Mon. March 8: International Women’s Day

image courtesy of Alberto H. Fabragas via pixabay.com

Instead of the usual intent of the week, I’m going to tell you about some of the extraordinary women about whom I’ve written for the 365 Women A Year playwrighting project over the last few years.

Imagine if society didn’t just pretend to value women on one day of the year? Imagine if they actually took action that proves they value women, including equal pay for equal work and non-toxic work environments.

Imagine if a woman’s value wasn’t tied to whether or not she CHOSE to have children, and both choices were given support?

Imagine if all the “administrative assistants” (who are mostly women) were given the recognition for the jobs they actually do and given the titles and pay of the do-nothing, useless executives for whom they work?

For many years, working my way up to Broadway, I worked as a temp in offices all around the country. Well over 200 companies over the decades. In all that time, I only met THREE ‘executives’ who actually did any work and weren’t a total waste of space, money, and time. Two of those individuals worked for the same company (and I worked for the pair of them).

Imagine what we could accomplish if the truly talented and those who did the work were given the money and support to do said work, instead of propping up those who don’t?

Now, to celebrate some of the extraordinary women about whom I’ve written:

Kate Warne. She was the first female Pinkerton. She walked into Allan Pinkerton’s office and told him she wanted to be a detective, and that women could get information that men couldn’t. She proved it, and became one of his top and most trusted operatives. She and her fellow Pinkertons often did large, theatrical, undercover operations. Among the cases were the Adams Express Embezzlement case (the case around which “Confidence Confidant” is based), where Kate posed as the wife of a forger to gain the confidence of the wife of an embezzler, and retrieve the money; a case where Kate posed as a medium to help kill a pair of lovers who’d poisoned the spouse of one of the pair, and was planning the murder of the other (I’m writing about that case this year in “A Rare Medium”). Kate was so popular as a medium that her clients were disconsolate when she solved the case and closed up shop. She helped smuggle Lincoln into Washington for his inauguration and thwart an assassination attempt. She helped bring down the Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow. She trained an entire division of Pinkerton women.

Jeanne de Clisson. In the 14th century, she became the pirate known as “The Lioness of Brittany.” The King of France wrongly accused (and executed) her husband for treason (I think it was her second husband; it might have been her third). At forty, after giving birth to seven children, she sold her land before it could be seized. She bought three ships, painted black with red sails, and became a pirate, only preying on French ships. She later fell in love with an Englishman, and retired to England. Her son, Olivier, became known at “The Butcher” and built the Château de Clisson in Brittany, which still stands today.

Giulia Tofana. A 17th century herbalist, she developed and perfected Aqua Tofana, a poison used to free women from their abusive husbands by turning them into widows. She had a tight circle of apprentices, and they are thought to have poisoned at least 600 people. The formula has never been recovered. Supposedly, Mozart thought he’d been dosed with it. Stories differ as to whether the fanatical Wilrich von Daun actually killed her while she was in sanctuary, or whether she escaped and retired to a convent.

Lavinia Fontana. She was a painter in Renaissance Bologna, one of the first to negotiate commissions like a man would. She was supported and promoted by a cadre of powerful Bolognese society women, several of whom ran their husbands’ businesses. She married a man who took her name and took care of their many children while she worked.

Canaletto’s Sisters. The Venetian painter Caneletto had three sisters: Fiorenza, who married, and whose son became a court painter in Austria and Germany, his work often confused with Canaletto’s; Francesca, and Viena, who never married. Not much is known about them, other than they were smart, lively, and devoted to their talented brother. Canaletto started his career painting stage sets, part of a family renown for theatre stage design.

Isabella Goodwin. She was the first female NYPD detective, and her work was as much about improving women’s lives as fighting crime. Like Kate Warne, she enjoyed theatrical undercover work. She was widowed young. Her husband was a cop, killed in the line of duty, and she went into police work to provide for their children. By all accounts, she was much better at it than her husband. Later in life, she married a younger man, a singer, and her final case involved medical fraud.

Susanna Centlivre. She was one of the most popular 18th century playwrights of her day. She posed as a boy to attend Cambridge; when she was discovered, she joined touring theatres as an actress, and then became a playwright. Her satires were popular, and she was part of a lively group of writers and artists. She married a “yeoman of the mouth” – one of Queen Anne’s favorite cooks, and the stability of that marriage supported her writing.

Who am I writing about this year? More Kate Warne plays, dramatizing some of her other cases. A play about Dawn Powell and Dorothy Parker, two of my favorite writers (who weren’t particularly fond of each other). Marie Correlli, born Mary McKay, a popular Victorian novelist.

Among my earliest heroines were Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe. They are two of the reasons I became a writer.

Who are the women who inspire you?

Tues. Dec. 22, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 216 — Trying to Get it All Done

Cookie tins, packed & ready for delivery

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Waxing Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Busy weekend, although I wasn’t really feeling up to it.

Friday had more snow; not much, just a dusting. I had to pick up a prescription for my mom, and I did a curbside drop-off/pick-up at the library.

Decontaminated, read a bit.

Finished the revisions on both the Susanna Centlivre play and the Isabella Goodwin play and got them out. Nearly two weeks ahead of deadline, too. I’m pretty pleased with myself.

Heard back from the Body Be Gone publisher. I didn’t win the big prize, but I am in the anthology and will get a little bit of cash and a copy of it, which will be fun. It was a lot of fun to participate in it, and I’m pleased to be part of such a lively, creative group. I wonder which story won?

In any case, by not winning, I retain my rights to these characters, and they can have a life beyond that one story. Which could be a lot of fun.

Woke up early on Saturday, with ideas for a story for one of the anthologies that would be due on Dec. 31. It might be too complex for a short story, but I’m going to give it a shot and see what I can do with it.

Wrote 1600 words on it, and it’s a bit all over the place, but I like the bones of it. Once I finish the draft, I can strip it down and rebuild.

I poked two companies about orders I placed weeks ago – giving them plenty of time because it’s both busy season and the pandemic. They finally shipped. One of the orders was placed before Thanksgiving. This is inexcusable. I help one of my clients with shipping. It doesn’t take five weeks to ship something that is in stock.

Saturday’s big project was making stollen. I used the traditional Dresden recipe. It takes all day, between the rises and waiting while things soak. But we wind up with three enormous loaves of stollen that are delicious. Much better than the overpriced, stale loaves on buys in the stores or orders online. If I bought this from a company, it would cost several hundred dollars. And not taste half as good.

I also decorated most of my office – got the tree up, anyway. Switched the bedding over to fleece. Got 6 loads of laundry done.

And was wiped out.

A client contacted me, frantically needing me to get something out right that second. I got it done, and that will be on next week’s bill. You don’t interrupt my weekend and expect it to be free. This is information I asked her for nearly a month ago, and she couldn’t get her act together until Saturday for something that needed to go out before Sunday.

Sunday, I finished decorating my office, put a lot of empty boxes away. I baked a chocolate Grand Marnier cake. The Bundt pan I have is awful, and even though it was greased in every crevice, it didn’t come out properly. But it still tastes good. Also made bourbon balls, which turned out tasty, but look a little off-putting.

I was just wiped out. I felt weak and emotional all weekend. All I want to do is sleep. I can’t seem to get my feet back under me after this surgery. It’s been more than a week, and it was good news, so I don’t get why I’m still completely wiped out.

The “relief” package Congress passed is a joke. Sure, $600 is better than nothing, but we should have been getting $2000/month EVERY month since March. All of them failed us, including the Democrats. All these people saying, “Oh, take a government class, it’s all on McConnell, it’s not on Pelosi and Schumer” – grow up. I’ve been a negotiator. When you don’t have the votes, you GET THE VOTES. McConnell does it all the time, but Pelosi and Schumer aren’t willing to play hardball.

They’ll have another excuse for no continued, REAL relief in January. I’m sick of excuses. I want action. Tough, strong action against the corrupt. Not continuous capitulation and acting like $600 is good. It’s HALF of what we got in May, and just over ¼ of what we should have been getting EVERY MONTH of the pandemic. While the grifters continue to grift, without consequence. This has to change. If this is the “best they can’ do” then we need stronger leadership who can do better.

In this state alone, there are nearly 30,000 new virus cases a week. We need a full lockdown. With continued, direct cash relief.

And prosecution for those who profited from the pandemic at the expense of our lives all the way through it.

Monday, up early, still feeling like crap. But I went into the office – alone, like it should be. I got some shipping done – see, people? The orders came in over the weekend and went out MONDAY – that is how one takes care of customers. The postman hadn’t arrived by the time I left, so I took the boxes with me and dropped them off at the post office myself. Went to the library for a curbside drop-off/pickup.

Home, decontaminated, masked up again, and packed cookie tins. They look really cute. The cookies are packed in individual sleeves, which work well, but take up a lot of room.

One of the companies I poked came through and I got the delivery that was most important to get today. The company from whom I ordered before Thanksgiving – shipped so late it’s still stuck in California, and the third company is making noises about delays. But what I really wanted for today came, so that’s that.

I got an unexpected bonus from two clients. One goes into the bank, as prep for moving; the other I used on a piece of jewelry by an artisan on which I’ve had my eye for a few months. I put in a note with the order not to stress about trying to get it out for this week. It gets here when it gets here. I ordered it late – when I had the money to order it. I’m happy whenever it arrives.

I was finished just as the sun set, and we did the family Solstice ritual: let the sun set all the way, sitting in the dark. Start by lighting the fire in the fireplace, with greens from last year’s Solstice season; then light all the candles and put on the trees and other decorative lights, inside and outside the house. And take a few minutes of gratitude to enjoy it, release what no longer works, and make room to invite something new and wonderful.

Dinner was pancetta and peas in Alfredo sauce, with the chocolate Grand Marnier cake for dessert. Delicious.

Then, a quiet evening re-reading Terry Pratchett’s HOGFATHER (one of my favorite books), enjoying the tree, listening to Chantal Chamberland sing carols.

Later, I did my own private Solstice ritual, to remove the detritus of this year, and make way for something new.

I’m off today to Plymouth, to get the car inspected, and I’m terrified. I’m terrified that the Trump-supporting maskless mechanics who did the oil change sabotaged the car a few months back, and there will be a major repair. Think good thoughts for me. At least I’ll be at the mechanic I know is honest.

If I’m not there all day with car repairs, I hope to come home the cookie deliveries (and yes, one of those tins is for the mechanics in Plymouth).

Have a lovely day, friends, and a lovely week.

Thurs. Dec. 17, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 211 — Change Puzzle

image by Arek Socha courtesy of pixabay.com

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Waxing Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Snowy and cold

First substantial snow fell overnight, and I’ll be shoveling out later! Post over on Gratitude and Growth about snow and the garden.

Out at a client’s for a few hours of overlap yesterday. It was okay, but it is clearer and clearer that I do not need to be onsite for ANYONE in order to do what I do well. I do it much better when I work from home, and insistence on me writing in someone else’s office is about control, not about the quality of the work.

That will be dealt with, as I move other pieces of the upcoming Change Puzzle into place. Because that’s what I’m calling this transition period over the next few months – The Change Puzzle. I can plan, or think I’m planning, everything to perfection, the way I like, with backup plans up the wazoo, and things will still change, and each change will affect other things. So I have to be versatile and resourceful.

Home, decontaminated, Remote chat, which was fun, but I was wiped out by the end of it. I still get hit by exhaustion and brain fog far too often.

I set my car inspection appointment up in Plymouth for next Tuesday, instead of for tomorrow, because I just don’t trust myself to drive over the bridge yet. I completely space out, and that’s not good when I’m behind the wheel, especially if it happens on a bridge.

Rested a bit, then did the revisions for both “By Her Pointed Quill” (the Susanna Centlivre play) and “Family Layers” (the Isabella Goodwin play). There’s an inside joke in the latter, referring back to my Kate Warne play. It works within the context of this play, standing alone, but those familiar with my work will also enjoy it.

Planning to do the Zoom meditation this morning with the Concord group, and then buckle down and write. There’s a lot to get done in the next few weeks, and I don’t intend to blow it.

At the same time, I need a lot of rest.

And I need to work on the Change Puzzle.

Published in: on December 17, 2020 at 6:45 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Dec. 17, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 211 — Change Puzzle  
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Thurs. Dec. 10, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 204/Isolation Day 5 into Quarantine — Preparations

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Waning Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

We had a little more snow yesterday evening. It was lovely – just enough to be pretty, not enough to shovel.

I had a strong creative day. I wrote the entire first draft of the Isabella Goodwin play, “Family Layers” in the morning. It’s only 20 pages, but it’s a good piece. It still needs some work, but it holds together, and it’s flowing well, so there we are. I’m happy with it, and I will be even happier when I do another few drafts over the weekend and early next week, and send it off.

Two short plays written in two days. That feels good. That makes me feel more like myself again.

I also got a bit of client work done – the big marketing proposal is polished and out. One client refuses to make the decisions she needs to make in order for me to plan the campaigns she needs to generate income. That’s on her, not me. Got some LOIs out. Remote chat was fun, using photo prompts.

I got an acceptance for the flash fiction piece I wrote for the WEIRD CHRISTMAS anthology about the Icelandic Yule Cat. I’m pleased. It’s a goofy little piece, but the editor said it made him laugh, which was the point.

The hospital called to set my COVID test for today – 7:45 this morning. As soon as I post this, I have to go get dressed and head out. It’s over at the hospital, not up at the college, although the scheduler said they’ll be moving the site in the next few days to accommodate more people. But, for today, I go to the hospital where they have drive-through testing set up in the parking lot.

Then, I got a text message from the hospital about Friday with the time – later than I’d like, but too bad for me. Unfortunately, they had it down as the wrong procedure. I called the pre-op nurse, and we got it sorted.

I go in later than I’d like, which means I’ll be home later than I’d like, which means today and tomorrow will be very long, stressful days. One step at a time, that’s all I can do.

I hope to come back from the test and decontaminate this morning in time to join the Zoom meditation, but who knows? Then I’m in full quarantine, even from other household members (except the cats) until I walk into the hospital. We set up the fold out couch for me to use today and tomorrow. Charlotte is delighted. It will be nice to recover sleeping next to the Yule tree.

One step at a time.

I was on a restricted diet yesterday, and I’m on a liquid diet today, and then the medication starting this evening, which means I’ll be up and miserable all night. And tomorrow will be a long morning until I get into the hospital.  But I really want to get it over with before they shut surgeries down in the state tomorrow.

My landlord let me know that the rent check turned up yesterday – the one that was supposedly lost – AFTER I ran another check up to his house. Of course it did. Heaven forbid he miss a chance to pile on more stress whenever I have a medical procedure coming up. Remember in March, when I had to have the “assessment” done on the day of my follow-up from the first surgery, and then, later, he admitted it wasn’t even necessary? I’m so sick of this.

I hope to get back to tackling Lockesley again this afternoon. If I can get enough work on it, and sign off, I won’t have to worry about it while I’m recovering, and can turn my attention to the Nina Bell pieces.

The best thing I can also do for myself in the next few days is limit my time on social media. I just can’t take the emotional labor right now. There are plenty of people with whom I interact who are a joy, but too many morons push their way into positive interactions in order to poison them, and I can’t handle it right now. It’s bad enough that I am the ONLY one on my street who ever wears a mask.

I have some books to read to get me through the next few days, including the book for review, and Yasmine Galenorn’s new release, Starlight Web, along with a stack of magazines on which I need to catch up.

I need to do whatever I need to do in order to get through the next few days. I should have been baking this week, but I didn’t have the physical or emotional energy to do so. I will start over the weekend, I hope, and then deliver cookies next week. Fewer than usual, but they will get done.

Peace, friends, have a good weekend, and I’ll catch up with you on the other side. If you can spare a positive thought for me today and tomorrow, I could use it. The results of the surgery could go either way. Thanks.

Wed. Dec. 9, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 203/Isolation Day 4 — UPS Compromises My Safety

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Waning Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

There’s a post over on Ink-Dipped Advice about giving yourself a break.

Yesterday started pretty well, but went downhill.

I did some client work in the morning and got out a couple of LOIs. Then, I switched over to working on the Susanna Centlivre play, and I finished this draft. That felt pretty good. It’s short, a one-act. It will wind up a little longer – in the next revision, I need to expand on Susanna’s debate with George Powell, even while cutting a few things. But the draft is done, and I believe I can get it polished and out sometime next week. It feels good.

I worked on a marketing plan for a client as a palate cleanser, and then I switched over to going through and expanding on the research for the Isabella Goodwin play. I got distracted by some interesting family information around her daughter, and followed some tangents, which brought up interesting questions. Because there are family members still alive, it is inappropriate for me to detail those questions, but it’s interesting enough to form the foundation for a piece – a novel? A play? I’m not sure yet. I need to let it percolate. I’d have to change enough details so it would be clear it is NOT about Goodwin’s family, but fiction.

Still, it was fascinating.

Got some reading done. Put down a book that pretends to have a Wiccan protagonist, but it’s obvious the author thinks the belief system is crap and hasn’t done her research. It’s insulting to anyone on that path. Cross that author off my list.

Started reading John Lahr’s JOY RIDE – this is a book that needs to be on my shelf. It gave me ideas to incorporate into GAMBIT COLONY. I will have to hunt down a copy.

I was just thinking about how much stress is removed from my life when I’m in isolation and can actually, truly work remotely. And then the landlord contacted me to let me know that the rent check – which the mailman picked up in person a week ago – hasn’t arrived yet.  He knows I have surgery this week. We have paid on time every month for ten years. He couldn’t give me a few more days? It’s not like this is his livelihood.  But, no. I had to fill out reams of paperwork to stop payment on the missing check, and this morning, I have to drive up to his house and drop off a new check (although there will be no contact, so I’m not breaking isolation).

On top of that, in spite of the lights being on to illuminate the house numbers, UPS delivered someone else’s package to the house – leaving it under the illuminated wrong number. When I masked up and ran out to return it – the jerk wasn’t masked.

We’re wondering why there’s such a spread? Because the delivery drivers REFUSE to mask up when they interact with customers, and this is unacceptable. UPS is the worst. Since the pandemic started, I have only seen three instances of masked drivers. I daily see unmasked drivers making deliveries, interacting with customers, and not distancing. This is unacceptable. FedEx drivers have been much better – I’ve only seen 2 that were not masked in the past months. USPS – hit and miss.

ALL of them should be masked any time they leave their vehicles. It’s mandated in this state, and I’m sick of it being ignored. I’m sick of so many people lacking basic human decency because it’s not “convenient” for them.

The Governor has declared that surgeries will stop as of Friday, due to rising COVID numbers. So does that mean my surgery is cancelled, or that they are going to push me through, since it has to do with cancer? No idea.

I’m on a restricted diet today, waiting for the phone call as to when to go in tomorrow for the COVID test. After that, if it’s going forward, I hear when to go in on Friday, and go on the medication to prep Thursday night.

I want to get it over with, even though I’m nervous about being in the hospital with rising COVID numbers. I will have to trust that whichever way it shakes out is the best way.

In any event, the next 48-72 hours will be high stress.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine yesterday, although everyone is stressed and tired. One of the parents will take it tomorrow night. I can’t handle it the night before surgery.

But, on a happy note, I started the Isabella Goodwin play this morning, tentatively called “Family Layers” and it is flowing well. Once I run the replacement rent check up to the landlord, I hope to do a few more pages on it. Then, I’ll have to switch over to finish the client’s marketing plan. Then, back to the play, and maybe get some revision work done on “Lockesley” – that piece is not cooperating, and I’m behind.

Have a great day, everyone.

Tues. Dec. 1, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 195 — Re-release Day and Trying to Keep It Together

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Last Day of Full Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold/storm aftermath

One of my favorite short pieces ever, “Just Jump In and Fly” – which is a combination of comedy, romance, adventure, fantasy, and Yuletide myths, has re-released digitally. There’s a post with an excerpt and buy links over on A Biblio Paradise.

I wrote the piece I wanted to read and couldn’t find.

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and long weekend. Ours was quiet, and at home, as it should be in a pandemic, and, in some ways, less stressful than all the driving and cooking usually involved.

We started getting the decorations up. We had to rearrange the living room, because the cat condo is in the corner the tree usually occupied, and won’t fit anywhere else. So it’s in the middle of the side window, next to my big reading chair, which is kind of nice. Some of the ornaments are up. There’s plenty more to do.

The iron candlestands are wrapped, the fireplace mantel is done with the fabric and swags and our carolers. The ribbons are up around the doors and windows, and some of the lights are up around the windows.

In the apartments, both growing up in Rye and then later in NYC, everything only fit one way. Living in a house, even though we’ve outgrown this house, it’s nice to be able to do things differently each year, as feels right.

The stress of months of trying to survive a pandemic amidst too many who don’t give a damn is taking a toll, and there was some family strife over the weekend. I found a way to use it, though, as the basis for a new novel that somehow needs to be fit around everything else that needs to get written over the coming months. I wrote 5K on it on Sunday, and another 500+ words on it yesterday, and will write more on it today.

The packages are all packed and sent off. I’m still trying to finish S-Z on the holiday cards (I aim to finish it by tonight).

I received wonderful artwork from a friend of mine as a gift. I’m so delighted with it! I love what he’s doing with his art!

While I’m trying to keep up my spirits, my emotions are all over the place. I feel old and tired, and find myself often slipping into despair. I have mixed feelings about the upcoming surgery next week: on the one hand, I want to get it over with; on the other hand, with the way the virus cases are rising, how can it possibly happen? I’m worried that the car won’t pass inspection, and that I’ll have another repair I can’t afford. I’m worried I can’t get everything together for the move in spring. I’m worried we won’t survive until spring.

One day at a time, and as careful as possible. That’s all I can do. My shopping and packing and mailing are pretty much done – I don’t need to go to the post office or any stores other than grocery stores until next year.

The paella cookbook is so great, I ordered my own copy, and also ordered a paella pan. I tried to get it from Sur La Table, a company I used to love, but trying to checkout was such a nightmare, I gave up and bought it from Williams Sonoma instead. WS had the pan I really wanted (other than SLT, who was sold out, so I would have had to compromise), at a price that suited me, and the whole checkout was smooth as could be.

Put in another Chewy order, because those monsters eat a lot. It already shipped.

Went in to my client’s office yesterday and got some work done all on my own, which was nice. No interruptions, everything I needed, got it all done.

Having trouble with the remote on the TV/DVD – and, of course, RCA has been sold and resold and split up and I’m being sent from pillar to post because heaven forbid they continue to support their products, and a general “universal remote” won’t work on this. I’m so sick of these companies trying to force me to buy new products all the time. I take care of my stuff.

We didn’t lose power in last night’s storm, thank goodness. But I’d turned off the computer and we didn’t watch anything, just in case. Nor did I bake the cake or make turkey pot pie with the last of the leftovers (I made turkey stroganoff instead).

Today is about writing and baking and client work. “Lockesley Hall” and “Too Much Mistletoe” need to be finished by Friday and signed off on – it would be good if “Tumble” was finished by then, too. The Susanna Centlivre play needs to be finished this coming week, too, and the Isabella Goodwin play finished next week.

So much for planning properly so I don’t have end of year deadlines!

I will try to do better next year. The pandemic threw everything for a loop, and there’s a lot to clear off before January 1 that got backed up, and a lot to get done early next year.

It all seems overwhelming right now, but just one foot at a time. Just one word at a time. That’s all I can do.

Peace, friends.

Published in: on December 1, 2020 at 7:34 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 1, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 195 — Re-release Day and Trying to Keep It Together  
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Tues. Sept. 22, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 125 — Autumn Equinox

image courtesy of jplenio via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Mabon, Autumn Equinox

Stormy and cold

Hurricane Teddy is going to give us a bit of a slap as he moves by today, mostly with high surf and winds. We could use a few hours of torrential rain, although we do have a coastal flood advisory out.

There’s a post over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site about planning in chaos.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death grieves me. I’m also furious at the Republicans for pushing through the next nominee. I’m even more furious at the Democrats for not doing anything. I’m tired of them bringing a cupcake to a gunfight. There is ALWAYS a way to stop the other side and stop the vote. There is ALWAYS a way to derail a nominee. But they’re not willing to do it.

I stress-baked and stress-cooked most of the weekend, instead of doing other things I should have been doing. I did get several loads of laundry done, and I switched out the lace curtains and those pretty sheer rose curtains I made at the beginning of the stay-at-home for the heavier red and gold paisley curtains I use for winter.

I made chocolate chip cookies, cornbread, and tried a chocolate cake from a cookbook borrowed from the library. I’m not sure if I like the cake. It’s a pain in the butt to make, even though it has no eggs. It tastes fine, but with all the hype around it, I expected it to be brilliant, and it’s not. I make other chocolate cake recipes I like better. Still, I will copy out the recipe, in case I want to try it again with tweaks.

I made a crockpot minestrone on Saturday (quick dash to Star Market at 7 AM to get what I needed, and then full decontamination process). That was from a small cookbook I picked up years ago with seasonal garden recipes. That came out very, very well.

I took the bits and bobs discarded from the minestrone and used it to make vegetable stock. I actually used the vegetable stock I made whenever it was I last made it instead of water in the minestrone, and it made a huge difference. It gave it a depth and a richness I liked a lot.

Sunday, I made a cauliflower-leek soup from one of the cookbooks I bought as background for one of the novel ideas with which I’m playing. I have to say, I wasn’t thrilled with it. I’m not a big fan of cauliflower anyway. I just sort of felt there should have been more of something, somehow. It’s not bad, it’s better than edible, but I’m not thrilled with it.

I also learned that cauliflower is easier to cut than broccoli. I expected it to be as hard. When I whacked the cauliflower head with the cleaver, it exploded all over the kitchen. So that was a bit of a clean-up.

The soup only used the white part of the leeks. I took the green parts to make leek stock – I will use that in the prep for the next surgery, and froze it.

I also put the discarded bits from the soup into a bag and stashed it in the fridge for the next round of vegetable stock.

Yesterday, I made the Indian stuffed eggplant from Moosewood’s recipe. I also took the bits from the past few days’ vegetables and some tomatoes that looked a bit sad and made more vegetable stock. Making stock this way is fascinating, because no two batches are ever alike.

My friend gave me the notes back on both JUST A DROP and SERENE AND DETERMINED. They’re excellent and workable. She put her finger on what was missing on SERENE AND DETERMINED, and now I can fix it.

I’m going to work on JUST A DROP today – it needs the least work before submission for this particular market, and I need to send it off by the end of the week – company wants to work on plays over a nine-month process (much of it via Zoom) and then do a public reading. I think JUST A DROP could benefit from that, although I don’t want it to lose its theatricality. It’s unabashedly melodramatic at points, and that is a stylistic choice.

Whether it works or not is yet to be determined.

When that is done, I will turn my attention to SERENE AND DETERMINED, which I would like to submit to the O’Neill for next summer. It’s a long shot, but if I don’t try, there’s no shot.

The Susanna Centlivre play is taking shape in my head. By the time I’m done with the revisions on the above two plays, I should be ready to put Susanna’s story down on paper. Then, it’s on to Isabella Goodwin’s play, and then I can circle back around to the Kate Warne one acts I’d planned to write all year. I’ve figured out how to retain them as one acts, but also adapt them into a full-length by adding a supporting character who flows through the evening and also serves as a bit of a Greek chorus/narrator between the plays. I still want to expand CONFIDENCE CONFIDANT to a full-length, adding in Nathan in his jail cell and that whole part of the undercover operation. But that’s down the line a year or two.

I pitched to a couple of arts-related gigs.  One might not work out because the money is lower than I’m looking for; the other might not work out because I don’t think they’d support the necessary relocation and I’m not doing it on my own dime. But again, if I don’t try, there’s no chance.

Yesterday, I got some writing done early in the morning, and then went onsite to my client’s. I was alone in the office, which is as it should be. I got some A/B ads done, and an email blast, and took care of a few things that can’t be done remotely.

Swung by the library to drop off books and do a curbside pickup. Another woman was there, dropping off, and whining that the library is still closed to patrons. “We’re so much better,” she whined. “I work at the hospital and we haven’t had a case in a long time.”

“Maybe they want to keep it that way,” I snapped at her, and stomped off to the table to pick up my books.

It alarms me that stupid works in the hospital. Nantucket has gone up to a red zone for COVID. This area is now up to green (from gray, which is low risk), and our numbers are only climbing. According to the stats I watch, um, yeah, there ARE cases in the hospital, so this person doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Not sure where in the hospital she works, but it’s not anywhere getting information.

And we wonder why we’re not further along fighting this thing.

Well, at least she wore a mask and social distanced.

I’m reading the series I’ve been enjoying (where I stopped reading her other series), and now this one is starting to bother me, too. The disdain this author has for theatre people bugs me. Considering the series is set adjacent to a theatre company, this becomes a problem. The dislike and disdain drips from every sentence in which she includes them. Everyone is always painted in caricature. In 30 years of working professional theatre all over the country and the world, I’ve never encountered anyone working professionally in the theatre who is that un-dimensional. Community theatre and non-pro theatre? Yeah. Because it’s a hobby. Professional theatre? No. A career would be unsustainable.  Most people are multi-dimensional and choose which facets to bring forth at any given time. But not in this author’s books. And it angers me. I’m willing to read the last four books in the series, because I like the way the relationships are building between the characters, but I don’t know if I’d recommend the series. If I ever cross paths with her, I will ask her why she hates theatre people so much.

Also, the protagonist, who I liked because she wasn’t a typical flat cozy protag, is starting to get a self-righteous stick up her ass, and it annoys me.

The book I have to read for review lost me in the first sentence, due to adverbs and lazy writing. I put it down for a bit, and will get back to it today, since, you know, I’m being paid to read it.

However, I read Alyssa Maxwell’s MURDER AT CROSSWAYS (which I someone never got my hands on when it came out last year), and liked it a lot. I like the way this series has grown.

Today is about client work, LOIs, working on JUST A DROP, working on edits for a novel, and, hopefully, cleaning out a few boxes n the basement. One box a week won’t cut it. I need to do at least one box a day, two on weekends. Even that’s not enough, but it’s better than I’ve been doing.

Later today is the Knowledge Unicorns session. We are going to wear tiaras. It was a suggestion that came through over the weekend, and we all decided it would be fun.

Today is the Autumn Equinox, Mabon. We are in a precarious moment of balance, before tipping back into the dark. I’m looking forward to tonight’s ritual.

Blessed Mabon, friends.

Wed. Sept. 9, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 112 — Launch of the Knowledge Unicorns

Logo designed by Gabe T.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Yeah, we’re back up to six retrogrades. Having Mars go retrograde right now really sucks – more likely to get into (and lose) arguments, slowing down momentum, making one question one’s own worth. With Jupiter and Saturn turning direct this month, whose forward energy I need right now, then slowed down by the Mars retrograde – yeah, that sucks all the way around. With Mars retrograde, it’s not about overcoming obstacles, but about figuring workarounds.

Yesterday was fine. I was in the client’s office by myself, which is as it should be. Got a lot done.

Headed to the library for drop-off/pickup; then home for decontamination and back to work, remotely this time. The ad campaign still isn’t quite right. I haven’t hit that golden place yet. Then, I was working on another ad for an email blast that has to go out today; came up with something okay, but not brilliant. Got the idea I needed as I was falling asleep, so putting that together early this morning, so it can go out on time.

I invested in an acupressure mat a few weeks back. I’ve been taking a break in the afternoon to use it, especially when I’ve been sitting a lot. It’s amazing how much it helps. 20 minutes restorative time on the mat, and I can get in a few more focused hours in the afternoon.

Reading the next Gamache and enjoying it.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived. This month’s theme is Color Therapy, and it’s great. So much excellent stuff – and stuff I will use. Tessa is thrilled with the large crystal suncatcher. It might never make it to getting hung from the window; she might keep it for her private cat stash, as she did with last month’s crystal pendulum.

Also got an ARC of a colleague’s book that I won in a contest. I’m so excited – it’s the second book in her new series, and it’s such a fun series. I’m looking forward to reading it this weekend, and then writing about it.

Got a little bit of writing done, but not enough (same song, different day). I’m figuring out the shape for the Susanna Centlivre play. I want the focus to be on her relationship with her husband (who was the Queen’s chef), and one of her closest female friends (probably Mary Pix). I found a Very Long Dissertation about female friendship, and another about her work and Aphra Behn’s work that I will need to read through in the coming weeks. I still don’t have the catalyst or the central dramatic event for the play. I’m still researching.

I think I’ll set the Isabella Goodwin play toward the end of her career. Maybe use flashbacks? They often work better on stage than in novels. I like the fact that she married a younger man when she was older and thinking about setting it when she’s thinking about retiring as NYPD’s first female detective. I haven’t figured out how to incorporate that. There’s a lot of fiction out about her that I’m avoiding, because I don’t want it to influence the piece; I also don’t want to use anything that I’m using in THE WOMEN’S PRECINCT pilot and scripts.

But it’s already September and both plays are due in December (and I have surgery in December), so I need to start writing soon.

I  need to remember that they can be short plays – they don’t have to be full-length. I can always expand them in the future. I need to pick an important moment in each of their lives and dramatize it.

I also need to stop berating myself that I didn’t get those additional Kate Warne plays written during the pandemic – they’re not on deadline. The paid and deadlined work must come first, and everything else has to fit around it. Everything takes longer, between the pandemic and retrogrades and the energy it takes to survive. I need to adjust my expectations for myself, or I’ll get stuck in self-loathing mire, and that doesn’t do any good.

I have to go onsite for a client (where we’ll all be in the office at the same time – ick). But we’re only overlapping a short time, so I will deal. Then I’ll come home, decontaminate, and join Remote Chat, which is one of my favorite parts of the week, then more client work.

Knowledge Unicorns

Yesterday was the first meeting of the online homework group, consisting of my godchildren’s kids. They named themselves the Knowledge Unicorns and one of them designed the logo. We’re still tweaking the time, because there are people in all three time zones. Wide range of ages, some a little quieter than others, so I have to make sure everyone is equally heard and no one is overlooked. But bright and fun and good people.

We talked about the structure of the sessions and how they will work, and how, if something isn’t working, we’ll talk about it and change it. The baseline is respect for each other and kindness toward each other. Everyone’s opinion matters, and if there’s a point of disagreement, it’s discussed with respect and compassion, and positions are backed up by facts and resources (not Wikipedia and Fox News).

We took a few minutes at the beginning to settle in and see how everybody is. None of them are going to in-person learning. They are all learning remotely. This idea that you just sit in front of a screen for 6 hours a day as though it was class is ridiculous, in my opinion. It’s a different kind of school, and needs to evolve for that. Even in school, you’d get up after 50 minutes to go to your locker and get other books and go to the next class.

A colleague and I discussed this the other day – schools have had months to come up with a good way to handle remote learning. They haven’t. They’re not supporting the teachers, they’re not supporting the parents, they’re sure as hell not supporting the kids. Someone I know works for a major online learning company. They did a direct mail campaign (both in print and digital)  to schools all over the country, offering free consults to help them move learning online and talk about the ways it has to be different to be effective. NOT ONE school responded.

Something that came up in the “settling in” talk at the beginning was the external pressures to go to the physical school building and act as though it was all normal. The kids agreed that they miss hanging out with their friends; but they’re more worried about the pressure on their parents. They’re scared and angry that some of their friends’ parents are trying to use the kids’ friendships to bully the parents into forcing the kids back into schools. One of the kids lost a friendship, because the friend’s parents won’t let them be in contact if the kid isn’t physically going to school, because the parents don’t want the remote-learning kid to fill the onsite kid’s head full of “libtard crap.” Because, you know, keeping your kids home and safe is a partisan issue to them. One of my godchildren had her lawyer work to get her temporary full custody of her kids during these months, because her ex-husband thinks the virus is a hoax; during his joint custody, he planned to send them to school. He also doesn’t believe in masks or social distancing, and has his friends over to drink beer and hang out the same as always.  I’m not up on the legal stuff in her state, so I don’t know how that all worked, but she got some sort of order giving her full custody temporarily, and they’re doing fully remote learning (and masking and social distancing).

There’s a lot of pressure on the kids to adapt to remote learning when the school systems haven’t put in the work to support the teachers or parents or kids to make it work (because, let’s face it, most of those believed the myth that the virus would just go away, because it was easier than putting in the work). On top of that, the external partisan pressure to put themselves in danger when their parents are trying to protect them is pretty intense, and that’s something that has to be addressed.

So we talked about that for a portion of our time together, and worked on coping strategies.

We got down to the actual homework – they’re all at different stages of learning and doing different things. If someone was having trouble with an assignment, they could ask a question, and we either figured it out, or figured where to look up the answer, amongst all of us. Some of the older kids remembered some of the stuff the younger kids were learning, and could help (especially in math, because I am useless in math). It was working on the different projects, but having virtual company and online resources at hand. I was either looking for resources to help with different assignments (they have to actually USE the resources, but I can point the way and show them how to research) or working on some stuff of my own that could be interrupted when they had questions or thought of something they wanted to talk about.

Some of the directions that come with the assignments make no sense. We spent time as a group dissecting some of the instructions.

We took regular breaks to stand up and get out the wiggles, and took our dance break (they decided that, at least for the first few weeks, they want me to pick songs from the 80’s for our dance breaks. 80’s music is exotic to them. I officially feel old).

They’d picked the octopus as the animal they want to learn about this month, so we started with the old Audubon Nature Encyclopedia entry from my childhood and will work from there.

Two hours flew by in what seemed like a few heartbeats, but we got a lot done, they got a sense of community and that, although they’re different ages and in different schools in different parts of the country, they’re experiencing a lot of the same stresses and fears, and aren’t alone. They have an adult (?), well, older person, who is not directly related to them, to whom they can talk about things, and, hopefully, they will build a sense that they have each other.

It was a good start, the parents were grateful for the break, and it certainly gave me a view into how broken the educational system is, and how unwilling the administrators are to expand their frame of learning and experience to make it work.

It was a good start, but I admit I was tired by the end of it. A good tired, but still. . .tired.

Have a good one.

Published in: on September 9, 2020 at 5:19 am  Comments Off on Wed. Sept. 9, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 112 — Launch of the Knowledge Unicorns  
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Tues. June 23, 2020: Pre-Op Isolation Day 1: That’s Writer Bitch To You

Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Foggy and humid

That enough retrogrades for you? Not fun.

But it’s a good time for sorting things out, and I certainly need that.

Weekend was good, and productive in ways I didn’t plan.

Got some work done on Friday afternoon. Worked with the cats. Charlotte is making progress, most of the time. Willa is settled in. Tessa still isn’t sure about those two. But most of the time, Tessa and Willa are fine. Willa tries to play with Tessa.

Spent time on the deck, which is always nice. Willa loves her playpen. Che Guevara Chipmunk gets right up in her face, though. She’s learned to chase him in the playpen by making it roll like a snowball. It’s pretty funny.

Our town has decided to add yet another layer of economic segregation by charging for recycling. Buy the expensive sticker; you’re all set. Have a big enough car to load in your garbage AND your recycling in one load, pay the whole thing. Have a small household, a small car, and try to be responsible by recycling? Ha, ha, ha! Too bad for you.

Using Covid as an excuse to charge more and make it harder to recycle is yet more lies on their part. They’ve been trying to do this for years.

Saturday was laundry day. Got some reading done.

I’ve been playing with a couple of ideas. Some twists on the old-school gothic novel (different from what I tried in THE LUCY GOTHC a few years back)

One of the ideas took flight, so to speak, and I would up writing 17 pages on it. It’s sort of fantasy, sort of steampunk, sort of gothic, some mystery, lots of adventure, a few romantic elements, some pansexual characters, explorations of social and economic justice and injustice. The world was very clear to me, and very specific, even though I had to stop here and there to do some research and figure out phrasing, et al.

I had to start the Tracking Sheets right away, so I can keep details consistent. I don’t want to get into info dumps. I want meaning to be clear within context. At least this way, if it does turn out to be a series, I have the basis for the Series Bible.

I outlined the next few sections, and I have a good idea where I want to go. It may stand alone; it may be the first of a series. I’m not yet sure.

Of course, it wasn’t what I was supposed to write.

Played with a few article ideas; still haven’t hit on the right one.

Worked on the book for review, which I need to get done in the next day or so.

Read a lot. Tried to stay off social media, except for a few bouts here and there. I need to be ruthlessly selfish this week and take care of myself.

Satisfying Solstice ritual.

Up early on Sunday. Took some clippings from the big lilac and the puffy pink rhodie. Dipped them in rooting powder and planted them, so, fingers crossed. Got the peas planted.

Che Guevara Chipmunk ripped out some of the lilac cuttings to hide acorns. We had words. I replanted the cuttings and moved the pot where I hope he can’t get at it.

It’s awfully early for all the beasts to be hoarding for winter. It’s not even July.

Took the pressure off myself on Sunday. Let myself read and work on the DRAKECLIFF outline. It was lovely to work on the deck.

Up early on Monday. I hope the guy comes to mow the lawn this week. It’s looking a little raggedy. We’re getting into the fourth week since his last visit. If he’s not here by Wednesday, I’ll have to prod. He’s usually very reliable, and I paid him the day I got the invoice, so. . .

Worked on a survey about Serial Fiction. I miss writing it. I’ve looked into some of the platforms out there and am leery of them. They don’t pay enough. Some don’t pay anything.

A couple of people suggested using Medium as the platform (since there’s a pay scale). I have not utilized Medium well thus far. Not sure if this would be a way to do it.

I mean, first I’d need something to put up. Like a 6 week run of a piece (2-3X/week) that would be complete within the six weeks to see if it would fly. That would mean novella length, about 30K words. And then I’d need a longer piece ready to go if it worked.

I’d considered doing THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS as a serial, but it’s complex with a large, ensemble cast (although the primary protagonists are a quartet), so I’m not sure that would work. Expecting the readers to hold so many characters in their heads over time might not make sense (even if there was a website to which to refer).

I’m curious as to how people view serial fiction and what they’re looking for, which is why I’m developing the survey. Information is always a good thing.

I’ve been encouraged to start a Patreon, but I don’t think I can take that on right now. I’d want to have 18 months of multi-tiered material stockpiled before I started. The time/money ratio doesn’t make sense right now.

Still no bill from Comcast – that supposedly was sent on the 16th and must be paid by the 30th or else. I hate Comcast.

How am I supposed to pay a bill they don’t send?

I won’t be forced into AutoPay. Comcast pulls any amount they want out of the account multiple times a month and won’t return it or credit it. Been down this road before with them.

Had to hunt down the thermometer. For 14 days after the surgery, I have to track my temperature twice a day. Hopefully, hot flashes won’t skew it.

Doing my first writing session of the day out on the deck, which is nice. Charlotte doesn’t like it, though. She wants to be with me for that writing session; but she doesn’t go outside.

Buzzed by the office quickly yesterday morning; got a few things sorted, then ran my final errands before surgery.

Followed full disinfectant protocols, and went back to work for a few hours. I’m working on some ads for a client.

Heard from a colleague at the office – we just missed each other. Phones & internet went down around 11. Comcast has to come out and fix it on Wednesday. So that means everything that has to be done from the office – emails, shipping, etc. – is delayed. Plus, when I checked with the client for some last minute details for tomorrow’s email blast – some challenges have come up, so we’re holding the blast for a few days. I’ll focus on ads instead.

Finished the survey for the serials. I set up the survey on Survey Planet, a platform I’ve always liked. But then, when I tried to make it go live, I was told certain features wouldn’t show up unless I “upgraded my plan.” Why didn’t that come up when I added them into the survey in the first place? Because you think, after I did all that work, I’ll just cave and pay more? Get stuffed.

So I’m off to find another survey platform. No, it won’t be Survey Monkey. They’re too limiting. I might do Google Forms, but I’m not a big fan of them.

Why I thought doing something like this during Mercury Retrograde was a good idea, I’ll never know. Wasted afternoon.

On a happy note, someone on Twitter recommended Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop Mysteries. I read an excerpt and liked it so much that I ordered the whole series from Titcomb’s Books in Sandwich. They’ll be in sometime next week, and I’ll go over for a curbside pickup. I get to support an author AND a local independent bookstore. AND get to read five really fun books.

Makes me happy.

More client work today. All remote, as I’m required to be in isolation today and tomorrow. I have to keep the phone handy, because they will call me to tell me what time my COVID test is tomorrow at the testing center up at the Community College. If it comes back negative, we move forward with the surgery (and I have to take the medication and have a Very Bad Day and then surgery on Thursday). If the test comes back positive, we have to follow a whole different set of protocols.

I find these constant “do you still wear a mask?” questions on social media insulting. OF COURSE I WEAR A MASK, YOU IDIOTS. I ACTUALLY GIVE A DAMN ABOUT OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.

In the general sense of humanity, because I’ve certainly lost patience with “people” in general.

Stop asking, you idiots. We can tell if someone’s wearing a mask or not. It’s obvious. At this stage of the game. You can also tell by their posts.

Let’s dismantle the toxic myth that this is about a “difference of opinion.” It’s not. It’s about giving a damn about other people, or aggressively putting them in danger (aka attempted murder).

I think I will unfollow, and possibly block, people who ask this.

I already unfollow and/or block people who boast about not wearing masks. Why would I engage with people who consider it their right to assault others and attempt murder, while saying wearing a mask – something so basic and simple – is an “assault” on their liberty?

The other truly disgusting question going around is “what’s your day job?” from other people who are supposedly writers.

My day job is WRITER, Bitch. Or, perhaps it’s Writer Bitch.

I’ll be doing more unfollows/blocks on those morons.

Bad enough non-writers run around acting like it’s not a profession. When other “writers” do it? Then they’re not writers. They’re dilettantes. It’s one thing for another job to come up in conversation. We do what we need to do in order to survive. It’s quite another to assume that NO writer makes a living at it, and perpetuate that toxicity. Hey, part-time writing is perfectly valid. Every stage of a career, and every career trajectory is valid. But don’t insult those of us busting our ass and making a living at it. Fuck right off. Stop contributing to the toxic myth that writers shouldn’t get paid for their work.

Will be a tough week on multiple fronts. At this point, I’m just trying to get through it.

While getting a lot of writing done. I hope to get some serious work done on BARD’S LAMENT and DRAKECLIFF, with Gambit Colony as my reward if I do it all. Then, it’s scrubbing the house down in preparation for setting up the living room tomorrow for my recovery.

I’m starting to have some ideas on how to shape the Susanna Centlivre play. I hope to start tackling it this weekend (because I need to turn my attention to the Isabella Goodwin play soon).

The book on harps and their history arrived yesterday, which I need for THE BARD’S LAMENT. So that’s a good thing.

Have a good one. I’m buckling up for a challenging rest of the week.

Fri. Jan. 10, 2020: Reviewing Focus & Prepping for a Writing Weekend

Friday, January 10, 2020
Full Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Hop on over to the Ava Dunne blog, Affairs of the Pen,to read about what the characters miss when they go out to sea.

We’re supposed to hit record high temperatures this weekend around here. The snow is already melting. IF it’s dry enough, I’ll do some more yard work.

Got out a bunch of LOIs yesterday, worked on the GRAVE REACHmedia kit, did some work on the marketing plan for the overall series.

Dropped off and picked up a bunch of stuff at the library.

The first shipment of books for the contest arrived. Very exciting! I unpacked them, checked them against my list. I have a few digital ones to download, which I will do over the next few days, and then I’ll start reading. I like getting the entries in two shipments. It means I can finish the first batch by the time the second batch arrives, and it gives me time to give the ones vying for the top spot and finalist spots a second read.

Yes, I take my work as a contest judge seriously. These authors poured heart and soul into the work. I approach each with excitement and joy. I WANT to fall in love with every book I pick up. The categories have become more and more competitive each year, with both the quality of writing, and the way the winning authors are growing the genre.

In the afternoon, I read F.P. Lock’s dissection of Susanna Centlivre’s plays, letters, and poems. It was very interesting, and makes me even more excited to write about her. I look forward to reading her plays — I got several from Project Gutenberg. The Lock book came from Taunton Library via the Commonwealth Catalog — I’m so lucky to have access to that.

To my great joy, I received notification that 365 Women accepted BOTH the proposal for the Susanna Centlivre play and for the Isabella Goodwin play. I’m absolutely delighted. I am researching Susanna already. I’d like to get that play done and out by the end of June. That gives me the second half of the year for Isabella’s play.

I got a little bit of work done on the Winter Solstice romance. I’m at the point (six chapters in), where I need to start typing what I’ve written in longhand and making tracking sheets, because I’m losing certain elements. I have an outline, which helps. I have a feeling it will be more of a women’s fiction novel with romantic elements rather than a romance novel. There are issues I’m exploring that take it out of the romance formula, while still having my two protagonists falling in love.

I’m still struggling with the last few pages of “Trust.” I hope to get it finished this weekend.

I need to do some tweaks on the Lavinia Fontana play, too, SERENE AND DETERMINED, because I have my eye on a potential submission for that.

I had a wacky idea of an out-there dream project (in real life) that I will never be able to fund (in real life), but it would make a cool premise for a book. Made some notes. So we’ll see.

Idea Cookies, right?

Working on the books for review. I want to get the reviews out next week, and get in the next books for review. I can juggle those deadlines with contest entries and research books.

Re-read Donna Leon’s QUIETLY IN THEIR SLEEP and A NOBLE RADIANCE over the last couple of days. I get so much out of this series every time I read it.

Finished watching the documentary on the Dark Ages. I didn’t know most of what was in it. Very interesting.

One of the LOIs I sent out yesterday already got a response for more interaction. I will do that later today. We will see if we are a good match. But it was a pleasant, professional response, and it was quick, so we’ll see how it goes.

Lots of errands this morning. As I’ve been writing this, it’s moved from sunny to cloudy. Reminds me there was a red sky in the morning, which means there could be rain later. Looks like it will be sooner, rather than later.

So, how did I do on this week’s intent of focus?

Pretty well, even though the focus was spread over a lot of projects. But whatever I worked on, I FOCUSED on. I got more done (although it never, ever feels like enough).

I feel as though the energy I focused on the Susanna Centlivre research really paid off, as did the focus on the LOIs. It’s too early to see if the pitches hit true, but I’m happy with the quality of what I pitched.

I’m looking forward to a creative weekend. Let’s hope next week is positive and creative, too!

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.