Wed. Aug. 9, 2017: Building & Happiness

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy day yesterday. Early morning errands and bill paying, including a major grocery shop. I love grocery shopping. I love looking at what’s fresh and in season, and, because I cook, I can make up recipes as I shop.

Built two websites yesterday, one for the Coventina Circle series and one for the Nautical Namaste series. They’re not live yet; I want to get most of the material on the site before I send it live.

At first, it looked like the host wouldn’t let me build any more without yet another fee, but then I figured out how to do it. As usual, customer disservice was useless.

I’m happy with the look of both sites, although I need to wrangle the graphics on the Nautical Namaste site a bit more.

Finished the last piece of backmatter for the PLAYING THE ANGLES manuscript. One more major proofread, and off it goes. I need to get it out the door before Mercury goes retrograde! I have to change a few links, since I directed readers to the web PAGE for the Coventina Circle series on the Devon Ellington site, whereas now they will go to the web SITE dedicated to the series. And I’ve got some fun stuff going on the site, too!

I had a lovely wine/cheese/gab session with someone yesterday afternoon. Good catch-up. And, for dinner, baked chicken with Thai sweet chili, basil, and garlic, along with mashed potatoes and spinach. Yummy! And I baked chocolate chip cookies, because I wanted to.

It was nice to spend a few hours relaxed and happy after the unrelenting stress of the past few months.

Today, it’s getting the manuscript out the door, uploading more material to the Coventina Circle website, getting in cat food, and probably buying a new phone.

I’ve been having trouble with this phone for months now. It’s constantly telling me I’m “running out of internal storage”. I’ve taken out almost all the apps; I have about 11 emails in my inbox. And it keeps “running out of storage”. That’s because the manufacturer, BLU, is trying to force me to buy a more expensive phone. I may well do that, but it won’t be from this company. It stopped letting me take photos months ago, claiming there wasn’t any room; and the camera isn’t anywhere near as good as it was on the other phone. The other phone wasn’t very good, either (Alcatel), and I won’t buy another of those. BLU was useful in the transition from T-Mobile to AT&T. T-Mobile was a crap carrier; AT&T serves my needs much better. But this particular phone causes me grief on a daily basis. I need a smart phone for email and to do internet research. I never TALK on the phone — my hyperaccusis makes it painful. I don’t do business by phone. But I need something reliable for email and social media, and so I can look things up when I write. So I’m off to hunt down a new, affordable

And it all needs to happen before Mercury turns retrograde, or I’m really screwed.

I’m still not back into a good writing rhythm, but I hope to get that handled later today.

“Labor Intensive”, SAVASANA AT SEA, and SPIRIT REPOSITORY are the priorities here.

Onward.

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Published in: on August 9, 2017 at 8:50 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 9, 2017: Building & Happiness  
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Thurs. Jan. 28, 2016: Prep Work and an Aha! Moment

Thursday, January 28, 2016
Waning Moon
Sunny and mild

Most of the snow’s melted, thank goodness, but my front yard looks like a mud flat. Oh, well.

Yesterday was a long day, up and down. Lots of good ideas brainstormed, some good writing for work-related projects done, invitations issued, etc. Interspersed with the other stuff.

The short radio play is out, and was acknowledged by an actual individual just a few minutes after it was sent. Always nice.

Very tired when I got home. I had to do some work on my friend’s manuscript, and watched some TV, but mostly, I tried to get my energy back. I had a migraine, which didn’t help, either. The migraine made it hard to get to sleep, and then I overslept this morning, and couldn’t get done as much as I wanted to, writing-wise. The migraine is still there, unfortunately, so that will make for a difficult day.

There was a contest, with a decent cash prize and a big name, that came to my attention. I have a piece that would work for it, but ended up not sending it. Once I hit the 27th point in the submission guidelines, my eyes crossed and it wasn’t worth reading the rest of them. Not to mention that the tone of the guidelines was downright nasty, and some of the demands were insulting. Decided to pass on it.

That’s a big mistake many writers make early in their careers — they submit, regardless of the guidelines, thinking their piece is so good, it won’t matter. What they refuse to recognize is that if they don’t follow the guidelines, the piece will never be read; it will simply be discarded. And then the guidelines will get even nastier, because the people who get all these disrespectful submissions get angrier.

In my case, I read the guidelines, I disagreed with them, and therefore, I did not submit. We all win. Winning doesn’t always mean the submission or the publication — it’s finding the right match.

I’m putting together the project bin I’m going to take on retreat. I decided not to take any “have to” reading — in other words, no contest entries. I’m taking some background reading on a few projects, and some pleasure reading. And plenty of pen and paper.

I want to get started on the next play this weekend, and do work on both DEATH OF A CHOLERIC and TIE-CUTTER. I won’t have the play completely adapted into radio format before I go, but that’s okay. I can work on it during February, and get it out at the end of the month. I’m still waiting to hear back on a few things before I can make those submissions anyway.

I also had an “aha!” moment on a project. It’s an idea I’ve been playing with, on and off, for several years. I finally realized I’d approached it from the entirely wrong angle! Now that I have a good idea about how I want to do it, I think it will fly. I’m still trying to decide if I want to set it in the earlier part of the 20th century or the latter — I have to do some background reading — which means re-reading one of my favorite books. So yes, that book went into the project bin.

I also had an idea that I think might fit in to a friend’s exciting new project, so I’m going to share it with her, put a bug in her ear, so to speak.

I’m excited about the creative opportunities this year, and, once again, getting more ruthless about my time.

Devon

Published in: on January 28, 2016 at 9:27 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 28, 2016: Prep Work and an Aha! Moment  
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Jan. 27, 2016: Creative Flow

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Waning Moon
Mercury Direct (as of the 25th)
Rainy and mild

We had a nice big snowstorm on Saturday into Sunday — 15 inches. So much for the idiots who said it would be 3-5. We dug out with the help of our neighbor, but stayed tucked inside for most of the day.

I mostly read, working my way through contest entries, reading my friend’s manuscript, doing research. I outlined a new book, and wrote 11 pages on it, so the characters would stop bugging me.

I re-read the work I’ve done on RED WIDOW, and really like it. I need to find a way to work that piece back into the queue.

I worked on the short radio play. Tried a bunch of things that didn’t work, and finally found what did. The play is finished, polished, proofed, and will go out today. The deadline is Monday, so I’m happy to get it in a bit early. It’s a lot of fun. I’ll have to convert it to BBC format, and get back to converting “Confidence Confidant” into both BBC and US format for radio.

I came across GLAMOROUS HEARTS — that’s a lot of fun, and I think I’ll do something with that in the coming months. I’m finding all kinds of interesting stuff as I go through my boxes.

I did some work on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, but not as much as I’d like. I feel like I’m behind where I should be, to meet the mid-February deadline for a first draft.

Last night, just moments after I finished the play, I attended the monthly HobNob. It was lots of fun, nice crowd at the Cotuit Center for the Arts. Carl Lopes was our speaker — his work is wonderful. We had a lovely conversation. I also met actor Neil McGarry — I like his one man CHRISTMAS CAROL, and we talked about all kinds of theatre stuff, and the possibility that he’ll do some Shakespeare for the library in April. All in all, a creative evening.

Picked up my mother at knitting. Only got about two rows done, but that’s life.

The radio play goes out today. I turn my main focus back to DEATH OF A CHOLERIC then, and I think, this weekend, I’ll also have the chance to start working on the next play, set in 17th Century Italy.

I will have a long day at work, but I want to get a couple of panels finalized, and get us into ArtsWeek Boston before the deadline.

I can’t believe January is almost done!

I have an article on answering when opportunity knocks over on the GDR site. I hope you check it out.

Devon

Published in: on January 27, 2016 at 10:32 am  Comments Off on Jan. 27, 2016: Creative Flow  
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Yesterday was just a big honking waste of time all the way around. Of course, ALLSTATE never came through on anything they promised, and I couldn’t get hold of anyone who knew anything about the regulations in MA or cared to find someone who did. Trust me, you are NOT in good hands with ALLSTATE if you’re in MA, because they don’t know what they’re doing and don’t care. They were great in NY, but I suspect it is because we were with the same individual for over 30 years, and he knew the ins and outs of their completely customer unfriendly system. Well, next week, it will be the Commissioner of Insurance’s problem — and, Lori, you’re right, the Attorney General should know about it, too. Since it affects two states, I’ll let both the NY and MA AG’s office know about these illegal practices. They are, literally, breaking the law, and, in this state, there’s no wiggle room with that. They’re not in a grey area. I realize this is the first year they’ve done business in the state, but they should be well-versed in the regulations BEFORE they come in, and if they don’t know something, they should care enough to find out, not just shrug and ignore it, which is what is happening on every phone call.

More paperwork. Headdesk. But it has to be done. The reason these companies can get away with this crap is that too many people whine “I don’t have time” to file a complaint. Those in the position to do something can’t unless they know about it. Take the time to file. Every time you don’t, you’re not just screwing yourself, but every other person who does business with an unethical company.

So I did some research on other agents in the area, I’m looking for recommendations, and on Monday morning, we’ll see. I hope to walk into an individual’s office and get it all sorted, and get the renter’s insurance sorted, too.

I’m trying to find a doctor for my mom, which is difficult, because oh, so many of those listed in the directory as “accepting new patients” suddenly remember they don’t when you call. And, in spite of a request for enough refills on her daily medication from her former doctor, done in writing, well before we moved, her former doctor can’t even give the courtesy of a response, much less actually do her job, and the people who work in the office simply don’t care. I worked in doctors’ offices for many years, I know the challenges, the exhaustion, and the paperwork, but it is the staff’s job to keep on top of it and make sure the doctor has the information, and then nag the doctor until it gets done. I’m sure we’ll find a much better, nicer practice here, but finding it is the challenge.

Had a lovely email exchange with an agency in the state who helps people without health care find health care that they can afford. I can only enroll somewhere after Jan. 1, but at least I’m doing the research. I was surprised because each email was answered, in complete and coherent detail, in ten minutes. I like the whole “marketplace” thing (part of the legislation the Republicans got rid of in health care reform), where you can compare rates and policy details in one place and find the best one for your actual needs, instead of having to fill out the forms for each company BEFORE they tell you how much anything costs, which is how it was done in NY. Once you do, you find you can’t afford it anyway, so you’ve lost 40 minutes to an hour with each company and gotten nowhere. And then they call you every day demanding that you enroll, getting more and more aggressive, even when you tell them to take their policy and stuff it. This system is much better for the customer, which is why the health care companies fought so hard against it.

United Healthcare responded to my blast at their incompetence and lack of “providing” (they threatened my mother rather than giving guidance in the move from state to state). Of course, it took far too long on the phone, again, but it seems to be all sorted out, and it looks like her healthcare costs are going down here in MA, too, which is good, since social security is frozen — thanks, Republicans, give your rich buddies a tax break and screw the old people — and, in NY, her health care costs were set to go waaaay up come Jan. 1. That whole Part D b.s. that Bush forced the old people into — she had to pay 4X more each month to be a part of it then her medication actually cost.

Like I said, the entire insurance industry needs to be gutted and rebuilt from the ground up. And the first step is to ban lobbyists. Get rid of the profession entirely. If an individual CEO has a concern and wants to talk his/her representative about it as all of us have a right so to do, great, but none of this paying people to harangue Congress and pay off individuals in the government.

It’s going to be a heck of a Mercury Retrograde. Can I just stay home, please?

Also think I found an ethical mechanic in Plymouth who comes highly recommended. Had a nice conversation, and he invited me to stop by and talk in person, so I could get a sense of him and his business. That’s the way to get me to do business with you!

Had to talk to the gas company because I haven’t received any bills, couldn’t sign in to the web site to see how much I owed, etc., etc. They were lovely and helpful, and we got it sorted. Turns out they were sending the bills to the right street address, but in the wrong town — the town that shares the name of the county, because my little town is so little it’s not in their system. So we got it sorted, and I paid the bill that’s on the website, and I think we’re set.

I STILL don’t have a working pin from Citizen’s Bank. And it’s been about six weeks since I opened my account. Far too much like Chase for me. It takes a MONTH for them to send a new pin? Not acceptable.

Stopped at the “package store” down the street on Rt. 28 to get some wine — picked up a nice California merlot, and they just started carrying my favorite Argentinean malbec. The man who runs it is lovely, with a great sense of humor. The man in front of me left his wallet on the counter, and was delighted when I dashed after him to return it.

I actually fell asleep for part of the afternoon, and then worked on cards (when I wasn’t on the phone dealing with all this unnecessary crap). I got through the L’s, which is decent.

Went to bed ridiculously early and woke with a raging migraine. However, I’m set to go to a VIP breakfast in Buzzards Bay for the National Marine Life Center, an organization of which I’m very fond, so I’m going to pull it together, take some Excedrin and deal. I may stop at the grocery store to pick up a chicken to roast tonight. I’m figuring out the guest list for the party and Costume Imp and I are figuring out what to make. It will be small and very casual, but still, I haven’t entertained in awhile, and I won’t be unpacked, so it’s a little nerve-wracking. However, I used to be known for my monthly dinner for 20, so I can get over it and deal.

There’s a guy looking to start a small theatre in the area, performing in a variety of venues, and the three plays I wrote for the small company on Long Island sound like they’re along the lines of what he wants, so I’m going to contact him on Monday and see if he wants to take a look at anything. I don’t want to work on the productions themselves — I’m not doing backstage work right now, and certainly not for free — but we’ll see what he needs, what I need, and if we can meet in the middle.

Also have to get a manuscript out to a potential publisher this weekend. I’ve got another round of queries to prep on another project, but they won’t go out until after the first of the year. It would be nice to get a newsletter out, too.

I’m polishing the exercises for ONE STORY, MANY VOICES, and getting to work on the Stephanie Plum lectures.

I made a big decision: I’m not baking cookies as gifts this year. The thought of having to bake batches and batches and sort them and pack them is just overwhelming. I may try some new recipes just for us, but, for the neighbors, etc., I’m going to take a spice cake recipe and make some small loaves, wrap them properly, and give them instead. It’s a single recipe, it’s unique, and it’s less stressful.

I’m invited to a neighbor’s open house tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll go — I’ve already got the hostess gift. I need to do some cleaning. I’m starting to realize just how much work it is to keep a house clean, even a small one. But at least I don’t have layers of toxic materials to scrub off the sills every day, and the plants are much happier here where there’s actual oxygen!

Violet is settling in to house living. Iris has not yet — maybe if she hadn’t ignored the whole packing process, it wouldn’t have been such a shock when we actually moved. I still have to find a vet for them.

Back to the page for awhile. I’m going to let the guidelines for the anthology call percolate a bit, but unless I’m whomped upside the head with huge inspiration, I think I’ll have to let it go. There’s just too much on my plate. I still haven’t heard from my editor about the revisions on the book due January 1, and I’m getting a little worried. So, on Monday, I’ll have to talk to my publisher. I can’t get a set of notes for revisions on Christmas Eve. That just won’t work.

I want to finish the cards and packing the gifts this weekend, and I have to give the house a good scrub. I’d also like to get started on the cake-baking. I’ve got the menu settled for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. I’m still debating about the Solstice. I’ve been invited to three different Solstice events, but I think I want to celebrate it quietly in my own home. I’ve got the menu for New Year’s Eve sorted, and for breakfast New Year’s Day, but still dithering about the big meal on New Year’s Day.

I’d really just like to go to bed for about a week! 😉

Devon