Tues. June 2, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 15: Our Cities Are Burning, and They Laugh

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cool

It’s so cool around here that the heat’s kicked on the past couple of days.

Where to start? This country is burning to the ground, to the glee of the GOP. This is what they’ve worked toward since the Reagan years.

Reading Edward Robb Ellis’s diary, he writes about his anger when, in a news conference, Reagan says, “Facts are stupid.” The seeds were planted all the way back then.

I have felt my age a good deal these past days. There’s so much I can’t do to make things better; I’ve been focusing on what I CAN do, including working with my elected officials, doing what I do well (write) and using it in a context that can help, not harm.

I still feel useless, and then I feel guilty for feeling that, because it’s not about me. It’s about all of us. All of us with brains and hearts, anyway.

But there are things I can do. As with my view that true philanthropy is anonymous, I also don’t feel like I need to talk about every detail of everything I’m doing as a citizen to try to make things better. In spite of the pressure to “prove” oneself on social media. There are things I can and am doing (legal things) that I don’t need to report in minute detail. I do what I’m doing, work with my elected officials (many of whom are, at least, sane). I need to do what I can where I can, while keeping my eye on the bigger picture.

Riots were inevitable. While the Sociopath dances and claps and rage tweets and his (redacted) pulls her Marie Antoinette act and the GOP pats each other on the back, what the hell did they think would happen? People have nothing left to lose anymore. No jobs, no plan to control the pandemic, and getting murdered for existing. Especially since white domestic terrorists are allowed to do whatever they want without consequence.

It was inevitable that, in trying to force us into being serfs, there wouldn’t be revolt.

All the government has ever had to do was treat everyone as decent, valuable human beings.

It’s not difficult.

But they CHOSE not to. It has been a deliberate choice for my entire existence, and certainly long before that.

I will never forgive people like Senator Susan Collins, who could have done something to prevent this, and chose not to.

We will become the fascist enemy against whom the world will unite and fight. We will become what we fought in World War II.

The Sociopath using tear gas to clear his way for a photo op (where he looked like an idiot anyway, as usual) and threatening to use the military against citizens –egged on by Tom Cotton and his pals – is unacceptable.

On a more personal front, I just plugged along all weekend. I did some client work on Friday. A site had to go live yesterday at the business owner’s insistence, even though it’s not ready. So it is what it is and I just keep working on it.

A post went up yesterday on the GDR site about not having a To-Do list this month. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot that needs to get done; it means I’m not setting myself up for failure by putting up a list that would have to change by today.

Saturday was a big housework day: loads of laundry, changing the beds, vacuuming, mopping. The tree pollen is falling, so there’s a thick coat of yellow pollen on everything. I’m going to have to hose down the deck in the next couple of days.

The iris are blooming. I love that flower.

Got to spend some time out on the deck, although the neighbors and their constant use of power tools, all day every day, seven days a week, makes it impossible to sit outside and enjoy anything. The damn illegal fireworks don’t help, either. Like we don’t have enough to worry about, now illegal fireworks have curbside pickup, too? A couple of years ago, one of them almost caught the roof on fire. Not to mention how it hurts the animals and vets who are suffering from PTSD. But those morons believe their right to be destructive is greater than anyone else’s right to live peacefully.

Tessa didn’t want any part of the playpen, but Willa had a good time in it.

We have a pair of big brown bunnies in the yard (which probably means we will have little bunnies soon). Che Guevara Chipmunk argues with the robins, but leaves the bunnies alone. It’s pretty cute. Che is getting bold. He comes right up to me on the deck. Because Tessa isn’t there to chase him.

Grab moments of beauty when we can. It’s the only way to survive right now.

On Sunday, I re-read what I’ve written so far on THE BARD’S LAMENT, and I re-read and did some revisions on both THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and DAVY JONES DHARMA.

I’m happy with the way BARD is going. Now, I have to dig deeper and make it happen. BALTHAZAAR and DHARMA are both salvageable, which a few weeks ago, I thought they weren’t. So I have to get back on track with them, too.

I’m not sure how I will juggle all of this, especially with stresses of the client insisting on me being back in the office.

But I’ll have to find a way.

Yesterday was a decent first morning writing session on THE BARD’S LAMENT. I’m getting back into its rhythm, which is nice. I know where I need to go with it, I have a deadline, and I’m doing my best to meet it, and then move back to edits on THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

The 99 cent promotion on the first three books is finished, and I’m deeply grateful to all the people who liked and Retweeted and bought the books during the sale. I hoped to get into an Overdrive promotion for June, but it doesn’t look like any of the books were chosen. So I’ll work on the teasers download, that’s the first three chapters of each of these three series, that I want to do as a free giveaway to hopefully, entice people to buy the full books.

Went onsite for the one client for whom I’m willing to go onsite. The other colleague and I staggered hours, and the client wasn’t in, so it was fine. Got done what I needed to; will do some more work for that client from home today, and then go in for a few hours again tomorrow.

Came home, changed, and went through another box from the basement. This one was all fabric. I’d thought it was old clothes that I have to give away, but no, it was actual fabric. The good stuff, from NYC. I sorted it and washed it. Some is apparel fabric, and some is décor fabric. Everything’s washed, and I figured out what I want to do with most of it. Now, it’s a case of building time into the schedule to get it done.

Turned in a book review and got another book assigned. I hope the reviewing picks up again. I can use the money. That money can pay for the lawn mowing all summer!

I was exhausted because on Monday, I’d been up since 2:30 in the morning. I was up just after 5 today.

Had an excellent morning writing session on THE BARD’S LAMENT, and feel good about it. Wrote about 7 pages on it. If I can keep steady on it, I think I can make my deadline.

I have to turn some of my writing time to the Susanna Centlivre play, too. I want to get that drafted by the end of the month.

No LOIs out the past few days, although I got some out over the weekend.

Tracking the virus cases in the state, watching the numbers fluctuate. They are still too high, in my opinion, to warrant the way re-opening is being handled. Deaths and new case numbers flowed up and down. Yesterday’s numbers were considerably down; there may be a bump in the numbers over the next few days because the state is also counting “suspected” cases, not just confirmed, which should give a better view of the real numbers. The consequences of Memorial Day Weekend won’t be seen for another week or so.

It would be good if I’m wrong and the numbers keep going down.

But I can’t see that happening, with so much reckless behavior going on.

Focusing on what I can do, and where I can have a positive impact, and trying not to get overwhelmed.

I am, though, angry. Very, very angry.

Peace to you, friends.

Mon. May 11, 2020: Intent for the Week — Dedication

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image courtesy of ImaArtist via pixabay.com

Monday, May 11, 2020
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

We have Pluto Retrograde, which is about revealing what’s hidden, which includes the hidden parts of ourselves. We have Saturn Retrograde, which is about life lessons. We’re all in a harsh life lesson period. Since my Saturn Retrograde coincides with my second Saturn Return – ouch?

Venus goes retrograde on Wednesday and Jupiter goes retrograde on Thursday, so we’re in for a rocky few months.

At the same time, I want to dedicate these retrogrades to sorting through past choices and making positive changes, in ways I haven’t really done during the previous retrogrades. Instead of regrets, I want to say, “Well, at least I tried. Now it’s time to try something new.” I think this is a stronger choice than beating myself up for what didn’t work. I wouldn’t pound on someone else for making a choice that didn’t work – the celebration is trying something and learning from it. So I need to stop beating up on myself.

I also want to dedicate this week to work. My fiction, the client work, and pitching for new work. There’s a post over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site about adaptability, and I’m going to incorporate the adaptability as part of my dedication.

I want to dedicate time to the garden (weather permitting) and even more time to my expanding yoga and meditation practice.

I want to dedicate less time to dealing with other peoples’ stupidity, especially when it puts my life and the lives of family members in danger.

What is your intent for the week?

Wed. Jan. 15, 2020: This, That, Writing

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Waning Moon
Sunny and mild for January, but getting colder

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice, where I talk about Winter Work. Then, hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site for the Mid-January check-in.

Yesterday was tiring onsite with the client, but it is what it is. Today will be the same, and so will the next few weeks. We have some big projects coming up.

The more that comes out about this corrupt administration, the more disgusting it is. The Chief Justice must also take action against any Senator who breaks the Oath taken when sworn in for the trial. One of the reasons it’s getting worse and worse is that there are no consequences for breaking Oaths and the law.

Got my reviews out, and new books assigned.

Swung by the grocery store to pick up a few things. Swung by the library to drop off and pick up.

Home. Got a chicken in the oven to roast. Worked with the cats. Worked on contest entries.

Delighted to find out that the radio play “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” will be performed on January 27. I wish I could fly down and be there for it, but I can’t.

In the first two weeks of January, I’ve had two radio plays scheduled for production, and a proposal for 2 plays accepted. Nice start to the year.

Over the past few days, watched documentaries on The International Sweethearts of Rhythm and THE GIRLS IN THE BAND, which had some overlap. I want to write something rooted in there, but I’m not sure what yet. I have to let it percolate, while I write the other things.

Today, I’m at a client’s, and the home. I’ll be wiped out, no doubt, but I plan to get some work done on the plays and the contest entries. I have the rest of the Kate Warne play in my head — now I have to get it down on paper. Would be nice to come up with a title, too. And I need to finish “Trust.” It’s frustrating that these last four pages are so difficult. I had a decent first writing session on the Winter Solstice novel.

The last couple of days, I tried to start my writing day by reading about writing and craft before writing, but that was a mistake. I need to do it later in the day, and hit the page first thing.

Charlotte is trying to learn how to be a literary cat, but since she’s awkward anyway, it’s taking time. But at least she’s making the effort, and she likes to be in my writing room with me when I work.

I hope I can participate in Remote Chat, but I have a feeling that it will be too chaotic.

The next four days are about writing and going through boxes and putting the last of the winter holiday stuff. It’s supposed to get very cold over the weekend and then snow, so it will be a good weekend to stay in.

Published in: on January 15, 2020 at 9:55 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 15, 2020: This, That, Writing  
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Mon. Jan. 13, 2020: Intent for the Week: Creativity

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image courtesy of Amber Lamoreaux viz pexels.com

Monday, January 13, 2020
Waning Moon
Uranus Direct (as of the 11th)

Can you believe it? No retrogrades for a brief, shining bit of time. Do we even know how to respond to that?

Hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site, where I suggest some tools to help you reach your GDRs.

Today is my “Intent Post.” As you can see from the title, the intent for the week is “Creativity.”

What does that mean?

It means different things to different people.

For me, first and foremost, it always means the writing. I want and need to have a creative week when it comes to working on a variety of writing projects including novels and plays, both drafting and editing. It means being creative in the way I approach potential new clients. It means being creative in the way I approach the ongoing client work.

It means being creative in how I approach cleaning out the basement, which I’m trying to break down into small enough daily bits so it doesn’t overwhelm me.

To me, being “creative” means approaching each task with the focus I intended last week, and building on it by looking at it from multiple angles, and not being tied into “the way I always do it.”

It’s time to trade comfort for creativity.

What is your intent for the week?

Did you stick to your intent last week, or did it change as the week unrolled?

Wed. Jan 2, 2020: A Long, Catch-Up Natter

Thursday, January 2, 2020
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
8th Day of Christmas (last night’s dream is August’s Oracle)
Hanukkah Finished (as of Dec. 29)
Kwanzaa Finished (as of Jan. 1)
Sunny and cool

Welcome to 2020!

Hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions Site, where I’ve answered the questions posed for 2020, which I consider the year of Transition and Transformation.

Starting Monday, for the next cycle (90 Days or so), I will begin this blog’s Monday with an intent for the week here, and some tools and suggestions for achieving goals over on the GDRsite.

Pull up your favorite beverage; it’s been nearly two weeks since we sat down for a natter. Last daily post was the Friday before Christmas, although the 23rd and the 30th had Upbeat Author posts. I planned to post on the 27th, but I had so much going on that I decided to cut myself a break. So this will be a loooooong post!

The Winter Solstice celebration on the 21st was lovely. We sit without electric lights as the sun sets; then we start by lighting the fire (with greens from last year’s Solstice season). Once the fire catches, we light the candles, put on the trees and the other lights (working clockwise from the North), and then put on the outside lights. Once all the lights are up, a simple ritual welcoming the return of the sun, and a wish for peace, joy, and prosperity in the coming year.

Dinner was Cornish hen with sweet potatoes and spinach. It was yummy.

Sunday night was both the 4th of Advent and the First Night of Hanukkah. We lit the fourth candle on the Advent table. I still haven’t found my lovely silver-plated Menorah (haven’t seen it since we moved, although I know it went onto the truck). But, in honor of the first night of the celebration, and because I miss my Jewish friends from New York who always included me in their celebrations, I made potato latkes. They were pretty damned good.

We watched MISS FISHER’S MODERN MURDER MYSTERIES, where Phryne’s niece takes over in the 1960’s. If it wasn’t connected to the original, I would have liked it better. But that constant referencing kept reminding me that it didn’t quite measure up.

It was difficult to get up early and out early to my client’s. But I was there. I took in a shipment — with one box missing. I had other stuff to do, of course, wrapping up before the holiday, but we’d hoped to get everything in. I promised to come in Christmas Eve, at least for a few hours, to wait for the box.

It was Nameless Day — I’m going to start incorporating that into my celebrations. A day for Potential. I have not lived up to my potential in the last few years, and I intend to change that in the New Year and the New Decade.

After I was finished there, I went to the library, to drop off and pick up. Was tired of computer work, so sat in a corner and read for awhile, just enjoying how lovely it was to be in a building full of books.

Went to meditation group. It was a small group, led by a sub this week. One of the attendees was The Woman Who Tests My Compassion. She shows up now and again, and is an energy vampire. She sucks all the energy we generate as a group into herself. I try to be generous, maybe she needs it, I don’t know what she’s going through, etc. But she is such a black hole of energy that it hurts everyone else’s practice. But I put up my shields and focused on my own work. The teacher taught a new exercise for the lower back that helped me enormously. First time I was pain free in weeks.

Another furnace company came by to look at the work that needs to be done. I respect getting multiple estimates, but the day before Christmas Eve? Really? Not happy about it.

Baked and frosted the Red Velvet Cake. It looks glorious. I rarely make them, because they are such a pain and need to be eaten so quickly. But I wanted to do something different for this holiday.

I wrote steadily through all this, even if it was only a few pages in the morning.

Up early again on Christmas Eve. Went to my client’s, waiting for the Fed Ex shipment. Basically, for most of the day, the tracking had no information, just that it was scheduled “before 4:30.”

Well, honey, I was leaving at noon.

I waited five extra minutes past noon, feeling down about it all. I’d gotten a bunch of work done for the client, and I was the only one in the office, which meant uninterrupted work time, my favorite. I locked up, turned on the alarm, pulled out of the lot — and looked in the rearview mirror to see Fed Ex turning in. I reversed up the road and turned back. (Luckily, there was no traffic).

The driver had done his best to get there by noon, and it was only a few minutes after. I unlocked the door, turned off the alarm, signed for the package, shoved it into the warehouse in back, set the alarm, locked up, and went home – where I fixed myself a nice, big Sidecar.

So it all worked out.

Put in the pork roast, played with the cats, enjoyed the tree and the drink. The dinner turned out perfectly — roast loin of pork, mashed potatoes, red cabbage, green beans with Hollandaise. The lovely red velvet cake for dessert.

We cleaned up and put the leftovers away, and opened presents. The new coffeemaker made me especially happy.

I put the new clothes into the washer, and we settled down with new books to read, Icelandic-style. I read Val McDermid’s updated NORTHANGER ABBEY, set in and around the Edinburgh Festival, which was delightful. Burned down the bayberry candle, and had a lovely, cozy Eve.

I was sad to read, on social media, all the racist drama around the RWA. I’m not surprised, but I’m disappointed. I’m also disappointed in white colleagues I know who are heavily involved in the organization who aren’t saying a word. Or, even worse, defending the racism. Again, in many cases, I’m not surprised. But I am disappointed, and have lost respect for several people. I’ve always been leery of RWA — to me, it always looked like a pay-to-play organization. A group that charges high fees and expects a lot of unpaid time put in. While I’ve had good experiences teaching at NECRWA, I’ve noticed the racial imbalance on the national level, and also a great deal of economic segregation.

It’s so painful for the many people who’ve spent countless hours of their time, unpaid, working to make the organization better. Working FOR the organization, without compensation instead of on their own books. How many tens of thousands of dollars have writers lost through their volunteer work with the organization? How many books will always remain unwritten? And now, they find the trade-off wasn’t worth it. What they worked for didn’t happen, and, in fact, they are being slapped in the face for working toward it.

I’ve been there, with other organizations. I know how much that hurts.

Releasing their statement the day before Christmas Eve was a deliberate strategy on their part, hoping their members would be too busy to notice. Then, trying to walk it back on Christmas Eve, when there was a furor — how could they believe the members who feel so betrayed would ever trust them again? It should never have happened in the first place, the process was skewed, and, without a clean sweep of everyone involved and a fresh start, how could they ever rebuild trust?

Or do they believe that their primarily white membership won’t care or even agrees with them?

How sad and painful.

Anyway, along rolls Christmas Day. Stockings, scrambled eggs, panettone, a quiet day of reading and writing.

For the big dinner, I made a rib roast, with mashed potatoes and peas. I don’t eat red meat often anymore. As good as it tasted while eating, I was uncomfortable for the rest of the day.

I took off Boxing Day from all obligations. Read and wrote and played with the cats. My oracle dream for January was a mishmash that basically boiled down to, “You will find allies in unexpected places.” So I have to remember that in January and be on the lookout.

Watched ON THE TOWN, which I hadn’t seen in years, and was kind of fun, except for the number in the museum, which was a little inappropriate.

I did a lot of running around on Friday, the 27th, especially when it came to grocery shopping. I had an encounter in one of the grocery stores what just depressed me.

When I got to the self-checkout, there was a $20 bill hanging out of it. I called over the store worker supervising the self-checkouts and said it had been left. She thanked me for turning it in, took it out of the machine, and said she would take it to the Customer Service desk in case anyone came back looking for it. I was glad about it — everyone’s overtired and stressed, and that $20 could be important to someone. Plus, I knew this worker, we talk often at the store, exchanging pleasantries and cooking tips.

When she walked away, the woman beside me said, “You’re in idiot. You should have kept the money. She’s just going to put it in her own pocket. You know how those Hispanics are.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. “I’m glad I’m not you,” I said.

“Practical?” she sneered.

“A racist,” I replied.

She started sputtering.

“Don’t you start clutching your pearls at me,” I said. “You’re the one making a racist comment.”

“I’ve never been spoken to like this in my life!”

“Get used to it. Or change your behavior.” I went about my checkout as she huffed off, but the whole thing depressed me.

I went to Michael’s to take advantage of their sale. I found a small, artificial tree, and some white fabric roses I want to use to decorate it. I found a Santa on sale (for my collection) and a pineapple ornament. And candles (one of the few places that still sells tapers) and thank you notes.

Then to another grocery store, home, unloaded, to the library to drop off and pick up, home to read and write, because that’s all I felt up to.

However, in the late afternoon, I saw a vanity table go up on Craigslist just a few miles away. I jumped into the car, raced over, and wrestled the table and its chair into the car. I’ve always wanted one.

Watched CALL ME MADAM, which I’d never seen before. It was a lot of fun. Now I’ve got the song, “You’re Not Sick, You’re Just in Love” stuck in my head. For days.

Woke up Saturday, having lost the dream that was February’s oracle. I know it had something to do with organization and was positive.

Got the vanity table and chair out of the car and up the stairs. The chair is too high for the table, but that’s okay. It was a stage prop and had a fake mirror on it, but the real one came with it, and I swapped them out. It’s a really cool piece. I have to repaint it in spring and touch up the gold edging, but I like it.

Tessa wasn’t sure about it, but within two days, she was sitting on top of it, lording it over Charlotte on the floor.

I didn’t remember March’s dream, but I woke up calm, so I hope that’s a good sign for March.

Put together a platter of baked goods and drove it to the Emergency Vet to thank them for their kindness through tough times. Took 6A back, to enjoy the nice day.

Read and wrote. Made pork banh mi for a late lunch, which meant we really didn’t want much dinner.

I’m reading Lucy Worsley’s biography of Jane Austen, which is quite good. Came across information on Susanna Centlivre, the most famous female playwright of the 18th Century. Jane Austen and her family used to perform her plays as part of their theatricals. Susanna will be my top choice to write about for 365 Women next year.

Woke up late on Sunday. Couldn’t remember my dream, so let’s hope that means a quiet April, too.

Wrote. Did laundry. Finished THE QUALITY OF LIGHT. What a relief to get it done. It’s a one act, and I barely scratched the surface of time and place, but I picked one dramatic incident in their lives and, hopefully, did it justice. I hope I have the chance to do more research, especially on the Bibiana family of theatrical scene painters. I would love to do a piece about them.

We watched THE ROYAL WEDDING. It has two of Fred Astaire’s most famous dances in it — the one with the hatrack, and the one where he dances up the walls and on the ceiling. Great filmmaking there, but the rest of the movie didn’t work for me. I especially hated the character of Ellen. What a whiny, unprofessional little brat. There’s no way she could have achieved success with her brother as a team with an attitude and behavior like hers.

Didn’t remember my dream when I woke up on Monday morning, so I hope that means May will be calm!

Up at 5, morning routine, did a final proofread of THE QUALITY OF LIGHT so I could send it out. Got it off my desk and onto the company’s desk.

Was at my client’s by 8. Worked on Year-End stuff. Got out a mailing for next week’s big trade show.

Followed up with a colleague with whom I want to do an interview for Biblio Paradise. He’d never gotten the materials, so I re-sent them.

The weather was awful. Raining, switching to sleet, switching back.

Meditation was cancelled, sadly. Swung by the library to drop off and pick up. Went home and sat zazen on my own.

Dinner, reading. I read Elinor Lipman’s essays, I CAN’T COMPLAIN. They are lovely.

Up early on the 31st. At my client’s by 8 AM. Got out two more email blasts, worked on some appointments for the trade show. Didn’t remember my dream, so hopefully that means a quiet June.

Got the information on the first shipment of contest entries that is on its way. I’m only doing two categories, not three, this year.

Downloaded a bunch of Susanna Centlivre plays onto my Kindle from Project Gutenberg.

Interacting on Twitter with a fellow author, I decided I wanted to feature her on A BIBLIO PARADISE, too. Plus, I have to ask my friend Arlene if she wants a slot for the book that released a couple of months ago.

Receipt of THE QUALITY OF LIGHT was acknowledged. I’m glad.

Stopped at the grocery store and the liquor store on my way home from the client’s. Made the chocolate/honey/almond/fig bites and a peppermint/chocolate cake. Dinner was salmon with a brown sugar/lemon/mustard/cumin glaze, mashed potatoes, and spinach. Yummy.

Read LISTENING VALLEY by D.E. Stevenson. Love the line, “You need to make friends with your life.” I want to do that in the coming year.

Finished LV and started THE TWO MRS. ABBOTTS, by the same author. I really love her work.

Burned down the bayberry candle. Let the old year out of the back door, welcomed the New Year in by the front door. I wish they did First Footing here.

Raised a glass as we watched the ball go down on Times Square. I’m grateful I used to be able to watch from my living room window, and grateful I no longer live there.

Slept well, up at a decent hour. The day did not start off well. I’d forgotten to make ice, which delayed the Fire and Ice ritual. The bathtub stopper didn’t work properly, so the Abundance bath bomb dissolved before I could soak in it. I fixed the drain and made my own concoction. But by then, we were out of hot water, so I splashed around in lukewarm water. I hope it’s a case of “bad dress rehearsal, good opening” and not “2020 is gonna suck.”

Especially because I came into the year feeling better and more centered than usual. Instead of forced optimism out of desperation, I felt much better at the end of 2019. Glad to see it gone, but able to release the ghosts of past mistakes. I realized, as I fretted over mistakes I made back in the 1980s, for goodness’ sake, that the people involved probably don’t even remember who I am anymore. I am some random chick who was in their lives for a few months, not someone important. They lived their lives, I lived mine. I don’t have to still feel bad about fleeting mistakes from 40 years ago. That gave me a sense of liberation.

So Jan. 1 starting off with things going wrong was upsetting. But, again, none of it was monumental. So I don’t get the bath the way I wanted it. So what? I came up with an alternative and it worked. It’s not important in the scheme of the universe.

The Eggs Benedict was delicious. I love Eggs Benedict.

I sent in my proposal to 365 Women. I had to pick three possible women to write about, so I picked Susanna Centlivre, Isabella Goodwin, and Frances Marion. I can’t write about all three (and said so) this year, with my plans to do the additional Kate Warne plays and the play about the two female authors. So we’ll see what happens.

I wrote 8 pages of a new play called “Trust.” It’s a short play, based on an idea I had last month. I have to do some research on a couple of myths, and then I can finish it. It’s only going to be about 10-12 pages. I have it aimed to at least one market so far.

I took a half hour walk because it was such a nice day and I’m trying to walk more. Wandered around the neighborhood and found a warren of streets and sweet houses I never knew existed. People waved as I walked past and I waved back.

Started reading Lauren Dane’s BLOOD AND BLADE, her latest Goddess of the Blade series, which I thoroughly enjoy.

Dinner was ham glazed with bourbon and molasses, mashed potatoes, and my special carrot-parsnip in mushroom sauce concoction. It was good.

Made bourbon balls that will be given as gifts to the work colleagues I’m having over on Friday. They turned out well.

Watched THE BELLE OF NEW YORK. What a hot mess. Fred Astaire and Vera-Ellen’s dancing was good, but there wasn’t much story. It started as a rip-off of GUYS AND DOLLS and went. . . nowhere. The women’s costumes were lovely, though. The dresses designed for the dances were superb. Helen Rose designed the women’s costumes. There was a different designer for the men’s costumes. More than half the movie is dance numbers, which is a relief, because the rest of it is a mess.

Up early this morning. Didn’t remember my dreams, so here’s hoping for a quiet August!

Wrote a few pages on the Winter Solstice romance. Started weight training again, before my yoga/meditation practice. I’d stopped late last summer when my back started bothering me. But I need to start up again. I definitely felt it by the end of it. I will be sore tomorrow!

I am happy to say that I meditated at least once a day EVERY day in both 2018 & 2019. It’s made a huge difference.

Library this morning, getting out some interview questions to people, posting ahead on some of the blogs, and then I have to track down a few things for tomorrow’s get-together.

I’ll clean the house this afternoon. And make the rum cake for tomorrow. Tomorrow morning, early, I’ll go to the grocery store for the last few things, prepare them, and swing by the library for a bit.

The weekend is about taking down the decorations and packing them away. I’m doing it a few days early this year (I prefer to wait until Jan. 6). But the 6th is a Monday, I’m not throwing a Twelfth Night party this year, and it makes more sense to take everything down over two days of weekend. After all, it took 3 weeks to put up!

Hope all of you had a great holiday season. New Year, New Decade!

So starts The Year of Transformation.

 

Mon. Dec. 30, 2019: The Joy of Letting Go #UpbeatAuthors

butterfly-4061336_1920
image by Kranich17 via pixabay.com

Monday, December 30, 2019
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Tomorrow is the end of 2019. The end of the decade. It’s time to let go of things and make room for new.

Time to let go of the old year.

I’ve been working on a set of Questions for 2020 to help me make the transitions and transformations that I need to make in the coming year. Please feel free to read them and use them. The Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site is being revised in the coming weeks to have more tools and ideas to help achieve our aims.

This will also be the last post I do for #UpbeatAuthors. I realized that while writing the posts on commitment a few months back that I would have to set a stop date, unless certain things changed. They didn’t, and I decided to see out the year and then stop. As much as I’ve enjoyed writing weekly posts for this group for the past year and a half, it’s time for me to do other things.

I feel I fulfilled my commitment to the group by seeing out the year. I didn’t just stop posting or “not have time.” I MADE the time. I finished the commitment I made when I joined the group.

I learned a lot, by writing the posts and by reading what other members of the group posted.

But it’s time for me to step back, and interact in a different way.

I post most weekdays on this blog, Ink in My Coffee. On Wednesdays, I post more business writing-oriented content on Ink-Dipped Advice. Between Ink in My Coffee and Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions, Monday will be about setting an intention for the week, and then seeing how I fulfill it. I am using ideas inspired by Jenn Mattern’s 90-Day Plan, combined with the Monday afternoon meditation group I attend. A week, a month can be too short a time to implement change; a year can be too long. So I’m experimenting.

I hope you will continue with me on the journey. I hope I am still welcome to visit Upbeat Authors.

I wish you a blessed New Year, and a wonderful new decade.

Thurs. Nov. 14, 2019: Writing, Changes, Planning

Thursday, November 14, 2019
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Partly cloudy and cold

We have a bit of snow Tuesday night. Just a dusting. Charlotte was fascinated by the snowflakes. Willa ran away. Tessa was unimpressed.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth, to see the latest in the garden.

Hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site, where I’ve put up the questions for 2020. The approach is a little different this year. I hope you enjoy them, and that they are helpful as you figure out how to start the New Year — and the new decade. They will also live permanently on this page.

Impeachment hearings started yesterday. About damn time.

Had a good editing session in the morning yesterday. Then went on-site with a client. Remote Chat was fun, as it always is.

I’m trying to be smarter about using LinkedIn, but every time I sign in, I remember why I hate it so much. It wants to limit me.

I resent being forced to be on both LinkedIn and GoodReads. They don’t serve me. They get in my way.

I’m frustrated with A2 because they won’t fix a problem on the Fearless Ink site. Or do anything about the hacking and the threats I’ve been receiving. I need to move hosts. Which probably means rebuilding everything from scratch when I do so. SiteGround, so far, is the top contender. They’re pricier than A2, but it looks like they actually offer support when something goes wrong. And security. A2 used to offer both. Now, they just don’t give a damn.

Stopped at the store on my way home. Wednesday night has evolved into pizza night here, so that was fun.

Charlotte and Willa race to greet me when I come home. It’s so cute. Tessa was out and about a bit, but there’s still a lot of tension between her and the other two. We need to do some more work. I don’t believe that Feliway Diffuser has done a damn thing. Glad I got it on sale.

The landlord arranged for the septic tank to be pumped on Tuesday. Later in the week, he’s coming over with he heating guy to see about replacing the furnace. That means, this weekend, I have to do a serious purge of the basement around the bulkhead doors, because that’s how the new furnace will have to come in, and the old one will have to go out. That throws a monkey wrench in my weekend, but I’m grateful that he’s willing to replace it when the furnace people suggest it, rather than waiting until it breaks down in the middle of a blizzard.

Writing and editing sessions this morning, then off to the library for a bit. Back home for more writing, some raking, some basement purging. Writing session was okay; editing session was excellent.

I finished the book for review, and sent off the review to the editor. Told her I’m ready for the next one.

I plan to read my friend’s book this weekend, too. I finally feel I earned it!

 

Published in: on November 14, 2019 at 10:20 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Nov. 14, 2019: Writing, Changes, Planning  
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Thurs. Nov. 7, 2019: Incoming Storm

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest on the garden.

There was no post on Ink-Dipped Advice this week. My back has limited the amount of time I can spend at the desk. I was working on the week’s post and was in so much pain, I had to stop. It’s a post on client voice, and it will go up next week.

This month’s Goddess Provisions box arrived and it was delightful. I’m thrilled with every single piece in it. This box has become vital to my self-care routine.

Willa and Charlotte are getting along much better. Now, we just have to re-integrate Tessa back into the mix. Time and patience. I keep reminding myself it takes time and patience, and for something this important, “no time” is not an option. I make sure to spend quality time with Tessa every day, so she doesn’t feel neglected.

Charlotte was on my lap on Tuesday night and Willa tried to hop up, which didn’t quite work. Charlotte was good — no hissing or growling. Willa complained, but that was it.

They also call a truce for Bedtime Snacks, which is pretty funny.

They’re starting to remember that they CAN get along. The more positive time they spend together, the more they’ll associate each other with good things. They have to learn that yoga/meditation time means QUIET, not climbing-all-over-the-human time, but they’ll get there.

Season 4 of SHETLAND is just heart-breaking. What a terrific show.

Excellent writing session on THE BARD’S LAMENT on Wednesday morning, and this morning. Some good editing work, too. Made a decision to cut yet another subplot of GRAVE REACH, and streamline it a bit more. Late in the game to be doing it, but necessary for the flow to work.

Client work. I’m always tired by Wednesdays. Great Remote Chat about stress.

Stopped at the grocery store on the way home. Worked on the book for review (I hope to get the review out either today or tomorrow). Worked on another client project. I’m meeting with the client tonight. Sent out an LOI for an exciting new position. I’m a long shot — I’m sure they want a Big Name for it. But I’d be a strong choice, and would love the opportunity. If I don’t try, then I can’t succeed, right?

Sent an LOI to work remotely with a client in Michigan on email campaigns. They sent back an online “test” — so, no, they’re out. If you’re too lazy to read my portfolio and expect free labor as part of the interview process, you’re out. Sent another LOI to a company in Colorado who says they’re “open” to working remotely with the right candidate, although they’d prefer someone local. There are plenty of good writers in Colorado, so I doubt I’ll get that, but again, I liked the company and the product, so it was worth the LOI. Am prepping an LOI to a company in Boston with a terrific mission, but I’m not sure if we could work out the logistics of the work.

Doing research on a publication so I can put together a good pitch for them.

Working on the questions for the 2020 GDR.

Good session on THE BARD’S LAMENT this morning. And a decent editing session. Because it’s not due until next year, I only set the goal for 2 pages a day. But I’m regularly writing more. Wouldn’t it be nice to get ahead on this draft, without dropping the ball on the other contracted projects? I’m enjoying the process. I also love doing research on harps.

Doing the work, putting in the time, redefining what I want from my work life.

 

Published in: on November 7, 2019 at 9:53 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Nov. 7, 2019: Incoming Storm  
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Tues. Sept. 17, 2019: Trying To Smooth Out Difficult Times

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Difficult weekend. Everything worked my last nerve. I’m angry and hurting and unhappy and nothing works to lessen it. It’s a bad patch. I’ll get through it, but it’s not fun while it lasts.

Hop on to see the mid-month check in over on Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions; some musings about reciprocal and non-reciprocal spirituality on Kemmyrk; today’s post for the #ReaderExpansionChallenge over on A Biblio Paradise. That catches us up, at least for the moment.

We still miss Lucy terribly. It’s tough on Tessa, being the only cat. She’s with us all the time, but she misses having another cat in the house. Without Lucy to sleep on the bed, my elderly mother started having nightmares again.

Friday night, I gussied up and attended the opening reception to the new exhibit at the Cahoon Museum. I almost didn’t manage it, because, in spite of their expanded parking, it was packed. Great for the support of the museum, but frustrating. I cheated and parked at a business next store that was already closed for the night.

The reception was lovely. I have to say that I found the “pre-mortem” daguerreotypes disturbing. Photos taken just before the moment of death. Creepy. And the hunters with their trophies were gross. But there was also an exhibit called Look This Way which included “Unidentified Women” with artist Jodi Colella that was quite wonderful. She combines film and fiber in a unique and wonderful way. She created the giant scorpion out of black doilies for the fiber art exhibit last autumn. I had the chance to talk with her for a bit. I didn’t want to hog her time, because the reception was packed. But we had a lovely conversation. She brings such insight and imagination to her work.

I ran into a couple of people I knew, which was nice. I eavesdropped on several conversations (as writers do). Mostly old rich white people moaning about their privileges and criticizing anyone who didn’t grovel before them. Several of them deserved a good slap upside the head.

Worked on GRAVE REACH, but not enough. When I’m actually into it, it flows well, but sitting myself down and doing it is a struggle. For no good reason. This book is leaner and more tightly plotted than the last two, and, in many ways, I think it works better. So I don’t understand why I’m struggling with these revisions.

Worked on ELLA. Worked on another idea I’ve been spinning, that looks like it might turn into something worthwhile. Played with some short story ideas. Worked on some article pitches.

Did some revisions on the first volume of GAMBIT COLONY, which I shouldn’t have, but working on that book soothes me when I’m stressed, so I did it.

Had sent an LOI to a company that looked like it would be a good match for some marketing work, pairing writing with my film/theatre expertise. Their response? Demanding a timed on-line assessment. No. Not doing those. If you’re too lazy and stupid to read my cover letter, resume, and samples to figure whether or not I’m right for the job, that’s on you. We are not a good match. Do not waste my time for what you’re claiming is a top-level assignment by sending me something an hourly minimum-wage employee would have to fill out. I have three decades of credits behind me. You know where you can put your “timed assessment.”

Another response to an LOI was a request for additional information, via an online form. It arrived on Saturday afternoon, outside of business hours. Fine. I figured I’d do it on Monday, DURING business hours, as any legitimate business expects. Only they nagged me ALL WEEKEND. I ignored them. They’re not paying me. I’m not giving up my weekend to fill out a form. It can wait until Monday. I suspect part of this “next step” will be a demand for an unpaid project-specific sample, in which case I will tell them where they can put it. I’m supposed to be panicked and jump through hoops because they claim they had 400 applicants? First, I don’t believe they did; second, part of the introduction/interview process is to see if we are a good fit FOR EACH OTHER. So far? Not liking what I see.

It’s a complete lie that there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill top-level jobs. The problem is that the companies outsource EVERYTHING to unskilled recruiters who are working part-time in between their college classes (because yes, I know how to get them to tell me everything about themselves and they’re not skilled enough to avoid the questions or dig into MY background) and HR people who don’t know anything about the job or the company, and do everything by form and algorithm. You’re not going to find the strongest skilled, creative person for the job that way. Genuinely skilled people with solid credentials aren’t going to play that game.

Saturday was all about laundry. Nine loads of laundry. We changed over from the summer cotton sheets to the flannel fall/early winter sheets. We took the summer covers off the chairs and sofa and put on the fleece for the sofa and the autumn on the big chair. The lace curtain panels came down in my room and the red-and-gold three season curtains went up. Some of the plants came in. Some are getting cut back. Things are being washed, dried, ironed/folded, and packed until next summer. Leaves are falling, and I’ll have to start raking soon.

I read a book by a writer who was trying to write blue collar, rough characters from her point of white privilege. It didn’t work. She didn’t understand what drove the characters, and they weren’t dimensional enough. I’ve read some of her other work and enjoyed it, for the most part. This was a disappointment.

Worked on the books for review. One blurb will go out today; will send the other tomorrow or Thursday.

I’m reading the entire Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald in order. I’d read several of them a long, long time ago. It’s interesting to re-read them all, with fresh perspective of life experience. They are very of their time and timeless. It’s interesting. There’s some beautiful, concise descriptive writing. I didn’t like any of the female characters in THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY. I’m hoping I will like them better in NIGHTMARE IN PINK. But so, far, not liking the women in that book either.

It’s also interesting to re-watch the entire MARY TYLER MOORE series in order. It’s very much of its time, too. I wasn’t too excited about the first half of the first season, but then it started having a little more bite. I remember it being more ground-breaking than I’ve seen so far, but maybe it grew into it. Or maybe it was ground-breaking at the time and seems less so now, because of the ground it broke.

THE NEW YORK TIMES is being stupid and pandering again, as usual. Calling a sexual assault “harmless fun” is not “poor phrasing.” It’s trivializing sexual assault, which is something the media –and the justice department does. Brett Kavanaugh should not have been confirmed, and he needs to be impeached.

The whole bru-ha-ha over Felicity Huffman serving 14 days for bribing someone to fix her kid’s test scores irritates me, too. I am furious at her for doing that. First of all, it’s an insult to her kid. If my parents had so little faith that I could get into the school of my choice that they felt they had to bribe someone, I would have been devastated. And yes, I got in to every school to which I applied, including top-level Ivy League schools. On. My. Own. Merit. I’d always admired Huffman’s work and she presented herself as an ethical person. So I am angry that she’d stoop to something like this.

Do I think it’s fair that she serves only 14 days when a black woman got 5 years for trying to vote? No. Those sentences have no parity. I believe both racism and economic segregation played a part. But I also disagree with John Legend’s comments that there shouldn’t be any jail time. For the black woman who was arrested for trying to vote? Zero time, I believe, a class in political science, and community service. But rich people trading on white privilege need to have serious consequences. Is jail the best solution? Probably not. But community service isn’t enough either. Using the same amount of money she paid or more to pay toward the tuition of someone smarter than her kid who can’t afford college? Maybe that would help.

Yesterday was a long but productive day at my client’s, then work at the library, then Meditation. I desperately needed it.

Today will be another long day with my client and then who knows what else. I’m trying to tackle everything that needs to be done and struggling.

For the moment, though, it’s back to the page. The consistency gets results.

 

Wed. May 15, 2019: Keeping On Keeping On

Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

If you haven’t stopped by A Biblio Paradise to see the interview with Heather Haven, please do so. It’s wonderful, and I’m excited to read her new book.

You can also go on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions Site and see my mid-month check-in.

I can’t believe how cold it is. They actually has snow in Western Mass Monday night into Tuesday. We had a cold, damp rain.

My lower back and hip have been incredibly painful. On Monday, at meditation, I had trouble moving from position to position. I don’t understand what’s going on. I’m sure all the sitting I do is part of it. More yoga? More movement? Back to acupuncture? There are times when the pain is excruciating, and I’m always aware of a dull throb.

But at least, Monday night, I slept through the night. I went to bed ridiculously early, and slept until the alarm woke me up on Tuesday.

Got some writing done in the morning. Waited for the insurance adjustor to show up. It went okay– he’s approving less than the initial claims agent thought was covered. But then, it’s his job.

Then, it was off to work onsite with a client, which was exhausting.

To the library, back home. I’m so exhausted I can’t even see straight.

Published in: on May 15, 2019 at 5:25 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 15, 2019: Keeping On Keeping On  
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Wed. May 1, 2019: Recalibration Time

Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool
Beltane

Blessed Beltane, for those who celebrate!

The May To Do list is up on the GDR site. I have to re-think a few things, so it’s subject to change.

I can’t shake this overwhelming fatigue. Je suis très fatigue.

Because even exhaustion sounds better in French!

Worked with a client. Started working on the thanks yous and follow ups for the conference, but I’m behind. Started sending requests for quotes on an article on which I’m working. I have to craft a letter for the Bourne Town Council, which is giving a local organization for which I have great respect a hard time, thanks to a damned developer.

Working on contest entries.

Trying to recalibrate what I want and need from my work and how to get it.

It’s hard to think straight when I’m so tired I can barely sit up.

Plugging along with the book. Have to get back to the play this weekend. Have some new web content to write and get up, and I want to write ahead on a few posts for Upbeat Authors and for Ink-Dipped Advice.

I’m having trouble with A2 Hosting and their insistence that I can only access my websites from a single, fixed IP address. That simply is not my life. I travel. I work from different machines in different locations. I need to get on when I need to from where I need to. They don’t protect from hackers, but they prevent me from accessing the sites for which I pay. That’s wrong on so many levels.
So I guess I’ll be moving hosts again when this contract is up. Which is a shame, because I like everything else about them.

Meanwhile, I’m as happy as can be with my registrations over on Name Silo. No drama. Great customer service.

The weather isn’t letting me do yard work. The grass is growing nicely (a good thing), but it needs mowing. However, unlike some of my neighbors, I don’t believe it’s useful to mow in the rain.

I desperately need some time off, but I don’t know when I’ll get it. I need a few days with no demands of any kind made on me, where I can just create each day as it unfolds.

Some of the research books came for the Caribbean. That’s where I’m setting this Shiny New Project — and they also serve two other projects on which I’m working.

I’m also working on the forensic psychology books I have for GRAVE REACH.

All interesting stuff.

I need more energy, so I can make better use of my time.

Onward.

Published in: on May 1, 2019 at 8:50 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 1, 2019: Recalibration Time  
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Tues. April 30, 2019: Conference Wrap-up and New Ideas

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Ever so much to talk about, and some things about which I’m not yet ready to talk about, because I’m still mulling them over.

Hop on over to the GDR site for the April wrap-up. It should be up within a half hour of this post.

This past weekend, I was a presenter at the #NECRWA conference in Burlington, MA. It’s one of my favorite conferences, because it’s relaxed and upbeat. It always gives me a lot to think about.

I re-connected with some people I knew from before, met new people, met some people I knew from online and this was the first time we’d met in person.

The weather was awful on Friday. I had the car packed early, and left a little before noon. Usually, it takes me about 3 hours to get there (and it’s only outside of Boston) because of traffic. I’d managed to time it so it only took two hours.

My room was ready; I checked in and it took 2 luggage cart trips from car to room to get everything up. Made me think maybe I brought too much stuff.

The hotel had a renovation. It’s very upscale business traveler with dark wood and shiny counters and a huge TV. My room had a kingsized bed AND a chaise longue, with which I immediately fell in love. The bathroom was all shiny counters and frosted glass.

I unpacked, tried to rest up a bit, looked through the conference materials. I also worked ona book I have to review.

Freshened up and went downstairs for the cocktail hour. They served us a buffet dinner, too, courtesy of Red Feather Romance. That definitely got our attention — feed us! 😉

I had some interesting conversations. One with a writers’ group who’d travelled here together to attend — their members were from Western MA and upstate NY. I had another conversation with some early career writers who didn’t even try to hide their contempt that I’m with a small publisher and that I talked about craft and the importance of a good editor, and how much I value both my editor and my copy editor. They plan to self publish, and, according to them, “craft doesn’t matter, because Kindle readers don’t care.”

I beg to differ.

I found that arrogance rather off-putting, and wondered if that would be the tone of the conference.

The Literacy signing was after the dinner. I prefer it when it’s at the end of the weekend, when I’ve gotten to know some of the authors and have an idea of their books. I felt like I “should” buy a lot of books, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted, and I felt guilty when I browsed a table without buying.

I went back upstairs to decompress a little and read more of the book for review.

I also set up my rolling rack for tomorrow, went over the presentation again. Second-guessed myself on every item I brought and every slide I chosen; wondered if I should revise the presentation. But that way madness lies.

Tried to watch television, but it was lousy. I’m not missing anything by giving up cable.

Got an email from that new-to-me editor who wanted yet more information about why the topic — an underused resource that can generate more income for freelancers — is relevant to his site, which is supposed to be about generating income for freelancers. I have now written more than twice the word count ABOUT what the actual article would run. For a publication for which I’ve written a half a dozen times, and where I never had to jump through all these hoops for the other editor.

Makes me think we are no longer a good fit, and perhaps it’s time to move on to another dance partner.

The bed had one of those pillow top or memory foam things. I felt like I sank so far down it would cover me and smother me. It was comfortable; I’m just used to a much firmer mattress.

I woke up once at 4 AM with a horrible headache, but got back to sleep, and got up just before 6. Yoga, meditation, a little writing. I like writing in hotel rooms. There aren’t many distractions.

On my way to the first session, I stepped outside for a few minutes — and the headache went away. I realized that I can’t open the windows in my room, and I always sleep with my window cracked. I’m not used to recycled air.

A few minutes outside, even in the rain, helped.

Before the first session, I talked to some people who live in Central MA about the benefits of living there. They love it, because one can get to anywhere from there. It was great to hear them talk about what they loved about the area, how it’s changing, what frustrated them. The arts community seems much more vibrant and able to earn a living than it is here.

The first session was great, about burnout. Emily Nagoski was the presenter. Her handouts and worksheets were great. The timing couldn’t be better, considering the crossroads I’m facing right now. I also want to get a quote from her for an article I’m writing.

Went outside for a few minutes in between sessions, then went to a panel discussion where the participants frankly discussed money. We all agreed not to share these authors’ actual financial details outside of the room. But some of their approaches and concepts were interesting.

I was surprised — at this panel and elsewhere in the conference — by how large a percentage of the incomes are via Amazon’s Kindle direct. I’ve always avoided them because I don’t like the contract. My small publisher distributes digitally through Amazon, but my contract is not directly with Amazon, but via my publisher.

Also, the volume at which some of these authors are turning out books. There’s one full-time author who has published 70 books in the last 11 years. She’s earning money, she’s winning awards. She’s turning out quality work. She’s got audio books and translations out.

I always thought I wrote reasonably fast, but I couldn’t keep up that pace, unless I had a full staff to run the rest of my life.

I’m wondering if I should run an experiment, and have something that is more typically genre run through KDP/Unlimited to see how the returns differ.

The downside to that (apart from the qualms I have about the KDP contract) is that having only one book in that pipeline isn’t going to do much. I’d need at least three.

Three books that are separate from anything I currently have on contract, when I’m already on a brutal contract schedule.

Of course, a new pseudonym and a new idea for a series, even its title, came bursting forth almost immediately.

Whether I choose to go KDP or not, I’m kind of in love with this idea. It fuses with a couple of other ideas I’ve been playing with, and mixes the mystery and romance genres in a beautiful location.

I even have the opening line, which is a kicker.

The problem is — when will I be able to write it? We’ve already rescheduled THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and DAVY JONES DHARMA. I’m on track for GRAVE REACH, but I can’t let the other two fall by the wayside.

I have to get back into the Jain Lazarus Adventures later this year, revising CRAVE THE HUNT, and my editor and I have to go over the first two, seeing if we need to make any changes.

I have to get back on track with the JUSTICE BY HARPY books. The first book is in great shape; the second two, not so much. Since all three have to release close together, that’s a challenge.

I want to get THE FIX-IT GIRL out on traditional submission, and work on THE TIE-CUTTER.

And, of course, there’s always GAMBIT COLONY that pulls whenever I’m stressed to blow off steam.

I have a radio play going live in May. I have another radio play due in Florida in the next couple of weeks, and requests for more; I have ANOTHER radio play to send to MN as soon as I’m done with it.

I have a play due in NY at the end of May for a contest.

I have to get into the MFA to research Canaletto and the Bibiana families so I can start writing the play about Canaletto’s sisters that’s due at the end of the year.

I have to finish the anti-gun violence play (because it’s not like that issue will be solved any time soon).

I have to keep working on WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST, and test the monologues.

I have to write the play about the two infamous women authors.

I have articles to pitch and write, and other marketing writing that keeps a roof over my head. I have contest entries to finish, books to review, a couple of speaking engagements coming up.

I have to come up with a new marketing strategy for my books.

How do I make it all work? Especially when, right now, I’m exhausted? And deal with the garden? And I probably have to face some major life changes in the upcoming months.

I’m not sure. I have to take some time to sit and think. To prioritize. To push myself to get it all done.

To do it without killing myself.

Hence why the burnout workshop was so relevant.

Outside, took a few breaths of fresh air, then back in for a seminar on ebook pricing. Some of which directly contradicted what worked for some of the authors in the last seminar.

One interesting thing that came up was to set the first book in a series perpetually at 99 cents. I’ve played with that idea. I don’t want the people who are excited by a new release to feel screwed if I lower the price of the first book to 99 cents and keep it there. My publisher is open to discussing pricing changes, but is more in favor of limited-time discounts than a permanent change.

A few months ago, I was advised that I should lower the price of ALL the earlier books whenever I have a new release out. I balked at that idea, as did the publisher. Because then why should people order the book when it first comes out? They know it’ll come down in price a year later when the next one comes out. In the interim, I might lose them anyway.

It was also brought up that $1.99 is an awful price. I put my Delectable Digital delight shorts at 99 cents (making sure people understand they are SHORT). My publisher usually has novellas or short novels at $1.99 or $2.99 if they’re almost up to category length. Now I’m wondering if we should go up to some funky price like $2.09 or $2.49?

Yeah, this is just what my publisher wants. Me to come back from a conference full of ideas that aren’t new books! 😉

The lunch buffet was fun. I got to catch up with a friend who has nine books out under one of her names, and is about to launch a cozy mystery series under another. Can’t wait to read all of them!

Met another author, Jillian David, whose presentation I missed (and I felt guilty for so doing, because I really liked her). I now can’t wait to read her books, either.

The lunchtime keynote was Penny Reid, who was funny and heartfelt, and now I have another new-to-me author to read. That’s one of my favorite things about conferences — finding new-to-me authors whose work I can gobble up.

I found Kilby Blades, who was presenting the two sessions before mine in the salon we would all share, to ask if she minded that I brought my rack down and stashed it before her session started. She was cool with it. I didn’t want to just show up with a bunch of stuff and presume I could take up space.

I attended both of her marketing sessions which was useful. She navigates how to use best business practices in marketing and then morph them for the weirdness that is the book business. It helped me rethink some strategies, and I will have a lot to discuss with my publisher’s new marketing director soon!

There were some elements that gave me a headache. Charting daily sales–I know it’s useful, but I’d much rather look at weekly or monthly breakdowns. But as we work on new marketing strategies, the daily fluctuations and the importance of serious testing matters. The same way it does when I do it for other people.

I wish it wasn’t so much easier to market for someone else than to market myself!

Then, it was my turn.

My audience was great, but I was not happy with my performance. I talked too quickly. I didn’t share enough anecdotes from the set (only two or three). I meant to talk about heirloom pieces that are passed down and how they have meaning, and didn’t. I meant to tie in to some of the other sessions, and it flew right out of my mind.

I was frustrated with myself because it wasn’t as good as it could have been, and the only one to blame was me.

I shouldn’t have cut reading the passage from a friend’s book about how a couple of characters cleaned up for a funeral. That would have been a good addition. But when I timed a rehearsal, it made the session run long without time for questions.

As I said, my audience was great. I could have been better. I did not live up to my own expectations.

I packed up, took everything back up to the room, and changed for dinner. I wore Cupcake International pieces all weekend — I was a walking advertisement for them. But the pieces were fun and comfortable and flattering.

Dinner was good. I sat with some people who’d been in my session, and another woman from NH who was lovely. We had a great talk about life in New Hampshire and a whole lot of other things.

Sonali Dev was our Keynote, and she was wonderful. She said something that resonated. “We write because we refuse to be silent.”

Again, gave me a lot to think about.

I was exhausted and my mind going a mile a minute after dinner. I didn’t join the debrief sessions; I went upstairs. I finished reading the book for review, and made notes.

I made some notes on some new ideas. I tried watching TV, but there was nothing I wanted to see. Packed everything up.

I pondered all the information I’d gathered. It will take me awhile to sort it all out and decide how best to put it to use.

Woke up at 1 AM and got back to sleep. Woke up a little after six. Yoga, meditation, a little writing. Breakfast.

Had the car loaded and was gone a little after 8. There wasn’t much traffic, so I was home by 10:30.

Unloaded. Put stuff away. Unpacked. Sorted laundry. Unpacked the handouts and bookmarks and other things I picked up at the conference. It will take me a few days to go through them.

I usually go through them the day of or the day after. But I was too tired.

I don’t get why — I hardly drank at all. I usually spend more time at the bar at conferences, and I didn’t this time around. But I feel more worn out than when I spend most of my free time in the bar. Here I tried to take good care of myself and be healthy, and I’m still wiped out.

Probably because this was at the end of a long, stressful month.

Tried to rest on Sunday. Wrote the review. Read some other books. I gave myself the day off from contest entries.

Monday was back to the normal routine, although I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.

Got some writing done in the morning, although it wasn’t very good. Played with my new idea. That world is coming into focus surprisingly clearly. Although I don’t want to be arrogant about it, so I ordered a bunch of research books from the library.

Returned what I’d borrowed for the conference. Spent time onsite with a client. Turned in my review.

Cancelled out of my mid-afternoon appointment because my brain was mush and I was making stupid mistakes.

I’d walked out of the house without my phone. Meant to pick it up after the session with my client and before leaving for meditation group. But, of course, I walked out without it — mostly because the cats caught a little, tiny mouse, and I felt horribly guilty about her demise. I mean, I don’t want mice in the house, and I’m glad the cats did their feline job — but I still felt awful about that poor little mouse, and buried her in the yard.

Meditation was good. I felt better and more focused after, although still tired.

Read a couple of Tracy Kiely’s Nic and Nigel Martini books over the past two days. They’re a lot of fun.

Went to bed early; overslept this morning.

Got some writing done, but not enough. Still mulling things over in my head.

Onsite with a client most of the day, then I have to get some work done at the library.

More contest entries to work on tonight, and I’m starting to enter the scores into the digital sheets.

Was assigned my next book for review.

I have to get going on the thank yous and follow ups from the conference today and tomorrow. I don’t want to let that slide.

And I have to get on a more productive writing schedule. I think I have to add a second writing session into the evening for the next few months. The morning at 1.5-2K is okay (although it makes me feel very slow). But if I can add in another 1K session in the evening, I should be able to get back on track. Maybe I can up it a little on weekends.

Mostly, though, I’m so, so tired. My body is tired and my brain is tired. I’m seriously thinking of taking a few days off this weekend, except for contest entries, and then starting up again with the new moon.

But the conference was great, and it gave me a lot to think about. Now, I have to sort through it, and, most importantly, APPLY WHAT I’VE LEARNED.

Because otherwise, it’s just time spent without gain.

Back to the page.

 

Thurs. Feb. 28, 2019: Snowing & Planting

Thursday, February 28, 2019
Waning Moon
Snowing and cold

Hop on over to the GDR site for February’s wrap-up, and over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest on the garden.

Yesterday was a mixed bag of client work and other things.

I heard back from a producer to whom I’d pitched a play on Tuesday. He read it overnight, loved it, and is going to recommend to the company to do it. He’d like more with these characters. Hopefully, it will all work out.

I finally got a chance to listen to the production they did last summer of “Light Behind the Eyes” and they did a good job.

I heard from the other radio company to whom I’d pitched, located in California. They wanted to let me know they are a little behind, but would give me an answer by the end of April.

So far this year, one of my radio scripts will be performed in early April in Boston, and another in early to mid-May in Minnesota. With three more plays in the pipeline for Minnesota, and possibly more in Florida.

All these gigs are paid, professional gigs. Which is great, since I love writing for radio, but I’m past the point of working for free.

I have to get back on track with the novels, though, and spend some time on the stage plays as well this weekend. I’m planning it to be a fairly quiet reading-and-writing weekend.

I was onsite with a client and couldn’t watch the Michael Cohen hearings, although I caught up with them later. It’s stunning to me that the GOP members on the committee aren’t at all upset that Cohen lied FOR the Narcissistic Sociopath; they’re upset he’s no longer doing it.

It snowed last night, and we woke up to about 5 inches of fluffy, lovely white stuff this morning. I was out early shoveling. Figures as soon as I was done, it started again!

I’ve got some work to do at the library, then I’m meeting a writer friend for an early afternoon cocktail later on. Looking forward to it.

Working on the contest entries and the book for review. And reading Ed Ifkovic’s Edna Ferber mysteries just because I want to.

Not looking forward to going out in this weather, but, oh well. Sooner I get out there sooner I can get back.

And go back to the page. I’m hoping to get some more work done on the Straw Hat play today, and work on the monologues.

Have a lovely snowy day! Guess March is really going to come in like a lion these next few days.

Guess I won’t be traveling anywhere for my birthday in a couple of weeks.

 

Published in: on February 28, 2019 at 10:20 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 28, 2019: Snowing & Planting  
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