Tues. Aug. 16, 2022: All About The Words

image courtesy of Nicole via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

It was a busy weekend, but few-words busy. As in I don’t need a lot of words to talk about it, although the bulk of the weekend was all about words.

Friday & Saturday were almost entirely about LEGERDEMAIN. I got six episodes revised, edited, proofed, and up on Friday, along with some other stuff (which I don’t even remember). I did a library/post office/CVS run.

But almost everything was focused on LEGERDEMAIN, and, of course, it all took longer than I hoped. But things take as long as they take, and I’m doing 3-4 editing passes of each episode and then uploading/scheduling, so what would normally be a process stretched out over a period of weeks is now over a period of hours.

Different mediums require different processes.

I was also tired from Thursday night’s event, albeit a good tired, and thinking a lot about the other poets’ poems.

I meant to go to the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning. At 7:30 in the morning, I sat down at the desk to “just do a little work” on the next 4 episodes of LEGERDEMAIN. The next time I looked up, it was 3:30. So, I missed it.

But the episodes are uploaded and scheduled through Episode 20. I did the episode-specific ads and loglines, and uploaded and scheduled all those. I started working on some more general ads.

I did some work on a residency application. I still have to take some photos of clay and textile pieces I’ve made.

I was too tired to cook on Saturday night, so I ordered in Chinese. And read.

Sunday, I had a slow start. I handwashed and ironed some of the new fabric – I’d hoped to sew this weekend, but that didn’t happen. But at least everything is washed and ironed. I managed to finish the new tablecloth for the kitchen table, and swap that out, and tidy up all of that.

The cut mugwort stems were dry enough to strip, so I stripped them and put them in glass jars for the stillroom section of the laundry room. 3 jars’ worth, which should last me awhile.

I played with some ideas for the Shakespeare horror story. So far, I have ideas and scenes, but I need the narrative drive, and I haven’t yet settled on that.

In the afternoon, I drove down to the Edith Wharton homestead again, this time to be an audience member for Word X Word. Nine poets did pieces inspired by various pieces of sculpture. It was fascinating to see how  they used the pieces as jumping off points.

Driving home, I started writing in my head two new pieces. I need to get a notebook specifically for poetry-esque work. I mean, it takes about an hour to get anywhere, so writing in my head while I drive makes sense. And then having the notebook for the specific type of work makes sense (although I always carry one of the Fragment Notebooks with me, to jot down notes).

Stopped at the Adams Market to pick up pizza and a bottle of wine, because, again, too tired to cook.

Monday morning, I was just exhausted. I think the last few weeks are catching up with me. I managed to heave myself out of the house for a run to Wild Oats for a few things, and Stop & Shop, and another store, where I went in to get Velcro dots and lightbulbs. I came out with those, and some project notebooks. Love back-to-school sales. I have to get down to Staples for more.

I got some more ironing done. I worked on an application for another residency, which had just opened up. I’d worked on all the pieces. It should have taken me 30 minutes to slot in what I’d written. But it took 2 ½ hours because the damn computer kept freezing and crashing. Windows11 sucks.

But I got it done and out, and I’m actually proud of it. We’ll see if they give me a slot next year.

Turned around a script coverage. Got my inbox down from over 900 emails to just over 170.

Roasted a chicken. It’s finally cool enough to make roast chicken again, my favorite, because there’s so much one can do with the leftovers. Had the makings of chicken stock simmering on the stove while I took Jeremy Rock Smith’s cooking class in honor of Julia Child’s birthday.

Didn’t sleep well, although I don’t have the overall sense of fatigue today that I had yesterday. I have to do some serious house cleaning this morning, because my friend the baker is coming over in the afternoon, and I’m going to teach her how to register her domain name and find a web host and maybe we’ll even apply for a grant or two. Tonight, I’m attending a virtual event with The Ripped Bodice for the release of Roselle Lim’s new book.

I have two scripts in the queue; I may do one today, or I may do both tomorrow. I will see how the afternoon goes. I intentionally kept the start of this week light.

This morning, in and around the cleaning, I’ll do some promo for Episode 7 of Legerdemain, which releases today, “There Are Rituals, and Then There Are Rituals.” The episode ad is lovely/creepy with a candle balanced on a raven’s beak.

Better get to it. Busy day, but again, it’s good busy.

Fri. Aug. 12, 2022: Art and Poetry

image courtesy of StockSnap via pixabay.com

Friday, August 12, 2022

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

I had trouble settling into meditation yesterday, but it was still good.

The script changes for the radio play were approved by all involved. Thank goodness for rehearsals, where one can find out where something doesn’t work and change it.

I converted the PowerPoint I used for Saturday’s class into a PDF. I proofed the Developing the Series Topic Workbook, made some necessary changes, and that is up for pre-order and ready to release next Wednesday, the 17th. I then added in some information to another version of the manuscript – I’m not allowed to actually discuss any platform or the distributors reject it, saying I’m listing “competing markets.” Well, part of the class had to do with markets, so I went back and listed them in the version for class participants. I then converted that version to PDF. I sent it to the list of students and to the conference organizers for their archives.

Episode 6 of LEGERDEMAIN dropped, so I did some promo on the channels where I couldn’t schedule posts. I need to get back to work on that website next week. I’m behind where I want to be on the website. It’s live, it’s just not where it needs to be so I can promote it well.

Freelance Chat was fun. The guy behind the Hectic App was the guest. The talk was about getting paid and automated invoicing, but the app itself looks like it takes the best of platforms like Asana and Slack, and also adds accounting stuff. I asked if there was a way to plug in royalty payments and the like. There’s a huge gap in the working artists market, and if Hectic could somehow include them and what they need in there, it’s a big market. Anyway, I might play with the app and see how it works and build on it.

So far, I like Asana, mostly, but it’s still not doing everything the way I want and need to do it. But at least it doesn’t tell me to vacuum my house, the way Todoist did!

In the afternoon, I turned around a script coverage, and then rehearsed the poem.

I’d sent my friend the draft of “Inspired By” and she had great notes. I’m looking forward to making those changes, and they gave me an idea on how to expand a beat that feels rushed and truncated (it’s a one act, so it’s all, technically, one scene, but the beats and dynamics shift).

I showered and dressed. Since the event was in an art museum, and the topic was “landscape” I wore a top and skirt that looked like brushstrokes in blue and red and black. Because, you know, once in theatre, always in theatre.  Drove to the Berkshire Museum down in Pittsfield. Took the back way behind the library, rather than having to drive past the museum and find a place to turn around, since one can’t turn left into the museum from the main road. And it worked! I actually found my way. I even found a legal parking spot in front of the museum.

I was early (of course), so I helped set up. The woman from the museum turns out to have done her master’s in Shakespeare, so I’m sending her information today on the Shakespeare horror anthology.

It was a small group, the first time the poets have met inside since the start of the pandemic. There were eight poets reading, and a smattering of audience members. The different takes on the theme of “landscape” were wonderful. And then, after we were done, one woman shyly asked if she could read something. The answer was, of course, yes, and that’s what this is all about. And it was nice to talk to the other people after.

When we came down the steps of the museum, the sky was an amazing array of pinks and grays, and we all just stood there and enjoyed it for a few minutes.

Anyway, I’ve been invited to do more with them. Some of their upcoming events, I think I will be there to listen, as an audience member, rather than read.

It’s such a different experience to read my own work than it is to have actors perform it. Because I am not an actress creating my own work to carve a place for myself, it’s very different. As the event’s leader points out, it works best when you learn something about both the poet and the topic through the poem. So, although I worked on story, rhythm, image, and told the story through a character, there were still revelations about me as a person. And, as someone who prefers to stay in the background, that’s a challenge.

Anyway, came home, and was reminded that my night vision sucks. Which, as the days get shorter, will also limit what and where I do things. Talked to the across-the-street neighbor for a bit. Gathered up the mail, which included THE NEW YORKER (I’m about four issues behind), and the check for teaching at the conference. Caught up with Chef Jeremy’s video chat, and signed up for his class Monday night in honor of Julia Child’s birthday. This weekend, I’m going to write him a letter, telling him how much his classes and just, in general, his being a kind, caring person have meant to me these last few years.

Didn’t sleep particularly well, but the cats got me up early. My cousin’s funeral is today. Workwise, I have to focus on LEGERDEMAIN and get caught up with that. I’m behind where I hoped to be uploading the next set of episodes, and I need to get to work on writing the next arc, too.

I need to go to the bank and the post office and the library and pick up a prescription for my mom. I’d planned to go to the laundromat to wash the fabric I’ll use this weekend, but I can’t find the laundry bag. I used it, last trip. I remember emptying it and folding the bad into quarters. But it’s not where I usually put it, and I am baffled. I might just wash things here at home, and, if I need to tomorrow morning, throw them in the laundromat’s dryer. Downside of not having washer/dryer in the house.

This weekend is house-and-hearth stuff. If there’s not another deluge of rain, I may go to the Mount Sunday afternoon and listen to the poets read poems in the sculpture installation. But that’s all up in the air.

And, I want to get some rest. The last few weeks have tired me, and I want to recalibrate a little.

Have a good one, and catch you on the other side.

Thurs. Aug. 11, 2022: Plans and Poetry

image courtesy of Adriano Gadini via pixabay.com

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Full Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Garden post over on Gratitude and Growth.

Prepped for my meeting yesterday morning. The meeting ran longer than expected, and there’s a follow-up here at my place next Tuesday afternoon, so I can help my friend apply for some grants.

I was much later getting back in the afternoon than I expected, which meant a later start on the scripts. I had three to turn around, which I did, two before dinner, one after. The radio play rehearsal was moved to last night, but I didn’t find out about it until too late. This morning, I have to do some rewrites from what came up in rehearsal.

I finished and polished the poem after all that, and spent some time rehearsing. I have a three-minute slot, and the piece consistently comes in at 2:11 or 2:15, so I’m fine. Even though this is way out of my wheelhouse, I worked on story, image, and rhythm, and it’s doing what I want. So, we’ll see. Every time I get nervous, I remind myself that it is about the work, not about me. The focus is on making sure the work lands with the impact I want, not tying myself in knots about being the one to read it.

I’ll miss Chef Jeremy’s special session tonight, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. He knows he aways has my utmost respect, support, and affection.

The 6th episode of LEGERDEMAIN drops today, so there will be all kinds of promotion.

After meditation this morning, I will do the final proofread on the Topic Workbook, so I can send it and the PDF from the class out, and move the release date of the Workbook to next week. I have to see if I made an ad for it; if not, then that’s on the agenda, because once the links go live, I need to be able to upload and schedule the marketing content calendar for it.

September’s not that far away, so I’m already playing with marketing ideas for the Topic Workbooks from October through December.

And I need to get the next 10 episodes of LEGERDEMAIN uploaded and scheduled. And cover a script.

I’m tired. I feel as though I could sleep for about a week. I’ll get a chance to rest a bit this weekend, but there’s also a lot of home-and-hearth stuff that needs to be done. I want to fix the chairs and make the new chair covers and do the curtains and the back panel for the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell. Maybe I’ll even get to unpack a few more boxes, and rearrange some stuff in the pantry and the laundry room.

But I also want and need some rest.

Have a good one!

Wed. Aug. 9, 2022: Just Chugging Along

images courtesy of Wikilimages via pixabay.com

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Cloudy and cooler

Yesterday was another hot day, although the temperature started going down later in the day. But I hadn’t slept well, which was not a good way to start.

I had trouble getting going in the morning. I had to deal with stuff on the personal front, of course, with everything going on. I managed to get the book review written and out, and was assigned my next two books for review. I worked on catching up with emails, and handling a bunch of admin. I pushed back the release date for DEVELOPING THE SERIES so that I can finish proofreading it and make sure the students really get it well before it goes into general release. I did the promotion for Episode 5 of LEGERDEMAIN that dropped yesterday, “The Luminous Lady.” The ad I made for it is one of my favorites.

I worked on the poem a little.

I let myself grieve when I needed.

There was a thunderstorm in the late morning, which helped break some of the heat and humidity. But then, it was warm and sunny again.

We headed back to the quilt shop in Williamstown. And ran into a detour, because there was a gas leak, and a big chunk of Rt. 2 was blocked off by the fire department. So I had to take back roads. The fact I knew which backroads to take pleased me.

Anyway, we went to the quilt shop, and I picked up some fabric to make holiday-themed curtains for the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell. Because this weekend, when I’m working on seat covers and kitchen island curtains, I might as well do all of them at once.

A big guy working the lines came into the quilt shop, curious because his grandmother used to quilt, and he was interested in looking at the quilts. That, of course, triggered a story idea for me, so those characters are percolating. Now, the question becomes are they their own set of characters in their own world, or do I fold them into one of my other worlds?

On the way back, we did a stop at Wild Oats for a few things, and I paid my next year’s membership. I got to introduce my mom to the general manager, who is a sweet, smart, wonderful guy, and that was good.

Did a script coverage in the afternoon. Then, it was cool enough to prepare the rest of the Farmers’ Market vegetables as roasted vegetables, and served it over couscous. The rest of this week will be leftovers from the past few days of crockpot, primavera pasta, and roasted veggies.

Right after I finished, it was time for the cooking class with Chef Jeremy over at Kripalu (via Zoom). He’s moving into a full-time faculty position, after being the Executive Chef there for 12 years (which, as he said, is “like 187 Chef years”). He’s such a brilliant teacher, and he loves it so much, I’m glad he has the opportunity. And I’m excited to, at some point, study with him again in person.

Anyway, class was tons of fun. As usual, I learned a lot (like the difference between a tian and a gratin).

After class, I had another script to cover, but I got everything done.

It was the first night in weeks where it was cool enough to sleep, and I slept. Although I had a nightmare, and Charlotte woke me up at 3 AM. But I managed to fall back to sleep, and got up a little after six.

The damn computer took nearly an hour to do an update, and then none of the programs talked to any of the other programs, so I had to go in and wiggle things around until it worked again. I am not an IT person, and I shouldn’t have to fake being one just to get the computer up and running every morning. Especially since it’s still under warranty (although no one has any interest in honoring the warranty). And I’m only using 25% of the computer’s capacity.

I did not have these problems with my Mac.

Anyway, I have a meeting to prepare for this morning, the workbook to finish proofing, the poem to polish, and then three scripts to cover this afternoon, so it’s another busy day. But good busy.

Spiro Squirrel tried to remove the kitchen window screen again yesterday afternoon and Willa was right there, letting him know that was not an option. When I heard her scampering down the hallway early this morning, I was sure he’d somehow managed to get in and she was chasing him around the house, but she was just running up and down the hall because it was cool enough to run again. All the cats were perky this morning, because it was cool enough to feel like themselves again.

Hope you’re having a good one.

Fri. Aug. 5, 2022: Ebbs and Flows

image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures via pixabay.com

Friday, August 5, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Hazy and humid

Definitely tired and feeling the effects of the week. But I’ll do a big push this weekend, and, hopefully, next week will be a little easier.

Had a story rejected by a publication (I wasn’t sure it was the right fit, but gave it a shot, so it wasn’t a complete surprise). Got a rejection on a big grant application I put in earlier this year – again, not a surprise, because it was a stretch. They were encouraging and made suggestions on where to beef up certain sections of the application, and to reapply next year, so that is what I will do.

Got the SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM workbook uploaded and out, but there’s a problem with a couple of things. The issue with the cover I understand – I think I uploaded the wrong version, so I’ll fix that. I don’t understand the other note, about “mentioning competitive markets in conflict with the distributors.” It’s about how to set up a submission system. I don’t mention any publisher or distributor by name. I do have links to resources, so I wonder if that’s the problem. I have questions in, and we’ll see.

Did a run to Wild Oats for a few things in the late morning. The heat and humidity were oppressive. I managed to turn around two scripts, and also to finish a book for review, but I was wiped out by the end of the day.

We had a cracking good thunderstorm with bucketing rain, so I spent a good portion of the evening lying on the sofa, watching the storm.

It didn’t get comfortable enough to sleep until about 3 AM, so I’m a little slow today. But I had good coffee, which makes a big difference.

I worked on the latest draft of the radio play with the producer, and finalized virtually attending Tuesday’s rehearsal, which will be fun.

On today’s docket is finalizing the PowerPoint for tomorrow’s Developing the Series class, and getting both versions of the Workbook proofed. Class attendees will get a copy of the workbook as part of the class; it will release for sale next Wednesday.

If there’s time, I need to start uploading/scheduling the next set of episodes for LEGERDEMAIN, but that might happen on Monday.

Tomorrow morning, it’s Farmers’ Market Day, and then I teach in the late afternoon (at the worst possible time for me biorhythmically, but I’m prepared, so it will work). Sunday is a day of fun for me. I have two events at the Edith Wharton manse – I’m going to see a play by a local theatre (stage managed by a fellow poet from a few weeks ago), and, after that, there’s a poetry event inspired by the sculptures in the garden. It should be a fun day.

Next weekend will be busy, between script coverage and LEGERDEMAIN and a cooking class and the radio play rehearsal and participating in Poets in Conversation, but it should be fun, too.

Have a good one, friends, and we’ll catch up on the other side.

Wed. Aug. 3, 2022: Switching Between Types of Creativity

image courtesy of Darkmoon Art via pixabay.com

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.

Tues. Aug. 2, 2022: Creative Busy-ness

image courtesy of Hans via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny, hazy, humid

The weekend was kind of all over the place.

The artists working group that I was told met Friday morning, of course, met Thursday morning. The organizers really need to get their communications cleaned up. Especially since I specifically contacted them to ask for clarification and they still gave me the wrong information.

I picked up a few things at Wild Oats market instead.

I spent Friday revising CREATIVE STIMULUS and THE SERIES BIBLE. I was behind where I wanted to be, but between the humidity and ongoing computer kerflamma, it was exhausting.

Attended an amazing yoga class on Friday night. It was a wonderful restorative class and I slept very, very well after.

Up early Saturday morning. Went to the market. Didn’t buy much. The lines were so long as some of the stalls, which is great for the farmers, but I didn’t have the energy to stand in the sun. Picked up my mom’s prescription at the nearby CVS and came home.

Should have done a lot of stuff, but I was hot and tired and didn’t. We did hang up some of the artwork, although we haven’t found the right spot for oh, too many things. But some digital artwork by a friend went up, and the mosaic by my uncle. I put up the sketch of Paris – which I bought on my first trip to Paris when I was 11 years old for 2 francs – but it’s not in the right spot. When I find the right spot for it, I will move it.

Read in the afternoon and just relaxed.

Up early on Sunday. Charlotte and Tessa were both being pills. Made biscuits. Sent off an LOI. Did some blog work. Finally got the materials for a magical journaling class I’m taking this week with the group with whom I did Expedition to the Soul last year.

Worked on my Llewellyn article and got it done. It took a good portion of the day, since it was 2800 words.

I’m reading the biography of Emily Mann. The first time I met her was when I was working at the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, and she’d just been named the Artistic Director for the McCarter Theatre. I always admired her, and wish I’d gotten the chance to work closely with her.

Played with ideas for my poem, and for the story for the Shakespeare horror anthology. I want to keep my poem short, between a half a page to a page (even though I have a longer slot). I’m learning how to do this, and I’d rather keep it shorter and work on technique and rhythm and performance than use up the whole slot just to use it.

Monday, I was up and at it early. I made the social media rounds to thank those who participated in #31Prompts. Ello, by far, had the highest rate of engagement, both on and offline. Counter Social was second, by quite a big gap. Then, there was another big gap, and it was Twitter and then Facebook. Trailing the pack was Tumblr.

The metrics come from both engagement on the platform, and from contact individuals made with me privately about which prompts they liked and the types of pieces those prompts inspired. Because I don’t want anyone to post the actual work online and blow first rights.

I posted the July wrap up on the GDR site, and you can read it here. I had a pretty creative month.

I rewrote my Llewellyn article pretty extensively, and got it in to my editor. I still haven’t hit the sweet spot with it, except in word count, so I’m eager for her feedback.

I did the marketing content calendar for the CREATIVE STIMULUS Topic Workbook, which dropped yesterday, and got that uploaded and scheduled through the end of September.

Then, I tackled episodes 7-10 of LEGERDEMAIN. Even though I’d done a couple of revisions on them, they needed more. The world count is a little higher than I want for these episodes, but I had to set foundations for a few things, so there we were. The text got two pretty massive revisions, and then tweaks once it was uploaded and previewed. But I got them up and scheduled.

Then, I created episode loglines and episode-specific ads for them. I uploaded and scheduled those around the episode releases. I have to do the big weekend ad schedules, but I’ll do those in a day or two.

After that, I created three more quirky general ads (well, four, because I had an idea for something coming up, but it won’t release for a few more weeks). I got those designed, uploaded, and scheduled around the relevant episodes.

I read the revision of my friend’s radio play and it is wonderful! I love what she’s done. It’s so good, and such fun!

I did some work on the grant proposal. I need photographs. I’m not sure I have photographs of the relevant work, and I’m not sure I have it up here rather than in storage so I can take new photographs. I’ll cross that bridge next week,

I did my Italian lesson. I listened to the first session of a journal workshop on journaling with intent. I was put off by the way she was so condescending to a regular journal practice. As someone who has kept up a journal practice for FIFTY YEARS, and who has found the practice helped me navigate plenty of difficult stuff, I was annoyed by the attitude that a journal practice was “meaningless” and one just writes in a book and puts it away. Nope. Not the way I do it. This after the whole “I’ll never tell you that you HAVE to do something.” Yeah, but you’ll be patronizing when someone does something differently.  I was also annoyed by the whole “Oh, a bunch of us are doing a trip to Salem, so we won’t have live sessions for the next few days, just pre-recorded ones.” I don’t mind pre-recorded sessions, I don’t need to see the running comments in the live sessions. However, it’s kind of insulting when students have put aside the time to attend the workshop to blow them off. Just set it up so it’s “work at your own pace, here are the sessions.” I’m also really irritated at the pressure to download their app. I do not run my life from apps, nor do I want to.

My path is different, especially right now.

I was very tired by the end of the day. Between 2800K in revisions on the article, nearly 8K in the episodes, and then creating the ads, yup, I was tired. I also have 9 scripts in my queue, to read by the end of the week, so I have to push today and tomorrow, so that I’m not overwhelmed at the end of the week, before I teach.

Today’s priority is uploading and scheduling the content calendar for THE SERIES BIBLE Workbook, which drops tomorrow, and finish the revisions on SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM. I also want to finish the slideshow for the class I’m teaching Saturday.

I think that’s all I can get in during the morning. In the afternoon/evening, I have to cover 3 scripts, and I’m taking a break in the evening to attend Chef Jeremy’s cooking workshop from Kripalu online. Plus the day’s Italian lesson and journal workshop. But it’s the right kind of busy.

I heard from a grant for which I’d applied that I’d made it to the next round. I’ve heard that from them before. I make it close to the end, then they give the grant to someone who never finishes anything and is never heard from again.  But they tell me to keep applying. I’d already decided that if I don’t get it this year, I’m done with them. Not worth the work putting together the grant, when all they do is string me along, and then give it to someone who doesn’t deliver. In the years I’ve applied, I went from never working in the genre to regularly publishing in it, so I guess I don’t need it. But it would sure give me some breathing room.

Anyway, back to the work that needs to be done. Hope you’re having a good start to the week.

Fri. July 29, 2022: A Good Friend With a Beautiful Garden

image courtesy of Tim HIll via pixabay.com

Friday, July 29, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE has released, in its new edition. It helps get and keep projects on track, and teaches techniques to build a calendar that works. You can learn more about it here.

LEGERDEMAIN launched yesterday. The first two episodes are free on Kindle Vella. The story link itself is here.

It would be helpful if you like the free episodes, if you can upvote them and also leave a short, positive review. And, of course, tell everyone you know. If it’s not your thing, spreading the word to those who might like it would be really helpful.

My father died on this day in 1972. He’s been out of my life longer than he was in it. But the day still has its challenges.

I had a great time with my friend in upstate NY. The ride there on Wednesday was okay, up until the last stretch on I-84, which was rather chaotic. But it was a short stretch, and I found her place just fine. She lives in a town that’s similar to where I live here in the Berkshires, in that it’s a former factory town now populated with artists.

We know each other from working in theatre, film, and television production. There are several studios popping up in upstate NY, because of the demand for streamed programs, so she doesn’t even have to commute to the city for everything, which is great.

Doesn’t make me want to start up in production again, though. Those days are done for me, except for script  coverage and creating budget estimates.

We had iced tea in the wonderful, naturalized pollinator garden she’s built, then when into town to a taproom, where we ate outside. First time I’ve eaten at a restaurant since COVID. The tables were far enough apart that it was comfortable. It was delicious, and I had a local beer called “Marlowe” that was pretty good.

We went to the gallery where she’s part of a group show. Her piece was wonderful, and there were all kinds of interesting pieces in the show. We visited a friend of hers who has a fabric store, and there are terrific pieces there. The museum we planned to visit was closed on Wednesdays, so we went to a shop called Notions and Potions where I picked up some incense and a few crystals.

My friend is a cat person, and she has a group of rescued cats living with her. Many of them are old and had spent years either on the streets or in shelters. Bob even has his own Instagram account. I bonded with Ben, a lovely 15-year-old cat who loves the other cats (especially Bob), but doesn’t like to be touched by humans. Once he realized I would respect that boundary, he stayed close for most of my visit. He investigated all my bags, and left messages for my cats. He hung around. Griddle is a lovely black cat, who is very social and liked to come and be petted. There’s a kitten in search of a name who’s very smart and friendly, and looks like my Willa’s baby brother. One-Eyed George is kind of shy (because he can’t see much), but he was around. The tortie, Star, got more and more curious, the longer I was there, but not close enough to be petted. She kept walking through the room and staring, as though she was on her way to some other appointment. Calamity Joon was shy, although she peered at me from a safe distance. I didn’t meet Bertie, who stayed in my friend’s room, and I didn’t see Slick, the outdoor cat, although his empty bowls assured us he was around.

Anyway, my friend and I had a good catch up, and then got pizza for dinner we ate at home. I slept well, although Tessa has me so well trained, I woke up at 5 anyway. I’d woken up a couple of times in the night because I Was Being Stared At, but whomever did the staring fled as soon as I looked at them. Anyway, once Griddle realized I was up, she came for a petting session. George came to check things out, and then fled. I dozed off again for a bit.

When I woke up later, and went to take my shower, I found Bob stretched out in the doorway to the room, with the other cats looking at me hopefully from a distance.

After the shower, Ben came in to help me pack, and to make sure I put everything in properly.

I brought my bags downstairs, and most of the pride trotted down hopefully with me to the kitchen, and then were very disappointed when I failed Breakfast 101. I don’t know the medicine/food routine.

Bob forgave me and sat on my foot, with Ben right next to him, and Griddle came in to get some extra petting action, and my friend came down soon after, so all was not lost.

Morning feeding happened; we went out to get bagels with everything on them, and came back to the house to eat. Real New York bagels! I mean, the Berkshire bagels are better than the Cape bagels, but nothing beats a real New York bagel.

My friend gave me a small lilac, and a tansy plant to replace the tansy that Spiro Squirrel destroyed. She also gave me some mugwort slips and some cut mugwort. And she gave me some small pink flamingos who will dance in the pots on the back balcony.

Driving back was smooth. I got caught up in the horse trailer traffic going north on I-87, because the Belmont/Aqueduct barns are sending them up to Saratoga for the big races this weekend. But it was really a smooth ride back. Much less traffic than going down the day before. And it was so nice to spend time with my friend in her amazing house and yard and with those wonderful cats.

Unloaded the car. The lilac will be okay in its pot for now. I repotted the tansy and the mugwort.

I did some promotion for LEGERDEMAIN, did my Italian lesson. I’m learning random words, and I can figure out the phrases by process of elimination, but I’m not learning structure. And that frustrates me. There’s no context for anything.

Had a quiet afternoon. It was hot.

My mom had been sick the night before (she ate too many hotdogs in my absence). I have threatened her with kale smoothies. But the cats took good care of her.

Tessa was fine. She was very interested in all Ben’s messages, and told me everything that happened while I was gone. Willa was chill, as usual. Charlotte was upset because I had the scent of other cats on me. It took her hours to calm down.

Slept decently, although Charlotte woke me around 4:30 wanting attention, and then Tessa chimed in. So I was up at the usual 5 AM to feed everyone and start the routine.

I’m getting ready to go down to MASSMoCA to attend the artist working group to which I was invited. When I get back, I have to get a lot done this afternoon, and then there’s yoga tonight. Tomorrow morning is the farmers’ market, and then I have to finish my Llewellyn article and get it off to my editor. I’ll probably work on Sunday, too. There’s something I want to go to at The Mount in the late afternoon, but if I can’t get my work done, I can’t go.

Monday is Lammas, a big holiday in my personal calendar. And then we’re in both another week and another month.

Have a good one! See you on the other side.

Tues. July 26, 2022: Protocols, Performance, Persistence

garden sculputre installation at The Mount

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Sunny, cooler, less humidity

Hot, busy weekend.

Friday wasn’t quite as hot as Thursday, mostly because there was cloud cover, but the humidity was oppressive. Once the plants were watered on the front porch, we closed it off and let it be a greenhouse for the day, which helped keep the rest of the house cooler. And we kept the blinds closed on the east side of the house, and the lace curtains drawn on the south side. The lace lets in enough light, but blocks some of the heat.

I did some admin/organizational stuff, noodled on my article, and then turned around the script I had in the late morning/early afternoon. I made a pasta salad in the morning that could cool in the fridge for dinner, so we didn’t have to think about cooking or preparing anything.

I rehearsed my portion of the poem, working on rhythm and voice placement. What made me smile is that we just moved into Leo season – a season to shine, to share, to perform – and here’s the performance date.

I finished reading the next book for review.

The request for mail-in ballots arrived, and we filled them out and returned them. The mail-in option makes it easier (and safer) for this year’s voting.

I was invited to an artists’ resource meeting, but the day and the date didn’t match up. I emailed them for clarification. If the day of the week is correct, I can’t make it this month. If the date is correct, I can. At any rate, it’s a group with which I’d like to work, and if I can’t do it this month, I hope I can next month. They even are meeting outside this month, to make it safer.

It was tough to get to sleep Friday night because of the humidity, but I managed,

I should have worked on the Topic Workbooks, but I was too hot and tired and grumpy. I am very much a Winter Girl, not a Summer Girl.

Started feeling all kinds of doubt and uncertainty on Saturday morning again. Part of it was stage nerves for that afternoon’s performance. I am not a performer; I write for performers. I am a behind-the-scenes person. But there are enough of us in this event (50) that it’s about collective creation and collective experience, and there isn’t pressure on me to do more than be in the moment (and get my first & last words right, to keep the flow going).

Another part is also with the Topic Workbook and the serial launching in the upcoming weeks, there’s the whole pressure of now it’s out in the world, and no longer in my control. It’s 50-50. Some people are going to love these pieces & find them helpful or interesting; others won’t. There will always be those who are condescending and make nasty comments. Not that they ever create anything themselves; but they talk about what they’ll do some day while slam others. That’s the reality of the business.

I remind myself: They are not my target audience.

I remind myself: The previous negative reality is not my current positive reality. I am building something new here. That means taking risks, creatively and personally. Not all of them are going to work the way I want them to. But I still need to do it.

Because the alternative is a day job outside of my field, and that is the ultimate last resort.

I cut out a rant from this post about wanna-be writers who think they know more than those of us earning our living in the industry,  because I don’t feel like focusing on them today.

Saturday morning, I had to run out and get a hat. Early, when it was easy to stay ten or more feet away from anyone else in the store. There’s no way I could make it through the event without a hat. I have a whole collection of wonderful hats – in storage. So I ran out to a store that was likely to have workable hats. I couldn’t decide between two in the store, they were both affordable, so I bought both.

I did not go to the Farmers’ Market. I knew the heat would wear me out; I also didn’t want to risk exposure to anyone who might be sluffing off virus, and then bringing it to the event. I missed it, though. I missed the beautiful produce and the friendly, engaging farmers, and the other market regulars I chat with every week.

Took the rest of the morning to rest, read, rehearse. Packed my bag for the event. Took a shower, slathered on sunscreen, braided my hair that I wasn’t able to get cut in time, the whole thing.

I was proud of myself for breaking the usual pattern, which would have been to work myself into the ground all morning, and then feel frantic and unsettled when it was time to go. I gave myself time and rest. I knew it would be hot and humid and challenging, so I made sure, for once, not to sabotage myself.

I left around 2:30, to give myself time in case I hit tourist traffic. I did vocal exercises in the car, and rehearsed my little bit (all those years working musicals have application in the real world). I made decent time to get to The Mount, and got there around 3:30. Walked through the gardens to get to the house, where we were meeting. The sun dappled through the trees in nuanced light that was both beautiful and spooky. The phone’s camera made it look lighter than it was.

We assembled. They had us on chairs on either side of the path that wound down around the side of the house, odds and evens. We lobbed our parts of the poem back and forth across the path, with the audience on the path. I was number 9 (being one of the early poets to sign up and create my bit). So Number 7 was next to me. He lobbed the final word of his poem to Number 8, across the path, who started with the last word of his poem as the first word of her poem. She lobbed back across to me. The last word of her poem was the first word of my poem. I lobbed to number 10, across the path, whose first word of her poem was the last word of my poem, who lobbed it to Number 11, next to me, whose first word was the last word of the previous poem, and so forth and so on.

The audience moved through us as we spoke. They moved through us in waves, so when the first group reached the bend (about half way through), the next group started with the first poet again, so there were multiple vocals happening at any given time, and we had to be present to the poets around us, while aware of what was going on above and below us on the path.

There were a few poets who couldn’t be there. The agreement was that, if someone couldn’t be there, that individual was responsible for sending a proxy. There were several who did so, and that was great. There were a couple of people who didn’t, and a couple who didn’t show up or let anyone know, and that put unnecessary pressure on the poets who were there. Someone early in the poem couldn’t run down and cover for someone late in the poem, because by that point, the next wave of audience was coming through. So the organizers had to work out who could move a few chairs to read a missing poet’s bit, and then get back to their original chair to perform their own bit again in time.

It worked, mostly because there were enough experienced performers to flow, and the first-timers like me, who were trying to get a handle on what was going on and feel the rhythm, weren’t put under that additional pressure.

In other words, the organizers took care of the performers, instead of expecting the performers to fix things that happened at the last minute.

And the overall poem did build a flow and a rhythm. It was amazing. Somehow, even though we didn’t know anything about the poets and their poems on either side while we wrote, it all came together.

There were poets of all ages and from all over the place. I walked in with a poet from Northampton (who used to be a production coordinator for the Boston Ballet, so we had a good talk about backstage). The woman next to me and her daughter (numbers 11 & 13) were from Gloucester, MA, and each wrote a segment as something fun to do together. There was a family of six – wife, husband, two teen daughters, and their dogs – who each did a segment (they were spread out amongst everyone. And only the humans created poems, although the dogs performed with their humans). I think they’re from upstate NY. They told me they love to “poem together” and grab any opportunity to be part of public art events like this. There was a woman across and down a few who’s stage managing a show with a theatre company with whom I had contact awhile back, and I hope I get to see the show. The guy who led the playwrights’ workshop I attended a few weeks ago wasn’t in it (he’d planned to, but dropped out when he couldn’t be there, so another poet could step in and take his place with their own work, instead of someone reading as a proxy). But one of my fellow playwrights was there, and we had a good catch-up natter. There was another woman who’s a part of a poetry group that creates and performs social justice public art.

It was great to be part of a group that had NO Trumpers in it, and no both-siders and right-wing apologists. No one pursing their thin little lips claiming they “don’t do politics” when in reality, they support extremists.  In fact, a good deal of the poetry was political. Quite a few of the older poets, men and women, a few years ahead of me in age and experience, were talking about how they’d fought/marched/voted/protested for Civil Rights and Roe the first time around, and here we are again.

It was a dog, kid, family inclusive event. Several poets brought partners or family members who set up camp chairs nearby and watched/listened or read a book or worked on their own writing.

No one was told to tone down their language, and the audience was warned of the possibility of strong language. As far as I know, no one complained.

They’d put out a buffet for us up at the Terrace Café (it’s a spectacular view). They’d told us they’d have snacks for us, but there was real food to make sandwiches (and gluten free options) and salads and fruit and lemonade and raspberry tea and all that. They watered us well throughout, to make sure we were hydrated and didn’t faint. The chairs were in the shade. The audience was kept in the front courtyard until showtimes, with lemonade and cookies.

Originally, we were supposed to do the full poem 4 times through. However, so many people signed up that, for both vocal projection’s sake and safety’s sake, they split up the audience for the first couple of shows; hence the waves of audience members. So what were originally scheduled as the first two performances turned into four performances.

Each performance built a unique rhythm and flow. As the poets got more comfortable with each other, we could try different inflections with the same words, and lob the bits back and forth more easily.

We poets also kept moving our chairs back. We knew we were all fully vaccinated and had tested negative that day before showing up, but there was no way to trust that the audience was the same. Since the audience didn’t pay attention to the social distancing, we made it happen by enlarging the distance.

After the first four shows, we had a break to eat. One of the poets was bored with saying the same thing over and over, so he rewrote his poem in the break (keeping the first and last word, per the agreement). A couple of people joked that they’d never remember everyone’s name, but they could remember everyone’s content. For instance, I became “Lilac” because I had lilacs in my poem, and the image of “frothy lilacs” stuck in people’s heads. So, you know, any event I do from here on in, I’ll be “Lilac.” I can live with that.

After the break, we had two more shows. Because of time, the groups couldn’t be split up this time around. They were larger; we pulled our chairs back farther from the path and projected more. The heat and humidity were taking a toll, even with all the precautions.

During the final performance, as we completed our bits, we folded in behind the audience (at a safe distance), so that we were all together at the end and could celebrate.

We were all pretty much hurting by then (even the puppies were tired), but we celebrated each other, and were invited to a couple more of these creations, given our travel stipends, and then headed out.

The walk back to the parking lot seemed to take forever. I managed to get home in only 40 minutes (not much traffic), but as the adrenalin wore off, it was a challenge.

Dashed up the stairs, ordered Chinese food for delivery, and jumped in the shower to hose down and decontaminate. Even with some protocols in place, there were still a lot of people involved in the day. My throat was raw and everything hurt, and I knew I’d put myself at risk.

Popped the prosecco, though, and sucked down a couple of glasses along with the Chinese food. It took awhile to unwind. As a non-performer, and also as someone who’s used to writing by myself and then it either goes into the world, or, in the case of a play, it goes into rehearsal with a finite group before going out into the world, it was quite a new experience. But that sense of excitement, creating with others, trusting in them, and then INVITING the audience to experience it with us instead of PRESENTING TO the audience as pretty incredible.

Even if I don’t participate in the next couple of events (one of them, a haiku contest where content is created in the moment, is not something I could even consider doing), I might go as an audience member and support my fellow poets.

I finally collapsed into bed. I woke up around midnight and drank a bottle of water. My throat felt awful. I woke up again at 3 and did the same. Sunday, I rested. I drank tea and water. I took Slippery Elm (which I should have taken before I left, but I didn’t think of it). I’m not used to talking that much, or projecting outdoors. Of course it’s going to leave my throat and voice raw. I read.

Again, the usual pattern would have been to push myself and run myself down even more, probably winding up sick with a cold, if I managed to avoid the plague. At the very least, running myself down would give any exposure to the virus more traction.

So I rested.

I had to run out mid-day for a few errands – pick up my mother’s prescription and get her a new blood pressure monitor, get in some groceries, since I didn’t go to the market on Saturday. Just that little bit wore me out. The heat and humidity were oppressive.

I managed to do another read-through of the next chapters I have to upload for LEGERDEMAIN. I did some work on my article on Saturday morning, but didn’t do any work on Sunday. I put some hooks up in my mom’s closet, hung up some of the copper molds in the kitchen, and hung a quilt on the living room wall.

That was it.

Went to bed at the normal time. Tessa got me up early on Monday. I was still a little tired, but overall felt decent. Still just not loving the heat and humidity.

There’s a post on the GDR site about enjoying the week. There’s a lot going on, and I want to enjoy it.

THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS released on Monday. I’m proud of all the Topic Workbooks, but I think this one will help a lot of people who get scattered among too many projects.

A ridiculous amount of email piled up over the weekend, so I slogged my way through that. Did the postings of the daily prompt on the site where I couldn’t schedule the posts. Wrote the thank-yous for the event. Signed up for a yoga class. Signed up for an online cooking class at Kripalu, with my beloved Chef Jeremy, and even received a scholarship to attend. Checked in with my friend about my upcoming visit, provided I test negative the morning I’m supposed to leave. Packed for the trip.

Kept track to see if I’m showing any symptoms, or if I felt bad. I mean, I was grumpy in the heat and humidity, and I was tired (hey, I’m not 20 anymore), but overall, I feel fine. My throat was a little raw for a couple of days, but steadily felt better. My voice is still a little scratchy, but I don’t talk much during the course of the day, so that’s to be expected.

Turned around a script and some questions on a previous script I’d covered. Grabbed some shorts to turn around today. I’ve been steadily working on the Italian every day. I’m definitely learning vocabulary, but I’m not understanding sentence construction.

Did some work on a grant proposal, and noodled around with my article and with an idea tossed out by Word X Word.

It was hot and humid when I went to bed, but much better upon getting up this morning. I feel like I can be much more productive today, and I kind of have to be. There are a slew of errands to run late this morning, after I get some work done on the article, the Topic Workbooks, and getting the next LEGERDEMAIN episodes uploaded.

This afternoon, I turn around the three shorts. In the late afternoon, I head out to Greylock Works for a 1Berkshires Entrepreneur meeting at Berkshire Cider. It’s inside, so yes, I’ll be masked.

Someone contacted me about a content writing position. I have to take a look at the details. On the surface, the money looks outstanding, but I need to know more about it.

Hope you had a good weekend, and let’s work toward a good week!

Thurs. July 21, 2022: Trying To Keep It Organized

image courtesy of Andreas Lischka via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Hazy, hot, humid

There’s a post about the garden over on Gratitude and Growth.

We’re in typical summer weather. We haven’t been hit as hard as a lot of other places, but without air conditioning, it’s still a challenge. It’s supposed to break on Sunday, though, and be down in the 80’s next week, so there’s that to look forward to.

Of course, Word X Word is Saturday, in the heat.

We’ll see, by next week, if I calculated that risk properly. We are outside. We are all vaccinated. We are kept a safe distance from the audience. The organizers are taking steps to protect us. But the event still involves people.  So, we’ll see.

I’m supposed to go and visit a friend next week in upstate New York. You can be sure I’ll test the morning before I go, to make sure I’m not putting her at risk.

Other than the library and taking my mom to the doctor, I haven’t gone anywhere this week. I cancelled out of everything, because I wanted Word X Word to be the only risk, and not go in there having taken other risks. I’d like to get my hair cut before Saturday, because it’s back to being pandemic hair, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to, both because places are booked, and, if they’re not masking, I’m not going to be inside with them.

I’m skipping the Farmers’ Market on Saturday, which I will miss, but I want to make sure I’m not exposed there and then expose anyone at the event.

When I get home, I’ll do the decontamination protocols. I mean, I’d be so sweaty and gross after performing four shows outside that I’d hose off anyway. And I’m putting a bottle of prosecco in the fridge before I leave!

In the meantime, I need to rehearse my lines, few as they are. Performance is not natural to me, and I want to hold up my tiny little end of it.

Yesterday seems far away, somehow, probably because it’s so hot. ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE got proofed and is headed for release on July 29. I got about 75% of CREATIVE STIMULUS rewritten. I’m still stalling on SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM, but I’ll get there.

I discovered I have to resize all the ads I did for LEGERDEMAIN so they work on Instagram, which is a PITA, but necessary.

I will have some interesting metrics to share in early August about the 31 Prompts, and the responses to them on various social media channels.

I’m keeping up the Italian lessons. I’m retaining the vocabulary, although most of it is understanding what I see, not necessarily what I hear. But I don’t understand the declensions, although I can usually figure them out through process of elimination.

Had to run the repair twice on Word yesterday, because I’m having problems with it, mostly the keyboard. I’m so frustrated.

Also, gave the computer a rest during the hottest part of the afternoon, because it was overheating.

I did a bunch of work on the Legerdemain website. There’s still plenty more to do, but I’m getting there, and will share the link when it’s ready.

Turned around a script. I wanted to turn around two, but I was too damn tired. I’m still well within the deadlines, I just wanted to get ahead a little for myself.

The cats are little fur puddles. I’m not much better. I am not a heat-and-humidity person.

The chair I usually sit on in the kitchen came apart, so it’s in pieces in the sewing room to be fixed. I’m a little garden chair, making me feel like a toddler at the Grown-Up table.

I’ve got the online meditation group this morning. I need to upload the content calendar promoting ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE, and then get back to revising STIMULUS. I also have to start the article for Llewellyn. I want to get that out to my editor early, next week, before I go away, so it’s not hanging over my head when I come back.

A local arts organization sent me information on a paid residency they thought I would be interested in, so I will start the proposal. The process is simple, but the proposal has to be strong. I also need to photograph some of my work. I hope the pieces I need are here, and not in storage.

Saturday is all about Word X Word, but I’m working on Sunday, so that I can truly enjoy visiting my friend next week, without worrying about deadlines. I just have to space out my work in the heat and stay hydrated.

I keep thinking today is Friday, but it’s Thursday, so I better make full use of the day!

Wed. July 20, 2022: TypeTypeTypeTypeType

image courtesy of Nattanan Kanchanapratt via pixabay.com

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Cloudy, hot, humid

Since yesterday was the big reveal for LEGERDEMAIN, today is the usual natter we have on Tuesdays.

Chiron went retrograde yesterday, too. The Wounded Healer.

Quite the weekend! There’s a mid-month check in over on the GDR site from Monday.

Friday was good; I got the prompts posted, and did a big chunk of work on the new edition of ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE,  then headed down to Pittsfield for the book sale at the Atheneum. The weather was warm and gorgeous.

Even though I got there just after the doors opened, I had to park waaaaay down the street (around the corner from the Colonial Theatre – that far)! But it’s such a pretty street, with graceful, old, multi-family houses that have all done lovely, cheerful, whimsical things with their gardens.

I met a woman exiting the parking lot, with a huge bag of books clutched to her chest. “Good haul,” I said, and she grinned. “They’ve got great stuff this time around,” she told me.

I grabbed a basket as soon as I went in. Almost everyone was masked, which made me more comfortable, and, even though it was crowded, people were respectful about distancing. I did the rounds of the main room. The back room, with the older, larger nonfiction was too small and crowded for my comfort, even though people masked. A business called Blue Q donated zippered tote bags made out of recycled plastic. The bag is bigger than it looks (which meant I only needed a single bag for my haul). I bought 13 CDs (a mix of jazz and replacements for stuff I had on cassette and then tossed in the move, when I should have kept them), some research books, some fun books, and a stack of books for my mom. The total was just under ¼ of what I’d budgeted for the day.

Dropped off the books at home, picked up my mom, and we headed to Wild Oats, where the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership did a cheese tasting, featuring Von Trapp Farmstead cheese. I’m not that into cheese, but my mom is, and I figured it would be something fun for her. She’s not comfortable being out and about much, even masked, but the co-op is good with safety features (such as the tasting being in the outer portion of the store, so people could actual step outside to unmask and taste).

The cheese was amazing. I even thought so, and, like I said, I am usually not that thrilled by cheese. My mom, of course, loved the bleu cheese. I preferred the Mt. Alice (kind of like a soft brie) and the Oma cheese (soft and like nothing I’ve tasted before). So I bought blocks of all 3. And blueberries (which are so, so good). And coffee. Rolls. Wine. You know, the essentials.

Our lunch consisted of the rolls with butter, the cheeses, and the last of the Red Shirt Farm huge tomatoes. And a glass of rosé, because hey, my weekend.

I gave myself the afternoon off to read a book and play with the cats. I enjoyed the book up until the character got pregnant after one night with the love of her life Yes, I understand biology and know this happens. But, come on, people, birth control. Especially since the character was established as sexually active. I know that might not be a realistic choice in the future, if the GOP has their way, but this book was published several years ago. Birth control. And I’m over the trope of the only way to happiness and family for a woman is to breed. I want some HEAs where the couple chooses not to have children. Really sick of the accidental pregnancy trope. The book worked for me up until that point. But after it, I resented the rest of it and felt cheated.

Saturday morning, I was off to the Farmers’ Market, for my usual rounds. I had a delicious haul, and, of course, all the good conversations that make going to the Farmers’ Market so much fun. In early August, after I teach at the conference, I’m going to sit down with a couple of people and help them brainstorm on grants.

Got the revision done of the Topic Workbook ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE and uploaded it. It needs the final proof, but should be good to schedule for next week’s release.

The woman running for re-election for D.A. stopped by the house in the afternoon, and we had a good chat. She’s doing a lot to counter what the corrupt, extremist SCOTUS is doing, and has my firm support.

Read a fun book in the afternoon/evening. Some of the author’s style was a little annoying, but the overall arc of the book was a lot of fun.

Sunday was all about LEGERDEMAIN. I drafted the last 7K of the serial’s first big arc. There’s one episode that I’m going to break down into 2 episodes, because it’s going on too long, and the climactic fight scene has more comedy in it than I expected, but it’s fun. The first big arc runs 38 episodes (it’ll be 39 when I break that other episode up). It does what I want it to do, winding up the murder/theft arc, and launching the next arc. I’d hoped to get it all into 30 episodes, but too much had to be established and integrated, and seeds had to be dropped for the next two big arcs, and for things that might or might not grow into future arcs (should the serial run beyond its initial 90 episodes).

I also worked on episode ads for the first four episodes.

It was a lot. I was exhausted by the end of the day, but it was a good tired. I went to bed ridiculously early, and slept straight through the night.

Up early on Monday. Did yet another layered revision on the first six episodes of LEGERDEMAIN. Set up the serial on Kindle Vella. Uploaded,  proofed, fixed, proofed again, fixed again, wrote the author notes, and sent them off. They cleared the content review within a few hours (I have specific, odd spellings and was worried I’d have trouble; ergo, I created a Style Sheet).

I did the episode ads for episodes 5 & 6 (I’m particularly proud of the ad for #5). I did tag lines for the first 6 episodes. I did an episode tracking sheet (because Vella doesn’t show the schedule once things are uploaded). I uploaded and scheduled the posts for the first six episodes. I might modify some of those post, should I ever get a direct link to them. But at least they’re up. I started the email blast that will go out on Monday, specific to LEGERDEMAIN.

I update the Series Bible as I draft each episode, which is unusual. But because each episode has to be built properly before I can draft the next, each episode goes through what would normally be a 3-draft process as its first draft. Once I get to the uploaded draft, I check and make sure to update anything necessary in the Series Bible, so that’s consistent.

I also have a style sheet, because there are unusual spellings, and I want to keep them consistent.

I set up an episode tracking sheet, so I know when I’ve uploaded and when an episode is scheduled to release. I also keep final word counts of each episode in there. My ideal episode target is 1K, but most episodes run around 1.3K, and some a little over.

I wanted to go ahead and start the website, but I forced myself to stop. I had to turn around two scripts in the afternoon/evening (which I did). Again, I then had to stop myself from going back and working on the website. Hyper productivity can end in a crash, and I have too much to do this week to crash.

I made myself rest.

That’s progress.

I kept up with posting the 31 Prompts, and with the Italian lessons.

We got the sad news that a member of the extended family in Maine is coming home for hospice care. This is a case where COVID was the final straw for him. He’s elderly, 4x vaxxed, always masking, very careful. But he had to go into the hospital a few months ago, for something non-COVID related, and then into rehab. He caught COVID in rehab, and, although he technically “recovered” from COVID, it made his other issues worse.

Up early on Tuesday. It’s more seasonably hot and humid than it’s been. Tessa is busy shedding the winter coat that she grew in a few weeks back, when it was cooler. In other words, lots of vacuuming happening in this house.

And lots of fur balls.

Started building the website for LEGERDEMAIN. Cycled through at least a dozen templates. The one I really want doesn’t post the newest posts firsts unless I buy an upgrade. So I went back to a template that I don’t really want, but have used on other sites – and it won’t post the newest posts first. This time, the person I landed at A2 hosting was not helpful. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. It’s configured exactly the way it is on the site where it’s working. Very frustrating.

Worked on the SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM revision/update. Getting the examples into JPGs and inserting them is a major PITA. I’ll get there, but it’s not fun. Today, I have to do the final proof/changes on ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE, so it can upload for release.

Took my mom to her new doctor, over in Williamstown. It’s taken us a year to find a new doctor. But they are very nice, the building is clean and comfortable, and masks are required. She likes her new doctor, which is good. The doctor is worried about her blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are too high. So some medication adjustments are coming. She misses going to the firehouse to get her blood pressure taken every week (they don’t do that here).

Turned around a script in the evening. Made myself stop for the night.

Up early this morning, woken by a thunderstorm, rather than cats. It didn’t do anything to break the humidity. Today is supposed to be the hottest day of the next few weeks.

We have our final instructions for Saturday’s performance at the Edith Wharton homestead. I have to find my poem and rehearse. Let’s face it, even if I mess up, it’s only 3 lines/30 seconds. It’s not about me. It’s about our collective experience creating something, and then sharing it.

But I still want to hold up my end.

Back to the page with revisions today, mostly on the Topic Workbooks. I have to do a library run and pick up a prescription and a new blood pressure monitor for my mom later, and then a script coverage or two in the afternoon.

Have a good one.

Tues. July 19, 2022: The Big Reveal for The Big Project

Tuesday,  July 19, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Rainy and humid

Today, I finally get to reveal the identity of what I’ve called, for months, on this blog, “The Big Project.”

It’s a serial called LEGERDEMAIN.

“Legerdemain” means “sleight of hand. The title is the name of the city where most of the action takes place, a clifftop city full of misfits and magicians. It’s a comic noir fantasy serial.

It opens with a murder.

The central protagonist is the Sheriff of the city (and the province), Shelley Magnus-Grantone. She’s the eldest of four children, thirty-eight at the time it starts, with earth-aligned magic. She’s smart, compassionate, funny, pansexual, a strong witch, and loves her home city. She’s also allergic to children.

Her mother is the recently appointed Oracle of the kingdom, and her dad is an astronomer/astrologer.

A little yappy dog named Lord Fuster discovers the body in his garden (a stately home in the upscale Atraxia district of the city). Shelley and her team, including the newly arrived Inspector Fletcher Bain (whose magic aligns with music), race to catch the murderer. When the Priestesses of the Temples arrive, reporting that ritual objects were stolen, Shelley knows they have to stop something dark and dangerous.

The Fathomless Library is an important part of the action. The Fathomless Library has its own complex within the Arts District. Books are alive. There are teams of Inkspectors, Word Mercs, Scribes, and elite librarians called Marians, who keep books alive. The punishment for book burning is death.

There’s a running joke about Questors as an ongoing subplot. Every episode has either a Questor in it, or a reference to Questors. They are a big moneymaker for the city, and also one of its biggest annoyances to the population, especially to Shelley. They get in the way and do reckless things in pursuit of their various quests.

Another running joke is how much people love their Secret Societies in the city. So yes, I’m playing with all kinds of tropes, and hopefully turning them inside out.

With any luck, I’ve hit the right mix of humor, mystery, and fantasy. I had a great time worldbuilding, and I’ll build a website with all kinds of fun features and extras around the serial. I’m writing the web copy to read like a tourist site put up by the city’s local Chamber of Commerce. I’ve done some preliminary rough map sketches, but I’ll do more detailed maps of the overall city, the kingdom, and the individual districts.

This is a serial, not a book released chapter-by-chapter. It’s structured to be ongoing, should it take off. The initial offering has 90-ish episodes (with new episodes releasing on Tuesdays and Thursdays). It comprises three large plot arcs.

If the serial gains traction, enough people like it, the metrics work, and it continues to fit into my schedule, it will continue past the 90-ish episodes, as long as it works, in arcs of 30 or so episodes. (The first arc needed more time to establish certain elements and integrate them into the story, seeding future stories, so it comes in at 39 episodes).

If it doesn’t do what I need it to justify continuing work on it, I’ll leave it up six months or so after the last episode of this first triple arc goes up, and then take it down. In order to release as a novel, or a series of novels, it would need serious restructuring, and that might not be worth it.

So all those who “don’t start reading until the whole thing is done” are not my target market.

It’s releasing on Kindle Vella (at least for the moment), because that seemed like the best platform on which to run this experiment. The first six episodes are uploaded, approved, and scheduled to go live on their various dates.

The first three episodes are always free, and then the rest are opened with tokens. Readers buy tokens and spend them on the various series they like.

I don’t like that I can’t link directly to episodes. At this point, I can’t even link directly to the story page on Kindle Vella, although that might change once episodes go live. I mean, there are many things I don’t like about Amazon in general, but this is specifically annoying me right now, because it limits my ability to market.

It also doesn’t show me the release schedule, so I’m glad I set up a fuckton of tracking sheets and Style Sheets and all the rest, to keep track as I uploaded.

I have a huge marketing campaign planned for it, across various social media channels. I have quirky general ads, and then I have ads for each episode as it releases. The content calendar is quite crowded! And it’s a long-range campaign, not just for a few days around the launch.

The first two episodes go live on Thursday, July 28. The 3rd episode releases Tuesday, August 2nd, the 4th episode Thursday August 4th and so forth and so on.

It overlaps with the re-releases of the Topic Workbooks, so I’m flooding the internet with promotion over the next couple of weeks. And people just have to fucking deal.

This is my business. Not my hobby.

I love working on this piece so much. It makes me laugh; it surprises me. When I go back over it and do the edits/revisions/tighten it/clean up the sloppy language, there’s so much that delights me.

I hope you enjoy it, too!

Remember: July 28. First two episodes drop. First three episodes are free.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

Published in: on July 19, 2022 at 6:17 am  Comments (6)  
Tags: