the road all day — yes, that was sarcasm), I’m already having so many technical difficulties that I want to be cautious. All I need is to buy something during the retrograde and have it implode as soon as Mercury goes direct. I’m doing an extra Time Machine backup on the computer later today, just to be sure.

Then, this morning, my mother’s bed frame collapsed — we’ve had problems since the movers put it together — they did a lousy job. So we took apart the frame and her bed is now on the floor like a college student’s. And the cable TV crapped out — AGAIN. Called Comcast, they “fixed” it — and twenty minutes later, it was out again. I am so sick of them, and so sick of them being the only option on the Cape. Their customer service people are perfectly pleasant, which is a point in their favor, but the company does not resolve problems. They use band-aids on amputations. One thousand points detracted.

I have SO much to get done today AND I have to clean the house top to toe because we have company coming tomorrow (at least they called first — and we really want to see them) for lunch, so I have to figure out what to serve.

I still have to put the garden to bed, but it’s been so windy, I haven’t had the chance to go out and do much.

Back to the page.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

The days are flying by so fast! Part of that is because the writing is going really well, which is a good thing. I still have to rearrange my schedule to bring in some more short turn-around paying projects, but I don’t want to tip the strong writing rhythm that I’ve got right now.

Someone else dropped out of the year-long, and I had to hear about it third hand, which annoyed me more than the actual quitting. Acting with professionalism and grace costs nothing. Slinking away like a coward does not serve anyone. The expectations were set out at the beginning of class, and even earlier, during the application process. If anything, I scaled back some of the requirements and there are STILL people who thought it was too much work? What did they think writing a novel in a year-long INTENSIVE is? A vacation? A fluffy-bunny-white-light-kumbaya?

Well, that’s life. People never stop surprising you, and it keeps things interesting, right?

I’m glad I went to the meditation workshop on Friday night, although it was very different from the way I prefer to practice. It’s good to try new techniques, because until you try it, you can’t know whether or not it works. It was a little too much “guided” and not enough “mediation” for me. It’s hard to be “one with the silence” when you’re being yapped at all the time. And the leader had us OPEN our chakras, but not CLOSE them again, which I find dangerous. I closed mine, as is my practice when I do chakra cleansings or balancings, but it should have been part of the guidance. It’s unhealthy to walk around with totally open chakras. You’ll get whomped.

Wrote a lot, spent time with students, worked on the Harry Potter lectures. The class starts today and runs for the week. It should be really, really fun. I bet most of the people who signed up even read the books! It’s my last deconstruction class for the foreseeable future, and I think it’s a good one to wind things up with.

Put together the hard copies of media kits that have to go out in the coming weeks. I’m sending out some today, and dropping off several at local places that have interest in my work later today. I’m researching local book groups and putting together a proposal for them, too.

It’s supposed to be warmer today, which means I’ll get to work in the yard. I want to get most of the front mowed and tidied up. If everything work out, this will be the last mowing I need to do until spring. It will take me four or five sessions to get it all done, especially if the mower continues its wonkiness, But then, I’ll just need to keep up with the raking.

Re-read the ENCHANTMENT PLACE anthology edited by Denise Little. It’s a lot of fun. I was laughing out loud as I read some of the stories.

Put together another bookcase that will live in my room and hold urban fantasy, etc. There’s just enough room for it. Now, I think I’ve run out of space for bookcases in that room, as big as it is!

We’re still getting tomatoes and eggplants and strawberries from the plants under the grow lights, so all is good.

Should be a busy hearth-and-home week this week. I’ve also got to try a couple of lasagna recipes. I’m always responsible for the meal for the family in Maine on the night before Thanksgiving, and this year they’ve requested lasagna. Which I’ve never made before. So I want to do a couple of test runs!

I turned down a book contract this morning. I’ve been worrying over it for awhile now. It’s simply not the right fit. There were some red flags, and I ran it past my lawyer, who flat out said, “No way.” I’d done research on the company before I submitted, but once I looked at the paperwork they sent me, the warning bells sounded, and my gut told me it wasn’t the right fit. Better to bow out now gracefully than to get frustrated and miserable during the process. It’s always a risk to say no, but in this case, I think it serves everyone — including that publisher — the best. Scary, risky, but I want to re-think the approach on this series and try something else.


Today’s word count: 2985
Total word count: 64,684


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