Tues. June 21, 2022: Creativity in Multiple Directions

image courtesy of Chris Martin via pixabay.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)

Cloudy and pleasant

Friday turned out to be an up and down workday. I spent some time working the class I’m teaching in August, preparing both the Topic Workbook for it and the PowerPoint. Some of my examples have not aged well over the past couple of years, so I’m switching them out.

I hopped onto Pages on Stages to do some updates, and it was an absolute mess. The posts page had somehow detached from News & Updates. Most of the time, I got the white screen of death when I tried to get on or switch pages.

I was lucky to land some excellent techs at A2Hosting, and together, we spent a couple of hours sorting it out. I am very grateful, and told them directly, and on social media. Hey, if I’m going to moan on social media when a company is awful, I have the obligation to praise when a company comes through.

I need to put up a media room page on that site eventually, with links to productions.

I did a library run to drop off/pick up books. It started raining when I left (on foot). I almost turned back, but it stopped within two minutes, so I continued.

Turned around a script in the afternoon. My Llewellyn contract came through, so I’m good to go on that article after 4th of July weekend.

I’m playing with a very dark idea for an anthology call edited by a friend. I don’t know if I can pull it off within word count by deadline, but I will try.

Reading an article in THE NEW YORKER about a new production of HAMLET spawned an idea for a new project that mashes up two genres that seem weird, but just might work. I have to finish what I’m working on first, though, before I hie off on anything else. I made some notes, to capture characters and energy, and now that project has to wait its turn.

Tessa started howling at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday. I moved to the sewing room, but she was not mollified. We no longer leave her food down at night for her 2 AM snack, because the others are eating it, and Willa is putting on too much weight. However, Madame Tessa Is Not Amused. She wants her 2 AM snack.

Got the proof done on “Personal Revolution”, fixed a couple of formatting things, and it is out. The re-release happens June 28. Once I get links and stuff, there will be a push for it.

Now, I have to decide what’s the next Digital Delight to come off Smashwords and switch over to D2D. Probably “Severance.” I want a new cover for that, too. Or maybe I’ll take down “Plot Bunnies” and put it up with the next Twinkle Tavern piece that hasn’t yet released, “Labor Intensive.”

Headed to the Farmers’ Market. I didn’t need much, but made the rounds to chat with the vendors; ran into people I knew from other spaces, such as the library, and we were chatting as to how it’s often hard to place people out of context. You know that you know them from somewhere. . .

Quick grocery shop from the store. Didn’t need much. Home, put it all away, lugged 66 pounds of cat litter up the stairs (Chewy delivery).

Then, I spent the rest of the day trying to put together the kitchen island cart I ordered. I wasn’t even close to finishing after 6 hours (it’s supposed to take 2 people 70 minutes). The directions were incomplete, so I had to hunt for another set online. The drawings aren’t detailed enough with some of the pieces, so then I had to find various videos of similar pieces to figure out the details, so I wouldn’t put something on incorrectly and have to take it apart again.  And the design is so poor that, by following the directions, I had no room to maneuver the tools needed to tighten the next thing in the directions. Very frustrating.

If I ever get it put together, I think it will be a decent piece, though.

Used bounty from the Farmers’ Market to make a pasta primavera in Alfredo sauce (and used our own basil for it).

Started reading a biography of Balzac, before I go and re-read some of the novels.

By evening, every damn thing hurt and I went to bed ridiculously early. I slept well, dreaming of various gardens, which was rather nice.

Worked on an ad and other promotional materials for the re-release of “Personal Revolution” on Sunday. Started getting the pre-order buy links. I’m adding them onto the various websites as I get them. The release is holding to June 28.

Played with some other graphic tools to try to get comfortable. Since I can’t seem to do all of what I need with any single tool, I’m learning how to mix and match bits of what I want to do in different programs to get to the whole. It’s actually less irritating that trying to figure out a single program.

Made a logo for the project inspired by the article yesterday. If THAT’s not putting the cart before the horse and all, right? But it gave me an excuse to play with learning something new.

Worked on the newsletter. If you haven’t yet signed up for it, you can do so here. It will go out later this week. And, hint – in the newsletter, I reveal what The Big Project is really all about! So if you’re interested in finding out what I’ve been yapping about for months, calling it “the Big Project” you will find out before the hoi-polloi.

I created a bunch of ads for the Big Project, too, and they are really cool. I’m having way too much fun creating these ads. I’m trying to capture the voice of the piece in the ads.

One of the best things I started doing is opening a new document for the upcoming newsletter and adding information on projects over the course of the quarter. That way, I don’t have to scramble to remember what I did, and what I want to talk about.

Made more vegetable stock. Because buying all these vegetables from the market means I have lots of bits and bobs left over for stock. Not at a zero waste kitchen yet, but working on it.

Most of the day was spent on working on things around The Big Project, which will save me time and effort once it launches in July. It was a lot of fun.

I couldn’t face the kitchen island cart on Sunday. I needed the time away.

Slept well Sunday into Monday. Got caught up on some blogging, and blogged ahead. There’s a post on healing over on the GDR site, if you’re interested.

Planted some of the borage seeds and more cat grass. Got through nearly 400 emails. Sent out two LOIs. Worked on an anthology story.

The Authors Guild is doing a Words, Ideas, and Thinkers Festival this September over in Lenox, which is close by. Well, okay, about an hour, but just about everything is at least an hour away. They sent me an invite to attend, and I accepted. It’s in the calendar. I mean, if the COVID numbers are way up again at that point, I’ll cancel, but I know the venue, and they have good protocols in place. I’m hoping it will be safe to attend. I’m sure I’ll be masked, no matter what.

Since I didn’t have any scripts in my queue, I spent the afternoon on the porch, reading the next book for review. This morning, I will send off the review, and hopefully get assigned the next book before my editor goes on vacation.

Made a sausage pasta for dinner, and it was yummy. We have plenty of leftovers for the week (most of them pasta).

The B plotline has switched with the A plotline in the anthology story. It makes it a quieter story, and I hope the editor doesn’t feel it no longer fits the tone of the overall anthology. We’ll see. It’s for a created world, so it’s not like I could use it anywhere else if it’s rejected, not without major, major re-envisioning. But trying to force it the other way wasn’t working. All I can do is send in the best piece I can to this point, and then get notes on it, and apply them.

The other anthology story I need to get out by the end of the month is percolating in the back of my brain. I’ll be making the bed or chopping onions, sorting through plot possibilities: If I do A, with D work, or should I go with E? That type of thing. Hopefully, once the shared world story is out, I will have figured out enough of the other piece to just sit down and draft.

Slept well last night, although I woke up about every two hours (similar to what I was doing last year at this time). By 3 AM, Charlotte and Tessa were fussing. They woke me from a dream where I was temping at a company. I’d brought in blueberry muffins. Their kitchen/breakroom was stacked high with empty/used takeout containers and dirty dishes. They told me to clean the kitchen. I told them I was there to type, not be the maid. They laughed and said they couldn’t get any of the wives to come in and clean. I told them maybe they should stop being sexist and  learn to clean up after their own damn selves.

That definitely happened to me more than once in my temping years, but I didn’t recognize this company or these people. Something about the dream made me think it took place in Chicago, and I never temped in Chicago. New York, Westchester, San Francisco, Seattle, yeah. Chicago, no.

I moved to the couch. Charlotte settled on top of me, Tessa rummaged. I dozed off and dreamed about more boxes (echoes of the move, no doubt). Willa woke me around 5:30, telling me she was Very Hungry, so I got up and fed them.

Plenty to do today, even without scripts in the queue, although I hope some more show up, so I can make my goal this pay period.

Last year today was the day the movers were supposed to show up and did not. I am glad we are where we are (and that it isn’t as hot as it was at this point last year, either).

I have every intention of enjoying the Summer Solstice, even though it’s supposed to rain.

Have a good one.

Fri. June 17, 2022: Project Juggling

image courtesy of Theodore Moise via pixabay.com

Friday, June 17, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy, foggy, humid

Meditation was fine yesterday, and Charlotte really enjoyed it, too. Managed to get through some email after breakfast, get out an LOI, and get some other admin work done. Wrote and submitted my book review; got another assignment. Freelance Chat was fun.

“Personal Revolution” is in pretty good shape. There are a couple of formatting things I need to tweak, and then a final proof, and it should be ready to go by the end of the day (or, latest, tomorrow), and release on time on June 28.

Time to turn some attention to the Topic Workbooks, and to the PowerPoint presentation for my class in August.  I’ve also roughed the outline for the Llewellyn almanac article in my head, and I should be able to start writing it just after Independence day. So at least all that is on track.

I need to do a big push to finish and polish the Monthology story this weekend, so I can get it out next week.

There are some red flags coming up on a project; I will fulfill my commitment to it, and then not take on any more.

Since I’m on a bunch of mailing lists around here, so I can keep up with what’s going on and where I want to participate, I’m also starting to get invitations to gala events. The liberation I feel from realizing I never HAVE to attend another one of those again is delightful.

I need to update the Pages on Stages website with the latest information on the radio plays. I hope to get ahead on some blog pieces.

I turned around two scripts yesterday and have one to do today, and then I’m done for the weekend. Hopefully, enough come through next week and the following week, so I can make my earnings goal for the end of June.

Still struggling with the sense memory stress from last year’s move. Lots of emotional flashbacks as to where I was at this point last year. The Pluto/Saturn retrogrades add even more weight to those emotions. I’m acknowledging, releasing, and trying to focus on the reality of where I am now.

There’s some cool stuff going on at MassMOCA this weekend. However, doing the risk assessment, it looks like too many people in too small a space for me to feel comfortable, and too high a risk for me to take right now. I will, regretfully, pass. I already have the Farmers’ Market and grocery shopping on Saturday. They’re fairly low risk, but any interactions around people involve risk.

Today is supposed to be the hottest day for a stretch, but it’s still much cooler than it was last year at this time, and for that I am grateful. I have to do a library run to drop off/pick up books. I didn’t get the borage planted yesterday, so now I have to wait until Sunday, the next planting day. For those wondering what I mean by “planting day”, I have a calendar marking which days are planting days and which days are harvesting days on any given week.

The January 6 hearings were not all that surprising, while still emphasizing just how corrupt and awful that sociopath’s entire administration was and is. The fact that the wife of a Supreme Court Justice is part of it is unacceptable. Even more so that she is getting extra security, paid by my tax dollars. She could afford to finance the coup attempt. Let her pay for her own damn security. Better yet, put her in prison, where she should be.

Keep an eye on the people both-siding through all of this, or telling us we should make more efforts to “understand” and “communicate” with Republicans. I understand them just fine. They want to destroy anyone who doesn’t agree with them. And I also understand that the both siders are those who will stand by and let atrocities happen and then be surprised when it happens to them. Gotta watch your back around both siders even more than the blatantly extremist.

Today is Starhawk’s birthday! I am deeply grateful for all I’ve learned from her over the decades, and for her commitment to education and community building.

Better get going. Lots to get done today, and I also plan on plenty of enjoyment throughout the weekend.

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

Fri. May 27, 2022: Shattered

image courtesy of Marcela Bolivar via pixabay.com

Friday, May 27, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Mercury Retrograde

Rainy and warmer

I was awakened just before 5 AM by crashing glass.

And cats running in all directions.

I must have left an empty glass on the table in my reading corner. I’m usually conscientious about putting the glass into the dishwasher as soon as I’ve finished with it, to prevent just such an occurrence. I must have been distracted.

It was 5 AM, so it’s not like I could turn on the vacuum without disturbing the neighbors (wouldn’t’ have had to worry about that in the previous house). So I picked up the larger fragments, and used the dustpan and broom on the room. Then a damp paper towel to get any tiny fragments. Then, I had to catch each of the cats and check/wipe their paws for any glass shards before they licked said paws. There was a good bit of howling and carrying on, but no blood.

So much for not disturbing the neighbors.

But the shattered glass represents how I feel right now.

The almost daily gun violence, on top of the over a million dead in the pandemic, are soul-shattering.

As more and more information about Uvalde comes out, and the incompetence of the police response is brought to light, it gets even worse. When I see the photos, I see white men who are unfit, both physically and psychologically, for a job to “protect and serve.” They use the uniform to bully. Like all bullies, when faced with a situation requiring intelligence, ethics, skill, and courage, they fail.

The mayor’s bloviating to aid in the coverup doesn’t help, either.

Congress continues to fail us. Their holiday weekend is more important than staying in their offices and working on ways to fix this. Except, of course, for Republicans, who are speaking at NRA and right-wing conferences. They’re busy fulfilling the agenda of more death. More blood. Because that is what turns them on.

There is a way to hit the NRA, and that’s through filing a complaint with the IRS that they’ve violating the terms of their status. I’ve posted the link multiple times, but I bet you, dollars to doughnuts, that I’m the only one who actually files the complaint.

I’m just sick of everybody right now.

I wrote and submitted the book review yesterday, and have been assigned another book, which I plan to read over the weekend. No scripts in the queue, so I will look at it as a gift of time. Got out a couple of half-hearted LOIs. Did a trip to the library to drop off/pick up books, and then to the grocery store to shop for the weekend. We do have some plans, although we intend to avoid people (especially unmasked tourists) as much as possible. Much of it depends on the weather.

I took Charlotte out on the back balcony in her playpen. She was very good.

Willa, however, carried on in the kitchen like she’d been abandoned. She screamed and cried at the kitchen window, and then tried to pry the screen out of its frame.

She won, of course. Because the cat always wins.

I went inside, put her in her playpen, and took her out, too. There’s barely room for both playpens, but it was better than the screaming, and she settled down.

Freelance Chat was fun. Some good tips, as usual.

Made a smoked trout spread. By accident, I used a recipe different than the one I usually use (both are in FOOD & WINE cookbooks). It’s good, it just wasn’t what I expected. Cooked pasta for dinner.

Last night was the final meeting of the Knowledge Unicorns, at least in present form. What should have been a joyous time was, instead, one filled with anger and grief. Some of the kids are the same age as those who were slaughtered. Others are going on to college, or taking a gap year, or are in other grades. There has to be another discussion, in July, about whether the parents want to risk sending those still in school back to school next year, or if all of them will switch to homeschooling, for gun violence reasons as much as for virus reasons. But right now, we all need a break. And it’s time for me to step back.

I feel shattered, heartbroken, and out of sorts today. How could I not?

I’m trying to get in a run down to Pittsfield for a few things early this morning, so that we’re home by noon, before people start converging for the holiday weekend. I doubt it will be the chaos that usually happened on Cape – for one thing, there’s no bridge to back up traffic for hours, and multiple roads. But I’d still rather be home, up on my second-floor porch, watching the mountains, and above it all.

I’m not sure if I will rest or try to write this weekend. I do have to turn my closet from winter to summer; that will take some time. But I need time to grieve the destruction of the country in which I was born and where I’ve spent my entire life, that has been taken over by Christofascists who find murder sexually gratifying and lucrative.

I need to give myself time to grieve, and then I can start making practical decisions.

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

Tues. April 19, 2022: Stormy Weather

image courtesy of Andrei Kuleshov via pixabay.com

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Waning Moon

Rainy and cool

My brain wanted to take Friday off, although I had a good early morning writing session out on the front porch. But I slogged through a bunch of emails. There are some places to which I want to send an LOI, but it would have been stupid to send it on the Friday of a holiday weekend, so those go out today. I also have to find a way to get in touch with this mysterious garage who supposedly can fix my car but has no website in the 21st century. And mail my state quarterly taxes.

I did write, polish, and send off my book review before deadline. The only book they had to review was one I’m not qualified to review (it’s on early childhood education), so another thing on today’s list is to get back in touch and see what else has come in.

It was lovely and sunny, although cooler.

I turned around a script coverage, and decided to start my weekend.

Saturday, I rested and read a lot. I needed the time off. It was raining pretty hard most of the day, and I was glad not to have to go out. I’d hoped to walk down to the coffee shop opposite MassMOCA and give it a try, but that’s put off until it can actually be a pleasant walk.

I set up the ironing board and the craft paper and spent a couple of hours lifting wax out of various tablecloths and altar cloths. It takes a good bit of paper, and one has to work fast, so it doesn’t absorb through the paper and onto the iron. But I got it done, and then slowly started handwashing the fabrics. Some of the dyes from the candles will need to be taken out with the bleach pen, but most of it came out well.

Only people who haven’t worked in film and television think it has nothing to do with actual life skills.

Noodled some ideas in my head for various projects and let them percolate. Percolation time in necessary.

By Saturday afternoon, we brought in all the plants, because the temperature dropped hard and fast. Vacuumed, washed floors, changed beds, the usual Saturday housework.

Baked biscuits early Sunday morning. The weather kept cycled through accumulating snow to sun to rain to accumulating snow all day. I was glad to stay in.

Although we no longer celebrate Easter, my mom wanted baked ham for mid-day dinner, so that’s what I made. I thought it was too sweet (even though I hadn’t put anything on it). That’s the second disappointing ham we’ve had (Christmas ham was okay, but not brilliant), so I think/hope we’re done with it for a while. We have enough for some leftovers, and I’ll make a ham pot pie in a couple of days. I made soup with the bone, adding in garbanzo beans, onion, garlic, and spinach, so we’ll have that for a couple of lunches this week. I’d made chocolate mousse for dessert, so at least we had that.

Read a couple of Ngaio Marsh books, and an art mystery by Iain Pears set in Venice.

Unpacked a couple of boxes of decorations that had been in my office in the other house. Most of them have various new homes; some of them will be repacked into the box of decorations that we aren’t using right now. The “New Orleans Aunties” set of dolls I brought back from the Crescent City years ago now have their own shelf on the front porch, with their beads and the little chest of Crown Royal.

But mostly, I rested. I still feel the aftereffects of Shot 4.

Yesterday was a holiday here in the state, and I was damn well going to take it! It was sunny and cold.

I took some bills, including the federal quarterly taxes, and headed for the post office to mail them and buy stamps. Then, I headed over toward Mass MOCA, to try out the coffee shop. Which is no longer there, and the space now holds a Mexican restaurant. So, as far as I can tell, there’s no independent coffee shop in walking distance of the house. In a college town. Which makes no sense to me at all. Cumberland Farms and Burger King don’t cut it.

I’m not someone who goes out and buys a cup of coffee every day (I make excellent coffee at home), but sometimes, when I’m out and about, I like the option.

Makes me think I should bring up the espresso machine on the next trip to storage.

Picked up a few bits and bobs on the way home – some plant stakes, some hair elastics, some highlighters for the upcoming multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER. That type of thing.

It was warm enough to move the plants back out to the porch. I worked on contest entries out there, too. I also started oiling the porch furniture with the teak oil. I don’t have the room to spread everything out and do it all at once, so I’m doing one piece, letting it dry, then moving on. I got one of the Adirondack chairs done. I’m also cleaning and polishing the wooden sills around the windows, with another kind of oil. They are in desperate need of some TLC.

The tabletop fountain I ordered arrived, much more quickly than I expected. It’s simple, but nice. I set it up, put in the batteries, put in the water. It’s a little noisy for the size, but looks good and works well. I put a plate of crystals in front of it. And there’s the healing/meditation altar, inspired by the Twitter pal who said a blessing for me at St. Anthony’s Well last week.

The check arrived for the radio play in Minnesota. That was quick. We only talked about it a couple of days ago.

I saw an email from the potential client with whom I had the video conference last week. I fully expected it to be a “thanks, but no thanks.” Instead, it’s a contract and an NDA. I’ll read it and see if there are any points to negotiate before I sign, but it looks like I’ll be doing some freelancing for an agency. That will expand my parameters and skills a bit, no doubt.

I’ve been giving feedback on a friend’s synopsis for a TV pilot. It’s so good. I’m so excited for her. She’s entering it in a contest.

I’d been playing with the idea of taking a short trip this summer, to dip my toe back into the traveling waters, and even looked at flights. But with the inept Trump-appointed judge striking down the mask mandate on public transportation, that’s off. It also means it’s unlikely that I take the bus down to NYC for a quick museum trip, which I’d also hoped to do. It’s just not worth the risk. I’m glad the conference at which I’m teaching stayed virtual.

The storm woke me at 4 AM. In upstate NY, they were told to expect up to a foot of snow. Here, they keep changing their minds as to whether it’s snow or rain over the next few days. So far, just rain. I have to dash down to the post office to mail my state quarterly taxes today, but that’s my only foray out. I’d hoped to go to the laundromat, but not in this weather.

I have a lot of admin to handle today, and turn around the contract, check in with my editor to see if there are any new books to review, pitch to my Llewellyn editor for 2024. Work on the radio plays. Work on the Big Project. Turn around two scripts. Fight with Tracfone about my mom’s phone. Try to get in touch with the mechanic who supposedly can fix my car. Work on contest entries.

I’d better get going, hadn’t I? There’s a mid-month check in over on the GDR site. And I have a Dramatists Guild virtual event tonight (which I can actually do, since Knowledge Unicorns is on Easter break).

Have a good one!

Fri. April 8, 2022: Listening and Learning

image courtesy of El Caminante via pixabay..com

Friday, April 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Rainy and chilly

I managed to get my email Inbox down to something manageable, dealing with over 500 emails yesterday. I also wrote three pages on the psychological ghost story radio play. I have to figure out a “why” for one of the characters, and then the rest will fall into place.

I attended the first day of the Buddhist summit. The sessions were interesting, and I learned a lot. I learned some new meditation techniques, very different from the way I’ve worked before. Because I’m not tied to one particular school of meditation, I think it’s easier for me to flow between techniques and try new things than for some others who have had years of intensive training in a single, particular school. There was a session of Tonglen training, a technique completely new to me, and that kind of turns some of the other techniques inside out. Always good to expand one’s practice. There’s a lot to think about, and to wrestle with in terms of taking the practice out into the world. I think many of the tenets are naïve, when we are in a situation of fighting the evil we currently face.

The sessions were short talks, followed by practice. I liked that the workshop leaders led us into the practice, and then let us sit in silence. Too often, in group meditations, the teacher talks all the time. I like to be led into the silence and then left there for the remainder of the session.

Choreographer Arawana Hayashi’s session resonated the most strongly with me, and I look forward to exploring and experiencing more of her work, both as a choreographer, and in meditation. Pema Chödrön’s talk was both funny and gave me a lot to think about.

I’m looking forward to today’s sessions.

I still turned around a script coverage. I grabbed two more to read today, which gets me where I need to be, money-wise this week. I hope I can grab a script or two to read tomorrow, since I’m taking Monday off, post-vaccine. I’ll have to read on Tuesday no matter what, once I get back from the mechanic. I got out 4 LOIs, although one responded immediately with a demand for unpaid labor. So they are off my list of potential clients and on The List I’m keeping of red flag companies.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We spent a lot of time discussing the Supreme Court.

I am absolutely over the moon that we now have Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Supreme Court. I was terrified during the entire vote, worried that the racist GQP would somehow derail it. I was surprised that Susan Collins kept her word and voted for her. I’m glad Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney did, making Kirsten Sinema’s drama queen bid for attention irrelevant. It’s about time Sinema and Manchin were both made irrelevant. I cried with happiness when the confirmation went through. Kagan, Sotomayor, and Jackson give me hope.

Now, we need to get the seditionist’s husband, the beer-swilling rapist, and the handmaiden off the Court.

Read the latest issue of THE NEW YORKER as my treat at the end of the workday. I’m glad I’ve resubscribed.

I have writing, script coverage, and the summit on today’s agenda. The summit continues through the weekend and through Monday. I hope I’m feeling well enough after Shot 4 to at least listen. I also want to get ahead on next week’s work today and tomorrow, so I don’t have to stress about taking Monday off post-vaccine, and needing to take at least a half day on Tuesday at the mechanic’s.

We had an intense storm last night, with driving rain and high wind. The power flickered, so I turned off the laptop. Took 25 minutes to boot it back up, which makes me miss the Macbook all the more. But it’s working, and that’s what matters.

Got a lovely email from the place where I pitched for the summer radio gig, and I look forward to more conversations with them.

Made cinnamon rolls for breakfast this morning. Just the Pillsbury ones, not from scratch. I want to make a batch from scratch, and I want to compare them. I remember the first time I learned to make cinnamon rolls, in either 7th or 8th grade Home Ec. I also sewed my first skirt in that class, and discovered I liked making my own clothes.

Anyway, breakfast and then back to the page. I need to do a library run and swing by the fishmonger to see what’s fresh today. Have a good weekend, and we’ll catch up next week!

Thurs. April 7, 2022: Websites and Politicians

image courtesy of 200degrees via pixabay.com

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Waxing Moon

Rainy and chilly

Things are growing, and there’s news over on Gratitude and Growth!

Yesterday was another of those days where I felt like I didn’t get anything done when, actually, I did quite a bit.

I wrote a bio and uploaded it to the “About” page for the scriptwriting website. The tone is more of a story than typical market-speak bio, but the scriptwriting is a storytelling format, so the tone fits the site and the work.

I also updated the Fearless Ink site, based on conversations last week in the Freelance Chat group. I hadn’t realized that I needed to update my location; I thought I’d fixed all of that last July when I updated the resumes and put the address changes in everywhere. But I hadn’t.

I took off the social media packages. I no longer want to run social media accounts for clients. I’ll supply copy, but I don’t want to do the graphics, the scheduling, the uploading, and the interactions. It’s not where I want to put my energy. I also added, per the chat last week, a list of some of the things I don’t do, for which I keep getting emails, and/or which clients keep trying to sneak into their scope creep. This is why a strong contract is so important.

I need to update my contract with COVID protocols, too. Since on-site meetings are being pushed again, I’m adding in a clause that I will only attend on-site meetings if all parties are vaccinated and masked. Frankly, I don’t need to be onsite for business clients. ALL of that can be done virtually. The only clients I’d need to go onsite for are museums and performance venues, and they’re all vaccinated and following masking protocols anyway. It’s only businesses who are lax. And those are not businesses with whom I want to interact. I’m also thinking of adding a liability clause – if I get infected, the business is responsible for paying for all COVID care. Since funding for testing, etc. is being dropped, I think that’s important. And, since I won’t book onsite meetings closer than typical quarantine times, it’ll be pretty easy to trace where I got infected, should I get infected.

They can avoid all of that by simply keeping everything remote.

Speaking of reduced funding, as soon as the Republicans blocked the additional funding for vaccines and research yesteray, I was contacted to move up my 4th shot. I’d planned to get it at the end of the month, or early in May, because when I tried to book it at the same time I booked my mom’s shot, I was told it was too soon for me. But now, they want to do it as soon as possible. There was an opening on Sunday afternoon, so that’s when I’ll get it.

It also means I don’t have the luxury of prolonged side effects. The mechanic appointment that it took me over a month to get is on Tuesday morning, and I can’t change it. So I have a day and a half to recover It’s Pfizer, so here’s hoping. My mom only had slight fatigue for about a day. My 1st Moderna shot took me down for 4 days; the 2nd Moderna took me down for 6; the Pfizer booster took me down for 2 or 3. Let’s hope 1-1/2 works.

And, it means I have to finish my taxes on Saturday. I’ve figured out my quarterlies, so it’s just about filling out the slip and writing the check. But I have to do last year’s mess.

I don’t write a lot about the regular interactions I have with my elected officials, although it’s several times a week. Writing about every interaction would be like listing every time I brush my teeth, because it’s that steady. Generally, I try to keep on top of whatever votes are happening on local, state, and federal levels, and weigh in. They can’t represent me if they don’t know how I feel about something. I don’t expect them to vote my way every time, but I do expect them to listen. When I have a concern about something, I express it, AND offer potential solutions. The response to that is either pointing out the flaws in the argument, or asking for more information, because it sounds interesting. When it’s the latter, I work on a detailed proposal, including how to fund it, and send it off. After back-and-forth with various aides, some of it is actually incorporated into legislation, although that can take months or years of regular contract. But that’s how I do it. There’s quite a bit about which to be concerned right now, so I do spend quite a bit of time on political activism, but not in the way a lot of other people are doing it.

It’s when people complain, but aren’t willing to do anything to change it that I lose all patience.

I didn’t get any work done on any of the plays, or The Big Project, or CAST IRON MURDER. I did turn around two script coverages. I have one more script in the queue. I need three more this week, so let’s hope something comes up. I might read Saturday, too, and take off Monday instead.

I need to get out some more LOIs, too. I hated the design for the marketing postcard, so I trashed that and will start again. I need to do some promotion for content and copywriting, along with the scriptwriting.

Turned down a script gig yesterday where the pay was mediocre and the demand was to write “at least 1500 words a day.” I can and do write more than that a day, but scripts aren’t judged by word count, but by running time. So companies that talk about scripts in terms of word count are Big Red Flags. Next!

Early this morning, the neighbor across the street was taken away in an ambulance. I hope he’s okay; he’s a good guy. Hospitals are still on COVID protocols, so his partner couldn’t go along.

Meditation group this morning, then to the page, then some time at the Buddhist summit, then script coverage and other work. I need to make sure I work ahead, so that the beginning of next week, post-shot 4 is as stress-free as possible, even with the car repair.

Have a good one!

Fri. March 18, 2022: A Foggy Start

image courtesy of LUM3N

Friday, March 18, 2022

Full Moon

Foggy and mild

It’s supposed to get up to 69 degrees F today, which is just silly, at this point. But this morning, it’s foggy. Hope it clears up before I have to go to the mechanic, since I can’t use my windshield wipers with the broken blade.

Yes, I got an appointment at the mechanic’s. Let’s hope this repair doesn’t wipe me out.

After meditation yesterday morning (and breakfast), I took my notification and headed down to the post office to pick up the package. Which, of course, wasn’t there, because they’d put it back on the truck.

Did some banking business. The credit union now has a lending library in the front lobby, kind of like a little free library, which is fun.

Picked up a few things at Cumberland Farms.

Got lost in the rabbit hole of research about The Spruces, which was a lot of fun. It also solidified that I want to create a fictional community, whose owner/visionary feels in competition with The Spruces, because there are things I want to change to fit what I need to happen in the series.

I also have to decide the year in which I want to start it (probably 1957), and a lot of period details, including things like a widow’s finances, etc. Because women weren’t allowed to have credit cards in their name until 1974. And yes, I’m old enough to remember when that happened. They didn’t have the right to open their own banking account until the 1960’s, so I’m thinking my character’s adult son would be a co-signer on the account in the 1950’s. But I will have to check that detail.

Sent out some LOIs, did some client work, turned around a script coverage. Did some work on The Big Project.

I have to draft the next newsletter, because it needs to go out next week.

Worked on contest entries in the evening.

Charlotte woke me up a few times in the night, wanting attention, and now has decided she likes to sleep against my back, instead of down at the bottom of the bed. Tessa woke me a little after 5, which was fine, because it gave me the chance for a longer yoga/meditation session.

I wrote up a bunch of background on my protagonist for the series inspired by The Spruces. The first book starts after a lot of this happened in her life, and bits and pieces of the back story can be woven in. But it’s revealing itself now, so I want to write up the notes, and then I have it.

St. Patrick’s Day was not a big deal here yesterday, which is a nice change after decades of dealing with drunks by 10 AM in both New York and on Cape Cod. I’m sure the fact that the college is on spring break helped.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We have a good rhythm going with the work, and the flexibility to explore all kinds of interests, and see how things relate to each other in a way traditional school environments don’t allow.

If I don’t have to leave the car to be repaired, I will stop at the grocery store on the way back and restock. So much of the rest of the day’s schedule hinges on what happens at the mechanic. I will, of course, bring CAST IRON MURDER with me to work on more revisions as I wait.

Since I’m behind on spring cleaning, the bulk of the weekend will center around that. If the car is fixed, I’ll also do a run to get more pots and potting soil. I want to finish up the planting.

Speaking of which, the tansy seeds, which have been sitting in Springfield, an hour away from me, since last Saturday, somehow are now in Chicago. Not a happy camper.

I had the hiccups last night for over an hour. While it wasn’t the worst bout I ever had, it was still exhausting.

Fingers crossed for the car repair being simple and in my budget.

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

Thurs. March 10, 2022: Yet More Snow

image courtesy of Marketa Morchova via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Sunny and snowy

There’s information on the seedlings, ordered seeds, birds, and more, over on Gratitude and Growth.

It snowed most of the day, with much more accumulation than predicted. It’s a heavy, wet snow, and will be hard to dig out my car, especially since the plow is pushing snow up behind it even as we speak.

But I need to pick up my birthday cake, and do not get between me and cake.

Yesterday was kind of a slow day. I sent out three LOIs, and got back two demands for unpaid labor as part of the process. I responded with my contract for tests/samples/assessments, and I’m sure I’ll never hear from them again. I also added them to The List.

I slogged through way too much email, but I’m determined to keep it at manageable levels. I did some work on The Big Project, but not enough, and certainly not as much as I hoped.

Things have been slow with the big client. The contractors supposedly got a raise, yet the work since the “raise” has been much sparser, although there are “options” for pieces at a lower rate. No, thank you. I’ll just work on finding other clients that pay the proper rate to fill the gap.

Turned around a script coverage. Worked on contest entries. Read a book for fun, which had come highly recommended. It was okay, but for the first half, I kept getting too far ahead of the plot, and waiting impatiently for the characters to catch up. The book was okay, hit the genre expectations, but it didn’t grab me the way it did those who recommended it.

Tessa and Charlotte had been doing well there, for a few days, but now they’re fussing at each other again. And someone knocked over the cat grass plant overnight (most likely Willa), so I had to clean that up this morning.

But Tessa let me sleep until six, when she actually came into my room to wake me up. She hates my room here. She loved my room in the other house, because it was huge and carpeted. This is small (it’s fine for sleeping), and there’s a small rug by the side of the bed, but no carpet, and Madame Tessa Does Not Approve. Charlotte is just happy she can sleep on the bed with me here.

Meditation group this morning. Then, after breakfast, I will dig out the car, pick up my cake (and get more eggs, we’re out of eggs). I don’t have any scripts in my queue; if I don’t get another one, my long weekend starts early, at least as far as script coverage goes. Then, I’ll do contest entries and work on The Big Project today.

I’m taking a three-day weekend tomorrow, for my birthday. I have a few loose plans, but mostly, I will do exactly as I wish, and create the days.

The COVID tests I ordered a few days ago are supposed to arrive on Monday, which is fast. The ink was supposed to arrive yesterday, but the snowstorm caused an understandable delay, and it will get here today or tomorrow. The tansy seeds should arrive Saturday.

Next week, we start the big spring cleaning, in and around whatever work has to get done.

Tessa loves the new, fluffy dark green rug in the bathroom. Like I said above, she likes rugs/carpets.

Off to start the day. Hope it’s a calm one. I’m looking forward to being mostly disconnected from online for the next few days. I’m sure I’ll check messages and emails here and there, but I’m going to try to keep away from the horrors going on for a few days, so I can return renewed.

Have a good one.

Wed. March 9, 2022: Stuff Around the House

Image coutesy of Open Clip Art Vectors via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

There’s another storm coming in today, with accumulating snow expected. So glad I work remotely!

After breakfast, we got into the car and headed out for errands. It was the first time my mom had been out and about since December (without the car, she stayed home; although I can walk to do many of the errands, it’s too far for her). She said it felt weird to be out. The masking mandates have all been dropped, although most places still “recommend” it. More and more people are relaxing from wearing masks indoors, but I’m not yet. Maybe by late spring/early summer. Of course, they’re not releasing numbers anymore either, so there’s no real way to know if the numbers are going down. And since free testing has ended, many people who should be tested won’t be able to afford it. Because you know if the insurance company is supposed to handle it, they will deny every claim. So we won’t know anywhere close to the real numbers anymore.

Except I will use my secret weapon: The Post Office.

The Post Office is the hub of all knowledge in this community. I learn more standing in line talking to other people and/or talking to the clerks than anywhere else. So our information network congregating (safely distant) at the post office will be on what I rely. Actual people talking about what’s actually going on.

Speaking of which, we’re allowed 4 more free Covid test, so I ordered those. Through the Post Office.

Anyway, errands. Masked errands.

I had a list of stuff I’ve been meaning to get done since the car broke down in December. So yesterday, I started catching up. It was mostly home-and-hearth stuff I couldn’t do on foot. I got a new rug for the bathroom (it’s green and matches the shower curtain, which is green, burgundy, and gold, in an Art Deco pattern, which fits this house); I got some magazine organizers, so I can sort the food, garden, and yoga magazines properly and store them where I can actually use them; I got some more plant pots, and more, importantly, saucers to go under the plant pots, so I’m not using bits of saved containers or extra plates; I got 5 shelved rolling carts (2 small, 3 large). I need more than that, but that’s what the store had, so I grabbed them. They snap together easily, look good, and are easy to move around. I put them together and distributed them. One will be in the closet portion of the pantry; one in the laundry room; one in the bathroom; one in my office; one in my bedroom. I still need one for the sewing room, and I might get one more for the kitchen, if they come back in stock.

I unpacked a bin that’s been storing things in the bathroom and got it all on the cart. It’s perfect. The other carts are stashed in their new homes, and I will fill them over the next few days, as I sort things.

Because next week, the big spring cleaning begins. We’re starting in the kitchen and moving toward the front of the house. It will probably take about two weeks to get it all done, in and around everything else that has to happen, like working.

With the sun, it was warm enough on the porch to set out the seedlings for a few hours, and I even sat out there for a bit to read (George Orwell’s diaries. His diaries about WWII are an eerie echo to what’s happening now. His diaries about his garden and his chickens are quite something else).

Got out some LOIs, did some admin. Was disappointed when an organization to whom I’d sent an LOI sent an automated demand for unpaid work. Add that company to my list of places that demand unpaid labor as part of the interview process and move on. Ordered an ink tank for the printer (will need to order others soon, but they’re expensive, so I break it up). Ordered more seeds, completely forgetting that the reason I got on the site to order seeds is because I need more cat grass. Charlotte and Willa love their cat grass. Brainstormed on the shared world anthology. Covered a script. Made turkey meatloaf for dinner, which was excellent.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are already excited about Easter break. And, with mask mandates being dropped in schools, we are all relieved we didn’t send any of the kids back this year. In early May, we will have a big meeting and decide what to do next year. Some of the kids don’t want to go back to a traditional learning environment until college. A couple of them are going to college. A couple of them are interested in taking a year off between high school and college to do other things, provided the virus numbers are low enough for them to be able to travel or do an internship somewhere cool. We’ll have to deal with the safety issue of summer jobs for those old enough to have them this summer. So there’s a lot to consider. The one constant is that ALL of them have learned more and done better in this situation than they did in school. Having the online homework group (which evolved into an all-around support system) has helped, no doubt. But it’s also a wakeup call at how badly most schools are run (rarely the fault of teachers), and with QAnon morons getting on more and more school boards, it will only get worse.

Worked on contest entries until I was too tired to concentrate.

Some dumbass “writer” on social media made the blanket statement about how people who call themselves full-time writers have the “privilege” of other people paying the bills. She can fuck right off. Plenty of us have to pay our own bills. I made a note to NEVER buy anything of hers. I rarely say “never” but I will in this case.

I have nothing of value to add to the war coverage, except that it’s enraging to see how little anyone is doing to stop Putin.

Tessa got me up at four (is she already on daylight savings time)? I moved to the couch, dozed off, and woke up around six. I pointed out to the cats that if they’d just let me sleep until five, their breakfast wouldn’t have been an hour late. They were not impressed.

Charlotte’s newest thing is to jump on the long table in my office, where I have all the contest entries organized, and rearrange them. I keep putting them back in order. She keeps rearranging them.

Willa, who is not a lap cat, actually jumped up into my mom’s lap yesterday. For only about two minutes, but it’s progress.

I should go over to the college library today to get a few things out, but I’ll probably just stay home and work on The Big Project this morning, then get out some more LOIs, do script coverage, and work on contest entries this afternoon.

It will be interesting (?) to see how much snow falls today.

Wed. Feb. 16, 2022: Some Days Are Rougher Than Others

image courtesy of LeoNeoBoy via pixabay.com

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Full Moon

Partly sunny, partly cloudy, starts cold and gets milder

Yesterday was one of those sucky days. Everything was ten times harder than it should have been.

I dealt with an unpleasant situation with a big client. It took most of the day, draining emotional and creative energy. I think we’re on better ground now, but I still want to expand my client pool. I sent out a few LOIs; already heard back from one, up in Bennington, who wants more information. So that’s promising, at least.

A submission call for short plays landed on my desk. I had two which would fit the bill (and did a quick revision on one of them, to tighten it). But I decided to send the funnier one, since they admitted they favor comedy.

A friend has recommended me for a type of gig I’ve always wanted to try. The pay’s kind of low, but it’s steady, and might do as a stop gap for a few months. I’m willing to have a conversation with the potential client about it, at the very least.

I made the trek to the library, returning 8 books and picking up 13. I was annoyed when the librarian whined about having to move the books from the shelf to the checkout desk. Hon, that’s your job. I’m carrying them over a half a mile there and back on foot, so don’t go whining when you have to move books, two or three at a time two feet. If it’s too difficult for you, maybe you should be out on sick leave, or maybe you should ask someone to carry them for you, or maybe you shouldn’t be in the job (because I saw the job description, and one of the requirements is being able to lift up to 25 pounds. And I worked in a library, where I was regularly expected to lift a lot more than that). But what is NOT okay is to whine at a patron because books arrived from different places at the same time, and those checkouts are what keeps the library funded.

Got an email from a company of which I’d never heard, congratulating me for registering, and that the monthly fee would be $55. Say what? I went to unsubscribe and they wanted my credit card information. No, tell me what credit card you think you’re going to pull this from. Talk about a scam. I warned my bank, sent the company’s customer service department an email demanding to be removed from their list and asking what card they thought they had on file. Since they didn’t even have my name, just my email address, and I never gave them any information, we should be okay. I received a cancellation message.  But the bank and I will keep an eye on the account.

Filled out the Artist Census for the city, which is getting information from working artists on what they need to thrive here. Hopefully, that will open up new possibilities. Just from the Census alone I learned about a half a dozen or so opportunities that I am now following up.

I’ve somehow injured my foot, to the point where I can barely put weight on it, and I have no idea how, which is disturbing on multiple levels.

I have to finish reading ARTCURIOUS for book club. I love it. I’m going to have to buy myself a copy, because it’s a book I’ll keep using.

Knowledge Unicorns were fine. The kids were having a tough day, too, as were a lot of my colleagues all over the place. I guess it was just one of those days.

Since I cleaned up my Twitter account, I was able to have actual, interesting conversations with several people yesterday, and it was terrific. I also blocked a twat who called herself a writer and posted the faux engagement “what is your hobby besides writing?” Writing is not a hobby, you moron. Calling yourself a writer and asking such a question is insulting. It assumes no one makes their living writing. Just because the questioner isn’t good enough and won’t put in the work so to do doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of us who can and do make a living at it. I have full respect for part-time writers who work while carrying full-time work in other careers. I have full respect for writers who love writing as a hobby. I have no respect for people calling themselves “writers” who insult other professioanl writers because those “writers” can’t earn a living, and assume no one else can, either. Not worth engaging with such a person, so block and move on. And not just scrolling past, either, because it’s never just one dumbass “question” from someone like that. And I am just DONE with these jerks.

Got an idea for a couple of sets of short pieces – flash fiction, prose poems, short plays – tied to specific visuals. It’s one of those things that when I see something that sparks it, I’ll write it, and then collect the pieces on a theme to submit. . .somewhere. It’s a long-term, undeadlined project to let me stretch and experiment.

Up early this morning (after weird dreams set in a hotel, but a different hotel that’s shown up in previous dreams). Fed the cats, did some yoga and writing, was at the laundromat when they opened at 6 AM, had everything washed, dried, folded and home by 7:30.

I have to head to the grocery store again later today. MA is dropping the indoor masking recommendation, because they’re idiots. I’m going to keep masking until spring or summer.

I don’t have that much on my grocery list this time, so hopefully, it won’t be too difficult to get it all home.

I started the initial re-read for revisions on CAST IRON MURDER. It holds up better than I thought it would. Although there are plenty of details to smooth out, and writing to tighten.

I have a lot of script coverage to do today (didn’t get much done yesterday), and I want to work on the Big Project.

So I better get going, hadn’t I?

Tues. Feb. 1, 2022: Happy Chinese New Year!

image courtesy of CDD20 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

New Moon

Mercury Retrograde

Venus Direct (as of Saturday)

Chinese Lunar New Year – Year of the Water Tiger

Sunny and cold

Time for our Tuesday catch up, so curl up with your favorite beverage and we’ll have a natter.

I have the January wrap-up over on the GDR site. I have a mistake in it – I said I wrote two short stories this month, but it turns out I wrote three. I finished the third (after I’d posted) and got it in a day before the deadline. So that’s three short stories, two poems, and a lot of words on The Big Project. I may have felt like I got nothing done in January, but it’s simply not true.

The weekend was quiet. Since we were prepared for the storm, we just sat and read and let it snow. We only got about six inches. We were nowhere near as slammed as they were on the coast. We also kept power, for which we were grateful.

Had we been in the old house, we would have been without power and had to rely on the woodburning fireplace. Plus, we would have had to try to dig out from two feet of snow on our own. I much prefer where we live now, where shoveling is handled by the landlord, not us.

I do miss having a woodburning fireplace, although I do enjoy our fireplace façade.

Venus going direct takes a lot of pressure off. There are still three days for Mercury to make everything go cattywampus, but I’m hoping I can proceed with caution and keep my head down.

I read a lot all weekend. I finished reading the last book in a series of 20 books, where I got tired of them about 10 books go, but kept hoping the protagonist might actually grow and change. No such luck. But they were quick reads, maybe an hour and a half to two hours per book, and I learned from them what I don’t want to do in my own work.

I read some contest entries.

I went through seed catalogs (I will go into more detail about that on Thursday’s Gratitude and Growth post), and put in one of my orders.

I started reading Cynthia Kuhn’s other series, the one that starts with THE SEMESTER OF OUR DISCONTENT, and I really like it. I’m grateful to Ellen Byron for suggesting Cynthia’s work.

It was nice to have a full weekend of rest. No running around, no extra work, none of that. I’d worked late on Friday to finish off all the script coverage that was due through yesterday, just in case. It meant I had to bow out of a virtual poetry event in which I’d hoped to participate, but I couldn’t take the risk of a power outage and not getting the coverage in.

And, as I said, two whole days of genuine rest made a big difference. I need to stop admonishing myself that rest is a luxury.

Charlotte woke me up Way Too Early on Saturday morning, because the snow made it appear so light. Tessa let me sleep in until 5:30 on Sunday, which was fine, and I got up and baked biscuits after I fed them. They had me up at 5 yesterday morning, which was fine, because I use the hours from 5-7 for yoga, meditation, journal writing, writing in longhand, etc.

Got a couple of boxes unpacked in my office on Saturday. Once things are unpacked (even if I need to buy more things in which to put them), I’ll put the extra boxes up on Craigslist.

There are boxes that should have come up on the truck that didn’t, so I will have to dig around in the storage unit in spring, when we make our run to find them.

Yesterday, Charlotte and Tessa tag-teamed to get me up a little after 5, which was fine. I’d originally planned to do a library run, but it was -7F, and I was not about to go out in that.

I plowed through about 200 emails, and got out an LOI to a company who immediately sent an automated series of “tests” which they can shove right up their collective ass. I did some blog posts, for myself and a couple of clients.

I made another big batch of black bean soup for lunch, this time adding in corn, and it was delicious.

In the afternoon, I finished off the short story on which I’d been working, which took some interesting twists, polished it, and sent it off.

In the evening, I read a script coverage for which I’d been requested. The author took the notes and did a genuine re-envisioning, in an exciting way. I’ll write that up today.

It’s a little warmer today, so I will suit up and head to the library to drop off/pick up, then write up script coverage.

Today is Chinese Lunar New Year, and it’s the Year of the Water Tiger, which is what I am. It’s supposed to be a year of massive change. I just had two years of that, and I would prefer a year of peace and tranquility.

But I’m making Chinese food tonight, especially long noodles for long life.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me up at 4. I moved to the sofa and went back to sleep, in spite of their fussing. I dreamed of a renaissance of small presses and magazines, run by diverse individuals, who actually pay their writers and staffs a living wage.

That’s the future toward which I want to work.

Have a good one!

Published in: on February 1, 2022 at 8:50 am  Comments Off on Tues. Feb. 1, 2022: Happy Chinese New Year!  
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Tues. Dec. 14, 2021: A Twisty Weekend

image courtesy of WaldNob via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and mild

Well, let’s just say, it’s been quite the few days.

Friday, I decided to do a hail Mary pass on the car and see if putting in a new battery solved the issues with the EPC light coming on, which my research indicated was sometimes the case. I joined AAA at the tier which promises roadside battery replacement back in November. Not that they’ve sent me my membership card. I’m still carrying around a printout of the email.

So I jump through all the ridiculous hoops on the AAA website to get the quote, to approve the quote, to get them to email me the quote, and to put through the request.

The guy shows up in 20 minutes.

To jumpstart the car.

“They no longer do” battery replacement in the Berkshires.

Then WHY DID I HAVE TO DO ALL THAT FUCKING PAPERWORK?  And why was not told this when I specifically chose the AAA tier that included the promise of this service?

The way companies based outside the Berkshires take money from us without providing the services for which we pay around here is appalling.

The guy didn’t even need to give me a jump. The car started.

I took it down the street to the mechanic I trust. Turns out my battery is fine. They ran a diagnostic. Didn’t find anything wrong with it. So the dealer in Pittsfield strung me along for weeks, and I’ve been without a car for WEEKS for no damn reason.

In case the light goes on again, I now have the information of a local guy who specializes in foreign cars.

Because I’m not taking it to the dealer in Pittsfield unless there’s no other choice.

Came home exhausted.

But got back to work in the afternoon, with script coverages, catching up on emails, getting out some LOIs, and the like.

Sendinblue has flagged my entire mailing list for the newsletter. They said there were too many bounces, and it had 0% opening rate. You know when they flagged it? THREE MINUTES after it was sent. I don’t know about you, but it’s often a week or more before I open and read newsletters. According to the dashboard, no one opened the newsletter. Yet I was hearing on social media and via email from a good portion of the list how glad they were the newsletter was up and running again. Also, what my dashboard shows as bounces (which I can either delete or research for updated emails) and what they’re telling me bounced don’t match. At all.

And they won’t let me just fix the bounces. They 86’d the entire list. Including the people who signed up via their contact form on my website.

It’s ridiculous.

I’ve worked with several email platforms over the years, both for myself and for clients. None of them have ever pulled this crap. Sendinblue’s response is they “can’t” only flag the bounced emails. If a certain number (and their number is higher than what shows up on my dashboard) bounce, the whole list is gone.

So I signed up for MailerLite (after several conversation with them), exported the whole list, ditched the Sendinblue contact form on my website and put in the MailerLite, and it looks like we’re good to go. I’m not sure if I should re-send the newsletter – Sendinblue claimed they only allowed it to go to a “sample” before 86-ing the entire list, but they won’t tell me to which addresses. I might do a “Take 2” with new information on the top, and tell people where they can stop reading if they already got the list.

Let’s hope MailerLite actually does what they claim to do.

So that puts MooSend and Sendinblue on my “no way do I want anything to do with them ever again.”

I mean, I do a quarterly newsletter. It’s not like it’s a big strain on any platform. Which was another problem with Sendinblue – quarterly wasn’t going to be enough for them. The list would have been flagged for inactivity after a month– and needed to be deleted and re-entered yet again.

No, thanks.

The company is not willing or able to meet my needs, so I will find someone else who can.

Saturday was a rainy, yucky day. Cold and raw. The storm let up for about a half hour, and I did a run over to Big Y and did a big grocery shop, including what I need for the baking, except for the candied peel, which I’m still struggling to find.

Got everything home and unpacked. Read a bit in the afternoon. Worked on script coverages.

Totally enjoyed PAYBACK’S A WITCH by Lara Harper. Very well done.

A little squirrel came up on the back porch, climbed up onto the bench and knocked on the window. He wanted our apples. No, I didn’t feed the squirrel. I don’t want it to go out on the Squirrel Collective Mind that I feel squirrels, or we’ll be overrun.

Sunday was mild and sunny. Got some script coverage done in the morning. We headed out with the last of the cards, dropped off some library books. The dashboard lights came on again in the car, and it gave a bit of a hiccough. I was worried it would stall out, but it smoothed out again. We went to Colonial Alpaca in Williamstown, so my mom could buy a gift for her friend. Then, it was off to Wild Oats to stock up.

They had a small Dresden stollen, so if I can’t get my hands on candied peel and make my own, at least we can have a little stollen. They also had the Nuremberg Gingerbread that I absolutely love. And it was fresh, not stale and left over from years before.

Got home, and we put up the big tree in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. It looks like a normal-sized tree in this house. It always dominated the Cape house. But it’s just. . .nice here. The stand, as always, was a pain in the ass to put together. I have to see if I can find a stand that works for artificial trees that isn’t so awful.

But it’s much sturdier here than it was on the floor back on Cape, and I might not even need to tie off.

We only got the tree up and the lights on, and lights up on the mantel and the front windows. That was as much as we could get done.

Besides, it gives the cats a chance to get used to the tree. We’re lucky; they’ve always been good with it. I mean, they check it out and they sit under it, but they haven’t been destructive, at least not yet. We let them hang out and “help” when we unpack the decorations, and their special Yuletide toys come out and go under the tree, and we have stuffed ornaments for the bottom branches, so it all works out.

Read two scripts, and most of the next book for review.

Tessa actually let me sleep on Monday morning, until after 6. Progress.

Reshuffled my morning yoga sequence. It didn’t work in the way I expanded it, so I put some of the new sequence at the front of the session, and it works better than sticking them on the end.

I had an excellent morning meditation session. Did not want to get up. Could have sat much longer, instead of 30 minutes.

Got blogs up for the Intent for the Week, for the GDR blog, and for tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice.

Found over 800 emails in my inbox, which is not the way I wanted to start my Monday. I got a couple of “we invite you to apply” emails from companies I’ve never heard of. I will have to see what that’s about. How about, if you like my website so much, we have a conversation about what you’re looking for, and whether we’re a good fit? Instead of “invite to apply.” Which, sent out on a Saturday night, sends off warning bells.

Found a couple of things that should have gone into a friend’s holiday package where Willa “helped” pack it – and she swiped those two things and put them in her stash. I retrieved them, wrapped them, and packed them. My mom packed the gift for her friend. I headed down to the post office (on foot) to send them off. Huge line, but moved fast. Told the clerk how grateful I was that the packages mailed last Thursday were already arriving. She was delighted.

Whenever there’s a line, everyone starts chatting with everyone. Like I said, the post office is the happening place around here. Where you go to find out what’s going on. In Lee, it’s Joe’s Diner. Here, it’s the post office.

Home, and back to work. Wrote up some blog posts. Worked on the tracking sheets for The Big Project. Wrote up two script coverages. Started doing some planning and scheduling for blog posts on various blogs for the new year. I need to start batch blogging for some of the blogs (not this one or Gratitude and Growth, which are dependent on the moment) and work ahead.

In the afternoon, I baked 10 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the holiday baking. Much easier and less stressful in this kitchen than it was on Cape, for some reason. Also, because I’m not doing all-day baking marathons, I think that eases up some of the stress, too. And my feet don’t hurt as much working in this kitchen.

I did use up most of the tins I brought up. I thought I’d brought up another box of them, but maybe not.

On the list for spring’s storage run: More tins for the cookies.

I miss my special china and the snowflake cups/plates/pot I got last year. Oh, well, I’ll get it on one of the summer or fall trips to storage, and we’ll have it for next year.

Read the script for which I’d been requested; it was veery good. It will be a pleasure to write it up. Finished reading the book for review. Will write the review, send it and the invoice off today. Ordered a couple of things off Etsy, from an artisan whose work I like, for something I’m working on for the new year.

Started reading Trisha Ashley’s ONE MORE CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, which Deborah Blake recommended. Thoroughly enjoying it. I wonder if this is the book that will convince my mom to read some of the books she likes on Kindle? She’d love this. I stayed up way too late reading.

Tessa let me sleep until 6:39 this morning. Fed everyone, and curled back up on the couch with the book, instead of doing what I should be doing.

Got through a little over 500 emails. I have to hope the car holds up to do an errand, and then get back to work on the review and the script coverage. Or maybe I’ll do the review/invoice first, and then attempt my errand.

I need to write up a long, complicated report on the script I read last night. On this afternoon’s agenda are the orange-cranberry cookies and the oatmeal lace currant cookies. Then, it’s two more scripts to read.

Those emails “inviting me to apply” that I received over the weekend? Bogus. Had nothing to do with anyone actually paying any attention to what I do or my skills. It was a series of automated emails from several different “recruiters” who are just looking to bump their numbers, not actually looking at actual talent to fill roles. Waste of my time to even open the emails.

Off to attempt productivity, when all I want to do is read that book!

At least my work for copyediting clients is done for the year. It’s only script coverage and the last two plays on deadline, both of which I’m writing in my head a good deal before I try to put anything on the page. The Marie Collier play is only a ten-minute play, so once I sort out some more possibilities in my head, I can just sit down and write it. I’m still working on some Dawn-and-Dorothy arcs, and I need to go back into the research materials a bit. Because the latter is so specifically stylized, it’s harder to pull off.

Have a good one.

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.