Thurs. Jan. 13, 2022: Hoping for Quiet

image courtesy of Myriams-Fotos via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow, and I just don’t have the surge capacity to deal with it.

Post over on Gratitude and Growth about the weather.

Most of the morning was spent on writing the first draft of a short story. Got 2/3 of it done, just over 1700 words, and my brain just stopped. I know what comes next, but couldn’t pull it together to write it. And, I know the ending for which I’m aiming. I’d hoped it would only be 1500 words, but 2.5K is the sweet spot now, with 3K being the max.

Bundled up in so many layers until I could barely walk. Got the garbage out (so much easier to take it across the street to the dumpster than having to drive it to the dump). Once I unloaded garbage, came back, put on the backpack full of library books and the tote bag full of more library books and stomped to the library.

Church Street was hit and miss, as far as clean sidewalks, and I had to be careful. Dropped off the finished books, picked up the ones that have come in, stomped back. I wasn’t that cold, because of all the layers, although the tip of my nose got red and I looked like Rudolph’s understudy by the time I got back.

Made my favorite noodles with Asian peanut sauce for lunch – comfort food.

Could not get it together to write more in the afternoon.

But I finished writing up a coverage, and read another script I will write up today. I have two scripts to read/write up, and two book reviews to write. I started reading another contest entry, too.

Part of the Target order arrived. I am in love with my Pyrex pie plate. There will be pot pies and sweet pies galore with that! And things like garbage bags, shampoo, and an ice tray (although it’s a weird, squishy ice tray). Once the cat litter arrives (today or tomorrow), we will be stocked up until early March for cat and cleaning stuff. Food-wise, we could make it 4-6 weeks if supply chains totally break down, although we’d run out of eggs. I have dry milk and evaporated milk if needed, and plenty of other goods stocked in.

I’m still going to attempt a grocery run (on foot) today, to get in the perishables. Then I’ll decontaminate and start my workday. I’m not washing groceries again, but I’m decontaminating myself whenever I have to go out and interact.

The stocking up has as much to do with weather as the virus. Another storm is coming in tomorrow, and predictions are that it will go down to -31F with wind chill over the weekend. Yet another storm comes through on Monday.

So I won’t be going anywhere for awhile.

But I still have to find a place to get the car fixed.

I decided not to go to the college library this week. Maybe next week, if the virus  numbers go down and there aren’t too many people around. With the public library, I just go in to drop off/pick up; I’m not back to browsing yet. With the college library, I have to dig through the shelves, looking for what I want, and I just don’t feel comfortable being indoors with strangers, even if we’re masked and vaccinated. Nothing I need from that library is on a tight timeline, so I’m okay to wait.

I have meditation this morning, and then I’ll make a run (a waddle, in all my layers) to Big Y with my rolly cart to see how much on my list I can find. Then it’s finishing the short story (it needs to be edited and sent out tomorrow, which is a tighter turnaround than I like, but that’s when I found out about the submission deadline), writing up a script coverage and two reviews, reading two more scripts. I doubt I’ll get to work on The Big Project today, but I’m hoping to get back to it tomorrow and over the weekend, and do some work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY this weekend, too.

Tessa let me sleep until nearly 6. Actually, again, it was Charlotte who woke me, and when Tessa heard us, she chimed in.

Hopefully, the power will stay on.

It’s relatively quiet anyway around here; I’m hoping for a quiet weekend, even with storms happening outside.

Wed. Jan. 12, 2022: Writing In My Head

image courtesy of Chriszwettler via pixabay.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Yesterday was another day that was kind of all over the place. But I got some good stuff done.

Plowed through a bunch of emails, got out an LOI. There were some interesting submission calls in my inbox. One, I really wanted to do, but I don’t have anything suitable. It’s for a one-act play, 30-40 minutes, 4 characters. All my plays of the correct length have more characters; the ones with four or fewer are too short. I started to adapt a short story into a stage play, but that’s going to be too short, too. I don’t have time to write a new play from scratch, and have it in anywhere near decent shape by deadline.

There’s another call for a short story that got my wheels turning. It only needs to be about 1500 words, so if I can actually sit down and do a rough draft today, and it’s strong enough, I could revise it and have it in by deadline. I started writing it in my head. If it goes on the page as well as it’s unfolding in my brain, I’ve got a shot.

We’ll see.

Wrote a little bit on The Big Project. Not as much as I wanted to, but it was a comic scene that had to be properly structured. The joke lands, so I think it will be okay.

Worked on script coverage and on contest entries.

Charlotte sat down on my keyboard, causing all kinds of chaos, but now the “Editor” function is back in Word. Go figure.

Thank goodness there are plenty of leftovers.

Put in the Chewy order for cat litter. Packed away the boxes of holiday decorations. One box was dripping. I opened it—it contained large, outdoor balls I hadn’t used this year. They were full of water. A small hole in the top, where the hanging loop was put in, meant that, being outside, they could accumulate water inside.

I drained them and have left them on the counter to thoroughly dry. Don’t want them getting moldy inside.

That was weird. Just weird.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. Because everyone’s still remote, the kids don’t have to spend most of their day worrying about active shooters and whether the person next to them will expose them to a deadly virus, they can actually learn. Let’s face it, none of this insistence about forcing in-person learning is actually for the well-being of the kids. It’s all about making sure their parents go back out to Die for Their Employers. It’s disgusting.

I woke up on my own around 5:30 this morning, no feline choir. I’m writing this morning. Then, late morning, I will bundle up, load up as many library books as I can carry, and do a drop off/pick up.

Script coverage, book reviews, and contest entries this afternoon.

Onward.

Tues. Jan. 11, 2022: Bitterly Cold

image courtesy of Nicky Pe via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Bitterly cold

It is 1 degree F this morning.

There’s a post over on the GDR site about resolutions being the first step.

The weekend was kind of all over the place. Worked on coverages all the way through. Was honored to be requested by two writers (on two different scripts) to read revisions based on notes I gave them a few weeks ago.

Worked on packing decorations and figuring out where to put everything so we actually have living space for the year. I’m handwashing the holiday fabrics. Some of that is because I don’t want to put the glittery fabric in a commercial machine; also because there’s no way I’m humping it all down to the laundromat in this weather.

The library has cancelled all in-person programs for the month, which is a wise idea. There was a positive test at the co-op, and that staff member and two others who were in close contact are now in quarantine. I hope they are okay.

We’re having the weather we were warned about, so staying home is my only option (especially since the car doesn’t work). Snow and freezing rain all weekend, frigid temperatures today. I have a big stack of books to return to the library, but that will happen later this week. Since the virus numbers keep going up, and the entire country is back in “Die for Your Employer” mode, I’m happy to stay home.

Did some reading for pleasure, because I needed the break. Didn’t work on The Big Project until Monday, which threw off my rhythm for everything else. We’re eating leftovers, which is a good thing to clean out the fridge and not waste food, and because I just don’t have the energy to cook right now. Although I managed a chocolate mousse on Sunday, which was delicious.

Tessa is really angry at me for taking down the big tree that was in the doorway between the sewing room and the living room. She loved to glide under it to go from one room to the other, and also liked to sit under it.

As a joke, I put a small, 15” tree (that was on one of the bookcases) down in the same spot the big tree stood. Tessa glared at me like, “You think I’m stupid?”

Meanwhile, Charlotte walked around it, checking it from all angles, and then looked at me, puzzled, like, “I remember this being bigger last time I was here.”

Willa paid no attention, being her Willa self, and busy with other things.

The dog bed that was once Tessa’s and then became Willa’s is now Willa’s again. It is on top of my mom’s bed (instead of being on top of boxes near the window, where we thought Willa would like it), and she sleeps curled up in it during the day (and curled around my mom at night).

Saturday was sunny, but cold. I ran a few errands on foot, and then dug out the car, so that Friday’s snow wouldn’t freeze down when Sunday’s freezing rain hit. Definitely a good call, because Sunday was miserable. The plows were out all day, scraping down to pavement and then sanding, very conscientious, before Monday’s next snowstorm hit.

Sunday was nasty, freezing rain all day. I was glad to stay in, work on script coverages, and read. And keep working on packing up decorations. I’ve somehow misplaced two boxes – the decorations came OUT of them, so I don’t see how I could misplace them in this finite space.

After 10 years, I had the packing/unpacking down to a system, because of the way it fit into the Christmas Closet in the storage area over the garage. But I have to figure out how it works best here, so it’s a lot of geometry involved, finding out it doesn’t work, and starting over.

It snowed most of Monday. Again, the plows were conscientious about coming around to scrape down to pavement. Once the snow stopped, in the late afternoon, they put down a lot of sand, in preparation for today.

I didn’t get much done yesterday. I couldn’t concentrate. I did work up some notes on The Big Project, finding a way to integrate a new idea into the current outline, and giving it room to create another big arc (if I decide that’s what I want), or maybe even a spin-off.

I plowed through the email that had stacked up. Outlined some specialty blog posts. Spent some time on the acupressure mat. Worked on script coverage. Started on the print books in one of the categories I’m judging. I have to contact my book review editor; for some reason, I can’t find the links to upload the two reviews I just worked on. I also have to get back to the search for someone to fix the car today, so I can set that up for next week or so.

Made a black bean soup from the Moosewood recipe – very good, and easy. That recipe will become a staple recipe in my repertoire.

The Chewy order finally arrived; I felt sorry for the driver. The delay in delivery is not a problem at all – I’d rather the drivers stayed safe. The way Fed Ex lies about the delivery is not okay. Just tell me it’s delayed; don’t keep insisting it’s coming “today” as they did Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Target order – which is five small, but necessary items – is coming in three different boxes. And I’ll have to put in another order with Chewy this week for the cat litter (the one that arrived was for food – we’re good for the next nine weeks). The Goddess Provisions box arrived, filled with good stuff.

I’ve received so many oracle decks in the past few years, between Tamed Wild and Goddess Provisions, that I think, in spring, I’ll give away the ones with which I don’t connect strongly/don’t use. As I’m unpacking stuff and setting up the office/bookcases/ reading nooks, I will put aside the ones I want to give away, and then set it up in spring, when it’s easier to get to the post office.

Once I post here, I’m off to do some work on The Big Project, to try to get back on track with that. I’m way behind where I wanted to be at this point; however, I really like the quality of the writing. Then, I’ll write up the scoring sheets for the entries I read last night, and get back to the script coverage. I have to get a lot read this week if I want to make my nut this pay period (and I’m pretty sure I’ll fall short, but I’m so damn exhausted, and it’s not fair to the writers if I’m not in top form to write up the coverage).

I need to get back on track with THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, too, but that can happen this weekend. And I need to get some LOIs out.

Later this month, I need to get back to working on the new editions of the Topic Workbooks, so they can start re-releasing. I was so thrilled with the new covers, and now I’m having second thoughts that they might be too busy, using photographs instead of line drawings. The original covers are too similar; these new covers are too different, and the tiny logo in the corner doesn’t really tie them together enough. I’ll have to mull that over. Although I’m not going to go for a re-design during a Venus retrograde because that’s simply not wise. But I can think about it and consider options and styles, and how I really want these workbooks to sit in the world. They are my steadiest sellers, so I want them to be both useful and easy on the eye.

Today is bitterly cold. It was supposed to snow all day, but it’s sunny right now. I’m just grateful the power is still on!

Charlotte woke me at 3:33 AM, wanting attention, and the minute Tessa heard her, Tessa started, in full voice. I grabbed the feather bed and moved to the couch, grumpy that I had to leave my cozy fleece sheets, but not wanting Tessa to wake the neighbors at that hour. I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew, it was 7 AM and more snow had fallen. Poor Willa got the short end of the stick this morning – no attention AND late breakfast. I had weird dreams on the couch – busy dreams, not stress dreams, at least. But I still felt like I’d already put in a full day by the time I woke up.

It’s supposed to be a little warmer tomorrow, and cloudy, so the plan (so far) tomorrow late morning is to pack up as many of the library books as I can carry and return them, and pick up the books that have come in. I’ll probably go across the street to the college library in the next few days. I have some digging I need to do in their shelves. Best to do it before classes start up again next week.

I hope the virus numbers go down enough in spring and summer that I can work IN these two libraries a couple of times a week. The spaces are so terrific, I want to utilize them. But not now. Now, I’m isolating as much as possible.

Stay safe and healthy. May you have the energy you need to both get through the day and create.

Tues. Jan. 4, 2022: Back to the Page

imageg courtesy of Nile via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Clear and cold

Happy New Year! I hope yours was everything you wanted it to be.

The car failed inspection on Thursday, but I have 60 days to get it fixed by a registered garage. Now, if only one of them would work on Volkswagens. . .

Finished up script coverages on Thursday afternoon, and was able to take the entire three day weekend off. I stayed off social media, too, although I hopped online a bit when I heard that Betty White had died. What a shame she didn’t make it to 100.

Friday, I did a run to the post office, the library, and the liquor store (on foot). A good friend send a birdfeeder that’s supposed to attach to the window, so one can see the birds. I will try to get it up this week. Kitty TV.

Made roast duck for New Year’s Eve. It was very good. With potatoes and steamed vegetables. We still have plenty of stollen, so we had that for dessert. I’d made our favorite devilled eggs to snack on, and we did the traditional smoked herring before midnight. There was a small party in the house next door, but mostly, it was quiet in the neighborhood.

We watched the ball come down in Times Square online, and toasted in the New Year with prosecco. I let the old year out of the back door a little before midnight, and then the new year in the front door just after. Too bad they don’t have First Footers here. There were some fireworks in the distance, but nothing close and disturbing. Burned the second bayberry candle, for luck and prosperity.

I was very disappointed to see that NYC went ahead with letting people into Times Square, and how irresponsibly people behaved. A good many of them could be dead in the coming few weeks. Will they think this was worth death?

I used to watch the ball come down from my window, in my NYC apartment. I could watch them get the ball ready, too. Then, the years I had Broadway shows on New Year’s Eve night, I couldn’t get home in time for midnight, because it was blocked off, even if you lived there. So I was forced to go to a party or an overpriced restaurant until after the square cleared out. I’m glad I had the experience of seeing it from my window, but don’t miss the chaos. That’s probably why I still always feel so unsettled. That desperate energy of people trying too hard to have a good time.

I’d started taking New Year’s Eve off and leaving the city a few years before I moved out. Sometimes just to be with my mom; sometimes to go to a yoga retreat. Then, shows started cancelling the evening shows and only have matinees, because people couldn’t get to the theatre, or, after, had to go all the way up and cut through Central Park to get anywhere else.

The chaos takes the fun out of it, and it puts too much strain on all the services that have to work that night.

Got to bed a little before one, woke up again at three, and then Tessa woke me at five. I was grumpy and out of sorts. Tried to do the fire and ice ritual, but the ice maker wasn’t working. Then, I realized that the first day of the New Year fell on the dark moon. So the natural dark moon energy of releasing was battling the desire to start fresh we have in the new year.

So I stopped fighting it and read all day. Except when I made lemon mousse, and later, did the baked salmon in the lemon-mustard-brown-sugar-cumin glaze.

Over the weekend, I read THE TWELVE JAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Donna Andrews, laughing out loud at a lot of it. And then I read the second and third of Emily Flynn’s books, DEAD GORGEOUS and END OF THE ROADIE, both of which were excellent: writing, plotting, characters. I really like her work.

Sunday, I did some work on The Big Project, cleaning up what I’ve worked on so far, so I could dive back into it. I’m behind where I want to be, so I need to double down on it in the next few weeks. But I’m happy with the quality, the tone, the plot, the characters.

I was disappointed to learn that 365 Women a Year is not calling for projects for 2022. I hoped to write a play about Marie and Squire Bancroft, well-known Victorian actors, for them this year. There’s no reason I can’t still write it, but pitching it to 365 would have given me momentum.

I’m doing an Excel spreadsheet (oh, horrors) with details of the various scripts ready for submission, so that I can get back on track with it this year. Details on length, characters, production history, etc. I have 21 plays that can go out there and keep earning their keep after their initial readings or productions, and I have a handful I’ve pulled because I’ve outgrown them, and the market is in a different direction. I’ll do another one for the radio plays, and then a third one for the screenplays. I wanted to focus on creating and stockpiling, and that’s what I’ve done. Now, things need a polish, and need to get out into the world to earn their way.

A conversation with author and illustrator Dewi Hargreaves about Hope Clark’s 13-in-Play made me realize I need to get that back up to speed again. 13 pieces out at any given time, so the work earns its keep. The new version of THE WRITERS MARKET arrived, and I will go through it, cover-to-cover, making notes, and then work my way through pitches and/or submissions wherever I think it’s appropriate. Of course, I’ll have to cross check the information with the websites of each place, but that should get me back on track with keeping submissions out there properly, as I create new work. Almost all the new work I have on tap for this year is long form, not short form, and I need to mix it up a bit more.

The first shipment for the contest I’m judging has arrived, and I’m at work on those pieces, too. I have two book reviews to write and submit, and then get my next assignments from that editor.

Monday morning, Tessa got me up around 5:30. I fed the cats, did the usual longhand writing session. Expanded the morning yoga practice by a few more asanas. Extra-long meditation session.

After the shower, I sat down and wrote just over 3100 words on The Big Project, and I liked most of them, which is a good way to start the day, the week, the month, the year.

Headed to the library to pick up/drop off books. It was darn cold. It kept looking like it wanted to snow, but it didn’t smell like snow, and didn’t snow.

In the afternoon, I caught up on email. I sent off a grant proposal. I doubt I’ll land the grant; it’s unlikely they’d give it to a genre writer, thinking they’re “not serious enough” and my work samples were comic noir mystery/fantasy and mystery. But I have zero chance if I don’t try, so it was worth putting it together and sending it off.

Read two scripts. Should have written them up, but was too tired. Too tired to start on the contest entries, too.

But all in all, it was a good start to the day, week, month, year.

The answers to the GDR questions are posted here, if you’re interested, and if you want to post your own.

Back to the page now, to get the day’s quota done on The Big Project. Once I’ve hit that, I can decide how to structure the rest of today. A lot of it will be taken up with script coverage, but I have to run down the street to get eggs from Cumberland Farms, and then maybe take down the decorations out on the front porch. Rather than taking everything down on Thursday, I’m doing the outer rooms, and then getting the big tree, etc., down on the 6th. We have to figure out how we’re going to stash it all until next year, so it doesn’t take up all the closet space and hall space. Geometry. Fun times.

Tessa didn’t wake me this morning; I woke up all on my own, a little after 5:30. Heaven!

Back to the page, and I hope you’re having a good start.

Tues. Dec. 28, 2021: Post-Holiday Errands

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Waning Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Rainy and cold

I hope everyone had a good weekend, whether or not you celebrated the Christmas holiday.

Ours was fine: lots of food, lots of books. We were tired of the foods we “traditionally” had for the Christmas Eve and Day meals. So for the Eve, it was baked trout, baked whipped potatoes with garlic and herbs, and spinach. For the day, it was a baked ham with a bourbon-molasses glaze. We don’t eat much pork anymore, but my mom wanted ham, so we had ham. I didn’t feel all that great afterwards, but not too bad.

Desserts were stollen on the Eve and chocolate mousse on the day, and that was all good.

We usually do presents on the Eve and stockings on the Day, but, again, my mom wanted to wait and do everything on the Day, so that’s what we did.

We had fun opening things. Tessa “helped.” Charlotte and Willa watched from a safe distance. Tessa adored her present – a catnip toy that looks like a gift. Willa and Charlotte didn’t know what to do with theirs. Charlotte figured it out, and then she was afraid someone would take it away.

But most of the time, we just relaxed.

It was perfectly pleasant, although I felt somewhat unsettled the entire time.

I checked in regularly with my friend, who lost her mother the day before Christmas Eve. There’s not much I can do, except give her as much support as possible. The whole world shifts, and it’s painful.

Sunday, I puttered around with paperwork, and getting my email inbox down to 13 emails for a brief, shining moment, before it filled up again. Worked on the blog schedule for some of the blogs, and tried to get ahead a bit on ones that don’t rely on being in the moment. Researched some companies and added them to the list that will get the postcard mailing in January. Looked through some article guidelines. I’m going to work up some pitches this week, although I won’t send them until the New Year, because it’s just tacky and thoughtless to send them out now. Dived back into the research for “Dawn and Dorothy.” I made a loose writing plan for 2022, which, no doubt, will change by the middle of January. But at least it’s a starting point.

Yesterday, I went to the laundromat. I like to change up my days, but Monday is not a good day. People. The last thing I want, when the virus numbers are back up again, is to be around any more people than necessary. But things got done. Using the rolly cart to go to and from the laundromat is actually easier than getting everything down to the parking lot, loading the car, driving to the laundromat, unloading, reloading, driving back, etc. I just roll the cart down the block, around the corner, down another half a block, and there I am. Plus, yesterday, their parking lot was like a skating rink. I could have fallen and gotten seriously hurt. The sidewalk was clear. Much easier.

While the laundry was going, I make some organizing lists, and worked on a couple of arcs for The Big Project. There are three major arcs that have to be resolved, one after the other, along with less-important, longer-reaching arcs.

A little more than half the neighbors took down all their holiday decorations already. We are keeping ours up until Twelfth Night. That is a tradition we intend to uphold this year.

We never did put a tree topper on our tree this year. None of the ones we have looked right. And the tree looks just fine without it.

Read Colleen Cambridge’s MURDER AT MALLOWAN HALL and loved it. Stayed up until nearly midnight to finish it (I think that was on Christmas Day). I hope there are more books in the series.

Read a book by a new-to-me author set in Venice, which I liked. Put aside another book I started, also set in Venice, that just wasn’t doing it for me.

Started reading Sally Wright’s PURSUIT AND PERSUASION, which I’m enjoying.

Did my errands on foot. My mom won $20 on a scratch ticket that was in her stocking, so I picked that up for her. Mailed thank you notes and birthday cards at the post office. Dropped off and picked up a stack of books at the library. It was pretty cold and windy, but still nice to be out.

Got irritated by an author on Twitter. He’d followed; I followed back, as I do with most authors. The first interaction was a long DM from his “publicist” asking me to read and review the guy’s book. It was a long, involved DM, with a tone making it clear that they were doing me a favor. The publicist is male, of course, and the DM was typical male mansplaining privilege.

Okay, wrong on so many levels. First of all, I’m a paid reviewer by publications. Occasionally, when it doesn’t violate my contract terms, I can review a book for free, usually by someone I know, because the publications that pay me don’t want me reviewing books by people I know. But it is work. It relates to my job, and is therefore unpaid labor. I’m not doing unpaid labor for a stranger. Second of all, how often have I publicly stated that if the first interaction from a new mutual follow is a DM trying to sell me something (or ask for free labor), that’s an immediate unfollow, and often a block? Often. If the idiot can’t be bothered to do due diligence, not someone I want to deal with. Third, a professional publicist would know better than to pull crap like that, because that’s negative public relations, not positive public relations. So either the guy’s amateur hour (which means I hope the author’s not paying him much) or it’s the author using a pseudonym as a publicist. Fourth, if the social media is set to “automatically” DM any new mutual followers marketing crap, again, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, and are not someone with whom I wish to interact on any level. Fifth, don’t ask someone to work in the week between the holidays, unless you’ve done your due diligence and know that they are actually working. It’s rude.

That author also goes on my “do not ever buy or read” list.

Caught up with my lovely postman so I could give him his cookie packet. He was pleased.

Read a script, which I will write up today. Grabbed some more scripts to read the next few days. I’m reading less this week, but I need to read something.

Had Doordash deliver Chinese from my favorite place in Williamstown. One order for last night’s dinner (their duck lo mein is one of my favorites), and a chicken pad thai for today (yes, I know the latter is not Chinese food, but it’s from the same restaurant).

It’s clearing up, so I will bundle up, get the rolly cart, and head to CVS to pick up my mom’s prescription, and Big Y to pick up a few things I need for the meals over New Year’s. It’s a bit of a hike, but I’m trying to preserve the car until I can get it looked at.

Today, the “bonecrusher” square supposedly ends, and Jupiter goes into Pisces tonight/tomorrow, which, in my chart anyway, is supposed to be a good thing. I could use a break, and I’ll take any support from the stars I can get!  😉

On the agenda today, after I get back from the grocery store, is writing up the script coverage, and then finishing the short version of “Dawn and Dorothy.” I hope to get some work done on The Big Project, but we’ll see. This is supposed to be a week of more rest than work for me, but there’s always work to do.

Debating whether I’ll do a mini retreat over New Year’s. New Year’s is usually a tough few days for me, on multiple levels, and I want to be as gentle with myself as possible.

Jeremy Rock Smith is teaching an online cooking session on the 4th; seriously considering taking it, because I love learning from him. He’s a wonderful teacher, in addition to being a quality human being.

That’s the latest; off to the store now. Since I can only buy what I can carry, I have to stick to my list!

Hope your weekend was great, and that the days between the holidays are peaceful.

Wed. Dec. 15, 2021: A Quiet Day

image by DGlodawksa via pixabay.com

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and mild

Short post today (is that a sigh of relief I hear? 😊)

Yesterday was about getting the review out, invoicing (and I was immediately paid, and even got a year-end bonus, which was lovely). My next two books for review are being sent out.

Slogged through over 500 emails, after which I rewarded myself with a couple of chocolate chip cookies. But at least I’m almost caught up. I hate starting the New Year with a backlog of emails. And having 800 emails stack up over a weekend is a lot. Most of them were quickly dealt with; a few needed more attention and got it. I’m careful to keep up with email on regular business days, so it’s not like anything was falling by the wayside.

It was a lovely day, so I ran some errands on foot: mailed a bill, took some checks to the bank, walked up a delightful street I hadn’t yet explored on my way to the library. Yesterday was big leaf clean up here – they went down our block and got all the leaves (which meant leaf-blowing, but it’s not a daily thing here, so I can cope). The little street I explored was also having their leaf clean up. I asked the guy in the truck – the whole street gets together and hires the landscaper, who works his way down the street and removes all the leaves from the yards.

Unlike on Cape, where they leaf blow every day into a pile that the wind then redistributes, and I was the only one on my street who ever actually raked up all the leaves and took them to the dump. In other words, I did the leaf removal for the whole street. Unpaid. Because, eventually, all those leaves ended up in my yard.

Not my problem anymore.

Had a nice chat with the librarians, and a nice walk back.

Finished reading ONE LAST CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, which was a lovely holiday read. The author is a little overly fond of exclamation points in narrative, but the rest of it so lovely that I could deal with it. (I find too many exclamation points in narrative rather than dialogue exhausting. In dialogue, they indicate cadence and reveal character).

Got some work done on script coverage, but was too exhausted to really focus on it. The writer deserves my strong attention, not me pushing through when I’m overtired.

Instead, I put some of the decorations up on the big tree. The advice is to do it with the lights on, but the lights are rather bright, and it was difficult to see. Now, in daylight, I will have to move a few things as I add more! But every ornament has a story, and it’s fun to relive the memories each year when we decorate the tree.

Also figuring out where to put ornaments and things that don’t go on the tree. Since the space is new to us, and we’re trying to figure out how to make things work in it. Which is fun.

Didn’t feel like cooking, so ordered in from a restaurant I’d previously liked. This choice was not good – it was heavy and not prepared the way I liked it. Also, I’d been craving red meat, which I rarely eat any more, and that’s what I ordered. Since it wasn’t prepared properly, it was even more of a mistake than it would be otherwise. Shoe leather with sour cream, anyone?

It felt like a lump in my stomach, and I countered it with ginger tea, but overall, my body handled it better than expected, so there must have been something it needed.

Knowledge Unicorns was fun. Some of them had made Santa Lucia wreaths to wear on the 13th, with battery-operated candles instead of real ones, so that they didn’t set themselves or their houses on fire. They had fun adding that festival into their holiday calendar. Tomorrow is the Winter Holiday pageant they’ve written and rehearsed and will perform online together. I can’t wait.

Slept reasonably well; up once around 4 because I wasn’t feeling great, but the cats remained asleep, and didn’t get me up until a little after 6.

Did my first longhand writing session of the day and yoga and all that. Got some bread on the first rise. I will do some work on The Big Project, and then work on script coverages today.

This afternoon is the final Remote Chat. I’m sad the group is ending; it got me through a lot. I met great people there, and I hope I will stay in touch with at least some of them.

I might get some more baking done today, but I doubt it. oOther than the bread. I’ll have to get a lot done tomorrow and Friday instead. I’ll probably deliver to the neighbors over the weekend, and then to the libraries, post office, etc., on Monday. I have a bunch of admin stuff to finish up this week, too.

Back to the page.

Fri. Dec. 10, 2021: Just Let Me Hide in a Book Fort, Away From the Incompetents

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Friday, December 10, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

We had a dusting of snow overnight. Just enough to be pretty.

Meditation was great yesterday. Charlotte participated the whole time (because, you know, Zoom).

After breakfast, I grabbed the bags with the packages and cards, and with the library books, and headed out. The sidewalks weren’t too bad, heading out, just a few patches of ice, and I went slowly.

There was a line at the post office, but the packages were mailed out, and the postage was about half of what I expected it to be. So that was good. Everything is supposed to arrive in 3-5 days, which means about 10, but should still get there in time for the holidays. The cards all went on their way, too, so, hopefully, they will arrive at some point in the next 10 days.

Headed up to the library to drop off and pick up books. Came back along Church Street, which was quite slippery, at least up until I reached the college property.

Worked on the tracking sheets for The Big Project, because if I lose track of the details, I will be in big trouble.

Finished off the newsletter. There was some wonk in the contact list. It wasn’t a difficult fix, just took a bit of time. Let people know they can still sign up before it goes out – I’ll actually send it this morning. And then block into next year’s calendar when it needs to go out again, and start a document that I can add to as interesting tidbits come up to go into March’s.

As I get more comfortable with the templates in Sendinblue, I can probably bump up the visuals, eventually.

Freelance Chat was a lot of fun. It was about virtual assistants. I used a virtual assistant when I did more online courses, to handle the admin bits, but what I do now doesn’t really need one.

The VW dealer in Pittsfield downright refuses to give me an estimate for the repair, and won’t even estimate how many hours – at over $100/hour – the diagnostic will take. Um, diagnostics take about 35 minutes. My cousin helped design the fucker. So when they tell me it might take “several hours” to run the diagnostic and THEN they’ll be able to give me a detailed repair estimate, I know they’re out to screw me.

On top of that, after ignoring me for two weeks, I’m getting multiple emails every day from different people in the sales department, asking me what I’m looking for in my new car.

THAT’S NOT WHAT THIS ISSUE IS ABOUT. ARE YOU INCAPABLE OF BASIC READING COMPREHENSION? AND YES, I AM SCREAMING.

Seriously, I’ve driven Volkswagens all my life, my cousins was in R & D for years, and I have never dealt with such a bunch of incompetent headcases. Not only do I doubt they’ll fix the car, I am convinced they will screw me as badly as possible through the whole process.

Not a happy camper.

Wrote up three coverages. Read a short story that’s under consideration for adaptation, and two more scripts, all of which I will write up today. And have to get out a review for a book which definitely did not work for me.

Knowledge Unicorns went well, although everyone’s looking forward to the winter holiday break.

Reading Erin Sterling’s THE EX HEX, which is a lot of fun, although there are some logistical glitches that bother me. Still, the writing is energetic, the pacing is good, the premise is fun, and the characters engaging.

It’s supposed to warm up into the 60s by tomorrow. My body does not enjoy the fluctuating weather. The forsythia are already blooming back on Cape Cod, which means it will be a wonky spring down there.

Have a good weekend, my friends. Catch you on the other side.

Thurs. Dec. 9, 2021: Trying To Cope Without the Car

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Neptune Retrograde

Snowy and cold

I talk about snow and some of the decorating over on today’s Gratitude and Growth post.

I finally got a response from the VW dealer in Pittsfield. The earliest they can see me is next week, and they still haven’t given me the estimate I requested. Only the estimate for a diagnostic. So I will be in touch with them again.

It will mean, by the time it’s fixed, I’ve been without a car for nearly a month, in an area that’s not great on public transportation. This is not okay.

I don’t get the garages who say they “can’t” fix this issue. I remember voting on a bill – which passed – several years ago that gave all garages access to dealer information to fix any issue.

Anyway, more stress on that level.

After going back and forth with the dealer to get an appointment and try to get an estimate (there will be another email going out from me today), I decided to go ahead and get the groceries delivered. Stop & Shop sends us a circular every Wednesday, touting their delivery service in this region. So I had to go on the site, and get an account set up, which took way more steps than it should, especially since I’ve had a Stop & Shop card for years.  They had my zip code for the setup, everything seemed fine. I went through the onerous searching for the items on my list, putting them in my card, or when they were sold out, trying to find something else I could use (I need to do my holiday baking this weekend). Went through all the steps for the delivery – only to have them say they don’t deliver to my zip code. Which makes no sense, since they send me a weekly flyer to my address IN MY ZIP CODE encouraging me to try their delivery service. And the store is less than 3 miles away IN MY ZIP CODE.

They could have told me this when I set up the damn delivery account.

Totally ridiculous. And, of course, there’s no customer service email, because Stop & Shop actually providing customer service is way too out of the ballpark.

Only curbside pickup.

If I had a car I could drive to the curb, I’d go in the damn store and get the groceries myself!

Big Y (which is closer) doesn’t deliver, although they’re connected with Instacart, and, after Instacart’s assurance they could deliver in an hour, they can’t deliver to this address. The garbled message made no sense.

Hey, assholes, how about this: Don’t advertise delivery service when it doesn’t exist? How about not lying to your customers?

After that whole debacle, I wrapped and packed the packages that need to be mailed, and packed everything in a bag I can carry down to the post office tomorrow, along with the cards.

After lunch, I participated in Remote Chat, bittersweet, since it’s the second-to-last one. These colleagues helped get me through the pandemic. I will miss them.

Once Remote Chat was finished, I did some more work on the newsletter, then wrapped up and went down the street to Cinnamon Girl Apothecary, where I found the last couple of gifts I have to mail out. Brought them home, wrapped them, packed them, added them to the Post Office bag.

We received a lovely package from friends in Kentucky, of cheeses and spreads and yummy things we will enjoy.

Read three scripts, which I will write up today, once I get back from the post office and the library. I’m looking forward to this morning’s meditation session; goodness knows I need it. Although my extended yoga practice this morning and early morning meditation session went well.

Off to do some work on The Big Project. Hope I can get in some work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY later, too. I have coverage to write up, and more scripts to read/write up, and a book to finish and review. Plus, I’d like to finish/test the newsletter draft and to get the ads up for the holiday shorts.

I think I’m going to break down my grocery list into two or three smaller chunks. I’ll walk to Big Y, dragging my upright cart, and buy what I can carry, and spread the shopping out over a few days.

Because the baking has to get done.

It already looks like I can’t make stollen this year, because I can’t get the mixed fruit peel I need. That’s a disappointment.  But I’d started stockpiling non-perishables in late October/early November, so I don’t have that much to still buy.

Fingers crossed.

Keep a good thought that the car repair is actually within my budget.

Peace, friends.

Fri. Dec. 3, 2021: And the Holiday Break is Blown

image courtesy of mohamed hassan via pixabay.com

Friday, December 3, 2021

Dark moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and chilly

Yesterday was a mishmash of a day. Meditation was great, and Charlotte sat with me.

After breakfast, I got through a bunch of email, and then wrote up my script coverage and sent it off. It took longer than I thought.

Headed off to the post office and the library. The librarian who checked me out was planning to get the Moderna booster after two Pfizers, and thought she’d be able to work tomorrow and Saturday. I wished her well, although I seriously doubt she’ll be able so to do.

Headed to Stop & Shop to see if they have the candied fruit peels I need for the stollen. No luck.

When I got back to the car, I had trouble starting it, and when I finally did, the EPC light was on, which scared the heck out of me. I didn’t dare go to Wild Oats or to the Chinese restaurant in Williamstown, where I planned to get our lunch.

I headed back home instead, worried I wouldn’t make it. Got the car into the lot, did a little research on EPC, which seems like a manageable repair, if I can find someone to do it. I really don’t want to take it to the VW dealer in Pittsfield, because I’m afraid they’ll do what the dealer on Cape did, overcharging and always trying to force more than necessary repairs. But the mechanic I used here can’t do it. And Pittsfield didn’t respond. So I don’t know what to do.

I can’t afford a huge repair. And even if it’s not that huge a repair, there goes any hope of taking any time off during the holidays. Which just sends me into all kinds of depression and despair because I am burned out. But I have to get it fixed before I get the registration switched over and get the car inspected by the end of the year.

So today will be about finding a decent, reliable mechanic who can do the job. I’m going to contact the head of the regional networking group (that replaced the chamber of commerce) to see if he can recommend someone.

Because so many of the listed “mechanics” around here don’t even have a basic website, and if a “business” doesn’t have a website by 2021, I’m not trusting that it’s legitimate.

Why couldn’t this have happened in January, for goodness’ sake!

In a fit of pique, I ordered from a Chinese place not far away and had it delivered by Door Dash. It wasn’t expensive, I wanted Chinese food damn it, and so I stuck to the plan. Plus, it was fun watching the car come on the map.

And, on a happier note, the package Amazon misdelivered wasn’t in Pittsfield, it was to a house down the street. They were away for the holiday and just found it. They asked The Lovely Postman if he would walk it down the street to me, and he did, apologizing profusely that he hadn’t been around last week to fix the problem. I told him no worries; I was just glad to have it. Especially since Amazon had no interest in either tracking it down or giving me a refund. Because I sure as hell wasn’t going to trust them to replace it.

The package was Deborah Blake’s latest release, DOGGONE DEADLY, her second Catskills Pet Rescue mystery, and, in a further fit of pique, when I couldn’t get answers from anyone, I sat down and read it. It was a good stress reliever. And one of the parents stepped up to take last night’s Knowledge Unicorns, because I still wasn’t up for it.

Slept like the dead, and dreamed that a friend of mine appeared in the chorus of a Broadway production of WEST SIDE STORY at the Belasco Theatre, in a gorgeous green and gold, fifties-inspired dress. We’ll ignore the fact that she’s as much of a backstage person as I am, and wouldn’t go onstage. The dream is obviously tied to the death of Sondheim, and the fact that I worked on his FOLLIES revival at the Belasco, so my memories of working with him are tied to that theatre.

One positive side effect of the Pfizer booster is I’m sleeping through the nights.

Charlotte woke me up when she was chasing her tail on the bed. She caught it, bit it, and cried when it hurt. Poor thing. She’s usually smart, except when it comes to catching her tail.

Tessa wasn’t too bad this morning.

I’m working on the notes for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY (I plan to start it on Monday), and then I have a script to read/cover, before dealing with email and finding a reliable mechanic. I won’t be able to get the car fixed until at least Monday, which means I can’t get any of the errands I planned to do this weekend (like grocery shopping) done efficiently. If I need to, I can take my upright trolley and walk to Big Y, do a fairly light shopping, and roll it back. Don’t say “order online and get it delivered.” They won’t get it right and will do unacceptable substitutions.

Hopefully, I can get more work done on the outline for The Big Project later, because I’d like to start it tomorrow. I also have to do the domestic holiday cards, and get the packages wrapped. There are still a couple of gifts I have to get, so I better hurry up and get them from places in walking distance soon, so I can mail everything off next week.  I also have to do more decorating. I’d hoped to get the tree up this weekend, but who knows. I also have to figure out how to tie my website to MooSend for the newsletter signup, finish the newsletter, and get the promotions done for the holiday shorts. Can’t pay the for the ads I hoped to run until I know how much the car repair bill is.

And worry about the car repair bill.

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

Wed. Nov. 24, 2021: Holiday Meal Prep

image courtesy of Sarah Chai via pexels.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

After yesterday’s quota on CAST IRON MURDER was met, I headed for the post office to mail the two packages (one overseas, one domestic that I wanted to arrive during Chanukah). The overseas rate has gone way up, but it’s the only package, so I’m not worried. The domestic package rate has gone up somewhat, but along what I expected.

Then, off to the library, to drop off and pick up books. To Big Y, for a few last-minute items.

Home, unpacked, and worked on script coverage. I was done about midafternoon. I have one more to read/write up before the holiday, but I was just too tired. Each script deserves my ability to concentrate and respond at top capability.

Leftovers for dinner. I’m trying to clean out the fridge to make room for turkey leftovers!

Pondering how I want to change things for next year, as far as work schedule, the way the workload is spread out, etc. I’m on the right track; I need to make a few decisions about where to put my focus and energy. I need to figure out the roster of projects I need/want to get done, and how to juggle them so I don’t burn out and can truly enjoy each of them.

I want to go back to Sundays (or at least one day a week) being disconnected from social media, email, etc. I want to use that day for yoga, meditation, projects I WANT to do, rather than things I feel I HAVE to get done before the next week starts. I want to shift some of my focus, copywriting-wise in the next few months, with a bigger emphasis on certain areas, while pulling back in others. I like the flexibility I have now, and I like taking what Americans consider a long-ish break in the middle of the day, even if it means working later at night.

Went to bed early. Tessa woke me up at 4:10. I moved to the bed in the sewing room, and she settled down, happy. Then Willa and Charlotte came to check in, and I gave up and got up.

Headed for the laundromat early, and got everything done in about an hour and a half. I was the only one there. Sometimes it’s creepy, but today, it wasn’t.

I worked on the outline for the second HEARTHSTONE book (the series started with CAST IRON MURDER). I’m calling that book THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, at least for the moment. Outlining is something I can do at the laundromat, because the hum of the machines gives the writing an underlying beat, and I can still be aware of what’s going on around me. If I’m deep in scene work, I’m not alert enough to my surroundings.

I realized I have to seed a couple of things in CAST IRON MURDER for it to make sense in KRINGLE CALAMTIY, so when I go back in a couple of months to revise CIM, I’ll seed them in. Unless I put them in as inserts in this draft. I forgot to write a scene in CIM that’s kind of important to set something up for the end of the book, so I’ll go back and do that this weekend. When I go back and revise, I have to clean up some timeline stuff; it’s too vague the way it is right now.

Made some notes on the project with which I’ve been playing. It’s still mostly world-building and character relationship notes, although I’m starting to feel more than see how the first three major arcs will go.

When I came back, after breakfast, I wrote 2951 words on CAST IRON MURDER. I realized about two pages of this chapter needed to be the end of the previous chapter, not the opening of this one, so I moved them back into that chapter, and then this chapter made more sense. I need to smooth out a bit of logic, which I can do once I’ve added the insert scenes.

One more chapter (and insert scenes) and I’m done with this draft.

Since it’s not a contracted, deadlined project, I can then put it aside to rest and marinate for two months, before I start working on revisions.

And get back to my contracted, deadlined projects.

I hope to do the revision of “A Rare Medium” early next week, and get that in before deadline. I’m hoping to start the Marie Corelli play this weekend.

I got through about 500 emails this morning. I’m trying to get (and keep) the email situation under control.

I’m a little concerned, because the COVID numbers are going up again here, and Pittsfield is back in the red zone. Since we were shopping in Pittsfield last weekend, I’m monitoring us.

I have one more script to cover, and I’m done for the holidays. I’m debating reading another couple of scripts Saturday/Sunday, in case the COVID booster knocks me out Monday/Tuesday. I’ll see how I feel on the weekend. My brain needs the break.

I’ve got some baking to do this afternoon – cheddar and apple turnovers, an apple/ginger cake, and possibly the chocolate walnut butter bread. Or I might do the bread over the weekend.

Tomorrow morning, I make the stuffing and put the turkey in the oven. I’m serving it with traditional mashed potatoes and homemade turkey giblet gravy, peas, and I’m doing my carrot-parsnip dish in mushroom sauce. I have a bottle of local hard cider from Berkshire Cider Project that I bought specifically for the meal.

Friday, we start the winter holiday decorating, and work on the domestic cards. Sunday is already the First of Advent and the beginning of Chanukah. At the very least, I need to get the Advent table up.

Yes, there will be photos, especially since this is the first time we’re decorating this space, and it will be very different from the past ten years in the Cape house!

Monday, I get my COVID booster in the morning, mixing Pfizer with my previous Moderna shots. Hopefully, I won’t have strong side effects. My mom had 3 Pfizers, with barely any side effects, except sore arm and fatigue. My first two Moderna shots kicked my ass.

Have a lovely weekend, my friends. Enjoy the holiday. Rest, eat, enjoy.

Fri. Nov. 19, 2021: Road Trip!

image courtesy of Marta Wave via pexels.com

Friday, November 19, 2021

Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Sorry this is posted so late, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Yesterday was a lot of fun. After meditation and my daily word quota, we got in the car and headed down to Great Barrington. It’s a town I’ve always enjoyed, even before I moved to the area.

The weather was sunny and gorgeous, and it went all the way into the sixties, temperature-wise, so that was fun. Grab the beautiful weather whenever possible, right?

We stopped at a thrift shop, where I found a beautiful teapot and matching plate, with peacocks on them. Lovely. The pattern is just gorgeous. I got a lovely Santa & reindeer music box, another wooden Santa for the collection, a small festive tray, and a small ceramic bowl that looks like a partner to the one I made in pottery class years ago.

We went to the BookLoft, where I found some cool, fun gifts. (I mean, that was the purpose of the trip, our holiday gift shopping). We also stopped at an Asian market, where I was excited to get wonton wrappers and spring roll wrappers. Finally, a place where I can get the ingredients for my Asian recipes. The woman at the store was really nice, too, and we had a lively conversation about making dumplings.

We stopped in Stockbridge, on the way back. I wanted to show my mom the Red Lion Inn, because it’s so famous. I love some of their furnishings. The gift shop and the General Store down the street didn’t have what we were looking for, unfortunately, nor did the stores we hit up in Lee and Lenox.

We stopped at a couple of places in Pittsfield, but mostly didn’t find what we were looking for, although I did get the notebooks for my 2022 handwritten journal. Stopped for a few groceries, too, on the way home.

Walked out of two of the stores that had mask policies posted for staff and customers, but the staff had their masks down around their chins. Nope. Not spending my money there. If you’re not following protocols, especially with lots of customers around.

Once home, we hauled our stuff up the stairs, and then I ordered a pizza from the small, independent place that’s a few blocks down the street on Ashland. It was a pain in the butt to get set up at Allhungry, but the pizza arrived faster than projected, and it was delicious. Will definitely order from them again. And it was big enough to have leftovers. Leftover pizza is always a good thing.

I’d gotten a good chunk of work done in the morning, before meditation and after my word quota, so I only had about four hours’ worth of work to do when I got back to it around 5 PM.

But I was definitely tired when I fell into bed.

The lunar eclipse wacky energy was all over the place.

Pet peeve: Pagan men who jump on a social media thread that has nothing to do with them and mansplain. Even worse than the usual irritating white boy bros who do it. Pagan men should know better! Considered retorting or blocking or whatever, but it wasn’t worth the energy.  Just ignored it. Always good to know who to avoid, though.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. We’re taking all of next week off, beause, as they said, who’s going to be serious about homework a coupla days before Thanksgiving? One of the parents is stepping in to run the session on the 30th, since I have my COVID booster on the 29th. I’ll be glad to get it; the numbers in this state are back up to where they were in February.

The alarm this morning got me up at 5. I tried to roll over for a few more minutes, but Charlotte and Tessa were having none of it. Got up, fed everybody, did my yoga, got in about 1400 words on CAST IRON MURDER before I had to get ready to leave the house for the coffee meetup.

Of course, the directions from Google Maps had nothing to do with the actual streets, so I had to stop at a Cumberland Farms, where they were nice enough to help me figure out how to get there from here.

“There” is Beaver Mills, one of the old industrial mill buildings that’s in the process of conversion, and the meetup was at The Studio at Beaver Mill, which used to be Frog Lotus Yoga Studio (and it makes me sad that they closed, because I’d hoped to start taking class with them when it was safe). The Studio is now a rental space for rehearsals, performances, events, etc.

The guy who owns and runs it is the founder of Rhythm Monster, which is an organization devoted to the cultures of drumming through drumming.

And I think Rhythm Monster might be one of the missing pieces for a big, international, long-term project that I’m trying to put together again, now that enough people are getting vaccinated to make it viable.

So I need to get in touch with my primary collaborator about that, and I also need to sit and do some serious thinking about the focus of the project in the next few weeks.

Anyway, I had a great time at the meeting, and my fellow attendees were all interesting, too: from the organization, from the Historical Society, a city councilor, a critic, and someone from the college, who wants to form closer relationships with businesses in the city.

The next meeting is in December, in Great Barrington. If the weather holds, I want to go.

Once I left the Mill, I drove over to Williamstown to Wild Oats, because I had to get the essentials (eggs, wine, coffee). Then, I hit up the post office to mail my overseas cards and get some more overseas stamps, and catch up on What is Happening. The temperature was dropping rapidly as I made my way around town doing my errands, and I wondered if it would snow.

After the post office, it was up to the library, to drop off/pick up books and catch up with the librarians.

Got home, and back to the page, to finish my work on CAST IRON MURDER for the day. 2739 words, bringing me over the 47K mark. And I still have two pages of outline notes, so I think I’m okay.

I’ve got some email to get through, then a break on the acupressure mat, then it’s back to work. I have a feeling I won’t have an early finish today. I do plan to work through the weekend, with Thanksgiving coming up next week, and then my booster. So I’ll push this weekend, even though I’m tired (and even though I have to at least start writing the domestic holiday cards).

We do have to do some more gift-hunting this weekend, and I also have to pick up the turkey, so there’s a bunch of stuff to juggle.

But I have to build in some time to percolate on this project.

It’s so exciting to be around people of all disciplines who are doing things!

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

Tues. Nov. 16, 2021: Juggling Manuscripts

image courtesy of Mochammad Algi vis Pexels.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I enjoyed the weekend, which is a good thing.

Friday was a bit of a slog. It started absolutely bucketing down rain, monsooning harder than it ever has since we lived here. I guess I should be grateful it wasn’t snow. But there was no way in hell I was going to go out in that.

Got through a bunch of emails, sent out some LOIs. Did my script coverage. Both read and wrote up the last script of the week (I was going to read Friday, write Saturday, but decided I needed a whole day off). So I worked until 8:30 at night, but at least I got it all cleared off my desk.

I was exhausted, and fell into bed early.

Charlotte started nuzzling me a little after 5 AM on Saturday, and then Tessa began singing the song of her people, so I got up to feed them.

2783 words on CAST IRON MURDER, and they went kind of well.

It was a lovely autumn day, so I grabbed the letters for the post office and the books that had to go back to the library, and headed out. As safe as I feel around here, most of the time, I’m still aware that it’s a city, and I still keep the awareness high of everything going on around me, and keep up with what I learned to survive living in NYC.

Such as: always carry a small compact with a mirror with you. You can “check your makeup” when you’re really checking to see who’s behind you. In a pinch, you can smash the mirror and use the shards as weapons (thereby putting the seven years’ bad luck of a smashed mirror onto your attacker, not keeping it).

Fortunately, I have yet to use that here, but I’m ready, if necessary.

I also feel often safer here than on Cape, because I’m not being harassed by that asshat Trump supporter with the tricked-up pickup and the American flags trying to run me off the road because I’m a woman driving on my own in a blue car, and must therefore be a femi-Nazi libtard and deserve to be driven into a ditch. Or a telephone pole. Nope. Don’t miss him at all.

Anyway, dropped off the mail at the post office. The clerks with whom I usually exchange information aren’t working on Saturdays, so I left without finding out the latest happenings.

Up the street to the library, to drop off and pick up books. One of the librarians suggested a book she really liked, so I added it to the stack, and got some books off the Free Discard table.

When I got home, it was so lovely that we headed to the car and drove up to Windsor Lake, to enjoy being outside while we still can. Explored some more of the lake. It’s a small lake, gouged into the side of a mountain in a residential area, but it’s lovely. I look forward to spending as much time as possible there.

By the time we got back, the clouds were moving in, and soon, it started raining again. So I’m glad we had the time outside.

Read for fun all afternoon. Finished one book and read another which had been recommended to me. They didn’t work for me, although the plotting is clever and well-thought out. I’m not fond of hapless protagonists, unless they grow and change, and this one didn’t, over the course of the two books I read. Also, “witch” was used as a derogatory more than once, by characters I’m supposed to like, without consequences, and that’s a non-negotiable line for me. Don’t pretend you’re an inclusive author when you refer to other women and an entire belief system in that derogatory way. You’re a fucking hypocrite. Any author publishing after 2000 can’t use the excuse that it’s a phrase “everybody uses.” No, hon, it’s a phrase those supporting white privilege status quo use. If a writer uses it in a book published after 2000, a line goes through the name, they are off my list. Writers can and should write whatever they want. But when they personally spit in my face, they can’t expect me to support their books, either by buying them or by praising them. There was a lot of maintaining the status quo white privilege in both books, which turned me off. When an author tries to create a protagonist that does that, while still pretending the protagonist is tolerant and accepting, it rarely works. While a lot of that comes from pressure from traditional publishers, editors, and agents, it’s rarely written with enough skill to work.

Done with that author.

As soon as Charlotte and I started drifting off to sleep on Saturday night, Tessa started wailing. I got up, sat with her while she had a snack, and we had a little chat about the human need to sleep through the night.

She started in again, for a few minutes around 5 on Sunday morning, but I didn’t get up until about six.

There was a brilliantly red sky for the sunrise, which made me figure we were in for some weather.

Baked biscuits in the morning. The American kind, not the British kind.

Wrote 2643 words on CAST IRON MURDER. Just over 100 were an insert on yesterday’s chapter; I realized I hadn’t planted the first part of a clue, so I had to go back and do that, or an upcoming scene won’t make sense.

In the outline for the second book in the series I’ve been working on, I originally planned to kill off the husband of this book’s murder victim, because he’s annoying. However, as I’ve been writing CAST IRON MURDER, he’s evolving into an interesting enough character, and I’ve invested enough in his development, that I’m thinking he might be fun to keep around as a character one can love to hate, who sometimes has redeemable moments. So now I have to come up with a new victim for the second book, and decide if that victim was the intended victim, or if the victim was killed by accident, because the murderer though it was this other character. For a while, I thought it would be the wrong person who initially got killed, and then the right person (because I can’t have a single body drop in the next book, I need at least two), but I’m rethinking the whole plot.

Something to ponder the next time I go to the laundromat and work on the outline.

If it makes more sense to kill this guy off, even though I’ve invested in him, that’s what I’ll do. But if it makes an interesting story to keep him around for a few more books before I kill him off, maybe I’ll do that.

I like having options.

I’m on page nine of my twelve-page outline for CAST IRON MURDER, and worried I’m running out of plot while only being a bit over a third of the way through my projected word count. Fortunately, the sequence in which my characters are currently engaged will take at least two, possibly three chapters.

CAST IRON MURDER definitely has passages that make it a “not quite cozy” rather than a cozy, because the book deals with race, and has references to sexuality and sexual choices in it, although I expect most of the sex will happen behind closed doors, once the protagonist falls for someone.

I find the terms “clean cozy” and “clean romance” rather vomit-inducing, because it suggests that all sex is somehow “dirty” and “unclean” and I disagree with that delineation. People can have all the different kinds of fun they want in their sex lives, and if they chose to call it “dirty” or “nasty” or whatever, that’s up to them. But to define books as “clean” meaning the characters are chaste and sexless not by choice but by publisher or reader demand is way too evangelical and censored for my taste. Also, I find a lot of those books unbelievable, because if people are in a healthy, romantic relationship, it often involves a healthy sex life, and to pretend that part of their lives doesn’t exist is unhealthy. There are plenty of stories where the tone makes more sense for the details of the sex lives not to be portrayed, but to deny the characters even have sex lives, unless a character has chosen celibacy or is ace (and let’s face it, dealing honestly with an ace character would make the readers who like to bully and  censor cozies take up arms, too) is a turnoff for me. Some writers can pull it off with great skill, but there are plenty of authors who, in my opinion, don’t. I’m also sick of militant reader groups trying to bully authors. Read whatever you want. Don’t bully authors into writing the way you want them to write. You can support or not support an author by where you place your money. But telling them how to write the books is not okay. You want to read a certain kind of book and can’t find it? Write it your damn self. Learn what it takes to actually write a book, instead of bullying those who already do.

So I keep trying different authors, and I keep crossing authors off my future TBR list when what they do does not work for me. And sometimes, an author’s books will work for multiple books until, suddenly, it takes a turn, and it doesn’t anymore.

Writers have the right to write whatever they want (or whatever they choose to write, because they’re being paid appropriately). I have the right not to read it. As anyone who finds my books and stories don’t work for them has the right not to read mine.

That doesn’t mean I’ll publicly trash them, unless they start a public fight with me. But I’ll stop reading them, or buying their books or recommending them in the various forms in which I recommend books.

At one point on Sunday afternoon, I was lying on the couch, with Tessa purring beside me. Charlotte jumped into my lap. For a minute, they considered fighting, but then they decided not to. Charlotte settled on my lap, Tessa stayed beside me. I figured 30 seconds to a minute of peace, but we stayed there nearly an hour, until Tessa decided she wanted her dinner. Progress.

Up early Monday, thanks to Tessa, but got a lot done. We were supposed to have snow flurries, so I planned not to leave the house. Didn’t see any; if they were around, they didn’t stick.

Wrote 2770 words on CAST IRON MURDER, and even liked a decent percentage of them.

Had to reformat some of my comic script samples, because somehow, they managed to wonk, in both .doc and PDF formats, and I needed to send those samples to a potential client. So that took up more time than I wanted.

Once those were fixed and out the door, I turned my attention back to “A Rare Medium. I had just one more scene to write on it, and it was taking some interesting turns.

I stopped long enough to make roasted parsnip and apple soup. It’s a Kripalu recipe, by Chef Jeremy Rock Smith. I had a difference of opinion with the immersion blender, and the blender won, leaving the kitchen a mess, so I didn’t take any photographs, but the soup tastes good.

After lunch, I went back to work on the script for a bit, took a quick break on the acupressure mat, and then got back to work. I finished the draft just after 4. Later than I’d hoped, but it felt so good to get it done. Now, it can sit for a week or two before I do revisions, and I’ll still get it in by deadline.

Finished the leftover meatloaf for dinner.

I took a basic astrology class from The Sisters Enchanted in the evening. I needed to brush up on basics, and see where I had gone off track in the layering of the houses with the birth chart with the planets, and then, of course, the transits/retrogrades go over the top. They didn’t add in the transits, but the rest was a good basic refresher of those first three layers.

I remember when I had a professional astrologer read my chart in NYC years ago, a one-hour session took three hours, because she found my chart so complex and interesting.

Another project for winter: untangling my birth chart for a better understanding.

Of course, the astrology books are in storage, and I can’t get at them until spring.

Anyway, TSE has a four-month astrology program that would be interesting, but it’s out of my budget right now. Not that I think they should lower their prices; they’re running a business, deserve to be paid, and charge a fair price. But that doesn’t keep it from being out of my budget at the moment. Which is fine, when the time is right, I’ll take it.

Why does astrology matter? Isn’t it just woo-woo b.s.? It’s often used that way. But it’s information that can help see patterns and make smarter choices. Too many people use astrology as an excuse for their bad behavior. Their chart says X, Y, Z, so they’re not responsible for their behavior, which is a load of crap. Others use it as a reason not to do anything, not to make decisions, because it’s all “fixed” which is also crap.

What it does is give information as to tendencies in behavior and reactive patterns, based on influences and stresses in the chart. If I keep having a response to a set of stressors (which are also affected by environmental and nurturance factors), I can look at my chart and see influences for those stressors. Then, when I feel them, I can stop, take a breath, realize that this is a reactive pattern that does not serve me, and make a smarter choice in my behavior and responses. And, in areas that support positive explorations and choices, I can lean into the support of those influences.

It’s information, to be used or ignored.

There’s also a lot of math involved, which makes me cringe, but hey, the stars and planets have a lot to do with math and science.

I wanted to bask in the afterglow of class, but because I’d spent so much time on the book and the play, I still had script coverage to write up. Got that done. I was about to sign off for the night when I got in an irritating email about something that I thought had been resolved.

Instead of reacting angrily in the moment, I closed out for the night. I will prepare a professional, considered response today and send it during business hours.

Because boundaries, and working to break negative patterns.

Had trouble falling asleep last night, even though tired, and then dreamed of hotels. I’m pretty sure this hotel complex has been in previous dreams. Whatever.

Up at 5, woke up on my own, just before Tessa began singing her morning opera scales.

2378 words on CAST IRON MURDER, and I even like some of them.

I’m dashing out to the grocery store soon, because it looks like we’re getting in some weather, and I want to be done before it hits. I’m taking a cooking class online tonight, via NYU Alumni, and I need to get the ingredients.

More script coverage when I get back, email, LOIs, and then on to the next play.

Peace, friends, and catch you tomorrow.

Thurs. Nov. 11, 2021: Getting over a Grumpy Pants Day

Image courtesy of Sandy Millar via Unsplash.com (not one of my cats)

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Veterans’ Day

Yesterday was a Day of Grumpy Pants for me. There’s a much happier post this morning over on Gratitude and Growth, celebrating what’s lovely around here.

Once I got the Nano words done, I cleaned out about 300 emails (still have a lot to do). But at least that was progress.

There’s a new post over on Ink-Dipped Advice, because I have just HAD it with these companies and organizations who shout how great their work culture is, and then expect/demand unpaid labor as part of the interview process or as a condition of interview. The fact that LinkedIn has jumped on that bandwagon is even more enraging.

Yet another reason to despise LinkedIn.

Went to the library to drop off/pick up books. The librarian on duty apologized that books keep coming in as soon as I walk out the door. I reassured her that she has no control over what time the delivery van gets there, and I’m right up the street, so it’s not a big deal for me to head to the library a few times a week. In fact, I enjoy it.

From the library, I went to CVS to see what was going on about my mother’s insurance/medication. I’d gotten conflicting emails the day before on what was going on.  While I had to stand in multiple lines for well over an hour to sort it out, everything is sorted, and, honoring my mom’s payment of her deductible, in spite of Tufts being asshats, the co-pay was zero, for all three medications. We’ll have to start again in January, with the next deductible co-pays, but I’ll take it for now.

I didn’t really mind standing in the various lines for so long, because the pharmacists were actually listening and helping the customers. And they were giving out flu shots in the moment. Anyone checking out was offered a flu shot, right then and there.

What a difference from the CVS in Centerville, where any question was met with, “No, we can’t do that” before one even finished asking (unless one paid cash under the table), and any time a shot was scheduled, they’d make excuses not to do it, or, if they did it, act like it was the biggest inconvenience they could imagine and it ruined their whole day.

So, yeah, I’ll stand in the lines and not get impatient, because these pharmacists are actually helping people.

But I missed Remote Chat, which yes, I missed. I’m fond of that group.

Did some reading for fun after lunch, and then buckled down and wrote up my script coverages. Paused to make turkey meatloaf and get that into the over. After dinner, I read two more scripts, which I hope to write up this morning; if the weather holds, I’d like to spend some time at the lake this afternoon.

Charlotte is so happy playing and sleeping in the Chewy box that I don’t have the heart to break it down and put it away yet.

Like we don’t have top quality cat beds in every room, as well as the cats allowed on couches, chairs, beds. And that big ass kitty condo.

But, if it makes Charlotte happy . . .

They let me sleep until 5:35 this morning, which was a gift.

Got 2442 words written on CAST IRON MURDER. Hard to get into it today, but once I was past the 600-word mark, it got easier. I passed 26K in the 50K for the month, so I’m on track. I’m a little over a third of the word count I think the full book will have. Getting there, as long as I can keep it up.

Meditation group online was great this morning. Charlotte spent the first half on my lap (because, hey, ZOOM, and she loves the sound of the teacher’s voice). The second half, she spent on her favorite table spot next to my desk, looking out of the window at the falling leaves. Which, since the teacher talked about trees and leaves today, was kind of funny.

Planning to write up the script coverages, and then see if I can get a little more work done before lunch, to clear some more off my desk. If the weather holds, I want to go to the lake. If it turns, I’ll start the books for review, before reading today’s script quota.

Most things are closed and quiet for Veterans’ Day. I will do my Ceremony of Thanks tonight, after Knowledge Unicorns.

And on we go.