Thurs. May 19, 2022: Decent Day, Creatively

image courtesy of Clip Art Vectors via pixabay.com

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Rainy and cool

The latest on the garden is over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday turned out to be a strong day, creatively. I wrote a flash fiction piece while I ate breakfast (which I don’t usually do, but I didn’t want to lose the idea). Yes, it was in longhand.

It has characters with whom I might do more. I’m kind of test driving these characters, and will probably post the piece on my Ko-fi page in a few weeks, after it’s gone through some revisions.

I was out the door by 7:30 and over to the mechanic’s on time. They had the part, and got it into the car within twenty minutes or so. The car feels like itself again. Fingers crossed the car is really fixed this time, and nothing else goes wrong.

On the way home, I stopped at Wild Oats, the co-op where I’m a member-owner. It’s the first time I’ve been able to go there since December. Stocked up on some of my favorites. Stopped at Stop & Shop, where I rarely shop anymore, for a few things I can only get there. In both stores, everyone was masked by choice, which made shopping much less stressful.

Got everything home and put away. Went through emails. Did the last four chapters’ worth of revisions on CAST IRON MURDER, finishing this draft. It came in just over 63K, which is around where I want it. I’m going to let it sit for a bit, and next week, start the multi-colored draft.

I contacted the Williamstown Historical Museum about a research appointment that will feed into the Retro Mystery. I’d like to go in this Friday morning. Fingers crossed that I can. I caught up on Ello and am getting more comfortable on Counter Social, where I’m having actual conversations.

I have contradictory information about the guidelines for one of the proposals I want to submit, and I need clarification, because if one set of information is correct, it’s not the right fit for me, and I will move on. I’m debating the other proposal, because it has to be in-person indoors in the autumn, and who knows what the virus numbers will be like?

And now we have to worry about monkeypox? Really? Committing to being a professional recluse looks better and better.

In the afternoon, I turned around a script coverage, and then went back to reading THE BONE ORCHARD, which was hard to put down, because it’s so unique and interesting. Read it until I was finished, and was still thinking about it when I woke up.

Tessa rousted me around 5:30, as usual, although she’d been fussing a good deal before that.

Did my first writing session, and my normal routine. Willa seems to have settled down a bit, although she’s still being cautious.

I have meditation this morning, and then it’s back to the page. The Big Project, work on the radio plays, maybe looking at the outline for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY to get that back on track. I have a script to turn around this afternoon, and a book to read for review. If I get enough scripts in my queue, I’ll read through the weekend, since I want to take some time off for Memorial Day Weekend.

It’s supposed to get into the 90’s this weekend, which I am not looking forward to, but be cooler and pleasanter next week.

Fingers crossed that the car is Really Fixed this time. That will take a lot of stress out of my life.

Have a good one, friends.

Wed. May 11, 2022: House and Home

image courtesy of kmcremeans via pixabay.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and lovely

I was out the door by 7:15 yesterday morning, because I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get to the mechanic. I got there in 15 minutes, found it, no problem.

In other words, I was there before they were.

They didn’t mind that I waited for them, and got me settled on their too comfortable couch while they got their day sorted out and then looked at the car. It took four hours, because they had to be methodical about it. The previous mechanic had given a vague code reference, and they had to go down a checklist to find out what the actual problem was. It’s a much simpler fix than the other guy warned (which also means less expensive). They did a temporary fix so I could drive without worry, ordered the part, and I go in next Wednesday for the fix.

During those four hours, I just chilled out on the couch with my book and watched how well they interacted with their customers. They know most of them by name, and have a great rapport. With me, they were nice, straightforward, and everything made sense.

They will also replace the battery in my key that went out a couple of years back, where I was told it could only be done by the dealer and cost $300. They will fix it for $13.

On the way home, I stopped at the store and picked up some stuff, including a hanging birdbath for the back balcony and a rug for the enclosed front porch.

After lunch, we got in the car and headed out to Whitney’s Farm, where we spent too much on plants. But boy, is the place gorgeous! Then, of course, we had to buy more pots for the plants. We weren’t back until well after 3. But I’d blocked off the whole day, and it was nice not to worry about anything.

Spent the late afternoon on the porch, reading. Knowledge Unicorns was fine. Only a few more weeks, and we are done. Of course, that’s what we though in 2020 and 2021.

This morning, I was up early and at the laundromat. Windows 11 has decided to install, so who knows how long that will take. I’d hoped to get some work done before I head out to the library and the grocery store, but we’ll see.

It’ supposed to get into the high 80’s later this week, so it’s time to switch out from the flannel sheets mid-week instead of over the weekend, and to really set up the front porch and back balcony enchanted gardens.

I don’t have scripts in my queue to worry about, and, while I should worry about that, I’m enjoying taking it a little slow and doing things around the house. Once the Windows Update is installed, I’ll get some writing done, too.

I’ll write about it all in more detail in tomorrow’s Gratitude and Growth post.

I have a tarot reading up on Ko-fi about handling the Mercury Retrograde with grace.

Have a good one!

Tues. May 10, 2022: Off To Yet Another Mechanic

image courtesy of Peter Gottschalk via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto & Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

This is scheduled to post, since I had to leave the house very early to get the car to the mechanic, and I have no idea how that will go.

I made sure I had a quiet weekend.  Friday and Saturday were all about finishing the contest entries.

First thing Saturday, though, I went to the Farmers Market. This is the last time it’s indoors; starting in June, it will be outdoors every Saturday until November. What adds a sense of festivity to the market is that you buy wooden tokens (yes, I’ve considered the wooden nickels jokes) when you go in and pay with the tokens.

The woman who made the amazing baguettes wasn’t there this time, which was a shame, since I’ve been fantasizing about those baguettes since last month! But I made a stop at Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery and had a good chat with the baker (who was a theatre major in college), and stocked up on the espresso coffee cake muffins, some cocoa bites, and a loaf of challah bread. I bought a cranberry pecan loaf from Cookies & More. I bought a big bag of spinach, a big bag of mixed Asian greens, and a lovely head of Bok choy from Red Shirt Farm. I bought a camembert-like cheese from Cricket Creek, and a bottle of maple syrup from Senecal’s Sugarhouse.

Filled up my bag with goodies!

And all through that, it was about chatting with the vendors and the other customers at the market, everyone in a good spirits and eager to share their favorite things.

It reminds me of the best of the Union Square Greenmarket, when I lived in NYC, rather than the markets in my previous location, where the vendors usually acted like they were doing you a favor by selling something, instead of it being a mutually beneficial transaction.

I wasn’t there very long, but I was tired when I got home, even from positive socializing! The joy of being an introvert. But I’m glad I did it, and I’m glad I’m meeting people slowly. Most people are still masking; everyone’s as vaccinated as they can be.

Once I put away the bounty, I took a rest, and then went back to work on contest entries.

For dinner, I used the whole head of Bok choy with the rest of the leftover chicken to do a stir-fry from one of my favorite cookbooks, CHINESE SOUL FOOD by Hsiao-Ching Chou. It was delicious. I also made more vegetable stock.

Saturday was also the Kentucky Derby. I lost all respect for those running Churchill Downs when I learned that the Narcissistic Sociopath was in attendance.

It was pretty exciting to see Rich Strike, who wasn’t even in the race two days ago, win, at 84-1. My baby Epicenter came in second. Tiz the Bomb decided this wasn’t worth the effort that day (very much like his grandfather).

When I used to cover horse racing (more years ago now than it seems), I quickly found out that the Derby was the least fun of the three races, in spite of being the start of the Triple Crown, where everything is possible. And that’s because it’s stopped being about the horses and focuses more on the audience who wants to see and be seen. The Preakness became the most fun for me. It’s raucous, less pretentious than any of the others, and there’s still a lot of Triple Crown possibility. The Belmont was at my home track, and, while I always loved the race and the site, the crowds and the tension were exhausting.

As an off-site observer, for years before I started writing about racing, the Preakness was my least favorite; but, once I started getting more involved, it was the most fun to actually be onsite of the three races, in spite of all the chaos in the infield.

Sunday was Mother’s Day. We had the espresso coffee cake muffins for breakfast. I made salads for lunch, using the spinach, Asian greens, carrot, cranberry, Canadian bacon, and hard-boiled egg, with an Italian vinaigrette. My mom asked for bangers and mash for dinner, so that’s what we had. And, of course, cheesecake.

I read for pleasure on Sunday, instead of logging entry scores, although I made a list of my top picks.

I read BOSS WITCH by Ann Aguirre, which I really liked, and CLAWS FOR SUSPICION by Deborah Blake, which I also loved. It was nice enough to sit out on the porch, so I read out there for a good portion of the day.

I went to bed very early on Sunday, because I was tired. In the third year of the pandemic, with the right wing Christofascists openly telling us they’re planning to murder us, after packing the courts so they can get away with it, and the DEMS SIT BACK AND LET THEM – it’s exhausting. Trying to live my life and also fulfill my responsibility as a citizen is exhausting, even if I don’t write about all the details of it here.

There is NO such thing as “not being political” anymore. If you make that claim, it means you agree with the rightwing extremists and think you’re safe from their hate. The thing is, they always need something and someone to fuel their hate, so no one is safe.

Up early on Monday.  Worked until 2 PM finishing the paperwork on the final category of contest entries, and sent it in. It was accepted and invoice requested. I sent the invoice at 7 PM and it was paid 39 minutes later. That’s how you show your freelancers you appreciate them!

I stress-painted the garden frog we bought when we first moved to the Cape house. I didn’t have the dark pink paint the petals on his back used to have (yes, he’s a frog, but his back is full of flowers), so I used a lighter pink, and then the yellow for the centers. He’s a bright, happy frog again who can sit amongst the plants on the front porch.

Read for pleasure (a mystery set in Venice, and then started reading a biography of Ngaio Marsh).  Spinach and cheese omlette for dinner.

Neighbors across the street are building a garden in front of the house, with all kinds of cute little plants and hanging baskets. Only. . .they plant but don’t water anything. I’m sure they will learn.

Finals at the college across the way must be done, because the students started playing music and hanging out in the street and blowing off some steam. Yes, they’re still masking. Even though they’re all vaxxed. Good for them (and us).

I am off to the mechanic. Let’s hope this guy will actually fix the car and not put me off another month. I’ve basically been without a car for six months now. I want to get it done.

Have a good one, and hold a good thought for the car and me.

Thurs. April 28, 2022: Dealing with the Creative and the Inept

image courtesy of Kranich 17 via pixabay.com

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Cloudy/sunny/cold

Buckle up, buttercups. Retrogrades start again tomorrow.

The latest on the garden hijinks is up over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday, I pushed hard in the morning and had to ease off in the afternoon, because I wore myself out.

I got a good chunk done on The Big Project, one section of a little over 1400 words, and a start on the next section. I need to get back into its rhythm and push hard in May, because I have to be in good shape in June, when it needs to start going live. I was worried I’d lost the voice there a bit, but I haven’t. The writing itself takes much, much longer than a normal 1400 words of an outlined piece would take because of the level and structure that has to be in the first draft, or I can’t move on to the next section. Each part has to compress the process of what would normally be the first three drafts for me. It’s been a learning curve.

Tracfone and Consumer Cellular are both being dicks about the phone transfer. Tracfone, after sending multiple texts confirming that the transfer was going through, is holding the phone number hostage. They won’t finish the transfer unless I pay for an additional month (the month is up today). Consumer Cellular SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN IN TOUCH as soon as there was a problem, but, of course, heaven forbid they actually provide customer service. I was trying not to be a nudge and waiting for the 3-5 business day period they said it could take before I followed up. When I should have been riding their inept asses from Day 1.

Summary: avoid both these companies if you have the choice.

It’s a shame, because Tracfone used to be a great, no fuss company. I hope they go out of business soon. They don’t deserve to have customers.

I’ve been trying to set up the autopay for the storage unit with the company who bought the facility, and I can’t get into their system to do it. Nor does anyone at the facility or the main office respond. This is intentional, of course, so they can charge late fees. Horrible company. I didn’t think anyone could be worse than U-Haul, but this company just might be.

I FINALLY got an appointment with a mechanic that’s not afraid of working on a VW. It’s for May 10. I have basically been without a car for six months, which is getting frustrating. It didn’t matter so much in the winter, because the weather kept us from doing much, but there are things that need to get done out of walking radius.

I got in touch with the landlord about the gas company wanting to do an inside service line inspection. The gas company couldn’t give me a straight answer about what they needed to see for the inspection, and I suspect it has to do with how lines come into the building in the basement, which is a landlord thing, not a me thing.

I gave myself the day off from script coverage. I worked on contest entries and read for pleasure instead. I was completely worn out from dealing with the stupid and the incompetent.

Tessa woke me up at 4 again (I am not a happy camper). She didn’t want me on the bed in the sewing room and fussed at me until I moved to the couch.

But I’m not complaining too much, because I heard about a friend whose elderly cat recently died, and I want to enjoy every moment I have with mine. Even when they’re being little pills.

Meditation this morning, then back to the page, then Freelance Chat, then script coverage and contest entries. Oh, yeah, and by late morning, fighting some more with Consumer Cellular and Tracfone. The number of billable hours I have lost because of their incompetence is infuriating.

Have a good one! Catch you tomorrow.

Published in: on April 28, 2022 at 7:18 am  Comments Off on Thurs. April 28, 2022: Dealing with the Creative and the Inept  
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Tues. April 26, 2022: A Reasonably Restful Weekend

image courtesy of haegenmatteORG via pixabay.com

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Waning Moon

Cloudy and cooler

For once, this Tuesday post won’t be pages and pages. There’s a post over on the GDR site about putting together the pieces that have been discussed there over the past few weeks.

I picked this photo because people love their hammocks around here, and are starting to put them up again for the summer.

Friday, we set out the plants on the porch for the day. It was quite lovely, and I walked to the pharmacy to pick up my mom’s prescription and stopped at the liquor store on the way back. I was testing a pair of cute flats, rather than the boots I’ve worn all winter. While the cute shoes are fine if I drive somewhere, walking a three-mile round trip didn’t work in them. I had bleeding blisters and my ankles hurt from the concrete. Live and learn. I need to invest in a good pair of walking shoes.

Expanded the pitch to my Llewellyn editor and sent that off. Hopefully, she’ll want one of the two ideas. Of course, I thought of a third idea once I sent it off; I can either save that for next year, or, if she doesn’t like either of my ideas, counter with this one. Although I would prefer to do some practical work on the idea this year so I can more accurately write about it.

Spent the whole day Friday on contest entries. I was so happy I could work on them out on the porch.  One category is complete. The second category should be done tomorrow, or Thursday latest, and the final category by next Monday. I truly enjoyed the work, although more and more of the admin is being pushed onto the judges, without the pay going up. But we’re paid, which is more than most contests do.

At the end of the day, I oiled the other Adirondack chairs. It makes me laugh that I bought these chairs out on the Cape, the first summer we lived there. And yet here, where we are close to the actual Adirondacks, they’re selling Hyannisport rockers! (Hyannisport is an upscale enclave on the water, near where I used to live).

Juggling several books to read for pleasure, in addition to all the contest reading. I absolutely loved PROVENCE, 1970 by Luke Barr, about MFK Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, et al, who convened there for several weeks of cooking and talking. They were at turning points in their lives and careers, and the food world was also at a turning point. The talk about Sonoma County, in California, at that time, kind of reminds me of what’s going on here with the farm-to-table movement.

The plants had to come in overnight, because it’s still going down to the thirties at night.  They went out on the porch on Saturday, came back in Saturday night. I had the chance to oil the bistro table. Sunday, it was too cloudy and cold to put them out at all, but we brought them out again on Monday, while it was sunny. And today, I will oil the small table.

I still have to oil the bistro chairs and the bench out on the back balcony, but I have to wait until the temperature stops going down so low at night, or the wood will crack.

Saturday, I read and puttered and arranged and rearranged a few things around the house. I took it easy, feeling weary, and needing the time to rest. I did a good bit of percolation on several projects, just letting my mind roam freely through them, poking at different aspects and seeing what came out. I’ve narrowed too much of that creative time out, and I need to create space for it again, because the work is so much better when I do.

I treated myself, on Saturday, to smoked trout with a touch of horseradish cream on buttered rye bread and prosecco (making like a Venetian with the latter). It was perfect. Saturday night dinner was very simple – leftover ham (I feel like we’ll never be done with the leftovers) with vegetables turned into a ham pot pie.

Sunday morning, I made biscuits, and, later in the day, I did an easy chocolate mousse. But the rest of the day, I puttered around, noodled with ideas, and re-read APPETITE FOR LIFE, the wonderful Julia Child biography. I’d read it when it first came out, in 1997, and enjoyed it. I appreciate it even more this time around.

I broke my “day of disconnect” to keep an eye on the elections in France and Slovenia. Glad to see the fascists lost, at least for the moment. Would that we could remove them from positions of power here, too. The lack of consequences for crimes committed publicly in real time is appalling.

While I understand that people want to reconnect, the photos of people who should know better behaving irresponsible at conferences, festivals, and events are deeply disturbing. No one better act surprised when they get sick. Because it is “when” and not “if.”

Yesterday morning, Tessa got me up early, awakening me out of “busy dreams.” They weren’t bad dreams at all, but I was very busy in them, and woke up exhausted. Still, we got our morning routine done, and the plants out.

I tried to get in contact with the mechanic, and they were closed yesterday. I’m getting really frustrated. Also, the transfer of my mom’s number was initiated on Thursday, late in the day, and it’s still not complete. This let’s-screw-the-customer-because-we’re-the-only-choice is revolting.

I got some blogging done, working ahead a bit. I need to start spending more time over on Ello and build up that platform. If Elon Musk buys Twitter, and it looks like he’s succeeded, that’s it for me over there, which is a shame, because it’s my favorite platform. Don’t like FB, and resent that I feel forced to be on it. Instagram has so many scammers on it that it harms my pleasure in it, although I block daily. I never even bothered to join Reddit, because all I see from it are people being awful to each other.  My website posts are connected to Tumblr, but I rarely spend much time on it.

We’ll see. Don’t borrow trouble, right? Keep my own sites going. Limit my time on sites that no longer serve my needs. Do the work. I’m reconfiguring my relationship to work, in general, so I might as well reconfigure it with social media, too.

The weather was gorgeous. Walked up to the library to drop off/pick up books. Trees and bushes and flowers are coming into bloom, and it’s gorgeous. The smells are wonderful, too.

Did my script coverage sitting on the porch, enjoying the nice weather. Did a 20-minute mid-day meditation, which was also good. And then went back to working on more contest entries.

Up around 5 this morning, thanks to Tessa. Who needs an alarm clock, when one has a Tessa? Although she’s more about what she wants when she wants it, then consistent time. It wasn’t raining yet, so once I did my yoga, I bundled up the laundry and hauled it over to the laundromat. Got it turned around quickly, although forty-five minutes in, other people showed up to do their laundry. They were perfectly fine; we acknowledged each other and did their own thing. I’m just proprietary about the laundromat early in the morning, because I can get so much work done.

And I did get good work done, on The Big Project, which I hope to continue this morning, in and around trying to get an appointment with the damn mechanic, and some other admin stuff, and more script coverage.

I got home before the rain started, so I’ll call that a win!

Have a good one!

Wed. April 13, 2022: The Lack of Professionalism is Frustrating

image courtesy of Andrea Piaquadio via pexels.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Waxing Moon

Partly cloudy and cool

Well, yesterday was a frustrating day. In spite of still feeling lousy, I pulled myself together and took the car to the mechanic on time. Only to have them refuse to fix the problem because it would “take too long.” WTF? So now I have the phone number of some sketchy guy who “specializes in foreign cars” (my car may be a VW, but it was built in a plant in Tennessee). The guy doesn’t even have a website, and I’m supposed to trust a very expensive repair to him? Because the repair I need is going to cost about a grand. Not happy about that at all. Also displeased with a mechanic who only wants to do quick repairs.

So I am not a happy camper.

Felt like crap when I got home. I still had a dull headache, body aches, and the brain fog was bad. The Tylenol nauseated me, but I took more anyway to clear up the brain fog enough to turn around a script.

Haven’t been able to do any creative work, though, which is frustrating. One of the parents handled Knowledge Unicorns last night, because I wasn’t up to it.

I listened to the first episode of the series in which the NY-based radio producer is interested in having me write. The production quality is outstanding.  It’s definitely a darker, more dystopian tone than my comic noir pieces – mine lean a little too much in the direction of froth and farce. But “Owe Me” and the comic horror piece are more in tone with it, and I’m pretty sure “The Collector” would work (which he already has), although I’ll probably have to do some revisions. The Mr. Ding-A-Ling creepy ice cream truck has been around again lately, and that’s getting something percolating. And maybe a haunted amusement park. We’ll see.

Plants went out onto the porch when the sun finally came out. It’s a lot of pots to haul in and out. Hopefully, soon, we’ll be able to leave them on the porch, and, soon after that, move the ones we want onto the back balcony.

Today I need to do library and grocery runs. And figure out what to do about the fucking car.

But first, I’m going to spend some quality time on the page, since it’s been several days. And I have two scripts to turn around this afternoon, and a book to review, and I have to get back to contest entries. No matter how I feel, I have to get back to work, because heaven forbid we have a society that gives us room to, you know, be human.

Published in: on April 13, 2022 at 6:32 am  Comments (4)  
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Tues. March 22, 2022: Challenging Start to the Week

image courtesy of Paul Barlow via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and pleasant

There’s a post on the GDR site about being the architect of your life.

I hope you had a good weekend, and a blessed Equinox. Now, we’ll really see the gains in daylight, since it’s tipping toward longer light.

Friday was a mixed day. Very foggy in the morning. Not fun to make my way to the mechanic when I couldn’t use the broken windshield wiper. But I got there.

The wiper was easily fixed. But the engine light issue, not so much. As long as the light stays steady and doesn’t blink, I can continue to drive short distances. The mechanic thinks it’s a fuel pump issue, but they can’t even get me in for a diagnostic for another month. They suggested a mechanic in Williamstown, who specializes in foreign cars. It’s the second time that mechanic has been suggested to me. I am trying to get an appointment.

Stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and restocked our food supply.

Moved the plants back out on the porch, and even opened the windows once it warmed up enough.

Did some client blogging, and roughed out the next edition of Devon’s Random Newsletter, which should go out this week. I think I wrote too much, so will probably edit it back.

Worked on a recipe for strawberry-vanilla mousse. It tastes quite good, but doesn’t look appealing. Nor did it set properly. Ever. I think the acid from the fresh strawberries had something to do with it. So I need to adjust the recipe, and figure out how to make it look better without using artificial colors.

In the afternoon, one neighbor was working on a new piano composition. Another neighbor was on her front porch, playing her guitar. I worked on script coverage. It was a great vibe. Everyone in their own space, but knowing people around them were doing creative work.

Fresh cod for dinner on Friday night, with rice and steamed spinach. Yummy.

Throughout the weekend, I did some cleaning here and there, but nowhere like the intense spring cleaning I planned. The Plan was to start in the kitchen and work forward doing intense deep cleaning. But I spent more time unpacking and organizing things than in deep clean mode.

It kept raining and then not on Saturday, and I didn’t feel like going out, so I didn’t. I did regular housework and changed the beds and did some unpacking and organizing. I made more vegetable stock. I finished reading a novel I’d started that was recommended by an acquaintance over at VOGUE. I liked a lot of the book, especially relating to the characters and what they were going through. I got ahead of the plot a little too quickly, and there were some chapters where way too much backstory was info-dumped, instead of being integrated into the overall story. I liked more than I didn’t, but it’s not a book I’d rave about. Went through some other books for research on various projects, and put them back in the pile for the library.

Percolated on the retro mystery for a bit. I’m creating a new name for my fictional community and putting in some lines as to how the creator of it is in competition with The Spruces. This will give me the flexibility I need for plot and character and even some geographic deviations. The application for The Spruces was careful and thorough. I want my fictional community to be a little more raucous and freewheeling. On Monday morning, I did some research on different mobile homes, and I found the one I want for my central protagonist: a three bedroom, with a second story for her main bedroom and a roof deck, with a patio downstairs, two bedrooms, a bath, a kitchen, and the living room. I need to go back to the library and look at the dimension widths for the homes that remained in the park. On the road, they could only be 8’ wide, but if they weren’t meant to move? Could they be 10’? When I did my research, I wrote down the length, but not the width.

Sunday was the Spring Equinox. I kept the celebrations simple. It was cloudy most of the day, so I decided not to run errands that day, either. I did some more unpacking and organizing.

I spent a good portion of the day going through a research book I’ve had out of the library for months (I am allowed 99 renewals on it). But I felt like I should go through it thoroughly and return it. I got 9 pages of notes on one project, and images that are relevant to three projects, so it definitely was worth taking the time with it.

I did a chipotle chicken in the crockpot, which was yummy. I do love my crockpot.

I’m slowly working my way through ATLAS OF THE HEART, which was recommended by the leader of the Thursday meditation group. It’s not an easy book. There are things which resonate strongly with me. There are other things with which I disagree. The third category is the most problematic because they resonate, even though I don’t like them! But they make sense. Definitely a worthwhile book, albeit not an easy one.

Up early on Monday, on my own. Got the morning routine going, in spite of going down another research rabbit hole with The Spruces.

I had a long list of errands that needed to happen. On the way to the first set, I stopped at the credit union to make a deposit for my mother, in the joint account, on which I am named with Power of Attorney. The teller and the teller supervisor accused me of trying to scam my elderly mother. Even though I have POA, and my mother signed the check (since it was made out to her), and marked it for deposit. Because I am named for my mother, and therefore must be trying to scam her, because heaven forbid a daughter have the same first name as a mother. If I was a man named for my father, this would never be a problem. Because misogyny. I had to go home, get the check stub and the letter that came with the check TO MAKE A DEPOSIT INTO A JOINT SAVINGS ACCOUNT. On top of that, they’re going to hold the money until the end of the month “to make sure the check is real.” It’s from a major company in the Midwest. On top of that, they said she should have come in to make the deposit herself. First of all, she’s 97. That’s why it’s a joint account and I have POA. So that she doesn’t have to come in herself. Second, none of the staff is masking. Why would I put her at risk in a pandemic? As usual, they are inappropriate.

EVERY interaction with Greylock Federal Credit Union since we opened the account has been unnecessary drama. Why would I want to keep our money in an establishment that treats me like a criminal instead of a customer? The whole point of being with a credit union is because their mission is to treat their members like individuals.

Not Greylock.

As soon as I can legally move the money, I will. It will be a nightmare to open yet another account and switch everything over.  I’m starting the research now. But it’s necessary. Because my mother is 97. I hope she’s around for a long time, but when she does go, how much you want to bet they’d refuse access to the JOINT ACCOUNT so I could pay the bills for the funeral? What about when I start traveling again? How much do you want to bet they’ll leave me stranded somewhere, even though I will have given them the information about the trip in advance? Not to mention that, as a legal adult (for decades now), I shouldn’t have to get the bank’s “permission” to travel.

NONE of this is about security. ALL of it is about control.

The Annual Meeting is tonight. Part of me is exhausted at the very thought of attending. Part of me wants to go in there and tell them off. Yet again. I have brought up these issues before, and they “feel bad” that I have a bad experience with them, but never adjust their behavior.

I have ALWAYS been polite in dealing with them, even when they frustrated and insult me. And EVERY transaction is an absolute nightmare of unnecessary drama.

If I was rich and laundering money through them, they’d let me do anything I want.

Part of being the architect of my own life is only dealing with businesses that treat me with basic human respect and decency. The credit union does not. Therefore, I need to take my business (small as it is) elsewhere.

After it took the hour plus to get sorted what should have been a basic deposit, I did the rest of my errands: the liquor store, the library. Did a pass through the thrift store, hoping for some cute plant pots, but they didn’t have any in stock. Went to another store, where I found pots, potting soil, and even got some morning glory and moonflower seeds.

It meant I didn’t have to drive to another store I thought I’d have to visit, for the soil and the pots. So that saved time, energy, and stress on the car.

After lunch, I planted eight pots with seven kinds of seeds (I’ll discuss it in detail in this Thursday’s post on Gratitude and Growth). It was lovely out on the porch, so we moved all the pots out there in the sun. I updated the plant journal. I’m trying to be more consistent with it. Keeping it in a 3-ring binder instead of a spiral-bound notebook makes it easier.

There were plenty of things I “should” have been doing in the afternoon, although I was well in the zone, deadline-wise. So I cut myself a break, read a book I really wanted to read for fun, and watched the clouds roll by. Being up in the mountains is fun, because the clouds are low enough to really observe.

Tessa started howling as soon as I went to bed. I got up, sat with her while she ate her bedtime snack, and waited until she fell asleep before sneaking off to bed. I was awake on my own just before five this morning, and she was happy.

Took the laundry to the laundromat in the rolly cart. The moon was still out and shining brightly when I left. They’d adjusted the lights to the time change, finally, although the clock is still an hour behind. Got a nice chunk of edits done on CAST IRON MURDER, in spite of some guy coming in to do his laundry who kept trying to talk to me. What is it about men that they can’t stand to see a woman involved in something that isn’t them? I had my folder open with a full manuscript of several hundred pages, I was editing hard copy in red pen, it was obvious I was working. Basic greeting and acknowledgement make sense; trying to engage me in conversation when I am obviously working is not. I was polite, but minimal, and made it clear that I WAS WORKING, and not there to hang out and socialize.

I mean, it’s a lot better here than it was on Cape, but still. Read the room, guys. Not everything is about you.

Home, put the clothes away. I only have about two chapters left to edit on CAST IRON MURDER, so I might just go ahead and do that, and then put in some of the fixes I noted in pen this morning, before switching over to The Big Project, and then client work in the afternoon.

Trying to decide if I want to do a run to the library – six books came in after I had done my drop-off/pickup yesterday.

The tansy seeds finally showed up after travelling from Missouri to Massachusetts to Chicago back to the Berkshires. I hope to plant them today. Otherwise, I have to wait until Friday, which is the next planting day.

By the way, any business that is running around with an unmasked staff behaving like the pandemic is over does not get to use “the pandemic” or “supply chain issues” as an excuse for not being competent or fulfilling their responsibilities. Either they acknowledge we are still in a pandemic and follow protocols, or they forfeit the right to use it as an excuse. It doesn’t work both ways.

The Republican racists are in full sail in the hearings for our new SCOTUS. People need to believe them when they show who they are, and remove them.

The week has barely begun and I’m exhausted.

I will make the time for extra meditation today.

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.

Fri. March 4, 2022: Working Through The Weekend

image courtesy of Annie Spratt via pixabay.com

Friday, March 4, 2022

Waxing Moon

Partly sunny/cloudy and cold

I dug the car out yesterday morning, and then it snowed again. I nearly cried. But it was only flurries, so it wound up being no big deal.

I couldn’t concentrate because I was so worried about the appointment at the mechanic. I managed to deal with nearly 400 emails and do some research for a new market to submit a story that was rejected. I really like the piece, but it may have been too genre for that first submission. I also might do another editing pass; I truncated some of it to fit the wordcount for the original market, and I think I might expand some of the sensory details before I re-submit.

The anthology editor was pleased with the materials I sent, so that’s a deep breath released. I’m going to write up plot points for each of my two stories; we’re not at the point of writing them, but since I’ve spent so much time in these worlds and collaborating to create for these characters, I want to get the shape and drive of the stories down. Then, when it’s time to write, I can drop back into the worlds and flesh out the stories. I don’t usually outline for short stories, but I think, in this case, I should.

Took CAST IRON MURDER with me to work on at the mechanic’s while he diagnosed the car. Couldn’t really concentrate. Only got about 30 pages done, and I’ll have to look at them again, because I’m not confidant in the work I did.

The car needs a new crank, and the dashboard computer isn’t communicating properly with everything else, but the crank should fix it. The car’s at the garage for a few days. He was nice enough to give me a ride home. The estimate is in my budget, so as long as nothing else goes cattywampus once he gets his hands on the part and gets to work, everything should be sorted out in a week or so.

I hope it’s all fixed by my birthday, so we can go to the local places we want that aren’t in walking distance.

But I guess I’ll be getting groceries on foot again this weekend.

Was wiped out by the time I got home. Heated up some homemade mac and cheese out of the freezer. I think I’ll have to make another big batch; it’s handy to be able to take out portions and they re-heat well.

Started reading the next book for review. I’d given myself off from script coverage yesterday, but I’ll read through the weekend, and ramp up the reading early next week so I can take a three-day weekend next week for my birthday.

Ordered tansy seeds and a night blooming jasmine plant. I wanted to order a patchouli plant, because I love the scent of patchouli, but it was part of a “bundle” that I didn’t want. And then I discovered it grows in zones 9-11. I’m in zones 4-5, so it wouldn’t work unless I built it a mini greenhouse.

Fell into bed exhausted early, which meant, when Charlotte woke me at 3:30, I was wide awake and couldn’t get back to sleep. I’ll pay for that later, but will make use of it now.

I’m going to work on the Big Project this morning, then run some errands. Script coverage and contest entries this afternoon. The second shipment for the contest is on its way, and I want to make sure I get as many of the digital entries from the first batch finished before the second batch arrive.

I’m frustrated at NATO’s lack of action. If they let Ukraine fall — and it will very much be NATO letting it happen – it’s too late. And that opens the path for the Russian assets in the GOP to make their next move, because Merrick Effing Garland won’t do what’s necessary to stop it.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. In addition to the regular work, we discusses the State of the Union, and how it’s possible to disagree with class, and not act like GOP trash.

I’ll be grumpy working through the weekend, but it will be worth it to take a three-day weekend off next week.

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

Tues. Feb. 8, 2022: Fingers Crossed For the Car

image courtesy of pexels via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

It was a scattered weekend, although I spent most of it at home. Local authorities were worried enough about the ice storm that on Friday, the college campus, the public library, city hall, etc,, were all closed. It kept moving from freezing rain to sleet to snow to sleet to freezing rain and back again all day. Not much accumulation, but treacherous.

I finished the second radio play, give both a good polish, and got them out the door. I received a very nice acknowledgement from the producer, so I’ll know something in a few weeks.

My reward was to buy Scrivener (using the discount coupon I’d earned by finishing Nano). Purchase went through, and I got a complicated, two-page email about how to install it. When not even the first step of downloading it worked. I kept getting a message that it couldn’t be downloaded securely.

I was ready to ask for my money back and to hell with Scrivener.

But two writing friends made a suggestion to download the trial version (which is the full version) and then, when I opened it, enter the license number and I’d be all set.

Which worked.

So why sent the more complicated instructions with a broken link?

By the time support had gotten back to me, it was, at least installed. I have to block off time to learn how to use it, because I hear it takes a while. And since software is a foreign language to me, it takes me longer than most people. Although, a few years ago when I looked at it, it was basically Mac’s Pages on steroids, and I had Pages, so I didn’t bother. But Apple has steadily stripped all the stuff I liked best from Pages, and hopefully Scrivener hasn’t. Plus I’m on PC now, and so unhappy with Word.

Wrote up a script coverage, read another script.

I meant to write up the second script coverage, but got sidelined into a discussion on a collaborative project, and then another work-related thing came up. I missed the live stream of my friend’s play, which I was sad about. But I had to stop everything and create something that was needed within a couple of hours, instead of by the beginning of the week, as I’d initially thought.

By the time it was all done and out the door, I was so exhausted, I couldn’t write up the coverage as well as it deserved to be written, so I put it off until Saturday morning.

The cats let me sleep until nearly 6:30 on Saturday morning. It snowed lightly on and off all day.

I finished reading THE SPIRIT IN QUESTION by Cynthia Kuhn (love this series).

Dealt with some stuff on the collaborative project.

Worked on script coverage.

Which meant the time I’d blocked off for Scrivener tutorials was eaten up by script coverage.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, which was great, except it was a different mail carrier. Instead of dropping the box at the door because it’s too big to fit in the community mail slots at the curb, he shoved it in from his side of the box, which is wider than the side where residents remove the mail.

Which means I couldn’t get the box out.

I had to come upstairs, get a pair of kitchen shears, go back down, cut it open, take everything out and dismantle the cardboard box while it was still in the mail slot. In 8-degree weather without gloves, because I couldn’t maneuver in gloves.

Not a happy camper.

Anyway, the stuff in the box was good.

The first seed order arrived; I’ll talk more about that in Thursday’s Gratitude and Growth post.

Finished reading the Cynthia Kuhn books I had, and started re-reading Joanne Dobson’s Karen Pelletier series, which I love, starting with QUIETER THAN SLEEP.

Slept in on Sunday morning. Can you imagine? The cats let me sleep until nearly a quarter to seven. Finished QUIETER THAN SLEEP and started THE NORTHBURY PAPERS, which is one of my favorites.

Stopped to do some script coverage, and also start reading the Scrivener manual. It will take a few weeks of poking around to feel comfortable, I’m sure.

Did a little brainstorming on the anthology, but I need to spend less time on that, until we have more information about deadlines and structure, and things. I turned in the material that was needed up until this point, so once we get more information on the overall structure, and start working with deadlines and word counts, I can get back to it. I’m still making my own notes, reading everyone else’s brainstorming, and seeing if/how that affects my piece.

I got one of the rudest rejection notes I’ve ever seen for a short story I submitted last week. Wow. It’s fine not to want a piece, but no need to be rude. I’ve made a note in my submission log, so that I don’t submit anything to them in the future.

Had to get my mom a new phone, because TracFone is being such a dick. Decided I’d buy her an inexpensive smartphone through them, and then, if we decided to change providers a few months down, when the car is fixed, it’s not icy, and we can actually get somewhere, we would. Put the order through, and they stepped up and she is getting it for free. Now why didn’t they just say so at the beginning? That the phones are all listed with a price (even though the offer is a free phone), but when you actually put through the order, it goes through as free?

Anyway, she should have it within three days.

My 97-year-old mother is getting a smart phone. She doesn’t want one, but that’s the only choice she had.

Worked on script coverage; wrote up a coverage, read two more scripts, started one of the coverages. Since I’m taking the car in today, I didn’t want anything due today or too early tomorrow.

Went to bed early on Sunday night. Charlotte woke me up at 1:30, then again at 3:30. Tessa was so happy I was awake that I moved to the couch and fell asleep again, oversleeping, and waking up with a migraine. Weird dreams the whole way through. Not bad ones, not stress dreams, just weird ones.

Got the list of grant possibilities out that I’d promised to a colleague.

Slogged through some emails. Wrote up a script coverage and got it out the door. Bundled up and headed to the library to drop off/pick up books. Mailed some bills. Picked up some wine. Grabbed some fast food to bring home for lunch (brought an insulated bag). Grabbed a few things from Cumberland Farms.

Got back just before it started snowing again.

Poked around Scrivener some more. I have to pick a project not on deadline to use to get familiar with it.

Wrote up another script coverage.

The fast food was good to eat in the moment, but I felt lousy afterwards, so we had fried eggs sandwiches (the old college standby) for dinner.

Finished THE NORTHBURY PAPERS and started RAVEN AND NIGHTINGALE. I love this series. I’m so glad I’m re-reading it.

Stayed up way too late reading, but it was fun.

Charlotte woke me at 4, but I rolled over and went back to sleep until Tessa woke me at 6. Fed them, yoga, writing, reading, the usual morning routine.

I have to figure out how to get the car out of the ice the plow put up against it. I have the morning to dig out, and then hopefully the car will start, and I can get it to the mechanic. They’re going to do an hour and a half diagnostic this afternoon, and hopefully, I can afford the repair. Step by step, right?

I’m taking a bunch of work with me: reading, writing, editing, including the Kindle holding the next book for review. I want to finish it before I start downloading the digital contest entries I need to read. And I want to do a readthrough of the first draft of CAST IRON MURDER, to see where I need to go in the second draft, and to support what’s going on in THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

Hopefully, tomorrow, I can get back to work on The Big Project. I’m waaay behind where I need to be on that, and I need to catch up.

I have a script coverage to finish this morning before I go to the mechanic. I have two scripts to read (one for which I was requested), but they aren’t due for a couple of days. I can choose to read or not read tonight when I get back, depending on how wiped out I am after the ordeal at the mechanic’s. Hold a good thought for me.

Tues. December 7, 2021: Maybe Your Business is Struggling Because You’re Unprofessional

image courtesy of Matryx via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold; incoming snow

The past few days have been up and down.

I lost far too much of Friday. I tried to find a mechanic to fix the car – no one would get back to me with a response and an estimate, including the dealer. What kind of business model is that?

According to AAA, the nearest of their certified mechanics is in Bennington, VT. I shouldn’t have to cross state lines to get my damn car fixed.

On top of that, I was trying to integrate MooSend, the platform to which I’d exported my mailing list, to my website, so people can easily subscribe on the website, it goes over to the MooSend mailing list, and they get the next newsletter. Only it wouldn’t integrate. I asked tech support for help, and they sent me links to articles where the steps in the article didn’t match what was coming up on my screen. I went into their Live Chat. The guy sent me the same articles. I told him that I’d tried all that already, and that’s why I was on Live Chat. Because it wasn’t working. He kept telling me to do stuff that didn’t come up on my screen. I’d send him screen shots to show him what was on my screen and what I should do with what was actually coming up, and it just went round and round for hours. He walked away from the chat after a couple of hours. Some other guy came on, a few minutes later – and sent me the article. Hadn’t read any of the notes or looked at the screen shots. I told him to forget it, I was going to a competitor.

In meantime, on the website, I got a flash of something that needed to be updated. I tried to update, and it didn’t work. I contacted my host, A2, and asked for the steps, since clicking the update didn’t work. The tech asked permission to enter the account, I gave it, and the glitch was fixed in less than five minutes.

I thought maybe the MooSend integration would then work, but nope. Still the same issues. So I disconnected all the MooSend plug-ins.

I did some research on other platforms. I knew I didn’t want Constant Contact or Robly. I considered MailChimp, and sent them some questions, which were ignored. They weren’t top of my list anyway, so that was no big deal.

So I looked at Sendinblue, and that seemed to have what I needed. I set up an account, which was easy as could be. I imported my contact list, easy as could be. I downloaded the plug-in to the website. Easy as could be. Activated it, set up the new form, and it seems to work.

I’ve written most of the text for the newsletter, and played with templates. Starting from scratch and building it myself seems to work the best for me, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ll play with it some more, send a test to myself. If that works, the newsletter will go out this week, and the quarterly deliveries will start up again, with occasional special announcements in between.

If you haven’t signed up, and you’d like to, you can do so here.

Getting everything set up on Sendinblue took about 30-40 minutes, including all verifications, API keys, plug-ins, etc. Meanwhile, I’d lost three hours with MooSend’s useless “support.”

Hopefully, I’ll remain happy at Sendinblue, at least for a while.

I was grumpy and exhausted by the end of it all. I hadn’t had time to get the promotions for the holiday shorts “Just Jump in and Fly” and “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall” up. I did manage to do some work on the notes for The Big Project and for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

I did my script coverages. I read the next book for review, which was charming and delightful, and got a good review.

After my pity party, I sat down with Cherie Priest’s GRAVE RESERVATIONS, her newest release. I sat and read until after midnight. I loved it, and did not want to put it down.

Tessa got me up on Saturday around 5:30-ish, which is acceptable. Once I’d fed everyone and they were settled again, I sat on the couch and finished GRAVE RESERVATIONS. Loved it so much. I hope she writes more with these characters, because they are a delight.

I let her know, via tweet, how much I loved the book.

Then, it was time to buckle down to my own work. I did some more work on the outline for The Big Project, and did the first draft of the first chapter, which came in at 1282 words. I’m looking for the chapters to be between 1-1.5K and not more than 2K on any given chapter, and, on this particular project, the structure has to be impeccable, or it will all fall apart. Because it’s complex, I have to keep a careful set of tracking sheets, updating it preferably every chapter, but not more than every three. Or I will get myself into a tangle.

I had a ton of fun writing the chapter, although I had to stop and make decisions on the way about details. They can’t be layered in later, because they are vital to the way the piece builds. Details can be polished or cut or moved in edits, but the first draft has to be what a usual third draft for me usually is.

Still, it was a good feeling to get it done.

The sky looked rather ominous by the time I was finished. I wrapped up for the weather and walked down to the wine store for a couple of bottles of wine, and stopped at Cumberland Farms at the end of the street for eggs and coffee. You know, the essentials: eggs, wine, coffee.

The whole thing was a little over a mile on foot, round trip, and nothing was very heavy. But I’m still not up to full strength after the vaccine booster, and was pretty shaky by the time I got home.

Does not bode well if I have to walk to Big Y and back for a big grocery shop, even with my little upright rolling cart. That round trip would be a little over three miles. Might consider taking a taxi back.

After lunch, I spent some time on the acupressure mat, which I hadn’t done all week. Once I was realigned there, I got up and wrote up the script coverage I had to do.

Leftovers for dinner, and then I did the revision on “A Rare Medium.”

Read some of the Marie Corelli research, but fell asleep fairly early.

Slept through the night, and Tessa didn’t wake me until nearly 6:30 on Sunday. After I fed them, I tried a new banana bread recipe, and, when I didn’t like the way it was turning out, tossed in some chocolate chips, which saved it. Still, not a recipe I’d use again.

I wrote the second chapter of The Big Project, which came in longer than I’d hoped (a little over 2K), but that’s what it needed to be. Felt good. Had lots of fun with it.

Switched over to decorating. We put up some of the Command hooks and put decorations on all the doors. We put multiple garlands on the bannisters, and threaded them through with lights. We put the lights up on the front porch, along with the small tree decorated in silver and blue, that used to be in my office at the other house. I put some battery-operated tall candles in the windows, although I don’t yet have the batteries for them.

It looks really pretty.

I admit, on Friday night, I considered not doing any more decorating this year. No trees, nothing. It all felt like too much.

But then I thought, I’m the one who loves all the decorations, and it’s a form of self-punishment not to put them up. And putting them up on Sunday made me happy, both the actual doing it, and then enjoying it.

It was the Second of Advent, so we lit the two candles. Plus our big, scented Christmas candle. And it was St. Nicholas night – time to put out the shoe, so it can be filled with candy!

Which made for a happy wakeup on Monday.

Charlotte started bothering me at 4:30, but Tessa let me sleep until just after 5.

Morning longhand writing session in, then yoga and meditation. Those practices suffered last week when I was so laid out from the booster, and I suffered as a result. So back to yoga, and I’m slowly expanding my morning practice.

Wrote the third chapter on The Big Project, and had a blast with it. It came in at just under 1800 words, pretty good. Then, I switched over and did just over 1300 words on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and had fun with that. It’s weird, not working in full chapters with that, but there’s only so much I can do.

In and around those two projects, I was still trying to find a fucking mechanic to fix the fucking car. What the hell is wrong with these “businesses”? Can’t respond or give an estimate. Finally got a response from one – who can’t fix a VW. That mechanic recommended another one, whom I contacted and – no response.

After THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, I put in the revisions on “A Rare Medium”, found a few more things to fix, formatted it properly, got in the needed information, saved as PDF, and got it out the door. Ahead of schedule.

Phew.

I’d forgotten to turn on the crockpot, so it had to be on high all afternoon.

Did my script coverage, and got out a book review. Dinner was great; the recipe worked well. After dinner, I did more Marie Corelli research. I have a good sense of the character; now I need the incident in her life to dramatize.

The lovely chiming tower clock over at the college stopped around mid-morning. I miss it. I didn’t realize how much I used it to keep track of my day, and how much joy it brought me.

Went through the materials for tonight’s Wild Oats Board Meeting.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and it’s delightful. I love it when they include fuzzy socks, and these have little hour glasses embroidered on them.

Sorted the laundry before bedtime. Got up at 5 (Tessa was just doing her warmup scales). Got everyone fed, got myself dressed and the first writing session done. Then piled the laundry and the washing materials and my work bag into the little upright rolling cart that’s been in the family since 1969 and rolled the laundry down the street to the laundromat.

As usual, I was the only one there, but it wasn’t creepy. Got the laundry loaded up, then sat down and worked on tightening the point-by-point notes for The Big Project, so that I don’t go off on tangents. Realized I have to do an insert to the second days’ work, in order to keep one of the running jokes going. There has to be a reference in every chapter. The Big Project relies on impeccable structure, along with engaging characters, quick dialogue, and a rip- roaring plot. So taking the time to polish the outline saves me a lot of pain and time later in the process.

After breakfast, I need to do a run to CVS for a couple of things. Fortunately, it’s in walking distance, but it’ll be about an hour round trip. Debating whether or not I should stop by the library while I’m in that direction, or wait until Thursday.

We have a storm coming in today, and snow tomorrow. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a mechanic today and schedule the repair for Thursday or Friday. This is ridiculous. If I can’t trust someone to be capable of the technology of answering an email and/or giving me an estimate, why would I think they have the skills to repair my car?

Once I get back, it’s back to work on today’s words for The Big Project and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. I have to get the ads going for the two holiday shorts, and finish the newsletter.

Then, it’s back to script coverage and client work. With any luck, I’ll get out a few LOIs, too.

But, for the moment, I’m back on the pavement, getting my errands done. We’re definitely getting a storm; pre-storm headache in full force.

Thurs. May 16, 2019: Process, Viability, and Attitude Adjustment

Thursday, May 16, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Check out the latest on the garden here.

I still have the Go Fund Me up for the car repairs. Your help in sharing is greatly appreciated.

I was pleasantly surprised that the insurance adjustor got back to me on Tuesday night. Part of the repair costs will be approved. Hopefully, I’ll get the check soon; then I’ll know if and when I can shut down the GoFundMe, and schedule the next phases of repair. Even a little bit will be a relief.

I just hope it doesn’t make my insurance skyrocket.

I also have to face the fact that, within the next couple of years, I’ll need a new, or at least new-to-me, car. I love my little blue rabbit. But it’s twelve years old.

Woke up at 3 AM yesterday. The good part about 3 AM is that, from 3-5 AM, it’s relatively quiet. I can get some thinking and plotting done, even if I don’t get up and actually write.

I got up at 5. Worked on ELLA BY THE BAY. Worked on GRAVE REACH. Worked on articles, and on blog posts that have to go up in the next few weeks. Worked on the review of the book I just read.

I’ve now written my way four chapters into ELLA BY THE BAY. It’s a viable book. The next step is to sit down and do a writer’s rough outline, so I can continue with an idea of where I’m going.

My process has changed over the years, from being a total blank pager, to being a total outliner, to mixing the two. I get an idea; if it nags me, I write about four chapters, to see if it can sustain. If it can, I then outline, and then go back and write it.

Some pieces can’t sustain. Some are okay, but I do a nice temporary chapter ending and put them aside to get back to “someday.” (See my Topic Workbook THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS for more on this).

But “process” has to change, as we grow and change as writers. How I created work twenty years ago doesn’t necessarily work the way I do it now, although some tools still work.

Went in and worked onsite with a client.

Came home, changed, had a quick snack, and then drove to Brewster to participate in a panel discussion for a local organization.

Of course, I had handouts. Because I am the Queen of Handouts.

We got off to a bit of a rocky start. I’d given myself an hour to drive there, which would mean I arrived 15 minutes before start time. But the traffic was lighter than I expected, and it only took me 45 minutes to get there. So I was a half hour early. I’m often that early to events — it gives me time to prepare, set out handouts, find out the structure of the event, etc. However, as I tried to get into the building, a board member came out and said, “You’re really early. We’re in the middle of a meeting. Come back in ten minutes.”

Excuse me?

I am one of your guest speakers. An UNPAID speaker, on top of that. (I rarely accept unpaid gigs at this point, but I did here because of my connection with the organization). The proper greeting is, “We’re so glad you’re here! We’re still in the board meeting. I’ll get you set up over here until we’re done.”

Not “come back in ten minutes” so I had to sit outside in the cold.

When I was on the board, I considered it my JOB, my RESPONSIBILITY, my HONOR to make guest speakers and presenters feel welcome and appreciated. I also considered it my job to make the audience feel the same.

“Come back in ten minutes” because they’re busy? No.

I sat outside, fuming. I was tempted to rant on social media. Which was inappropriate. I was tempted to leave. And then I thought, why? Why behave with as little grace as this individual? I’m not Top Poobah Writer of the Universe who demands minions bow to me. It’s really not that big a deal in the scheme of the Universe. It gives me important information, and factors in to future dealings, but, really, it’s not a crisis. I got over myself. Because, in the bigger scheme of things, apart from both my ego, and from feeling that’s not the way to treat people who donate their time to an organization, getting over myself made more sense.

Which was the right choice, because ultimately, it was a lovely evening. My fellow panelists were delightful. The questions, for the most part, were excellent. Except for the couple of people who went on and on about the “art” of what they do and how they didn’t like we talked so much about business. (The topic of the evening was business-oriented, so go figure).

Well, first of all, one does not negate the other. My passion for my art does not mean I forfeit my right to earn a living at it. And if you want to succeed as an author, the business part of it is part of the gig. All of those making faces about how they “don’t do” or “don’t like” websites and social media and all the rest can either pay someone to do it for them — and really PAY, not the attitude around here where $20 is supposed to pay your rent for three months, or better yet, you’re supposed to be THRILLED to do it for free — or suck it up and learn or don’t do it and have a different career trajectory. But if you do the latter, don’t whine that nobody pays attention to you.

Still, it’s an important discussion to have. The more information people have, the more informed decisions they can make for the path that works best for them. There is no ONE WAY — thank goodness! It would be far too dull.

But I’m glad I did it. I saw some people I hadn’t seen in ages, and that was great to catch up.

And I’m glad I didn’t stay mired in annoyance. That wouldn’t have done any good for anyone. This was a case where recognizing the emotion and CHOOSING to move on from it made a lot of sense. I didn’t ignore my response. Nor did I pitch a tantrum. I was able to face it and see how it fit into the bigger picture, and make the best choice for me, which turned out to be positive for everybody.

However, if this individual treats the keynote speakers and better-known workshop presenters at the conference this way, it’s going to hurt the organization.

Happily, it is not my problem!

It was still light-ish driving home, which was nice. I had Prince turned up on the radio for a few miles, and then, by the time I got to Yarmouth, I drove through Yarmouth and Barnstable with the windows down singing along with various radio songs at the top of my lungs. Which was really fun.

The abortion ban in Alabama is disgusting. So are the bans in Georgia and Ohio. I am sick and tired of old white male religious zealots trying to control me. And who are bound and determined to kill me if I don’t “behave.” They must be stopped. Especially when they give rapists more rights than rape victims.

The level of corruption in our government is appalling. Russia is delighted.

Last night, I dreamed about a large tree falling. It woke me, and I was upset, but I managed to get back to sleep. When I looked it up, it said it indicated that I’m “on the wrong path.” Which path is wrong? I’m preparing to make several major changes over the coming months. Is it warning me where I am at this moment is wrong (which I know) or that the options I’m looking at are wrong? So now I’m really confused and worried.

Today, I’m working on ELLA BY THE BAY, GRAVE REACH, and the articles. I hope I can polish the review well enough to send it off, either later today or tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go to yoga.

If the weather holds, I’ll do some yard work.

I have a new Trusted Reader for GRAVE REACH. She’s going to read GR, and I’m going to read her magical realism she’s-not-sure-what-it-is.

I hope the rest of the quotes I requested for articles come in soon, so I can finish them and send them off. My mechanic can’t give me an estimate on the rest of the work without seeing the car. That means losing another day of work to go to Plymouth, and then losing another day of work when repairs are actually done. Whereas if I have them done here, at the original estimate, they will drive me to and from work and home. The money I lose by losing those days in Plymouth will even out what I’d save in actual repair costs. So I’m not sure what to do.

I have some more pitches to finesse and send out. I was about to send out a short story to a market, only to find it closed early this reading period. Oh, well.

I also have to finish the first draft of the short play that has to go out this month, so it can marinate for a few days before revisions, and polish “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” so it can go out next week.

One step at a time. That’s the best I can do.

Wed. Oct. 10, 2018: A Creative Place to Put the Rage

Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the latest post!

Disheartening times. We no longer have a functioning democratic republic in this country. We need to stop talking about “civility” and the “high road.”

Don’t even get me started on Susan Collins. She needs to be removed far before 2020. The fact her husband is a lobbyist should disqualify her (and any candidate) from office.

Friday was a blur of grocery shopping and appointments and trying to get my act together and feeling awful. Finally got a quote from the mechanic — they want to charge me over $100 for an oil change — before adding in labor — for something that usually costs me $40? I don’t think so. And they “can’t” give me an estimate on the rest of the work? Did they sell the business to someone? Or do I need to find a new mechanic?

Shopping around for other quotes. I might have to get the work done piecemeal.

PetSmart Customer Disservice is a disgrace. Instead of addressing and solving the problem, they sent me a form letter and a coupon. No. That’s not what I wanted. I don’t want free stuff. I want them to stop slapping me in the face after being a customer for over 20 years. I have to ask Purina where else they distribute ProPlan. Not shopping at PetSmart anymore.

The ARC I won from Jenn McKinlay, HITTING THE BOOKS arrived, and I read it. It’s well-done. Yes, I figured it out, but I still enjoyed the journey, and the way the character relationships are growing.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, filled with great stuff. A nice treat.

It took most of the day to clean the oven and the stove, but it was worth it.

Was ill overnight on Friday, which meant I had to cancel out of plans on Saturday. Had to run a few errands. Baked a chive batter bread, which looks better than it tastes, sadly.

Saturday, I went to pick up a prescription for my mom. An old white man driving a Mercedes screamed at me in the CVS parking lot that he had the right of way (he didn’t), because “you’re only a woman.”

The Kavanaugh Effect has already started. White men emboldened to act on their misplaced senses of entitlement more than ever.

On the positive side, this new revision of RELICS & REQUIEM is going well. I’m fixing the problems. The book is much, much stronger now, and tearing out that secondary plot line allows the relationship between Amanda and Phineas to shine.

Unfortunately, that puts me even further behind on DAVY JONES DHARMA.

Needing something to do with all this rage, I went back and re-read HEART SNATCHER, the first in the Justice By Harpy Trilogy, and what I’ve written in HEART BINDER, the second book.

There’s a lot of stuff in there that works. And the timing of the book is right. I stopped submitting the book a few years ago. The universal notes from agents and editors were that the writing was strong, but “women’s rage makes readers uncomfortable.”

You know what? Too fucking bad.

This book’s time has come.

I sent the latest draft (which still needs work) to my editor, to see what she says about it. Since we’re still trying to negotiate only doing one Coventina Circle a year, and scheduling the re-release of the Jain Lazarus Adventures, maybe this is something they can use instead of two Coventina Circle Books. The whole trilogy is outlined, and i have a third of book 2 written. They would have to come out pretty close together to work, but it’s important that the first book ride the wave. It’s time is now, and if I hesitate, I’ll miss it.

I’ve been re-reading WOMEN ON THE CASE, a Sisters in Crime anthology edited by Sara Paretsky that came out in 1996. It’s eerily relevant (not to mention filled with gorgeous writing). It also makes me feel that Sisters in Crime has softened too much from its original purpose.

Barbara Ross wrote a piece on the need for cozy mysteries entertainment and escape during dark times on The Wickeds.  While I agree with it, and I think we need to write relevant work that writes our way to a better world, I think WOMEN ON THE CASE, and most of the early Sisters in Crime anthologies show it’s possible to do both.  Although, to give the cozy its due, the murderers are brought to justice. Which is something we’re not seeing enough of in the real world.

I mentioned on Twitter that, for this year’s Nano, we need a Women’s Rage/Women Write Change forum, dedicated to the politics of the day, the rage, and writing the change we want to see in the world. The Nanowrimo organization needs to stay neutral and completely inclusive. I respect that. But I need something different this year. So I will build it myself.

I’ve also been unhappy in the Nano forums the last couple of years. They used to be a big part of why I hung out on them. Interesting people from all over the world writing and getting to know each other. The last few years, though, any time I mentioned a published book or answered a question about publishing, the moderators scolded me for “self-promotion.” Which it wasn’t. It was using an example from something that actually got published. But I noticed the disdain so many moderators now have when published writers/working professionals actually participate.

The idea of #WomenWriteChange has gotten some positive feedback, so I’m going to put something together. Stay tuned.

Worked with a client yesterday, and will do so today. Yesterday with the client was exhausting on far too many levels. Ran around trying to get other quotes for the work that needs to happen on the car. It shouldn’t be this hard to get an oil change, for goodness’ sake. It never used to be.

RELICS needs to go into galleys by the end of the week, so I have to double down.

And I need to finish my speech for the human rights conference.

Onward.