Tues. Dec. 13, 2022: Busy in the Cold

image courtesy of 0fjd125gk87 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Waning Moon

Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Cloudy and COLD

It is ZERO degrees F this morning. Brrrr!

I hope you have a cup of your favorite beverage, so we can curl up to catch up.

There’s a post over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site about “Flexible Gratitude” which is what I’m working on this week, in addition to trying to hold steady and get things done.

Friday, I had the day off from script coverage. I did the blogging, the social media rounds, picked up books at the library, got a couple of things from the grocery store. I had trouble getting going, because I was tired.

However, after lunch, I started baking, and I baked 25 dozen cookies (orange cranberry, oatmeal currant, molasses spice). Once I got going, I had it down to a system, and it went pretty fast. I did two batches of each kind of cookie; if I need more, I can always whip up another batch.

Since I have 7 baking trays, I can prep the trays and just rotate them through the baking while I keep working on the next batch.

Got them all packed up in their tins, once they cooled. But I was definitely tired by the end of it.  I ran out of wax paper while I was packing the tins, but I had parchment paper, so it was all good.

Really, though, it took about 4 ½ hours, that’s all.

And I made more vegetable stock in the slow cooker, too, because I needed the space in the freezer that was taken up with the bits that go into the stock.

Saturday, I was up early. I had to get a few things like more ginger and more wax paper and Crisco for some of the cookies, and a few things I’m stockpiling for the holiday meals.

I made the dough for the coffee spice cookies and for the brown sugar maple cookies. While that chilled in the fridge, I handstitched the holly curtain for the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell, because we must be festive in the kitchen.

Baked the cookies. The coffee spice cookies are from a companion cookbook to Phillip R. Craig’s mysteries set on Martha’s Vineyard. If you’ve never read them, I recommend them. I read them first years ago, and then re-read them (and got the cookbook) when I lived on Cape.

The cookies are good, but I want to bump up the flavor. The next batch I try will split the batch and put some anise extract in one half and some allspice in the other. The nutmeg is a little too subtle.

The brown maple sugar cookies are good, but it doesn’t make a lot, which is a concern. I think I’ll have to make another batch in the next couple of days. The maple glaze is good, too. These will be a good addition to the platters.

I was tired, so I made turkey enchiladas for dinner. No, not from Thanksgiving leftovers. We finished all those!

I was happy to see that all the packages I mailed last Monday were delivered. Whew! Of course a package UPS was supposed to deliver last Wednesday is still out there somewhere, and every day, UPS lies and says it’s “out for delivery” and every day it doesn’t show up. I hate UPS. It’s fine if there’s a delay, but stop lying.

I made a chocolate glaze and put it on the coffee spice cookies. Yup, that gave it enough of a boost to go into this year’s cookie platters, while I work on the recipe. Only I ran out of confectioner’s sugar, and have to make another batch of glaze. So one batch of cookies needs 3 batches of glaze (I made 2, which will get me through the first few platter deliveries).

While the glaze set, we sat down and wrote the domestic cards. Only around 50 this year. So many have died. I’m at that age, plus COVID, means a lot of loss. I also let some names on the list go, when I haven’t heard from them at all for several years.  There were years, in New York, when I wrote as many as 500 cards (it took most of the month).

There’s a whole set of people with whom I only interact during the winter holidays. That’s fine; we manage to keep in touch. Someone, a few years back on social media, raged that if the only time one keeps in touch is winter holidays, it’s not worth it, and I disagree.

But then, the whole ritual of holiday cards is very important to me. Choosing the cards. Choosing the stamps. Sitting down with the list. Writing something in the card. Addressing the card. It’s taking a moment to honor the friendship and connection with each individual. And, while there are definitely times postage is a frightening expense, I believe each of these people is worth spending the cost of a stamp and some time on, once a year.

Some people choose not to send cards, for whatever reason. It’s up to them. Some of those who don’t like the whole card ritual keep in touch in other ways at other times of the year. Which I also appreciate.

But when there’s no interaction over a long period of time, it’s time to let go.

That’s a big change for me; there were people on the list to whom I’ve written for ten or more years and not heard from at all. Ever. Definitely time to let go. My position in their lives is clear (as in “non-existent”). I can retain positive memories and let go of the current connection.

As someone who was always designated “Kin Keeper” of various groups of friends and colleagues over the years, the letting to AND BEING OKAY WITH IT, is a big step.

In the afternoon, we finished decorating the big tree in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. Because one can see all around the tree, the back of the tree is as important as the front, and it’s fun to decorate in 360.

Added the musical instrument garland and lights to the garland on the mantel. I bought the musical instrument garland for 50 cents in December 1980 in Woolworth’s, Tallahassee, Florida, when I was at FSU that first year (I transferred to NYU the following spring). I love that silly little garland, and have hung it up every year in Florida, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Cape Cod, and now here in the Berkshires.

Put up the lights in the living room window. Set up a shelf full of snowmen behind one of the big reading chairs. Put up the small tree over my desk, behind Seshat, my goddess of scribes, who has pride of place over my desk.

The Santas are still packed; we have to figure out where to put 50+ Santas. All over the house, no doubt.

Once the stacks of cookies are on platters and out the door, I will set up my mix-and-match Holiday Village on the big table in my office. I still have to put up the lights on the front porch, in the kitchen, and on the stairs, along with the garlands.

It started snowing around 11 on Sunday morning and snowed all day. We got about 5 inches. I perched on the couch in the evening, enjoying the candles and lights (3rd of Advent) and reading.

I have a lot of holiday stuffed animals (especially reindeer. I love reindeer). One of them, which I picked up at a thrift store for about 50 cents, has a music box on it. Only I don’t know how to make it work. Charlotte, on the other hand, keeps setting it off. It’s hilarious.

I had weird dreams, Sunday into Monday, about an immersive theatre experience in a stadium-sized theatre. Charlotte woke me up from it.

Slow start Monday, wanting it to be a snow day. No scripts in the queue. I decided to be grateful instead of worried. I could do other things!

I did the Monday blogging, and the social media rounds.

To my absolute joy, the big laser printer which hasn’t worked for the past few weeks, turned itself on and started printing, like nothing was every wrong. Okay, it thinks it is May 17, 2020, but other than that, it’s working. I am so grateful. I guess it needed a vacation?

I haven’t even set up the other printer yet.

I caught up on all the printing on which I’d gotten behind, got some scanning done. I created the Cookie Cheat Sheets to go with the cookies. I figured I should get as much done as possible, in case it decided to stop working again.

I went out and dug out the car. The parking lot was plowed already, and the snow was light and fluffy, so it wasn’t a big deal. The sun came out later on and helped, too.

I edited, polished, uploaded, and scheduled Episodes 47 & 48 of Legerdemain. I wrote their episode log lines, created the episode graphics, and uploaded/scheduled that content to drop on the appropriate days. I’m good through the first week of January, which gives me a little breathing room, since I won’t get to write new episodes until sometime next week. I’ve written through Episode 58, but I need to go further and finish the arc, so that I can make sure I don’t need to plant information in earlier episodes to make sense later.

I put release dates into the January calendar for Legerdemain and ANGEL HUNT episodes (I’m behind where I want to be on that, too), and other deadlines in January. This is in the big calendar. I didn’t use different colors in January, which I’m kind of regretting. Everything is in black ink, and it looks rather dull.

I was about to finish my witchy charm bracelet and my talisman necklace when I realized I need to get jump rings.

The trust paid off and more scripts came in for the week. I have 3 coverages today and 2 tomorrow. If I can pick up a couple more each day Thursday and Friday great; if not, that’s fine, too. I hope to get some coverages next week for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and maybe one on Friday, and then I am on vacation!

Today, I need to do the rounds to promote the Legerdemain episode that’s dropping. I want to work on “Comfort, Then Joy” and I have a tarot reading to set, write up, and post on Ko-fi later. I have to go out and get more maple syrup and more confectioners’ sugar, so I can do another batch of the brown sugar maple cookies, and make another batch of glaze for the coffee spice cookies. I hope to give the batches of cookies to the neighbors in the building later today, and then start delivering the other cookie platters tomorrow. I also need to drop off the cards at the post office. Writing them is great, but if they’re not mailed, it doesn’t mean a whole lot, does it?

A package arrived a week late yesterday, but it’s here, so that’s all good.

There’s another storm coming in on Friday, so I need to figure out if I can get the laundry done today or tomorrow, and all the cookie deliveries out by Thursday, then grab a few groceries to get us through the weekend. I was going to do the stocking stuffer shopping this weekend, but might put It off until next week. I also have another book to review this week, and need to get moving on that.

The Christmas novella wants to be worked on, but that will have to wait until next week. The newsletter story and the Ko-fi flash have to take priority. Then, I’ll mix working on the Christmas novella next week, along with work on Legerdemain, ANGEL HUNT, and finishing THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH.

Fingers crossed the printer keeps working!

On a personal level, there’s some rough work going on. The Chiron retrograde energy presses down, forcing me to face some painful memories and past choices, deal with them, and gain perspective. While making sure I don’t make the same mistakes again. Necessary work, but not easy and often painful.

Have a good one, friends. Enjoy the next episode of Legerdemain! This one wraps up the first large story arc and leads into the second one.

Fri. Dec. 2, 2022: Writing in My Head & a Road Trip

image courtesy of Pexels via pixaabay.com

Friday, December 2, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Partly cloudy/Partly Sunny and cold

In spite of a rather chaotic week, with Jupiter direct I’m feeling distinctly more optimistic, and with Neptune turning direct tomorrow, even better.

I didn’t get many words on paper yesterday, and none of them were for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. But I’ve written in my head a weird little paranormal flash fiction that was inspired by the recent death of a musician I admire, and that will go on the page this weekend. The Christmas flash for Ko-fi is almost complete in my head, at least working out the beats of it, and that will get on paper this weekend, too. The flash for the newsletter is still percolating, and the original piece planned for the newsletter, that will be more of a novella wants attention, too.

So there are projects that are demanding head space and finger work, along with the needs of Legerdemain, TREES, and the rest.

And the decorating! I’m getting tired of living with stacks of boxes.

I got my reader notes out on my friend’s book yesterday, and answered a colleague’s questions. I didn’t get the interviews scheduled, and Friday is a bad day to ask, so I’ll wait and send out that request on Monday. Did the rouonds to promote Legerdemain. Hive is offline for a bit, due to security issues, so I don’t have to try and figure it out for at least the next little bit.

I still haven’t unpacked the new printer or done a test run on the coffeemaker.

Brother got back to me on my request about the big printer and was absolutely fucking useless. All they did was send me the troubleshooting link in the handbook. Really? You think I’m just that much of an idiot? They’re supposed to HELP me, not just send me a link. So much for their reputation for good customer service. I can’t even get to them via Twitter, because they’ve left Twitter (good for them, but, basically, the only way to get actual service from a company the last few years was to get them to notice on social media).

Turned around two scripts yesterday, a good start to the new pay period. Have two today and two for Monday. I want to read at least 10 scripts next week, if there’s enough coming in (at the right rate). Sometimes, they put in scripts where the work: money ratio isn’t worth it, and I don’t take them.

I kicked Charlotte out of the bedroom last night, because she was impossible and wouldn’t let me sleep. By 4 this morning, she managed to get Tessa to pry open the door, but then Tessa wanted to be fed. I wouldn’t get up. Tessa feels Charlotte filched on the deal. My mom got up to feed Tessa but DIDN’T WARM THE BOWL, and Tessa wishes to speak to the manager. This Will Not Do.

Okay, I laughed at all of them. Now none of the cats are speaking to me. Not even Willa, who is united (for once) with her sisters.

Today, I have to actually leave the house. I mean, I WANT to go and do what I’m doing, which is finally making the run down to Great Barrington and Lenox in search of some things I need and a final gift for a cousin in Maine. But actually girding my psyche to get out of the house isn’t fun. But we have masks, it’s a pretty day to drive, and I’ll fill the car on the way out of town. We won’t be gone that long. It’s getting out of the house that’s the hard part. Once we’re actually out and about, it’s all good.

Today won’t be much on the writing front, but at least I’ll get a lot of other stuff done, so I can dive into the weekend with writing, packing gifts, and decorating.

Have a good one, and I’ll see you on the other side of it!

Wed. Nov. 30, 2022: A. Day. And then Another. Day

Charlotte and her banana. Photo by Devon Ellington

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Stormy and cold

Here’s a picture of Charlotte and her banana, because someone should have a good day.

Well, yesterday was A Day.

Sorry this is late, but today is shaping up to be A Day Again.

The transit chart warned me this would be a week of chaos and conflict influenced by the heavens, and drawing the Nine of Swords as my Advice Card for the day was another warning.

On the positive side, we talk about The Right Form For the Story over on the Process Muse.

I also posted a Holiday Mindfulness Oracle Reading over on Ko-fi.

You back? Good.

The worst thing that happened yesterday was that my giant Brother Color Laser Printer, which was expensive and so heavy it needs two men to life it, died. It turned itself off in the morning, and the power won’t go back on. You can tell Twitter is dying, because I posted a request for troubleshooting suggestions there and it was silent. Normally, I’d have a mix of actual help and mansplaining. CounterSocial and Mastodon offered suggestions, but most of it was what I tried, and both that and the stuff I hadn’t tried but then did, did not work. But I appreciated that people saw the post and genuinely tried to help. That’s always appreciated, and I made sure to thank and acknowledge them.

I will be heartbroken if a printer that was that expensive and under warranty at only two years old is dead for good.

Now, of course, I have to fight to get them to honor the warranty.

It’s not like I can load it up into the car and take it for repair. The tech has to come here.

So, no printer yesterday, and research for a small interim printer until we figure out what to do with the laser printer. I was going to buy a small printer anyway, that I could take with me on residencies. I just didn’t expect to get it right now, and lose the big laser printer, which is a necessity for my work.

I had A LOT of stuff I needed to scan this week, along with the regular printing, so it’s an issue.

I did the rounds to promote Legerdemain, and check in and interact here and there. Making the rounds of all the sites takes from 1 ½-2 hours, which I now need to build into the workday. Whether or not I “have” time doesn’t matter. It’s a necessary part of the job. People running around saying they “don’t have time” or “the spoons” to learn these new platforms are speaking from a place of privilege I do not have.

Twitter is mostly screaming right now, anyway. It makes me sad.

I turned around two script coverages in the afternoon. We got an issue with a misplaced synopsis sorted out, which I will deal with today. I have to sit through another “evaluation” soon. My numbers have gone up in the last months, I have a 100% on time rate, and I’m requested 5% more often than the average for readers, so what is there to talk about? Leave me alone to do my work or give me a raise.

I found out that library holds expired yesterday. I contacted the library to ask them to hold them over until I could pick them up this morning, but didn’t hear back. With the library closed for four days over the holidays, we should get a little extra time. All the same, my world will not stop if I don’t get a library book I ordered. I can order it again.

Centerville Library’s staff would just check them out and send me a note telling me they were ready whenever I wanted to pick them up, but then, I built relationships with those librarians over ten years. The turnover at this library is much higher, and while all the librarians know me, sort of, by this point, they don’t really know me. It’s whatever. I will cope.

A colleague asked for recommendations on something, and, having dealt with her requests before, she wants me to do initial introductions and labor on it, which I won’t do. I’ll give her the information. Someone else is nagging me to review her book, which I just received – give me a minute, would you? Paid work comes first.

I’m behind on getting out some other admin stuff that needs to be done this week, and I don’t want to let it slide.

It took me 45 minutes to upload my profile picture on Hive, between my tablet being slow and the site running slow. Hopefully, everything will even out soon.

On a happier note, I received a tax refund from the state. In this state, when there is a surplus of taxes collected, they don’t sit on it. They are required, by law, to return it to the taxpayers. So I got an unexpected refund check. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to cover the little interim printer I have my eye on. That little thing made me feel cared for by the Universe.

As far as writing went, I chose not to work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH yesterday, because I was working on the holiday story instead. However, as I passed the 2K mark and realized how much story there still was, this is not appropriate for the newsletter subscribers. So I have to come up with something else that can be a flash (I already have the idea) and switch over to writing the flash for the Ko-fi page in the next couple of days (that idea is a little weird, but fun. Ko-fi is where I do weird and fun).

This morning, I only did 1151 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, but they’re decent. I have to come up with a few more pages tomorrow morning to round out this chapter, and then we are where we need to be for the chapter I wrote last Friday, and that sends us careening toward the climactic sequence and resolution. It will come in short, on word count, for this draft, but as I revise it next spring, I will layer in the necessary period detail so it will hit the count organically (hopefully without info dumping).

I’m finishing NaNo at 59,736 (part of me says, come on, write another 300 words before midnight and hit 60K), but we’ll see.

I did not sleep well, between worrying about things and the cats being impossible.

Up a little after 5. Tessa is doing a Houdini act. I heard rummaging, and found her in a closed bureau drawer (that has not been opened for months). How did she get in there when there are no holes in the back of the bureau? It’s a mystery, but I’m glad I was home to get her out.

My back was spasming when I woke up, but a longish yoga session (under Tessa’s supervision) helped.

I dashed out early when the store opened that carried the printer I wanted. In and out in a few minutes with the printer, a 2-year warranty, and a hole puncher (I can’t find my other one, and Staples sent me the wrong case of paper).

Wolfed down breakfast and headed out again, just as the storm started. Hit up the library – they’d held my books for me, knowing I’d show up when I said I would. I am very grateful. Liquor store (gotta stock for a storm). Bank, to put in the refund check I’d just spent on the printer.

All the errands done in 20 minutes and home. Car safely slotted. Back to work. The winds are supposed to pick up seriously over the next few hours and be high until tomorrow night. The temperatures are in the 40s now, but will drop into the 20s tonight, so the rain might switch over to snow. They are positioning plows and utility trucks around the city.

Lots to do, so off I go. Have a good one.

And hey, all you who busted your ass for NaNo – good work! Cheers to you!

Wed. Nov. 23, 2022: Almost Feast Time!

image courtesy of Lubos Houska via pixabay.com

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

New Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Jupiter DIRECT as of tonight

Sunny and cold

Hello! This is a much shorter post today. Less ranting, more celebrating, some sorrow.

If you didn’t see my weird little micro fiction “That Darn Dog” over on Ko-fi yesterday afternoon, you can find it here.

This morning’s post on The Process Muse is about astrology.

So, yesterday I hit 50K on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH and hit the Nano goal. I felt huge relief. Last year, I felt genuinely victorious with CAST IRON MURDER, since last year I was worried I’d never have it in me to write another novel again. Yesterday, I just felt tired. I’m worried that Nano has become, for me, too much about ego, rather than the work. It needs to be about the work first.

This morning, I wrote 2020 words on the book. Just because I hit 50K doesn’t mean I’m stopping. I have a book to finish. I just don’t have to be under the same pressures, and each day’s words can be more organic (although, as always, the goal is a minimum of 1K/day).

I’m definitely ready for the new moon, and even more ready (readier?) for Jupiter to go direct tonight. Since it’s the planet of expansion and material things, this is a good time for it to go direct, especially with my sales taking a hit because of Twitter’s death throes.

I’m looking forward to the weekend. I actually like cooking Thanksgiving dinner. For those of you who just recently joined the daily reading, for over 40 years, we used to go to Maine for Thanksgiving. The extended family rented the VFW Hall, and we usually had around 60 people for dinner. When it first started, everyone made an agreement that, for the day, it was about thanks and being together. No arguments, no drama. For the first few years, I made a box for the front hall with a sign saying, “Drop your egos here. You can pick them up on the way out.” After the first couple of years, we didn’t need it.

We’d cook in the giant, industrial kitchen. My job was the mashed potatoes. The potatoes were cooked in huge pots, and the masher was 4 feet long. I had to stand on a stool to get high enough over the pot to mash.

Large tables were set up in a U shape in the main room, with two buffets off to the side. One had the meal; the other was the dessert table.

As the years went on, I started taking responsibility for Wednesday’s meal, for those who set up the hall. I’d cook a gigantic casserole of something on Tuesday. We’d drive up on Wednesday, and I’d heat it up, and everyone who set up would come over for dinner. I also would bake something for the dessert table.

Even when I was working on Broadway, I made arrangements to take off at least Wednesday and Thursday (I made it back for Friday night’s show). And then I’d work Christmas, so someone else could have off.

We’d leave very early in the morning on the Wednesday, about 5 or 6 AM, and hit the Maine border around 9 or 10. We’d meander up slowly, visiting our favorite stores and places along the way. Once my grandmother died and my great uncle went into a nursing home, which meant the house changed hands, we started staying at a motel in Ogunquit, and getting in pizza from one of our favorite pizza places, rather than going up all the way and bringing the Wednesday dinner. The next morning, we’d drive the rest of the way up, help with the meal, help with the dishes, drive back to the motel,  and drive home early on Black Friday.

We stopped shopping on Black Friday about 20 years ago.

The pandemic, of course, made it impossible to have the dinner the past couple of years. And, by this point, there’s enough death and exhaustion that it’s too much to pull it off. So the extended family now has smaller family dinners. Last year we did a ZOOM dessert, but I think this year, everyone just wants to rest.

Things change. We had a great four decades of large gatherings. I will always be grateful for them. At the same time, something smaller works for me now at this point in my life.

Yesterday, I worked through a ton of email. I’m still behind in my Substack reading, which I will catch up on this weekend. I finally got Hive working on my tablet, although it’s very slow. I managed an intro post, and that’s about it. I have to figure out how I can upload graphics to the tablet and then into Hive. I want to run them off my flashdrive, but the tablet doesn’t always acknowledge the flashdrive.

The coffeemaker arrived. From snowy Buffalo! Isn’t it pretty? So shiny! So much bigger than I expected. And no instruction booklet (the box wasn’t even taped shut). The coffeemaker is complicated enough that I’m baffled, and want to read the instructions before I try anything. So I’m on the hunt on the Cuisinart site for it. I have to get different filters, too.

I turned around two script coverages yesterday, and have one today. I have to finish up a book review this morning, and send it off with the invoice. Clear the desk before the holiday weekend, right?

I intentionally did not discuss the shooting at Club Q in yesterday’s post because I was worried it would get lost in the noise, and it deserves more. It’s not at all surprising that the shooter is the grandson of a Republican politician who supported the insurrection. That is what happens when there are no consequences. No one has the right to go into a club and shoot people up because they make different choices. And when someone does an act of terrorism like this, there have to be serious consequences. Not the shooter and Rittenhouse becoming besties and poster boys for the GOP, which is the next step.

Those murdered and their loved ones deserve better. People deserve to live their lives without interference, and with love and joy.

Then, of course, this morning was news of another shooting, this time in a Virginia Walmart. I mean, that’s slightly more understandable that someone would snap at Walmart, but still not acceptable.

The only reason to have an AR-15 is to kill humans. That means anyone who owns one is premeditating murder, even if the target is yet to be chosen. And they must be so prosecuted.

Not the happiest note to end on before the holiday, so let me add this: may you have a joyful, delicious weekend without family drama.

Peace, friends. Catch you on the other side.

Wed. Nov. 2, 2022: Let’s Skip It All and Have Pie

(image courtesy of Hansuan Fabregas via pixabay.com)

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and warm

We’re supposed to have a stretch of unseasonably warm days the rest of this week, so I don’t have to worry about bringing the plants in. I am worried that it’s too warm to plant the bulbs, though.

While I was pleased with a quick-off-the-mark start to Nano yesterday, 2552 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, it was hard to get my head back in the game afterwards.

I slogged through some email. I did the rounds of social media to promote Episode 29 of Legerdemain. I’m back on Ello, which is good, since I have over 265K eyes on my work over there.

I dug in and managed another episode of Legerdemain, which actually went well, once I got going with it.

I started the 30 Days of Gratitude practice with my yoga studio.

The second half of “Won if By Sea” went up on Ko-Fi yesterday afternoon. I hope you enjoy it! If you didn’t want to read the first part without the second part going up, now both are up, and you can read them together.

I turned around two scripts. I signed up with Cohost and with WT. Social. I want to do a comparison/contrast of all these platforms over the next couple of months and then post my experiences and data, probably over on Ink-Dipped Advice in January. By then, I should have enough information. Even early on, it’s fascinating to see which things resonate on different platforms.

All of this social media kerflamma underlines the need for creatives and businesses to have their own WEBSITES, not just social media.

I was invited back to judge the book contest again that I’ve judged for the past few years. The pay is decent, and I enjoy the work, so I said yes.

Did my rituals last night. During these days of tending the dead, I am a cauldron for a lot of grief, and it’s exhausting. But necessary.

Today’s issue of THE PROCESS MUSE is about “Different Structures for Different Mediums.” If you’re not yet subscribed, you can click the link to read it. You can also subscribe (it’s free).

I was up early this morning, with the alarm, which I couldn’t figure out how to turn off. I think I will go back to a traditional alarm clock, and not my phone. Every time it updates, everything goes bonkers.

Out the door just before 6 to the laundromat, got everything done and back a little after 7. Got a few chapters of the multi-colored draft done on CAST IRON MURDER.

No one’s allowed to park on the street from Nov. 1 – March 31, so, at least the first few days of November, I try to keep my car in my spot as much as possible, so no one grabs it. People are pretty good, but there are always a few who don’t believe boundaries and space applies to them.

Wrote the second chapter of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, which came in at 1997 words. Less than yesterday, but better words, and I’m starting to feel the innate rhythm of this piece.

Unfortunately (?) I got an idea at the laundromat, when a couple of characters started yapping at me, so I will make some notes and make it clear that they MUST WAIT THEIR TURN. I have enough going on this month.

Today I have to start taking down the Samhain decorations, along with everything else that has to get done. That includes taking down all the spiderweb curtains, and putting up the red and gold paisley curtains that will be up until we put the lace panels back up in spring. It will take a few days to get everything down and put away, because I also have to get the writing and script coverage done.

But we should have some nice weather these next few days, and Tessa, in particular, will enjoy being out on the porch.

Have a good one!

Published in: on November 2, 2022 at 8:23 am  Comments Off on Wed. Nov. 2, 2022: Let’s Skip It All and Have Pie  
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Fri. Oct. 28, 2022: There Will Be Cake

(image courtesy of Leslie Eckert via pixabay.com)

Friday, October 28, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I spent yesterday morning working on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. It took longer than I hoped, and the Writer’s Rough runs 11 pages. But I feel like I now have a viable book planned, and I can sit down and start writing next Tuesday.

I had to stop a few times and do some research. I had to research stoves in the late 1950’s in trailer homes to make sure my climactic sequence would work (yay, it does). One of the characters I’d layered into the piece to make the twists and turns work turns out to have quite the history. I also have some ideas for character arcs that can grow from here that I will note this morning, especially when it comes to the main subplot concerning my protagonist’s son.

I took care of some email (there’s still way too much in the Inbox), promoted the episode of LEGERDEMAIN which dropped, caught up partially on my Substack reading and responded to comments on my posts, and responses to comments I left on other posts (where appropriate).

I wrote a quick pitch for an article and sent it to an editor who’d put out a call on Twitter. Twitter used to be the place I found some of my highest-paid assignments, but that hasn’t been true for a bit.

Spent some time on CounterSocial, where people have been reading some of my work on various sites, including “Won if By Sea” over on Ko-Fi, and enjoying it.

Since Yegads Muskrat’s purchase of Twitter went through, and he’s going to destroy it, chances are I’ll grit my teeth and sign up for Tribel, even though I’m skeptical about their Terms of Service. They claim they’re a good branding platform, so maybe I can expand LEGERDEMAIN’s reach. The Process Muse is gaining subscriptions nicely just via Substack. The platform I had the most fun on and miss the most is MySpace.

Made soup with red beans, rice, and andouille sausage, which turned out well. I have all these soup cookbooks, so we are going to eat a lot of soup this winter!

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon. One was very near perfect.

In the evening, I lounged on the couch, drinking red wine and re-reading DRACULA (thanks to Lilith St. Crow). It really was fascinating. It’s been so long since I read the original text, I’d forgotten a lot of the texture and the detail. I will go back and read the biography of Stoker I’ve been carting around since before the move (which I bought because I wanted to learn more about his work in the theatre).

I didn’t write up the book review yesterday, so I will do that this morning and get it out. I still have one more book to review for that editor. I didn’t get any work done on ANGEL HUNT, so that will be pushed to next week. I’m in good shape there, so I don’t have to worry. LEGERDEMAIN needs more attention first.

This morning, I will write up the book review, type up some additional notes on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH (well, more general series/character arcs than for that book), and work on LEGERDEMAIN.

I have to do another library run to drop off/pick up books, then go to the grocery store and the liquor store to get what I need for my mother’s 98th birthday weekend (her birthday is tomorrow). I’ll head over to Adams, then, to pick up the cake.

I have two scripts to turn around this afternoon, and then I’m done until Tuesday. I’m taking Monday as my holiday, as I should. We’ll celebrate my mom’s birthday, and I’ll probably do some work on LEGERDEMAIN. I’ll finish reading my friend’s book that he wanted feedback on. And read for pleasure. Make up the treat bags for Trick or Treaters. And prepare for the series of rituals next week. This is always my busiest time of the year.

If you are doing Nano and want to be part of a supportive group, I run Enchanted Wordsmiths over there. Send me a message on that platform, and I’ll send you an invite. We’ll write in company next month.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side!

The Process Muse Launches!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

It was up in the 70’s around here yesterday, more like spring than autumn. It rained; it was sunny; it rained; it was sunny. All day long. The sunny patches were very humid. I basically ignored the eclipse, because I couldn’t deal with it.

I have a new short story up on Ko-Fi, a short mystery called “Won if By Sea.” It’s been broken down into two parts, one up yesterday and one up next Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday afternoons seem the best days to post on Ko-Fi. I hope you enjoy it.

Today is the launch of THE PROCESS MUSE, the weekly posts over on Substack where I dig into the hows and whys of the way I create. For subscribers, the posts go out on Wednesday mornings at 8 AM; they should post on the site around the same time. Subscription to THE PROCESS MUSE is free, and there’s room to comment and have discussions at the bottoms of the posts. I hope you will join me in this experiment. Substack is available internationally, so my readers outside of the US can enjoy it, too.

Yesterday, I managed to untangle the scheduling issues with the episode-specific ads for Legerdemain, and to get the rest of the ads for the first arc uploaded and scheduled into mid-December. That reminded me that I am behind where I need/want to be on the second arc, and need to get cracking, because at some point in November (which starts NEXT WEEK), I need to upload and schedule the posts for the second arc, then create both the episode-specific and the general ads for them. While juggling Nano and everything else.

Of course, in order to upload and schedule all of that – it has to exist. While I’ve made good progress into Arc 2, it’s not where I want it to be.

I polished, uploaded, and schedule the posts for The Process Muse through the end of November, so at least I don’t have to worry about that, and can write other posts as I wish through the month, upload, and schedule them.

I’m also behind where I wanted to be on ANGEL HUNT, but we’re not going to deal with that at the moment.

I picked up some books at the library, only to discover, when I got home, that they hadn’t given me all the books that were ready. I have to go back this week, because some of the holds will expire. It’s really not a big deal; the library is four blocks away. It’s more the mental energy to get me out of the house than anything else.

Dropped off our ballots at the City Hall ballot box. It was pretty full, which is great, because it means people are voting.

Picked up some puzzle books for my mom; although she paid for a yearlong subscription, they only ever send the books when she asks why she hasn’t received them. Cashing a check for a subscription and not fulfilling it seems like fraud to me.

Went to the post office to buy stamps and catch up.

Turned around two scripts.  Promoted the episode of Legerdemain that dropped yesterday. Took another look at Tribel, since Yegads Muskrat insists he’ll own Twitter by the end of the week. I’m uncomfortable with their privacy policy. It’s probably not worse than any other platform, so I don’t really know why it makes me so uncomfortable, but it does. My gut is telling me not to sign up, while my brain is telling me I need as wide a net as possible.

This morning, I need to type up what I’ve got so far on the outline of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. I still don’t have the climactic sequence figured out, although I’ve got a good idea of the resolution. I think, in this case, it has to be a case of trusting the characters to see how it works out.

And hope I hit 50K in November before I have to figure it out!

I also have to go down to the DMV and renew the car’s registration. So I better get going on things like typing up the outline and working on the next episode of Legerdemain.

Have a good one, friends, and come visit over on The Process Muse.

Wed. Oct. 19, 2022: Rearranging Words

image courtesy of Willi Heidelbach via pixabay.com

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Waning Moon

Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Partly cloudy, foggy, and cold

Yesterday wasn’t as much of a words-on-paper as I hoped, but I still got a good deal done. I need to shift my idea of “productivity” and allow myself to be happy with what I get done, instead of obsessing on what I don’t get done.

I put up a tarot reading on my Ko-Fi page, using the Halloween Tarot. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, hop on over and check it out.

I got the blogging done, I slogged through some email. I did the social media rounds to promote the next episode of LEGERDEMAIN. With permission, I went into a friend’s website and did some fixes. The site is under construction, but there are enough relevant visuals and placeholder text so she can apply for grants that will allow her to hire a web developer and get exactly what she wants.

I had to dress like a Real Person and run errands: library, grocery store, post office, the liquor store, the bank. Of course, as soon as I got home, more books arrived at the library, and the check arrived from Llewellyn for last year’s almanac that comes out this year. More people are masking than did even a week ago, which is encouraging.

I uploaded and scheduled the posts to drop every day through November and into December for 30 Tips for 30 Days.

I haven’t yet fixed the problem with the LEGERDEMAIN ads, but I will do that today and tomorrow. It will just mean more episode-specific ads dropping for a few weeks in November, that’s all.

I set up the site for the project that launches next week over on Substack. It was, of course, more complicated than I’d hoped. But I got it done. I’m going to do some tweaking before I make the official announcement.

I did some interacting with other Substack authors, to introduce myself and get more of a feel for the site. One of the authors spoke about how Substack had given her a “business audit” with advice for monetizing her site better. And yet, EVERY piece of advice they gave her is something that would turn me off to becoming a paid subscriber.

I want to be invited, not nagged.

In fact, I’m unsubscribing from a couple of lists over there, because I’m tired of being nagged and a sense of bait-and-switch. I also don’t want to get into a non-reciprocal situation with a bunch of authors where I’m paying them, but none of them are supporting me.

Some will say, well, that cuts into the profit margin of their own site, and well YEAH, but part of being in a community of writers, to me, is buying each other’s books, or, at the very least, boosting each other’s social media about the work so we all expand our reach. It’s something that will be front and center when I clean up my Twitter feed and get rid of a lot of other “writers” (most of whom aren’t doing  this to earn a living) who never support my work. Supporting is not just forking out cash; there are fellow writers who either can’t afford to buy everything I do, or some of what I do (maybe all of it) isn’t to their taste. Yet they still support me with boosts and likes and comments and recommendations and other interactions. My budget, too, is limited; I can’t give money monthly to every other writer I’d like to support. But I do as much as I can each month. I at least try to do SOMETHING. But if I’m not getting any type of interaction or support back, it’s draining me on multiple levels.

Because the best way to reach people who are readers, not writers (and whom writers need to sustain their work) is via other writers. Most readers read work by multiple writers. We’re not competing for audience. That’s a corporate traditional publishing line, to keep writers scared. Yes, people have limited budgets and have to choose where to put their reading dollars. But they also usually read more than one writer.

I mean, basically, Substack is a streaming service for writers.

Did a quick revision on “My Side of the Bed” and “Paranormal Paraphrasing” so I could send them to my friend Paula for comment.

Turned around a really fun script that took familiar tropes and did something new with them in clever, skilled ways.

While I was cooking dinner, I came up with an hilarious sequence for LEGERDEMAIN. Now, I just have to figure out where to put it so it supports the overall arc, rather than is a tangent.

I set up a Serials page on the sidebar of this blog. Right now, it only has LEGERDEMAIN up, because that’s what’s running. It will have more entries as more serials drop.

Read for pleasure in the evening.

Overslept this morning, after weird dreams where I was a different person in the dream. Not myself. I mean, I was very much the person I was in the dream, but that person wasn’t the me I am when I’m awake. Does that make sense at all? There’s got to be a way to use that in something.

Tessa Was Not Amused. She composed and performed her song of hunger and abandonment relentlessly until I got up, with Charlotte and Willa singing backup. She plans to record it in Nashville and hit the charts, so she can afford minions who will feed her On Time.

Paula’s comments on the plays were terrific, and now I have to figure out the best way to implement them.

I have to travel down to Pittsfield at some point today (hey, taking the advice of yesterday’s reading that’s up on Ko-Fi) and get some stuff done.

But I’m hoping to get at least a few words on the page before I have to leave.

Have a good one!

Tues. Oct. 4, 2022: Determined Writing Time

image courtesy of Nicole via pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Waxing Moon

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

Mercury DIRECT as of Sunday the 2nd (phew)

Mars still in Gemini (until March)

Cloudy and cool

Doesn’t it feel ever so much better to have Mercury direct? I was feeling crushed by it on top of the other retrogrades and Mars in Gemini.

Friday seems so far away, somehow.

I didn’t get as much done creatively as I’d hoped, although I wrote and submitted the book review, slogged through some email, worked on some marketing, and wrote ahead on a couple of blogs, scheduling them to post this week.

Most of the day was spent on script coverage, since it was the end of the pay period. I finished the huge coverage and got that out, and then did two smaller ones, which took me until well into the evening, and then it felt like my brain was broken.

I’d hoped to re-read AS YOU LIKE IT on Friday night, but no such luck.

I slept pretty well, and was up on Saturday, doing the normal routine (early morning writing, yoga, meditation, after feeding the cats) in spite of a bad headache.

The morning was spent switching out fabrics to Halloween/Samhain fabrics, and starting the decorating. I took a break in the late morning to run some bills and cards to the post office. I swung by the dollar store, hoping to find black garland and bones, but they didn’t have the bones I want, and the garland was too flimsy. I might have to redesign. If I can find a sturdier garland out of black leaves, I might buy some of the skeletal hands and have them climbing up the garland. We’ll see.

Charlotte and Tessa actually shared the couch for most of Saturday, without fighting. It was adorable.

I alternated decorating with re-reading AS YOU LIKE IT and Asimov’s commentary on AS YOU LIKE IT (ASIMOV’S GUIDE TO SHAKESPEARE is one of my favorite and most-used books).

I wrote the first 4 pages of a new one-act (that’s only going to be 10 pages). I’m happy with the tone and the bones of it.

Slept in a bit on Sunday. Tessa was not amused. Sunday, was, all around, a pretty rough day for no good reason. I was jumpy and out of sorts.

I managed to finish the draft of the short play, at least.

Some of the Fall Foliage parade went by the house,  a handful of floats and some marchers. Fewer than last year, so I don’t know if they directed them down several different streets, or if this year’s parade was smaller. Charlotte sat on her perch, and was thrilled when people spotted her and waved. She believed the parade was in her honor, and was in a good mood for the rest of the day.

I was excited to read the next book in a series in which I’ve read all the books. But there, on p. 12 – the protagonist used “witch” as a slur against women. This author and this protagonist have never done that, in the entire series, and it doesn’t fit with the character as established over the years. In addition to the whole it crosses the personal line, so that series and that author is now off my list permanently, and I’m unsubscribing from the mailing list, and all the rest.

It also brings up how both Berkeley and Kensington are encouraging the hard right turn that cozy mystery has been taking for the past few years, and I don’t like it. Series that never used the slur are now doing so, authors who KNOW BETTER are letting it in their books.

I’m not having it. Bye-uh.

I started reading the essays in LIGHT THE DARK, which is a series of essays on the creative process, and it is wonderful and nourishing.

Participated in Script Chat Sunday night, which I don’t usually do, but I’d blown the whole day-of-disconnect for Sunday, so why not. It was fun.

Noodled with two ideas that might work well on Ko-fi.

Tessa let me sleep on Monday until 6 AM, a big win. A colleague wanted to meet; I’d suggested meeting last week today, but never heard back, so I went and booked other work for this afternoon. I’m not available at the last minute. Book ahead.

Again, it’s that whole “you don’t have a real job” mentality that irks me.

I adapted the next chapter of ANGEL HUNT (3600-ish words) into four serial episodes. That gives me 30 episodes so far, or the first 15 weeks of that serial. I will launch it at the new moon in January following Mercury going direct, but I want to make sure I have the entire serial done by the time it starts. It will be a finite serial, and, if it gains traction, I might do a “Season 2” when they’ve left New York, and a “Season 3” years after. But we’ll see how the original one does, first.

I took a look at EARTH BRIDE, which is likely to go up on Substack at some point. I have over 125K words, and I’m only about halfway through the original outline. When I’d worked on it as a novel, I figured it would turn into a trilogy, so as a serial, it could go on for a good, long time. Re-reading the material, it needs a lot of work, though. But I think it’s more suited for Substack than for Vella. ANGEL HUNT will work better on Vella.

I revised “After Arden” and then let it sit. I’m hoping one more revision (today) and then it can go out. The deadline looms.

Wrote an episode and a half of LEGERDEMAIN, which was good. I need to find my notes for the next section, so I’m not going too far off track.

Played the marketing game, checked in with the Women Write Change group (I usually check in on that site at least once a day, or once every couple of days).

A friend sent me the draft of his new novel for feedback. He’s a wonderful writer, so I’m looking forward to it. He’s off on a travel writing gig for the next three weeks, so I have some time.

I was invited to a reading at the end of next week by the leader of a group of poets I’m excited to hear. I didn’t think she’d remember to let me know when it was, but she did, and I’m looking forward to it.

Turned around three script coverages yesterday, and have the same amount to do today, tomorrow, and Thursday to stay on track. Don’t have scripts yet for Friday, but hopefully, I can  get some.

Did not sleep well. Charlotte fussed at me all night. So I’m starting the day a little tired. I might hop out for some errands later today, or I might wait and do everything tomorrow. I have a long list of things that need to get done today on the writing front.

Episode 21 of Legerdemain drops today (and there’s even a poll)! I need to spend some time on the Vella FB groups today, and see if they actually are helpful.

Have a good one, friends.

Wed. June 22, 2022: A Day at the Desk

image courtesy of Free Photos via pixabay.com

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy, rainy, mild

I expected rain yesterday, so didn’t get up early enough to go to the laundromat.  But it didn’t rain until the evening. That’s the way it goes sometimes. It’s raining today, so I have an excuse not to go.

Plowed through a lot of emails. Got annoyed at a job listing that landed in my Inbox, claiming to be remote – only requiring 2 days/week in the office. Boo, that ain’t remote. It’s hybrid. Stop lying in the listings. Plus, it didn’t pay enough. Big red flag.

Tracked down some information I needed for a couple of different decisions. Worked on the anthology story. Percolated the other anthology story.

Most of the day was taken up with rewriting/updating the Topic Workbook for the Developing the Series class, which I’m teaching in August. I put in more resources, especially for indie authors, and talked about responsibilities when on a contract schedule vs. on one’s own schedule. I took out references to an author I no longer want to include, because I’ve lost respect for that individual. I’ve kept in references to another author whose work had a lot of impact on me, but about whom I’ve learned some disturbing things. I might leave those in, and discuss the way learning more about who an author is impacts the relationship with the work. Or, I might take it all out, and not have that tangent in the class. Because that discussion could be a class all on its own, and there are people whose input and experiences would be valuable. It feels wrong to open that discussion, but not include them.

I have a few days to make that decision.

I still have to check/update/remove resource links, which will take a bit of time. There are a few awkward passages that I need to smooth out. And I have to extract the material and exercises for the slides I want to use in class.

There’s still work to do, but at least it’s well under way, and I’m not leaving it until the last darn minute.

More January 6 hearings and more corruption from the enablers of the Narcissistic Sociopath. That Ginni Thomas, who tried to overthrow the government, gets extra protection, while election poll workers are threatened, is simply not acceptable.

And then SCOTUS telling Maine that taxpayer dollars have to be used to fund religious schools. They only mean faux Christian schools, but, in any event, it’s yet another corrupt decision from them.

And all this crap about “voting harder” doesn’t matter when voting rights aren’t protected.

Texas is talking about seceding. Again. They’ve been yapping about that my entire life. They were an independent country for a few days in the 1840’s (or whenever, I’m too lazy to look it up) and want to go back to that. It’s all performative, for their extremist base. It’s far more complicated, in this day and age, to detach, than it was a couple of centuries ago. Plus, they don’t want to lose the government funding. The blue states carry the red states with funding. It’s all hot air.

The atrocities around the Uvalde shooting get worse and worse. They need to get rid of the entire city government and the police force and start over. May those who stood by and did nothing be haunted into their graves. Which is doubtful, because if they had a conscience or ethics in the first place, they wouldn’t have behaved the way they did. It’s not like they will suddenly sprout a conscience now. Therefore, there must be harsh consequences for all of them.

On a happier note, Summer Solstice was fine, even though the weather was yucky. A CounterSocial pal shared a tarot spread that worked really well. I used my new Ask the Witch deck. When it first arrived, I was worried it wouldn’t read well for me, but working with it, I find it does.

This same pal also told me about the Druidcraft Tarot Deck, by the same team that did the Druid Animal Oracle and the Druid Plant Oracle, two decks I really like. Hmmm. . .like I don’t have a couple of bookcases full of decks!

I put up a new flash fiction piece on Ko-fi, “Discoveries” which is under the Cerridwen Iris Shea name. The dynamic of the marriage between the two characters interests me. I’m not sure if the piece will stand as it is, or if it will lead to more exploration with these characters.

I wrote and turned in my book review, and received my next assignment. I have a script in my queue, which I will turn around either today, or, more likely, tomorrow. There hasn’t been much this week, and I will probably end up doing script coverage over the weekend, if more comes in. Urgh. I was trying to avoid that this summer. But that’s the ebb and flow.

I need to work on the anthology story today, and more on The Big Project. The thing that slows down the writing on The Big Project is that each section of it has to basically be at the stage I usually would be at the third or fourth revision before I can move on to the next section. Even though the basic plot is outlined. It’s a learning curve. But then, each piece has its own  innate rhythm. This one sure as heck does.

This afternoon, I have to put on Real People Pants and makeup and go down to Pittsfield. I’m in a playwrighting workshop hosted by the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Although I’ve been writing prose and radio scripts, the stage play part of my brain feels stale lately, and I’m hoping this will shake things up. It has very strict COVID protocols in place, and I know the venue, so I’m hoping I’ve calculated the risk correctly. I’ll know in 2-5 days, won’t I?

A year ago today, the movers actually showed up on Cape and loaded the truck.

Have a good one, friends. Despite the marketing, yesterday was not the “beginning of summer.” It’s Midsummer. Starting today, the days get shorter.

Enjoy them while you can.

Thursday, June 9, 2022: Unpacking Teapots

image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Rainy and cool

Yesterday started rainy, then cleared up and was beautiful. I have a garden post over on Gratitude and Growth.

I didn’t get much writing done, which was frustrating. My brain decided it was Friday. So I focused on the client work first, after I’d gotten through all the email that stacked up while we were gone on Tuesday.

I turned around three scripts, in and around unpacking most of what we brought back up on Tuesday, and figuring out where to put it.

The box of Johnson Brothers china came up. I adore Johnson Brothers china, and I have a combination of it from my grandmother and that I’ve picked up in thrift stores and yard sales over the years. I can spot a Johnson Brothers design at 50 paces. Some of it is original, and had to be handwashed. Some of it is reproduction and can go in the dishwasher.

I also brought up my Pyrex and corning ware dishes (that are from the 60’s and 70’s), because we needed more of those dishes.

Two boxes of teapots came up. I unpacked one box and washed it, reminding myself of the story behind each pot. There are three more boxes of teapots which will need to come up in the autumn. They have to be all handwashed. Also in the box was a ceramic decanter and a pair of goblets that I picked up in a thrift shop and just love. I’m not sure yet where to put them, but I love them.

I might post the stories behind each teapot on my Ko-fi page.

I ordered an island cart for the kitchen. I need more counter/storage space. I wasn’t going to spend the money right now, but it was on sale right now, so I did. It will arrive on Monday. Not looking forward to putting it together, but the extra prep space and storage space are much needed. It’s on wheels, so I can stash it in front of the cookbook bookcases when it’s not in use.

I’m designing the way the new seat covers are going to work on the kitchen chairs, because traditional recovering isn’t going to work. Originally, I was going to staple the fabric to the frame, and then re-screw the seats into the chair frames. We’ve had problems with those screws since we got the chairs. Instead, I’m going to make like the quick change theatre wardrobe person I am and put snaps on the covers and the seat bottom, so I can remove these and wash them as needed. Then, I’m going to Velcro down the seats to the frames, allowing more stability and the flexibility to remove the seats as needed.

There is measuring and math involved, but needs must.

Somehow, in all of this, I managed to bruise the index finger of my right hand. I’m not sure if this is fallout from the bruising to that hand when I broke the bowl on Monday, of if I hurt it some more in the storage unit or unpacking. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s badly discolored, and definitely gets worse when I type. I’m keeping an eye on it and treating it with arnica cream. It’s not like I bang hard on the keys when I type. If anything, I have a light touch. (I worked with someone a few years back in the office, and she always pounded on the computer keyboard, and I’d think, “what has that keyboard ever done to you?”).

Anyway, meditation this morning, then work on The Big Project and the monthology story, then over to client work.

“The Collector” radio play has been accepted by the producer in New York, so we are talking contract terms. I’m very excited.

I have to do a library run today (books waiting). I’d planned a quick run to Pittsfield, but I think I’ll wait for better weather, tomorrow or over the weekend.

Ellen Byron’s newest release, THE BAYOU BOOK THIEF, is supposed to arrive today, the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook series. That is my treat for the weekend, along with finishing Helen Whistberry’s THE MELODY OF TREES, which is just wonderful. I also have a book to turn around for review, which I will try to do this afternoon.

This time last year, I was in moving hell, and it was so hot and humid, it was difficult to function. I am grateful  to be where I am now.

Have a good one, my friends.

Tues. May 24, 2022: Writing, Reading, Research

omage courtesy of congerdesign via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Partly sunny and cool

Friday wound up being a lovely day. It was sunny and warm. I started at the library to drop off and pick up books (there were 10 waiting for me).

I headed over to Williamstown, looking for the Historical Museum, and couldn’t find it. I did find the public library, which is sleek and beautiful, with a garden full of blooming lilacs. The staff is lovely, and gave me detailed directions with landmarks. I scoped out the library – it’s definitely a place where I want to spend more time. Lovely, light reading areas, and a sleek work area.

And people are still masking. By choice. Which is great.

The Museum was much farther from the college/town center than it seemed on the map, but I found it. It’s a lovely building. The person staffing it is new, so we had to figure out where things were.

I looked at the exhibit, and found information about a Williamstown resident’s untimely demise that had been told to me as happening up the street from me here in North Adams, which resulted in a ghost in the building that is now the Mason Hall, so I will have to do more research. I also found information on a pair of sisters who farmed around the turn of the century, and want to know more about them.

The staff person found the file (somewhere neither of us would have thought to look), and I settled in. Much of the information was more recent, about the flood that finally wiped out the Spruces, and the rent battles the tenants had with the town leading up to it.

But there was some of the earlier information. I found contradictions and sanitization of information I’d found from other sources, which I found very interesting. It has set off ideas on how I want to build the character who heads the fictional community, and how I want to put him in competition with the real-life guy. Al Bachand, who was the actual visionary behind The Spruces, reminds me, in a lot of ways of David Belasco. My theatre pals will understand the reference. For anyone who doesn’t, I suggest looking up both names in your search engine, and reading some of the biographical information, and you’ll see what I mean.

Bachand was quite a character, a man of many talents and appetites. I want to build the fictional counterpart, who is in deep rivalry with him, to be even more over-the-top. Most of that is because it will suit the story I want to tell better. Part of it is because members of Bachand’s immediate family are still alive, and it would be disrespectful to use him in the series the way I want and need to use the visionary behind my fictional park. So I’m building a character that is somewhat inspired by him, but also very different from what I’m researching on the man, AND a character who is obsessed with the idea of besting Bachand (but can’t ever really do it). I also want to build the geography of my fictional park a little differently than the real Spruces was built, so it can serve the needs to the series.

In order to do this, I’m doing something I call “stretching geography.” By that, I mean creating fictional places and integrating them with real ones. I do that in CAST IRON MURDER, where I created the fictional Berkshires town of Persimmon. It’s got elements of Cheshire and Dalton and Clarksburg in it. While I’m vague about exactly WHERE it is (I talk about neighboring towns, including North Adams), it’s sort of stuffed between Cheshire and Adams, in my mind. I have to figure out the name of the town I want to put in competition with Williamstown and the Spruces community, and where I’m going to shove it. I want it close enough so that there can be actual competition between the two communities. That won’t come up in the series arc in action until several books in, but I’m going to seed the tension from the first book.

Anyway, there were notes in the research file that will lead me to other sources that I will go back and poke around in on another day.

I may have to buy another sketchbook just to draw the maps of my new community! The one I bought recently is dedicated to the maps I need to draw for The Big Project.

The lilacs are in bloom here, and it does my heart good to see and smell them. I still miss the ones I nurtured for a decade, but being around lilacs makes me happy.

On the way home from the museum, I stopped at Korean Garden and picked up chicken tangsooyuk, which was delicious.

There were no scripts in the queue, but I’d sent off my review and the invoice before I left for the museum, and was paid and had my next book assigned by the time I got back, so I decided not to panic.

Instead, I started reading UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR by TJ Klune, which is so beautifully written.

Meanwhile, in the back of my mind, I let the Retro Mystery percolate, and the monthology story percolate.

I prepared a big batch of black currant tea and put it in jars in the fridge, so I’d have something cool to drink over the very hot weekend.

I put up a one-card reading with the Herbal Tarot up over on my Ko-Fi page.

Saturday was World Meditation Day. I’d been invited to several all-day online sessions. While I was tempted, I was more drawn to not being online all day, and being quiet and internal instead.

I did some more research on the building here in North Adams. Turns out that there was a similar accident within a year of the one mentioned in the museum in Williamstown. Two different women, in similar family situations, killed in automobile accidents, about a year apart. I dug and did more research on both women, their families, and the accidents. I found some papers on them at Academia.edu, which is great, only now they email me multiple times a day with ideas on other stuff.

It also led me to research on Alice Ramsey, who drove across the country in 1909, and I put aside some information on that, because that sounds like fun inspiration.

I finished reading UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR, which is a beautiful, beautiful book. I started reading UNDER SKELETON LOCK AND KEY by Gigi Pandian, which is a delight.

It got quite hot on Saturday. Not unbearable, but hot enough so that I spend the hottest part of the day supine, reading. And letting things percolate.

I turned a script around on Saturday, too, because I was able to grab one. I typed up and revised the flash fiction, “Discoveries” that will go up on Ko-Fi this week. I put up a one-card reading with the Herbal tarot on Ko-Fi here.

Sunday was also hot, and much more humid. I had computer problems again; the computer took an hour to get up and running again, with screen freezes and all the rest. I hate Windows11.

But before that, I had a good day writing, in longhand, on the front porch. I’m going to need a new journal book before the end of the month, my third this year. I also wrote six pages on the idea spawned by the information about the two young women who died in automobile accidents up in Pownal, that I’d been researching. I’m writing my way into it. The plot is taking shape, and, once I’ve written my way into it a little more, I will stop and do an outline, if it’s viable. I figured out a way to connect the two women. It’s fiction, inspired by the real Elizabeth Botsford and the real Mary Houghton, but it’s definitely fiction.

The Houghton graves – and that of the chauffer who killed himself after Mary’s death – are up the street in Southview cemetery. I may go up there and look around, one day when it’s cooler.

Preakness Day was on Saturday afternoon. They should have cancelled, due to heat, and no one in the stands was taking any Covid precautions, which was rather disheartening. I wanted the filly, Secret Oath, to wipe the track with the boys, but she came in fourth, which is still pretty good. Early Voting won, and my baby Epicenter came in second.

I finished reading UNDER LOCK AND SKELETON KEY, which was so much fun. I also read A DEADLY BONE TO PICK by Peggy Rothschild, which was also very good.

I was assigned the word with which to start my poem for the World’s Longest Poem. I figured out the first two lines, and played with them, rhythmically, until they worked. But then I couldn’t figure out where to go with it.

Fortunately, it percolated overnight, and I woke up with the third and final line. We can have up to five lines, but I’m saying what I want to say in three, so there’s no need to witter on.

I worked the final line until it fit the rhythm, so I could send it off by noon. Also wrote two pages on the ghost story, and 1200 words on The Big Project.

More computer problems, especially with the keyboard, which is very frustrating. In case I haven’t said it often enough, I hate Windows11.

This computer is only two years old and has been babied as though it was made of Swarovski crystal. There is no reason for it not to run perfectly.

I’m also sick of people who tell me I should have a “backup computer.” Who can afford that? The computer which I PAID FOR INCLUDING AN EXTENDED WARRANTY should do the job it’s supposed to do, for more than the first couple of months, especially because I take care of it.

Sent off my bit of the poem, which is both exciting and terrifying.

I walked to the library to drop off and pick up books. I was delighted to literally stop and smell the lilacs several times along the way. I took some photos of the Houghton Mansion that I will use in my research, although my fictional mansion will be set up a little differently. I’m not going to have the added-on bulk of the masonic hall, which looks as though it should house a swimming pool. I may have that portion of the house be a ballroom instead. I’d written two more pages on that piece in the early morning writing session. The story is coming out a little differently than I expected, but I like what it’s doing. At least, so far. And I’ve figured out how to tie the two women’s deaths together in fiction, although they were only tied together by location and type of accident in real life.

Went down a research rabbit hole about Mary’s friend, Sybil. The birth, death, and marriage records point out where a lot of the sensational stories appearing on the various haunted house websites bent the truth. Probably through a lack of careful research, but still. It also took a bit of digging to find out what happened to her mother, Cordelia, after the deaths of her husband and daughter, but I found some information from reliable sources. Her two other daughters helped care for her, until she died, several years later. I’m changing that in the novel; the character based on her remarries and starts a new life, and that is tied to the deaths not only of Mary and Sybil, but Elizabeth, in a way that simply does not have evidence that happened in real life.

 Then, I went back to searching a particular record I want in relation to the Retro Mystery, but couldn’t find it. Could find records around it, but not that one. It’s a specific marriage record, and it makes me wonder if that marriage took place out of the county, such as at Niagara Falls or somewhere else. I found out that one of the inspirations for a character in the story is still alive and living in this town, so I have to make even more certain that her fictional counterpart is very different. However, my intent for her is to be a positive, dynamic character in the series.

Finding the facts, and then deciding how I’m going to change things so it works for fiction, and do so in a way that honors the real-life inspirations, is an interesting process.

Knowledge Unicorns was a lot of fun. Finals are done; it’s mostly about field trips and running out the clock. And our last session is on Thursday. It’s bizarre to think that we’re done, after more than two years. But they’ve built a strong support system amongst each other, so whatever comes next, they can handle it together, and I can step back.

I’m reading DISORIENTED by Elaine Hsieh Chou, which is by turns, funny and disturbing. The writing is beautiful.

Charlotte woke me up at 4:20, and Tessa rousted me out of bed by 5. So another too-early morning. Got some writing done, and fussed over the plants.

We have Some Plans for today, which hopefully will go well, and I’ll have a lot of fun stuff to share tomorrow.

Peace, friends, and have a good day. We’re headed to a long holiday weekend, and I am ready for it!

Fri. May 20, 2022: Preparing for a Hot Weekend

image courtesy of SplitShire via pixabay.com

Friday, May 20, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Partly cloudy and warmer

Meditation was good yesterday, although it took me a bit of time to settle into it. Charlotte had no such problems. She loves the weekly Zoom meditations with the Concord Public Library.

Got ahead on some blog work, did the social media rounds, caught up on email, did the necessary admin work. Now that I’m figuring out how to use Counter Social, I’m liking it. And I’ll take an anonymous hacker as the leader of it over a spoiled brat billionaire any time. But Twitter is still my main hangout, at least for now.

Freelance Chat was fun, although the pricing/rate suggestions given by the weekly guest don’t suit what I do.

Turned around a script in the afternoon. I’d been requested, which is always nice. A little worried because my queue is empty. I should be pleased; it opens up the weekend. But I’m below my financial goal for the month with them, which concerns me.

However, I read the next book for review in the afternoon/evening, and this morning I will write up the review and send the invoice for the last batch, so there’s that money. But if scripts are available this weekend, I’ll read over the weekend.

Played with the flash fiction I wrote the other day. I will type it up over the weekend and do a couple of revision passes on it, so that it’s in a decent shape for Ko-Fi. The most intriguing part, for me, about this, is the tension in the relationship between the two characters. Is this something I want to explore further?

It rained on and off all day, sometimes intensely, so I was glad to stay in. But I have to swing by the library this morning on my way to the Williamstown Historical Museum to drop off/pick up books. I have about six to return, and there are ten waiting for me.

Started a book that had come highly recommended, but it’s in present tense, so, nope.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. Some of the kids are finished with their exams. The rest have their last ones this coming week. Only two more sessions, and we will be done, after two and a half years of working together. Definitely bittersweet.

I decided not to do the proposal for the project in autumn. It would have to be indoors, and with numbers rising, new variants, and monkey-fucking-pox, it’s not worth the risk.

This weekend is supposed to be in the 90’s, which just makes me cringe. I will clean the fans later today, so they’re ready in case we need to use them in addition to the ceiling fans. Considering that it’s cold enough for the heat to be on this morning, I don’t want that large temperature swing. It does a number on my body.

The plan is, in the cooler portions of the day, that I can get a lot of writing done, especially on the radio plays, The Big Project, and the first draft of the anthology story. I also want to get back to the revisions of “Personal Revolution” and the Topic Workbooks. I realized how to solve a logic problem in “Personal Revolution” by simply changing a character’s job location.

Hopefully, the heat won’t drain every last drop of creativity out of me, and I can get things done, whether or not any script coverage comes through.

Have a good one.