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. 7, 2019: No Need to Rant About Some Things, Need to Rant About Others

Thursday, February 7,2019
Waxing Moon
Rainy and cool

I’m scheduling this to post because I have meetings all morning and don’t know when I’ll get online.

I’m getting frustrated with A2 hosting. I have to be able to access my websites from different computers in different locations, as I need to. They keep refusing me access to my account, because they don’t recognize the IP address. My log-in information should be enough. If this situation isn’t resolved, I’ll be host-hunting again. I’m very happy with the way WordPress works on the host, but if I can’t access my sites when and where I need to, we have a problem.

They have no problem allowing my sites to be hacked; just with letting me get into the sites for which I pay. That has to change.

Still fighting with Fed Ex on behalf of my client. Fed Ex customer service refuses to deal with the problem and just keeps passing me and another colleague around and around and around. So I complained to the executive office in TN. Let’s see if anyone there gives a damn.

Otherwise, work on site was fine yesterday.

I think I may have taken a wrong turn in the ghost story radio play. I think I’ve gone too dark (it’s a comedy). It’s not really Ha-ha-ow anymore. It’s taken a turn. I’ll finish the draft, and then see if I need to completely rewrite the second half.

I wrote a rant about something that really bothers me, writer-wise. Then, I realized that the people behind it don’t actually matter in my day-to-day life. Writing the rant made me feel better. There’s no need to post it. I can now move on and shrug off the idiots.

I’m tired, with a blaring headache due to the incoming storm. I’m going to experiment with some new makeup before tomorrow’s client meetings — can’t be experimenting right before I leave and THEN discover it doesn’t work!

Think good thoughts for my meetings today. There’s a lot that has to shift in the coming months, and I’m not yet sure what’s going to wind up where.

But it will all work out for the best in the end.

Published in: on February 7, 2019 at 6:26 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 7, 2019: No Need to Rant About Some Things, Need to Rant About Others  
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Tuesday, August 10, 2011


Iris meditates

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and humid

Yoga helped the migraine yesterday morning, but didn’t completely cure it. I ended up taking Excedrin throughout the day so I could keep going, which meant, by the time I got home at night, I had an awful rebound headache. My head is still sore today, but better.

I landed a gig writing an article for a local publication on the Marine Life Center — which is great, but they need it by next week. So I need to dig down and be productive. Which is a good thing! And I need to take some photos, too, for it, so we’re setting all of this up.

Got home from yoga yesterday morning, dealt with the contractual stuff for the article and told the people at NMLC about it (they knew I was pitching it), and then headed over to set up for the gala. We worked in the afternoon, setting up tables, displaying items, etc. I managed to get home for a break, had dinner, changed into nicer clothes, and headed back..

Gala itself was fine. It’s very low-key, no admission charge or fancy cocktails or meals or anything. People come in, look at the stuff, bid, throw some money into the coffers. It’s nice stuff, all home and garden, but not overly expensive, so there’s a wider range of audience than can afford to go to a lot of other events, especially since there’s no admission price. It went well, people had fun, things sold well, and we were done by 9 PM.

The woman who’d been so nasty at the concert was there. She’d been told to apologize to me, but she didn’t even speak to me. Just spent the evening on the opposite side of the room, glaring at me and gossiping. Didn’t help set up; didn’t help clean up; did nothing but glare at me all night. Really? Are we five? I’d been willing to cut her slack for having a bad day or whatever, because we all do. But she made it clear last night that she’s not in the least bit sorry for her behavior, and that it will continue. Turns out, she’s been pulling this kind of crap for years, but no one ever told her off before. I will not tolerate the behavior displayed at the concert. Period. Last night, I just ignored her and did my work. I’m not engaging in her pettiness, and if she gets aggressive again, I will, again, make it clear that I won’t tolerate it. I have way too much going on to be caught up in whatever imaginary drama she’s created. I don’t want her to apologize unless she means it, and, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t have to deal with her. I’m absolutely capable of being polite if we’re in the same space at the same time. She certainly didn’t ruin my evening, or even make me uncomfortable. And hey, it’s all material, small community dynamics and all that.

Tessa is bound and determined to make friends with Violet. She follows her around all the time and tries to get close. Tessa slept on the bed last night, and Violet chased her off this morning, because Violet refuses to have her cuddle time in the morning infringed upon. And Violet still insists on sitting in my lap while I work on the computer — no Tessa allowed! So Tessa sits in a sunbeam next to the chair. And Iris is sulking upstairs, in between eating everybody’s food.

Today is all about the Mermaid Ball, with some errands and a bit of work on the short story tossed in there as well.

I did a blog for Savvy Authors and sent it in early, because, as I have told them since FEBRUARY, I am not available in August. They kept asking me to do stuff in August, scheduled me for dates in August, which I told them I couldn’t do — what part of “I am not available” is so hard? Then, over the weekend, I get an email saying I need to send in the blog by the 8th to run on the 10th — even though I’d been scheduled to run on the 7th and sent it in on the 25th. I reminded them that I was not available in August, told them everything had been sent in on the 25th, and the date I had was the 7th for it to run, so was this something different or what was going on? I get a message, “I’ll check the sheet and get right back to you.” This was on Saturday. Today is Wednesday. I have yet to hear anything, and I look on the site, and there’s nothing up today. Whatever. I have no time for this. I get my materials in on time. I’m getting a little sick of meeting deadlines and then people emailing me to tell me they don’t have materials that were sent AND ACKNOWLEDGED weeks before.

Mercury Retrograde!

Back to work. I better mow today. The front’s not too bad, but it could be better. And I’ve still got to finish the back terraced area and the meadow before I go on-site next week.

To work!

Devon

Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 7:46 am  Comments (4)  
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Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Cloudy and snowstorm approaching

I wish it would hurry up and get here already, because the pre-storm headache is killing me. Nothing works on these headaches — nothing over the counter or prescription. I just have to ride them out. As soon as the storm starts, I’ll feel great, but the time during which it approaches is excruciating.

The headache started yesterday afternoon and laid me low for the bulk of the day. I managed to get the grocery shopping done in the morning and some writing. I was useless for most of the afternoon, although I could read a bit here and there. And I made a broccoli-mushroom casserole for dinner, which was good.

Finished Deanna Raybourn’s SILENT ON THE MOOR last night, which I enjoyed. The first book in the series is still my favorite, thus far, although I’ve enjoyed all three. I really love the Yorkshire Moors, so I was a little disappointed when the protag didn’t have the same enthusiasm for them that I do. That has nothing to do with the quality of the writing, though, just one of my own little quirky responses.

Very good first writing session this morning on REDEMPTION KILL. An obstacle’s come up for my protags that surprised me, and I’m still trying to get them off that cliff, but it’s a worthwhile obstacle, so we’ll go with it. I’ll go back to it and hopefully finish the chapter later this morning, then switch back to POWER OF WORDS for a bit, tweaking an earlier scene so it aligns with something going on now.

I’m hoping to work on the steampunk this weekend. It’s starting to churn again, which is good, because I want to get that first draft done and give it time to ripen before I do revisions and get it out. I’ve got a deadline for it, although not a harsh one, and I need to put my focus back on that.

And I have to tackle Confidential Job #1.

But first, oh hurry up and start snowing so this darned headache lets up!

Have a great, warm, cozy weekend.

Devon

Published in: on February 5, 2010 at 9:02 am  Comments (8)  
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

IMG_0684_2
Upstate NY in Autumn

Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I have SUCH a headache today. Where’s the Excedrin? 😉

Monday was great fun, as I mentioned yesterday, and where I was, the foliage was at its peak.

I was out of the house yesterday by 6 AM, a little later than I wanted, because I was having trouble — again — with MobileMe. I’m really starting to think it was a huge waste of money. It does not do what it’s advertised to do. I can’t even get what I need on the iDisk, much less access it from anywhere. Unless Apple fixes it, I’m dropping it when the year is up. The computer’s working well again, but the MobileMe isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, so to hell with it.

Anyway, yesterday was kind of a gray and drizzly day. I’m curious why the NY metro area weather folk are NEVER right, when the Boston area weather folk are ALWAYS right. The NY weather folk promised it wouldn’t start to rain until late afternoon. At 6 AM, it was raining. Later in the day, as I had the Boston station on (which comes in clearly in VT, although you can’t get it in the MA Berkshires), they were spot on. Same with traffic. The NY traffic reports are always wrong, while the Boston/South Shore/Cape are always right.

We travelled up I-87. It was early enough to be fine. We hit Saratoga a little after 9 AM and, of course, headed immediately to Mrs. London’s for coffee and an almond croissant. Which was just fabulous.

And inappropriate customer requests never cease to amaze me. A woman of certain age, obviously wealthy, and her it’s-easier-for-me-if-I-never-argue-with-her husband entered. She asked if they served breakfast. The woman behind the counter said they don’t have eggs or anything like that, but there’s a variety of pastries and croissants and things that people eat for breakfast. The woman re-iterated that she wanted eggs. The woman behind the counter apologized and re-iterated that they didn’t have them. The woman said, “I don’t think you understand me. I want EGGS.” It took a minute for all of us to realize that she expected the woman behind the counter to go out to some other restaurant and bring back her order so she could eat it at one of the tables in this particular restaurant, rather than actually going to the restaurant that served what she wanted.

Uh, no.

After our snack, we walked up and down Broadway. I stopped at the Adelphi Hotel to take some photos. It’s closed for the winter, but I want to set a piece in a place inspired by the Adelphi, so I photographed some of the architectural outer detail and tried to photograph some of the interior through the glass. It looked very lonely, all closed up, and I wished I was a multi-millionaire so I could buy it, winterize it, and bring it back to its glory.

We stopped at Borders to pick up a couple of things — I love the fact that it was packed before even 10 AM on a weekday.

Back in the car, we headed up past the track (some horses are still training there, but racing’s done until next summer) and to the public gardens at Yaddo.

Yaddo is one of the premier artist colonies in the world. I hadn’t realized it backed up to the racetrack on one side — and I-87 on another. Several people whose work I respect swear by them with an almost obsessive fealty. I’d had a couple of negative experiences with their administrative staff about a dozen years ago, and scratched them off my list, but I’d always been curious about the facility. I hadn’t realized that the gardens were open to the public until recently, so I figured, why not take a look?
IMG_0703_2

The gardens were being put to bed for the winter, and those working there were quite lovely and welcoming. I bet the gardens are stunning in the summer. And there are some lovely places tucked away that seem quite inspirational.

IMG_0701_2

The main house, as you can see by the photo, is rather imposing. Lovely, but imposing. And there are signs and gates everywhere to keep the public away from the artists. Or is it the other way around? 😉 On the one hand, I appreciate that — you don’t want people tromping around peering in your windows or knocking in your door while you’re working. That’s not the point of a residency there. On the other hand, all those signs gave off a rather zoo-like vibe: “Don’t feed the artists. They’re more dangerous than they look.”

So that was really, really interesting. And the grounds are great. I took a lot of photos I can use in my work — there’s stagnant water with stuff sticking through it and downed trees and rushing streams and cairn-like creations — really fascinating. I’m glad I was there. I’ve never heard anyone complain about the noise from the track or the highway, so I guess the studios are well-insulated. Seeing the property, I understand the place in a different way. Funnily enough, it makes me not want to apply there. I think I have too much of a life, in a way, built on my time with various projects over the years, and it would be hard to stay in my studio and work — I’d feel like I wanted to go here and there doing all the things I usually do in Saratoga that make the place so special to me. There would be just as many distractions for me as I have at home, which cancels out the purpose of having a residency. I think it’s a great place for artists to work if they’re from somewhere else — it would not necessarily be the right place for me to work, because I’d be so tempted to be out and about instead of inside working.

I had hoped to see a friend’s exhibit that was outside of Saratoga — and I couldn’t find the turnoff. I felt like a total moron. I had the directions — I just couldn’t find the place. Fortunately, because I had no idea if I was actually coming up until that day, I hadn’t promised to get up there at any particular time. Maybe I can make another trip up just to see it.

We stopped at Lowe’s because they have one in Saratoga and we don’t, picked up some stuff, and headed to Vermont. The drive was very pretty, the rain held off, and the temperature dropped. There are many things I would have liked to photograph, but didn’t get the chance. Oh, well.

We drove across what’s basically a pass in the Green Mountains, past Bromley Ski Area and with the turn off to Stratton — and it smelled like snow. Technically, it was too warm to snow, but it still smelled like it.

We arrived in Weston later than we planned because we’d lost so much time looking for the exhibit we never found and were starving. We ate at a place called Bryant’s House Restaurant — I’m assuming a guy named Bryant owned it at some point. It’s an old farmhouse converted into a restaurant. The food was excellent – really good chicken pie with excellent biscuits.

We meandered through the Vermont Country Store after lunch. The store was the reason we’d factored in the side trip to Vermont today — we’d seen a few things in the catalog that looked interesting, but the shipping is so exorbitant it was actually cheaper to drive to Vermont and pick it up in person.

The store was really disappointing. To me, it came across more as a mass-produced version of a cliche of an image of Vermont lifestyle, rather than actual Vermont-based arts, crafts, and foodstuffs. When you look around at the overhead for the place, you realize why things are so expensive. We decided to try one of their stollen — stollen is a “must have” in our holiday season. But, other than that, there was nothing we really wanted.

Very disappointing.

But I got some ideas for AMENDS, of all things, while driving through the Green Mountains.

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Maple tree in Lenox

Back in the car, back across the mountains, down Rt. 7 through Vermont and down through Massachusetts. By the time we hit Lenox, it was starting to get dark, The Haven had closed (so no curried chicken sandwich for me) and we were tired. If it had been an option, I would have booked into a motel right then and there. But we needed to get home.

So we did. It was raining by now, and dark, and the new headlamps in cars are angled so they hit oncoming drivers (me) right in the eyes. It was not a fun trip.

We stopped to pick up a pizza on the way home, and were back after being on the road for 13 hours.

Ate, watched stupid TV, and went to bed early, after playing with the cats.

I’ve got a headache this morning and am weary, but I have to pull it together to finish the NYFA applications and one short story. I also have to go out and pick up a cake — tomorrow is my mom’s birthday.

Hopefully, I can squeeze in a nap sometime this afternoon. I’m beat.

Devon