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.

 

Mon. Feb. 6: I Still Prefer the Puppy Bowl

Monday, February 6, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Still dark out

Quick check-in, because I’m on my way to get my car serviced this morning. Busy, busy, busy weekend. I never made it to the yoga open house — I got caught up in work and went flat out all day. Friday was a busy day, too. Didn’t sleep well either Friday or last night, so I’m kind of dragging.

I stayed true to not getting online yesterday. I need to do that, at least one day a week. I re-read THE AGE OF INNOCENTS, which I needed to do in connection with the current project for Confidential Job #1. Liked it better this time — with twenty years’ more life experience through which to view it!

Once I get back from the mechanic, I hit the ground running — students have deadlines — more than half of the 5 in 10 are late with their last story — not only did they have a whole week to do it, it was their ONLY assignment all week — so tired of the lack of commitment bullshit. There’s no such thing as “no time to write.” There’s only “choose NOT to write.” And, if you choose not to write, you’re not a writer, because writers write. Period. No excuses, sometimes whining.

I’ve got to get the write-up out to Confidential Job #1, spend time with students, do some more work on a client project, get out some interview questions, get out some pitches, and get some of my own writing done. I’m taking some of it with me to the mechanic, and hope I can get some work done in the waiting room, , but it’s small and usually crowded, so I don’t know how useful that will be.

I was disappointed that the Patriots lost to the Giants. It’s not that big deal to me, since I’m not invested in football, particularly, but it was the home team, and it is one of the few games I watch all year. It was more important to me that the Patriots crushed Colorado a few weeks back, proving that skill triumphs over gimmick.

I was pleased that Madonna went there for her finale in the half-time show, although I bet a lot of people didn’t get it. A little disappointed that she slowed down the tempo on some of the pieces, such as “Vogue”, but hey, I couldn’t do what she does, so what the hell do I know?

Watched a bit of the Puppy Bowl, but, for the most part, had a quiet night. Tessa was fascinated by the Puppy Bowl and by the football game. I wonder if she’ll take the watching hockey, the way Violet does?

Repotted a bunch of stuff that needed attention. If it’s nice enough this week, maybe I can spend some time cleaning up the yard. Might as well make use of the mild winter.

Off to get the car serviced.

Devon

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