Wed. Oct. 20, 2021: Thoughts on Nano, Inner Work, and Daily Life

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Full Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cool

image courtesy of Pexels.com

I wanted to share some NaNoWriMo Tips that have served me well in previous years, and I hope will do so this year:

Prep. Even if you don’t do a formal outline, make notes on the story. That way, when you rip the time out of your day to write, you can drop right into the book where you are and not have to wonder what you meant to do when you stopped the previous day. The work I prep always drafts more smoothly than the work I don’t. Plus, the prepped work needs fewer rounds of revision than the uncharted work, although anything I write in Nano needs much, much more revision that work written outside of it.

Set Daily Goals. To write 50K in 30 Days, you need to hit 1667 words EVERY day. For me to feel comfortable, I like to hit 2K/day; for me to feel really good about the work and leave room for the chaos of life, I try to hit 2.5K/day, especially early on. I know I need days off here and there; I like to have 50K by Thanksgiving. This year? I have no idea, since my writing rhythms have been totally thrown off between COVID and last year’s surgeries and job changes and moving. My reason for doing Nano this year is to both reclaim my writing rhythm and, hopefully, find an even better one, that will sustain me long after November is in my rear-view mirror.

Frontload and bank words. The rush of the start and that initial creative wave feel great. If you can go beyond your daily goal early on (or at any point), do so. That way, WHEN something comes up and you have to skip a day or a few days, you won’t fall behind.

Plan breaks. You’ll need to take a day here and there for a break. Or maybe you have family plans for the whole weekend of American Thanksgiving. Plan for that. Include in the planning, working AHEAD on word count, so that when you hit the day off, you already have that day’s words in the bank. It’s harder to catch up than to work ahead.

Know the Difference Between Asking for Encouragement and Being an Energy Vampire. We all hit hard days during the process, and often hit several of them in a row. Week 2 tends to be the rockiest, because the initial rush has worn off, and it’s down to showing up to do the work. It’s healthy to admit you’re struggling and ask for suggestions or encouragement. But don’t expect/demand people to hurt their own work in order to get you back on track with yours. Every year, there are people who try to make the entire experience about THEM, and, if they start to struggle, they try to derail everyone else around them.

Stick It Out, Even if You Don’t Hit 50K. Using Nano to get into the rhythm of daily writing, and also knowing how to PLAN breaks in that daily writing, will serve you well moving forward.

There are all kinds of tips and daily encouragements in my free book 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS, available for download here.

I’m extremely disturbed to see how many right-wing and religious-based writing groups have taken over the discussion forums. You can’t tell me they’re working on systems of equality and inclusion, especially since most of the LGBTQ forums have locked down for protection. No thread should have to lock down for protection, if the community is actually run on respect and inclusion.

Now, on to my experience on the soul journey workshop I’m in this week.

I was a little worried, on Monday, that it was for newcomers to this type of work, people with less experience than I have. I was disturbed, in the day’s video, by the talk of one’s spiritual life and one’s mundane life being on parallel paths. It’s often true at the beginning, but isn’t part of the point of the work to integrate the two, so one lives one’s path?

I also reminded myself how important it is to go back to basics, and start with fresh eyes, as though it’s the first time, because there’s always something to learn.

I’ve been doing the work, and learning. Some of it is uncomfortable, but that’s okay, because it’s showing me where I’m stuck in patterns that hurt, and how I can break out of them to stumble along a path that heals.

Five days barely scratches the surface, but it’s giving me ideas on how to build this work into my schedule on a regular basis, and where to go from here. I want to keep doing the work, definitely through the Chiron retrograde, because that’s working with the natural energies rather than against them.

I keep hoping maybe January will give me a period of rest. I’m hoping I can adjust the work schedule without losing money, and that I can give myself a bit of a break on inner work and just rest/be for a few weeks.

Monday’s work was good; I decided that the Journey Tarot, which I received in the last Goddess Provisions box, was a good match for this work, and I was right. I did the work, and felt I got a lot out of it. The live chat was a little frustrating, because, as happened during the prep time, the people yelling excuses about not doing the work, and demanding validation for not doing the work are sucking all the energy out of the collective space. The people who are MAKING the time and DOING the work are getting lost in the noise. There’s no space for those of us doing the work to go deeper and safely share that experience with each other. The people not doing the work are trying to siphon off the collective raised group energy without contributing anything to it. That is something that rubs me the wrong way (to say the least). Everyone is on their own journey and has their challenges; but do NOT expect to be validated and steal the collective energy when you refuse to add anything to it.

I did some additional work during meditation Monday night and the Hermit card kept coming up. Which makes a lot of sense in the context.

Tuesday’s video was good, and so was the additional meditation/visualization. It was very helpful in figuring out a few things. During the live chat, I ignored the chat running down the side (with all the energy vampires), and focused on the group leaders and what they had to say. There was something that really resonated. In thinking about one’s “future self”, focus more on how you want your life to FEEL as you live it then, rather than what you DO. Which is a good point. We are groomed to always work for someone else’s profit. Usually receiving far less than our work is worth. If we visualize our future for the type of life we want to enjoy on an experiential level instead of assuming that if we just have a particular job or live in a particular house we’ll feel good – if we work on the emotional landscape we want, then we can create the physical portions that support it and make it possible.

There was also an emphasis on being “all in” – which translated to me as “do the work.” But, as I said, I ignored most of the chat stream, because there were still too many people on it making noisy excuses, and I’m not engaging with that.

Looking forward to seeing what today’s work is about.

This week is definitely a starting point, but it’s giving me useful tools and ideas of where I want to focus this type of work over the next few months.

Chop Wood, Carry Water, and all that Life Stuff

On the life level, I got some work done in the morning, then had to run errands. I’m telling you, the Post Office is the happening place around here. That’s where I go to keep up with local events. I had a stack of cards and letters to drop off (including another letter trying to get my mom’s insurance straightened out), and buy stamps.

Dropped off a bunch of books at the library (and didn’t get the notification that some of my holds were in until I got home. Oh, well).

Headed off to Wild Oats to stock up on a bunch of stuff, like coffee, wine, lentils, and eggs.

Picked up a few things at Stop & Shop that I needed, and probably snagged the last bag of frozen peas in the Berkshires. Those freezer cases are very bare.

Made red lentil soup for lunch (Moosewood Recipe, of course), which was pretty darn good.

Most of the afternoon was taken up with the soul journey class. When that was done, I attempted to pay the next six months’ worth of car insurance (instead of paying monthly). It shouldn’t take 45 minutes to put through an online payment. But it did. And it was wrong. So I had to contact them and get it sorted out. Which, supposedly, it is.

Grrr.

I’d gotten a great promotion for a Wine Advent Calendar and decided I wanted it. So I go to order it, get through the checkout, and then it says it “can’t” ship in my state. Even though the company is located in my state. Then why send the promotion? You know where I live. And hey, having worked for businesses who send out promotional emails, I know that it’s possible to set up email blasts with different parameters based on location, to focus promotions.

It was sloppy marketing and not using email platform functions well. Which pissed me off as a potential customer (this would have been my first purchase from them), and it is highly, highly unlikely I would do business with them in the future. Anytime I see their logo, I’m going to think, “The assholes who sent me a promotion in which I couldn’t actually participate” and move on to a different vendor.

That ate up the time I’d set aside to write up script coverages, which was frustrating. And I still had two scripts to read after dinner.

Got a question from a client, which I honestly answered, but I worried it would mean they no longer wanted to work with me. Instead, they told me the experience makes me more valuable to them. So why do I do this to myself, set myself up with unnecessary worry? Why do I always expect the worst? I need to stop that. Hopefully, this week’s class will give me tools so to do.

Did some percolating on CAST IRON MURDER, but very little was added to the outline. Will have to make up for that today.

Sent off my workshop proposal to the conference that invited me next summer. Decided to go to an outdoor writing event in Lenox over the upcoming weekend.

Reminded myself that the Hermit card cannot be denied, and I need to do all this slowly, slowly, being careful to marshal my energy.

Pork chops smothered in mushroom-tarragon gravy for dinner, with rice and red cabbage. It was good.

Knowledge Unicorns was good, although, again, we had to put off the virtual tours of Venetian museums because of pressing classwork. But discussing ETHAN FROME, Nancy Drew, and the racism in the required reading considered “canon” was a pretty good way to spend time.

I gave myself permission not to read scripts last night, and just relax. Which would have restored me, except that Charlotte started bothering me at 3 AM, and by 3:43, Tessa was in full voice.

To the laundromat early, and got two loads washed, dried, folded. I change my days and times there, because I’m often the only one there, and I don’t want to set myself up for trouble. I never have my back to the doors/room. I’m hyper aware of anyone even walking past. Because as a woman, I have to worry about these things.

But while I was there, I worked more on the outline notes for CAST IRON MURDER. I created the other possible suspects, their backstories, and why they might have killed the murder victim. Some of those “whys” also make my protagonist an even more likely suspect.

So it was time well spent.

My downstairs neighbors decorated the front porch, and it is delightful! We are going to have so much fun in the coming weeks.

Lots to do today. Previous Me would have piled on the work, insisted on trying to attend the Sundance Collab, immediately flip over to Remote Chat, and then try to juggle Remote Chat while doing the live classwork.

And felt like a failure when it didn’t work.

Current Me doesn’t do the Collab on Wednesdays (just Mondays and Fridays, when I can). I will do the beginning of Remote Chat, and then give myself a few minutes break before joining my class.

This morning, though, I have to make a quick dash to the library to pick up my books. And get coverages/reading done that didn’t happen yesterday.

Onward. Somehow, it will all come together.

Have a good one.

Fri. Oct. 15, 2021: Foggy Weather, Foggy Mind

image courtesy of Tatiana via pexels.com

Friday, October 15, 2021

Waxing Moon

Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Foggy and mild

After a foggy start, it was sunny/cloudy in fits and starts yesterday.

Tessa and Charlotte were impossible during meditation. Thank goodness the audio/video were off on my end. I got less than 5 minutes of quiet time. For once, they weren’t fussing at each other; Tessa was pulling items out of boxes in my office and playing with them. Charlotte was trying to get the attention of the Zoom Room, not understanding they couldn’t see her, and therefore couldn’t tell her she was pretty. Charlotte believes Zoom exists so various humans around the world can see her, appreciate how pretty she is, and tell her.

The internet was wonky, which made everything more difficult, too.

By 9 AM, I pretty much accepted the day would be a wash.

I managed to get one script coverage out. I worked on the other two, but have to finish/send them today.

I tried to read the second book in a mystery series. I’d read the first a few weeks ago. I hadn’t liked the start, but then liked it better, although I figured out the murderer at least 100 pages before the protagonist. With the second, again, I didn’t like the start. I kept at it for about fifty pages, and then decided no, I don’t want any more of this series. I don’t like the protagonist. She’s not an amusing hot mess – she’s insecure and mean. There wasn’t any growth from the first book to this book. She’s back to doing the same old again, and I’m done.

Fortunately, I don’t own this book, and can take it back to the library. But I’m not ordering any more. I have a whole stack of books waiting for me at the library, and I hope I like most of them more than I liked this one!

It does, however, give me information for my own work, especially when it comes to growth in character arcs.

I’m reading a wonderful book by the essayist Vivian Gornick called THE END OF THE NOVEL OF LOVE, that’s sending me back to books like MRS. DALLOWAY to re-read with new perspectives, and to read the work of George Meredith, who, sadly, I have not yet read.

We did the prep for my mom’s COVID booster. I dropped her off at CVS and went next door to Big Y to pick up a few things while she got the shot and waited her 15 minutes. She was fine when she got home; if anything, more energetic than she was before. I was the one with no energy.

I did my Soul Expedition journaling exercise for the day, about boundaries and energy vampires. There are people in the group stating they want others in the group to “hold” them accountable and keep them on track, “remind” them to do the exercises and the work. No, sweetie, we are working on our own journeys, albeit in community. YOU are responsible for keeping yourself on track, not expecting someone else to take time and energy away from their journey and feed it into yours. The daily online sessions are the “reminders” to do the work.

Not within the group, but outside of it, some twenty-something with less than a year in the Craft contacted me via Instagram message stating she was “strongly drawn” to my name, and did I want a tarot reading (for a large fee, or course). I wrote back, “Hon, I was reading the cards before you were born.” I waited until I was sure she’d read it, and then blocked. Charlatan. I have no problem with experienced, trained readers getting paid for their work, but this is not how to get clients. And do a little due diligence.

I grabbed two scripts to read, and then got a note that the due date was changed on one – to three hours from the time I claimed it. I said I couldn’t turn it around that fast, and requested it removed from my queue. I’m worried that it will cost me points with the company, but my on-time record is 100%, and I knew I couldn’t deliver in 3 hours. I had to take care of my mom and run Knowledge Unicorns.

Made Henhouse Pie for dinner (basically, shepherd’s pie, but with chicken). It was good.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine, although we didn’t get to do the virtual tour of a Venetian museum, because we were working on essays that had been assigned in various classes. We will try again on Tuesday night. Read a script.

Went to bed early, exhausted. My mom woke in the night because her arm hurt, and she took some liquid Tylenol and went back to sleep. I was awake every few hours, not because of the cats this time, but because I had a series of weird dreams, filled with people I knew in the dream, but don’t know outside of it.

Woke up exhausted, but at least it was 5 AM and not earlier. Cats, coffee, writing, yoga, meditation. I have a lot to get done today that hasn’t gotten done yet, and I have a feeling I will be working on the articles through the weekend to get them in shape for Monday’s deadline. I have three script coverages due today.

I also want to work on the outline some more for CAST IRON MURDER. I realized that one of my favorite characters hasn’t been woven through the piece enough. I need to go back and do that in the outline. She will also serve as one of the red herrings, which will help solve that problem.

I just am weary, and feel like I could sleep for a week. Which is frustrating, because, basically, in and around typical Mercury retrograde glitches, things are going in the right direction.

One step at a time. I have to keep reminding myself we’re still in a pandemic. I’m also getting sick and tired of this whole “return to normal” fiction. “Normal” wasn’t great in the first place. I want something different. Better. More fulfilling, on multiple levels.

Have a good weekend, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Fri. Oct. 8, 2021: Promise of a Lovely Autumn Weekend

image courtesy of Yaroslav Shuraev via pexels.com

Friday, October 8, 2021

Waxing Moon

Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Supposed to be sunny and beautiful, after a cloudy start

Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful, sunny, warm day.

Mediation was great.

Errands in the morning. Took my mom with me to the college library when I dropped off some books. She was curious, and she was so impressed with the beautiful space. When I feel comfortable being indoors with vaccinated, masked strangers for extended periods, I will do some work there.

Headed to the bank to do a deposit. Then to the public library to get our cards updated from “temporary” three-month probation to permanent. The staff is starting to get to know me, which is nice. Took my mom around to all the beautiful rooms in the library; again, when it’s safe to work indoors offsite, I will sometimes work in there. Maybe next spring or summer.

We parked on Main Street to take a walk around. Only a quarter for an hour, which is a good deal. Found the RMV office, so when we finally change over our driver’s licenses and car registration, we know where to go. Checked out a few stores and picked up something from a local bakery to try it.

Nipped around the corner to Bear and Bee Bookshop. I found a copy of Deborah Madison’s LOCAL FLAVORS, recipes built around farmers’ markets, for only fifty cents! Grabbed it. I love her cookbooks. Felt like I couldn’t just spend 50 cents at a local store, so I bought another book, too, a suspense novel.

We came home, ate our bakery treats. They were kind of bland; at the risk of sounding egotistical, my baking is better. I think sometimes businesses scale back on taste because they assume people’s palates are bland.

Looked through the cookbook. I want to try at least 60% of the recipes.

Spent the afternoon writing up script coverages. Got all four done.

Instructions arrived for my mom’s COVID booster next week. Quite a list of prep. More so than the original shots. But then, they’ve learned since they started.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We’re in a groove.

Used leftover BBQ pork from the slow cooker to make pork and black bean enchiladas, which were really good.

Read three scripts last night, which I will write up today, and then I’ve met my nut for the week, and can start the weekend. Once the mist clears, and it’s really as sunny and beautiful as promised, we are going out to enjoy it, so I’m going to get the coverage done earlier, rather than later, and also get my review out.

I may do some article work this weekend, but I want most of it focused on finishing the Samhain decorating and unpacking some more, especially in my office and in the sewing room.

The cats didn’t wake me this morning, but I was woken around 4:30 by college students having noisy sex in a car out front. So the cats were like, well, you’re awake, so. . .so I fed them. I guess it’s the students’ turn to be a cliché at this point in their lives.

I like the extended yoga practice I’ve started. The extra sequencing has some challenging stretches that are a good counterpoint to all the sitting.

I’m on several “alert” lists for copywriting gigs. So it made no sense that I was sent a listing for a bomb technician for the U.S. Navy. Whatever. . .

Have a great weekend, friends, and I’ll catch you on the other side. Holiday Monday, although I plan on working on short articles and script coverage anyway.

Wed. Oct. 6, 2021: A Day of Cooking

image courtesy of Polina Tankilevitch via pexels.com

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

New Moon

Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Pluto goes DIRECT this afternoon

Cloudy and cool

Yesterday was a very go-with-the-flow type of day.

As I mentioned in the post, I had three loads of laundry done at the laundromat before 8 AM, which sounds like a good start to the day.

After breakfast, I paid some bills. Then, we headed out, in the rain, to the post office to mail said bills, and then to the TD Bank in Williamstown to close our account. That bank is one of the few places around here that doesn’t require masks. The staff is masked, although our teller wore her mask under her nose. Yeah, glad to be done with them. Our accounts are now officially closed.

There are a couple of bookstores I want to go back and visit in Williamstown at some point.

Got our grocery shopping done at Wild Oats and Stop & Shop. The latter is definitely having supply chain issues, especially on big, national brands. Some empty shelves, and they’ve been out of certain products now for nearly a month. Very little of it is stuff I actually use; we’re still using up stuff I’d stockpiled during the pandemic, and replacing staples and some of the canned goods as we go, so that we’re always ahead of the game and have a full pantry. We did so last year during the pandemic, in case there was ever a real lockdown and we weren’t allowed out more than once a week; we kept stockpiling once we moved here, because we’ve heard winters are harsh and there will be times we can’t go anywhere.

I’m keeping an eye on things, and making sure we’re extra stocked with certain items, so that if there are problems, be it from supply chain issues or storms, we will be okay for a couple of months.

After we came home and put things away, we had to refold the sheets from the laundry. I’d done a lousy job at the laundromat.

Read a cozy mystery where the protagonist who prayed a lot and asked for guidance wasn’t a very nice person (funny how that works, right?) and, frankly, was one of the characters who’s too stupid to live. So I won’t be reading any more in that series.

After lunch, I used up leftover sweet potatoes to make sweet potato soup (a Moosewood recipe). It’s pretty good, although when I heat it up for our lunches over the next few days, I think I will add a little more salt and pepper.

Found a “classic” radio station that was playing songs from the 80’s and 90’s, early in my career, when I had a lot of all nighters in various theatres or out and about, and the songs all hold lots of memories. So I danced around the kitchen while cooking, which was fun.

The soup took longer than I expected, and then I made a spiced apple cake (another Moosewood recipe). That turned out well, although I miss allspice in it. I like allspice in recipes with apples. It has cinnamon and cardamom. Next time I make this, I’m going to put in allspice, but I’m not sure if I will substitute it for the cardamom, or put it in addition to the cardamom.

That took longer than I expected, too, so it was after 5 before I got the chicken into the oven to roast (with potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots), and it was nearly 8 before we sat down to dinner. Late for us.

The cats were very confused.

While it was roasting, we had the Knowledge Unicorns session, which went well. The kids now being homeschooled have adjusted well, and are thriving. The kids who are doing remote learning through their regular schools are having a bit more of a struggle, mostly due to the pressure to go back in person. But we’re doing a lot of supplemental stuff to their various curriculums, as far as virtual museum tours and additional histories/readings and “at home” theatre performances online. They’re definitely learning more and more widely than if they were in-person.

But it also means I didn’t get any script coverages written up. I’m still fine with deadlines, as long as I stay on track today. I also didn’t read, so I have a lot of coverage to write up today, and a pile of scripts to read.

A group of characters arrived in my brain, in search of a plot. I made some notes, and we’ll see.

Although I’m not going into detail every post, I am steadily doing my first 1K of the day in longhand. Sometimes it’s a little more than 1K, sometimes a little less. But it’s happening. There’s just not much to say about it.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me up around 3:30 this morning. I moved to the sewing room and dozed off until about 5, and then got up to feed them, at Tessa’s very loud insistence.

The plot around the characters who showed up yesterday is starting to take shape, so I took more notes.

I’m chained to the computer today, writing up script coverages and working on articles and blog posts and a book review. I plan to take time out for Remote Chat. With the new moon, I upped my daily yoga practice. I lost a lot of progress during the moving months, and I’m of an age where I have to work harder to get it back.

What I’d really like to do is take a nap! Maybe this afternoon, for a half hour or so. At least I have that flexibility.

Have a good one. Pluto goes direct this afternoon, so that eases some of the 7 Retrogrades pressure. We’ll be back down to six. (Eye roll).

Fri. Sept. 24, 2021: Apples, Books, Learning

image courtesy of Michal Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

Friday, September 24, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Rainy and warm

Yesterday was a mixed bag. Meditation was great, of course.

Then, I hauled the heavy, flawed bookcases down the stairs and got them loaded into the car. We drove to Target in Lanesborough, and the return was drama-free, thank goodness.

Since we were almost in Pittsfield, we continued on to Re-store, looking for bookcases/shelving. As we entered, the manager was yelling at someone to get out and off the property, for being inappropriate with a female employee. The manager later came around to apologize for the ruckus. While I’m grateful he stood up for her and kicked the guy out, it was still unsettling.

But there wasn’t anything that was what we were looking for, so that was that.

We went to some of the box stores on Hubbard Street – I popped into Barnes & Noble to take a look, we got a small picture frame at Michael’s, and we did some shopping at Price Chopper. I’d never been in a Price Chopper before. Some stuff is good, but most of the low prices are for their generic store brand. Otherwise, prices are similar to Big Y and Stop & Shop here, although Price Chopper has Stonewall Kitchen products. I got a Rewards Card to use there, just in case.

Home, unloaded. In the afternoon, I wrote up some coverages. I still have a lot to write up today, the thought of which is a bit overwhelming. But I will just work my way through them. Read scripts later in the day; one was a stage play that was quite good.

It started raining in the evening, and poured all night. I’d like to run a few errands today, but don’t want to be out if it’s bucketing.

I do, however, like to lie in bed or on the couch and listen to the rain. It’s soothing.

Charlotte was the catalyst of being up way too early this morning, setting Tessa off. So I fed them at 4:30, and then curled up on the couch to doze for an hour or so, before starting my day.

Good first writing session, and spinning some ideas for what to teach at the conference next summer.

There are times when I skip scenes as I write the novel. Not because I’m working out of order, but because the reader doesn’t need them. Normally, I’d write them, and then cut them; in this particular book, I think them through, so I know what happened, but the reader doesn’t need the scene, so I move on to write the next scene the reader needs, and then integrate any information necessary from the unwritten scenes into the upcoming scenes, but without info dumping.

Knowledge Unicorns went well last night. We’re going to do some work with virtual museum tours around the world, to discuss the art and then create stories, poems, dance, etc., inspired by various paintings.

The kids who are now homeschooled are much calmer and more focused than the ones who are doing online learning with their schools. As one of the homeschooled kids said, “I don’t have to worry about dying from the virus because some classmate has a stupid, selfish, anti-vaxx relative. I don’t have to worry about being shot at school. I can actually LEARN.”

The kids who are doing virtual learning through their school are under a bit more pressure, both to return in person, and because the hours are set for schooling, whereas the homeschooled kids have a more flexible schedule based on the day, and on the remote work their parents are doing. Every style of learning has its challenges, but I’m glad we’re all sticking to the decision that NONE of them are going back in person this year.

I should be able to get my mom set up for her third Pfizer shot right up the street soon.

I hope I can get a bunch of unpacking done this weekend. I’m getting a little tired of my bedroom and my office being stacked with so many unpacked boxes.

I want to do some more world building and work on the outline for the piece I’ve been developing. It really wants to start spilling out.

If the weather’s nice over the weekend, I hope to spend some time at the lake, too. Take a book, take a notebook in which to do some writing.

I got a nice big bag of apples yesterday, so I’ll probably make an apple cake, too, this weekend. And I’d like to make bread.

Have a good one, friends, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Published in: on September 24, 2021 at 6:45 am  Comments Off on Fri. Sept. 24, 2021: Apples, Books, Learning  
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Fri. Sept. 17, 2021: Research Time

image courtesy Stocksnap via pixabay.com

Friday, September 17, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

Meditation was good yesterday, as always. I recently doubt I should attend, sometimes, because we talk a great deal about compassion, for ourselves and others. However, my well of compassion has run dry when it comes to anti-vaxxers and right-wing extremists. I’m saving it for the people they hurt and murder.

Slow, fractured day, and not as productive as I would have liked. Got a little bit done on several different fronts, but not big chunks which I’d hoped.

Managed to do some unpacking, though, and some work on GAMBIT COLONY.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. It has been fine ever since we started back. Because several states have removed the remote learning option from their schools, in order to force children into situations that could kill them, quite a few of the kids have been pulled out of school completely and are now being homeschooled. Regulations differ from state to state, but we’d all discussed and decided not to send the kids back this year, so, when necessary, parents had time to get the necessary requirements.

The homeschooled kids are feeling a lot less stress and anxiety than the kids doing remote learning, mostly because of the pressure on the remote-learning kids to go back in person. Considering how often classes/schools have to revert to remote learning due to COVID outbreaks in those situations for weeks at a time, the homeschooling makes more sense. Some of the parents are working remotely; others have made arrangements to switch off their work situations to a hybrid situation.

It’s not easy, but it’s better than sending the kids to die.

The kids decided they are creating a pageant this year, for the holidays. They’re going to write it (working virtually), rehearse it virtually, and perform via Zoom. Should be a ton of fun.

I uploaded a photo of the signature on the sketch to both Facebook and Twitter. A friend in Germany said that it’s written in the Sutterlin Script, and the name is “Konrad Poritz.” I’m not having luck in direct Googling, so I will get in touch with some museum contacts in the US and Germany, and see if they can point me in the right direction. The college library across the street has books in French, German, etc., so maybe I’ll find something there, too.

Lots of script coverage to work on today, and some errands. I have a stressful weekend ahead of me, and I’m trying to mentally prepare.

Have a good one!

Thurs. Sept. 9, 2021: The Joys of Local Authors

image courtesy of Yerson Retamal via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy, rainy, humid

I have a new post up over on Gratitude and Growth about differences in air and earth between the Berkshires and the Cape.

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post that the Knowledge Unicorns are back up and running. Since none of us believe any in-person learning in this country is safe at this point, and all the kids are being taught at home (be it online learning through their school or home schooling), the homework group is back. Most of the kids stayed in touch with each other over our summer break. Two of the families went camping together, and strengthened those bonds. So that is all good. Some of the kids are sad; friends of theirs have died, thanks to the anti-vaxxers. All of the kids are angry, and rightly so, that the systems and people who are supposed to have their best interests at heart are willing to let them die by trying to force them into in-person learning when it’s not safe.

Tuesday’s session was mostly about dealing with all these realities and emotions. Today, we will actually start on their homework.

Yesterday, I was up at 4:30 (so that I had time for yoga), and we were out of the house by 6 AM to do a storage run down to the Cape. In spite of the traffic, we arrived a little before 10 AM, and, even with switching stuff out of the units, unpacking and repacking the car, we were back on the road by 10:14 and home by 2 PM. It was a good day to drive, in spite of the traffic.

Unloaded the car, got everything upstairs, and got us late lunch/early dinner from Burger King, which I knew I would regret, but it was good while I ate it.

We got the new checks from the bank – hand-delivered, no less. So now, I can go about what I need to do to get the old account at the other bank closed. The checks written have to clear, and a refund has to show up. Then, I can go over to Williamstown and shut down the account. The bills I’m paying today will start coming out of the new account. All of this was way more chaotic than it needed to be.

I started the next book assigned for review, and, so far, I’m enjoying it thoroughly.

We were back in time for me to attend the virtual Straw Dogs Writers Guild Annual Author Showcase. They are based in Pioneer Valley, and it was in partnership with Forbes Library in Northampton. So probably too far to get regularly involved, once it’s safe so do to in person. But I was curious to hear local authors read, and there were a dozen authors scheduled, a mix of poets and prose writers and memoirists.

They were wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed each reading. These writers are professional, recognize that this is valuable work, and take the craft as seriously as the art. They don’t shy away from the political implications and responsibilities of their work, either (unlike the right-wing panderers who claim they “don’t do politics” which, in itself, is political by supporting the inequity of the status quo). One author read from one of her older books, a scene depicting an illegal abortion in the days before Roe. She, too, is old enough to remember it, and we are frustrated that here we are again.

Craft matters to all of them. They take time and pride in the craft of their work, along with theme and art and entertainment. They understand that excellent work combines all of these.

I now have a dozen new-to-me authors, whose books I will get out of the library and/or purchase (as much as my budget will allow). I’m very excited to delve more deeply into their work, and I will attend more online events in which any of them are involved.

I’m so glad I attended.

Charlotte and Willa were impossible. Charlotte is always difficult during Zoom, because she wants everyone to tell her she’s pretty. Willa was fascinated every time a poet read. She loved the rhythm of it. So I guess I’ll be reading poetry to the cats!

I didn’t want to read any scripts after the event was over, because I was so filled with beautiful writing that I wanted to bask in it, rather than put myself into the “critical” headspace in which I need to be for the coverage reading.

Read passages in the published journal I’m reading, where the actor worked with someone I knew quite well. It was nice to read affectionate anecdotes about someone I know and worked with!

Got an idea for a difficult short story about a woman who makes a choice out of exhaustion and despair that turns out to be a relief, even though she is supposed to feel guilty about it. No, not abortion, something else.  It needs development and I’m playing with it. It’s one of those that will probably need a dozen or so rewrites to hit exactly what I want with it, and I have to write at least one draft before I can even start making it work. I’m hoping it will be between 3-5K. The premise is enough for a novel, but I really want to telescope the emotion and time frame into that of a short story.

The cats were impossible this morning, and would not let me sleep past 5. Nor would they let me go back to bed after I fed them.

Fortunately, writing in the morning works for me. I got some decent work done on the novel.

Online meditation group was good this morning. There was discussion on ways to break out of the self-criticism cycle, which is something I need to do, since that severely worsened during the entire moving thing.

I have a lot of work to do today, but I’m not planning on going anywhere, so I can focus on the work, and on doing some more unpacking. I put some of the stuff we brought back yesterday away (most of the carload consisted of holiday decorations). But there’s more to figure out where to put, which means more rearranging. Not that I’ve finished unpacking everything else, either.

Back to the page, and to the library and local bookstores, to find the work by these writers.

Have a good one, friends.

Published in: on September 9, 2021 at 8:47 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Sept. 9, 2021: The Joys of Local Authors  
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Fri. May 21, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 363 — Frustration

image courtesy of Sasin Tipchai via pixabay.com

Friday, May 21, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Foggy and cooler

Yesterday was another day that was all over the place.

I was up worrying way too early. Got up early, fed the cats, dozed on the couch a bit, which calmed Charlotte’s anxiety a bit.

Cleaned out the garage some more; almost finished sorting all the plant pots. I mean, there’s a lot more to do in the garage, but getting that done will make a big difference.

Handled a few things for the soon-to-be-ex client. Sent off a bunch of LOIs. Sent off rental application information. Most of these “property management companies” ask for inappropriate information and wanting me to carry 100K of renters’ insurance “in case I damage the apartment” is way out of line when there’s a security deposit involved. That’s what the deposit is for. Also, the properties that want additional monthly payments per cat – ridiculous. Again, that’s what a security deposit is for. And who can apply to dozens of rentals when every place has an exorbitant fee just to apply? It should be illegal.

The housing crisis was manufactured by landlords, and they need much harsher regulation.

Got my hair cut. I think the last time was October 2019. The hairdresser chopped about a foot off. She really didn’t do much other than cut the length off and do a bit of cleaning up. I wish the guy who gave me the great cut in 2019 was there, but he wasn’t. She was supremely disinterested in being there and doing much. On the one hand, I didn’t need much done, and she told me that the hair salon opened LAST MAY, at the height of the pandemic, so everyone’s stressed and completely burned out. I wasn’t going to fuss, because the cut is perfectly functional. I just would have liked a bit more care and attention devoted to it. Like, maybe even 5 more minutes. I was in and out of the salon in 10 minutes. But again, they’ve been under huge stress and burnout, and the cut is fine. It’s not brilliant, but it does the job. And yes, I tipped well, because hairdressers have been under huge stress for the duration.

I feel so much better, too. I just don’t feel as brilliant as I felt with the last cut.

But then, in the ten years I lived on Cape Cod, I’ve only had two haircuts that were good; most were serviceable, and some were truly awful.

And yes, we were all masked, thank goodness.

Came home and worked. Got out coverage of one script; read another one; claimed two more that I will read and turn around today and tomorrow. I’m getting into the flow of it.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. Last week will be our final week. Most schools are running into June, and the kids and parents will be in touch with each other, but the official online homework group will be finished as of next Thursday.

Managed to sleep until 2 AM before I woke up worrying. Charlotte started fussing at 3. I let her into the bedroom. She was good for awhile, all purry and cuddly, but then she started fussing at Tessa, so she got kicked out of the room.

We are really at a crisis point in the house hunt. We need to get out of here. We are perfectly capable of steadily paying rent on the places to which we’re applying, but we’re being turned down because the overall income isn’t high enough to please the landlord. As long as we pay rent – and since we have decades’ worth of positive rent-paying history – that should count more than an overall number.

People deserve decent living situations. It shouldn’t be this impossible to find a clean, safe place to live in our budget.

Anyway, I’m off to clean out more of the garage. I actually forgot to do a grocery run yesterday, so I’ll have to do it today.

Most of the day will be script coverage and trying to finish that damn article that’s not working. The weekend has to be house hunting and packing.

12 more hours spread over 3 days. #CountdownToFreedom.

Peace friends.

Published in: on May 21, 2021 at 5:04 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 21, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 363 — Frustration  
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Wed. May 19, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 361 — The Cheese Stands Alone

image courtesy of Shutterbug75 via pixabay.com

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Still dark out

Yesterday wasn’t too bad, but I’m gearing up for today.

I was up early, cleared out some more in the garage first thing. Got appropriately dressed, and headed on site to the client’s. I had the office to myself, which is as it should be. I cleared up a bunch of stuff that needed to be cleared, tossed out a big stack of my own scribbled notes on this and that which I no longer need, filed, wrote up the notes for what I’m wrapping up, with each thing dated. I will keep one copy for myself in case there are any questions. I will keep adding to it until I leave.

I took down the online store I’d set up during the pandemic, closed out some of the social media accounts. The client seems to think this will upset me (and is happy about it), because of the work I put in to create and maintain them; but it’s not about me. I did the work that was necessary at the time; the client does not want the new person to maintain the sites. Ergo, it makes sense to take them down. It has nothing to do with me. This is what the client wants as part of my wrap-up; then this is what I’ll do.

Taking down the Square store took some doing, because, of course, the information in the tutorials and what came up on the screen had little to do with each other. But I got it done.

Worked ahead on email blasts – I’m trying to get the next few months’ worth done, so all they have to do is send them. The client is grumbling about that, too, so I created cheat sheets both on sending emails already drafted, and creating new ones from scratch. I write good step-by-step directions; if the client or the new employee choose not to read/follow the directions, again, that has nothing to do with me.

There were some responses to the job ad posted on Indeed the previous day; with the client’s permission, I went ahead and set up some interviews.

I left on time, with the client constantly emailing me for this, that, the other well into the evening, which will have to stop. I didn’t get one of the emails until I got up this morning. I am not on call.

I came home to find my mother very, very upset. Against my advice, she’d called the family in Maine, to check in and see how they were doing, and let them know the progress (or lack thereof) in the house hunting. Instead of offering supportive solutions, they said the following were “our only choices”:

–get rid of the cats

–get rid of all our furniture, mementos of our trips, gifts, etc., and, especially, my books because “you don’t need books” – um, yeah, I do, I’m a writer. I have four floor-to-ceiling bookcases in my office of the books that I use constantly, and I’m always digging through for the other books.

–I’m supposed to go to the Town Manager. He will find my mother a “room” in an elder care facility, because she’s 96 and doesn’t need more than that (the subtext being she’s going to die soon, so why not die alone in a shabby room).

–I’m supposed to rent a room in someone else’s house

–I shouldn’t have given my notice to the onsite job, and the client’s behavior toward me was totally justified (the threats and verbal abuse)

–Oh, and we deserve all of this since I’ve “played” at being in the arts all this time, instead of getting a “real job.” Right. Broadway’s not a real job. Copywriting and marketing aren’t real jobs.

We’re not being separated, and I’m not putting my mother “away.” We’re not getting rid of the cats; they’re family. We may well have to put some things in storage, and I am purging quite a bit; even if I wanted to find a share, there aren’t any in all of Cape Cod.

To build on a previous post about the moans of “no one wants to work” – no one can find any housing. A colleague at my client’s called me to offer support and apology for the way the client is behaving towards me. She told me that she’s renting a room to a kid out of college who wants to work in her friend’s new restaurant, but would be forced to turn down the job because there isn’t any housing; another friend of hers is also renting a room she had no intention of renting for the summer to another restaurant worker, who would also have had to turn down the job due to lack of housing. There’s a housing crisis here – a completely manufactured one, by the towns allowing corporations and shell companies to buy everything up as short-term rentals at huge prices. Where do all these tourists and visitors think they’re going to eat and shop and do activities when there’s no housing for those who would work there?

There is no need for a housing crisis, except that the towns are greedy, and are allowing shady corporations to come in and destroy everything.

Tangent, but a necessary one. So much for family, right? They’re not required to fix anything financially or offer us shelter (although they own plenty of real estate). But emotional support rather than cruelty would be nice. They’re not being “realistic” and “honest”. They’re being cruel. And, since two years ago, they helped out with that major car repair, they feel they have the right to dictate these choices now. My mother and I are the cheeses that stand alone, I guess.

No idea where we will end up, but it needs to be in a town that’s not tourist-centric.

Managed to take an hour outside on the deck, with the cats in their playpens, to read and enjoy being outside as I ran the sprinklers. It’s actually really fun to watch the grass grow.

We came in so covered in pollen that I had to take a shower and scrub down. I also had to scrub the tub out, because the pollen I washed off glopped in the bottom.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We are so ready for the end of the school year. This attitude of some of the schools to force kids back to in-person learning for the last month of school is ridiculous. Some of their schools are no longer doing virtual learning, and refuse the online option. So the kids are taking the assignments and doing them without any classroom support, just what we do in the homework group, each other, and their parents.

You know what else would be nice? If society didn’t use school as child care, and if it was actually, you know, education.

Wrote up the script coverage for the script I read yesterday. I have two scripts to read, still, this week, and might take on a third. I should have done more, but I’ve felt so beaten down.

My Llewellyn editor is contracting me for the 2023 almanacs, which is great. I got the next book assigned for review. I sent out a bunch of LOIs.

Read a bit at night, went to bed early. Wasn’t on email, so didn’t get some of the client emails until this morning. Have to set more boundaries today, for these last few days (16 hours spread over 4 days). Of course, I may get fed up if she goes on another rant today, and leave today.

Nothing like leaping into the day with no idea of where I’ll be by the end of it.

Fri. May 14, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 356 — Taking a Risk to Clear a Path

image courtesy of Manfred Richter via pixabay.com

Friday, May 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Somehow, yesterday seems like months ago.

Meditation was great. The theme was “self-compassion” which is something that I sorely needed (and continue to need).

I sent out a bunch of LOIs. Got an almost immediate response from one, asking for more samples and other information, which I turned around immediately.

I felt dizzy and exhausted off and on for most of the day, so I didn’t get as much other work done as I would have liked. I had to keep taking breaks.

Amongst all the reading I’m being paid to do, I’m reading a rather wonderful book for pleasure, DANCE WITH DEATH by Will Thomas.

I did not get an offer for the job where I blew the interview on Tuesday. They went with someone else (and were very nice about it, points to them for class). While the stability of the position was attractive, at least for the next stretch of time, the money meant I would have to take on a lot of extra work, and we just weren’t the right fit for each other. They made the best decision for everyone.

I took the day of script reading (which means I have to make up for it today, since I have coverage due tomorrow morning). I was just exhausted.

I didn’t get any packing or purging or cleaning up done.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The teens are getting appointments for their vaccines. The younger kids are jealous!

I did some house hunting; there was one possibility that looked good and wasn’t a scam, but I have a feeling it’s only a summer rental. Still, it was worth an email, and maybe I’ll hear back, or maybe I won’t.

I keep seeing us in that adorable little space in Bennington, even though someone else got it. It feels so vivid and right. I need to let go of it.

I was, however, weighing different scenarios on an issue that has to be faced down today. I’m going with my gut on it. Things have reached an untenable point, and, although what I’m going to do is a financial risk (which I shouldn’t take right now), it is also necessary. It has to be done in person today. It is mostly likely to be extremely unpleasant (potentially dangerous, since I am not considered fully vaccinated for another week); it could be a reasonable conversation that works well for all of us. The former is more likely than the latter. But I must remain calm and firm. I need to look after myself in this situation.

I’m weary and overwhelmed even anticipating what will happen, but it has to be done. I’m hoping that making this difficult decision and taking this risk will clear the way for something better. Because the situation now is unsustainable.

And then, we move forward. The next two weeks will be especially rough, but time moves forward no matter what, so it’s about getting to it.

I could use all the good thoughts you could spare today, on both this and the home front.

Have a great weekend, friends, and peace. We’ll catch up on Tuesday.

Wed. May 5, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 347 — Things Are Shifting

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

There are several irons in the fire, all good. I will share information when I have it. I just don’t want to jinx anything by speaking about it too early!

Yesterday was busy; struggled with my article. It’s just not shaping up the way I’d like. Wasn’t able to get much done on the short story (which needs to be finished this weekend). Got some client work done, got some LOIs out.

Had a Zoom meeting with a potential new client. Actually, it’s a recruiter for a potential new client, so I doubt it will work out, but it was a pleasant enough conversation, and he asked for more samples, which I sent as soon as we were done. He says the client wants to move fast; I explained that I wouldn’t be able to book another meeting until early next week.

Meanwhile, I sorted out appointments for tomorrow – the ones I can’t yet discuss – going back and forth. Might set up another couple of appointments, if I can fit them in.

Working on the book for review. I want to get it finished and the review out tonight.

The script coverage I turned around on Monday was a hit, and the company offered me a long-term, freelance position. It’s under NDA, so I can’t talk about it in detail. The contract’s fine, the money seems decent. Until I actually do a few assignments, I won’t know for sure, but it seems like a steady, fun client. I’ll start either late this week or early next week, and I should have a better sense of them by the end of next week.

I’m having terrible tension headaches, but once things get sorted, I’ll be fine.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. Everyone just wants to get the school year done, have the summer break, and see where we are in the fall. The kids who are returning to school in person (hopefully) in fall are optimistic that enough people will be vaccinated by then so they can. But there are several families who decided to home school instead.

At the end of the school year, we’ll have a big Zoom call with kids, parents, etc., and see where we are, and what the options are moving forward.

Watched more WILLIAM AND MARY, which is really a lovely show.

Woke up again at 2:30 AM, fretting. Hopefully, once the move is sorted out, I can start sleeping through the nights again. I have to come to terms with the fact that I’ll be moving during Mercury Retrograde. Amongst all the warnings of not making big purchases, not signing contracts, travel plans and electronics all screwing up, retrogrades are also about resolving unresolved issues. The move is an unresolved issue, so getting it done – even with the knowledge that there will be obstacles because of the retrograde – could be a relief.

Because it needs to happen when it needs to happen.

The septic guys worked through yesterday, in spite of the rain. My mom was fascinated, and to be honest, it was rather like a beautiful ballet. The amount of trust between the guy working in the pit and the guy manning the earth mover, a literal ton of machinery just inches from him, was amazing.

They finished the big leech pit taking up most of the meadow and started filling it in. There’s still more to do, but I bet they finish it today.

I did a curbside pickup at the library and had a good, socially-distant conversation catch-up with one of my librarian pals. She feels the same as I do – the lack of transition. We’re being pushed into reopening without any thought for how hard most of us have worked through the pandemic. This attitude that we’ve all been on vacation for the past year is insulting.

I had to book some things online this morning, pay some bills, and then I’ll head out to the client’s office. I know she’ll nag at me with her demands of where I should move and how we should give up the cats and throw away all our stuff. I’m hoping to just nod and smile and ignore her. We will make the best decisions for US, not for someone else’s convenience.

The lilacs are starting to bloom. I might be able to put a vase of them by my bed this weekend, as I recover from the second vaccine dose.

Onward, stressful soldiers!

Fri. April 30, 2021: It Keeps Piling On

photo by Devon Ellington

Friday, April 30, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Foggy and cool

Beltane Eve

Yesterday was a frustrating day, but it all worked out, somehow.

Dealing with a boundary issue with a client, which is frustrating.

At least I got out some LOIs and got some work done. The property manager missed the two potential phone appointments with no contact, and then sent me the rental application late last night, along with a time to drive a long way up and see the place that I already said wouldn’t work.  So, that place is out. Plus, my questions haven’t been answered on the lack of washer/dryer, the monthly fee for the garage, etc. I don’t think this is going to work. If we’re having this much difficulty communicating in getting basic information on the property, it’s a red flag to what it would be like if we actually moved in. It’s already near the top of my price range, and then with all these extras? I don’t see how it can work.

Heard back from a company to whom I’d sent an LOI months ago, and they want to talk today, so we have a video interview set up late this afternoon (my worst time of day, but so what). I have to bring up the rolling rack from the basement and drape fabric over it so act as a screen to hide all the packing going on in the office. It also means I’ll have to dress up and put on makeup.

Contacted another property, that’s also quite far away, but looks and sounds fantastic, and the price is good, too. It’s a little small, but workable, and in a place I hadn’t considered, but that would work.

Had a series of exchanges with a fairly local realtor, who contacted me after I told her that a property she represents showed up as a scam rental on craigslist. She’s been in touch a few times. I explained the situation, and she suggested some resources (all of which I’ve already contacted), but also admitted that there isn’t anything in the area to rent (that’s not a kazillion dollars and a short-term rental) and very little to buy. I mean, she was nice and all, but it didn’t get me any closer to solving the problem.

The stress continues to build.

photo by Devon Ellington

The septic company dropped off the digger yesterday afternoon. It’s a big old thing, stashed in the backyard, until they start up, first thing Monday morning.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We’re all ready for this school year to be over.

Worked on contest entries. I should be finished by today, and can send off my choices tomorrow.

I had a horrible, horrible cramp in the arch of my foot last night, like a Charley horse in the arch. I don’t want to experience that again any time soon.

I have a lot of work and a lot of packing to do today, along with a grocery run. At least I had a good first writing session, although I didn’t get enough work done on the article or the story yesterday. Hopefully, I can make up for that today.

And tomorrow, the Kentucky Derby! AND Beltane!

Catch you on the other side. Hopefully, next week will look up as far as house hunting.

Published in: on April 30, 2021 at 5:07 am  Comments Off on Fri. April 30, 2021: It Keeps Piling On  
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Fri. April 16, 2021: Die For Your Employer day 328 — Pen To Paper

image courtesy of Stock Snap via pixabay.com

Friday, April 16, 2021

Waxing Moon

Bucketing down rain

I’m so grateful for the rain. We need it. A good, all-day soak would be a boon for this area.

I didn’t do the grocery run yesterday. I had a really, really bad feeling I shouldn’t go, as I got ready to leave. So, I trusted my instincts and didn’t. I don’t know why; there wasn’t news of a serious crash down the street until later in the day. But I trusted my instincts.

Meditation was fine, although I had trouble focusing and staying in with it.

Did some client work, looked at rental listings, heard back from a place that they didn’t have the unit available we’d need, noodled with a couple of pitches I hope to get out today.  I want to get something to my Llewellyn editor for the 2023 almanacs.

Freelance Chat was interesting, although it was about working with agencies as a freelancer. While I’m poking into that, I really didn’t have much to contribute to the actual conversation. It was about listening and learning yesterday for me, which is a good thing.

Got a response from an LOI, and we are having a conversation next week. The company interests me, and if the parameters and the way they treat people are as well as they claim, we’d be a good fit. I might, actually, visit their calendar and try to move the conversation earlier in the week.

Did some work on the Topic Workbook revision of THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS. I need to get the Topic Workbooks revised and out again. When they are available and I promote them properly, they are steady sellers. I keep them affordable, but not so cheap I resent it. Once we move, I might look into getting some print copies of them, too, not just digital.

Worked on contest entries.

I’ve read two books in the past few weeks (not contest entries) that are different – from each other and from what’s out there – and enjoyable. WHO IS MAUD DIXON? by Alexandra Andrews is twisty and fun (although I did figure it out ahead of time, but was interested enough to find out how the characters would navigate). BEACH READ by Emily Henry was also fun, a nice twist on the standard romantic comedy formula. Hits all the points, but goes beyond, with a lot of heart. I recommend both.

I also, finally, got back to some writing, working on three ideas that have been playing in my head. I had hoped to find a way to combine them, but they are three definitive sets of characters on different projects.

One is contemporary, slightly alt-reality, with elements of romance and paranormal. I have the characters and the catalyst, and part of the setting (the house in which most of it happens is very clear, but I don’t yet know where that house IS). I’m looking for a one-word title for it, a word that encompasses self-confidant solitude. I threw out the request on Twitter yesterday, and got some interesting responses, but nothing with quite the right shade of meaning yet.

The second idea is something I’ve been playing with, off and on for years, inspired by the breakfasts at Cole’s Farms in Maine, and some of the other wonderful breakfast-only places in Maine that are so well-loved. I want to start in the 1970’s, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, and have one section in each decade for about five decades. Built around a breakfast-only restaurant in Maine. Cole’s Farms closed this past January, after 68 years in Maine. I’d been eating there, when I visited my family up there, since I was 10.

The third idea I suspect will grow into a mystery series, and needs the most research. It will start in the aftermath of WWII, a former ferry girl pilot and the shattered soldier with whom she had an affair during the war. I don’t want to say too much about it until I know where it’s headed. There are a few scenes very strong in my head that I will get down as a foundation, and then develop.

And yes, I’m aware that I still need to write the stand-alone suspense novel about the former ferry girl who becomes a barnstorming pilot just after the war, the one I started developing in a workshop during the Cape Cod Writers Conference a few years back. That’s in the queue.

Once we’ve moved, I can look at the queue of books that need to be written, sort them, and get back to it. But for now, under all this stress, I will work on what pulls me.

I’m going to take a look at THE GHOST IN THE BREAD MACHINE and see if that’s viable, or needs to be put into stasis. I’ve been thinking about it the last few days.

Because writing even for a couple of hours made a huge positive difference in my psyche and coping skills. I need to stop the self-flagellation about not knowing where we will move, and keep writing so I have the energy to move.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We’re taking another break next week — many of them have next week as the spring break. Everyone is burned out. We all need a massive month-long vacation. But too many companies have learned NOTHING from the pandemic, and are trying to force the same old crap. No. Just no. All the way around no.

Staying in today in this mucky weather, to work on articles, pitches, LOIs, client work, contest entries, the Topic Workbooks, story ideas, and, of course, pack and look at rental listings. I have another book to read for review, and I hope to finish the next category of contest entries this weekend.

At least I slept through the night for the first time in a bit.

Another mass shooting, this time in Indiana. More murdered black children. The cops need to stop murdering people based on skin color, while letting white domestic terrorists roam free. And, in general, American society needs to stop murdering its children.

Have a good weekend.