Tues. Dec. 8, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 202/Isolation Day 3 — Preparing

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Waning Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Busy weekend.

Friday was errand day, trying to get things done before I had to go into isolation in preparation for surgery. The errands were run successfully, with minimal contact with others, although I continue to be appalled at the stupidity of those around me, especially with the rising cases. The refusal to practice basic human decency by simply wearing a mask is disgusting.

Two of the errands weren’t strictly essential, but had to happen today or not happen at all. I was as careful as possible, other than not doing them, and hope I don’t have to pay the price of getting sick. I have sanitized so much in the car lately that it reeks of sanitizer. Or it smells like I’ve been quaffing thermoses full of vodka martinis in the car. You pick.

Home, decontaminated or quarantined everything picked up, decontaminated myself. Was exhausted. Got some admin and an LOI out.

With all the talk of a big storm coming in, after lunch, we brought in almost all the deck furniture (the big bench has to stay out for another week or two), the garden decorations, and the rest of the plants – except for the hanging plants. One pot of pansies is STILL blooming! Imagine that.

We had to clean things before putting them away. I am angry by how dirty everything got outside this year. Everything was scrubbed down after the pine pollen stopped falling – and that happened late this year. But everything was filthy, which it wasn’t in previous years. It’s all the damn heavy machinery, daily overuse of leaf blowers, and general uptick in pollution and cutting down of trees that contribute.

Some numbnut a couple of blocks over ran leaf blowers from just before 9 AM to after 6:30. There is not a single property in this neighborhood big enough to qualify for that. It’s disgusting.

It took all afternoon, and then I had to cook dinner. After dinner, I finished, finally finished the rest of the holiday cards. I say “finally” because I started them so early. I don’t think I’ve ever been done by December 4! I kind of like it, and might do it again next year, depending where we are and the work situation.

Town managers are moaning about all the “stress” of the rising virus numbers. What the eff did they think would happen, when there is ZERO enforcement of the state mask mandate, nothing is shut down, and their own personnel aren’t modeling proper protocols? Barnstable is the only red zone on the entire Cape because people are such selfish idiots, and that goes all the way up to town personnel.

Up early on Saturday. The storm wasn’t as bad as predicted – yet. I used a quick calm in it to dash out to Shaw’s and Trader Joe’s for the last few things before isolation. I went next door to Christmas Tree Shops to pick up another piece of outdoor décor, and then stopped at CVS to pick up my prescription. They gave me the high-end stuff this time, without a fuss, so I hope it doesn’t make me as sick as the last stuff did.

The storm was getting bad by the time I got out of CVS. I made it home, driving slowly, decontaminated everything including myself, and officially went into isolation.

None of the stores had the old English fruit and peel I need for the fruitcake cookies. When I tried to order online, every outlet I felt comfortable spending money in was sold out. So I guess I’m not doing fruitcake cookies this year. I will try chocolate crackle instead.

The storm kept getting worse; I didn’t want to be on the computer or do laundry, in case the power went out. But we did some more decorating, and spent a cozy afternoon reading. The Santas are up on the Behemoth, I put the snowmen on a small table all their own, more ornaments went on the tree,

The storm abated enough by Saturday night to watch the first half of season 9 of DEATH IN PARADISE. I love the location. The show really shouldn’t work – yet somehow, it does.

Sunday was the day to catch up on laundry, and decorate the back room. Cleared out a bunch of stuff that somehow accumulated in there. There’s still more work to do, but the room and the dining table look festive for the holidays.

There’s still a LOT of work to do in my office, including the Elegant Tree, but that will have to wait until after surgery.

Up early yesterday. Did some work on LIFE, REVISED, the piece that was inspired by an argument a few weeks ago. Somehow ended up with a haunted covered bridge in it, because of course I did. But the piece feels right. However, I need to make it the carrot, and only allow myself to work on it when I’ve completed the other things I need to do that day.

I risked going into the office, since no one was supposed to be there. Technically, I was alone and isolated, and I had no contact with anyone outside my household. I got some orders shipped out – because it’s the holidays, and I didn’t want them to sit unfilled until someone came in on Wednesday. I answered email questions, got out an email blast I’d worked on last week, the inspirational quote of the week, scheduled some social media stuff, did the social media rounds.

As soon as the postman picked up the packages I left outside for him, I locked up and left. I did a curbside pickup at the library – no one was around – and got back home. Here I stay, until Thursday’s COVID test, which removes a lot of stress from my life.

Decontaminated – even though I hadn’t had any contact, even at a distance with anyone. The office was supposedly the same temperature as the house, but for some reason, it felt really cold and I was chilled. I took a good, hot shower and scrubbed down, and felt better.

Read and got admin work done in the afternoon and evening. Read the fifth book in a series – I’d though the first book was mediocre, didn’t like the second book, and skipped the 3rd and 4th. Ordered this one, not realizing it was part of the same series. But this one is good. It feels like the series is growing into itself.

Today, I have client work I’m doing remotely, including a marketing campaign suggestion packet for 2021, LOIs, and my main focus is the Susanna Centlivre play. I’m so close to getting it where I want!

As usual, the computer has been acting up. I have problems with the PC every week. I had about three problems with the Macbook in 10 years.

Trying to get mentally prepared for the surgery. I hope this is the last one for a while. I’m weary. The whole year has made me weary, and thoroughly disillusioned with far too many of my fellow citizens. But I need to put aside the Big Picture worries this week and focus on what I’m facing on the home front. I can worry about Big Picture again in a few weeks.

I need to find my writing rhythm again. It’s been fits and starts in the past few weeks – heck, in the past few months – and I need to find a steady rhythm again.

Have a great day, and a great week.

Thurs. Dec. 3, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 197 — Must. Be. Organized.

Charlotte observes the partially-decorated tree. Photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Waning Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I have a post up on Gratitude and Growth about the garden.

Yesterday at the client’s was stressful. That is all that is appropriate to say publicly.

I was glad to get home and take extra time scrubbing down in decontamination.

Remote chat was fun.

Payment arrived from my ScriptMag article, which makes me happy. Offsets what I paid for cat food earlier this week!

Lost too much time searching to make sure an image was in the public domain – it was. I started using it a long time ago and checked. I should have trusted that I did the research properly the first time. Plus, Be Funky, my preferred collage maker, now has all my preferred grids behind a paywall, so I’m looking for another online free collage maker that doesn’t charge you to actually download the image once you’ve created it.

Working on some ads and promo stuff. Should have been finishing the holiday cards. If you’re in the S-Z portion of the alphabet and usually get a card from me, I apologize. I WILL get them out in the next few days, I promise.

I have to dash out early this morning to the grocery store. If the surgery is going through next week (and with 4613 cases in the last 24 hours here in the state, how can it?), I need to start isolating early next week, so today and Saturday are grocery runs to two different stores, to make sure we have everything.

I also want to get the rest of the baking supplies I need, so I can bake cookies over the next few days, and start prepping/delivering the cookie tins as soon as I’m through surgery.

I hope to make it back in time for the Zoom meditation with Concord Library, and then I have to dig down and finish the revisions on “Lockesley” to get it out, and then do another pass at the two Nina Bell shorts.

Along with some client work, LOIs, and other things.

I better be productive today, and stop faffing around, hmmmm?

Have a great day.

Published in: on December 3, 2020 at 6:51 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Dec. 3, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 197 — Must. Be. Organized.  
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Tues. Nov. 24, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 188 — Too Much (Web) Traffic

image courtesy of Steven Liao via pixabay.com

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Waxing Moon

Neptune & Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

The last few days have been more chaotic than I hoped. It happens.

I have a Very Long Post Full of Context on Thanksgiving Prep over on Comfort and Contradiction. A long post to try to simplify the holidays sounds contradictory, but there you have it.

Yesterday, I also posted on Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions about worrying less about the “perfect” holiday and living it more from the heart.

The food post took longer on Friday than I meant it to, and then I had to rush to CVS, where they’d screwed up my mom’s prescription. We got it sorted out and they were nice; it just took time, and I got increasingly nervous having to be around people. I’m doing my best to avoid people right now.

Swung by the library for a curbside drop off/pick up. Came home, decontaminated, was exhausted.

Got an ad live for a client.

Just Jump in and Fly cover

Went through the final proofs for “Just Jump In and Fly” (under the Ava Dunne byline) and signed off on it. It’s coming live for pre-orders slowly – except Amazon doesn’t want to carry it because it’s available through other channels. Amazon is used as a distributor, not a publisher, and I’m not part of any exclusive program with them, so they can get over themselves. Well, they only wanted to give me 29 cents royalty on every sale anyway, which is pretty insulting.

I’m looking at platforms where I can sell mobi files (since I can’t get the WP site to acknowledge the plug-in). Setting up a Square Store would make sense – only that platform can’t do instant downloads. Most of the commerce sites are too expensive – I couldn’t generate enough to make them pay for themselves, much less make any profit.

I absolutely love “Just Jump In and Fly” even after all this time. It’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever written.

I managed to get Trinity of Teasers up, too, for free download. It contains the first three chapters each of PLAYING THE ANGLES, SAVASANA AT SEA, and TRACKING MEDUSA. You can download the PDF here.

I started work on the revision of “Lockesley Hall” which is pretty damn funny in its own right, even though it needs work. Didn’t get very far, because I was so damn tired.

Saturday morning, I was all set to get a lot of writing done and promotion, and all the rest.

I received an email late Friday night from my editor that my piece was up on Script Mag. So I had to prep it for my clip file, get it up on Clippings.me, but when I tried to add it to my Fearless Ink website, it wouldn’t save the edit.

I contacted A2. They told me that my websites have “too much traffic” and that I exceeded CPU capacity. Lots of people are finding my work on WOW – Women on Writing, and coming over. Even more are finding me through SEO searches.

That’s a good thing, right? This is what I’ve worked for the past few years, WHY I moved hosts. To have a stable platform and grow traffic.

Only now, they’re trying to force me to upgrade my plan to something I can’t afford right now AND hire one of their “web developers.”  They suggest switching things onto Cloudflare, but it’s out of my price range right now.

Come on, people! My sites are gaining traffic, but it’s just that THAT much.

And, of course, they’re doing this while I’m trying to get the holiday pieces out and doing lots of promotion, such as with TRINITY OF TEASERS, that drives traffic to the sites. They know they have me over a barrel. It makes me so angry.

I looked at some other hosts. Hostinger seems affordable, but then I have to learn a whole new control panel. They’re supposed to be reliable and good, but do a lot of upselling, which I don’t like.

I also think I might have to split the websites on different hosts. The Devon Ellington Work site and its various subdomains might need to be on one host, since they get the most traffic and are ever-expanding. While the Fearless Ink, Cerridwen’s Cottage, and Grief to Art sites might need to be on a different one. If I can find reasonable plans, it will be about the same price as what I have now, which is affordable.

If Grief to Art gains traction, eventually, it will need to spin off on its own host, because it will need a lot of room.

So I lost most of the day dealing with that, which was so frustrating. I was in tears by the end of it, even though A2 was nice and had some good ideas. But every suggestion ended with the upsell.

The bottom line is that the websites need to pay for themselves. They’re doing that right now. But if I upgrade to a plan I can’t really afford, I’m in trouble. They need to show the actual monetary gains in book sales, more article work, etc. BEFORE I upgrade, not putting in the money where I’m not sure it can grow fast enough to pay for itself.

I also don’t want to make a stupid decision out of panic and regret it.

Thank goodness I’ve always kept the websites separate, or I’d be in real trouble.

I ran down to do a curbside pickup at the library. The Congregational Church next door was having a leaf cleanup on their property. Too many people, more than half unmasked, no social distancing. In flagrant violation of state mandates. Why are they allowed to get away with this? Why is nothing enforced around here?

Sunday morning, I was out the door early, early to go to Star Market before too many people were out. I didn’t need much, but the turkey was the most important thing. I found a nice turkey – only 14 pounds this year. Put gas in the car, too. Hauled everything home, disinfected it, disinfected myself.

Sat down and wrote holiday cards. Got all the overseas cards out, except a few where I had to email people for their addresses. Got a good start on the domestic cards. But it took a long time, and I was tired.

Up early yesterday. Off to the client’s, where I worked on my own. Got some orders shipped out (I hate that part of the job; I don’t mind helping out, but I am not a shipping clerk). The postman “forgot” to stop at the office, so I had to run down the street after the truck, waving the packages, even though the flag was up, and I’d put in an electronic pickup request. Got out holiday email blasts; worked on the ad that needs to go live. The ad that went live on Friday is getting a lot of traction, so hopefully it’s converting well into sales. We’ll know next weekend.

Was getting ready to work on some social media posts for the client when a Tornado Warning came through on my phone, followed a few seconds later by a screaming Tornado Alert – Seek shelter! Message.

The building I was in was flimsy, and the car unprotected. I looked outside, and didn’t see any funnels. I locked up and risked driving home. The rain came in, hard. I could barely see the road sometimes. But I made it home, got the car in the garage, before the worst of the deluge and the thunder. We hunkered down for the next hour and a half. It was a bad storm, but no funnels around here, thank goodness.

But I was worn out by then.

Read in the afternoon. Finished reading a biography of Elaine Stritch. As talented as she was, I kept a safe distance from her when we were both working in NYC. She was nasty and manipulative, and I stayed away as much as possible.

Also read my first Kit Rocha book, DEAL WITH THE DEVIL, one of the Mercenary Librarians series, and liked it. I usually avoid dystopia because we’re living it, but this one was recommended by several people, and I liked it a lot.

Gearing up for a round of errands today. I have to make a Target run for some things I can’t get anywhere else and can’t do for curbside pickup, because I have to look at things and make a decision. Then, to the post office to get more stamps and mail an overseas package; to the liquor store and the library; and to the chocolatier to get gifts we are sending to several friends.

Even the thought of it upsets me, being out around people, but I hope I’ve mapped it out and timed it so I’m around the fewest people possible and can whip in and out everywhere with minimal contact.

Major, major disinfectant protocols when I get back.

Then, it’s writing more domestic cards, getting a client ad live, and working on “Lockesley Hall.”

Tomorrow will be stressful, because I have to overlap with other people at the client’s, but it’s only for a short time, so, fingers crossed.

At least that seditious GSA administrator finally signed the transition papers. She needs to go to prison anyway. We can’t let ANY of these corrupt individuals slither away.

Of course, I’ve been sneaking in a few thousand words here and there on GAMBIT COLONY, my major stress-reliever of a project. Someday, I’ll be satisfied with those first six books of the series, that cover from auditions through filming the first season, and actually submit them! Well, I’m hoping to submit them in 2021, so they’ll be out by 2022, but who knows. There are other books that need to be finished first.

Take care, and have a safe day.

Fri. Dec. 6, 2019: Deep Within the Baking Marathon

Friday, December 6, 2019
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Hop on over to AFFAIRS OF THE PEN, where I talk about the fun of holiday romances.

I got back to baking in the early afternoon, after having adventures finding decent vanilla that was also affordable. It’s shocking how much food prices have gone up this year, while the packages are smaller and the quality is often lower.

I made the orange-cranberry cookies from the recipe in THE CAPE COD COOKBOOK. I started making them a few years ago, and they’ve become a favorite. I made about 10 dozen. I prepped the dough for the same amount of molasses spice cookies, which I will bake today.

I had leftover orange zest (I got a little over-enthusiastic trying to find a way to actually LIKE zesting oranges). So I built a chocolate spice cake around the leftover zest, using ideas from several different recipes, and then tweaking them.

It was outstanding.

I already got the request (although it felt more like a demand) to share the recipe. Um, no. When I put a bunch of work into developing a recipe, I’m not flinging it up on the Internet so anyone can claim it. I’m saving it for my own cookbook. I am thinking of reviving The Heritage Recipe project next year, where I work on family recipes and adjust them for modern times. I think there’s another website with that name already, so I probably need to rename mine.

Then, I wonder if it’s too much to take on, with everything else that has to happen next year.

Watching SHETLAND, Season 5. It’s so well done.

Got in one of the research books for an essay I’m working on. I need to get the other essay done this weekend, so it can go up on Monday, and I’m thinking of doing one more before the end of the year, then the two I’ve been thinking about for a long time early next year.

This morning, I have errands (grocery store AGAIN, post office, library, etc.), some work to get done/out, take my mom to get her blood pressure checked. Then, it’s baking the molasses spice cookies and the oatmeal/currant lace cookies.

Tomorrow morning, I will bake the cupcakes. Then, we’re going to the holiday greens sale at the library, and the open house at the Cahoon Museum. After that, I’ll frost the cupcakes, and maybe deliver ones to the neighbors. Sunday and Monday will be more deliveries. I want to make sure I get them all out by mid-week.

I’m behind on the overseas holiday cards. I wanted to get them out this morning, but I will have to stay up as long as it takes tonight in order to get them out tomorrow morning instead. Otherwise, it’ll be Valentine’s Day before they arrive.

I carefully read through the National Grid bill. We were so careful with gas last much, and our bill is so much higher. You know why? They double the price per therm from November to April. It’s not that I’m using so much more — although, with cold weather, of course I am. It’s that they’re charging DOUBLE. How is that legal? And, there’s both a delivery charge and a service charge. Huh? Aren’t they the same thing? That’s ridiculous. People already use more energy in the winter, because they need to heat the house. The company’s making more money. But now they DOUBLE the price? That’s not right.

I will be talking to my elected officials about that, in our regular conversation, along with all the other points we need to discuss.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you on the other side of it. We’re supposed to get a little more snow today. I already have my pre-storm headache.

 

Wed. Dec. 4, 2019: Definitely Winter

Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Wintry weather mix

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for my post on updating my contract and raising my rates.

Monday’s weather was awful. I wound up cancelling an afternoon appointment after my first client. I swung by the library to drop off and pick up, and then had another meeting run long, so I missed meditation group.

I’d contacted the landlord about the continuing leak in the downstairs bathroom. He called a different plumber, and made an appointment for them to come by late yesterday morning. Since I am scheduling this to post, I won’t have an update on whether or not it worked until tomorrow!

The rain switched over to freezing rain overnight Monday. Tuesday, it didn’t switch to snow until 7 AM, and it started accumulating quickly. That made my day a bit more complicated, although I tried to keep it simple. I knew I could make it to the first client (with a stop at the post office), and then play it by ear from there.

Monday night, we watched the musical movie version of GIGI. Leslie Caron was delightful, but the entire piece I found creepy and misogynist. She was raised to be a courtesan, kept by men. I don’t believe for one minute that Gaston was actually in love with her. He just knew he needed to marry her to get what he wanted. I loved the costumes, but the piece itself creeped me out. Now, I want to go back and read Colette’s actual novel by the same name. I’m sure it was watered down and any social commentary/satire was removed by Hollywood — which made it even creepier, because it came across like this was all a good thing, and this behavior was okay.

Writing a bit, but not enough. Never enough. Working on THE QUALITY OF LIGHT, working on the promotional materials for GRAVE REACH’S release, and, to relieve stress, working on the winter holiday romance piece. This isn’t one to go into the newsletter; it’s a novel that I’m writing, here and there, because I want to. I always want to write about Thanksgiving and the Winter Holiday during them, although I can edit at any time.

I should have started working on the holiday cards Monday night, but I was too tired, so I started, instead, on Tuesday.

Washed out the cookie storage tins yesterday. Did a bit more decorating.

This afternoon, when I finish my work for the day, I’m going to bake the tollhouse cookies for the cookie platters, and then write more cards. Tomorrow morning, first thing, I’m going to get the rest of what I need for the baking, and then it’s all baking, all the time for the next few days, so I can start delivering the platters on the weekend.

The Crystal Bar soap order arrived, so I can wrap those gifts, too.

I’m trying to do as much as possible early in the month, so I can actually enjoy the holiday.

Looking forward to the Remote Chat today.

Hope everyone has a lovely Wednesday!

Published in: on December 4, 2019 at 6:57 am  Comments Off on Wed. Dec. 4, 2019: Definitely Winter  
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Friday, December 14, 2018: Deliveries and Cards and . . .

Friday, December 14, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Busy day yesterday. My friend’s cat turned up, which was great news. He’d been hiding inside the house and sauntered out when he was good and ready.

Some remote client work, some work on THE LINGERIE TRAIL and a couple of other projects. All humming along nicely.

Caught up on some reading in the afternoon. I’ve now read three books in a series by a particular author. I LOVED the first book. The second book angered me, because it reinforced negative female tropes that are destructive to keep reinforcing. The third book was good, but not a single female character was positive. Even the women who are called “kind” or “responsible” are also described as “ugly” or “plain” or “hags.”

The only conclusion I can draw from this body of work is that this male author has serious problems with women. The writing is good, but he’s a misogynist. I tried to excuse it because of the historical context; but the books, over and over again, reinforce the misogynism instead of pointing it out and fighting against it. That bothers me.

Wrote about a third of my holiday cards last night. Large grocery shop this morning, then more cookie platter deliveries, then time at the library, then the hunt for more fruitcake mix so I can make stollen tomorrow.

The post office, the library, and my lovely firemen were all thrilled with their cookie platters.

This afternoon is about writing and decorating and finishing the cards — early on. I have plans this evening.

Busy weekend ahead of baking, decorating, writing, and delivering more cookie platters.

I can’t believe the holidays are almost here!

A new friend gifted me with a paperwhite. I’ve always wanted one, but never got around to buying it for myself. I never mentioned it in any of our conversations; it just happened to be the gift he gave. Very sweet.

Back to the stove — and to the page!

Published in: on December 14, 2018 at 11:20 am  Comments Off on Friday, December 14, 2018: Deliveries and Cards and . . .  
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Tues. Dec. 19, 2017: Holiday Hamster Wheel

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend, but not as productive, writing-wise, as I wanted.

I wasn’t able to get the rest of the cookie platter deliveries done on Friday, due to weather. I knew most people wouldn’t be around over the weekend, so they’ve been bumped to this week.

I was exhausted by the car repairs Friday, even though it went well. I find it stressful. But the car purrs like a tiger, and is happy.

I turned around the proofs for TRACKING MEDUSA, and have the next set to proof. Hopefully, we’ve caught everything. I should have done them this weekend, but I wanted to come back to the text with fresh eyes. Yeah, right. I needed a break and procrastinated!

Continued decorating Friday, Saturday, and it was Sunday by the time the decorations were all up and the boxes put away. Took me a month to decorate the house, but it looks great! It feels good, too, and that’s so important. For all I love to travel, I’m very much hearth and home.

Friday afternoon, I finished the gifts that had to be mailed and got them to the post office. We are so lucky — the people who work at Centerville Post Office are amazing!

Saturday, I sat my butt in the chair and wrote the holiday cards. Once I actually sit down, I enjoy the process. I love to reconnect with people; while I send cards to many of those with whom I interact regularly, there are also those where we only connect that once a year.

I realized I should do a direct mail piece, once the two novels move distributors and the new websites are up, about my books to this targeted list. They know I write, but I haven’t given them enough information.

Because my webhost, 1and1.com, is so slimy — I mean, have you ever heard of a webhost that won’t allow simple jpgs to go up on a site without additional charge? Anyway, it’s put the kybosh on the holiday promotions I’d planned. I lost the holiday market this year, because I couldn’t properly promote. Because of the distribution move, I need to be able to have the information, along with the covers and media kits, ON MY WEBSITES. And my host won’t allow it. The repeal of net neutrality early for their customers, I guess.

I didn’t expect to make a gazillion dollars on holiday sales, but I usually make a reasonable amount that helps push me through January and February. Not this year.

I’m going to demand my money back for this final quarter. They did not deliver the services promised in the contract.

Anyway, once everything is moved, I’m going to do a direct mail promotion to my holiday list, and then I’m also working on some other cool promotions winter going into spring, with a nice big one for the Coventina titles while THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY releases, joining PLAYING THE ANGLES on the shelf.

I ran out of stamps on Saturday — I’d miscalculated. Well, math has never been my best subject. The post office was open an extra hour and I ran down to re-stock. Well, the line was out both doors into the parking lot! I couldn’t believe how many people were mailing stacks and stacks of packages! Most people mailed at least five; many mailed at least ten! Everyone was in a good mood, though, and we were laughing and joking and talking about how great our post office is, and how we love supporting them.

Came back, finished the cards. One mail carrier took the first batch when he dropped off a package; our regular guy arrived just a few minutes after I finished the last card. All good!

Did some work on the aging novel. I’m going to add menopause into that. Too often, it’s depicted as cute and funny when, in reality, it’s miserable and interferes with life.

Sunday, we finished decorating and put things away –which took nearly all damn day.

In and around that, I wrote the first chapter and a half of a piece I’m playing with — it could be a valid novel in its own right, but it also serves a more personal purpose, as in trying to figure a few things out.

Yes, I SHOULD have worked on other things, but I needed the break.

Monday, was back to work on SERENE AND DETERMINED — I’ve figured out at least part of the second act, and where I want to go with it, but I need a good ending. I have to trust that, as I write, I’ll get there. This play has been quite a challenge. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s amazing how every play, every script, every novel, takes on its own life and demands its own process. If I tried to force everything into the same process (which I have tried — and it’s failed), it takes the life out of the work.

I needed an infusion of Janet Malcolm’s writing. I like her work. Over the weekend, I re-read THE JOURNALIST AND THE MURDERER, and am reading THE SILENT WOMAN. Both fascinating, and both bring up issues about journalist and subject that are more relevant today than ever.

I’m about two issues behind on my NEW YORKERS, but I’m hoping to catch up next weekend! (When I’ll be three issues behind).

One client meeting was cancelled yesterday, so I was on site with another client, and then has some other meetings.

I’m working on a proposal for a workshop — they might have their full roster, but just in case, I’m going to pitch to this organization.

This is a busy week, especially with the Solstice on Thursday, and Christmas next weekend into early next week!

 

Fri. Dec. 9, 2016: On to the Next Project

Friday, December 9, 2016
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Yesterday, errands took longer than they should have. But “Courting the Lioness” went out, and now it’s back to JUST A DROP and the short stories. Plus, I want to get a good chunk of MURDER OF A MELANCHOLIC drafted, since it happens just before Christmas, and I always write better about a holiday in the midst of said holiday.

And fighting with the health insurance company, who is staffed by people with the intellectual and emotional intelligence that would make amoeba cringe.

On the up side, decorating continues. I love decorating our trees because each ornament has a story, and decorating keeps me connected to the stories and the joyful memories.

Which is important, as the President Elect continues to put together one of the most corrupt and incompetent cabinets in this nation’s history, while continuing his conflict of interest. He has now been given permission to use the entire country as his own personal piggy bank and will bankrupt us all.

Tomorrow is the drawing for Spectacle of Trees. I hope the organizations made lots of money. There will be 17 very happy people tomorrow night, whose names were drawn to win the trees and the gifts under them. And 17 grateful organizations.

We’re supposed to get snow on Sunday and Monday. Hopefully that means I can finish the writing, get the decorations finished, and most of the baking done! Not to mention CARDS. I love cards, but some times it’s hard to get my act together to sit down and write them.

Especially when my head is full of characters and stories demanding attention.

Devon

Published in: on December 9, 2016 at 11:12 am  Comments Off on Fri. Dec. 9, 2016: On to the Next Project  
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Tues. Dec. 20: Reboot of the Jain Lazarus Adventures


Tessa and Violet

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I signed a contract with a new-to-me publisher yesterday to re-release HEX BREAKER. They’re interested in the other Jain Lazarus books, too. It makes me very happy. More details to follow. So I better get CRAVE THE HUNT finished — as soon as I get my next Annabel Aidan novel off to the other publisher!

Still negotiating on another job. Set a couple more quick workshops for early next year, including a webinar in early January, a 90-minute, real-time “Prompt Playground”, a one-week holiday-themed workshop, and I’ve been asked to teach the “Setting as Character” workshop at the end of April again, so I will.

Met with a colleague for a drink and snacks, and we’re talking about a theatre collaboration early next year. Looks like it’s a go. We’ll talk to some more people in the coming weeks, and see if we can secure space, etc., and figure out dates. It would be ideal to do it for International Women’s Day, but with that being so early in March, I don’t know if we can pull it off. It depends on the level of time and commitment people are willing to put into it. I’m not willing to shoulder all of the production needs as well as the writing, so it will have to be sorted out.

Worked on holiday cards. Still not quite done. The last of the cards will go out today. And then the e-cards go out. I don’t know why it’s taking me so long!

My research books arrived for the current novel, so that’s all good. I still need to sit down and work out some logistics with that piece.

My students in the year-long go on break until the end of the year. I’m encouraging them to keep on writing, at least intermittently, on the break, and those who are behind have been admonished to use a lot of the break to catch up. Bet you they’re the ones who won’t, and then coming whining back in January. That’s THEIR responsibility. January is the choice-and-consequences month!

Violet is fine. I think she just needed a day off yesterday. I know the feeling! By evening, she was back to playing with the kitten, and this morning, she was back to her bossy self.

Onward.

Devon

Today’s word count: 775
Total word count: 14,937

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 10:38 am  Comments (4)  
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Wed. Dec. 14: Cookie Platter Day


Tessa loves to decorate

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Only one retrograde. Yee-hah!

Worked online yesterday morning, including pitching for a couple of small jobs that sound like fun.

A Budget van pulled into the driveway and I thought, “Now what?” Turns out, Fed Ex had to rent extra trucks! It was a Fed Ex delivery!

Took the packages to the post office — they’ll be delivered latest by Monday. All the overseas cards are out. Now, I just have to finish the domestic cards. I need to put together a “Yuletide Plan” for next year, so I can start things a little earlier and get them done a little more smoothly.

The eggnog icing for the cookies is amazing. So amazing, in fact, that, when I had some leftover, I baked a spice cake and used the rest on the cake. Which is out-of-this world. What a terrific combination. The nutmeg in the eggnog icing compliments the nutmeg and other spices in the cake, and it’s fantastic And it uses shortening rather than butter — huge difference. Definitely something for the “keeper” file!

Unfortunately, the lemon glaze for the lemon mini-bundts didn’t work. It tastes wonderful, but doesn’t drizzle properly. The cakes are too delicate to allow spreading — they’re lighter than an angel food. I probably should have used the recipe with yogurt in it, for smoothness. Thinning it with more lemon juice and/or water keeps it from hardening into glaze properly. So, I’ll just sprinkle the cakes with powdered sugar right before I put together the plates and get them out the door. I’ll bake a pound cake later this week and use the glaze on that instead.

Writing was okay yesterday, but not great. I’m struggling with the changes in the story. I have to sit down and chart things — I’ve written myself into a corner, because I’ve gotten some logistical lapses that have snowballed, and I need to sort them out, or it will only get worse.

Today, I print the holiday tags and cheat sheets for the cookie platters (I always do a page with pictures of the cookie and a description, in case someone doesn’t like something, or has an allergy), wrap them and deliver them. So, today is Cookie Platter Day.

I poached sole last night. I haven’t had sole in years, so I was very excited when I came across it at the store. It turned out really well. I always stress about how to cook fish, but a little butter, a little garlic, and little white wine, and you really can’t go wrong.

Tonight is the writers’ holiday party. Can’t wait — and I’m usually not a party gal.

Devon

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009
Waning Moon
Sunny and COLD!

A day without retrogrades, can you believe it? But Mars goes into retrograde soon, so . . .sigh. I can never remember if that means I get crankier and more prone to fights, or have trouble standing up for myself. Guess I’ll find out!

I keep thinking today is supposed to have some deep personal significance, but damned if I can remember what it is!

Having some nice discussions with UK producers about my plays. My work tends to do well over there. Fingers crossed.

Yesterday was just flat out frustrating. I got some errands done. I can’t find my hot glue gun, so I sprang for the $10 to get a new and better one. Actually, I had a 40% off coupon, so it was much less than $10.

By the afternoon, I was finally able to start pulling Christmas decorations out. It was total chaos, so, of course, one of my least favorite neighbors shows up at the door in the middle of it in a panic about a situation that has nothing to do with me, and there is nothing I can do to help her. I explained that this was a really bad time to interrupt me, and that there was only one small thing I could do to help. I was willing to do that one thing, but that was ALL I could do. She’s always trying to get me to do things for her — I don’t mind helping out when I can, and I set firm boundaries, but when I say, “This is what I can do for you, no more” and the response is, “ But I need this, this, and this in addition”, my response is “If what I’m able to do doesn’t work for you, then I can’t do anything.” I will NOT be guilted, manipulated, or bullied into doing things I don’t/wont’ do. She’s also a nasty old gossip, and always trying to get into the apartment to see what’s on the desk or on the altar and then gossip about it.

She finally agreed to what I said I could do. I told her I had everything scattered all over the floor, and she could borrow my cell phone, but we had to do it in the hallway; she could NOT come in. So what does she do? Tries to push her way into the apartment. I realize it’s rude to manhandle senior citizens, but when I say NO it means NO, no matter who you are. She would have broken her neck if she’d tried to pick her way through wires and half-opened boxes of decorations. Plus, I don’t want her in there and talking about how the apartment looks when I’m in the middling of decorating.

I took care of her business, told her that was all I could do, I wouldn’t be around most of the weekend (which is true), and I was in the middle of something and this was it. So what happens? Not only does she knock on my door a half a dozen times more throughout the afternoon with this request and that request — none of which I could fulfill because I was up to my armpits in fabric and glue and tree branches and ribbon and stitching and a lot of other stuff — but she goes to another neighbor and GIVES OUT MY CELL PHONE NUMBER as her contact.

I basically melted down. Not at her — won’t give her the satisfaction — but the lack of respect just galls me. The complete and utter disrespect for my time and my boundaries is completely unacceptable. Whenever someone called, I said that I had allowed her to use my phone as a courtesy and that was the extent of my involvement. I could not take or deliver messages, nor could I serve as coordinator or point person on this situation.

I realize she and another nasty old gossip (they talk about each other behind each other’s backs all the time, yet spend all their spare time together) are in a competition to see who they can get to do more for them, but I am NOT playing. I have my hands full taking care of my own mom, handling her medical appointments and cooking and laundry and all of that. I don’t mind helping out my neighbors, but when I tell them what I can realistically do, I expect those boundaries to be honored.

If I’d been on a deadline and writing, I would have gone ballistic, and there would be bits of the building missing.

Needless to say, I got very little done. I have the tree table set up and the tree on it and fluffed, though not decorated. I have the Advent table set up, although not decorated yet. Part of the faux mantel is decorated, and I wrapped some things in the hutch and built and stitched the bows, shown in the photo above, because I thought it was cute and a little different. And that’s as far as I got.

Today, before I leave for my friend’s place, I’m going to wrestle the lights on the tree, and then, bit by bit, over the weekend, I’ll finish the decorating. And not answer the door OR the phone.

In spite of all the chaos, I had some very good writing sessions yesterday. I have to back up my computer — Time Machine reminded me that I hadn’t backed up in 30 days, and really, given my history of technical difficulties, didn’t I think that was damned stupid? And here I thought I was backing up faithfully once a week! So I’ll do that. I’ve got the holiday cards and lists packed in my writing bag, and I’ll take my other writing. The laundry’s ready to go. I’m going to a friend’s this afternoon to do laundry, write cards, and then cook dinner as a thank you for letting me do umpteen loads of laundry. (LIke I said, they never replaced the machines in the laundry room after the floods a few years ago, just hosed them down, and I’m sorry, but no cholera panties for me).

I baked mini scones for breakfast. Pretty good, but again, even the dough isn’t holding together properly. I think they’re processing flour differently. I will ask Pillsbury. I’m having trouble with anything I make using Pillsbury flour. I think I’ll just switch back to using King Arthur — I can completely trust their quality and consistency.

Backing up, back to the page, and then heading out!

Devon

Sunday, August 30, 2009

IMG_0472
New York Botanical Garden

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

It’s starting to smell like autumn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that’s where AMENDS is set.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devon

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

Monday, December 15, 2008

2stacys-christmas-blogfest-0811

Monday, December 15, 2008
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cool

Today’s featured author is Gloria Oliver, who uses fascinating premises for her young adult fiction. Brenda, Susan and PJ, I specifically thought you would enjoy the interview. Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise to learn about her work.

It was difficult to get going yesterday, but I finally managed it. I worked on the Christmas cards. I finished all the overseas cards, and then made it to the “S” list before running out of cards. Since I’d lent my car to my mom for the weekend, it wasn’t as though I could dash out and get more! So I’ll do that today and finish up the cards.

I didn’t get much work done on the gifts, so I have to concentrate on those today, too. I’d hoped the packages could go out today, but they have to go out tomorrow. Oh, well.

Finished the assignment for Confidential Job #2. Sent it off with the invoice.

Did some work for another client that was so irritating that the only antidote was so spend time reading Virginia Woolf’s journal.

That took up the whole day.

I’ve been working steadily on the Maine project, and I’ve got some work done on the Aunt Doris/Cassio Christmas story. In addition to the holiday stuff that needs to get done, I also have to get back to the OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK revisions.

In other words, a busy day. Let’s hope it’s also a happy one.

The newsletter should go out at some point today, so watch your box for it. If you’re not signed up for the newsletter, you can sign up here.

Devon

christmas-2008-007

Violet and Elsa

Published in: on December 15, 2008 at 8:19 am  Comments (9)  
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