Wed. June 3, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 16 – When the Personal Moves into the Forefront

Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

It’s been cool enough the past few days so the heat kicked in.

There’s a post over on Ink-Dipped Advice, called “Who are You?” about how important personal values are in professionalism.

Struggled with some client work, when it comes to resizing photos so they work for a website. I’ve attended six different tutorials now for that platform. All six contradicted each other; NONE of them had the same stuff coming up on screen that I am. I’ve done all the adjustments suggested, and some of the photos still don’t look right. These aren’t photos that can be retaken. I have to use what I have. The client’s not too worried about it (yet), but I’m not happy.

Andrew Cuomo broke it down very well – separating the protestors from the looters, and what each stand for. And then where the virus comes into all of this.

Because the virus is still here, still waiting to kill more.

But, like I said yesterday, we weren’t dying fast enough from the virus to suit the Sociopath, so now he’s going to send people out to shoot us.

I’m hoping the good writing flow for THE BARD’S LAMENT continues. If it does, and I can keep pace and up it a little, I can make my deadline.

However, in all this, my second surgery has now been scheduled, for June 25. There are stringent protocols around it, due to the virus – including the fact that, the day before, I have to get a COVID-19 test and then isolate completely until I enter the hospital the next day. Now, I’m an advocate of as much testing as possible. Yet I feel guilty that I will be getting a test when so many others aren’t. At the same time, since I’m having surgery, I have to have it. As if the prep for this surgery wasn’t complicated enough anyway and taking an entire day.

If the test comes back negative, I find out when my surgery is scheduled the next day and we go forward with that set of protocols. If it comes back positive, I go into quarantine, and there’s a whole other set of protocols.

They’re going to send me all the instructions, and have put in the prescription for the medication I need to take for the prep. Let’s hope CVS deigns to fill it this time.

And then there are additional post-op protocols that must be followed, due to the virus and the possibility, that even with all these protections in place, I could still be exposed while I’m in the hospital.

So that is going to be an interesting ride. As Venus goes out of Retrograde, and while Mercury is IN Retrograde. Normally, I wouldn’t schedule a surgery while either one is in Retrograde (hence Venus coming out times almost right), but with the Mercury Retrograde, it’s about going back to resolve something that was unresolved – the cancelled surgery. So I’m risking it.

I did some work on the Coventina Circle website. The article about the goddess Coventina is up, along with some links to the historical site. I’ve also posted the blurb for THE BARD’S LAMENT. I have to check with the publisher, but I think the cover reveal is in either August or September. This is the fifth book in the series, and marks just past the half-way point. I love being back in that world.

Went to follow up on an LOI and do some LinkedIn connections. Discovered one of the people to whom I’d sent an LOI just moved companies. Want to stay in touch with him, but not really interested in working with the new company, so I’ll have to figure out to whom to re-send the LOI at the old company.

Tessa doesn’t want to go into the playpen, but Willa likes to show off when Tessa demurs, so Willa was the one who got to go out on the deck yesterday.

I need to do some serious weeding this weekend.

Woke up at 3:30 again today. Getting really tired of being really tired and not sleeping. Writing early this morning (back to BARD as soon as I post this). Then I’m onsite at the client’s for a few hours. Then home, disinfect, maybe more writing or sewing, and more reading about Susanna Centlivre. I still need the catalyst for the play, and haven’t found it yet.

Elizabeth Warren was out with the protesters yesterday, because she walks her talk. Kamala Harris spoke up right away. Joe Biden gave a good speech that didn’t get enough coverage. But the Democrats aren’t hitting back hard enough, and the GOP loves what’s going on. It’s disgusting. They need to stop talking and GET THINGS DONE.

It’s very, very true: If you want peace, work for justice.

Injustice has won out, and it’s so corrupt at the top right now that what’s happening was inevitable.

Spent some time on issues with one of my state senators. On the local level, the town is still being useless.

The COVID numbers are ticking up slowly. I’m keeping an eye on them. If they accelerate, that’ll be another reason for the surgery to be postponed again.

If the surgery goes forward, then there’s all kinds of bloodwork to look forward to in July. Oh, joy. More needles.

Trying to keep balance and perspective on the big picture of what’s happening that has both long and short term effect on my life while dealing with the day-to-day is even more challenging than usual. So I’m just doing what I can as I can and hoping for the best.

Peace.

Tues. May 26, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 8

Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Foggy and humid

I feel much better after taking some time off. Not that I was sitting around doing nothing. It was a busy few days. But it was a good few days, with fewer external pressures than internal ones, and it helped me get clarity on a few issues I needed in order to move forward.

I have new covers for all six Topic Workbooks. New editions are coming out over the next few months. I’m in the process of updating the information. Instead of uniform covers, each now has a unique cover with a Topic Workbook logo. I am going to take the old workbooks off Smashwords as the new ones are revised, and put the new ones up through a different distributor.

I’m working on the update for the Submission Systems workbook. With the way publishing has changed over the past few years, it needs updating, especially when it comes to things like online portfolios.

I’m hoping I can start rolling them out by the end of June or beginning of July. That will depend on how fast I can update them, because they need two full weeks pulled from distribution before I can release them via the new distributor.

The 99 cent sale is still on for PLAYING THE ANGLES, SAVASANA AT SEA, and TRACKING MEDUSA. That will be on until May 31, and I have promotions up via Tweetdeck every day.

Worked on some fiction writing, but didn’t push. Have to start pushing again this week, because there are deadlines, expectations, necessities. I have to keep the long-term balls up in the air while also pushing harder for short-term, immediate income balls. So it means longer hours and cutting more frustrations out of my life, unless they pay a lot in the immediate short term.

Got out a few LOIs, in spite of being, technically, on break.

It was pretty out on Friday, so I got some flower planting done. Cleaned out some boxes in the basement, got some files organized, tossed a lot of stuff I no longer need or can use. Sat on the deck for a bit.

One neighbor, who’s been sick with the virus, had a party on Friday night. He’s still sick, lost half his body weight, but he had people over, no masks, no social distancing. The wind carried over the part of the conversation about “catching it from those Chinese people” he works with. I’m disappointed in the ignorance.

The neighbors on the other side had company in and out all weekend, too. For some reason, they seem to think if they sit outside in the driveway, they won’t get sick. So they set their cars up like a barrier to the street, and put plastic tables and chairs out in the driveway, in front of the garage, and have people over. Now, they have a large yard and a deck. So I have no idea what the reasoning is. But hey, if it works for them, great.

Saturday, I lost count of the loads of laundry I did – mattress pads, blankets, winter stuff along with the usual sheets, towels, and clothes. Laundry all damn day. It was cold and rainy. I also baked tollhouse cookies. Cleaned out some more boxes. Progress is slow on purging the basement. There’s an overwhelming amount to do, and there’s also the psychological aspects of letting go of parts of my past that have often defined me.

But it’s time I redefined myself.

Kripalu is closed to visitors for the rest of the year, which had to be a difficult decision for them, but the right one. The Edinburgh Festival and Fringe is also cancelled in August. Again, a tough decision, but the right one in the long run.

Did some of my Susanna Centlivre reading, so I can start forming the play in my head before I try to write it down. I have some characters and scenes percolating, but I’m still trying to find a catalyst and a plot.

Read Deanna Chase’s WITCHING FOR GRACE, which was fun. Read two other mysteries, by different authors, which I found sort of “meh.”

Tessa, Charlotte, and Willa all spent some time in the same room without grumbling at each other, which was excellent progress. Tessa and Willa can manage quite well, and Willa and Charlotte are fine, but Tessa and Charlotte still have issues most of the time. But we’re working on it.

There’s so much talk about opening businesses “safely” but it’s just not happening. People are travelling in just for the day or the weekend. They’re not quarantining. They’re not wearing masks. There are no immediate consequences against them for being irresponsible, and it puts the rest of us at risk. It’s infuriating.

So I’m just plugging along, doing the best I can to keep my family safe.

I have a confession to make: I haven’t ordered on Amazon thus far, except eBooks to support fellow authors. But I broke down this weekend and ordered bamboo sheets. We need some new sheets, and I wanted to try the bamboo ones. I also ordered a “playpen” so I can take Willa and Tessa out on the deck (though not at the same time). But the latter was from Chewy, not Amazon.

Scored two absolutely adorable, padded ice cream parlor chairs on Craigslist from a place in Cotuit on Sunday morning. It was a no-contact pick-up. I was geared up and sanitized when I put them in the car, then disinfected them and myself when I got home. They are adorable and a perfect addition to our enchanted deck garden.

Yesterday, got some writing done in the morning. Did admin work, and prepped some paperwork that has to go off today.

Working on a big website project, and also working to update/cleanup/bring in new content on all my other websites. AND do new editions of the Topic Workbooks. AND work on the old Llewellyn material. AND get back on track with the books.

A lot to juggle.

Trying to figure out how to up the stakes on the book I’m working on (the untitled one, in longhand, that’s my first writing session of the day). I’m in the second third of it, and need to raise the stakes and make it more active. I’m trying to keep this book fairly lean. I keep reminding myself I don’t need to put everything in this book. Keep it simple. Deal with the main plot and a couple of subplots that are setting up longer arcs. Originally, I was going to have the plot thread through a long-term piece in which the protagonist was involved. Now, I want to compress the coming action in to the next few days. I think that will help pace.

I have a telemedicine conference with my doctor this morning, and then I have to go onsite for a client. Supposedly, I will be alone in the office today. Let’s hope it’s true. I have a mask, etc. anyway, just in case. Although this client does the whole passive aggressive mask thing “I can’t understand you when you wear a mask.” Well, then, let’s go back to fully remote. There is NO reason I need to be in the office more than an hour a week to download photographs that I then use in the materials. EVERYTHING else I do can be done remotely. If you’re going to force me into the office, then you can damn well wear the mask and not bitch about it.

This week is going to be challenging, on multiple levels. I’m trying to keep my cool, without letting myself be a doormat.

I am so sick of assholes.

 

Wed. May 20, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 2

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Day Before Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice, where I have a piece on “Don’t Be That Marketing Asshat.”

Yesterday went by fast. I did a lot, but it didn’t feel that way. I worked on the Square store I’m setting up for a client. Not thrilled with the Weebly platform, but hey. We do the best we can.

Sent out a bunch of LOIs – some of them were quite fun. There are some pretty interesting companies crossing my radar. I have to get the balance back for articles, though. I don’t want to drop the ball on that.

In the middle of an online meeting, there were crashes out on the deck. The wind knocked over and broke several of my large clay geranium pots. So there was a big mess to clean up. And, of course, it always has to happen when I’m in the middle of something work-related. Great way to impress a potential new client. “Just ignore all that noise; things are smashing right outside the window.”

This morning, I have to head back onsite for a particular client. She’s been good during all this, and we are supposedly taking precautions. We’ll see. Technically, offices aren’t open until next week, and then only at 25% capacity. The fact that’s being ignored does not make me feel confident. It’s the only client for whom I’m willing to do any onsite work through the end of this year.

I ended up troubleshooting something with the web developer for this particular client around 8 last night, so let’s hope that it worked. I’m the writer. I’m not the IT person.

At least I slept fairly well. Up early this morning. Decent, not brilliant, first writing session.

I’d heard from one of my editors, who had trouble opening the article I sent a few weeks back. I powered up the old Macbook, made the changes, saved it as an RTF, and sent it. Hopefully, that will work. Just in case, I printed off a copy. If there continues to be an issue with the current version of Word, I will just rekey it into Word. Do-able, and at least I didn’t lose the article.

I managed to do a workaround so I didn’t have to load a driver into the Macbook for the new laser printer. Since it’s USB connected, all it has to do is send the document. It worked, so, fingers crossed.

I am not looking forward to today’s battles. But all I can do is hold my boundaries and do the best I can to, literally, survive.

It definitely reinforced the whole, “I like individuals; not so fond of people.”

Hope you have a good day.

Published in: on May 20, 2020 at 6:34 am  Comments (2)  
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Tues. May 19, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 1

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

So, we’ve moved from StayTheFHome mode to DieForYourEmployer Mode. Because that’s all this reckless “re-opening” strategy here in MA is. All the members of the Advisory committee? Employers.

Not workers. Employers. Who are whining because they can’t kill their employees fast enough to make $200 bucks and have to go out of business anyway because no one has any money to buy their stuff because 36 million people are unemployed.

Which tells us all we need to know about how messed up the whole plan is. Especially since businesses are to “self-certify” that they are following protocols and there are zero consequences for not doing so.

The weekend was up and down.

Had to go to Trader Joe’s on Friday. They are letting in more people at a time then they were, and the customers are not social distancing. The staff is burned out and exhausted – the head office has to do more for them. Had to stop at CVS to get toilet paper. The checker was so bored at the register she was reading a magazine and scanning items without looking at them. But at least it wasn’t crowded.

Came home, did full disinfectant protocols and was exhausted. Then, someone we know asked us to run a ridiculous errand that would put me smack in the middle of tourists, and I refused.

The virus isn’t “better” and it hasn’t “gone away.” This attitude people have that everything is fine now and can go back to the way it was is going to get people killed. As a doctor I know said, “The only thing re-opening means is that there’s room for you in the hospital.”

Saturday, I painted four tables, a plant stand, and a plant cart, did 7 loads of laundry, wrote, and read part of a book as background for an essay. I was wiped out by the end of the day.

I felt awful Saturday night into Sunday, and wondered if I was coming down with symptoms. But I took some liquid Tylenol and, as the day wore on, I felt much better. I’m pretty sure it was frustration and stress.

Found out a friend and her husband had the virus, and, fortunately, recovered. I was just thinking about them and planning to get in touch this week.

Sunday, I set up more on the deck. It looks festive now, and is a lovely retreat that I intend to enjoy for the summer. Because I’m sure as heck not going anywhere.

Actually slept through the night Sunday into Monday for the first time in about a week. Wrote, did client work, caught up on some admin and email stuff, got out some LOIs. Did some work on the Cerridwen Iris Shea website. It needs a lot of work.

More of the same today. At least I had a good writing session to start the day, and I slept through the night. I have a lot of work to do today. I’m grateful, and I will keep working as much as I can while there’s work, but I also don’t want to put myself in jeopardy. I want to work remotely. What I do doesn’t need to be done in someone else’s office. The LOIs I’m sending out make it clear that remote in the only option I will consider.

One of the large geraniums on the deck was blown over by the wind. The clay pot broke, and it had to be cleaned up and repotted. The damn PC took 32 minutes to boot up and “update” – I’ve had it two weeks, it doesn’t need any updates. This is why I prefer the Mac.

Now, I’m getting ready to dive into emails and admin before I switch over to client work.

Tomorrow, I have to go back onsite for a client, and not looking forward to it. Trying to change that situation as soon as possible, but not in the position where I can just give it up right now.

There’s a post up over on the GDR site, if you want to check it out.

Onward.

PS The 99 cent promotion is still on for PLAYING THE ANGLES, SAVASANA AT SEA, and TRACKING MEDUSA. You can get all the details and buy links here.

3 Firsts Collage

Wed. May 13: StayTheFHome Day 49: Creativity and Exhaustion

Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I had a new post over on Ink-Dipped Advice, but I took it down because it wasn’t really helpful. I will try to come up with a better one and get it up later today.

Yesterday was an overly-long work day. I am on the edge of burnout. I’m hoping I can make it to the Memorial Day weekend, because I intend to take some time off and do nothing except sit outside and read, and write if I feel like it.

Not only am I working long hours, but the clients for whom I’m working insist that I’m not working, and they resent paying me to do nothing – even when the results are coming in that prove otherwise. So I’m feeling burned out, overworked, underappreciated.

Too bad for me, right? At least I’m still alive.

Yesterday started pretty well, though. I had excellent writing sessions on two different projects, and I’m happy with the way both are going. The band name “Orgasmic Clowns” turned up, and at first, it looked like they would be a part of one of the novels, but now I think I need to make them their own piece.

I got admin work done, some bills paid, put in another Chewy order. I’m frustrated because an order from Target went astray via UPS and neither entity wants to do anything about it. I’m still having Comcast issues, and the only “fix” they provide is something I’ve done before that only makes everything worse.

But at least my stamps arrived, so I can write more cards!

There’s a new logo for the Topic Workbooks, that needs a bit of tweaking, but I like it. Instead of having all the covers uniform with different titles, I’m getting new covers and using the logo at the bottom. Once I have all the covers, I’m going to pull them off Smashwords and put them through Draft2 Digital. I also want a new cover for 30 Tips for 30 Days. I don’t like it.

I have to get some promotional material posted via Tweetdeck and Hootsuite for the books on sale, and I need to finish the Trinity of Teasers free download that I want available in either mid-June or early July.

A writer friend who misses writing in coffee shops set up a bistro table and chairs in her house, and writes there, drinking from her travel mug and playing music. Sometimes she put the TV on in another room to simulate conversation around her. And she’s grateful not to be in a tiny NYC apartment, where her bistro table was once the only table that fit in the place! I love that idea and that image, and may need to use it in a story.

So at least I’m feeling creative, even if I’m exhausted.

I got out five LOIs yesterday, and go responses back on four. All of which have turned me off to the companies, but best to cut it off now than waste time. This idea that I should be willing to trot into an unsafe office full of germy strangers is simply not happening.

Got a lot of client work done on a big project. Will get a little more done today, but it won’t be ready until next week. By tomorrow, I will have used up the allotted time for the week, and I’m not working for free.

Today, I have Remote Chat to look forward to. I had two excellent first writing sessions this morning, on two different novels, and a frustrating computer update on a computer I’ve had less than a week.

Peace, my friends, and be well.

Tues. Jan. 21, 2020: Character Cross Purposes

Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Waning Moon

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, where I talk about books that had a strong impact on me in 2019.

It was a rather frustrating weekend, at least as far as productive writing. I’m still struggling with the end of “Trust.” I worked on, but did not finish the Kate Warne curtain raiser. I am at a crossroads with the scene on which I’m working. I don’t want to add characters this late into the play, nor do I want to have the climax of the play happen offstage.

I got an idea for two more comic mystery radio plays: one a steampunk, and one set against a vintage circus. I wrote the first eleven pages of the steampunk. I had to re-figure the plot once when I changed direction on one of the characters; then again, when I realized that some of the tropes I’m playing with could come across as offensive, and, within the restrictions of time and number of characters, I couldn’t do enough to turn those tropes inside out so using them wouldn’t be offensive. I’d need it to be a full-length evening in order to do that. Maybe I should make it into a two-parter? I’m confused. I have to think about it. There are already a few identity switches, but now I might have to add a character who is only referenced and do another mistaken identity. Or, or, I could enter this character and make this character the Big Bad. Because right now, the Big Bad is never in the script, and I feel that lets the audience down. The characters are all at odds with each other. Or do I want this as part of a series, like I did with the Frieda and Lazarus plays, and have the big reveal in the third play?

I don’t know yet.

I had a question from the director of “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” from one of the actors. I think I’ve fixed it in a single line. Fingers crossed.

Discouraged about the LOIs and the article pitches. I’m tired of companies lying about what they want in a certain role. That’s what it all is — lies, to get someone cheap instead of skilled, frightened instead of an independent thinker, and to force them to go beyond the scope of what drew them to the company in the first place — and not beyond the scope in a good way. Not a stretch, but a diminishment.

As far as article pitches, I’m discouraged with myself for not getting them drafted, polished, and out fast enough. I managed to finally get one pitch, for a publication with whom I really want to work for, polished, and sent it off yesterday. Fingers crossed.

Did laundry, worked with the cats a lot, cooked, baked, worked on contest entries and the book for review. Finished the book, wrote the review, sent it off.

We had a snowstorm on Saturday night into Sunday which we needed, but it changed over into rain overnight. We need some steady snow cover, or the tick and bug problem will be out of control and the growing season will be challenging. We had snow flurries on Monday morning, but nothing substantial.

Worked on site with a client, in spite of the holiday. No meditation, so I sat on my own in the afternoon.

Onsite today with a client, and then some work at the library. Video conference with London with a different client, before I go onsite.

Just feel disappointed and discouraged all around. Let’s hope I can shift that this week.

Published in: on January 21, 2020 at 7:10 am  Comments Off on Tues. Jan. 21, 2020: Character Cross Purposes  
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Thurs. Jan. 16, 2020: Rain, Writing, Other

Thursday, January 16, 2020
Waning Moon
Rainy and cold

The temperature is dropping, It’s going to snow this weekend.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth, for the latest on the garden.

Yesterday was exhausting with the client, and will be for the next few weeks, while we work on a big project. It’s fine, I’m just wiped out when I leave.

Home, worked with the cats. Charlotte was being difficult. But the Chewy order arrived, which put all three of them in a better mood.

Worked on contest entries, and am re-reading Donna Leon’s FATAL REMEDIES.

Up early this morning, took my mother to a medical appointment. Got some writing done. Off to two different libraries today, for resources that are unique to each.

I am determined to wrestle the end of “Trust” into something that works over the next few days.

Will start my next book for review tonight.

Hope to finish “Trust” and the Kate Warne curtain raiser, and also get some serious work done on BALTHAZAAR. That deadline is looming.

Hoping to get some more LOIs out today or tomorrow, and then polish some article proposals over the weekend.

At least there’s never a dull moment!

Published in: on January 16, 2020 at 10:55 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 16, 2020: Rain, Writing, Other  
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Fri. Jan. 10, 2020: Reviewing Focus & Prepping for a Writing Weekend

Friday, January 10, 2020
Full Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

Hop on over to the Ava Dunne blog, Affairs of the Pen,to read about what the characters miss when they go out to sea.

We’re supposed to hit record high temperatures this weekend around here. The snow is already melting. IF it’s dry enough, I’ll do some more yard work.

Got out a bunch of LOIs yesterday, worked on the GRAVE REACHmedia kit, did some work on the marketing plan for the overall series.

Dropped off and picked up a bunch of stuff at the library.

The first shipment of books for the contest arrived. Very exciting! I unpacked them, checked them against my list. I have a few digital ones to download, which I will do over the next few days, and then I’ll start reading. I like getting the entries in two shipments. It means I can finish the first batch by the time the second batch arrives, and it gives me time to give the ones vying for the top spot and finalist spots a second read.

Yes, I take my work as a contest judge seriously. These authors poured heart and soul into the work. I approach each with excitement and joy. I WANT to fall in love with every book I pick up. The categories have become more and more competitive each year, with both the quality of writing, and the way the winning authors are growing the genre.

In the afternoon, I read F.P. Lock’s dissection of Susanna Centlivre’s plays, letters, and poems. It was very interesting, and makes me even more excited to write about her. I look forward to reading her plays — I got several from Project Gutenberg. The Lock book came from Taunton Library via the Commonwealth Catalog — I’m so lucky to have access to that.

To my great joy, I received notification that 365 Women accepted BOTH the proposal for the Susanna Centlivre play and for the Isabella Goodwin play. I’m absolutely delighted. I am researching Susanna already. I’d like to get that play done and out by the end of June. That gives me the second half of the year for Isabella’s play.

I got a little bit of work done on the Winter Solstice romance. I’m at the point (six chapters in), where I need to start typing what I’ve written in longhand and making tracking sheets, because I’m losing certain elements. I have an outline, which helps. I have a feeling it will be more of a women’s fiction novel with romantic elements rather than a romance novel. There are issues I’m exploring that take it out of the romance formula, while still having my two protagonists falling in love.

I’m still struggling with the last few pages of “Trust.” I hope to get it finished this weekend.

I need to do some tweaks on the Lavinia Fontana play, too, SERENE AND DETERMINED, because I have my eye on a potential submission for that.

I had a wacky idea of an out-there dream project (in real life) that I will never be able to fund (in real life), but it would make a cool premise for a book. Made some notes. So we’ll see.

Idea Cookies, right?

Working on the books for review. I want to get the reviews out next week, and get in the next books for review. I can juggle those deadlines with contest entries and research books.

Re-read Donna Leon’s QUIETLY IN THEIR SLEEP and A NOBLE RADIANCE over the last couple of days. I get so much out of this series every time I read it.

Finished watching the documentary on the Dark Ages. I didn’t know most of what was in it. Very interesting.

One of the LOIs I sent out yesterday already got a response for more interaction. I will do that later today. We will see if we are a good match. But it was a pleasant, professional response, and it was quick, so we’ll see how it goes.

Lots of errands this morning. As I’ve been writing this, it’s moved from sunny to cloudy. Reminds me there was a red sky in the morning, which means there could be rain later. Looks like it will be sooner, rather than later.

So, how did I do on this week’s intent of focus?

Pretty well, even though the focus was spread over a lot of projects. But whatever I worked on, I FOCUSED on. I got more done (although it never, ever feels like enough).

I feel as though the energy I focused on the Susanna Centlivre research really paid off, as did the focus on the LOIs. It’s too early to see if the pitches hit true, but I’m happy with the quality of what I pitched.

I’m looking forward to a creative weekend. Let’s hope next week is positive and creative, too!

Thurs. Jan. 9, 2020: Frustrations and Creativity

Thursday, January 9, 2020
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest on the garden.

Yesterday was exhausting. I was plugging away at my client’s when one of the reps needed an email blast sent out immediately. Of course, it was near the end of my workday. Then, when I logged onto Robly, the platform we use — they changed everything on their dashboard. So there I was, under time pressure, and they’ve made everything awful.

For the past three years, I’ve loved Robly and recommended it to everyone above Constant Contact and MailChimp. Now, without any warning, they’ve stripped everything that made them unique and versatile out of the platform. I can’t build a campaign from scratch anymore. I’m FORCED to choose one of THEIR templates, then have to dismantle it in order to rebuild it the way I need. Instead of being able to choose a blank template and building it the way I want. Everything that took one step now takes five. I’m being forced into setting up for metrics that my clients don’t want or need. Support had to work with me through live chat so I could send out a basic, simple email because the platform tried to force me into A/B testing of two different emails. I don’t want or need that for that particular blast. Don’t force me into doing extra work when I’m on time pressure for things I don’t want or need. No. YOU are supposed to serve MY needs, not the other way around.

So, no more Robly for me. I know there’s one particular client who won’t move platforms, but everyone else will, once I recommend it, will move. And I sure as hell won’t be recommending them to ANYONE again.

Way to lose customers, Robly.

Remote chat was okay, but I got in late and was upset, and had to work to catch up.

Stopped at the store on the way home to pick up a few things.

Charlotte was in meltdown mode when I got home, having an anxiety attack where she also got aggressive. She didn’t like the boundaries set while I was gone (that she couldn’t go up and bother Tessa). So she got hissy and spitty and aggressive. Then, she heard people talking outside and some idiot idling their engine for a good half hour and freaked out. I suspect that was the pattern when she was moved around — she had anxiety and got aggressive, there were loud voices, a car engine started up, and she was moved to the next location.

I coaxed her into my lap and soothed her. As soon as the truck drove off and there were no more voices, AND SHE WAS STILL HOME, she calmed down and was fine.

She has to learn boundaries. And she needs to learn that having to stay within certain boundaries (and there aren’t a lot: no aggression to the humans or cats in the household; stay off the counters) doesn’t mean she’s given away.

Time and patience. That’s all she needs. Time and patience. And consistency.

Worked on the Winter Solstice romance this morning. Will finish the draft of “Trust” this afternoon, and wash the holiday fabric, so it can be put away until next year. Have to get some wax out of a few pieces. That’s where the iron and the butcher paper come in handy. I can lift off the wax using butcher paper without hurting the iron or the fabric.

Will clean out some boxes from the basement this weekend, maybe get in some yard work, do research, write, work on the books for review.

Hopefully, a lovely, creative weekend at home. I need some peace and quiet!

Difficult, when there’s a psychopath determined to get us all killed running the country. And Congress lets him.

An article pitch and an LOI bounced back. I found another submission address for the article pitch. The LOI — the company removed the listing, so that’s that. Working on a couple more article pitches and LOIs that will go out either later this week, or early next.

Back to the page.

 

Published in: on January 9, 2020 at 10:23 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 9, 2020: Frustrations and Creativity  
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Tues. Sept. 17, 2019: Trying To Smooth Out Difficult Times

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Difficult weekend. Everything worked my last nerve. I’m angry and hurting and unhappy and nothing works to lessen it. It’s a bad patch. I’ll get through it, but it’s not fun while it lasts.

Hop on to see the mid-month check in over on Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions; some musings about reciprocal and non-reciprocal spirituality on Kemmyrk; today’s post for the #ReaderExpansionChallenge over on A Biblio Paradise. That catches us up, at least for the moment.

We still miss Lucy terribly. It’s tough on Tessa, being the only cat. She’s with us all the time, but she misses having another cat in the house. Without Lucy to sleep on the bed, my elderly mother started having nightmares again.

Friday night, I gussied up and attended the opening reception to the new exhibit at the Cahoon Museum. I almost didn’t manage it, because, in spite of their expanded parking, it was packed. Great for the support of the museum, but frustrating. I cheated and parked at a business next store that was already closed for the night.

The reception was lovely. I have to say that I found the “pre-mortem” daguerreotypes disturbing. Photos taken just before the moment of death. Creepy. And the hunters with their trophies were gross. But there was also an exhibit called Look This Way which included “Unidentified Women” with artist Jodi Colella that was quite wonderful. She combines film and fiber in a unique and wonderful way. She created the giant scorpion out of black doilies for the fiber art exhibit last autumn. I had the chance to talk with her for a bit. I didn’t want to hog her time, because the reception was packed. But we had a lovely conversation. She brings such insight and imagination to her work.

I ran into a couple of people I knew, which was nice. I eavesdropped on several conversations (as writers do). Mostly old rich white people moaning about their privileges and criticizing anyone who didn’t grovel before them. Several of them deserved a good slap upside the head.

Worked on GRAVE REACH, but not enough. When I’m actually into it, it flows well, but sitting myself down and doing it is a struggle. For no good reason. This book is leaner and more tightly plotted than the last two, and, in many ways, I think it works better. So I don’t understand why I’m struggling with these revisions.

Worked on ELLA. Worked on another idea I’ve been spinning, that looks like it might turn into something worthwhile. Played with some short story ideas. Worked on some article pitches.

Did some revisions on the first volume of GAMBIT COLONY, which I shouldn’t have, but working on that book soothes me when I’m stressed, so I did it.

Had sent an LOI to a company that looked like it would be a good match for some marketing work, pairing writing with my film/theatre expertise. Their response? Demanding a timed on-line assessment. No. Not doing those. If you’re too lazy and stupid to read my cover letter, resume, and samples to figure whether or not I’m right for the job, that’s on you. We are not a good match. Do not waste my time for what you’re claiming is a top-level assignment by sending me something an hourly minimum-wage employee would have to fill out. I have three decades of credits behind me. You know where you can put your “timed assessment.”

Another response to an LOI was a request for additional information, via an online form. It arrived on Saturday afternoon, outside of business hours. Fine. I figured I’d do it on Monday, DURING business hours, as any legitimate business expects. Only they nagged me ALL WEEKEND. I ignored them. They’re not paying me. I’m not giving up my weekend to fill out a form. It can wait until Monday. I suspect part of this “next step” will be a demand for an unpaid project-specific sample, in which case I will tell them where they can put it. I’m supposed to be panicked and jump through hoops because they claim they had 400 applicants? First, I don’t believe they did; second, part of the introduction/interview process is to see if we are a good fit FOR EACH OTHER. So far? Not liking what I see.

It’s a complete lie that there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill top-level jobs. The problem is that the companies outsource EVERYTHING to unskilled recruiters who are working part-time in between their college classes (because yes, I know how to get them to tell me everything about themselves and they’re not skilled enough to avoid the questions or dig into MY background) and HR people who don’t know anything about the job or the company, and do everything by form and algorithm. You’re not going to find the strongest skilled, creative person for the job that way. Genuinely skilled people with solid credentials aren’t going to play that game.

Saturday was all about laundry. Nine loads of laundry. We changed over from the summer cotton sheets to the flannel fall/early winter sheets. We took the summer covers off the chairs and sofa and put on the fleece for the sofa and the autumn on the big chair. The lace curtain panels came down in my room and the red-and-gold three season curtains went up. Some of the plants came in. Some are getting cut back. Things are being washed, dried, ironed/folded, and packed until next summer. Leaves are falling, and I’ll have to start raking soon.

I read a book by a writer who was trying to write blue collar, rough characters from her point of white privilege. It didn’t work. She didn’t understand what drove the characters, and they weren’t dimensional enough. I’ve read some of her other work and enjoyed it, for the most part. This was a disappointment.

Worked on the books for review. One blurb will go out today; will send the other tomorrow or Thursday.

I’m reading the entire Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald in order. I’d read several of them a long, long time ago. It’s interesting to re-read them all, with fresh perspective of life experience. They are very of their time and timeless. It’s interesting. There’s some beautiful, concise descriptive writing. I didn’t like any of the female characters in THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY. I’m hoping I will like them better in NIGHTMARE IN PINK. But so, far, not liking the women in that book either.

It’s also interesting to re-watch the entire MARY TYLER MOORE series in order. It’s very much of its time, too. I wasn’t too excited about the first half of the first season, but then it started having a little more bite. I remember it being more ground-breaking than I’ve seen so far, but maybe it grew into it. Or maybe it was ground-breaking at the time and seems less so now, because of the ground it broke.

THE NEW YORK TIMES is being stupid and pandering again, as usual. Calling a sexual assault “harmless fun” is not “poor phrasing.” It’s trivializing sexual assault, which is something the media –and the justice department does. Brett Kavanaugh should not have been confirmed, and he needs to be impeached.

The whole bru-ha-ha over Felicity Huffman serving 14 days for bribing someone to fix her kid’s test scores irritates me, too. I am furious at her for doing that. First of all, it’s an insult to her kid. If my parents had so little faith that I could get into the school of my choice that they felt they had to bribe someone, I would have been devastated. And yes, I got in to every school to which I applied, including top-level Ivy League schools. On. My. Own. Merit. I’d always admired Huffman’s work and she presented herself as an ethical person. So I am angry that she’d stoop to something like this.

Do I think it’s fair that she serves only 14 days when a black woman got 5 years for trying to vote? No. Those sentences have no parity. I believe both racism and economic segregation played a part. But I also disagree with John Legend’s comments that there shouldn’t be any jail time. For the black woman who was arrested for trying to vote? Zero time, I believe, a class in political science, and community service. But rich people trading on white privilege need to have serious consequences. Is jail the best solution? Probably not. But community service isn’t enough either. Using the same amount of money she paid or more to pay toward the tuition of someone smarter than her kid who can’t afford college? Maybe that would help.

Yesterday was a long but productive day at my client’s, then work at the library, then Meditation. I desperately needed it.

Today will be another long day with my client and then who knows what else. I’m trying to tackle everything that needs to be done and struggling.

For the moment, though, it’s back to the page. The consistency gets results.

 

Fri. Sept. 13, 2019: A Pretty Day

Friday, September 13, 2019
Full Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and lovely

Today is a lovely autumn day, and I’m trying to get myself steady.

Hop on over to Affairs of the Pen, where I talk about how I built Sophie’s shipboard friends and foes.

Yesterday, I got a lot of work done on LOIs, posts, and I’m working on a free promotional download packet of my series. The formatting is a bit of a slog, but it matters. When I pick up a book, be it print or ebook, and the formatting is amateur hour, I cross the author off my list.

Got some work done on ELLA. The work is slow, but steady. This first draft is kind of a mess because I’m blank paging instead of using an outline, but I’m learning a lot. I think I’m going to outline the next two books in the trilogy. It’s easier to have at least a loose idea of where I’m going.

Didn’t get enough work done on GRAVE REACH or “Pier-less Crime” but I hope to fix that today.

I did some more research and am working out the plot of the play on Canaletto’s sisters. I still need a good title. But the characters are coming together, and I have at least one of the conflicts, with two of the smaller conflicts figured out. So that’s a help. I may have to cut some characters.

I cancelled this morning’s phone meeting. The deeper I dug into their work and values, the more uncomfortable I was with how they work. I have other opportunities that are more suited to the way I work.

I have a lot to do this weekend, writing and review-wise, but I’m actually looking forward to it.

We are still grieving Lucy’s loss, though, and will for a long, long time.

Published in: on September 13, 2019 at 8:54 am  Comments Off on Fri. Sept. 13, 2019: A Pretty Day  
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Fri. Sept. 6, 2019: Battening Down the Hatches for a Dorian Slap

Friday, September 6, 2019
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and mild

For some reason, yesterday seems far away.

Got some work done at the library in the morning, including sending out a bunch of LOIs. Did the big grocery shop before the incoming storm. Couldn’t find everything I wanted. How could the store be out of flour? So I guess I’m not baking this weekend, once the storm passes, unless I go shopping again.

Hop on over to Affairs of the Pen, the blog under the Ava Dunne name, where I talk about how I’m building the ensemble for the Nautical Namaste Mysteries. This week’s post talks about how I developed Sophie’s friends on land: her housemates Fawn and Bianca, her friend Freddie the painter, her family, the supporting characters that help set up and support certain aspects of her character.

Participated in the Freelance Chat on Twitter yesterday, which was a ton of fun.

Worked on “Pier-less Crime” in the afternoon. It’s going more slowly than I’d like, but okay. Crafted a pitch for a magazine for which I’ve wanted to write for years, and I finally came up with something I think is suited to them. That goes out today.

Meeting this morning, which I was not looking forward to (and why this post is going up late).

I’ve set up a separate Twitter account for Fearless Ink. I still will talk about anything on the @DevonEllington account, but @ink_fearless will be focused just on business writing and freelancing. I hope you will follow me on both.

Got a little bit of work done on ELLA. But, because I’m blank paging most of it instead of following a detailed outline, this last third of the book is a mess and difficult to sort out. I feel like I have to type up everything I’ve written so far, so that I can effectively write the last third. This process has been fun and I’ve learned a lot; however, it reminds me why I prefer to work from detailed outlines.

The plan this afternoon and for most of the weekend is to work on GRAVE REACH and finish “Pier-less Crime.” I need both to go out next week. I also have to revise the first chapter of THE BARD’S LAMENT, so it’s in good enough shape to be part of the back matter for GRAVE REACH.

There are personal stresses with which I’m dealing with and can’t yet discuss. They are wearing on me, and I hit patches in the day where I feel like I am flat out of coping skills.

Of course, in times of stress, I always want to work on GAMBIT COLONY, because it soothes me. But I can’t do that during this deadline period. I need to focus on what’s on deadline.

But all I can do is the best I can do. And I have to get back to the page.

Have a great weekend. Monday’s post will be a full one, about challenging yourself, for Upbeat Authors.

 

Published in: on September 6, 2019 at 9:57 am  Comments Off on Fri. Sept. 6, 2019: Battening Down the Hatches for a Dorian Slap  
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Tues. July 23, 2019: Physical Manifestations?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

The weekend was brutally hot. It was bad. Difficult to get anything done.

I also fretted and stressed all weekend about this week with one of my clients, which I knew would be off-the-charts stressful. It’s easy to say “don’t think about it” or “detach” — but it doesn’t work that way, at least not for me.

I worked hard in the early mornings (usually up by four) to get the fans going and cool down the place. I had to shut everything by 7 AM, and then keep fans going inside. The humidity and lack of breeze kept everything heavy and oppressive.

Of course, there were power outages. Why should Eversource actually provide the services for which they exist and overcharge?

Read a lot. Jean-Luc Bannalec’s THE MISSING CORPSE, set in Brittany, which was interesting. The way the book is structured is so different from the way an American or British or Australian mystery is constructed.

Re-read Susan Cheever’s AMERICAN BLOOMSBURY, which I enjoyed even more this time around.

Tried to stay quiet and cool, and keep the cats the same.

I’d done some research on Friday about possible article markets, and I’m working on pitches. I hope to get at least some of them out this week.

The 2020 SPELL-A-DAY ALMANAC author copies arrived. They look wonderful! My work is in there under the Cerridwen Iris Shea byline. I’ll have to do some updates on that website, and on the blog.

I’m still waiting for payment for a freelance job for a local client I did nearly a month ago. It was invoiced on July 1. On July 15, the client apologized for the delay and promised to take care of it. It’s still not here. That is not okay. That money is marked for specific bills that need to be paid.

I’m sick of the attitude in this area that paying for work is optional. That, along with the attitude of hiring the cheapest person who is also the least threatening, instead of the best person for the job has gotten real old real fast.

I got out some LOIs. There was a communications job at a theatre in Maine that looked interesting. Unfortunately, instead of accepting a resume and letter, they demand filling out a specific application that is one of the most insulting things I’ve ever read. Some of the questions are also now illegal. So I’m not even going to pitch to them.

I had to go onsite at my client’s early yesterday and stay late. Same today. It went better than expected, but was still a tough day.

I’m having terrible trouble with my back. Every movement causes pain. I’m wondering if my frustrations from the past few weeks are manifesting in this particular type of “stuck” pain.

Meditation was much needed.

Between the heat and the stress, I’ve lost some of the momentum on GRAVE REACH. I hope to regain it in the next few days.

Awakened last night by tornado alerts. Got things together in case we had to go down to the basement. Lots of thunder and lightning, but it passed.

Back to the page.

Published in: on July 23, 2019 at 8:48 am  Comments Off on Tues. July 23, 2019: Physical Manifestations?  
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