Wed. Aug. 17, 2022: Work Stacking Like Wood

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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Drizzly and humid

Yesterday was busy. I had trouble getting my act together. The fatigue is a lot, but I have to push through, at least for the next few weeks. Deadlines wait for no one.

I got out an LOI for an intriguing, but slightly odd position that would run about five months over the winter. We’ll see.

I got the two sessions I wanted for the Authors’ Guild WIT conference in Lenox in mid-September. Supposedly, they have strict protocols. But that’s what the other theatre claimed, and the audience didn’t do their part. So I will show up, and if I feel uncomfortable, I will leave.

I did some promotion for Episode 7 of Legerdemain. I did some prep work on a couple of grant applications that need to go out. I have to take some photographs, and I keep putting it off, but I can’t put it off much longer. I want to tweak a little in the project proposal, so that it’s tighter.

Cleaned the house, with a thorough vacuuming, scrubbing floors, tidying things up, burning some incense so it all smelled good.

Tessa Was Not Amused.

My friend came over and we worked mostly on her bio, and explaining the difference between a bio and a vision statement and the other pieces one needs to assemble. Before she can apply for grants, she has to get the domain registration and web hosting sorted out, because the grants all want a website as part of their process. She has a list of assignments of the pieces that need work before it makes sense to meet again. I sort of felt like I was giving homework, but she has to learn how to do this and be self-sustaining. She’s not a client. And I’m juggling this WITH all my other work, not instead of it. I have to have boundaries, or I’ll end up working as a consultant, researcher, copywriter, and grant writer for free and resenting it, and that’s not what this is about. It’s about teaching her how to find the resources and sustain those aspects as she builds her business.

In the evening, I attended the virtual launch of Roselle Lim’s new book, SOPHIE GO’s LONELY HEARTS CLUB with The Ripped Bodice LA. Which was a lot of fun. I’m so glad she invited me, and I’m looking forward to reading the book.

We wrestled off the couch pillow covers, which is always a not-fun chore, and stuck them in the laundry bag. I didn’t sleep well last night – as soon as I’d drifted off, the downstairs neighbor sounded like they were rearranging the furniture at midnight, and then I couldn’t fall asleep again. So when the alarm went off at 5, I was tired and grumpy.

But I hauled everything in the rain over to the laundromat. There were people there, unmasked, and I wasn’t about to sit in a humid, poorly ventilated space with unmasked strangers, so I spent the time the laundry was going through in the car, editing the next set of episodes for LEGERDEMAIN.

Managed to get a grant application out first thing this morning.

Now, I have to get the clean cushion covers back on the cushions, which will be a wrestling match, and then go on with the rest of my day.

The DEVELOPING THE SERIES Topic Workbook releases today, so I also have to get all those links updated. And turn around two scripts. And work on Legerdemain, both the episodes and the website. And start the next book for review. And. . .

Published in: on August 17, 2022 at 7:54 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 17, 2022: Work Stacking Like Wood  
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Wed. Aug. 3, 2022: Switching Between Types of Creativity

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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny and hot

The SERIES BIBLE Topic Workbook releases today. This edition has information on the use of Tracking Sheets and Style Sheets. I hope you like it.

I uploaded and scheduled the content calendar for it yesterday. I updated the websites with the individual buy links across a bunch of the Topic Workbooks, and will have to do so for the next few weeks, as more links, international links, and library links go live. I haven’t yet updated the Topic Workbook page on this blog site, but I will next week.

Then I did the rounds of the channels where I couldn’t schedule content, to push Episode 3 of LEGERDEMAIN, which dropped yesterday.

Once that was all taken care of, I started converting the most important points and exercises for the upcoming DEVELOPING THE SERIES Workbook for Saturday’s class.

By that time, I had to do a library run, and I picked up bagels and smoked salmon for lunch. I had a great converation about poetry, Thomas Lynch, and John Milton with one of my favorite librarians.

After lunch, it was time to turn my attention to the script coverage. I only got one script covered in the afternoon (it was a longer coverage than I expected). I took a shower and then participated via Zoom with Chef Jeremy’s cooking class at Kripalu. It was wonderful. He’s such a great teacher, and he’s so much about encouraging people to make substitutions in recipes based on what they like, and learn from it. He also encourages people to try new things, like unusual vegetables at the market, and just play. He’s very much about playing and learning and expanding. It was a great class, and I learned a lot.

I’ve been invited to attend the rehearsal of one of my radio plays next week via Zoom, right after the next class with Chef Jeremy, so that’s great. I’m looking forward to that.

Turned around another coverage after dinner, and then I was too tired to get the third one in, so that means I have to turn around 4 today, not three.

This morning, I was up early and at the laundromat when I opened. I got a good chunk of edits done on upcoming LEGERDEMAIN episodes while I was there.

When I came back, I found that Tessa had pulled the pants I’d worn to my friend’s place out of the laundry and was dragging them around (because they smelled of Ben, no doubt). We had some plant kerflamma on the front porch – something made several of the plants sick. We cut them back and isolated them; hopefully, we’ve stopped it from spreading to everything out there. I would be sad to lose all the plants. I don’t think we can save the impatiens. I think they’re gone. Anyway, that, and the hole the squirrel tore in the kitchen screen before Willa chased him away will be detailed in tomorrow’s garden post.

I was so pleased that Jon Stewart managed to shame the Republicans into mostly voting for the PACT Act to provide veterans with health care. It takes a lot to shame Republicans – basically they can’t be shamed; they can only be afraid their wallets get thinner. And Kansas voted to protect abortion rights. Good.

I’m tired, but there’s a lot to do this morning. I have to work on the SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM Topic Workbook, and finish the slides for the class. I have to do a run out to the market for coffee and oat milk. I hope to do a little bit of work on my poem, but that might have to wait until Friday.

This afternoon is all about script coverage.

It’s supposed to be brutally hot today, and, especially tomorrow. We may have to move camp to the Williamstown Library for the afternoon on both days.

Stay well and happy, my friends.

Published in: on August 3, 2022 at 8:06 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 3, 2022: Switching Between Types of Creativity  
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Wed. June 1, 2022: A Day Out

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Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and a little cooler

Yesterday was hot and humid. Not unbearable, but uncomfortable.

I wrote 1K in longhand early in the morning, had a discussion about the new cover/new look for the Topic Workbooks, did some research on resources, and revised the first 25 pages of SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM.

By then, it was time to leave for our rescheduled day out. We swung by the library first, to drop off and pick up books, then headed down to Pittsfield, and across to Hancock to visit the Hancock Shaker Village. We were there when it opened, so it wasn’t yet crowded. The staff was masked; locals were masked. You can always tell the tourists around here, because they don’t mask and don’t care if they make other sick.

The Village itself is beautiful. They’ve done a lovely job of setting up walkways and organizing a flow. It’s easy to go from building to building, to go through the medicinal gardens, see the art installations, and visit the buildings.

The Round House is amazing, stone and wood. The construction artistry, melding beauty and function, is breathtaking. Of course, we visited the animals, too: calves, goats, sheep, pigs and their piglets. One of the chickens slid out of the chicken coop and strutted around like she was giving a tour. Turns out her name is Trixie, and this is HER property. She graciously allows visitors. It was pretty hilarious.

When we went to the Discovery barn, the woman working there was childhood friends with a Broadway dresser (who’s still working in NYC). I was the only other Broadway dresser she’s ever met. Talk about a small world.

We came home, had a late, light lunch, and rested in the afternoon. I read Susan Mallery’s SUMMER GETAWAY, which Deborah Blake had recommended. I also found out that Lilith St. Crow’s beloved dog, Miss B, died, and my heart hurts for her and her family.

I have four scripts in my queue for today and tomorrow, so hopefully, this next pay period will be more lucrative than the last couple. I’m grateful for the break, but I don’t want to lose the cushion I was building up.

Up early today, and to the laundromat. Got about 25 more pages of the multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER. It’s slow going, because every word has to be weighed. I hope to work on the first few chapters I’ve already marked later today.

There’s road construction up on Church Street, and they’re redirecting the traffic down our street, ignoring that it’s one way in the other direction. Someone’s going to get killed. I’m glad I got back so early from the laundromat, or my car would have been hit by one of these ignorant yahoos driving 60 mph down a residential one-way street IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. Yeah, Town Council’s gonna hear about this. It’s not that the drivers don’t know; it’s that they don’t care and do it anyway. Typical Masshole drivers.

I need to work on The Big Project and The Topic Workbooks and the radio play this morning, before I switch over to script coverage this afternoon. I also want to get the book review out this morning, so I can get my next assignment. We’re supposed to get the powerful thunderstorms that never arrived yesterday. Let’s hope so. I have a pre-storm headache to beat the band.

Have a good one.

Published in: on June 1, 2022 at 6:51 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 1, 2022: A Day Out  
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Wed. May 25, 2022: Roadtrip!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was road trip day. We travelled over to Lake George, a day trip to make sure the car was working, and to get a few things out that way we couldn’t source around here.

We drove Rt. 2 across to Troy (New York), which was pretty, but the curvy mountain roads required intense concentration, especially since I haven’t driven much since December, and I’m not used to the mountain roads yet. I mean, they’re not the Alps, but still have challenges (mostly yahoos in rusty pickups who want to speed).

Troy is an interesting, historic city, and we picked up Rt. 9 North from there. Once we got around Saratoga Springs, I was back in familiar territory, although I hadn’t been out that way since before we moved to the Cape a little over a decade ago. It’s gotten more built up, of course, but it was still good to see familiar places with happy memories.

Somehow, we got sidetracked onto Rt. 9N north, instead of N, and took the roundabout way to Lake George which was . . .kind of retro kitschy? Very built up with games and “fun” parks and stuff, and one can barely see the lake for the tourist stuff. We’d hoped to grab some takeout and picnic near the lake, but there wasn’t anything we wanted to eat, and a plethora of school field trips, so we decided not to.

We stopped at the Timberland outlet and I got new walking shoes – black with purply-pink trim. I had my last Timberland walking shoes for nearly 15 years before they fell apart during the move last year. These feel great, and will be terrific for running errands. I doubt they’ll last as long as the others, between concrete city streets and hiking trails, but I have every intention of enjoying them. We stopped at a couple of other stores, too, and bought a few things, but mostly didn’t, and didn’t stay in stores where people weren’t masking. We, of course, stayed masked.

We picked up I-87 and dropped down to Albany, then went across on the Pike, and came back up through Lee and Lenox. We stopped at the kitchen store in Lenox; I hadn’t had a chance to do my birthday shopping there in March. One of the (unmasked) cashiers was walking around on her cell phone, talking about how she was “recovering” from COVID and how much she loved the anti-viral drugs. I grabbed two pretty blue bowls, went to the other cashier, and we got the heck out of there ASAP, sanitizing like crazy. Bitch should have still been home, or, at the very least, masked in the store, instead of spewing germs everywhere.

We stopped at a food market that advertises all over the place and is always crowded (90% were masked, thank goodness)). I’d heard so much about it. I found them overpriced. Their prices are $2-$4 higher than the food co-op and $3-$5 higher than the other grocery stores in the area, for the same brands.

I bought some of their own brand to try it. The take-and-bake pizza had no taste. Not even a cardboardy taste. Completely bland, until I put some of the fresh basil from the garden on it. That brought out the cheese and tomato flavors, but the crust was still bland. The organic chocolates were flat, too. The texture was okay, but they lacked taste. This morning’s chocolate croissants were okay, but not brilliant. Let’s hope the rest of the stuff I bought there has more flavor, or I am going to be Annoyed.

Doubtful I’ll shop there again, unless the cheese I bought from the cheese monger is terrific.

But at least we know it’s hype without substance, and don’t have to shop there again.

We did full decontamination protocols on ourselves and everything we brought into the house, just in case.

Charlotte and Willa had missed us, and were glad we were home. Tessa had ensconced herself on the porch, and was like, “Eh, you’re home earlier than you said.”

Read in the evening, still reading DISORIENTED, which is such a strong book. Definitely has a lot of ha-ha-ow! to the satire.

Tried to re-order the cat food, but they are out of stock for the only food Tessa will eat. We still have a few weeks’ worth, which is why I usually order early. I can wait a few days before figuring out something else.

Was heartbroken and enraged by yet another school shooting in Texas. Every politician who blocks gun control and removing the filibuster is personally responsible for these daily killings, and should be charges as accessories to the homicides.

Up early this morning, confronted by a very angry Tessa. When we refilled her bowl before bedtime, we left it on the kitchen counter. She did not get her 2 AM snack, and she was enraged. For once, she didn’t even care that I was headed to the laundromat. Her attitude was, “Just go! You’ve done enough!”

Laundromat was fine. Lots of laundry, but got it done in a reasonable amount of time. I drove, because there was so much, and refilled the gas on the way back. I’d only had to fill the car once before since January, so I feel like I have no right to gripe about gas prices. Besides, it’s still cheaper here than, say, in the UK, where they pay for a litre what we pay for a gallon.

I haven’t had any scripts in my queue since Saturday, and am trying not to panic. I am way under my nut for this pay period. I’m still okay, but I’m trying to get ahead, not just stay afloat. I have some other paid work to do, fortunately, this week, but it irritates me that they gave us this big song-and-dance about wanting us to take on more work and put more of our focus on them, but then they can’t give us enough to meet our needs.

Time to add a few more clients into the mix. Another editor wants to know if I want to work with her again (it would be for a project coming out in 2024, although it would be due this August and paid next October, which is the way it works for the almanac). I’m going to say yes. I have a book to read for review, and radio scripts to do for producers. Plus, the Big Project, the monthology story, revising “Personal Revolution” and the Topic Workbooks, and the next edit on CAST IRON MURDER.

Speaking of CAST IRON MURDER, I started the multi-colored draft at the laundromat, and wow, is there a lot of sloppy language in it. It’s part of one character’s cadence, but I’m going to clean up the rest of it. Yikes.

If you’re not familiar with my multi-colored draft, my article on the layered editing process is here.

Back to the page. I have a headache from the driving yesterday, but there’s too much to do today to take another day off.

Have a good one.

Thurs. April 21, 2022: Customer Dis-Service Causes Migraine

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Thursday, April 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Cloudy and cool

Yesterday was another frustrating day. It started well – laundry, work on The Big Project, signing the contract with the marketing agency and setting up the appropriate virtual and physical folders, expanding the pitch to my Llewellyn editor.

I did a quick grocery run, and the store gave me my little Norway spruce seedling as my Earth Day gift, which made me so happy. I know, it cost them nothing, but it made me happy. And a library run to drop off/pick up books.

I researched new phones for my mom. Tracfone refuses to fix the problem, which is that they forced a smartphone on her that she can’t use and is afraid of. They will not give her one she can use. They won’t even let me buy one. And her plan runs out next week. I’m not going to put money into a phone she can’t use. So I researched companies to see where I could get her a phone that she can use. Most companies only offer smartphones, so that wouldn’t work. One company had the perfect phone, but the company was recently acquired and it looks like it will be dissolved by June, and I’m not going through this whole process again. I found another phone that looks like it will work, and a reasonable plan. I had a live chat with a representative, everything seemed fine, I put through the order – and then the “billing” department started making demands and accused me of – I don’t even know what they’re accusing me of. Why do businesses now attack customers and assume they’re all criminals? Why do I want to do business with a company who treats me like crap?

It was a nightmare. A completely unnecessary nightmare. Not to mention ableist, misogynistic, and elder abuse bullshit.

Supposedly the phone shipped and we will have it tomorrow. Switching over the number better not be another nightmare. Because I want it to be done – I am not doing this anymore. I am, however, as soon as everything is properly transferred over, going to tell Tracfone to shove it up their ass, and filing a complaint against them with the FCC.

So that took hours when it should have taken minutes, and wrecked me for the day. But I still had to get client work done. So I dug in and did it.

You know what I’m getting sick of? Writers based in cities writing about agriculturally based environments and ignoring the weather. The weather decides the structure of the day. One can ignore weather in cities, in fact it’s often a point of pride to overcome weather, but not where the weather determines if there’s going to be a harvest or not.

I had an online yoga class in the evening with a group specifically geared to busy professional women without children. I’m glad I did it, but it made me realize that I need to go back to class in a studio, once I feel comfortable. No idea when that will be, but I need to be in class where I can get adjustments from the teacher. I’m trying to figure out if I should expand my home practice with longer sessions, or several sessions broken up over the course of the day.

By the end of the day, I felt awful, with an excruciating migraine, which hasn’t abated at all today.

I have meditation this morning, and then it’s back to work. Got to catch up from what was derailed yesterday, and try to work ahead.

There’s a post over on Gratitude and Growth on how the plants are coming along.

I just want to go back to bed, but that is not an option.

Tues. March 22, 2022: Challenging Start to the Week

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Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and pleasant

There’s a post on the GDR site about being the architect of your life.

I hope you had a good weekend, and a blessed Equinox. Now, we’ll really see the gains in daylight, since it’s tipping toward longer light.

Friday was a mixed day. Very foggy in the morning. Not fun to make my way to the mechanic when I couldn’t use the broken windshield wiper. But I got there.

The wiper was easily fixed. But the engine light issue, not so much. As long as the light stays steady and doesn’t blink, I can continue to drive short distances. The mechanic thinks it’s a fuel pump issue, but they can’t even get me in for a diagnostic for another month. They suggested a mechanic in Williamstown, who specializes in foreign cars. It’s the second time that mechanic has been suggested to me. I am trying to get an appointment.

Stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and restocked our food supply.

Moved the plants back out on the porch, and even opened the windows once it warmed up enough.

Did some client blogging, and roughed out the next edition of Devon’s Random Newsletter, which should go out this week. I think I wrote too much, so will probably edit it back.

Worked on a recipe for strawberry-vanilla mousse. It tastes quite good, but doesn’t look appealing. Nor did it set properly. Ever. I think the acid from the fresh strawberries had something to do with it. So I need to adjust the recipe, and figure out how to make it look better without using artificial colors.

In the afternoon, one neighbor was working on a new piano composition. Another neighbor was on her front porch, playing her guitar. I worked on script coverage. It was a great vibe. Everyone in their own space, but knowing people around them were doing creative work.

Fresh cod for dinner on Friday night, with rice and steamed spinach. Yummy.

Throughout the weekend, I did some cleaning here and there, but nowhere like the intense spring cleaning I planned. The Plan was to start in the kitchen and work forward doing intense deep cleaning. But I spent more time unpacking and organizing things than in deep clean mode.

It kept raining and then not on Saturday, and I didn’t feel like going out, so I didn’t. I did regular housework and changed the beds and did some unpacking and organizing. I made more vegetable stock. I finished reading a novel I’d started that was recommended by an acquaintance over at VOGUE. I liked a lot of the book, especially relating to the characters and what they were going through. I got ahead of the plot a little too quickly, and there were some chapters where way too much backstory was info-dumped, instead of being integrated into the overall story. I liked more than I didn’t, but it’s not a book I’d rave about. Went through some other books for research on various projects, and put them back in the pile for the library.

Percolated on the retro mystery for a bit. I’m creating a new name for my fictional community and putting in some lines as to how the creator of it is in competition with The Spruces. This will give me the flexibility I need for plot and character and even some geographic deviations. The application for The Spruces was careful and thorough. I want my fictional community to be a little more raucous and freewheeling. On Monday morning, I did some research on different mobile homes, and I found the one I want for my central protagonist: a three bedroom, with a second story for her main bedroom and a roof deck, with a patio downstairs, two bedrooms, a bath, a kitchen, and the living room. I need to go back to the library and look at the dimension widths for the homes that remained in the park. On the road, they could only be 8’ wide, but if they weren’t meant to move? Could they be 10’? When I did my research, I wrote down the length, but not the width.

Sunday was the Spring Equinox. I kept the celebrations simple. It was cloudy most of the day, so I decided not to run errands that day, either. I did some more unpacking and organizing.

I spent a good portion of the day going through a research book I’ve had out of the library for months (I am allowed 99 renewals on it). But I felt like I should go through it thoroughly and return it. I got 9 pages of notes on one project, and images that are relevant to three projects, so it definitely was worth taking the time with it.

I did a chipotle chicken in the crockpot, which was yummy. I do love my crockpot.

I’m slowly working my way through ATLAS OF THE HEART, which was recommended by the leader of the Thursday meditation group. It’s not an easy book. There are things which resonate strongly with me. There are other things with which I disagree. The third category is the most problematic because they resonate, even though I don’t like them! But they make sense. Definitely a worthwhile book, albeit not an easy one.

Up early on Monday, on my own. Got the morning routine going, in spite of going down another research rabbit hole with The Spruces.

I had a long list of errands that needed to happen. On the way to the first set, I stopped at the credit union to make a deposit for my mother, in the joint account, on which I am named with Power of Attorney. The teller and the teller supervisor accused me of trying to scam my elderly mother. Even though I have POA, and my mother signed the check (since it was made out to her), and marked it for deposit. Because I am named for my mother, and therefore must be trying to scam her, because heaven forbid a daughter have the same first name as a mother. If I was a man named for my father, this would never be a problem. Because misogyny. I had to go home, get the check stub and the letter that came with the check TO MAKE A DEPOSIT INTO A JOINT SAVINGS ACCOUNT. On top of that, they’re going to hold the money until the end of the month “to make sure the check is real.” It’s from a major company in the Midwest. On top of that, they said she should have come in to make the deposit herself. First of all, she’s 97. That’s why it’s a joint account and I have POA. So that she doesn’t have to come in herself. Second, none of the staff is masking. Why would I put her at risk in a pandemic? As usual, they are inappropriate.

EVERY interaction with Greylock Federal Credit Union since we opened the account has been unnecessary drama. Why would I want to keep our money in an establishment that treats me like a criminal instead of a customer? The whole point of being with a credit union is because their mission is to treat their members like individuals.

Not Greylock.

As soon as I can legally move the money, I will. It will be a nightmare to open yet another account and switch everything over.  I’m starting the research now. But it’s necessary. Because my mother is 97. I hope she’s around for a long time, but when she does go, how much you want to bet they’d refuse access to the JOINT ACCOUNT so I could pay the bills for the funeral? What about when I start traveling again? How much do you want to bet they’ll leave me stranded somewhere, even though I will have given them the information about the trip in advance? Not to mention that, as a legal adult (for decades now), I shouldn’t have to get the bank’s “permission” to travel.

NONE of this is about security. ALL of it is about control.

The Annual Meeting is tonight. Part of me is exhausted at the very thought of attending. Part of me wants to go in there and tell them off. Yet again. I have brought up these issues before, and they “feel bad” that I have a bad experience with them, but never adjust their behavior.

I have ALWAYS been polite in dealing with them, even when they frustrated and insult me. And EVERY transaction is an absolute nightmare of unnecessary drama.

If I was rich and laundering money through them, they’d let me do anything I want.

Part of being the architect of my own life is only dealing with businesses that treat me with basic human respect and decency. The credit union does not. Therefore, I need to take my business (small as it is) elsewhere.

After it took the hour plus to get sorted what should have been a basic deposit, I did the rest of my errands: the liquor store, the library. Did a pass through the thrift store, hoping for some cute plant pots, but they didn’t have any in stock. Went to another store, where I found pots, potting soil, and even got some morning glory and moonflower seeds.

It meant I didn’t have to drive to another store I thought I’d have to visit, for the soil and the pots. So that saved time, energy, and stress on the car.

After lunch, I planted eight pots with seven kinds of seeds (I’ll discuss it in detail in this Thursday’s post on Gratitude and Growth). It was lovely out on the porch, so we moved all the pots out there in the sun. I updated the plant journal. I’m trying to be more consistent with it. Keeping it in a 3-ring binder instead of a spiral-bound notebook makes it easier.

There were plenty of things I “should” have been doing in the afternoon, although I was well in the zone, deadline-wise. So I cut myself a break, read a book I really wanted to read for fun, and watched the clouds roll by. Being up in the mountains is fun, because the clouds are low enough to really observe.

Tessa started howling as soon as I went to bed. I got up, sat with her while she ate her bedtime snack, and waited until she fell asleep before sneaking off to bed. I was awake on my own just before five this morning, and she was happy.

Took the laundry to the laundromat in the rolly cart. The moon was still out and shining brightly when I left. They’d adjusted the lights to the time change, finally, although the clock is still an hour behind. Got a nice chunk of edits done on CAST IRON MURDER, in spite of some guy coming in to do his laundry who kept trying to talk to me. What is it about men that they can’t stand to see a woman involved in something that isn’t them? I had my folder open with a full manuscript of several hundred pages, I was editing hard copy in red pen, it was obvious I was working. Basic greeting and acknowledgement make sense; trying to engage me in conversation when I am obviously working is not. I was polite, but minimal, and made it clear that I WAS WORKING, and not there to hang out and socialize.

I mean, it’s a lot better here than it was on Cape, but still. Read the room, guys. Not everything is about you.

Home, put the clothes away. I only have about two chapters left to edit on CAST IRON MURDER, so I might just go ahead and do that, and then put in some of the fixes I noted in pen this morning, before switching over to The Big Project, and then client work in the afternoon.

Trying to decide if I want to do a run to the library – six books came in after I had done my drop-off/pickup yesterday.

The tansy seeds finally showed up after travelling from Missouri to Massachusetts to Chicago back to the Berkshires. I hope to plant them today. Otherwise, I have to wait until Friday, which is the next planting day.

By the way, any business that is running around with an unmasked staff behaving like the pandemic is over does not get to use “the pandemic” or “supply chain issues” as an excuse for not being competent or fulfilling their responsibilities. Either they acknowledge we are still in a pandemic and follow protocols, or they forfeit the right to use it as an excuse. It doesn’t work both ways.

The Republican racists are in full sail in the hearings for our new SCOTUS. People need to believe them when they show who they are, and remove them.

The week has barely begun and I’m exhausted.

I will make the time for extra meditation today.

Wed. March 16, 2022: Research Day

image courtesy of Foundry Co. via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Waxing Moon

Mild and cloudy, supposed to turn sunny and gorgeous

In spite of a rocky start to the day, yesterday morning went well. I dealt with some email. I worked on the next section of The Big Project.

I headed up to the library to do some research in the local archives on The Spruces, a self-governed community in Williamstown begun in the 1950’s that has fascinated me since we moved here. It took a bit to track down the material, but once I had it, I sat and took plenty of notes. I have some names to research further. I have physical details of the layout, looked at photos.

I think I will use it as the inspiration for what I want to write based on a place very much like it, set in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. I need to do more research, but as I walked back from the library, the core ensemble of characters, and the two protagonists who will drive the piece and/or series became clear.

Some of the names, and that people in positions of authority were married couples holding multiple positions in the community cause questions. And also open opportunities for the kind of conflict I want to create here.

I also want plenty of cocktails, chain smoking, and cool clothes.

I’ve set up the physical file folder to keep the notes as they evolve, and any additional research I come up with.

The sweet pea and mallow seeds arrived. I need more pots and soil in order to plant them. I need at least a half a dozen more pots, and probably three more bags of soil. Hopefully, the tansy seeds will show up today.

Ordered more ink for the printer. Then I’ll have a full complement of color tanks. I think I can wait to order more black ink for about another month or so. The tanks are good for about 1300 pages; while I go through a lot with the black tanks (and tend to order the ones that can run more pages, when I can afford to), the color tanks last me nearly a year.

In the afternoon, I went down another rabbit hole of research on The Spruces, thanks to the Williamstown Historical Society’s online archives. I found some wonderful photographs and got some more names to research. The Society has a DVD about the place, which, once the car is fixed (again), I will make arrangements to go over and view.

The characters are telling me their stories, and I am taking notes. Out of this will come the conflicts that I need to create the mystery, and then I can outline. I need to do some more research, especially in newspaper archives. I have to find out if The Berkshire Eagle’s morgue is online, or if I have to go and visit them in person.

Reading newspaper files will also help me decide in what year I want to start the series. It will be sometime between 1957-1960.

I also found out (again, thanks to the Berkshire Eagle, who will be thanked in the acknowledgements, no doubt), that there used to be a horserace track over in Hancock, Berkshire Downs, in the 1960’s. I will have to find a way to incorporate that, if I can.

I got my script coverage done, and I worked on a grant proposal. I also worked on contest entries.

It was a pretty good day, all around.

Charlotte woke me up at 4 this morning. I refused to get up, but then I overslept until 5:30, which meant I had to scramble to get out the door to the laundromat. I went on foot, with the rolly cart. It was open on time, and the machines worked, but they didn’t have the lights over the washing machines calibrated to the time change, so I had to use the flashlight on my phone. Why yes, I will be getting in touch. It was a little creepy.

But I got 60 pages of CAST IRON MURDER revised.

If it’s as mild as they predict, I’ll put the seedlings out on the porch for the day. I need to go over to the college library to get some art books out I need for the series of short projects. I plan to work on The Big Project, maybe put in some of the fixes I caught on CAST IRON MURDER, and do more research, in and around script reading and going to the library.

I’m watching the news on Ukraine, and donating what I can to World Central Kitchen, which, for me, is the best place to put my funds right now. One of the most important things we have to do NOW, not months down the line, is to remove the Russian assets in Congress and prosecute them.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The seniors are already talking about how this would be spring break for them next year. I wonder how fast the new cases will rise in the next two weeks? Since we’re not getting real numbers. Supposedly, the transmission rate in the Berkshires is down to 1-1/2%, and new cases have gone down by 34% in the past two weeks, but with free testing stopped, who knows how accurate that is? I am still masking indoors in public spaces (like the library, the grocery store, etc.).

The Ipsy bag arrived, full of great stuff for a fun spring look, including lipstick from one of my favorite brands. I started cleaning, by giving the copper molds a good scrub in the kitchen, because I’ve decided I want to hang them up around the stove. If you’ve ever been to the Cape house, they were on the wall by the door to the garage, next to one of the cookbook bookcases (yes, I have two tall bookcases full of cookbooks in my kitchen, and two shelves of a bookcase in my office are also full of cookbooks. And there are more in storage). Hanging up the molds and tidying up the now three bookcases in the kitchen (two with cookbooks, one with bins of different flours, etc.) is on today’s list. I have to figure out how to get the red wax off the window (long story). Looks like someone met with a fatal accident in the kitchen.

If you’re curious about the shared world anthology I keep mentioning, the Monthology website is now live here. You’ll find my Valkyries in the District of the Dearly Departed, and my Gorgons running a theatre in The Amalgamate. There will be lots of fun blurbs and ads and all kinds of information coming out about it in the coming months.

Have a good day, my friends.

Tues. March 8, 2022: The Car Is Home!

image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Sunny/Cloudy/Cold (more snow coming in)

International Women’s Day

(Note: I haven’t had a Beetle for years, but the last one I had was red).

Every International Women’s Day, I take some time to honor Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe. They are major reasons I became a writer. I first learned about them through library books about them, in the Childhood of Famous Americans Series. I read all the books about women when I was in elementary school. I keep taking out the books about Harriet and Louisa, re-reading them, until my parents bought me my own copies. As I got older, I read what they’d written, and read more about their lives and work. Both were strong, flawed, smart, funny women, and are still, in many ways, my guiding lights.

If you missed yesterday’s post over on the GDR site about how to dream your ideal life, the link is here.

Friday was the first day in a long time I felt like I was back to myself, working professionally, and balancing the different work elements.

I slogged through a bunch of emails. I wrote about 3K on The Big Project. I updated the tracking sheets for the project. I ran errands. I did a script coverage. I finished a book for review. The second shipment of contest entries arrived, so that was all sorted and checked in, and I went back to working on contest entries this weekend, too. I figured out the grocery list for Saturday’s shopping, although I had to do it again on foot.

For fun, I’m reading THE SHARPER THE KNIFE, THE LESS YOU CRY by Kathleen Flinn, about her time studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. It’s such a well-written book, and definitely makes me want to avoid cooking school. But then, I’ve never wanted to work in a professional kitchen. I just want to hone good cooking techniques for my own cooking, and not be under all that pressure, especially not at my age.

Charlotte and Tessa woke me around 5:30 on Saturday morning, which was fine. 5:30 is a good time to start my day.

I did the 3+ mile round trip to the grocery store, with the rolly cart, and restocked our pantry and fridge. The scallops looked good, so I grabbed a pound, which made for sauteed scallops in white wine, butter, and rosemary on Saturday night, and a scallop alfredo on Monday. Hmm. I was going to order scallops from the restaurant for my birthday, but I’ll have had them already twice in the same week, so I’ll need to order something else.

Polished the pieces for the one bookshelf I hadn’t yet put up, put it together, and rearranged some books, which made room on other shelves. I hate having so many books in storage. I keep trying to find a book to look something up and it’s not here, it’s in storage.

Finished reading the book for review and got back to work on reading contest entries. Took the day off from script coverage.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and, as usual, it has some cool stuff in it. I had to chase down the new postman to get it out of the box. I talked to him last week, at length, and showed him how much smaller the slot is on the resident side, and asked him to please NOT shove the boxes in on the USPS side, but leave them at the door. When he puts the subscription boxes in the mail slot, I can’t get them out. He promised he would put them on the stairs – and then put the GP box in the slot. I ran downstairs and asked him, nicely again, to PLEASE not to do that, and hand it to me or leave it at the door. He said, “But this box is small.” I repeated, “It’s still too big to get out of the slot on the resident side.” My front door is six steps from the neighborhood mailbox. It’s not like it’s a long walk out of his way. He’s either extremely dumb or he’s doing this on purpose.

I miss our former, lovely postman, who I think has retired.

I realize, in the scheme of everything going on, it’s not much, but it’s a basic courtesy with common sense. Math, geometry, physics.

Sunday, it rained. I stayed in. I unpacked another box of books and shelved them. I unpacked the box that held my blank notebooks, and arranged them on a shelf so I can get at them as I need for projects. It was sunny and mild in the afternoon, so I moved the seedlings out to the porch for a bit, and also planted the lemon balm and the black-eyed Susan vine (more on that in Thursday’s Gratitude and Growth post).

The cat grass has grown well, so I put it on an overturned box so that Willa and Charlotte feel like they have to work a bit to get at it. They both love chomping on it (but won’t, if the pot sits on the floor). Tessa is not interested. Tessa is interested in taking over the sewing room. That’s her latest conquest – the guest bed that has Charlotte’s pink blanky and Charlotte’s catnip banana. They also had huge fun getting into the bag of potatoes I got from the store, rolling them up and down our long hallway. A couple went down the stairs, too, which they watched from the top.

I turned around a script coverage, and then worked on contest entries. One of them was so good, I was up way too late, reading.

Up around 6 on Monday, reasonable. It has rained overnight, and most of the snow is gone.

Wrote up the book review, sent it, along with the invoice. Was paid in a couple of hours, and assigned the next two books for review.

Entered in the scores of the contest entries I read over the weekend. Did a bunch of admin work.

The rain briefly let up, so I did a circuit, on foot, to drop off/pick up library books, mail the bills. Stopped in at Cumberland Farms for eggs, but they were sold out.

When I returned home, there was a message from the garage that the car was ready! I took a cab over, paid the bill (which was even in my budget), thanked them profusely, and drove home. I was practically in tears of happiness and relief. And, of course, the aftermath was exhaustion. But I’m so happy to have the car back and that it works.

That means we can do something fun for my birthday this weekend. I usually try to ignore my birthday, but this is a Big Number, and this year, it’s important to me to Do Something.

In the afternoon, I did a script coverage, finished the book I really liked for the contest, and read a few more contest entries.

A local organization for whom I was preparing an LOI packet, because I thought they’d be interesting to work for has not only dropped masking requirements indoors, but also dropped proof of vaccination requirements for those entering. So, nope, cross them off the list and move on.

Found out that one of my editors is just over one third of my age, which makes me feel even older. However, she’s an excellent editor, and I enjoy working with her; since we’re not being mutually ageist, but respecting each other’s work, it’s all good.

Had a restful sleep for once (now that the car stress is done). Still have lease renewal stress, but fingers crossed I’ll hear good news on that front soon.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me a little before 5. Completed the morning routine, and was out the door just before six. I was able to drive to the laundromat, instead of walking, which felt like the height of luxury.

While the laundry washed and dried, I worked on the revisions for CAST IRON MURDER. I had to re-revise the pages on which I’d worked at the mechanic’s last week. Caught a bunch of errors. I also marked a couple of places where I need to look something up and change a name, because it’s too similar to another name in the book. There are a few habits/routines that establish too late in the book, and I need to make initial references to them in the first or second chapter, or they look like they come out of nowhere. But I’ve got about the first third of the book done in first pass revisions, which is pretty good, considering I do most of it at the laundromat.

Getting some work done at the desk, then running errands (for which I need the car). It’s supposed to snow tomorrow, so I’ll stay in. Thursday, I have to pick up my birthday cake (I have a thing about not making my own cake for my birthday). I’m going to dig into the work today, tomorrow, and Thursday, so that I can take a three day weekend without guilt.

Anything I have to say about Ukraine and the Russian-owned GOP is repetitive at this point. Indict and prosecute the mo-fos already. It will only get worse from here.

Have a good one, friends! I’m headed back to the page.

Tues. March 1, 2022: Scattered

image courtesy of ulleo via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Dark Moon

Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras

Cloudy and cold

The weekend was all over the place. The February Wrap-up post is over on the GDR site.

Was disappointed at a submission call on Friday. I loved the theme. But they want 6-8K words, on “revenue share” which means, basically, the writers will never get paid. If it was a shared royalty after the initial payment or just a one-time payment, that would be one thing; that’s hit or miss. But the whole thing being revenue share? Nope. On top of that, there was a bitchy comment about how revenue share will only happen if the authors put in the work. So unpaid labor for writing a longish piece that’s close to novelette length, and then additional unpaid labor to do the publisher’s work? I think I’ll pass.

I managed to get about 3K done on The Big Project, some of which was tearing apart and re-structuring the last couple of sections before writing the next one. This is a strange project in that I can’t just write the whole first draft and then go back and edit, which is the way I prefer to work. Because each section of the project builds the next, in a different way than a traditional novel or novella or short story would, it has to be strong, structurally, and with details, before I can move to the next section. That’s part of the reason I’m behind where I want/need to be at this point. The other element is slowing it down is word choice. I’ve never worked on something where the exact shade of meaning to a word choice is so important. I can’t put in a place holder and move on. I have to find the right shade-of-meaning word before I can move on. It’s a different way of working, and a little disconcerting at times, but it is what serves this particular work the best, and therefore, that’s how it has to be done.

So, I roll with it. Every project demands something different in order to be something different; if all you do is scream “that’s my process” and aren’t willing to grow and change, you miss out on a lot.

It snowed and snowed and snowed on Friday, so it was nice not to have to go out. Since the town declared a snow emergency, public buildings and a lot of businesses were closed, and people were advised to stay home.

Saturday was cold and clear. I suited up and packed the backpack to head up to the library, with 10 books to drop off and 5 to pick up. The sidewalks were pretty clear; the sun’s higher angle means it’s melting better, even when it’s cold. When I came back, I shed the books, picked up a shovel, and dug out the car.

Yeah, definitely not in my twenties anymore. Couldn’t work as hard and as fast as I could when younger, but slow and steady got it done, and it clear all around the car, so it can’t freeze in again.

Spent way too much keeping an eye on the news from Ukraine. My mom has firsthand experience with the Russians, having escaped from a Russian prison camp during WWII. She knows of what they’re capable. The GOPers who went to Russia on July 4 a few years back need to be barred from security briefings, because they’ll report to their handlers. They, along with anyone else who backs Putin, needs to be removed from government and prosecuted for treason. Or we’re going to have firefights in the streets here, too.

Between family-related stuff (some of which I’m just discovering through genealogical research), international arts colleagues, and what I learned from studying the ICC a few years ago, it’s all far too complex on both intellectual and emotional levels for a simple blog post.

I am grumpy about going out of my way for someone (not involved with the anthology) and writing up a big ole patch of background information, turning it around in less than 24 hours when I had other deadlines, and not even getting a thank you. Learned about this individual, and won’t make the same mistake next time. Because it takes 10 seconds to type “Thanks” in a DM or an email.

Sunday was again sunny. It was supposedly warmer, but felt colder. I ran some errands, but mostly I took it easy. I did break my “day of disconnect” rule, because I wanted to keep up with what’s going on in Ukraine. I couldn’t pull it together to cook, so ordered pizza.

Tessa woke me up at 2:30 (out of a dream about colonoscopy, so no loss there). I got back to sleep. She woke me again at 4 (out of a dream where I worked on the set of an action heist film starring Dame Maggie Smith, which was very cool). I moved to the couch and dozed off, only to wake up again a little after 6 from some other weird dream that had to do with books and cannoli. Yeah, I don’t get it, either.

I had a LOT to do, since I took the weekend off, and I also had cut back on some work in February, and therefore made less $$.

I still spent too much time watching the news out of Ukraine, but that’s necessary. If the Narcissistic Sociopath had his way, we would now be aligned with Russia, and with the rest of the world against us. I talked about that during the past few years, when he was intentionally shredding our international alliances. He and the GOP may have given Putin overblown promises about how much of the US would just roll over even now. Or Putin plans to continue the push into the Ukraine and further (it will always be further) until the Republicans are back in power. They will simply hand the country over to him.

Which is yet another reason we have to make sure that they don’t get back into power in November.

I’m glad the ICC is taking action. There’s more information here.

Hey, Merrick Garland, when are you gonna get off your ass and do your job? Look how fast the ICC is moving.

I managed to work on The Big Project, somewhere around 1600 words. I’d hoped each of the three major arcs would take up a specific amount of space; I think I have to expand on that a bit.

In the afternoon, I answered some questions from a writer whose script I’d covered, and read/wrote up coverage on another script. We’re getting a raise, which is nice, and hopefully better lines of communication are opening.

Ordered Chinese food for dinner. Door Dash “adjusted” the order so many times, I had no idea what would show up. The right items showed up; today, I have to check the bank account, to make sure I was only charged once. I was involved in various conversations on Twitter while I was waiting, and inadvertently got several people heavily invested in my dinner. On the one hand, I felt frivolous with everything going on. On the other hand, I think the people who joined the conversation needed the distraction.

Math. I have to do math today. (Shudder).

I got another monster in the shared world anthology, and another organization. I have to write up the information and turn it in by tomorrow.  

This morning, I was up and out of the house early, humped the laundry to the laundromat, and was back with everything washed, dried, and folded before 7:30. I’m getting it down to a system.

I edited about 70 pages of CAST IRON MURDER at the laundromat. This is a first pass edit, not the deep edit. I have, however, decided to cut a subplot. While it served the murderer, I cannot do it justice in the book without putting that plot front and center, and that’s not what I want to use to drive the book. So I’m cutting it, and adjusting the murderer’s motivation accordingly. It affects a few places in the book, where I wound it through, so I have to make sure I’m consistent.

A friend sent me a new tarot deck as an early birthday present. The Rackham deck. Very different than the others I have, and it will be interesting to work with it.

It looks like it will either rain or snow today. I’d considered doing some errands, but I might just stay in and work on the Big Project, the materials for the anthology, the grant proposal, and more script coverage. I need to get out the vacuum, too. The cats are shedding like crazy.

When I woke up, Kyiv was still holding on. I hope the supplies promised come in fast enough to deter the 40-mile Russian convoy headed their way to destroy them.

Let’s all do what we can on every front that we can. If we sit and do nothing, we will fall next.

Published in: on March 1, 2022 at 8:04 am  Comments Off on Tues. March 1, 2022: Scattered  
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Thurs. Feb. 17: I’ll Just Skip the Smelting, Thanks

image courtesy of Jalyn Bryce via pixabay.com

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Waning Moon

Rainy/mild/cloudy

I’ve got a post about the first seeds planted over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday was a bit of an exhausting mishmash. I had the laundry done and back by 7:30 AM, which is great. My foot was hurting, but after breakfast, I headed off to the grocery store with the rolly cart and did the next bit of stocking up. Even though most of the sidewalks and streets are passable, by the time I got everything home, my foot was in bad shape.

I’d gotten a positive response from an LOI I sent out yesterday, asking for more info. I sent all that off, and immediately got another response, asking what my target compensation was. I threw a fairly high number at them. They didn’t even blink, just said great, they were reviewing my materials. So we’ll see where that goes, if anywhere.

Another potential client situation is not going to work out. Although I’m interested in the work itself, the pay is too low for the work and the amount of work within each pay period, AND it’s going through a third party system with whom I don’t work, who takes a cut of the pay. So an already low-paid, high volume gig would pay even less.

But it reminded me that I have a big old file on similar-type companies that pay more and don’t work through this particular third party, so I will pull that up and see who’s still around and who’s worth pitching,

Did a tiny bit of collaborative brainstorming. Had some actual, good conversations on social media. Got some book recommendations. Set up the files for the projects containing short projects, so as I work on them, I can just save them into the appropriate file instead of having them in their own little files and then having to hunt them down.

Worked on script coverage. I’m behind where I hoped I’d be this week, but still on deadline, so it’s all good. I just have to push harder next week, because this pay period was too far below what I need/want it to be, although all bills will be paid on time. I’m just socking away as much as possible for the car repair, since I have no idea how much it will cost.

I roasted a chicken last night, which was delicious, and then made stock from the bones. I wish we had the capacity for a compost pile, but we don’t. I’d like to have a zero waste kitchen, or as close to that as possible. But we do as much as we can.

Finishing up the book for book club. I have meditation this morning. I have two sets of errands to carry out over the next few days. If it rains today (as it’s threatening), I will just do what I need to do across the street at the college library today and leave the longer walking errands for tomorrow. Which is a good idea, because then I can let my foot rest. I definitely need to invest in a cushioned, sturdy pair of walking sneakers this spring. I’m not used to walking this much, and not on concrete. So, I need good walking shoes or cross trainers.

I want to work on The Big Project, get some pitches out, and then it’s more script coverage and contest entries.

Yesterday, I saw a post about this full moon being a time for “smelting in the cauldron of transformation” and I’m like, no, no. I’ve had enough chaos for the past going on three years. I want a nap. No smelting, thank you very much. Let me rest.

Of course, Charlotte got me up at 4:30 this morning, so that wasn’t happening.

Published in: on February 17, 2022 at 7:42 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 17: I’ll Just Skip the Smelting, Thanks  
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Wed. Jan. 26, 2022: Bitterly Cold

image courtesy of WildOne via pixabay.com

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Waning Moon

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Bitterly cold

Yesterday was a bit of a lost day.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I humped the laundry over to the laundromat early in the morning, using the rolly cart. Got everything washed, dried, folded, and back in a little under two hours. It was just starting to snow as I returned, so the timing worked.

While I was there, I started outlining a project whose characters have been yapping at me. I’m hoping it will be novella-length, although it will take some research about Singapore in 1899.

I have to sort through some information from a major client and decide on next steps. I feel that there are conflicting instructions. I have voiced that, and those concerns are being dismissed, so I have to decide how to proceed from there. Part of that is enlarging my client pool, which I have let shrink over the past months, out of sheer exhaustion.

Dealt with a couple of hundred emails and a bunch of admin. There was a pause in snow showers, so I headed up to the library to drop off/pick up books. Of course, as soon as I got home, more books had arrived. But they can wait until tomorrow.

I had a terrible migraine, and my ears hurt, so the afternoon was pretty much a wash. I spent it on the couch, reaching THE BOOKWOMAN’S LAST FLING. Well, re-reading it. I read it when it first came out, back in 2006. And yes, sometimes with a migraine, I can still read, although I took frequent breaks to close my eyes.

I’m still well within my deadlines for this week’s work, but I’m behind where I wanted to be.

Last night, with the Knowledge Unicorns, we celebrated both Robert Burns (for Burns night) and Virginia Woolf (whose birthday it was). One can’t spend time in Scotland without being caught up in the affection for Robert Burns and his work. Plus, in the time I spent in Ayrshire, I visited his birthplace and all that. A new visitor center has been built there; it was quite simple and unassuming when I visited. Virginia Woolf has been an influence on me since I was in my teens, and certainly in college and beyond. So I like to make the time to acknowledge both of them on this day. When I worked at a library, I wrote a tribute performance piece that two local actors read for the library audience. Sharing it with the kids, getting them excited about their writing, is a lot of fun.

We don’t like haggis, so I made bangers and mash instead, which was good.

I did make it a fairly early night, since I wasn’t feeling great.

I was up early this morning, thanks to Charlotte. Tessa was very good, for once.

The waning moon was visible from the front windows, against a dark blue sky, and quite beautiful.

I still have the echoes of the migraine, but I hope I can focus and get some work done today. I have some correspondence to deal with, and I want to work on The Big Project, before turning my attention to script reading.

It is bitterly cold out, so I hope I won’t have to go any farther than the mailbox.

We have a big storm coming in this weekend, but then it’s supposed to turn warmer, so I’m trying to get a car repair appointment for next week. Fingers crossed.

Have a good one.

Published in: on January 26, 2022 at 8:17 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 26, 2022: Bitterly Cold  
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Wed. Dec. 8, 2021: The Card Writing Process

image courtesy of pinwhalestock via pixabay.com

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Snowing

Yesterday was a frustrating day, on multiple levels.

I STILL can’t get a mechanic to answer me about the car. INCLUDING THE FUCKING DEALER. What the hell is WRONG with these people? If they’re too incompetent, disorganized, and unethical to give me a written estimate, why would I believe they were even capable of fixing the car? No wonder this area is economically depressed, with that level of unprofessionalism.

However, getting the laundry done wasn’t tough at all. That little upright cart is wonderful.

When I got back, I unloaded and put things away; after breakfast, it looked ominous, so off I trundled to CVS to pick up what needed picking up there, and mail some bills at the post office. It wasn’t bad at all – about a mile and a half round trip, and what I had to carry wasn’t heavy.

Got through a ton of email, and got out a few LOIs. Then found out that the Fearless Ink site was glitching. Of course it was, since that was the one I needed up and working for the LOIs. But my lovely host helped me get it fixed.

Worked on the newsletter. I hope to get a test out later today, and then send out the newsletter either tomorrow or Friday. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here.

I’d gotten a good bit of work done on the outline for The Big Project (at least the details of the first third’s arc; the piece has three major arcs, leading into each other, not in tandem). But I hadn’t gotten any actual writing done on it, or on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. By lunchtime, I accepted the fact it just wasn’t going to happen yesterday.

I spent the afternoon, instead, writing the domestic cards, and got them done. I’ve put aside the cards that go in with the packages. I’ll wrap packages today. I want to get everything out to the post office tomorrow. I still have a couple of things to pick up, which I haven’t been able to do because of the lack of a car. Two gifts, I think I can just walk up to the place where I want to get them, so that’s not an issue, but the other is in Williamstown, and I have to drive.

I enjoy writing cards, but I handwrite everything, and every card has something different written in it, because my relationship with each person is different, so it takes awhile. There weren’t that many cards this year – just over 50. I remember years when I had closer to 500, years when I’d worked on multiple shows and was sending cards to everyone on the contact lists.

There’s choosing the right card for the person (I like to buy a bunch of different boxes of cards), there’s writing it, there’s addressing it, there’s putting the holiday stamp on it. Yes, I’m big on choosing specific stamps. It’s quite the process.

As part of my “letting go of the past” process, there were a bunch of names dropped from this year’s list; people to whom I’ve written cards for years, and never heard back, either by mail or email. Some of them are just people with an “I don’t write cards” policy, which is perfectly valid; however, it’s time for me to stop putting my energy there.

There are a bunch of people who stay on the list, because the winter holidays are the only time we’re in touch, but we’re in touch, and it’s a nice catch up.

Holiday cards are a Big Deal for me. Can you tell?

But they’re done, and there’s a nice big stack on the hall table, ready to go out. I thought of a couple more to write this morning. I still have some holiday stamps left over, so it’s all good.

They’re filming something over at the college across the street. I recognized the production trailers. That’s probably why the clock hasn’t been chiming the last few days – can’t have the clock chime interrupting the take!

Part of me was tempted to wander over and see what was going on, and then I realized how disrespectful that was. These people are WORKING. Having spent enough time on sets, where there’s never enough time to get everything done, the last thing they need is some rando demanding attention, even if said rando is me and I used to work in the business.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. There’d been some talk amongst us, now that the adults and teens are vaxxed and boosted, and the younger kids are getting vaxxed, about some of them going back to in-person learning after the winter holidays. But with the numbers going back up (they doubled in this state in the past week), we’re not. The kids are doing well in their studies, they’re learning more and more widely than they would in school, and, as one of them pointed out, they don’t have to worry they’ll be shot. So, the consensus is everyone stays out of the school buildings this year. The ones who live where online learning is not an option, because they’re trying to force the kids back into school (and then act surprised when people are getting sick) have switched to being home schooled.

I see parents on social media talking about how “angry” they are when they send their kid to school and the kid gets sick. What the hell did they think would happen? Come on, people. Have a little bit of common sense.

Several of the parents are switching off days going in to work, so that one parent is home any given day. Other parents are in situations that have allowed them to continue working remotely. Still other parents have changed jobs, because, in a case where they have to choose between their employer and their child, they choose their child, and they have the skills that allow them so to do.

After Knowledge Unicorns was done for the night, I switched Zooms over to the Annual meeting for the food co-op. They’re really well run, with an outstanding general manager and an engaged, active board. Not a lot of people showed up at the virtual meeting, which I thought showed a lack of responsibility on the membership, but I was glad I was there. And Charlotte, who loves Zoom, had a great time.

I’m really pleased I found them, and it’s an honor to be a part of this organization, that’s active not just within the four walls of the business, but actively trying to make life better in the community.

Tessa let me sleep until nearly 6 this morning. I sent another frustrated email to the dealer, and actually got an automated response back, so maybe, maybe this time someone will actually respond and I can get the damn car fixed.

In the meantime, it’s snowing like crazy. I think it will be more than the predicted 2 inches.

I have writing to do today, and script coverage, and some other client work. And there’s Remote Chat. The group is ending in two weeks, which makes me sad. They’ve helped me get through the week for the last few years, and through some tough times. But things change, and I’m grateful for the time I had in it.

In the meantime, in between tasks, I will enjoy watching the snow fall!

Have a good one.

Tues. December 7, 2021: Maybe Your Business is Struggling Because You’re Unprofessional

image courtesy of Matryx via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold; incoming snow

The past few days have been up and down.

I lost far too much of Friday. I tried to find a mechanic to fix the car – no one would get back to me with a response and an estimate, including the dealer. What kind of business model is that?

According to AAA, the nearest of their certified mechanics is in Bennington, VT. I shouldn’t have to cross state lines to get my damn car fixed.

On top of that, I was trying to integrate MooSend, the platform to which I’d exported my mailing list, to my website, so people can easily subscribe on the website, it goes over to the MooSend mailing list, and they get the next newsletter. Only it wouldn’t integrate. I asked tech support for help, and they sent me links to articles where the steps in the article didn’t match what was coming up on my screen. I went into their Live Chat. The guy sent me the same articles. I told him that I’d tried all that already, and that’s why I was on Live Chat. Because it wasn’t working. He kept telling me to do stuff that didn’t come up on my screen. I’d send him screen shots to show him what was on my screen and what I should do with what was actually coming up, and it just went round and round for hours. He walked away from the chat after a couple of hours. Some other guy came on, a few minutes later – and sent me the article. Hadn’t read any of the notes or looked at the screen shots. I told him to forget it, I was going to a competitor.

In meantime, on the website, I got a flash of something that needed to be updated. I tried to update, and it didn’t work. I contacted my host, A2, and asked for the steps, since clicking the update didn’t work. The tech asked permission to enter the account, I gave it, and the glitch was fixed in less than five minutes.

I thought maybe the MooSend integration would then work, but nope. Still the same issues. So I disconnected all the MooSend plug-ins.

I did some research on other platforms. I knew I didn’t want Constant Contact or Robly. I considered MailChimp, and sent them some questions, which were ignored. They weren’t top of my list anyway, so that was no big deal.

So I looked at Sendinblue, and that seemed to have what I needed. I set up an account, which was easy as could be. I imported my contact list, easy as could be. I downloaded the plug-in to the website. Easy as could be. Activated it, set up the new form, and it seems to work.

I’ve written most of the text for the newsletter, and played with templates. Starting from scratch and building it myself seems to work the best for me, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ll play with it some more, send a test to myself. If that works, the newsletter will go out this week, and the quarterly deliveries will start up again, with occasional special announcements in between.

If you haven’t signed up, and you’d like to, you can do so here.

Getting everything set up on Sendinblue took about 30-40 minutes, including all verifications, API keys, plug-ins, etc. Meanwhile, I’d lost three hours with MooSend’s useless “support.”

Hopefully, I’ll remain happy at Sendinblue, at least for a while.

I was grumpy and exhausted by the end of it all. I hadn’t had time to get the promotions for the holiday shorts “Just Jump in and Fly” and “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall” up. I did manage to do some work on the notes for The Big Project and for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

I did my script coverages. I read the next book for review, which was charming and delightful, and got a good review.

After my pity party, I sat down with Cherie Priest’s GRAVE RESERVATIONS, her newest release. I sat and read until after midnight. I loved it, and did not want to put it down.

Tessa got me up on Saturday around 5:30-ish, which is acceptable. Once I’d fed everyone and they were settled again, I sat on the couch and finished GRAVE RESERVATIONS. Loved it so much. I hope she writes more with these characters, because they are a delight.

I let her know, via tweet, how much I loved the book.

Then, it was time to buckle down to my own work. I did some more work on the outline for The Big Project, and did the first draft of the first chapter, which came in at 1282 words. I’m looking for the chapters to be between 1-1.5K and not more than 2K on any given chapter, and, on this particular project, the structure has to be impeccable, or it will all fall apart. Because it’s complex, I have to keep a careful set of tracking sheets, updating it preferably every chapter, but not more than every three. Or I will get myself into a tangle.

I had a ton of fun writing the chapter, although I had to stop and make decisions on the way about details. They can’t be layered in later, because they are vital to the way the piece builds. Details can be polished or cut or moved in edits, but the first draft has to be what a usual third draft for me usually is.

Still, it was a good feeling to get it done.

The sky looked rather ominous by the time I was finished. I wrapped up for the weather and walked down to the wine store for a couple of bottles of wine, and stopped at Cumberland Farms at the end of the street for eggs and coffee. You know, the essentials: eggs, wine, coffee.

The whole thing was a little over a mile on foot, round trip, and nothing was very heavy. But I’m still not up to full strength after the vaccine booster, and was pretty shaky by the time I got home.

Does not bode well if I have to walk to Big Y and back for a big grocery shop, even with my little upright rolling cart. That round trip would be a little over three miles. Might consider taking a taxi back.

After lunch, I spent some time on the acupressure mat, which I hadn’t done all week. Once I was realigned there, I got up and wrote up the script coverage I had to do.

Leftovers for dinner, and then I did the revision on “A Rare Medium.”

Read some of the Marie Corelli research, but fell asleep fairly early.

Slept through the night, and Tessa didn’t wake me until nearly 6:30 on Sunday. After I fed them, I tried a new banana bread recipe, and, when I didn’t like the way it was turning out, tossed in some chocolate chips, which saved it. Still, not a recipe I’d use again.

I wrote the second chapter of The Big Project, which came in longer than I’d hoped (a little over 2K), but that’s what it needed to be. Felt good. Had lots of fun with it.

Switched over to decorating. We put up some of the Command hooks and put decorations on all the doors. We put multiple garlands on the bannisters, and threaded them through with lights. We put the lights up on the front porch, along with the small tree decorated in silver and blue, that used to be in my office at the other house. I put some battery-operated tall candles in the windows, although I don’t yet have the batteries for them.

It looks really pretty.

I admit, on Friday night, I considered not doing any more decorating this year. No trees, nothing. It all felt like too much.

But then I thought, I’m the one who loves all the decorations, and it’s a form of self-punishment not to put them up. And putting them up on Sunday made me happy, both the actual doing it, and then enjoying it.

It was the Second of Advent, so we lit the two candles. Plus our big, scented Christmas candle. And it was St. Nicholas night – time to put out the shoe, so it can be filled with candy!

Which made for a happy wakeup on Monday.

Charlotte started bothering me at 4:30, but Tessa let me sleep until just after 5.

Morning longhand writing session in, then yoga and meditation. Those practices suffered last week when I was so laid out from the booster, and I suffered as a result. So back to yoga, and I’m slowly expanding my morning practice.

Wrote the third chapter on The Big Project, and had a blast with it. It came in at just under 1800 words, pretty good. Then, I switched over and did just over 1300 words on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and had fun with that. It’s weird, not working in full chapters with that, but there’s only so much I can do.

In and around those two projects, I was still trying to find a fucking mechanic to fix the fucking car. What the hell is wrong with these “businesses”? Can’t respond or give an estimate. Finally got a response from one – who can’t fix a VW. That mechanic recommended another one, whom I contacted and – no response.

After THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, I put in the revisions on “A Rare Medium”, found a few more things to fix, formatted it properly, got in the needed information, saved as PDF, and got it out the door. Ahead of schedule.

Phew.

I’d forgotten to turn on the crockpot, so it had to be on high all afternoon.

Did my script coverage, and got out a book review. Dinner was great; the recipe worked well. After dinner, I did more Marie Corelli research. I have a good sense of the character; now I need the incident in her life to dramatize.

The lovely chiming tower clock over at the college stopped around mid-morning. I miss it. I didn’t realize how much I used it to keep track of my day, and how much joy it brought me.

Went through the materials for tonight’s Wild Oats Board Meeting.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and it’s delightful. I love it when they include fuzzy socks, and these have little hour glasses embroidered on them.

Sorted the laundry before bedtime. Got up at 5 (Tessa was just doing her warmup scales). Got everyone fed, got myself dressed and the first writing session done. Then piled the laundry and the washing materials and my work bag into the little upright rolling cart that’s been in the family since 1969 and rolled the laundry down the street to the laundromat.

As usual, I was the only one there, but it wasn’t creepy. Got the laundry loaded up, then sat down and worked on tightening the point-by-point notes for The Big Project, so that I don’t go off on tangents. Realized I have to do an insert to the second days’ work, in order to keep one of the running jokes going. There has to be a reference in every chapter. The Big Project relies on impeccable structure, along with engaging characters, quick dialogue, and a rip- roaring plot. So taking the time to polish the outline saves me a lot of pain and time later in the process.

After breakfast, I need to do a run to CVS for a couple of things. Fortunately, it’s in walking distance, but it’ll be about an hour round trip. Debating whether or not I should stop by the library while I’m in that direction, or wait until Thursday.

We have a storm coming in today, and snow tomorrow. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a mechanic today and schedule the repair for Thursday or Friday. This is ridiculous. If I can’t trust someone to be capable of the technology of answering an email and/or giving me an estimate, why would I think they have the skills to repair my car?

Once I get back, it’s back to work on today’s words for The Big Project and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. I have to get the ads going for the two holiday shorts, and finish the newsletter.

Then, it’s back to script coverage and client work. With any luck, I’ll get out a few LOIs, too.

But, for the moment, I’m back on the pavement, getting my errands done. We’re definitely getting a storm; pre-storm headache in full force.